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According to the Shia and Sunni versions of the Islamic eschatology the Mahdi (مهدي Mahdī, also Mehdi; "Guided One") is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on earth seven, nine, or nineteen years (depending on the interpretation[1]) before the coming of the day, Yawm al-Qiyamah (literally "Day of the Resurrection" or "Day of the Standing").[2] Muslims believe the Mahdi will rid the world of error, injustice and tyranny alongside Jesus.[3]

Mahdi is not explicitly mentioned in the Qur'an nor in the first authentic hadith book such as Sahih al-Bukhari. But it is mentioned in other of the six authentic books of hadīth. Some Sunnī theologians accordingly question Mahdi beliefs[4], but such beliefs form a necessary part of Shīʿī doctrine.[5]

The advent of Mahdi is not a universally accepted belief in Sunni Islam[2] and among those that accept the Mahdi there are basic differences among different sects of Islam about the timing and nature of his advent and guidance.Mahdi is important to Sufi Muslims, and a "powerful and central religious idea" for Shia Muslims who believe the Mahdi is the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi who will return from occultation. However, among Sunni, it is neither endorsed, nor condemned "by the consensus of Sunni Ulama."

Contents

Muslim beliefs common to both Sunni and Shias

According to scholar Moojan Momen, signs that Sunni and Shi'a are agreed upon include the following:

  1. The Mahdi will be a descendant of Muhammad of the line of Fatimah.
  2. His name will be as the name of Muhammad.
  3. He and Isa (Jesus) will rule for either 40 years (though these years are consisted of days not necessarily the same as 24 hour days)
  4. His coming will be accompanied by the raising of a Black Standard.
  5. His coming will be accompanied by the appearance of the Ad-Dajjal (the 'Great Deceiver').[6]
  6. There will be a lunar and solar eclipse within the same month of Ramadan
  7. A star with a luminous tail will rise from the East before the Mahdi emerges.
  8. He will restore faith to its original form and eradicate moral corruption.
  9. He will have a broad forehead, a prominent nose, and his eyes will be naturally mascaraed
However the physical signs of his body are only mentioned in the Sunni books of Hadith, and are not present in the Shia's books[7]
  1. He will fill the world with justice and fairness at a time when the world will be filled with oppression.

Shia and Mahdi

The name of Imam as it appears in Masjid Nabawi
The Ka'abah. in Mecca

Among Shi'a Muslims "the Mahdi symbol has developed into a powerful and central religious idea."[1] Shi'a Muslims believe that the Mahdi is the Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth and last Imam, who was born in 869 AD and was hidden by God at the age of five. He is still alive but has been in occultation "awaiting the time that God has decreed for his return."

According to scholar Moojan Momen, traditions report that the Mahdi be "a young man of medium stature with a handsome face" and black hair and beard. "He will not come in an odd year," will announce himself in Mecca between the corner of the Ka'ba and the station of Abraham and will call on the people to pay allegiance to him. He will then go to Kufa.[8]

The Hidden Imam will return as the Mahdi with "a company of his chosen ones." Also part of the return (or Raj'a) will be his enemies led by the one-eyed Dajjal and the Sufyani. The two forces will fight "one final apocalyptic battle" where the Mahdi and his forces will prevail over these forces of evil. After ruling the Earth for a number of years, Isa Al-Maseeh will return to earth.[9]

In another tradition Imam Baqir says:

The Master of the Command was named as the Mahdi because he will dig out the Torah and other heavenly books from the cave in Antioch. He will judge among the people of the Torah according to the Torah; among the people of the Gospel according to the Gospel; among the people of the Psalms in accordance with the Psalms; among the people of the Qur'an in accordance with the Qur'an.

Imam Jaffar Sadiq predicted the following:

The face of the Mehdi shall shine upon the surface of the Moon.

Before the Qa'im's rise two deaths will occur: one death red and the other white. These will kill five out of every seven persons. The red death will occur by means of killing and the white through epidemics.

Another saying by Imam Jaffar Sadiq is:

Knowledge is divided into twenty-seven parts. No more than two parts has been acquired by human beings so far. When our Qa'im arises he will expose the rest of the twenty five parts and distribute it among the people.

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Signs of the Mahdi (Shi'a)

According to Moojan Momen, among the most commonly reported signs that presage the advent of the Mahdi in Shia hadith are the following:

  1. Before his coming will come the red death and the white death. The red death is the sword and the white death is plague.
  2. Several figures will appear: the one-eyed Dajjal, the Sufyani and the Yamani.
  3. The Muslims will throw off the reins and take possession of their land, throwing out the authority of the foreigners.
  4. There will be a great conflict in the land of Syria until it is destroyed.
  5. Death and fear will afflict the people of Baghdad and Iraq. A fire will appear in the sky and a redness will cover them.

Characteristics

  • Ali Ibn Abi Talib quoted the Prophet as saying: “Al-Mahdi is one of us, the clan of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Allah will reform him in one night.” (Reported by Imam Ahmad and Ibn Maqah).
  • At-Tirmidhi reported that the Prophet said: Al-Mahdi is from my Ummah; he will be born and live to rule five or seven or nine years. (If) one goes to him and says: ‘Give me (a charity), he will fill one’s garment with what one needs.’”
  • Abu Dawud also reported a Hadith about Al-Mahdi that the Muhammed said: “Al-Mahdi will be of my stock, and will have a broad forehead, a prominent nose. He will fill the earth with equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, and he will rule for seven years.”

Sunni views

The coming of the Mahdi is a disputed notion within Sunnis. The concept is not mentioned directly in the Quran or Sahih al-Bukhari; however, the Mahdi is mentioned in the Sahih Muslim collection of ahadith[10]. It is also reported to be denied by the Ahle Quran. Those Sunni scholars, who dispute the traditional notion of the coming of Mahdi, can be placed in two categories. For example, Syed Maududi opines that Mahdi will be a modern Islamic reformer/statesman, who will unite the Muslim Ummah. He will revolutionize the world according to the ideology of Islam. He will never claim that he is Imam Mahdi. After his death, people will acknowledge that he was Mahdi, whose coming was foretold in Ahaadith[11]. Others include those who completely reject the coming of Mehdi. They include Allama Tamanna Imadi [12], Allama Habib-ur-Rahman Kandhlwi, [13], Javaid Ahmad Ghamidi [14] and Allama Iqbal[15]. Allama Iqbal wrote, “As I think the concept of Mahdi, Masih and Mujaddad is completely Iranian and "Ajmi" perception. This concept has not any link with Quran, Islam and Arabic perceptions."[16]. Javed Ahmed Ghamidi says in his book Mizan: "Besides these, the advent of Mahdi and that of Jesus (sws) from the heavens are also regarded as signs for the Day of Judgement. I have not mentioned them. The reason is that the narratives of the advent of Mahdi do not conform to the standards of Hadith criticism set forth by the muhaddithun. Some of them are weak and some fabricated; no doubt, some narratives, which are acceptable with regard to their chain of narration, inform us of the coming of a generous caliph; (Muslim, No: 7318). however, if they are deeply deliberated upon, it becomes evident that the caliph they refer to is ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz who was the last caliph of the early history of the Muslims. This prediction of the Prophet (sws) has thus materialized in his personality word for word. One does not need to wait for any other Mahdi now". On the other hand it is found in Sunan Abi Dawud, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi[citation needed] and "some non-Shiite Muslims believe that the Mahdi will come in addition to the Second Coming of Jesus."[2]

Al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ja’far al-Katani said: "The conclusion is that the hadiths narrated concerning the Mahdi are mutawatir, as are the hadith concerning the Dajjal and the descent of Jesus the son of Mary, upon whom be peace."[citation needed] Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Hajar al-Haytami in his fatwa titled The Brief Discourse on the Portents of the Awaited Mahdi, said that denial of the Mahdi is disbelief.[citation needed] Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti in his book The Rose Fragrance Concerning the Reports on al-Mahdi, wrote, "This is the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah, this is the belief of the Sufis, this is the belief of our Shaykhs, and this is the belief of the true Shadhili Shaykhs, whose path both al-Suyuti and al-Haytami followed. Whoever differs with them is a liar and an innovator."[citation needed]

Of those Sunnis that hold to the existence of the Mahdi, some believe the Mahdi will be an ordinary man, born to an ordinary woman. Umm Salamah said:

I heard the Messenger of Allah say: 'The Mahdi is of my lineage and family…'.
Sunan Abu Dawud, 11/373; Sunan Ibn Maajah, 2/1368.

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said:

The Messenger of Allah said: "He is one of us…"
— Reported by Abi Na’eem in Akhbaar al-Mahdi, see al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 5/219, hadith 5796.

The Messenger of Allah said:

The world will not come to an end until the Arabs are ruled by a man from my family whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s.
Sunan Abi Dawud, 11/370.

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said:

The Messenger of Allah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon Him) said: ‘The Mahdi is of my lineage, with a high forehead and a long, thin, curved nose. He will fill the earth with fairness and justice as it was filled with oppression and injustice, and he will rule for seven years.
Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitaab al-Mahdi, 11/375; hadith 4265; Mustadrak al-Haakim, 4/557; he said: this is a saheeh hadeeth according to the conditions of Muslim, although it was not reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim. See also Sahih al-Jaami, 6736.

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri reported that:

the Messenger of Alaah (Peace & Blessings of Allah be upon Him) said: "At the end of the time of my ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will grant him rain, the earth will bring forth its fruits, he will give a lot of money, cattle will increase and the ummah will become great. He will rule for seven or eight years.
Mustadrak al-Hakim, 4/557-558; he said: this is a hadith whose isnaad is sahih, although it was not reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim. Al-Dhahabi agreed with him, and al-Albaani said: this is a saheeh sanad, and its men are thiqaat (trustworthy), Silsilat al-ahaadeeth al-saheehah, vol. 2, p. 336, hadeeth 771.
Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

The Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Order, under the leadership of Shaykh Nazim and his khalifah Shaykh Hisham Kabbani of Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA), is among the Sunnis/Sufis who strongly believe the coming of Imam Mahdi in this 21st Century is imminent. Shaikh Hisham has written a book "The Approach of Armageddon" that touches much on this subject according to Sufi doctrine and beliefs[citation needed].

In the light of traditions and interpretations, the personality of the Promised Mahdi would be as such:

It is said "predictions and lore concerning the Mahdi abound".[2] Among them are that the promised Mahdi would be a Caliph of God and that to make a covenant with him is obligatory. He would belong to the House of Muhammad and would be in the line of Imam Hussein. His name would be Muhammad and his family name would be Abul Qasim, his father's name would be ‘Abdu’llah, and he would appear in Mecca. He would protect the Muslims from destruction and would restore the religion to its original position.[citation needed]

Interestingly enough, an authorized Deputy of Shaykh Nazim, Sayyid Ahmed Amiruddin, believes that Hasan Askari had a son named Muhammad Mahdi. It is not clear if Amiruddin believes in the Shia Mahdi or the Sunni, as he also promotes articles citing Sunni hadith about the Mahdi, the son of Abdullah. On his website Al Sunnah Foundation of Canada, Amiruddin writes in the article "The Illustrious Sons of Fatima", “Hasan Al Askari: His name is Hasan, his title is Al Askari and his alias was Abu Muhammad. He was born in the year 232 Hijri in the month of Ramadan. His mothers name is Hudais (Umme Wald) He died on the 8th of Rabiul Awwal 260 Hijri in Surra man Rai. One son Muhammad Al Mahdi born in mid Shabaan in the year 255 Hijri in Surraman Rai (Samarra) and had disappeared in the cave at the age of four. The sect of the Ithna Asharia recognize him as Imam and lifted alive. They call him Imam Zaman Mahdi.” [17]

Possible Biblical Interpretations

In their book, Al Mahdi and the End of Time, Muhammad Ibn ‘Izzat and Muhammad ‘Arif, two well-known Egyptian authors, identify the Mahdi from the Book of Revelation, quoting Hadith transmitter Ka'ab al-Ahbar.

In one place, they write,

“I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the Prophets… For instance, the Book of Revelation says: “And I saw and behold a white horse. He that sat on him…went forth conquering and to conquer.”

‘Izzat and ‘Arif then go on to say:

“It is clear that this man is the Mahdi who will ride the white horse and judge by the Qur’an (with justice) and with whom will be men with marks of prostration (zabiba) on their foreheads.”[18]

Claims of being the Mahdi

Over the years, several individuals have declared themselves to be the Mahdi prophesied in Islam. Similar to the notion of a Messiah in the Judeo-Christian religions, the notion of a Mahdi as a redeemer to establish a society has lent itself to various interpretations leading to different claims within minorities or by individuals within Islam.

  • The first historical reference to a movement using the name of Mahdi is al-Mukhtar's rebellion against the Umayyid Caliphate in 686, almost 50 years after Muhammad's death. Al-Mukhtar claimed that Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, a son of the fourth Caliph Ali (the first Imam of Shi'ite), was the Mahdi who would save the Muslim people from the unjust rule of the Umayyads. Ibn al-Hanifiyyah was not actively involved in the rebellion, and when the Umayyads successfully quashed it, they left him undisturbed.
  • Muhammad ibn Ja'far al-Sadiq (Al-Dibaj) appeared in Mecca in the year 200 A.H. / 815 C.E. claiming that he was the Awaited Mahdi.
  • Syed Muhammad Jaunpuri (1443 - 1505), another historical claimant was born in northeastern India, in Jaunpur, (presently in state of Uttar Pradesh). His father's name was Syed Abdullah & mother's Aamina. He was descendant of Imam Husayn & through Imam Musa Kadhim. He claimed being the promised Mahdi on three occasions. He announced his claim; first in Mecca and then two places in India. He attracted a large following, and received opposition from the ulema. He died at the age of 63 in the year 1505 AD while at Farah, Afghanistan. The burial location is a preserved sanctuary, looked after by the local inhabitants.
  • Another more recent claim was that of the Báb (الباب "the Gate") in 1844, founding the religion of Bábism. He was later executed in the town of Tabriz by a firing squad. His remains currently reside in a tomb at the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa. He is considered to be the forerunner of Bahá'u'lláh. (ba-haa-ol-laa بهاء الله "Glory of God") Both are considered prophets by Bahá'is, and the proclamation of the Bab is considered by Baha'is to be the beginning of the Baha'i calender.[19]
  • Muhammad Ahmad, a Sudanese Sufi sheikh in the Samaniyya order, declared himself Mahdi in June 1881 and went on to lead a successful military campaign against the Turko-Egyptian government of Sudan. Although he died shortly after capturing the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in 1885, the Mahdist state continued under his successor, the Khalifa Abdullahi b. Muhammad al-Ta'aishi until 1898, when it fell to the British army following the Battle of Omdurman.
  • Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who appeared within British India, claimed towards the end of the 19th Century to be the Mahdi of the latter days as awaited by the Muslims as well as the Promised Messiah (the spiritual second coming of Jesus.), being the only person in Islamic history who claimed to be both. He founded the Ahmadiyya religious movement in 1889 which, although considered by its followers to be Islam in its pristine form, is not recognized as such by the majority of mainstream Muslims. The parliament of Pakistan adopted a law in 1974 declaring the Ahmadis as Non-Muslims. Since Ghulam Ahmad's death the Ahmadiyya Communty has been led by his successors and has grown considerably.[20]
  • The most recent notable claim to Mahdiism was by Mohammad Abdullah al Querishi whose brother-in-law, Juhayman ibn-Muhammad ibn-Sayf al-Otaibi, led several hundred men to take over the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979. This uprising was defeated after a two-week siege in which at least 250 rebels, soldiers, and pilgrims were killed.

A number of people have been claimed to be the Mahdi by their followers or supporters, including:

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World, Thompson Gale, (2004), p.421
  2. ^ a b c d Glasse, Cyril, The New Encyclopedia of Islam, Altamira, 2001, p.280
  3. ^ Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.166-8
  4. ^ Doi, A. R. I, The Yoruba Mahdī, Journal of Religion in Africa (Vol. 4, Fasc. 2), Brill,(1971-1972), pp. 119-136. [1]
  5. ^ "mahdī." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2008. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 21 July 2008. Accessed 2008-07-21
  6. ^ Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.168.
  7. ^ http://www.islamicteachings.org/forum/signs-of-day-judgement/the-mahdi-t4924.html
  8. ^ Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.169
  9. ^ Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.166
  10. ^ Translation of Sahih Muslim, Book 41:6961
  11. ^ Syed Maududi, ‘’Tajdeed-o-Ahyaa-e-Deen’’, Islamic Publications Limited, Lahore, Pakistan, Chapeter: Imam Mehdi
  12. ^ Allama Tamanna Imadi, ‘’Intizar-e-Mehdi-o-Maseeh’’, Al-Rahman Publishing Trust, Karachi, Pakistan
  13. ^ Allama Habib-ur-Rahman Kandhlwi, Mehdaviyyat nay Islam ko Kiya Diya’’, Anjuman Uswa-e-Hasna, Karachi, Pakistan
  14. ^ http://www.al-mawrid.org/pages/articles_english_detail.php?rid=455&cid=263&search=mahdi
  15. ^ Allama Iqbal, ‘’Iqbal Nama, Volume 2’’, Bazm-e-Iqbal, Lahore, Pakistan, Letter No. 87
  16. ^ Allama Iqbal, ‘’Iqbal Nama, Volume 2’’, Bazm-e-Iqbal, Lahore, Pakistan, Letter No. 87
  17. ^ http://www.alsunnahfoundation.org/illustrious_sons.html
  18. ^ Izzat, Arif, Muhammad (1997). 'Al Mahdi and the End of Time'. Dar al-Taqwa Ltd. (UK). ISBN 1870582756.  p. 15,16
  19. ^ Smith, P. (1999). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld Publications. pp. 55–59 & 229-230. ISBN 1851681841. 
  20. ^ http://www.alislam.org/topics/khilafat/khilafat-news-coverage.pdf

References

  • Shauhat Ali, Millenarian and Messianic Tendencies in Islamic Thought (Lahore: Publishers United, 1993)
  • Timothy Furnish, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Jihad and Osama Bin Laden (Westport: Praeger, 2005) ISBN 0275983838
  • Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina, Islamic Messianism: The Idea of the Mahdi in Twelver Shi'ism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1981) ISBN 0-87395-458-0
  • Syaikh Hisyam Kabbani, The Approach of Armageddon (Islamic Supreme Council of America, 2002) ISBN 1930409206

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Quotes

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From Wikiquote

The current leader of Ummah pending Mahdi's arrival.

Mahdi is the Islamic messiah.

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Sourced

Messiah for deliverance

Supreme Leader in Iran ruling pending Mahdi's appearance

Christian Messiah and Islamic Mahdi

See also

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English

Etymology

Arabic rightly guided one

Proper noun

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Mahdi

  1. (Islam) a leader in Shia eschatology who is assumed to appear, save the world & make peace worldwide.

Simple English

The Mahdi/ Mehdi is the prophesied savior of humanity. He and the Prophet Jesus will change the world for the better, bringing God in all hearts, before Yaum al-Qiyamah (Day of the Resurrection).

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