Muhammad al-Mahdi: Wikis


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Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Muhammad al-Māhdī
Imams of Twelver Shi'a Islam
The name of Imām as it appears in Masjid Nabawi
A modern depiction by a Shi'a artist
Rank Twelfth Twelver Imām
Name Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn ‘Alī
Kunya Abū al-Qāsim[1]
Birth 15th Sha‘bān 255 AH
29 July 869 C.E. (age 1,139)
Death n/a - in Occultation[1]
Birthplace Sāmarrā'[1]
Buried n/a - in Occultation[1]
Life Duration Before Imāmate: 5 years
(255 - 260 AH)
Imāmate: Occultation
(260 AH - present)
- Minor Occultation: 70 years
(260 - 329 AH)
- Major Occultaion: ???
(329 AH - present)
Titles *al-Māhdī[1]
(Arabic for Guided One)
(Arabic for One who Rises)
(Arabic for The Proof)
*Sāhib al-Zamān[1]
(Arabic for Master of the Era)
(Arabic for The Awaited One)
(Arabic for Proof of Allah)
(Arabic for The Unseen One)
*Sāhib al-Amr[1]
(Arabic for Master of Command)
*Imām al-‘Asr[3]
(Arabic for Imām of the Age)
Father Hasan al-‘Askarī
Mother Narjis[1]
Children none
Ali · Hasan · Husayn

al-Sajjad · al-Baqir · al-Sadiq
al-Kadhim · al-Rida · al-Taqi
al-Hadi · al-Askari · al-Mahdi

Muhammad al-Māhdī (الإمام محمد بن الحسن المهدى) also known as Hujjat ibn al-Hasan (15th Sha‘bān 255 AH - in Occultation[1] ; approximately July 29, 869 - in Occultation) is the individual believed by Twelver Shī‘a Muslims to be the Māhdī, the ultimate savior of humankind and the final Imām of the Twelve Imams. Twelver Shī‘a believe that al-Māhdī was born in 869 and did not die but rather was hidden by God (this is referred to as the Occultation) and will later emerge with Jesus in order to fulfill their mission of bringing peace and justice to the world. He assumed the Imamate at 5 years of age. Sunnīs and other Shī‘ah schools do not consider ibn-al-Hasan to be the Māhdī.


Birth and early life according to Twelver Shi'a

Twelver Shi'as believe that Mahdi was born in 869 AD as Abu'l Qasim Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn ‘Alī. His mother, Narjis (Melika), was a Byzantine princess who pretended to be a slave so that she might travel from her kingdom to Arabia.[4][5] His father, Hasan al-Askari, is believed to have been the eleventh and penultimate Shi'a Imam. Shi'as believe that his birth was kept a secret due to the persecution that the Shi'a were facing during this time at the hands of Al-Mu'tamid, the Abbasid Caliph.[6][7]

To support Imam Mahdi's claim, Twelver Shi'as along with all other muslim sects quote the following Hadith: "I and `Ali are the fathers of this nation; whoever knows us very well also knows Allah, and whoever denies us also denies Allah, the Unique, the Mighty. And from `Ali's descendants are my grandsons al-Hasan and al-Husayn, who are the masters of the youths of Paradise, and from al-Husayn's descendants shall be nine: whoever obeys them obeys me, and whoever disobeys them also disobeys me; the ninth among them is their Qa'im and Mahdi." [8]

The eleventh Shi'a Imam Hasan al-Askari died on 1 January 874 AD (8th Rabi' al-awwal, 260 AH)[6] and since that day, his son Mahdi is believed by Shi'as to be the Imam, appointed by Allah, to lead the believers of the era. The most popular account of al-Mahdi in Shi'a literature is taken from his father's funeral. It is reported that as the funeral prayer was about to begin, al-Mahdi's uncle, Jafar ibn Ali approached to lead the prayers. However, al-Mahdi approached and commanded, "Move aside, uncle; only an Imam can lead the funeral prayer of an Imam." Jafar moved aside, and the five-year-old child led the funeral prayer for his father. It is reported that it was at this very moment that al-Mahdi disappeared and went into ghaybat, or occultation.[citation needed]


Significance of the Twelfth Imam

Some hadith indicate significance to the twelfth generation of descendants of Muhammad.

A hadith from the Shi'a text (Kitab Al-Kafi) containing a conversation between the first Shia Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib and a man named al-Asbagh ibn Nubata, as well as a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim in which Muhammad speaks of Twelve Successors. (see Hadith of the Twelve Successors)

From Sahih Bukhari:

Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard Muhammad saying, "Islam will continue to be strong to twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world)." He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, "All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish." [9]

In a hadith widely regarded as authentic, Muhammad said,

Even if the entire duration of the world's existence has already been exhausted and only one day is left before the Day of Judgment, Allah will expand that day to such a length of time, as to accommodate the kingdom of a person out of Ahl al-Bayt who will be called by my name and my father's name. He will then fill the Earth with peace and justice as it will have been filled with injustice and tyranny before then.[10]

The Occultation

Shi'as believe that, for various reasons, God concealed the twelfth and current Shi'a Imam, al-Mahdi, from humankind


The period of occultation (ghaybat) is divided into two parts:

  • Ghaybat al-Sughra or Minor Occultation (874-941), consists of the first few decades after the Imam's disappearance when communication with him was maintained through deputies of the Imam.
  • Ghaybat al-Kubra or Major Occultation began 941 and is believed to continue until a time decided by God, when the Mahdi will reappear to bring absolute justice to the world.

Minor Occultation

During the Minor Occultation (Ghaybat al-Sughra), it is believed that al-Mahdi maintained contact with his followers via deputies (Arab. an-nuwāb al-arbaʕa). They represented him and acted as agents between him and his followers.

Whenever the believers faced a problem, they would write their concerns and send them to his deputy. The deputy would ascertain his verdict, endorse it with his seal and signature and return it to the relevant parties. The deputies also collected zakat and khums on his behalf. For the Shia, the idea of consulting a hidden Imam was not something new because the two prior Shia Imams had, on occasion, met with their followers from behind a curtain.

Shia Tradition hold that four deputies acted in succession to one another:

  1. Uthman ibn Sa’id al-Asadi
  2. Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Uthman
  3. Abul Qasim Husayn ibn Ruh al-Nawbakhti
  4. Abul Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri

In 941 (329 AH), the fourth deputy announced an order by al-Mahdi, that the deputy would soon die and that the deputyship would end and the period of the Major Occultation would begin.

The fourth deputy died six days later and the Shi'a Muslims continue to await the reappearance of the Mahdi. In the same year, many notable Shi'a scholars such as Ali ibn Babwayh Qummi and Muhammad ibn Yaqub Kulayni, the learned compiler of al-Kafi also died.

Major Occultation

The name of Imam as it appears in Masjid Nabawi

According to the last letter of al-Mahdi to Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samarri "from the day of your death [the last deputy] the period of my major occultation (al ghaybatul kubra) will begin. Hence forth, no one will see me, unless and until Allah makes me appear."[citation needed] Another view is that the Hidden Imam is on earth "among the body of the Shia" but "incognito." "Numerous stories" exist of the Hidden Imam "manifesting himself to prominent members of the ulama."[11]


Twelver Shi'as cite various references from the Qur'an and reports, or Hadith, from Imam Mahdi and the twelve Shi'a Imams with regard to the reappearance of al-Mahdi who would, in accordance with Allah's command, bring justice and peace to the world by establishing Islam throughout the world.

  • Mahdi is reported to have said:

Shi'as believe that Imam al-Mahdi will reappear when the world has fallen into chaos and civil war emerges between the human race for no reason. At this time, it is believed, half of the true believers will ride from Yemen carrying white flags to Makkah, while the other half will ride from Karbala, in Iraq, carrying black flags to Makkah. At this time, Imam al-Mahdi will come wielding Allah's Sword, the Blade of Evil's Bane, Zulfiqar (Arabic: ذو الفقار, ðū l-fiqār), the Double-Bladed Sword. He will also come and reveal the texts in his possession, such as al-Jafr and al-Jamia.

Shi'as believe that Jesus will also come, (after Imam Mahdi's re-appearance to follow him.) the Imam Mahdi to destroy tyranny and falsehood, and to bring justice and peace to the world.[12]


The 12th Imam is known by many titles in Shia Islam, including:

  • Al-Mahdi (the Guided one)
  • Al-Muntathar (the Awaited one)
  • Al-Qa'im (the Rising one)
  • Sahab az-Zaman (the Master of the Age)
  • Imam az-Zaman (the Leader of the Age)
  • Wali al-'Asr (the Guardian of the Era or alternatively, the Guardian in the Twilight [of man])
  • Al-Hujjah (the Proof [of Allah's justice])

Sunni view

The majority of Sunni Muslims do but not consider the son of Hasan al-Askari to be the Mahdi nor to be in occultation. However, they do believe that the Mahdi will come from Muhammad's family, more specifically from Al-Hasan's descendants [13]. Sunnis believe that the Mahdi has not yet been born, and therefore his exact identity is only known to Allah. Aside from the Mahdi's precise, genealogy, Sunnis accept many of the same hadiths Shias accept about the predictions regarding the Mahdi's emergence, his acts, and his universal Khilafat. Sunnis also have a few more Mahdi hadiths which are not present in Shia collections, such as the following:

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri(RA) narrated that Muhammad said:

Our Mahdi will have a broad forehead and a pointed (prominent) nose. He will fill the earth with justice as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. He will rule for seven years

Shia books do not explicitly mention the Mahdi having a pointed (prominent) nose.

Other Sunni hadith regarding the Mahdi are virtually identical to their counterparts in Shia books:

Umm Salamah said:

I heard the Messenger of Allah say: "The Mahdi is of my lineage and family"

Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said:

The Messenger of Allah said: "He is one of us"
Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri, [16]

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"[9] 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 [rather than Hasan], and he would appear in Mecca. He would protect the Muslims from destruction and would restore the religion to its original position.

Sunnis also believe that Jesus will return alongside the Mahdi, with the only difference being that they disagree with the Shia regarding exactly who the Mahdi is.

Scholarly observations

Some scholars, including Bernard Lewis[17] also point out, that the idea of an Imam in occultation was not new in 873 but that it was a recurring factor in Shia history. Examples of this include the cases of Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah (according to the Kaysanites Shia), Muhammad ibn Abdallah An-Nafs Az-Zakiyya, Musa al-Kadhim (according to the Waqifite Shia), Muhammad ibn Qasim (al-Alawi), Yahya ibn Umar and Muhammad ibn Ali al-Hadi (according to the Muhammadite Shia).

Time line

Muhammad al-Mahdi
of the Ahl al-Bayt
Clan of the Banu Quraish
Born: 15th Sha‘bān 255 AH 2ndAugust 869 CE Died: n/a in Occultation
Shī‘a Islam titles
Preceded by
Hasan al-Askari
12th Imam of Twelver Shi'a Islam
874 – present
Succeeded by

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. pp. 159. 
  2. ^ al-Qurashi, Baqir Shareef (2006). The Life of Imam al-Mahdi. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. pp. 40. 
  3. ^ A Brief History of The Fourteen Infallibles. Qum: Ansariyan Publications. 2004. pp. 160. 
  4. ^ The Expected Mahdi
  5. ^ Online Islamic Courses
  6. ^ a b The Imams
  7. ^ mahdi and the manner of his occultation
  8. ^ Ikmal of Al­Saduq
  9. ^ Sahih Bukhari 89.329
  10. ^ |Sahih Tirmidhi, V2, P86, V9, P74–75.
  11. ^ Momen, Moojan, An Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.199
  12. ^ Sahih Muslim, bab nuzul 'isa, Vol. 2; Sahih Bukhari, kitab bad' al-khalq wa nuzul 'isa, Vol. 4
  13. ^ Al-Mahdi
  14. ^ Abu Dawud, Sahih, Vol. 2, p. 208; Fusul al-muhimma, p. 275
  15. ^ Sunan Abu Dawud, 11/373; Sunan Ibn Maajah, 2/1368
  16. ^ Reported by Abi Na’eem in Akhbaar al-Mahdi, see al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 5/219, hadith 5796
  17. ^ The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam, Bernard Lewis, pp. 23, 35, 49.


Further reading

  • al-Qarashi, Baqir Sharif (2006). The Life of Imam Al-Mahdi, translated by Syed Athar Husain S.H. Rizvi. Ansariyan Publications. ISBN 9644388062. 
  • al-Sadr, Muhammad Baqir (1983). Awaited Saviour. Imam Al Khoei Islamic. ISBN 0686903986. 
  • Amini, Ibrahim (1996). Al-Imam Al-Mahdi: The Just Leader of Humanity, translated by Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina. Islamic Education and Information Center. ISBN 0968071708. 
  • Corbin, Henry (1993). History of Islamic Philosophy, translated by Liadain Sherrard and Philip Sherrard. Kegan Paul International in association with Islamic Publications for The Institute of Ismaili Studies. ISBN 0710304161. 
  • Hussain, Jassim M. (1986). Occultation of the Twelfth Imam: A Historical Background. Routledge. ISBN 0710301588. 
  • Nasr, Seyyed Hossein; Hamid Dabashi (1989). Expectation of the Millennium: Shiʻism in History. SUNY Press. ISBN 088706843X. 
  • Sachedina, Abdulaziz Abdulhussein (1981). Islamic Messianism: The Idea of Mahdī in Twelver Shīʻism. Suny press. ISBN 0873954424. 
  • Tabatabae, Sayyid Mohammad Hosayn; Seyyed Hossein Nasr (translator) (1979). Shi'ite Islam. Suny press. ISBN 0-87395-272-3. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Māhdī (Arabic: محمد ابن حسن المهدي ) ‎(868 AD - unknown date) is the twelfth Twelver Shī‘ah Imām. He was the son of Hasan al-‘Askarī and is the tenth generation grandson of Muhammad.


General Quotes

  • If you ask for guidance, you shall have it; and if you pursue something, you shall find it.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.51 p.339
  • Whenever an authority disappears, another one appears; and if a star sets, another one rises.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.53 p.185

Religious-based Quotes

  • I am a remainder from Adam, a relic of Noah, a choice from Abraham, and an elite of Mohammad.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.52, p.238
  • I am The Mahdi (the guided one), I am the Imam of the time, and I am the one who fills it (the Earth) with justice just as it was filled with injustice and tyranny.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.52 p.2
  • Indeed, I am a safeguard to the inhabitants of earth as the stars are safeguards to the inhabitants of heaven.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.78 p.380
  • Indeed, Earth could not be without a Hujja (a proof, a prophet or his vice), either manifest or occult.
    • Shaykh Sadūq, Kamāl ad-Dīn, Ch.2, p.115
  • Indeed, right is with us and in us, and there is no one else who says this but that he is a liar and an impostor.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.53, p.191
  • Knowledge is ours; do not care about the unbeliever’s unbelief.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.53, p.151
  • If our devotees’ (may Allah give them success in obeying Him) hearts are gathered on meeting their obligation, their good fortune of meeting us would not have been delayed, and their joy of seeing us would have been expedited.
    • al-Tabarsi, Al-Ihtijaj, vol.2, p.499
  • And as for the occurrence of the manifestation, it is up to Allah, and those who appoint a moment lie.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.53 p.181
  • There will come to my devotees those who will claim seeing (me). Verily, whosoever claims the seeing before the rising of al-Sufyānī and the Cry, is a liar and a forger; and there is no power except with Almighty Allah.
    • al-Tabarsi, Al-Ihtijaj, vol.2, p.478
  • The oppressors alleged that Allah’s proof is invalid, and if we were permitted to speak out, the uncertainty would disappear.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.51 p.4
  • If Allah were to permit us to speak, the truth would emerge and falsehood would vanish and be pulled away from you.
    • Majlisi, Bihārul Anwār, vol.25 p.183
  • Increase praying for the expediting of my manifestation because indeed it is your release from suffering.
    • Shaykh Sadūq, Kamāl ad-Dīn, Ch.2, p.485
  • (There will be) No manifestation but after Allah’s permission, and that will be after the passing of a long term, the hardening of the hearts, and the filling of the Earth with tyranny.
    • al-Tabarsi, al-Ihtijāj, Ch.2, p.478

See Also

External links

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