Belief in Imam Mahdi (as) – A Universal Belief

The concept of the Mahdi is the belief in the coming of a person from the family of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sawa) during the last era who will fill the earth with justice and equality just as it will be rife with injustice and oppression. The advent of this Mahdi will bring forth a golden era where mankind will experience an unprecedented period of justice, equality, security, progress and knowledge.

The belief in the Mahdi is not limited to Islam

It is a universal belief in the government of one powerful individual in the last era whose reign will be characterised by justice and good governance. And there is a reason why this belief exists in mankind. Because justice and equality exists in human nature itself.

The concept of justice in its absolute sense is a universal feature – an aspect taught by all Divine prophets and an essential feature of every religion. It is an overwhelming concept that defines human thought and guides mankind in every aspect of life. Justice is an integral part of man’s primary nature and the very core of his existence. Human nature is testimony to the fact that each one of us prefer justice and abhor injustice in any shape or form or manner. We are pained when we see human suffering and condemn discrimination and inequality when confronted with them either directly or indirectly.

A defining corollary to the concept of justice is the belief in a saviour – a messiah who will ultimately put an end to all suffering, all injustice and fill the earth with justice and equality. Belief in such an “Awaited Saviour” is core to leading religions of the world – Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Zoroastrianism amongst others. While various creeds know this “Awaited Saviour” by different names, the conditions necessitating his appearance, as recorded in their books, are strikingly similar.

Hinduism speaks about 10 avataars…

Hindu scriptures speak of the ten avatars or incarnations of Vishnu which would appear over time. While nine of these avatars have appeared, Kalki or the tenth avatar would return to earth at the end of time to execute righteousness and judgement. The scriptures say “This incarnation of Vishnu is to appear at the end of Kali or Iron Age, seated on a white horse, with a drawn sword blazing like a comet, for the final destruction of the wicked, the renovation of creation, and the restoration of purity…”

In the book Vishnu Ved it is written, “… after the world is dirty, in the last days such a king will come who will be the leader of the people. His name will be Mansoor. He will capture the whole world and will make all the people to follow his rules.”

In the book Davatak it is written, “… And Mumtataa’s last successor will reappear. He will be holding the east and the west. He will guide the people.”

In the book Paatekel it is written, “… When their time will be over and the old world will change into a new and lively world and a new king will reappear of the sons of the two leaders of the world, … and the new king’s name will be Rehnoma. He will be a true king. He will be the caliph of Ram. He will rule and he will be the owner of many miracles.”

In another book Basik it is written, “The world will end in the last days and a just king who will be the leader of angels, fairies and man. And the truth is that rightfulness will be with him. And whatever is hidden in the seas, earth and mountains he will find it. And whatever is in the lands and the sky he will inform. And no person greater than him would have come in this world.”

The second coming of Christ…

Christianity predicts the second coming of Christ and of a world which is just and fair.

Psalms, Chapter 37 (9-18) – “For the evildoers shall be cut off but those that wait upon the Lord they shall inherit the earth. (verse 9). “For the arms of the wicked shall be broken, but the lord upholdeth the rightway.” (verse 17). “The lord knoweth the days of the upright and then inheri­tance shall be forever.” (verse 18)

Psalms, Chapter 96 (1-11) – “Honour and majesty are before him strength and beauty are in his sanctuary” (verse 6) “Say among the heather that the end reigmeth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people rightly” (verse 10)

Isaiah, 11 (1-10) – “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor and reprove with equity for the meet of the earth, he shall smite the meek of the earth with rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked” (verse 4). “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid and the young lion and the faulting together and a little child shall lead them” (verse 6).

“But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; … And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. … They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah – 11)

Or In the Old Testament, “For evildoers shall be cut off; But those that wait for Jehovah, they shall inherit the land. For yet a little while, and the wicked shall not be: Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and he shall not be. But the meek shall inherit the land, … , And their inheritance shall be forever.” (Psalms – 37)

The Holy Quran states, “And certainly We wrote in the Psalms after the Reminder (Turat) that (as for) the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it. (Chapter 21, verse 105)

And if you read what is written in Psalms and compare it with this verse of Quran, you can conclude that Allah protected this part of Psalms from distortion so the future generations know definitely that the inheritors of earth are meek people and there is no destiny of evil people except annihilation.

And so is written in Luke, “Let your loins be girded about, and [your]lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed [are]those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching , … , Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke – 12)

It is obvious that the meaning of these verses is what the Shiites call “Intezaar” or Awaiting or “Preparation for Arrival.” One who is truly prepared for arrival of Imam Mahdi (as) is like a man who is waiting for a dear guest and has already cleansed his room and prepared the food, thus he cleanses his heart from brutal stains and avoids sins, loves what is good and recommend it to others and hates what is wrong (and is not indifferent to it) and prevents others from doing it and since he is waiting for annihilation of tyranny, he fights according to his strength with it. He is an assistant of truth and justice and an enemy of wrong and tyranny. This is the meaning of Intezaar or preparation for arrival which according to Ahle Bayt (as) is the most excellent deed. The Holy Prophet (sawa) said, “The most excellent service of Allah is preparation for arrival.” (Sunan Tirmidhi volume 5, page 528)

Zoroastrianism speaks about coming of a Messiah

Zoroastrianism prophecies the coming of Saoshyant who on his appearance “will bring about the final judgement, dispense with the drink of immorality and usher in the new world”.

In the book of Zand after describing the fight between Yaz­dani and Ahriman it says: “… At this time Yazdani will get a great success. And Ahriman will go away from this world … After Yazdani’s success and destruction of Ahriman. The world will blessed of the rightful blessings and the children of Adams will stand on the throne of good luck.”

In the book Jaa Maa Sap Name, Jaa Maa Sap writes in Zoroas­trian language – from the lands of Taziyas one person will come … such a person who will be the owner of a big head, big body and a big calf of the leg. He will follow the ancestral laws and rules and with a large amount of soldiers he will turn to­wards Iran. He will bring prosperity to the world and fill the earth with justice.”

The promised Mahdi of Islam

The messianic hope in Islam is the Mahdi or the rightly guided one – an individual who will appear at the end of time when the entire world is rife with injustice and inequality. All the sects of Islam are unanimous in their belief in such a Mahdi who as per traditions, will be from the progeny of the Holy Prophet of Islam (sawa) and, on his reappearance will satiate the earth with justice.

The Holy Quran too reminds its adherents “God promises those of you who believe and do right that He will give them the succession in the earth as He gave the succession to those before them, and He will establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them, and to give them, after their fear, safety in exchange” – ultimate justice would be done in this world and in the hereafter with the reappearance of the Mahdi.

Read more: Mahdi in Quran | Mahdi in Traditions

A common thread that runs through each of these dispensations is that towards the final days of this earth, mankind will be engulfed in oppression and tyranny and subjugation. It is then that the “Awaited Saviour” will rise and put an end to all inequalities and discrimination. His government will be Universal and will be founded on justice. The rule of the “Awaited Saviour” will have all live in peace and harmony with each other; rights of all will be protected; truth and righteousness will prevail.

The belief in the “Awaited Saviour” has been handed down from generation to generation. The conviction that there will be a time when all men will be free and fearless instils hope in all mankind – one that makes us await the coming of the government that would be run with justice as its defining principle.

True, there have been false claimants to the title of the Awaited Saviour of mankind. Yet, their very claims, the existence of these false Mahdis means that the concept exists and there is belief in the concept of an Awaited Saviour. However the sun is yet to rise on a day free of oppression, injustice and inequality. The prophecies about the “Awaited Saviour” all point towards the truth that justice would be done in his lifetime. Mankind awaits the second coming of Christ, the Kalki and Saoshyant. Mankind awaits the Mahdi.

From an Islamic perspective, the belief in the Mahdi is an integral part of religion. It is not a concept owned by the Shiites or by the Ahle Sunnah. It an Islamic concept. Its roots are in Quran, in traditions and in history. Such is the importance of this belief that the Holy Prophet (sawa) said, “One who denies the reappearance of the Mahdi, then surely he has disbelieved.”

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