بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
نحمده ونصلى ونسلم على رسوله الكريم
The awaited Mahdi is such a figure in the Religion of Islam that without him this Religion would seem incomplete and imperfect. The idea that there in the near future a savior will come to deliver the oppressed and the faithful from the harsh trials of the world and the cruelties inflicted upon them by the tyrannical and unjust rulers is in fact the pride and joy of Islam through which it can boast over other religions which have for the most part given up on the messianic expectation. The majority of Christians no longer believe in the imminent return of Christ, but have rather spiritualised the concept. The Catholic Church, for example, condemns millenarian and messianic expectations; instead asserting that all such expectations are already fulfilled in the institution of the Church. Likewise, the majority of Jews no longer eagerly wait for the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Reform Jews have dispensed with the concept altogether, while the vitality of the Zionist movement resulted in many Jews feeling that the modern State of Israel has for all intents and purposes fulfilled the messianic expectation of their Jewish forefathers. Hence, for the Christians it is the Roman Church, and for the Jews, it is the State of Israel, that is the savior and the manifestation of God’s deliverance of His people. There is no need for an individual Messiah or Messianic-figure to come now.
Now let the reader understand the grave problem with this. Despite the establishment of the Church and the State of Israel, not only does one witness the great corruption throughout the world, but it is self-evident that this corruption is spreading and becoming worse. The impoverished, malnourished, oppressed, weak, sick, and marginalised are crying out to God to rescue them from their plight. The earthly rulers are becoming more oppressive and cruel. The gap between an exclusive class of super wealthy people and the needy masses grows wider and wider with no sign of relenting. War and violence is all around, especially in the Middle East. So if the Catholic Church or the State of Israel truly is the fulfilment of the messianic expectation, it is obvious that both have utterly failed, and are in fact part of the problem rather than the solution to it. The Catholic Church is a powerful institution akin to a transnational corporation. It is the dominant religion in that part of the world (the West) where people are spiritually dead and consumed by consumerism and pursuit of their love of the world. Its head, the Pope of Rome, decked in his luxurious, fine robes, is more remnicient of Caesar in all his pomp, than the meek and humble Christ. Likewise, the State of Israel is a state with great military strength and economic power, but is essentially secular in both its laws and the society it governs. Ironically, the more religious and observant Jews, though representing a small minority, are either lukewarm to the State of Israel or else openly in contempt of it. If the State of Israel is the Messiah, it is the Messiah of materialism and secularism, which self-evidently mistreats its Palestinian and Arab subjects.
In fact, it is these powerful institutions such as the large Churches and the powerful States of the world which have a vested interest in making people turn away and lose faith in the messianic expectation, which they regard as the greatest threat to their hegemony and continued reign of evil. They know very well that if ordinary people affirm in their hearts and minds the idea that a Messiah will come soon and remedy the injustices done to the dispossessed by fighting and becoming triumphant against the evil powers and institutions that govern the world, it will result in them losing confidence, loyalty in respect even in the present. On the other hand, if the people become persuaded that there is no individual savior who is going to come and miraculously save them from their plight, the people will eventually be forced to acknowledge in their hearts the permanence of the present setup and reluctantly accept it. This is the psychological state of mind that the powerful Churches and States of this world want to induce in order to secure their position.
Regrettably, some Muslim thinkers and sects are either outright opposed to the idea of a coming Mahdi (Islamic savior), or else severely downplay and neglect it. The modernist thinkers in particular are the greatest culprits. They assert that there is no Mahdi or even a theme of a messianic expectation in the Holy Qur’an, and thus dismiss it. But they are not only motivated in doing so by their strict and superficial reading of the Text. Modernists, influenced by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Allama Iqbal, Muhammad Ali Pasha, Muhammad Abduh and Mustafa Kamal “Ataturk”, consider the transient State as the ultimate expression of the ideals and values of Islam. For them, a powerful, Westernised, modern, and economically thriving State must be the ultimate aspiration for the Muslims. Hence for them the idea of waiting or expecting a Mahdi, a charismatic, spiritual figure, is repulsive and unnatural. Like the modern Christians and Jews, these modernist Muslims see a strong and modern Muslim state as being the fulfilment of any messianic expectation. This is what “Ataturk” envisioned and worked for in modern Turkey, what Iqbal envisioned for and what was realised through Jinnah for Pakistan, and the project begun through Muhammad Ali Pasha and realised through Gamal Abdel Nasser for modern Egypt. All of the above named individuals would find the idea of a coming Mahdi, sent with the objective of overturning the modern world, absolutely horrifying.
Some Muslim thinkers, characterised by Nasibi tendencies, such as enmity toward the Prophet’s ﷺ household and progeny, likewise reject the concept of the Mahdi, which they accuse of being a Shi’ite fabrication. For example, Mahmud Ahmad Abbasi, writes:
آمد و خروج مہدی کی حدیثیں مختلف اشخاص اور خاندانوں کے سیاسی اغراض کی خاطر وقتا فوقتا وضع ہوئیں پیشتر ان میں سے حضرت فاطمہ رض کی نسل کے کسی شخص کے بارے میں ہیں۔
“The Ahadith about the coming of the Mahdi were fabricated over time by different individuals and families for political objectives. Most of them are regarding an individual from the progeny of Hadrat FatimaRA.”
Reference: Tahqiq Sayyad o Saadat p.199
Now of course, the typical Nasibi is motivated in his perverse thoughts and ideas by a sense of pride in and loyalty to the Ummayad dynasty. It was the Ummayads who ruled over the Muslims and were hated by them because of their being drowned in love of worldly delights and luxury, and their being corrupt, irreligious, and tyrannical. Yazid the cursed, for the love of power and lust after worldly delights, had the audacity to oppose the Prophet’sSAW beloved grandson, Imam al-HussainRA, resulting in the latter’s tragic martyrdom in the plains of Karbala. Likewise, the Ummayads faught against and perpetrated injustices against the Prophet’sSAW companions when they rose up against them, such as Abdullah b. al-ZubayrRA and sayyidina Suleman b. Surad al-Khuza’iRA. Now it becomes clear that during the tyrannical and unjust rule of the Ummayads and Abbasids, the messianic expectation intensified among the faithful. There were literally dozens of armed uprisings against various Ummayad and Abbasid ruler, most of them motivated by messianic expectation. Hence it is understandable why the wretched Nasibis ridicule and reject the Islamic concept of the Mahdi.
Now in response to the doubts raised by the modernists, Hadith-rejecters, and Nasibis, we will present some proof-texts from the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith concerning the promise of a coming Mahdi:
لَهُمْ فِي الدُّنْيَا خِزْيٌ وَلَهُمْ فِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ
For them in this world is disgrace, and they will have in the Hereafter a great punishment.
In explaining this Ayah, Imam al-Suddi (d. 127 H) said:
حدثنا موسى قال : حدثنا عمرو قال : حدثنا أسباط ، عن السدي قوله : ( لهم في الدنيا خزي ) ، أما خزيهم في الدنيا ، فإنهم إذا قام المهدي وفتحت القسطنطينية قتلهم ، فذلك الخزي ، وأما العذاب العظيم ، فإنه عذاب جهنم الذي لا يخفف عن أهله
Al-Suddi said concerning Allah’s saying ‘for them in this world is disgrace’ (2:114): “As for their disgrace in this world, it is when the Mahdi rises and conquers Constantinople, killing them, so that is the disgrace. And as for the great punishment, it is the punishment of Jahannam which will not be lightened for its inmated.”
Reference: Tafsir Ibn Jarir al-Tabari
And there are many authentic Ahadith which explicitly mention the Mahdi. They describe him as: 1. A descendant of the ProphetSAW through his daughter sayyida FatimaRA 2. Bearing the name of the ProphetSAW (Muhammad or Ahmad) 3. Having a broad forehead and aquiline nose 4. Fills the Earth with justice after it was filled with injustice 5. Gives out wealth abundantly without counting
These are the basic and established characteristics of the coming Mahdi based on absolutely authentic and sound Ahadith.