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Imam al-Mahdi (a): The Awaited Savior of Humanity

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He will fill the world with justice and equity, as it has been fraught with oppression and tyranny. This is a recurring statement that we read in many narrations from the Prophet (s) and his Ahlul Bait (a) about Imam al-Mahdi (a), the savior of humanity in the end times. Imam al-Mahdi (a) will emerge from his concealment only when the world has plunged into a vortex of injustice and tyranny so deep that the voices of the oppressed cry out for a savior. A time when the people, devoid of all hope and faith in anyone but the Mahdi, will call out for his intervention.

As fate would have it, the holy Imam al-Mahdi will reappear on the tenth of Muharram, on an odd-numbered year, precisely on the same day that the revered Imam al-Hussain (a) was mercilessly martyred. From this day forth, the Mahdi will initiate his historic movement, rising against tyranny and oppression and bringing about a new era of justice and equity.

In this article on Islam4u, we will explore the life, history, and character of this living Imam from the progeny of Prophet Muhammad (s).

Imam al-Mahdi’s Father

Imam al-Mahdi’s esteemed father was the eleventh Shiite Imam, Imam al-Hassan al-Askari (a). Like his father and ancestors, Imam al-Askari (a) was a very pious, noble, knowledgeable, and virtuous man. He was the most outstanding personality of Islam at his time and an adversary of the ruling Abbasid dynasty. The Abbasid regime was his bitter enemy, imprisoned him multiple times, and eventually put him under house arrest. Under such circumstances, Shiites had a difficult time communicating with his eminence. Imam al-Askari (a) paved the way for the occultation of his son Imam al-Mahdi (a), by communicating and speaking with his followers behind a curtain and through his deputies. This was similar to what would happen when Imam al-Mahdi (a) became the Imam.

Imam al-Mahdi’s Mother

Narjis was originally a Roman princess who saw dreams of Lady Fatima (a) and Lady Maryam (a), who invited her to Islam. She embraced Islam, following those dreams. She was taken captive when there was a war between the Abbasids and the Romans. Eventually, Imam al-Hadi had one of his servants buy her. Lady Hakima, Imam al-Askari’s paternal aunt, taught her about Islam. Soon, she was married to Imam al-Askari (a). She had several names, including Susan, Raihana, Narjis, Saqeel, and Khamt.

Imam al-Mahdi’s Birth

Imam al-Mahdi (a) was born on Sha‘ban 15, 255 AH. The Abbasid ruler at the time did everything he could to prevent Imam al-Hassan al-Askari (a) from having a son. He made certain women spy on the wife of Imam al-Askari (a) and inform them and kill her if she was pregnant. However, it was Allah’s will that Imam al-Mahdi be born secretly. Imam al-Askari (a) told his aunt Hakima to teach his wife Narjis everything about Islam and take care of her during her pregnancy. When Imam al-Mahdi was about to be born, Imam al-Askari (a) informed Hakima that his successor would be born in a few hours. Hakima was overjoyed, asking him from whom he would be born. Imam al-Askari said, “From Narjis.” However, Hakima said that there was no sign of pregnancy in her. The Imam replied, “Imam al-Mahdi’s birth is like that of Moses. There was no sign of pregnancy in Moses’ mother either; otherwise, he and her mother would be killed.”

Shias Are Informed of the Birth of Imam al-Mahdi (a)

The birth of Imam al-Mahdi (a) was concealed from his enemies. However, there were a few other people, the close and trusted companions of Imam al-Askari (a), who were also informed of Imam al-Mahdi’s birth. After all, what would be the use if only Imam al-Askari (a), his wife, and his aunt were informed of his birth? Imam al-Mahdi (a) must have been introduced to some other people as well so that there would remain no doubt concerning his existence.

The Name, Agnomen, and Titles of Imam al-Mahdi

As the Prophet (s) has said in famous narrations, his name and agnomen are the same as his own. Just like Imam al-Mahdi (a), the Prophet’s name was Muhammad, and his agnomen, Abul Qasim. His most popular title is undoubtedly al-Mahdi (a), the one who has been bestowed with absolute divine guidance and is on the right path. The title al-Mahdi is exclusive to the Imam, and no one else has been referred to it. His other famous title is al-Qaim, the one who rises. He is known as al-Qaim of the Prophet’s progeny. Imam al-Mahdi (a) is also known as al-Muntadhar, the awaited one as believers patiently await his reappearance. His fourth title is al-Hujjah, the proof of Allah on earth among His servants. The fifth title of his holiness is Khalaf al-Salif, the rightful heir of the progeny of Muhammad (s) and the most righteous successor of his.

Physical Appearance and Characteristics

According to narrations from the Prophet (s) and the Ahlul Bait (a), Imam al-Mahdi (a) has a fair complexion that has some redness in it. He has an appropriate gap between his two front teeth. His belly is clear, and his thighs broad. His bones are long and prominent. He has two beauty spots, one of them having the same color as that of the Noble Prophet (s).

Imam al-Mahdi’s Imamate

Imam al-Mahdi’s respected father, Imam al-Askari (a), was martyred a little less than five years after Imam al-Mahdi’s birth on Rabi‘ al-Awwal 8, 260 AH. Therefore, Imam al-Mahdi (a) became the Imam after him. He would be the last Imam among the twelve Imams and the one who would go into occultation shortly after his imamate began. He is also the youngest Imam aged about five years old. His imamate continues to this day, even though he is in occultation. It will continue until his reappearance and the establishment of his government.

Imam al-Mahdi’s Occultation

Imam al-Mahdi (a) has had two occultations, a minor (sughra) one and a major (kubra) one. His minor occultation occurred shortly after his imamate. In the minor occultation, he had four deputies who communicated with him and were a link between the Imam and his Shiites. He appointed ‘Uthman ibn Sa‘id al-Amri as his first deputy. After al-Amri died, he appointed his son Muhammad ibn ‘Uthman. The third deputy was Hussain ibn Ruh, and the fourth and last deputy was Ali ibn Muhammad al-Samuri. After the last deputy died in 329 AH, the major occultation began. The Imam said there would be no deputy during this occultation. We are now living in the major occultation, which would continue until the reappearance of his eminence, Imam al-Mahdi (a).

Can We Benefit From Imam al-Mahdi (a) During His Occultation?

The mere existence of Imam al-Mahdi (a) is full of blessings for all humanity. We have narrations that say that the world would be annihilated if Allah’s proof on the earth were not living among us. How would his existence benefit us? The answer is that not only the Imam prays for us and asks Allah to forgive our sins, but he also goes out of his way and does many things for us without us knowing. His benefit to Allah’s creation is likened to the sun behind the clouds. When the sun is behind clouds, we can still benefit from its light and warmth, even though it is not visible. The same is true concerning Imam al-Mahdi (a).

When Will Imam al-Mahdi (a) Reappear?

It is said that Imam al-Mahdi (a) will reappear when the world is filled with so much injustice and oppression that people will become desperate and call out for a helper. It is a time when people lose hope in everyone but the Mahdi. His holiness, Imam al-Mahdi (a), will reappear on the tenth of Muharram on Saturday of an odd-numbered year. He will reappear on the day Imam al-Hussain (a) was martyred. He will begin his movement and uprising from that day.

What Are the Signs of Imam al-Mahdi’s Reappearance?

There are two types of signs of the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a). First, we have the uncertain, general, and universal signs. For example, there would be oppression worldwide, droughts in many parts of the world, and many natural disasters such as earthquakes and devastating floods and hurricanes, and other similar signs. These signs are called uncertain because they may or may not happen. Then there are five signs called certain signs that will definitely happen. They are as follows:

1. A Voice From Heaven

On the eve of the 23rd of the month of Ramadan, Jibril will call out the name of Imam al-Mahdi (a) in such a loud voice that people all around the world will hear it. Imam al-Sadiq (a) has said that people will hear it in their own languages. The message of this call is to give the good news of the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a). A few hours later, a second call will be heard that is said to be by Satan. He will invite people to Sufyani and say that he is the savior of people. This will confuse people.

2. The Uprising of Sufyani

Sufyani is a descendant of Abu Sufyan who stages an uprising, claiming he is the world’s savior. He is a ruthless man who kills whoever stands in his way, especially Hashemites, meaning the descendants of the Prophet (s). He takes over several countries, especially the ones in the Levante. Sufyani is the main enemy of Imam al-Mahdi (a) and will wage war against him.

3. Swallowing of the Earth

This sign will appear after the revolt of Sufyani. When Sufyani learns about Imam al-Mahdi’s presence in Mecca and after looting Medina, massacring people, and committing acts of indecency, he sends an army to Mecca to intercept the Imam. However, on their way to Mecca in a desert called Bayda, the earth will swallow them, and all but a single person will remain. He will be the one who gives the news of such an event to others.

4. The murder of the Pure Soul (Nafs al-Zakiyyah)

Nafs al-Zakiyyah, meaning the pure and innocent soul is the one who delivers the message of Imam al-Mahdi’s reappearance near the Kaaba. In fact, he is an emissary of Imam al-Mahdi (a) who is charged with telling the people to prepare themselves for the arrival of Imam al-Mahdi (a). However, the guards in Mecca will falsify him and murder him. Because he is innocently killed, he becomes known as Nafs al-Zakiyyah, the pure and innocent soul.

5. The Uprising of Yamani

The uprising of Yamani will happen at the same time as the uprising of Sufyani. He is a descendant of the Prophet (s) who will rise up in Yemen and invite people to Imam al-Mahdi (a). Sufyani is also his adversary. He will prepare the ground for the reappearance of Imam al-Mahdi (a). Our narrations state that no one should disobey him because he invites people to Imam al-Mahdi (a).

The Descent of Jesus

After Imam al-Mahdi (a) frees Palestine and takes hold of the Islamic lands, Jesus descends from heaven and acknowledges the rightfulness of Imam al-Mahdi’s government. Then, he will pray behind the Imam in al-Aqsa Mosque. It is said that Jesus will cause many Christians to embrace Islam. He will be Imam al-Mahdi’s representative in the West and will rule over the people there.

The Day of Judgment

The Day of Judgment will occur years after Imam al-Mahdi’s government. In a narration from the Prophet (s), he says that the Day of Judgment cannot come without a person from his lineage rising and uprooting tyranny from the face of the earth. Therefore, the Day of Judgment can only come with him reappearing first.

A Course on Imam al-Mahdi (a)

We here on Islam4u are happy to introduce you to a comprehensive course on the history of Imam al-Mahdi (a), the Imam of the Time. This course goes over all the aspects of the life and history of Imam al-Mahdi, including his birth, imamate, occultation, and reappearance. Please enroll in this course to know more about your Imam by clicking here.


Imam al-Mahdi (a), the savior of humanity, graced this world with his birth 1189 lunar years ago on Sha‘ban 15, 255 AH. Within a few fleeting years, he withdrew into minor occultation. Sixty-nine years later, in 329 AH, his major occultation began. As of now, the shroud of his disappearance veils the exact date of his triumphant return, an event long awaited by those who seek global tranquility and fairness.

As devout Shia Muslims, we bear a solemn duty to ready ourselves for the advent of our beloved Imam al-Mahdi (a). This involves purging ourselves of wickedness and pursuing virtuous deeds. Through our pious deeds, we can prepare ourselves to be worthy of witnessing the savior’s return, who will transform the world with his righteous rule, bringing an era of eternal peace and harmony.

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