IMAAM MAHDI AND THE SIGNS THAT WILL PRECEDE HIM
Imam al-Mahdi will be a righteous man from among the descendants of Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace), who will appear at the end of time, through whom Allaah will set mankind’s affairs straight, and will fill the earth with fairness and justice just as it was filled with wrongdoing and oppression. His name will be the same as the name of the Prophet Muhammad(May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace), and his father’s name will be the same as that of the father of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So his name will be Muhammad ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Mahdi, or Ahmad ibn ‘Abd-Allaah al-Mahdi. He will be descended from Faatimah(R) the daughter of the Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace), through al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him). The sign of his appearance will be widespread corruption and the earth being filled with wrongdoing and aggression. 
Identification of the Prophesied Imam Mahdi
The Prophet Muhammad(May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) has prophesied about several events that will occur just before the advent of the day of judgment. Among these, Prophet Muhammad(May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) has foretold the advent of one of his descendants, Al Mahdi (the guided one), which will materialize when the believers are severely oppressed in every corner of the world. He will fight the oppressors, unite the Muslims, bring peace and justice to the world, rule over the Arabs, and lead a prayer in Makkah at which Eesa (Peace be upon him) will be present.
Throughtout the history of Islam, a few individuals -- driven either by the desperate state of Muslims in their community or a selfish pursuit of power and prestige -- laid claim to being Mahdi and found a following among the uninformed masses who were looking for salvation from the heavens. Thus, it is at least prudent to visit the facts of this prophecy and avoid falling prey to false claimants that will appear from time to time.
As Muslims, we should remember that the prophecy about Mahdi is one that will come to pass. This prophecy, however, does not absolve the Muslim ummah from its duty to strive in the cause of Allah, oppose injustice, and seek peace and betterment of human condition. Centuries have passes from the time of the Prophet(S) and there is a good possibility that many more will expire before the advent of Al Mahdi. Muslims who are negligent in their duty hoping for a savior are committing a grave mistake and are not following the divine decrees ordained in Quran or taught by Prophet Muhammad(May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace).
There are a number of ahaadeeth which point to his appearance and attributes being as described above. When taken together these reports reach the level of tawaatur (i.e., narrated from so many people by so many people that it is inconceivable that they could all have agreed upon a lie). With regard to the order in which the portents of the Hour will appear, there is some difference of opinion among the scholars, the reason being that no such order or events is narrated in the Sunnah. However the scholars have determined the order of some of the events:
Minor signs before day of judgement
The appearance of the minor portents of the Hour, of which there are many which will not appear in any specific order. These include: the sending of the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) and his death; the plague of ‘Amwaas; the appearance of tribulations; the loss of honesty; the disappearance of knowledge; the spread of riba, musical instruments and alcohol; regarding these things as permissible; competition in erecting tall buildings; a great deal of killing; time passing more quickly; adornment of the mosques; prevalence of shirk; the spread of immorality; a great deal of stinginess; many earthquakes; landslides, transformations and pelting with stones from the heavens; disappearance of righteous people; believers’ dreams coming true; neglect of the Sunnah; a great deal of lying; a great deal of false testimony; a great deal of sudden death; a great deal of rain but little growth of vegetation; wishing for death; increase in numbers of the “Romans” and fighting them; and other signs which are narrated in saheeh ahaadeeth from the Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace).
The emergence of Imam Mahdi
The appearance of the Mahdi, who will appear before the Dajjaal and before the descent of ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (Peace be upon him). This is indicated by the hadeeth of Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: “ ‘Eesa ibn Maryam will come down and their leader the Mahdi will say to him: ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say: ‘No, one of them should lead the others in prayer, as a sign of honour from Allaah to this ummah.’: Narrated by al-Haarith ibn Abi Usaamah in his Musnad. And Ibn al-Qayyim said in al-Manaar al-Muneef (1/147): its isnaad is jayyid. The hadeeth is narrated with a mawsool isnaad in Saheeh Muslim, without naming their leader. Muslim’s report says: “… ‘And ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will come down and their leader will say to him: ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say: ‘No, one of them should lead the others in prayer, as a sign of honour from Allaah to this ummah.’” Sahih Muslim, 225. So ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) will follow the Mahdi in prayer, which indicates that the Mahdi will appear before ‘Eesa, and ‘Eesa will kill the Dajjaal, which indicates that the Dajjaal will appear during the time of the Mahdi.
Then the signs will come quickly, one after another. According to a hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Prophet (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: “The signs will come one after another, like beads falling from a string”. Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Awsat; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami 3227’. Then the sun will rise from the west, the Beast will emerge, and there will be landslides and other major signs. We ask Allaah to make us steadfast unto death. For more information see: al-Mahdi al-Muntazar by Dr. ‘Abd al-‘Aleem al-bastawi, 1/256;
Various ahadith on Imam Mehdi
There are saheeh ahaadeeth that indicate that the Mahdi will appear at the end of time. He is one of the signs of the Hour. Among these ahaadeeth are the following:
1. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: "At the end of the time of my ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allaah 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-Haakim, 4/557-558; he said: this is a hadeeth whose isnaad is saheeh, although it was not reported by al-Bukhaari 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)
2. ‘Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: ‘The Mahdi is one of us, a member of my family. Allaah will guide him in a single night.’" (Musnad Ahmad, 2/58, hadeeth 645, edited by Ahmad al-Shaakir, who said: its isnaad is saheeh; Sunan Ibn Maajah, 2/1367. This hadeeth was also classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 6735). Ibn Katheer said: "This means that Allaah will forgive him, grant him help, inspire him and guide him, when he was not like this before." (Al-Nihaayah, al-Fitan wa’l-Malaahim, 1/29; edited by Taha Zayni).
3. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: "The Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) 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, hadeeth 4265; Mustadrak al-Haakim, 4/557; Saheeh al-Jaami, 6736)
4. Umm Salamah said: "I heard the Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) say: ‘The Mahdi is of my lineage and family, from the descendants of Faatimah.’"(Sunan Abu Dawud, 11/373; Sunan Ibn Maajah. 2/1368. Al-Albaani said that it is saheeh in Saheeh al-Jaami, 6734)
5. Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: ‘‘Eesaa ibn Maryam will descend, and their leader the Mahdi will say, "Come and lead us in prayer," but he will say, "No, one of them should lead them as an honour to this ummah from Allaah."’" The version narrated by Muslim says: "… Then ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam (Peace be upon him) will descend and their leader will say, ‘Come and lead us in prayer,’ but he will say, ‘No, some of you are leaders over others as an honour from Allaah to this ummah.’" Sahih Muslim, 225
6. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allaah (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: "He is one of us, behind whom ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam will pray." (Reported by Abi Na’eem in Akhbaar al-Mahdi. Al-Albaani said it is saheeh; see al-Jaami’ al-Sagheer, 5/219, hadeeth 5796)
7. ‘Abdullaah ibn Mas’ood reported that the Prophet (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace) said: "The world will not come to an end until the Arabs are ruled by a man from my family whose name will be the same as mine." (Musnad Ahmad, 5/199, hadeeth 3573. Another version says: "… whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s." Sunan Abi Dawud, 11/370).
The ahaadeeth concerning the appearance of the Mahdi reach the level of Tawaatur in meaning (tawaatur refers to a hadeeth which was narrated by so many people through so many isnaads that it is inconceivable that they could all have agreed on a lie).
According to these reliable, authentic, and universally accepted narrations, Mahdi will:
- Be from among the family of Prophet(May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace), among the descendants of Fatima(R);
- Have a broad forehead and pointed noise;
- Appear in one night;
- Appear just before the day of judgment;
- Have same name as Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Honour him and Grant him Peace)
- Move from Madina to Makkah where people will pledge allegiance to him;
- Rule over the Arabs for seven years according to Sunnah;
- Spread justice and equity on earth;
- Eradicate tyranny and oppression;
- Lead a prayer in Makkah which Eesa(Peace be upon him) will follow in;
- NOT be the same individual as the Promised Messiah (Eesa, Peace be upon him).
The Imams and scholars of this ummah have stated this, and a few of their comments are quoted below:
1. Al-Haafiz Abu’l-Hasan al-Aabiri said: "The mutawaatir reports from the Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) describing the Mahdi are very many. They state that the Mahdi will be of his family, that he will rule for seven years, that he will fill the earth with justice, that ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam will emerge and help him to kill the Dajjaal, and that he will lead this ummah in prayer and ‘Eesaa will pray behind him."
2. Muhammad al-Barzanji said, in his book al-Ishaa’ah li Ashraat al-Saa’ah: "The major signs and the signs that will be immediately followed by the Hour: these signs are many, of which the Mahdi will be the first. Know that the ahaadeeth that have been narrated about him in various reports are numerous." He also said: "You know that the ahaadeeth which speak of the Mahdi, his appearance at the end of time, and his lineage and descent from the Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allaah be upon Him) via Faatimah reach the level of tawaatur in meaning, so there is no point in denying them."
3. Al-‘Allaamah Muhammad al-Safaareeni said: "There are so many reports which speak of the appearance of the Mahdi that they reach the level of tawaatur in meaning; they are very popular among the scholars of Sunnah and have become part of their faith." Then he quotes a number of ahaadeeth and reports about the appearance of the Mahdi and the names of the Sahaabah from whom they were narrated: "Many reports were narrated from the Sahaabah whose names were mentioned and others whose names were not mentioned, may Allaah be pleased with them all, and from the Taabi’een after them, all of which proves that this is definitive knowledge. Belief in the appearance of the Mahdi is obligatory, as it has been confirmed by the scholars and is listed among the beliefs of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah."
4. Al-‘Allaamah al-Mujtahid al-Shawkaani said: "The ahaadeeth that we have come across that speak of the awaited Mahdi reach the level of tawaatur, including fifty saheeh, hasan and da’eef munjabar ahaadeeth. There are mutawaatir without a doubt; indeed they are more mutawaatir than others, according to all the standards of usool. There are also many reports from the Sahaabah that speak about the Mahdi and that reach the level of marfoo’, so there is no room for individual opinions in such an issue."
5. Al-‘Allaamah al-Shaykh Siddeeq Hasan Khaan said: "Even though there are different versions of reports concerning the Mahdi, they are so many that they reach the level of tawaatur in meaning. They are to be found in al-Sunan and other books of Islam."
6. Al-Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ja’far al-Kattaani said: "The conclusion is that the ahaadeeth narrated concerning the Mahdi are mutawaatir, as are the ahaadeeth concerning the Dajjaal and the descent of ‘Eesaa ibn Maryam, upon whom be peace." (Ashraat al-Saa’ah by Yoosuf ibn ‘Abdullaah al-Waabil, pp. 195-203)
You should be aware that some liars have fabricated ahaadeeth about the Mahdi, and others have even claimed to be he, or that he belongs to a group other than Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah. Some of these "false mahdis" have tried to deceive the slaves of Allaah for some worldly gain and to distort the picture of Islaam. Some have started movements and revolutions and gathered those people and supporters whom they were able to deceive. Then they were destroyed, and their lies and falsehood were exposed. None of this affects the belief of Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamaa’ah in the Mahdi, upon whom be peace, and that he will undoubtedly appear and rule the earth in accordance with Islamic Sharee’ah.
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