Members of both Sunnis and Shiites believe in an Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, who will appear at the end of the world to establish Allah’s kingdom on earth.
Both Sunnis and Shiites accept hadiths (writings of Muhammad collected after his death) which predict the coming of a Mahdi who will establish a global caliphate in Allah’s name and rule for a period of time (seven, nine, or nineteen years, according to varying interpretations), ridding the world of evil before the day of judgment.
The coming of the Mahdi is believed to coincide with the second coming of Jesus, whom they call Isa, who will join hands with the Mahdi against a false messiah or antichrist.
The Shiites have developed this theology more extensively and emphasize it more forcefully.
As we have seen, “Twelver” Shiites (and Sufis) believe that the 12 Imams who succeeded Muhammad inherited Muhammad’s spiritual perfection and wisdom and are therefore interpreters or and trustees of the light of Islam.
They believe that the 12th Imam, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdi, was the prophesied Mahdi. He is believed to have died or otherwise disappeared in AD 941 and to be hidden by God until he will reappear at the end of time. The hiding is called the Occultation. (This is “an event that occurs when one object is hidden by another object that passes between it and the observer,” such as a sun eclipse.)
Other groups of Muslims, such as the Druze, the Mustaali, the Zaidi, and the Nizari, believe in a different Mahdi and are not “Twelvers.”
The Sunnis believe that the Mahdi has not yet been born but will be named Muhammad and will be a descendant of Muhammad.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, former president of Iran, has zealous faith in the coming of the Imam Madhi, and Iranian radio has broadcast prophecies of his coming.
“In short, when he reappears, peace, justice and security will overcome oppression and deceit and one global government, the most perfect ever, will be established. ... Another beautiful moment of the Savior’s appearance is the coming down of Prophet Jesus (PBUH) from heaven. Hazrat Mahdi receives him courteously and asks him to lead the prayers. But Jesus says you are more qualified for this than me. We read in the book Tazkarat ol-Olia, ‘the Mahdi will come with Jesus, son of Mary, accompanying him.’ This indicates that these two great men complement each other. Imam Mahdi will be the leader while Prophet Jesus will act as his lieutenant in the struggle against oppression and establishment of justice in the world. Jesus had himself given the tidings of the coming of God’s last messenger and will see Muhammad’s ideals materialize in the time of the Mahdi” (“Police Storm Home,” WorldNetDaily, June 23, 2007).
We see that Islam’s “Jesus” is given a subordinate position in these prophecies.
The following is from the London Telegraph, Jan. 14, 2006:
“As Iran rushes towards confrontation with the world over its nuclear programme, the question uppermost in the mind of western leaders is ‘What is moving its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to such recklessness?’ ... The most remarkable aspect of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president’s belief that his government must prepare the country for his return. One of the first acts of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s government was to donate about £10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well. ... A common rumour--denied by the government but widely believed--is that Mr. Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a ‘contract’ pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.”
From time to time, various individuals have claimed to be the Mahdi and have gotten large, enthusiastic followings. One of these was Siyyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi, who was called the Bab (“gate”) and is one of the central figures of the Baha’i. They consider the Bab to have been the Mahdi, Elijah, and John the Baptist. Others who have claimed to be the Mahdi are Muhammad Jaunpuri, founder of the Mahdavia sect, Muhammad Ahmad, founder of the Mahdist state in Sudan in the late 19th century, and Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya sect.
In this way, we probably see what will happen in the time of the Antichrist, in that either he or his prophet or both will be accepted as the fulfillment of prophecy by Muslims, and they will obey him.
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