“According to the Shiite version of Islam the 12th descendant of Mohammed, known as the 12th Imam or the Mahdi, (Also known as the "Hidden Imam”) went into hiding in 941, some 1300 years ago. At an earlier time of rising tensions, the 10th imam was forced from his home in Medina by the powerful Sunni caliph in Baghdad and was sent to live in Samarra, where he could be kept under closer supervision. Both he and his son were believed to have been poisoned by the caliphate. Fearing such persecution, Muhammad al-Mahdi, who was just a child when he became the 12th imam. Then he is said to have gone into what Shiites call occultation, a kind of suspended state from which it is believed he will return. Shiites believe he will reappear when the world has become full of oppression and tyranny. They believe that he is hidden in the Jamkaran well in Iran, which is a place of pilgrimage for believers who drop their requests for help into the well in the hope that the Imam will read them and come to their aid”.
The February 22nd bombing of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines, the Golden Mosque in the town of Samarra has sparked considerable retaliatory killing as, according to legend, the 12th Imam, was at the site of the shrine before he disappeared. (2 of the 12 imams revered by mainstream Shiites are buried there including the 11th imam, Hassan al-Askari).
According to the wsu.edu web site ..
“The core of the Shi'ite religious world view is the Hidden Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, "The Guided One." While the stories of the first eleven Imams are historical in nature, the history of the twelfth Imam is mystical and miraculous. Born in 868 AD / 255 AH, Abu'l-Kasim Muhammad (which is the name of the Prophet himself), and when Hasan al-Askari, the Eleventh Imam, died in 874 AD / 260 AH, the seven year old boy declared himself to be the Twelfth Imam and went into hiding. The Shi'ites believed that he hid himself in a cave below a mosque in Samarra; this cave is blocked by a gate which the Shi'ites call Bab-al Ghayba , or the "Gate of Occultation." This is one of the most sacred sites in Shi'a Islam, and the faithful gather here to pray for the return of the Twelfth Imam.
The central Shi'a doctrines revolving around the Hidden Imam are the doctrines of Occultation (Ghayba ) and Return (Raj'a) . The Doctrine of Occultation is simply the belief that God hid Muhammad al-Mahdi away from the eyes of men in order to preserve his life. God has miraculously kept him alive since the day he was hidden in 874 AD / 260 AH; eventually God will reveal al-Mahdi to the world and he will return to guide humanity.
The Occultation has two distinct stages, the Lesser Occultation and the Greater Occultation. In the Lesser Occultation, the Hidden Imam continued to communicate with humanity through representatives. Since the Imam was the spiritual guide or light to the rest of humanity, the Lesser Occultation only removed the Imam's body from the world, not his spiritual guidance. However, under the threat of orthodox Muslims, the Hidden Imam entered the period of Greater Occultation which is still continuing. In the Greater Occultation, the Imam is still the spiritual guide and light of the world with one exception: there is no longer any direct communication between humanity and the Imam. The Occultation, then, is a profound spiritual tragedy for the world. It means that the spiritual guide to the earth, the gift of God to humanity, which, throughout the ages has lived, breathed, and conversed with humanity, is out of reach. The Imam is the center of light in the world; the Occultation is the extinguishing of that light for the rest of humanity. The Shi'a world view, then, is profoundly tragic and nostalgic. The Shi'ite longs for a return to a time when spiritual truth walked among us, a time when human perfection stood as an icon for all humans to emulate.
The Hidden Imam, however, will eventually leave his Greater Occultation and appear (zuhur) to the world of humanity. This return is the most significant event in the future for the Shi'ite faithful and has thunderous eschatological consequences. This return will occur shortly before the Final Judgement and the end of history. Imam Mahdi will return at the head of the forces of righteousness and do battle with the forces of evil in one, final, apocalyptic battle. When evil has been defeated once and for all, the Imam Mahdi will rule the world for several years under a perfect government and bring about a perfect spirituality among the peoples of the world. After the Imam Mahdi has reigned for several years, Jesus Christ will return (raj'a), as will Husayn and others. It is the return of the dead that falls under the Doctrine of Return; the Mahdi will only appear to humanity”.(Richard Hooker)
“The Holy Prophet Muhammad(SAW) has prophesied about several events that will occur just before the advent of the day of judgment. Among these, Rasulullah(SAW) 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 Mekkah at which Isa(pbuh) (Jesus) will be present”. (Source)
Note: “Please do not confuse Imam Mahdi with Hadhrat Isa (Jesus) Alayhis Salaam. They are two different persons, and both will come during the last days. According to Hadeeth, Imam Mahdi will appear first, and Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) will appear during Imam Mahdi's lifetime. Furthermore, only Hadhrat Isa (A.S.) will be able to kill Dajjal (the "anti-Christ")”. (Source)
What Muhammed Said
The Following quotations are alleged by various people to have been made by Muhammed. [Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)] and are considered to be authentic.
Hadhrat Abdullah bin Mas'ood (R.A.) said;
"This world will not come to an end until one person from my progeny does not rule over the Arabs, and his name will be the same as my name."
(Tirmidhi) Hadhrat Ali (R.A.) said;
"Even if only a day remains for Qiyamah to come, yet Allah will surely send a man from my family who will fill this world with such justice and fairness, just as it initially was filled with oppression." (Abu Dawood)
Abu Sa'id al-Khudari(RA) said;
Al Mahdi will be from my progeny. His forehead will be broad and his nose will be high. He will fill the world with justice and fairness at a time when the world will be filled with oppression. He will rule for seven years. (Emphasis Added)
Hadhrat Abu Saeed Khudri (R.A.) said,
"Al Mahdi will be from my progeny. His forehead will be broad and his nose will be high. He will fill the world with justice and fairness at a time when the world will be filled with oppression. He will rule for seven years." (Emphasis Added)
Abu Hurairah said:
"The shall not occur until the Euphrates will disclose a mountain of gold, over which people will fight. 99 out of every hundred shall die, and every one of them shall say, 'perchance I shall be the one to succeed" (Source)
There is apparently no consensus among Muslim scholars as to the authenticity of the following quote
Abu al-Hujaf(RA) quotes the Prophet(SAW) saying three times:
Listen to the good news about the Mahdi! He will rise at the time when people will be faced with severe conflict and the earth will be hit by a violent quake. He will fill the earth with justice and equity as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. He will fill the hearts of his followers with devotion and will spread justice everywhere. (Bihar al-anwar, Vol. 51, P. 74)
According to The Universally Accepted Narrations
Be from among the family of Prophet(SAW),
among the descendants of Fatima(RA);
Have a broad forehead and pointed noise;
Appear in one night;
Appear just before the day of judgment;
Have same name as hazrat Muhammad(SAW);
Escape from Madina to Makkah where people will pledge allegiance to him;
Receive pledge and help of Iraqi people;
Fight in battles;
Rule over the Arabs for seven years according to Sunnah;
Spread justice and equity on earth;
Eradicate tyranny and oppression;
Lead a prayer in Mekkah which Jesus(pbuh) will follow in;
NOT be the same individual as the Promised Messiah (Jesus). (Source URL is no longer valid)
Physical Description of The Imam Mahdi
According to other hadeeth:
* He will be tall
* He will be fair complexioned
* His facial features will be similar to those of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
* His character will be exactly like that of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)
* His father's name will be Abdullah
* His mother's name will be Aamina
* He will speak with a slight stutter and occasionally this stutter will frustrate him causing him to hit
his hand upon his thigh.
* His age at the time of his emergence will be forty years
* He will receive Knowledge from Allah.. (Source)
Signs that Will Precede His Coming
“While the people will be pledging their allegiance to Imaam Mahdi, a voice from the unseen will call out:
"This is the representative of Allah,
The Mahdi, listen to him and obey him"
This announcement which will be heard by all those present will establish his authenticity. Another sign which will indicate the authenticity of Imaam Mahdi wil be that in the Ramadhaan prior to his emergence an eclipse of the sun and moon will occur”.