How will the Mahdi be recognized? (The Mahdi's spiritual attributes)

The hadiths of our Prophet (saas) contain a great deal of detailed information and signs about the End Times that will take place close to Doomsday. According to the information imparted by our Prophet (saas), a great many significant events will take place one after the other at that time. In the first stage of the End Times there will be great corruption and chaos on Earth, and in the second stage peace and security will prevail as people begin living by true religious moral values.

In the first stage of the End Times there will be terrible degeneration and chaos among people because of various philosophical systems that inculcate atheism and irreligion by their refusal to accept the existence of Almighty Allah (God). Humanity will turn away from the purpose behind its creation, leading to enormous spiritual emptiness and moral degeneration. There will be terrible disasters, wars and famines, and all people will seek the answer to the question, How can we be saved? in order to bring these troubles to an end. The majority of these developments related as portents of the End Times in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas) have taken place in our time, just as reported. The recent growing rise in war and conflict, terror, violence, anarchy and chaos, slaughter and torture are a sign that the first stage of the End Times is now taking place.

According to the information in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas), Allah will rescue people from the chaos of the End Times after this period of darkness and bestow a great salvation upon them. Allah will make the Mahdi, in other words a servant with superior moral values and who bears the title of he who leads to the truth, lead people who have turned their backs on proper moral values and societies that have suffered degeneration to the true path. By the will of Allah, the Mahdi will enable humanity to live by true Qur’anic moral values by ridding Islam of all corruption and superstition. In the first stage of the End Times, he will resolve all the chaos, social problems and societal difficulties facing humanity and will be a means whereby happiness, peace, security and proper moral values prevail over the entire world.


Various features of the Mahdi are described in several of the hadiths of our Prophet (saas). The spiritual attributes of the Mahdi that we shall be examining in the light of these hadiths are all important guides to our being able to recognize this great individual of the End Times.

In these hadiths that we are looking at, our Prophet (saas) provides a great deal of descriptive information about the spiritual attributes of the Mahdi. He has reported that the Mahdi’s moral values resemble his own, and praised his fear of Allah and moral virtues. Our Prophet (saas) stated that the Mahdi would be a very valuable personage who would be a means whereby people attain salvation in this world and in the Hereafter. He also told people to abide by him even if it means crawling over snow when the Mahdi appears.

The period we are living in is the period awaited for the last fourteen hundred years, when this historic event related by our Prophet (saas) has drawn near. All Muslims who are aware of this fact and who wish to attain the honor of being at the Mahdi’s side when he appears must carefully read the information described throughout this article and imparted in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas), and must grasp all means of accurately identifying this holy individual. Because the careful study and examination of this information will, by Allah’s leave, be a guide to the recognition of this holy personage.

There can be no doubt that preparing the ground for and assisting such a holy individual who will be a means whereby Islam returns to its true essence and Qur’anic moral values prevail over all the world is an important responsibility for Muslims. Being one of those close to such a blessed individual as the Mahdi, being able to support him and being able to help in his work aimed at the benefit of all humanity is a great blessing and honor for all believers.

The Mahdi is a holy personage, the tidings of whose sending in the End Times have been imparted by our Prophet (saas), who will free Muslims from a climate of oppression and trouble, who will eliminate the strife on Earth and bring peace, justice, plenty, happiness and well-being to all the world. According to reliable accounts transmitted from our Prophet (saas), the Mahdi will restore the faith, which has been turned away from its true essence with various superstitious beliefs and practices, to that original nature, will meet with the Prophet ‘Isa (as), and will, by Allah’s leave, be a means whereby the moral values of Islam, the one true faith, come to prevail over the whole world.

He Will Be A Fighter

According to what we are told in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas), the Mahdi will be a role model for all believers, both with his superior moral values and with his powerful, fighter character:

The Mahdi will be dedicated to his work. (Portents of the Last Day, Barzanji, p. 175)

The Mahdi will perform his duties scrupulously and will not go back on his word. (The Book of Portents of the Mahdi of the End Times, p. 24)

The Mahdi will appear from the East. Even if mountains rise up before him he will crush and cross them, and he will find a path for himself in those mountains. (The Book of Portents of the Awaited Mahdi, p. 39)

He Will Fear Allah

The more a person fears Allah, the closer he draws to Him. That is because fear of Allah brings with it the devotion and love felt for Almighty Allah. As is stated in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas), the fear of Allah possessed by the Mahdi will be exceedingly powerful:

Mahdi is a person who, as the shaking of a bird’s wings, has a deep fear for Allah.  (The Book of Portents of the Awaited Mahdi of the End Times [Al- Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar], p. 23) 

His Maintenance and Observance of the Bounds Set by Allah

Even a word uttered against Islam offends his feelings. (Ibn Hajar Al-Makki, “Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar”, p. 15-75)

He Will Be Virtuous

Almighty Allah has dispatched many emissaries throughout history. It is reported in the Qur’an that the emissaries possess excellent moral values. In the verse, “Indeed you are truly vast in character.” (Surat al-Qalam, 4), it is reported that our Prophet Muhammad (saas) possessed superior moral virtues. As we are told in the hadiths, the Mahdi, a holy envoy of Allah, will also possess this attribute:

Mahdi is extremely submissive towards Allah. In moral terms, he is like the Prophet (saas). (Portents of the Last Day, Barzanji, p.163)

A child of mine whose morality is similar to me will emerge. (Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 21)        

He Will Behave Justly

Abu Jafar Muhammad ibn Ali Said:

“When the Mahdi from our Ahl al-Bayt emerges, he will distribute the goods equally. He treats the people justly. Whoever submits him, he would submit to Allah. He is named as the Mahdi. That is because He will guide to a secret (unknown) deed.”

(Mer’iy ibn Yusuf ibn Abu Bakr ibn Ahmad ibn Yusuf al-Makhdi, “Faraidu Fawaidil Fikri fi Imamil Mahdi al-Muntadhar”)

Just as how the earth was full of cruelty and injustice, Mahdi will fill it with justice and righteousness. (Ali Ibn Sultan Muhammad al Qaari “Risalat Mashrab al Vardi fi Mazhabi’l Mahdi)

He Will Be Greatly Loved by All

The measure that believers observe in loving someone is that person’s closeness to, love and fear of and devotion to Allah. For that reason, whoever most manifests the titles of our Lord that is the person who is most loved and respected by believers. Indeed, the envoys were people who most manifested the titles of Almighty Allah and who exhibited the highest virtues in terms of faith. Our Prophet (saas) has indicated that the Mahdi will be the best-loved individual of the age during the End Times:

Allah (c.c.) will fill all people’s hearts with his (Mahdi’s) love. (Al-Khavlu’l Mukhtasar Fi Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 42)

No individual who will not be pleased with the ummah of the Muhammad will remain. (Portents of the Last Day, Barzanji, p. 163)

Abu Abdullah Nuaym ibn Hammad related from Abdullah ibn Masud as follows:

Allah will place his [Mahdi’s] love in people’s hearts. This way they will be a community who become lions during the day and spend their nights in worship. (Ukayli “En-Necmu’s-sakıb fi Bayanı Anna’l Mahdi min Avladı Ali ibn Abu Talib Ala’t-Tamam va’l Kamal”)

The people of the earth and heavens, and even the birds in the sky will assent to his caliphate. (Al-Khavlu’l Mukhtasar Fi Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 29)

He Will Be the Most Auspicious of the Time

The world, which will be in a state of chaos in the period when the Mahdi appears, will begin experiencing an enlightened age by means of him. Through him, much that is auspicious will take place. It is reported in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas) that the Mahdi will be the most auspicious person of the age:

Join the person who is the most auspicious of the ummah of the Muhammad and your guardian who removes the difficulties…He is the Mahdi. (Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 57)

He will be the most auspicious of his time. (Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 27)

Mahdi is the most auspicious of the people (in his time.) (Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, s. 58) “Mahdi is the most auspicious of people.” (Ali ibn  Sultan Muhammad al-Khari al-Hanafi “Risalatul Mashrab alvardi fi mazhabil Mahdi”)

The Power of His Message

The hadiths below concerning the power of the Mahdi’s message are interpreted in different ways in addition to their apparent meanings. One of these interpretations may take this form: By turning to someone who is compared to a dry tree and being a means whereby they come to the truth, the Mahdi will make this person, who was formerly of no use to his surroundings, just like a dry tree, useful to his surroundings, like a tree that has flourished and borne fruit, in other words to his state, nation, faith and all of humanity.

When the Mahdi plants a dry tree, the tree will immediately turn green and sprout. (Al-Qawl al-Mukhtasar fi `Alamat al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, p. 43)

He (the Mahdi) will plant a dry seed in a dry land, and it will at once turn green and sprout. (Portents of the Last Day, Barzanji, p. 165)

Similarly, it is reported in the hadiths below that someone who was previously ignorant, parsimonious and timid will become generous and courageous in the End Times through the message and teaching of the Mahdi, and that he will change his character, just like a tree that was formerly dry and unproductive flourishing and bearing leaves:

In his age, an ignorant, parsimonious and timid man will immediately become learned, generous and courageous. (Portents of the Last Day, Barzanji, p. 186)

His Wisdom and Power of Understanding

It is reported in the hadiths that the Mahdi will have a special power bestowed on him by Allah:

He is called the Mahdi, for he is the holder of a secret power nobody is able to know. (The Portents of the Mahdi of the End Times, Ali ibn Husamaddin Al Muttakhi, Kahraman Publishing House. p. 77) 

Muhyiddin Arabi, one of the great Islamic scholars, has set out in his works nine of the main noteworthy characteristics of the Mahdi:

1. He has foresight
2. He understands the Holy Book
3. He knows the meaning of the verses
4. He knows the condition and actions of the people he will appoint
5. He remains compassionate and just even when angered
6. He knows the classes of entities
7. He knows the hidden sides of matters
8. He has a good understanding of people’s needs
9. He knows the secret knowledge particularly needed in his own time.

He Preserves the Truth in the Face of Oppressors 

Hafiz Abu Abdullah Nuaym ibn Hammad has reported from Jafar ibn Yasar A-sami in his book Fiten:

The Mahdi will defend the truth against the oppressors. Indeed, he will extract the molar tooth (anything unjustly held) of a (cruel) person and restore it to its rightful owner.  (An-Nacmu’s-Saqib fi Bayanı Anna’l Mahdi min Avladı Ali b. Abu Talib Ale’t-Temam ve’l Qamal)

The Surveillance – Following – of the Mahdi

When the Dajjal appears, a person among the believers (the Mahdi) turns against him. Then, many armed men, those armed men charged with surveillance in Dajjal’s headquarters oppose him. (Muslim, related from v. 11/s. 393)

At the beginning of the hadiths it is reported that the Mahdi will be subjected to surveillance by the supporters of the Dajjal. We also learn from the Qur’an that some prophets struggling on the path of Allah had also been subjected to surveillance in earlier periods, and that the aim had been to thus keep them under control:

He is nothing but a man possessed so wait a while and see what happens to him. (Surat al-Muminun, 25)

He Will Face Troubles and Difficulties

Most of the envoys sent to warn peoples living far removed from religious moral values and to call them to the true path have been rejected by the peoples to whom they were sent and subjected to various false accusations and slanders. We are told in hadiths that the Mahdi, who will be descended from the line of the Prophet (saas), will also encounter such troubles and difficulties. (Allah knows best.)

Our Prophet (saas) stated:

The Mahdi is among us, one from the Ahl al-Bayt…We are such a household that, for us, Allah preferred the Hereafter over this world. After me, my Ahl al-Bayt will surely be subjected to trouble, abduction and banishment.

After me, my Ahl al-Bayt will meet trouble and torment, and be subjected to expulsion. (Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p.14)

…Mahdi will emerge at a time when, one after another, disasters befall people and people lose hope of his appearance. He prays two rakaat. When he returns from the prayer he says: “People! The Ummah of Muhammad and especially his Ahl al-Bayt have undergone many troubles…” (Al-Burhan fi `Alamat al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 55)

Those troubles befalling the one who is profound and strong in his faith are grand.  (Ibn Hibban)

He Will Appear With Sacred Objects

We are told in many hadiths that the Mahdi will emerge from a place where there are sacred objects and that he will be the first person to open these. One of these hadiths reads:

Naim ibn Hammad related from Abu Jaffar;

 “Mahdi emerges at the time of night with our Prophet’s banner, shirt, sword, signs, light and beautiful expression.”(Ali Ibn Sultan Muhammad al-Qaari al-Hanafi “Risalat Mashrab al Vardi fi Mazhabi’l Mahdi)

He [the Mahdi] will emerge with the Prophet’s banner. That banner has four edges and is seam-free and its color is black. There exists a ring above it. That banner has not been opened since the time our Prophet passed away and it will be opened when Mahdi emerges. (Portents of the Mahdi of the Akhir Zaman, Ali ibn Husamattin Al Muttaki, p. 22)

He Will Be Grateful to Allah Alone

When we examine the stories of the prophets in the Qur’an we see that they have turned to Allah under all circumstances. We also learn of their sincere devotion to Allah and the love and fear they felt towards Him from the Qur’an. As emphasized in the hadiths below, this characteristic will also be seen in the Mahdi:

“Mahdi is one of us, one of the Ahl-i Bayt. He is a person who does not feel grateful to anyone other than Allah.” (as-Suyuti, al-Havi, 2/24)

There Will Be Black Propaganda about the Mahdi

The supporters of the Dajjal, the enemy of Islam, will blacken the name of the Mahdi in written and verbal media and will attempt to weaken his prestige in the public eye. This is indicated as follows in one of the hadiths:

When that Muslim personage (the Mahdi) sees the Dajjal, he says: “People! This is the Dajjal of whom the Prophet (saas) mentioned.” Dajjal gives his order about him right away and that person is laid upon his stomach and from his back it is said: “Take him and beat him.” Then that person’s back and stomach is broadened by beating. This time he [the Dajjal] grabs him by his two hands and two feet and hurls him. People assume Dajjal throws him into a fire. But in fact he is thrown away to the Garden. (Mahdism and Imamism, Ibrahim Suleymanoglu, p. 40)

We are told in the hadiths that the Mahdi will be broadened by being beaten on his back and stomach. The author of the book says in reference to this section that the Mahdi’s fame will constantly be declared and disseminated. Yet since it is the supporters of the Dajjal who will do this, it may be said that this propaganda will blacken the name of the Mahdi. However, although this may appear to be infelicitous at first sight, it will be a means whereby the Mahdi is recognized and whereby the moral values of Islam are spread.

He Will Be Far from Sight

Naim ibn Hammad reported thus from Abu Jafar:

...At nights he will be engaged in worship while he will be hidden during the day... (Ukayli “An-Najmu’s-sakıb fi Bayanı Anna’l Mahdi min Awladi Ali ibn Abu Talib Ala’t-Tamam va’l kamal”)

He Will Be Supported by Angels

In the majority of stories about the prophets it can be seen that they were always supported by help from Allah in communicating their message of religious moral values or whenever they encountered a difficult situation. In the same way that this assistance might reach the prophets in a moment, or take various forms such as natural phenomena, it also took place with help from angels. In one of the hadiths, our Prophet (saas) has revealed that Allah will help the Mahdi by means of angels:

“Allah (cc) will help him (the Mahdi) by means of three angels. They will beat the faces and backs of those who oppose him (the Mahdi).” (Ikdu’d Durer, p. 12)

He Will Know What is Lawful and Unlawful

Since the Mahdi will possess superior moral virtues and have a powerful fear of Allah, he will know Almighty Allah’s bounds and what is lawful and unlawful:

Hussain was asked:

“By what signs will the Mahdi be known?” He replied: “By his ease of heart and dignity, by his knowing what is lawful and unlawful.” (Fera Idu Fevaidi'l Fiqr Fi'l Imam al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar)

He Will Be Compassionate Towards the Poor

The infinite compassion of Allah is recalled at the end of many verses in the Qur’an. In addition, the Qur’an commands believers to “be one of those who believe and urge each other to steadfastness and urge each other to compassion.” (Surat al-Balad, 17)

Our Almighty Lord’s title of The Most Compassionate of the Compassionate is manifested in all prophets and believers. We are told in one hadiths that the Mahdi will also be exceptionally compassionate:

“His exercising discipline over those working for him, his distribution of goods generously and his being very compassionate towards the poor are the signs of the Mahdi.” Fera Idu Fevaidi'l Fiqr Fi'l Imam al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar”, Islamic Scholars’ Views about the Mahdi, p. 133, Footnote number: 26, Kopru Publishing House.)

The Mahdi’s sign is his being disciplined on those working for him, his generosity about goods, and his compassion for the oppressed.” (Ukayli “An-Nacmu’s-sakib fi Bayanı Anna’l Mahdi min Avladı Ali b. Abu Talib Ale’t-Tamam va’l Kamal)

He Will Assume All Responsibilities

He assumes all responsibilities and helps the poor and those in need. (M. Muhyiddin Arabi “Futuhat-Al Makkiya”, 366. bab, v. 3, p. 327- 328)

He Will Disappear Twice

The way that the Mahdi will disappear twice appears in this form in the hadiths of our Prophet (saas):

“The one who will fulfill this deed (the Mahdi) will hide twice. One of these will lengthen to such an extent that some of them will say, “He is dead” whereas others will say, “He has gone.” Neither those who love him nor others will know his whereabouts. Only his servant who is very close to him knows his place. (Al-Saa Fi Eshrad-is Saa” p. 93, Egyptian edition.)

He Will Not Declare His Needs

One of the most important characteristics of the Mahdi is that he will not declare his needs:

Hussain was asked:

“By what signs will the Mahdi be known?” He replied: “... People will need of him but he will express his needs to no one.” (Fera Idu Fevaidi'l Fiqr Fi'l Imam al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar”)

He Will Possess Exemplary Virtues

Almighty Allah has sent envoys to issue warnings in all periods, and they have been charged with telling people of the true faith. However, their message was not limited to expounding religious moral values, and they were role models with their behavior and attitudes. The exemplary moral virtues of the Mahdi are reported as follows in one hadith:

Divine superior virtues inspired by Allah reach him. He receives knowledge of the faith and exemplary moral virtue from Allah.  (Konavi Risalet-ul Mahdi, p. 161 B)

He Will Know the Science of Numerology

Some of them said this book that has reached maturity is attributed to the appearance of Mahdi who is expected to appear in the End Times. He is very competent of the science of jifr and its secrets. This knowledge is the kind of wisdom that reached from the books endowed to the prophets of the past. (Mahdism and Imamism, Ibrahim Suleymanoglu, p. 252)

2008-07-25 20:35:00

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