The noblest of eras in the history of this world is the era of the prophethood. It is where the skies meet the earth [the coming down of revelation] and human nature attains perfection. As time passes after the demise of the prophet, nations fall into disarray with revelation coming to an end. This ummah faced the same challenge after the passing of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Regression continued with no hope of rejuvenation in sight. This phenomenon has been recorded in the ahadith:
لا يأتي عليكم زمان إلا الذي بعده شر منه حتي تلقو ربكم
Each era that will come upon you will be worst then the previous one till you meet your Lord.
The mercy of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala upon his creation necessitates times and eras wherein mankind will return to guidance and be reminded of the very first era of this ummah. The emergence of the Mahdi will be recounted as part of those fortunate eras. He will rise to guide and cure the spiritual maladies embedded in the hearts of people after evil will have spread its wings and oppression become the order of the day. Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu reports from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
يخرج في آخر أمتي المهدي، يسقيه الله الغيث، وتخرج الأرض نباتها، ويُعطي المال صحاحاً، وتكثر الماشية، وتعظم الأمة، يعيش سبعاً أو ثمانياً
At the end of the time of my ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah will grant him rain, the earth will bring forth its fruits, he will distribute wealth generously, cattle will increase, and the ummah will become great. He will rule for seven or eight [years].
This hadith is of the unseen and a prophecy of the occurrences at the end of times which ought to increase the faith of Muslims and spur them on to prepare for these turbulent conditions. The first great sign of Qiyamah will be the opening for the other great signs which then appear in quick succession, like the beads off a broken string. Amongst the signs of the Hour, is the emergence of a pious man. The narrations with regards to his appearance are many and have reached the highest level of authenticity in conveying its meaning. The question remains though, who is this pious man and what do we know about him? The following pages will endeavour to remove the cobwebs of confusion and establish the facts of this august personality.
His name is Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah and known widely as ‘Mahdi’. He is from the Ahlul Bayt and specifically from the progeny of Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu, son of Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha. He therefore has a bond to the Hassani, ‘Alawi, and Hashimi families.
‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma report the following narrations from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam:
لا تذهب الدنيا الدنيا حتى يملك العرب رجل من أهل بيتي يواطئ اسمه اسمي
The world will not come to pass until a man from among my family, whose name will be my name, rules over the Arabs.
لو لم يبق من الدنيا إلا يوم لطول الله ذلك اليوم حتى يبعث رجلا مني أو من أهل بيتي يواطىء اسمه اسمي واسم أبيه اسم أبي، يملأ الأرض قسطا وعدلا كما ملئت ظلما وجورا
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 justice and fairness, just as it initially was filled with oppression.
المهدي منا أهل البيت يصلحه الله في ليلة
The promised Mahdi will be among my family. Allah will make the provisions for his emergence within a single night.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has clearly outlined his defining characteristics so that when he does emerge there is no hesitation in assisting his cause, especially since it will be a time of immense tribulation. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam mentioned they will share a name and father’s name. Furthermore, he will be from amongst the Ahlul Bayt. As for his physical features, the Messenger of Allah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam says:
المهدي مني أجلى الجبهة أقنى الأنف
Al Mahdi will be from my progeny. His forehead will be broad, and his nose will be high. [Broad due to his hair falling to the back and his nose pronounced with a slight arch.]
As mentioned, he will rise into a world steeped into oppression and coercion. Evil and shamelessness will be the order of the day, and justice will be non-existent. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will guide the ummah at his hands and strengthen the faith through his efforts.
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam has informed us of the events to come in several ahadith. He has indicated towards the duration of Mahdi’s stay on the earth in the following narration:
يخرج في آخر أمتي المهدي يسقيه الله الغيث، وتخرج الأرض نباتها ويُعطي المال صحاحاً وتكثر الماشية وتعظم الأمة، يعيش سبعاً أو ثمانياً
At the end of the time of my ummah, the Mahdi will appear. Allah 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].
He will remain on this earth for seven or eight years. In this duration the lands will be filled with justice and fairness, just as it initially was filled with oppression. After his death, trials and evil will once again rear its head. The appearance of this Imam will be a mercy for the people living towards the end of times. We seek the protection of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala from all trials, apparent and hidden.
The narrations indicate that he will rise from the east and will not be alone. The people of the east will assist him in carrying the responsibility of this faith, fighting by his side in raising the word of Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala after having pledged allegiance to him at the Ka’bah.
يؤيد بناس من اهل المشرق ينصرونه ويقيمون سلطانة ويشيدون اركانه وتكون راياتهم سود ايضا وهو زي عليه الوقار لان راية الرسول الكريم كانت سوداء يقال لها العقاب
He will be assisted by people from the east, who will help establish his reign and strengthen his support. Their flag will be black in colour and awe-inspiring as this was the flag of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam which was called ‘Iqab.
The Muslims will then pledge their allegiance to him and he will wage wars with them in which they will be victorious. His reign will be established, and he will rule with Islamic law resulting in justice throughout. The Muslim ummah will enjoy economic prosperity unlike anything they had witnessed before. They will search for people to accept their wealth however everyone will be self sufficient and not in need. The earth will sprout its blessings and the skies will rain down abundantly. Wealth will be distributed without account. Ibn Kathir says, “In his time fruits, crops, and wealth will be abundant. His rule will be supreme and the faith strong. Enemies will be overpowered, and general goodness will spread.”
This is the Mahdi, who will emerge in turbulent times when evil and immorality will have become the norm. The narrations that have been presented before you regarding the Mahdi—dear reader—are authentic and have reached such a large number that their meanings are concrete, leaving no doubt in the veracity of his coming. What should be borne in mind however is, the coming of Mahdi and relying on him does not absolve us of doing good actions and spreading our faith. Laying in wait for him with our hands tied is impractical and pointless. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam did not inform us about him so that we may leave out all good actions. It was rather a measure to strengthen the hearts of the pious when the running gets tough so that they do not get despondent with the overpowering atmosphere of disbelief.
‘Abdul ‘Aziz ibn Baz says:
The matter of al Mahdi is well-known. The traditions concerning it are many; rather they are successive. Several scholars have attested to this. The narrations are successive in the meaning it conveys. They indicate that the matter of this promised person is proven, and that his appearance is true. He is Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah al ‘Alawi al Hassani, from the progeny of Hassan ibn ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. This Imam will emerge at the end of times and establish truth and justice together with preventing injustice and oppression. Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala will spread much goodness through him, guiding and advising people.
Muhammad Nasir al Din al Albani writes:
Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam gave the Muslims glad tidings regarding a man from his Ahlul Bayt and proclaimed his qualities. Most importantly, he will rule by Islamic law and spread justice. He will be a reviver of this faith which Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala sends at the turn of every century as is established from the narrations. Just as the promise of a reviver does not absolve us of striving to seek knowledge and applying ourselves whole heartedly to practice, similarly the prophecy of the emergence of Mahdi does not absolve of the same, rather the opposite rings true.
The twenty-three years of effort that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam strived for was not based on relying solely on Mahdi in the final era. The effort was to construct an Islamic empire. What would Mahdi do if he emerged today and found the ummah in many factions and groups. The establishing of an Islamic Empire will only come about after an effort is made to unite the ummah under a single banner. This undoubtedly will take a long time, only Allah subhanahu wa ta ‘ala knows the extent of it. Both, faith and logic dictate that sincere Muslims stand up for this mammoth task so that when he does emerge the only duty at hand would be to help him to victory.
 Sahih al Bukhari, 6657. The narration of Anas radiya Llahu ‘anhu.
 Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, 8673. AL Hakim has commented on the authenticity of it, however al Bukhari and Muslim have not narrated it. Al Dhahabi concurs with him and Al Albani has attested to its veracity. Silsilat al Sahihah, 711.
 Jami’ al Tirmidhi, 2230. The author has authenticated this narration. Al Albani has done the same in Mishkat al Masabih, 5452; Fadail al Sham, 16.
 Abu Dawood, 4282; Silsilat al Sahihah, 1529. Al Albani has authenticated it therein. Ibn Taymiyyah has done the same in Minhaj al Sunnah, vol. 4 pg. 211, “The narrations regarding the emergence of Mahdi are authentic. Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Ahmed, and others have narrated it on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud and others.” Similarly, this has been mentioned in al Muntaqa min Minhaj al I’tidal by al Dhahabi, pg. 534.
 Musnad Imam Ahmed, 645; Ibn Majah, 4085. On the authority of ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Silsilat al Sahihah, 2371. Al Albani has authenticated it therein.
 Abu Dawood, 4285 on the authority of Abu Sa’id al Khudri radiya Llahu ‘anhu. Albani has authenticated it in Sahih al Jami’, 11682.
 Al Mustadrak lil Hakim, 8673. Al Hakim has commented on the authenticity of it, however al Bukhari and Muslim have not narrated it. Al Dhahabi concurs with him and al Albani has attested to its veracity. Silsilat al Sahihah, 711.
 Ibn Kathir: Al Nihayah fi al Fitan.
 See his footnotes on ‘Aqidah Ahlus Sunnah wa al Athar fi al Mahdi al Muntazar of ‘Abdul Muhsin al ‘Ubad.
 Silsilat al Sahihah, 1529.