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Al-Qa'im (a)

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Al-Qāʾim (Arabic: القائم; literally meaning: who stands up) is a title of Imam al-Mahdi (a) indicating his promised uprising in the End Time. Although in many hadiths the title refers to Imam al-Mahdi (a), in others, it refers to other Imams (a) as well, which means a person who stands up for God's orders. Some Shi'as in 2nd/eighth and 3rd/ninth centuries thought that some Imams or their children were the promised al-Qa'im and were expecting their reappearance.

In Hadiths

In some hadiths, "Qa'im Al Muhammad" (the standing [person] of the family of Muhammad) is used as a title of Imam al-Mahdi (a).[1] But in others it is not used so; rather it is used as generally referring to a person who stands up or rises up for justice. In his al-Kafi, al-Kulayni wrote a chapter under "all Imams were al-Qa'im for God's order". Phrases in hadiths, such as "he is the al-Qa'im of his time"[2], "all of us are al-Qa'im for God's order"[3] and the like, imply that the term, "al-Qa'im", is not specifically used for Imam al-Mahdi (a).[4]

A Title of Imam al-Mahdi (a)

Since Imam al-Mahdi's (a) uprising (qiyam) is the most salient part of his life, this title was frequently used in the remarks of the Infallibles (a). Some hadiths are explicit about this, for example:

  • Imam al-Sadiq (a) is quoted as saying that: "He [al-Mahdi(a)] is called 'al-Qa'im' because he will stand up (or rise up) for the right".[5]
  • Imam al-Jawad (a) was asked why he [al-Mahdi (a)] is called 'al-Qa'im'. He said: "because [he] will rise up when his name is forgotten".[6]


In the age of the presence of the Imams (a), some Shi'as used the term, 'al-Qa'im', for some Imams (a) or their children.


  • After the demise of Imam al-Baqir (a), some people took him to be the last Imam, holding that he was the expected al-Qa'im. According to al-Baghdadi, when Imam al-Baqir (a) died, some of his companions believed in his Mahdawiyya (the promised savior)