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Qāʾim (Arabic: قائم; 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/8th and 3rd/9th centuries thought that some Imams or their children were the promised Qa'im and were expecting their Reappearance.

Qa'im 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). 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 Qa'im for God's order". Phrases in hadiths, such as "he is the Qa'im of his time", "all of us are Qa'im for God's order" and the like, imply that the term, "Qa'im", is not specifically used for Imam al-Mahdi (a).

Appellation of Imam al-Mahdi (a) as Qa'im

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

Historical Instances

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

Other Imams who were Taken to be Qa'im

  • After the demise of Imam al-Baqir (a), some people took him to be the last Imam, holding that he was the expected Qa'im. According to al-Baghdadi, when Imam al-Baqir (a) died, some of his companions believed in his Mahdawiyya (the promised savior), and according to al-Shahristani, they believed that the Imam (a) will have a raj'a (return).
  • During the lifetime of Imam al-Kazim (a), many people expected him, as the "Qa'im Al Muhammad", to found the right government that the society was expecting for years. After his martyrdom, some of his most prominent companions and representatives in different areas believed that he was alive and was only invisible to people and will soon reappear as the Qa'im and will establish the just government. These people were called "Waqifiyya".

Children of Imams who were Taken to be Qa'im

  • Kaysanites believed that Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya was an Imam and believed in his being the Mahdi and the Qa'im. After his death, some of them believed that he was occluded and would rise up soon.
  • Some Zaydiyya claimed that the leaders of Zaydi uprisings were Mahdis. They believed that they would return one day and would fill the world with justice. They claimed Mahdawiyya about Zayd b. 'Ali, al-Nafs al-Zakiyya and other leaders of Zaydiyya.
  • Isma'iliyya which was formed after the martyrdom of Imam al-Sadiq (a) was branched into two groups: some of them accepted the imamate of Muahmmad, the son of Isma'il, and some of them stopped at the imamate of Isma'il and believed in his Mahdawiyya. They believed that Isma'il did not die; rather his father, Imam al-Sadiq (a), had hidden him from people in order to protect him from harms. They believed that he would live until he takes over the whole Earth. These are pure Isma'iliyya. However, some of the followers of Muhammad b. Isma'il believed in his Mahdawiyya and stopped at his imamate.

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