Imam Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Mahdi (a)
|This article or section is in the process of expansion or major restructuring.|
|Muhammad b. al-Hasan|
12th Shi'a Imam
c. 2 August 869 CE|
(Sha'ban 15, 255 AH)
|Beginning of Imamate||Rabi' I 8, 260/ January 5, 874- present|
|Father||al-Hasan b. 'Ali al-'Askari (a)|
Al-Qa'im (rising one),
'Ali, al-Hasan, al-Husayn, al-Sajjad, al-Baqir, al-Sadiq, al-Kazim, al-Rida, al-Taqi, al-Hadi, al-'Askari, al-Mahdi
Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan al-'Askarī (Arabic: محمد بن الحسن العسکری) (born in 255/869), also known as Imam al-Mahdi (a) ( إمام المهدی), is the twelfth Imam in Twelver Shi'ism. He is the promised savior, who will rise one day and fill the earth with peace and justice. Imam al-Mahdi (a) has been in occultation from the early years of his life. Shi'as regard him as the Imam of the present age. Among his well-known titles are Imam al-Zaman (the Imam of the time) and Wali l-'Asr (the guardian of the age).
Imam al-Mahdi (a) became the Imam after the demise of his father Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) in the year 260/874, when he was five. From that time until the year 329/940, he was in contact with his followers through his Four Deputies. After that, his Major Occultation started, in which period the direct guidance and leadership of the Shi'a community rests with religious scholars.
Every year, on Sha'ban 15, Shi'as celebrate the Imam's birth, marking one of the greatest Shi'i festivals.
Genealogy and Birth
The twelfth Imam (a) is the only child of Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a). His name and Epithet are the same as those of The Prophet (s). He was born on Sha'ban 15, 255/869. Some sources, though, regard 256/870 as the more accurate year of his birth.
Imam al-Hasan al-'Askari (a) hid the birth of his son, because the news of the appearance of al-Mahdi and the fact that the Shi'a were anticipating his uprising were well-known, and this had made the government sensitive. Therefore, Imam al-'Askari (a) did not publicly announce the birth of his son, and most people did not know his son after the Imam's demise.
|Family tree of Ahl al-Bayt (a)|
People Who Saw the Imam (a) in His Childhood
- Muhammad b. Isma'il b. Musa b. Ja'far
- Hakima, the daughter of Imam al-Jawad (a)
- Abu 'Amr al-'Amri
- Abu 'Ali b. Mutahhar
- Abu 'Abd Allah b. Salih
- Ibrahim b. Idris
- 'Amr al-Ahwazi
- Abu Nasr al-Turayf, the servant of Imam al-'Askari
According to Shi'i hadiths, the beginning of the imamate of Imam al-Mahdi (a) was when he was five. God bestowed upon him the qualifications needed for imamate at that young age, just as Yahya (a) was given wisdom in his childhood, and Jesus (a) was chosen as a prophet when he was an infant.
Believing in a savior is not exclusive to the Shi'a or Muslims. Many religions and sects also maintain similar beliefs. The difference between Twelver Shi'ism and the other religious traditions is the belief in a specific person, who was born in 255/869 and is still alive, as the awaited savior.
Narration from the Prophet (s)
Among the hadiths of the Prophet (s) pointing to the imamate of the twelfth Imam, recorded in Shi'i sources, is the hadith in which the Prophet (s) says to Imam al-Husayn (a), "You are the master, the son of the master; you are the Imam son of the Imam; you are the Proof son of a Proof; you are the father of nine Proofs from your progeny, the ninth of whom is the Riser (al-Qa'im)."
"Mahdi is from my family, from the descendants of Fatima.'"
"Mahdi is from us, Ahl al-Bayt."
"If only one day remains before the world ends, God will raise a man from my family who will fill the earth with justice, while it has become full of injustice and oppression."
Narrations from the Imams (a)
Among the hadiths of the Imams (a), a hadith attributed to Imam 'Ali (a) states, "Know that by God, my two sons [[[al-Hasan (a)]] and al-Husayn (a)] and I will be murdered, and God will surely raise at the end of the time a man from my descendants who will revenge for us. He will be hidden from people so that the misguided should be known, [and his occultation will be prolonged] until the ignorant will say, 'God does not need the family of Muhammad [s]'."
- Main article: Occultation
Several hadiths predicted the birth and occultation of Imam al-Mahdi (a), before his birth. Many hadiths also speak about his rule. According to these hadiths, he is the Imam who will rise by God's command and establish a universal rule. Before his uprising, he has two periods of occultation, one of which is longer than the other. The Minor Occultation started from the birth of the Imam until 329/940, when the last "special deputy" of the Imam (a) passed away. After that, the Major Occultation started, which will end when he will rise against the injustice and oppression that fills the world.
- The material for writing this article has been mainly taken from امام مهدی عجل الله تعالی فرجه in Farsi wikishia.