36. The Mahdi: Shiite particularities


The Mahdi expresses a profound hope of the Shiites. As indicated by numerous hadiths as well as by historic sources [1], Muḥammad (~) had truly announced the redescent of ‘Issa Al-Massih on earth (probably in Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives). This hope which was never realized still animated ‘Ali and his partisans. Yet in 660, Mu’awiya, governor of Syria, installed the Umayyad power in Damascus. Very pragmatic, he had nothing to do with the hope that still animated the family of the Prophet. ‘Ali, son-in-law and cousin of Muḥammad (~) was assassinated in the year 661 and his son Hassan who succeeded him was poisoned nine years later.

Hussein, another son of ‘Ali, returned to war with the partisans of the family of the Prophet, who are called the Shiites [2], and he was killed at the battle of Karbala (680). While the Umayyad caliphs developed a sort of universal religious project (today’s Sunni Islam was yet very little recognizable), the vanquished Shiites developed the belief in a hidden Imam, or a hidden Mahdi descended from ‘Ali, in response to the defeat of their earthly hopes. The imam was “a fideicommissary of Allah, named by Allah. He was the Sign of Allah, and His lieutenant on Earth.” [3]. He would soon cause to appear an ideal form of state involving submission (= Islam). Whether absent or hidden among men, this person came in some way to double the Islamic figure of ‘Issa, but from a more political perspective.

In 1979, at the foot of the Ka’ba the Saudi Qahtani proclaimed himself Mahdi and provoked an insurrection, repressed in blood. Around 2005 in Iran the idea spread that in the village of Jamkaran right near the holy city of Qom, the 12th imam had appeared 10 centuries earlier. The first act of Mahmud Ahmadinejad (Iranian president from 2005 to 2013) was to finance the infrastructures and the enlargement of the mosque [4]. According to him, “each person can speak to the [hidden] imam.” [5] On the platform of the ONU, he declared in 2012: “God has promised us that a man of goodness who loves the people and absolute justice, the Imam Mahdi, a perfect man, would come in the company of Jesus Christ and the just […]. He will bring an eternally brilliant future for humanity. Not by force or by war, but by the waking of thought and the development of goodness in each one. […] He will bring a springtime which will soon reach all the territories in Asia, Europe, Africa, the United States.” [6] This involves in reality a project of Shiite political domination of the world.

Jesus – who is, let us remember, Son-Ibn and not child-walad of God has announced something which is simple and infinitely reasonable, in itself and by comparison with the imaginations about the end-times that fill the Shiite libraries (and also those of the Sunni); he will come on the clouds of heaven, bringing at the same time the judgment of the impious and the vivification of the just. He says: “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one know the Father except the Son and any one to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Mt 11, 25-27).


[1] Cf www.lemessieetsonpropete.com/annexes

[2] The word Shi’ah signifies a group of partisans of someone.

[3] www.al-islam.org/node/4074

[4] https://en.wikpedia.org/wiki/Jamkaran_Mosque

[5] Interview of 15 January 2020, www.learnreligions.com/who-is-the-12th-imam-3555177.

[6] https://www.latinopost.com/afticles/