Muslims in general in the past and the present believe in the Savior who shall bring back to them their glory and honor and repair what tyrants and oppressors have corrupted and destroyed, and restore to them their religion. This savior and reformer is Imam al-Mahdi (a.s.), about whom the Prophet (S) gave good news when he said, “If nothing remains in this life except one day, Allah will prolong that day until al-Mahdi, who is from my progeny and whose name is like mine, shall appear to fill the earth with justice and fairness after it shall have been filled with injustice and oppression.”1
This Savior of Mankind, who will complete the mission of the prophets and messengers in the earth so that the Light of Allah is perfected at his hands, is the center of the attention of all three major religions; Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Jews, Christians and Muslims all are waiting for him and claim him to be from them according to their many traditions about him.
Since we believe definitely that Islam is the last of religions and that there shall be no prophet after Muhammad (S), so we are certain with not a bit of doubt that al-Mahdi is from the progeny of the Prophet Muhammad (S) and he is the last of the twelve infallible imams, behind whom Jesus Christ (S) will offer prayer as a kind of honoring and glorifying.
In this quick discussion, we do not want to study everything about al-Mahdi, because the history and the Prophet’s traditions in this context has already been talked about in our book – ‘To Be With the Truthful’. Besides this many books, theses, and encyclopedias have been written on al-Mahdi (S). We only want to show the belief of the Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) where they stand alone away from the rest of Muslims in rulings and beliefs that comply with the challenges of the world and in fact, they may precede challenges sometimes.
The Jews, Christians and Muslims have been overcome by materialism to an extent that they have gone away from religion and been affected by atheistic, materialistic, and secularist doctrines, in a way that spirituality has become too weak in them. Therefore, they are looking for solutions, which they do not find anywhere except in the divine good news.
Moreover, the violent wars that have exhausted humankind, especially the poor and the weak everywhere in the world, who die of hunger in millions, while tyrants and oppressors compete with each other to possess the most fatal weapons and to occupy nations by all means - cultural, economic and technology. Were it not for the hope of a better future with justice, peace and noble life that man looks forward to, there would be no meaning or sense in this life. And were it not for the belief of Muslims in Allah, Who has promised to support His religion to prevail over all religions when saying:
He it is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, that He might cause it to prevail over all religions, though the polytheists may be averse. Qur'an, 9:33
Were it not be for this faith, despair would fill their souls and they would be losers! It is this faith that fills souls with energy, vitality, the love of life, expectation of a better future, and the waiting for deliverance, because after hardship there shall come ease.
This is al-Mahdi (a.s.) - who is the hope of Muslims, or in fact the hope of all humankind. The belief in al-Mahdi (a.s.) is not a matter of mocking. Allah the Almighty says:
Say: O my servants! who have acted extravagantly against their own souls, do not despair of the mercy of Allah; surely Allah forgives the faults altogether; surely He is the Forgiving, the Merciful. And return to your Lord time after time and submit to Him before there comes to you the punishment, then you shall not be helped. And follow the best that has been revealed to you from your Lord before there comes to you the punishment all of a sudden while you do not even perceive. Lest a soul should say: O woe to me, for what I fell short of my duty to Allah, and most surely I was among scoffers. Qur'an, 39:53-56