Islam interprets history as a constant struggle between right and. wrong. This struggle goes on at various levels of society between the forces of right, virtuousness, love of Allah, faith, justice, equality, sacrifice, correct thinking, purity and truth on the one hand, and those of falsehood, egoism, materialism, pragmatism, tyranny, selfishness, injustice, faithlessness, discrimination, corrup≠tion, infringement of others rights and wretchedness on the other.
The real source of the struggle between right and wrong exists within man himself. (vide Surah al‑Shams 91:7) It is manifested sometimes in the form of the flames of selfishness, venality and licentiousness and sometimes in that of higher sentiments of God‑seeking, righteousness and love of mankind.
The impact of these sentiments on society creates power waves which cause a strife sometimes culminating in corruption and wretchedness, and sometimes bringing about changes towards happiness and prosperity of the society. There is no doubt that changes for the better are brought about by Divine help, but the role of human effort and struggle cannot also be denied.
A Prophet is raised. He awakens the hearts potentially ready to accept the truth. Faith of a group of converts matures. They along with him fight against corruption and evil. They continue to make gradual progress and do not falter at any stage till at last the society undergoes a basic change.
Polytheism, myths, injustice and corruption collapse. Belief in Allah, truth and justice takes root. Before long again from within the same society selfishness, licentious≠ness and aristocratic tendencies shoot forth. Occasionally the same society, though still maintaining the traditional form, so deviates from the way introduced by the reformer that it begins to rot from within and once again returns to its pre‑reform ways, of course, in a new garb of hypocrisy and new forms of injustice. and corruption.
Sometimes external factors with the aid of their internal agents effectively work for spreading corruption and disruption. These agents for their selfish ends readily co‑operate with the external enemy.
This state of injustice, corruption, myth and fraud stimu≠lates the sagacious and the downtrodden to launch a new movement. Thus a process of struggle between right and wrong continues.
Islam believes that all pomp, show and power of the evil have been transient over history. It regards all kinds of intrigues, frauds, hypocrisy and falsehood as froth of water. They have no roots and are bound to disappear finally. (Surah al‑Ra'ad, 13:17, Surah al‑Isra, 17:81, Surah al‑Anbiya, 21:18, Surah al‑Shura, 42:24 and many other verses).
Truth always maintains its positive effect either in indivi≠dual action or social movement even when it is threatened by falsehood and needs supporters to defend it.
Islam recognizes the need of human efforts, perseverance and faith in bringing about a social change, and regards weakness, lack of faith and licentiousness as the causes of the domination of falsehood.
Anyhow, it is this struggle which makes history. As for the future, it is bright. In the end right will be victorious and justice will prevail. Every form of wrong will be annihilated and oppression and tyranny will disappear finally.
Advent of the Mahdi
Complete and final supremacy of right, and universal victory of justice will materialize during the period of the appearance of Muhammad al Mahdi ‑ the twelfth imam. At that time an ideal Islamic society will be established under the aegis of an ideal government. 
In the following pages we give a short perspective of the society and the system of that time drawn from hundreds of traditions describing the characteristics of that period. It must be remembered that this society will be a true Islamic society and its system will be in no way different from that prescribed by Islam.
We propose to divide this study under several headings:
At the threshold of appearance
The holy Prophet is reported to have said:
"He will rise at a time when chaos will be prevailing in the world. Various countries will be engaged in the night attacks on each other. Neither the elders will be having mercy on the younger, nor will the strong be showing kindness to the weak".
Imam Muhammad al Baqir (P) has said:
"The Mahdi will rise at a time of great anxiety, when people will be deeply plunged into crises, disturbances, disasters and diseases, and when wild massacres, violent dissensions and religious discord will be the order of the day. At that time people will be feeling distressed and dejected, and will be at daggers drawn with each other. They will be wishing themselves dead day and night. He will appear at a moment of utter want of hope".
"He will rise to establish justice at a time when the world will be full of injustice and tyranny".
There is no doubt that he will rise at a time when the whole world will be plunged into injustice and corruption, and to fight against these evils he will have to make awful struggle. He will require faithful and self‑sacrificing supporters, possessing all the qualities of a true champion.
Revolutionary leader and his supporters
The holy Prophet is reported to have described the imam of the Day in these words:
"He is an Imam who is pious, pure and delightful. He is an admirable leader, who is rightly guided and who enjoins justice. Allah acknowledges him and he acknowledges Allah".
Concerning the faith and perseverance of his companions, Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (P) said:
"Everyone of his companions will be so strong as if he had the strength of forty men. Their hearts will be as solid as a piece of steel. If they pass over a hill of iron, they would pierce it. They will not lay down their arms till they have pleased Allah".
From another report we learn that at that time there will be some people who will be faithful, virtuous, sincere, religious, pious, conscientious, tolerant, firm, constant, temperate and God‑loving. They will be thankful to Allah who made them heirs to power and wealth in the earth and established their chosen faith therein. They will be worshipping none but Allah, offering their prayers on time and paying zakat when due. They will be exhorting to good and restraining from evil".
About the true followers of the Mahdi, Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (P) is reported to have said:
"Fear has been removed from their hearts and put into that of their enemy. Everyone of them is more rushing than a spear‑point and more daring than a lion".
Undergoing hardships for achieving success
It must be understood that success will not be gained easily. It will be achieved only after undergoing a lot of trouble and discomfort.
Mufazzal, one of the companions of Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (P) says: "Once we were talking about the Mahdi in the presence of the Imam. I said that I hoped that he would succeed easily. The Imam said:
"No, it will not be so. Success will not be attained except through sweat and blood".
In other words success will be attained after making great efforts and undergoing heavy losses.
A companion of Imam Muhammad al Baqir (P) says:
"I told the Imam that it was said that the Mahdi would have a smooth sailing and would not have to shed a single drop of blood". The Imam said: "No, it will not be so. If the things could run so smoothly, by Him in whose hands my life is, the Prophet of Islam would not have been wounded and his teeth would not have been broken in a battle. No, that's not possible. By Allah! there is no way out, but that you and we are submerged in our own sweat and blood".
This means that the leaders as well as their supporters have to make sacrifices before they are successful.
Imam ja'far al Sadiq (P) is also reported to have said:
"I see the Mahdi and his companions as if they are threatened by danger from all sides: their supplies have exhausted; their clothes have worn out; their foreheads bear the mark of prostration; during the day they are as courageous as a lion and during the night they are busy in the adoration of Allah; and their hearts are like solid pieces of iron".
Anyhow, all these sacrifices and hardships will have a happy end.
Imam ja'far al Sadiq (P) has said:
"It is true that the righteous always lead a hard life. But the end of their hardship is not far off".
Nevertheless the success of the Mahdi will be largely due to invisible Divine help. Many traditions bear witness to that.
As a result of these sacrifices and the Divine help real Islamic rule will be established. These are some of the reports which throw light on the doctrinal and social system which will follow.
Explaining the Qur'anic verse, It is Allah who sent His Messenger with guidance and true religion that He might make it victorious over all religions, howsoever the unbelievers might be averse, Imam al Sadiq (P) said: "This verse will come true only during the time of the Mahdi, when the unbelievers will no longer exist".
At present Islam has been surrounded by some people with so many myths and doubts that it appears to be some different religion. This position will continue till the Mahdi rises.
Imam ja'far al Sadiq (P) has said:
"As soon as the Mahdi rises, he will introduce a new system as the Prophet had done in the beginning of Islam".
Imam ja'far al Sadiq (P) is also reported to have said:
"The Mahdi will do what the holy Prophet had done. He will smash the existing system in the same way as the holy Prophet had shattered the pre‑Islamic pagan system, and replaced it by Islam".
The new system introduced by the Mahdi will be so queer to some of those who claim to be the champions of religion and to be having full knowledge of it, that they will pick up a row against him, but they will not be able to resist the divine world movement and will be annihilated.
At the end of a detailed talk, Imam Baqir (P) said:
"On an occasion when the Mahdi will be busy narrating Divine commands and speaking about the practice of the holy Prophet and the Imams, an attack on him will be arranged from within the places of worship. The Imam will order his followers to arrest the insurgents and put them to death. This will be the last hostile action against the Mahdi".
When the evil‑doers will have been crushed and the correct Islamic attitude popularised, the atmosphere will become conducive to intellectual growth and expansion of knowledge.
Imam Ali (P) is reported to have said:
"I see a large number of tents pitched, and people under them being taught the Qur'an in the same order in which it was revealed".
In the course of a talk about that period Imam Muhammad al Baqir (P) said:
"Knowledge will become so common that even women will give decisions on the basis of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the holy Prophet".
Knowledge in various fields will expand. The total of the discoveries of the past will bear no comparison to the discoveries made during that period. According to a report, Imam Ja'far al Sadiq (P) explained the position allegorically. He said: "If the total of possible human knowledge is supposed to be seventy two letters, two letters will have been known up to that time and the remaining seventy will be discovered gradually during that period".
In respect of the intellectual and moral development of the people, Imam Muhammad al Baqir (P) has said:
"When our Qaim will rise and the people will come under his protection, their intellectual faculties will bloom and their human qualities will be perfected and will bear fruit".
During that period the under‑privileged masses will be the masters of the power and wealth of the world. Many reports say that the following verse relates to that period: "We willed to show favor to those who were persecuted in the land and make them rulers and heirs o f the land, and give them power and wealth of the earth ". (Surah al‑Qasas, 28:5).
Thus the power and authority of the tyrants and the self‑seekers will come to an end and justice will be restored everywhere under a new system.
"He will fill the earth with justice after it had been filled with injustice and tyranny".
"The Qaim will enjoin justice. During his time injustice will be done away with. Roads will be safe. Rights will be restored".
Complete equality will be enforced.
Imam Muhammad al Baqir (P) said:
"Immediately on his appearance the Qaim will distribute wealth equally, and will restore the rights of the masses".
When the right job will be entrusted to the right man and all‑round justice will prevail, naturally the whole world will prosper in every respect.
"Blessings will pour forth from the heaven on the earth. The land will put out its best produce. Trees will bear copious fruit. The atmosphere on the earth will be verdant and fragrant".
It is also evident that in such an atmosphere minerals and natural resources should be exploited to the maximum extent. Reports say: "Allah will reveal for him the treasures of the earth ".
At last all the natural forces will be controlled by the people and they will have all the means to use them to their own advantage. Gradually there will be so much wealth that no one will be left poor or needy.
"Double salaries will be paid to the workers. Equality will be observed among all the people. There will be no one eligible to receive zakat. Money will be offered to the people, but they will decline to accept it, because they will not be requiring it. All underground and above‑ground natural resources will be at the disposal of the imam. Addressing the people he will say: "This is the wealth for which you were fighting, severing relations with your kith and kin and shedding the blood of each other". Then he will give them money in unprecedented quantities".
In such circumstances there will prevail complete peace and law and order.
"At that time complete peace will prevail all over the world. None will harm anyone. Fear and anxiety will not exist. Even the wild animals will be moving among the people, but will not be harming anyone. People will have love and sympathy for each other. They will equally distribute wealth among themselves. There will no longer exist any poor or needy. No group of people will seek to dominate another group. The elders will show kindness to the youngers and the youngers will respect the elders. All people will be conscientious in their actions and decisions".
Love, kindness, righteousness and brotherhood will prevail. There will be no question of deceiving or ill‑treating anybody; complete sincerity and cordiality will exist.
"When the Qaim will rise, such genial sincerity and cordiality will come into being that one will take out whatever one requires from the pocket of another person and that person will not mind it at all".
Every kind of weakness, disease and disability will disappear.
"As regards those who will be living during the time of the Qaim, their sick will recover and their weak will gain strength".
"All the blind and the crippled will be cured and the sufferers will be relieved of their suffering".
"A world government characterised by justice and righteousness will be established. It will extend from the East to the West. All people will live under it in an atmosphere of peace, justice and prosperity".
"Cordial relations will exist among the believers all over the world. It will appear as if from one end of the world to the other they see each other, speak to each other and co‑operate with each other".
These relations will be different from the present day relations and peace agreements, which are concluded only to safeguard the interests of the powers concerned and have no stability. All such agreements will be annulled with the appearance of the Qaim and will be replaced by an all‑pervasive just system".
At that time there will be no question of hypocrisy, intrigue, mere show of courtesy or any under‑hand method. Everybody will have to submit earnestly to the rightful government. All defaulters will be annihilated.
This government marked, with the final and complete restoration of justice and all‑round development, will be the last stage of human history. The Divine Government will be established after the failure of all other systems to achieve the desired results. Though it will be of limited duration, it will be the last word in justice and righteous≠ness. It will be the end of history.