The Mahdi is not only an embodiment of the Islamic belief but he is also the
symbol of an aspiration cherished by mankind irrespective of its divergent
religious doctrines. He is also the crystallization of an instructive
inspiration through which all people, regardless of their religious
affiliations, have learned to await a day when a heavenly mission, with all its
implications, will achieve their final goal and the tiring march of humanity
across history will culminate satisfactorily in peace and tranquility.
This consciousness of the expected future has not been confined to those who
believe in the supernatural phenomena but has also been reflected in the
ideologies and cults which totally deny the existence of what is imperceptible.
For example, dialectical materialism which interprets history on the basis of
contradictions believes that a day will come when all contradictions will
disappear and complete peace and tranquility will prevail. Thus we find that
this consciousness experienced throughout history is one of the widest and the
commonest psychological experience of humanity.
The religion, when it endorses this common consciousness and stresses that in
the long run this world will be filled with justice and equity after having been
filled with injustice and oppression, gives it a factual value and converts it
into a definite belief in the future course of humanity. This belief is not
merely a source of consolation, but it is also a source of virtue and strength.
It is a source of virtue because the belief in the Mahdi means the total
elimination of injustice and oppression prevailing in the world. It is a source
of inexhaustible strength because it provides hope which enables man to resist
frustration, howsoever, hopeless and dismal the circumstances may be.
The belief in the appointed day proves that it is possible for the forces of
justice to face the world filled with injustice and oppression, to prevail upon
the forces of injustice and to reconstruct the world order. After all prevalence
of injustice, howsoever dominant and extensive it may become, is an abnormal
state and must in the long run be eliminated. The prospect of its elimination
after reaching its climax, infuses a great hope in every persecuted individual
and every oppressed nation that it is still possible to change the state of
Although the concept of the Mahdi is more wide spread than the Muslim community,
yet its detailed features, as determined by Islam, meet more fully all the
aspirations attached to it since the dawn of history. They are in greater
conformity with the feelings and sentiments of the oppressed and the persecuted
of all times. It is Islam which has given a concrete shape to an abstract idea.
It is no longer necessary to look forward to an unknown saviour who may come
into the world at a distant future.
The saviour is already here and we simply have to look for the day when the
circumstances are ripe for him to appear and begin his great mission. The Mahdi
is no longer an idea. He is no longer a prophecy. We need not wait for his
birth. He already exists actually and we only wait for the inauguration of his
role. He is a specific entity living among us in his real human form and shares
our hopes and disappointments and our joys and griefs. He witnesses all the acts
of oppression and persecution which are perpetrated on the face of the earth
and, somehow or another, he himself is affected by them. He is anxiously
awaiting the moment when he will be able to extend his helping hand to everyone
whom any wrong has been done and be able to eradicate injustice and oppression
Although this Awaited Saviour is living among us, waiting for the appointed
moment for his advent, yet he is ordained not to proclaim himself nor to
disclose his identity.
It is evident that the concept of the Mahdi, with its Islamic features, shortens
the gap between the oppressed and the expected saviour. It spans the bridge
between them, howsoever long the period of waiting may be.
When we are asked to believe that the Mahdi is a particular person already
living a normal life, we are also expected to believe that the idea of absolute
eradication of every kind of injustice and oppression by the Mahdi has already
been embodied in the person of the Awaited Saviour who will reappear while he
will be, as the tradition says, 'owing no allegiance to any tyrant'. The belief
in him means the belief in eradication of all evils in a concrete form.
The tradition urges the believers in the Mahdi to keep on waiting for him and to
continue looking forward for solace. The idea is to establish a close spiritual
and intuitive link between the believers, on the one hand, and the Mahdi and all
that he stands for, on the other. It is not possible to establish such a link
without believing that the Mahdi has already been born and is a living and a
Thus we find that the concept of the living Mahdi has given a new impetus to the
idea of an expected saviour. It has made it a source of effective strength and
consolation to every person suffering from deprivation and injustice, a person
who rejects all forms of tyranny because he feels that his Leader, being a
contemporary and a living personality and not a future idea, shares his
sufferings and feels his misery.
Yet this concept, being beyond the imagination and comprehension of a number of
people, has led them to adopt a negative attitude towards the very idea of the
* The Awaited
Saviour. By: Ayatullah Sayyid Muhammad Baqir As-Sadr. Ayatullah Murtadha