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(mä`dē) [Arab.,=he who is divinely guided], in Sunni IslamIslam
, [Arab.,=submission to God], world religion founded by the Prophet Muhammad. Founded in the 7th cent., Islam is the youngest of the three monotheistic world religions (with Judaism and Christianity). An adherent to Islam is a Muslim [Arab.,=one who submits].
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, the restorer of the faith. He will appear at the end of time to restore justice on earth and establish universal Islam. The Mahdi will be preceded by al-Dajjal, a Muslim antichrist, who will be slain by Jesus. This belief is not rooted in the Qur'an but has its origins in Jewish ideas about the Messiah and in the Christian belief of the second coming of Jesus. Among the ShiitesShiites
[Arab., shiat Ali,=the party of Ali], the second largest branch of Islam, Shiites currently account for 10%–15% of all Muslims. Shiite Islam originated as a political movement supporting Ali (cousin and son-in-law of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam) as the
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 the concept of the Mahdi takes a different form (see imamimam
[Arab.,=leader], in Islam, a recognized leader or a religious teacher. Among the Sunni the term refers to the leader in the Friday prayer at the mosque; any pious Muslim may function as imam.
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In the history of Islam, many men have arisen who claimed to be the Mahdi. They usually appeared as reformers antagonistic to established authority. The best known of these in the West was Muhammad Ahmad, 1844–85, a Muslim religious leader in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. He declared himself in 1881 to be the Mahdi and led a war of liberation from the oppressive Egyptian military occupation. He died soon after capturing Khartoum. In his reform of Islam the Mahdi forbade the pilgrimage to Mecca and substituted the obligation to serve in the holy war against unbelievers. His followers, known as Mahdists, for a time made pilgrimages to his tomb at Omdurman. The final defeat of the Mahdists in 1898 at Omdurman by an Anglo-Egyptian army under Lord KitchenerKitchener, Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl
, 1850–1916, British field marshal and statesman. Trained at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich (1868–70), he had a brief period of service in the French army
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 gave Great Britain control of Sudan.


See P. M. Holt, The Mahdist State in the Sudan (2d ed. 1970).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the Muslim messiah or savior.

Among the Shiites, the Mahdi is the “hidden” imam. The teachings about the Mahdi attracted the oppressed and exploited masses who believed that the Mahdi would appear before the end of the world and would restore justice on earth. In medieval and modern times, belief in the Mahdi has been widespread in antifeudal and national liberation movements.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


1. the title assumed by Mohammed Ahmed. ?1843--85, Sudanese military leader, who led a revolt against Egypt (1881) and captured Khartoum (1885)
2. Islam any of a number of Muslim messiahs expected to forcibly convert all mankind to Islam
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Imam Mahdi is believed by Twelver Shia Muslims and Alevi Muslims to be the be the twelfth and final Imam.
They told that this is not only in Parachinar but also in other parts of country and even worldwide that climate is changing and disasters like earthquakes and floods are coming unexpectedly and all these are the symptoms of arrival of awaited global savior Imam Mahdi. They further told that even Allama Iqbal has also predicted this climate change and arrival of Imam Mahdi decades ago by saying:
(13.) During a speech, Ahmadinejad claimed, "The Imam Mahdi is in charge of the world and we see his hand directing all the affairs of the country [...]We must solve Iran's internal problems as quickly as possible.
He is the same president speaking about the green light that surrounded him when he was giving his speech before the United Nations two years ago, and who stopped many developmental project because Imam Mahdi's appearance was imminent, if the opposition figure Mir Hossein Musavi was honest in the statement published on his blog on the internet.
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, the chief of the judiciary, ordered officials to decide on the fate of protesters within a week on Monday, while Ahmadinejad himself told Shahrudi to release them by August 7, the birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi.
They should be home for the occasion of the birth anniversary of Imam Mahdi which falls on August 7," he said in a letter to Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi.
Earned clerical criticism in May 2008 for again invoking intervention by Imam Mahdi in present day state affairs.
Amid tight security, thousands of Iraqi Shiites marched from Baghdad to the holy city of Karbala on Wednesday to mark the birth of Imam Mahdi.The march came following intensive air strikes launched by the US forces on the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City in the eastern part of the capital, a stronghold to Al Mahdi Army that is led by Muqtada Al Sadr.Although the cleric's forces have been weakened by their August clashes with the US in the southern city of Najaf, following a prolonged US siege, attacks against American and Iraqi patrols have become a daily occurrence in the city in which visitors report that the streets are dotted with roadside bombs.
Marmoulak ends on the birthday of the last Imam Mahdi, a savior whose return is eagerly awaited by Iran's Shia believers.
But an aide said Sadr refused to disband the militia, insisting it belonged to Imam Mahdi, the Shia messiah.
Last August, when Imam Mahdi al Jumeili of the small Hudheifa Mosque in Baghdad's Shurti neighborhood met three American officers to resolve a dispute over soldiers entering the grounds of his mosque, his first question was, "Are any of you Jews?" When he was satisfied that none was, he allowed the meeting to proceed.
The accident caused chaos among the hundreds of people who were attending a street festival to celebrate nasfa, a religious event that marks the birth of Imam Mahdi - the 12th imam in the Shi'ite faith.