Written by: Sarah Ismail
The Holy Prophet [PBUH] said: "The person who dies and has not known the Imam of his time (Imam Mahdi [AJ] is that of the present time) has died the same as othe ne who died during the Age of Ignorance."
Musnad-i-Ahmad-ibn-Hanbal, vol. 2, p. 83; vol. 3, p. 446 & vol. 4, p. 96: Sahih-i-Bukhari, vol. 5, p. 13 & Sahih-i-Muslim vol. 6, p. 21, No.1849
Who is Imam Mahdi (AJ) that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is talking about? Do we know who our Imam is? What exactly is an Imam? An Imam literally means a leader or someone who guides. Imams can be of three types: The Imam who leads prayers, the political Imam and the other one is an Imam for mankind. The third definition is what is going to be our main topic.
Allah (SWT) sends down prophets to guide the people to the straight path. Each prophet was given a task that is to preach the oneness of God, to maintain law and order in humanity. And the prophets may provide rules and regulations for the people to observe this humanity.
When the last prophet, Nabi Muhammad (PBUH) was sent down, the religion was made complete, there is not a need for another prophet to come for it is completed. So where do the Imams come into the picture? After the Holy prophetís (PBUH) demise, there is a need to make sure that Islam remains protected and secure and that it is spread around to those who have heard of it. And for this task, there is a need to have trusted people who can do this job well and they are the Imams.
There are 12 Imams in the line of the Imamate and Imam Mahdi (the Guided one) is the twelfth Imam. There are many titles attributed to him that includes Al-Muntazar (the awaited one), Sahibuz Zaman (the Lord of the Age), Al-Qaim etc. The proof that Imam Mahdi (as) exists can be referred from the Holy Quran and the ahadeeth:
Yet We desired to be gracious to those who were abased in the land, and to make them leaders, and to make them the inheritors. (28:4)
For We have written in the Psalms, after the Remembrance, ‘The earth shall be the inheritance of My righteous servants.í (21:105)
Abdullah Ibne Masood quotes the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as having said: " Even when the entire time of the worldís existence will have been already exhausted and one solitary day left to embrace the eve of Doomsday, God will expand and make that very day swell to such a length of time as to accommodate the ultimate reign of a person out of my holy progeny who will be called after my name. He will then make the earth abound with peace and justice as it will have been fraught with the injustice and tyranny before him." He was born on 256 AH in Samarra, Iraq. His father is Imam Hassan Al-Askari (AS), the eleventh Imam and his mother is Bibi Nargis Khatoon (SA).
The birth of the last Imam (AJ) was kept in top secret because the authorities from the Abbasid regime are out to kill him. The reason was because they do not want another Imam that would topple their kingdom, nor give rulings and laws that would make their life uncomfortable. But the Imam was given divine protection and by Allahís will, he went into a minor occultation (Al-Ghayba Al-Sughra) on the 8th Shaban, 260 A.H. (872 A.D.) when he was five and he went into another occultation, the greater occultation, (Al-Ghayba Al-Kubra) which took place on 10 Shawwal, 329 A.H. (939 A.D.) The Holy Imam (AJ) will reappear during the end of the world where he would fill the earth with justice and equity after it being filled with injustice and oppression. May Allah (SWT) hasten the reappearance of the Awaited Imam (AJ).