Is There a Relationship Between The Belief of Messiah in Other Religions and The Mahdi Concept of Islam? Were There Any People Proclaiming Himself as Mahdi in History?

The Mahdi Concept in Religions

A Messiah-redemptive person conviction exists almost in all of the religions. People wait for a Messiah, for a redemptive person, who will put restore order almost at every period when oppression and cruelty spread, corruption and terrorism occur and the social order is shaken.

Zoroastrians believed that Bihafrid would come and save them from oppression and cruelty and would take their revenge. In the existing copy of Zardushts book Avesta, it is told to people, who will smash the idols, about a mercy to all the worlds (Soeshyant) and about Astvat Ereta, which means he who raises people. 1

The previous Hindus believed that Brahma would come by being reincarnated as Vishnu and so Hinduism would be victorious over Buddhism. Mongols, who terrorized Islamic world, waited for Jenghis because of the invasions of the Chinese.

In Buddhism, Maitriya (mercy to all the worlds) will come and perfect the religion which is not perfect.

Throughout the history, Jews, who were almost destined to slavery, worry and depression, waited for Messiah after Babylon captivity and especially after the Romans invaded Jerusalem and destroyed the tomb of Solomon (UWP). According to Christians, Jesus-Messiah, whose duty has not been completed yet, will descend down to the earth one day and will pacify the world that is corrupted.

Mahdis (the Redemptive People) in History

It is no surprise that false Mahdis emerge in a world, in which even false prophets declare their prophethood. Unfortunately, some evil-minded people did not refrain from exploiting Mahdi concept. There were also some people who were taken with that feeling candidly. Some of those people abused the concept of Mahdi for glory; some of them exploited it for authority. Some of them abused it for their own interests; some of them proclaimed themselves as Mahdi to induce the national emotions, or accepted this title; or the groups around them assumed them as Mahdi. Some quackish people abused it actually, but some people were regarded as Mahdi by the people around although they did not claim it and even denied it. The genuine Mahdi will not come forward by claiming himself as Mahdi. The couplet: The services performed are the evidence of a person but not his talks./The intellect of a person could be observed in his achievements. He will be known with his services and achievements as the above verse explains how a good person should be. People wanting to see him or striving to find him will notice him.

We shall discuss briefly the people, who proclaimed themselves as Mahdi, before talking about the actual Mahdi who is announced to come at the end of time.

In Hijri 128 (in 746 in the Gregorian calendar), Haris bin Shurayj declared himself as Mahdi, and as a matter of fact, he did not hesitate to concoct a Hadith: A saver, whose name is Haris, will come 2.

The scholar and devotee Abdullah bin Tumart (died in 1130) who caused the foundation of the Muwahhids State is known as proclaiming himself as Mahdi in Maghrib (west); additionally, Sayyid Muhammad and Mirza Gulam Ahmad Qadiyanî in India, Muhammad Ahmad (died in 1885) in Sudan, Muhammad bin Abdullah Hasan (died in 1920) in Somalia and Elijah Muhammad in the United States declared themselves as Mahdi. Ahmad Qadiyanî passivated his community by supporting the English policy. As for Muhammad Ahmed, who was a good soldier and politician, induced Sudanese people against occupant English army, the Mahdi of Somalia induced his people against English army and Muhammad bin Abdullah induced his people against Italian army in order to struggle for liberty.

In the 19th century, the current that made the colonialists complain about made people gather around the Mahdi belief in some African countries such as Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Senegal and Cameroon in order to gain independence.
Ibni Haldun informed that there had been numerous people who declared themselves as Mahdi, who was expected to emerge, and were killed. 3
Sayyid Muhammad as-Sinûsîya (died in 1902), from the blessed family of the Prophet (PBUH), was regarded and accepted as Mahdi too.
1. Yasht, 13, XXVIII, 129.
2. Sad Muhammad Hasan, al-Mahdiyyatu fi'l-İslâm, (Cairo: 1973), p. 183, 184.
3. Ibni Haldun, ibid., II: 180-181.
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