Islamic Messianism

The Idea of Mahdi in Twelver Shiʿism

By Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina

Subjects: Islam
Paperback : 9780873954587, 240 pages, June 1980
Hardcover : 9780873954426, 240 pages, June 1980

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Table of contents



1. Introduction: The Islamic Messiah, Al-Mahdi

2. The Twelver Messianic Imam, Al-Qa'Im Al-Mahdi

3. The Occultation of the Imamate Mahdi

4. The Imamate of the Hidden Imam

5. The Return of the Mahdi

6. Conclusion

Appendix: Index of the Imam and the Imamate in al-Kulayni's Kitab al-hujja in al-Kafi


Chart: The Imamite Imams


Selected Bibliography and Abbreviations


The first comprehensive study of the idea of the Mahdi, or divinely guided messianic leader.


The topic of this book is vital to the understanding of contemporary developments in Iran and other areas of the Islamic world in which Shi'ism is a significant social and religious force. Islamic tradition in general speaks about the appearance of the Mahdi, or divinely guided messianic leader, from among the descendants of the prophet. In Shi'ism, belief in the Mahdi is the foundation on which the entire spiritual and temporal edifice rests.

Sachedina's purpose is to examine this key belief in the Mahdi and the doctrinal evolution of the idea of the Mahdi in early Imamite sources. Sachedina compares the Judeo-Christian conception of Messiah and the Shi'ite conception of Mahdi and discusses the developing relationship between the Shi'ite Muslims and political regimes. His primary sources on the development of doctrinal ideas about the Mahdi are the works of early Imamite scholars who developed their ideas when they were in a minority position in the Islamic world.

As the first comprehensive study of the idea of the Mahdi, Islamic Messianism provides a valuable guide to students in religious studies and Islamics as well as to students of Iranian history and politics.

Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia.