Muslims believe that a “Mahdi” will come to bring peace to this earth. Does the Bible indicate the coming of a “Mahdi” as well?


There are different schools of thought in the “Christian” world that seem to teach that a powerful and influential Muslim person will claim in the end time to be the Mahdi, trying to unify much of the Muslim and Arab world under his leadership. Some claim that the king of the South, mentioned in Daniel 11, will be that person; others claim that the “beast” in the book of Revelation, whom they very often mislabel as the “Antichrist,” will be that Mahdi.

Before discussing what the Bible says on that issue, let us review how the Muslim world looks at the Mahdi whom they expect to appear (Over the centuries, many have claimed to be the Mahdi, but so far, nobody [with one possible exception, see below] has been accepted by the Muslim world as the end-time Mahdi—for the obvious reason that nobody has fulfilled the predictions of the Koran, associated with the coming of the final Mahdi).

The Wikipedia Encyclopedia summarizes the Muslim expectations of a future Mahdi, as follows:

“In Sunni and Shia eschatology, the Mahdi (… the “Guided One”) is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years (according to various interpretations) before the Day of Judgment (… literally, the Day of Resurrection), and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny…

“The following beliefs concerning the Mahdi are shared by both Sunni and Shia Muslims… The Mahdi will be a descendant of Muhammad of the line of Fatimah… He will have the same name as Muhammad. He will be a forerunner to Jesus’ Islamic Rule. His coming will be accompanied by the raising of a Black Standard [the historical flag flown by Muhammad in Islamic tradition]. His coming will be accompanied by the appearance of the Masih ad-Dajjal (Antichrist). There will be a lunar and solar eclipse within the same month of Ramadan. A star with a luminous tail will rise from the East before the coming of the Mahdi…

“Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi is Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam, who was born in 869 CE and was hidden by God at the age of five (874 CE). He is still alive but has been in occultation, ‘awaiting the time that God has decreed for his return’… [He] will return as the Mahdi with ‘a company of his chosen ones,’ and his enemies will be led by the one-eyed Antichrist and the Sufyani. [In an accompanying article, the Wikipedia Encyclopedia explains: “[The] ‘Sufyani’ will be one of many Muslim tyrants that the Mahdi will have to face in the Middle East… he… will spread corruption and mischief on the earth before the Mahdi. He will be such a tyrant that he will kill the children and rip out the bellies of women. The Sufyani will murder those from the household of the Prophet and will rule over Syria. When he hears about the Mahdi, he will send an army to seize and kill him. However the earth will swallow this army before it even reaches the Mahdi.” However, in the somewhat contradictory main article, the encyclopedia continues:] The two armies will fight ‘one final apocalyptic battle’ where the Mahdi and his forces will prevail over evil. After the Mahdi has ruled Earth for a number of years, Isa [Jesus] will return…

“… among the most commonly reported signs that presage the advent of the Mahdi in Shia Islam are the following:

“The Muslims will throw off the reins and take possession of their land, throwing out the authority of the foreigners. There will be a great conflict in the land of Syria, until it is destroyed. Death and fear will afflict the people of Baghdad and Iraq…

“Of those Sunnis that hold to the existence of the Mahdi, some believe the Mahdi will be an ordinary man, born to an ordinary woman. The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘The world will not come to an end until the Arabs are ruled by a man from my family whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s… He will rule for seven or eight years…’

“Among those Islamic scholars who wholly reject the Mahdi doctrine… Sir Muhammad Iqbal wrote: ‘…the concept of the Mahdi… is a completely Iranian… perception. This concept has no link to the Qur’an, Islam and Arabic perceptions…’

“In their book, Al Mahdi and the End of Time, Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammad Arif, two well-known Egyptian authors, identify the Mahdi in the Book of Revelation… In one place, they write, ‘I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the Prophets… For instance, the Book of Revelation says: “And I saw and behold a white horse. He that sat on him […] went forth conquering and to conquer.”’ Ibn Izzat and Arif then go on to say: ‘It is clear that this man is the Mahdi who will ride the white horse and judge by the Qur’an (with justice) and with whom will be men with marks of prostration (zabiba) on their foreheads.’”

In an accompanying article, the Wikipedia Encyclopedia describes “zabiba” as “a prayer bump,” stating, “A prayer bump or prayer scar, also known as a zabiba/zebiba/zebibah (‘raisin’ in Arabic), is a mark on the forehead of a Muslim, apparently due to the friction generated from the contact of the forehead with the prayer mat. Islam generally requires its adherents to pray five times a day (known as salah), which involves kneeling on a prayer mat and touching the ground with one’s forehead. When done for extended periods of time, a prayer bump may develop. Some Muslims may consider the presence of a prayer bump to be a sign of religious dedication and piety.”

Even though much confusion seems to surround the Muslim concept of a future Mahdi, it appears that the overall accepted belief within the Sunni and Shia religion (by those who believe in the coming of a Mahdi) is that he will precede the coming of Jesus; that he will begin to establish the Muslim religion over all the world (although it seems to be unclear whether the universal Muslim religion will be based on the Shia or Sunni interpretations of the Koran); that he will rule the world for at least seven years prior to the “Day of Judgment” or the “Day of Resurrection”; and that Christ, upon His return, will judge and rule the world on the basis of the Koran.

In addition, according to Sunni belief, the Mahdi will fight against the “Antichrist” [the Masih ad-Dajjal] and another Muslim dictator from Syria [the Sufyani], and as a consequence, Syria will be destroyed, and Iraq severely punished.

So that there is no misunderstanding, Jesus is quite differently described in Muslim thought and the Koran, as the Jesus taught in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible. Please note the following comments, quoted from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, showing the irreconcilable differences between Muslim and Christian beliefs, pertaining to Jesus Christ:

“The belief in Jesus… is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Qur’an… states that Jesus was born to Mary as the result of virginal conception… Jesus was not crucified but instead, he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This ‘raising’ is understood to mean through bodily ascension… Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim… Islam rejects the… view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind… The Qur’an… states that Jesus was created from the act of God’s will. The Qur’an compares this miraculous creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam… Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the Bible… there has been unanimous agreement amongst Islamic scholars in denying the crucifixion…

“Muslims believe that Isa (Jesus) will return at a time close to the end of the world… Jesus’ descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the Mahdi… the redeemer of Islam, against the Antichrist… and his followers… Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes – his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Antichrist. Jesus, considered as a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually… there will be one community, that of Islam… After the death of the Mahdi, Jesus will assume leadership… Jesus’ rule is said to be around forty years, after which he will die. Muslims will then… bury him in the city Medina in a grave left vacant beside Muhammad…

“Jesus is described by various means in the Qur’an. The most common reference to Jesus occurs in the form of ‘Ibn Maryam’ (son of Mary), sometimes preceded with another title. Jesus is also recognised as a prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul) of God… Another title frequently mentioned is al-Masi?, which translates to ‘the Messiah’. This does not correspond to the Christian concept of Messiah, as Islam regards all prophets, including Jesus, to be mortal and without any share in divinity…

“Islamic texts regard Jesus as a righteous messenger of God, and reject the idea of him being God or the begotten Son of God. According to Islamic scriptures, the belief that Jesus is God or [the] Son of God is shirk, or… the sole unpardonable sin…

“Muslims believe that Jesus was a precursor to Muhammad, and that he announced the latter’s coming. They base this on a verse of the Qur’an wherein Jesus speaks of a messenger to appear after him named Ahmad. Islam associates Ahmad with Muhammad… Muslims also assert that evidence of Jesus’ pronouncement is present in the New Testament, citing the mention of the Paraclete whose coming is foretold in the Gospel of John” [There, of course, Jesus speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit—the “paracletos” or comforter—but Muslims refer this to the coming of Muhammad].

As mentioned, some Christian groups predict the coming of a Muslim Mahdi, who will commence to unify the Arab world. Some even claim that that Mahdi will be the “beast” or the “Antichrist.” They are obviously influenced by the Muslim concept that in the future, the Masih ad-Dajjal (“Antichrist”) and the “Sufyani” (ruling in Syria) will establish themselves as false leaders in the Muslim world. However, from a biblical standpoint, none of these concepts are correct. The beast (many times wrongly referred to as the “Antichrist”) and the false prophet will not be Arabs or powerful persons arising in the Middle East, but they will be military and religious leaders in Europe. Biblically, these leaders will apparently be in power for about three-and-a-half years—not for seven years, as some falsely claim.

The Bible says nothing about a political or religious Arab leader, called the “Mahdi,” who will unite many Muslim nations and attempt to establish the Muslim religion in all the world. This is strictly a Muslim concept, which may be part and parcel of all the other confusing and fanciful inaccuracies that are believed and taught by Muslims, as relating to Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. (It is interesting that Muslims consider the belief in Christ’s divinity as the sole unpardonable sin, while the Bible forcefully teaches that no one–including Muslims–can inherit salvation and eternal life, unless they believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.)

Rather than teaching the establishment of the Muslim religion over this world, the Bible says that a powerful religious organization, claiming to be “Christian,” will become a world-ruling power, which will attempt to convert everyone to its main religious doctrines and which will persecute those who refuse to accept its system. It is described in the book of Revelation (chapter 17) as “Babylon” and as a beast with two horns like a lamb, speaking like a dragon (Revelation 13:11).

Some other Christian groups believe that a final king of the South, as spoken of in the book of Daniel, chapter 11, will arise one more time in the Middle East or in Africa, who will “push at” the king of the North—the future military leader of the “Babylonian system” or the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire—the “beast” of the book of Revelation, who is also identified as King Jareb of Assyria (modern Germany). As we pointed out in a previous Q&A on Egypt, it is by no means certain that there will still be a future king of the South, but it is of course possible. As the ninth revival of the ancient Roman Empire, under Mussolini, was comprised of several nations and powers, including Hitler’s Germany, and as the final revival of the king of the North will consist of ten European nations or groups of nations, under Assyrian leadership, so if there is to be a future king of the South, he might very well constitute a coalition of Middle Eastern nations, under Ethiopian leadership (note that previously, the king of the South was King Menelik of Ethiopia, and later, at the time of Benito Mussolini’s occupation of Ethiopia, it was Emperor Haile Selassie).

What needs to be remembered, however, is that Ethiopia is and has been a “Christian” country, having adopted “Christianity” as its official religion, and that a majority of Ethiopians are “Christians.” Only one-third of the population are Muslims. It would be difficult to conceive that if there was a final king of the South, under Ethiopian lead, he would be a Muslim Mahdi, trying to unite Arab and Muslim nations to form a Muslim power bloc. At the same time, it is interesting to note that, according to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, the late emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, was referred to by some of his supporters as the Mahdi, due to his direct lineage to the prophet Mohammed. Other supporters referred to him as the biblical Messiah. He himself remained an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life.

In conclusion, the Bible nowhere says that a Muslim Mahdi will appear in the Middle East or elsewhere, in an attempt to unite Arab and Muslim nations (which would also require healing the long-time animosity between Shias and Sunnis) and to establish a power bloc, ruled by the Muslim religion. Nothing is said in the Bible about the religious identity of a future king of the South (if there still is one), but given the fact that “Christian” Ethiopia would have to play a predominant role in the configuration of a power bloc being led by a future king of the South, it is difficult to imagine that he would be a Muslim Mahdi, who would be accepted by both Shias and Sunnis, trying to unite the Muslim world in an attempt to establish the Muslim faith as the sole accepted religion in all the world.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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