The Position of Al-Mahdi

In the last article, I compared the Islamic end-times figure Al-Mahdi to the Antichrist. If you have not read that article, I suggest doing so first before reading this article to gain a better context of the material being discussed.

The comparisons between Al-Mahdi and Antichrist revealed a striking anti-parallel. These are startling enough, yet the behavior of Al-Mahdi as laid out in the Hadith make his identity even plainer. To explore this topic more fully, consider the Islamic prophecies that discuss Al-Mahdi and his first interaction with Jesus.

Remember that Al-Mahdi, while considered the “rightly-guided one” in Islam, is not a prophet. Though he will unite the world under Islam, both spiritually and politically, he does not hold the office of prophet. Indeed, he cannot be a prophet, as Muhammad is the last prophet within Islam (Qur’an 33:40). Therefore, if Al-Mahdi declared himself a prophet, it would undermine the entire religion of Islam and thus his very status as its rightly guided leader.

Consider also the Muslim view of Jesus during the end times. There are a variety of prophecies within Islam regarding Jesus’ return. These range from where He will first appear, what He will accomplish for Islam, and what He will say and do to Christians. As a Muslim, one prominent Hadith states that Jesus will break the cross, kill the pig, and abolish the jizya, the tax on non-Muslims. In essence, Islam views Jesus as the one who will destroy Christianity once and for all by repudiating the cross, making pork illegal, and eliminating any legal status for non-Muslims in Muslim lands.

Back to the point, though, let’s examine what happens when Al-Mahdi and Jesus meet, and what we might glean from their interaction. There are numerous Hadith that discuss this encounter. One such reference to a hadith and its immediate interpretation is as follows,

And ‘Eesa ibn Maryam (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) will come down and their leader will say to him: ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say: ‘No, one of them should lead the others in prayer, as a sign of honour from Allaah to this ummah.’” Narrated by Muslim, 225. So ‘Eesa (peace be upon him) will follow the Mahdi in prayer… [i]

At first glance, this might seem innocuous enough. However choosing who leads the prayer within Islam is an important decision. There are rules governing who it should be, the man to be chosen based on knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam. Now remember that according to Islamic theology, Jesus is a prophet, and Al-Mahdi is not. So, these prominent and well-known Hadith say that a prophet takes a voluntary back seat role relative to someone who is not a prophet. This is odd at best, as the Qur’an teaches that prophets are a special class of humanity (3:161). Yet it seems even stranger when you consider this is in reference to a prophet who was gone for 2,000 years, residing in heaven no less, and has freshly returned to help lead his people into world domination through the cleansing of false religions. According to Islam, one of Jesus’ first acts is to defer to someone else as a means of giving honor in a religious setting. Who exactly is this character who the Muslim Jesus wishes to exalt above himself?

Apparently, some Muslims have caught on to the fact that something here is amiss. However, such doubts are quickly squashed by Muslim scholars who point out the literature does not leave room for such inquiry. Note how the Shi’ite encyclopedia deals with such questioning,

“They say, Jesus has higher status than to pray behind a non-Prophet. This is a bizarre opinion since the issue of prayer of Jesus behind al-Mahdi has been proven strongly via numerous authentic traditions from the Messenger of Allah, who is the most truthful.” [ii]

So the Muslim literature is clear that Jesus is a prophet, Al-Mahdi is not, and yet Jesus defers to him in prayer. Within Islam, the Muslim Jesus raises Al-Mahdi to a higher spiritual status than himself.

The question left to ponder is whether the Bible has a similar anti-parallel prophecy. In Islam, we have two end-times figures, the Muslim Jesus and Al-Mahdi, and Jesus elevates and supports Al-Mahdi. In the Bible, as it happens, there are two beasts, and the second beast, later referred to as the “false prophet” directs worship toward the first beast (Revelation 13:11-12). Once again, we have two strikingly similar but opposite prophecies occurring. In Christianity, the false prophet directs worship toward the Antichrist. In Islam, the Muslim Jesus directs honor and religious position to Al-Mahdi.

Any clever enemy of God would co-opt His prophecies and twist them into the exact inverse scenarios. This is precisely what we see within Islamic end-times literature when contrasted with that of Christianity.

[i] https://islamqa.info/en/43840
[ii] https://www.al-islam.org/shiite-encyclopedia-ahlul-bayt-dilp-team/sunni-documentation-imam-al-mahdi

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