We’ve come to the end of another year and after the insane events of 2016, and indeed the past few decades, the one thing that everyone is gasping for is a breath of fresh air; everyone craves peace. With so many differences in opinion, at times we fail to remember that Islam and Christianity hold many similarities. Of them, and one that is particularly important here is the return of an awaited saviour who will rid the world of turmoil, and will reinstall peace across the world. For the Christians, this will come in the form of Prophet Jesus (pbuh) and for the Muslims, this it will come in the form of The Mahdi, who according to narrations will be a descendent of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
There are many narrations as to whether The Mahdi has been born yet, or if he had indeed been born many years ago and is in occultation. With this, there are many prominent Muslim scholars and historians who have spoken of his birth. Of them is Shams al-Din Ghazzi al-Shafi’i who documented “Mohammed Ibn al-Hasan al-Askari Ibn Ali al-Hadi Ibn Muhammad al-Jawad is the 12th Imam of the Imamiyyah and is known as al-Hujja. He was born on Friday in mid-Shabaan in the year 255 A.H. When his father died, he was five years old.”  Other notable scholars have also reported the same but what remains important is this belief in some form of messianic saviour who comes at the end of time.
With this, many narrations also support the idea that The Mahdi would return alongside Prophet Isa (Jesus). It is important to take note of the following verses from the Holy Quran, which suggest that Prophet Isa is still alive and in some form of occultation, just as The Mahdi is. The holy Quran states that:
“they killed him not, nor crucified him; it was only a likeness show to them. Most certainly they killed him not. Rather, God lifted him up to Himself.” (4:157-8) Further to this, Allah himself specified that He “will take [Isa] away and lift you up to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve.” (3:55) With this, it reiterates that is through the divine will of Allah for his life to be prolonged, in the same way Allah makes the decision on any other life being prolonged.
Further proof of this is Allah’s decree in the Holy Quran, whereby He states: “It is God who takes away the souls at the time of their death, and (the souls) of those that die not during their sleep. He keeps those for which he has ordained death and send the rest for an appointed term.” (39:42)
The final promise that links to this is that Allah promises that Prophet Isa “shall be a known sign of the hour, so have no doubt concerning it and follow Me.” (43:61) The ‘hour’ mentioned here denotes the day of Judgement, which then suggests that the return of Prophet Isa will be ahead of the Day of Judgement.
With this, it is narrated in Sahih Muslim that the companion of the Holy Prophet, Jabir Ibn Abdillah al-Ansari heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “A group of my Ummah will fight for the truth until near the day of judgment when Jesus, the son of Mary, will descend, and the leader of them will ask him to lead the prayer, but Jesus declines, saying: “No, Verily, among you Allah has made leaders for others and He has bestowed his bounty upon them.”
This suggests that upon the return of The Mahdi and that of Prophet Isa, there will be a clear and definitive hierarchy whereby the lineage of Prophet Muhammad will be that which takes the helm and unites the believers of all faiths in one ship of salvation.
But even now, in the time of The Mahdi’s occultation, there are many similarities which humanise this hidden figure in his likeness to Prophet’s of past. Ali ibn Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet has drawn these similarities in a narration, stating that The Mahdi “has similarities to Prophet’s Noah, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa, Ayyub and Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
He has similarity to Noah in having a long life; to Ibrahim in having his birth being hidden and his staying away from the public; to Musa in his state of fear (from the intensity of the dangers directed at him); to Isa in people being in conflict over him; to Ayyub in being delivered to salvation after trouble; to Muhammad in his standing up for justice.”
With this, whether you hold a belief in The Mahdi, the return of Prophet Isa or any other type of Messiah, 2017 is probably the best time to start praying for it, especially with all the online theories of the end of the world.
 Wafayaat al-A’yaan: Volume 4, p. 176.
 Sahih Muslim: Volume 2, p. 193. // Musnad Ahmad Ibn Hanbal: Volume 3, p. 45, 384. // Al-Sawa’iq al-Muhriqah, by Ibn Hajar al-Haythami: Chapter 11, Section 1, p. 251. // Nuzool Isa Ibn Maryam Akhir al-Zaman, by Jalaluddin al-Suyuti, p. 57.
 Kamal al-Din: Section 31, hadith number 3, p. 322.