From Personal Reform to Global Justice: Prof. Elaborates Pathway to Embracing Mahdi

6:30 - February 25, 2024
News ID: 3487316
IQNA – A professor of religious studies says for embracing the savior, individuals need to have personal reformation while also actively advocating for societal equity and reform.

From Personal Purity to Global Justice: Prof. Elaborates Pathway to Embracing Mahdi


In an interview with IQNA, Professor Liyakat Takim of McMaster University in Canada explains the universal idea of a savior figure, shared by Muslims and Shias as well as Jews and Christians.

He also discusses the characteristics of the government that Imam Mahdi (May God hasten his advent) would set up, based on the Quran's emphasis on justice and equality.

The interview also examines the social and cultural steps needed to prepare for the Mahdi's coming, highlighting the importance of personal reformation and active opposition to oppression and injustice.

The professor also clarifies how the Quran's principles guide the establishment of a government that respects justice, equality, and individual rights, and fosters a harmonious and peaceful coexistence among different communities.

Here is the full text of the interview:


IQNA: Do only Muslims and Shias believe that a savior will come? What do other religions say about this?

Takim: The idea of a Messiah or a Savior at the end of time is prevalent, especially in Judaism and Christianity. In Judaism, the idea was that the Messiah would be a descendant of Dawud or King David. Initially, he was expected to come soon at the time of David, but later on, after the empire of David collapsed after Solomon, the idea that he would come at the end of time became prominent in Judaism. It's a long story, and I don't want to go into all the details, but the idea that he would be a son of David who would come at the end of time and defeat his enemies and establish a kingdom where people would live in peace and happiness was very prominent in Judaism.

There were others who believed in other mythological figures, but we do not need to go into that; the idea of a savior or Messiah is there very prominently in Judaism. It is also there in Christianity, of course. Initially, the idea of Messianism in Christianity came from Judaism, because Christianity arose from Judaism. Again, there were conflicting reports initially of who the Messiah was, but gradually it came to be realized that the Messiah was Isa (AS).

Muslims, especially the Shias, share the idea of a future appearance of a Savior, whom we call the Mahdi or the Messiah. As I said, even in Christianity, the idea has gone through changes over time, but it would take us too long to go through all of this. However, the Book of Revelation talks of some of these signs of the appearance of the Messiah. For example, it talks of the Antichrist, whom we call Dajjal, of the idea of suffering before the coming of the Messiah, and then comes the second coming of Jesus, the Battle of Armageddon, the triumph of good over evil in the punishment of Satan and the destruction of all heavens and the earth, and the casting of the Unbelievers into hell and God’s creation a new Earth and heaven. So, as I said, this is for other religions.


IQNA: In your viewpoint, what are the features of the government that Imam Mahdi (AS) would establish?

Takim: Our beliefs regarding the form of government require us to understand that the Quran talks of the purpose rather than the formal structure of the government. The purpose of Mahdi (AS) and any government, for that matter, is to establish justice and equality: “Allah commands you to establish Justice and to do good” (Surah An-Nahl, verse 90). 

So, Imam al-Mahdi (AS), when he comes back, as the Quran says, "We wish to endow our favors on those who are weak on the earth and make them the leaders and make them the inheritors." (Surah Al-Qasas, verse 5)

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In other words, Mahdi (AS) will come and establish justice and equality, and they will inherit the earth. Mahdi (AS), for us, is part of the divine plan or promise to establish the kingdom of God. He is called Mahdi because he is the one who is guided and then gives guidance. Therefore, we call him in his ziarat: “Peace be upon you, O light of Allah by which those who have been guided [to the true guidance] are guided”

It's important to understand that he will not just come. His purpose is not war. His purpose is the eradication of war. But, in order to eradicate war, he has to fight against injustice and against those who are oppressing others.


IQNA: How should Shia Muslims deal with doubts about the coming of the savior?

Takim: To eradicate the doubts regarding Imam Mahdi (AS), I think, first of all, we have to understand that the idea of the savior is not only for Muslims. As I have stated, it is also for Jews and Christians. At the same time, the Muslims also believe in it. There is a lot of literature on the Mahdi in the Sunni books. The only difference is that the Sunnis believe he will be born. We believe that he is already born.

The doubts come only because people do not understand how a person can be living while we cannot see him. The Quran says that Isa (AS) was not killed, we believe in Idris and others who are still alive. We believe in Satan, who is still alive. He has always been alive. So, just because we do not see a person does not mean that he does not exist.

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At the same time, the Mahdi is approachable. There are various supplications that people have performed. I know people who have benefited from Imam al-Mahdi (AS) himself. So, people also have doubts simply because they do not understand what the Quran is telling us about the future, that the time when justice and equality will be established. But that justice and equality do not come about automatically.

Human beings have tried many times to do that, but you need divine intervention. And that divine intervention comes through a divinely appointed figure, in this case, Imam al-Mahdi (AS).

From Personal Purity to Global Justice: Prof. Elaborates Pathway to Embracing Mahdi

IQNA: What should communities do to get ready for the arrival of the savior from a cultural perspective? How idea of Mahdism can be spread across the globe?

Takim: I think I can answer two questions in one. I think that, to start with, we should have a personal reformation. We, as human beings, must reform ourselves to be capable of receiving the Mahdi. In other words, we should be as pure as possible so that when he appears, we are ready for him. That is one aspect of it.

The second is to do our best to fight against oppression and suppression of others, persecution of others. If we do not fight physically, then at least by writing, or by saying, or by doing things that will highlight the wrongdoing.

For example, what we see in Palestine at the moment, what is happening. I know many of us cannot do anything physically, but at least by writing, by highlighting, by going to protest, by helping them in any way that we can, knowing that these are people who are being oppressed. And not only them, but other parts of the world.

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In other words, we want to create a world where there is the capability of Imam al-Mahdi (AS) to come to help him through the difficulties and the fighting against wrongdoing. That is part of our duties, to do whatever we can to fight against injustice and inequality.

We have opportunities, especially in the West, where we are free to express ourselves. And we need to tell our government very clearly that they should stop supporting those who are doing evil and wrong.


IQNA: What does the Quran say about the Mahdavi Government and thought?

Takim: The Quran wants to establish a government or a form of political order that establishes justice and equality, that is against injustice, and that the role of Allah, the role of God, should be established. Whereby people of different nationalities and different faith groups should live together in harmony and in peace. That people should not oppress each other. That even minorities and their rights are taken care of. That although we try and spread the word of Allah to others, we cannot force anybody to believe. Because, as the Quran tells us very clearly, there is no compulsion in religion.

Hence, our role, I believe, according to the Quran, is that we should try and establish the center of equality and justice. We should try and reform ourselves also, so that we are capable of being the followers of the Mahdi.


Interview by Mohammad Ali Haqshenas