The Holy Prophet Muhammad(SAW) has prophesied about several events that will occur just before the advent of the day of judgment. Among these, Rasulullah(SAW) has foretold the advent of one of his descendants, Al Mahdi (the guided one), which will materialize when the believers are severely oppressed in every corner of the world. He will fight the oppressors, unite the Muslims, bring peace and justice to the world, rule over the Arabs, and lead a prayer in Mekkah at which Isa(pbuh) (Jesus) will be present.
As Muslims, we should remember that the prophecy about Mahdi is one that will come to pass.
"The world will not pass away before the Arabs are ruled by a man (referring to Mahdi) of my family whose name will be the same as mine"
However, many people in the past falsely claimed to be Imam Mahdi. One of these false claimants was Muhammad bin Tumarat, a tyrant who spread corruption and even buried some of his companions because they did not believe that he was the Mahdi described by the Ahaadith of Rasulullah Some believe it was Muhammad bin Al-Sakari who disappeared at the age of five and went into hiding and has been hiding 10 centuries. Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani (the cursed) was also one of those who claimed to be the Mahdi as well as many other people. Beside those mentioned there were many others who claimed the office of Mahdi, the most recent being somebody from Manchester who claimed the position for himself. It should be noted that none of the above or anybody else who claimed to be the Mahdi in the past fulfilled the conditions laid down by the Prophet
Some of the signs which will precede Imam Mahdi are as follows, so that we Muslims are not mislead to believe in somebody claiming to be the Mahdi who in reality is a blatant liar.
Signs that will Precede Imam Mahdi
There are many signs that will precede him, a general and very important sign is that he will come at a time when there is great confutation, intense disputes and violent deaths. When people are afflicted by disturbance and experiencing great fear. Calamities will fall upon the people, so much so that a man shall not find a shelter to shelter him self from oppression. There will be battles and fitnaas before his appearance. Every time a fitnaa has come to end, another will start, spread and intensify. The people will be troubled to such an extent that they will long for death. It is then that Imam Mahdi will be sent.
Abu Saeed Al-Khudri has repoted that the Messenger of Allah said "He will be sent at a time of intense disputes and differences among people and earthquakes..." (Ahmed)
The Battle in Mina
Before Imam Mahdi emerges an inter-tribal fight will take place. In the same year hajis will be looted and a battle will erupt in Mina in which many people will be killed. Ameer bin Shauaib reported from his grandfather that the messenger of Allah said:
"In Dhul Qaidah (Islamic Month) the tribes will fight, Hajis will be looted and there will be a battle in Mina in which many people will be slain and blood will flow until it runs over the Jamaratul Aqba. Their companion (referring to Imam Mahdi) will flee to a point between the corner and the Maqaam and will be forced to accept people's allegiance."
(Al-Fitan, Nuaim ibn Hammad)
The Euphrates will Disclose a Mountain of Gold
The Final Hour will not come until the river Euphrates (which flows through Syria and Iraq and finally opens in the Gulf) will disclose a mountain of gold over which people will fight and die Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:
"The shall not occur until the Euphrateswill disclosea mountain of gold, over which people will fight. 99 out of every hundred shall die, and every one of them shall say, 'perchance I shall be the one to succeed" (Muslim)
In another narration we have been told that who ever is present at the time when the Euphrates discloses a mountain of gold should not take the gold.
Emergence of the Sufyani
Sufyani (a descendant of Abu Sufyan) will emerge before Imam Mahdi from the depths of Damascus. According to some weak narrations, his name will be Urwa bin Muhammad and his kunniya 'Abu Utbah'. The Ahadith regarding the Sufyani specify that he is a tyrant who will spread corruption and mischeif on the earth before Imam Mahdi. He will be such a tyrant that he will kill the children and rip out the bellies of women. 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 Imam Mahdi. Abu Hurairah has narrated that the Prophet saw said:
"A man will emerge from the depths of Damascus. He will be called Sufyani. Most of those who follow him will be from the tribe of Kalb. He will kill by ripping the stomachs of women and even kill the children. A man from my family will appear in the Haram, the news of his advent will reach the Sufyani and he will send to him one of his armies. He (referring to Imam Mahdi) will defeat them. They will then travel with whoever remains until they come to a desert and they will be swallowed. None will be saved except the one who had informed the others about them."