Definition of Mahdi in English:



  • 1(in popular Muslim belief) a spiritual and temporal leader who will rule before the end of the world and restore religion and justice.

    • ‘Its name suggests that he sees the coming of the Muslim promised one, the Mahdi, as imminent.’
    • ‘Men say that a certain religious Mullah has prophesied the immediate second coming of the Mahdi.’
    1. 1.1 A person claiming to be the Mahdi, notably Muhammad Ahmad of Dongola in Sudan (1843–85), whose revolutionary movement captured Khartoum and overthrew the Egyptian regime.
      • ‘In 909 a leader claiming descent from Isma il proclaims himself the Mahdi and creates a state in North Africa.’
      • ‘There, a revolt led by a religious leader, Muhammad Ahmed, self-styled the Mahdi, had started in 1881.’
      • ‘This is the first report I have seen of Muqtada being considered the Mahdi, and it is possible, though I suspect it is a minority view.’
      • ‘In 1881, a religious leader named Muhammad ibn Abdalla proclaimed himself the Mahdi, or the ‘expected one,’ and began a religious crusade to unify the tribes in western and central Sudan.’
      • ‘He also declared his brother-in-law Mahdi [the messiah], a term most Saudis do not identify with their brand of conservative Islam.’
    2. 1.2 (in Shiite belief) the twelfth imam, who is expected to return and triumph over injustice.
      • ‘The Safavid state in Iran was founded in 1501 by Shiite tribes who believed that Shah Ismail was divine, and perhaps that he was the herald of the Shiite Mahdi or messiah.’


From Arabic ( al-)mahdī ‘he who is guided in the right way’, passive participle of hadā ‘to guide’.