SHAFAQNA – The Shi’a believe that Imam al-Mahdi is the only son of Imam Hasan al-Askari (the 11th Imam) who was born on the 15th of Sha’ban 255/869 in Samarra, Iraq. He became the divinely appointed Imam when his father was martyred in 260/874. Imam al-Mahdi went into occultation (disappearance; leaving among people while he is not identified) at the same time. He will re-appear when Allah wills. More specifically:
• His title is “al-Mahdi”which means “The Guided One.”
• His name is Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan (as).
• His lineage, traced back to Imam ‘Ali (as), is: Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Musa Ibn Ja’far Ibn Muhammad Ibn ‘Ali Ibn al-Husayn Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (as).
On the other hand, most Sunnis are not so sure that he has been born yet! They believe he will be born some time before his mission. The name of Imam al-Mahdi is Muhammad (which is the same as what the Shi’a believe). There is, however, one Sunni report which adds that the name of the father of Imam al-Mahdi is Abdullah. Now let us see what is the argument of each side: