Out of the controversial narrations we can refer to the various traditions cited in the books widely known among the Sunnis, dealing with al-Mahdi the Awaited, stating that he will reappear at the end of time to fill the world with justice as it was filled with oppression.
Ahl al-Sunnah take him to be Muhammad ibn Abd Allah, and in another narration: Ahmad ibn Abd Allah. While the Shi’ah concur that he is Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Mahdi, one of the Infallible Imams, giving him the title al-Hujjah and al-Qa’im al-Muntazar.
The Kaysanites hold that al-Mahdi is: Muhammad ibn al-Hanafiyyah, and he is alive and residing on a Ridawi mountain between two lions protecting him, having two sprinkling eyes overflowing water and honey, with forty (supporters) accompanying him.
Regarding his ancestral lineage he is known to be Alawi Fatimi, and among the sons of al-Imam al-Hasan, with the Imami Shi’ah taking him to be one of the sons of (al-Imam) al-Husayn.
In his Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun443 writes:
It is commonly known among all Muslims throughout course of time, that at the end of time a man from among Ahl al-Bayt should appear, to support the Din and make justice prevail … he will be followed by the Muslims and will dominate all the Islamic kingdoms, and his name is al-Mahdi. The appearance of al-Dajjal and consequent events will be verily among the provisos of the appointed hour (of his reappearance), which were established in the sahih works. It is also stated that Jesus will come down after him, and help him in killing al-Dajjal, and he will perform his prayers behind him (al-Mahdi). They argue in this bab with traditions reported by the Imams, but doubted by the deniers to this belief, or even objected by some reports (akhbar)… etc.
Ibn Khaldun confuted and doubted most of the traditions on al-Mahdi cited in the Sunni books known among the Jumhur (Ahl al-Sunnah). Whereas the Shi’ah — particularly the Imamiyyah — have certain evidences they report from their Imams, upon which they depend to proving the reappearance of al-Mahdi. Every people have their own sunnah and leader.
443. Edition of Beirut, p.311.
Adapted from: “Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah” by: “Mahmud Ali Riyyah”