The eschatological dimension of Islam is very rich and highly developed.  Their conceptions of the Events of the Hereafter, the End of Time, the Second Coming, the Day of Judgement and the Day of Resurrection play a very important role in the Islamic faith and have been discussed throughout its history. For instance, in the Shi'ite tradition (one of the branches of Islam), it is widely believed that at the end of time the twelfth Imam, Imam Mahdi, will leave his state of occultation or concealment and reappear again to bring equity and justice:

        'Imam Muhammad al-Mahdï entitled Sahib al-zamán, who is the last Shi'ite Imam, went into minor occultation upon the death of his father.  From 260/873 to 329/940 he had four representatives (nä'ib) to whom he appeared from time to time and through whom he ruled the Shi'ite community.  This period is thus called the minor occultation (al-ghaibat al-sughrä).  Henceforth, there began the major occultation (al-ghaibat al-kubrä) which still endures.  During this time, according to the Shi'ah, the Mahdi is alive but invisible.  He is the axis mundi, the invisible ruler of the Universe.  Before the end of time he will appear again on earth to bring equity and justice and to fill it with peace after it has been torn by war and injustice.  The Mahdi is an ever-living spiritual being who guides in the spiritual path those who ask him and whose succour all the devout ask in their daily prayers.  He who is spiritually qualified is, in fact, in inner contact with the Mahdi.'

(Seyyed Hossein Nasar, Ideals and Realities of Islam.
 Mandala, Unwin Hyman Ltd.)

In another branch of Islam, Isma'ilism, the cyclic conception of history forms the core of its metaphysical conception of time:

        'Isma'ilism has a cyclic conception of history closely allied to its metaphysical conception of time.  Although a cyclic concepiton of time is implied in certain Twelve-imam Shi'ite sources cyclic not in the sense of ever recurring sets of events but of other historic cycles than the present one it is nowhere as much emphasised as in Isma'ilism.  The Isma'ili works speak of a large cycle of aeons sometimes mentioned as of 360,000 years within which there are seven cycles of prophecy.  Each cycle is commenced by a prophet (nabí) who has his esoteric representative or imam who dominates over that cycle, the seventh bringing the cycle to an end.  The prophets and their imams for the present cycle of humanity are mentioned usually as:



The seventh is the Mahdi or 'Imam of Resurrection', who does not bring a new sharí'ah but reveals the inner meaning of all revelations and prepares the coming of the new cycle.  Moreover, the historical cycles alter between that of epiphany and occultation, between a period when the truth is revealed and one in which it is hidden, this alteration continuing until the end of the great cycle.  At this moment comes the 'Great Resurrection' (qiyämat al-qiyämah) upon which man and his celestial prototype are re-instated in their original condition.  Thus through the prophets and imams the purpose of creation is fulfilled and man regains the state that he lost through his own negligence'.

(Seyyed Hossein Nasar,
Ideals and Realities of Islam)

These concepts of the Reappearance of Imam Mahdi are extremely clear, constructive and inspiring.  They have many features in common with the Christian and Hebrew traditions such as:

(a) a period of life in darkness and negligence when the   Truth is hidden;

(b) an end to this period and the Advent of the Second Coming;

(c) the Day of Judgement and the Great Day of Resurrection;

(d) the beginning of a new cycle when humankind lives according to its celestial purpose.

Obviously in his Reappearance Imam Mahdi will guide all faithful people on their journey to the higher worlds.  In the Islamic tradition the Prophet Muhammad himself gave the most exciting and inspiring example of the ascent to the highest Divine world.  In his journey in the realm of form (i.e. the physical universe), he moved from the Haram mosque to that of Kufah and then to the al-Aqsa Mosque, while in the realm of inner meaning (i.e. the spiritual universe) he ascended to the seven heavens, the Throne and the footstool. In fact, in the realm of the inner meaning, the pilgrimage to Mecca (i.e. the journey in the realm of form) becomes an ascent to higher states of consciousness aiming towards the highest one entry into the 'Garden of the Essence'.  This mystical journey could explain why the 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi, who has to come again is considered as the axis mundi, the invisible ruler of the universe who guides in the spiritual path all devotees.

The Second Coming Integral Mission offers pilgrimages to sacred places on Earth which at the same time are celestial pilgrimages, i.e. metaphysical journeys in the higher realms.  When we are undergoing these celestial pilgrimages, we enter in contact mystically with Imam Mahdi who prepares us for the mystery of his Reappearance, the Day of Judgement and Resurrection.


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