Why is the Mahdi not mentioned in the Qur’an or the two Sahih Hadith books (Bukhari and Muslim) or in the books of Aqeedah?
Qur’an not only hints towards the Muslims having the upper hand before the end of the world but also states it explicitly (Q.2:214, 21:105, 24:55-56) and it should not be a surprise that the Muslims have a leader during that stage. Mahdi being in Qur’an or Aqeedah books does not matter at all. Remember he is a human Khalifah and not a god-like figure as made by some groups! If Umar b. al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) is not mentioned in the Qur’an or all Aqeedah books while he did exist, then why would one ask for the Mahdi in the Qur’an or Aqeedah books? When the Qur’an mentions Muslims having upper hand before the last day and the Hadiths (from both Bukhari and Muslim) mention a Khalifah in the end times, isn’t it harmonic? Don’t they go hand-in-hand?
Umar b. al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) was also a Khalifah but not mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an. Similarly Sultan Mehmet cannot be found in the Qur’an as well but he did exist and did perform great events. The Qur’an orders the believers to obey the rulers, Hadiths also mention to support the ruler who is righteous and if a ruler comes matching the Qur’anic description of being just and righteous, then it is obligatory for the believers to support him. The same was done for Umar (رضي الله عنه) and the same would be required from the believers when the Mahdi arrives. Mahdi does not need to tell anyone to believe in him however the call he would give would be the same call and not a new call and so the people should obey that call. You don’t need separate criteria to accept or reject him. If he lives up to the Qur’an, then accept him, otherwise do not accept anyone! Accepting or rejecting him does not need separate rules in the Qur’an; a good ruler is to be obeyed and that is the criteria! Obedience to those in power and just rulers is explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an and Aqeedah books.
The criterion for acceptance of the Mahdi is the Qur’an itself. Mahdi is not a divine figure. He is not a prophet, nor a messenger. He does not receive revelation but he is a human Khalifah like many Khalifahs before not mentioned in Qur’an. It ‘might’ or ‘might’ not be an article of faith to accept or reject him but if he obtains control over Muslims and is just and fair, then ‘opposing’ him can be rebellion and hence a matter of faith. Basing this, I ask, should he still be mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an or Aqeedah books even though he has been strongly hinted at and assertively implied at?
Moreover, the claim that he is not mentioned in Aqeedah books is also false. Many scholars have written books confirming that the Mahdi will emerge, and describing that as part of the belief of the Muslim. For example: al-Haafiz Abu Na’eem, Abu Da’ood, Abu Katheer, al-Sakhaawi, al-Shawkaani, and others.
The important point is that Qur’an and those Aqeedah books that are not explicit are implicit.
What is Aqeedah? Faith in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Day of Judgment (heaven and hell included), and Divine Decree (predestination i.e. Allah knows the future and everything in advance which He has already written). If Mahdi is not explicit, then he is covered as mentioned above plus also under the belief in Messengers (Hadith). Moreover, there is Ijma on this as well.
The Mahdi is mentioned in the Qur’an as well as the two Saheeh Hadith books:
- The Qur’an instructs to obey the rulers [Q.4:59], and ruler-ship is important for a nation. A nation cannot stand without a ruler
- The Qur’an states that the Muslims will have an upper hand before the end of the world [Q. 2:214, 21:105, and 24:55-56 among others]
- It goes without saying that Muslims would have a ruler when they would have an upper hand in the world. This ruler would be the Mahdi – hence we see that the concept or idea of Mahdi is in the Qur’an even if he is not named
- The two Sahih Hadith books (Bukhari and Muslim) also mention that the Muslims will have a ruler in the end times [i][ii][iii][iv] and many more
- Qur’an and authentic Hadiths are harmonised in such a beautiful manner that they all point towards the leader of end times as the Mahdi. In some places his existence is mentioned while in others, his name is also mentioned
- This ruler is different from Eisa b. Maryam (عليه السلام) because he is separately mentioned in the Qur’an
Read more here.
Indeed, Allah knows best.
References and footnotes:
 Scholarly statements about the Mahdi:
قال القاضي الشوكاني في الفتح الرباني:
(الذي أمكن الوقوف عليه من الأحاديث الواردة في المهدي المنتظر خمسون حديثا وثمانية وعشرون أثراً. ثم سردهم مع الكلام عليها) ثم قال: (وجميع ما سقناه بالغ حد التواتر كما لا يخفى من له فضل اطلاع). اهـ.
وقال الإمام أبو الحسن محمد بن الحسين الآبري (ت:363ه) في كتاب (مناقب الشافعي):
(وقد تواترت الأخبار واستفاضت عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى آله وسلم بذكر المهدي وأنه من أهل بيته، وأنه يملك سبع سنين، وأنه يملأ الأرض عدلاً، وأن عيسى يخرج فيساعده على قتل الدجال، وأنه يؤم هذه الأمة ويصلي عيسى خلفه). اهـ.
One has to note aqeedah books are generally reactionary works, so they discuss what people deny. Hence, it would be difficult even to find the term Khatam al-Nibiyyeen in many of the aqeedah books and this is not because that they denied it but that no one had an issue with it. Hence we see that most of these aqeedah books discuss sifaat of Allah as that was of central importance during the times they were written.
 This particular Imam is described in detail in another Hadith:
Narrated by al-Haarith b. Abi Usaamah in his Musnad that Jaabir (r) said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “‘Eisa b. Maryam will come down and their leader the Mahdi will say to him: ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say: ‘No, one of them should lead the others in prayer, as a sign of honour from Allah to this Ummah.’
Ibn al-Qayyim said in al-Manaar al-Muneef (1/147): its isnaad is jayyid. The Hadith is narrated with a mawsool isnaad in Saheeh Muslim, without naming their leader. Muslim’s report (225) says: “… ‘And ‘Eisa b. Maryam will come down and their leader will say to him: ‘Come and lead us in prayer.’ But he will say: ‘No, one of them should lead the others in prayer, as a sign of honour from Allah to this Ummah.’”