The concept of a universal saviour is shared by most of the major world religions.
Within Islam, both Shi’a and Sunnis believe this particular role is reserved by a Messianic figure called the “Mahdi” or the “Guided One.”
While Shi’a and Sunni theologians agree on the concept of “Mahdi,” they differ on who the “Mahdi” might be. Unlike their Sunni counterparts, the Shi’a believes that the Mahdi has already been born and is currently in a phase known as “Occultation,” sustained by God.
For the Shi’a, the Mahdi is the Twelfth and final Imam, namely Muhammad b. al-Hassan al-Mahdi (a.s), born in the year 255 A.H. His Occultation was due to the political factors which caused the birth of the Twelfth Imam (a.s) to be kept extremely secret.
Imam al-Mahdi (a.s) assumed the Imamate after the death of his father in the year 260 A.H, whereby he immediately entered into a concealed phase known as the Minor Occultation, which came to an end in the year 329 A.H. Since that time, the Imam entered the period known as the Major Occultation, during which time no direct contact with the Imam can be established by the believers.
The Shi’a are constantly praying that Allah (s.w.t) will prepare his return and unveil the Mahdi, following which the religion of Islam shall spread all over the globe and injustice shall be overcome.