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al-Mahdi is "the rightly-guided one" who, according to Islamic Hadiths (traditions), will come before the end of time to make the entire world Muslim.  Over the last 1400 years numerous claimants to the mantle of the Mahdi have arisen in both Shi`i and Sunni circles.  Modern belief in the coming of the Mahdi has manifested most famously in the 1979 al-`Utaybi uprising of Sa`udi Arabia, and more recently in the ongoing Mahdist movements (some violent) in Iraq, as well as in the frequently-expressed public prayers of former Iranian President Ahmadinezhad bidding the Mahdi to return and, in the larger Sunni Islamic world, by claims that Usamah bin Ladin might be the (occulted) Mahdi.  Now in 2014 Mahdism is active in Syria, as the jihadist opposition group Jabhat al-Nusra claims to be fighting to prepare the way for his coming; and in the new "Islamic State/caliphate" spanning Syrian and Iraqi territory, as its leadership promotes the upcoming apocalyptic battle with the West at Dabiq, Syria.  This site will track such Mahdi-related movements, aspirations, propaganda and beliefs in both Sunni and Shi`i milieus, as well as other  Muslim eschatological yearnings.
For a primer on Mahdism, see my 2005 article, "What's Worse than Violent Jihadists?," at the History News Network:; for more in-depth info, see the links here to my other writings, including my book on Mahdism.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Show Me the Mahdi!

     According to Zeyad, a purveyor of key Arabic websites in Iraq (see IraqSlogger:, the Mahdist outbreak of late January is just the tip of the iceberg. There's also the Silukiyin, a group which resembles the Hujjatiyah of Iran in hoping to spark the coming of the Mahdi; Ansar al-Imam al-Mahdi and al-Muwat`iyun, both of which claim that their respective leaders are the Mahdi's forerunners; the Ruh Allah group expects Ayatollah Khumayni (Khomeini) to return as the Mahdi; and al-Naba', whose members are said to believe that Muqtada al-Sadr is actually the Mahdi! (Wonder if his running off to Iran has undermined this idea?) 

      The historical situation in Iraq right now, with all these Mahdist and near-Mahdist claimants, reminds me very much of that in Algeria under French occupation in the mid-19th century. There, too, a myriad of Mahdist "forerunners" emerged to challenge the French in the name of the coming Mahdi before, finally, in 1879 one Muhammad Amzian actually, publicly proclaimed himself the Mahdi--whereupon French forces annihilated him and his followers (without, I might add, bothering to seek approval from the international community beforehand).
     No military or political solution is going to work in Iraq until this enormously powerful eschatological element in the region (both Sunni and Shi`i) is addressed.


3:42 pm est          Comments

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Mahdi by Any Other Name....

A story about the Iraqi Mahdist outbreak in al-Ahram, Egypt's major newspaper (, shows that accurate information on this movement is as elusive as the Hidden Imam himself: not only is the fellow accorded several different names ("Samer Diaeddin," "Diya Kazem Abdel Zahra," "Mahmoud al-Sirafi," among others), but he is said to be Iraqi, Lebanese, Sunni and/or Shi`i.  al-Ahram also repeats the false canard that Mahdism is only a Shi`i belief.
Are there any military folks in Iraq who can provide some light on this extremely important irruption of modern Mahdism? If so, please contact me. 

4:06 pm est          Comments

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Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)

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