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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, April 27, 2007

Reunited and It Feels So Good? Libyan and Iranian Plans for a 'New Empire of the Mahdi'
My article detailing the similarities between the latest Libyan and Iranian plans for Islamic unity has just been published by Praeger Security International Online:
10:00 am edt          Comments

Carter Finally Off the Hook for the Botched Hostage Rescue Mission

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad, this past week, spoke at a rally commemorating the failed American attempt to rescue the hostages being held in Iran in 1980, and claimed that "heavenly aides supported the Iranian nation and clobbered the enemy in the desert."  And all this time I thought those tragic deaths were due to bad planning, lack of interservice coordination and communications, and inane micromanaging from the Carter White House. See the full article at,2933,268463,00.html?

9:53 am edt          Comments

Monday, April 23, 2007

Moqtada al-Mahdi?
Heretofore I had thought that Moqtada al-Sadr, that Shi`i burr under the American saddle in southern Iraq, was readying his Jaysh al-Mahdi (Army of the Mahdi) to be handed over to the Mahdi when the latter arrived. However, if a new report in "The Economist" (April 14th, 2007) is correct, then al-Sadr's ego is quite a bit larger:
"Some [Iraqis] go so far as to suggest that Mr Sadr is exploiting the cult-like devotion he inspires among his legion of mainly young and poor Shia followers to evoke the image of the Shias' 'hidden imam' whose reappearance on earth is supposed to herald an era of peace and justice. Indeed, it is not hard to find people in Mr Sadr's flock who say he is actually the Imam al-Mahdi himself, the Shias' 12th and last leader, who was 'occultated' into thin air in 939 AD and is due one day to reappear."
And not to beat a dead horse [see post below], but...remember, according to the Baker/Hamilton Iraq Study Group report, we're supposed to be negotiating with al-Sadr.
10:12 am edt          Comments

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ignorance of Mahdism is Anything BUT Blissful
At the first of this year I published a critique of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report ("Ignorance May be Bliss, but it Makes for Bad Policy,"  One of my major criticisms of the report was its ignorance (or disregard) of the undeniably-growing eschatological element in Iraqi and Iranian politics.  As Babak Rahimi reported last week, I was right ("Two Types of Splinter Groups Break from Moqtada al-Sadr,"  While one offshoot seems focused simply on being more anti-Sunni  than even al-Sadr, the other--ultimately more dangerous--branch follows in the tradition of "millenarian-mystical movements with anti-establishment ideologies," able to "unleash a major attack on the Shiite orthodoxy in Najaf, creating new cultic and sectarian movements in the Shiite community of Iraq that could lead to a new religious civil war."  It is ironic, and depresssing, but it seems that at this juncture George Bush's efforts to bring democracy to the heart of the Arab world are resulting in, instead, the stoking of anti-Western Mahdist flames in Iraq. 
Special thanks to both Patrick Poole and Joel Richardson for almost simultaneously alerting me to this latest info.
10:01 pm edt          Comments

Friday, April 13, 2007

One Islam, under Allah?
Frontpagemag put together an (online) symposium entitled "One Islam?" in which I participated, along with the redoubtable Robert Spencer; check it out here:
7:38 pm edt          Comments

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

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