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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, May 25, 2007

Will They or Won't They? Only the Mahdi Knows for Sure....

Negotiate with us Greater Satans--the Iranians, that is.
On the one hand....according to Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting [IRIB], May 25, 2007:
IRI's Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi Qomi will head Iran's team for talks with the American envoy in Iraq affairs.
The Iran-America talks on Iraq will start on Monday, May 28, said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini in an exclusive interview with IRNA on Friday.
However, according to another story in the same venue, same day:
Interim Friday Prayer Leader of Tehran said Friday anyone that would under prevailing conditions speak of entering talks with America is deviating from late Imam Khomeini's exalted ideals.
Addressing thousands of Tehrani worshipers at Central Campus of Tehran University, Hojjatoleslam Ahmad Khatami added, "The late grand Imam's stand on refraining from entering talks with the Americans was an ideal of the Islamic Revolution."
He further reiterated, "There would be no negotiations, and when we say so, this is not a sentimental comment."

Since the Mahdi is not here yet to clear up the confusion, perhaps a lesser figure--James Baker or Lee Hamilton?--could give it a try....

11:36 pm edt          Comments

Monday, May 7, 2007

Paging Dr. Jihad
Ayman al-Zawahiri, M.D. is al-Qa`idah's second-in-command and since Usama bin Ladin began emulating the Hidden Imam a few years ago, the public face and spokesman for Global Terror, Inc.  Over the weekend he released a new tape, which I analyzed for the History News Network:
1:25 pm edt          Comments

Friday, May 4, 2007

Who Ya Gonna Call?
"Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full transmediums, the Loch Ness monster, the Mahdi and the theory of Atlantis?"
OK, Annie Potts didn't really mention the Mahdi when she was interviewing Ernie Hudson for the job as the fourth Ghostbuster.  But in Malaysia, where Muslim "ghostbusting" is all the rage ("Malaysian state to use Islamic 'ghostbusters,", perhaps that question will have to be asked of any imams hoping to bust heads--in a spiritual sense, of course. These ghostbusters--more properly, exorcists--are supposed to test the Islamic orthodoxy of religious leaders in Malaysia and "drive out evil spirits from cult followers who follow 'deviant' teachings...." No word yet on whether any of these spiritual pugilists will be carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.  Or whether dogs and cats have started living together in Malaysia. Or...well, you get the point.
Personally, I think it's a sign from God. 
But don't quote me on that.
10:37 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Shi`a Sickle Gets Sharper
In my article "A New Empire of the Mahdi? Libyan and Iranian Pan-Islamic Agendas" [see link below], I noted that al-Qadhafi's desire to resurrect the Shi`i Fatimid Caliphate dovetails with the Iranian clerical establishment's wish to (re)unite the Islamic world under Tehran's Shi`i leadership.  However, the fact that only Iran and Iraq are majority Shi`i (Lebanon has a plurality of Shi`is) rather complicates those plans.  But anecdotal evidence suggests that, in Syria at any rate, there is a growing trend of Sunni Muslims "converting" to Shi`ism; see Andrew Tabler, "Catalytic Converters," "The New York Times," April 29, 2007, available at Worldwide Religion News: 
According to interviews of converts, there are two main reasons for switching to Shi`i Islam: its perceived vitality and political power (especially that of Hizbullah vis-a-vis Israel); and ijtihad, "independent reasoning" in religious matters, which is much more accepted among Shi`i scholars than Sunni ones.
While the growth of Shi`i Islam at the expense of the Sunni variety is undoubtedly in some ways bad news--especially insofar as it further empowers Ahmadinezhad, Nasrallah and Moqtada al-Sadr--there may also be a silver lining therein, for Islam badly needs a reformation wrenching it into the modern world and ijtihad is probably the key to unlocking the, if you will, Wittenberg door of the closed gates of ijtihad.  Ijtihad could allow the majority of Muslims, for example, to relegate the Qur'anic passages on, say, beheading [Sura 47:3,4; Sura 8:12] to 7th c. Arabia and to be able, legitimately, to argue that they no long apply in the 21st c.  We shall see. 
11:11 am edt          Comments

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

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