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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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Monday, October 29, 2007

Nobody's Fault But Bush's (and Blair's)
Two years ago, in my book Holiest Wars, I noted that there were reports out of southern Iraq according to which Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the Jaysh al-Mahdi (Army of the Mahdi), claimed that the American invasion had been timed to stymie the Mahdi's (re)emergence.  If a story in this week's Economist (10/25/07) is accurate, that belief now permeates the Shi`i communities of Iraq:

"They say the Mahdi is coming back

Oct 25th 2007 | DAMASCUS
From The Economist print edition

Why Basra's Shias think their hidden imam will soon return

“I HAVE this question for you,” says Abu Ahmed, a businessman with a grey beard from Iraq's southern city of Basra. “Why did the British and foreign forces come to Iraq? Didn't Bush and Blair invade to stop the Mahdi from winning power?” It is unlikely that either George Bush or Tony Blair, as they prepared for war, had heard of the Mahdi—the millennial figure who Shia Muslims believe will come with the Messiah to set up a just Islamist government at the end of the world. Shias, a large majority in Basra, believe that the returning Mahdi will be their 12th imam, Muhammad bin Hassan, who was born in 868AD. They say he never died but was hidden from human view, in “occultation”; he will reappear to rescue his people at a time of unprecedented calamity, torture and persecution—ie, now. The businessman says the invasion was a deliberate attempt to cause so much chaos that the Mahdi's return would be hidden from the world's gaze...."
(Complete story available here: .)

It's hard to find fault with this venerable British publication, but I must point out one major inaccuracy: that belief in the Mahdi is solely a Shi`i phenomenon.  Of course, as anyone who peruses this website is probably tired of reading, Mahdism is BOTH Sunni and Shi`i and, in reality, throughout history there have almost certainly been more openly-proclaimed Sunni "mahdis" than there have been Shi`i ones. 
Also, note the victimization/conspiracy theory aspect to the belief system.  If the Mahdi is truly God's "rightly-guided one"--as the name means in Arabic--then how could non-Muslims (even those as nefarious as Bush and Blair) hope to hide his appearance?
It is also quite interesting--and hopeful?--that at least some Shi`is believe that the Mahdi will number Christians  among his followers.  Is this perhaps a bridge to 21st century Western-Muslim ecumenical rapproachment?

4:20 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Happiness is a Warm Gun--Unless You're The Mahdi

Yet another Mahdist claimant has surfaced in the Sunni world here in 2007:

Hamas Shoots Man Claiming to be Muslim Messiah
6 Cheshvan 5768, October 18, '07
A Gaza man incurred the anger of a Hamas-affiliated preacher in Gaza Tuesday by claiming to be the Mahdi, or Muslim redeemer. The man went to the Imam to seek his endorsement and instruct him to tell Muslims to follow his instructions. The Imam reacted by summoning armed Hamas men, who arrived and told the self-proclaimed redeemer to take back his claims. When the man continued to insist that he was the Mahdi, police shot him in the foot and then released him
(Special thanks to Joel Richardson for alerting me to this:
As comical and pathetic as this appears, it also corroborates my oft-repeated thesis that many Muslims have convinced themselves (or been convinced by their leaders, religious and political) that the Ummah is in such dire straits that only supernatural deliverance via the Mahdi can save it.  Eventually a tipping point will be reached where a Mahdist claimant will be someone of enough stature to lead a serious movement and perhaps even be handed, or seize, the reins of power somewhere.  Make no mistake, it will happen.  And then it will be him and his followers doing the shooting, not the other way around.

9:11 pm edt          Comments

Friday, October 12, 2007

An Iranian M.I.R.V.?

No, not THAT kind, but rather a Mahdi-Imam Reentry Vehicle.  Twelver Shi`ism holds that the Hidden Imam will emerge onto the historical stage as the Mahdi from 1) that well in Jamkaran or, for the less literalistic, 2) a mystical parallel dimension where he's been hibernating for 11 centuries or so.  But maybe he'll come from a different direction....

UFO Crash in Central Iran

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- An Unidentified Flying Object crashed in Barez Mounts in the central province of Kerman Wednesday morning.
"Deputy Governor General of Kerman province Abulghassem Nasrollahi told FNA that the crash which was followed by an explosion and a thick spiral of smoke has caused no casualties or damage to properties....
Eye-witnesses assure that the explosion has been caused as a result of the crash of a radiant unidentified flying object onto the ground. Meantime, an informed source told FNA that the object has been on fire and there has been thick smoke coming out of it prior to the crash, concluding that the object couldn't have been a meteor as meteors do not smoke...."(

The truth is out there....

10:12 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Denial at the Highest Level
I like President Bush; I voted twice for President Bush; but President Bush, you're no scholar of Islam.  And it seems, neither is anyone on your staff.  Our very own Great Satanic Leader has, yet again, proved himself either willfully ignorant, or cravenly sycophantic, when it comes to the world's second-largest religion:
"...acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.  And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that."
" The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That's not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace" (
Of course, it's hard to reconcile this well-meaning, mushy, presidential Methodism with what the Qur'an actually says, and what Islamic history actually demonstrates.  But don't take my neo-con, Christian, Orientalist word for it.  Here is what an Iraqi doctor in Baghdad, with whom I've been communicating, had to say about the topic when I asked him about Moqtada al-Sadr:
"The question is, as I asked all my friends, why Muslims like this type of personality; why in all our history we cannot find leaders [such] as Gandhi or Mandela asking for peace and rationality....I think the problem is in the Quran and Islamic history where the[re is] sword, violence, killing--even other Muslims--and Muhammad's personality and teachings all have a great effect on some poor idiots...."
It's sad that an Iraqi Muslim will say this, but the putative head of the Global War on Islamist Terror won't. 
9:01 am edt          Comments

Monday, October 8, 2007

Let's Go Crazy, Tehran-Style! Pix from World Qods [Quds] Day
For a number of years now the ayatollah leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran has sponsored "World Qods [Quds] Day" the week before the end of Ramadan, which aims to unite Muslims under the banner of "liberating" Palestine--al-Quds--from the Zionists and Crusaders. Here are some pix of Iranian Shi`i petrodollars at work promoting this cause in, of all places, Nigeria:

Muslims "must" unite all over the World
and pray for the appearance of al Mahdi (r.a.) the Saviour of mankind
descendent of Prophet Muhammed s.a.w.

Let's hope the new African Command of the U.S. military is taking this Mahdist agitation in Africa seriously.
12:23 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Hugo: "Mahmud Is Just Alright with Me!"
Conventional wisdom would have it that Iranian ties with Venezuela are simply realpolitick--that Tehran is trying to stir up trouble for the Great Satan in his Latin American backyard in retaliation for El Diablo Bush's attempts to ostracize Iran at the U.N. and regionally.  However, the problem for the U.S. may be more serious than that.  As everyone (except the Columbia faculty, National Press Club and "60 Minutes") knows by now, Ahmadinezhad has a Mahdist/messianic streak a mile wide.  But it seems that Venezuela's el jefe, Hugo Chavez, harbors messianic ambitions of his own:
"In fact, Chavez is a caudillo-plus. Unlike most of his strongman predecessors, this Messiah figure has relentlessly pursued an international agenda with what, for now, seem to be inexhaustible financial resources.  Not long ago he pledged to his dying mentor, Fidel Castro, 'I take responsibility for continuing your struggle, your endless battle. Men like Fidel end up sacrificing their lives like the Christ.' In August 2006 he exclaimed, 'Our task is to save the world'" (William Ratliff, "Hurricane Hugo," The Weekly Standard, Oct. 1, 2007).  Ahmadinezhad and Chavez may have different messiahs, but both have the same goal, it seems, as shown by the Iranian leader's run for the border last week following his escape from New York.  Ahmadinezhad's meeting with both pal Hugo and Bolivia's President Evo Morales gave us the following:
*Chavez embraced the Iranian leader, calling him 'one of the greatest anti-imperialist fighters'and 'one of the great fighters for true peace.'
*Chavez said he was proud of Ahmadinejad's courage while under hostile questioning at New York's Columbia University. 'An imperial spokesman tried to disrespect you, calling you a cruel little tyrant. You responded with the greatness of a revolutionary.'
*Evo Morales...called Ahmadinejad's visit historic as the two nations established diplomatic relations for the first time. Morales brushed off concerns about close ties to a country that the Bush administration says is a sponsor of terrorism, declaring that the 'international community can rest assured that Bolivia's foreign policy is dedicated to peace with equality and social justice' (,2933,298402,00.html).
Besides the amusing irony of the President of Columbia being labeled an "imperial spokesman" (someone better get Bollinger a drink!), the most interesting and alarming aspect of this latest Iranian foray into Latin America is the clear and present danger of messianic, revolutionary Latin American populism being not only aided and abetted but stoked up by similar Shi`i Islamic radicalism coming out of Iran.  The U.S. intelligence community better be paying close attention to this development.
8:47 am edt          Comments

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

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