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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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Thursday, July 23, 2009

With the Mahdi, You'll Never Roam Alone

I'm willing to bet that for the past three weeks or so in Iran the text lines have been burning up with ayatollahs sending 0113 requests! 
Send Text Messages to the 12th Imam

by Faramarz_Fateh
You can now send text message to the 12th Imam as follows.  Cost is $0.50 a message.  Send all texts to #$90865$# for all carriers (including ATT, VERIZON, SPRINT, FIDO, RODGERS, VIRGIN, ORANGE, DOKOMO, TelCel, MexTel, Mobily, STC, Mobiho):

Request                           Enter Request code

Curing ills/sickness                   0101

Getting Rich                             0103

Finding a husband                    0105

Finding a wife                           0107

Getting pregnant (women)         0109

Getting pregnant  (husbands)    0111

Wishing death for someone       0113

A more comprehensive list will be posted later.  Please be advised for areas outside 50 Km radius of Qom, roaming charges will apply.
(Posted at

10:40 pm edt          Comments

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ayatollah You So....

Several weeks ago (June 26, "Hanging Together--or Hanging Separately?") I noted the possibililty of Iran's Assembly of Experts desposing Supreme Leader Khamenei, which would provide the Tehran/Qom ruling axis with a face-saving means of placating the Iranian street while at the same time preserving the vilayet-i faqih system under another Supreme Leader, or perhaps even a collective leadership. 
No less an authority on Iran than Reuel Marc Gerecht, writing in the July 20, 2009, issue of "The Weekly Standard," agrees with me:
Khamenei would bite the bullet if he thought Rafsanjani [head of the AoE] had outplayed him, by aligning enough clerical backing and dividing the Revolutionary Guards Corps, to make the theoretical possibility of his removal from office seem a bit more concrete.
Last Friday Rafsanjani gave the khutbah at Tehran University mosque and, by all accounts, challenged the very legitimacy of the current government (NOT, I hasten to add, the vilayet-i faqih system instituted by the late Ayatollah Khomeini), which has emboldened clerical politicians like the former President Mohammad Khatami to call for a referendum on the disputed Presidential election ( 
Again, the ostensible target of a referendum is President Ahmadinejad--but I would argue that this electoral crisis has hurt Khamenei even worse, and that his opponents, led by Rafsanjani and Khatami, smell clerical blood in the water.  If I were a betting man, I'd put money on Ahmadinejad to survive longer than Khamenei. 

9:16 am edt          Comments

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Offensive Christian Soldier?
Interesting, isn't it, that certain Muslims take offense when an alleged dhimmi actually stands up and whacks back?  Here's an email I received from the same chap who took offense at my invoking of the Crusade trope:
"Clearly Mr Furnish - despite your Phd - your response is intellectually shallow and literal - your I won`t back down approach reminds me of my intransigent  four year old - I think your view of the muslim world is a simplistic  and black & white.
Your nation lacks political , spiritual and any moral authority - btw I am the first to admit the muslim world is dogged by literalist but this is not a true reflection of the spirit of the faith.
As for the west defeating the Islamic world - I some how find that hard to believe - I mean the USA is unable to defeat the backward Taliban.
Although your military might is superior to the Islamic world - I don`t see you using it - and also it appears your leaders lack the will to nuke Muslim lands.
But if they did you would have played right into the hands of  Bin Laden and okay.
PS Are you a Bush supporter - you certainly sound like one - sad really you came across as a decent bloke - but alas I think your a conceited Christian hypocrite - sad I never met a christian who has reminded me of the Spirit of Christ.
And my somewhat-exasperated response:
Ah, once I express something with which you do not agree, the personal attacks start.  If you lived in the US, you would no doubt be a Far Left Democrat.
What else do I consider your attaching a website entitled "Furnishwatch" to your email, other than a cheap and lowlife attempt to intimidate me?
And I fail to see how I'm a "Christian hypocrite," unless you--again, like an American Leftist--think that all Christians must be total pacifists in order to live by our faith.  I find it ironic that a Muslim--a member of a religion that literally embraces and supports violence against non-Muslims--is lecturing me about being a "hypocrite' on that score.
Your true feelings are revealed by your line that "your nation lacks political, spiritural and any moral authority."   At the risk of sounding like an "intransigent four year old," as an American I would dearly like for the US to bring ALL its troops and philanthropic organizations--most of which are run by various Christian denominations--home and for us to refuse to intervene anywhere in the world for, oh, let's say one year.  WIthin 60 days the world would be going to hell in a handbasket and even the Muslim world would be crying for us to return.  But, alas, such will never come to pass. 
And I will note, yet again, that the accounts of Muslim--indeed, Qur'an-sanctioned--violence in my original post that started this line of "discussion" continue to be ignored by you, intent as you are on trashing both the US and, now, me personally.  Do you spend as much time attacking those of your own faith who promote and practice violence as you do a foreign Christian who merely observes and reports on it, occasionally expressing his disgust and exasperation with it? 
Well, I'm sorry you've never met a Christian who reminds you of "the Spirit of Christ."  If by that you mean a Christian willing to meekly and mildly accept the beheadings, crucifixions and murders of his fellow Christians, I guess I'll never qualify.  In that regard I truly am unworthy of my Savior, but that's between Him and me.
Timothy R. Furnish, Ph.D.
2:57 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Won't Back Down
A Muslim reader of my website has taken umbrage at my last posting, in particular my warning to  Muslims that constant charges of "Crusaderism" against the United States might become a self-fulfilling prophecy--and that this time the West would win.  Here is what my Internet friend said:
"Mr Furnish please temper your comments - I have a great deal of respect for you however I felt uncomfortable with your comments - that if the west / USA was provoked by the muslim world - you would win it - This is not correct - there would be a bloody conflict to no ones benefit - so please exercise moderation and balance in what you post on your web."
1) Like the American college students I used to teach, this individual thinks that being "uncomfortable" is somehow grounds enough for someone to change what they are saying or doing in an intellectual debate.   As I used to tell my students,  "I don't care what you feel--this is history class--I care what you THINK."  This no doubt  lowered my scores, but it did create at least some glimmers of rationality.   Is my Muslim friend "uncomfortable" that I invoked the Crusades? Good.   Then start some hard thinking about whether Bin Ladin, Ahmadinezhad, Nasrallah, al-Zawahiri, et al., are justitifed in THEIR invoking the Crusades in almost every public utterance.   Follow that up with some historical research into just what the Crusades were about (hint: there might be some element of a response to 400 years of Islamic conquest of CHRISTIAN territories!). 
2) When my Muslim friend needs a break from learning about unpleasant things like the Fatimid caliph al-Hakim's destruction of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem in 1009 (almost a century BEFORE the First Crusade!), s/he might wander on over to some defense-related websites and examine the size of the American military vis-a-vis those of any Islamic country--hell, the entire Islamic ummah.  Then try and tell me again that the U.S. lacks the military power to win any conflict with any or all of the Islamic world.  We might lack the POLITICAL will, but we sure as Hades do not lack the military power. 
3) My Muslim interlocutor might want to try focusing on the substance of the rest of my post from July 1--namely, the four accounts of Islam-sanctioned brutal killings, three of which were aimed at
 Christians.  I note that, as usual with my critics (usually liberal, this time Muslim), my writings  IN REACTION TO Islamic violence are somehow offensive, not the well-documented Islam-based violence itself. 
4) Perhaps most importantly: at the end of his/her post, aforementioned Muslim/Muslimah has a link to a website which had as part of its title "Furnishwatch."  Is this some cheap attempt to frighten me?  If so, you've failed.  As an American dedicated to the First Amendment, and as a Christian, I will continue to speak out about all aspects of Islam, negative as well as positive.  If that makes anyone "uncomfortable," so be it.
11:17 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Seventh Vision?
Any fool who argues that literalist Islam is peaceful should take note of the following unhelpful data from the past week:
1)Somali Islamists Cut Off Hands and Feet of Four Thieves: Thursday, June 25, 2009, Associated Press.

MOGADISHU, Somalia —  An Islamic court in Somalia on Thursday cut off a hand and foot from each of four men convicted of stealing phones and guns, drawing hundreds of onlookers as the weeping men were punished at a military camp. The Shariah court that carried out the sentences is run by the powerful insurgent group al-Shabab, which is trying to topple Somalia's U.N.-backed government and install a strict form of Islam. "The men were bleeding and crying when the man cut their hands and feet off with a long knife," said one witness, Liban Ali. Journalists were not allowed to cover the sentencing. The four were convicted earlier this week in the capital, Mogadishu (,2933,529097,00.html?test=latestnews
This Shari`ah court is simply enforcing literal Islam: Sura al-Ma'idah [V]:36 says "The punishment of those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive with might for mischief throughout the land is execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides...."  They're just being good, literalist Muslims, Mr. Obama.
2) Somalia: Islamists Behead Two Sons of Christian Leader, Compass Direct News, July 1, 2009.
Nairobi, Kenya, – Islamic extremists have beheaded two young boys in Somalia because their Christian father refused to divulge information about a church leader, and the killers are searching Kenya’s refugee camps to do the same to the boys’ father (
Again, they're just being good Muslims and taking the Qur'an literally; Sura Muhammad [XLVII]:4 instructs Muslims that "when you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads....."  Sura al-Anfal [VIII]:12 also mandates decapitation for unbelievers in order to instill dread of Allah.  (I wrote an article on this topic: "Beheading in the Name of Islam," Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2005:  Can't blame those on lingering anger at George Bush.  Well, you can't if you're rational.
3) Bible College Students Killed in Yemen, by Wolfgang Polzer, "ANS", June 29, 2009.
Sanaa, Yemen - Three aid workers in Yemen were killed and another six, including three children, are missing after they were kidnapped June 12 while on a picnic, possibly by a rebel group in an area where al-Qaida has a foothold....The bodies of three women were found by shepherds. Two of the victims were identified as Anita G. (24) and Rita S. (26) German bible school students studying at the evangelical Brake Bible School in Lemgo (West Germany)... Both Anita and Rita were nurses on a short-term internship at the Al Jumhuri hospital in Saada (North Yemen). It is supported by the humanitarian agency Worldwide Services in the Netherlands (
4) al-Qaida Claims It Killed Missionary from Cleveland, by Jacqueline Koch, "Chattanooga Times Free Press", June 26, 2009.
A branch of terrorist group al-Qaida on Thursday claimed responsibility for the death of Mr. Leggett, who was shot several times by unidentified gunmen. Arab satellite TV station Al-Jazeera said it received an audio statement from al-Qaida's North Africa branch in which the group said it killed the 39-year-old for trying to convert Muslims to Christianity in Nouakchott, Mauritania, according to The Associated Press. "Two knights of the Islamic Maghreb succeeded Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. to kill the infidel American Christopher Leggett for his Christianizing activities," the group said in the statement....(
I guess those murdering Yemeni Muslims and those brave "knights of the Islamic Maghrib" didn't get the Obama memo on how they really belong to a peaceful religion--one whose adherents are so insecure they cannot even attempt to refute a Christian missionary, but instead feel constrained to kill him.
By the way, the "seventh vision" refers to chapter 20 of Revelation, in which St. John writes of seeing "the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus." 
I challenge anyone to come forward with similiar reports about Muslims being persecuted by Christians--or members of any other faith. 
Many Muslims are often quick to play the "Crusades" card and attempt to paint any Western, especially American, endeavor--military or otherwise--in the Middle East or even larger Islamic world as in the same vein as what Frankish knights did nine centuries ago.  Muslims should beware of actually provoking the Christian West--that is, the United States--into waging a true Crusade, because you can be sure that if we ever do decide to do so, we will win it.  Beware of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, because if you keep killing Christians you run that risk.

11:50 pm edt          Comments

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

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