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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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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Listen Over the Hum of the Radio
Finally, here's the link to the clip of me (14 minutes, 41 seconds) from April 23, 2010on "Bill Bennett's 'Morning in America'" with (former) Senator Rick Santorum--I'm discussing Mahdism, particularly in Iran:
2:01 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"Don't Haze Me, Bro--I'm the Mahdi!"
Recently, on PeaceTV (an Urdu and English TV station broadcasting from Mumbai and run by Zakir Naik, an Indian Islamist recently denied entry to to the U.K), a man claimed to be the Mahdi:
What's interesting about this episode is, yet again, a wanna-be Mahdi crops up even in a staunchly Sunni venue (Naik and his TV outlet are on record as opposing Shi`ism, contra his claims of inter-Muslim tolerance).  Also, the willingness by even such an off-kilter Muslim to make a public claim to the Mahdiyah indicates that the traditions about the Mahdi's coming are being studied and internalized--preparing the ground for more serious, and potentially dangerous, Mahdist aspirations in the future. One does wonder, however, what happened to this poor deluded man after the cameras stopped rolling.
More disturbing than this mutamahdi is the "sister at the back," shown at 2:46 (before the clip ends at 2:49), clad in what appears to be a dusty brown, oh-so-stylish, burkha and backed by sartorially-similiar Muslimas.   Of course, once the real Mahdi comes, that garb will likely be mandatory for all women. 
This video has been posted to a site called "Pakistan Defence Forum" (  There are a number of comments on it--most notably this one:
"It seems false Mahdi [sic] are popping [sic] all over. Another reason to keep blasphemy laws and apply them to these clowns."
9:42 am edt          Comments

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tweeting on the Mahdi

For some reason, although I've had a Twitter account for over a year, I've never thought to let folks on here know. Well, if you are a Tweety-bird,  you can find me as Occidentaljihad.

1:58 pm edt          Comments

What Does Qom Have to Do with Cairo?

More than it has in the past, if a story on the Islamic Republic of Iran's Islamic unity website from this week is accurate:
"The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar said that Sunnis and Shias are two wings of the Islamic Ummah adding that over last fourteen centuries since the emergence of Islam, these two schools of thought have never fought one another. The senior Sunni scholar added that the current conflicts between Shias and Suunis  are a plot to bring ignite sectarian strife."  Furthermore, "Al Azhar is now prioritizing the issue of proximity of Islamic Schools of thought adding that this premier Sunni institution welcomes Shia students from Iran and other parts of the Islamic world."
(Link to this story at Iran's World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought is here: .)
1) The Grand Shaykh of Sunni Islam's most prestigious religious institution, in Cairo, needs to bone up on his Islamic history if he thinks Sunnis and Shi`is "have never fought one another."  Husayn was not killed in 680 AD by Americans, or even by Christians.  The Sunni Abbasid and Sevener Shi`i Fatimid Empires (based in Baghdad and Cairo, respectively) fought for the better part of two centuries.  The Sunni Ottoman and Shi`i Safavid (Iranian) Empires were at war almost continually for a quarter-century.  Shi`is and Sunnis have been killing one another in Iraq since Saddam went down in 2003.  Like too many Muslims (and Muslim apologists), al-Tayyib resides in a Platonic world of Islamic comity and unity rather than in the real, historical world of inter-Muslim (and extra-Muslim) violence.
2) The self-congratulation in Qom (and its satellite, Tehran) over this alleged welcoming of Twelver  (and other) Shi`i students to Cairo should be taken with a shaker of salt; two months ago al-Arabiya reported that Shaykh al-Tayyib said the following:
"Egypt's top cleric stressed that he will be very vigilant and will foil any political agenda adopted by any Shiite student studying in Egypt, as he doesn't want the issue to turn into a 'trap' for young Sunni Muslims to attract them to the Shiite [sic] doctrine, which could later turn into a Shiite nucleus then a center that could be followed by fighting that has nothing to do with Islam and its beliefs at all" ( 
Note that last phrase, "that has nothing to do with Islam and its beliefs at all."  It's unclear whether it refers back to "fighting" or to Shi`ism: if the former, then the head of al-Azhar is either, again, ignorant of the martial tradition in Islam or flat-out lying; if the latter, then the Twelver Shi`i holy center of Qom is deluding itself that the Sunni seat of learning in Cairo is extending an ecumenical olive branch.
(And a tip of the hat to to that herertical Montanist Tertullian for this blog post title.)

1:43 pm edt          Comments

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ayatollah You So....

According to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Siyassa, Usama bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri have been living in northeastern Iran (in Khorasan) for five years, thanks to the mediation of Lebanese Hizbullah:
At the risk of not just beating but exhuming a dead horse--I've been making this argument for years.  And note that a number of hadiths (including Sunni ones) say that the Mahdi will come out of Khorasan. 

4:37 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Upcoming Lecture on Shi`i Mahdism in DC
Shi`i Eschatology and the Iranian Vision
Awaiting the Return of the Mahdi?
Start:  Tuesday, June 29, 2010  10:00 AM
End:  Tuesday, June 29, 2010  12:00 PM
Location:  Hudson Institute
1015 Fifteenth Street NW, Sixth Floor
Washington, DC 20005

According to Dr. Timothy Furnish, while many Muslims in the Islamic Republic of Iran prepare for the return of the Mahdi, the prophesied redeemer of Islam, many in the international community worry that Islamic extremists will use the acquisition of nuclear bombs or other weapons of mass destruction to "hot-wire the apocalypse." Dr. Furnish holds a Ph.D for Islamic history and is a leading expert on Muslim eschatology. He suggests that perhaps Mahdism is really being utilized as a tool to summon the extra-Shi`i Islamic world to join Tehran in its bid for Islamic world leadership. He will offer his insights on this timely topic followed by a panel discussion with EPPC Senior Fellow and former Senator Rick Santorum, Professor Cynthia Ayers of the U.S. Army War College, and Dr. Michael Ledeen, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Dr. Timothy Furnish is a "recovering" college professor and current writer, researcher and analyst specializing in Islamic history, sects, eschatology, ideology and Mahdism. He learned Arabic while in the U.S. Army and studied Farsi, Turkish and Ottoman while a doctoral student at Ohio State University. His first book was Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, their Jihads and Osama bin Laden and his second, due out in 2010, is The Caliphate: Threat or Opportunity? He also maintains a website dedicated to covering Mahdism and Muslim eschatology:

Prof. Cynthia Ayers is currently the National Security Agency's Visiting Professor to the U.S. Army War College. She has held positions within the intelligence community for 37 years. Her areas of professional experience and academic interest center on strategic intelligence, counterterrorism, and cyber-warfare. Her most recent assignment prior to her arrival at the U.S. Army War College was as a National Security Agency Representative to the DCI's Counterterrorism Center.

Dr. Michael Ledeen is a Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is also a contributing editor atNational Review Online. Previously, he served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Defense Department. He has also served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State. He holds a Ph.D. in modern European history and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.

To register for this event, please email

More Information
Randall Brandt
1730 M Street N.W.
 Suite 910
Washington, DC  20036
Phone: 202-682-1200
Fax: 202-408-0632
2:00 pm edt          Comments

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

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