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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: http://hnn.us/articles/13146.html; for more in-depth info, see the links here to my other writings, including my book on Mahdism.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Blue Mahdist Cult
5:21 pm edt
This past week PBS' Frontline ran a dispatch by Babak Sarfaraz, "The Hidden Imam and His Cult," which while showing flashes of astute analysis also makes a number of questionable
statements about Mahdism in Iran. For example, Sarfaraz claims that "the cult of Mahdi...had never become a full-fledged
mass movement until the last 20 years." He also refers to the "ultra reactionary millennialist Hojjatieh [sic]
Society." Twelver Shi`ism--with its core belief in the occultation of the 12th Imam who will return as the eschatological
Mahdi--has been the majority religion of Iran since the early 1500s, and mass movements motivated by a perceived imminent
Mahdist arrival have occurred many times in the last 500 years (most notably during the reign of the Safavids, in the early
16th century; and during the outbreak of the Babi/Baha'i movement, during the late 19th century). Working for Frontline
(and being, presumably, Iranian) does not absolve one from knowing the history of the faith and region upon which one is reporting.
As for the Hojjatiyeh: that organization, if it still even exists in Iran, is neither “ultra reactionary” (a term
that should be banned from liberal outlets like PBS for overuse) nor any more millennialist than Twelver Shi`ism in general.
Anjuman-i Hujjatiyah was founded in the 1950s to reconvert wayward Baha’is to Shi`i Islam, and was dissolved
by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1983 because of insufficient support for the vilayet-i faqih (“rule of the jurisprudents”).
The organization is, if anything, less millennialist than mainstream Twelver Shi`ism. (As I explain here, in a lecture at the Hudson Institute in June 2010).
Most interesting are two allegations by Sarfaraz.
The first is that "by 2008, the newspapers were replete with reports of self-procalimed "Mahdis" announcing
their reappearance and offering various prophesies or end-of-the-world scenarios. Every week, someone claimed to be the Mahdi
or to be in special communion with him." And the second is this: "What finally convinced Khamenei that the Mahdaviat
movement had gone far enough was last year's presidential election and its aftermath. For instead of aligning closer to the
Supreme Leader, the ungrateful and ambitious president has decided to become a major rival to his erstwhile benefactor."
It would be nice to see some corroboration for the claims of multiple mutamahdis (“false mahdis”), but
after going to Iran in 2008 I opined that such would be the case. As for the alleged Ahmadinejad-Khamenei rivalry: Western caricatures aside, it’s very
likely that the President of Iran is actually more popular in his own country now than the Supreme Leader, and has been since
last summer’s post-election disputes. Ahmadinejad’s popular Islam, his own personal popularity (especially among
the lower classes and in rural areas) and his Iran-Iraq War veteran status may put in in a pivotal position should the Iranian military decide to assume power from the ayatollahs.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Islamic Decapitation Rearing its Ugly Head Again
11:49 am edt
According to a story in the VOA yesterday "Insurgents Behead 6 Police in Afghanistan" (http://www1.voanews.com/english/news/NATO-Insurgents-Behead-6-Police-in-Afghanistan-98910339.html
This took place in northern Baghlan province, in the country's northeast. NATO "condemned
the incident as 'brutal' and 'barbaric.'" Yet, as is always the case with Muslim "insurgents" separating
victims' heads from their bodies, no mention is ever made that the Qur'an mandates such a fate for "unbelievers"
on the battlefield--as I explained at length, five years ago, in my Middle East Quarterly
in the Name of Islam" (http://www.meforum.org/713/beheading-in-the-name-of-islam
). The Obama Administration can bury its collective head in the sand all it wants, but the hard fact will remain that
according to scripture and tradition of the world's second-largest religion, decapitation of Islam's enemies is fully legitimate.
Monday, July 19, 2010
SecState Clinton is "On the Record" with Greta Van Susteren (Fox News Channel) right now (evening of July 19).
She's repeating the conventional wisdom that Usama bin Ladin is somewhere in Pakistan and that someone in the Pakistani government
knows his location. What's that definition of insanity--doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different
result? What's the syndrome when you say the same thing repeatedly, and hope that such ritual incantation will shape
reality? Either magic or propaganda, methinks. Or perhaps self-delusion.
10:40 pm edt
Bin Ladin is in Iran, and likely has been
for years. But admitting that would require a whole new constellation of thought, and the ideologically-blinkered Obama
administration is not about to go there.
The Mahdi: Living on Mayan Time
10:22 pm edt
A nice Swedish chap, Mikael, emailed me, providing a link about an Iraqi fellow, Hamid, living in Stockholm
who is, allegedly, the Mahdi (http://mikaellov.blogg.se/2010/june/the-mahdi.html
). It seems that this dispensation of the world will end with its last leader, Barack Obama, on December 21, 2012 and
half the world will perish as a rogue red star approaches Earth, stops the planet's rotation and, presumably, causes dogs
and cats to live together before both are irradiated to death. My evangelical friends would note that the last line
of the site mentions the "Luciferian knowledge" that the Mahdi's helper manifests.
At least this Mahdi
isn't the typical jihadist kind that Islamic history usually throws up.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Stop the Planet of the Apes!
12:44 pm edt
This has absolutely nothing to do with Mahdism--but it's nonetheless irresistible:"Taliban Trains 'Monkey
Terrorists' to Attack U.S. Troops"Afghanistan's Taliban warlords have developed a bizarre way to deal
with foreign forces: they have trained monkeys who love to eat bananas and peanuts to be killers. Taliban forces have taught
monkeys how to use the Kalashnikov, Bren light machine gun and trench mortars. They also teach them how to identify and attack
soldiers wearing U.S. military uniforms....It is reported that these monkey soldiers are mainly composed of macaques and baboons
hunted at an early age in the jungle and sold to the Taliban. These monkey babies who lost their mothers are sent to a secret
Taliban training base one-by-one to become killer monkeys. Taliban militants use a series of rewards and punishments to gradually
teach them how to use the lethal weapons....Apparently, the Taliban look on monkeys as "propaganda tools." "If
a person who loves animals knows the monkeys may be injured in the war, they might pressure the government to force the withdrawal
of western forces in Afghanistan," said one Taliban insider.
This story may be bananas, but it if true it will certainly cause every American soldier and Marine to mutter,
while on partrol, "I hate every ape I see/from chimpan-A to chimpan-Z."
Perhaps the Pakistan Defence
Forum--as well as the Chinese news site that originally "broke" the story--should stop monkeying around. But
if this is
true, it could become the "blurst of times" for our troops there, as per this Simpsons
Here's a covertly-acquired picture of one of these Taliban monkey-trainers:
No word in the article on whether the simians were forced to convert to Islam for the training.
Iranitizing the Eschaton in DC
10:42 am edt
Monday, July 12, 2010
An Imam We Can Do Business With
11:45 am edt
This site focuses like a laser beam, with good reason, on the eschatological Mahdism of Sunnism and Twelver Shi`ism.
But there are other variations of messianic belief in Islam--one of which is that of the Sevener Shi`is, or Isma'ilis, who
believe that the current Aga Khan, who just celebrated 53 years in authority (http://www.theismaili.org/cms/1032/mailshot) is the 49th Imam descended from Muhammad through Ali; these 15 million or so Shi`i Muslims also believe that jihad is NOT
violent but, rather, consists of education, economic development, disaster relief and the like (http://www.akdn.org/). As I've argued in other venues, Isma'ilis are truly moderate Muslims with whom the U.S. should be cooperating, in
lieu of chasing the chimerical "moderate Taliban."
Sunday, July 11, 2010
The Internet is Mightier than the Sword?
1:02 pm edt
Al Gore would be happy (if he weren't too distracted by sexual harassment claims by masseuses). According to Adnan Oktar (http://www.technoklix.com/?p=7875
), the Mahdi's sword will be not a wickedly-curved Damascus steel scimitar but rather, simply, the personal computer and the
Internet which will allow the people to hear his divine message.
Also, Mahdism and Neo-Ottomanism are closely linked
in Oktar's thought--as evidenced by the old Ottoman imperial crest wall-hanging behind him in the video. Here's another
Tragically, it seems, the Mahdi will be a computer nerd; good thing for non-Muslims, however, because I count
at least a dozen weapons (swords, pikes/axes, pistols and cannon) in that crest!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
11:12 am edt
Somebodies, that is--at least according to Adnan Oktar, a.k.a. Harun Yahya: Jesus and the Mahdi will both return in
the 21st century (my money's on 2076, which is not only the American Tricentennial but the year 1500 AH in the Islamic
Oktar, by the way, is a prominent Turkish Mahdist and anti-Darwinist, whom I interviewed two years ago (link is in the
archives on this site). Some Turkish followers think he himself is the Mahdi.
Note on the linked page the
claim that the Mahdi will come from Istanbul.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Ground Control to 12th Imam
9:56 am edt
According to a report in "Satellite PR News" (who knew the satellite market had its own news site?), the Islamic
Republic of Iran was to have "unveil[ed]" (their word, not mine) three new "home-built" satellites
earlier this year. (By "home-built" I assume they mean "produced domestically," not cobbled together in
Ahmadinejad's basement.) One of the satellites will be named "Ya Mahdi," an "experimental" satellite
"that will be used for testing telecommunications and camera equipment."
Naming this satellite "O
Mahdi!" is not just for propaganda purpose; there are highly-educated Iranians, both lay and clerical, who believe that
part of the IRI's agenda is to prepare the way for the return of the 12th Imam as the Mahdi--including creating a technological
network that will enable him to communicate globally, and instantaneously, with his followers on a planetary scale.
This was a major topic of the "Imam Mahdi: Justice & Globalization" conference in London in 2004, as well as
the Mahdism conference in Tehran in 2008--both of which I attended.
Of course, the Mahdi will also be thankful for such
satellites that enable him to keep an eye on his enemies, much notably those perfidious Zionists and duplicitous Sunni Arabs.
Here's the link: http://www.satprnews.com/2010/01/20/iran-to-unveil-three-new-satellites-in-february/
|Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)