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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, March 10, 2011

Ripping the Veil Off National Public Radio's Burqa

I've resurrected my History News Network blog:
It's not all-Mahdist, all the time; but it does usually discuss matters related to Islam, often in a domestic US political context. Please check it out and feel free to leave a comment there; you can also subscribe to it (Occidental Jihadist) on Feedburner.
NPR Drones and "Analysts" Headed to Staff Meeting

10:48 am est          Comments

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who's Your Mahdi (Daddy)?
It seems Mahdism is not just for male Muslims anymore.  According to a poster to the online fatwa factory of "Islamweb," "I saw a woman on television claiming that she is pregnant and carrying the Mahdi; is she telling the truth?"  The virtual mufti replied "The Mahdi can be known only through the signs that are mentioned in the prophetic Hadeeths [sic] and he will be known only after his emergence. Therefore, the claims made by some women that they are expecting Mahdi are false and nonsensical" ( ).  Said mufti goes on to blame belief in the Mahdi for "laziness" and "passivity" among Muslims--guess he's never heard of the rather energetic jihads waged by the 12th c. followers of Muhammad Bin Tumart, the 19th c. ones of Muhammad al-Mahdi of Sudan and, just 30 years ago, those of Muhammad al-Qahtani in Saudi Arabia.  Too bad, as well, that this inquirer did not identify his location and which TV show featured the woman claiming such an intemperate conception.  But the very claim is yet more evidence that Mahdism is a growth industry (no pun intended) in the Sunni world (for the Twelver Shi`i 12th Imam will not be re-born). 
4:39 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ayatollah You So
According to Iran's Ahlul Bayt News Agency, the Sunnis of Baluchistan are chomping at the bit just as much as Shi`is in waiting for the Mahdi's coming (  In Chahbahar, Sistan-ve-Balochistan province's largest city, Sunni alim Mowlavi Abdorrahman Mollazehi said that "Sunni folks believe in reappearance of Imam of the Time, like Shi`a folks, and his glorious reappearance is near at hand."  Mollazehi also reportedly praised Tehran's vilayet-i faqih system and blamed the Americans for trying to "foment discord" between Sunnis and Shi`is. 
1) At the risk of hubris, I will point out (again) that I have been warning for years of  a)  the strength of Mahdism within Sunnism--contra conventional (and scholarly) "wisdom"which maintains that only Shi`ism holds such a belief, and b) the convergence on this issue between Sunnis and Shi`is, driven in no small part by IRI propaganda.
2) Sistan and Balochistan (Baluchistan) province is in Iran's far southeast, bordering Pakistan and also Afghanistan.  It's probably majority Sunni, with a large minority of Twelver Shi`i--but it also is home to signficant minorities of Sevener Shi`is (Isma'ilis) and, most interestingly, Zikris. Zikris (from the Arabic Sufi term for "prayer session," dhikr) are descendants of followers of Sayyid Muhammad Jawnpuri (d. 1505 AD), a Sunni Sufi (Chishtiyah order) of Gujarat who declared himself the Mahdi in 1495.  His sect was at first violent, declaring jihad against the Muslim Gujarati sultans and repressed violently in return.  "Then, with the failure of Jesus to appear in the Muslim year 1000 (1591 AD), the Mahdavi movement lost its conviction and fervor" (Furnish, Holiest Wars, p. 40) and transformed into a quietst sect--the Zikris.  One might surmise that Zikri beliefs have had some influence on those of Sunnis in this region.  One might also speculate that Zikri beliefs could undermine Twelver Shi`i expectations of the coming Mahdi, since according to the former he has already been here.
3) Sistan and Baluchistan contains an indigenous anti-IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) organization, Jundullah ("Army of God"), which is equally Sunni and nationalist Baluch.  (Tehran accuses the US of supporting Jundullah.)  It's possible that Mollazehi has been co- opted by Iran's clerical regime to serve as an anti-Jundullah mouthpiece--and that this accounts for much of his pro-Mahdist rhetoric.
1:09 pm est          Comments

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

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