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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, November 10, 2011

It's The End of the World As We Know It--and Al Gore Feels Fine!

One of my favorite (albeit oft infuriating) magazines is "Touchstone," a Christian magazine with pieces by Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant writers.  Senior Editor Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon is an Antiochian Orthodox priest, and he has a superb article in the latest issue (Nov./Dec. 2011) entitled "Dead End Times," on secular apocalyptic fears.  Fr. Reardon argues that while religious-based screeds warning about The End (Harold Camping, anyone?) are high-profile, in point of fact "most of the present world's preoccupation with apocalyptic signs has nothing to do with the book of Daniel."  Indeed, "readings from Daniel have been replaced by a stream of reports from the CDC...which spell out exactly what we mortals must expect to  befall us--very soon--from Avian Flu, Mad Cow Disease, Belgian Dioxins, leaded gasoline, insufficient fiber, grilled cheeseburgers, second-hand smoke and mercury traces in our cornflakes."  Most notably "whereas in former times apocalyptic fear was bolstered by the authority of prophecy, in the contemporary world it is enforced by the authority of science"--with Al Gore, and his global warming fulminations, as "our new Peter: 'the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up' (2 Peter 3:10)." Fr. Reardon finds most fascinating "the deep morbidity that gives so quick a positive response to every hint of impending disaster."  Read it all: go buy "Touchstone!" 


A post-apocalyptic scene of Moscow, from Russian artist Vladimir Manyuhin 

9:40 pm est          Comments

You Say You Want a (Mahdist) Revolution? Occupy Wall Street and the Islamic Republic of Iran

Over the past month a number of Western (liberal) media commentators have tried to draw parallels, and even connections, between the "Arab Spring" and "Occupy Wall Street" protests--even as some of the Arabs themselves have disavowed any such correlation.  But now, as this excellent (and firmly tongue-in-cheek) piece by Charles Dameron at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty points out, at least one prominent Iranian ayatollah believes (or at least says) that all those unwashed, economically-illiterate reprobates using police cars and American flags as Persian-style toilets are portents of the return of the 12th Imam!  According to Ayatollah Mohsen Haydar, speaking in a mosque in Ahvaz on November 7th: "The Occupy Wall Street movement is the big step to prepare the ground for the appearance of the 12th Imam."  (Here's the entire Persian text, for those interested.) 

As I've explained before on this site (and elaborated on in an unpublished paper: "Iranian Da`wah in Latin America and Africa"), one of the major beliefs about the Mahdi--shared by both Twelver Shi`is and Sunnis--is that he will not only take over the world for Islam, but that he will serve as something of a global, Muslim Robin Hood, redistributing wealth from the 1% to the 99% (if I may use OWS terminology).  Also, since its inception, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been a vocal and active (via diplomacy and terrorism) opponent of the extant  economic and political world system, trying to put itself forward (with some success) as the leader not just of the world's disenchanted Muslims but of the entirety of what used to be known as the "Third World" and/or the "Non-Aligned Movement" (the latter during the Cold War)--usually described by Marxist and neo-Marxist commentators as "exploited" by the First/Developed World.  So, it's easy to see why a Twelver Shi`i cleric would try to co-opt anti-capitalism rallies in the world's vanguard of the "Arrogant Powers" (otherwise known as the "Great Satan") and enlist them as signs and rumors of the return of the 12th Imam al-Mahdi.


OWS sign reinforcing Ayatollah Haydari's contention. 


Artist's rendering of the Mahdi handing out plundered Ottoman bankers' wealth at "Occupy Khartoum" protest, c. 1885  


Biblically-illiterate OWSers' sign appropriating Satanic support for their activities (see Mark 5:1-20, specifically v. 9). So if OWSers are equating themselves with demons, and Shi`i ayatollahs think OWS is a Mahdist harbinger....what does that make the 12th Imam? 

"Revolution," by the Beatles, revised for Ayatollah Haydari and the OWS crowd: 

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We  all want to change the world
You tell me to end the occultation
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out--IN!
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We all want to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well you know
We're all doing what we can
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is you no longer have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be alright

You say you'll change the Constitution
Well you know
We'd all love to see it dead
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You're better off green than red
But if you go carrying pictures of Imam Mahdi
You won't have anymore ATM fees
Don't you know know it's gonna be alright....

1:42 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Mahdi Made Us Do It

Remember (just a few weeks ago) the alleged plot, masterminded by the Islamic Republic of Iran, to hire Mexican drug lords to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the US--and how it incurred the scathing skepticism of a veritable legion of doubting Thomases?  Iran even demanded an apology and monetary damages. But for what, exactly? Impugning the IRI's stellar reputation? Sucking up to the Saudis? Insulting the Mahdi? (OK, I could go for an Obama Administration apology for the second of those.) 

Now, according to the Saudi-based news outlet al-Arabiya--citing an unnamed Iranian source, admittedly--the Iranian Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, "confirmed the involvement of  Iran's Revolutionary Guard in the assassination plot....The plot was about to be carried out. It is not a figment of the American authorities' imagination." 

Perhaps the Mahdi ordered the hit; remember, he did issue a fatwa ordering termination with extreme prejudice of Iranian expatriate Christians should they refuse to "revert!"  That's the only thing that makes sense; otherwise we have to believe that the IRGC leadership is stupid enough to 1) try such an operation on American soil; 2) trust Mexican drug dealers to actually deliver; and 3) believe that even the Obama administration would too pusillanimous to retaliate.  (To be fair, they at least have reason to believe that last one.) 


 "Of course you can trust bandito drug-runners, M!"

10:05 pm edt          Comments

Abe Simpson v. Muhammad

Four North Georgia (USA) men, ages 65-73, were arrested for allegedly plotting to make and use ricin and bombs against federal government targets in Atlanta.  One of the men is said to be a 30-year veteran of the US Navy.  "US Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the case is a reminder that 'we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safey and security.'" 

Well, yes, Ms. Yates (and why do so many female attorneys have three names?), eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.  But let's put this plot in perspective: 

US Department of Justice Terrorism Convictions since 9/11

82% (186 of 228) Muslim

30% al-Qa`idah (AQ)

11% Hizbullah

  9% Hamas

  7% Lashkar-e Taiba 

Rest splinter or "lone jihadist"

14% Tamil Tiger and/or FARC (Columbian Marxist)

.: A grand total of 4% of terrorism convictions in the USA in the last ten years have been the much-publicized Hutarees/"Christian" militias/"right-wing extremists"/grumpy old white men.

Yet "right-wing Christians"--Evangelicals--comprise some 26.3% of the population, while Muslims make up (wait for it....) 0.6%! (This is according to Pew's massive study from 2008.)  So one might safely conclude that we have far more to fear from followers of Muhammad than from any crazed Abe Simpsons.  


11:39 am edt          Comments

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

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