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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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Monday, February 27, 2012

The Vanished Imam Paper--Out of Occultation!

Three-and-a-half years ago I went to Iran and presented a paper at the Fourth Annual "International Conference of Mahdism Doctrine" in Tehran.  Just a bit ago I stumbled upon the online posting of this unpublished (at least outside Iran) paper, entitled "Through A Glass Darkly: A Comparison of Self-Proclaimed 'Mahdist' States Throughout History to the Theory of the (True) Mahdist State Yet to Come."  



The paper is heavily freighted with historical theology, comparing Islamic Mahdist movements to historical occurrences of political messianism in Christian contexts.  If such is your interest, check it out and let me know what you think (in comments here or in email).  Unlike some (ok, many) of the ideologues and sycophants presenting in that venue, I tried to be scholarly and analytical.  I think I succeeded fairly well.  At least the Pasdaran let me return home.  

11:13 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Iran Sentences Christian to Death on Ash Wednesday

Back in 2008, before departing the US for the Mahdism Conference in Iran to present a paper, I spoke several times on the phone to a certain friendly ayatollah (yes, they do exist) who was helping set up my trip.  During one of these conversations, I asked him if there would be any trouble bringing a New Testament with me to Iran. "My goodness, no, Dr. Furnish," he laughingly replied, "there is complete religious freedom in Iran."  Stifling the urge to ask whether Baha'is would agree, I thus took my old Army-issue, camouflage-cover New Testament + Psalms & Proverbs on the trip--which, ironically, I wound up giving to an Iranian when I was there (as explained in this article I published in "The Lutheran Witness"). 

Perhaps the good ayatollah did protest too much. According to breaking news today, a court in the Islamic Republic of Iran has sentenced Yousif Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor who had converted from Islam, to death. Note that:  For the "crime" of converting FROM Islam TO Christianity, he will be executed. Not just Iran, but two ostensible US allies--Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia--formally have death as the punishment for "apostasy" from Islam.  A number of other Muslim-majority countries (Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Egypt, to name the most prominent) have de facto, if not de jure, death penalties for leaving the religion of peace.  You liberal Westerners, and Muslims, who argue that Islam is no more opressive or violent than any other religion--please, in the comments section below, name one Christian or Buddhist or Hindu country where one can be legally, or is ever extra-judicially, killed for converting FROM any of those religions TO Islam ["Jeopardy" theme playing....]. I'd also like to ask my Twelver Shi`a friends if the Mahdi would approve of killing followers of `Isa al-Masih? 



8:49 pm est          Comments

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Contacting Me Via Email Here....

Some folks have emailed me to this site recently, but for some inexplicable reason--DHS jamming, the Mahdi's displeasure,'s incompetence (my money's on the latter)--I cannot view the emails.  If you absolutely need to contact me before this issue is resolved, use 


11:52 am est          Comments

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mitt Romney, Mormonism and Muhammad

History News Network's editor just published my online article on the aforementioned topic, although their title ("Has Mitt Romney's Mormonism Influenced His Views of Islam?") does not quite do justice to my thesis--which is that the GOP frontrunner's positions on Islam clearly derive from his LDS church, and are quite problematic for national security.  Take a look.



11:26 pm est          Comments

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

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