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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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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Common Core of Islamic Terrorism is Islam, not al-Qa`ida
Earlier tonight (May 20, 2014), a debate ensued on “Fox News Channel” between faux-moderate Juan Williams and Dr. George Will (as well as Dr. Charles Krauthammer) about the Obama Adminstration’s incessant attempts to differentiate between “core” and “non-core al-Qa`ida” [AQ], which have been going on for almost two years now.  (Nothing quite beats listening to a journalist lecture those more educated than him.) Then just a bit ago I ran across a news item on the Egyptian Muslim terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, “Supporters of the Holy House” [Jerusalem], describing how ABAM is threatening to move its jihad out of the Sinai and into Egypt's cities and towns to fry the Western evil of KFC (that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken to old Kentuckians like yours truly).   Here is ABAM’s logo:

The top slogan, to the right of the AK-47 barrel (nice banana clip, by the way), says “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messnger”—the standard-issue flag of Islam going back to the 8th century AD Abbasids (as
I blogged on just last week).  The circle, which contains a map of Eurasia and Africa and a Qur’an below them, is emblazoned with Arabic which reads “kill them until fitnah no longer exists, and only the religion of  those of Allah exists"--which is almost verbatim from Sura al-Baqarah [II]:193. ( The very bottom Arabic script is the group’s name.)  

ABAM is neither “core” nor “non-core” AQ—in fact, it’s not AQ at all.  But it is no less dangerous for that.  The same is true of the 34 other non-AQ Islamic terrorist groups on the current State Department list.  Taking orders or even cues from AQ leadership, or being an AQ “franchise,” is really irrelevant—because it is not AQ which creates the bitter mindset leading to Islamic terrorism; it is Islam itself, when a literal reading is applied to the Qur’an’s many jihad passages, the supporting Hadiths, and the historical example of Muhammad himself.  The four Islamic AQ groups, and the other 34 Islamic non-AQ ones,  have not radically re-interpreted Islam—they have simply returned to Islam’s historical and standard expansionist jihad mode, after some decades of such being suppressed by Western-inspired ideologies between about the end of World War II and 1979 (the year that marked the rise of the mujahidin to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, the Iranian theocratic revolution, and the abortive Mahdist coup in Saudi Arabia). 

A better differentiation of terrorist groups would be Fawaz Gerges’ one beween those aiming to attack the “near enemy” and those targetting the “far” one(s): Hamas, Hizbullah, Lashkar-e Taiba and Boko Haram at one point fell under the former category (going after local or regional “non-Islamic” rulers); while AQ was the quintessential latter one (skipping over Mubarak’s and Saddam’s dyed heads to go after the Great Satan itself—us).   But that distinction matters much less nowadays, as the Islamic ummah has increasingly come to see itself as a global one united against not just the encroachments, but the predatory attacks, of both Western secularism and Christianity, “Zionism,” Chinese Communism—and now, with Modi’s election in India, Hinduism; and, concomitantly, that Islamic terrorist groups are actually, for the most part, soldiers of Allah defending Islamdom.    

Again, note ABAM’s slogan: “kill them until fitnah no longer exists, and only the religion of those of Allah exists.”  Fitnah is plural for “civil/religious wars,”  as well as for the more nebulous "mischief." So the ones to be killed can be either “apostate” Muslims who engage in the former, or those who stir up problems for the ummah in the latter vein, behind the scences (likely Christians and Jews)—and probably both categories.   So while the name of the group bespeaks the urgency of conquering Jersualem for Islam, the clearly-expressed aim is Allah-sanctioned killing of all enemies.  That idea comes from Muhammad, not Bin Ladin or al-Zawahiri.   And almost the same ideology is expressed by most of the Islamic groups on State’s list.   The issue, then, is not whether an organization is “core” AQ—rather,  the degree to which it's core Islamic, and the degree to which the seeds of Allah and Muhammad have germinated.

[Addendum, as of May 21, 2014: I owe the idea for the title change, as well as the importance of the "mischief" aspect of fitna, to a certain good Canadian mathematician friend.]

11:58 pm edt          Comments

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Election Against Bangladesh (and Pakistan--and Mecca?)
India, the world’s largest democracy, has just given power to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in a massive electoral shift.  The Gujarat-based head of the party, Narendra Modi, stands to become India’s new Prime Minister.  Many analysts are adducing Gujarat’s economic “miracle” under BJP, and/or corruption in the Congress (I) Party, as reasons for this landslide victory.  But there is another, probably more telling, factor in BJP’s rise to power: Islam and jihad.Many Americans know at least something about the clash between Christian and Muslim civilizations  (although far too many unilaterally, but wrongly, blame the former for that history of violence);  few to none, however, have ever heard of the 13 centuries of Islamic jihad against the Indian subcontinent, and particularly aimed at the “pagan” Hindus.  (In Islamic doctrine,  Christians are considered fellow Ahl al-Kitab, “People of the Book”—Bible or Qur’an—and thus nominal monotheists.  Hindus and Buddhists are outside the theological pale, however.)  Islamic conquerors ruled much of India for centuries, until the last such dynasty, the Mughals, was supplanted by the British  beginning in the late 18th century.  The British “Raj” included not just modern India, but also Pakistan and Bangladesh.  In 1947 Muslim-majority West and East Pakistan broke away, in a bloody war; and in 1971 East Pakistan in turn separated to become Bangladesh. 

Huntington's clashing civilzations: Western, Latin American & Orthodox Christian; African (also Christian); Islamic; Buddhist; Sinic-Confucian; Japanese; and Indic-Hindu. (I'd have included NZ-Middle-earth, but that's just me.)

For most of its post-World War II existence, independent India has striven to be a secular democracy, over against the wishes of many of the 80% (800 million) majority which is Hindu—and to the consternation, often violent, of the 13% (130 million) which is Muslim.  (This data comes from the 2001 Indian census.  The 2011 census either didn’t collect religious demographic data, or is cleverly hiding it.)  The 25 million or so Christians, and 20 million Sikhs, often get caught in the crossfire—both rheorical and real—between Hindus and Muslims.  The BJP, which was founded in the 1950s, has increasingly co-opted the legimitate concerns of many non-Muslim Indians about not just terrorism and global jihad, but also the warm but constantly bubbling war between India and Pakistan (primarily over Kashmir)—and has now ridden that elephant to victory.   Modi had recently softened the BJP’s Hindu nationalist stance vis-à-vis Islam, but that didn’t reassure many Muslims who see him and his party as anti-Muslim and have worked to defeat him.  Let’s hope that Modi’s BJP governs fairly toward all Indian citizens—be they Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh or “other.”  But India’s position as the lone Hindu outpost in a global clash of civilizations--surrounded by the Islamic world on both sides, with the increasingly belligerent-Chinese looming to the east--makes that proposition problematic. 
10:08 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Lying Muslim Apologists and the Liberal Dhimmis Who Enable Them
Predictably, prominent leftist American websites began running articles claiming "Islam has nothing to do with Boko Haram" even as the Christian sex slaves were being dragged into the Nigerian jungle.  (See "The Boko Haram Terrorists are not 'Islamic'" and "Don't Blame Islam for Boko Haram.")
Never mind that Boko Haram leader Abubakr Shekau has a degree in Islamic theology and cites the Qur'an; or that (as I explicated in the previous post, below) Boko Haram flies a flag proclaiming "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger;" or that that organization has been calling for more shari`a in (northern) Nigeria for a dozen years, and waging jihad based on the Qur'an and Hadiths for at least five of those.
Frankly, I'm sick and tired of the obfuscation and outright taqiyya and kitman--Islam-sanctioned lying to non-Muslims--spewed by the likes of Dean Obeidallah and Faheem Younus, and disseminated by useful idiots on the American Left.  If Islam has nothing to do with violence and terrorism, pray tell enlighten us as to the common factor among the following terrorist groups on the current State Department list of FTOs (Foreign Terrorist Organizations):

Jama`ah Islamiyah ["Islamic Group"-Egypt]
HAMAS ["Islamic Establishment Movement"--Palestinian territories]
Harakat al-Mujahidin al-Islami ["Islamic Holy Warrior Movement"--Kashmir]
Hizbollah ["Party of Allah"--Lebanon]
Palestinian Islamic Jihad
al-Qa`ida ["The Base"--global]
Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
Jaysh-e Muhammad ["Army of Muhammad"--Kashmir]
Lashkar-e Taiba ["Army of the Righeous"--Pakistan]
al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade ["The Farthest" mosque, in Jerusalem]
Asbat al-Ansar ["Federation of the Partisan" of Islam)--Lebanon]
al-Qa`ida in the Islamic Maghrib
Jama`ah Islamiyah ["Islamic Group"--Southeast Asia]
Lashkar-e Jhangvi ["Army of Jhangvi" (a Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist)]
Ansar al-Islam ["Partisans of Islam"--Iraq]
Libyan Islamic Fighting Group
al-Qa`ida in Iraq
Islamic Jihad Union [Uzbekistan]
Harakat al-Jihad-Islami Bangladeshi ["Islamic Jihad Movement"--Bangladesh]
al-Shabab ["The (Islamic) Youth"--Somalia]
Kata'ib Hizbullah ["Party of God Brigades"--Iraq]
al-Qa`ida in the Arabian Peninsula
Harakat al-Jihad-i Islami ["Islamic Jihad Movement"--India, Pakistan, Bangladesh]
Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan ["Pakistani Taliban Movement"]
Jundullah ["Army of Allah"--Baluchistan/eastern Iran]
Army of Islam [Gaza]
Indian Mujahidin
Jama`ah Anshurat Tawhid ["Organization for the Propagation of Unitarianism"--Bali/Southeast Asia]
Abdullah Azzam Brigades [Azzam was Bin Ladin's teacher and mentor who died under mysterious circumstances in 1989. This group operates transnationally.]
Haqqani Networks [Named after the Haqqani brothers and/or a prominent mosque in Pakistan. Operates in AF-PAK.]
Ansar al-Din ["Partisans of (Islamic) Religion"--Mali and Maghrib]
Boko Haram
Ansaru ["Partisans"--Nigeria; offshoot of BH]
al-Mulathimun Battalion ["Those Who Veil Their Faces" Battalion--Algeria.  The State Dept. insists on translating "mulathimun" as "those who sign in blood," but I think this group takes its name from the 11th c. al-Murabitun/Almoravids, a Sunni fundamentalist group of Berbers who covered their faces.]
Ansar al-Shari` in Benghazi ["Partisans of Shari`a"--Libya]
Anar al-Shari`a in Darnah [More Islamic law partisans in Libya]
Ansar al-Shari`a in Tunisia
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis ["Partisans of the Holy Place" (Jerusalem)--Egyptian Sinai]


So there you have it: 37 of 58, or well over 60%, of the world's terrorist groups are Islamic in motivation, ideology and goals.  (The percentage would go up if State were more honest--for example, including Jabhat al-Nusra, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, etc.)   So please, stop with the lies that Islam has nothing to do with this violence. It most certainly does.  Do all Muslims support terror? No, of course not. It is eschewed by the Ahmadis, Isma'ili Shi`is, Ibadis, some Sufis.  But the Qur'anic and Muhammadan roots of Islamic violence and misogyny are still accepted and adhered to by (too) many in the Sunni tradition (as well as a high percentage of Twelver Shi`is).   Only when Muslims admit that their own history of violence is not an aberration will it be dealt with and de-legitimized. But that would entail courage, both real and intellectual--and the Islamic world (alas) is woefully short on both.  (Meanwhile, the useful dhimmi idiots on the Left would rather bash Christianity and bewail the Crusades, which ended 900 years ago, than deal with the current jihad.)  Until such time as a degree of analytical honesty manifests, I'll continue to call each and every person, Muslim or non-Muslim, who adduces the "Islam is peaceful" trope of tripe what he or she truly is: a Liar.
10:33 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Boko Haram Isn't the Only Muslim Group Painting Its Banners Black
Yesterday History News Network published my article on Nigeria's Boko Haram and that group's place in the long tradition of Islamic and jihad movements going back centuries in West Africa: "Why We're Only Now Paying Attention to Boko Haram is a Disgrace." 
Afterwards, I saw several news stories showing the kidnapped Christian girls, some of whom had allegedly "converted" to Islam.   Here's one such image:


The banner in the back left, commonly called by the media the "black flag of al-Qaeda [sic]" or "of jihad" is actually, more accurately termed the "black flag of Islam"--since the Arabic inscription reads "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger." The first recorded usage of this banner was by the Abbasids, the Islamic dynasty from Khurasan (eastern Iran/western Afghanistan) which drove west and conquered the previous Muslim dynasty, the Umayyad, about 750 AD.  Here is a piece of Islamic art showing the Abbasids ("AQ" flag is 2nd from right):


This same flag is also used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria:


And by its (now) enemy in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra: 


This ancient Muslim banner also is carried by Indian Muslims:


It's also showing up in Palestinian parts of Jerusalem:


Hizb al-Tahrir ("Party of Liberation"), a transnational group dedicated to reestablishing the caliphate, proudly displays the same banner on its website:


Boko Haram's employment of this standard is yet another indication that the Nigerian jihadist group has now plugged into the global Islamic movement.  Furthermore, as my friend Charles Cameron has pointed out several times, this Islamic banner is also rife with eschatological meaning for Muslims.  The aforementioned Abbasids, who ruled the Islamic heartlands for centuries and whose tenure is deemed the "Golden Age" by many Muslim historians, came to power partially by exploiting oral Shi`i Mahdist traditions which were attributed to Muhammad (although the Abbasids were themselves Sunni).  Afterwards, Muslim messianic expectations toward Khurasan/"the East" were institutionalized in (alleged) Hadiths by Ibn Majah (d. 887 AD): "The Prophet said: '[T]ruly the family of my house will suffer affliction and banishment and expulsion...until a people comes from the East bearing black banners. They will demand the good and not receive it, so they will kill and triumph. Then they will demand what they had been asking for.  But they will not receive it, until they hand over power to a man from the family of my house who will fill the world with justice, just as it had been filled with injustice.'" Another one says: "The Prophet said: '[T]he black banners will approach from the East and slaughter all of you violently, as no people has even been slaughtered...If you see him, swear loyalty to him, even if you must crawl upon ice--because he is the caliph of God, the Mahdi.'"

Boko Haram isn't adducing the Mahdi--yet. But the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, which Boko Haram is trying to resurrect--Usman Don Fodio (d. 1817)--considered himself a mujaddid, "renewer," of Islam and was deemed by many West Africans to be the eschatological Mahdi.  More recently, in 1970s Nigeria, a chap named Muhammad Marwa Maitatsine was thought to be the Mahdi and encouraged his followers to pursue violent Islamization and jihad.  Boko Haram and its offshoot Ansaru have proved they don't need eschatological motivation to wage jihad and practice misogyny--if they do wax Mahdist, things will only get worse in Nigeria and the region.

Jihad states of 19th c., Africa--of which Sokoto was but one (from Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies [1988], p. 509).

[By the way: for my liberal readers, the title of this blog is a reference to the Rolling Stones' song "Paint It Black" in tandem with the black banners.  No doubt someone will find a way to make that racist--but I can't be responsible for politically correct lunacy.]
11:09 am edt          Comments

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Out of Africa and onto Fox News: My Commentary on Boko Haram

On Thursday, May 8 (2014) I appeared for a few minutes on Shepard Smith's Show on Fox News Channel.  The topic was the Nigerian Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram.  The link is here.


Also, I was interviewed by FNC correspondent Jonathan Hunt for some 6-7 minutes, but most of that did not run.  Some of what I said was extracted for a Fox print piece:

"Timothy Furish, an author and Islam scholar, told Fox News that the [State] department probably was reluctant to 'add anothe group that is clearly Islamic to the list.' [Regarding the designation, just recently, of Boko Haram as a terrorist group;" 'Better late than never, but unfortunately where were these tweets and where was this outrage when churches were being bombed and thousands of Christians--as well as non-fundamentalist Muslims--were being killed in Nigeria?' he said, referring to a recent [Hillary] Clinton tweet drawing attention to the kidnappings. 'It would have been nice if this outrage had happened earlier.'"


5:54 pm edt          Comments

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

Mahdi, Mahdism, Eschatology, Usama bin Ladin, Dajjal, Ahmadinejad, al-Sadr, Hizbullah, Yajuj wa-Majuj, Dabbah, Jesus, `Isa, Holiest Wars, Nasrallah, End of Time, Twelfth Imam, Middle East Politics, Iran, Iraq, al-Sistani, Awaited Mahdi, al-Mahdi, the Mahdi, Hojjatiyeh, Armageddon, Dabbah, Muhammad, Hadith, Jihadists, Apocalypse, Consultant, Islamic Mahdis, Osama bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda, al-Qa`ida, Azzam, Muhammad Ahmad, Ibn Tumart, al-Utaybi, Islam, Islamic, Muslim, Messiah, Ahmadinezhad, Khamanei, Ayatollah