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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, April 25, 2016

Crusading against Ignorance of the Crusades

This morning I appeared for about 30 minutes on "The Peter Boyles Show," KNUS AM 710, Denver, to discuss the Crusades in light of a Colorado Christian high school deciding to do away with their Crusader logo.  I explained the 11th c. AD geopolitical and theological (both Christian and Muslim) backgrounds and related them to today's situation.  May I suggest listening to "Music of the Crusades" after my radio lecture. 

RichardLionHeartjpeg.jpg  A great soldier but a lousy king....Richard the Lion-heart crusading. 




12:51 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

In Allah's Country: Fox News Special on ISIS

The entirety of the Fox News Channel special "War Stories: Fighting ISIS" is now available online.  I first come on at 4:20, then appear periodically throughout the rest of the show. commenting on ISIS' Islamic bona fides, eschatological motivations and who needs to de-legitimize the group. 

ISISchurch.jpg Urban renewal--aka destroying crosses and churches--courtesy of ISIS. But no, they're not Islamic at all! 

2:07 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth

Yes, you read that right: Middle-earth," not the "Middle East."  The former is one of my great passions, along with the latter and Islamic studies.  I've written the first of two volumes historically analyzing the politics of Tolkien's world, which is available now (e-books are readable right away; hard copies will ship April 29, 2016).


 The second volume analyzes warfare in Middle-earth, across 7,000 years of Tolkienian history (so not just the late-Third-Age battles of the Lord of the Rings movies).  It's entitled Bright Swords and Glorious Warriors: A Military History of Middle-earth and I'm writing it now; Eru willing, it will be out late 2016/early 2017.  

Fortunately, you won't see this picture in either of the books (sorry, ISIS):


12:45 pm edt          Comments

Friday, April 1, 2016

Ancient Qur'an Discovery Proves Islam Really Is A Religion of Peace

(AP) Last month, construction workers in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca demolishing a medieval mosque to make room for a new Ritz-Carlton aimed at high-end Muslim pilgrims uncovered fragments of an old Qur’an, the holy book of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.  Before it could be disposed of properly by Saudi clerics, several of the workers—apparently on orders from their employer, Bin Ladin Construction—smuggled the pages out of the Kingdom and delivered them (after, reportedly, huge bribes) to the newly-created  “Institute for the Study of the Noble and Peaceful Qur’an” at al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.

Mosquedestroyed.jpg The fact that the Qur'an fragements survived this blast is nothing short of a miracle! 

Islamic scholars and Qur’an experts studied the surviving pages round-the-clock for several weeks and were shocked to discover that this text—which had somehow survived the burning of “heretical” versions of the Qur’an under the reign of the third Caliph of Islam, Uthman, in 652 CE—apparently includes a heretofore-unknown 115th sura, or “chapter,” of the Qur’an.  Entitled Sura al-Mazzah, it’s one of the shortest chapters but based on intense textual study these experts have determined that it is almost certainly the last, chronologically, revealed to the Prophet Muhammad—thus making it binding under the exegetical doctrine of naskh in which the later revelations from Allah to Islam’s founder are the more authoritative ones. 

StudyingancientQbetter.jpg Dr. al-Hallaj [sic], in happier times. 

However, it is what Sura al-Mazzah says which, if verified and accepted, could prove explosive for not just Muslims but the entire world. The key verse translates as “O Believers! Believe not that ye should kill the infidels but rather know that the Iblis [Satan] was whispering to God’s apostle for too long, telling him [Muhammad] falsely.  Know that indeed Islam is a religion of peace and all the verses before this one are wrong desires injected by Iblis.  Therefore heed not the lying admonitions to swords, but rather heed the Christians, whose Lord `Isa truly is….”  At this point the text breaks off.  

The lead researcher on this project, Qur’an  expert Dr. Mahmud al-Hallaj, mysteriously and abruptly committed suicide last week.  Several other key members of the project have also disappeared.  The remaining experts, as well as the Qur’anic fragments themselves, are said to be under the protection of President al-Sisi’s personal bodyguard.   How the government of Egypt intends to proceed is unknown, but ISIS, al-Qaida, the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood have all vowed to attack Egypt if this claim is not immediately retracted and the manuscript fragments burned in a fire “hotter than the blazes of hell and damnation itself.”  

President Obama, when asked in a press conference about the findings, remarked that, if true, they showed  that “I was right all along” and that “Republicans were wrong” about Islam.  And that if Iblis had a modern incarnation, it would be as Donald Trump. 

11:56 am edt          Comments

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

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