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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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Friday, March 16, 2007

No Sects Please--We're Mahdists
All of the focus by the media on the tactical Sunni v. Shi`i violence in Iraq tends to obscure the more important strategic trend of growing cooperation between the two branches of Islam, mainly driven by Iran--as per this latest story from the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting network (

IRI after convergence among Muslims
03:57:33 È.Ù
System Interests Council Chairman Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said on Wednesday that the nation, as part of the great Islamic Ummah, was determined to strengthen convergence and cooperation among all Islamic states.
Rafsanjani's remarks came during a meeting with the Leader of the Lebanese Islamic Action Front Amal Fathi Yakan.
Pointing to the commonalties enjoyed by Islamic religious sects, he stressed the importance of avoiding minor differences. He said Iran's aid to refugees of Kosovo and Palestine was an example of Islamic humanitarian values and urged Muslims to avoid extremist religious differences and exert efforts to uphold the dignity of Islam.
The SIC Chairman praised the resistance displayed by all Lebanese group to topple the conspiracies of enemies, saying the cooperation of the Islamist Action Front Amal, which is a Sunni resistance group, with Hezbollah has neutralized several plots aimed at causing discord among Muslims.
Yakan, for his part, presented a report on latest developments in Lebanon, and urged all Islamic sects to work to preserve the greatness of Islam.
10:05 am edt          Comments

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Darwin the Dajjal?
I've reported before on the pseudonymous Harun Yahya, the website of Turkish Mahdist(s) which also spends a lot of time trying to debunk evolutionary theory.  The March, 2007 webpage is up and it's a twofer: a new entry on the Mahdi, "The Mahdi's Spiritual Army in This World" (, basically asserts that true Islam requires not only a belief in the imminent coming of the Mahdi but a rejection of the Darwinian theory of evolution.  Beyond that, the folks at Harun Yahya contend that "by Allah's will, anyone who tries to assist in the development of Islam and the spreading of Qur'anic moral values will, knowingly or otherwise, be serving the Mahdi. For that reason, every activity on Earth is actually a service rendered to the Mahdi. Everyone who writes books or articles, publishes newspapers or magazines, or arranges conferences to that end is, wittingly or unwittingly, assisting and supporting the Mahdi, in preparing for the dominion of Islamic moral values under his leadership." Those who aren't against him are for him, it would seem. 
And lest anyone think that only the Ahmadinezhads of the world are true  believers in the  coming of the Mahdi: "This century is a glad epoch when signs of the End Times are coming about, one by one, and the whole Muslim world is in a state of expectancy."  As for the doubting Thomases: "some may still harbor doubts about the second coming of Prophet ‘Isa (as) and the appearance of the Mahdi—which doubt is a most serious error. The important fact to realize is this: Even if people do hold such views, this is actually nothing more than another sign of the appearance of the Mahdi. The position of such people is a clear indication of the imminence of the Mahdi's coming."  And heed this, President Bush and Pope Benedict: "Every action taken in opposition to the Mahdi will further increase his effectiveness and contribute to his activities being echoed around the world." For  "Prophet ‘Isa (as) and the Mahdi will very soon appear in their appointed destinies and, as reported by the Prophet (saas), will discharge all their duties and, by Allah's leave, cause Islamic moral values to prevail across the world."
As I've remarked before, for Mahdist expectations to be expressed this fervently in so secularized a country as Turkey is remarkable. 
3:55 pm edt          Comments

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A Mahdi-less Revolution?

The Mahdist vanguards are still waiting for the (real) Mahdi to appear in Iraq; according to a story last week in Reuters (
NEAR DIWANIYA - Iraqi police and army arrested 157 people they said were members of the Soldiers of Heaven, a group involved in a major battle with U.S. and Iraqi forces last month in which around 260 members of the group were killed. They were arrested in a town near Diwaniya, 180 km (112 miles) south of Baghdad, police brigadier Abdul-Khaliq al-Bedrani said. After the Najaf battle, the government said the group was a messianic Muslim cult plotting to kill top Shi'ite clerics.
It's only a matter of time before some Islamic leader with sufficient charisma, political and military acumen, and (frankly) luck lays claim to the mantle of the Mahdi--and survives to take power somewhere in the Muslim world.  These "Soldiers of Heaven" are but the tip of the potential Mahdist iceberg.   
(Special thanks to Patrick Poole for alerting me to this story.)

5:03 pm est          Comments

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

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