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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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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sects Problems in the Ummah

"Morocco severs relations with Iran"
By Alfred de Montesquiou (AP, March 6, 2009)
Rabat, Morocco - Morocco cut off diplomatic relations with Iran on Friday, accusing Tehran in a rare public spat of trying to spread Shia Islam in this Sunni Arab kingdom. The tensions were compounded by recent Iranian comments toward Sunni-led Bahrain that have raised hackles in the Arab world, Morocco's Foreign Ministry said. The ministry accused largely Shiite Iran's Embassy in Rabat of trying to "alter the religious fundamentals of the kingdom" and threaten Morocco's religious unity. The ministry, in a statement, called Iran's actions "intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom...."
There are officially no Shiite Muslims in this North African kingdom, which is more than 99 percent Sunni, with the remainder of the population Jewish or Christian....
Morocco's move could be "a sign that Arab states are prepared to take a much tougher stand against Iran," Anthony Cordesman, a Middle-East analyst at the Washington-based Center for International and Strategic Studies, said by telephone. Or at least states "not directly threatened by it." While small Mideast states are trying to soothe their relations with Iran because of the country's traction around the Persian Gulf, Morocco on the Atlantic coast is far from the tensions.
"It's almost as if we're seeing a polarization of the Arab world [?!]," Cordesman said....
 U.S. allies like Morocco, Egypt or Saudi Arabia are increasingly irked by Iran's hard-line leadership, and worried by the political clout Tehran is gaining through the successes of the Shia or even Sunni groups it backs in Iraq, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip...."
The Gulf kingdom of Bahrain is ruled by a Sunni elite, but its Shiite majority has close ties to Iran, which holds longtime claims to the island....
1) Iran's efforts to smooth over the Sunni-Shi`i differences and create a united anti-Western/anti-U.S. front have hit a snag.  Some of the Sunni countries are pushing back against Tehran's bid for leadership of the ummah.
2) Either Morocco is using allegations of Iranian Shi`i proselytizing in the Maghrib as a convenient excuse to attack Iran diplomatically, or Iran actually is having more success at converting Moroccans to Shi`i Islam than the official figures would indicate and Rabat is actually worried about the issue; or, perhaps, both.
3) Isn't Cordesman's status as a "Middle-East analyst" (sic) called into question by his statement regarding Morocco and Iran and "we're seeing a polarization of the ARAB world"?!  Iran, of course, is NOT Arab.  Methinks Dr. Cordesman meant "Muslim." At least I hope he did.
4) AP is, once again, on the cutting edge of Middle East/Islamic world reporting--NOT!  The Sunni states, especially in the Gulf, have  been worried for several years about Iranian Shi`i propagandizing which goes hand-in-glove (or -fist) with Tehran's irredentist claims concerning the Gulf.

11:12 am edt          Comments

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

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