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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, June 10, 2011

A Primer on Syria's Pseudo-Shi`a Alawi Sect

Some 18 months ago I wrote a long article on Syria's Alawi sect and its at-best troubled relationship with Sunni Islam--thus I find it rather amusing that the mainstream media (and not a few "expert" analysts) are patting themselves on the back for suddenly discovering that Alawism is a pseudo-Shi`i offshoot, and that the rule of such heterodox sect might make for problems in a country that is over 70% Sunni.  Here's my piece, "Divide and Confound--or Divide and Empower? The Opportunities and Dangers of Strategic PSYOP against the Alawi Rulers of Syria:"


6:27 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Osama and Mahdis and Toast--Oh My!

Herewith a mash-up of several eschatologically-minded stories from the Islamic world:
1) An Indonesian Muslim thinks he is the Mahdi with "power to reposition the moon, sun and stars:"
2) Usama bin Ladin resurfaced last week--in a piece of British toast:
How very boring and Euro-centric of UBL.  At least God, when He manifested on "The Simpsons," told Homer He was off to "appear in a tortilla in Mexico:"
3) Move over, Harold Camping.  According to the most recent End Time prognostication over at Mahdunite, the Mahdi will return on Friday, July 28, 2023 at 2:45 PM on the roof of the Ka`bah in Mecca and, simultaneously, Jesus will reappear in Damascus:
Other than this being exactly a 100 years after the official dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and the declaration of the Turkish Republic, I don't know why this date (1445 A.H.) should hold any special significance for Muslims. 
But I guess it depends which side of the eschatological toast your butter is on.  In Bin Ladin's case, I believe the Navy SEALS added quite a bit of raspberry jam--right up there near the top....And, as the SEALs are reported to have said upon storming the Abottabad compound, paraphrasing Dr. Peter Venkman from "Ghostbusters:" "this dude is toast!"

3:02 pm edt          Comments

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

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