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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, May 13, 2016

More Sects, Please! How to Trump the Muslim Immigration Issue

I have a new article up at History News Network, entitled "An Islamic Historian's Response to Donald Trump's Proposed Muslim Immigration Ban." Its premise is that we let too many Sunnis, and not enough Isma'ilis, Ahmadis, Druze, etc., into the United States.  Please read and consider! 

OttomanEmpireFamilyGuy.jpg Under the Ottomans many Islamic sects lived in relative peace--if not quite this cushily. 


11:45 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

From Isma'il to Isildur: Furnish Talking Taqlid, Taqiyya and Tolkien

Earlier this week I appeared on the radio show "Conspirinormal" for almost two hours, 2/3 of which was on Islamic history (to include Muhammad, doctrines, jihad, caliphate, expansion, eschatology and how all these relate to modern issues like ISIS and Yemen and Iran) and the final section of which covered my new book on the political history of Middle-earth.  That first (long) segment is a good primer for anyone interested in Islamic issues, while the latter is a bit more specialized but still interesting--especially, of course, for fans of The Lord of the Rings.

ShahIsmail.jpg Shah Isma'il--with sword--lived in the Middle East, not Middle-earth. That mustache is the clue.

9:52 am edt          Comments

Friday, May 6, 2016

Middle-earth, not the Middle East

As you might have gathered by now, my latest book is about Middle-earth, not the Middle East: High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth (that's the Amazon link; you can also get it, online, at Barnes & Noble, as well as BAM, or Books-a-Million). 

Last week the erudite, informed and intelligent radio host Derek Gilbert interviewed me regarding this foray into Tolkien studies

This is the first of a two-volume set, the second of which will be Bright Swords and Glorious Warriors: A Military History of Middle-earth.  

DuelingMEsbigger.jpg One is a turbulent region wracked by wars and rumors of wars, a history of savage invaders from south and east, and oppressive religious systems.  The other is Middle-earth. 

11:32 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Crusade v. Jihad: Which Came First? Furnish Discussing on Radio Show
On Saturday, April 30, 2016, I did a 26-minute interview with Kip Allen of KFUO AM radio in St. Louis, the flagship station of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (my own denomination), for World Lutheran News Digest on the topic of the Crusades. This was the second radio show I'd done on this topic, following one five days earlier with Peter Boyles of KNUS AM, Denver--although this latest one was even better, in my opinion.  
MoteMahdistscroppedjpeg.jpg Crusade, c. 2290 AD--at least in the universe of Jerry Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye.
11:22 am edt          Comments

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

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