[ by Charles Cameron — a highly personalized and peaceable account of the awaited Mahdi, who may according to Oktar himself already be among us ]
I thought you might want to know the advice Adnan Oktar, aka Harun Yahya, has for President Obama:
That’s it. But there’s more to it that that single phrase.
So who is the Mahdi, and how would Obama know what the system of the Mahdi was, so that he could do a reasonably good job at explaining it to the rest of us?
Should he, for instance, be reading the Ayatollah Baqir al-Sadr, who is reported to have said:
The Mahdi is not an embodiment of the Islamic belief but he is also the symbol of an aspiration cherished by mankind irrespective of its divergent religious doctrines. He is also the crystallization of an instructive inspiration through which all people, regardless of their religious affiliations, have learnt to await a day when heavenly missions, with all their implications, will achieve their final goal and the tiring march of humanity across history will culminate satisfactory in peace and tranquility. This consciousness of the expected future has not been confined to those who believe in the supernatural phenomenon but has also been reflected in the ideologies and cult which totally deny the existence of what is imperceptible. For example, the dialectical materialism which interprets history on the basis of contradiction believes that a day will come when all contradictions will disappear and complete peace and tranquility will prevail.
Somehow, I don’t think the Turkish Yahya was suggesting the President take his understanding of the Mahdi from an Ayatollah from Najaf..
Yahya / Oktar himself has written extensively on the Mahdi, his companion the returning Prophet, Christ, and the end times in general. Anne Ross Solberg, in her thesis The Mahdi Wears Armani: An Analysis of the Harun Yahya Enterprise, writes:
In 1987, Yahya published a brief pamphlet titled Is AIDS the Beast mentioned in the Qur’an? The first book published by Yahya on the subject of the Mahdi and the End Times was Mahdi and the Golden Age: The World Supremacy of Islam.
Solberg then lists other books subsequently published by Yahya on eschatological topics, including (in order of publication — I have omitted the Turkish titles & publication details for brevity) Jesus Will Return; Death, Resurrection, Hell: The Golden Age; The Last Days and the Beast; Signs of the End Times in Surat al-Kahf; The Glad Tidings of the Messiah; Signs of the Last Day; The Signs of Jesus’ Second Coming; The Day of Judgment; The End Times and the Mahdi; Portents and Features of the Mahdi’s Coming; The Prophet Jesus (as) and Hazrat Mahdi (as) Will Come This Century; Hazrat Mahdi (PBUH) Is a Descendant Of The Prophet Abraham (PBUH); How Did the Dajjal Die?; and The Prophet Jesus (as), Hazrat Mahdi (as) and the Islamic Union.
Solberg then writes:
Based on these publications, the Harun Yahya enterprise has made a number of documentaries that are available both as DVDs and online video files for download and streaming, as well as a vast number of websites devoted to the Mahdi and the End Times.
So putting it mildly, the arrival and “system” of the Mahdi is a major topic for Harun Yahya – pen-name of the Turkish preacher and writer Adnan Oktar — and as Solberg suggests in the title of her thesis, he may in fact understand himself as acting in that role.
Al Jazeera put the question to Yahya / Oktar directly in an interview:
Sir, from your books and speeches it appears that you believe in the Mahdi. Do you really believe in the Mahdi? And is it certain when he will appear? Around what time will he appear on Earth?
Adnan Oktar: The Mahdi should already have appeared according to the writings of Said Nursi, and according to the accounts in reliable hadith and signs have already taken place. For example, we are told that Afghanistan will be occupied at the time of the appearance of the Mahdi. That has happened. There is also the fact that Iraq will be occupied, which has also taken place. An attack on the Kaaba was predicted, and that has happened as well. The waters of the Euphrates would be cut off. And the dam has done so. We are told that during the month of Ramadhan in the year of his appearance both the Sun and Moon will be eclipsed in a space of 15 days, and that has happened as well. Approximately a hundred portents like this have already taken place. For that reason, I am convinced that the Mahdi has appeared.
Al Jazeera: Could you be the Mahdi?
Adnan Oktar: There is a rumor that has been going round for a long while that I have claimed to be the Mahdi. The reason for that is that I have written a book on that subject. I have cited all the relevant hadith in that book. They said that I had described myself, that the information about the Mahdi in the hadith was the same. As a result, [they said] you are claiming to be the Mahdi. They say that his forehead is broad, and your forehead is broad, too. That his brow is curved, and your brow is also curved. They say that the Mahdi has a small nose, and a big body. He is a Sayyid of medium height, they say. He has a mole on his cheek, and one on his back. Because you have all these characteristics, you are probably claiming to be the Mahdi.
I have borrowed those paragraphs from Tim Furnish, who quoted them in 2008 — the Al Jazeera interview is no longer available on the original website.
Oktar / Yahya declines to answer the question with a “yes” or “no” – but the comparisons he makes are nonetheless striking…
In a Reuters interview he makes it clear why he won’t answer that question:
Because of parallels in what I have written and the hadith (sayings) of the Prophet Mohammad, some people have thought I could be him… but in Islam it is forbidden for me to make such a claim.
Furnish has a more detailed quote from Yahya:
No claims can be made regarding the Mahdi. Nobody can claim to be the Mahdi. Nobody can say I am the Mahdi. Identification with the Mahdi can only be measured in terms of success. In other words, a figure will emerge and will be successful. From his success the conclusion may be drawn that he is the Mahdi. Even if the Mahdi were to appear, we could never say for certain that he was the Mahdi. We can only have a good perception of him. We can only say that he is probably the Mahdi. The Mahdi himself will never claim to be the Mahdi. He cannot say that. He will not say that. That is haram [not permissible]. He would be apostatized if he were to say such a thing.
So President Obama will necessarily have to guess the Mahdi’s identity, if he is to follow Yahya / Oktar’s advice.
Let us suppose the President comes to the conclusion that Yahya is indeed the Mahdi – what could he then deduce about the “system of the Mahdi”? For an answer, we return to Solberg’s thesis:
Yahya sums up the Mahdi’s crucial and redemptive role as follows:
During the terrible chaos of the final times, Allah will use a servant having superior morality known as the Mahdi (the guide to the truth), to invite humanity back to the right path. The Mahdi’s first task will be to wage a war of ideas within the Islamic world and to turn those Muslims who have moved away from Islam’s true essence back to true belief and morality. At this point, the Mahdi has three basic tasks:
1. Tearing down all philosophical systems that deny Allah’s Existence and support atheism.
2. Fighting superstition by freeing Islam from the yoke of those hypocritical individuals who have corrupted it, and then revealing and implementing true Islamic morality based on the rules of the Qur’an.
3. Strengthening the entire Islamic world, both politically and socially, and then bringing about peace, security and well-being in addition to solving societal problems.
These three tasks are Yahya’s interpretation of the three tasks of the Mahdi as taught by Said Nursi. Nursi’s teachings thus serve as a template for the da‘wa of the Harun Yahya enterprise. Since the late 1990s, the Harun Yahya enterprise has focused on trying to demolish thought systems of materialism, targeting in particular Darwinism, which Yahya regards as the most serious threat to faith.
There’s one really interesting reference in Solberg’s text that bears implications in many other realms than that of Islamic apocalyptic:
According to Snow and Benford (1988), the three core framing tasks of a movement are to identify a problem and identify who is to blame (diagnostic framing), articulate solutions (prognostic framing) and urge others to act (motivational framing).
I think those distinctions will likely serve us very well in thinking through the entire complex issue of terrorism and counterterrorism.
And here are two key points, rephrased by Solberg from Yahya’s writings, which give us Yahya’s perspective on both the caliphate and the possibility that the Mahdi will be a warrior in the literal as well as the spiritual or ideological sense:
According to the hadiths, claims Yahya, the Mahdi will assume leadership of the Islamic world as a caliph and rule the whole world both politically and religiously.
Yahya is careful to emphasize that the struggle is an ideological one, and that the Mahdi will never shed blood.
Those are two fascinating points at this juncture in history.
Solberg’s book is subtitled An Analysis of the Harun Yahya Enterprise — is the Harun Yahya Enterprise in fact another name for the System of the Mahdi? If so, these words from her closing paragraphs give an idea of the scope of the Mahdi’s intent:
The magnitude and span of the Harun Yahya enterprise operation suggests that this is an enterprise with very high ambitions in terms of having a major impact both in Turkey and globally. As indicated in the introduction chapter, the Harun Yahya enterprise does appear to have a considerable impact with regards to its promotion of creationism. As I have attempted to show, however, the purpose of the creationist activism of Harun Yahya is not only to convince the audience that the theory of evolution is wrong, but also to promote Adnan Oktar himself. This aspect of the Harun Yahya enterprise has, as we have seen, become more pronounced especially after 2009, with the publication of books that appear to be designed to create the impression that Adnan Oktar might be the Mahdi. One might speculate that the reason for this increasingly insistent and explicit approach is the recognition that Adnan Oktar, contrary to expectations, has not been widely recognized and affirmed as neither a Muslim authority, nor a Mahdi.
We shall see..