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Who among us can comprehend religion? — Mahdi & Second Coming

[ by Charles Cameron — the Second Coming in Mahdist eschatology, Abu Musab al-Suri: a first addendum to my post responding to Scott Atran ]
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I quietly asked “who among us can comprehend religion?” in the header to my most recent post responding to Atran on FP, and here and in the post that follows this one, I want to stir some thoughts on the topic.

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First, here’s a snippet of today’s twitterfeed that caught my attention:

Bright folks, each one of them — and Vatyma is right, Lebovich nails it tecommending Filiu‘s book.

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Okay, larger than life with my in-house advantage, here’s my response:

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And here’s Jean-Pierre Filiu, talking specifically about Abu Musab al-Suri‘s attention to the Second Coming — understood as an accompaniment to the coming of the Mahdi and defeat of the Antichrist / Dajjal — in his Apocalypse in Islam, p. 191:

Abu Musab al-Suri endorses all the accepted traditions concerning Jesus and the Antichrist, notably among them the homicidal hadith about the stones and trees that denounce the Jews hiding behind them. But he innovates in supplementing it with a related saying, according to which the concealed presence of “impure Christians” will also be betrayed in the same fashion.

BTW, that’s the gharqad tree hadith, on which see (a) the Charter of Hamas, article 7, and (b) Anne Marie Oliver & Paul Steinberg, The Road to Martyr’s Square, pp 19-24.

Here’s Filiu again, a little later on the same page, still expounding Abu Musab:

The Antichrist, harassed by two angels who denounce his lies, will attempt to follow [the Muslims into Jerusalem], but at this juncture Jesus will return from heaven and strike him down.

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Abu Musab dedicates the last hundred pages of his 1,600-page Call for Global Islamic Resistance to his eschatological views — and as Filiu notes, and as I have quoted before:

There is nothing in the least theoretical about this exercise in apocalyptic exegesis. It is meant instead as a guide for action. …

So there you have it: in the view of the man Brynjar Lia calls the Architect of Global Jihad, popular Sunni eschatology — including the return of Jesus — has detailed implications for prophetically informed strategic jihadist planning.

Religion: why it is indeed imperative, as Scott Atran suggests, for us to understand it.

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