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Soon soon coming of the Mahdi?

[ by Charles Cameron ]


Okay, I’d say things are heating up. Here’s a screen grab from what we are led to believe is a recent video from Iran, made with government backing as described below the fold.


This does not bode well…


The Christian thriller novelist Joel Rosenberg (author of The Twelfth Imam) has a new blog post up, in which he cites a Christian Broadcasting Network story — which in turn refers to a video posted with some introductory materials on his blog by Reza Kahlili (author of A Time to Betray: The Astonishing Double Life of a CIA Agent Inside the Revolutionary Guards of Iran).

According to Kahlili, who has also posted the full video to YouTube, it is a half-hour long program sponsored by the Basij militia and the Office of the President of Iran, affirming the soon-return of the Mahdi.

And containing “inflammatory language” about King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (see subtitle above)?  Can I say that?

For what it’s worth, the supposed “hadith” about the death of King Abdullah is discussed in some detail at The Wake-Up Project, so it’s definitely “in the air” — but I don’t recall seeing any references to it in Abbas Amanat, Abdulazziz Sachedina, or any of the lists of Signs of the Coming I’ve read, so my suspicion is that this is an opportunistic addition to the corpus rather than a reliable hadith.

Which brings me to my last point:

I am not posting these materials to encourage panic — that’s what terrorism strives for, and it is the very opposite of what I would wish to see.  If anything, these stirrings of Mahdist sentiment should make us more careful and attentive to the serious scholarly work that has been done in this area.  Jean-Pierre Filiu‘s book Apocalypse in Islam, which I reviewed for Jihadology, would be an excellent place to start.


There are plenty of other things going on that I would love to track, blog about or comment on these days, but for the next while I shall try to restrain myself and focus in on this particular issue and its ramifications:

  • Contemporary Shi’ite Mahdist expectation
  • The Iranian nuclear program in the light of Mahdist expectation
  • Iranian attempts to use Mahdism to unite Sunni and Shi’a
  • Mahdism and jihad
  • The role of Khorasan in Mahdist rhetoric
  • Christian apocalyptic responses to Mahdist stirrings
  • Joel Rosenberg‘s book, The Twelfth Imam
  • Joel Richardson‘s book, The Islamic Antichrist
  • Glenn Beck‘s increasing focus on Iranian Mahdism
  • The increasing influence of Islamic and Christian apocalyptic on geopolitics

This is a pretty complex and potent mix of topics, and while I’ll post some individual pieces of the puzzle as I see it, I shall also try to put together a “bigger picture” piece with the whole mosaic laid out.


Apart from that, I remain deeply committed to questions of chivalry and peace-making, and will continue to monitor developments and write what I can on those topics as time allows…

14 Responses to “Soon soon coming of the Mahdi?”

  1. zen Says:

    Nice post Charles.
    Let’s set aside the theological-Iranian elite politics angle for a second. If this video is in fact produced and distributed by the Basiji under the sponsorship of Ahmadinejad’s office, then Iran has just called for the assassination of a head of state with which the Islamic Republic is at peace and has diplomatic relations.
    Even for Iran, this is remarkable diplomatic behavior. It’s self-identifying as a rogue state. This needs to be verified and if true, highlighted in the international media to put pressure on the Iranians.

  2. Charles Cameron Says:

    Quite so — but I expect that (at the very least) it’s a bit more subtle than overt sponsorship. 
    Here’s what Khalili claims:

    This movie has been produced in Iran by an organization called “Conductors of The Coming” in collaboration with the Iranian president’s office and the Basij (Iranian paramilitary force). Also reports indicate that Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, President Ahmadinejad’s top adviser and chief of staff, was directly involved with this project. The movie was completed a few months ago and recently screened for the high clerics by the Iranian president’s office with one of its high ranking official analyzing it.

    The link Khalili gives for the "Conductors" goes to a page where there are various further links that seem to have to do with the documentary, but here’s where it gets tricky for someone like myself who doesn’t speak or read Farsi.
    1. Khalili himself may be one of those with a story that’s a bit too good to be true — who knows?
    2. Ahmadinejad and or the Ayatollah Khamenei may have given tacit approval to the project, but I very much doubt that advertising for the death of the Saudi sovereign is official state business.
    3. I have the impression that some of the further links indicate strong disapproval of the documentary from Qom [ eg ].
    4. As I indicated, I doubt the hadith itself is authentic (and recall that ahadith have almost certainly been produced before now to sway political situations — thus David Cook among others believes that Abbasid interests may well explain the development of the "black banners of Khorasan" motif).
    5. However, the whole thing may well be a "plausibly deniable" move with the support of Ahmaninejad and/or Khamenei — or, I suppose, an IO from some other quarter…
    and 6. The hadith is certainly being discussed, and the video is up on YouTube quoting it, and Khalili’s post is getting airtime at Pajamas Media and from Joel Rosenberg’s quite considerable readership…
    I guess what I’m saying overall is: we should indeed be skeptical of both the specific contents and the various "authority claims" made for them — but that should not deflect us from noticing that those claims are  being made, the suggestion that the death of King Abdullah would be a sign of the soon coming of the Mahdi is circulating, and that various parts of the American electorate are liable to draw conclusions about geopolitics based  on (a) ignorance of all of the above, (b) awareness of some of the above not backed up by nuanced knowledge, or (c) eschatological considerations of their own — all of which may be somewhat detached from reality — while (d) sober and informed analysis is likely to be in very short supply.

  3. Stuart Berman Says:

    Hmmm… I wonder if they will offer a cash alternative?And if the Mahdi does appear wouldn’t it be a real shocker if it turned out he was Jewish?

  4. Charles Cameron Says:

    My head was already spinning…

  5. Charles Cameron Says:

    This just in via Twitter from Tim Furnish, author of Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden:
    @Occidentaljihad Timothy Furnish
    Beck doing a show on Shi`i 12th Imam=Antichrist of Revelation, peddling (discredited by me) idea that Tehran wants to hotwire the apocalypse

  6. Seerov Says:

    I don’t think it’s possible to turn on Fox News without hearing about the 12th Imam. At least 25% of their daily programing is dedicated to war with Iran information operations.  I guess it’s just a matter of time? 

  7. ???? Says:

    Mehdi has overcome the oppressors
    ????? ??? ????? ?????

  8. Charles Cameron Says:

    That last comment appears to come from mahdi.com, a site associated with Haroun Yahya, an influentual Turkish figure I have mentioned before on this site, eg here and (in a comment) here.

  9. zen Says:

    Sorry Charles, I saw the ‘????????" and thought it was spam – do you want me to restore the comment?

  10. Charles Cameron Says:

    Sure, give it a try if you can still find it…
    The English section of the text read "Mehdi has overcome the oppressors" but I imagine the rest may have been in Turkish.  I’d try to read it using Turkish encoding, might be fun. No big problem if you can’t find it, though.
    The sender’s email address, if I recall correctly, was dhoosh or doosh at mahdi.com.

  11. zen Says:

    Restored above.

  12. Charles Cameron Says:

    Thanks, Zen.
    Sorry to say that using the Turkish encoding, ISO-8859-9, doesn’t make the ??? go away.  Still, it was worth a try.  And btw, your admin wizardry is impressive!

  13. montazer Says:

    i am an iranian i can give you the original film ( the arrivel is very near) that is produced in iran by some younges .
    khalili says some lies about the film .

  14. Charles Cameron Says:

    Hello, Montazer:
    Perhaps you could check the video I linked to at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WwiadYT-N9k and see if it is the same one.
    What does Khalili say that you disagree with, and what is your own point of view?

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