[ by Charles Cameron — Mahdism, pacific and militant, Sunni and Shi’ite ]
So here are a couple more DVDs for your collection…
The Awlaki “End of Time” DVD that I mentioned earlier today has an obvious apocalyptic aspect, but here are a couple of DVDs with specific reference to the Mahdi. Harun Yahya (aka Adnan Oktar) has a massive publication-machine behind him, and much of his effort is directed to his islamic version of creationism. It is interesting that his (Sunni) Mahdi, in contrast to al-Awlaki’s, is a peace-bringer.
The Iranian movie, on the other hand, may well be a move on the part of Ahmadinejad in his current efforts to use popular Mahdist sentiment to win power for the presidency and diminish the authority of the scholars in Qom — with a sop thrown to Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Authority, in the form of a role for him (along with Ahmadinejad himself) in the projected soon-return of the Mahdi from occultation.
If so, the move would appear at this point to have backfired — perhaps because the movie was leaked ahead of time — with the Supreme Authority and mullahs of Qom lining up against Ahmadinejad.
By way of commentary:
Were the Mahdi to appear, he would be “rightly guided” by definition — infallible — and only those on whom he showed his favor would hold any religious sway among his followers. It is this disquieting thought which made, e.g., the religious authorities (hawza) of Najaf so upset about a Mahdist uprising a few years back… the Returning One axiomatically trumps all those previously holding positions of spiritual authority.