WorldNet Daily (Link) (August 17, 2009)
Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei yesterday called on Muslim nations around the world to unite militarily in response to the imminent coming of Islam's messianic savior – the Mahdi.
Khamenei, through his spokesman Ali Saeedi, specifically beckoned the nations of Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Afghanistan to join together with Iran in preparation for the Mahdi's soon coming.
The purpose of uniting now, a report in Al Arabiya explained, is to fight Israel and the U.S. – seen as the two greatest obstacles to the coming of the Mahdi and the age of Islamic "justice" that would ensue.
"We have to train honest forces that can stop the obstacles that may hinder the coming of the Mahdi like the United States and Israel," Saeedi stated. Saeedi also emphasized that the Iranian revolutionary guard possessed a special religious authority to prepare the way for the Mahdi.
"While the belief in the Mahdi has been widely held by Shi'a Muslims, it has taken on a dramatically more political tone in recent years since the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad," explains Joel Richardson, author of a new book called "The Islamic Antichrist," which hypothesizes that Islam's prophesied Mahdi is one and the same as the Bible's Antichrist.
According to Savyon and Y. Mansharof an Iranian scholar, "From the establishment of the Islamic Regime in 1979 to Ahmadinejad's rise to power in August 2005, Mahdism had been a religious doctrine and a tradition that had no political manifestation. The political system operated independently of this messianic belief and of the anticipation of the return of the Mahdi. It was only with Ahmadinejad's presidency that this religious doctrine has become a political philosophy and taken a central place in politics."
Mahdism is now increasingly being used as a political tool by appealing to the religious and nationalistic tendencies of various Muslims groups. This particular call for Islamic unity stands out because of its pan-Islamic, cross-sectarian appeal.
While many have assumed that the marked rise in fervor and devotion in recent years in Iran was primarily due to the influence of Ahmadinejad, this statement reveals that Mahdist devotion is also held quite fervently by Ayatollah Khamenei as well.
According to Al-Arabiya, Saeedi emphasized that obedience to the Ayatollah is the same as obedience to the Mahdi or the "guided one" – "who is the prophesied savior of Islam."
With news arriving this past week that Iran now has the capability to develop nuclear weapons, the Mahdist conference and this call for Islamic unity under the banner of the Mahdi takes on an added dimension of interest. Last year, one of the presenters at the Mahdist conference, Dr. Mariam Tabar, asserted the, "military capabilities of the future Mahdist state depend on Islamic governments in the here and now acquiring abilities to stand against the enemies of the imam [al-Mahdi]."
Opening the conference this year, was Dr. Mahdi Mostafavi, the chairman of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization, who spoke against the dangers and evils of Christian Zionism. "Putting an end to the tyranny and brutality" of Zionism is one of the basic goals of Mahdism, he explained.
Dr. Mostafavi also offered a wildly distorted version of the Christian end time narrative. Claiming that Christians are making efforts to bring about the Battle of Armageddon, he stated:
"In order to make this war happen they consider brutality, war and violence allowed and in their propaganda, they ask Christians and especially soldiers to create a situation for Jesus to reappear. These soldiers would be considered martyrs if they are killed in this way and would be in the circle of Messiah's Twelve disciples," Dr. Mostfavi explained.
"These evangelists try to reinforce their belligerent notion ideologically even by mentioning verses from Gospel. They start war in Afghanistan and Iraq, torture prisoners of war in detention camps like Abu Ghraib, and spread their doctrines throughout the whole world."
While the Christian narrative of the return of Jesus is one where Christians passively await a savior to deliver them from an aggressive empire, Islamic narratives often portray Muslims as aggressively and actively pursuing Islamic world dominance, particularly over the nation of Israel.
This year, it was also announced that Iran will be establishing a University of Mahdism to train theologians and politicians, according to Richardson, who has been assembling details of the recent conference.
One speaker at the conference, Abdollah Adam Gaya from Nigeria, spoke about the need to export Mahdism to the West:
"[In order] to fight against the [Western] cultural invasion against Islamic Shiite values, we must also export the Mahdism culture to the West… Imperialist powers fear the growth of that culture and therefore they are after attacking it. …"
Gaya also explained that the vehicle of Mahdism was the most effective tool to unite not only all Muslim countries, but also the whole world:
"Propagating and defining the Mahdism Culture are the most effective steps in order to establish unity among Muslim Nations of the world because not only Mesianism and Mahdism are the common grounds for understanding between all Muslims but between all religions in the world," he added.
While some Muslims have emphasized the peaceful nature of the Mahdi's reign, many in Iran obviously disagree.
Adnan Oktar, a prominent Turkish intellectual and Sunni author has repeatedly emphasized that under the Mahdi; no blood will be shed, guns and weapons will be eliminated and any traditions which infer anything different are unreliable.
Others however have a very different view. In His work Imam al-Mahdi, the Just Leader of Humanity, Ayatollah Ibrahim al Amini, professor at the Religious Learning Center at Qom affirms Larijani’s comments, when he states, "The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed."
In "The Islamic Antichrist," Richardson, a student of Islam, exposes Western Christians to the Muslim traditions. He says most Christians have no idea of the stunning similarities between the biblical Antichrist and the "Islamic Mahdi."
Richardson's book stands in stark contrast to most other popular prophecy books of the last 40 years.
The student of the Middle East says that after decades of reading popular prophecy books and even best-selling fiction like the "Left Behind" series, millions of evangelical Christians around the world are expecting the Antichrist to emerge from a revived Roman Empire, which many have assumed is associated with the Roman Catholic Church and the European Union.
Not so, argues Richardson. His book makes the case that the biblical Antichrist is one and the same as the Quran's Muslim Mahdi.
"The Islamic Antichrist" is a book almost certain to be greeted in the Muslim world with the same enthusiasm as Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." The author is prepared. He has written the book under a pseudonym to protect himself and his family.
"The Bible abounds with proofs that the Antichrist's empire will consist only of nations that are, today, Islamic," says Richardson. "Despite the numerous prevailing arguments for the emergence of a revived European Roman empire as the Antichrist's power base, the specific nations the Bible identifies as comprising his empire are today all Muslim."
Richardson believes the key error of many previous prophecy scholars involves the misinterpretation of a prediction by Daniel to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel describes the rise and fall of empires of the future, leading to the endtimes. Western Christians have viewed one of those empires as Rome, when, claims Richardson, Rome never actually conquered Babylon and was thus disqualified as a possibility.
It had to be another empire that rose and fell and rose again that would lead to rule of this "man of sin," described in the Bible. That empire, he says, is the Islamic empire, which did conquer Babylon and, in fact, rules over it even today.
Many evangelical Christians believe the Bible predicts a charismatic ruler, the Antichrist, will arise in the last days, before the return of Jesus. The Quran also predicts that a man, called the Mahdi, will rise up to lead the nations, pledging to usher in an era of peace. Richardson makes the case these two men are, in fact, one in the same.