The View From 1776
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Mahdi: Iran’s Twist on Jihad
A Reader writes that Iran wants to precipitate Armageddon, believing that the Mahdi will return to lead Islam to worldwide victory.
For both Sunni and Shiite Muslims, the Mahdi is the infallible intercessor between Allah and faithful Muslims. The Mahdi, in Islamic tradition, will return to lead Muslims to earthly victory when world conditions reach an Armageddon-like state of political chaos. The Mahdi will then establish a world dominion of Islamic peace and justice.
Various people have over the centuries claimed to be the Mahdi. The best known of them to Westerners was Muhammad Ahmad, a Muslim religious leader in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. In 1881 he led a revolt in the Sudan against Egyptian and British rule, during the course of which his forces surrounded Khartoum and massacred British troops led by General “Chinese” Gordon. British forces avenged that defeat, wiping out the Mahdists at Omdurman in 1898. Those forces were led by Lord Kitchner, later British Secretary of War during World War I. Among his officers was a young Winston Churchill.
WHY IRAN WANTS WAR
Ahmadinejad & Co. starring in Armageddon
By Slater Bakhtavar
“The Iranian nation will wipe the strain of regret on the foreheads of those who want to bring about injustice,” President Ahmadinejad declared scornfully at a recent rally in the province of Zanjan. Iran “will cut off the hands of any aggressor,” any attack would be met with a response that is double-fold including suicide attacks across Europe and the United States, he warned. “Israel should be wiped off the map,” the predominately Jewish nation “cannot survive” and is headed “towards extinction” according to the fanatical President.
If one were to listen to his rhetoric alone, even the most astute political intellectuals would think Iran is a nation equipped with the most dangerous military arsenal capable of challenging any nation. But Iran’s rhetoric has little to do with their outdated and dismal military, their fledging economy or their detested government. The root of the government’s fiery tone may be traced to their Shi?te ideology messianic belief in a mysterious, mystical twelfth imam who ventured into hiding over a thousand years ago.
The Hidden Imam is a central concept in the teachings of Shiite Islam. Born Muhammad al-Mahdi he ventured into a cave in 941 AD hidden by a gate called the Gate of Occultation. The doctrine of Occultation professes Allah aided the cloaking of the Imam away from the eyes of man so that he could be kept alive until his return. Shiites believe that the Twelfth Imam will return to lead the religious battle between good and evil when the world has become consummately nefarious.
According to Shiite orthodoxy humans may not force or hasten the return of the Imam, but the Hojjateiehs a group of which Ahmadinejad is a member, opine that humans may stir up chaos to encourage his return. With his recent rhetoric vowing for the destruction of Israel, demanding deportation of the Jews to Europe and denying the Holocaust that the President seems to be doing just that. In fact, his messianic axiom of the Twelfth Imam and the subsequent suppression of the forces of evil [modern day US, UK, Israel and many other nations] is central to Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy. The Iranian government’s official policy has undercut efforts of the international community by rejecting a United Nations deadline to suspend Iran’s nuclear program, threatening to quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty and vying that “nothing can stop Iran’s path to nuclear technology.” In anticipation of a stand off with the West, Iran recently clinched agreements with eight different Middle East insurgency groups to carry out suicide attacks against Israeli, British and US interests across the world. Ironically this plan is called “Judgment Day.”
During a private meeting with an Iranian cleric in November Ahmadinejad claimed that while giving a speech before the United Nations he felt “the atmosphere change and for 27 to 28 minutes the leaders did not blink” ?they were astonished.. it had opened their eyes and ears to the Islamic Republic.” He further said that he felt the hand of God upon him as he delivered his omniscient speech. In his egocentric fantasy world the Iranian President likely sees himself as a deputy of the Imam with a divine mission to encourage his arrival.
His references to the Imam in conjunction with threats to wipe countries off the face of earth should be taken seriously. Foreign policy experts should examine the Islamic Republic from both a political and religious perspective. To the clerical regime the return of the Imam is not a mere possibility, but a surety. Their attitude towards the international community seems to point at their preparation for that day.
International concerns aside, there are domestic reasons for the regimes erratic behavior. After 27 years of executions, floggings, stoning, oppression of political dissent, violation of women’s rights, oppression of religious minorities, the largest brain drain in the world, rampant prostitution, crime, drug use and mass unemployment the Islamic Republic is domestically quite loathed. In fact, recent student polls show that close to eighty five percent of the population supports fundamental democratic changes in the regime. Iranian students have consistently poured into the streets in pro-Democracy protests only to be violently suppressed, jailed, tortured and often murdered. But, dictatorships can only oppress for so long and it’s only a matter of time before Iran explodes in a pro-Western democratic revolution. The regime knows that the only way they can leave any kind of legacy is by invoking nationalistic pride by pushing the country into another war and unlike the Iran-Iraq war this time they’re paving the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam.
From challenging the world to enhancing Iran’s nuclear programs every issue is implemented for the arrival of Mahdi. The Islamic Republic is not vying for war because they’re too arrogant to understand they will be crushed. They’re vying for war because they believe Mahdi will return to help them defeat the United States and others who dare stand up to them. Ahamadinejad and Company’s Armageddon may be coming to a theater near you and it’s probably the scariest movie we’ll ever see unless we aggressively invest in the overthrow of the regime before its debut appearance.