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al-Mahdi is "the rightly-guided one" who, according to Islamic Hadiths (traditions),
will come before the end of time to make the entire world Muslim. Over the last 1400 years numerous claimants to the
mantle of the Mahdi have arisen in both Shi`i and Sunni circles. Modern belief in the coming of the Mahdi has
manifested most famously in the 1979 al-`Utaybi uprising of Sa`udi Arabia, and more recently in the ongoing
Mahdist movements (some violent) in Iraq, as well as in the frequently-expressed public prayers of former Iranian
President Ahmadinezhad bidding the Mahdi to return and, in the larger Sunni Islamic world, by claims that Usamah bin Ladin
might be the (occulted) Mahdi. Now in 2014 Mahdism is active in Syria, as the jihadist opposition group Jabhat al-Nusra
claims to be fighting to prepare the way for his coming; and in the new "Islamic State/caliphate" spanning
Syrian and Iraqi territory, as its leadership promotes the upcoming apocalyptic battle with the West at Dabiq, Syria. This site will track such Mahdi-related movements, aspirations, propaganda and beliefs in both Sunni and Shi`i
milieus, as well as other Muslim eschatological yearnings.
For a primer
on Mahdism, see my 2005 article, "What's Worse than Violent Jihadists?," at the History News Network: http://hnn.us/articles/13146.html; for more in-depth info, see the links here to my other writings, including my book on Mahdism.
Thursday, October 30, 2014
Eschatology and the Islamic State
12:53 pm edt
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
On War Against the "Cross-Worshippers:" Furnish Lecture on ISIS & Islamic Eschatology
2:43 pm edt
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Illinois Obama and the Last Crusade--Against ISIS
The Islamic State’s latest Dabiq magazine (#4) was issued several weeks ago, entitled “The Failed Crusade.”
10:02 pm edt
Where to now, St. Peter? To take over your square, obviously!
with the previous three issues, Dabiq—which, again, refers to a major apocalyptic battle in Syria between Muslims
and “Romans” predicted in hadiths—opens with the same quote from IS’s founder, the late Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi: that
the spark lit in Iraq will eventually “burn…the crusader armies in Dabiq.” Overall,
this magazine cites the Qur’an 2o times, adduces 36 different hadiths, and quotes historical Islamic scholars (such
as the 14th century Ibn Taymiyah) as well as modern ideologues (al-Awlaki, Bin Ladin and al-Zarqawi)—thus making the claim that ISIS is “ not Islamic” fatuous at best. Its main topics are the alleged
“Crusade” and its relationship to the looming apocalyptic struggle between “Romans/Crusaders” and
Muslims, and the rationalization for (re)imposing Muslim slavery of non-Muslims.
If only American and other Western militaries WERE this determined....
The “failing crusade” and its connection to Islamic eschatological prognostication takes
up over 1/3 of this 56-page document. Modern US forays into the Middle East, particularly
Iraq (and now Syria) are linked—of course!—to the Crusades of 900 years ago. American soldiers,
who are shown loading coffins containing their dead comrades into C-5s, are equated with “cross-worshipping Romans”
(Byzantines, that is) and not the 11th century Crusaders. This is almost certainly because the relevant
hadiths refer to events from the 7th and 8th centuries, when the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Christian Empire was fighting
off hordes of belligerent Muslims—and not to the actual Crusades, some four centures later. The
relevant hadiths (too long to reproduce here) are explicated thusly: “Muslims
will be at war with the Roman Christians….the Christians of Europe and their colonies….There will be a pause
in this war due to a truce….During this time the Muslims and Romans will fight a common enemy [presumably the “Safawis,”
or Twelver Shi`is of Iran and Iraq]….These events all lead up to the final, greatest, and bloodiest battle—al-Malhamah
al-Kubra—between the Muslims and the Romans prior to the appearance of the Dajjal and the descent of al-Masih [Jesus].
This battle ends the era of the Roman Christians, as the Muslims will then advance upon Constantinople and
thereafter Rome, to conquer the two cities and raise the flag of the Khilafah over them.” But
according to IS exegesis, they won’t stop there. The new caliphate, either before
the Mahdi comes or, perhaps, after his arrival, also will conquer Jerusalem and eventually “destroy the filthy
house called the White House.” Along the way the armies of jihad will “break your crosses and
enslave your women.”
issue 4 also expends several pages asking why the US is allying in Syria with its mortal enemies Russia and Iran and
their proxies, such as “the anti-Christ Nasrullat” (Hizbullah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah). The
“Jewish Crusader” Henry Kissinger, Michael Scheuer and Ralph Peters are quoted (selectively) on the greater dangers of Iran than IS to
the US. (However, one might note that the ayatollahs, for all their geopolitical instransigence,
have never threatened to march on the White House and enslave our wives and daughters.) This section
would seem to be an attempt to corroborate the hadith which mentions a short-lived truce between the “true” Muslims
and the Romans while they fight their common enemy: the Twelver Shi`is. The “cowardly crusaders” are mocked for relying on proxies
like the PKK, Pershmerga and Free Syrian Army and for futile airstrikes which succeed only in killing Muslim
women and children. President Obama is also ridiculed for being double-minded about fighting,
“unlike Bush whose administration at least understood 'what war is and how it should be won.'”
Bush is damned with faint
praise: “[a]s the liar Bush truthfully said: ‘Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.’”
Of course, the IS spin is that Bush’s and Obama’s “crusade against the Islamic State is the greatest testimony
from Allah for the proper manhaj [agenda, plan] of this Khilafah.”
While the IS, herein, purports to be brimming with confidence
about winning the upcoming Armageddon-like battle, it nonetheless encourages Western Muslims to strike individually and pre-emptively
against its enemies. “At this point in the crusade…it is very important
that attacks take place in every country that has entered into alliance against the Islamic State, especially the US, UK,
France, Australia and Germany….the citizens of crusader nations should be targeted wherever they can be found. Let
the muwahhid [believers in tawhid, “unity” of Allah especially over against Christian Trinitarian theology]
not be affected by ‘analysis paralysis’” stemming from undertaking only operations that cannot fail.
“He should be pleased to meet his Lord even if with just one dead kafir’s name written
in his scroll of deeds.” IS even doubles down on this incitement to jihad: “Every Muslim should
get out of his house, find a crusader, and kill him. It is important that the killing becomes attributed
to…the Islamic State…. Otherwise, crusader media makes such attacks appear to be random killings.” Exhortation to jihad in the West fi sabil Allah goes on:
“If you can kill a disbelieving American or European—especially the spiteful and filthy French—or an Australian or a Canadian or any other disbeliever…waging war…then rely upon Allah, and kill him
in any manner or way….” [including, one might well surmise, jihad-by-automobile]. “Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian, or military….”
topics covered in this magazine, albeit in less detail, include: the permissibility of ghanimah (war booty) in terms
of seized weapons; gloating about successful military operations against the “nusayris” (Alawis, or Syrian government
forces) and the PKK/YPG murtaddin (“apostates,” because they are Marxists); administrative
creation of two new wilayat from conquered regions around al-Bukamal (in southeast Syria) and Fallujah (west of Baghdad)—in
order to “eliminate any remaining traces of the kufri, nationalistic borders;” scenes of putative state-building
in the IS (bridges rebuilt, elderly being fed, electricity lines under repair); SecDef Hagel’s testimony about IS before
the Senate Armed Services Committee; and, finally, five pages about the beheading of Steven Sotloff (blaming it largely on
his being a “Jew and citizen of the Jewish state”) and four on British hostage John Cantlie, whose IS apologia
appears likely forced. The
last page of this fourth issue of Dabiq repeats, at length, the hadith about the Muslims vanquishing the “Roman
Christians” in al-Malhamah al-Kubra.
The other major theme in this latest IS publication is “the revival of slavery before the [Last]
hour.” In particular Dabiq takes pains to explain why the non-dhimmi Yazidis are
enslavable—unlike Jews or Christians. “Their creed is so deviant from the truth that even cross-worshipping
Christians for ages considered them devil worshippers and Satanists.” IS claims that its scholar
“research[ed] the Yazidis to determine if they should be treated as an originally mushrik [“polytheistic”]
group or one that originated as Muslims and then apostasized.” Obviously IS came down in favor
of the former—deeming Yazidis modern descendants of ancient Persian Zoroastrians—and so ruling that “unlike
Jews and Christians, there was no room for jizyah payment. Also, their women could be enslaved….
After capture, the Yazidi women and children were…divided according to the Shari`ah amongst the fighters of the Islamic
State…after one-fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State’s authority ….”
This literal application of 7th century Islamic law and history has been meted out quite methodically: “the
enslaved Yazidi families are now sold by the Islamic State soldiers [just] as the mushrikin were sold by the Companions…”
Dabiq also justifies the resurrection of such brutality as “one of the signs of the [Last] Hour, as
well as one of the causes behind al-Malhamah al-Kubra.” In fact, there are two entire pages of Qur’an citations
and Hadith quotations explaining how slavery must exist in Islamic lands before the eschatological denouement can come.
Medieval Islamic slavery. Skin color matters not at all; religion (or lack thereof,
in the Muslim view) is the determining factor.
Damnit, Gandalf! The Rohirrim have gone
over to ISIS! I knew we couldn't trust Theoden!
1) Islamic State is honing
its eschatological-apocalyptic message to a fine point, by making its jihad against the “Crusade,” as well
as the reimposing of slavery over non-dhimmis, Signs of the Last Hour.
2) The numerous Qur’anic
verses and hadith citations employed in this issue of Dabiq—as well as the legions of such in its first
three editions—prove once and for all that IS is profoundly and legitimately Islamic. Quotations
from the Qur’an are neither taken out of context, nor “misinterpreted;” they are simply rendered, and applied,
literally. Certain hadiths, however, are glossed as needed; for example, the prediction that the “Romans
“ (Byzantines) would land a major force in Syria to fight the Muslims is reinterpreted to mean the medieval Crusaders
from Western Europe, because that better fits IS’s message.
3) A keen awareness and indeed understanding of
Western commentary on IS shows in the references to the statements of Obama, Bush, Hagel, Kissinger, Scheuer and Peters—lending
further support to suspicions that he is an educated American.
4) IS’s ongoing efforts to degrade the territorial integrity of both Syria and Iraq, as
well as to engage in nation-building, proceed apace.
5) References to "Constantinople"--the old Greek Christian name for Istanbul--being conquered
by Muslims would seem to indicate that IS does not consider the Turks true Muslims, and that the city requires (re) conquest.
6) IS clearly has now decided to no longer simply focus on
its near enemies in the region but will encourage its supporters to strike citizens of its various far enemies in their own
homelands. This will very likely mean an increase in what the media calls attacks by “lone
wolves”--better known as “roaming hyenas” whose ultimate pack loyalty is to Qur’anic literalists
such as those of IS.
While many governments of the world insist on regarding it as a (mere) éminence grise,
the Islamic State's grey mantle increasingly covers more and more territory....
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Why "Off With Their Heads" Is So Deeply Islamic
10:19 pm edt
I appeared on "Midpoint" with Ed Berliner of "NewsmaxTV
" today, explaining the very legitimately Islamic rationales for beheading. "Prophet" Muhammad and his deity
Allah make the Queen of Hearts
look positively merciful. (Look for "Show Clips," lower right-hand corner, and my name.)The Scots should give me a retainer (notice the flag behind me?)!
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Br'er Mahdi? Luring the US into Eschatological Quicksand in Syria
Last night the United States and several allied Arab nations began airstrikes on the Islamic State [IS], as well as on the al-Qa`ida/Jabhat al-Nusrah offshoot Khurasan
(or Khorasan), in Syria. I wonder if the American political and military leadership realizes that in so
doing we are waging war to stave off the end of the world—at least, that’s the opinion of many of our targeted
enemies. I have previously explicated
the extant and evident End Times beliefs of the major Sunni players in Syria—notably ISIS/ISIL/IS and Jabhat al-Nusrah. Now comes a new twist: according to, of all sources, an Iranian one, IS
is disseminating photos of a one-eyed infant which the group claims is the Dajjal—the “Deceiver,” or anti-Christ, of Islamic tradition. The
story quotes Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Dempsey from a few weeks ago to the effect that IS has “an apocalyptic,
end-of-days strategic vision.” It also, interestingly, quotes me: “once the caliphate is firmly
established, then the likelihood of a Mahdiyah being proclaimed increases." (Does this constitute
damning with faint praise? Although nice on my trip to Tehran in 2008, official Iranian outlets have written negatively about me since.) It is
curious, as well, that the Ahlul Bay [Ahl al-Bayt, “Family of the House (of the Prophet)”] News Agency would mock
IS adducing the one-eyed Dajjal—since the idea is clearly found in both Sunni and Twelver Shi`i hadiths.
4:26 pm edt
Urdu book on the Dajjal. Now where have I seen this one-eyed chap before? Perhaps
some pipe-weed will clear my mind....
hand-in-fist with the many eschatological references in IS’s three issues of “Dabiq” magazine—the
very name of which refers to the major apocalyptic battle between Muslim and “Roman/Crusader” forces at that location
in northwest Syria. (Again, see my previous blogalyses on the topic.) But Levantine eschatological fervor is almost certainly
being further inflamed by this newly-revelaled Khurasan organization—which, according to US intelligence and military sources, was planning “imminent”
attacks on Americans, probably airliners. The region of Khurasan is, however, much more
than merely “part of the old Islamic caliphate that included Afghanistan [as well as eastern Iran and parts of Central
Asia].” That eastern Islamic territory was considered to be the eschatological font, as it were. There are a number of (Sunni) hadiths which predict that the Mahdi will ride in, with his jihadist entourage, from Khurasan
to deliver the Islamic world and subjugate its enemies. Furthermore, the Mahdi’s forces will bear
the (in)famous black flags so beloved of groups like IS and Boko Haram right now. Knowing the eschatological
penchant of Jabhat al-Nusrah, I thus doubt that its splinter group’s name is only a geographical reference.
Khurasan--also known as Greater Stanistan.
Finally, I sat through all 55:14 of the new IS video “Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun.” Frankly, this bloody and boring film is simply a live-action
version of “Dabiq” magazine—albeit in the latter one at least is not subjected to interminable, grating
Arabic Islamic chants and mind-numbing repetitions of “allah akbar.” The usual IS suspects
are everywhere: jihad is a duty; the caliphate is back, and this time it’s personal Bush/Obama; watch us kill “Nusayris”
(Syrian Alawis), “Safawis” (Iraqi soldiers—“Safavids,” referring to the Twelver Shi`i Persian
empire of early modern times), “murtaddin” (“apostate”) Kurds, usually en masse.
(IS even makes some of them dig their own graves before shooting them all in the backs of their heads.)
One aspect of the IS propaganda was new,
however; speaking directly to the United States, the self-styled Caliph Ibrahim says “O defender
of the cross…a proxy war won’t help you in Sham [Syria] just as it didn’t help you in Iraq….you
will be forced into a direct confrontation…despite your reluctance…” [emphasis added].
1) IS is not the only belligerent in the Middle East with an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic
vision; Jabhat al-Nusrah has one, as well—as does, most likely, Khurasan.
2) Said eschatological paradigms are not “extremist” but very much in the Islamic
mainstream (both Sunni and Shi`i)—and it would behoove analysts to consider them.
3) Last month, in my break-down
of the second issue of “Dabiq,” I wrote the following: IS atrocities
like the beheading of James Foley and the mass murders of Shi`is and Yazidis are, in effect, "bizarre rituals intended to bring about the end of the world"--or at least to spark the Mahdi's coming. I truly think that IS has passed into the realm of trying to hotwire
the apocalypse. “Caliph
Ibrahim’s” latest warning to us—that the US is destined for direct conflict (meaning ground forces) with
IS—clearly supports my contention. IS leadership is firmly convinced, based on its literal reading
of relevant hadiths, that a great force of “Romans/Crusaders” (Americans) will invade Syria and that a pious group
of Muslims, the Islamic State, will defeat it. Thus, I am convinced that Ibrahim and his ansar
WANT massed American boots in Syria, the sooner the better—and are trying to goad us into providing them.
4) Finally, a very important point which no one in the analytical or journalistic community notices--or cares
to admit: the new Caliph refers to the United States of America as "defender of the cross." Not "proponent
of Ayn Rand," "guardian of the Enlightenment" or "warden of Jeffersonian democracy."
The Islamic State's leader forthrightly and inconveniently spells out exactly why they hate us: because, in the eyes
of him and his Muslim followers, we are a Christian nation. There are those who will dismiss this as a mere progagandistic
trope. But they would be wrong to do so. IS, along with Boko Haram and al-Qa`ida and Jabhat al-Nusra and the Taliban
(to name only a few), as well as the non-terrorist but Muslim fundamentalist strains such as Wahhabism and Deobandism and
Salafism--all view the world through a simplistic but legitimately Islamic lens of Dar al-Islam v. Dar al-harb:
the "house of Islam" v. the "house of war." And for 14 centuries the vanguard of the latter has
been Christendom. Some decry pointing this out as crass "Crusaderism." But as that combat veteran
J.R.R. Tolkien points outs, "it needs but one foe to breed a war"--and when that enemy declares its war on us in
religious terms, should we pretend otherwise?
|Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)