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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:; for more in-depth info, see the links here to my other writings, including my book on Mahdism.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Apocalypse Later?

Time to get back in the saddle again--the eschatological one, that; it's been three months since my last post, thanks to knee surgery, teaching again, writing, and sons playing football on different teams.  God willing readers of this blog will forgive me--if they haven't consigned me to the well out back of Jamkaran mosque.

Apocalypse--mainly, but not only, Islamic--remains at the top of the headlines lately.  ISIS is fighting to hold onto the town of Dabiq, in northern Syria--where it believes, as per relevant Muslim hadiths, that its forces will defeat a massive Christian army and usher in the coming of the Dajjal, Mahdi and Jesus and (eventually) a global caliphate.  Contra much reporting and analysis, however, belief in the Mahdi and attendant eschatological themes is not limited to ISIS and "extremists" in the world's second-largest religion.  This past July the state of Perak, in Malaysia started investigating a chap claiming to be the Mahdi and that his "deviationist" group was stockpiling weapons and planning to proclaim their leader as Mahdi in Mecca.  In August of this year, following the failed military coup in Turkey, the head of that country's religious affairs (what in the good old days the Ottomans called the "grand mufti") blamed the revolution manqué on that "fake Mahdi," Fethullah Gülen (the exiled neo-Sufi leader living in Pennsylvania).  Of course, Westernized, intellectual Muslims like Mustafa Akyol argue that the many hadiths about the Mahdi (and Jesus) making the world Muslim by force "might be better read metaphorically."  But this is also true of the Qur'an itself--and, unfortunately, a literalist exegetical paradigm still holds sway, especially in Sunni Islam, and looks to continue to do so for the forseeable future (as I explained on national radio in 2015).  

Never fear, however; for, as U.S. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton assures us, "I'm the Last Thing Standing Between You and the Apocalypse"--although whether she or her rival Donald Trump is actually the Dajjal remains to be seen.



2:00 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Dousing ISIS' Apocalyptic Spark in Libya

This week Eurasia Review published my article on how ISIS (ISIL/"Da`ish") is trying to leverage extant eschatological traditions in North Africa, and what might be done about it. 


And no, the following is not one of my suggested policies toward ISIS in Libya...yet: 




12:59 pm edt          Comments

Friday, June 10, 2016

Videos Thrilled the Radio "Star"

Twice in the past 18 months I've been a featured analyst on Fox News Channel specials on al-Dawlah al-Islamiyah fi al-Iraq wa-al-Sham--the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or Damascene Syria. In September 2014 Greta Van Susteren hosted "Greta: Investigates ISIS" and I appeared at some length providing background on the historical caliphate and ISIS' attempts to appropriate the legitimacy thereof. In March 2016 Oliver North and Leif Babin co-hosted "War Stories: Fighting ISIS" and I explained how and why ISIS is legitimately (albeit brutally) Islamic and, in particular, its leadership's and members' view of Muslim eschatology.  


 Speaking of radio: I've done a lot of that, but two of my best appearances were on Dr. Bill Bennett's now-defunct national show "Morning in America."  In September 2014 he had me on discussing ISIS and beheading in Islamic history; and in December 2015 I filled Dr. Bill's listeners in on whether ISIS is indeed Islamic in doctrines and practices.  

  For younger viewers of this blog, the title of this post is a sardonic reference to the first video ever shown on MTV.

6:30 pm edt          Comments

Friday, May 13, 2016

More Sects, Please! How to Trump the Muslim Immigration Issue

I have a new article up at History News Network, entitled "An Islamic Historian's Response to Donald Trump's Proposed Muslim Immigration Ban." Its premise is that we let too many Sunnis, and not enough Isma'ilis, Ahmadis, Druze, etc., into the United States.  Please read and consider! 

OttomanEmpireFamilyGuy.jpg Under the Ottomans many Islamic sects lived in relative peace--if not quite this cushily. 


11:45 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

From Isma'il to Isildur: Furnish Talking Taqlid, Taqiyya and Tolkien

Earlier this week I appeared on the radio show "Conspirinormal" for almost two hours, 2/3 of which was on Islamic history (to include Muhammad, doctrines, jihad, caliphate, expansion, eschatology and how all these relate to modern issues like ISIS and Yemen and Iran) and the final section of which covered my new book on the political history of Middle-earth.  That first (long) segment is a good primer for anyone interested in Islamic issues, while the latter is a bit more specialized but still interesting--especially, of course, for fans of The Lord of the Rings.

ShahIsmail.jpg Shah Isma'il--with sword--lived in the Middle East, not Middle-earth. That mustache is the clue.

9:52 am edt          Comments

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Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)

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