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Welcome to MahdiWatch.org!
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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, May 21, 2015

Nowhere Man--American Policy Toward Islam Is At Your Command

One of the best lectures from the Boston University conference on Islamic apocalyptic is up--although it does not, ironically, really deal with the main topic of the venue.  Dr. Jeffrey Bale, eminent expert on terrorist ideologies across the board at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (CA), talked about "Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously."  

John Lennon's lyrics, "he's as blind as he can be/just sees what he wants to see," aptly describe (too) many analysts of jihad and terrorism today--and Jeffrey Bale lays out the ideological blinders of these Nowhere Men and Women. 

Drybonesexpert.jpg 

 "Dry Bones" nails it--as usual! 

10:21 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Apocalypse Now and Then

Today a dual helping of Mahdist-related posts shall be served up.

First, another lecture from the Boston University conference is now available: Cole Bunzel, a PhD candidate at Princeton University, examined the 1979 Mahdist coup manque in Saudi Arabia, in "From Apocalypse Now to Caliphate Now: Revisiting Juhayman al-`Utaybi's Siege of Mecca in 1979." (I also covered some of the same ground in Holiest Wars, as well as in an article in "The Weekly Standard" in 2008: "Enter the Mahdi."

Second, I was interviewed for an hour yesterday by Hezi Aris on WHYT (Westchester, NY); topics covered: Mahdism, ISIS, and Middle Eastern politics (particularly the situation in Turkey). 

SiegeofMecca.jpg The Casbah, er, Great Mosque getting rocked by al-Utaybi and his brother-in-law, the Mahdi. 

10:04 am edt          Comments

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The COIN of the Ottoman Realm Spent Against Proto-ISIS Groups

My lecture from the Boston University conference on Islamic apolcalyptic movements, "Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire's 700-year War against Mahdism" is up. Its two main points are that 1) eschatological/Mahdist groups are not new with ISIS, but have been around for centuries; and 2) the counter-insurgency (COIN) methods employed by the Sunni Ottoman state to fight such Islamic challenges to its rule are instructive for Muslim regimes today. 

Clonedjanissaries.jpg The usual Ottoman kinetic response to Mahdist rebellions started with the janissaries--but often this was supplemented with IO/IW in the form of fatwas and other religious salients.

7:26 am edt          Comments

Friday, May 15, 2015

ISIS' Islamic Apocalyptic Mindset Examined in Depth

Two more lectures from the Boston University conference on Islamic eschatology are up. In the first one, Dr. Will McCants of the Brookings Institute discusses "ISIS and the Absent Mahdi;" in the second, "Atlantic" editor and writer Graeme Wood describes pushback on his now famous article "What ISIS Really Wants" in a lecture entitled "On the Resistance to Seeing Global Jihad as Apocalyptic Movement." 

CaliphalBaghdadi.jpg 

7:16 am edt          Comments

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Prepare Ye the Way of the Mahdi....Conference

The first video from the Boston University conference "Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad" (May 3-4, 2015) is up: Dr. Richard Landes, conference organizer and former head of BU's Center for Millennial Studies, lays the groundwork and sets the parameters for the entire conference. 

BUconferenceonmahdiposter2015.jpg 

8:58 am edt          Comments

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Iran130.jpg
Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)

Mahdi, Mahdism, Eschatology, Usama bin Ladin, Dajjal, Ahmadinejad, al-Sadr, Hizbullah, Yajuj wa-Majuj, Dabbah, Jesus, `Isa, Holiest Wars, Nasrallah, End of Time, Twelfth Imam, Middle East Politics, Iran, Iraq, al-Sistani, Awaited Mahdi, al-Mahdi, the Mahdi, Hojjatiyeh, Armageddon, Dabbah, Muhammad, Hadith, Jihadists, Apocalypse, Consultant, Islamic Mahdis, Osama bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda, al-Qa`ida, Azzam, Muhammad Ahmad, Ibn Tumart, al-Utaybi, Islam, Islamic, Muslim, Messiah, Ahmadinezhad, Khamanei, Ayatollah