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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.
Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Dousing ISIS' Apocalyptic Spark in Libya
12:59 pm edt
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
Friday, June 10, 2016
Videos Thrilled the Radio "Star"
6:30 pm edt
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.
Friday, May 13, 2016
More Sects, Please! How to Trump the Muslim Immigration Issue
11:45 pm edt
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
From Isma'il to Isildur: Furnish Talking Taqlid, Taqiyya and Tolkien
9:52 am edt
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.
Shah Isma'il--with sword--lived in the Middle East, not Middle-earth. That mustache is the
Friday, May 6, 2016
Middle-earth, not the Middle East
11:32 am edt
As you might have gathered by now, my latest book is about Middle-earth, not the Middle East: High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth (that's the Amazon link; you can also get it, online, at Barnes & Noble, as well as BAM, or Books-a-Million).
Last week the erudite, informed and intelligent radio host Derek Gilbert interviewed me regarding this foray into Tolkien studies.
This is the first of a two-volume set, the second of which will be Bright
Swords and Glorious Warriors: A Military History of Middle-earth.
One is a turbulent region wracked by wars and rumors of wars, a history of savage invaders
from south and east, and oppressive religious systems. The other is Middle-earth.
|Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)