Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
Authored By :
Published On :
January 20, 2011
Last Updated :
January 30, 2022
Jewish Moshiach ben David, The Mahdi, Shi'a & Sunni Muslims, Twelve Imams, Twelvers, Muhammad al-Mahdi, The Occultation, Momen Moojan, The Ulama, Lord Maitreya, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hadith Regarding The Mahdi's Battle Against Masih al-Dajjal, Jesus Serving As Mahdi's Deputy?, Jesus Will Enforce Islam?, Armilus Fights Against Moshiach ben David And Takes Jerusalem, Aspects To Identify al-Mahdi, Islamic Beast And False Prophet, Signs Which Will Precede al-Mahdi's Arrival, Tyrant Sufyani, al-Yamani To Be The Forerunner To al-Mahdi, Muqtada al-Sadr And His Radical Mahdi Militia, Muhammad's Ties To Mecca And Medina, Infidel American Military In Saudi Arabia, Osama bin Laden Condemns Saudi Leadership And Loses His Saudi Arabian Citizenship, War And Destruction In Syria, The Heavy Toll On Iraqis Resulting From 2003 American Invasion And Afterwards, Eschatological Mindset Of People Living In The Middle East
As I point out in the series called "2012: New Age Deception and Psychobabble", just as certain Christians who embrace the Futurist theological perspective long for and patiently await the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and believe that His arrival may possibly be imminent, there are likewise certain Orthodox Jews who sense the urgency of the times, and who eagerly anticipate the arrival of their messiah, who they refer to as "Moshiach ben David", or Messiah, son of David.
Similar to Christian doctrine, the aforementioned Orthodox Jews believe that Moshiach ben David will usher in great changes, and will inspire people to return to the Laws of God. Furthermore, they also believe that a third temple will be built during his anticipated soon-coming reign. However, the Jews do not believe that Moshiach ben David will be of divine origin as Jesus is. Rather, he will merely be a great human leader. If you wish to learn more about this Jewish figure, please consider reading the series "The Kings of the North and the South".
While some Christians may be familiar with the Jewish belief in an eschatological figure called Moshiach ben David, what many do not know, is that within Islamic eschatology, there also exists a strong belief in the long-anticipated return of a great Muslim leader and messiah which the Hadith refer to as "al-Mahdi". While both the Shi'a -- or Shi'ite -- and the Sunni branches of Islam embrace this particular doctrine, it appears to be more pronounced amongst the Shi'ite Muslims, than amongst the Sunni Muslims, and their specific beliefs concerning al-Mahdi are not exactly the same.
According to the beliefs of the Shi'a branch of Islam, there have been exactly twelve divinely anointed leaders of Islam, since the religion was founded by Muhammad during the early 7th Century. These twelve ordained leaders are referred to as the Twelve Imams. The actual number of ordained leaders who have presided over Islam since its founding by Muhammad is a matter of dispute between the different branches of Islam. In fact, it is this very argument which resulted in the split, and the formation of the Sunni and the Shi'a Islamic sects.
At any rate, because of the fact that the Shi'ites embrace this belief concerning there only being twelve imams, they are sometimes referred to as the Twelvers. The Twelver branch of Shi'ite Islam is prominent in Iran, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Lebanon and Bahrain. There are also large minorities in the countries of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
So exactly what is the origin of the Islamic belief in the return of the Mahdi? According to Shi'ite Islamic doctrine, the Twelfth Imam -- Muhammad al-Mahdi -- was born in 869 AD. However, at the young age of five, after presiding over his father's funeral prayer -- his father, Hasan al-Askari, was the Eleventh Imam -- Muhammad al-Mahdi suddenly disappeared. This occurred in 874 AD. Shi'a Muslims believe that he was hidden by God, and are convinced that Muhammad al-Mahdi has been alive ever since that time, but that he has been in occultation. That is, he has been hidden from public view. They refer to this act of being hidden as "ghaybat".
Shi'as likewise believe that Muhammad al-Mahdi -- the Twelfth Imam -- has been waiting, according to God's decree, for the right time when he should return to lead the Islamic nations, and the world. It is their belief that just as the world is currently filled with injustice, oppression and tyranny, he is going to fill the Earth with peace and justice. Of course, you need to understand that the way in which al-Mahdi intends to do this is by converting the entire world to Islam, by the sword if necessary. According to different sources, al-Mahdi will rule the earth for a period of five to nine years. While he is commonly known as al-Mahdi -- or the Guided One -- this prophesied Islamic leader is likewise known by the following names within the Shi'a branch of Islam:
Al-Muntathar - the Awaited one Al-Qa'im - the Rising one Sahab az-Zaman - the Master of the Age Imam az-Zaman - the Leader of the Age Wali al-'Asr - the Guardian of the Era, or - the Guardian in the Twilight [of man] Al-Hujjah - the Proof [of Allah's justice]
In his 1985 book entitled "An Introduction To Shi'i Islam", Baha'i scholar Momen Moojan suggests another possible way in which to interpret the meaning of the Mahdi's occultation. According to Moojan, it may mean that al-Mahdi is currently on the Earth "among the body of the Shia", but that he is simply "incognito". Moojan also mentions that "numerous stories" exist which describe al-Mahdi "manifesting himself to prominent members of the ulama". The word "ulama" refers to the body of Muslim legal scholars who are recognized as having specialized knowledge concerning Islamic sacred law -- or Shari'a -- and Islamic theology. As I read Moojan's comments concerning al-Mahdi appearing before some members of the ulama, I was reminded of stories I read a number of years ago regarding how the so-called Lord Maitreya also made certain sudden and mysterious appearances before some people, such as in Nairobi, Kenya. Whether or not these two individuals are related in some way, I honestly do not know.
If you are one who keeps abreast of the news and developments in the Middle East, then you may already know that there has been much talk within the Islamic world in recent years that the return of the Mahdi is imminent. A previous president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was particularly vocal about this. In fact, according to one particular video which I saw online a number of years ago, it was claimed that Ahmadinejad was in contact with the Mahdi at that particular time. Whether or not this was simply Western propaganda, I really do not know.
What I also found interesting concerning Ahmadinejad, aside from his brash manner and his obvious hatred of Israel, the United States and Great Britain, was the fact that according to the Wikipedia website, Ahmadinejad's mother -- Khanom -- was a Seyyede. This is an honorific title that is only given to those individuals who are believed to be direct bloodline descendants of Muhammad himself. I believe that "Seyyede" is the feminine form of the word "sayyid", which means "lord" or "sir". Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the name Ahmadinejad means "from the race of Ahmad", which is also one of the names that is given to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad.
So, as we have seen, just as some Christians believe that the time of the return of Jesus Christ may be near, and just as the Orthodox Jews believe that Moshiach ben David may soon make his appearance as well, many Muslims likewise believe that the time of the Mahdi's arrival could be just around the corner. Obviously, it is no coincidence that the three major monotheistic faiths of the world all have this same hope and expectation regarding their respective messiahs, at the same time. So it may very well be that something major may soon happen which will astound, and perhaps even mesmerize, the world. Please note that I made the previous statement in the year 2011. As I update this article eleven years later in 2022, expectations among these three major religions is still running high.
The reason why I say this is simply this: The expectations of the believers of each of these three faiths concerning what each of their messiahs will do is very different. In the case of the Islamic Mahdi, the Hadith -- a collection of traditions which contain the sayings of Muhammad -- state that the Mahdi, with Isa -- the Islamic name for Jesus -- working by his side, will destroy an evil figure whose name is Masih al-Dajjal. In our English language, Dajjal is transliterated as "the False Messiah", "the Deceiving Messiah", "the False Prophet" or "the Great Deceiver". In other words, he may possibly be the Muslim equivalent of the Antichrist or the False Prophet. Again, this obvious similarity to our own Christian beliefs does not seem like a coincidence to me.
Some Muslims believe that al-Dajjal will make his appearance somewhere between Syria and Iraq, and that he will raise up a great army from the people whom he has deceived. Having done this, al-Dajjal will then wage war against Jesus Christ, who, according to Muslim belief, will be leading the Army of the Righteous. Now, before you get all excited and say "Wow! That sounds very similar to what we Christians believe!", let me tell you how this story ends. Muslims also believe that while Isa -- or Jesus -- will return, He will not be in charge. In other words, He will supposedly serve under the leadership of the Mahdi as his "deputy". Furthermore, this Islamic version of Jesus will tell everyone that they must submit to Islam, or else be destroyed. So much for being in agreement with our Christian beliefs.
As it turns out, Futurist-leaning Christians and Muslims are not alone in their belief regarding an end-of-age Antichrist type figure. Within Jewish eschatology, there also exists an individual who is a type of anti-Messiah figure. He is known as Armilus. Armilus is said to be an evil king who will rise to power at the end of time. Armilus will persecute the Jews, and conquer the city of Jerusalem. The Jews who embrace this doctrine believe that Armilus will fight against Moshiach ben David, until he is finally defeated by the Hand of God, or perhaps by Moshiach ben David himself.
As I noted earlier, the belief in the coming of the Mahdi is shared by both Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims alike. According to the Wikipedia website, amongst other things, they believe the following concerning the Mahdi:
1. He will be a descendant of Muhammad through the Fatimah line. Fatimah was a daughter of Muhammad by his first wife Khadijah bint Khuwaylid. Muhammad had no sons who survived to adulthood, which is why all of Muhammad's descendants trace their lineage through Fatimah.
2. One of the Mahdi's parents will be descended from the Hasan line, while the other one will be descended from the Hussain -- or Husayn -- line. Hasan and Hussain were two of Fatimah's three sons. She also had two daughters.
3. The Mahdi will bear the same name as Muhammad.
4. The Mahdi will precede the return of Jesus Christ. From what I have read, Muslims believe that after the Mahdi has been in power for several years, Jesus will descend from Heaven, supported by angels on his left and his right sides, in Damascus, Syria.
5. The Mahdi's coming will be accompanied by the raising of a "Black Standard". This belief appears to originate with a tradition which states that Muhammad said that the advent of Imam Mahdi would be signaled by "Black Standards" proceeding from the northeastern Iranian province of Khorasan. While in modern times Khorasan only pertains to the Iranian province, historically, it has consisted of a larger region which has included not only the northeastern portion of Iran, but also northern Afghanistan, as well as the southern regions of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
6. The Mahdi's coming will be accompanied by the appearance of the one-eyed Antichrist; meaning, I suppose, al-Dajjal.
7. There will be a lunar, as well as a solar, eclipse within the same month of Ramadan at the time of Mahdi's appearance.
8. A star with a luminous tail will rise from the East before the coming of al-Mahdi; possibly meaning the appearance of a notable comet.
9. He will establish the Caliphate. Muslims consider Muhammad the first Caliph, or "deputy of God". Caliphs represented the chief civil and religious ruler in Islamic society, and were regarded as the legitimate successors of Muhammad. They first ruled from Baghdad until 1258 AD, and then from Egypt until the Ottoman conquest in 1517. The title was then held by the Ottoman sultans until it was abolished in 1924 by Mustafa Ataturk, who, as I have noted before, established the modern, secular nation of Turkey.
10. He will fill the world with justice and fairness during a time when the world will be filled with oppression. Of course, this sounds very similar to what we find in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus defeats the Beast and the False Prophet at the Battle of Armageddon, and then sets up His Father's righteous Kingdom on Earth during the Millennium. We also need to realize that everything that Imam Mahdi will supposedly do, will be based upon Shari'a, or Islamic, law.
11. Imam Mahdi will have a broad forehead, a prominent nose, and a natural mascara will ring his eyes.
12. Imam Mahdi's face will shine upon the surface of the Moon. I have no idea what this means. If I were to take a guess, I would suggest that perhaps Muslims believe that an image of al-Mahdi's face will somehow appear in the surface features of the Moon, just as people sometimes imagine the so-called "man-in-the-moon".
13. The name of the Mahdi's representative will begin with the first letter of a prophet's name and a verse of the Qur'an -- ی -- which is the English equivalent of the letter "y".
Now, as Bible-believing Christians, we all know that Jesus would never command that everyone worship Allah, or else be killed by a Muslim sword. Therefore, I think that it is safe to conclude that if the Mahdi were to appear at some time in the future, and if this "Isa" were to appear several years after him, and work with him as his "deputy", he would not truly be Jesus Christ. Rather, this individual would be a deceptive impostor who may simply claim to be Jesus Christ.
In a sense, the Jewish Moshiach ben David and the Islamic al-Mahdi will both fulfill similar roles. In other words, it is my understanding from the research that I have conducted, that they will both be political and military leaders. From examining the Books of Daniel and Revelation, we also know that the Beast is likewise a political and military leader, and that he too has a spiritual leader -- the False Prophet -- who promotes his cause, and convinces people to pledge their allegiance to the Beast.
So it seems to me then, that if this Islamic pair consisting of al-Mahdi and "Isa" were to actually appear on the world stage at some point in the future, certain Futurist-leaning Christians may possibly interpret them as being the Beast and his False Prophet, who are found in the Book of Revelation. Please refer to the article "Who is Who?: Defining Important Prophecy Terms", as well as "Who Hindered the Antichrist?", for an expanded explanation concerning how I personally view and understand these two Biblical terms.
So exactly how will Muslims know when the Mahdi is about to make his grand appearance in the Middle East? According to Dr. Moojan Momen, who is an Iranian-born Baha'i scholar who now resides in England, certain signs or omens will precede the arrival of the Mahdi. These omens are reported as being the following:
1. Before the Mahdi's arrival will come the red death and the white death. The red death is regarded by Shi'a Muslims as meaning death by the sword, while the white death is viewed as some kind of a plague.
2. Several figures will appear before the appearance of the Mahdi. These include the one-eyed Antichrist -- or Masih ad-Dajjal, who we discussed earlier -- as well as the Sufyani and the Yamani. The term "Sufyani" refers to an evil tyrant who, according to Muhammad, will originate from Damascus, and who will in fact rule over Syria. It is interesting to note that in my article "The Kings of the North and the South", I mention that the king of the north appears to be a leader of Syria. While the King James Bible uses the phrases "king of the north" and "king of the south", as I have mentioned in previous articles, in certain other Bibles, it actually says Syria and Egypt by name.
To continue, the Sufyani will spread corruption and crime in the Earth, and will also send one of his armies to destroy Imam Mahdi. However, Muslims believe that this army will be swallowed by the Earth. Ultimately, the Sufyani will suffer military defeat at the hands of the Mahdi's army in the "Battle of Kalb". He will then be captured and executed in Syria under a tree, according to Shi'a Muslim belief.
Concerning the term "Yamani", I found it more difficult to fully understand this word, because different online Islamic sources appear to say different things about him. The term "al-yamani" actually means "the Yemenite". Some sources seem to suggest that Yamani and the First Mahdi are one and the same person. Another source suggests that al-Yamani will be the commander of the Black Standards of the east, which we discussed earlier, as well as the primary forerunner of the Imam Mahdi.
In this regard, I am reminded of how John the Baptist was chosen by God to prepare the way before Jesus. Looking at it from a Futurist theological perspective, some Christians may view al-Yamani as the False Prophet who prepares the way for the political and military leader who is known in the Bible as the Beast. In other words, if one adopts a Futurist point of view, the Mahdi and the Yamani could be seen as the Beast and the False Prophet, and not the Mahdi and Isa. Now, if the False Prophet is really a spiritual leader as the Bible seems to indicate, and if one embraces Futurism -- meaning certain Bible prophecies are yet to be fulfilled at some point in the future -- then it would seem that the Isa figure better fits the image of a False Prophet, than al-Yamani, who seems more like a military figure than a spiritual leader.
Of course, assuming that these Islamic prophecies are even trustworthy -- I will leave it to you to decide -- then maybe neither Isa nor al-Yamani is the Biblical equivalent of the False Prophet. Perhaps one of the influential Islamic clerics fulfills the role of the False Prophet. I do find it rather interesting that the militia which is loyal to radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was in earlier years called the Mahdi Militia, or the Mahdi Army. The successor of the Mahdi Militia is called the Peace Companies, which is still a powerful armed group in Iraq.
But why would they choose a name like Mahdi Militia? Do his members by chance believe that Muqtada al-Sadr is al-Mahdi? Or is this name based on the fact that they believe that they are preparing the way for al-Mahdi? If that is the case, does this mean that they view their leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, as al-Yamani, who is the forerunner to al-Mahdi? At this current time, al-Sadr is the leader of the Sadrist Movement, which is is an Iraqi Islamic national movement which receives major support from all across Iraqi society; particularly from the Shi'ite poor in the nation. For his part, Muqtada al-Sadr is very well-entrenched in Iraqi politics at this current time. It has also been reported that he began studies to become an ayatollah, which will give him even greater power, respect and influence in Iraq.
Allow me to remind you again that Shi'a beliefs state that al-Yamani will arrive from the northeast bearing the Black Standard. Well, perhaps it is just a coincidence, but it just so happens that al-Sadr returned to Iraq in 2011 after having spent four years in exile in Iran, which is in fact located to the northeast of Iraq. al-Sadr had vowed to never return to Iraq until the American occupation of his country ended.
Interesting indeed! Muqtada al-Sadr is still relatively young at this present time, and radical at heart; although in more recent years, he has endeavored to convey the image of being a moderate. In a word, al-Sadr is exactly what young, radical Muslims were looking for in an inspiring leader to lead them against the forces of the invading American "infidels". From the very start in 2003, cleric al-Sadr was strongly opposed to foreign intervention in his country, and the occupation of Iraq. In fact, his Mahdi Militia was the first to resist the American-led forces there.
The third sign which will let Muslims know when the Mahdi is about to make his grand appearance in the Middle East is the following:
3. The Muslims will throw off the reins and take possession of their land, throwing out the authority of the foreigners. This sounds very much like everything I just described to you in point number two above, concerning radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. It is interesting to note that in his first public speech after returning from his four-year exile in Iran, he made it absolutely clear to the government of then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, that he and his followers expected al-Maliki to carry out his pledge to have all U.S. military forces removed from Iraqi soil by the end of 2011, as had been agreed upon by the two governments.
In his fiery speech about a decade ago, al-Sadr referred to the United States, Israel and Great Britain as "our common enemies". He also let al-Maliki know in no uncertain terms that, should he fail to carry out his pledge, al-Sadr's people "have the political means" to apparently remove al-Maliki from power.
Of course, at the time, no one who understood the situation in Iraq, really anticipated that all American forces would leave the country by the end of 2011. The main excuse which was being offered was that Iraq simply was not yet ready to defend itself against foreign aggressors. Then the Islamic State raised its ugly head, and the total withdrawal date kept being moved forward until Barak Obama's presidency.
When I wrote the original version of this article in 2011, the question that was on my mind at the time was exactly how far the American government would be willing to go in order to solve their problem with al-Sadr. An assassination attempt perhaps? After all, his Mahdi Militia was in open conflict with American occupational forces. Let me remind you that by that time, with their doctrine of so-called "regime change", the American government and the American military had already demonstrated that they wouldn't hesitate to forcefully remove any foreign leader from power, who they deemed as standing in their way, and being an obstacle to achieving American objectives in the Middle East.
While nothing happened in that particular year, eight years later on December 7, 2019, an armed drone attack targeted Muqtada al-Sadr's home in the southern holy city of Najaf. According to news reports from that year, al-Sadr was out of the country at the time and in Iran. The drone attack caused little damage to al-Sadr's home, and resulted in no loss of life either. To my knowledge, it has never been revealed who initiated the assassination attempt against al-Sadr.
Concerning the idea of Muslims throwing off the reins of the "infidel" foreigners in their lands, allow me to also remind you that America's military presence in Saudi Arabia has also been diminished in recent decades. As you may already know, many devout Muslims find it extremely offensive and a serious insult to their faith, that the "infidel" Americans are in Saudi Arabia at all, being as it is the very nerve center of the Islamic faith. Saudi Arabia is the home of both Mecca and Medina. Mecca -- or Makkah -- was where Muhammad was born and first proclaimed Islam; and Medina is his burial place.
In fact, as you may already know, it is in large part because the al-Saud dynasty permitted American military forces into Saudi Arabia, that Osama bin Laden both condemned and turned against the Saudi leadership. They in turn disowned him, and took away his Saudi passport, even though he was born there to a very rich Saudi family.
4. There will be a great conflict in the land of Syria, until it is destroyed. Is it possible that this is predicting that peace between Israel and Syria will never be achieved, and that they are headed towards a major conflict which may also involve the United States? Of course, another possibility is that this is referring to the fact that the Mahdi's army will defeat the forces of Sufyani in Syria, as we saw earlier.
5. Death and fear will afflict the people of Baghdad and Iraq. A fire will appear in the sky and a redness will cover them. This certainly sounds like it could be a reference to the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, and the assault on the city of Baghdad, which relied heavily on shock and awe. As I have mentioned to my readers before, literally hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives were negatively affected by American aggression during that unjustified and ill-conceived war.
Many thousands of Iraqis died, or were maimed for life, or lost their manner of making a living. The country's economy was destroyed, its military was destroyed, its infrastructure was destroyed, and its public services were destroyed. Sadly, very little of this information was ever clearly and honestly shared in American mass media. All that most Americans ever heard about was the 4,000 or so American soldiers who lost their lives during that prolonged conflict.
Now, if I were a devout Muslim, and I was aware of all of the aforementioned omens which would signal the soon arrival of al-Mahdi, I too might become quite convinced that his advent was imminent. Consider these facts. The world witnessed the 1979 Iranian Revolution which saw the overthrow of Shah Reza Pahlavi. This was soon followed by the eight-year Iran-Iraq War which left an estimated five hundred thousand to up to a million people dead, and hundreds of thousands more wounded.
To make matters worse, next we have Saddam Hussein's wicked oppression of the Iraqi people, and his genocide against the Kurds. It was also Saddam who lobbed SCUD missiles at Israel, and who initiated an invasion of Kuwait, claiming that it was historically a part of Iraq, which was in fact true. Saddam's invasion then led to Operation Desert Shield, which was later followed by Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991. Last of all, we arrive at the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. In light of all of that death and destruction, any religious Muslim would probably hope for the soon arrival of their prophesied messiah, in order to bring an end to all of the madness, and restore peace and justice upon the Earth.
So having this information in our hands helps us Christians to acquire a much better understanding of what the mentality is currently like in the Middle East, and what eschatological expectations may be going through the minds of devout Muslims in that area of the world. If we step back for a moment and take a look at the entire picture, what we can observe is a serious spiritual battle of deception shaping up possibly in the near future. This battle for the hearts and minds of the people of the Middle East is going to be waged between the spiritual leaders of the three main monotheistic religions: Moshiach, Mahdi and the Messiah.
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
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