Editor’s note: The Blaze is featuring some guest posts to help our readers gain a deeper understanding of the situation in Egypt. In this post, Joel Richardson looks at the ideological ties between radical Islamist and traditional progressive groups.
As the West continues to debate the meaning of the revolution in the Middle East, the raging flames pay no mind. Typically, the left-wing mainstream media continues to portray the riots and protests as the result of mere pro-democracy political sentiment seeking to oust repressive dictators. But the reality is far more nefarious, broad ranging and the long-term implications are genuinely apocalyptic.
There are two things that must be understood regarding the present revolution in the Muslim world. The first is the unusual alliance between Leftist revolutionaries and Islamist revolutionaries. As Reuters reported, the protests in Amman consisted of “Islamists, leftists and trade unionists”. Their chant? “We Want Change!” The second thing that must be understood is the Messianic undercurrent of the present Muslim revolution.
While it may be difficult for some to make a connection between the religious world of Islam and the generally liberal-bent of the political left, there are in fact some foundational, shared commonalities between the two ideologies. First, both Leftist and Islamist ideologies share a populist, collectivist, and even utopian political vision. While the American ideal seeks “economic freedom”, Leftist and Islamists both seek “economic justice” or radical wealth redistribution as a definitive goal. Second, both the Leftists and Islamists are now using the vehicle of riots, violent protests and revolution to achieve their goals. A significant part of the apocalyptic dimension is that whether atheistic Marxism or religious Islamism, both ideologies also share a mutual hatred of you and me. Whether this is Israel, (the little Satan), or the United States, (the Great Satan), Leftists and Islamists long to see the demise of both.
But as we sit and watch the Islamic world explode it is also essential that we pause to take note of the eschatological and Messianic swirl underlying much of what is now taking place. The yearning of the Islamic world over the past decade has been the overthrow of what is perceived as the corrupt, Western-puppet regimes of the Arab world, but also the unification of the Islamic world under the historical Islamic government of the Caliphate. Underlying all of this is a growing turn to Messianic Mahdism. The Mahdi is Islam's primary messiah figure, awaited by both Shi'a and Sunni Muslims. Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America declares that, “The coming of the Mahdi is established doctrine for both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims, and indeed for all humanity.”
The Islamic Mahdi is expected by Muslims to emerge on the world stage at the end of the age in order to revive and unify the entire Islamic world under the Caliphate. Muslims also believe that the Mahdi will cause Islam to conquer the whole earth, leading to the ultimate victory of Islam over other religions and over unbelief.
But there is another interesting element to Mahdist belief that is quite relevant with regard to the present revolution is in the air. According to Islamic tradition, under the reign of the Mahdi, the Islamic religious community will finally achieve the “economic justice” that both the Leftists and the Islamists have been yearning for. So whether we are speaking of the recent violent socialist protests in Greece, the anti-Capitalist revolutionary operatives here in the United States, or the violent revolution boiling in the Arab world, they are all part of a larger collectivist revolution. The cry of the people is “Give to us!” As a student of Islamic Messianism, I am immediately reminded of the deeply socialist tone of Muhammad’s words concerning the days of the Mahdi:
In those years my community will enjoy a time of happiness such as they have never experienced before. … A man will stand and say, "Give to me Mahdi!" and he will say, "Take." (-At-Tabanari Emphasis mine)
Elsewhere, Muhammad is believed to have said prophesied:
In the last-days of the Islamic community, the Mahdi will appear. ... He will give away wealth profusely… and the Muslim community will be large and honored. … (-Sahih Hakim Mustadrak, Emphasis mine)
From the hadith collection of Sahih Abu Muslim:
Muhammad said, "In the last times there will be a Caliph who will distribute wealth without even counting it."
In his work, Al-Mattaqi, the revered Muslim scholar Al-Hindi speaks of the age of the Mahdi when he says that “Allah will eliminate poverty through his hand.”
In his work "The Awaited Mahdi," Muslim author Harun Yahya states:
During the Golden Age, people will enjoy great wealth, prosperity, and peace. The Mahdi will use all of his wealth to spread Allah's religion, and will follow the noble morality and the dictates of peace in the countries he comes victorious. His unparalleled practices will soften people's hearts and lead them to Islamic morality. Thus, within a very short time this morality will rule the world.
Of course, I must add that this wealth-distributing agenda of the Mahdi is also a trait shared by the Biblical Antichrist. According to the Prophet Daniel, the Antichrist would utilize a form of wealth-redistribution specifically to gain the allegiance of his supporters:
When the richest provinces feel secure, he will invade them. … He will distribute plunder, loot, and wealth among his followers. – Daniel 11:24
While the idea of Antichrist as wealth redistributor is likely new to some, it is certainly not a novel observation. This view was also well-established in the early church. In his celebrated work, "Against Heresies," Irenaeus, a bishop from the early third century wrote that the "[Antichrist] pretends that he vindicates the poor." It is fascinating to note that 1,800 years ago, this leader in the early church was well aware of the fact that the Antichrist would not truly be a man for the lower classes, but simply that he would pretend to be such a champion.
And so here we sit, watching as the Islamic world explodes into violent revolution. The Muslim masses are yearning for “economic justice” and looking for a genuine revolutionary hero. Friends, the bonfire has been lit.
Joel Richardson is the author of The Islamic Antichrist a comparison of Biblical and Islamic Eschatology and is the co-author of God’s War on Terror. His blog can be found here.