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Understanding Egypt: The twelfth Imam, and the end of days


Editor’s note: The Blaze is featuring some guest posts to help our readers gain a deeper understanding of the situation in Egypt.  This post is by Joel C. Rosenberg.

All eyes are on Egypt right now, but we best stay focused on the apocalyptic, genocidal, death cult running Iran as well. Their nuclear program and End Times theology pose a clear and present danger to U.S. national security, as well as that of our allies, especially Israel.

The leaders in Tehran could not be more excited by the revolution now underway in Egypt and are praying the Mubarak regime collapses and the Muslim Brotherhood come to power. For them, such events would be dramatic new evidence that the End of Days has come, infidel Arab regimes are on the road to collapse, Western influence in the Mideast is declining, Israel is one step closer to being annihilated, and the Twelfth Imam is one step closer to arriving and establishing the worldwide Islamic kingdom known as the “caliphate.”

Last Friday, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – Iran’s so-called Supreme Leader – publicly praised Egypt’s uprising. Indeed, he called it part of the very same “Islamic awakening” that began with the Islamic Revolution in Iran in January and February of 1979. Khamenei is the same man who said last July that he had personally met with the Twelfth Imam. He is the same man who said last July that he was the personal representative of the Mahdi on earth and that all Muslims must “obey him.” He is also the same man who is working hand-in-glove with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his country’s military to develop nuclear warheads and the ballistic missiles to deliver them.

Few leaders in the West truly understand how dangerous Khamenei or Ahmadinejad are because they have not carefully examined their eschatology or End Times theology. Let’s take a moment to do so.

The Twelfth Imam XE "Mahdi, the (the Twelfth Imam, the Hidden Imam)" was a real, flesh-and-blood person who lived during the ninth century AD. Like the eleven Shia leaders who went before him, he was an Arab male who, as a direct descendent of the founder of Islam, was thought to have been divinely chosen to be the spiritual guide and ultimate human authority of the Muslim people.

His actual name was Muhammad Ibn Hasan Ibn Ali, and it is generally believed by Shias that he was born in Samarra, Iraq, in AD 868. Before he could reach an age of maturity, when he could teach and counsel the Muslim world as was believed to be his destiny, Ali vanished from human society. Some say he was four years old, while others say five and some say six. Some believe he fell into a well in Samarra but his body was never recovered. Others believe the Mahdi’s mother placed him in the well to prevent the evil rulers of the time from finding him, capturing him, and killing him—and that little Ali subsequently became supernaturally invisible. This is where the term “Hidden Imam” is derived, as Shias believe that Ali is not dead but has simply been hidden from the sight of mankind—Shias refer to this as “occultation”—until the End of Days, when Allah will reveal him once again.

Shias believe the Mahdi will return at the end of history—during a time of chaos, carnage, and confusion—to establish righteousness, justice, and peace. When he comes, they say, the Mahdi will bring Jesus with him XE "Jesus, role of in Shia eschatology" . Jesus will be a Muslim and will serve as his deputy, not as King of kings and Lord of lords as the Bible teaches, and he will force non-Muslims to choose between following the Mahdi or death.

By most accounts, Shia scholars believe the Mahdi will first appear in Mecca and conquer the Middle East, then establish the headquarters of his global Islamic government—or caliphate—in Iraq. But there is not universal agreement. Some believe he will emerge from the well at the Jamkaran Mosque in Iran and then travel to Mecca and Iraq. Some say that he will conquer Jerusalem before establishing his caliphate in Iraq. Others believe Jerusalem must be conquered as a prerequisite to his return.

“When the Mahdi returns he will fight with Jews and kill all of them,” wrote a Shia cleric in 1409. “Even if a Jew hides behind a rock, the rock speaks and says, ‘O Muslim! A Jew is hiding behind me. Kill him!’”

None of this is actually written in the Qur’an, and Sunnis reject this eschatology XE "Radical Islamists, beliefs of" , so there is little clarity and plenty of room for debate and disagreement. But one thing that is fairly well agreed upon among devout “Twelvers” is that the Mahdi will end apostasy and purify corruption within Islam. He is expected, therefore, to conquer the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, Syria, “Palestine,” Egypt and North Africa, and eventually the entire world. During this time, he and Jesus will kill between 60 and 80 percent of the world’s population XE "Jesus, role of in Shia eschatology" , specifically those who refuse to convert to Islam.

Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, a professor at the Religious Learning Centre in Qom, wrote a noteworthy book entitled, Al-Imam al-Mahdi, the Just Leader of Humanity, describing the signs of the coming of the Mahdi. Chief among them are a massive earthquake and the launching of a global war to kill or subjugate Jews, Christians, and other “infidels.” In one passage, Amini quotes Muhammad (from a hadith, not from the Qur’an), saying: “Listen to the good news about the Mahdi! He will rise at the time when people will be faced with severe conflict and the earth will be hit by a violent quake. He will fill the earth with justice and equity as it is filled with injustice and tyranny. He will fill the hearts of his followers with devotion and will spread justice everywhere.”

Amini also wrote:

When the world has become psychologically ready to accept the government of God and when general conditions have become favorable to the idea of the rulership of the truth, God will permit the Mahdi to launch his final revolution. . . .

A few selected individuals . . . will be the first ones to respond to his call, and will be drawn to him like iron to a magnet in that first hour of his appearance. . . . On seeing the fulfillment of many of the signs promised in the traditions, a large number of unbelievers will turn towards Islam. Those who persist in their disbelief and wickedness shall be killed by the soldiers of the Mahdi. The only victorious government in the entire world will be that of Islam, and people will devotedly endeavor to protect it. Islam will be the religion of everyone, and will enter all the nations of the world. . . .

The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and the Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed. . . . It seems unlikely that this catastrophe can be avoided. . . . Warfare and bloodshed [are] inevitable. . . .

The Imam of the Age and his supporters will overcome the forces of disbelief and godless materialism by undertaking jihad XE "jihad" . It will be with the power of just warfare that the forces of God’s enemy and the supporters of disbelief and injustices will be exterminated. There are numerous traditions that speak about the impending use of force to achieve the goal.

Only when we understand the eschatology currently driving Iranian foreign policy, can we truly begin to understand how dangerous the regime in Tehran is. Only then can we fully appreciate how events like the revolution underway in Egypt only encourages Twelvers like Khamenei to take still further provocative and perilous actions to hasten the coming of the Twelfth Imam. Most of America and indeed the world is asleep to the prospect of this gathering storm. It is time to wake up, before it’s too late.


Joel C. Rosenberg is the New York Times best-selling author of eight books. His most recent political thriller is The Twelfth Imam. His most recent non-fiction books is Inside The Revolution. His website can be found here.

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