The 12th Imam: Muhammad al-Mahdi

SODOM & GOMORRAH: Who and what is the 12th Imam?

With all the hype about the 12th Imam (mainly hype for the Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad), we decided to investigate. Here is your comprehensive guide to the 12th Imam.

What’s an Imam?

In the religion of Islam, an Imam is a leader or prophet. According to the Shiites, only Allah can appoint an Imam. An Imam is the true political and spiritual leader of the Muslim world, and each serve as a sterling example for the rest of humanity. Imams are the prophet Muhammad’s successors and, as such, are said to possess divine authority and insight.

An Imam is the direct descendent of the prophet and to date, there have been 11 Imams.

Who is the 12th Imam?

The 11th Imam, Hasan Al-Askari, had a son with the granddaughter of an Emperor in the 13th century. Some say that her name was Fatima, others Nargis Khatoon.  The son was named Abu al-Qasim Muhammad, but is called Muhammad al-Mahdi – Mahdi means “the Guided One” and Mahdi is said to have been in subterranean hiding since he was about five years old.  The Hadith prophesies that he will return shortly before Judgment Day. It’s said he will appear after a three year period of tyranny, chaos, and disorder. After his return, he will rule over the world for seven years while bringing total peace.

In the literature of Sunan Ibn Majah, Mahdi and Jesus are one and the same. In Ahmadiyya Islam, the terms “Messiah” and “Mahdi” mean the same and apply to the same person.

Why does the 12th Imam matter now?

Ahmadinejad has openly called for Mahdi’s return. While Half Sigma has received feedback from people that suggests Ahmadinejad doesn’t really believe in this Mahdi stuff, HS has asked the obvious question: why spend so much time talking about it? Especially in front of the UN.

The media, as usual, either ignores the issue or gets it wrong.

Glenn Beck and others have gotten it wrong, sort of. They suggest that Ahmadinejad will create three years of chaos in order to spur Mahdi’s return and that Mahdi is the Antichrist because he comes in with chaos and destruction.  The media figures who notice the rhetoric coming out of Iran get the story wrong when they say that Mahdi must be the Antichrist because of his destructive nature. We would suggest, on the contrary, that Mahdi may be the Antichrist because he brings peace. If Mahdi and Jesus are said to be the same, and St. Paul tells us that the Antichrist will sit in the seat of Moses pretending to be God, then we must assume that, if there is a Mahdi, this entity would be interested in appearing as peaceful and Christ-like as possible.

Our concern should be with the preceeding three years of darkness.

Outside of this sparse coverage, the media has ignored the issue. There are three possible explanations. First, the idea is too bizarre to them to explain it. Ahmadinejad is crazy or lying, and the idea of having to explain to a modern secular society that there’s a fellow trying to develop atomic weapons so he can bring in three years of darkness before the apocalypse is uncomfortable. Second, the idea is not bizarre to them and is so common that it doesn’t even deserve a mention. After all, most western ideologies see themselves as, one way or another, launching a revolution, a genocide, or a union strike that will create a period of unrest before a bright new future emerges. The idea of an impending “war to end all war” followed by a peaceful progressive future isn’t that alien, even if it’s dressed in Shiite garb.  Even Glenn Beck does it when he calls for the “third spiritual awakening” in America before we turn back to God and repent of our ways – his tri-part history of the Republic is creepily similar to the tri-part narrative of revolutionary movements; remember friends, they didn’t call themselves “The Third Reich” for nothing.  Third, they’re lazy and didn’t bother paying attention to any of the speeches. The third is the least plausible possibilities, since there’s at least one person on staff at a major news outlet somewhere who’s assigned to watch Glenn Beck.