Iran leaders pave way for messianic 'Mahdi'

WorldNet Daily (Link) (August 10, 2009)

Iran last week held a multi-day conference, bringing together politicians, mullahs, students � Shiite and Sunni alike � to plot what can be done on this earthly plane to hasten the coming of the anointed one, a messianic, endtimes personage known as the Mahdi.

It wasn't a conference covered by the western press.

But Joel Richardson, author of the new book, "The Islamic Antichrist," reported today on the conference, which have been held for the last five years � all in a bid to lay the groundwork for an apocalyptic vision of the day Muslims will rule the world.

"For the past five years, the Iranian religious and political leaders have annually gathered together for two days in the city of Qom for what is called 'The International Conference of Mahdism Doctrine,' sponsored by the Bright Future Institute," explains Richardson in a WND commentary today. "The purpose of the Bright Future Institute, according to their website, is 'to introduce Imam Mahdi to the world' and 'to pave the ground for his reappearance.' After attending last year's conference, Dr. Timothy Furnish, in an article entitled 'the Importance of Being Mahdist,' featured in the Weekly Standard, also cited President Ahmadinejad describing the purpose of the conference as helping to 'bring all of humanity to the knowledge of the true savior of mankind, Imam al-Mahdi.'"

Each year a growing number of Sunni Muslims and Christians join the predominantly Shiite hosts. This year, 400 articles were presented and 40 were selected for presentation. After the completion of the conference each year, the conference papers are published in book form and also placed on the Bright Future website.

"The theme of the conference this year was 'the Society and government which prepares the ground for the appearance [of the Mahdi]: Missions and Strategies,' explains Richardson, whose controversial book has skyrocketed up the best-sellers list since it debuted last week. "Each year, a special tribute is also paid to 30 key individuals who are recognized as being particular bright lights in the ongoing effort to spread the knowledge of the Mahdi worldwide. These 30 are known as 'the Helpers of the Mahdi.'"

Says Savyon and Y. Mansharof, an Iranian scholar: "From the establishment of the Islamic Regime in 1979 to Ahmadinejad's rise to power in August 2005, Mahdism had been a religious doctrine and a tradition that had no political manifestation. The political system operated independently of this messianic belief and of the anticipation of the return of the Mahdi. It was only with Ahmadinejad's presidency that this religious doctrine has become a political philosophy and taken a central place in politics."

"Mahdism is now increasingly being used as a political tool by appealing to the religious and nationalistic tendencies of various Muslims groups," says Richardson, who believes the striking similarities between Quranic and traditional Muslim depictions of the Mahdi suggest he could well be one in the same as the one known in Christian circles as "the Antichrist."

A presenter at last year's conference, Dr. Mariam Tabar, asserted that the "military capabilities of the future Mahdist state depend on Islamic governments in the here and now acquiring abilities to stand against the enemies of the imam [al-Mahdi]." Iran, of course, is attempting to become a nuclear power.

While some involved in Mahdism see the figure as a peace-loving global world leader, others within the movement reveal another side.

According to Dr. Furnish, last year, for instance, Ali Larijani, the chairman and speaker of the Iranian Parliament quoted Imam Muhammad Baqir, a famous Muslim scholar, as saying, "there must be bloodshed and jihad to establish Imam Mahdi's rule." Ayatollah Ibrahim al Amini, professor at the Religious Learning Center at Qom affirms Larijani when he states, "The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed."

In "The Islamic Antichrist," Richardson, a student of Islam, exposes Western Christians to the Muslim traditions. He says most Christians have no idea of the stunning similarities between biblical Antichrist and the "Islamic Mahdi."

Richardson's book stands in stark contrast to most other popular prophecy books of the last 40 years.

The student of the Middle East says that after decades of reading popular prophecy books and even best-selling fiction like the "Left Behind" series, millions of evangelical Christians around the world are expecting the Antichrist to emerge from a revived Roman Empire, which many have assumed is associated with the Roman Catholic Church and the European Union.

Not so, argues Richardson. His book makes the case that the biblical Antichrist is one and the same as the Quran's Muslim Mahdi.

"The Islamic Antichrist" is a book almost certain to be greeted in the Muslim world with the same enthusiasm as Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." The author, Joel Richardson, is prepared. He has written the book under a pseudonym to protect himself and his family.

"The Bible abounds with proofs that the Antichrist's empire will consist only of nations that are, today, Islamic," says Richardson. "Despite the numerous prevailing arguments for the emergence of a revived European Roman empire as the Antichrist's power base, the specific nations the Bible identifies as comprising his empire are today all Muslim."

Richardson believes the key error of many previous prophecy scholars involves the misinterpretation of a prediction by Daniel to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel describes the rise and fall of empires of the future, leading to the endtimes. Western Christians have viewed one of those empires as Rome, when, claims Richardson, Rome never actually conquered Babylon and was thus disqualified as a possibility.

It had to be another empire that rose and fell and rose again that would lead to rule of this "man of sin," described in the Bible. That empire, he says, is the Islamic Empire, which did conquer Babylon and, in fact, rules over it even today.

Many evangelical Christians believe the Bible predicts a charismatic ruler, the Antichrist, will arise in the last days, before the return of Jesus. The Quran also predicts that a man, called the Mahdi, will rise up to lead the nations, pledging to usher in an era of peace. Richardson makes the case these two men are, in fact, one in the same.

I personally do not hold the belief that the man of sin, or antichrist, will come from the Middle East. I hold that Europe will be the center of power for the man of sin based on my study of Daniel and John's visions regarding the fourth kingdom and the man of sin that arises from them.

I also believe however, that the Imam Mahdi will play a key role in the end-time scenario as the false prophet. While I have no strong Biblical support for this belief, I find it interesting that the Mahdi is supposed to be occulted in a well from which he will one day re-emerge.

Revelation 13:11-18
And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.

Again this is speculation on my part, but in thinking of how this could possibly play out into the end-time scenario it seems to me that a mixing of Europe and Islam, which we happen to be seeing now with immigration and birth rates of European vs. Islamic communities, could see a kind of mixing that could be brought together under a common banner as the end-time scenario continues to play out as foretold in scripture.

Daniel 2:40-44
And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron: forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise. And whereas thou sawest the feet and toes, part of potters' clay, and part of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; but there shall be in it of the strength of the iron, forasmuch as thou sawest the iron mixed with miry clay. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron, and part of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong, and partly broken. And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay. And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

If the power of a European leader given power by the dragon were to be endorsed by the Imam Mahdi with signs and lying wonders, would it be possible to see the Western world under the influence of the man of sin combine with Islam under the influence of Imam Mahdi such that a new global force that both hated Israel and Biblical Christianity could take over the world and have the infrastructure of the West and power of the East united under the man of sin influenced by the dragon? Keep watching!