Identifying Al-Mahdi

The theme of this blog is inversions; theological concepts that are totally reversed when compared within Christianity and Islam. Some are minor yet revealing. Others are nothing short of shocking.

Perhaps no two things are more polar opposites than the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Antichrist. By definition, the word “antichrist” means “against Christ.” Whether the Antichrist is merely an agent of Satan, Satan incarnate, or begins as the former and ends as the latter is less important than the fact that the Antichrist will be a direct force in implementing Satan’s agenda as much as possible here on earth.

For almost two millennia now, Christians have tried to identify the groups, systems, or institutions that would formulate the kingdom of Antichrist. Every generation tries to shoehorn the political or religious boogieman of its day into a Biblical framework that will predict future events. Therefore, care must be taken not to make the same mistake in our current times. What we do know is that Satan exists (John 8:44), he has strategies (Ephesians 6:11), and that he masquerades as an agent of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). What we would expect then is that whatever form the kingdom of Antichrist will take, it will look good on the surface. Its evil nature will only be revealed prior to its inception by deeper investigation but after its inception it will become readily apparent once it has had time to run its course and its fruits are manifested (Matthew 7:16).

Speaking of end-times, as it happens, Islam has its own set of end-times prophecies. While a complete analysis of the Islamic end-times scenarios would take way more space than available here, we can focus in on one particular aspect of it. Within Islam, there is an end-times figure known as Al-Mahdi. In Arabic, Al-Mahdi means “the rightly guided one.” Muslims believe that in the last days, Al-Mahdi will come on the scene and unify the world under Islam. He will be considered the best of humanity. For example, consider this quote form Ayatullah Baqir al-Sadr and Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari in the book The Awaited Savior

“A figure more legendary than that of the Mahdi, the Awaited Saviour, has not been seen in the history of mankind. The threads of the world events have woven many a fine design in human life but the pattern of the Mahdi stands high above every other pattern. He has been the vision of the visionaries in history. He has been the dream of all the dreamers of the world. For the ultimate salvation of mankind he is the Pole Star of hope on which the gaze of humanity is fixed..” [i]

Muslims the world over, both Sunni and Shi’a, await the advent of Al-Mahdi. In this previous article, I discussed one irony of how Muslims will recognize his coming. Yet, in a more practical sense, the Hadith do set out some guidelines as to how Muslims can identify him. I have listed them in the following table. Simultaneously, I have listed some Biblical passages describing the Antichrist and his kingdom. Please compare carefully.

Islamic Sources Regarding Al-MahdiChristian Sources Regarding Antichrist
World ruler“He will reappear on the appointed day, and then he will fight against the forces of evil, lead a world revolution and set up a new world order based on justice, righteousness and virtue…ultimately the righteous will take the world administration in their hands and Islam will be victorious over all the religions.” [ii] It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. Revelation 13:7
Leads from Jerusalem“Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi” [iii] who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4
Spiritual Leader“Al-Mahdi will receive a pledge of allegiance as a caliph for Muslims. He will lead Muslims in many battles of jihad. His reign will be a caliphate that follows the guidance of the Prophet.” [iv] All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. Revelation 13:8
Changes times and laws“Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve months in Allah’s ordinance since the day when He created the heavens and the earth,” Qur’an 9:36

“It is considered a divine command to use a calendar with 12 lunar months without intercalation, as evidenced from the Holy Qur’an.”[v]
He will speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One, and he will intend to make alterations in times and in law; and they will be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. Daniel 7:25
Kills Jews and Christians“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.” [vi] So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17
Uses beheading as method of execution[8.12] When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, Revelation 20:4a
Makes 7 year peace treaty[Muhammad] said: “There will be four peace agreements between you and the Romans [Christians]. The fourth agreement will be mediated through a person who will be from the progeny of Hadrat Haroon [Honorable Aaron] and will be upheld for seven years.” [vii] And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” Daniel 9:27
Man on the white horse“I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the prophets…For instance, the book of Revelation says “and I saw and behold a white horse…and he that sat…on him went forth conquering and to conquer.” [viii] Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer. Revelation 6:1-2

In the Islamic end-times prophecies, the names have been changed. The villain is the hero. The antagonist is the protagonist. All of the prophetic details remain intact, but the players have been swapped. Satan knows God’s prophecies and that they cannot be thwarted, so the best approach to lead people astray is by constructing a complete anti-parallel set of prophecies marking himself as the hero.

As a Christian, if this does not break your heart for Muslims, I don’t know what could. Satan has completely turned around prophecies in order to get Muslims to willingly submit to the Antichrist kingdom. As a Muslim, don’t you find it odd that your religion has a completely inverted set of prophecies compared to the Injil?

** This article relied heavily upon the advance research done by Joel Richardson in his book The Islamic Antichrist. I highly recommend it as it delves much deeper into this topic.

[iii] Muhammad ibn Izzat, Muhammad ‘Arif, Al Mahdi and the End of Time (London, Dar Al-Taqwa, 1997) p.40
[iv] Abdulrahman Kelani, The Last Apocalypse, An Islamic Perspective, (Fustat, 2003), pp. 34-35
[v] Dr. Waleed A Muhanna, A Brief Introduction to the Islamic Calandar
[vi] Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini in Al-Imam Al-Madhi: The Just Leader of Humanity.
[viii] Muhammad ibn Izzat, Muhammad ‘Arif, Al Mahdi and the End of Time (London, Dar Al-Taqwa, 1997) p.15

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2 Responses to Identifying Al-Mahdi

  1. Jeanne T. says:

    Really excellent, Robert! The inversions never cease to amaze me. But that’s the devil. He is opposed to Christ; he is instead of Christ. It is the devil who has inverted everything. No wonder he would be the force that drives Islam.

    This is why I believe the anti-Christ will actually be Satan incarnate. Jesus is God incarnate, the Word made flesh. The inverse of that is Satan incarnate in the anti-Christ. At the middle of the week Michael evicts Satan from heaven (Daniel 12 and Revelation 12, same event is recorded), and he is cast down to earth to incarnate and animate the man who will be revealed as the ultimate anti-Christ. I believe this event is the trigger for the time of Jacob’s trouble, i.e., the “time of great tribulation”.

    • Jeanne,

      You may very well be right. I try to avoid such specifics given the wide audience here, but the scenario you mention does appear to the most probable one.

      It just heightens the urgency of our need for prayer for those trapped in such a system which directly goes against Christ.

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