In a fascinating article for FrontPage Magazine titled “Now the Twelfth Imam Can Come,” scholar of Islam Robert Spencer provides a crash course on the nature of Twelver Shi’ite theology, with particular reference to a nuclearizing Iran. Shi’ites believe in the return of the so-called Twelfth Imam who is descended from Mohammed’s son-in-law Ali ibn Abni Talib, the fourth caliph assassinated in 661 in a succession war, after which the split between Sunnis and Shi’ites eventually became permanent. As Spencer explains, the Shi’ites continued a line of imams, “members of Muhammad’s household and his prophetic heirs. Each one in turn, over two centuries, was poisoned.…According to the traditions of Twelver Shi’ism, the official religion of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the twelfth of these Imams, a boy of five years old, disappeared under mysterious and disputed circumstances in the year 874 – but remained alive.” Though communicating with the world through various agents, he entered the state of “occultation” in 941, promising to return when the time would be propitious.
The reigning authority on Twelver Shi’ism is the historian Emmanuel Sivan, who in his magisterial volume on the subject, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modern Politics, warned that an integral part of Shi’a Islam’s belief and thought involves the initiating of a planetary conflagration. This belief system posits that Allah’s kingdom will be established on earth by the Twelfth or Hidden Imam, also known as the Mahdi, whose advent can be hastened by creating the right set of circumstances: friction and misunderstanding among the nations and violent upheavals in a welter of blood and fire.
Incredulous westerners who would pass this off as merely a quaint belief to be taken with a grain of salt, or indeed with a whole salt shaker, should reconsider. Sivan spends many pages describing and analyzing the Shi’ite vision of an “ideal, legitimate state to be instituted by its leader, the Hidden Imam.” Over the course of history, he writes, a “minority of Shi’ites, quite substantial and dangerous at times, would move from pessimistic idealism to an optimistic brand of the same approach—the imam’s arrival is imminent, God’s kingdom is bound to be brought upon earth by this messiah (mahdi), and one should help precipitate its descent by armed revolt.” The Mahdi’s arrival has been eagerly anticipated and rumor has it that Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, a fervent believer in the Mahdi’s parousia—widened a boulevard in Tehran to welcome the savior with public celebrations. This may be a canard, but even were it the case, Ahmadinejad need not have bothered. That was yesterday; today is a new beginning.
What the world does not yet know is precisely that of which the Iranian mullahs are now gleefully aware, namely, that the Twelfth Imam has already returned and is hard at work arranging the coming apocalypse. According to an occult scripture, unearthed in a clay jar at an excavation works near the Arak nuclear site, that only the ayatollahs and a few select individuals (like the present writer) have been privileged to study, the Mahdi has fulfilled all the signs and portents that announce his presence.*
* Labelled the Arak Codex #190001, this document reposes in the Inscriptions Department of the Malik National Museum of Iran in Tehran.
He is half black, half white. He is tall and strides with a lope. He possesses dead eyes and prominent ears. His background is both obscure and exotic. He is persuasively eloquent and is adept at saying one thing while doing another. His head swivels from side to side when addressing the multitudes, as if reading from prepared texts no doubt lowered from on high and inscribed by the Lord or one of his angels. He gives the distinct impression of being a man-child. He is supremely confident and exudes a certain boyish charm many find irresistible. He is devoted to popular sports involving holes and nets as emblems of ensnaring. He bows frequently in false humility, cajoling the high and mighty of the earth, yet brooks no objection to his will when dissent is offered. He is to be found in many different places from one day to another. He is surrounded by loyal minions, many of whom appear to be imbeciles, who do his bidding without question or scruple. He occupies the seat of power.
Let me be very clear about this, for there are those who cannot bring themselves to confront the evidence of the Twelfth Imam’s uncloaking that I, privy to the discovery of the mystical codex through means I am forbidden to reveal, now set before them. All his actions are directed toward igniting the flames that wait to engulf the world. He diligently undermines the laws, security and prosperity of the people he ostensibly represents, and turns one against the other, sowing discord among the populace. He betrays his friends and allies and renders them vulnerable to international predators. He sponsors and supports warlike groups and aggressive regimes that seek world hegemony. He is an undeclared enemy of the Jewish people and the Jewish state. He is a great friend to Islam in its march toward imposing a caliphate upon unsuspecting nations. He welcomes the black flag and the yellow flag into the sanctum of domestic authority, distributing office among his Muslim acolytes. He smiles upon the ayatollahs and signs agreements that facilitate their holy designs to kindle universal violence and establish God’s kingdom on earth.
He has been schooled at the feet of prophets and sages and learned from the masters of canon and creed. He is the repository of sacred teachings and potent incantations, and is adept at uttering sonorous phrases that please as they befuddle. He is the embodiment of consecrated, numinous and venerable doctrine. He is no longer Hidden but exults among us in all his glory. He is the bringer of chaos and the last days. He will inaugurate a new world order.
Doubters and skeptics must give way. The Twelfth Imam has returned, confirmed in his exaltation by innumerable tokens and crests and auguries. Devastation will precede him and resurrection will surely follow in his wake. The infidel shall be destroyed, destroyed utterly, and the believer shall rise from the smoldering ruins in triumph and gladness of heart. All this shall come to pass for it is written.
He is the Mahdi.
image courtesy shutterstock / DVARG