Thursday, April 27, 2006

Don't Hold Your Breath

In 874, the lone great-great-great-great-great grandson of Muhammad disappeared without a trace, thus ending Muhammad's lineage. Today, devout Shiites, who refer to Muhammad's twelve direct male descendants as "imams," still await for this last imam to return and liberate the world from evil things. You know, like music. Or, dogs and monkeys. Or, Israel. "Twelfth imam, we are waiting for you," Iranian posters read.

This is just one story from Matthias Kuntzel's excellent article about the ideological roots of current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Even for those familiar with Islam ideology (perhaps readers of Bernard Lewis' outstanding books), Matthias Kuntzel's article merits reading. Those unfamiliar with Islam ideology, meanwhile, will likely find the article shocking. In either case, it approaches "must-read" status. For skeptics, consider this excerpt:
In one of his first TV interviews after being elected president, [Ahmadinejad] enthused: "Is there an art that is more beautiful, more divine, more eternal than the art of the martyr's death?" In September 2005, he concluded his first speech before the United Nations by imploring God to bring about the return of the Twelfth Imam. He finances a research institute in Tehran whose sole purpose is to study, and, if possible, accelerate the coming of the imam. And, at a theology conference in November 2005, he stressed, "The most important task of our Revolution is to prepare the way for the return of the Twelfth Imam."

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