Thursday, May 18, 2006

The 12th Imam

Robert Ferrigno, author of the Assassin's Gate, tells us what he thinks about Ahmadinejad, in the process providing some facts about the 12th Hidden Imam and the sect of Islam to which Ahmadinejad belongs.
Our present predicament with Iran revolves around the Twelfth Imam, or Hidden Imam, believed by Shiite Muslims to be the last in the line of spiritual/political rulers. The Twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, ascended to his position upon the death of his father, the Eleventh Imam, in 874 AD. Al-Madha at that time was five years old. Shortly after the funeral of his father, al-Mahdi disappeared, believed by Shiites to have been hidden by Allah until his return at some future point. The easiest way for westerners to think of the Hidden Imam is as the Islamic Messiah, Except the Islamic Messiah is to come at the hour of greatest peril for Muslims, come to battle the forces of evil and unite the entire world in an Islamic Caliphate.

Interesting, the mytheme has elements of the story of King Arthur, with the desired savior temporarily lost, but destined to return again when the world needs saving.

This may have been previously studied in some scholarly tome somewhere. But I don't know enough about it, I'm afraid to say, than to do other but note the similarity. Though, since that element of the Arthur story is rather late, my guess would be that the story influence ran from the shi'ite account to the Arthurian one. Though, it may also be that the version of the story of the 12th Imam familiar to us now, is also late, in which case, figuring out the vector of directionality in terms of the story development becomes more complicated.

And of course, both of these narratives reflect "the Messsianic myth". It's interesting, that at least in this version, it has elements of both the Jewish and Christian messianic narratives. For the first of the Jewish Messiahs is also meant to come at a time of great upheaval, war and devastation, to unite the people. Though it is the second Messiah who is supposed to preside over peace.

The Christian element in this narrative relates to the return of the desired savior once again, at the hour of need. And is later reflected in the Arthur story.

Another interesting point is that the particular sect that Ahmadinejad belongs to - the Hojjatieh - oppose the Islamic state, because they believe it will hasten the coming of the 12th Imam, since it will set up a time of peace, as opposed to upheaval, which will postpone the time when the 12th Imam arrives, since he needs to arrive at a time of chaos.

It reminds me of the stark anti-zionism of some of the more ultra-Orthodox Jews. Particularly that of neturei-karta, an organization so anti-zionist they believe that the Jewish state must be destroyed before the messiah will arrive, to which end they have often participated in self appointed "diplomatic initiatives" with the enemies of Israel, such as Arafat, and quite recently, in early March of this year, with Ahmadinejad.

In this later case, the theological similarity explains the attraction. They both believe the destruction of the Zionist entity will hasten the coming of the messiah. The difference is that they each have different notions of who the messiah will be and what he will accomplish once he arrives.

Further, here is the video in question.

Here is the video, at Memri, of Ahmadinejad apostrophizing the Europeans for treating the Iranian like children, in the bargaining position they attempt to set up for the Iranians.

And you know, he's not wrong on that point. Why should they go along with it? It is a ridiculous position, from the point of view of the Iranian regime. I'm glad he is calling their bluff in public.

And at the same speech, he calls the enemies of Iran's nuclear program mentally ill.

UPDATE: And here is Amir Taheri discussing the heavy price the Iranians have paid for their war against the US.

UPDATE II: And here is Aluf Benn in Ha'artez, exhorting the Israeli government not to be wimps when it comes to dealing with Iran. Olmert, of course, doesn't have the cachet that Sharon had, or the reputation.

Sharon had two advantages: total security authority domestically and an image among foreigners as someone who might run amok. The domestic authority guaranteed a unified Israeli policy. The leaks to the foreign press that Israel would attack Iran if diplomacy failed spurred the U.S. and its European friends. Sharon's record - from Kibiye and the Mitle to Beirut and the Muqata - left no doubt that he was capable of giving the launch order to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israel then was left without a "Mr. Security" at its head, and its new leaders are finding it difficult to inspire the same degree of fearful respect. The result undermines the previous policy. First, the Iranian threat has become a partisan political issue. The head of the opposition, Benjamin Netanyahu, has called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to set aside the evacuation of settlements and direct billions into accelerated armament against Iran. Before the elections, Netanyahu backed an operation against Iran; now he is hinting that Olmert is not strong enough to deal with the threat.


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