Archive Sections: letters | music | index | features | photos | arts/lit | satire Find Iranian singles today!

The hidden legend
Ahmadinejad may ultimately play the role of the Hidden Imam himself


February 5, 2006

People infuse their beliefs with reference to holy figures, legends and myths. There is a subtle side of depth psychology hidden in different forms of popular beliefs concerning the figurations of myth. Myths have been carried on from teller to teller. In spite of a name change here and there and details embellished and lost, people like to believe them. Although remarkable amounts of the myths have no origin at all, religion uses these to reinforce its creed.

Myth is one of the few things which has been everywhere and at all times been most powerfully credited. It has united in itself psychomythological aspects which have wielded the most powerful sway over the man’s behaviour. It has glided into the mind; it has taken the form of divine explanation, more holy and more profound. In another aspect, bearing the most seductive and flattering promises, it has enlisted the motive of religion and divine.

Among many popular myths, like gold legends which abound in many places, stories of buried and hidden treasure and other hidden objects, the more characteristic myths are the hidden legends in many cultures.

There are many hidden legends, saviour figures and divine guides waiting in vain for a return from their graves or hidden places. People in many cultures, especially to their powerless and hopeless fate, mistakenly create mythical figures that would release their fears and frustrations, and avenge their sorry. The amount of saviour legends is proportionate to the depth of problems in a given society.

One of these mythical legends is known as Mahdi, who according to Shiite sect has disappeared and will return at the end of time to lead an era of Islamic justice on earth. The idea of the Mahdi appears to be a development in the first 2-3 centuries of Islam. In the case of the Shiite Mahdi many scholars have suggested that there is a clear inspiration coming from the Messiah-figure of Christianity and its ideas of a judgement day in the hands of a religious saviour. The first use of the term "Mahdi" is in 686 CE, by the Muslim leader Mukhtar Thaqafi, for Muhammad Ibn Hanafiya

While there are many similarities between the Mahdi and Messiah, according to Muslims, the Mahdi precedes the second appearance of Jesus. He establishes justice, peace and truth throughout the world by establishing Islam as the global religion.  There are also many variations over the Mahdi, which have differed from time to time and from region to region. Many tales speak of his visualisation, hidden places, contact people and his future plans against demonic spirit guides

The Arabic term "Mahdi" is best translated with "divinely guided”. The figure of Mahdi, and his mission, is not mentioned in the Koran, or in the reliable Hadiths (Sahih). There are several definitions of the Mahdi in Sunni Islam, but there is no such an importance as one can see it in Shiite sect. While Shiites believe that The Mahdi is the son of the 11Th Shiite Imam, Hassan al-Askari and a Byzantnie princess, and he was born in 868, still alive in occulation. For Sunni, the Mahdi is not yet born, he will be born in Madina and his father’s name will be Abdullah.

According to many sources, the term "Mahdi" has been also used as an honorific title for several important figures in Islam. This applies to Ali the 4th caliph; his son Hassan; as well as the Umayyad caliph Omar. When "Mahdi" was used for the Abbasid Caliph An-Nasir, he was defined as the final Mahdi, and there was no need to expect any future Mahdis.

-- It has sometimes been used for converts to Islam, because these people are believed to have been guided by God to find the truth.
-- It has been frequently used for military leaders, defining a future leader who would come and free suppressed Muslims. It has been used as an effort that could relieve Muslim’s frustrations over their problems.

Religion uses the combination of belief and naivety to describe mythological stages of a man's life in term of sacred. All of the sacred legends are representative of mythology or exaggerating figurations. Such a legend is like a wall without foundations, a clear push is enough for it to rubble. In spite of the fact that none of these legends has ever come back from his grave or hidden place, people have been always waiting for them.

The Twelver Imam is one of the mythical legends of Shiite sect, who disappeared in 878. Although probably kidnapped and killed by the Abbasid Caliph, was believed by his followers to have gone into deathless "Occultation", preparing to return as "the Mahdi”, the guide.

However, according to some believers, he is not a myth, like ancient gods, goddesses, fables, fairy, or any product of psychomythology, but a real existing guide to follow when reappeared. The Twelver Imam firstly became a political figure and was used by the Safavids to establish the first Islamic regime in Iran. The Safavids were from Turkmen. They established their dynasty in 1501 at Tabriz where they had set up a forced Shiite identity for this Turkish speaking region to morally separate them from the enemy Sunnite Turks, the mighty Othman Empire. The Shah Ismaiil Safavid was the first to set up an Islamic army based on the unifying and militant Shiite nationalism, propagating that defending the Shiite dynasty against the Sunnite mighty Othman Empire was of the utmost importance of a religious duty for the Shiites.

To divinise their dynasty, the Safavids invented the spectacular idea that the Shiite kings are the deputies of the Hidden Imam. Since the status of Imam is sacred, it is sinful to criticise the king or his rule. Therefore, no one has been given the freedom to criticise the “holy” kingdom without being persecuted or sentenced to death. It is far less likely for a citizen to get away with criticising such a “holy” state which regards itself as the Hidden Imam’s representative.

A religious state by historical customs is another frame of logic. It pretends to bother about people’s sins; its only duty is to punish people committing such sins. The Shiite states, mostly assigned by the Hidden Imam from the Safavids on along with the plague of the Islamic Republic of Iran, became a divine verdict against all “sinful” values of democracy, modernity and social justice in the course of post-Islamic history of Iran.

Under the Pahlavi regime, the effects of the mythical allegations were different.  Reza Shah liked to imitate secular the leaders, like Atatürk and Hitler. He was not interested in having the Imam’s mission to justify his dictatorship. Similarly, his megalomaniac son Muhammad Reza Shah though publicly claimed that he was in contact with the Shiite legends, he was not apparently satisfied with the humble position of the Imam’s deputy, instead he promoted his status as the shadow of God on earth.

In 1848, it had already been more than 9 centuries since the Occultation, and the reappearance of the Hidden Imam was widely expected. Various figures appeared as the Imam, including the Bab, from whom the Bahai faith is derived. The Bahai faith originated in Iran and has evolved into an independent world religion. Bahais believe that the Hidden Imam appeared 150 years ago and promised a new prophet who appeared one year after he died.

Under the IRI, Bahai shrines have been demolished, properties have been confiscated, and Bahais have been persecuted. Iran’s High Court of Justice has ruled that just belonging to Bahai institutions justified the execution of the adherents, who create “disorder and disunity amongst Muslims”. The faith with about 500,000 adherents is not listed among the religious acknowledged by name in Iran’s Islamic constitution. What has made Bahais more vulnerable is their belief that the Hidden Imam is already appeared. Therefore, the faith has been viewed as heretical by the Islamic state waiting for the Hidden Imam to reappear.

The legacy of the power-hungry and doctrinal authority in Iranian Schism finally became Khomeini in Iran, who was not personally believed to be the Hidden Imam like the Bab, but was thought to communicate with him.

A new version of the Imam’s myth is now shown by Ahamadinejad. The president of the IRI, who has an infamous record for his role in the firing squads, torture, terrorism and all kinds Islamist and extreme right tendencies, is now engaged in many bizarre stories and rumors circulating about his relations with the Hidden Imam.

As for the Hidden Imam, it seems he will not be quite as hidden as might be. The new IRI’s presidentbelieves that he has been assigned to pave the way for the reappearance of the Imam in two years. The president has even during his recent controversial speech at the UN, where he was allegedly surrounded and protected by a “divine light”, called for the Imam’s reappearance.

Trough these allegations, he is not only trying to gain a holy status among those who do not attribute him a charismatic personality, but is also likely trying to prepare some conditions for his divine mission. The next two years will be probably marked by increasing tensions between the devoted followers of the Hidden Imam following controversial views about the Imam’s reappearance.

The president is in an effort of giving himself an important impression. He presents himself as reincarnation of legendary hero from religious fiction. He dreams of being assigned an enlightened or saint, someone who is protected by divine light for divine missions, a gift to the Islamic world. In the most hypocritical manner, he wears and acts as an example of a non-corrupt Islamic leader. Apparently, he seems to be holding back enough to be quite busy with other ambition -- he may ultimately play the role of the Hidden Imam himself, if the promised Imam does not physically reappear in two years. What he needs is a plan of preparation and manipulation of the signs indicating the Imam’s reappearance.

The president, who is known for his personality disorder, boasts of being assigned to prepare all conditions for the Imam’s return, which will be according to the Shiite sect after the following signs:

- Before the Imam’s appearance, the people will be reprimanded for their acts of disobedience by a fire that will appear in the sky and a redness that will cover the

sky. It will swallow up both Baghdad and Kufa. People’s  blood will cover their destryed houses . Death will occur amid their people and a fear will come over the people of Iraq from which they will have no rest--a reason for the IRI’s nuclear programme to blow in jets of fire and plumes of smoke.

- There will be an insurgence by the Sufyani, a descendent of Abu Sufyan, who was one of the Muhammad’s enemy, along with his son, Muawiya and his Muawiya's son,Yazid, which starts from Palestine and jordan, and his reign of tyranny will span the Middle East from Iraq to egypt.

- A loud call from the sky should announce the Hidden Imam’s reappearance.

In such an apocalyptic world, since the main principle of the Mahdi is that he is absolutely guided by God, the IRI, as a part of the divine guidance, has nothing of a normal state, it is a God’s handpicked guidance for the mankind, and its acts are in complete accordance to God's will.The IRI, which already established a God’s state, now at the best, prefers to have the Hidden Imam embodied by one of its members. Since the Mahdi is for Islam as well as for islamisation of the world, the amount of crimes can bloodily exceed many times than that of the old scores of the IRI; especial groups of elite jihadists can appear throughout the world to convert or massively kill non-believers.

The one waiting to become the Imam has still no name, but whatever his name will be, he must be an expert in finding out the interpretations and in adapting them to his ambitions.

The IRI abuses the term “people” to cloak a dangerous religious movement with the look and goal of expanding its anti-people “Dar-al-Islam”. If a now-indifferent international community so routinely continues ignoring the painful fate of Iranian people, this apathy will perfectly suit the IRI’s authorities to promote their sacred state into a new apocalyptic danger to the world.

For letters section
To: Jahanshah Rashidian

Jahanshah Rashidian


Book of the day

The Pursuit of Pleasure
Drugs and Stimulants in Iranian History, 1500-1900
by Rudi Matthee

Copyright 1995-2013, Iranian LLC.   |    User Agreement and Privacy Policy   |    Rights and Permissions