Glenn Beck recently has been harping on and on about the impending doom of Armageddon, and he has figured out who the Anti-Christ is, an “Islamic figure” known as the “12th Imam” or “Mahdi.” To help promote his pseudo-religio-apocalyptic propaganda he had Joel Richardson (fundamentalist Christian) and Zuhdi Jasser, token Muslim beloved by Neo-Cons and wacko Islamophobes.
Beck claims he has been studying this “issue” for nearly five or six years, which is hard to believe when he can’t distinguish between Shi’as and Sunnis:
This hysteria is quite revealing. The Christian right-wing has always scapegoated or somehow cast America’s perceived “enemies” at one time or another as the Anti-Christ. During the Cold War the Soviet Union and its Premieres were the Anti-Christ, during the Gulf War it was Saddam Hussein, at various points throughout history it has been the Pope, and Jerry Falwell thought it obvious that the Anti-Christ was a “male Jew.”
It would almost be an exercise in futility (since they are so obvious) to rebut the horrendous, blatant factual inaccuracies regarding Islamic Eschatology here, but a brief response is necessary.
In the first instance it must be noted that Islamic Eschatology is a debated topic with various theological opinions amongst scholars, and both Sunni Islam and Shia’ Islam have different views of the events and also place different levels of importance on these End Times characters/scenarios. For Shia’ Twelver Islam the Mahdi is a central figure of their Faith whereas amongst Sunnis he is not central to the Faith.
Before we approach this subject it must be made abundantly clear that Muslims believe that no one, not the Prophets, Saints nor the Angels know when the Last Day/End Times will begin. This knowledge belongs only to God because he is the one who has decided it:
“They ask you about the Hour (Day of Resurrection): ‘When will be its appointed time?’ Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with my Lord (Alone). None can reveal its time but He. Heavy is its burden through the heavens and the earth. It shall not come upon you except all of a sudden.’ They ask you as if you have a good knowledge of it. Say: ‘The knowledge thereof is with God (Alone), but most of mankind know not.’”
2 – God says:
“People ask you concerning the Hour, say: ‘The knowledge of it is with God only. What do you know? It may be that the Hour is near!’”
Ibn Katheer (3/527) said:
God tells His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that he has no knowledge of the Hour and that when the people ask him about that, he should refer the matter to God.
Al-Shanqeeti said (6/604):
It is known that the word innama (translated here as “only”) has the effect of limiting or restricting the meaning, so what the verse means is: No one knows when the Hour will come except God alone.
3 – God says:
“They ask you (O Muhammad) about the Hour — when will be its appointed time?
You have no knowledge to say anything about it.
To your Lord belongs (the knowledge of) the term thereof
You (O Muhammad) are only a warner for those who fear it”
Because knowing the time of the Hour serves no spiritual or worldly purpose for people, rather their interests lie in it being concealed from them, the knowledge of that has been kept from all of creation and God has kept it to Himself. “To your Lord belongs (the knowledge of) the term thereof.” (via. IslamQA)
It also must be made abundantly clear that according to Islamic doctrine no one, I repeat no one has the ability to hasten the Last Day/End Times. The logic goes: How can one hasten something God has already decided? Nothing any Muslim or non-Muslim does or doesn’t do has one iota of an effect on hastening or bringing closer the End Times. This is completely and utterly in the power of God. To believe otherwise is considered disbelief and counter to Orthodox Islamic teaching amongst all Sunni groups and schools of thought, and I would venture to say most Shia’ groups and schools of thought as well (Shia’ readers feel free to add comments).
Furthermore, Islamic ‘Aqeeda, belief that Allah knows everything and all things happen through His power and Will is so profound and deeply ingrained that the idea of hastening the Last Days never occurred as a theological possibility, it was unimaginable! There is not much said about it over 1400 years of Islamic history precisely because it was inconceivable and absurd from an Islamic viewpoint.
In fact, throughout history individuals who have claimed to have been mahdis or messiahs have generally not had a very happy end: they have either been persuaded to repent, forced to repent, jailed, killed or castigated as false pretenders. (hat tip: Ahmed)
The cult of Juhayman al-Otaibi is a case in point. He is the famous mastermind behind the siege of the Grand Mosque of Mecca in 1979. He was forwarding the concept that his brother-in-law was the awaited Mahdi. To do so — amongst other things — he attempted to fulfill some of the “signs of the Last Hour” mentioned in Hadith. Juhayman and 67 of his followers were (after being captured) summarily executed.
What we are really seeing from Glenn Beck and the Christian Right crowd that he is pandering to with these insane antics is a classic case of PROJECTION. It is in fact many in the Christian Right who believe that the End Times, the Last Days can be hastened. They actually believe they have a role in bringing Jesus Christ back to Earth!
One of the violent consequences of this disastrous theology is that they believe the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa Mosque must be destroyed and the Third Jewish Temple be built for Jesus to return to earth. Imagine the repercussions if they are successful in this mad dash to instigate cataclysm?
The one piece of evidence that Islamophobes, Beck and his ilk use to try to instill fear in the populace is their de-contextualized recital of a hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) and its variations that says, ‘the Last Day will not arrive until the Jews fight the Muslims and the Muslims defeat them.’
Beck and company want to pass off and interpret these ahadith as somehow calling for a hastening of the End Times. Not only is this interpretation antithetical to Islamic creed, not only is it an interpretation NEVER forwarded in the 1400 years of Islamic history by any of the hadith commentators (I have Fath al-Bari by Imam Ibn Hajar al-’Asqalani, Sharh Sahih Muslim by Imam Nawawi, and other commentaries open in front of me right now), but it exposes a profound and disgustingly immense historical amnesia.
Why wouldn’t Muslims over the course of 1400 years, at a time when Christian Europe was murdering and enslaving Jews under the doctrine of Perpetual Servitude have exterminated Jews if Beck and his cohorts are right? Why were Jews thriving in the Muslim world? Why were they being appointed as Viziers, Advisors, Diplomats, Physicians to the Caliphs, Sultans and Amirs? Why was the Golden Age of Jewish thought and culture, the revivification of Hebrew (a previously near dead language) in lands ruled by Muslims? (I am currently writing a book review for LW on The Oranament of the World by Maria Rosa Menocal).
No doubt these ahadith have been used in a bellicose and bigoted manner over the past 80 or so odd years due to the political situation in the Middle East, i.e. the conflict between the creation of Israel and occupation and repression of Palestinians. But can the anti-Muslims who forward the claim that Muslims are using these ahadith to hasten the End Times bring one shred of evidence in which these ahadith have been used to instigate or incite pogroms or to usher in the Last Days over the last 1400 years? Maybe Bernard Lewis can help in this regard?
What Beck and co. are saying would be laughable if it weren’t for the fact that it was so dangerous. Some nut or group of nuts is going to see his show and start arming himself against the evil Mooslims and think to himself that he has to get the Mooslims before they get him.