Waiting for the Mahdi: Official Iranian Eschatology Outlined in Public Broadcasting Program in
The website of the governmental Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) has posted a lengthy document titled "The World toward Illumination." The document is a transcript of an IRIB series on the imminent arrival of the Mahdi, the Twelfth or Hidden Imam, awaited by Shi'ites as the Messiah.(1)
The program describes in glowing terms the messianic age to be inaugurated by the Mahdi. He is to begin his uprising in Mecca, and then march on Iraq, where he will establish his "seat of world government" in the city of Kufa and subjugate the current world powers. This will be an age of unparalleled happiness; there will be completely new technologies at mankind's disposal, and "corruption, war, and rebellion will no longer exist." Neither will "liberal democratic civilization."
Various days of the year are mentioned as being propitious for the appearance of the Mahdi, though the program says that the precise date cannot be known.
The series also includes, in parts not reproduced here, a lengthy polemic against the West, focusing on Evangelical Christians, Zionism, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and
The following are excerpts from the transcripts of the World Toward Illumination program from the IRIB website, in the original English:(2)
(1): "Miracles of the Messiah Will Soon Be Here"
"...Where is man moving to? What will happen in his future? What fate will today's nations and civilizations have in the future? Will they destroy one another? Will a power, nation or civilization prevail? And finally to what direction will the speed of technology and modernity take man?...
"In the current era new interpretations of happiness and prosperity for man have been brought up. In these interpretations there is talk about welfare and worldly tranquility. Some believe that science and material progress automatically bring about prosperity, and man can attain sublimity on earth... But the world's reality shows that man more than any other time is searching for prosperity and tranquility. The daily increasing production of destructive weapons, domineering tendencies, racist wars, genocide and instability of world markets, all threaten the world's security and tranquility. Now western rulers under the slogan of liberal democracy are tyrannically and oppressively looting the capital of oppressed nations. The weakness of the family foundation, crime, violence, narcotics, human trafficking, anxiety and depression have faced the world's future with serious danger...
"...We invite you to tune in to our next programs to see how the future will turn out to be. And we invite you to listen to an inspiring poem.
"Be joyous my heart, miracles of the Messiah will soon be here
"The scent of breaths of the One we know comes from near
"Grieve not of sorrow and melancholy, as assured I was... last night
"That a Savior will come, it's clear."
(3): "How Beautiful and Auspicious Will Be the Day when the World is Cleansed of Deceit"
"How beautiful and auspicious will be the day when the world is cleansed of deceit and mischief and the government of justice is established throughout the world. On that day the perfume of life will begin to circulate within humans and the aroma of narcissus, irises and chrysanthemums will fill their soul. Undoubtedly such a day is nigh.
"Seeking pure water so thirsty am I,
"Moonlight surely appeals to my eye
"Oh bright dawn I desire you as I sigh
"The luminous sun I seek or I die..."
(6): "We Must Get Ready to Search for the Liberal Democratic Civilization in History Museums"
"...The West due to a lack of spirituality and morality is not able to respond to man's needs. Lack of attention to man's sublime needs in these societies has created social and cultural crises. Thus this civilization like those of many other Western theoreticians is just an unreal theory. It seems that in the same way that the Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini predicted the fall of communism we must get ready to search for the liberal democratic civilization in history museums."
(12): "Everything Will Be New and Fresh Like Spring"
"Undoubtedly, history will not end with the memory of man's failures; man's ultimate fate is not weakness and inability; and the sun will undoubtedly not spare its vital rays from anyone. Many Iranian poets have spoken of the rise of the sun at dawn and consider man to be worthy of living in a bright and beautiful world full of the aroma of spirituality, where there is justice and equality...
"Contrary to the views of western theoreticians, who usually depict an ambiguous and dark future for mankind, Muslim experts believe human history, despite its many ups and downs, has a very auspicious fate, and with the appearance of the Imam of the Age, Hazrat Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance), finally the world matters will gain order. Muslims believe hopes for the realization of such a happy ending for the world, are called 'Awaiting Redemption', and means waiting for man's problems to be solved by the Savior at the end of time. This awaiting influences many, and inspires them with activity and enthusiasm in confronting darkness and oppression for changing the existing situation...
"When that Promised Person who is the direct descendent of the Prophet rises up, the sun of justice and freedom will shine on the hearts and he with his kind hands will extend friendship throughout the world. His face will be attractive and his look charismatic. He is humble before God's greatness. He is a manifestation of God's glory and beauty. Imam Mahdi is the perfect human being. His behavior is praiseworthy and his manners immaculate. He is the embodiment of justice. His torch of guidance is for all mankind...
"In short, when he reappears, peace, justice and security will overcome oppression and deceit and one global government, the most perfect ever, will be established. He will make the earth prosper in a way in which no ruins will remain. Man's maturity will reach its height, full equality will be established among the people, and no one will be arrogant toward the other and will not try to dominate others. Finally, corruption, war and rebellion will no longer exist and everything will be new and fresh like spring."
(13): "Pure and Sincere People Must Be Trained to Help the Savior in His Implementation of Global Justice"
"Sometimes incidents that occur in the world are like an insignificant but infectious pimple that suddenly explodes. Some theoreticians support this view and believe that nothing should stop this volcanic explosion and we should allow corruption to extend so much that the prevailing system would disintegrate. But the uprising of Imam Mahdi... is not like this. This uprising is like a fruit that must pass through stages till it is ready to be picked. Thus, if the Savior has not yet appeared it is not because the world is not full of oppression, but because the time must come for the people to be wise enough and ready to accept justice. Pure and sincere people must be trained in order to help the Savior in his implementation of global justice..."
"He will appear as a handsome young man, clad in neat clothes and exuding the fragrance of paradise. His face will glow with love and kindness for the human beings and because of this reason a famous hadith from the Prophet of Islam... has referred to him as Inn-al-Mahdi Tavous ahl al-Jannah, which means 'Indeed the Mahdi will be like a Peacock among the People of Paradise.' He has a radiant forehead, black piercing eyes and a broad chest. He very much resembles his ancestor Prophet Mohammad... Heavenly light and justice accompany him. He will overcome enemies and oppressors with the help of God, and as per the promise of the Almighty the Mahdi will eradicate all corruption and injustice from the face of the earth and establish the global government of peace, justice and equity.
"Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance) will appear all of a sudden on the world scene with a voice from the skies announcing his reappearance at the holy Ka'ba in
"In our discussion of the world in the last days of the earth we had said in our previous editions of this program that no source has pointed to the exact date when the Savior will appear and only God knows about the exact timing of the reappearance of Imam Mahdi... The Prophet had said: He will certainly appear and if only a day were to be left to the end of the world God will make that day so long for Mahdi to appear and rise. There are various versions of the exact day of his reappearance. Some say it would be Friday and the date will be Ashura or the 10th of Moharram, the heart-rending martyrdom anniversary of his illustrious ancestor, Imam Husain... Others say the date will be the 25th of the month of Zil-Qa'dah and may coincide with the Spring Equinox or Nowrooz as the Iranians call [it]. A saying attributed to the Prophet's 6th infallible heir, Imam Ja'far Sadeq... says the Mahdi will appear on the Spring Equinox and God will make him defeat Dajjal the Impostor or the anti-Christ as the Christians say, who will be hanged near the dump of Kufa....
"Then he will be joined by 313 of the most devoted believers, equivalent to the number of those that had accompanied the Prophet at the Battle of Badr, the first armed encounter imposed by the infidels on the Muslims. Imam Mahdi and steadfast devotees will gather in Mecca; the people of Mecca will be surprised at the presence of so many faithful. These enlightened individuals will pledge allegiance to the Mahdi...
"After his appearance the Imam would remain in
"Another beautiful moment of the Savior's appearance is the coming down of Prophet Jesus... from heaven. Hazrat Mahdi receives him courteously and asks him to lead the prayers. But Jesus says you are more qualified for this than me. We read in the book Tazkarat ol-Olia, 'the Mahdi will come with Jesus son of Mary accompanying him.' This indicates that these two great men... complement each other. Imam Mahdi will be the leader while Prophet Jesus will act as his lieutenant in the struggle against oppression and [for the] establishment of justice in the world. Jesus had himself given the tidings of the coming of God's last messenger and will see Mohammad's ideals materialize in the time of the Mahdi. The seat of the Mahdi's global government will be the city of Kufa, where his headquarters will be the Sahla Mosque, presently outside the city that was the home of Prophet Idrees or Enoch long before the great deluge of the times of Prophet Noah. From here he will dominate the east and the west to fill the earth with justice...
"God will enliven the earth through the Mahdi after the corruption and vice wrought by the oppressors and sinner[s]. Thus his appearance will take place when morality and humanity have reached a dead end. The people's yearning for justice in the midst of all the oppression allows him to carry out his mission. In our time, many pray for his appearance and each day they renew their allegiance to him. "O God, make me one of his companions, show me his respected and bright visage, and hasten his reappearance."
"When the sun of freedom and justice shines, the sounds of a rider coming from afar will be heard. The winds obey him, and in his presence the turbulent seas and fiery storms will reach the shore of calmness. The appearance of the Savior will make the fragrance of eternal justice embellish the soul of the earth. The Mahdi... himself will say, my existence is the cause of security and peace for the world people.
"There are various narrations on the global government of peace and justice of Imam Mahdi (may God hasten his reappearance and cleanse the Planet of all vestiges of sin and corruption). Narrations on the global government of justice, the universal government, the government of the deprived, the government of welfare and security, and each of these indicates one aspect of the Savior's government. The justice-spreading universal government encompasses all these. Prophet Mohammad... has been quoted as saying: I give you the good tidings of the Mahdi. He will rise in my Ummah [i.e. the Muslim nation], while my Ummah is entangled in differences and deviations. He will fill the earth that is immersed in oppression, with justice. And all those in heaven and earth will be content with him...
"...One of the first measures of Imam Mahdi... is fighting all centers of domination and power-mongering. In this way, Global Arrogance [i.e. the West headed by America] and its minions puffed up by their economic and military might will try to create problems but they will not be able to change anything in their favor. The Mahdi considers his programs within the framework of conventional criteria, and says: Fear God and surrender to us and hand over the affairs to us. It is up to us to quench your thirst from the spring, as we are the one[s] who take you to its source.
"The Mahdi's far-sightedness and firmness in the face of mischievous elements will strike awe. After his uprising from
"Thus, as is clear, in the justice-seeking government the clouds give way to bright sunshine, as the Promised Savior spreads his radiance on the earth. God's infinite kindness will give refuge to mankind and the brightness of truth and justice will be seen in all dimensions of life."
"... Regarding the Islamic goal of the perfect and ideal state, it should be noted that the world desired by Islam is not a far-fetched idea like the utopia of the West in which the realities of today's society have no effect. Since the natural growth of man is toward sublimity, dedicated Muslims in each and every era strive to materialize the characteristics of the promised society to the best of their ability... The Father of the Islamic Revolution, Imam Khomeini (may his soul rest in peace) used to emphasize this and would say: We, of course, cannot fill the world with justice now. If we could we certainly would. But since we cannot, he, the Savior must come. The world is full of oppression and if we can prevent oppression we will have carried out our part of the duty..."
"With the reappearance of Imam Mahdi... conflicts, differences and discriminations that stem from lack of faith and atheism in the society will be eliminated. The shortcomings of religions and schools of thought will be clarified and Islam will prevail as the perfect pinnacle of faith. In other words, methods will become one and oneness will appear in people's beliefs. The Mahdi will materialize the call of the holy Qur'an, which throughout its text has urged mankind to unite and worship the One and the Only God without associating partners to him. The writer of the book Imamate and Mahdaviyat, says: the idea of placing humanity under one religion irrespective of their color, gender, language, class and ethnicity is a gift given by Islam to humanity..."
"... In the weird system of today's powerful count[r]ies, moral and spiritual values have no place and are seen as undesirable liabilities that prevent these powers from reaching economic welfare and what they call true prosperity. However, the exploitation of the weak, the unjust system of distribution and denial of the rights of nations, will end with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi...
"One of the characteristics of the global government of the Mahdi is the astounding growth of science and technology. There will be an explosion of science. As we said last week, knowledge is made of 27 letters and up to now whatever man has discovered is within the confines of only 2 letters. But when the Mahdi appears the other 25 letters of knowledge will be at the service of mankind, which is something not imaginable with the limited knowledge that we have today despite the seemingly great progress in science and technology. The Mahdi will correct man's scientific mistakes and bring up new and astonishing methods that had never occurred to man before... The Mahdi will also regain the wealth and properties that have unrightfully been usurped by invaders and oppressors and distribute divine blessings among the people. Imam Baqer... says he will divide them with such equality that there will no longer be any poor person. In Islam's logic justice and good relations among people will lead to the flow of abundant divine blessings from the sky. Since people will have the best of qualities vital rains will pour down and all the earth will be filled with greenness and freshness. The Prophet had said in this regard: in my Ummah, the Mahdi will rise and people will gain such welfare as never seen before. The sky will repeatedly rain and the earth will hide none of the things it can grow."
(1) It is not stated if and when the series was broadcast or at what venue. The document posted on the website is divided into 18 parts; the final segments are dated
(2) "The World Towards Illumination," http://english.irib.ir/IRAN/Leader/Illumination.htm .
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