Two-thirds of a billion Muslims expect the Mahdi – the last Islamic imam they believe will come and rule the world – to arrive in their lifetimes, according to a new Pew Research poll.
The results affirm the warnings from author Joel Richardson, whose just-released book “Mideast Beast” it moving up Amazon listings.
It’s a sequel to his New York Times bestselling 2009 “The Islamic Antichrist,” and it recently surged past Joel Rosenberg’s “Implosion: Can America Recover from its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?” and “The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days” by Mark Hitchcock to claim the top spot in the Eschatology category on Amazon.
In a column written in WND, Richardson notes that he has been criticized repeatedly for believing many Muslims have a faith in the coming Mahdi, especially that there are a significant number who believe that will happen soon.
The survey by Pew Research notes that in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, “half or more Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi. This expectation is most widespread in Afghanistan (83 percent), Iraq (72 percent), Tunisia (67 percent) and Malaysia (62 percent).
The survey said that belief drops to about four-in-10 across Central Asia, except for Turkey, where 68 percent expect to witness his return. It drops slightly further across southern and eastern Europe.
“In some countries with sizable Sunni and Shi’a populations, views on the Mahdi’s return differ by sect. In Iraq, for example, Shi’as are more likely than Sunnis to expect the Mahdi to return in their lifetime, by an 88 percent to 55 percent margin. In Azerbaijan, the difference between the two groups is also large (25 percentage points),” the report said. “Differences between Shi’as and Sunnis on this issue may reflect the more central role that the Mahdi’s return plays in Shi’a Islam.”
The result? An estimated 672 million Muslims expect to witness the Mahdi’s return.
On his portrayal that such a belief is widespread, Richardson said, “I have certainly had my share of critics, not only from the pollyannas on the left, but also from within the Christian church.”
He said, for example, prophecy teacher and evangelist David Reagan has been vocal, saying, “Richardson’s presentation of what Muslims believe about the end times is very misleading, for what he presents is the Shi’ite version which revolves around the concept of an Islamic Messiah called the Mahdi. He leaves the impression that all the Islamic world is living in breathless anticipation of the appearance of the Mahdi, when the reality is that 90 percent of all Muslims – the Sunnis – are not looking for a Mahdi.”
Richardson said until now it’s been hard to refute any statements regarding the percentage of Muslims who await the Mahdi.
“Now, for the first time, a comprehensive study including tens of thousands of Muslims, in over 23 countries, were asked if they believed that the Mahdi’s emergence was imminent, that it would occur within their lifetimes. And the results conclusively prove that which I have been warning about all along,” he wrote.
Richardson explains that the false claim that only 10 percent of Muslims await the Mahdi may now be “put to bed.”
“The bottom line is that it is far worse, far more widespread than even I would have guessed,” he wrote.
And in Turkey, from which he believes the Antichrist will come, “68 percent of Turks, a large majority, are expecting the imminent appearance of the Mahdi.”
“Certainly the popularity of Mahdism within Turkey, when combined with the concurrent radical rise in (1) Turkish nationalism and Neo-Ottoman aspirations, and (2) anti-Semitism within Turkey, in so many ways, sets the stage for this nation to move toward fulfilling many of the last days prophecies of the Bible,” he wrote.
“Another important factor that I have been trying to make for years, is that although conventional wisdom has placed all emphasis on Iran as the nation that would produce a false Mahdi claimant (I say claimant, as there actually is no such thing as the Mahdi), the real danger has always lay with the Sunni world.
“The primary reason for this is because while the leaders of Iran regularly make a lot of noise concerning the the Mahdi – often referred to by them as the 12th Imam – there are some very strong reasons that it is highly unlikely that Iran will ever see a genuine Mahdi claimant figure arise. What outsiders must understand is that Iranian Muslim scholars have developed a very thorough systematic theology to essentially guard against any false Mahdi claimant from emerging. … I do not believe that Iran will ever produce Mahdi claimant who will ever be received widely by the leaders or the people of that nation.”
“In my book ‘Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast,’ I walk the alert reader through the frightening world of Islamic apocalyptic views, comparing them with the biblical prophecies concerning the coming of the Antichrist, showing beyond any doubt that in the Islamic doctrine of the Mahdi, the world should in fact be very concerned. In my new book, ‘Mideast Beast,’ I demonstrate beyond any doubt, the scriptural case for an Islamic Antichrist. As always, it is time for the Christian world to wake up and fall to their knees in prayer. The hour is far later than most think.”
It was in “The Islamic Antichrist,” Richardson’ stunning research and analysis suggested that the biblical Antichrist and Islam’s primary messiah figure (the Mahdi) could be the same person. Now, taking a hard look at the most significant biblical end-time texts, “Mideast Beast” argues persuasively that the Antichrist, his empire and his religion will come from the Middle East and not Europe as has been widely taught by many modern prophecy teachers.
The Pew project reviewed what Muslims believe about angels, predestination or fate, the afterlife, heaven and hell (99 percent in Thailand believe in eternal punishment), the Mahdi’s imminent return and the return of Jesus, who many Muslims believe will deny Christianity and pledge allegiance to Allah.