Why Iran Matters: Ahmadinejad and the Mahdi

There are difficult choices facing us in Iraq: The most popular option, an expedited withdrawal, would be disastrous for both our national security and the Iraqi people. "Cutting and running" would leave Iran as the regional superpower and threaten the safety of our only reliable and democratic ally in the region: Israel.

To understand why leaving Iran as the regional power would be such a disaster, you need to understand the nature and worldview of the Iranian regime, and especially Iran's president: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Like the rest of Iran's elite, Ahmadinejad, who was elected president in 2005, is a Shiite, but no ordinary Shiite. He is what is sometimes called a "Mahdite," which takes its name from the descendant of Mohammed known as the Twelfth Imam, the Mahdi.

Devotees of the Mahdi believe that he didn't die back in the ninth century but, instead, was hidden by God. They believe that in a time of "terrible and unprecedented calamities" in which "persecution and injustice… engulf the earth," the Mahdi will return with Jesus at his side and "establish peace and justice on this earth."

If all this were just bad eschatology, it would not be our problem. But there's more — a lot more. It's clear from Ahmadinejad's words and actions that he sees himself and Iran as playing a pivotal role in establishing "peace and justice on this earth."

For instance, there was his bizarre appearance at the United Nations (UN) in which he prayed that God would "bestow upon humanity… the perfect being," that is, the Mahdi. Since the Mahdi's return must be preceded by "terrible and unprecedented calamities," Ahmadinejad's prayer can only be answered at the cost of great suffering. And the crowds at the UN applauded.

Nobody knows the danger better than Israel. In an October 2005 speech Ahmadinejad called the Jewish state a "disgraceful stain [on] the Islamic world," that it must be "eliminated from the pages of history."

While the Iranians and some Western commentators tried to spin away this obvious threat, former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin saw through the fog. He said that "this threat to Israel's existence, this call for genocide coupled with Iran's obvious nuclear ambitions is a matter that the world cannot ignore."

And ignoring it would be insane when you recall Ahmadinejad's role during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s: He commanded the Basiji, teenage "volunteers" who "cleared [Iraqi] mines with their own bodies." Children!

But Europe will ignore it. Pro-Palestinian sympathies are rising along with anti-Semitism. If the Iranian-backed Hezbollah attacked Israel, or if Ahmadinejad releases his missiles, Israel could be wiped off the face of the earth. Ahmadinejad is not squeamish, especially when he believes that God has willed something. Now, imagine him with nuclear weapons, in effective control of most of the world's oil, the United States having cut and run, abandoning the region, and Europe unconcerned.

Could Ahmadinejad bring about an Armageddon of sorts? I never have speculated about end times prophecy because no man knows the time and the place. But I have read Genesis 12:2-3, and that's why I am praying fervently for godly wisdom for our leaders.

Subscribe to CE
(It's free)

Go to Catholic Exchange homepage