Mesbah Yazdi: Mahdaviat: IRI’s Hope or Despair
مهدویت-امید یا ناامیدی جمهوری اسلامی
P.S. January 2, 2021: New postscript added to the Persian version. SG
How can one have millenarianists in power and still work for millenarianism, this is the dilemma that Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi has solved in Iran. In the recent convention on Mahdaviat Doctrine, he said the return of Mahdi does not mean that everything should become evil, rather one should work to make the society more and more Islamic to reach Mehdi’s rule [See the news report attached to the Persian text of this article].
All this may sound contradictory to the beliefs of many millenarianist groups including the Shi’a ones, when they are not in power, and call for the Golden Age upon the destruction of the existing state. Of course perhaps Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi like some of his counterparts among Christian millenarianist can say between Mehdi’s reign and the final end of the world, there will be a brief period to allow a final battle with evil to be followed by the last judgment.
I am sure we will hear more about such theological dilemmas I noted as well, and Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi’s preliminary solution of reconciling the presence in the highest ranks of power in Iran and at the same time calling for millenarianism will not be the last theological issue he will need to solve. But that is not the topic of my article here.
Mr. Mesbah has noted in the same convention that there are millenarianists believing in Mehdi among the Sunnis too and this is not as far as he has opened the circle to include all Muslims, rather he even called on millenarianists of other religions by de-emphasizing Islam and emphasizing Mahdaviat. He says "if we eliminate some of the characteristic that we believe in, the concept of Mahdaviat will expand and will no longer be limited to the 12 Imami Shiism but can be expanded and can promote its meaning in all religions."
What is very interesting in Mr. Mesbah’s address to the Mahdaviat convention is his note about *globalization* and how this relates to Mahdaviat. This definitely separates Mesbah from what has been the Medieval focus of many Ayatollahs in the high echelons of IRI including Jannati, etc.
Some wonder if Mesbah’s focus
on Mahdaviat at the expense of de-emphasizing the *Islamic* element is similar
to Babi movement at the end of Qajar dynasty in Iran, which gave rise to the
Baha’i Religion. The reality is that this movement is *not* much of an
opposition movement the way it was with Babi’s or even the Forghan in the first
years of the
But, what separates Utopia of all millenarianists from real scientific analysis of the future is that they are looking to find the past in the future, whether they call it by religious or non-religious expressions. The story of millenarianism and despotic systems based on it is as old as the human civilization and neither started with Islam and Shi’a nor will it end with it.
What is interesting about the new rise of millenarianism in Islamic Republic is that this regime did not take this route, which could be a possible route at the beginning, and resorted to some pragmatist approach very soon after the success of Revolution, because of the war with Iraq, and continued on the pragmatic path long after the war because of fear of the external threat.
Khatami’s reducing the external threat
for IRI by talking reform, actually helped the millenarianists to take heart to
take reign though *belatedly* in the last presidential election, and he is still
effective in reducing the foreign threat for the regime. This belatedness is
best expressed by Mesbah when he calls the
But doing it at the end shows the hypocrisy of such Messiah's so quickly that it will be very short-lived. So even if the terms like IslamoFascism or IslamoCommunism can be applied to the IRI regime in its final years, this should be done with an understanding that such a millenarianists regime cannot last long in the period of fall of the regime, regardless of how much its advocates want to show themselves like the powerful generals of a new revolutionary regime backed by popular support, which they no longer command.
Although the Iran’s millenarianists
started their new offensive in Iran with a bang when pushing Ahmadinejad to the
forefront as president, they are now working very *quietly* to take over various
institutions of power in Iran including the Assembly of Experts and not having
enough cadres, they are recruiting from the rank and file of
The end of Islamic Republic of
Iran has started for some time [http://www.ghandchi.com/
Mahdaviat is not a solution on par with
globalization, rather it is the a retrogression to the past for those who cannot
see that pseudo-promises of social justice with phraseology of
It is understandable that one wishes to
take solace in easily available solutions of the past as the panacea of the
pains of today but unfortunately the comfort will be short-lived and the
consolation will not make a difference in the real life which will experience
defeat of such solutions, as I wrote about reality of Ahmadinejad’s promises in
the first days of his government [http://www.ghandchi.com/
Hoping for a democratic and secular futurist republic in Iran,
November 10, 2006
For a Secular Democratic & Futurist Republican Party in Iran