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Islam’s Views on the Coming Messiah

Written by Prof Johan Malan.

There are different Islamic views on the coming world messiah, who is referred to by them as the Imam Mahdi. Many Muslims expect the reappearance of a former Imam who will unite the various factions of the Islamic faith, destroy all infidels and establish the worldwide rule of Allah in accordance with the Koran and Islam’s Shariah law. But there is also a growing school of thought in which it is held that Jesus Christ will be the world Messiah – not the Jesus of the Bible but the distorted Jesus of the Koran. Jesus is mentioned 97 times in the Koran.

Concerted efforts are made to define Jesus in terms of Islamic concepts, thereby claiming Him as one of Islam’s great prophets. These views are advanced in various booklets which are printed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and distributed by various Islamic propagation centres around the globe. Examples of these booklets are: “We believe in Jesus” by Soliman H. Al-But’he, “Qur’anic verses about Christianity” by Abdullah Al-Saeed, “A brief illustrated guide to understanding Islam,” by I.A. Ibrahim, and “Jesus is coming” by A.H. Jacob.

The ‘Islamic prophet, Jesus’

In the booklet “Jesus is coming,” A.H. Jacob rejects the Bible as the infallible Word of God: “The Bible is distorted, changed and no longer the Book of God...” (p. 22). Consequently, Islam’s views on Jesus and the Antichrist are derived from the Koran. They do not regard Jesus as God nor the Son of God (p. 20,21), and also refute the biblical account of His crucifixion: “The Qur’anic teaching is that Jesus Christ was not crucified nor killed by the Jews” (p. 25). According to this teaching somebody else was crucified in his place and under his name.

The author says the following about the Antichrist: “The False Messiah will be a young man with rough hair, and one of his eyes will stick out... He will come from the road between Syria and Iraq and will cause destruction and bloodshed right and left” (p. 9).

In this booklet, the author mostly dwells on the identity, teachings and second coming of Jesus Christ as the great forerunner of Mohammad. He says:

“The Messiah, son of Mary, will descend to earth in Damascus. Jesus Christ will search for the False Messiah (the Antichrist) and catch hold of him at the gate of Lod near Jerusalem and kill him” (p. 10).

“God’s Messenger Mohammad said, Surely Jesus, the son of Mary, will shortly descend among you people (Muslims) and will rule and judge mankind justly by the law of the Qur’an and the Sunna. He will break the cross and forbid the sale and consumption of pork...” (p. 15).

“Jesus will come back as a follower of God’s last Messenger, Mohammad and revive the true religion of God, Islam... He is coming back to rule mankind justly by God’s last and final message to mankind, the Holy Qur’an, as well as by the tradition of the Prophet Mohammad. He will guide humanity toward Islamic monotheism, to worship God alone, and to follow the footsteps of His last Messenger, Mohammad, and warn people of the eternal consequences of polytheism” (p. 17,18).

“Jesus will destroy the false doctrines that pass in his name, such as the belief that God is a trinity, declaring that such a belief is polytheism, the belief in many gods. He will stress the fact that God is One, Absolute, and not a composite unity. Jesus will not view himself with God in a father-son relationship. Rather, he will view his relationship with God as a master-slave relationship... Jesus will deny that he has any of God’s attributes. He never claimed to be God or referred to himself as the son of God. He was only a prophet and a grateful slave of God” (p. 20,21).

“In his second coming, he will declare that he is a slave of God, who follows his brother, Prophet Mohammad, the last Messenger of God. Jesus will perform the prayer in the right way as the Muslims do, give charity, fast during the month of Ramadan, and perform the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) and the Umrah” (p. 23).

“Jesus is coming back to deny the false claim that the Jews killed him, and those Christians who, in ignorance, believe them. He will fight the Jews and kill the False Messiah. The Jews will be the soldiers and followers of the False Messiah, and during his time, the Jews will have a very powerful government till Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, descends. He will search for the False Messiah, catch him and kill him. Then Jesus and his Muslim companions will fight against the Jews till some of them hide between the stones... He will also kill the Christians who adore the cross. Thereafter, when both parties are defeated and polytheism and disbelief are cleansed from the earth, that is the time when peace and tranquillity will prevail amongst the people” (p. 24).

The author devotes a long section on how Jesus, at His second coming, will forbid the eating of pork (p. 27-29). He says: “Jesus will strictly forbid selling, keeping and eating pork. He will even order the pigs killed... Jesus cursed whoever eats it... Yet pork is the favourite dish of the Christians. God the Exalted forbids eating pork in his last Book, the Qur’an” (p. 27).

Muslims say that Jesus lived for 33 years on earth, and that he will return for the remaining seven years of his prophetic ministry of 40 years. They will, therefore, accept the Antichrist as “Jesus!”

These views on the world messiah are held by many of the Sunni Muslims.

The Shiite Imam

About 86% of all Muslims are Sunnis. Sunnah means Tradition and refers to the fact that this group upholds a collection of traditions (the hadiths) which are observed on the same level as the Koran. They recognise all the kalifs who rule in the Muslim world as successors of Mohammad, while the Shiites regard the first three kalifs as intruders who usurped the position of Mohammad, and whose teachings are also rejected. There is bitter enmity among the Sunnis and Shiites. There are large groups of Shiite Muslims in Iran and Iraq. Iran is the major stronghold of this group.

The Shiites have a strong expectation of the coming of the 12th Imam as world Messiah. The leader of Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who threatened to wipe Israel off the map, accepted the role of paving the way for the coming Imam. Tony Pearce (Light for the Last Days, Winter 2005) says the following about this dictator:

“Ahmadinejad says that the wave of the Islamist revolution will soon reach the entire world. He believes that the world is heading for a clash of civilisations in which Islam is the only credible alternative to Western domination. And he is convinced that Islam can and will win.

“There is nothing more dangerous in the world than a religious fanatic who seeks to impose his idea of justice by force. Part of Ahmadinejad’s conviction comes from his belief in the second coming of the 12th Imam. According to the Shiite version of Islam the 12th descendant of Mohammad, known as the 12th Imam or the Mahdi, went into hiding in 941, more than a thousand years ago. Shiites believe that he will reappear when the world has become full of oppression and tyranny. They believe that he is hidden in the Jamkaran well in Iran, which is a place of pilgrimage for believers who drop their requests for help into the well in the hope that the Imam will read them and come to their aid.

“Ahmadinejad has said, ‘Our revolution’s main mission is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam, the Mahdi... His government held a formal cabinet meeting in which it was agreed to sign an agreement with the 12th Imam... A large number of Ahmadinejad’s close allies are talking about preparing the ground for the hidden Imam’s imminent manifestation and seriously and explicitly relate it to Iran’s nuclear programme... They argue that they ought to help spread evil, tyranny and oppression in order to facilitate the coming of the 12th Imam.”

The Shiites believe that the Imam Mahdi will reign on earth for seven years, before bringing about a final judgement and the end of the world. Ahmadinejad’s government has already decided to sign an agreement with him. Daniel says that when the false messiah comes, “he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week [of seven years]” (Dan. 9:27).

There are those in Iran who expect the Imam’s appearing within the next two years or so. Ahmadinejad is of the opinion that the country should prepare for this event by building enough hotels for the large number of tourists and pilgrims who will visit their country.

Future developments

Iran has a very dark future. The new generation of revolutionary leaders have vowed to plunge the world into evil, tyranny and oppression as that would hasten the coming of their evil messiah. But there are also those who are backing away from the intended course of a global showdown between Islam and the West. Although they have originally supported the Islamic revolution of the Ayatollah Khomeini they are now in despair at the direction Ahmadinejad is taking the country.

Mohammad Abtahi, a one time vice president of Iran, has resigned from office and warned that radical Islamist hardliners have captured all the control centres of power in Iran. He said, “What lies ahead for us and for you is a long night of darkness. These people will play the nuclear card just the same as the card of global terror.”

According to Ezekiel 38 and 39, Iran (the former Persia) will indeed attack Israel in an effort to wipe it off the map. This war will be a joint venture by Magog (an ancient name for modern Russia), Iran, Turkey, Libya, Ethiopia, and many other peoples with them (Ezek. 38:2-8,15-16). Although Russia has a large supply of nuclear weapons the description of this war is that of a big military invasion of Israel and not the use of long-range nuclear missiles.

This invasion will inevitably lead to a worldwide military alert and the deployment of nuclear weapons by various nations. But the Lord will suddenly and unexpectedly intervene in the war and destroy the enemy forces on the mountains of Israel (Ezek. 38:22; 39:1-5). It will be a scene of utter destruction and, according to the King James Version, only a sixth part of the invading forces will survive the divine judgement (Ezek. 39:2). Israel will gather the spoils of war and it will take them seven years to burn and recycle the military hardware (Ezek. 39:9).

The seven years following the abrupt end to this war will most probably be the seven years during which Israel and the nations will conclude a covenant with the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27). He will appear at the critical moment directly after the destruction of the invading forces, and will pose as a Messenger of God who came just at the right time to deliver humanity from a self-destructing nuclear war. Israel will be saved from the jaws of death.

The leaders and people of Israel will give glory to God for this mighty act of deliverance, but wrongly accept a satanic impostor as the promised Messiah (John 5:43). The other nations will follow suit. This prince of peace will ride on a white horse and exalt himself above every god. He will pretend to be the universal messiah of all faiths – i.e. Jesus Christ to the Christians, the Imam Mahdi to the Muslims, Krishna to the Hindus, and the Maitreya Buddha to the Buddhists.

After an initial period of false peace he will be revealed as a most violent man who will “take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another” (Rev. 6:4). “He shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many... yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him” (Dan. 11:44-45). His end is described in the last book of the Bible. It will take place on the day when the true Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. John says:

“And I saw the beast [the Antichrist], the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse [the true Christ] and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet… These two were cast alive into the lake of fire… And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse. And all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev. 19:19-21; cf. Zech. 14:2-4,12-13).

All Messianic expectations outside the true Christ, who is the Son of God and God Himself manifest in a human body, are focussed on the Antichrist. All the deceived peoples of the world will conclude a covenant with the false messiah because of not personally knowing the only true Saviour of a spiritually lost humanity (cf. John 5:43; Acts. 4:12). There are many deluded forerunners of the false messiah who are paving the way for his imminent appearance. His reign of seven years will be the world’s coming hour of darkness.

Addendum

The following commentary on Revelation 6 by Jack Kelley of www.gracethrufaith.com also supports the Biblical expectation that the Antichrist will arise from the Islamic world in the Middle East. The commentary is titled, “The Four Horsemen and the al Mahdi”:

“Now I watched when the Lamb opened one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures say with a voice like thunder, Come! And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer” (Rev 6:1-2).

The first of the seven seals is broken early in the 70th week of Daniel, just after the church has disappeared. Liberal scholars often identify the rider of the white horse as the Lord Jesus, pointing to his crown and the fact that he's a conqueror. I think some part of their conclusion comes from watching all those TV westerns as kids, where the good guys always rode white horses. I say that because this rider is most definitely not Jesus. He's the Antichrist.

What Makes You Think So?

In the first place he carries a bow. The Lord's weapon of choice is a sword. The reason he has no arrows is that he won't use force to make his initial impact on Earth. He comes as a peacemaker (Daniel 8:25). Since the Book of Revelation is filled with symbolism explained elsewhere in the Bible, I looked for the first mention of a man with a bow, hoping to get an additional clue to this rider's identity. I found it in Genesis 21:20, referring to Ishmael.

As details of Islamic eschatology become more widely known, prophecy students are discovering a striking similarity between descriptions of al Mahdi, the Moslem Messiah, and a figure Christians call the Antichrist. I've made mention of these in previous articles, how both come on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth, both come claiming a desire to restore peace, both have a seven year reign, both head a one world religion and one world government, both claim supernatural origins, and both reigns end in a battle between good and evil that brings Earth's final judgment.

The number of similarities between the two defies coincidence and continues to grow as knowledge of al Mahdi increases. Now with the connection between the Bible's first archer and the man with a bow in Rev. 6, another piece of the puzzle may have fallen into place. Mohammed was descended from Kedar, second son of Ishmael, and Al Mahdi is the 12th Iman descended from Mohammed. Jack Kinsella, in his commentary entitled "The Third Pillar of Antichrist" makes an excellent case for Islam being the religion of Antichrist. (The Omega Letter Intelligence Digest Vol: 53 Issue: 25 – Saturday, February 25, 2006 www.omegaletter.com) When you read it, you'll understand that after the Church is gone, those who also call themselves the church, but have been left behind, won't have much trouble at all accepting Islam. And like Paul said, the addition of a few "miracles" into the mix will be all it takes to deceive the whole world (2 Thes.2:9).

Got Anything Else?

In the second place this guy's wearing the wrong kind of crown. The Greek word for a King's crown is diadem. But this one wears a stephanos, or victor's crown. It was the award given to winners in the ancient Olympics and other public games. It was typically an ivy wreath, and in fact the word stephanos comes from a root meaning wreath. It identifies the wearer as a conqueror, but not as royalty. And in Revelation 13 where the Great Tribulation begins, we're told that He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation (Rev. 13:7). Why would Jesus make war with the tribulation saints to conquer them? Like I said, while he fools people into thinking he's the Christ, he's really the Antichrist.

“When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, Come! And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that men should slay one another, and he was given a great sword” (Rev. 6:3-4).

This is the point at which the Antichrist turns to war to establish his authority over human governments and turn the world toward his religion. The Moslem prophecies say this will be Islam, of course, and the Koran teaches conversion or death as the only alternatives available to non-believers. Current studies speculate that Europe, far into its post Christian era, may already be on the verge of yielding to the growing Moslem influence, but other parts of the world will resist, causing much bloodshed.

If You Think This Is Bad …

Historically, the great sword was a long two-handed weapon wielded by mighty warriors who received double the average soldier's wage. With overwhelming strength they hacked their way through enemy lines, leaving a gaping hole for the regular troops who followed. In just this way the Antichrist will use supernatural power to tighten his grip on the world, enforcing his will upon the people of Earth. And remember, the Seal judgments are just the beginning of Daniel's 70th week. The last half, called the Great Tribulation, is still to come and is significantly more deadly.

“When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, Come! And I looked, and behold, a black horse! And its rider had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures, saying, "A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius, and do not harm the oil and wine!" (Rev 6:5-6).

Two things result when the world is plunged into uncertainty and wars erupt. First comes inflation, causing the prices of everything to skyrocket. When John wrote this, a denarius was the average pay for a day's work, and that's what it will cost to buy a quart of wheat, about enough food for one day. Think of it. For many, a whole days wages will barely buy enough food for that day. The next day it starts all over again. No money left for anything else.

Of course, the wealthy always benefit from inflation. When they see it coming, they're able to convert their wealth into things that are either inflation proof, or actually increase in value during periods of inflation. The earliest example of this is comes from the Book of Genesis, when Joseph, who gained control of the world's wheat supply on Pharaoh's behalf, eventually acquired the entire wealth of Egypt in exchange for it. That's what John meant by not harming the oil and wine, commodities that in his day were symbols of wealth. The vision he saw was famine amidst plenty. Both the Book of Daniel and the Moslem prophecies speak of the Antichrist/al Mahdi showering lavish gifts on his followers while forcing his enemies into submission (Daniel 11:39,44).

“When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, Come! And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by wild beasts of the earth” (Rev. 6:7-8).

The second result of war is famine and pestilence. Crops and food processing facilities are destroyed. Transportation networks are disrupted. Dead bodies are left where they fall and public health systems break down. Mass starvation and rampant disease often claim more victims than the battles that caused them. Animals become desperate for food and attack humans. Some think the phrase "a fourth of the Earth" relates to geography and some think it describes the number of people involved. Either way, many will suffer and die during this time, while those not in the direct path of war will enjoy a false sense of peace and prosperity.

“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth? Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been” (Rev. 6:9-11).

Just as the church has a fixed number to achieve before its time on Earth is fulfilled (Romans 11:25) so it is for believers who're martyred for their faith following the Church's disappearance.