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Holiest Wars


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Details how Muslim extremists could use popular belief in Mahdism-a little-known, messianic aspect of Islam-to advance a jihad against non-Muslims.

Table of Contents

What is Mahdism and Where Does it Come From? Mahdist Movements Throughout History Counter-Mahdist Rationales and Policies The Virtual Mahdi Today Modern Muslim Anti-Mahdists Conclusion

About the Author

TIMOTHY R. FURNISH teaches world history at Georgia Perimeter College. He learned Arabic while serving in U.S. Army Intelligence and received his doctorate in Islamic History from Ohio State University.


"This is probably the single most important book in English on this topic." - Evangelics Now
"While cautious about designating any currently visible Islamic fundamentalist as the next Mahdi, Furnish argues that it is only a matter of time before Mahdism reemerges full-blown. And when that happens, all bets will be off and no rules will apply, inside or outside the Islamic community. It is a grim prospect - but one all too credible in the context of Furnish's scholarship." - MultiCultural Review
"Throughout the history of Islam, a number of revolutionary movements have emerged that were centered on a rightly guided one who was meant to lead the world to rightness. These movements were based on a branch of Islam known as Mahdism, a topic that Timothy Furnish argues is overlooked in most discussions of the Middle East. Because of the potential of a Mahdist movement to create sweeping changes through violent means, Furnish believes Mahdism to be a particularly applicable subject to the modern context of the Middle East. Furnish addresses the origins of Mahdism, Mahdism throughout history, as well as the potential for a Mahdist movement in modern times." - Middle East Journal
"[P]rovides a perspective on Mahdism, a belief in a messianic figure in Islamic tradition who will unite all Muslims, and debates within the Muslim world on whether bin Laden is that figure." - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Jews, Christians and Muslims will all profit from this book because it describes a tradition deeply rooted in all three religions and surprisingly relevant to the current geopolitical situation....[F]urnish writes about Mahdism, the Islamic tradition that anticipates the appearance of a messianic figure who will purify and unite Islam, eradicate all socioeconomic injustices in the world and establish the Muslim faith as a universal religion. This idea is rooted in Judaism, is similar to Christian eschatological ideas and is hotly debated throughout the Muslim world....Most fascinating (and fearful) are his musings about Osama bin Laden's Mahdist potential, especially considering this sobering assertion: Muslim messianic movements are to fundamentalist uprisings what nuclear weapons are to conventional ones: triggered by the same detonating agents, but far more powerful in scope and effect." - The Lexington Herald Leader/The Wichita Eagle/Birmingham News/The Dallas Morning

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