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Mahdi proclamation sparks mass pilgrimage
#1
<big>Mahdi proclamation sparks mass pilgrimage</big>
<small>Al-Jazeera/Bashir Kalid Abdullah</small>

MECCA, D.V. -- Although the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage of the Muslim faithful to the Grand Mosque and the site of the Kabbah, is not due to start until next week, millions of Muslims have already descended upon the holy city and the shrine of the Kabbah to show their support for a man believed to be the prophesied redeemer of Islam and ruler in the last days before the final judgment.

According to Islamic doctrine and recorded statements from the prophet Muhammad, in the final days God is to send Muhammad' successor known as the Mahdi to rule the world and establish righteousness. Twelver Shia tradition holds that the twelfth Imam to succeed Muhammad was in fact the Mahdi and disappeared in AD 941 at the age of five, and has since been in occultation, a state of suspended living while hidden from the world.

The man who has recently claimed to be the Mahdi is in fact a Shia Muslim who claims the same name as the 12th Imam: Muhammad al-Hasan Al-Mahdi. Al-Jazeera News has learned that al-Hasan has been found to hail from the Saudi city of Medina where he was raised by schoolmasters since being found as an abandoned child with no birth certificate or any supporting documentation about his ancestry or lineage. It is not known who gave him the name Muhammad al-Hasan, in itself a relatively common name essentially meaning "Muhammad the Good" or "Muhammad the Handsome." His use of the name "al-Mahdi" appears to have begun sometime within the past three years as a means citizens of Medina began to use to address al-Hasan.

Shortly prior to al-Hasan's revelation in Mecca, he is said to have been present at two major demonstrations, though veiled and heavily guarded by attendants who refused to give interviews. The first gathering was at the Shrine of Imam Husayn in Karbala, the third holiest site in the world to Shia Muslims, and the second was only two days before his appearance in Mecca, at the Great Mosque of Sana'a in Yemen. In both locations it was said al-Hasan appeared before the gathered crowds and performed a feat of vanishing.

"It was a miracle unlike anything I have seen before," described Masoud al-Anwar, a witness to the demonstration in Karbala who has since made his way to Mecca. "He was just gone. And then I felt something move through all of us gathered, some presence, pulling me. Bringing me here. As if the hand of God was moving me."

Al-Anwar wiped a tear from his eye, hand shaking. "It is a miracle. Allah has blessed us by sending us a leader to show us the true path!"

Similar descriptions were given by other witnesses from both the Karbala and the Yemen appearances.

Supporters of al-Hasan continue to pour into the holy city. Those arriving are seen in increasing numbers bearing flags: arrivals from the west predominantly arrive with the Flag of the Caliphate, a white flag bearing the Shahada -- the holy phrase "There is no god but God and Muhammad is his Messenger" -- in black. Arrivals from the east appear to carry the Black Flag of Khorasan, also often referred to as the Flag of Jihad: a black standard with the Shahada written in white.

The significance of these flags are a part of a Mahdi prophecy, according to Islamic scholar Achmed Karoum, professor of theology at the Center for Islamic Studies in Dubai.

"Post-Quranic writings given by, in some accounts, the 12th Imam himself while he was said to be in occultation, claim that his appearance will be heralded by riders coming from Karbala with the black flag and riders coming from Yemen with the white flag," Karoum said. "However, these writings or prophecies if you will are predominantly considered to be Twelver Shia beliefs and do not hold any particular significance among the world Muslim population by a long shot."

A straw poll conducted by Al-Jazeera among believers of the Mahdi's reappearance show that approximately 70% of those who have gathered identify themselves as Shia Muslims, and about 25 percent self-identify as Sunnis. A final five percent identify as either a different sect, declined to state or identified themselves as "non-Muslim."

When shown this, Karoum, a self-identified "secular Sunni," said that the statistically significant portion of believers who identified themselves as Sunni - even though al-Hasan was Shia and the belief in the 12th Imam's return was a Shiite prophecy -- was not surprising. "There have people proclaiming themselves the Mahdi from every branch of Islam imaginable, and drawing support from them," he said. "More people have claimed to be the Mahdi throughout history than I have hairs on my head."

And Karoum's thoughts to al-Hasan's disappearing act? "If you want my opinion, that's all it was: an act. I'm sure any second-rate illusionist in the world could do just as well."

Al-Hasan has not at this time responded to any requests for interviews or comments.

Second coming or charlatan? Likely history will be the judge of that. But in the meantime, believers continue to come in droves.

Copyright Al-Jazeera News, 2045 Dubai, D.V.

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#2
Comment: "ArmedDefender182" (12:03 CST)

Looks like we're gonna have a modern day crusade on our hands. Lemme clean out the shotgun and oil up the armor, I'll be over in a bit. Who's up for reforming the Knights Templar? 'Course, if they're hitting the Dominion they can live a little longer.


Edited by Nick Trano, Oct 11 2013, 01:28 AM.
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#3
COMMENT: "User" - 1:13 AM, MSK

Fucking priests. The day you rot in the ground is the day I piss on your headstone.
"So?" said Loki impatiently.  "This isn't the first time the world has come to an end, and it won't be the last either."
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#4
COMMENT: "Xiswan" 8:49 AM, MSK

What is the deal with the CCD having "no official statement" about this Mahdi fellow? How can they have nothing to say? Clearly this is a threat. DV has always been a powder keg. Honestly, i'm surprised they lasted this long.
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#5
Comment: "BackIndaUSA120" 2:30 A.M. MST:

@Xiswan, looks like the CCD has its head in the sand. Or maybe it was just lazy reporting. I mean, Al-Jazeera's so cozy with the CCD these days Bashir could have just opened up his window and yelled across the alleyway to get a comment.
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