Holiest Wars

Overview

Scholars estimate that a fifth of the world's population is Muslim, and this figure is growing rapidly. Traditionally, very few people in the West are familiar with the specific beliefs of Islam, but in an increasingly interconnected global society, there is growing interest in gaining a clearer understanding of the faith. This text, written by an American scholar, highlights one of the lesser-known aspects of Islam called Mahdism, which centers belief on a rightly guided one, a prophet who will at some point ...

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Overview

Scholars estimate that a fifth of the world's population is Muslim, and this figure is growing rapidly. Traditionally, very few people in the West are familiar with the specific beliefs of Islam, but in an increasingly interconnected global society, there is growing interest in gaining a clearer understanding of the faith. This text, written by an American scholar, highlights one of the lesser-known aspects of Islam called Mahdism, which centers belief on a rightly guided one, a prophet who will at some point return to earth to rally Muslims and make the world right. This belief is powerful and potentially dangerous, and deserves the attention it receives in this volume.

Before September 11, 2001, most Western Islam scholars ignored Mahdism, dismissing it as a relic of Muslim history. However, today it is nearly impossible to ignore the topic, as we have seen first-hand the ways in which religious beliefs can lead to violent acts of terrorism. The Mahdist movement's very aim is to re-order global society into a Muslim community—a cause for which many Islamic faithful would gladly fight and give up their lives. This book serves as a guide to this aspect of Islam. Topics covered include: The Origins of Mahdism; Mahdist Movements throughout History; Counter-Mahdist Rationales and Policies; and Mahdism and Anti-Mahdism Today. While the text is richly detailed, the writing is nonetheless very readable and engaging, making it ideal for students of religious philosophy, for people wishing to understand what leads to religious wars, and indeed for all Americans living in the post-9/11 world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"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."

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Middle East Journal

"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."

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The Lexington Herald Leader/The Wichita Eagle/Birmingham News/The Dallas Morning

"[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."

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"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."

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MultiCultural Review

"This is probably the single most important book in English on this topic."

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Evangelics Now

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780275983833
  • Publisher: ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/30/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 994,295
  • Product dimensions: 6.14 (w) x 9.21 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet 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. His specialty is Islamic eschatology, particularly modern Mahdism--Islamic "messianism"--and how such beliefs have influenced revolutionary political thought in the Muslim world.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 What is Mahdism and where does it come from? 1
Ch. 2 Mahdist movements throughout history 30
Ch. 3 Counter-Mahdist rationales and policies 72
Ch. 4 The virtual Mahdi today 87
Ch. 5 Modern Muslim anti-Mahdists 130
Ch. 6 Conclusion : who will be the next Mahdi? 150
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