May 24, 2007

Second coming

Via the Corner comes this interesting Web site, asking scholars to offer

explicatory suppositions and deductions regarding the mores of Mahdism and its benefits, through their analytical articles.

The conference welcomes scientific research, which analyzes the culture of Mahdism in correspondence with the era of social and human sciences, other religions, and civilizations.

The Mahdi is the redeemer of Islam, the figure who, alongside Jesus Christ, returns to earth to usher in a new paradise. The Mahdi is not, I believe, mentioned by name (or rather, by the word Mahdi) in the Qur'an; Shi'ites identify the Mahdi with the 12th "occultated" imam, Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Ali, who disappeared shortly after the death of his father in the ninth century.

I think I should like to address this topic:

B- Theoretical issues:

1. Mahdism utopia (basics, features, capacities, comparative assessment and ….)

...or maybe this one, also from theoretical issues:

5. Mahdism and humans rights (humans’ dignity, the right of destiny defining, rights of minorities, rights of women and …)

I am certainly not a Shi'ite (I am not much of anything, when it comes to that), so I do not share a belief in the imminence or even possibility of the re-appearance or second coming of a boy who died (or disappeared) more than 1,000 years ago. But let us assume that a figure appeared who was recognized as such by the faithful: The Mahdi would certainly disappoint them. Religious figures who regard themselves as fulfilling prophecies tend to deviate so much from the expectations of their followers that the result is schism, or the birth of new religions altogether. Before he was he Buddha, Siddhartha was a Hindu holy man; Jesus said he came to fulfill the law and the prophets, though not many of his co-religionists shared his opinion; Muhammad was persuaded (and tried to persuade) the Jews of Medina that his prophecies were their religion.

Perhaps, at the 12th Imam's return, he would say, "Democracy, whiskey, sexy," admonish the faithful to go have a few beers and sleep in the next day, and then we'll all have a long talk about how we're going to measure the justness of our society by how emancipated our women are, how well we treat our Jewish and other minorities, by how many gay marriages we celebrate and how enthusiastically we embrace modernity, and how aggressive we are in undoing the centuries of superstitious nonsense.

Posted by Ideofact at May 24, 2007 11:23 PM