And among non-believers, Iranian Shiite theology reserves a special hatred for Jews. Besides returning the small remnant of the Iranian Jewish community to a state of obsequious dhimmitude through execution and intimidation, Khomeini’s Iran has embraced jihad “as a central pillar of faith and action,” seen most notably in its unending campaign of vilification and proxy violence against the “Zionist entity,” Israel. For current Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the destruction of Israel is an openly avowed policy driven by his eschatological beliefs. Mohammad Hassan Rahimian, a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, summarized this annihilationist eschatology, redolent with Koranic Jew-hatred, in 2006:
The Jew is the most obstinate enemy (Koran 5:82) of the devout. And the main war will determine the destiny of mankind. . . . The reappearance of the Twelfth Imam will lead to a war between Israel and the Shia.
As characterized in the canonical hadith (collections of Mohammed’s words and deeds), Sunni and Shiite eschatology highlight the Jews’ purported supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjal, the Muslim equivalent of the Antichrist. Other traditions state that the Dajjal is Jewish himself, and that at his appearance, he will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan wrapped in robes and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjal is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered — even rocks and trees (except for the so-called gharkad tree) will deliver them up. Thus, according to a canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!” And the notion of jihad “ransom” extends even into Islamic eschatology: On the day of resurrection, the vanquished Jews will be consigned to hellfire, which will expiate Muslims who have sinned, sparing them from this fate.
Professor Moshe Sharon recently provided a very lucid summary of the unique features of Shiite eschatology, its key point of consistency with Sunni understandings of this doctrine, and Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s deep personal attachment to “mahdism.”
Since the late ninth century, the Shiites have been expecting the emergence of the hidden imam-mahdi, armed with divine power and followed by thousands of martyrdom-seeking warriors. He is expected to conquer the world and establish Shiism as its supreme religion and system of rule. His appearance would involve terrible war and unusual bloodshed. Ahmadinejad, as mayor of Teheran, built a spectacular boulevard through which the mahdi would enter into the capital. There is no question that Ahmadinejad believes he has been chosen to be the herald of the mahdi. Shi’ite Islam differs from Sunni Islam regarding the identity of the mahdi. The Sunni mahdi is essentially an anonymous figure; the Shiite mahdi is a divinely inspired person with a real identity. However both Shiites and Sunnis share one particular detail about “the coming of the hour” and the dawning of messianic times: The Jews must all suffer a violent death, to the last one. Both Shi’ites and Sunnis quote the famous hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985) attributed to Muhammad.
Averting the Ayatollah’s Final Solution
The much ballyhooed “Green Revolution” demonstrations on the streets of Iran in the summer of 2009 were predominantly a fight between two ugly options — the Rafsanjani/Mousavi faction and their mullahs versus the Ahmadinejad/Khameini faction and their mullahs. Both favor Iranian nukes and the jihad genocide of the Jewish state of Israel. Unless there were a civil war between these two dominant jihadist factions that debilitated each enough for some truly secular and Western faction to emerge from the power vacuum, Iran will remain what it has largely remained since 1502 (barring the period of more secular Western leaning, albeit rather brutal rule, from 1925 to 1979 under the Pahlavis) — an oppressive Shiite theocracy.
Iranians as a whole — let alone the Mousavi versus Ahmadinejad factionalists — are very far removed from honestly addressing the conundrum posed by the Iranian secularist and historian Reza Afshari, a decade ago, regarding whether official Islamic authorities reflect the views of the Iranian people:
Who is more culturally and religiously authentic than the Ayatollahs? Who is more credible to say what relevance Shiite culture has or does not have for the major issues of our time? The issue is not Islam as a private faith of individuals. It is about what state officials claiming Islamic authority might have to say about the state’s treatment of citizens. . . . In Iran, liberal Muslims or any other new interpreters of Islam did not come to power. When and if they do, we will have their record to examine. What we have from liberal Muslims today are only ideological claims punctuated by expressed good intentions.
Given the ad nauseam expressed genocidal intentions of the current ruling Iranian theocracy, Israel — with U.S. assent, if not direct assistance — must destroy Iran’s nuclear arms production facilities by whatever means necessary.
— Andrew Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (2008), and the forthcoming Sharia Versus Freedom, with a foreword by Andrew C. McCarthy.