While the world is focused on Iran's push for a nuclear bomb, another mission by Iran's president goes largely unnoticed. Behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's bluster about wiping Israel off the map, is a conviction that the world will soon experience a global conflagration that will usher in the return of the "12th Imam."
Known as the Mahdi, this Muslim messiah is supposed to lead the fight against the corrupt Western society and conquer the world for Allah. Ahmadinejah is committing millions of dollars to promote this idea in Iran and the surrounding nations.
He has all Iran buzzing about the return of the Mahdi. Children's magazines and school curricula contain teachings about his appearance. One institute set up in 2004 has a staff of 160 dedicated to preparing the people for his appearance. A messiah hot line and news agencies solely dedicated to the latest developments have been set up.
Ahmadinejad is positioning himself as sort of a John the Baptist, going before the return of the Mahdi to prepare Iran to be the center of his operation. He wants Iran to become a powerful and advanced Islamic society, purged of the corruption of the West.
Although Israel is seen as an obstruction to Islam's dream of world dominion, the U.S. is the biggest evil for trying to "impose its will on other nations." "We don't shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world," Ahmadinejad said.
Adding to the mystical nature of Ahmadinejad's crusade, he claims to have had an aura around him when he made a speech recently to the United Nations. He says that the atmosphere changed when he began to speak. He said that he felt himself bathed in a "light from heaven." "For those 27 or 28 minutes, all the leaders of the world did not blink," he said.
This sense of a divine mission makes Iran much more dangerous than just another struggling Muslim country. Ahmadinejad's bold mission personifies the new spirit of Islam, convinced they must vanquish the corrupt Western world. They believe that Christianity has failed, that it has produced a decadent culture. They see themselves as anointed by Allah to bring the whole world under the strict Islamic law (think Taliban). Their goal is no less than to rule the world.
Surely we are entering the last days when men's hearts will be "failing them for fear...looking after those things which are coming on the earth." (Luke 21) In that same passage, Jesus said to "look up...for your redemption draweth nigh." But while we are praying "Lord, come quickly," we must be about our Father's business. Among the 5 million Muslims in the U.S. there are many who do not have a fanatic devotion to Allah. As they become more acquainted with Christianity in the West, they have many questions. For soul winners, this is a golden opportunity to enter dialog with them and help them see that their Jesus prophet is really the Creator.
For many Christians, Islam is a mystery. But with a little study, you can get up to speed on their beliefs. The main tactic, as in all witnessing, is to show that Jesus was really God. Most false religions recognize Jesus as a wise teacher or even a prophet. But they refuse to admit His deity.
Chick Publications carries two books that provide the soul winner sufficient background in Muslim beliefs. "The Islamic Invasion," by Robert Morey has an extensive chapter comparing Jesus and Muhammad. Since Islam believes that both were prophets of Allah, the contrast is striking. Another good resource for the soul winner is Ergun and Emir Caner's book, Unveiling Islam. It also discusses the Muslim view of Jesus as well as the history and basic beliefs of Islam.