Forbes has thought better of a recent foray into Islamic eschatology, and it has pulled an article by Amir Taheri that began with the sentence:
Is Barack Obama the “promised warrior” coming to help the Hidden Imam of Shiite Muslims conquer the world?
However, while this opening has obviously been calculated to provoke another “Obama is a Muslim fanatic” scare, Taheri in fact purports to be reporting on a view from Iran:
The question has made the rounds in Iran since last month, when a pro-government Web site published a Hadith (or tradition) from a Shiite text of the 17th century. The tradition comes from Bahar al-Anvar (meaning Oceans of Light) by Mullah Majlisi, a magnum opus in 132 volumes and the basis of modern Shiite Islam.
According to the tradition, Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Talib (the prophet’s cousin and son-in-law) prophesied that at the End of Times and just before the return of the Mahdi, the Ultimate Saviour, a “tall black man will assume the reins of government in the West.” Commanding “the strongest army on earth,” the new ruler in the West will carry “a clear sign” from the third imam, whose name was Hussein Ibn Ali. The tradition concludes: “Shiites should have no doubt that he is with us.”
This is followed by a critique of Obama’s Iran policy.
Alas, Taheri does not give us any reference for the quote, either to the Iranian website or to the relevant passage from the original text, which is better-known as the Bahir al-Anwar. I’ve looked all over the net for a clue, but there is nothing (at least in English) on-line, including available via Google Books. Apparently only one volume of the text has been translated into English (vol. 51), and although it deals in eschatological issues around the Mahdi there is no passage that fits the above. The volume can be seen here.
It may be of relevance to note that Taheri was responsible for a 2006 story about a plan by Iran to force Jews to wear yellow insignia; the story turned out to be untrue. Other doubts about his veracity have also been aired. He has one fan, though, in Joel Richardson, who tells us he is a “trustworthy writer”. You know, like Walid Shoebat.
UPDATE: Richardson has now rejected Taheri’s article, and he provides a link to a short article by Timothy Furnish:
According to my contacts in Iran, including Professor Abolfazl Nurmuhammadpour at the Bright Future Institute–dedicated to teaching the world about the coming of the Mahdi, and the organization which sponsored the Mahdism Conference which I attended this past August in Tehran and Qom–and other ranking clerics at the Dar al-Hadith in Qom, this hadith is NOT authentic.
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