Comparing The Biblical Antichrist And The Mahdi
Most people who haven’t even read the Bible have heard of the man known popularly as "The Antichrist." Simply put, according to the Bible, the Antichrist will be Satan’s primary human agent on the earth in the last-days. Interestingly, in the Bible, the Antichrist is actually only referred to once by that specific name (1 John 2:18).
Using other names however, there are numerous references to the Antichrist found throughout the Bible. Some of the various names that Scripture assigns to the Antichrist are "the Beast" (Revelation 13:4), "the abomination that causes desolation" (Matthew 24:15), "the desolator" (Daniel 9:27), "the man of sin," "the man of lawlessness," "the son of destruction" (2 Thessalonians 2) "the little horn" (Daniel 7:8), "the Assyrian" (Micah 5:5, Isaiah 10:5,14:25), "the oppressor’, "the king of Babylon" (Isaiah 14) and even the mysterious "Gog" (Ezekiel 38:1, Revelation 20:7). There are several other names that Scripture uses to refer to the Antichrist as well.
But beyond all of his unusual names, who exactly is the Antichrist? In this chapter we will review a few of the primary descriptions and actions that define just who the Antichrist is according to the Bible. Our examination will also focus on several very specific similarities between the Antichrist and the Mahdi.
A Powerful Political And Military World Leader.
From the Bible, we learn that in the last-days, the Antichrist will emerge as a man who will lead a very powerful world empire the likes of which history has yet to produce. This powerful leadership role of the Antichrist is first described clearly in the Bible by the prophet Daniel. In the Book of Daniel, in the seventh chapter, we find Daniel describing a vision of four very bizarre and gruesome "beasts". After describing the first three beasts, Daniel says this of the fourth:
After that, in my vision at night I looked, and there before me was a fourth beast-terrifying and frightening and very powerful. It had large iron teeth; it crushed and devoured its victims and trampled underfoot whatever was left. It was different from all the former beasts, and it had ten horns. While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully. Daniel 7:7,8
Then, in verses 15-16, Daniel asks an angel in his vision to explain the interpretation of the vision of the four beasts. The angel explains that the four beasts represent four very great kingdoms or empires:
I, Daniel, was troubled in spirit, and the visions that passed through my mind disturbed me. I approached one of those standing there and asked him the true meaning of all this. So he told me and gave me the interpretation of these things: The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth. Daniel 7:15-17
It’s actually pretty straightforward. Daniel again asks the angel specifically about the fourth beast, and in particular about the "little horn" that uprooted three horns. The angel again responds with a very direct and clear explanation:
He gave me this explanation: The fourth beast is a fourth kingdom that will appear on earth. It will be different from all the other kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it. The ten horns are ten kings who will come from this kingdom. After them another king will arise, different from the earlier ones; he will subdue three kings. Daniel 7: 23,24
Essentially, the angel explains that the fourth kingdom will be an empire that will cause great destruction to the whole earth. Initially, this kingdom will consist of ten kings. Then another king, an eleventh, will arise and will displace three of the previous kings. This eleventh king is the Antichrist first referred to as "the little horn". Thus we see that based on the vision that Daniel was given, the Antichrist is a future king who will first gain control over three other kingdoms or nations, and eventually over ten, thus forming his future ten nation "Beast" empire. It will be an empire of unparalleled power and ferocity, which will "devour the whole earth, trampling it down and crushing it".
In the last part of Daniel, chapter seven, the angel describes to Daniel the actions of this king as well as his end:
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. But the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. Daniel 7:25-27
The king is said to oppress the saints of God for a period of time that most Bible scholars agree is three and a half years (a time, times and half a time). But eventually his dominion will be taken away, and replaced by the Kingdom of "The Most High" God.
Three hundred years later, in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John likewise describes the Antichrist and his "beast" empire in very similar terms:
And I saw a beast coming out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads, with ten crowns on his horns, and on each head a blasphemous name. The beast I saw resembled a leopard, but had feet like those of a bear and a mouth like that of a lion. The dragon gave the beast his power and his throne and great authority… Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast–all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. Revelation 13:2,4-8
While the symbolic language here is fairly thick, if we understand the biblical usage of particular symbolic terms, then the picture is actually quite clear. The "beast," again refers to the Antichrist who is a king over a ten-nation empire. The horns represent authority and power. Ten horns speak of both an extremely high degree of authority as well as the number of nations and their kings that will unite to form the beast’s kingdom. The "dragon" who gives the beast his authority is Satan. Satan is often spoken of in the Bible as a dragon or a serpent. The global impact of this beast-like empire is made clear by the phrase: "And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation." We see the specific question that the people of the earth ask is, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" It appears to those on the earth that the beast is absolutely beyond challenge. And again, we see the same specific period of time that was given to the beast to persecute the God’s people as forty-two months. Forty-two months is three and a half years. This same time frame was given in the previously cited passage of Daniel 7:25.
Thus, we have seen that the Bible prophecies that the Antichrist will be a political and military leader whose power will be unparalleled by any other world leader throughout history.
The Mahdi As World Ruler
As we have seen from the Islamic traditions and Muslim scholars, the Mahdi, like the Antichrist, is also prophesied to be a political and military world leader unparalleled by any other throughout world history. The Mahdi is said to "fight against the forces of evil, lead a world revolution and set up a new world order based on justice, righteousness and virtue." 1 At this time, according to Islamic tradition, the Mahdi is said to preside over the entire earth as the final Caliph of Islam. And of course as we saw in the last chapter, the Muslims will, "take the world administration in their hands and Islam will be victorious over all the religions." Without question, Islam views the Mahdi as one whose rule will extend over all of the earth. Clearly then, we see that the Antichrist and the Mahdi are both described as being political and military leaders the likes of which the world has never before seen. While many powerful leaders have arisen throughout world history, the descriptions given concerning both the Antichrist and the Mahdi surpass any that have yet arisen. But the Mahdi and the Antichrist are both described as being more than merely political and military leaders. They are both viewed as being supreme religious leaders as well.
The Antichrist As A Spiritual World Leader
The Bible establishes the fact that the Antichrist will be a spiritual leader whose authority will be acknowledged worldwide. After examining the Antichrist’s role as a universal religious leader, many Bible prophecy teachers have talked about the coming of the "One World Religion" or "the false church" which the Antichrist will both create and enforce upon the entire earth. This concept of a coming dominant and demonically inspired world religion is partly arrived at due to the frequent references to worship that are associated with the Antichrist throughout Scripture. In the Book of Revelation we read that the Antichrist will both inspire and demand worship. This worship will be directed at both Satan, who is referred to as "the dragon" and the Antichrist who is referred to as "the beast":
Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?"… All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. Revelation 13:4,8
Beyond the fact that the Antichrist establishes a worldwide worship movement, another reason to see him as a spiritual world leader is because the Bible says he will be assisted by a man whom it refers to as "The False Prophet." Of course, the very title, False Prophet, assumes the religious nature of this man. One of the primary roles of the False Prophet is to specifically perform deceptive "signs and wonders" that will help persuade the inhabitants of the earth to worship the Antichrist/Beast:
But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. Revelation 19:20
It is clear then, the Bible teaches that the Antichrist will be the leader of a worldwide religious worship movement that will attempt to displace and usurp worship from the God of the Bible. This worship will then be directed toward both himself and to Satan – the invisible spirit – the provocateur and puppet master that motivates, empowers and gives authority to the Antichrist to accomplish his worldwide task.
The Mahdi As A Spiritual World Leader
Likewise, it almost goes without saying, the Mahdi of Islam will also be the leader a worldwide worship movement. It will be a worship movement that will seek to cause anyone who practices any religion other than Islam to renounce their faith and worship Allah, the god of Islam. As we saw in the last chapter, the Mahdi, "will govern the people by the Sunnah of their Prophet and establish Islam on Earth." 2 And, "Islam will be victorious over all the religions." 3
Thus we see that the Mahdi is the leader of a world revolution that will institute a "new world order" that will be based on the religion of Islam. Islam will be the only religion that will be allowed to be practiced. Both the Antichrist and the Mahdi are said to be the unqualified leaders of a global religious movement that will draw worship away from the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. As we will see clearly in later chapters, inherent in the worship of Allah within the context of Islam is a direct denial of the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. In fact, this is the reason that some Muslims feel so strongly as to say that the Mahdi will, "eradicate those pigs and dogs" – the Christians and the Jews who refuse to convert to Islam. Which leads us to the next obvious similarity between the Antichrist and the Mahdi.
The Antichrist’s Targeted Campaign Against Jews And Christians
The Bible is very clear that Satan, through the Antichrist, will specifically target first Jews, and then Christians for death. In the Book of Revelation, chapter twelve and thirteen, we read another prophetic passage of Scripture that is rich with symbolic language. Initially it is slightly difficult to understand, but after the symbols are explained, it becomes very clear:
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. (Revelation 12:1)
The "woman" symbolically pictured here is the family or nation of Israel, the Jewish people. We see that she is crowned with twelve stars. This represents the twelve sons of Israel who became the twelve tribes that make up the family or the nation of Israel (Genesis 35:23-26).
She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. (Revelation 12:2-5)
The woman – Israel becomes pregnant and gives birth to a "man child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter". This is a clear reference to Jesus the Jewish Messiah (See Psalm 2:9). The Dragon mentioned here is identified in verse 9 as, "that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray." We see that Satan desires to kill Jesus, but instead Jesus is, "snatched up to God and to his throne." This is a reference to Jesus’ ascension to heaven after the resurrection (Acts 1:8). After this:
The great dragon was hurled down–that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him…He (The Dragon) pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child… The woman was given the two wings of a great eagle, so that she might fly to the place prepared for her in the desert, where she would be taken care of for a time, times and half a time, out of the serpent’s reach. Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:1-6,9,13,14,17
We see that Satan is, "enraged at the woman (Israel) and went off to make war against the rest of her offspring–those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." Israel’s "other offspring" are those Christians who indeed "obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus." This is the only passage that makes specific reference to Satan making a direct target of both Jews and Christians together. And we know that this passage is speaking specifically of the end-times, because it mentions twice the three and a half year period (1260 days and "a time, times and half a time") that the Antichrist will have authority to war against the saints:
The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. Revelation 13:5-7
The prophet Daniel also saw that the Antichrist would have this authority to wage a successful war against "the saints". Saints is also translated as "holy ones" in some translations. It speaks primarily of the true followers of Jesus who know and serve the One True God.
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. Daniel 7:25
Again here we see the reference to the three and a half year period that Antichrist will persecute those who resist him.
The Bible is clear then, the Antichrist will specifically target those who resist his attempts to establish his religion all over the earth. From the book of Revelation as well as the Prophet Daniel, we see that the two groups that Satan is most enraged against are the Jews and the Christians.
The Mahdi’s Targeted Campaign Against Jews And Christians
Interestingly enough, Islamic tradition speaks much of the Mahdi’s special calling to convert Christians and Jews to Islam, yet speaks very little specifically of conversions from other faiths. It seems as though converting Christians and Jews to Islam will be the primary evangelistic thrust of the Mahdi. The following quote from Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini clearly articulates this vision:
The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise they will be killed. 9
And of course we cannot forget the infamous Hadith that has become a favorite of many Muslim anti-Semites. Again, note that it is speaking specifically about "The last hour":
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews. 10
After commenting on this particular Hadith, several Muslim authors will be quick to point out the very "interesting" fact that this particular tree, "the Gharqad" (apparently the boxwood tree) is presently being planted in abundance by Jews in Israel. The point is that this final holocaust is expected by Muslims to take place within the present state of Israel. This of course corresponds to another very specific similarity between the biblical Antichrist and the Mahdi.
A Military Attack Against Israel And The Establishment Of The Temple Mount As The Seat Of Authority.
The Bible teaches that The Antichrist, with his multi-nation coalition will attack Israel, and specifically Jerusalem to conquer it:
I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people (who submit to Antichrist’s rule) will not be taken from the city. Zechariah 14:2
"You (Gog – Ezekiel’s name for the Antichrist) will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you." ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, "It will come about on that day, that thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil plan, and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates, to capture spoil and to seize plunder, to turn your hand against the waste places which are now inhabited, and against the people (Israelites) who are gathered from the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live at the center of the world. Ezekiel 38:9-12 NASB
According to the Bible, after this attack, the Antichrist will specifically set up his "throne" in "God’s Temple". The Apostle Paul lays this out quite clearly:
He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 2 Thessalonians 2:4
The location of the Jewish Temple has always been on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. Today, the Temple that once stood on Mt. Moriah does not exist; it was destroyed by the Roman Emperor Titus in 70 A.D. according to the prophecy of Jesus:
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. "Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." Matthew 24:1,2
Today, Mt. Moriah, sometimes known as the Temple Mount or in Arabic as Haram Ash-Sharif, is the location of two Mosques and is considered to be the third holiest site of Islam. There is endless speculation about the Temple Mount regarding issues such as exactly where the Jewish Temple once was located on the Mount or whether or not there will be a Jewish Temple rebuilt there in the future. Based on the above verse from the Apostle Paul, it certainly seems to indicate that there will indeed be a rebuilt Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The Apostle Paul says that the Antichrist will "set himself up in God’s Temple," or more literally, "he takes his seat in the temple of God". This speaks not so much of a literal sitting down as it does of a taking a position of authority. Thus we see that the Antichrist will make Mt. Moriah, and more specifically, the rebuilt Jewish Temple, the specific location of his rule. Jesus warned of this event two thousand years ago. Referring to the Antichrist having set himself up in the Jewish Temple, and the events that will immediately follow, Jesus said:
"So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Matthew 24:16-22
Here we see Jesus referring to the Antichrist’s occupancy of the temple as, "the abomination that causes desolation." The desolation is a reference to the chaos and severe persecution against the Jews and Christians that will immediately follow when the Antichrist’s true identity is revealed. After his military campaign against Jerusalem, the Antichrist will make his base of authority, the Temple Mount itself. At this time, it is clear that the Antichrist’s malevolent feelings toward Israel will become fully manifest. So much so that Jesus warns the inhabitants of Jerusalem to straight away flee to the mountains.
The Mahdi’s Attack Of Jerusalem And The Establishment of the Islamic Caliphate From Jerusalem
Likewise the Mahdi is said to attack Jerusalem and re-conquer it for Islam in order that the new Islamic rule over the earth will be established from Jerusalem:
"(Armies carrying) black flags will come from Khurasan (Iran). No power will be able to stop them and they will finally reach Eela (Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem) where they will erect their flags." 11
Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al- Mahdi 12
Also, as we just saw in the section above, the Mahdi will not end his campaign against Jerusalem in a peaceful way. For the Jews, the Islamic version of the last-days ends with the last few surviving Jews hiding behinds rocks or trees from the sword of Islam. The military campaign against Jerusalem and the establishment of the Islamic caliphate there likewise will not result in a benevolent rule over the Jews by the Mahdi, for as we have already seen, the last quote above continues:
…That will abolish the leadership of the Jews… and put an end to the domination of the Satans who spit evil into people and cause corruption in the earth. 13
In relation to the above attack against the inhabitants of Israel, there is quite interestingly, another very specific correlation between the actions of the Mahdi and the actions of the biblical Antichrist. While the similarities between the Antichrist and the Mahdi that we have already discussed are quite astonishing, I believe that the specificity of this next parallel is just simply incredible.
The Antichrist’s Seven Year Treaty With Israel
After rising to power, and as a prelude to his invasion of Israel, the Antichrist is said to initiate a treaty with the nation of Israel for seven years.
He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. Daniel 9:27
In context, this verse shows us that the Antichrist will establish a "covenant" with Israel for seven years. The specific Hebrew word used in this verse that is translated merely as "seven" is shabuwa. It literally means a week, but can mean either a "week" of days or years. In Hebrew thought, a seven-year period is similar to our decade. We in the West tend to measure years through a decimal system based of increments of tens, while we measure days in terms of seven (a week). The Hebrews measured both days and years in increments of seven. The word translated as "seven" in Daniel 9:27 is referring to seven years. This is the specific amount of time that the Antichrist will set for his peace treaty with Israel. Then, in the middle of the seven years, the Antichrist will renege on his treaty and stop the offerings and sacrifices in the Jewish Temple and then he will proclaim himself to be not only the ruler of the world, but also God himself. Isaiah the Prophet makes mention of this "covenant" and rebukes Israel for making it: He actually refers to it as a "covenant with death" (Isaiah 28: 14-15). In this covenant, the Israelis find a false sense of security.
The Mahdi’s Seven Year Treaty
Again, similarly the Mahdi is said to be one who will initiate Islam’s fourth and final treaty between "the Romans" and the Muslims. (Again, Romans should be interpreted as Christians or the West in general – the executioners of Nicholas Berg in their pre-execution statement addressed President Bush as, "You, O dog of the Romans") Interestingly enough, this fourth treaty is said to be made with a descendant of Moses’ brother Aaron the Priest. Such a descendant would be a Cohanim. That is to say, he would be a priest. Only Cohanim are allowed among Jews to officiate the priestly duties of the Temple. This is important in light of the fact that many Christian prophecy teachers and theologians have speculated that the treaty that the Antichrist will initiate with Israel will include an agreement to allow the Jews to re-build their Temple. But probably the most amazing aspect of this treaty that the Mahdi makes with this Jew of priestly lineage is its time frame. The specific time frame given for the treaty is exactly the same as the Antichrist’s peace treaty – seven years! Citing Hadith which speak of the Mahdi’s emergence and rule, Muhammad Ali ibn Zubair relates this amazing tradition:
The Prophet said: There will be four peace agreements between you and the Romans. The fourth will be mediated through a person who will be from the progeny of Hadrat Aaron (Honorable Aaron, the brother of Moses) and will be upheld for seven years. The people asked, "O Prophet Muhammad, who will be the imam (leader) of the people at that time?" The Prophet said: He will be from my progeny and will be exactly forty years of age. His face will shine like a star… 14
Changing The Laws And The Times
Another of the Antichrist’s goals according to the Book of Daniel is said to be that he will "try to change the set times and the laws":
He will speak against the Most High and oppress his saints and try to change the set times and the laws. The saints will be handed over to him for a time, times and half a time. Daniel 7:25
This is actually quite a big hint into the person of the Antichrist. For by his actions, we see a hint of his origin. It is said that he will desire to change two things; times and laws. Now we have already seen that the Mahdi will change the law by instituting the Islamic Shariah law all over the earth, but we have not seen any evidence in Islamic apocalyptic literature of him changing the "times." The simple question however is, who else other than a Muslim would desire to change the "times and laws"? Besides the Gregorian calendar used by the West, there is also a Jewish, a Hindu and a Muslim calendar among others. Jews or Hindus however are not a people who would desire to impose their religious laws or calendars onto the rest of the world. Islam however, does have both its own laws and its own calendar, both of which it would desire to impose onto the entire world. The Islamic calendar is based on the career of Muhammad. It begins at the migration (Hijra) of Muhammad from Mecca to Medina. The Muslim calendar is viewed as being mandatory for all to observe. Dr. Waleed Mahanna, articulates the Islamic position regarding the Islamic "Hijra" Calendar:
It is considered a divine command to use a (Hijra) calendar with 12 (purely) lunar months without intercalation, as evident from… the Holy Qur’an. 15
Not only does Islam view as a divine imperative the use of a unique religious calendar, it also has its own week. Unlike the western rhythm of a week; Monday through Friday being the body of the workweek followed by Saturday and Sunday as the weekend with Judaism and Christianity using these two days for their respective days of worship, Islam holds Friday as its sacred day of prayer. This is the day that Muslims meet at the Mosque to pray and listen to a sermon.
Thus it quite plausible that the biblical reference to the Antichrist who will "try to change the set times and the laws" is a Muslim. As we look at the full picture, only Islam fits the bill of a system that has its own unique calendar and week based on its own religious history and a clear system of law that it wishes to impose onto the entire earth. Surely if a Muslim ever emerges who is as powerful as the Mahdi is described as being, then he will certainly attempt to institute both the Islamic Law worldwide, and the Islamic calendar and week as well.
The Rider On A White Horse
The final similarity between the Antichrist and the Mahdi that we will discuss in this chapter is the fact that both the Antichrist and the Mahdi are identified with a biblical passage that describes a rider on a white horse. While this could be literal, it is most probably a symbolic picture of the two men. The amazing thing is that the origin of the biblical tradition of the Antichrist on a white horse and the origin of the Islamic tradition of the Mahdi on a white horse are both attributed to the same passage in the Bible.
The basis for the symbolic picture of both the Antichrist and the Mahdi on a white horse is the sixth chapter of the Book of Revelation. Here the Apostle John is describing his vision of the release of the events that mark the beginning of the end-times. The picture is of Jesus holding a scroll – on the outside of the scroll are seven wax seals. As each seal is broken a specific and distinct end-time event is released:
I watched as the Lamb (Jesus) opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. Revelation 6:1-2
The seals that follow this rider are:
- Peace is taken from the earth
- Plagues and death
- Persecution and Martyrdom of God’s people
- A great earthquake
- The wrath of God
So we see that after the rider appears on the scene, the world essentially freefalls into the chaos that defines the Last Hour. The interpretation that many Bible scholars apply to this passage is thus:
The rider is given a white horse, which is an attempt to be an imitation of the white horse that Jesus is said to ride when He returns (Revelation 19:11). Thus the rider is an imitation Christ, an imposter – an Antichrist. The bow (without any arrows) that the rider carries is a false peace. The rider is pictured as one who emerges carrying with his rise to power a false promise of peace. This is in alignment with and may be a direct reference to the false peace treaty that Antichrist makes with Israel at the start of the seven-year period of his rule. The crown on his head is obviously a reference to the position of authority and leadership that will be given to him. And we see that the true motivation and bent of the rider is to conquer. In light of the identity and activity of the rider then, we are not surprised to find out that the events that follow his emergence onto the world scene are not in keeping with an age of peace, but rather an age of apocalyptic chaos. Apparently this is not a problem for the Islamic scholars who generally adopt a very arbitrary pick and choose approach to the Bible. For in seeing the Antichrist on the white horse with a crown and conquering, Muslim scholars see a clear picture of the Mahdi. As mentioned in the earlier chapter on the Mahdi, the early Muslim transmitter of Hadith, Ka’b al Ahbar is quoted as saying:
I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the Prophets… For instance, the Book of Revelation says: "And I saw and behold a white horse. He that sat on him…went forth conquering and to conquer." 11
So in conclusion, we see that several of the most unique and distinguishing aspects of the biblical Antichrist’s person, mission and actions are matched to quite an amazing degree by the descriptions of the Mahdi as found in the Islamic traditions. And now, even further, we see that Muslim scholars actually apply Bible verses about the Antichrist to their awaited savior, the Mahdi. This must be seen as quite ironic, if not entirely prophetic.
1. Ayatullah Baqir al-Sadr and Ayatullah Muratda Mutahhari, The Awaited Savior, (Karachi, Islamic Seminary Publications), prologue, pp. 4,5
2. Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 36, Number 4273, Narrated by Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu’minin
3. Al-Sadr and Mutahhari, prologue, pp.4,5
4. Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini, Al-Imam Al-Mahdi: The Just Leader of Humanity, translated by Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina, available online at: http://al-islam.org/mahdi/nontl/Toc.htm
5. Sahih Muslim, Book 041, Number 6985
6. Signs of Qiyamah by Mohammed Ali Ibn Zubair Ali translated by M. Afzal Hoosein Elias from the original (with references): "Aalalaat-e-Qiyyamat aur Nuzul-e-Eesa." http://members.cox.net/arshad/qiyaama.html
7. Izzat and’Arif, p. 40
9. Tabarani as quoted by Mufti A.H. Elias and Muhammad Ali ibn Zubair Ali, Imam Mahdi, online article from, http://www.islam.tc/prophecies/imam.html
10. Dr. Waleed A. Muhanna , A Brief Introduction ToThe Islamic (Hijri) Calendar, http://fisher.osu.edu/~muhanna_1/hijri-intro.html
11. Izzat and’Arif, p. 15
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