The entrie transcript of this interview is available here. These are the parts I’m concerned about, which begin in the video at 36 minutes:
NBC’s Ann Curry: In your speeches, you pray for God to hasten the arrival of the hidden Imam, the Muslim messiah. Would you tell us, as I know you will speak about this at the general assembly, as well. What is your relationship with the hidden Imam, and how soon do you think before the second coming?
Ahmadinejad: Yes, that’s true. I prayed for the arrival of the 12th Imam. The owner of the age, as we call him. Because the owner of the age is the symbol of the – justice and brotherly love prevailing around the world. When the Imam arrives, all of these problems will be resolved. And a prayer for the owner of the age is nothing but a wish for justice and brotherly love to prevail around the world. And it’s an obligation a person takes upon himself to always think about brotherly love. And also to treating others as equals.
All people can establish such a connection with the Imam of the age. It’s roughly the same as the relationship which exists between Christians and the Christ. They speak with Jesus Christ and they are sure that Christ hears them. And responds. Therefore, this is not limited to us only. Any person can talk with the Imam.
Curry: You’ve said that you believe that his arrival, the apocalypse, would happen in your own lifetime. What do you believe that you should do to hasten his arrival?
Ahmadinejad: I have never said such a thing.
Curry: Ah, forgive me.
Ahmadinejad: I – I – I was talking about peace.
Curry: Forgive me.
Ahmadinejad: What is being said about an apocalyptic war and – global war, things of that nature. This is what the Zionists are claiming. Imam…will come with logic, with culture, with science. He will come so that there is no more war. No more enmity, hatred. No more conflict. He will call on everyone to enter a brotherly love. Of course, he will return with Jesus Christ. The two will come back together. And working together, they would fill this world with love. The stories that have been disseminated around the world about extensive war, apocalyptic wars, so on and so forth, these are false.
This 53 minute long interview was conducted in September 2009 by NBC’s Ann Curry. The problem is that the parts discussing Ahmadinejad’s belief in the 12th Imam were not aired by the network.
Now let me provide a little information on the 12th Imam before I get back to Ahmadinejad. The Shi’ite Muslims believe in following the descendants of Muhammad and one of these is for many of them the 12th Imam. From American Thinker by John W. Swails III Ph. D.:
To begin our overview of the theology behind the Hidden Imam, we have to recognize that the umma, the worldwide body of Muslims, is divided into two main sects, the Sunni and the Shi’a. The roots of this division go back to the period directly following the death of Muhammad and the conflict over who should be his successor, or caliph. The Sunni basically accept all the caliphs who have ruled as legitimate, no matter their genealogy, how they achieved the office, or how good a Muslim they were.
The Shi’a differ. They posit that the true successor to Muhammad has to be a descendant of the cousin and son—in—law of the Prophet, an enormously important figure known to all Muslims, Ali. As a result, they are called the shiatu—Ali, or the ‘party of Ali.’
To complicate things further, the Shi’a are further subdivided into three main groups.
These three groups are known by the number of Imams they accept. In the case of the Shi’a, the word for the designated prayer leader—imam with a lower case ‘i’— is also used to designate the descendants of Ali who were legitimate successors to Muhammad. Of course these select successors are marked with the capital letter: Imams.
This, the group of Shi’a which accepts four Imams is called the ‘Fourers’ or ‘Zaydis’ after the fourth Imam in their listing. The ‘Seveners’ or ‘Ismailis’ are known as such for the same reason. The ‘Twelvers’ are the group which constitutes over 90% of the population of Iran and around 60% of the population of Iraq.
Now unlike the Sunni caliph, the Shi’a Imam inherited from Muhammad not just his civil rule over the umma but also his prerogative of interpreting the Quran, his infallibility, and his sinlessness (that connotation of impeccability seems far lost today). The eleventh Imam, al—Hassan al—Askari, died in 874. He was succeeded by the twelfth Imam, the youthful Muhammad, who ‘disappeared’ in 274/878 in the cave of the great mosque at Samarra without leaving progeny.
He is now known as the ‘expected one,’ (al—Muntazar), the ‘promised one’ (al—Mahdi’), or the ‘hidden one,’ (al—Mustatir). The theology of the Hidden Imam is that Allah realized at last that the rightful successor to Muhammad was not going to be accepted by Islam at large so he had to be taken into hiding and kept there until he would re—appear to purify the umma and take the world for Islam.
The period of the Twelfth Imam’s hiding was in two parts. The period from 878 until 941 would be known as the ‘Lesser Occultation,’ a time when the Hidden Imam was still active in this earthly realm, communicating by messengers. The Great Occultation began in 941, when all contact with the world was broken off. This date has been misinterpreted by some authors as the date of his disappearance. The Great Occultation continues to present and will end when he re—appears.
The Wikipedia definition is more indepth and can be found here if interested.
Basically it is believed God has hidden him from the world, but he will come back. Now lets learn about the conditions for his return.
Twelver Shi’as cite various references from the Qur’an and reports, or Hadith, from Imam Mahdi and the twelve Shi’a Imams with regard to the reappearance of al-Mahdi who would, in accordance with Allah’s command, bring justice and peace to the world by establishing Islam throughout the world.
Mahdi is reported to have said:
Shi’as believe that Imam al-Mahdi will reappear when the world has fallen into chaos and civil war emerges between the human race for no reason. At this time, it is believed, half of the true believers will ride from Yemen carrying white flags to Makkah, while the other half will ride from Karbala, in Iraq, carrying black flags to Makkah. At this time, Imam al-Mahdi will come wielding Allah’s Sword, the Blade of Evil’s Bane, Zulfiqar (Arabic: ذو الفقار, ðū l-fiqār), the Double-Bladed Sword. He will also come and reveal the texts in his possession, such as al-Jafr and al-Jamia.
Shi’as believe that Jesus will also come, (after Imam Mahdi’s re-appearance to follow him.) the Imam Mahdi to destroy tyranny and falsehood, and to bring justice and peace to the world.
Muhammad al-Mahdi, is believed by these Shiites to have been born in present-day Iraq in 869 and never to have died, only gone into hiding. Twelvers — not other Shiites or Sunni Muslims — believe that al-Mahdi will return as a messiah with Jesus to bring peace to the world and establish Islam as the ruling faith across the globe.
The apocalyptic catch? The Mahdi is expected to appear when the world is wracked in utter chaos and war. Many Sunnis also believe that the Mahdi will come in such a judgment-day scenario, but believe that he has not been born yet.
So basically, out of the chaos of the apocalyps the 12 Imam will come and usher in world peace, with Jesus behind him, through Islam. On the whole not to different from the Christian belief of the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ, except of course, for the religious differences.
However, Ahmadinejad doesn’t just believe in the return of the 12th Imam, he seeks to “hasten” it.
From Telegraph.co.uk Jan 2006:
But listen carefully to the utterances of Mr Ahmadinejad – recently described by President George W Bush as an “odd man” – and there is another dimension, a religious messianism that, some suspect, is giving the Iranian leader a dangerous sense of divine mission.
In November, the country was startled by a video showing Mr Ahmadinejad telling a cleric that he had felt the hand of God entrancing world leaders as he delivered a speech to the UN General Assembly last September.
When an aircraft crashed in Teheran last month, killing 108 people, Mr Ahmadinejad promised an investigation. But he also thanked the dead, saying: “What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.”
The most remarkable aspect of Mr Ahmadinejad’s piety is his devotion to the Hidden Imam, the Messiah-like figure of Shia Islam, and the president’s belief that his government must prepare the country for his return.
One of the first acts of Mr Ahmadinejad’s government was to donate about £10 million to the Jamkaran mosque, a popular pilgrimage site where the pious come to drop messages to the Hidden Imam into a holy well.
All streams of Islam believe in a divine saviour, known as the Mahdi, who will appear at the End of Days. A common rumour – denied by the government but widely believed – is that Mr Ahmadinejad and his cabinet have signed a “contract” pledging themselves to work for the return of the Mahdi and sent it to Jamkaran.
Iran’s dominant “Twelver” sect believes this will be Mohammed ibn Hasan, regarded as the 12th Imam, or righteous descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.
He is said to have gone into “occlusion” in the ninth century, at the age of five. His return will be preceded by cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed. After a cataclysmic confrontation with evil and darkness, the Mahdi will lead the world to an era of universal peace.
This is similar to the Christian vision of the Apocalypse. Indeed, the Hidden Imam is expected to return in the company of Jesus.
Mr Ahmadinejad appears to believe that these events are close at hand and that ordinary mortals can influence the divine timetable.
Its most remarkable manifestation came with Mr Ahmadinejad’s international debut, his speech to the United Nations.
World leaders had expected a conciliatory proposal to defuse the nuclear crisis after Teheran had restarted another part of its nuclear programme in August.
Instead, they heard the president speak in apocalyptic terms of Iran struggling against an evil West that sought to promote “state terrorism”, impose “the logic of the dark ages” and divide the world into “light and dark countries”.
The speech ended with the messianic appeal to God to “hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace”.
From Telegraph.co.uk Sept 2007:
The Hidden Imam, as he is also known by his followers, will only return after a period of cosmic chaos, war and bloodshed – what Christians call the Apocalypse – and then lead the world into an era of universal peace.
Rumours abound of Mr Ahmadinejad’s devotion to the 12th Imam, and last year it was reported that he had persuaded his cabinet to sign a “contract” pledging themselves to work for his return.
Another example of his messianic tendencies surfaced after 108 people were killed in an aircraft crash in Teheran. Mr Ahmadinejad praised the victims, saying: “What is important is that they have shown the way to martyrdom which we must follow.”
For many of the hundreds of delegates who attended Mr Ahmadinejad’s speech to the UN this week, his discourse on the merits of the 12th Imam finally brought home the reality of the danger his regime poses to world peace.
Rather than allaying concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Mr Ahmadinejad spoke at length about how a Muslim saviour would relieve the world’s suffering.
The era of Western predominance was drawing to a close, he said, and would soon be replaced by a “bright future” ushered in by the 12th Imam’s return. “Without any doubt, the Promised One, who is the ultimate Saviour, will come. The pleasing aroma of justice will permeate the whole world.”
This is one of the U.N. speeches where he calls for the return of the 12th Imam.
More from the American Thinker article:
At the end of his speech at the United Nations in the fall of 2005, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made an invocation to Allah to bring about the speedy reappearance of the Hidden Imam.
The media and, sad to say, many academic persons were at a loss to explain this eschatological reference. The situation was complicated by later interviews in which Ahmadinejad reported that many of his co—religionists claimed that while he was making those remarks, they could see about him an aura of light. He recalled that he too was aware of a celestial light at that time. He also pointed to the fact that the ‘leaders of the world’ were watching him at that time with a fixed gaze, apparently unable to look away.
February, 1979, over two million lined the road leading from Mehrebad airport into Tehran during the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini, chanting ‘al—Muntazar.’
Khomeini immediately explained in a series of speeches that he was not al—Muntazar, one of the designations of the Hidden Imam, but that he had come to prepare the way for his appearance. In fact, Article Five of the constitution for the Islamic Republic of Iran, promulgated that same year, 1979, proclaimed that the basis for the constitution and its government was the authority of the Hidden Imam.
Moreover, the constitution promised that it would dissolve in his favor, following the Hidden Imam’s re—appearance.
The IRI (Islamic Republic of Iran) is, in actuality, an eschatological construct based on a messianic figure known as the Hidden Imam. With the ongoing pronouncements about the destruction of Israel and the war against the United States, all in the name of the Hidden Imam, it suddenly seems more important to know something about this whole concept.
In 2006 Joel Rosenberg wrote an article for NationalReview Online (NRO) on the subject and included excerpts from a book byAyatollah Ibrahim Amini:
I include key excerpts from the Ayatollah’s book:
When the world has become psychologically ready to accept the government of God and when general conditions have become favorable to the idea of the rulership of the truth, God will permit the Mahdi to launch his final revolution….A few selected individuals…will be the first ones to respond to his call, and will be drawn to him like iron to a magnet in that first hour of his appearance…..On seeing the fulfillment of many of the signs promised in the traditions, a large number of unbelievers will turn towards Islam. Those who persist in their disbelief and wickedness shall be killed by soldiers of the Mahdi. The only victorious government in the entire world will be that of Islam….Islam will be the religion of everyone….The Mahdi will offer the religion of Islam to the Jews and the Christians; if they accept it they will be spared, otherwise, they will be killed….It seems unlikely that this catastrophe can be avoided….War and bloodshed [are] inevitable.
In his book, Al-Imam al-Mahdi, Amini describes the signs of the coming of the Mahdi in great detail. Chief among them: a massive earthquake and the launching of a global war to kill and/or subjugate Jews, Christians, and other “infidels” under Islamic rule.
In this video Ahmadinejad claims the 12th Imam “is in charge of the world”
Here is a British News Report on how Iran’s Government has become devoted to hastening the return of the 12th Imam.
Here Joel Rosenberg discusses the 12th Imam on The Glenn Beck Program in 2009
And here again in 2010
Here he is in News Reports chanting “Death to Israel” and with a Hitler comparison
My summary is this:
Ahmadinejad and the entire Iranian Regime in power believe in the return of this 12th Imam, no problem. The Iranian Regime seeks to hasten his return, Big Problem. It is believed they have signed contracts to this end. The rhetoric coming out of Iran supports this belief. The argument to allow Iran to have nuclear power has been, “don’t worry they’re not going to attack and commit suicide.” But when Ahmadinejad praises victims of a plane crash, calling them martyrs, and advocates to “hasten” the return of the 12th Imam, which can only be accomplished after or during the Apocalypse, do you really want to take that chance? I don’t.
To hasten the 12th Imam’s return is to start the Apocalypse. I don’t want Ahmadinejad anywhere near anything dangerous, nuclear or otherwise.