“Ahmadinejad: What would Jesus do today?” by Yaakov Lappin for YNet News:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has sent a greeting to the world’s Christians for the coming New Year, in which he has linked Christianity’s deity, Jesus, with the Shiite messianic figure, Imam Mahdi, saying he expected both to return and “wipe away oppression.”
That’s not Ahmadinejad’s invention. Islamic tradition– both Sunni and Shi’ite — calls for Jesus and the Mahdi to appear together, with Jesus taking a subordinate role to the Mahdi and praying behind him:
Jabir b. ‘Abdullah reported: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: A section of my people will not cease fighting for the Truth and will prevail till the Day of Resurrection. He said: Jesus son of Mary would then descend and their (Muslims’) commander would invite him to come and lead them in prayer, but he would say: No, some amongst you are commanders over some (amongst you). This is the honour from Allah for this Ummah. (Sahih Muslim 001.293)
“I wish all the Christians a very happy new year and I wish to ask them a question as well,” the Iranian leader said, according to the Iranian Student News Agency.
“My one question from the Christians is: What would Jesus do if he were present in the world today? What would he do before some of the oppressive powers of the world who are in fact residing in Christian countries? Which powers would he revive and which of them would he destroy?” the Iranian president asked.
“If Jesus were present today, who would be facing him and who would be following him?” He added.
This is an attempt to manufacture a sense of common cause by exploiting general ignorance: In playing the “Jesus” card, Ahmadinejad relies on the lack of awareness of the difference in the Christian and Muslim accounts of Jesus, with the expectation that Christian readers will project their understanding of Jesus onto a much different figure portrayed in Islam:
Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. (Bukhari 003.043.656)
The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (peace_be_upon_him). He will descent (to the earth). When you see him, recognise him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him. (Abu Dawud 037.4310)
This view is corroborated in Shi’ite narrations about Jesus (see 11, 12).
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Ahmadinejad then linked Jesus with Imam Mahdi, a Shiite leader believed by the Iranian president to have gone into hiding centuries ago, and who is expected by Shiite Muslims to return and usher in a period of messianic dominance for Islam.
To clarify, the coming of the Mahdi is foretold in both Shi’ite and Sunni Islam, but the Shi’ites identify him with the hidden 12th imam.
“All I want to say is that the age of hardship, threat and spite will come to an end someday and God willing Jesus would return to the world along with the emergence of the descendant of the Islam’s Holy Prophet, Imam Mahdi and wipe away every tinge of oppression, pain and agony from the face of the world,” Ahmadinejad said.