This is an eye-opening exploration of a troubling phenomenon: the fast-growing belief in Muslim countries that the end of the world is at hand—and with it the “Great Battle,” prophesied by both Sunni and Shi`i tradition, which many believers expect will begin in the Afghan-Pakistani borderlands. Jean-Pierre Filiu uncovers the role of apocalypse in Islam over the centuries, and highlights its extraordinary resurgence in recent decades. Identifying 1979 as a decisive year in the rise of contemporary millenarian speculation, he stresses the ease with which subsequent events in the Middle East have been incorporated into the intellectual universe of apocalyptic propagandists. Filiu also shows how Christian and Jewish visions of the Final Judgment have stimulated alarmist reaction in Islamic lands, both in the past and today, and examines the widespread fear of Christian Zionist domination as an impetus to jihad. Though the overwhelming majority of Muslims remains unpersuaded, the mounting conviction in the imminence of apocalypse is a serious matter, especially for those who are preparing for it.
Preface to the English-Language Edition
Prologue: The End of the World Draws Nigh
Part One: True and False Messiahs of Islam
1. Archeology of the End of the World
2. Grand Masters of the Medieval Apocalypse
3. Avatars of the Mahdi
Part Two: Apocalypse Now
4. Dawn of the Fifteenth Century of Islam
5. Pioneers of the Contemporary Apocalypse
6. The Horsemen of Apocalyptic Jihad
7. The Beginning of the End in Iraq
8. The Grand Return of the Shi?i Mahdi
9. Diasporas of the Apocalypse
10. The Armageddon of Jihad
Epilogue: Through the Looking Glass—and Beyond
A Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Bibliography
Jean-Pierre Filiu is Associate Professor at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris. Formerly a Visiting Professor at Georgetown University, he has extensive experience working with NGOs and as a diplomat in the Middle East. His writings about the Muslim world have been translated into a dozen languages.
"This brilliantly argued book turns conventional wisdom on its head. The source of Muslim anti-Semitism is more Western hate literature than Islamic scriptural or theological precedents. In stunning detail, etched in lapidary prose, Filiu gauges the scale and scope of resort to Islamic apocalypse, revealing it as a form of anti-globalism, disguised as anti-Semitism, which Muslims, no less than non-Muslims, ignore at their own peril. Apocalypse in Islam is a challenge to all who want to advance a new alliance of civilizations rather than an endless combat of fundamentalisms."—Bruce Lawrence, editor of Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden
"An absolutely fascinating book by an author whose expertise joins the fields of scholarship, diplomacy and culture. Filiu's combination of classical textual analysis with that of contemporary social movements and Arabic-language apocalyptic literature shows both the complexity of Islamist apocalyptic movements and the striking similarities they bear to Christian apocalyptic movements. Certain to be the standard text on this crucial but still poorly understood subject for years to come."—Mark LeVine, author of Heavy Metal Islam
"In this deeply researched and very well translated account of apocalyptic movements in Islam, Filiu, a leading scholar of the Islamic world, delivers a major contribution to scholarship that is both erudite and accessible."—Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc.
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