Tell me about the Mehdi, what is his name?

January 19, 2008 § Leave a comment

(Image from aljazeera.net)

Ashoura in Iraq

  • Over 2.5 million have gathered in Karbala according to Iraqi newspaper al-Zaman. 42,000 Iraqi soldiers have been deployed and American helicopters are flying overhead.
  • Processions continue in Karbala. Iraqi police said that 680 individuals came to Karbala from Gulf states like Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi. All of them came through Iran. A Saudi woman, who came to Karbala with her two brothers and husband, told al-Jazeera that the trip to Karbala took ten days and cost over $1,500. She said that upon their return, they will face tough interrogations.
  • Iraqi security forces clashed with members of the fringe Shi’i group Jund al-Samaa (Soldiers of Heaven) in Basra and Nasiriyya. 50 people were killed and at least 53 injured.
  • Al-Hayat reports that the clashes began when the Iraqi police stopped the group from making patrols around the city because of the imposed curfew and ban on cars. Members of the group then stormed the blockade. Witnesses said that the militants had control of six ambulances and then took over an oil institute and the hospital.

Jund al-Samaa

  • The group is also referred to as Ansar al-Mehdi (Followers of the Mehdi) and al-Jazeera identifies Ahmad al-Hasan al-Yamani as the military commander of the group. Reports indicate that he was killed in the clashes. The group believes that al-Yamani will hasten the return of the Mehdi, or the 12th imam. Al-Yamani claims to be the fifth representative of the Hidden Imam. Ithna’ ‘ashari (or twelver) Shi’is believe that when the 12th Imam was in lesser occultation, he had four deputies transmitting the Imam’s messages to the people. Yet to claim that you are a deputy of the Imam is tantamount to blasphemy.
  • The group appeared for the first time in Kufa, Iraq in 2004, but Spanish troops killed some of its members and the group escaped to Basra. In Basra, al-Yamani sought to rebuild his ranks and attract followers through the Internet.

(The heading is a quote from Kitab al-Irshad or the Shi’i Book of Guidance.)

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