Friday, April 11, 2014

The Messiahs-Christianity and Islam

     For most Christians, Jesus is the ‘Messiah’. ‘Christ’ is simply the Greek translation of the Hebrew word’ messiah’, meaning the ‘anointed one’. In Christianity, the list of those claiming to be the ‘messiah’ is even longer than that in the Jewish faith and many more date to much more recent times.
Jesus Christ

     The Christian Bible suggests that Jesus will come again in one way or another and various people have claimed that they are indeed the second coming of Jesus while others have been presented themselves as a new messiah under the umbrella of Christianity.

     Simon Magus (see post: The Pointed Finger of Heresy) was a Samaritan (an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism claimed to be the ancient religion of the Israelites prior to the Babylonian Exile) in the early 1st century and was considered a god in Simonianism
     The Simonians were a Gnostic Christian sect of the 2nd century, a group which regarded Simon magus as its founder and traced its doctrines back to him. The sect flourished in Syria, in various districts of Asia Minor and Rome and survived until the 4th century. Magus was said to have ‘hinted’ that he himself was Christ, calling himself the 'Standing One'.
Death of Simon Magus

     Dositheos (another Samaritan) was one of the founders of Mandaeanism (another gnostic religion with a dualistic (2 (?) gods-one good, one evil), sometimes identified with mentions in the Koran of the (now non-existent) Sabian religion) in the mid-1st century. Dositheos claimed to be the Messiah prophesied by Moses.
     Among the Christian ‘messiahs’, there are the ‘strange and unusual’ and some very controversial such as the following:
Arnold Potter (1804–1872) was a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) leader of a ‘breakaway’ sect who was a self-declared ‘messiah’. During a trip to Australia, he claimed to have undergone a ‘purifying, quickening change’ whereby the spirit of Christ entered into his body and he became ‘Potter Christ, Son of the living God’. 
     While in Australia, Potter wrote a book which he said was dictated to him by angels. In 1857, upon his return to California, appeared in the streets with an Indian ink  brand on his forehead, inscribed with the words ‘Potter Christ—The Living God—Morning Star’. 
Present-Day Samaritan Priest
     In 1861, Potter and his followers left California and eventually settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 1872 Potter announced that it was the time for his ascent to heaven. Potter rode a donkey to the edge of the bluffs then leapt off the edge. His body was collected and buried by his followers.

     Father Divine whose real name was George Baker (1880 – 1965) was an African American spiritual leader who believed that he was more than just a messiah and actually claimed to be God.

     Claude Vorilhon (known as Rael,‘messenger of the Elohim’ (born 1946) was a French national and professional test driver who founded the UFO religion, the Rael Movement in 1972 (see post: The Chosen Ones). The movement teaches that life on Earth was scientifically created by a species of extraterrestrials, called Elohim
     Vorilhon claimed that he met an extraterrestrial humanoid in 1973 and became the Messiah then devoted himself to the task he said was given by his biological father, an extraterrestrial named Yahweh.
Raelian Cosmology

     Sergei Torop (born 1961), calling himself ‘Vissarion’, founded the Church of the Last Testament and the spiritual community Ecopolis Tiberkul in Southern Siberia. Vissarion claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus and teaches reincarnation, veganism, and the impending end of the world.

     David Shayler (born December 24, 1965), is a former British MI5 agent and whistleblower who declared himself the Messiah on 7 July 2007. Shayler was prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act 1989 for his passing secret documents to the newspaper in August 1997. After the release of the Commission report on the September 11, 2001 attacks, David Shayler joined the 9/11 Truth Movement which holds ‘no planes were involved in 9/11’ and that the apparent planes were missiles camouflaged by holograms. Shayler later claimed that he was the son of God stating, ‘I am the messiah and hold the secret of eternal life’.
David Michael Shayler

     On his official website, he notes that ‘David Michael Shayler (‘Sheylr’ in Hebrew) was anointed Messiah on 2 July 2007 and proclaimed on 07.07.07, in line with ancient prophecies’. He also claims to have divine powers which allow him to influence the weather, prevent terror attacks and predict football scores.
     In a later newspaper article, Shayler revealed that he was now living as a woman. And that his transvestite alter ego' is called 'Delores Kane’: "I don't give a fuck what other people think of me. A bloke in a frock is whole lot less offensive than blowing up innocent people in Iraq and Afghanistan’.

     Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835–1908) of India, claimed to be the awaited Mahdi (in Islamic eschatology, the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule before the Day of Judgement and will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny-see post: Invisible/Hidden Gods) as well as the second coming of Jesus. He is the only person in Islamic history who claimed to be both Mahdi and Jesus.
Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

     Sun Myung Moon (1920–2012) was founder and leader of the Unification Church established in South Korea. Moon considered himself the ‘Second Coming of Christ’ and was regarded by Unification Church members (‘Moonies’) as the Messiah, anointed to fulfill Jesus' unfinished mission.

     There have been few female messiahs:
     Ann Lee (1736–1784), an important figure to the Shakers, claimed she was the ‘embodied all the perfections of God’ in female form and considered herself to be Christ’s female counterpart in 1772. The Shakers were a religious group that formed in eighteenth-century England, also known as the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing (USBCSA). The first members of the group were known as ‘Shaking Quakers’ because of the ecstatic nature of their worship services.
Sun Myung Moon

     Jacobina Mentz Maurer (1842-1874) was a German-Brazilian woman who lived in the state of Rio Grande do Sul who was declared the very reincarnation of Jesus Christ on earth by her German-speaking community called Die Muckers (the false saints) by her enemies. 
     Jacobina was eventually shot to death together with many of her followers by the Brazilian Imperial Army.

     Mabel Barltrop claimed to be the Shiloh from the Book of Genesis and founded the Panacea Society in 1919 at 12 Albany Road, Bedford, UK. The teachings of the society were based on those of the Devonshire prophetess Joanna Southcott (1750 - 1814). Barltrop took the name Octavia and believed herself to be Southcott's child, the Shiloh of her prophecies. The ‘Society’ (also known as the Community of the Holy Ghost) began, symbolically, with 12 apostles.
Jacobina Mentz Maurer
     When Octavia died, in 1934, there were 2,000 members of the society, many of whom lived in and around Albany Road, their homes backing on to a shared communal area, which they believed was the site of the original Garden of Eden
     A further 75,000 followers worldwide were convinced that water and linen squares that Barltrop had breathed on and which were then posted to them, contained miraculous healing powers. The Panacea Society blossomed briefly but could not survive the death (and non-resurrection) of its anointed messiah.

     Other ‘messiahs’ have been dangerous and murderous.
     Charles Manson (born 1934 and still alive, in prison) was leader of the ‘Manson family’ ordering his followers to kill in preparation for the end of the world (see post: Death Cults). 
 Charles Manson

     Manson claimed he was a prophet for the Son of Man, the ‘Second Coming of Jesus Christ’, opening the seven seal mentioned in the New Testament ‘Book of Revelation’. Manson was an admirer of Adolf Hitler and tatooed a swastika (see post: Symbols of the Sun) onto his forehead purportedly because he was angry at Jews who refused to believe that he was a prophet for the ‘Second Coming of Christ’. He also claimed to be Satan.

     Yahweh ben Yahweh (1935–2007) was born Hulon Mitchell, Jr. Mitchell was a black nationalist and separatist who founded the Nation of Yahweh and orchestrated the murder of dozens of people. Mitchell emphasized that God and all the prophets of the Bible were black and blacks would gain the knowledge of their true history through him. 
     He also called whites (and particularly Jews) as infidels and oppressors. He emphasized loyalty to himself as the son of God YHWH and became the ‘living’ Messiah of the Nation of Yahweh. In 1991, Mitchell was convicted of conspiring to murder white people as an initiation rite to his cult. He was released on parole in 2001 on the condition of not reconnecting with his old congregation and died of prostate cancer in 2007.
David Koresh

     David Koresh (born, Vernon Wayne Howell; 1959–1993), leader of the Branch Davidians (see post: Death Cults) proclaimed himself Messiah and was killed in an assault on his compound by federal authorities in Waco, Texas.

     The ‘Reverend’ Jim Jones led over 900 of his followers to their deaths by suicide in Jonestown, Guyana in 1978 (see posts: Death Cults and The Reverend Jim Jones).

     Two messiahs perhaps deserve special mention as they did change the course of history to some extent in their respective regions.
Baha ‘u’llah (1817–1864) was born Mirza Husayn-Ali Nuri into the Shiite sect of Islam and claimed to be the promised one of all religions, a messenger from God, the most recent Manifestation of God, that he was the Promised One of all religions, fulfilling the messianic prophecies found in world religions.
Baha ‘u’llah

     He was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. His claims include six distinctive messianic identifications: from Judaism, the incarnation of the ‘Everlasting Father’ from the Yuletide prophecy of Isaiah 9:6, the ‘Lord of Hosts’; from Christianity, the ‘Spirit of Truth’ or Comforter predicted by Jesus in his farewell discourse of John 14-17 and the return of Christ ‘in the glory of the Father’; from Zoroastrianism, the return of Shah Bahram Varjavand, a Zoroastrian messiah predicted in various texts; from Shi’a Islam, the return of the Third Imam, Imama Husayn; from Sunni Islam, the return of Jesus (Isa); and from Babism, He whom god shall make manifest.
     In 1892, Bahá'u'lláh contracted a fever and died on 29 May 1892. He was buried in the shrine located next to the Mansion of Bahjí in Acre, a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel.
Shrine to Baha ‘u’llah, Acre

     The Baha’i are considered heretics by many in Shiite Islam and have been persecuted in Iran, the country of birth of Baha‘u’llah. Many have fled Iran and emigrated to various countries throughout the globe, taking their faith with them.

     Hong Xiuquan (1814–1864), born Hong Renkun was a Hakka Chinese who led the Taiping Rebellion against the Qing Dynasty. The Hakka (also called Hakka Han) are Han Chinese who speak the Hakka language and have links to the Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Jiangxi, Guangxi, Sichuan, Hunan and Fujian. 
     The Hakka have often migrated overseas to various countries throughout the World and have had a significant influence on the course of Chinese and world history with leaders in China as well as many other parts of the world. Hong Xiuquan is regarded by many Hakka as an important ancestral tie between Hakka of many modern political stripes and many modern nationalities.
Hong Xiuquan

     Hong was bright and the pride of his clan. Social betterment was usually achieved through the Qing civil service and Hong sat for the civil service examinations for the first time in 1836. He was first exposed to Christianity in the city of Guangzhou where he took the civil service examination in 1836. He listened to an Evangelical Christian missionary preaching about his religion received translations and summaries of the Bible written by the Christian missionaries Edwin Stevens and his assistant, Liang Fa
     He failed the exam that year and once again in 1837. Hong returned to his village and likely suffered a psychotic depression. During his recovery, he had a number of vivid dreams, interpreted by him as mystical visions.
     In his dreams, Hong was visited by an old, paternal figure and an elder brother-figure. The old man complained to Hong about men worshipping demons rather than him and in a second dream, Hong saw Confucius being punished for his faithlessness, after which he repented. 
     Hong dreamt of angels carrying him to heaven, where he met the elder-brother figure wearing in a black dragon robe with a long golden beard who gave him a sword and a magic seal and told him to purge China of demons. Hong interpreted these dreams to mean that God the Heavenly Father (identified by him as Shangdi from Chinese tradition) wanted him to rid the world of demon worship and, in order to complete this mission of ridding the world of demons, the elder brother-figure changed Hong's name to Hong Xiuquan. 
     Hong concluded that the old man was God and the elder brother that he had seen was Jesus Christ, making him a Chinese son of God and the younger brother of Jesus.
Hong began by burning all Confucian and Buddhist statues as well as books in his house and preaching to his community about his visions. His earliest converts were relatives of his who had also failed their examinations and belonged to the Hakka minority. 
Taiping Rebellion

     Destruction of holy statues angered the local citizens and officials and Hong fled the district in 1844 Guangxii, where the large Hakka population was more open to his teachings. Guangxi was a dangerous area at this time with bandit groups in the mountains and pirates on the rivers and Hong's followers were drawn into conflict with other groups. The rising tension between the sect and the authorities was probably the most important factor in Hong's eventual decision to rebel.
     Qing authorities tried to arrest Hong on several occasions but were driven away by his ever-increasing number of followers. By 1850, Hong had mobilized over 20,000 men and began to lay siege to cities in south-central China. In 1851, Hong announced the formation of the Christian state he called the ‘Heavenly Kingdom (Taiping Tianguo) of Great Peace’ and declared himself Heavenly King. This resulted in 13 years of conflict with 20 million lives lost and devastation to large areas of south, central and eastern China.
Throne in the Heavenly Kingdom, Nanjing

     Hong eventually established a capital at Nanjing but the rebellion soon began to unravel. Yang Xiuqing (known as the ‘East King’) was a fellow Taiping leader who had directed successful military campaigns and who also claimed to speak with the voice of God. Hong became increasingly suspicious of Yang's ambitions and, in 1856, he had Yang and his family murdered.
     Hong died at 52 years of age on 1 June 1864, some claim by suicide with poison after Qing authorities had gained a decisive military advantage. Other sources claim that Hong died of ‘illness’ and others that his illness was caused by ‘eating manna’, a command taken from the Bible that Hong had given to his people as they starved. Hong's badly decomposed body was found in the palace of Nanjing.
     Hong was succeeded by his teenage son, Hong Tianguifu but the Taiping Rebellion was suppressed and finally destroyed by the Qing in 1864 with the help of French and British forces.
     The Taiping rebellion, with its 20 million dead, was one of the deadliest conflicts in history but its Hakka leader, Hong Xiuquan, is regarded by many modern Hakka as an inspiration. The Hakka constitute an overwhelmingly disproportionate number of important modern Chinese political leaders examples of whom are: Lee Kuan Yew (founding leader of independent Singapore), founding father of modern China; Sun Yatsen (Nationalist leader and ‘father’ of modern China); and Deng Xiaoping (communist leader of mainland China).
Deng Xiaoping
     There is a form of ‘messianism’ peculiar to Eastern Europe. It is often called Romantic Slavic messianism, a belief that the Slavs, especially the Russians, suffer in order that other European nations and eventually all of humanity, may be redeemed. 
     One example of this ‘Slavic messianism’ is that of Petăr Konstantinov Dănov who was born in 1864 near the port city of Varna. In 1897, Danov founded the ‘Society for the uplifting of the religious spirit of the Bulgarian people’ which was renamed as Synarchic Chain a number of years later. The name implies that it was actually a network of spiritists from different regions of Bulgaria. In the circles of this ‘chain’ Dănov acted on the one hand as a medium for spirits, angels and even Christ, on the other hand as a spiritual teacher and adviser of his followers. 
     In addition to these activities he published articles in journals and travelled throughout the country enlarging his network and giving lectures on heterodox scientific practices. In 1918 the movement was finally renamed as ‘Universal White Brotherhood’ or simply ‘White Brotherhood’.
     Danov’s messianic vision is summarized by his statement: ‘The Slavs have an important mission. Never before has there been such a huge mass of 200 million people gathered for one mission. The Slavs will be the forge of the new culture. The Slavic race will be the living center of the new culture but then comes the Sixth Race’
     Dănov believed in the existence of a hierarchy of illuminated beings called the ‘White Lodge’ or ‘White Brotherhood’ which advances the evolution of mankind by sending messengers into the world who teach the ancient divine wisdom. Dănov taught that Christ was the head of the ‘White Brotherhood’ and that the cosmic principle of love which unites everything in the universe to a living organism. The role of the “White Brotherhood” is to promote awareness of this universal unity and to advance the realization of love in the life of mankind.
     In the beginning, Danov acted as medium and mouthpiece of Christ but then started identifying himself more and more with this entity around 1912. This development probably has its roots in the alleged coming of the World Teacher or Buddha-Maitreya that had been announced by the Theosophical Society since 1910. 
Seal of the Theosophical Society
     Dănov was familiar with all the relevant literature of this society and many people who joined him after the First World War had even completed courses offered by the Theosophical Society in Bulgaria and projected their hope for a renewal of the world in love and harmony on the Bulgarian ‘Teacher’ Dănov. Not only did the latter see himself as a divine messenger, but also the circle of his followers. Dănov claimed that these followers were reincarnated sages and initiates, members of the White Lodge who had taught the divine wisdom in ancient Egypt, India, Persia and Greece.
     Dănov prophesied that 144.000 Ascended Masters or Adepts would incarnate world-wide throughout the 20th century to bring on the culture of the Sixth Race. Eight thousand of them were to manifest within Slavdom. Around the year 2000 Russia would ‘open up’, enter its golden age and finally fulfill the Slavic mission. 
     Another very important inspiration for Dănov’s conception of Slavic chosenness (see post: The Chosen Ones) is 19th century Polish messianism. The Polish poet and national hero Adam Mickiewicz for example had the vision of a mission of the Slavs (especially the Polish) to bring fraternity to the European nations under the auspices of Christianity. 
Adam Mickiewicz
     According to Mickiewicz the Slavs were not as materialistic as the Western peoples but were capable of self-sacrifice and devotion to the ‘spiritual world’. Adam Mickiewicz coined the expression ‘Polska Chrystusem narodów’ (‘Poland is the Christ of the nations’).

     In Islam, the Mahdi is the central messianic figure. The Mahdi, as in Jewish messianism, often represents resistance against perceived oppression.
     Islamic eschatology describes the Mahdi as a Messianic figure who will appear on Earth before the Day of Judgment and with Jesus (Isa), will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny. People claiming to be the Mahdi have appeared in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, throughout history since the birth of Islam in 610 AD. There are variants on the theme of the Mahdi, depending on the Muslim sect. 
Ali Husayn and Hasan in Paradise
     In Orthodox Sunni Islam, Muntazar is the ‘mahdi’, the successor to Mohammed who at the 'end of time' will unite the races of the world through understanding. The Sufi Messiah/Mahdi is called Khidr, the mysterious guide of the Islamic spiritual underground. In Sufi tradition, Khiḍr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination directly from God without human mediation.
     In orthodox Islam, Isa (Jesus) is believed to hold the task of killing the false messiah al-Dajjal (the ‘Antichrist’ in Christianity). After he has destroyed al-Dajjal, his final task will be to become leader of the Muslims at which time, Isa will dispel Christian and Jewish claims about him.

     Ṣāliḥ ibn Tarīf was the king of the Berghouata Berber kingdom and proclaimed himself a prophet of a new religion. Islamic literature considers his belief heretical but some modern Berber activists regard him as a hero for his resistance to Arab conquest and his foundation of the Berghouata state.

     Muhammad ibn Hasan ibn Ali (869 AD-?) also called Muhammad al-Mahdi, is the twelfth imam of Twelver Shia Islam. He is believed by Twelver Shia Muslims to be the Mahdi, an ultimate savior of humankind and the final Imam of the Twelve Imams. Twelver Shia believe that al-Mahdī was born in 869 and did not die but rather was hidden by God (this is referred to as the Occultation- see post: Invisible/Hidden Gods) and will later emerge with Isa (Jesus) in order to fulfill their mission of bringing peace and justice to the world.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

     In 2008, Iran's president believes Allah has chosen him to prepare the world for the coming of the Islamic 'savior' called the Mahdi. But before the Mahdi's return, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad believes there must be global chaos - even if he has to create it himself. Since becoming the president of Iran in August 2005, Ahmadinejad has emerged as the Mahdi's most influential follower. 
     Ahmadinejad has stated that his mandate is to pave the way for the coming of this Islamic 'messiah'. In almost all his speeches, Ahmadinejad begs Allah to hasten the return of the Mahdi.

     Muhammad Jaunpuri (1443 – 1505) was born in northeastern India in Jaunpur (Uttar Pradesh) and was a descendant of the seventh imam, Musa Kadhim. He claimed to be the Mahdi on three occasions - first in Mecca, and later twice in India - attracting a large following and a lot of opposition from ‘mainstream’ Islam. Muhammad Jaunpuri died in 1505 at age 63 but his followers, (known as Mahdavis) continue to live mostly around the Indian city of Hyderabad.
Muhammad Ahmad

     Muhammad Ahmad also known as the ‘Mad Mahdi’ (1844–1885), who declared himself the Mahdi in 1881, defeated the Ottoman Egyptian authority, and founded a short-lived empire in Sudan. His proclamation came when there was already widespread resentment among the Sudanese population of the oppressive policies of the Turco-Egyptian rulers.

     Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan (1864–1920) was a self-declared messiah in Somaliland who engaged in military conflicts from 1900 to 1920. Referred to as the Mad Mullah by the British, he established the Dervish State in Somalia that fought an anti-imperial war for a period of over 20 years against British, Italian and Ethiopian forces.

     Rashad Khalifa (1935–1990) was an Egyptian-American biochemist. Starting in 1968, Khalifa used computers to analyze the frequency of letters and words in the Quran and in 1974, claimed that he had discovered a mathematical code in the text of the Qur'an involving the number 19. He claimed to be the ‘Messenger of the Covenant’ and founded the ‘Submitters International’.  
Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan

     Khalifa claimed that the Archangel Gabriel 'most assertively' told him that chapter 36, verse 3, of the Quran, 'specifically' referred to him. Because of Rashad Kahlifa's doctrine (which was contrary to some important tenets of Sunni Islam) a fatwa was issued on February 19, 1989, by the Islamic Legal Council of Saudi Arabia, decreeing Rashad Khalifa a heretic. 
     One year later on January 31, 1990, Khalifa was murdered in Tucson. He was stabbed multiple times and his body drenched in xylol (a flammable volatile liquid hydrocarbon used as a solvent) but not set alight.

     Juhayman al-Otaibi (1936–1980) declared his son-in-law the Mahdi. On November 20, 1979 (the first day of the Islamic year 1400) the Grand Mosque in Mecca was seized by a well-organized group of 400 to 500 men under al-Otaybi's leadership. 
     The Grand Mosque Seizure lasted three weeks before Saudi Special Forces with French Special Forces assistance broke into the Mosque using armored personnel carriers. The surviving militants were arrested and 68 executed within 10 days. Juhayman and 67 members of his group were subsequently beheaded by the Saudi Government.
Juhayman al-Otaibi

      Both Christianity and Islam have preserved their concepts of the redeeming messiah since their beginnings. Even today, messiahs appear (and disappear) when certain sects or groups perceive themselves as oppressed.

     *Messiahs: subject of research for the novel The Tao of the Thirteenth God - Amazon Kindle

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