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Some Shiite Muslims have long believed, based on Islamic prophecies, that Abdullah’s death would set off a chain of events that would destabilize Saudi Arabia and culminate in the rise of Imam Mahdi—the messianic figure of Islamic eschatology.
Though Mahdi is not explicitly mentioned in the Koran, references to him appear in the hadith, a collection of reported teachings by the Prophet Mohammed, assembled after his death.
The most populous group of Shiites—the Twelvers—say the Mahdi is the last of 12 divine imams that are heirs to an Islamic nation. Mahdi is said to have been born in the mid-9th century, but to have then disappeared from humanity. Doctrine says Mahdi will reappear in “the end times.”
A hadith in Ghaybat Al-Tusi quotes Mohammed discussing when that reappearance would be: “On doomsday, a man who is carrying the name of an animal ascends to the throne, after which a man named Abdullah comes to the power. Whoever informs me of his death, I will inform him of the rise [of Mahdi]. After Abdullah passes away, for several days and months, the government will appear.”
Abdullah’s predecessor, King Fahd, is said to have carried “the name of an animal” since one meaning of Fahd is related to “cheetah.” That would leave King Abdullah as the ruler that reigns before Mahdi.
According to the hadith book of Bahar al-Anvar, “When Abdullah dies, people will agree on no one, and this issue will be kept alive till the rise of Imam [Mahdi]. An age of a hundred-year reign comes to an end, and an age of a [kingdom lasting] a few days and months arrives.”
Though this Islamic prophecy itself is nonsensical, belief in it by many zealous Shiites is potentially significant.
Twelvers say Mahdi will only reappear during a time of global calamity and chaos. During an apocalyptic time of war, he will reappear in order to bring justice to the world—by converting all people to Shia Islam. Chaos, they say, is a prerequisite to Madhi’s return, and many believe that by stirring up chaos, they can hasten the return of their messianic figure.
Full article: King Abdullah’s Death Fulfills ‘End-Time Prophecies,’ Say Shiites (The Trumpet)