Iranian ‘cult’ of imam sparks controversy

Mahdi When President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad launched Iran’s first domestically built telecommunications satellite into space on Sunday, he did so in the name of the last true Shia imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi.

The launch coincided with the end of festivities in Iran to mark the birthday of the imam, one of the holiest figures in Shia Islam, who is believed to have gone into hiding in the year 941 and will return to bring peace and justice to the world.

But this year’s festivities have proved unusually controversial because of claims that the imam is being exploited for commercial and political purposes. [Read more...]

Doomsday cult said to be at center of Iraqi battle

In an era beset by war and confusion, a purported messiah rises from the sands of the desert promising to deliver the end of time. On the outskirts of a holy city, he gathers his fighters for the apocalypse. But his plan is betrayed. By dawn, government forces surround the messiah and his followers, killing him and hundreds of others. [Read more...]