SO-CALLED APOCALYPTIC SIGNS: SECOND COMING, MAHDIS
THRONGS OF MAHDIS
In order to understand better the traditionalist communities, we must dwell on the Mahdi issue. A great majority of congregations are reticent about messianism. Even after entering a religious order, the novice is enlightened on the issue not by the sheikh but someone nearest to him. Congregations are convinced that the hadiths prefer the disclosure of the identity of the Mahdi in a confidential manner, passing the information from ear to ear. This messianism provides the disciples with tremendous energy. The fact that a disciple’s leader is a person of a power equal to the power of a prophet, as described 1400 years ago, is the generator of this energy. This unconditional dependence on the sheikh induces the disciple to hand over whatever he possesses to the hands of his sheikh. It never occurs to him to call to question any act of his sheikh, however doubtful. Legends about the prospect that his sheikh will be the future caliph give rise to malicious gossip about possible rebellions and coups to clear the path for the caliph to come. In point of fact, there have been many such uprisings in the history of Islam led by paranoid Mahdis.