Thanks to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, a new term in the political vocabulary has been coined: mahdaviat.This is technical religious term that refers to mahdi, an element of the Shiite doctrine that identifies the restorer of religion and justice who will rule before the end of the world. It’s also called “return of the twelfth imam”. The mahdaviat plays a central role in the ambitions and beliefs of Ahmedinejad. As mayor of Teheran and president of the Islamic Republic, his policy and discourse are based on this belief. He even finished his speech at the UN with a prayer for the arrival of mahdi.
This obsession makes him confident of implementing the right policy. The elimination of the gap between the have and the have nots in Iran, the challenge launched to the United States and Israel and the creation of a programme of nuclear weapons are initiatives inserted in the preparations for the return of the mahdi. But, what could a president convinced of the soon arrival of the mahdi fear ? The mahdaviat has direct and worrying implications with regard to the confrontation between the United States and Iran. I prefer the contrary formulation. The most dangerous leaders of modern history have been those who (like Hitler) had a totalitarian ideology and a mystic faith in their own missions. Ahmedinejad shares these characteristics.

Jerusalem Post (Israel)
New York Sun (United States)

The Mystical Menace of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad”, by Daniel Pipes, New York Sun,January 10, 2006.
Mission and mysticism”, Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2006.