What Drives Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
Who would ever have believed that the baby boy born on October 26, 1956 would one day grow up to be the 6th president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He was the 4th of seven children and his father was a poor, though a highly devout and religious man. Mahmoud’s father skipped from job to job trying to support his family. At various times he was a grocer, a blacksmith, and a barber.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inherited his father’s religious zeal. Although he is only 5’4” he seems to have made up for any physical deficiencies with his intellectual prowess. It has been reported that Mahmoud was 132nd of over 400,000 applicants for entrance into the Iran University of Technology and Science in 1976. Though one might think a man of such religious fervor might have a degree in Islamic theology, he instead earned a doctorate in 1997 in transportation engineering.
Ahmadinejad’s role in the Iranian military is a bit shady. Intelligence sources say he was a senior officer in a Special Forces unit with the Revolutionary Guard. In 2003 he became the major of Tehran. He began to spout his radicalism from his mayoral soap box. “Today our great nation’s duty and prophetic mission is to prepare for the formation of the universal rule of the Mahdi.” Ahmadinejad’s prophecy of the coming of the Mahdi has had a primary affect on his foreign policy as president of Iran. His foreign policy in a nutshell is to nuke Israel into oblivion and hope for an implosion of the U.S. A. similar to what happened to the U.S.S.R. The Mahdi is the redeemer of Islam who will return to earth in the years preceding the judgment of God. He will reign alongside Jesus Christ and they together will rid the world of evil and injustice. Christians resist such an idea and are much offended that by those who would propagate a concept of Jesus sharing his throne with the Mahdi. To a Christian this borders on blasphemy.
Ahmadinejad announced his candidacy for president in April of 2005. Thousands of candidates were eliminated by the government. There remained only 8 on the final ballet. It seemed highly unlikely that Ahmadinejad, who was barely elected mayor of Tehran in 2003, would win an election for the presidency. He was dead last while polling only 2.8 percent of the vote. He declares it a miracle of Allah that he won the presidency in a landslide run-off against his opponent, Rafsanjani. Surely, this long shot for the presidency was chosen by Allah. On the contrary, western intelligence tells us that politics in Iran is not that much different than politics in Chicago.
Iran’s unusual leader has reiterated over and over his claim of being a sort of forerunner or John the Baptist to the coming Mahdi. He believes the end of the age is but a few years away and the Iranian people are not to sit passively by waiting for the preparation to fall from the sky. He sincerely believes that he is the ‘chosen one’, he is to actively, aggressively instigate war between Iranian forces and those of the U.S. and Israel. The Mahdi cannot come to establish his kingdom until the “Great Satan” (America) and the “Small Satan” are lured into confrontation. When Ahmadinejad says he will use the atomic bomb once he gets it he isn’t kidding. He feels a divine calling to destroy as many ‘infidels’ as possible to pave the way for the Mahdi.
When addressing The United Nations General Assembly in September of 2005 he shocked the peoples of the world by ending his presentation with this bold prayer, “O mighty Lord, I pray to you to hasten the emergence of your last repository, the Promised One, that perfect and pure human being, the One that will fill the world with justice and peace.” Again, this is a blasphemous statement to Christians who believe that Jesus Christ was the only perfect and pure human being. His perfection qualified him to sacrifice himself on the cross to become an effective propitiation for the sins of mankind.
Humility seems to be a trait foreign to Ahmadinejad. He declared that during his speech to the United Nations he was engulfed by an aura of mysterious light and “for the duration of the twenty seven or twenty eight minutes, they did not blink. I am not exaggerating. I looked up and I saw them. They were transfixed. It was if a hand was holding them.” Strange that no one else reported this strange occurrence that day.
Some would argue that the radical theology of the Christian would affect foreign policy in the same way the radical theology of Ahmadinejad might. Some might fear a repetition of the crusades. That very well might be possible but Christ never encouraged nor directed his followers to pick up the sword. Ahmadinejad has his followers are panicked in their attempt to reign down destruction quickly before the appearing of the Mahdi. Christians are not instructed to do such a thing. We are told that no man knows the day nor the hour of his (Jesus’) coming and so we are to “occupy until I come.” (Luke 19:13) Christians are not stressed about waging a battle. We live in peace and relief knowing that “the battle is the Lord’s”
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.