Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (courtesy Radio Netherlands)
Some Middle East observers believe Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s letter to President Bush could be a precursor to war, based on a traditional Muslim pattern of offering acceptance of Islam before establishing it by force.
Robert Spencer, editor of Jihad Watch, says Ahmadinejad appears to be following the teachings of Muhammad, who gave specific instructions to followers as they engage in “holy war” against “those who disbelieve in Allah.”
In a Hadith, regarded by Muslims as sacred writings about Muhammad, the Islamic prophet says a series of offers should be made to “enemies” to embrace Islam, or at least accept Islamic rule, and if they are rejected, “seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
In his letter, Ahmadinejad argues only Islam can “overcome the present problems of the world” and asks Bush, “Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets? Mr President, History tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive.”
Another observer of Islam, journalist Stephen Adams, said the letter seems to parallel a missive from al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to Americans prior to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Interviewed on the Michael Medved radio show yesterday, Adams noted bin Laden stated his grievances against the United States and gave Americans the opportunity to “repent.”
Based on precedent, Adams continued, he expects the next step will be for Iran to make the invitation public. Then the “crimes” of the U.S. will be published and the grievances will be cited at Friday prayers in mosques. Finally, comes a fatwa, amounting to a declaration of war.
Adams, associate editor of Citizen magazine, said it’s possible this scenario could unfold in a matter of weeks.
In a column for WorldNetDaily, Middle East analyst Laura Mansfield said she believes the letter could be a “last warning.”
Mansfield says the question must be asked: “Why deliver such a letter when there is little chance it will result in policy changes for either country?”
Like Spencer and Adams, she points out: “Islamic theology documents that no attack can be carried out in jihad without first offering the ‘unbelievers’ the opportunity to ‘repent’ and accept Islam. Only when that overture is rejected can an attack occur.”
The Iranian president has made clear, at least to audiences at home, Tehran’s ultimate intentions.
As WorldNetDaily reported in January, Ahmadinejad told a crowd of theological students in Iran’s holy city of Qom that Islam must prepare to rule the world.
“We must believe in the fact that Islam is not confined to geographical borders, ethnic groups and nations. It’s a universal ideology that leads the world to justice,” Ahmadinejad said Jan. 5, according to Mehran Riazaty, a former Iran analyst for the Central Command of the Coalition Forces in Baghdad.
Ahmadinejad, who drew global attention for his contention the Holocaust was a “myth,” said: “We don’t shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world.” Two months earlier, he threatened to “wipe Israel off the map”
Riazaty, in a post on the website Regime Change Iran, said the Iranian president emphasized his current theme that the return of the Shiite messiah, the Mahdi, is not far away, and Muslims must prepare for it.
According to Shiites, the 12th imam disappeared as a child in the year 941. When he returns, they believe, he will reign on earth for seven years, before bringing about a final judgment and the end of the world.
Ahmadinejad is urging Iranians to prepare for the coming of the Mahdi by turning the country into a mighty and advanced Islamic society and by avoiding the corruption and excesses of the West.
“We must prepare ourselves to rule the world and the only way to do that is to put forth views on the basis of the Expectation of the Return,” Ahmadinejad said. “If we work on the basis of the Expectation of the Return [of the Mahdi], all the affairs of our nation will be streamlined and the administration of the country will become easier.”