After decades of reading popular prophecy books and even best-selling fiction like the "Left Behind" series, millions of evangelical Christians around the world are dreading the day when a beastly figure known as the Antichrist emerges as a global political and religious dictator.
Most expect him to come from a revived Roman Empire, which many have assumed is associated with the Roman Catholic Church and the European Union.
Not so, argues a controversial new book that makes the case that the biblical Antichrist is one and the same as the Quran's Muslim Mahdi.
Meet "The Islamic Antichrist," a book greeted in the Muslim world with the same enthusiasm as Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses." The author, Joel Richardson, is prepared. He has written the book under a pseudonym to protect himself and his family.
"The Bible abounds with proofs that the Antichrist's empire will consist only of nations that are, today, Islamic," says Richardson. "Despite the numerous prevailing arguments for the emergence of a revived European Roman empire as the Antichrist's power base, the specific nations the Bible identifies as comprising his empire are today all Muslim."
Richardson believes the key error of many previous prophecy scholars involves the misinterpretation of a prediction by Daniel to Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel describes the rise and fall of empires of the future, leading to the endtimes. Western Christians have viewed one of those empires as Rome, when, claims Richardson, Rome never actually conquered Babylon and was thus disqualified as a possibility.
It had to be another empire that rose and fell and rose again that would lead to rule of this "man of sin," described in the Bible. That empire, he says, is the Islamic Empire, which did conquer Babylon and, in fact, rules over it even today.
Many evangelical Christians believe the Bible predicts a charismatic ruler, the Antichrist, will arise in the last days, before the return of Jesus. The Quran also predicts that a man, called the Mahdi, will rise up to lead the nations, pledging to usher in an era of peace. Richardson makes the case these two men are, in fact, one in the same.
In "The Islamic Antichrist," Richardson, a student of Islam, exposes Western Christians to the Muslim traditions. He says most Christians have no idea of the stunning similarities between biblical Antichrist and the "Islamic Jesus."
Richardson is the co-author with Walid Shoebat of "God's War on Terror: Islam, Prophecy and the Bible" and co-editor of "Why We Left Islam: Former Muslims Speak Out."
"The Islamic Antichrist" is published by WND Books and is available autographed in the WND Superstore.
"This book will challenge your view of the endtimes," says Joseph Farah, editor and chief executive officer of WND and founder of WND Books. "It is shaking up the world of eschatology more than any other book in the last 50 years."