Rush Limbaugh has shocked listeners by warning the Iranian government's hoped-for "12th Imam" is "equivalent to the Antichrist," the prophesied end times figure believed by many to be the personification of evil.
The bold declaration from the talk radio titan is drawing new attention to Joel Richardson, whose bestselling "The Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth About the Real Nature of the Beast" developed the theory that the Islamic "Mahdi" is none other than the Antichrist of Revelation.
Limbaugh made the comments in a discussion about the prospect of Iran using a nuclear weapon against other Muslims. A caller protested an Iranian nuclear attack would likely kill "just as many Arabs as Israelis."
However, as Limbaugh noted, the Iranian government doesn't have any solidarity with Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians or Sunni Muslims except as a tool to use against Israel.
In Limbaugh’s words: "This is Shiite versus Sunni. It's an argument within Islam."
He believes the Iranian government is being driven by its Shiite Islamic beliefs about the end times and argues the mullahs are not rational actors who can negotiate in good faith.
"People have also said, 'Don't they realize if they nuke Israel, that they'll be nuking themselves because there will be a retaliation?' Well, if you go read about the 12th Imam, courtesy of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, you find out that all of this is about the apocalypse. And they believe it.
"This is religious truth to them. The 12th Imam can only surface after Israel is done away with, and the 12th Imam is the equivalent to Antichrist and so forth."
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He continued: "Look, don't anybody argue with me here because I'm not being specifically literal, but there are commonalities here. The 12th Imam signals the end of everything in a good sense, in a good apocalyptic sense, not a treacherous or a bad one. But if they believe that then the whole notion of retaliation doesn't matter and the whole idea of killing other Arabs doesn't matter."
Richardson, who first popularized and explained the concept of the Antichrist as an Islamic figure in his bestselling book "The Islamic Antichrist" and followed with "The Mideast Beast," welcomed Limbaugh's comments as both recognition of his own work and a valuable contribution to interpreting contemporary Middle Eastern politics.
"I have listened to Rush Limbaugh for almost 25 years. So it is very nice to know that he is also being impacted by my own work. As the author of "The Islamic Antichrist," the first book to have popularized Islamic eschatology, I've heard many prominent voices discussing the content of my book, and it's always gratifying."
Richardson recalled other notable figures who have drawn on "The Islamic Antichrist," including Mark Steyn, Glenn Beck, Hal Lindsey and Joel C. Rosenberg.
Here's the conversation with Beck about "The Mideast Beast":
"Some cite me specifically, while others simply use the various citations that I have mined out of numerous works written by Muslim scholars on Islamic apocalyptic belief. And while any author would find a certain measure of satisfaction in knowing that his books are being read, to me this is simply a testimony to the importance of the material that I've written about," he said.
And Richardson says the exposure given to "The Islamic Antichrist" is only natural, because Islamist policymakers are thinking in apocalyptic terms, even if most Westerners are not.
“Whether someone is a believing Christian or not, anyone who desires to better understand the ideas that are driving world events should know the truly critical information in ’The Islamic Antichrist.’”
As Rush Limbaugh put it: “If the [Iranian] belief is there isn't gonna be a Syria at the end, if there isn't gonna be a Hezbollah, if there isn't going to be a Hamas, if that's the price for there is no Israel, we'll take it and rebuild … we make a grave error when we project our own civilized sophisticated and religious beliefs onto them, 'cause there's not a whole lot that we have in common with them, particularly in any of this.”
Richardson maintains the entire Middle East is being driven by an ”apocalyptic fervor,” and both Sunni and Shiite Muslims are acting to fulfill their own version of the end times.
ISIS is mostly composed of Sunni Muslims who believe the re-establishment of a caliphate is a demand of their religion. Meanwhile, Iran is pursuing its own imperial vision, which includes expanding its influence over the Middle East in preparation for the arrival of the prophesied 12th Imam.
Limbaugh noted Iran is finding itself in increasing conflict with Sunni Muslim powers like Saudi Arabia as it pursues nuclear-weapon capability and regional hegemony.
Richardson says Islamic theology is driving the Muslim powers of the world. And he warns Christians need to be educated if they are to properly interpret the otherwise irrational foreign policy of nations like Iran.
As events play out as Richardson predicted, "The Islamic Antichrist?" is finding its way to new readers. The book is now the No. 1 bestseller in "Islamic Theology" on Amazon.com, a position it has occupied for several days. The book also enjoys an average rating of 4.5 stars over nearly 350 separate reviews.
Readers are especially captivated by Richardson’s penetrating analysis of Muslim eschatology and how closely it aligns with Christianity’s teachings on the figure of the Antichrist. As some reviewers put it:
- Joel Richardson… has produced a book which uses extensive (and fully in-context) quotations from both Islamic and Christian eschatology to show the disturbing parallels, and differences, between the two versions of "end-times prophecy" held by these two Abrahamic religions.
- Having been among the totally ignorant myself (the role of the Islamic Jesus NEVER gets discussed in western media), I felt both silly and enlightened after reading this book. I don't think it's possible to have an intelligent discussion on the subject without it.
- Muslims believe that when Jesus returns, He will return as a radical Muslim. They believe He will return by descending from heaven somewhere near Damascus after the Mahdi is already on the scene. Jesus will be inferior in rank to the Mahdi. Jesus will make a pilgrimage to Mecca. He will convert many people to Islam and abolish Christianity. It would behoove everyone to learn about Islam from original sources. Richardson's book is a good start.
As Limbaugh’s comments indicate, end times beliefs are guiding the conduct of nations and are part of the political conversation. Richardson believes his book provides the guide for those seeking to understand what is happening to a world that otherwise seems totally irrational.
"Today many people ask me what does ISIS mean with regard to Bible prophecy? What does the rise of Iran or other Islamic nations mean for our future? This book answers all of these questions and more."