Despite the Western media’s insistence that Iran’s President-Elect, Hassan Rouhani, is a “moderate” and a “reformist,” the evidence is clear: Rouhani is actually a high-ranking Radical Shia cleric who fundamentally agrees with the terrorist and repressive policies of the Ayatollah Khamenei and has been faithful in supporting such policies. Rouhani’s son reportedly even committed suicide because of the shame he felt that Rouhani was so supportive of Khamenei’s evil ways.
The central question I have been curious about since the rigged election is whether Rouhani shares the Supreme Leader’s eschatology. Namely, is Rouhani a “Twelver”? Does he believe as Khamenei does that the End of Days has come, and that the Twelfth Imam (or Mahdi) is going to appear at any moment to destroy the infidels and establish a global Islamic caliphate, and that Iran’s regime can and must hasten the arrival of their so-called messiah by annihilating America (which they consider the “Great Satan”) and Israel (which they consider the “Little Satan”)?
In 2008, for example, Rouhani was sharply critical of Ahmadinejad’s public statements regarding eschatology and the Mahdi. That led some analysts the conclusion that Rouhani did not share Ahmadinejad’s beliefs. But that wasn’t necessarily the case.
Consider an alternative scenario: Rouhani is a trained Shia cleric. As such, he most certainly believes in the Twelfth Imam. What’s more, he was approved to run for President by Khamenei and the regime, when 686 other candidates (including Rafsanjani) were prohibited from running. Thus, Rouhani surely shares the same essential theology and eschatology of the Supreme Leader. If this is true, then Rouhani’s problem with Ahmadinejad was likely not that Ahmadinejad believed in the Mahdi but that Ahmadinejad was not a trained cleric, and he was making all kinds of wild claims about the imminence of the Mahdi’s appearance, and he seemed to be bringing discredit to a subject the Supreme Leader and Rouhani consider dear.
True, I have not yet found much that Rouhani has written or said about his beliefs regarding the Mahdi or Shia “Twelver” eschatology. So I cannot yet say definitively what he believes or how eschatology shapes his world view.
That said, there is a major news report in Iran in recent days indicating that Rouhani (also spelled “Rohani” and “Rowhani”) is attributing his victory to the favor of the Mahdi.
“Iran’s newly elected president, Hassan Rohani, attributed his victory in the June 15 voting to the 12th Imam, Mahdi, a statement with ominous overtones in the Islamic regime’s quest for nuclear weapons,” reports former Iranian CIA operative Reza Khalili, based on public reporting in Tehran. “The Shiites believe that at the end of times, the 12th Imam, a 9th-century prophet, will reappear with Jesus Christ at his side, kill all the infidels and raise the flag of Islam in all four corners of the world. Many analysts believe Iran is seeking nuclear capability to bring on that Armageddon.”
“This political [election] was due to the kindness of the last Islamic messiah [Mahdi],” Rouhani said Friday.
“Kayhan newspaper, the main media outlet of the regime and the mouthpiece of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ran a centerpiece headline Saturday reporting Rohani’s statement: ‘This victory and the epic saga is without a doubt due to the special kindness of the Imam Zaman (Mahdi) and the measures taken by the supreme leader, especially his guidance and words. … Without his management then it was not clear if the people of Iran would witness such a day filled with joy,’ Rohani said. ‘I am so happy that there is a feeling of joy in our society and that the election took place in the month of Shaban [the 8th Islamic month, representative of courage and blessings], which is the month of victory.'”
Is it possible that the Supreme Leader insisted Rouhani put out such a statement, because Khamenei is such a devoted Twelver, even if Rouhani is not? Yes, that is possible.
It is also possible that Rouhani is as deeply committed a Twelver as the Ayatollah, but more careful in his words that Ahmadinejad.
Time will tell, but this a story worth watching closely.