painful situations and grievous sights
will be seen. Strife will go on and
on It will kill mothers, fathers,
daughters, men, and everyone Among
these will be strife, violence, destruction,
and looting. People will ask when
it will end, but it will still go
(Al-Muttaqi al-Hindi, Al-Burhan fi
al-Mahdi Akhir az-Zaman, p. 36)
Most hadiths about the Mahdi's advent focus
on the prophecy that turmoil, insecurity,
and disorder will rule the world before
his coming. Massacre, war, and conflict
are some of the major features of such a
period. In addition, the hadith draws attention
to the fact that massacres will occur all
over the world.
During the two world wars of the twentieth
century, an estimated 65 million people
were killed. The number of civilians slaughtered
for political reasons during the same century
is estimated to be well over 180 million.
This is an extraordinarily high figure when
compared with those of previous centuries.
In fact, wars used to be fought at various
fronts by soldiers until the twentieth century.
However, the advancement of weapons technology
and "improved" military strategies in the
twentieth century introduced the concept
of all-out war, one in which no distinctions
were made between soldiers and civilians.
Such concepts as bombing cities; chemical,
biological, and nuclear weapons; genocide;
and concentration camps emerged in the twentieth
A photograph taken in a Nazi death camp
in 1945 as evidence of the Second World
(Right) This 1945
photograph of Nuremberg, Germany, reveals
the dimensions of the war's massacre
Such atrocities still continue, for bloody
wars and battles are in full swing all over
the world. Their common feature, as indicated
in the hadith above, is massacre. The use
of weapons of mass destruction on the one
hand, and the ideological domination of
views that encourage conflict and bloodshed
on the other hand, have caused modern massacres
to be very comprehensive in scope.
A look at recent history reveals many
large-scale massacres. For instance, the
Bosnian war went down in history as one
that targeted the civilian population and
thus resulted in the murder of thousands
of civilians regardless of gender and age.
The mass graves uncovered laterofferred
striking evidence about just how large such
Another "ethnic cleansing" campaign has
been carried out against the Palestinian
people since the 1940s. This is no more
than a long-term policy of massacre. The
exemplary massacres of Sabra and Shatilla,
overseen by Ariel Sharon in 1982, as part
of this policy fully expose the exact dimensions
of the drama.
A mass grave in rural Bosnia-Herzegovina
(right) The Sabra and Shattilla massacres
made during the Israel's 1982 invasion
of Lebanon. This event went down in
history as an extremely cruel and great
massacre. More than 3,000 people, most
of them women and children, were murdered
by the Lebanese Christian Falangist
groups who were guided and supported
by the Israeli soldiers.
There are also frequent violent conflicts
between Africans, in which thousands of
people die. For example, in the spring of
1997, a large-scale ethnic war broke out
between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes, which
finally involved five countries: Zaire,
Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania. Nearly
one million people lost their lives in this
war, and tens of thousands of people had
to fight poverty, misery, and contagious
diseases in the jungles. Many of them died.
Even children and babies were savagely murdered
just because they were from the "wrong"
Rwanda, the clashes between
Hutus and Tutsis that began
in the 1960s turned into a
bout of ethnic cleansing that
killed an estimated 800,000
people and made many more
refugees. (Above left) A Hutu
stoned to death by Tutsis.
(Above right) Tutsi soldiers
murdered Hutus without discriminiation.