The Force Motivating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

The Force Motivating Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iran now holds a central position in global affairs. If we consider the force motivating the Iranian president, this predicament should frighten us all.

If you were to write out a list of the hottest and most explosive news on the world scene today, nearly every item would have an Iranian angle. Global terrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons, Israel, anti-Americanism, oil—Iran is intimately involved in every one of these issues.

What is disturbing about Tehran’s new standing on the world scene is that the nation isn’t brimming with altruism and a desire to foster peace. To the contrary, the nation embraces and promotes some of the most dangerous ideologies there are. One would be hard-pressed to locate a nation that is as anti-Semitic and anti-West as Iran.

Although he’s only been president for a few months, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has already thrown down the gauntlet before some of the world’s most powerful nations and governing bodies, including America, Europe, Israel and the United Nations. It seems this man is doing everything he can to stir up as much controversy as possible. Peace appears to be his worst enemy.

What motivates President Ahmadinejad? The question has been widely discussed lately. Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that he believes a very real, spiritual power is inspiring him. Recent reports reveal that men within Ahmadinejad’s own government believe there is an unseen “force” behind this man. The Iranian president himself has acknowledged the presence of a hidden hand motivating and governing his actions.

Whether one believes there is a “spirit” guiding President Ahmadinejad or not, it is hard not to see that religious beliefs are directly influencing his actions.

Daniel Pipes, a respected voice in Middle Eastern affairs, wrote an enlightening article discussing Ahmadinejad’s religious beliefs and how central they are to his leadership. “Thanks to the president of Iran … a new word has entered the political vocabulary: mahdaviat,” Pipes wrote. Derived from mahdi, Arabic for “rightly guided one,” the word applies to a major figure in Islamic eschatology. Mahdi, as the Encyclopedia of Islam explains, is “the restorer of religion and justice who will rule before the end of the world.”

The belief of a returning Mahdi, or 12th imam, is a central doctrine among the most populous group of Shiites (known as Ithna Ashari, or “Twelvers”), to which President Ahmadinejad belongs. The president is a staunch believer in the mahdaviat, which is “belief in and efforts to prepare for the Mahdi.” Put simply, he believes the Mahdi will return within two years and that it is his job to prepare the way for his return. Columnist Charles Krauthammer likened Ahmadinejad’s belief in the return of the Mahdi, or 12th imam, to the belief within Judaism and Christianity of the messianic return.

In an article for the Christian Science Monitor, Scott Peterson showed just how much this religious belief is motivating the Iranian president. Ahmadinejad is so fervently convinced that he is the one sent to prepare the way for the Mahdi that, even months in advance, when polls showed he had only 1 percent support, he declared with “no doubt” that he would win the Iranian election.

Later in the article, Peterson wrote, “From redressing the gulf between rich and poor in Iran, to challenging the United States and Israel and enhancing Iran’s power with nuclear programs, every issue is designed to lay the foundation for the Mahdi’s return. … [T]his presidential obsession with the mahdaviat yields a certitude that leaves little room for compromise” (emphasis ours throughout).

“Little room for compromise”—what better way to critique the present state of Iranian foreign policy? President Ahmadinejad does not base his decisions on what is best for his nation politically—he decides based on his radical religious beliefs. And these beliefs tell him that he must challenge America and the West and strengthen Islamic power on the world scene.

Amir Mohebian, political editor of the Islamic Resalat newspaper, discussed the impact of Ahmadinejad’s religion on his leadership. “This kind of mentality makes you very strong. … If you think these are the last days of the world, and Jesus will come [again], this idea will change all your relations.” Putting himself in Ahmadinejad’s shoes, he stated, “If I think the Mahdi will come in two, three or four years, why should I be soft? Now is the time to stand strong, to be hard.” Today, Iranian foreign policy is dictated by the Shiite belief in the return of the Mahdi.

There is no doubt that President Ahmadinejad’s religious beliefs are also influencing his internal leadership of Iran. In 2004, for example, when he was mayor of Tehran, Mr. Ahmadinejad instructed the city council to build a “grand avenue to prepare for the Mahdi” (New York Sun, January 10). Once he became president, he allocated $17 million for a blue-tiled mosque in Jamkaran (south of the capital) that is closely associated with mahdaviat.

Ahmadinejad also isn’t afraid to discuss his belief in the return of the Mahdi among non-Muslims. When he addressed the UN in New York last September, he concluded his address to world leaders with a prayer for the Mahdi’s appearance: “O mighty Lord, I pray to you hasten the emergence of your last repository, the promised one, that perfect and pure human being, the one that will fill this world with justice and peace.”

Who can deny that religious fervor is guiding the Iranian president? But what about this notion of a “mystical” power directly impacting his mind?

On return from his visit to New York, notice the president’s own feelings about his address to the UN. “One of our group told me that when I started to say ‘In the name of God the almighty and merciful,’ he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura. I felt it myself. I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. … [T]hey were rapt. It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic Republic.”

Even the president himself has no qualms in telling people that he feels like an unseen force is influencing his mind. Such a scenario doesn’t bode well for America or the West. Inspired by die-hard religious beliefs and an unseen force that works with his mind, the Iranian leader believes it is his duty to rid the world of American influence, destroy the nation of Israel and prepare the way for the return of the 12th imam.

Krauthammer summed up Iranian politics under President Ahmadinejad particularly well: “So a Holocaust-denying, virulently anti-Semitic, aspiring genocidist, on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons of the apocalypse, believes that the end is not only near but nearer than the next American presidential election. … This kind of man would have, to put it gently, less inhibition about starting Armageddon than a normal person” (Washington Post, Dec. 16, 2005).

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe the mind of the Iranian president is being influenced by a sinister spiritual force. The matter that is most concerning is that the Iranian president believes it and is willingly operating under that belief.

Few things are more mysterious to humans than the question of an unseen spirit world. One of the hardest things for humans to do is believe in something they can’t see, feel or touch. President Ahmadinejad obviously believes he is being guided by an unseen spirit power. While he would argue that it is an angelic being, perhaps Allah himself, others would argue that a demon, or even Satan himself, is inspiring this man.

The Bible does reveal the existence of a spirit world. It clearly proves the existence of evil spirit beings—demons—and even the existence of an over-arching leader of these beings: Satan the devil. Although Satan has been foisted off as a silly myth, little more than a red, horned cartoon character, the Bible is filled with evidence that firmly disproves this belief.

In Ephesians 6, it is stated that mankind’s contentions and strivings are, in fact, ultimately not with other humans, but against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness [evil spirits] in high places” (verse 12).

2 Corinthians 4:4 identifies that there is a sinister “god of this world” that has direct influence over the minds of men. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:2 discusses a being he calls the “prince of the power of the air,” an unseen being that broadcasts directly into the minds of men. In Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14, God reveals other very specific details about Satan the devil.

If you’re surprised by this information, you are not alone. While many millions of people would stake their lives on the fact that there is a God, and believe that this is God’s world, most of the same people have great difficulty believing that there is a devil and that he is influencing the minds of mankind.

In the November 1960 Plain Truth, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Most churchmen today, viewing everything from the perspective of this world today, blindly assume this is God’s world. They see certain forces of evil in it, and these they feel they must oppose. They see the Christian duty to be that of working to make this a better world.

That concept is a wrong viewpoint altogether.

This is not a world of God’s making. This is Satan’s world! Satan is the invisible god of this world. He is the author of its organization, its basic philosophies, its systems of government, business, society—yes, and religions!”

The Iranian president and many of the men who surround him believe that a mystical force is influencing the mind of this man. Truth be told, these observations are not far-fetched—a spirit being does indeed have influence over Mr. Ahmadinejad’s mind.

Most people would be shocked to learn just how much Satan and his cohorts influence the minds of all men—not just the Iranian president.

To gain a thorough understanding of the spirit world and the very real impact that it has on mankind, please read our book Mystery of the Ages, particularly the second chapter, “The Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits.” This enlightening volume thoroughly explains precisely what the Bible says about the spirit world. It is free upon request, or you can read it here.