This article examines the emergence of a new apocalyptic trend in Iran, represented and led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The author argues that while apocalyptic aspirations and ideologies are indeed a recurring theme in the history of Islam, the current state of apocalypticism should be understood as a new political discourse. This new discourse, which has its own unique features, is different both from the Islamic ideology of the 1979 revolution and some anti-Bahai organizational apocalypticisms, such as Hujjatiyeh.
While many have viewed the Islamic Revolution as a beginning of the End of Times, Ahamadinejad’s apocalyptic ideology, on the other hand, can be regarded as a rupture from the Revolution. For him, the history over the last thirty years represents a period of misunderstanding and misusing the Revolution. Thus, he continues to criticize the Islamic Republic’s record in this period. The Revolution’s Islamic ideology, so claims Ahmadinejad, has failed to deliver its main promises to the Iranian people; therefore it needs another form of radicalism to survive. His apocalyptic ideology consists of a mixture of popular Islam, anticlericalism, enthusiasm for military and nuclear technology, and a touch of pseudo-nationalism. One cannot underestimate the impact of the new apocalyptic discourse.
The article provides detailed information about this discourse, its main figures, theological texture, intellectual products, organizational background, and its relationship with religious institutions - especially the clerical establishment. The author emphasizes that Ahmadinejad’s apocalypticism would in fact not be the last form of apocalyptic discourse in Iran since apocalypticism has an inexhaustible potential for reproducing itself. New messianic discourse can be formed by other social and political agents (religious and secular), and take new shapes by intermingling with other secular ideologies. Fighting the destructive aspects of apocalypticism and preventing new forms of messianic ideologies from gaining power requires the constant demystification of religious and secular myths.