An Egyptian-born Christian scholar and writer has claimed to have found a "shocking similarity" between the "antichrist" mentioned in the Holy Bible and the Muslim redeemer called the "Mahdi."
Writing for Charisma News, Michael Youssef says while Christians await the return of the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ, many Muslims, both Shiites and Sunnis, also expect the appearance of their own "messiah," the Mahdi.
However, the Sunnis and Shiites differ on the identity of the Muslim messiah. "Sunni Muslims believe that the Mahdi is none other than Jesus himself, whom they do not believe died on Calvary but rather ascended into heaven at the age of 33," Youssef says.
"They believe He will come back to earth and live for seven years, at the end of which He will visit Mecca and declare himself a Muslim. Allegedly He will then turn against the Christians and the Jews and judge the world by establishing the Islamic Sharia," he says.
But the Mahdi is an altogether different person as far as Shiite Muslims are concerned. "Since they follow a different line of succession to Mohammed, their Mahdi is identified as the 'Twelfth Imam'," Youssef says.
"Shiites believe that this Mahdi is alive now but hidden until Allah reveals him at a time when the earth is in political and economical turmoil," he adds.
Youssef then shares the biblical depiction of the antichrist. "Paul refers to him as 'the man of lawlessness,' 'the man doomed to destruction' and 'the lawless one.' 2 Thessalonians describes him as one 'who will exalt himself over everything that is called god or is worshiped so that he sets himself up in God's temple proclaiming himself to be God" (2:3-4, 8). In Mathew 24, Jesus affirms Daniel's prophecy regarding the rise of the antichrist, noting that his arrival will spell out the end of the age (see Daniel 9:27)."
Youssef cites five similarities between the Mahdi and the antichrist, describing them as "chilling."
First, "both are associated with the end times and the Day of Judgment."
Second, "they both possess political, military and religious power."
Third, "both will endeavour to bring the world under one religion."
Fourth, "the Mahdi will force all people to convert to Islam, and the antichrist will make himself the object of worship."
Fifth, "both will establish Jerusalem as the capital from which they will rule the world."
Youssef then shifts his attention to the ongoing U.S. presidential campaign ahead of the November vote, alluding that one of the candidates could be the forerunner of the biblical antichrist.
"If you are looking to someone with a messianic complex, then he or she will simply pave the way for the biblical antichrist, Satan's sinister representative, who will lead many away from the truth," he says.
"Choose wisely and prayerfully!" Youssef urges American voters.