The Prospective Mahdi Belief
The symposium on “The Prospective Mahdi Belief” was held by our Centre at ISAM Conference Hall. In the conference, which attracted a high level of attendance, the notion of Prospective Mahdi was analysed from the view point of theological, historical and societal perspective in the light of the presentations given by various speakers.
The programme began with the opening session, in which Professor Ahmet Yasar Ocak addressed the issue historically. He encoded Mahdi belief as a socio-political problem, which sprang from mythological culture in the history of Islam. Professor Ocak gave solid examples from the Ottoman and Seljuk era for the Mahdi movements, which he views as historical-societal movements. According to him, a new theology, a discovery of imaginary history, a new ideology, and thereby a societal and ideological dissolution emerges from these movements.
After the opening session, the ‘religious background’ of this issue has been analysed through both the considerations on the pre-Islamic background and the emergence of this belief as a politico-religious term. In this panel, which was chaired by Professor Emin Ozafsar, Professor Omer Faruk Harman focused on the various aspects of this issue in the framework of Christian and Juadistic and mentioned its weakness. Next, Associate Professor Nihal Sahin Utku gave historical examples to the preliminary phases of the prospective Mahdi belief. During the last part of this session, Professor Cemi Hakyemez presented his paper on “The profpective Mahdi Belief in Shia”, in which he analysed the notion of Messiah/Mahdi in Shia from its historical roots to its contemporary form.
The President of the Presidency of Religious Affairs in Turkey, Professor Mehmet Gormez joined the conference at this point, and gave a speech on this issue.
In the second part of the conference, the historical process has been analysed. The first speaker of this session, which was chaired by Professor Bunyamin Erul, was Professor Ahmet Yucel. He addressed the issue from the viewpoint of hadith literature. His definition of rumour in the context of Mahdi narratives was quite inspirational. Then, Professor Yusuf Sevki Yavuz presented his paper on “The Emerging Episodes of the Prospective Mahdi Belief in the Tenets of Islam”. Professor Yavuz traced back this belief till its roots and attempted to frame its direction in detail. In the last session of this panel, Associate Professor Ozkan Ozturk provided us with a different horizon with his paper titled, “The Prospective Mahdi Belief in Mystic Culture”.
In the last panel, the contemporary reflections of this issue have been analysed.
After each session and panel, there was a Q&A session, in which pro-active discussions took place. Professor Ali Bardakoglu gave a final speech and thanked the audience and speakers for their contributions. He also stated that the proceedings of this symposium will be published soon as part of Publication Series at KURAMER.