Could the Antichrist possibly be a Muslim? This is a new idea that seems to be catching fire today due to the awakening of Islam and the revival of its territorial goal of conquering the world for Allah.
I recently read four books that relate to this topic.
The third book I investigated is one by Joel Richardson entitled Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah.1
I wish I could tell you something about the author, but he states in the book's introduction that he is using a pen name due to fear of Muslim threats on his life.2
I was really turned off by this revelation and almost decided not to read the book. People who speak out publicly on issues should be willing to put their name to their words. And being motivated by fear is certainly not a biblical attitude (Psalm 118:6).
Whoever he may be, Joel Richardson is an excellent writer who knows how to craft and present persuasive arguments.
Richardson begins by introducing the reader to the complex and confusing world of Islamic eschatology. One of the reasons it is so confusing is because it has never been systematized, as has been the case with biblical eschatology.
Another reason for the confusion is that there is almost no end time prophecy in the Quran. The prophecies are found, instead, in the Hadith, which is a compilation of sayings by Mohammed that were pulled together from a great variety of sources some two hundred years after his death. Most of these sayings are hearsay and many are contradictory.
I have written a detailed outline of Islamic eschatology.
Richardson's presentation of what Muslims believe about the end times is very misleading, for what he presents is the Shi'ite version which revolves around the concept of an Islamic Messiah called the Mahdi. He leaves the impression that all the Islamic world is living in breathless anticipation of the appearance of the Mahdi, when the reality is that 90% of all Muslims — the Sunnis — are not looking for a Mahdi. In fact the concept of a Mahdi is not even found in orthodox versions of the Hadith like Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim.
The Sunni Muslims are looking instead for the appearance of the Antichrist, whom they call the Dajjal. If a person were suddenly to appear on the world scene claiming to be the Mahdi, he would be automatically rejected by the vast majority of Muslims.
Another misleading aspect of Richardson's presentation is his constant talk about the "amazing parallels" and "startling similarities" between Islamic and biblical end time prophecies. Actually, there is nothing startling or amazing when you consider the fact that Mohammed borrowed nearly all his key ideas from Bible stories he heard from both Jews and Christians, stories he often got thoroughly confused. This is a well proven fact, and for overwhelming evidence, I would direct you to Dr. Samuel Shahid's book, The Last Trumpet.3
Also misleading is Richardson's heavy reliance on quotations from the Hadith to establish his scenario for end time events. He treats the Hadith as if it contains inspired prophecy, when, in fact, it is nothing more than the ramblings of a demon-possessed man.
Another problem with Richardson's book is that he states that he got many of his ideas from Walid Shoebat.4 This man is a former Palestinian terrorist who became a Christian. He is an expert on terrorism, and he is an outstanding speaker on the subject.
But when it comes to Bible prophecy, his ideas are very unorthodox, as Richardson's book clearly reveals. One irritating point that Shoebat keeps making in his public presentations is that one must have an Eastern mindset in order to understand Bible prophecy. He claims that all of us in the Western world have completely misunderstood Bible prophecy because we interpret it from a Western mentality.
This is not only a prideful viewpoint, it is also unbiblical. The Bible was not written in such a way so that only those with a particular mindset can understand it. It was written for all people to understand. There certainly are guidelines to interpretation (such as accepting the plain sense meaning), but any mindset can use those guidelines to understand what the Bible says, as long as the person is indwelt with God's Holy Spirit.
The Central Concept
The heart of Richardson's thesis (and Shoebat's) is that the Antichrist will be a Muslim who will lead a Middle Eastern coalition of Muslim nations against Israel in the end times. In short, the empire of the Antichrist will be a regional one confined to the Middle East!
Like Goodman, Richardson asserts that the seventh empire of Revelation 17:9-11 is the Ottoman Empire, but unlike Goodman, he claims that the eighth and final empire will be a revival of the Ottoman and not the Assyrian. This scheme works better than Goodman's because there is no need for a ninth empire since Richardson denies that the Antichrist will use the revived Ottoman Empire to build a worldwide empire. The revived Ottoman Empire will be the final Gentile empire.
Regional or World Empire?
In order to sustain this totally revisionist interpretation of end time prophecy, Richardson goes to great pains to deny the clear meaning of Revelation 13:7 which reads as follows: "And it was given to him [the Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him."
Let me ask you a question: What more would God have to say to convince us that the Antichrist will have a worldwide kingdom?
Yet, Richardson tries to dismiss this verse as nothing but hyperbole. He does so by quoting Daniel 5:18-19 where it states that Nebuchadnezzar, was feared by "all peoples and nations and men of every language." Richardson then asks, "Did every single nation in the earth fear Nebuchadnezzar?"5 My answer would be, "Yes, all nations that were aware of him." That's all the statement means in its context.
Richardson then quotes 1 Kings 4:34 which says that men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom, "sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom." He then asks derisively, "Was Solomon's wisdom so impressive that not a single king in all the earth failed to hear of it?"6 That's not what the verse says. Read it again. It says the kings who had heard of his wisdom sent representatives — not all kings.
Context determines meaning, and the context of Revelation 13:7 clearly means that the Antichrist kingdom will be worldwide, not just a regional coalition of Muslim nations.
The Ezekiel 38 War
Richardson denies that the war described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be led by Russia or that Russia will even have a part in it. He favors Turkey as the leader.7 Yet, Ezekiel 38 clearly states that the invasion will be led by the Prince of Rosh coming from "the remote parts of the north" (Ezekiel 38:15). There is no way that Turkey could be considered a nation located in "the remote parts of the north."
Richardson never reveals when he believes the Ezekiel 38 invasion of Israel will occur, but it must be at the end of the Tribulation since the invading army will be the army of the Antichrist and will be destroyed by God. Thus, he must equate the battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39 with the Battle of Armageddon. But these are not the same battles.
The battle of Gog and Magog involves Russia and certain specified allies who come against Israel either at the beginning of the Tribulation or, most likely, before it begins. One of the tipoffs as to the timing of this invasion is the statement that following the defeat of the invading armies, the Israelis will spend seven years cleaning up the battle field and burning the leftover weapons (Ezekiel 39:9).
Many have equated this seven years with the Tribulation, thus putting the invasion at the start of that period of time. But we know that in the middle of the Tribulation the Antichrist is going to turn on the Jews and try to annihilate them, making it impossible for them to continue the clean-up during the last half of that terrible period. So, most likely, the battle will occur before the Tribulation begins.8
In contrast, the Battle of Armageddon occurs at the end of the Tribulation. And there really is no battle at all. The armies of the Antichrist are destroyed in an instant when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives and speaks a supernatural word, causing their flesh to drop from their bodies (Zechariah 14:1-13). In the Gog and Magog battle, the invading armies will be destroyed on the "mountains of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:4), not in the Valley of Armageddon, and they will be destroyed by pestilence, hailstones, fire and brimstone (Ezekiel 38:22).
Another serious problem with placing the Gog and Magog war at the end of the Tribulation is that Ezekiel 38 says the invasion will occur at a time when Israel is living in peace with unwalled cities (Ezekiel 38:11). That will not be the case at the end of the Tribulation. The land of Israel will be in absolute chaos at that time.
When I finished reading the book, I found myself wanting to ask Richardson and Shoebat what they are going to do with Psalm 83? This psalm portrays an attack on Israel by a Muslim coalition consisting of Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, Saudi Arabia and Assyria (Syria and Iraq). The Bible clearly teaches that God will protect Israel against all such attacks in the end times (Zechariah 12:6 and Amos 9:15).
The outcome of this war most likely is detailed in Zephaniah 2:4-5. These verses indicate that the attacking nations will be devastated by Israel. It is during this war that Damascus, the capital of Syria, will probably be destroyed completely, never to be rebuilt again (Isaiah 17:1-14 and Jeremiah 49:23-27). That is why Syria is not mentioned in Ezekiel 38 as one of the Russian allies.9
The outcome of the Psalm 83 war is what will produce peace for Israel, the peace that it is prophesied to be enjoying when Russia and its allies decide to launch the Ezekiel 38 invasion.
The war of Psalm 83 followed by the war of Ezekiel 38 will result in the annihilation of nearly all the armies of the Muslim nations of the Middle East, and these wars are most likely going to occur before the Tribulation begins! Thus, if the Antichrist is a Muslim who is going to rule a Muslim empire in the Middle East during the Tribulation, then he is going to rule over an empire that has been reduced to ashes!
Richardson wraps up his arguments with the observation that the Antichrist will be a Muslim because Islam is the most perfect incarnation of the antichrist spirit,10 because it practices beheading as a form of execution,11 and because it observes a calendar that is different from the rest of the world.12
The first point simply is not true. The most perfect incarnation of the antichrist spirit is, and always has been, Humanism in all its various forms. Islam points people toward a god, even though he is a false god. Humanism encourages people to worship Man. God is denied. Man is exalted. And the rejection of God, together with the exaltation of self, is the ultimate antichrist spirit.
The point about beheading is based on the statement in Revelation 20:4 that the Tribulation martyrs will be executed by beheading. Richardson says this is proof that the religion of the Antichrist will be Islam because Muslims are the only people in the world today who practice beheading. This is flimsy evidence at best. Beheading is not a unique characteristic of Islam. It was one of the stellar characteristics of the French Revolution, and is just the type of horror the Antichrist would institute, regardless of his nationality or religion.
Regarding the calendar, Richardson's point here is based on Daniel 7:25 where it says the Antichrist will alter "the times and the law." It is true that the Muslims have a calendar different from the Western world, and it is true that if they ever could gain control of the world, they would enforce the observance of their calendar. But the Antichrist is going to change the calendar regardless of who he is. That's because the calendar followed by most of the world dates from the birth of Jesus.
At the end of his book, Richardson acknowledges that there is a major problem with his interpretation of end time events.13 The Bible says that the Antichrist will exalt himself above all gods and will display himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4). Richardson admits that it is almost impossible to imagine that any Muslim would ever claim to be God. Such a declaration would violate the very heart of Islamic theology.
But just as he explains away the meaning of Revelation 13:7 in a cavalier manner, Richardson proceeds to say that he thinks that the Islamic world will just simply be deceived into believing the Muslim Antichrist is God! To me, that is like saying night is day and day is night. There is a limit to deception. A person would have to cease being a Muslim in order to believe that any man could be God.
I believe the behavior of the Antichrist described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 rules out any possibility that the Antichrist might prove to be a Muslim.
An equally important fact that I think rules out the possibility of a Muslim Antichrist is that prophecy states the Antichrist will make a covenant with Israel that will guarantee the nation's security (Daniel 9:27 and Isaiah 28:14-22). It is preposterous to believe that Israel would ever trust its security to a Muslim leader.
There are other serious problems with Richardson's scenario that he does not acknowledge. How, for example, does he explain the miraculous resurrection of the Roman Empire in the form of the European Union? It's a development that prophecy experts have been telling us to watch for, and those alerts go back several hundred years. Is the revival of the Roman Empire just an accident of history? I think not. It is going to serve as the platform for the ascension of the Antichrist.
Another problem Richardson must deal with is the worldwide destruction that Revelation describes in chapters 6-9. Those chapters reveal that one-half of the world's population is going to die during the first half of the Tribulation. Is this going to happen as a result of a regional conflict? Or, is all this just more "biblical hyperbole"?
- Joel Richardson, Antichrist: Islam's Awaited Messiah, (Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2006), 276 pages.
- Ibid., pp. xv-xvi.
- Dr. Samuel Shahid, The Last Trumpet: A Comparative Study in Christian-Islamic Eschatology (Xulon Press, 2005).
- Richardson, p. 110.
- Ibid., p. 215.
- Ibid., p. 216.
- Ibid., p. 109.
- A great book concerning the timing of the Gog and Magog invasion is Northern Storm Rising by Ron Rhodes (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008), 246 pages.
- For an in-depth discussion of the end time prophetic implications of Psalm 83, see Isralestine by Bill Salhus (Crane, Missouri: Anomalos Publishing House, 2008), 342 pages.
- Richardson, pp. 121-128.
- Ibid., pp. 136-154.
- Ibid., pp. 67-68.
- Ibid., p. 197.