Ever since the followers of Mohammad stormed across the Middle East in the 6th century, Christians have feared this aggressive religion. Aside from the three hundred year struggle of the Crusades, Christians and Muslims have clashed time and again. Wherever Islam grows, the established Christian society finds itself besieged by the resilience of Islamic culture, and occasionally by the power of Muslim armies.
Lebanon, Nigeria, Egypt, Syria – all of these countries have seen their Christian minorities oppressed as Islamic birthrates continue to dominate their Christian adversaries. In the 21st century, Americans are rightfully afraid of the terror wrought by radical Islamist groups. From the recent killing of our ambassador in Libya to the terror of 9/11, Americans are on the front line of the War on Terror.
With Muslim birthrates soaring across predominantly Christian strongholds from Europe to Sub-Saharan Africa some sociological experts have Islam replacing Christianity as the world’s largest religion soon—real soon. There are simply not enough Dugger families in the Christian world to keep up with the Duggers of “Islamistan”.
What does scripture say about Islam’s future? Should Christians be so fearful of the world’s second largest religion? Additionally, there has been a growing movement in evangelical circles to pin the ethnic/religious background of the future antichrist as a Muslim.
Arguments for a Muslim Antichrist
No, the antichrist was not Hitler. Neither was the antichrist George Bush or Barack Obama. It’s not even Lady Gaga. Some in the evangelical world believe the antichrist will come from the Muslim world, not the Western world.
In his book The Power to Make War, the late great evangelist Zane Hodges believed the antichrist would be a Muslim due to the reference of “the Assyrian” found in Isaiah. Because that particular reference was discussing the antichrist, the Bible must be indicating that the antichrist will be an Assyrian. Since the Assyrian empire was founded in the Middle East, the Assyrian antichrist must also be a Muslim.
Philip Goodman, in his work The Assyrian Connection, also points to the reference of “the Assyrian” in Micah 5:5 as evidence for an Assyrian antichrist. Goodman speculates that there will be a revived Assyrian Empire founded in the Middle East.1 This Assyrian Empire will spawn the antichrist and will invade the globe from the Middle East.
Joel Richardson, author of Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, believes the fourth world empire of Daniel’s dreams was not Rome and its descendants, but rather, the Ottoman Empire.2 This revived Ottoman Empire will create a caliphate across the Middle East, and will lead a host of nations against Israel.
Richardson also cites the similarities between the Shiite last Imam in Islamic eschatology with the antichrist of Scripture -- beheadings, conquest, and an intense dislike for Christians and Jews.
Do these authors have valid arguments for an Islamic antichrist? Given the recent surge in Muslim population across the globe it may appear so. Despite their claims, there are many issues with this theory. I have limited these problems to six major flaws below.
Why the Antichrist will NOT be a Muslim
1. “The Assyrian” reference in scripture does not necessarily refer to the antichrist
Dr. David Reagan, of Lion/Lamb ministries explains in his article, "The Antichrist: Will he be a Muslim?" that the reference found in Micah 5:5 to the “Assyrian” is located squarely in a Millennium passage of Micah. During the Millennium, Dr. Reagan asserts that God will protect Israel from all their enemies (Assyria was the enemy of Israel at the time Micah was written).3
Similarly, references in Isaiah to “the Assyrian” are attributed more to the character of the antichrist rather than the ethnicity. Similar types of antichrists are found throughout scripture. Sennacherib the Assyrian king who besieged Jerusalem was certainly a type. As was the Egyptian pharaoh of the Exodus. The most famous antichrist type was Antiochus Epiphanes, highlighted in Daniel 8 and again in Daniel 11.
“The Assyrian” must be a reference to his character as an enemy of God’s people and a terrible person overall.
2. Assyrians are predominantly Christian anyway
Even if the “antichrist-will-be-Assyrian” crowd is right, Assyrians today are predominantly Christian and not Muslim. Yes, most of them reside in present day Iraq, Syria, and Turkey (all overwhelmingly Muslim nations) but Assyrians themselves are over 90% Christian today. This counters the claim that an Assyrian antichrist would have to be Muslim.
3. Daniel predicted a Roman antichrist not a Middle Eastern one
In the famous “seventy weeks” passage of Daniel 9 the Old Testament prophet predicts the coming Tribulation as well as the ethnicity of the antichrist. Daniel 9:26b states, “…and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary…”
Daniel prophesies that this same “prince” in verse 26 will make a treaty with Israel in verse 27. He will then break that treaty and set up the abomination that causes desolation during the middle of the Tribulation. The “people” of this prince (the antichrist) were predicted to destroy the city (Jerusalem) and the sanctuary.
In 70 AD, almost five hundred years after Daniel’s prediction, the Roman Empire annihilated the Jewish people. A culmination of three Jewish uprisings, this last assault on Jerusalem would kill over a million Jews and send millions more into slavery across the Roman world.
Jerusalem has only been destroyed one time after Daniel’s prophecy and it occurred almost 2,000 years ago at the hands of the Romans. Therefore we can conclude that the antichrist, the prince of the Romans, will be a man of Roman descent -- not Assyrian.
4. The Fourth Beast of Daniel’s dream is Roman/Western, not Islamic/Middle Eastern
a. Babylon (lion, head of gold)
b. Persia (bear, silver arms)
c. Greco-Macedonian (leopard, (bronze torso/legs)
d. Roman (iron beast of Rome, two legs (Eastern and Western Rome, and the future ten-toes/feet of antichrist’s rule)
It is plain to see in Daniel’s visions that neither Islam nor the Ottoman Empire were represented. Chronologically, there are no gaps in Daniel’s dreams other than the one separating the iron beast of Rome with its ten-toed counterpart during the Tribulation.
Babylon was quickly replaced by Persia in 538 BC, while Persia was swiftly routed by Alexander in 332 BC. After Alexander died, his generals divided the empires amongst themselves, only to eventually succumb to the power of Rome in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Rome dominated the world for another seven hundred years until its eventual collapse in 476 AD. The East wouldn’t collapse until 1453 AD.
Islam is also a relatively modern phenomenon, arriving in the 6th century AD. Islamic warriors never conquered the globe, nor are they expected to do so. The Islamic world of today is a conglomerate of different cultures, governments, and peoples, not a united Gentile world empire like Babylon, Persia, Greece, or Rome.
The Ottoman Empire is even younger. The Ottoman Turks made their debut in the Middle Ages against the Christian Crusaders, but wouldn’t grow to their full height until the 16th and 17th centuries AD.
The Ottoman Empire was impressive during its time, but fell apart after WWI. Scripturally and geopolitically, Turkey is not predicted to conquer the earth any time soon. Yes, Turkey is making a comeback today. Turkey may be involved in the Gog/Magog fiasco of Ezekiel 38 and 39, but Turkey will not spawn the antichrist or conquer the entire earth.
Those who claim the two legs of Daniel’s dream represent the two legs of the Ottoman Empire (Shiite and Sunni) have forgotten to account for nearly 1,000 years of Roman domination, the basic chronological outline of Daniel, as well as the nature of Islamic society and culture itself. Ah yes, one more thing – the Ottoman Empire was predominantly Sunni and not Shiite. The vast majority of Muslims practice Sunni and not Shiite Islam. Unless Daniel’s end-times beast was hobbling around on one leg, his visions cannot represent Sunni and Shiite Islam. The end-times world government will be a Roman/Western government, not an Eastern/Islamic one.
5. Lots of people enjoy be-headings (not just radical Islamists)
British and French people beheaded their monarchs. Japanese Samurai preferred beheadings as an honorable death. Mexican drug cartels are also known for the gruesome practice. Yes, there is a similarity between the end-times Shiite eschatology and that of Scripture – both the Imam and the antichrist love lopping off heads. Then again, so do a lot of different peoples and cultures today.
6. Imagine a Muslim antichrist blaspheming Allah… and living to tell about it
The Bible doesn’t hold back when describing the personality of the antichrist. He will be the worst human being in world history. Think about that for a moment. Perhaps the most telling indication that the antichrist will not hail from a Muslim land is found in Daniel 11:37,
“He will show no regard for the gods of his fathers or for the desire of women, nor will he show regard for any other god; for he will magnify himself above them all.”
Could you imagine the response of a devoutly Islamic nation like Egypt or Iran after their leader says, “I am god, there is no other god but… me! You will now bow down and worship… me!” This declaration would be both a direct blasphemy against Allah and a death sentence. Even in secular Turkey a man who claimed to be god would find himself thrown in prison at best.
No, the antichrist will not come from a Muslim land. The biblical, cultural, and historical evidence is too strong against the prospect.
More likely, the antichrist will come from the heir of the Roman Empire – the Western world. Rather than declared a heretic and beheaded, the antichrist’s blasphemous opinions will be welcomed with open arms in post-Christian Europe as trendy and edgy. If you’re planning to take that once-in-a-lifetime getaway trip to Europe with your spouse, do it sooner than later.
1. David Reagan, “The Antichrist: Will he be a Muslim?” Lamb and Lion Ministries, 2012, Accessed October 21, 2012, http://www.lamblion.com/articles/articles_islam4.php, 1.
2. Reagan, “The Antichrist: Will he be a Muslim?” 1.
3. Ibid., 1.