LET THERE ARISE OUT OF YOU A BAND OF PEOPLE INVITING TO ALL THAT IS GOOD, ENJOINING WHAT IS RIGHT, AND FORBIDDING WHAT IS WRONG: AND THESE IT IS THAT SHALL BE SUCCESSFUL.” QUR’AN, SURAH 3.104
وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
There are few groups in recent times that can claim as much widespread, behind the scenes influence as the organization known as the Taliyah al-Mahdi, or the “Vanguard of the Mahdi”. While the Taliyah could rightly claim such influence, until now the story has never been publicly told about the group’s origins, founder, underground revolutionary work during the years of public activity (2001-2005), or the work from behind the scenes that a core group of persistent members have been engaging in since. Now, after 15 years since the organization was dissolved outwardly, a brief history of the group is being presented…
In the Tao Te Ching it is written:
“Those who have mastered the highest form of leadership are almost never credited for their works… They reluctantly work from the shadows – [working because they are called up on to accomplish the work] – working without claiming every action they take; instead, they perform actions, accomplish deeds. Then when it is all done, the people say in unison: ‘We did it!’”
For the leadership and Inner Circle of the Taliyah, these words have served as a road map for revolution, and the modus operandi behind their work.
It has been a decade and a half since the Taliyah went into occultation, and when that decision was made, it was decided that before 15 years had passed, a new decade – the 2020s – would be inaugurated with a clear, public account of what happened and what continues to be guided from behind the scenes. Our purpose in doing this need not be hidden any longer. It is, without question, to provide a “trail of breadcrumbs” as it were, to those who might come later – both to inspire their activism, guide them with examples of our achievements as well as learning from our past shortcomings, and ultimately, to lead the rare individual to those of us still working behind the scenes, if they are of the proper caliber to synchronize efforts with us, towards a victorious Struggle…
THE ORIGINS, HISTORY AND OCCULTATION OF THE TALIYAH AL-MAHDI
Dr. Naziri and others affiliated with later offshoots and front groups of the Taliyah al-Mahdi carry assault weapons in downtown Cleveland during the Republican National Convention as part of a “militant anti-fascist statement against the policies that Trump has proposed” (Sacramento Bee)
At the dawn of the 21st century, the Taliyah al-Mahdi emerged as an eclectic and provocative movement that quickly took the world by storm, while flying under the radar of most in the mainstream. There are many places we could begin the story of the movement, but the most comprehensive way is to begin with the people who founded it.
The year was 1998 and a young man wearing a new, white, knitted kufi was stocking shelves at a Borders Books & Company near Forest Park, a predominantly African American town in the Greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. The young man had a newly-regrown beard, after formerly having sported a mustache of all things, in order to secure the appropriate image for the job he had infiltrated his way into, at Proctor and Gamble’s Miami Valley Laboratories.
The young man was what some would have called a “militant” animal liberationist. At the time he spoke to no one about actions besides those in his immediate cell, but time passed and statutes of limitations have expired – more than two decades later – much of this story can now be publicly told. Insofar as it contributes to the telling of the history of the Taliyah organization, a cursory account will be relayed…
The young man described was Dr. Micah Ben David Naziri. He would later found this militant organization that became notorious with federal law enforcement, as well as those `ulema – or “Scholars for Dollars” as the group called them – who wished to maintain the status quo of Islamicate religious orthodoxy (and even orthodoxies of heterodoxies of the Islamic world). Most, particularly those in academia who have tried their best to estimate a history of the group, would term them something of a Shi`i Sufi millenarian movement, and they would not be wrong to do so. For the Taliyah, however, things went far deeper than “Shi`i” or “Sunni”. For the group, the ideal was to follow a golden thread that had been woven through the lives and sunan of all prophets and sages, in all nations and at all times. The Taliyah al-Mahdi was always bigger than “Shi`i” or “Sunni” but it would be accurate to call them both, without contradiction nor inconsistency, for in their adherents to the spirit of the teachings of all prophets and even the Ahl al-Bayt of Muhammad’s family, the group believed itself to be correctly following the path of what even Sunni ahadith term the “Shi`at `Ali”, as well as the Sunnah of each and every prophet.
To many reading this record of events, Naziri might already be a well known figure both in international activist circles, as well as from his academic contributions. When he would come to found the Taliyah al-Mahdi in 2001, however, Naziri had not yet traveled to nations like China, where he would train in martial arts of the “Nei Jia” Internal Families systems of Chen Village style T’aijiquan and Hebei style Xingyiquan among others. He had not yet founded the Hashlamah Project which spans dozens of chapters throughout the world, or the White Rose Society, which boasted dozens of chapters in cities across the United States, leading up to and during the Trump administration’s reign. Donald Trump himself had not yet called for his arrest due to allegedly hacking his cell phone in May of 2016, nor was he yet infamous for the numerous armed “Never Again” protests outside of Trump rallies and the Republican National Convention (RNC) when Trump received the party’s 2016 nomination, or the armed protests organized outside of the Stanford Rapist “Brock Turner’s” home.
Naziri was not yet known for the international headline news Muslim Hug” also deemed “The hug seen around the world”, where during a mosque defense protest he organized, his band of armed counter protesters shut down several armed militia protests of mosques in the Midwest, with only one single Islamophobe remaining and debating with him for 45 minutes on video which would come to receive over 10 million views, until the light of truth finally brought through the husk around her heart and Micah invited her to hug a Muslimah sister there, and join them in the masjid for education, prayer, bagels and coffee.
In October of 2015 large, organized, armed groups of self-described “patriots” and supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump began assembling outside of mosques throughout the United States. Some underground members of the Taliyah al-Mahdi, in association with the Hashlamah Project, immediately stepped up to rally counter-protests in response. Our first victory was in shutting down a “patriot” protest outside of a Ja`fari, Ithna `Ashari (or Shi`ism, as it is more commonly known in the West), Shi`ite mosque in Dearborn, Michigan—a protest which ironically justified itself by purporting to oppose Sunni Caliphatism. The irony in this was that Shi`ah of all varieties also oppose the historical Caliphate, or any future revival of the same. Immediately after shutting down this protest, we moved to confront a related demonstration in Columbus, Ohio, on October 10th. The result of this was a viral video spanning 45 minutes—recording a debate, involving myself, with the sole remaining anti-Muslim protester who eventually shared a hug with a Hashlamah Project member and accepted our invitation into the mosque for a tour, bagels, and coffee, as well as a lesson on Islam. This video received well over 10 million views (based on YouTube hits as well as viral article impressions) and provided Hashlamah Project members, myself included, opportunities to be interviewed for mainstream media from the Today Show to the Washington Post (as well as nearly every major media outlet). A small sample of this wide coverage includes AJ+ (2015), David and Hussein (2015), Holley (2015); Klausner (2015), Kuruvilla (2015), Murphy (2015), and Tan (2015). In Malaysia and Indonesia, this interaction aired on national headline news. Wide exposure brings moral and other support, but also makes us more vulnerable to verbal or physical violence from forces opposed to the work we do with the Hashlamah Project.
Micah had not yet traveled to Gaza, or conducted interviews with leftist activists fighting for justice for the Palestinian people both within the borders of the State of Israel, as well as within the Palestinian Territories. He had no degree to speak of yet, not the two masters degrees and doctorate that his work in the State of Israel and Palestine earned him; nor did he yet have the four Black sashes in Chinese martial arts that he would later earn, as well as training as as a colleague with some of the biggest names Brazilian Jiujitsu and Muay Thai alike. More importantly, he had not yet begun working with the Hashlamah and Jam`at al-Fitrah chapters in the Levant who are currently being targeted by the Israeli government, as well as the corrupt bourgeois leadership of both Gaza and the West Bank today, for their disseminating the khutbat of a mysterious wanted figure being harbored in Gaza named “`Oseh”.
No, at this time, he was just an eccentric, Straightedge, S.H.A.R.P. (Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) kid from the “hood,” whose shorn head not only mirrored the Biblical Nazirite oath culmination, but was also his personal correlation with his nadr of abstinence – from the age of 13 on – seeing it as a modern expression of that same timeless rebellion against the normative social acceptance and “fitting in” associated with alcohol consumption and the like.
1998: THE BEGINNINGS
Sufi Shaykh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen would become a key influence for the Taliyah al-Mahdi, which was itself a vegetarian-based movement, which was paralleled in the teachings of Bawa.Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship
Dr. Naziri explained to the website “Punk Torah” that in 1999, he had abruptly “encountered a fascinating man, decked out in all white attire while I was working at a Cincinnati bookstore. He approached me with a white kufi or kippah. It was sort of ambiguous, like the man himself was. It was bigger than an Ashkenazi yarmulke, but smaller than a typical Muslim kufi.”
Dr. Naziri continued, saying that “the man looked like he might be Ethiopian or an Arab Sudanese,” he recounted. “I greeted him as though he were an Arab, or at least probably a Muslim.” Admittedly “somewhat enamored with my new vocabulary,” Naziri exclaimed: “As-salamu `alaykum.” He paused, looked at Naziri and replied: “Wa-`alaykum as-salam.”
Much of what Naziri relayed about this experience, though lengthy, warrants reproduction in full, below:
During that afternoon’s conversation, the man reminisced about how [Shaykh M.R.] Bawa [Muhaiyaddeen] had studied with him, many years ago. At the time, this was no cause for alarm, as I had no idea that Bawa had even died when I was in Middle School. For all I knew, Bawa was 40 years old. The man further recalled that my perspective and vegetarian-Nazirut – lifnim meshurat ha’Din in Hebrew – reminded him of what he described as a Jewish-Sufi movement which he termed “the `Isawiyah Order.” Try as I might to locate this group amongst the Sufi turuq, I found only a completely unrelated North African tariqah branch of the Shadhiliyah – that was attached to the figure associated with the historical Jesus (known as `Isa, Qur’anically) – which clearly did not match his characterization. Every Sufi-Muslim that I asked assured me that I had heard the man wrong and that this was the group to which he would have been referring…
Naziri would, nearly a decade later, come to find out that this enigmatic figure was right: there was in fact an `Isawiyah movement, and it was not the Shadhiliyah branch by the same name. The movement was exactly as was described during this conversation, but it was not until graduate school that Naziri would learn of them. So who was this enigmatic man who knew so much and spoke with such authority as to claim Bawa had studied with him rather than the other way around?
As the two continued to talk, Naziri quickly began to realize he was in the presence of someone filled with immense knowledge. Accordingly, he went on break and they continued to discuss matters for a considerable time further.
“The pluralistic world view of Bawa, [the man] explained, complimented my own vegetarianism and universal approach. I would learn that the Sri Lankan Muhaiyaddeen, who described himself as both a Jew because he followed the Law of Moses and a Muslim because he followed Muhammad, had settled his Sufi masjid in a former Philadelphia Synagogue, and many of his followers were in fact Jewish.”
After the conversation, Naziri ordered as many books by the shaykh as he could, not thinking he was ordering the words of a mystic of the nature of Bawa, but still assuming that this was a somewhat young pupil of the man who he had been conversing with.
“I particularly enjoyed his Islam and World Peace, which contained letters he wrote admonishing Khomeini during the Iranian Revolution. I quickly discovered, however, that the open-mindedness and deep mysticism of mystic was an anomaly within the Muslim ummah, even amongst most modern Sufi turuq. Working at the aforementioned bookstore, I had a number of opportunities to converse with various Muslims and not one besides this man had even heard of Bawa, let alone think that he sounded like a Muslim at all, once I described him.”
Naziri and this man spoke at length about Khomeini and the Iranian Revolution. At the time, the regime in Iran had been rather angelized to Naziri, within and by certain revolutionary circles. This man, however, cautioned that while Khomeini began as a mystic or `arif, the thirst for power and justification of traditional filth from his own teachers would corrupt his vision, even causing him to issue a fatwah condoning infant molestation – a fact that the Taliyah would later document, linking to the Iranian government’s own websites, and forcing them to take it down.
Much of the controversy surrounding the Taliyah internationally would emanate from Naziri’s unrelenting challenges to the Shi`ah `ulema‘s defense of this disgusting fatwah, that was not only issued by Khomeini, but also Sistani – a scholar which Taliyah members often provocatively termed “Shitstani” or “Shitstaini” in old group polemic discourses.
The following is an excerpt from Naziri’s “Revolution of the Mahdi: Vol 1” – compiled and published by New Dawn Publications:
Imagine that one day someone passed a law that said, “As of last week, there can be no more laws passed!” This act itself would have to be considered an act of law if it was followed, and in so doing, it would contradict its own ruling, since it came after the cut off time for the passage of law. This is the sort of deficiency of commonsense that has gone relatively unchallenged in the Ummah until the modern age… Perhaps it is not so much that it has gone unchallenged as it is something that would – in former times – provoke a death sentence from the dissidents who stepped up and challenged the illogical system.
Within the Shi`a world there is a similar, yet slightly different, problem; this problem is the `Usuli system of Marja`iyyah. In the Marja` system, a person attends a Hawza institution until they have learned to parrot their scholastic predecessors to such a point that these predecessors confer a diploma of sorts upon them that says now they are able to pass fataawat on subjects as mujtaahidoon. The trouble is that in order to get this, they must tow the “party” lines. They are not going to get very far if they are challenging the status quo, or engaging their teachers, or the so-called `ulema’ about truly critical issues. They have two options, they can assimilate or they can get kicked out of Hawza. Though this will certainly be challenged by proponents of this recently `Usuli marja` system, I challenge the reader to cite an example of one dissident Hawza student who ever went on to be granted such a diploma. By dissident, it should be noted that I do not mean “radical,” I mean challenging issues on everything from the infallibility of the Ahl al-Bayt (to such an insane extent that many question whether or not they even needed to learn how to control their bladders as children, learn to walk or talk!), to the permissibility of child molestation or “thighing” (mufakhathat), of nursing infants that a man has “married.”
Two versions of this disgusting fatwah follow:
مسألة 12 : لا يجوز وطء الزوجة قبل إكمال تسع سنين ، دواما كان النكاح أو منقطعا ، و أما سائر الاستمتاعات كاللمس بشهوة و الضم و التفخيذ فلا بأس بها حتى فى الرضيعة ، و لو وطأها قبل التسع و لم يفضها لم يترتب عليه شىء غير الاثم على الاقوى ، و إن أفضاها بأن جعل مسلكى البول و الحيض واحدا أو مسلكى الحيض و الغائط واحدا حرم عليه وطؤها أبدا لكن على الاحوط فى الصورة الثانية ، و على أي حال لم تخرج عن زوجيته على الاقوى ، فيجري عليها أحكامها من التوارث و حرمة الخامسة و حرمة أختها معها و غيرها ، و يجب عليه نفقتها مادامت حية و إن طلقها بل و إن تزوجت بعد الطلاق على الاحوط ، بل لا يخلو من قوة ، و يجب عليه دية الافضاء ، و هى دية النفس ، فإذا كانت حرة فلها نصف دية الرجل مضافا إلى المهر الذي استحقته بالعقد و الدخول ، و لو دخل بزوجته بعد إكمال التسع فأفضاها لم تحرم عليه و لم تثبت الدية ، و لكن الاحوط الانفاق عليها مادامت حية و إن كان الاقوى عدم الوجوب .
When we first published this article over a decade and a half ago they made sure to try to scrub this from the Internet… unfortunately for them they didn’t scrub hard enough – this filth will not come out no matter how hard you try to scrub. Here it is, preserved by WayBack Machine.
The same fatwah could formerly be found here as well, but has since been removed because of the Taliyah making the Ummah aware of these disgusting rulings. Here’s the cached page they tried to keep you from seeing, preserved by Wayback Machine here:
مسألة 8 : لا يجوز وطء الزوجة قبل إكمال تسع سنين، دواماً كان النكاح أو منقطعاً، واما سائر الاستمتاعات كاللمس بشهوة والتقبيل والضم والتفخيذ فلا بأس بها، ولو وطئها قبل اكمال التسع ولم يفضها لم يترتب عليه شيء غير الاثم على الاقوى، ـ والافضاء هو التمزق الموجب لاتحاد مسلكي البول والحيض أو مسلكي الحيض والغائط أو اتحاد الجميع ـ ولو افضاها لم تخرج عن زوجيته، فتجري عليها احكامها من التوارث وحرمة الخامسة وحرمة اختها معها وغيرها، ولكن قيل: يحرم عليه وطؤها ابداً. إلاّ أن الاقوى خلافه، ولا سيما إذا اندمل الجرح ـ بعلاج أو بغيره ـ نعم تجب عليه دية الافضاء، وهي دية النفس ان طلقها، بل وإن لم يطلقها على المشهور، ولا يخلو عن وجه، وتجب عليه نفقتها ما دامت مفضاة وإن نشزت أو طلقها، بل وإن تزوجت بعد الطلاق على الاحوط.
The following is the translation of the first fatwah, the second is pretty much the same:
“It is not permissible to have sexual intercourse with one’s wife that hasn’t reached nine years of age, be it permanent or temporary marriage. But there is no problem with all other pleasures such as lustful touch, embracing, and rubbing again the thighs, even with a suckling infant. If he does have sexual intercourse before nine years of age and does not penetrate, there is no penalty, but he has committed a sin. If he does penetrate causing the vagina and urethra openings to be one, she will become forever haraam for him. Although this is as a precautionary measure. And it is more probable that her status as his wife is not removed. And the rulings of inheritance, and the prohibition of a fifth wife or marriage to her sister applies. He is also responsible for her maintenance as long as she is alive, even if he divorces her and even if she marries someone else after his divorcing her as a precautionary measure. And he is liable for blood money for the penetration and the amount is equivalent to that of an individual. If she is a free-woman, the amount is half that of a man, plus the dowry that she became entitled to through the `aqd and penetration. If he penetrates his wife after the age of nine (causing the same damage as quoted above) , she does not become haraam to him and there is no evidence that blood money is liable, but as a precautionary measure, he should maintain her as long as she is alive, although it is more probable that this is not obligatory.”
It was this type of unrelenting, uncompromising position that the Taliyah al-Mahdi took that made them enemies as well as allies and adherents throughout the world. Today, however, Dr. Naziri has said that in spite of their differences, Sistani has been “on the right side of history” with many of his positions, and that the presence of such nearly identical fatawat in both scholars’ rulings is evidence that many rulings are not individually-handled with the critical thinking of Al-`Aql, but are instead merely “copied and pasted” – so to speak – from one scholar to the next. As such, Dr. Naziri says we should remain critical of such fatawat and the process by which they emerge, but the presence of such rulings in the collections of scholars does not necessarily indicate that these are truly their positions – just that they have no engaged in new, independent critical thinking with respect to copied rulings.
The guidance of the mysterious figure who Naziri encountered did not end on this day, though their paths would not again cross for many years. It would be over half a decade later before this man approached Naziri for the second time, just before the group went into occultation, and – in fact – at his direction…
FINDING SUFISM IN THE BELLY OF THE BEAST
Overlapping with all of this, in the late 1990s, Naziri had infiltrated the Miami Valley Laboratories facility of multi-national corporation, Proctor and Gamble (P&G). He soon rose through the ranks to become one of three heads of security for the facility. His security badge is pictured above (Proctor and Gamble, Miami Valley Laboratories)
Concurrent with the foundation being laid for the Taliyah al-Mahdi in the late 1990s, in 1998 and on through the next year, Naziri would play the part of a security supervisor for Proctor and Gamble (P&G), for the ulterior motive of animal liberation. On the Miami Valley Laboratories (MVL) worksite, he would pretend he ate meat, with his mock seitan protein meals, slices of faux turkey and the like on sandwiches he brought. Finally, when pressed about the matter by employees of the laboratories, he would insist that he was a Seventh Day Adventist and stayed away from meat for health reasons. Nothing could have been further from the truth, but he knew in the Christocentric Midwest of Southern Ohio, that this excuse would explain away why the deli slices on his sandwiches were not quite passing for real meat in the eyes of the suspicious fellow security members, or vivisectionists who worked at the site.
Over his time working at MVL, we are told that “someone” amassed keys to every laboratory, walkie talkies (to stay tuned in to the conversations of the security team on site), a beeper to monitory which alarms were going off when doors were breached, highest clearance security badge cards to scan entrance, blueprints to the whole site and breeding kennel where beagles were bread and then taken down a long, winding, fateful hill, to be tortured to death in laboratories, as well as a full list of all the vivisectionists who worked on site, and their home addresses.
The “leak” of this information and resources to a cell of animal liberationists, who raided the site, led not only to the rescue of countless animals (a matter which will not be discussed in further detail here), but the immediate announcement by P&G that they would cease all non-pharmaceutical animal testing. The story of the raid was never leaked to the public, until now…
Before the logistical decision was made to raid the MVL site, some of the details of the site’s animal torture were first leaked to animal rights organizations like People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and In Defense of Animals (IDA). Paid informants within each organization contacted P&G’s corporate liaisons to let them know they had a mole. Naziri was called to the downtown main office of the corporate headquarters and interrogated.
While there, the heads of corporate informed Naziri of the mole within those groups, and cautioned him that he should read any of the copies of the book Soap Opera, which they had prominently displayed in the library at MVL. They informed Naziri that the book was about all of the people the company has had killed for revealing any number of secrets. The object was clearly to intimidate, but unbeknownst to those interrogating him, Naziri was armed to the teeth and had a firm mental plan in place before he sat down, as to how he would exit if the need arose.
“Crazy”, Naziri replied.
“Is it?”, the corporate representatives retorted.
Whatever else Naziri said must have convinced them that he was not the leak, because he was permitted to leave without incident, and the company killed one of the vivisectionists who worked on the site during Naziri’s regular shift, shortly thereafter. They had obviously concluding that he was somehow the source of the leak, perhaps feeling remorse for his deeds. For good measure, and to add insult to injury, they shot and killed his dogs as well, to send a message about concern for the beagles which were liberated from the site. That case remains an officially “unsolved cold case”.
In order to gain the trust of the corporation to the extent that he did, Micah worked at the MVL site for a year prior to being promoted to security supervisor – a role that would give him full reign of the massive animal testing facility after hours. He grew the aforementioned mustache and kept his hair neatly faded in a military-style cut. In his off hours he trained in martial arts, marksmanship, close quarters combat shooting and tactics, as well as weight training. He used his position as security supervisor to legitimize invitation-only access to a training facility for SWAT members and executive protection who worked in the region (training with someone who had trained there, and using that as his “in”). Naziri’s down time was what most people still consider active training. His goal was one thing and one thing alone: in his words, to “be used as the hand of the Creator in carrying out acts of justice in the material world.” Increasingly alienated by those who did not share this singular focus, Micah turned further and further inward, to prolonged periods of mediation – particularly Kabbalistic meditation which he had been learning for a few notable Chassidic rabbis in years prior.
While at work, Naziri often found himself having to work 16 hour double shifts, and in the months leading up the liberation at the MVL site, he would spend upwards of 8 hours in deep meditation, that would commonly be considered “astral” or “out of body” – though these terms and phrases are ones he would smirk at when we used them in our interview with him on the history of the Taliyah.
During one particularly profound visionary experience of what the Sufis would call “ilham” (to be distinguished from any claim of Divine “Wahy” revelation of a new religious law or the like), Naziri says he received instruction to seek out guidance through the path of Tasawwuf, or “Sufism”, which – it was explained to him – was ultimately no different than the paths of Jewish Kabbalah and Taoism that he was already deeply immersed in. In the meditative state, he replied that he was making the intention for a person to cross paths with him who could teach him about Sufism, and more importantly how it synchronized with Kabbalah and Taoism. In a matter of a week and then mere months, this intention (niyyah) was answered twice over.
The first answer came in the form of a lengthy letter from an old friend who had recently – the letter explained – converted to Islam and changed his name to “Shahid `Ali” Muttaqi. This friend, “Shahid,” was the founder of a popular hardcore music label formerly known as Hardline Records, and the related controversial Hardline Movement which had grown out of it.
Shahid explained to Micah that he not only had converted to Islam, but was involved with a particular form of Islam, which he called, “Sufism.”
Micah explains that goosebumps raised on his arms and neck as he read this – knowing that it was no coincidence. He felt what he called “flood-like qi” (浩然之氣) in the words of the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius (Mengzi). He knew right then, as if he could hear the Mind of the Universe itself speaking into his own psyche, that this was a direct answer to his request in that deep meditative state only a week earlier.
Shahid, along with Dr. Naziri were the primary heads of the Taliyah al-Mahdi. While the group was initiated by Dr. Naziri, the previous group that the two co-led, known as the Ahl-i Allah, was the creation of Shahid, who was known from his work with Hardline Records and Vegan Reich (Bound By Modern Age Records)
Shahid explained that he wanted Micah to form a new group with him, and help him dissolve the old Hardline Movement. Micah would be charged with producing the 9th issue of the Vanguard zine that Shahid had begun around a decade earlier. It would be released on 9/9/99, and fitting with that – the two decided over the course of their correspondences – the Surah Az-Zalzalah (99) would be applied to this release, and the release of Shahid’s old Hardline band “Vegan Reich” with their “Jihad” EP (wherein one of the tracks begins with Shahid reciting the Surah in a quiet tone), an album made somewhat famous due to the involvement of Fall Out Boy’s drummer, Andy Hurly playing percussion.
Shahid said he had commissioned one other person from their old Hardline days, but that neither they nor anyone else had answered the call. The two began regularly voluminous correspondences, planning the formation of a post-Hardline group called the Ahl-i-Allah (the People of Allah), which the two wrote nearly all of the literature for. Shahid gave Naziri the pen name for the group’s literature, of `Isa Adam Naziri, due in large part to Naziri’s speciality at debating Christian Islamophobic propaganda and deconstructing Christian origins as originating with Paul of Tarsus, rather than any teachings attributed to the figure identified as “Jesus”.
Unlike the early Hardline Movement, the Ahl-i-Allah was intentionally centralized and hierarchical – a structure Micah would later come to completely distance himself from and abrogate with the formation of groups like the Jam`at al-Fitrah, the Hashlamah Project and the White Rose Society.
The Ahl-i Allah was only universalist and pluralistic in terms of religious perspective, but in some ways perennial. The group was intentionally syncretic, universalistic, Sufi, and contained Naziri’s influence and elements of Kabbalah as well as both Shahid and Naziri’s love for Taoism. It was Persian, Shi`ite Sufi in nature and approach, but drew much inspiration from the Philadelphia-based Sufi Shaykh from Sri Lanka known as M.R. Bawa Muhaiyyaddeen. Bawa was famous for his vegetarianism, and even aggressive anti-meat stance, which was more or less foreign to Islamic circles, but fit right in with post-Hardline Muslim “reverts.”
By the year 2000, shortly after the birth of the Muttaqi’s first daughter Naziri’s oldest son, Shahid had urged the Naziri family to move out to Laguna Beach where Shahid and Micah could train full time in martial arts together and Micah could design for both his record label, and NMV Multimedia. NMV was rebranded by Shahid from “No Masters Voice” to their names “Naziri-Muttaqi Ventures,” which he told Micah he hoped would form a sort of musical and revolutionary “empire” as he termed it. That empire, however, would never come to fruition. Still, the Ahl-i Allah and some iterations of the Taliyah website would be branded with “NMV” due to this concept, shared between the two of them at the time.
In the Fall of 2000, things were still not going as well as they soon would for Shahid’s record label. And yet, the Naziri family had still moved to Laguna Beach as requested. Feeling obvious guilt about the situation, and the quickly-depleting resources Naziri was experiencing without being able to be paid for the design of the Uprising Communications Group sites, Shahid offered him a job painting houses for the ultra-wealthy Laguna Beach elites, alongside of Shahid’s father Mike.
Into 2001, even with the kindness of Shahid offering him an entry position on his construction crew, the bills and rent were not getting paid, ends were not being met. As a result, Micah accepted a job offer from an asset allocation company back in Cincinnati which offered to fly him out for an interview, to design and code websites for them, as well as do desktop publishing design work.
Over the next few years, Micah, his wife and son(s) would fly out quarterly to visit with the Shahid family and train – the families being so trusted and intertwined that Micah’s wife Shante and their son Elijah had come and stayed with Shahid’s family without Micah on more than one occasion. During the quarterly visits, Shahid and Naziri would train in their living room, yard or at nearby parks. This would set up the inspiration Naziri would later have for the quarterly martial arts seminars conducted in Erie, Pennsylvania and across the nation.
9/11 AND “THE SHIFT”
The real shift to the emergence of the Taliyah al-Mahdi as a new group borne from the ashes of the Ahl-i Allah came after the September 11th attacks (Jose Jimenez, Getty Images)
While everything up until this point can said to be the foundation of the Taliyah al-Mahdi as an organization, the real shift began on 9/11, or arguably 9/10, the evening before…
Since moving back to Cincinnati after Shahid’s record label had not yet been in a position to end up paying Naziri, the day-to-day leadership in the Ahl-i Allah had fallen to Micah, who co-founded the group with Shahid, the latter having conceived of it and initiated it. As such, Naziri began to quickly notice changing currents in American society, and in the world – particularly due to how deep his connections were growing globally, as the primary networking agent for the group.
While Naziri would not yet be immersed in trained to the extend he would be after the occultation of the core members and the organization itself, in 2005, he had a very regular daily regimen that involved martial arts, weight training, conditioning, firearms weapons craft and marksmanship, as well as meditation, which he had been engaged in daily since his infiltration of P&G. On 9/10, at approximately 11 PM – just after finishing his post-training meditation for the evening – Naziri would shock a number of Cincinnati area Muslims, including several Taliyah members, by calling them up to immediately meet in person to discuss a matter of grave importance…
Naziri would later come to recount this incident in a futuristic science fiction novel that interestingly interfuses much of the history of the Taliyah al-Mahdi in every-other-chapter flashbacks. The novel Sleeper Cell 2240: Memoires of the 21st Century Interplanetary Revolution is a thrilling read in its own right, but all the more so for those who are interested in the behind-the-scenes accounts of the Taliyah al-Mahdi, both before and since occultation.
After a mid-21st century Space Race, catalyzed by open-source space hardware, an increasingly economically stratified world erupts into revolution. While both the minority of the very wealthy, and the growing base of homeless and extremely poor battle it out, another broad sector of society adapts to become increasingly global while at the same time forming societies centered around individual villages, rather than industrial urban centers. Information sharing and ease of travel have merged formerly adversarial cultures into emerging identities. Religious and “racial” barriers naturally begin to dissolve over the latter part of the 21st century. With the disintegration of these racial political boundaries, collapsing global markets, and increasingly mobilized and networked dissident grassroots fighting along side the very poor, the elitist aristocracy – finding themselves on the losing end of a true proletariat revolution – have fled to a newly terra-formed Mars. Those who remain on Earth are led by a group of Elders, heroes from the “Great Revolution” who govern by the Taoist virtues of “non-interference” or “Wu Wei” in leadership, modeled after the relationship of these Elders with an enigmatic extraterrestrial force of “Watchers” who quietly intervened throughout the course of the late 21st century revolution. After requesting an audience with one of these Elders, his great-grandfather, a young man named Elijah engages his family’s story of the founding of this new Earth culture, by direct dialog with an old mountain mystic who was there through it all. What Elijah learns over the course of training with his “Zeidy” in and around his grotto in the Carmel Mountains, prepares him for what happens next… (New Dawn Publications)
“In any event, you should understand that my concern was very real on September 10th, 2001. I explained these concerns to the Muslim friends that I knew.”
Elijah was still simultaneously excited, intrigued and terrified.
He reluctantly accepted the frustrating truth that gears had shifted in the conversation.
“Where did you know these Muslims from Zeidy? I have heard that in those days Jews and Muslims didn’t get along so well. This was in 2001, right? How was there already…”
“From an interfaith discussion group – based on hashlamah, reconciliation – which I co-facilitated, then and for many years to come,” David interrupted.
For those who have not read the novel, Elijah here is a character set some hundred years or so in the future. David, is based off of an imagined elder Naziri, and here is also referenced as “Zeidy” – Yiddish for “Grandpa”. The novel describes much of Naziri’s own “Judeo-Sufism” – a term which he popularized from its otherwise relatively obscure use in academia.
“That is what first brought me here to Eretz Yisrael, in fact. Long before I made my way here again… by other means.
“Reconciliation became the focus of my doctoral dissertation,” Zeidy paused, this time losing himself in memories.
“There were a few – here and there – who understood the true teachings of the prophets. I explained to those Muslims that I knew and trusted the most that this was a very serious issue. It could mean life-or-death for them depending on how the government and American society reacted. It was serious for my family as well, Elijah, in that we belonged to an ‘order’ in Judaism, described for centuries as ‘between Muslim and Jew,’ as a nicely-written scholarly work on the community was entitled. Today, the ideas of this “Order” or Tariqah have pollinated throughout normative visions of the Jewish community, as they had during the Medieval period as well. But I will explain more about all of this in the correct time. For now, what I have said is enough.
“The essential point to understand is that to the Federal authorities, it was impossible to clear us, if they could not define us, or pigeonhole us. Still, I did not know what exactly to expect from the prescient intuition I had received. I did, however, explain that we should meet at a designated location with any and all weapons, because it was potentially that serious.
“Zeidy David” here is referring to the flash of insight that occurred to Naziri in meditation, the evening before 9/11, which prompted his contacting and gathering all the local Muslims he knew, to warn of an imminent threat…”
“There was a classic movie called ‘Star Wars,’ in my youth,” the old man continued, and smiled as he recalled the film with delight.
“In the parlance of that movie, it would be said that I ‘sensed a great disturbance in the Force.’ This is the power of meditation.” Elijah could tell immediately that they were related. “That was Monday night at almost midnight when we had finalized the conversation and went our separate ways.
“The next morning, I wandered into work at an Asset Allocation nightmare of a job that I designed websites for… I’ve always been an artist at heart.” Elijah had no choice but to again interrupt, “‘Asset Allocation?’ What is this?” he asked of this phrase having no real frame of reference or relevance to his era.
“Ah, I suppose that this is very difficult to explain. This refers to investments… Stocks and bonds sold and traded in corporations.” Elijah was still equally confused.
“I’m sure that you have read a bit about how the economy was previously structured in the Mzungu world. But, essentially, it is very difficult to explain to someone of your generation. Suffice it to say that it was an integral facet of capitalism, and growing profits for the aristocracy. Today we are far beyond concepts of ‘capitalist’ and ‘communist.’ Unfortunately, to go too far into this would also take us away from the main point, but understand that it was not exactly the most fulfilling position for someone like me.
“Since I only actually worked about 2 of the 8-hour day, I started off that Tuesday by answering personal emails. Years later, this would come to be termed ‘cyber slacking,’ in the context of the corporate workplace, but it seemed the norm whether in sales or design at our company. I got in a little late, after 8:00 when I was supposed to be there, so it wasn’t long before I heard some of the ladies gasping about how a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I didn’t think much of it… I figured that it was a tragic accident, like when the Empire State Building was slammed into by a B-25 in thick fog, back in 1945. They told me to go to MSNBC.com, to CNN and other news outlets of the day. I might have done so then, or it might not have been until around half an hour later when the second one hit that I finally took it seriously and looked. By the second plane’s impact, it was clear that something was up.
“’They’re saying that it’s terrorists!’”
“’They said that there were two planes hijacked this morning,’”
“It didn’t take long for our fearless corporate CEO to come out of his office morning habit of porn surfing, or alternatively staring at his reflection in the computer monitor, which at that time were large, glass and bulbous… These were antiques that would probably make you laugh to imagine someone perusing naked images on such a contraption. Anyway, he managed to pull himself away long enough to call a ‘meeting’ in the conference room. This ‘meeting’ consisted of us all staring at an even then outdated, cheaply made TV-VCR combo, kept in one of the cabinets (presumably for the purpose of watching national emergencies, since we never used it before or again in the three years that I worked there).
“’Okay people, they say that there are two more planes…’ The CEO said it like there was something he was going to do himself, as though we worked for NORAD or something… Forgive me…” David interrupted himself, realizing that he was constantly peppering the conversation with terms that were obviously lost on Elijah’s generation, “In a nut-shell, NORAD was the government’s air-defense. It stood for North American Aerospace Defense Command.
“The phones started ringing, all around the same time. It was everyone that I had talked to the night before – everyone who I had warned – one by one. I can only imagine how utterly shady it must have looked for everyone to call and ask for me and then for me to speak about the matter in hushed tones before it hit me – and simultaneously I vocalized as if in a trance –“‘There are two more planes! One is going to the Pentagon and the other the White House.’ Everyone turned and stared at me as though I were a possessed medium at a séance. It seemed to make perfect sense though, and all at once. Where else would they be going? Interestingly, years later, many would subscribe to the ‘Pentagate’ Conspiracy Theory, which held that the Pentagon was not hit by the hijacked plane… Whatever the case may be, we might never know completely. It is all irrelevant now. What is relevant is that the events of this day of September 11th were very important, pivotal even, for the purpose of kicking off the wars of the 21st century. Whatever the case may be, I seemed to be tapped into what was going on. I knew that this was the plan of the men behind the attacks. I didn’t know who was behind it, but the plan itself and its implications were quite clear. I can’t explain how or why, but I knew and my entire office heard all of this… Well this was when things started escalating…”
“Escalating, Zeidy?” Elijah inquired.
“Yes, this is when the United States government shifted gears a bit. They knew the old colonialist order was in trouble. Wars erupted all over the planet, wars that did not really end until the Mzungu finally fled: wars that have still not been settled, wars for which they still hold a painful grudge. America, at this time, began looking for any and every pretext to sink their claws into nations where they believed their hegemony would serve corporate interests, which funded the election of every presidential administration. In short, the government was openly executing the plans of a corporate, globalist agenda. These corporations were a plutocracy, an oligarchy even, all run by the Mzungu.
“Things were not how they are now. While we are connected with anyone and everyone today, all over the Earth, communities were not the same. There was no city – not even the largest of them – which was even remotely self-sufficient in those days. A town would import lumber from the Amazon in what was called ‘Brazil,’ lettuce from the middle of the country – the ‘Midwest’ – fruit from Central America, the south or the Far West, as well as electronics made in the Far East. Why? The purpose was to ensure maximum profit, at the expense of the workers. The purpose was not self-sufficiency of a community, it was instead to force all centers of human activity to be co-dependent, and unable to sustain themselves without playing by the rules of the economic system they were essentially trapped in. There was no way out, nowhere to run to that you would not be subjected to taxation of land, or required to purchase even unused land where no one was even living.
“There were some startling meditative and waking experiences that I have had, but this premonition seemed to set things into an accelerated mode that I hadn’t previously glimpsed, with regards to mystical experiences… as well as encounters with Federal Law Enforcement.
While the novel is itself a work of fiction, Naziri tells us that literally every word of this section is historical accurate, and can be verified by his first wife Shante, and former Taliyah members such as Christopher Rogowski, John Warfield and others, including many Arab Muslims who do not wish to be identified due to the backlash they have already lived through in the post-9/11 era.
THE TALIYAH WAS BORN
Dr. Naziri with community leaders from the Bloods and Crips street tribes, united against police brutality
After 9/11, the Ahl-i Allah began to fade into the background. Shahid became increasingly involved in his record label, which would soon see the signing of Fall Out Boy, and the release of their first album, which though obscure, brought important sustenance to Shahid’s family. As such, Micah realized he was left with nearly all of the duties of the organization. As his own approach was becoming increasingly entrenched in Shi`ite millenarianism and eschatology, particularly his study of Arabic sources of then obscure volumes of Hadith literature such as Bihar al-Anwar, Micah allowed the Ahl-i Allah to fizzle out on its own. Naziri withdrew from sustaining the Ahl-i Allah, and instead founded a new group which he named the Taliyah al-Mahdi (the Vanguard of the Mahdi). The name was arrived at after discussing the most appropriate way to phrase the intentions of the group, with a young lady named Amirah, in Jeddah, whose family were crypto-Shi`ah, living under Sa`udi repression.
Though Micah was only moderately proficient in the most basic Arabic at the time, he was engaged to Amirah, whose family formerly controlled Mecca before the Wahhabi House of Sa`ud seized control. Working with her on Arabic translations at the time, long before taking five years of the language at the graduate level, Naziri deduced that this was the most appropriate term for what he was intending to convey with those who migrated from his efforts with the Ahl-i Allah chapters, into the new organization. As well, the term “Vanguard” was one which many of them cherished from revolutionary literature which had inspired their activism in years earlier.
Day after day, now working a corporate job as a graphic designed and web programmer, Micah researched and composed articles for the group as well as agitprop graphics, pamphlets and fliers which members of the organization circulated throughout popular Islamic website forums. At night he would use the postage meter of the corporation to send out hundreds of letters to political prisoners, including Tupac Shakur’s adoptive father Dr. Metulu Shakur, and members of the Black Liberation Army in San Quentin prison, who formed one of the groups largest chapters behind bars.
THE PATH OF PERFECTION
The Path to Perfection lessons were based upon eight primordial states of prophethood, noted by Shaykh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, but elaborated on by the Taliyah al-Mahdi, specifically by Naziri who articulated the lessons, which he disseminated through booklets as well as in electronic form when requested. Later levels of the teachings were orally-relayed only – not written. The core of the Taliyah who have maintained an inner circle of adherents, moving forward with the blueprints that were outlined decades ago, continue to follow this path, with some being at the levels of Dawud, `Isa and Muhammad – in terms of what praxis these lessons entail (Bawa Muhaiyaddeen Fellowship)
The Ahl-i-Allah and the Taliyah al-Mahdi alike became known for and characterized by eight levels with eight lessons within each. These lessons were based upon and inspired by the eight primary prophets articulated by Shaykh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, who continued to inspire both Micah and Shahid throughout their tenure with both the Ahl-i Allah and Taliyah al-Mahdi organizations.
The two collaborated daily during lengthy phone conversations, hours per day, which resulted in the wives of both regularly teasing each of them that their “boyfriend” was on the phone, when they would each answer. Neither of them were particularly amused, but both Shahid’s wife, as well as Shante Naziri thought it was absolutely hilarious.
What was devised were eight terms for each of the lessons in the level of Adam, which Shahid charged Micah with composing the lessons for. These, and all other later articulations of the 64 Path of Perfection lessons would be penned by Micah.
The Path to Perfection lessons were based upon eight primordial states of prophethood, noted by Shaykh M.R. Bawa Muhaiyaddeen, but elaborated on by the Taliyah al-Mahdi, specifically by Naziri who articulated the lessons, which he disseminated through booklets as well as in electronic form when requested. Later levels of the teachings were orally-relayed only – not written. The core of the Taliyah who have maintained an inner circle of adherents, moving forward with the blueprints that were outlined decades ago, continue to follow this path, with some being at the levels of Dawud, `Isa and Muhammad – in terms of what praxis these lessons entail.
MUSICIANS AND THE TALIYAH AL-MAHDI
Known for gracing the stages of coffee shops and poetry slams around the world, including HBO Def Poetry Jam, Amir Sulaiman was for a time involved with the Taliyah al-Mahdi, as reflected in his poetry during that era, when he added Shi`i blessings after the names of the family of the Prophet Muhammad. Brother Amir directly received Path to Perfection lessons from Dr. Naziri for two years before the group’s external structure was dissolved and went into occultation.
For many in the early 2000s, introduction to the ideas of the Taliyah al-Mahdi was through music. As both Naziri and Shahid had deep roots in the hardcore punk music scene, the organization initially attracted many from the same niche circles of “Vegan Straight Edge” and “Hardline” advocates.
As the movement grew, leaders of the Taliyah included former Ministers of the Nation of Islam, as well as leaders of groups like the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Black Liberation Army, as well as members of street tribes like the Bloods and the Crips. The unifying ability of the Taliyah seemed to be of the utmost concern to the FBI, particularly as several large prison chapters sprang up, with the San Quentin chapter growing to dozens strong behind bars – led by BLA political prisoner Mustafa (al-Khemi) Lancaster.
Some of the musicians who became fairly well-known within the Taliyah circles included Amir Sulaiman, who would later sign to Uprising Records. Known for gracing the stages of coffee shops and poetry slams around the world, including HBO Def Poetry Jam, Amir was for a time involved with the Taliyah al-Mahdi, as reflected in his poetry during that era, when he added Shi`i blessings after the names of the family of the Prophet Muhammad. Brother Amir directly received Path to Perfection lessons from Naziri for two years before the group’s external structure was dissolved and went into occultation. He has since represented as strictly orthodox Sunni in religious orientation.
Naj.One was a vegan straight edge hip-hop artist from Salt Lake City, Utah who was dedicated to spreading the message of animal and human rights, liberation, social equality, living poison free and staying true to yourself. He has collaborated in the past with the straight edge, vegan deathmetal/hardcore band Cherem, also from Salt Lake City. In the Taliyah, Naj.One was known as “Harun”, the Arabic form of his given name, Aaron.
In the Vegan Straightedge scene, Naj.One was perhaps the most loved artist deeply involved with the Taliyah. Naj.One was a vegan straightedge hip-hop artist from Salt Lake City, Utah who was dedicated to spreading the message of animal and human rights, liberation, social equality, living poison free and staying true to yourself. He has collaborated in the past with the straight edge, vegan deathmetal/hardcore band Cherem, also from Salt Lake City. In the Taliyah, Naj.One was known as “Harun”, the Arabic form of his given name, Aaron.
Naj.One was a name composed by Naziri and Shahid and brother Harun’s request, due to it incorporating the Arabic name “Najwan” (Harun Najwan Askari), that he was going by since he took Shahadah.
Harun would later become a martial arts student of Naziri’s, attending quarterly seminars from “Three Temples Martial Arts” in Erie, Pennsylvannia, the former home of a Taliyah chapter. Upon returning to Salt Lake City, he would invest deeply in yoga and became a well-known and sought-after instructor in the area.
Shahid Mustafa, also known for a time as `Abdul-Shahid, was another well-known underground hip hop artist associated with the Taliyah. He current works in community organic gardening endeavors.
Another artist who was nearly put out by Uprising Records was Shahid Mustafa, formerly known as `Abdul-Shahid. Shahid Mustafa was featured in “The Movement: Volume 1” by Il Mobb Productions, which was perhaps one of the best and most authentic underground West Coast “Gangsta Rap” compilations of all time. He was cited by The Source magazine as the best unsigned hip hop artist at the time.
His work on the compilation came through Taliyah connections to South East San Diego crips, and the exceptional hip hop artist Complex, and producer and beat-maker Cricet, as well as Taliyah networking with “Brother Amir”, who was at the time the leader of a Shi`i Blood set in the Jungles projects, near Compton. Naziri and Shahid frequented hoods and masajid in areas such as Compton, and connected with Brother Amir in the Jungles, during the year that the Naziri family had returned to California, in 2004 – when the Taliyah al-Mahdi was at the height of its popularity with some and infamy with others.
From their website: “No Holds Barred a collaboration of hardcore and punk musicians who have decided that the time has come to tackle a variety of crucial issues head on, and with a militant, unapologetic response. The rise of global popularism and the resurgence of fascism that can only be characterized as the ‘Era of Trump’ has made it clear that the time for argument and debate is really a thing of the past.”
Though many have assumed Naziri to have been in the band Vegan Reich, this was never the case – though there was some discussion for a while about him playing bass for the group. In the early 90s, Naziri was well-known in the Midwest as singer and bassist for a popular band Dissenting Opinion, but the only band he has been in since has been the No Holds Barred project.
Though it is clear that Naziri attempted to release the No Holds Barred hardcore project incognito, the cat was quickly let out of the bag. As the singer, going by the pseudonym “der Bärenjude” (the “Bear Jew,” a reference to a character by the same name in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds), Naziri did a some interviews such as with RAW FANZINE: Interview with the “Bärenjude” and BOUND BY MODERN AGE Interview with the “Bärenjude” of No Holds Barred. The latter was conducted by Tim of Bound By Modern Age records, who put out the No Holds Barred project, as well as currently featuring a Taliyah al-Mahdi t-shirt benefit.
Within short order, the FBI was zeroing in on him for yet another offense, this time an artistic one. They identified “the Chief” in the band as “Rat” – infamous from various musical projects, including the former Hardline Records band Statement. Rat is commonly attributed as the “Founder of Vegan Straightedge.” The FBI investigation into No Holds Barred is currently open. As a result, Bound By Modern Age tells us they are planning to press a complete discography of the group, including several previously unreleased songs (likely due out in 2023).
No Holds Barred had and has no affiliation with the Taliyah al-Mahdi (past, present or future). Currently Naziri tells us there are no efforts to promote the organization through music or to promote it at all. “We are seeking quality, not quantity,” he explained. “There were 12,000 soldiers presented before Talut,” the Biblical Gideon, “but he was told that their number was too great, not too small.”
“Instead,” Naziri added, “he was commanded to test them, and to select only the most refined. In all, there were 300, led by 12 generals and by himself, for a total of 313. We find this number paralleled in the Spartan Battle of Thermopiles, as well, against the wicked emperor Xerxes. It was the number of troops at the Battle of Badr with Muhammad as well. There seems to be something mystical to that number and the power of such a refined force.”
He asks us “Why would we seek numbers when these great leaders were told to eschew them? Instead, we are focused on the caliber of individual wanting to count themselves among our ranks.”
This seems to sum up the approach of the Taliyah.
GOING BACK TO CALI
Dr. Naziri, many years ago, with his three oldest children
Rewinding back to the “old school” days of Taliyah, before the occultation of the group… After a couple of years working in Cincinnati, the FBI had been called to Naziri’s employer. Co-workers continued to claim that he “must have been involved” and “had to know” about the 9/11 attacks, since the aforementioned narrative – quoted from the Sleeper Cell 2240 novel, was essentially a verbatim account of what transpired that day. As he vocalized each attack, one by one, co-workers became increasingly “freaked out” and the company’s CEO began working directly with the FBI (as his ex-wife would later admit to Naziri at an art show, which exhibited some of his work).
After leaving the company in December of 2003, the Naziri family was invited back to California by Shahid’s family. Shahid, however, found himself in a time-crunch with the distributor Sony Red, who was negotiating purchase of the record label’s catalogue, seemingly related to the recent signing of a band who became household name and their debut EP. As a result, the two trained regularly, but not nearly as much as Naziri was hungry for.
Meanwhile, leadership of the Taliyah was in hyper-drive. Irvine, California – where the Naziris and Shahid’s family lived – was home to a large Shi`i Persian population. It seemed everywhere Naziri went he was meeting new people, and being networked by people who sought him out to connect. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays were spent at an array of masajid for khutbat and Du`a Kumayl recitation gatherings. Saturdays Naziri attended synagogue and networked with leftist Jews, to begin the laying the foundation of the Hashlamah Project. Sundays, Micah was invited to teach at a Los Angeles County masjid, on Shi`i eschatology and hadith narrations related to the Revolution of the Mahdi.
In Compton, Naziri attended Sunni masajid regularly, and connected with those who saw Islam as something greater-than, and beyond any particular fiqh or madhhab. From South East San Diego, to Irvine, to Compton, Naziri seemed to be everywhere all at once. Around this time, the government of Iran, through a contact in Irvine and member of the Taliyah, dispatched a delegate to connect with Naziri at one of the Shi`ah masajid he frequented. After his lecture, he discussed funding the Taliyah al-Mahdi and granting Naziri a healthy six-figure stipend that would support his family and facilitate ease for them in the ultra-expensive Southern California economy.
Respectfully, Naziri told them that he must decline the proposition, as the strings attached to it included turning a blind eye to the political repression and various other crimes and persecutions of minority religious groups within Iran. As well, he was told not to focus on Khomeini’s aforementioned fatwah permitting child molestation, but instead to continue fixing his sites on the embezzling (to the tune of over a billion dollars annually) of khums tax by Sistani.
The delegate was shocked to hear Naziri – whose family was living in abject poverty at the time – turn down the offer and refuse the money, as if it held absolutely no value to him at all.
Around this time, Naziri found himself in the crosshairs of the terrorist organization which called itself the Jewish Defense League (JDL). The group was particularly outraged at Naziri’s Jewish heritage and that he did not shy away from incorporating this, or Jewish scriptures and teachings into his writings with the Taliyah. In November of 2004, the JDL made an attempt to kidnap the second oldest son of Naziri, Gideon, who was born shortly after Muttaqi. Needless to say, this attempt was thwarted in a manner that need not be described here for legal purposes. Attempts like this, however, were greatly concerning both Micah and Shahid – leading to Shahid becoming even more private, out of concern for his family’s safety. Micah, however, went the other way, and determined that being even more public offered a sort of protection as well…
Concurrent with this, the FBI began following the Naziri family everywhere they went, with an ominous helicopter hovering over literally any home, place of worship or even grocery store they visited, until they left (and then the pursuit would continue). Over the course of the last few months in California, hundreds witnessed this and most reassured that it was an “intimidation tactic” (which was more or less the case).
THE FITNAH: HOW THE FBI TRIED TO DIVIDE AND THE TALIYAH “INVESTED IN A LOSS”
A soldier on patrol walks past a wall painted with the image of reggae artist Bob Marley in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of Kingston, on May 27, 2010. Featured in the Newsweek piece on Faisal: “Jihad in Jamaica: How a Radical Cleric’s Arrest Reveals a Link Between ISIS and the Caribbean“. Faisal was notorious for taped sermons with such titles as “No Peace With The Jews” and simple “Jihad” (by which Faisal basically meant killing anyone he doesn’t like, at his directive). After being extradited back to his home in Jamaica, Faisal pathetically begged the government not to allow the United States to extradite him to stand trial for his crimes. His begging and pleading were to no avail, and he is currently incarcerated in New York.
Many today still do not realize that the occultation of the Taliyah al-Mahdi was a deliberate and calculated decision, but one which we were unable to publicly – or even electronically – discuss… until now.
This secrecy was both at direct instruction, as well as an utter necessity due to the times that all of these events were transpiring in. For those who did not live through these events, it must be understood that this was all occurring in the years immediately following the September 11th attacks, and during the Bush Administration, and the Halliburton and heroin-fueled wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In December of 2004, the Naziri family had found themselves chased by a helicopter literally everywhere they went, as the FBI would later confirm during interrogations of Naziri. According to sources within the FBI, well over a million dollars had been spent investigating the Taliyah al-Mahdi by the time Micah’s first wife would find herself arrested while trying to report a purse stolen by the FBI and later put back right where it was taken.
This process of “crazy-making”, we would be told in our interviews for this historical overview of the Taliyah, was common for FBI counter intelligence work. While neither Micah nor his wife had any charges or warrants against them, the FBI knew that the family was due to board a plane shortly, and visit family and members of midwest Taliyah chapters. To thwart that, charges were trumped up against his wife, from an incident almost a decade before when she was a teenager, in which she was forced to ruthlessly defend herself against a male and female attacker. She was exonerated of all charges, long before, but a “glitch” in the records indicated an active warrant. As her purse and identification had suddenly disappeared, the only choice the family had in order to board a plane was to bring a police report to the airport, to explain why she had no identification.
Immediately after entering the local Irvine, California police department, she was arrested. Micah posted cash bail in the full amount immediately, much to the dismay of officers, who could not believe the money could have been come up with so quickly (how and from where, Micah obtained this within the police station even further confused the officers and later the FBI once informed).
The plan to thwart Naziri’s ability to travel was squashed almost immediately. The family boarded and flew to Cincinnati, but upon attempting their return flight, a swarm of police encircled from a distance, and the family was informed that Micah had been placed on the FBI’s terrorist “No Fly List”, in spite of actively opposing all forms of terrorism, and openly promoting militant action against Wahhabi and Nasibi extremist groups.
It was around this time that the figure who Naziri had met at the bookstore years ago reemerged. He would explain to Micah the role of various infiltrators within the group. One of the primary ways that such people tried to undermine the group was by going person to person, trying to convince members that Naziri was some sort of exclusive “Jesus” figure. The term “exclusive” is used here, because the Taliyah, like the Ahl-i Allah before them, taught that the figure termed “`Isa” in the Qur’an was essentially the universal higher spirit of all individual manifestations of selfhood (nafs). That is, far from the teachings of the Taliyah al-Mahdi on the matter of this as a universal “Ruh Allah” within each and every one of us – akin to a “Buddha Nature” in the teachings and philosophies from the Buddhist traditions, infiltrators promoted ideas of singular incarnation and manifestation of figures of the Imam al-Mahdi and `Isa. These were ideas which Naziri rejected out of hand, and constantly found himself re-explaining to members, noting that Shi`i eschatology teaches of 12 Mahdiyyin, and that the Tanakh refers to multiple figures as Messiahs, including Cyrus the Great (Isaiah 45:1), who he associated with the Qur’anic Zhu-l-Qarnayn (Quran 18.83-101), and that the Essene sect of Judaism as well as the Talmud, believed in “Mashiachayim” (two Messiahs) at the very least. Time after time, member would come to him asking if he was the “`Isa”, but his answer was always the same: there is no “the `Isa” but the one that is in each and everyone one of us as our collective higher self.
This was articulated from the outset of the group, in lesson 3 (“Ruh Allah“), from the level of Adam in the Path to Perfection:
That reflection is that which has been called in Ahadith “Al-Khidhr” (the Green One). It is this which is the Guide of the `arif, and it is this which is the Higher Potential of each and every human being; the “Primordial Messiah” within each of us; the nufoos manifest from the Singular Nafs; which was manifest from the Ruh Allah.
For in truth there is no division between “you” or “i.” We are all One Universal Soul. This Universal Soul is the manifestation of the Ruh Allah, the Small Face “reflection” of the Vast Face. Thus it is written in Al-Qur’an, Surah Luqman 31.26-28
“To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and the Earth; surely Allah – Hu is the Self-sufficient, the One Worthy of All Praise. If all the trees on the Earth were pens, and the sea – seven seas after it to replenish it, yet the Words of Allah would not come to an end. Allah is All-mighty, All-wise. Your creation and your rising are as but as a single Nafs (Soul, Self). Allah is All-hearing, All-seeing.”
لِلَّهِ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ هُوَ الْغَنِيُّ الْحَمِيدُ وَلَوْ أَنَّمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقْلَامٌ وَالْبَحْرُ يَمُدُّهُ مِن بَعْدِهِ سَبْعَةُ أَبْحُرٍ مَّا نَفِدَتْ كَلِمَاتُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ مَّا خَلْقُكُمْ وَلَا بَعْثُكُمْ إِلَّا كَنَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ
The Path to Perfection lessons made it clear that the universal nature of the Ruh Allah, which the Qur’an identifies as the actual “`Isa”, is the Higher Self of all. This is in fact the mystery of why the Qur’an refers to the name `Isa, and not the Arabic “Yasua`” which is used in Christian communities for “Jesus”. The Qur’an was speaking of something different, and a matter which Naziri says is part of something which he terms “The Greatest Story NEVER Told.”
This embodiment of the Ruh Allah, the reflection of the “Small Face” from the “Vast Face,” is the goal of the `aarif. This is the nature of Fanaa’, the annihilation of ALL (including the conditioned “identity” of the individual nafs), save Allah.
For spiritual Ascension cannot occur save by this. Thus, the Qur’an tells us not only that we are created as a single Nafs, but that we are also RAISED, that we ASCEND, as a Single Nafs. Thus, breaking down the walls of the illusion of dualism and “self”-hood, is the first step for the `urafaa’ in their quest for purification from the rijs, the filth of the illusory nafs.
Naziri was of the opinion, which he remains firm on – an idea encompassed in the third lesson of the Level of Adam in the Path of Perfection – that the “Ruh Allah” that the figure “`Isa” was said to be, is the higherself of every single imagined individual, who are themselves but illusions within the seamless unity (Tawhid) of Wahdat al-Wujud (the Oneness and Singularity of Existence).
As he discussed this matter with us further, Naziri referred us to a passage from The Way of `Oseh, a compilation of teachings of an enigmatic figure who works with the Hashlamah Project and the Jam`at Al-Fitrah, who is currently being given refuge within Gaza by the chapter there, while – we are told – being sought by the Israeli government for “questioning.”
In the section of the compilation of teachings, entitled “If You Meet the Messiah On The Road…” Naziri directs us to `Oseh’s words, which are significant and relevant enough to deserve reproduction in full, below:
On another occasion, `Oseh said to his students, “Worship no human being, nor physical body or form. Do not worship by prostrating on your faces, nor by falling down and lowering your intellect and reason to the feet of any alleged incarnation of the Divine.
“In the East it is said ‘If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.’ So too do I tell you that ‘If you meet the Messiah on the road, the path, kill him.”
Astonished, and whispering amongst themselves, they asked him what he meant. Were they to kill the Messiah?
`Oseh said, “Who would come to you and tell you ‘I am the Messiah, follow me! Abandon your reason and obey! Such a person has come to spread a cult of their ego and narcissism! The Buddha is within you, and all around you. Yet one who has not realized what might be called in that tradition, their ‘Buddha Nature’ still needs the guidance of a Buddha, no? But who is that man who says ‘I am the Buddha, and you are not?’ That man cannot be remedied. He is here to mislead and guide those who are psychologically suffering to their own ruin.
`Oseh continued, “And if you, on your own path to Enlightenment and ‘Buddhahood’, should happen to ‘meet’ within yourself an identity that says ‘Look! You are the Buddha! Go and tell the world to follow you!’ Then this too is an imposter who must be confronted and killed within yourself, and on your personal path!
“What you call ‘Messiah’ they call the ‘Buddha’ and if you look at a man and see it in them, it is because they are reflecting something pure within you that you should seek to embody. That is your higher self, and it is within each of you and speaking to you through these words today. But it is not separate from you, it is within each of you just as each of you are within the Mind of the Creator.
“All who are born will perish. All who are born and die are incapable of being worshipped. Worship instead the Creator which is Every-Living and is neither born nor dies. Realize as well, that all are living expressions of the Creator’s thoughts, within the Universal Mind. I and the Creator are One just as you and I are One. There is no separation. No division. Trust no one who divides and sets themselves as lord over you. Let reason be your guide in all things, for reason was the first of creation, and the power by which all of the Universe sprang into being.”
With all of this in mind, and with the full details of the FBI’s efforts of counter intelligence and sabotage now outlined, Naziri was informed that his family should remain in Cincinnati, and that he should procure all of the contents of their apartment, and ship them back to the midwest.
A home was soon purchased in a hood of Dayton, just an hour north of Cincinnati, which had at one time – before “White Flight” and “Red-lining” – been the envy of the surrounding suburbs. Now, it lay vacant and in need of repair, for pennies on the dollar.
Naziri dedicated himself to renovating the house for his family, and while doing so he began training like an absolute machine. The training was comprised of approximately 55 hours a week in an array of martial arts, earning him the completion of four black sashes in Chinese martial systems he had begun training in, in the late 90s. These were all awarded within the next five years. It also included returning to college where he would obtain a double major in Religion and History, and two masters degrees – one in Near Eastern Religion and Languages, and the other in Leadership and Change, as well as a doctorate which stemmed from his research involving Hashlamah Project chapters – an interfaith organization he began around the time that it was made clear to him that the Taliyah al-Mahdi had to go completely underground.
It was determined that the only way to move forward without both Naziri, Shahid and most chapter leaders being indicted and tried on terrorism charges, was to – in the words of Cheng, Man-Ching “invest in a loss.” This, Cheng taught, was the essence of internal martial arts like Bagua, Xingyi, Taiji and Aikido (as well as others). The idea is that you yield so that you can over come. In popular culture, one could attribute this to the Muhammad Ali strategy of “Rope-A-Dope”, yielding with blow after blow until seeming to be beaten, while one’s adversary has exhausted themselves.
Sunzi’s “The Art of War” (Sun Zi Bing Fa Yu San Shi Liu Ji) says: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt (難知如陰，動如雷霆)”.
The next moves in the Taliyah game of chess followed this stratagem. Only at this time when all pieces have been put in place, and victory is inevitable, though still long to see manifest, can the approach be spoken of at all.
Because of the nature of the surveillance, nothing could be spoken of or relayed unless face to face, and even then, only rarely, in veiled terms and often through methods of ensuring monitoring could not be effective. For this reason, when the Taliyah when into occultation and the outward structure dissolved, most who did not follow had no idea, and believed the group to have just “fizzled out.”
Unfortunately, due to the geographical distance, the implementation of this plan had to be carried out by Naziri without informing Shahid or others who were not direct, physical contact with him. Naziri was aware of the plotting and scheming of various infiltrators at this time, having been informed by his mysterious friend. Such infiltrators, the man explained, “will create fitnah after fitnah, telling you lies about Shahid and Shahid lies about you. He thinks you do not know this, but now I am telling you. He will snitch to law enforcement about anything he thinks he can to get you in trouble, while acting like he is above such actions. Do not resist his evil, but instead yield with it. When fitnah is created with Shahid, lean into it, go with the force you are being pulled in. Shahid will have to believe this as well, so draw on any real grievances you might have, burn every bridge and do not look back.”
“Burn every bridge and do not look back” would in fact be a phrase that Naziri would quote in an email to Shahid where he did just as instructed, knowing that in time this story would be able to be told, and the phrase referenced.
What the man had not warned Naziri of is how partisan divisions would become with those who encircled Shahid and Naziri each, respectively. Still, this was “all part of the plan” and “had to be done or you will all end up rotting in prison,” the man told him. “There is simply no other way. This requires sacrifice of ego and even friendship for the greater good and for the mission that you have all had all along. There is no greater love than to perform a sacrifice of ones ego in this way. Most difficult of all is that your friend will not know what you have done for him by going with infiltrators’ fitnah and yielding. But in yielding, as you have learned, there is the ability to overcome superior force of a thousand pounds with only one ounce.”
Still, even without revealing this plan, the two would eventually reconcile and be at peace with one another, while continuing down the paths life had guided them since the dissolving of the outward organization.
Infiltrators eventually issued a series of death and rape threats towards Naziri’s wife and children, Naziri publicly announced that should infiltrators’ attempt to make good on their threats, they would both be physically neutralized (and thus no longer assets for the FBI and CIA). Additionally, they were warned, this entire backstory of the FBI’s protection of such devils would be exposed. Naziri was at the time running major underground journalism new sites and clearly those watching both him and those extremists who issued such threats took this very seriously.
As Naziri outwardly dissolved the organization, behind the scenes, the demise of the group proved to be far from the case. Members continued to intensify training and eventually Naziri began teaching training seminar retreats several times a year, hosted by various former Taliyah chapters. Those who lost faith assumed all of this to be unrelated, or new approaches Naziri was taking, but a few in the know remained faithful. In the same way, Naziri and underground members of the group focused on the creation of other organizations that Naziri had been brewing concurrently with the Taliyah, such as the Jam`at al-Fitrah and the Hashlamah Project, as well as – later – the notorious White Rose Society.
The Taliyah al-Mahdi continues today, working from the shadows, creating new organizations, some fronts for it, and others the result of its cross-pollination within various circles. All core members remain active and focused on the goal and the Inevitable, which they call – in citing the Qur’an – “a deadline” and “promise which will not fail” (مَوْعِدًا لَّنْ تُخْلَفَهُ). Naziri says, “you can still find the Taliyah al-Mahdi if you look for us in the Whirlwind.”