History's End

History will end only when Man does

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  • Monday, August 21, 2006

    The End of Days?

    Tomorrow is August 22nd. That day is a day of significance for Shi'ite Islam, as this ABC news article explains:
    This year, August 22 marks the holy day on the Islamic calendar that is the day of reckoning for Shiites. Some Shiite sects believe that August 22 could correspond to the end of the world. And just today, after much hype, Iran has announced that it will continue to develop its nuclear program. To followers of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, this is a well-timed affront to Israel, the United States and the world. The United Nations had given Iran until the end of the month to respond, but Ahmadinejad had made it clear to all Iranians and the world that he intended to respond on the eve of August 22.
    I find it interesting, and possibly even good, that something of this nature is covered by ABC, and not treated with outright scorn in the process. Robert Spencer of JihadWatch gets some coverage later on in the piece. He is worried about the date. And so is Bernard Lewis:
    In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time--Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.

    What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

    Perhaps nothing will come of this day. However, I must admit that my sleep this night will be less sure than it has been in the past. I know to be wary of arbitrary dates, as so many have come and gone without anything happening. However, what is different about this date, about this "last day", is that isn't just something that happens, but rather occurs as a result of human actions. Its an apocalypse that is brought about by human, and not divine intervention. This is, to me at least, somewhat more worrisome. Whether my worries, however slight, are justified remains to be seen.

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