Thursday, August 10, 2006

world ending, but take heart

Thanks to Nathan, I now know that the Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis has made an apocalyptic prediction:

Better cancel those holidays. We now have a date for Armageddon, and it's a week on Tuesday - August 22.

This information comes from no lesser source than the Wall Street Journal, where Bernard Lewis, President Bush's favourite historian, provides the details.

"In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity," the professor writes, "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 [the Iranian president] 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 US about nuclear development by August 22. This was at first reported as 'by the end of August', but Mr Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise."

Lewis continues: "What is the significance of August 22? This year, August 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 (cf, Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and, if necessary, of the world."

The above article about Lewis and his prediction takes a mocking tone. A shame, that: Lewis is one of the most solid authorities out there.

As an aside-- in the midst of all the panic and mayhem we see in today's world, it's reassuring to know that we'll have our own Goddess of Victory to protect us:

UPDATE: Having just read Lewis's article, I can say that it would be misleading to characterize it as anything more than educated speculation. It certainly isn't a wild-eyed, doomsday pronouncement. In my mind, there's a good chance that Lewis is over-thinking the issue, but this doesn't mean he's absolutely wrong. We'll all soon know on August 22.

UPDATE2: To be clear-- Nathan, who relayed the news to me about Lewis's speculation, does not endorse the dismissive attitude of the writer I quoted above. Nathan's own post on the subject can be found here.


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