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Iran and August 22

From yesterday's Wall Street Journal, Bernard Lewis in his commentary, August 22: Does Iran have something in store?

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.

A passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, is revealing. "I am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers [i.e., the infidel powers] wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the dead--hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.

NOTE: For more background on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his apocalyptic religious views, please consider: PrincipalAnalysis: Understanding Ahmadinejad.

10 Comments

this is absolutly crap

Bernard Lewis makes an excellent case as to why the Western world must pre-emptively attack Iran. We must not let Iran get a nuclear weapon (ICBM) online. [TW Note: Comment edited.]

Good article. I think the world needs to wake up and realize what we are facing. These Islamic terrorist are not peace loving religious people. They are out to kill Jews, Americans, and then the rest of the infidels.

David H is either a left winger, or a sympathizer.

[TW Note: Edited comment.] Islam may be crap, but if enough people believe it, it will influence their action in a serious way. keep this in mind.

No matter our or your personal take on any particular faith or belief system - I would recommend that - as Paul stated, that those beliefs be taken as seriously as they are held. And in the case of the Shi'a - and Ahmadinejad in particular - the faithful clearly have issues with the US and our way of life. That said - let's not call names but instead address the issues, get informed and inform others, and do what we can to prevent further hatred and bigotry.

There is another answer that no one is talking about. August 22, 2006 is also the 31st day of Mordad in the Paersian Calendar. The Iranians don't use the Gregorian Calendar. Therefore, August 22 is the last day of their month. They are simply saying they will respond at the end of the month.

Sorry to be such a spoiler to all the end of world conspiracy theorists.

Chris - you don't actually believe that anyone here was suggesting the end of the world or for that matter that the Gregorian calendar was the primary calendar of choice for Ahmadinejad do you? Clearly Lewis was speaking of the Hijra calendar - whether that was Ahmadinejad's intent or not.

Ahmadinejad made no specific reference to the Jalali calendar nor to the Hijra calendar that I'm aware of. That leaves analyst and interested parties attempting to determine what Ahmadinejad's rhetoric means.

Given that his statements are couched in faith and about the joy of Muslims on that day - it is likely that he was speaking either in terms of the Hijra calendar or of no calendar at all.

Had he said it would be a great day for Iran - then perhaps we could start with the Jalali calendar.

Unless, of course, it has nothing to do with the date and instead has to do with Iran's plans.

This is the same day that three terrorists from the bombings in Bali Indonesia will be executed.

The three killers - Amrozi bin Nurhasyim, Imam Samudra and Ali Gufron - will be shot at dawn on August 22, barring any 11th-hour appeals.

If Iran does indeed attack on this date, Indonseia will certianly be spared. Unfortunately, for this crew, it won't help them personally.

So, are the nations just going to sit around and wait to see if that Mad-Jad nukes Israel!

As for Chris' hypothesis, Mad-Jad was communicating with the West if he meant the end of August he would have cleared up that confusion by now.

The world ends on a daily basis for thousands of people. When your world with end is known only to God. So stop worrying about when it will happen, it will, and prepare your soul for the inevitable...