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Aug 8, 2006 10:45 pm

Reading Between the Calendars

I am not one to have much restraint when it comes to Bernard Lewis. Even so, I am absolutely stunned by his Op-Ed in today's WSJ, August 22. The Iranians, claims Lewis, cannot be deterred by the usual mutually assured destruction mumbo-jumbo:
There is a radical difference between the Islamic Republic of Iran and other governments with nuclear weapons. This difference is expressed in what can only be described as the apocalyptic worldview of Iran's present rulers. This worldview and expectation, vividly expressed in speeches, articles and even schoolbooks, clearly shape the perception and therefore the policies of Ahmadinejad and his disciples.

The goverment, Lewis contends, is in the hands of religious nuts who preach a unique brand of eschatology. Oh wait. Wrong goverment.

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.

The Mi'raj. A night that is celeberated across the Muslim world with prayers and fast is the night for the destruction of Israel? A night of such monumental importance to the Muslim world that Ahmedinejad never mentioned it last year? Surely, we have clear evidence for such a dire warning. Surely, the connection is absolutely clear.

After all, this is Bernard Lewis, the most eminent of historians of the Middle East, writing in the Wall Street Journal! This is not some Front Page Rag author, people. This is Bernard LEWIS.


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."
Yeah. That is all Lewis has to say by way of proof.

So, let us build the case as presented by Lewis:
1. Iranians are crazy.
2. Muslims go nuts on the 27th of Rajab every year.
3. Iran has promised _an answer to the EU proposal_ on the 22 of August.
4. Clearly, by 'answer to the EU proposal' they mean a NUCLEAR DETONATION and by '22 of August' they mean the holy day of the Prophet's night journey to the Heavens.
5."Some immediate precautions are obviously possible and necessary."

Now, I grant you that it is odd that the official statement says: “Iran has welcomed the offer, and is examining it with a positive attitude,” the statement said, adding that replying on Aug. 22 was “a logical time frame to examine the proposals.” Why August 22?

Here is a less sinister answer: Because, Iran conducts all official business according to the Persian Calendar. Because August 22 is the last day of the month of MORDAD in the Persian calendar and the Iranian response is to be offered by the 31st of Mordad!

Perhaps using that lost time which exists only between the Gregorian Calendar, the Islamic Calendar and the Persian Calendar, Bernard Lewis has shamed his profession by giving credence to the most inane conspiracy theories and millenarian fantasies. The more cynical, and more astute, would point that B. Lewis is doing exactly what he did in the build-up to Iraq War - providing the rationale for pre-emption.

In the meantime, our own march to apocalypse continues, unchecked.

note: 1. Persian Calendar 2 . The Real Sign of Apocalypse

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More Comments:

Col Steve J - 8/11/2006

In one of your links, the author (Hill) gives the impression Bush says the following (as quoted by Woodward):

We will export death and violence to the four corners of the earth in defense of this great nation

Of course, in the book, Woodward attributes that quote to a CIA operative in Afghanistan. But, of course, why let accuracy get in the way of making a point?

My experiences from working and talking with peers in the NSC and Pentagon are that people who are eager to talk about how much influence and connection they have with staffers generally have very little of those things..

Wrong goverment.. Last I checked, the US President has not called for any country to be "wiped out from the map" or invoked a supreme power to eliminate a country or religion ("And God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism").

I must have missed in our national strategy documents passages where the United States has put a twist on the Monroe Doctrine similar to the Iranian President's comment: "The Islamic umma (community) will not allow its historic enemy to live in its heartland." I'm sure if I search hard enough, someone will ascribe the quote to President Bush and claim we're developing war plans against Dearborn, MI..