Bernard Lewis (courtesy Princeton University)
A top expert on the Mideast says it is possible Iran could pick Aug. 22, the anniversary of one of Islam’s holiest events, for a cataclysm Shiite Muslims believe will forever resolve the battle between “good” and “evil.”
Princeton’s Bernard Lewis has written an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal advising that the rest of the world would be wise to bear in mind that for those who believe the end of the world is imminent and good, there is no deterrent even to nuclear warfare.
As WorldNetDaily has reported, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has urged his people to prepare for the coming of an Islamic “messiah,” raising concerns a nuclear-armed Islamic Republic could trigger the kind of global conflagration he envisions will set the stage for the end of the world.
He’s also said, in a WND report, that Islam and its followers must prepare to rule the world, because it is a “universal ideology that leads the world to justice.”
Now comes Lewis, who notes that the world must be concerned about a leader for whom the possibility of death is not a deterrent.
“In this context, mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, would have no meaning,” Lewis wrote. “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,” he said.
Lewis noted that Ahmadinejad has referred to Aug. 22 several times, including when he rejected – until that date – United Nations requests for nuclear program information.
Lewis, joining several other Mideast experts who have expressed similar concerns, said Aug. 22 corresponds 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,” Lewis wrote.
In Islam, as in other religious, certain beliefs describe the “cosmic struggle” at the end of time. For Shiite Muslims, Lewis wrote, this will be “the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil.”
The significance, he said, is that there’s a “radical” difference between 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,” he wrote. Iran’s leaders now “clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced.”
As for intent, a passage from the Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in an 11th-grade Iranian schoolbook, reveals priorities: “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.”
Lewis wrote, “This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadanejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.”
Lewis, the Cleveland E. Dodge professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, specializes in Muslim history and interaction between Muslims and the West.
His comments echoed those made just a few days earlier by Robert Spencer, another scholar of Islamic history, theology and law and the director of Jihad Watch.
In an article for FrontPageMagazine.com, he wrote that Farid Ghadry, president of the Reform Party of Syria, noted the commemoration of Muhammad’s ascent to heaven from the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Spencer said the Night Journey, or Miraj, is what makes Jerusalem a holy site for Islam, and Islamic tradition believes Muhammad, along with the angel Gabriel, went to the Temple Mount, and then to heaven in a bathing of light over Jerusalem.
Spencer reported that Ghadry talked of Ahmadinejad’s plans for an illumination of the night sky over Jerusalem to rival the light of that Islamic belief.
Ghadry said what the Iranian president is “promising the world by August 22 is the light in the sky over the Aqsa Mosque,” Spencer said.
He said a nuclear attack on Jerusalem, or even a conventional attack, would be consistent with the references that have been made, including Ahmadinejad’s talk that Israel “pushed the button of its own destruction” by returning fire for Hezbollah’s rocket barrage.
Also, “Atomic Iran” author Jerome Corsi notes that it’s less significant whether Hezbollah survives, “but it’s really the first chapter in the play for Iran and the Shiite Islam nation to come to ascendancy in the Muslim world.”
First is the battle against Israel and the United States, he said, then against Sunni Islam. Where that group is more dominant, he said, is in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, where group members are “not unhappy to see Iran contained.”
“They may launch an attack, but I still think if they had a weapon they would just go ahead and use it,” Corsi said. “Terrorists don’t brag about things they’re going to do until after they do it.”
He said the recent comments are more typical of terrorists’ efforts to get attention.
“When Ahmadinejad is capable of taking action he will do it without any warning or bravado; he’ll just do it,” Corsi said.
In the updated edition of “Atomic Iran: How the Terrorist Regime Bought the Bomb and American Politicians,” now available in paperback from WND Books, Corsi discusses many of the disturbing developments related to Iran.
Meanwhile, Tanzanian customs officials have uncovered an Iranian smuggling operation transporting large quantities of bomb-making uranium from the same mines in the Congo that provided the nuclear material for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima 61 years ago, according to a recent report in the London Sunday Times.
A United Nations report, outlining the interception last October, said there is “no doubt” the smuggled uranium-238 came from mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s mineral-rich Katanga province.
The smuggled uranium discovered by Tanzanian customs agents was hidden in shipment of coltan, a rare mineral used to make chips in mobile telephones. According to the manifest, the coltan was to be smelted in the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan after being shipped to Bandar Abbas, Iran’s largest port.
Uranium-238, when used in a nuclear reactor, can be used to create plutonium for nuclear weapons.
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