News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Bombing of Sacred Dome Could Set Off Apoacalyptic War

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bombing of Sacred Dome Could Set Off Apoacalyptic War

Islam has its own brand of apocalyptic, the belief that the world will end in acts of God that cleanse the earth of evil and save the righteous. In Shi'a Islam, the Mahdi is expected at the end times, as Jesus is for Christians. Like Pres. Bush, Iran's president, Ahmahdinajad, is an avid apocalypticist.

For Shiite Islam, the burial place of two great imams is the most sacred site. They rest in a golden dome in Iraq. Sunni insurgents, who do not believe that these imams are legitimate heirs to Mohammed, blew up this sacred site today. For many Shiites, this is an event with apocalyptic dimensions. ...

According to Juan Cole, historian and professor specializing in the mideast, this act could indeed ignite massive sectarian violence in Iraq and in the mideast in general:

The Twelfh Imam or Mahdi is believed by Shiites to have disappeared into a supernatural realm (just as Christians believe in the ascension of Christ) from which he will someday return.

Some Shiites think his second coming is imminent. Muqtada all-Sadr and his followers are among them. They are livid about this attack on the shrine of the Mahdi's father.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is also a firm believer in the imminent coming of the Mahdi. I worry that Iranian anger will boil over as a result of this bombing of a Shiite millenarian symbol.

Both Sunnis and Americans will be blamed. Very bad.

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