Friday, April 19, 2024

Religious zealots and peace in the Middle East: No. Nope. No way.


I've known for years about Iran's spiritual and temporal leaders, the Mullahs, and their belief (to a greater or lesser extent) in the return of the last Imam of Twelver Shi'ite Islam.  One article summarizes contemporary Iranian beliefs as follows:

The Mahdi is expected to appear when the world is wracked by utter chaos and war. Many Sunnis also believe that the Mahdi will come in such a judgment day scenario, but believe that he has not been born yet.

The Twelver beliefs have raised concern in conjunction with Iran's steeped interest in furiously pressing forward with its nuclear program, combined with threats against Israel and the West. Critics of the Islamic Republic allege that Ahmadinejad and the Supreme Leader would even go so far as to hasten a nuclear showdown and cataclysmic strike—perhaps an attack on Israel and inevitable retaliation—to hasten the arrival of the 12th Imam. Ahmadinejad has even called for the reappearance of the 12th Imam from the podium of the United Nations General Assembly. During his speeches within Iran, Ahmadinejad has said that the main mission of the Islamic Revolution is to pave the way for the reappearance of the 12th Imam.

There's more at the link.

Unfortunately for the rest of us, there's a similarly eschatological belief among some Jewish groups.

According to various media outlets, Jewish groups in Israel are preparing the sacrifice of a red heifer on the Mount Of Olives overlooking the Temple Mount. Speculation is that the sacrifice will take place on April 22nd during Passover in an act that Judaism deems is necessary to purify the ground on which the Third Temple must be built to bring forth their Messiah. The purification of the ground the Third Temple would require the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque which stands there now. Looking to materialize that prophecy will not only to provoke even more religious and cultural strife between Jews and Muslims in Israel and throughout the world but increase volatility in a region whose political instability represents perhaps the greatest threat to the mankind today.

The dictate requiring the sacrifice of the red heifer is part of a ritual set in chapter 19 of the Book Of Numbers, The Red Heifer And The Cleaning Waters, which deems that "a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under a yoke" must be sacrificed before the temple can rise again. Performing that sacrifice was the impetus behind Uvne Jerusalem importing 5 red angus cattle from the Texas in 2022. To circumvent export laws preventing US cattle exports to Israel, Uvne Jerusalem member Yitshak Mamo declared the red heifers as his pets, undertaking an arduous task to bring them to the Holy Land and prepare them for sacrifice. Uvne Jerusalem is one of many groups encompassed by the Temple Movement that has swept across Israel. The mission of these groups is to advance the the creation of the Third Temple which itself is preceded by the sacrifice of the red heifer to purify the temple mount. The accomplishment of stage one of that mission appears to be on the horizon according to others in the Temple Movement.

Again, more at the link.

So, Iran's Shi'ite Muslim government appears to regard it as a religious imperative to destroy Israel:  and certain Jewish groups in Israel regard it as a religious imperative to build the Third Temple, which necessarily involves the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in all of Islam.  Can we say "religious world war", or what?

Islam is the second largest religion in the world in terms of numbers of adherents (currently estimated at about 1.9 billion).  If their third holiest site is destroyed, they'll paint for war.  Similarly, if Israel is destroyed or seriously threatened, it has many allies across the world, and Jewish influence in many states is significant;  so it would not be simply abandoned to its fate.  I think such a conflict would be the irresistible force versus the immovable object.  There's no saying who would win, or what the ultimate outcome would be.  Israel undoubtedly has enough nuclear weapons at its disposal to neutralize Iran;  but if it uses them, other Islamic nations will instantly move to acquire them, and will no longer feel any restraint against using them against Israel, which they will not allow to dominate them.

If you need a recipe for disaster, I think there's one being cooked up in the Middle East right now . . .



Aesop said...

Unless the third holiest in Islam is destroyed accidentally by Iran. ;)

Then it goes from grim to comedy farce.

Maniac said...

The Mahdi = the Antichrist.

Anonymous said...

One of those things is not like the other.

One of those sets of beliefs is held by those firmly in power with control over government and military.

The other is a fringe group with no real power surrounded by a bunch of more normal folks who think they are a bit weird.

I leave it to the reader to figure out which is which.

Chris Nelson said...

Don't forget all the evangelical Christians in the US that want the Third Temple to be built that are backing these Jewish groups or waiting for Rapture to occur.

Or the current US administration that has been funding Israel, Iran and ISIS, regardless of their zealousness and stated goals.

McChuck said...

We have no dog in this fight.

Anonymous said...

There are 2 big differences between Islamic countries in Middle East and Israel:
- Islam is a militaristic cult of death, worships a pedophile murderer from 6th century, it is very belligerent, punishes apostasy with death, it is misogynistic and racist; everything from Quran is considered 100% true and immutable word of God. Keep in mind that their books are not all milk and honey, there's lots of kill, maim, amputate, torture. Most strict in Israel (orthodox Jews?) are peanuts compared with Islam. Have a look at this interview fragment (Ayaan Hirsi Ali left Somalia and Islam):

- Islam is the rule in all Islamic countries. All society/judicial is Islamic, religion/theocratic dictatorship and oppression is modus operandi. Israel on the other hand is an advanced democracy with separation of powers and backwards religious nuts are nowhere near gov/leadership.

heresolong said...

"Iran's Shi'ite Muslim government ...

and certain Jewish groups"

Just wondering which of these groups represents a sizeable portion of their religion's adherents? Or to rephrase the question, which is actually a threat to peace? I think there may be a bit of false equivalence in this argument.

Anonymous said...

I don’t give a single damn about what is happening there. Nothing to do with anyone but them. They can turn their countries into glass for all I care. None of my friends or family will get involved in this asinine foolishness. I really just don’t care who is “right” or “wrong “. They have been at this stupidity for thousands of years. If they don’t destroy each other now, they will still be at it in another 1000 years. Have at it boys - just leave the rest of the world OUT of it.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Turn each other to radioactive glass. Leave the rest of the world out of your stupidity.

JaimeInTexas said...

As Chris Nelson mentioned, we have the:
1) Amillennials that must fix the world so Christ can return.
2) Hyper dispensationalists/pre-tribulation rapture folks that have no concern for consequences so long as they help the reestablish animal sacrifices in the 3rd temple.

I wonder how many have read Eusebius or Foxe's Book Of Martyrs and contemplate all the hell that can be brought about before their tribulation takes a peek.

Both groups are trying to self-fulfill prophesy.

Jew-style Messiah nor Islam-style Mahdi are it, and on his first appearance.

Christ will return and it will be a worldwide supernatural event.

FWITW, Islam as a higher opinion of Jesus Christ than Judaism.

Skyler the Weird said...

Pan millennials believe it will all pan out in the end with The Return of the King.

Unknown said...

The Al Aqsa Mosque may be the 3rd most significant site for Islam, but the Temple Mount is THE most significant site for Judaism. (and currently Jews are forbidden from praying silently there)

so if you are counting significance, then it would seem to favor Jews over Muslims.

But only one side is calling for the other to cease to exist, which is a far more significant issue.

David Lang

Anonymous said...

Some believe that the US should isolate itself from the trouble in the Middle East. America has never successfully isolated itself from anything, because when people emigrate, it's usually to do better for themselves and that's been most likely in the United States for a century or so.
Until technology broadly destroys the nation-state, they've all got to get along at a survival level if not better. It's difficult to imagine Iran and Saudi Arabia and Iraq and Egypt and Syria and Lebanon all singing kumbayah once they've disposed of the pesky Israel problem. And the US, Russia, China, and others all have a fork in this fondue pot too.
The Israeli diplomat Shimon Avimor and his sabra wife Rachel stayed with us in Munich for a few days in 1979. After listening to their stories, it was obvious that the country of Israel was clear-eyed about survival first. Knocking down other religion's shrines isn't survival behavior. The Iranians might even target it themselves to blame the Israelis.
But I'm cheering for the country of Israel and sincerely hope they don't rely on the lies of the coward and weakling that snuck into the oval office in '20. He and his son should be sharing a cell .
rick m

boron said...

ordinarily I'd agree with McChuck, but the Houthis have initiated WWIII and the economics of shipping says we can't stay out of it (nor many other countries). The Houthis appear to be a Tehran proxy and engaging them will give the mullahs an excuse to enlarge their field of operations, usw.

ErisGuy said...

The purification of the ground the Third Temple would require the destruction of the Al Aqsa Mosque which stands there now.

Until Hagia Sophia is returned, intact, that Moslems might suffer the consequences of a people conquering their mosques is not my concern.