Friday 12th of August 2022
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Horizentalization of Vertical eschatology as recipe for planetary surviva-2

‘Vertical’ Eschatology
Its ‘vertical’ side is now spectacularly moving toward its catastrophic climax as suggested by the carnage of civilians perpetrated daily by ‘Islamist puritans’ in Iraq, Pakistan and elsewhere. Interestingly enough, certain messianic extremists in Iraq are reportedly as zealous in resisting foreign occupiers as in engaging in intra- and inter-sectarian frenzy of reprisals, executions and vandalism.

How to convey a sectarian message totally comprehensible to adherents and at the same time capable of fending off outsiders’ accusation of the message’s advocacy of sectarian-based civil war and division of the ummah? The solution lies in playing with the ambiguity of the word rafidah.
Literally means ‘one who rejects’, rafidah (plural rawafid) is translated as ‘heretic’ and its derivative modifier rafidi as ‘sectarian’. For centuries and especially more recently, it is increasingly used as a pejorative designation for the Shi‘ah who are demographically the majority in Iraq before and after its British-midwifed birth in 1920. Until the fall of the Ba‘ath regime in 2003, however, this majority had been persecuted and politically disenfranchised.

Vitriolic verdicts on the urgency of killing rawafid channeled through audiotapes distributed within the flock of votaries and downloadable at insurgent websites are coupled with everyday carnage of civilians in public places such as markets and houses of worship. Condemnation of these mass murders is immediately deflected by claiming that the targets are only the “collaborators working with the Crusaders”.

Granting that police stations, military outposts and political figures are legitimate targets, why market-goers and worshippers are daily victims?

If ever pounded with this question, rafidah-manipulators argue that voters are responsible for the actions of leaders they elected: “[T]hey are not ordinary people… for they have become the soldiers of the infidel occupier… Did not al-Ja‘fari, al-Hakim and others come to power through their votes?”
Given this line of argument, one may wonder how and at which voting precinct the dome and two minarets in Samarra cast their votes for which they were condemned to destruction for two counts. Hence, the use of such word is truly a powerful bomb that must be detonated. In postmodernist parlance, this textual interplay at work requires either deconstruction or double reading, or both.

Meanwhile, televangelists and other ‘new armies of God’ are passionate enough in freeing the genie of apocalyptic prophecies (e.g. Daniel 9, Ezekiel 38, Revelation 16:14-16) out of the bottle and wish for their governments to unleash trigger-happy dogs of war in the Middle East, thereby heralding the ‘coming of the Lord’.

In a recently published book, titled “Beyond Iraq: The Next Move-Ancient Prophecy and Modern-Day Conspiracy Collide” (Whitestone Books, Florida, 2003), Texas-based author and preacher Michael Evans who is one of the most notorious American Christian fundamentalist preachers today, spells out a grand design for American global hegemony under the guise of a holy global war in which key players include the CIA, the American government and army, and Israel, besides various Christian fundamentalist outfits.

Another popular televangelist, Pastor John Hagee, who leads the 18,000-member Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, argues in his 2006 book, “Jerusalem Countdown,” that a confrontation with Iran is a necessary precondition for Armageddon and the Second Coming of Christ. He insists that the United States must join Israel in a preemptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West.
An equally smart version of ‘vertical’ eschatology is the espousal of God’s alleged consignment of land to His selected ‘darlings’ to the detriment of the ‘outcasts’ and ‘bastards’. Obviously, political Zionism is an illustrious example of this version of ‘vertical’ eschatology.

Zionists seemingly regard themselves as the chosen children of God, who had been granted the privilege to take other peoples’ land and properties by trickery when in a state of weakness and by force when in a state of power. By invoking the alleged curse of Noah upon his son Ham, believed to be the ancestor of the Africans, and his descendants to a status of slavery (Genesis 9:18-27), the Dutch Reformed Church of South Africa gave theological support to the Apartheid in the 1930s.

In this critical moment when eschatology is extensively fielded via satellite and in the cyberspace as a weapon of mass destruction (WMD), a universal campaign to stop its ‘verticalization’ is an indubitable recipe for planetary survival. Sincere followers of the three Abrahamic faiths have the religious potential as well as duty to spearhead this campaign, first to their co-religionists, and then to members of other creeds.

This annual worldwide gathering on Messianism/Mahdism is a seminal stride, though a limited one, in a long gradual process of forging a ‘Non-Proliferation Treaty’ specifically covering this more devastating type of WMD.


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