“Signs and symbols rule the world, not rules and laws”
Since the beginning of time, human beings, with the exception of scant oases of calm, have found themselves in an unrelenting quagmire of conflict and divisiveness. The fact that humans invented spear before they invented wheel is a validation of the argument that this unrest has proved to be the driving force behind a multifarious amount of actions of ours. It is impertinent to note that although, in many scenarios, our discord had originated due to our sociological differences, unequal distribution of wealth and resources, and ‘dog eat dog’ attitude, one cannot remain oblivious to the part religions have played in attuning our actions.
The question is, are religious ideological influences only confined to the exertions of our ancestors, or do they still continue to affect the tangible dynamics of today’s world?
To fathom the enigmatic relationship between religious eschatology and our current geopolitics, one must take a sample of three major Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.
Belief in the eventual coming of the messiah is a basic and fundamental part of traditional Judaism. It is part of Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith, the minimum requirements of Jewish belief. For hundreds of years, traditional Jewish people have been waiting for a person who will restore the line of King David and will eventually rule the world from Jerusalem. However, according to their religious belief, that prophecy will only be fulfilled when they establish a homeland of their own in the holy land. Since their forced exodus from Jerusalem in 70 A.D, Jews have not been able to create a state anywhere in the world, let alone the biblical holy land between Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River.
But the watershed moment came in November 1917, when Balfour declaration was signed, meaning that the inception of long-awaited Jewish Zionist nation rooted from the destruction of Ottoman Empire. Fast forward to today, the Israeli government is diligently striving to facilitate Jews from all around the world to permanently settle in Israel, along with slowly building momentum to shift its capital from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This, coupled with an eerie obsession of the government and people of Israel to find the Ark of the Covenant (which must be found before the messiah could come), makes one extrapolate that these actions represent much more than making sure that a tiny state survives in the shores of hostile, radical nations.
In Christianity, the ‘Second Coming’ of Jesus (A.S) is considered to be of paramount importance. The noteworthy thing is that although many consider a possible WW3 to be the ‘Armageddon’, there is another event mentioned in the bible that often eludes the reader’s eyes. ‘The sixth Trumpet’ is often regarded as the start of a period of great turbulence. The Book of Revelations can be considered as the ultimate source of Christian eschatology and a meticulous inspection of current-day events illustrate that there are two main paradigms—although certain constraints prevent me from delving into the details of other areas–where the governmental policies are being driven by prophecies mentioned in The Book of Revelations.
First is the construction of the temple on the temple mound, which, according to Bible, will be done three and a half years before the Armageddon. Since the primary concern here is the second coming, propagation of building the Temple by some Christian predominated states seems somewhat perplexing. Nevertheless, many Christians continue to buttress this possibility because achievement of such milestones will catalyse the actual event they have been waiting for: The Second Coming. ‘The Eye of the Beast’ is a phenomenon referred in the Bible which characterises an excessive control and access to each and every individual’s identification and resources by the ruling entity. This insinuates that the Christian Antichrist will have such a system at his disposal that will make it almost impossible for anyone to stay off the grid. The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” implements a national ID system disguised within a “data hub,” and a “unique patient identifier” to verify eligibility. Concurrently making its way through Congress, as part of an immigration reform bill, is “E-Verify,” a mandated universal bio-metric ID required for federal approval for employment. Off course, only such a person would bolster up such an action who keeps in mind that Christ will arrive after the Antichrist.
Islamic eschatology, I believe, is such a powerful tool at our disposal that, if interpreted in accordance with today’s political and strategical realities, can put us Muslims at the driving seat, as far as future strategic policies are concerned. In Quran, surah Al-Ma’idah (5), Muslims have been instructed not to from alliances with such Christians and Jews who are friends with each other—it doesn’t take a geopolitical analyst to realise that such Christians and Jews of today is the Judaeo-Christian alliance of the west, not those of Russia, which not only is predominated by Orthodox Christianity, but also is not a part of any mainstream Judaeo-Christian alliance.
Recent remodeling of political and military concordats in south Asia and Middle East may have been orchestrated due to an anticipation of end-time future events. Iran, since the beginning of civil war in Syria, and Turkey, after the failed coup attempt against the government, have formed strong ties with Russia. Iran is now providing its military airbases for refueling of Russian jets. On the other hand, Turkey has kept a low profile regarding Russian ventures in Europe, which has alleviated the latter’s way to gain control of Black Sea.
Future, sometimes, depicts a murky picture of itself in subtle ways. I would have happily divulged a verbal vomit about how such ephemeral events of unrest will, eventually, lead us to an incessant forthcoming, how the citizens of the world will ultimately become sane enough to not annihilate their own home, but the actuality of our situation abstains me from becoming an idealist. If one realises that alignment of US tanks on eastern border of Russia is not due to some mundane military exercise, that a Chinese general stating “we are expecting a WW3 in near future” is not just tommyrot, the biblical prophecy that Jesus (A.S) will return only when humans have the ability to exterminate their own race (which stands valid since the invention of atomic bombs) are pointing towards a bloody, yet landmark event in near future, they will come to fathom that this is inevitable.
The question is what can we, as Muslims, do to halt our own destruction? How can we interpret Islamic eschatology to extrapolate the way events may pan out tomorrow and stay a step ahead of those who seek to destroy humanity?