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A Deja Vu of Apocalyptic Proportions
March 4, 2003
By Jerome P. Van Wert

We're already aware of the well-established argument that an attack on Iraq, and a post war American led occupation, would be used as perhaps the most persuasive recruitment propaganda by Bin-Ladin, Al Qaeda, and probably any and all anti-American terrorist groups. But if the Bush Administration gives the go-ahead to attack Iraq any time in March, particularly on or around March 13th (Ashura), it will be used forever as the ultimate anti-American, anti-West, and anti-non-Muslim battle-cry.

I don't know if the Bush Administration is woefully ignorant of this potentially apocalyptic catalyst, or they are fully conscious of it and have chosen the date for its potential ramifications. Either way, these are the facts.

According to factmonster.com, "The Islamic (Hijri) calendar is based on the lunar year of 354 days. The number of days each month is adjusted according to the lunar cycle, beginning about two days after the new moon. The months drift backward over the seasons, beginning again on the same day every 32 ½ years. The Islamic year begins on the first day of Muharram, and is counted from the year of the Hegira (anno Hegirae) - the year in which Muhammad emigrated from Mecca to Medina (A.D. 622). The year 2003 translates to A.H. 1423-1424." This year Muharram begins on March 4, 2003. Muharram (March) is one of the four sacred months of Islam. According to the Quran, "Lo! The number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah's Ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them." (9.36)

So, to attack Iraq during one of the Islamic sacred months would be considered extremely offensive to Muslims. To attack in the first month of Muharram, which begins the Islamic calendar, could easily be construed as an attack against Islam. But this, by no means, represents the strongest basis for the potential error.

According to the Islamic Times, Manchester. Vol:13 - May 1998, "The Islamic year begins with Muharram ul Haram, the first month of the Hijri Calendar. While followers of other religions spend their opening month in worthless merriment, the first month of Islam teaches us lessons of admonition, good counselling, knowledge of Allah Ta'ala, sacrifice, selflessness, patience and seeking the pleasure of Allah Ta'ala. The tenth day of Muharram (Ashurah) has many distinctive qualities and features. Allah Ta'ala created the heavens and the earth on this blessed day. On this day He gave His infinite blessings and bounties to many of His Prophets and delivered them from the clutches of their enemies." It goes on to say, "On the eve of Ashurah offer 4 rakats Nafl Salat as follows: In every rakat after Surah Fateha recite "Ayetul Kursi" once and Surah Ikhlas 3 times. After completing this Namaz recite Surah Ikhlas 100 times. Allah Ta'ala will purify such a person of all their sins and grant them endless bounties and blessings in paradise." (I have added the bold emphasis.)

This information alone should give cause to the Bush Administration to refrain from attacking Iraq in March, and especially on or around the day of Ashura because of its potential use as Islamic extremist's/terrorist's recruitment propaganda. But the ultimate key to recruitment lies in the other reason why Ashura is considered sacred. Ashura also commemorates the extremely important battle and martyrdom of Hussein, "the lord among martyrs", and grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Every year, Ashura is the day when Muslims around the world are reminded of the battle that took place in 680 AD, in Iraq, where Imam Hussein was slaughtered by the ruler Yazid, "a sinful person, a drunkard, (and) the killer of innocent people."

To get the full impact of this potential cataclysmic error, one must go to the web site www.ashura.com, where the history of this Islamic sacred event is described in detail. But to quote a short passage, "Why remember Ashura? Why is Husain regarded as the "leader of the martyrs"? It is because he was not just the victim of an ambitious ruler. There is no doubt that the tragedy of Kerbala, when ascribed to the killers, is a criminal and terrible act. However when ascribed to Husain himself, it represents a conscious confrontation and a courageous resistance for a sacred cause. The whole nation had failed to stand up to Yazid. They had succumbed to his will, and deviation and regression towards the pre-Islamic ways were increasing. Passiveness by Husain in this situation would have meant the end of Islam as we know it. Thus Husain took upon himself the responsibility of the whole nation. The greatest tragedy was that one who stood up for the noblest of causes, the defence of Islam, was cut down in so cruel a manner. It is for this reason that the sacrifice of Husain is commemorated annually throughout the Muslim world. Our sorrow never abates as we relive the tragedy."

It goes on to say, "The commemoration of Ashura on the 10th of Muharram every year (March 13, 2003) serves to remind us of the sacrifices of the family of the Prophet (S). It also makes us aware of the people, then and now, who tried to destroy Islam and the family of the Prophet (S) and all that they stood for - as well as those who watched, listened and did nothing."

It seems to me that an American led attack on Iraq in Muharram or March, and especially on Ashura or March 13, 2003, would be construed by Islamic extremists/terrorists as the most prophetic and surest argument that such an act was really an attack on Islam. As such, it would become the greatest potential recruitment propaganda for Islamic extremist/terrorists, as well as justification by them for any and all horrific acts against Americans and Westerners in general. It is my sincere hope that the Bush administration becomes aware of this propaganda nightmare, and if necessary, changes their war plans accordingly. Attacking Iraq on Ashura could turn out to be one of the most influential parallel events in history. It might be a déjà vu of apocalyptic proportions.

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