[ by Charles Cameron — one black swan that’s almost predictable — where two timelines meet ]
God in His wisdom has decreed that all right thinking humans should circumambulate the Kaaba in Mecca if at all possible during their human lifetimes, so proclaims Islamic orthodoxy.
A Guardian piece titled Extreme heatwaves could push Gulf climate beyond human endurance, study shows gives an approximate date by which Mecca may be impossibly hot for humans, even clothed in the brilliant white ihram of the pilgrimage:
The extreme heatwaves will affect Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha and coastal cities in Iran as well as posing a deadly threat to millions of Hajj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia, when the religious festival falls in the summer. The study shows the extreme heatwaves, more intense than anything ever experienced on Earth, would kick in after 2070 and that the hottest days of today would by then be a near-daily occurrence.
Tim Furnish, describing the Boston conference at which we both participated last year, expresses his regret that the Center for Millennial Studies is no longer with us in these words:
It’s a pity that Landes’ CMS has run its course, for as the Islamic year 1500 AH (after hijrah)/2076 AD approaches, Muslim eschatological fervor — almost certainly to include jihadist leaders thinking themselves the Mahdi — will only increase
Graeme Wood in his article What ISIS’s Leader Really Wants perhaps simplifies reality a little when he writes:
David Cook, a historian at Rice University who studies Muslim apocalypticism, points out that the battles preceding the Day of Judgment will take place in modern Syria, with a final showdown in the year 1500 of the Islamic Hijra calendar, or A.D. 2076.
2076, or 1500 AH, is indeed a plausible date, but not the only possibility.
If there’s a second part to this post, it will express the extreme fierceness and driving passion of what Richard Landes calls “Active Cataclysmic Millennialism” — a category that includes both secular variants (Nazi, Marxist) and religious (Taiping Rebellion) — and how it ties in with the converging ecological and Mahdist timelines discussed above.
Okay, at the point of convergence:
Mecca uninhabitable, Hajj obligatory, and the arrival of the Mahdi imminent — it’s a potent brew to consider as we head towards the 2070s.