As part of the lead-up to Centre for Inquiry Ottawa's Eschaton 2012 conference, Celebrating Reason at the End of the World, we are pleased to present Apocalypse When, a series covering some of the many eschatological visions and scenarios that have gained or maintained popularity over the centuries.
- Islamic: Taste the Doom of Fire
- Buddhist: The Dwarf Somalia
- Raëlian: Waiting Room Battle Royale
- Zoroastrian: Hot, Sticky Justice
- Death by Comet Flatus
- The Surf Shop at the End of the World
- Norse: Wolves and Snakes and Eyjafjallajökull, Oh My!
- Y2K: Your Mother Smelled of Subroutines
- Left Behind: Romania Will Rise Again
- Revelation: Thrust In Thy Sharp Sickle
- Nostradamus: Unspecified Event at Unknown Time with Voluptuous Edith
- Mayan: This Magic Skull Goes All the Way to…Zero
Apocalypse #1: Taste the Doom of Fire
Our first apocalypse is the one envisioned in the Quran and various hadiths and thus central to most interpretations of Islam. Unfortunately, the details of this scenario are dispersed across numerous Surahs and Hadiths, but a few themes and tidbits stand out.
As the Quran would have it, the end of the world will proceed at an Hour (of Doom). It is always presented this way — “ the Hour is upon us! Oh, by the way, DOOM!” Upon this hour, a great trumpet will sound, a world-shaking earthquake will strike, women will suffer miscarriages and forget to nurse their babies, and men will stumble about drunkenly (Surah 22:1-2).
So far, Allah's endgame doesn't sound much worse than a particularly memorable St. Patrick's Day, possibly located in a trailer park and featuring shots of RU486. Not being one to disappoint, Allah doesn't stop there.
The entities Gog and Magog will be released from the prison where Muhammad trapped them and “rush headlong down every hill” (Surah 21:96).
Did anyone else read Balrog the first time? Because I did.
A “beast of the earth” will be brought forth to speak to the world's collected non-Muslims and (depending on the sect) a varying fraction of Muslims to berate them. Then, the invocation “taste the doom of fire” appears approximately 200 times amidst a number of explicitly described fiery torments involving liquid fire and iron hooks (Surah 27:80-90). True believers will have the opportunity to watch (Surah 22:7 and elsewhere).
So it's a particularly memorable St. Patrick's Day…in Mordor's trailer park…with talking animals. I can only imagine the horror that goes into the brewing of Mordorian whisky, that it comes with an exceptionally worldly lion or wildebeest telling you that your entire life has been a waste. Course, with a tag line like “Taste the doom of fire,” I'd probably have a few shots too. That beats “Buy one, get an evening of sadness half off” any day of the week.
Then, a demonically-inspired deceiver known as the Dajjal will appear and lead throngs of formerly devout believers away from Islam, even as the results of that departure are increasingly apparent. At the same time, a messiah figure emerges and eventually impales the Daijjal on a spear, because it wouldn't be an eschaton without unconcealed homoerotic undertones. Maybe that's what all the drinking was for?
To complete the “Lord of the Rings on PCP” feel of the entire story, it doesn't so much end as splutter along in dribs and drabs for a few hundred pages amidst a lot of unrelated material. Also, “Taste the doom of fire!” I cannot stress that enough.