2012— The Mythical Year

FMM Hossain

When your clock-hands join palms together, it is 31st December midnight. The Gregorian calendar trumpets the beginning of the 2012 ledgers. Nations kiss goodbye to the old, relatively pale 2011. There is excitement as usual but also there is presentiment lurking in the back of most people’s mind. The presentiment which creates fear and trepidation among many men emanates from mainly Mayan prophecies. The prophecies tell us that a date in the imminent year remains in hiding when the world ‘as we know it’ will end.

To measure the magnitude of the people’s fear, you surf the net. It brings you up over seven million hits now. More than 6,500 video posts about the apocalyptic day have been posted on YouTube and there are countless books written on the topic. A few polls even reveal that up to 18 per cent of the people have pieced together the tidbits of information on the doomsday. ‘Ask an Astrobiologist’, a NASA public outreach website, has received over five thousand questions from the people on the topic since 2007. The dominant questions are whether people should kill themselves, their children or their pets. Many contemporary fictional references to the year 2012 refer to December 21 as the day of cataclysmic event, including the bestselling book of 2009, Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol.’

The 2009 disaster film ‘2012’, inspired by the phenomenon, became one of the most successful of its year, grossing nearly $770 million worldwide. Lars Von Triers 2011 film ‘Melancholia’ features a plot, making several references to the 2012 doomsday phenomenon.

It has also inspired successful pop music hits including 2012 (It ain’t the End) performed by Jay Sean and (Till the World Ends) by Britney Spears.

However, the prophecies thousands of people are scratching their heads about need to be explained first.

Ancient Mayan societies, known for their advanced mathematics and astronomy, followed a ‘long count’ calendar that lasts 5,126 years. When their charts are translated to the Gregorian calendar, the international standard used today, time runs out on December 21, 2012. Experts, however, have differing views. Some illustrate that the Mayans must have had pre-knowledge of a worldwide catastrophe while others think that the calendar currently in use just ends on the particular day and will then start over without event.

But, in addition to the predictions of the Mayan Shamans, the prophecies of the Incan and Egyptian pre-historic races as well as the prophecies of Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce and the I Ching, Hopi Indians have further shaken the people’s belief. They all indicated that the apocalypse would occur on December 21, 2012. Edgar Cayce said that the earth axis would slightly tilt. As a result of this, the earth will be broken up in the western portion of America and the greater portion of Japan must go into the sea. Nostradamus predicted a great comet, Nibiru, which would impact the Mediterranean on December 21, 2012.

What the astronomers throughout the world have said as media reports have it, have only added to the confusions of the people. Most of them said that the sun would be aligned with the centre of the Milky Way for the first time in 26,000 years on December 21, 2012. Experts warn that the alignment of the sun with the centre of the Milky Way might disrupt the energy flow to the earth, or that the high rate of sunspots or sun flares that the NASA has predicted for the year 2012 could affect the earth magnetic fields.

What the Bible states is all the more striking: the mankind reaches the gates of the end of this era. The prophecy, however, does not refer to an ‘end of the world’ but the end of the time of the gentiles or as a few have referred to it, the end of the Christian era. The prophecy states that there would be signs on earth and in the heavens, which could be reference to the issues mentioned above. Many believe that the rapture of the church is the next part of this prophecy to be fulfilled. But contrary to the popular belief, the Bible’s assertions kept mum about the date when the Lord (Jesus Christ) would appear to take his own ‘out of the way’. The Bible reads, ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only’ (Matt. 25:13). So the Bible assertions reduce people’s confusion to some extent, by rejecting the 2012 phenomenon. The Bible, however, does not rule out possibilities of cataclysmic events the world might face. It says that after the rapture of the church occurs, there would be major catastrophes across the globe. As a result of this, one-third of the world’s population would be destroyed. This would give cause to the rise of anti-Christ.

The Jewish experts, however, came heavily upon those resting faith on the foretelling of the Mayan shamans. They questioned the veracity of the predictions the Mayans left for the posterity. They argued that while the Mayans’ prophets set a date for the end of the world, the end for them came hundred of years ago—not in that 2012 future time. The Jewish experts rather claim that the prediction of one of their famous prophets, Isaiah, came true. They asked the people throughout the world to see how the Jews were back from their nomadic life, under the same name as a nation-Israel as predicted by Isaiah. ‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it’ (Zech. 12:1-3).

Unlike the Mayans, the Hebrew prophets gave no dates for the end of the world. Actually the Bible says the world would never end. It would be remade by holy fire. ‘…we according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth the righteousness’ (2 Pt. 3:13).

However, when ominous sounds of the 2012 rumble in the ears of the people of this generation, in the other world the Chinese people, which constitutes one-fourth of the world’s population, appear not at all worried. Rather they are preparing themselves to celebrate the advent of the Dragon year.

It is because of the Chinese Zodiac that tells the year 2012 is the Year of Dragon, which begins on January 23, 2012 and ends on February 9, 2013.

Legend has it that in ancient times, Buddha asked all the animals to meet him on Chinese New Year. Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each one. He announced that the people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality. So those born in Dragon years share certain characteristics: innovative, self-assured, brave and passionate. They find pleasure in helping others, and you can always count on their help. Their generous personalities give them the ability to attract friends. Dragon people tend to take thrilling risks, and burn the candle at both ends so they are fortunate to be blessed with good health. It is also suggested that they have true and sincere love, which comes from the depths of their hearts.

Usually, in preparation of the great fiesta, the people in China clean and decorate their houses. Their buying list includes red cloths which they wear on New Year’s Day, and food ingredients to prepare most cherished dish, which, what they believe, would bring good luck and prosperity. Children will get red-coloured envelops with ‘lucky money.’ Red symbolizes fire, which according to legend, can drive away bad luck. There will be a dragon dance. The dragon, stretching a hundred feet long, is typically made of silk, paper and bamboo. Traditionally the dragon is held aloft by young men who dance through the streets. But this year, the most striking and amazing information is thousands of parents who have waited passionately for the Year of Dragon are going to have chances to be blessed with dragon children. May the celestial dragon bring good luck to them.

However, thousands of people throughout the world do not believe in any of the issues mentioned above. They say this would be utter madness to believe that either the world is going to end in 2012 or the specified year could bring any good luck to the mankind. There is no single scrap of real evidence for the end of the world and the lucky breaks. They further say that the 2012 disasters and dragon stories would allow only movie makers to make a lot of money from the ignorant interested people. Those phenomena give the con artists to make lots of fortunes—just as the good old days of Y2K.

Belief in Judgement Day is one of the fundamental pillars of Islamic faith. It is the day when everyone is to get reward and punishment for one’s work and has to go to heaven or hell according to one’s deeds. This is the reason each and every Prophet warned his people of the Day of Judgement.

As for the knowledge of the time of Qiyamah (End of the World), it has not been given to any angel or Prophet (PBUH). Nobody besides Allah knows when the final hour is.
In Surah Luqman the Quran states, O Prophet the infidels ask you about the time of Qiyamah. So tell them that it’s knowledge is with Allah only.

However certain events are going to take place prior to the coming of the final hour. These events are known as the Signs of Qiyamah. All the Prophets informed their people of the signs of the final hour. Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) being the last and the seal of Prophets, knowing that Doomsday is to come upon this very ummah, explained clearly and in considerable detail the signs of the final hour to the extent that sometimes he (PBUH) would lecture his companions all day on this subject.
Abu Zaid (R.A.) says, ‘The Holy Prophet (PBUH) sat down on the pulpit after Fajr Prayer and began a deliver a long sermon until the time for Zuhr prayer came. After saying the Zuhr prayer he (PBUH) again sat on the pulpit and began the sermon, which continued till Asr prayer. After the Asr prayer He (PBUH) resumed the sermon so much so that the sun set. He (PBUH) related whatever happened in the past and also related in detail whatever is to happen in the future. Those amongst us who had good memories retained many things.’ (Muslim)

The signs of the final hour can be divided into two groups.
1) Minor signs

Minor signs are events of normal nature prophesised by our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to take place before Qiyamah like the consumption of alcohol, lifting of knowledge and prevalence of ignorance and immorality and signs of this nature. The majority of the minor signs have appeared while some are occurring and some will appear with major signs.

2) Major signs

Major signs are events of extraordinary nature prophesied by our Prophet (PBUH) to take place before Qiyamah like all the events mentioned in the following hadith narrated by Hudhaifa ibn Usayd that the Prophet (PBUH) said, ‘The last hour will not arrive till  you have seen ten signs. He (PBUH) then mentioned the Smoke, Dajjal, Beast, Rising of the Sun from the place of it’s setting, the Descent of Isa, Ya’juj Ma’juj, Three Landslides, one in the East , one in the West and one in the Arabian Peninsula after that a Fire would spread from Yemen and drive the people to their place of gathering.’ (Muslim)

Three sentences from an old holy Book will conclude this write-up:  ‘For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their etching ears want to hear. They will turn their eyes away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’

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