This is the time, once more

And so, once more, the sheikhs and their followers are invoking apocalyptic traditions; the events of the day, they tell us, are the certain fulfillment of prophesy.

And so it seems, unless we put our cultural amnesia aside to recall the history of these sacred precincts.

So it seems if we forget that a group of militants who believed the Mahdi to be amongst them seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca for two weeks in 1979 during Hajj, leading to the deaths of 250 people.

So it seems if we forget that the Kingdom of Hejaz in alliance with the British Empire laid siege to Medina, then held by the Ottoman Empire between 1916 and 1919, causing heavy loss to life.

So it seems if we forget that Medina was occupied and laid waste by the descendants of Muhammad ibn Abdal Wahhab in 1806.

Indeed, so it seems if we overlook a millennia of history all the way back to Yazid’s siege of Medina and destruction of Mecca not even seventy years after Hijra.

But we are not supposed to familiarise ourselves with the past, to ask questions or seek context.

We are not meant to ponder on the long list of supposed saviours who came and went over a thousand years, each one the prophesized Mahdi to their followers.

We have been here before, over and over, but the sheikhs in their circles know better than last time. This is the time, they tell us. This is the time.

And the madness enfolds as prophesized.

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