Aug. 22 could usher in an apocalyptic period in the Middle East thanks to some belligerent action on the part of the Iranian regime. Or maybe not.
The Internet is running hot with speculation about what Tuesday may bring, ranging from a new refusal by Iran to shut down its controversial uranium-enrichment activities to an attack - even a nuclear attack - against Israel.
The frenzy was prompted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's announcement, more than a month ago, that his government would deliver its response on Aug. 22 to an international carrot-and-stick proposal aimed at defusing the standoff over its nuclear activities.
The date was chosen by Tehran and had no obvious relevance in international diplomacy. The only formal deadline the international community is currently awaiting with regard to Iran is Aug. 31 -- the date set by the U.N. Security Council for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment or face the possibility of sanctions.
Some commentators have downplayed the importance of Aug. 22, arguing that the decision was simply one of convenience, akin to saying "we'll respond by the end of the month." Aug. 22 marks the end of the Persian solar month of Mordad.
But others are less sanguine, noting that the date is significant in Islam, for several reasons.
It coincides with the Islamic calendar date Rajab 28, the day Jerusalem fell to the Islamic warrior Saladin, in October 1187. Many Muslims regard Saladin's victory as a high point in Islamic history, and just weeks ago, Syrian fans of Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah were likening him to the 12th century Kurdish hero.
On the night of August 21-22, Muslims believe Mohammed underwent his "night journey," a trip on a magical steed from Mecca via the "farthest mosque" - later said to be al-Aqsa in Jerusalem - and on to heaven and back.
The two-stage journey is known in Islam as the "isla and miraj," and tradition holds that a divine white light appeared over Jerusalem at the time.
"The night of August 21 is a very, very important night in Shi'a Islam," according to Farid Ghadry, a Sunni Muslim and president of the exiled Reform Party of Syria, based in the U.S.
Ghadry claimed that Ahmadinejad would deliver his answer to the international community in the form of a "light in the sky" over the al-Aqsa mosque on the night of Aug. 21-22.
He urged the world to take the date seriously, adding that "nothing happens without a reason in Iran."