Tag Archives: Islamic History

Trump’s Coming Battle of Karbala? What He Should Read about Middle East Sectarian Tensions……..

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“For Iraq, guaranteeing the safety of millions of Shiite faithful on their annual ​pilgrimage to the shrine of a revered saint in Karbala has always been a monumental challenge. The march, the largest annual religious pilgrimage on earth, ​is in defiance of Iraq’s chronic insecurity and the frequent attempts by Sunni militants – including, recently, Islamic State (ISIS) fighters – to derail this event with violence. ​This year, the pilgrimage ​to the shrine of Imam Hussein ​held special resonance, as ISIS in Iraq has been all but defeated in recent months by Iraqi security forces – supported by Iran-backed Shiite militias and a US-led bombing campaign…… The risks of attack were high, but so, too, were the rewards for the millions of Shiite pilgrims whose faith overcomes fear…….“We don’t care about security – we just come,” says Fadl Abbas, a truck driver nursing blistered feet, swollen legs, and a new limp after his 50-mile march……..” Christian Science Monitor

This is one article Donald Trump should read this week, if he were a reading man. Or he can have his son-in-law, his Middle East Gauleiter Jared Kushner, read it. They should both know what they and their regional sidekicks will be facing in the coming months if Arab media reports are true. Reports about what dangerous concoction they are brewing for our native region from Lebanon to the Persian-American Gulf.

They are brewing something from Lebanon to the Gulf, and through Yemen. Even the Gulf Muslim Brotherhood, always opportunistic, are being cagey these days, which means they anticipate a new American-Israeli folly, and that they approve. They have suddenly softened on Israeli and Trump actions in the region. Even the Salafis, the more opportunistic soul mates of ISIS/DAESH and Al Qaeda. Especially the Salafist fifth columnists, are eerily silent, waiting for those they have always called the “crusaders” and the “descendants of monkeys and pigs” to start a bloody sectarian war on their behalf. Obama knew what they sought and he denied them. He would not bluster himself into a new war, as he elaborated in an interview that was dubbed the Obama Doctrine on the Gulf.

The vast controlled media of the absolute kings are also hinting at something coming soon. Salivating at the prospect of foreign bombs blasting yet more Arab and Muslim targets on their behalf. 

A new Battle of Karbaba waged by Trump and Netanyahu as the new Umayyads, on behalf of a couple of kings and their Salafist proxies. Its battlefield to be the whole Middle East region and part of North Africa.

Remember: for years the Salafist Wahhabis kept bombing in Iraq, killing civilians, almost every day since 2003. Fourteen years of insecurity and massacres against the Shi’a (Shiite) pilgrims and their annual march to Karbala. And against many Sunnis and all Christians. Yet the pilgrims keep coming by the millions: more than the numbers that do the annual Haj in Hijaz. They keep coming by the millions, risking death. No lethal stampedes there. The march/pilgrimage was banned by the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, but resumed after his defeat. Terrorism has only made it a bigger event than ever, it increased the defiance. A new foreign war of aggression will almost certainly make them even more defiant.

Just keep it in mind. Remember, it is not all about the money and the contracts and the bluster. You don’t want to be seen as the foreign interloper who replaces Saddam or the Umayyad Dynasty……

If he is not very careful here, he may end up famously complaining, again: “nobody knew that meddling in 15-century-old Muslim sectarian tensions could be so complicated…. even more complicated than trying to dismantle the health care system……
Stay tuned…..

Cheers anyway   

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Humor and Aguafiesta Violence in History: from Early Islam to Trotsky in Mexico to Sisi……..

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“In Egypt, the attorney general for Bani Suwaif has ordered a high school Coptic student to be held for 15 days pending investigation. The teenager is accused of making anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim comments on Facebook and other Internet media in a foreign language. In addition, security sources have divulged that the Coptic church and ‘security authorities’ have agreed to expel a Christian family of four from their village of Miyana in Ehnasia district. This came after Muslims accused the teenage son of the family of publishing comments harmful to Islam on Facebook. Sources added that a settlement meeting was held between the Church, high security officers, and some village Muslim families. As a result the Priest Butros G presented an official apology of the Coptic church for the insult published by the teenager against Islam and Muslims. The Coptic family had already abandoned its home and left their village since May 14………..”

This was a brief of the report from Egyptian media. Egypt used to be quite a cosmopolitan and tolerant country. All this started to change after the death of Nasser in 1970. Under Anwar Sadat, Islamist influence started to grow. Under Hosni Mubarak, Islamists grew stronger, Wahhabism started to creep into religious, political, and social conversation. Under Morsi, the first elected leader of Egypt, sectarian and confessional conflict broke out into the open. Salafis  were emboldened. Christians were attacked, Shi’as were lynched.

Under Al Sisi, Egypt is even more divided than ever. There is a mini-civil war in the country where both sides, Islamists and the military rulers, are ruthless: no quarter given and none expected. Parts of northern Sinai are almost attached to the Caliphate of ISIS rather than to Cairo. Other parts look like the hangout of the Hole in the Wall Gang. In villages from the Nile Delta to Upper Egypt (Al Saeed) there is a slow movement of religious displacement and confessional concentration. Egypt’s Copts are almost as grim these days as Egypt’s Islamists.

The once famous Egyptian sense of humor is moving dangerously close to that of Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, and Israel. Which means it is at the dangerous level of near extinction, what I would call pre-war or pre-civil war levels of humor. Germans, for example, lost any meager sense of humor they had quickly after 1933, not that they had much before that, not that they have much now. Attila and von Bismarck never laughed and seriously frowned upon humor. The Russians lost the remnant of their sense of humor right after Trotsky was expelled, and we all know why. Mexico, another place with a mostly humorless tradition, proved a fatal exile for Trotsky. The Russians still have to regain it.

Even the early Muslims, they come across as angry zealots. Which by definition they should have been. I believe the Prophet was almost the only one with any sense of humor among them. The rest, the Sahaba and later converts, come across as grim aguafiestas, which they mostly were. That state of grimness lasted until the Abbasids discovered the joys of humor, after the death of their founder Abul Abbas the Butcher.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Cinema and Islam: How Do You Say Cecil B. DeMille in Persian?………

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“Here in this Persian replica of Mecca, built at the cost of millions of dollars, an Iranian film company is attempting to offer the world a literal glimpse of the Prophet Muhammad despite traditional taboos against it. The movie “Muhammad, Messenger of God” already recalls the grandeur — and expense — of a Cecil B. DeMille film, with the narrow alleyways and a replica Kaaba shrine built here in the remote village of Allahyar. But by even showing the back of the Prophet Muhammad as a child before he was called upon by Allah, the most expensive film in Iranian history already has been criticized before its even widely released, calling into question who ultimately will see the Quranic story come to life on the big screen. ……….. But while Sunni Islam, the religion’s dominant branch, widely rejects any depictions of Muhammad, his close relatives or companions, Shiite Islam doesn’t. In Shiite powerhouse Iran and other countries, posters, banners, jewelry and even keychains bear the images of Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali, revered by Shiites who see him as the prophet’s rightful successor. The late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, who led Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and later became the country’s supreme leader, reportedly even kept a picture similar to young Muhammad…………”

Iranians often have a penchant for making historic films that depict historic figures of the Old, New, and Islamic Testaments. A few years ago they made a film about Joseph (he of the many-colored coat, son of Jacob). It showed only in Tunisia among the Arab countries, and only briefly before the Salafis attacked and forced its closure in that country.

I wonder if they’d ever make a film about the Muslim Arabs defeating ancient Persia (under Caliph Omar I)? But this film about Mohammed and ancient Mecca is a film I’d really like to see. It could be good, it could be lousy. This Iranian replica may be one way to see an artist’s image of early Mecca before Islam. The Saudis have erased all monuments of early Islam in the real Mecca, including the childhood houses of Prophet Mohammed and his early followers, the Sahaba. The sort of thing ISIS or DAESH has been doing lately. The princes have replaced these historic Mecca sites with luxury hotels, expensive apartment complexes, and shopping malls. And parking lots of course.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Islamic State of North Africa: Return to Andalucia……..

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“The caliphate has a beach. It is located on the Mediterranean Sea around 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Crete in Darna. The eastern Libya city has a population of around 80,000, a beautiful old town and an 18th century mosque, from which the black flag of the Islamic State flies. The port city is equipped with Sharia courts and an “Islamic Police” force which patrols the streets in all-terrain vehicles. A wall has been built in the university to separate female students from their male counterparts and the disciplines of law, natural sciences and languages have all been abolished. Those who would question the city’s new societal order risk death. Darna has become a colony of terror, and it is the first Islamic State enclave in North Africa. The conditions in Libya are perfect for the radical Islamists………………”

Most Jihadis, and some otherwise sane Wahhabi Arabs, often talk of Al Andalus. Andalucia is a term used not just for the famous province in Spain, but for the bulk of Iberia that was conquered by Muslims. An expansion that was stopped at Poitier (Palace of Martyrs in Arabic) and was eventually reversed by the conjugal union of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile.
Andalucia is now something beyond a geographic place to most Muslims, especially to Arabs. It reflects a state of mind that looks back to a bygone bright light in a current dark tunnel. A symbol of lost glory in our current era of weakness and irrelevance.

The Jihadi Salafis claim that their goal is to ‘recover’ Al Andalus. Actually the Andalucia of early Muslims is not what the Jihadis dream of. Theirs would be an intolerant stagnant homogeneous Wahhabi theocracy that has little to do with the vibrant melting-pot Spain of the Islamic era. Others promise to have their ‘horses tied’ in the center of Rome, and not just because these Wahhabi dudes like the Chianti or the Prosecco.
And what better place to retrace history, to conquer Europa, than from the spot where that earlier successful conquest started. North Africa.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Women of ISIS: Religion and Slavery and the Onus of Islamic History……….

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“Women in Syria and Iraq are at high risk for sexual enslavement by ISIS. ISIS is capturing, abusing, raping, trading, and selling women in areas it controls. America is politically polarized and citizens are divided on the U.S. policy on ISIS. Some think the U.S. should be doing more to combat the organization. They think America should use its full strength to ward off possible terrorist attacks on home soil. Others worry that air strikes will incur too many civilian deaths and collateral damage. They believe America should be more cautious about declaring war on another country in the Middle East………”

Classic slavery in the Middle East and North Africa lasted well after Europe and the Americas ended it. Slavery was ‘officially’ ended in Saudi Arabia only in the 1960s. In Mauritania, an Arab League member, there have been sporadic reports that slavery still exists.

Reports of Wahhabi Jihadis enslaving women and using them for sex and other labor are not exactly new. This Jihadi inclination has been more publicized in recent years, starting with developments in Iraq and Africa. These are a new wilder breed and they make their Al-Qaeda predecessors seem tame and absolutely family-oriented in comparison. (Maybe a case of “the devil you know“, etc).

Trafficking in women by these groups inside Iraq has been reported for years. Now, with full-blown wars raging in both Iraq and Syria and their territorial gains, they have the expanded access and the excuse to replenish their supply of females. The victims come mainly from among the religious minorities and non-Sunnis, but probably not exclusively so.
Others, including many in the West, also traffic in women as sex objects. But this new breed of Wahhabis are not subtle about it and they take it to historic extremes. They have a certain historical flair for the subject. They simplify the matter by throwing the onus on ancient history, blaming their ancient predecessors, their Salaf, for it.

They claim, and correctly, that early Muslims in the Arabian Peninsula took women as war booty after battles and often they sold them or used them as slaves and concubines. They also converted and married them in a few famous cases. But that was during the early ‘tribal stage’ of the expansion of Islam, when the battles were with and among the rival Arab tribes. A few of the battles were also against the Jewish tribes and clans of Madina and other parts of Hijaz in western Arabia. These latter battles also yielded slaves, concubines, and at least one famous very good wife.

Slavery existed from long before the three monotheistic religions appeared and continued long afterwards. It was an important part of the economy of the Roman Empire: the wealth and the income, the GNP. None of the major faiths of the Middle East, Judaism or Christianity or Islam, banned slavery. This is the basis of the alibi that the Caliphate of ISIS uses in taking female war captives and distributing them among its fighters to ‘use’ or sell or trade. It revives slavery because it existed under Islam and anything that existed under early Islam is considered kosher and mandatory by the Salafis.

That is why the Salafis are widely reputed in the Middle East to prefer toothpicks (miswak) to toothpaste (I am not being flippant here, it is common to profile them so in our Gulf region). You see, early Muslims did not have access to Crest or Colgate…………

Cheers
MHG

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Ancient Black Flag Revolutionaries: Abu Muslim of Khorasan and Marwan the Jackass………

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A bit of high school history here:
Why is no leader of this Wahhabi “Khorasan” group called Abu Muslim Al Khorasani? Given their penchant for noms de guerre starting with Abu and their use of Khorasan (a province in northeastern Persia/Iran)?
Abu Muslim Al Khorasani (also reportedly a nom de guerre) was the original man behind the original ‘black flag’. A Persian, he led the forces of the Abbasid, the original black flag revolution that overthrew the Umayyad dynasty which ruled from Damascus, in the eighth century (A.D.). The last Umayyad Caliph was named Marwan, he was nicknamed by some Al Homar (the Jackass) for obvious reasons.

After the Abbasids took power and started their dynasty, they started to eliminate their former allies and potential future rivals. They started by beheading the man who made their revolution possible, Abu Muslim Al Khorasani.


The Abbasids ruled for five centuries, often through Persian and Turkish surrogates and top ministers. The Abbasids were more cosmopolitan than their predecessors: they intermarried extensively with other ‘subjected’ peoples. They also shared administrative duties, unlike the extremely tribal Umayyads who kept power and influence within their own tribal kin.

The Abbasid rule was ended by the Mongols who sacked Baghdad and trampled the last Caliph, al-Must’asim, to death under their horses hoofs (reportedly after rolling him inside a nice Persian carpet).
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

The New Black Flag of Khorasan: Back to Abbasid History…….

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

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“‘Imminent Attack’ in U.S. Prompted Airstrikes on Khorasan…..” Bloomberg

This is the type of headline I woke up to early this morning. It can be shocking to read that U.S. warplanes have bombed an Iranian place with historical significance. But this is a new Khorasan, a Wahhabi Khorasan with an Iranian name that had deep impact on Islamic and Arab history. A concept.

Suddenly this new Middle East term is making headlines in the USA: part of the continuing dubious education of America on things Middle Eastern and Islamic. Courtesy of an Al Qaeda affiliate.

Khorasan is a large scenic province in northeastern Iran: it includes Nishapur, the birthplace of Omar Khayyam. The province has significance in Islamic history and in the past it encompassed parts of Afghanistan and other nearby countries. It was from eighth century (A.D.) Khorasan that the flames of the Abbasid revolution spread from Persia across to Iraq and eventually to overthrow the brief Umayyad dynasty of Damascus. The rebellion was strongest among the ‘disenfranchised’ Persian subjects and various Shi’a Arabs, especially in the homeland of Shi’ism in Iraq. The Abbasids carried a black flag throughout their campaign. The Abbasids also moved the Islamic capital from Damascus to Baghdad from which they ruled until the Mongol invasion in the 13th century.

It can be amusing to see the Wahhabi terrorists of Al Qaeda call this cell by the name of an Iranian place full of Shi’as and mullahs.
Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Where is Caliph Al Baghdadi? the Road to Manhattan………

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“Put yourself in the shoes (and sixth-century black robes) of ISIS’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the mysterious boss of the terror group that is striking fear into the hearts of leaders around the world………. Baghdadi, his Cabinet advisers and his two key deputies comprise the executive branch of the government, known as “Al Imara.” The two deputies — Abu Ali al-Anbari and Abu Muslim al-Turkmani, veteran Iraqi military officials who served under Saddam Hussein — to oversee Syria and Iraq………..”

This Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, reportedly Ibrahim al-Samarrai, is a curious character, as far as Wahhabi terrorist mass murderers go. We have had only one public sighting of him, with a Hollywood-style setting and Ben Hur attire. Allah be praised, as old Hollywood films claim we always say. That was when he gave us the good news and glad tidings that, yes, he has decided to declare himself the latest Caliph, the latest Khalifa successor of the Prophet Mohammed. Ruler of the Umma (that would not be all of us, only those willing to convert to the joys of Wahhabism).

What is interesting now is that he seems to have joined Waldo in an undisclosed location. There has been no news from or about him. There is no personality cult around him. No hint of it after that inaugural appearance, not yet. A personality cult is the first thing a new Arab regime usually starts with. But that is probably related to the religious nature of this movement and this temporary “state”. Even Osama Bin Laden had more of a personality cult in the Western media than he did among Sunni Muslims or even among many fellow Wahhabi Muslims (no need to explain what Shi’as and others thought of him).
Could be that power among the leadership of ISIS is more dispersed and less concentrated, more by consensus, than is common in our region. That could be a deliberate attempt to imitate the very first four Caliphs of Islam, from Abu Bakr through Ali. After that came the Umayyads and the Islamic State became a hereditary monarchy. Or could be that this Caliph is just trying hard to avoid the same fate as the humorless Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus’eb Al Zarqawi and Osama Bin Laden and a few others.

No news yet on whether Caliph Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi plans to attend the coming session of the United Nations General Assembly. It would be fun if the president of Columbia University invites him to be grilled or roasted on campus, as he did for Ahmadinejad a few years ago. Perhaps he will send Izzat Ibrahim al Douri (Abu Baath), Saddam’s surviving albino deputy.

Legend has it that al Samarrai has,  in the past, promised to get to New York,  to get New York. I strongly suspect and hope, however, that New York will get to him, will get him, first.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com