Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ali

Mono-idolatry (monolatry) or monotheism? (Nov. 6, 2009)

Monotheism is a totally abstract concept that no human was yet able to feel physically loyal to a one, all-encompassing God.

The reality is that people are more inclined to be loyal to a saint, a shrine, or an honored Imam, or apostle.

People have need to use their senses to get connected to a spiritual entity: you cannot expect human to think exclusively of an abstract notion without the intermediary of their senses of seeing a representative picture, of smelling incense, of touching a bust, or of listening to a hymn.

I noticed that my dad, at each pass in front of the Virgin Mary or Mar Charbel (a national Saint), has to touch these pictures in the house with his index, kiss his index, and then sign the cross.  Dad is 85 years old and has refrained attending mass for years.

Mother is also devoted to the Virgin and all the national female saints such as Rafqa; she never misses an occasion to get in the car or a bus going to pay tributes to shrines; she pay money for the Saint that she has Not, so that the church make “good” use of it; obviously, Mar Charbel is in her pantheon too, along with the newly beatified Hardini.  It is interesting that most “miracles” occur at election times.

In all ages, whether a religion claim to be monotheist or polytheist people end up selecting a particular idol to pay allegiance to and write ex-votos to Him in order to be cured, enjoy prosperity, safety to the family, and safe travels.

Indeed, people are loyal idolaters to whom they perceive to be pretty much handy, accessible, and an excellent intermediary to the One God.

For example, in Latin America people are loyal to the Virgin Mary and cannot think of any other Saint to turn to in time of distress; thus, St. Mary of (name a city or a village), or the Virgin of (name a city or a town) and you have hundreds of Virgin Marie, tailored made to a specific locality, ready to come to the rescue.

The Greek Orthodox Church cannot think of more than two female saints to name girls at baptism ceremonies: it must be either Mary or Elizabeth; as for male kids you have an assortment of complicated and long Greek saints with plenty of X and Ch.

In Muslim Egypt and generally in North Africa, you have St. Fatima, Aicha, Ali, Hussein, the Imam of the legal sect, or the shrine of the veneered Sheikh of a locality is paid more attention and visits to any other worshiping figures.

Pictures of Muslim saints are prohibited in public places or in mosques but that do not prevent homes to hang pictures of their preferred saint as relevant to current standards of beauty for both genders.

There is this myth that the Jewish religion is the first to adopt monotheism; it is just a myth.

Ancient civilizations were never monotheists; they all had an overall God, nominally superior to the other demigods but that nobody paid much attention to or prayed to Him or even remembered asking his help in ex-votos.

El was the all-encompassing God in the Middle East as was Allah in the Arabian Peninsula or Zeus for the Greeks but He never generated a dime to tribes that had exclusive rights to his worship.

People converged to more palpable and understandable demigods and cities and towns adopted one of them as symbol and recognition of their trades or power.

In general, more weight was given to the “messengers of a God” (they were written in plural) than to a specific God.

Yahweh (God of thunder and war) was always one of the Gods to the Jews after Moses but might have converged to be the unique God to the Jews in Judea in the second century BC.

Many of Canaan demigods were far more beneficial and interesting than this newly created Yahweh that came into the picture during war periods. Then, Jewish mercenaries were asked to support Baal under the banner of the dusted off Temple and bust of Yahweh.

Salomon worshipped Ashtarout (the Goddess of Sidon of Lebanon) and Baal had many Temples in Jerusalem while Yahweh had only a small one.

One common denominator to all salafist or extremist religious sects (Christian, Jewish, Muslims, or cults) is being totally peeved and obfuscated that the One True God is being sidetracked for substitutes.

Joshua offered the Jews choices of keeping Yahweh as sole God or accepting other demigods.

When the Jews decided to keep exclusively a “tribal” God, then Joshua ordered all strangers’ Gods destroyed.

In ancient time, destroying the bust of a God didn’t mean that he no longer existed but that the local God was to be more efficient to the survival of the tribe or community.

When the Prophet Muhammad entered Mecca without a fight he ordered all the 160 idols destroyed or effaced (pictures) save two: Allah and the Virgin Mary.

Mary was not bestowed virginity at all, but she was veneered as the mother of the latest great prophet Jesus (Issa).

In Islam, idols were no longer Gods and never existed as was the case in ancient cultures. The early Protestants erased pictures and destroyed busts of all Saints except crucified Jesus.

For the Protestants, erasing pictures of Saints didn’t mean that Saints didn’t exist but they were not that worthy to be worshiped and supplant God through interceding.

The most honest monotheists were the “heretic” Christian sects that the Orthodox Christian Church during the Byzantine Empire persecuted relentlessly.

Most of these sects would not even bestow a divine nature to Jesus and Marie was not virgin by any means; no pictures or drawings were permitted for any Saints.

The farthest that these sects could indulge in is to veneer the apostle whom they claimed to have written the “true” Testament they adopted and read in.

I have noticed that centralized churches promote many saints with pictures and busts; it is a tactic to please the people so that it may enjoy total control over their temporal existence.

These centralized churches inherited pagan religions and aided a lot to that widespread propagation of multiple idols for each locality.

Decentralized religions have no urge to promoting idols and pictures such as in Islam: it is the temporal power at every state that appoints clerics, Imams, and sheiks.

I don’t see why all that fuss for monotheism.

If a few tribes still refuse to believe that it is earth rotating around the sun or that earth is flat why then submerge them with an extra abstract notion?

Killing and committing suicide attacks in the name of a God is not an abstract act; this does not mean that human mind cannot reach a level of distortion that far surpasses the mere abstraction of a One God, creator of man and the universe.

Moratorium on spreading myths: Hezbollah and “Wilayat fakeeh” (part 1)

            I selected Hezbollah for my topic for three reasons: first, I need to have a specific target in order to minimize tendencies for generalization; second, Hezbollah is the most powerful movement in Lebanon in number, organization, military training, and in readiness and thus, this important social and political force can either spread havoc or strengthen the independence of Lebanon, depending on open dialogue and communication among all Lebanese political parties; and third, because I have a high respect for this organization that saved Lebanon twice from becoming a total non-entity within the last decade.

Yes, with Hezbollah, I feel that Lebanon is no longer just a State recognized by the UN, but has acquired the status of a Nation; a tiny Nation but with the potential of agreeing that we are one people under the law and against all contingencies.

            The first myth that Hezbollah needs to lay off is “dress codes should be a religious matters”. Dress codes for man and woman have nothing to do with religious dogma. In Mecca, during the life of Prophet Mohammad, only noble ladies wore the veil outside their homes, as a discrimination dress code of their rank from the other working women.  When the companions of the Prophet fled to Yathreb (Medina), at the onset of persecutions, the veil was not used in Medina:  Women had large freedom; and they had their own mind.

Actually, it was a chock for the women of Yathreb seeing a few of the companions’ wives wearing veils as if they considered themselves of nobler ranks!

            Prophet Muhammad did not bring the issue of dress codes until he married many women for political exigencies.  Sexual rumors spread about a few of his wives: Muhammad had to ask his wives to wear veils and long dresses when stepping out of their homes in order to minimize their recognition by the public.  Thus, a particular and local case needs not be extended to whole communities and to people of different cultures.

            I suggest to Hezbollah to taking the bold decision of toning down the importance of dress codes and desist of spreading this myth. Women who have no convictions that dress codes are of the domain of religious belief should not be pressured to cheat on their convictions.  Extending liberty to exercising the power of individual rational thinking is the best asset for higher confidence in leadership and tighter cohesion in the ranks in dire circumstances. The leaders of Hezbollah should give examples within their own family and relatives.

            The second myth to get rid off is combining political and religious responsibilities.  It certainly is a proof of internal weakness in the organization when the Secretary General feels the need to offering the face of an Imam.             

            The Prophet Muhammad was upset with the central “Orthodox” Church of Byzantium (Constantinople) because it labeled one of the Christian sects in Mecca (the Ebionite) as “heretic”: Muhammad’s uncle Ain Warkat was the Patriarch of this Christian-Jew sect and he taught Muhammad to read and write in the Aramaic language, the lanhuage of the Bible the sect read in.

Ain Warkat translated his “Bible” into the Aramaic slang spoken in Mecca, which was called Arabic.  The Prophet goal was to unite the “heretic” sects under common denominators by discarding the abstract notions that divided among them; after all, they all followed the daily rituals of the Jewish customs that they inherited by tradition.

Muhammad abhorred central religious power and viewed it as the enemy for harmony and peace among the believers.  That is why the Prophet declined to name an Imam before his death so that Islam should not be regulated by any religious central power; he could have named Ali as Imam and Ali would have been an excellent religious guide.

            Preaching at every religious event as if in a Friday prayers, Hassan Nasr Allah is definitely sending the wrong message to the Lebanese:  The mixing of politics and religion is bound to lead to disaster.  We need to hear Hassan Nasr Allah political messages and wish he spares us his religious belief that is not the concern of the people at this junction.

What the Lebanese people, and many members of Hezbollah, understand is that Hezbollah is a shifty religious sect following the sect of the Iranian Guide in power.

            Taking a religious story to drive through a political message, every now and then, is appropriate rhetorically, but when the entire speech is religious then the people get tired of too much chatting in matters they care less about. Everyone should have his specialty, responsibility, and his target audience. 

            State business, political organization, and religion should not mix.  Lebanon has 18 formally recognized sects and we need not exacerbate our caste problems.  We need to be the vanguard to the other Arabic and Islamic States in running our life and strengthening our individual freedom for rational thinking.

            That is my first installment on myths, from all religious castes, to confront head on our calamities for a harmonious and stable Lebanon. The next follow up post is entitled “Hezbollah to desist spreading myths: Encore

Bi-Weekly Report (#16) on Lebanon and the Middle East (April 16, 2009)

 

On April 13, the date of the start of the civil war in Lebanon in 1975, contraband Mafioso of the Jaafar clan in the Bekaa Valley shot at a military convoy; they killed four soldiers and injured 13.  CNN reported that the Lebanese army was supporting an internal directive to close down drug trafficking hot spots located in towns closed to government interventions, such as the large town of Erssal where stolen cars are parked and re-negotiated with the owners. This plan of entering and monitoring enclaves has been in execution for a couple of months with some success.  Why this assault was triggered just on April 13, the date of the start of the civil war?  Maybe the contraband militants wanted to dress up their action with political undertones, such as the Americans are intervening again in our internal affairs by providing arms to the Lebanese army in exchange of relieving Israel in its drug war across the border. 

            Israel’s economy relies heavily on drug and slave trafficking; obviously, it is not in the interest of Israel to stop the influx of drugs from Lebanon; why should it buy drugs from Afghanistan or elsewhere when it is handier and less costly from its neighbors?  Cost is the main factor.  Israel is not worried on the supply side but is not happy to buy drugs at higher prices.  Israel would like to transact with clans in Lebanon and not with heavy weight militias with strong political backing.

            Egypt of Mubarak is playing the clown.  Egypt’s justice of this three decades long dictatorship is famous for being politically guided and oriented at desires.  It appears that a month before Israel launched its genocide attack on Gaza, and six months of total blockade before the genocide, a blockade that is still ongoing by Israel and Egypt, Egypt had detained a Lebanese citizen whom Hezbollah admitted to be a member.  The Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasr Allah, said in a televised speech last week that this member was aiding the Palestinians of Gaza in transporting (3attal) materials through tunnels, as if helping the Palestinians in a crime and not a badge of honor.  Egypt’s justice would like you to believe that Hezbollah was organizing a vast network of cells for disturbing internal security.  Egypt’s Foreign Minister would like you to believe that Iran, that became predominantly Shiaa only in the 18th century, hates Salladin (Salah El Deen), who freed Jerusalem from the Crusaders, because he replaced a Shiaa Fatimide dynasty in Egypt with a Sunni Ayubeed dynasty in the 12th century!  

Mubarak should have thanked Hezbollah for relieving Egypt of the sustained US pressures and giving him a huge and sound excuse for maintaining a semblance of autonomy.  Instead, Mubarak is left with no cards to lick the ass of the US Administration but to show public animosity to Hezbollah. Mubarak is like those going to Mecca while the Hajjis are returning; Mubarak did not get it yet: the US in no longer interested in Hezbollah; it has much bigger problems that to be pleased by Mubarak.  How low can a mighty nation such as Egypt stoop so that its regime secures a misery two billions dollars in financial aids to distribute to its cronies and Presidential security?

The fact is, Saudi Arabia had been investing billions in the last 40 years on building new mosques in Egypt and hiring clerics to proselytize the ultra conservative and dark Wahhabit sect and for chant Saudi monarch’s praise on Friday’s prayers.  The fact is that the Mubarak regime had lost the last shred of political credibility and viability for handling Arab disunity, as if the Arab States have ever experience the semblance of unity in 60 years.  The Mubarak regime cowed in front of Israel and let the Palestinians of Gaza be massacred like sheep, like sitting ducks for three weeks.  The fact is that the majority of the European leaders, instantly after the genocide, flocked to Charm El Sheikh to offer support and bolster Mubarak’s political standing; the European leaders wanted to believe that Mubarak had a long-term plan and could be the best mediator among the Palestinian factions, that Mubarak is the rock of the Arab League.  The European leaders quickly realized that Mubarak is a cranky senile and an impotent old leader: after five months of negotiations the Palestinians failed to unite on a resolution and Gaza is suffering total blockade and daily Israeli raids.  The fact is that the European leaders and Barak Obama of the USA pinpointed the heavy weight champs in this region: mainly Turkey and Iran and have no time to waste on re-visiting a Mubarak

 

Rumors in Lebanon and Egypt would like you to believe that Hezbollah unilaterally engaged war against “mighty” Israel in June 2006 to re-create the battle of Karbala without being defeated this time around (the battle where Hussein, son of Ali, was vanquished by Yazeed bin Muawiya around 700 AC).  Rumors would like you to believe that the Sunni are not conservative, simply because they enjoyed political dominance through Islam’s history.  The Sunni sect would like you to believe that, in theory and theologically, is “Haneef” (orthodox) abiding by the premises of following common denominators among the monolithic religious sects. The Sunni females would not hastily rejoin their males’ contentions. Ironically, the Wahabit sect of Saudi Arabia (the most reductive and close minded sect that ever existed) would like to be regarded as the leading Sunni sect.

Rumors would like you to believe that the Sunni are engaging in hate extremism against the Shiaa because implicitly; the Shiaa are planning to becoming the dominant political faction in Lebanon; as if this is not already a reality demographically and organizationally. The Shiaa have earned their spot under the sun because they resisted Israel’s consistent humiliation of Lebanon for over 60 years under various pretenses. Rumors would like you to believe that the Sunni started to be apprehensive of the Shiaa power as the Syrian mandate in Lebanon gave green light to the “Amal” militia (of Nabeeh Berry, currently the Parliament Chief) during the civil war to enter the Palestinian camps in Beirut and then giving sole monopoly for resisting Israel to Hezbollah. One fact remains: the Sunni around the Arab World and particularly in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are being indoctrinated on the Wahhabit Saudi Arabia extra conservative sect. Current terrorist activities among the Moslems are rooted in the Wahhabit sect’s culture, such as Al Qaeda of Ben Laden. 

It appears that there was lately a power struggle within the Saudi family. The head of the Saudi secret services, former Ambassador to the USA “Emir” Bandar, plotted for his father, Defense Minister, to replace King Abdullah. I am not waging that the Wahhabit political proselytizing drive would end but at least a slowing down is comforting to many Moslem States.

The greatest poet: “The man with the long curly hair” (February 6, 2009)

Baghdad in 809 is the largest metropolis in the world; it has over one million inhabitants. 

In comparison, Paris has less than 100,000 (the contemporary of Charlemagne reign), Damascus less than 400,000 (the former Capital of the Arab Umayyad dynasty), and Samarkand (in current Turkestan)  less than half a million; and most of the cities in North Italy average less than 50, 000 inhabitants. 

Baghdad was newly built less than 75 years ago by the Abbasid Dynasty.  The new Caliph is Al Amine; he is 23 years of age and the former student of poet Abu Nuwass. Al Amine is a learned man and very conversant in poetry.  The poet Abu Nuwass was in exile in Egypt on order of the Caliph Harun Al Rasheed.

Abu Nawass learned that his unique son had died and he hurried his return to Baghdad to join his student Al Amine. Four years of the ultimate in libertine life in the court of Al Amine awaited Abu Nawass. Al Amine had fondness for young eunuch; his mother tried to steer her son toward girls by promoting young girls in boys’ attire (a la garsonne) or whatever it takes.

 

Before the advent of Islam Iraq had been under the Persian Empire (the Sassanide Dynasty) for over 4 centuries.  The Arab tribes of the northern Arab Peninsula were mostly concentrated in the towns of Basra and Kufa in southern Iraq.

The main Capital of the Sassanide Dynasty (Sesiphone) was very close to current Baghdad that did not exist yet, on the other side of the Tiger River. Thus, the Iranians were far more numerous than the original “Arabs” and the culture and civilization of Persia was predominant. 

During Abu Nawass time, 150 years after Islam presence, Iraq was still mostly Persian and the most influential personalities had Persian relatives. There was a large minority from the Sind (current south Pakistan) known as “Tuz”; the European would later name them Tzigan.  

There were many Christian and Zoroaster Iranians, other Christian sects and Jews.  The non-Moslems ran the taverns and produced, imported, and sold alcoholic beverages and wine. The fundamentally Christian sect of Mani (Manichean) spread from Northern Africa to India.  The Abbasid Dynasty started the persecution of the Mani followers and then the Pope of Rome followed suit.

 

Four years later, Al Maamun, the half brother of Al Amine from an Iranian mother, would enter Baghdad and assassinate the Caliph Al Amine. Abu Nawass would be assassinated less than two years later, at the age of 56. 

The Shiaa Moslem sect predominated in Iran for political reasons: in order to have the upper hand on the Kuraich tribe of Mecca, from which all the Caliphs claimed their origins, they had to claim a more legitimate descendant to the Prophet Muhammad. They selected Ali, the fourth Caliph and his offspring Hassan, then Hussein and then the others descendants of Ali and Fatima (the Prophet’s daughter). 

Abu Nawass was comfortable with all sects and minorities, though he would satirize them in his poems as front for his proper belief system that agreed with them.  With the exception of his profound loathing of the Arab tribes originating from the Northern Arabian Peninsula, I think it safe to say that Abu Nawass satires on minorities and Jews are an exit scheme for displaying the “others” point of views.

 

The German Ewald Wagner published 5 volumes of Abu Nawass poems in the seven major genres of bacchanal (wine and drinking binges), erotic, libertine, hunting, panegyric (praises), satire, saturnine (mourning), and ascetic. .  Hamza al Isfahani (946 AD) published 1,500 poems claimed to be of Abu Nawass or a volume of 13,000 lines.

Al Hassan al Hakami, nicknamed Abu Nuwass for his long curly hair), was born in 757 AD in Ahwaz (south east Iran) of an Arab soldier born in Damascus and who was at the sold of the Omayyad Dynasty and a Persian mother Golban (Rose) originating from the Sind (south Pakistan). 

Abu Nuwass didn’t get to know his father and was orphaned.  He followed his mother to Basra and attended a Koranic school. The pretty boy joined his mature cousin Waliba al Hubab (who loved pretty boys) to Kufa.  Back to Basra Abu Nawass becomes the disciple of Khalaf al Ahmar, a “rawi” or transmitter of pre-Islamic poetry.  

Abu Nuwass spent an entire year in isolation with bedwins to correctly learn the Arab language.  By the age of 30, Abu Nuwass relocates to Baghdad during Caliph Harun Al Rasheed reign. Abu Nawass was the contemporary of the mystic Al Hallaj who was horribly executed and from whom Abu Nawass learned the message.

 

The power, smoothness, and loveliness of Abu Nawass poems are that they are solely from experience.  He self describes his life, feelings, the period, the culture, the social settings, the urban amenities compared to the arid and crude customs of the clans in the desert. 

He naturally used Persian words and slang, about 200 words in all, and you could view the kaleidoscope of the period dynamically strolling as you read. Thus, there are no romanticism, sentimentalism, or faked imagination and feelings. In fact, the weakest among his genres are the saturnine (poems of mourning) because he could not force non existing feelings for those who died, even for his closest drinking companions. 

For the panegyric genre Abu Nawass was sober in his praises and tributes and would just reserve the last six lines to that purpose after describing hunting adventures or the difficult trips to reaching the influential personality. Most of the people he praised got satirized anyway.  

The bacchanal and libertine genres are pervasive in almost all of Abu Nuwass poems and that is why this great poet is not taught in schools and his manuscripts relegated to the inaccessible sections of libraries.  The polygraph Al Jaahez (869 AD) wrote “I know of no one who knew the lexical of the Arab language as Abu Nuwass.  His expressions were very pure and soft and avoided disagreeable terms

 

The other great Arab poet Al Mutanabi (one hundred year later and a master craftsman in coining memorable verses) would say that the other poets toil on their work while his poems come to him easily and naturally; I feel that this statement apply exclusively to Abu Nawass who did not edit and publish his poems.  Al Mutanabi managed to gather and edit his complete work before he was assassinated.

Francois Villion (1498) published his “Testament” of forgiveness that is almost a carbon copy of Abu Nawass “God forgive me” piece.  No wonder, Medieval Europe and up to the Renaissance had vast knowledge of Arab literature and published works because Arab civilization was the “in thing”.

Abu Nawass clearly proclaimed his preference for pretty boy of 15 year-old with large thighs and oval faces. You may read my article “The Gods of beauty: Before the age of pimples” (February 7, 2009)

 

I have read Al Moutanaby, Al Maary, Omar Khayyam, Ibn Araby, and Hafez; they emulated Abu Nawass well, each one in his favorite genre; Abu Nawass is the Master; the other poets have did their best.

I have read Rimbaud, Verlaine, and Baudelaire; they are good poets; Abu Nawass is their Master; they have done the best they could

Islam: After the Prophet Muhammad (Part 4, February 2, 2009)

 

When the Prophet Mohamad died Omar would not believe that the Prophet could die and threatened to kill anyone who says so; then Abu Bakr (instructed by his daughter Aicha) told the congregation “Moslems, those among you who adore Mohammad, Mohammad is dead.  Those who adore God, God is alive”.

Ali was to wash the body and arrange for the funeral. The Companions elected Abu Bakr Caliph in the absence of Ali who was the closest member in the prophet’s “House”. Abu Bakr reminded the Moslems what the Prophet told him once: “All prophets were buried at the place of their death”; and thus Mohammad was buried in Aicha’s bedroom.  Aicha replaced the bed on top of the burying ground and continued sleeping there.

Abu Bakr would not distribute the Prophet’s inheritance to anyone of his wives or family members because Mohammad has told him that prophets’ belonging went to charities.  Fatima died 6 months later as Mohammad has predicted. Under Abu Bakr, Aicha, aided by Zayd ibn Thabit, got the huge responsibility of gathering and collecting all the parchments and written verses and the early oral verses of the Koran and then sorting them, verifying their authenticity, correcting and compiling them. Aichi was not twenty years old.  Abu Bakr died within two years and was also buried in Aicha’s bedroom next to the Prophet.  At the time of Abu Bakr’s death, Khaled ibn Al Walid had vanquished the Byzantine Emperor at Yarmuk and was advancing toward Damascus.

Omar was selected by Abu Bakr to be the next Caliph. Omar extended Islam to Persia by a victory in Qadissiya and toward Egypt.  Omar was assassinated by a Christian slave while praying in the Mosque in Medina; Omar also asked permission of Aicha to be buried in her bedroom.  By then, Aicha was the ultimate interpreter of the Koran and had issued 2,210 Hadiths and was the expert in women’s legal right or “Fiqh Al Nissaa”.

Omar appointed a Council of five Companions from the tribes of Kuraich to elect the next Caliph.  Othman ibn Affan was selected and Aicha had misgivings on how he might manipulate the masses of documents collected on the verses of Islam.  Omar left the documents with his daughter Afsa to hand over to the next Caliph.

Othman ended up exercising nepotism and appointing relatives as governors and civil servants in high offices and he built a palace and lived luxuriously with 500 serfs maintaining the palace and organizing the feasts.  The new Caliph destroyed the documents related to the Koran that he didn’t like and Aicha came out of her house carrying the sandals and shirts and hair of the prophet and shouted at the caliph: “The Prophet’s belongings had not had time to desintegrate and you started to turn your back on his teachings”. Aicha had a copy of all the documents and she rewrote her version of the Koran.

A large dissatisfied mob of Moslems, who were manipulated by extremists in Basra (Iraq), marched on Medina. Aicha had premonition that the arriving mob is bad news and got permission from Othman to leave for pilgrimage with the Prophet’s harem.  The mob entered the palace of Othman, burned it asunder, and stabbed and beat the Caliph to death. 

Ali was elected Caliph but refrained to revenge the murder of the Caliph Othman as a priority case. This lukewarm behavior prompted Aicha to action and she started delivering speeches in Mecca to the effect that the punishment of the leaders of assassins should be carried out first thing first.  Her brother-in-law Zobair and another Companion Talhat excited Aicha to leading a contingent of 3,000 fighters to Basra.

Ali was on his way to Damascus to fight Moawiya, the governor of Syria, and stopped at Kufa to recruit more fighters and had to challenge Aicha before resuming his campaign.  Aicha, Zobair and Talhat managed to recruit an army of 30,000 men against Ali’s army of 20,000 soldiers.  The battle of the “Camel”, the first among the Moslems, left 15,000 victims among the Moslem fighters which affected Aicha for the remainder of her life. Talhat and Zobair died in the battle.

Aicha was riding in a palanquin, all curtains shut close, and she kept exhorting her army to fight. Ali ordered his officer to cut the hands of the camel guides so that the camel could be moved from the center of the battle field; other guides took the relay and 72 camel guides left theirs hands on the rope before the camel’s hamstrings were cut and was brought down; the symbol of “The Mother of the Believer” finally relinquished its effect on the troops.

Ali permitted Aicha to return to her home in Medina and she was escorted as a Queen. One of Moawiya’s delegates told Aicha that they wished she died in the battle so that the allies of Moawiya would have had an excellent excuse to fight Ali.

Aicha spent the remaining of her life in her house, receiving scholars and students who regarded her as the main resource for correct interpretations of the religious verses and taking notes of her experiences. Aicha was the only virgin in the harem that the Prophet married; whatever she knew of love making was the invention and initiation of Muhammad.  A specific revelation forbade Muhammad’s wives to remarry; they were to remain in their homes and to be covered completely and wear the “nikab” on their face when stepping outside their doors or meeting males.

The effects of the assassination of Othman didn’t end up there.  Muawiya raised the same reason of avenging Othman to engage Ali in a terrible battle at Seffine in Syria: the bloodied shirt of Othman hanging in the Mosque of Madina demanded retribution and the Arabs coined the dictum “the Shirt of Othman” to convey the meaning that the reason offered is but an excuse in the power struggle.   There were no victors in the battle of Seffine.  A large contingent of Ali’s army dissented because Ali agreed to arbitrate; these dissenters were labeled Al Khawarej and were led by Abdulah ibn Wahab (the current Saudi Monarchy is of the Wahhabi sect in affiliation). The Khawarej went on assassination rampage against the leading followers of both Ali and Muawiya. 

The Khawarej failed to assassinate Muawiya but killed Ali in Kufa.  Ali refused to name anyone to succeed him as Caliph and said to his followers that he would not disagree with anyone they select; Aicha was to say “this is typical Ali’s ambiguity” as she forecasted the worst to the unity of the “Umma” or Nation of Islam.  Ali was the most qualified to be the Imam of Islam but since there was yet no separation between the political and religious functions then Ali had to seek power as Caliph.  Ali lacked the political acumens and the qualities of a political leader because he was constantly plagued with ambiguities as a result of his vast religious knowledge and his apprehension to err in his decisions. Scissions developed during his short five years reign

Muawiya was elected Caliph in Damascus; the power became hereditary. Muawiya sent assassins to eliminate any potential leaders closely related to the Prophet. Aicha lived to experience the death of many of her male family members.  Hassan, the son of Ali, was assassinated by his wife wearing a poisoned dress.  Moawiya then slaughtered Hassan’s wife to cover up his cooperation.  The successors of Muawiya were known as the Ummayad dynasty. The most powerful tribe of Kuraich reigned in Damascus for over a century. The Abbaseed (The house of Abbass, the Uncles of Muhammad) succeeded in taking power in Baghdad for two centuries.  During and after the Abbasseed dynasty the Central Asian converted Sunni tribes dominated the political and religious landscape for over ten centuries.  The Shi’aa sect (the followers of Ali’s second son Hussein) emerged as a counterpart to the Sunni sect representing the legitimate Moslems.

Islam: Triumphal return to Mecca (Part 3, February 1, 2009)

Mohammad had a dream while sleeping with Aicha that he shaved his head and performed the pilgrimage to Al Kaaba (Black Stone) in Mecca.  Aicha encouraged him and Muhammad left Medina with 700 unarmed men to Mecca with his wise and matured wife Um Salama instead of Aicha.  The favorite camel of Muhammad named Qaswa parked in Hudaybiya, close to Mecca, and would not move any further. Qaswa was the same camel that selected the location for the Prophet’s house and the Mosque in Yathreb.  The Kuraichi’s tribes sent delegations and they reached a ten-year non-belligerence treaty with a promise that Muhammad would be permitted pilgrimage next year. 

Although Muhammad was not allowed to enter Mecca, he wanted to perform the rites in Hudaybiya but the Companions refused. Um Salama then encouraged Muhammad to perform the sacred rituals and shaved Muhammad’s head and he slaughtered his sacrificial camel; then the believers hurried to follow suit and the party returned to Medina sanctified.

 

Mohammad conquered the fortified Jewish town of Khibar, North West of Madina in the year 630.  The lands were turned over to Mohammad and his closest Companions and the Jews agreed to relinquish their treasures and to cultivate the land as serfs for 50% on the return for their subsistence.  Um Salama escorted the Prophet in this raid and recounted to the harem that a Jewish girl roasted a lamb for Muhammad that was poisoned; when asked why she poisoned the lamb she replied: “You killed my father, brother, and husband. If you are a King then good riddance; if you are a Prophet then you must discover the plot.”  The girl was not punished for the rational that she will spread her conviction that Mohammad is indeed a prophet for discovering that the food was poisoned. 

Mohammad married Safiya, a Jewish beauty and of high grace from Khaibar who was married to a brute of a husband that died during the battle. Um Salama said that Mohammad liked his new wife very much: he didn’t wait the customary 40 days grievance and married her on the way back to Medina and spent four whole days and nights with Safiya.  With virgins, the husbands spend 7 whole days and nights!  Aicha thought that Um Salama could have spared her so much anxiety.

 

Mohammad married Um Habiba, the daughter of Abu Suffyan, his arch enemy of Kuraich; she was one of the first Moslem converts to flee to Ethiopia after the Kuraich persecutions.  Muhammad married Maria, a Coptic slave sent as gift by Egypt’s Christian Governor. Maria became immediately the concubine of the Prophet until she converted to Islam and he spent most of his time with Maria, raising a revolt within his harem. Maria gave Muhammad a male son called Ibrahim who also died at age of two as his first son Qassem with Khadija,

Aicha took a definite advantage over the remaining wives. Prominent dignitaries who wanted to offer the Prophet gifts learned that the best moments were when Muhammad was with Aicha.  Aicha thus enjoyed the best fabrics and gifts and the other wives revolted again wanting fair distribution of the gifts.  Mohammad told Um Salama that his revelations descend when he is with Aicha, but the revolt went on and the Prophet decided to retreat from his harem for a whole month, sending fear and frustration in the community of the believers.  After a month, Mohammad revealed a message placing men as superior to women and admonishing wives to obey their husband, and permitting husbands to punish their wives if they disobeyed.  Mohammad re-conquered his authority in the harem; wives had to pay the price of this revolt for centuries after.

In 630 or the 8th year of Mohammad emigration to Yathreb, the Prophet assembled ten thousand fighters for his pilgrimage to the Kaaba and entered Mecca and destroyed the pagan Gods and became the uncontested leader of all the tribes in the Arabia peninsula.  The prophet’s arch enemy Abu Suffian converted to Islam before the troops of the Moslems entered Mecca.  The famous Hind, wife of Abu Sufian, reluctantly converted to Islam. Hind is the woman who opened the chest of Muhammad’s uncle Hamza in the Battle of Ohud; she ate raw Hamza’s liver in order to avenge her father’s death in the battle of Badr; Hamza had killed Hind’s father in a singular fight before the battle of Bard and had also killed her two “masked” younger brothers ten years ago in Mecca. Hind secluded herself in one room for the duration of two years.

The 360 idols were destroyed and the prophet kept the same old worshiping ceremony at the Black Stone with different connotations to the meanings in the procession.  The Persian Salman had fled Yathrib incognito back to Mecca.  Salman was the official scribe to Muhammad who got suspicious with the increased rate of rules issued every day to organize and manage the lives of the Moslem followers.  Salman had started experimenting and tampering with the verses recited to him by the Prophet and then he realized that Muhammad was about to find him out. 

The poet Al Aasha took refuge in the famous whorehouse called the “Curtain House” or Hijab for over two years.  The Prophet had taken the suggestion of Abu Sufian not to close the Curtain House right away because the conversions of the citizens of Mecca were at best skin-deep. The poet Al Aasha had suggested to the Matron of the House that each one of the 12 whores emulate one of the Prophet’s wives in name and in historical incarnation.  Business was brisk and the 12 whores then got the crazy idea of asking the blinding poet to marry them all as the Prophet did. 

 

Mohammad married Maymouna, a relative of both tribes of Abi Taleb and Hashim to the fainting and shock of the harem.  A revelation descended that the messenger is allowed all the women he desires.  Besides his nine wives, Muhammad had two concubines, Maria and Rihana, and uncounted numbers of women who wanted to offer themselves to him to gain Paradise.  Once, Fatima told the harem that her husband Ali wanted to take another wife and she intervened with the Prophet and Ali refrained to carry out his desires.  Aicha was beside herself to learn that Fatima, the plain woman and not as educated as she, could enjoy one husband and generate four offspring, two of them males.  Aicha realized that she could not get pregnant with all her gained expertise.

    The Prophet’s adoptive son Zaid was killed at a battle in the north against the Byzantium Empire. Muhammad organized an army of 30,000 fighters in the year 631, recruited from all over Arabia and marched to Tabuk, a city within the Syrian borders, to avenge the death of his adoptive son Zaid; he took Aicha with him on this campaign.  The Governor of Syria didn’t deign to challenge the Prophet for a battle. Muhammad returned to Medina after securing many treaties with the neighboring tribes and oasis in Syria.  The whole of Arabia was converting to Islam.

Ibrahim, the son of Mohammad from Maria and aged 18 months, died.  The Prophet cried and lamented, a behavior which was not the custom of the male believers. The Prophet went on pilgrimage to Mecca the next year with 30,000 pilgrims and the entire harem went this time.  Mohammad gave a speech alluding that it might be his last pilgrimage. The prophet closed the Curtain House.  The whore girls were incarcerated.  For 12 days, the former polemist Al Aasha would show up in front of the prison and recite wonderful and touching love odes to each one of his wives.  The guards finally realized that the names corresponded to the Prophet’s wives and the poet was taken prisoner. The girls were stoned to death. 

During the trial, the public would not believe Al Aasha’s story and thought that he was jesting which aggravated the Prophet’s mood who said “In the old days you mocked the Recitation; then too these people enjoyed your mockery.  Now you succeed in bringing the worst out of the people” Before being decapitated Al Aasha said to Muhammad “Whores and writers Muhammad; we are the people you can’t forgive.”  The Prophet replied “Writers and whores, I see no difference here.” (Extracted from Salman Rushdi’s manuscript)

When the Prophet Muhammad died Hind wore all her jewelry and ordered a sumptuous banquet and invited the citizens of Mecca.  No one shared the banquet with her, not even her husband.  Hind said “I cannot change the course of history but revenge is so sweet!”

Shortly after his return to Medina Muhammad suffered from terrible headaches; he asked Abu Bakr to preach in his place when he was bed ridden.  Muhammad was mortally sick for at least a month and he knew his days were counted because Angel Gabriel gave him a choice between this world and the Other World and the Prophet opted for the Other World.  Muhammad had time to think about the succession of power and the appropriate processes but no revelations were forthcoming.  The Prophet dies on June 8 in the year 632.  The prophet Muhammad was 63 years old.

The tribal spirit was to dominate the political landscape, the same spirit that Muhammad intended to re-direct toward a Unique God and unite the “Umma”.  The Arab and Moslem World were tribal in structure and ended up with a caste system when the newly converted Central Asian tribes overpowered the Kuraich tribal rights for leadership.

The remaining direct blood family of the Prophet consisted of his two grandsons Hassan and Hussein, and his two grand daughters from his daughter Fatima and her husband Ali (his nephew). The prophets three other daughters Zainab, Rukaya, and Oum Kulthum had died; I have no information so far if they left any offspring.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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