Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ayatollah Khomeini

 

Shiite Ritual Draws Historic Parallels: Bloody. And belittled

The blood oozing from the cuts in the top of Ali Rassoul’s head on Tuesday had crusted in streaks around his eyes and ears and soaked the front of his long, white gown.

But his wounds had nothing to do with the car bombs and urban battles that have torn Iraq apart:  they were his way of commemorating a much older battle: that of Karbala, where in the year 680, the army of  Omayyad Caliph Yazid slaughtered Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and cut off his head.

Baghdad- For many Iraqi Shiites who commemorated the death of Hussein on Tuesday in an event called Ashura, the current threat against their community from the extremists of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, has profound historical parallels.

“This year Ashura is more important because of the threat against us from ISIS,” said Mr. Rassoul, who runs a woman’s shoe store and had a long dagger in a shiny scabbard hanging from his shoulder. “They have come to kill us, just like Yazid came to kill Hussein.”

Photo

Shiites in Baghdad bled Tuesday to commemorate the slaying of Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, in 680. Credit Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

Mr. Rassoul spoke from a street in the Kadhimiya district of northwest Baghdad, in front of an ornate mosque that houses the tomb of a martyred Shiite leader.

While millions of Shiites across the world observe Ashura, Kadhimiya is one place where a minority pays homage to Hussein through the contentious practice of self-cutting called tatbir.

As the sun rose, hundreds of mostly young men gathered in a street here dressed in white robes.

While a few beat drums, the crowd chanted, “Haidar! Haidar!” invoking Hussein’s father, Ali. Some waved colored flags. Others carried long knives brought specifically for tatbir.

When the time came for the procession to start, Amer Matrouk, the leader of one group, drew his blade and the men, some of whom had shaved their heads, knelt before him so he could give them swift blows to their scalps, just enough to open the skin and start the bleeding.

“Not everyone knows how to do it,” said Mr. Matrouk, 63, who said he has been practicing tatbir since he was a child and had a row of straight scars on his scalp to show for it.

He rejected the idea that it could seriously hurt anyone.

“We have never had any accidents,” he said. “Sometimes there are those who are not very strong and they get dizzy from all the blood, but they are fine in the end.”

The practice of tatbir is debated among Shiites and many respected clerics have spoken against it.

Some argue that it is a form of self-harm, which is religiously forbidden.

Others have written it off as a folk practice, that may have seeped into Islam from Christian Passion plays about the crucifixion or from indigenous mourning rites that communities brought with them when they became Shiites.

Still others have argued that it makes Shiites look bad, which is reason enough to avoid it in a region where they are a minority and often looked on with suspicion by Sunnis.

These practices used to be limited and no one paid attention to them, but they have started to spread and defame the image of the event in a huge way,” said Abbas Shams al-Din, a Shiite cleric and writer during an interview in his book-lined Baghdad home. “If you search for pictures on Google and type ‘Ashura’ or ‘Shia Muslim,’ you won’t see anything but blood. It’s terrible!”

Ayatollah Khomeini went on record against tatbir, and it has become punishable by law in Iran, although some still do it in secret.

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon, too, has criticized it, and his movement has sought to channel the fervor in a more productive direction by holding Ashura blood drives. But other Shiite groups in Lebanon still do it.

And it persists in Iraq, where clerics who have spoken against it have faced popular criticism, Mr. Shams al-Din said.

“There are some who do not want to issue a fatwa because they know that people will do it anyway,” said Abbas Kadhim, a senior foreign policy fellow at Johns Hopkins University who has studied Shiite theology. “If you do this, you set them up to be sinners.”

But those arguments meant little to the hundreds of men marching in Kadhimiya, blood dripping from their heads, soaking their white robes and pooling in the street.

A woman who gave her name as Um Salah sat with two friends on the sidewalk, thumping her hand rhythmically on her chest as the procession passed.

“Yesterday, there were attacks and explosions, but we are still here,” she said, saying that the event showed the steadfastness of the community.

Two of her sons were serving in the Iraqi Army, she said. They never told her much about what they saw, other than calling to say they were fine and making progress “in the fight against the terrorists,” she said.

A short drive away at the Kadhimiya Blood Donation Center, an employee said that many people had come to donate.

“It can help the wounded person or the soldier,” the employee said, giving only his first name, Jassim.

But when a visitor observed that the clinic was deserted, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “People come.”

Others wish tatbir would go away.

“Why do they do it?” said Haidar Abu Yassir, a taxi driver, screwing up his face in disgust. “Did Hussein do that? No! He was cut into pieces!”

Mr. Abu Yasser said that he felt that donating was better than “letting all that blood drip off your head for nothing.”

But when asked if he knew anyone who had donated, he paused to consider the question.

“Nope,” he said. “They all want to do tatbir.”

“Time to learn and apply soft tactics for the same objectives…?” Hezbollah, Rami… (Fiction story?)

In the back seat, behind the driver, Sheikh Kassem is looking at the big file set besides him, and he exhales forcefully.

The black Mercedes with tainted windows crosses the streets of Dahieh smoothly, skipping the red lights.

The car stops in front of a huge plain cement building, studded with tiny elevated windows. Kassem enters a small simple room. The white washed walls let a yellow light seeps from an elevated small window.

A long wooden table filled the center. The photos of the late Ayatollah Khomeini and the current Khamenei, the Wali Fakih of Iran, “control” the assembled members of the  Shawra Council.

Four of the members in the Shawra Council wore white or gray loose tunics, and trimmed medium length beards. Two of the members had black “3amama” head cover: Signifying that they are considered direct descendent of Muhammad.

The members converged from all regions in Lebanon, just to resume the discussion on a particular file, and take a decision in this third meeting.

Al Baaker wore military attire and spoke with a heavy Arabic accent, an Iranian military commander, and who was from the Islamic Iranian Revolutionary Guards two decades ago.

Another member was the Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon.

Haj Radwan, the head of the Party security services, was in military uniform. He was a fighter the Palestinian Fateh movement during Lebanon civil war

Zul Fikar is the previous head of the Party military branch.

Hassan was the last to enter the room and joined the team at the head of the table. He dropped a heavy file and each member readied their own copies of the file.

Hassan opened the session with Koranic statements and said:

“Brothers, this is the third meeting concerning the file in front of us. We have to reach a resolution. Brother Zul Fikar, have you reconsidered your extreme position on the matter?”

Zul Fikar: “I have Samahatak. I am sticking to my stand. This situation should not drag on any longer. We have to finish quickly with this business…”

Hassan: “What of the logistical preparations?
Zul: We have several options. The easiest is to quietly assassinate the contestant with a bullet. Or exterminate him in his bed, in the dark of night, ina quick blow…”

My preferred alternative is to send a violent public message, a drama that a car bomb will remind people that public discontent in the Party is totally inadmissible…”

Hassan: “And what about the logistics?”

Al Baaker: “Allow me Sayyed to speak freely. We have to silence these kinds of thoughts and outbursts that members and ex-members feel at liberty to express publicly. Personal opinions and facts published in books and articles should be submitted to our censorship…”

Haj Radwan: “Sayedna. I agree with Al Baaker and Zul Fikar that we should cut the way on any future public discourse.  We should have in perspective levels of tolerance to free opinions. If we  were in power as a State, we should be adequately tolerant, but we are still struggling as a resistance movement… We could use a small detonation and never admit our responsibilities in the matter. The message will still be heard loud and clear…”

Hassan: “Brother Zul Fikar. Have you discussed this matter with our brothers in Iran?”

Zul: “I did Sayyed and they will support our decisions.”

Hassan: “If there are no other suggestions to submit to the council, I am ready to direct Haj Radwan and Zul to coordinate their activities. Have we settled this problem?”

No one volunteered to object and Kassem felt reluctantly that he should speak this time around.

Kassem: “We meed more discussion. I do not disagree that a strong message should be sent, but the reactions should not be these kinds of violent direct solutions. We are a legitimate political party in the Parliament and the government and our violent resolutions should be very restricted and rare.

Not long ago, we barely believed that our Party will acquire this legitimacy and be representing the people in Lebanon’s brand of democratic process….”

Al Baaker: “Our representation in the system is the result of our violent means and determination…”

Hassan: “Brother Kassem. Please continue your observation.”

Kassem: “It is about time that we conduct our business and policies within the legal framework and never antagonize the voting citizens who seek security and a the proper climate for investment. Our political allies are squeezed and would not tolerate violent decisions.

It’s time to be cautious and learn to apply soft tactics that will achieve the same goals… If we fail to learn and train our cadres to soft and intelligent means, it is doubtful that we will be able to be believable when in power. It would be too late to convince anyone of our tolerant inclination

Zul Fikar: “Sayyedna. We have considered all the logistics and we are ready to execute if you give the green light.”

Hassan: “Brother Kassem.  Would you develop on the kinds of soft tactics that you have in mind? How can we stop this book “The path of the bees”  from being published?”

Al Baaker and Zul were besides themselves and fulminating:  They were still unable to digest the particularities of Lebanon political and social structure and complexities. They insisted on a violent reaction.

Hassan: Brother Kassem. Resume and develop on your ideas”

Kassem: “We have to tone down our rough reactions. We are a political party within this complicated social fabric. We are already taken very seriously locally, regionally, and internationally. We are under close scrutiny and the medias are many and cunning in lambasting every action and move we do. Our movement grew as the advocates of the weak and humiliated citizens, and the people supported wholeheartedly our steadfast struggle. Israel withdrew unconditionally from Lebanon in May 2000, and was defeated in its preemptive war of June 2006 thanks to the massive support of the citizens.

We are set to gain a Parliamentary majority with our allies in 2008, and we cannot skip this opportunity by adopting violent options at this crucial period…”

Hassan: “Brother Kassem. What are your ideas on soft tactics in this case?”

Kassem: “Haj Radwan is a pro in these soft tactics. For the time being, we need a vast support from all religious communities, including the Sunnis, Christians and Druzes. A large support will provide us with a breathing space to maneuver. A book is a weapon with two trenchant sides. We cannot forecast the negative effects of this small book, but a violent reaction will absolutely send a bad wave of discontent and a feeling of growing apprehension to our tactics. The people will wonder: “What could we expect from a violent movement when it comes to power if it is not the same of the kind?”

We need to give the impression that the Party has matured and is strong and is not afraid of public criticisms, even from within its members and previous supporters. Time to learn to accept divergent lines of thinking…”

Hassan: “Brother Radwan. Do you have the necessary means to softly prevent this book from being published?”

Radwan: “Affirmative Sayyedna. We have a vast array of means and connections within the government institutions and the medias to pressure the authors from going ahead with his project and obstruct such a calamity.”

Hassan: “Brother Radwan. I count on your professionalism and dedication. I consider this session closed.

What Sayyed Hassan refused to know in soft tactics, Radwan went forward with his professional knowledge:

1. The security services placed a call to Khaled, in charge of obtaining the necessary legal documents for publishing the book. Khaled bailed out in total terror.

2. Adnan, the younger brother of Rami, was contacted by Jawad, a childhood friend and currently in a position of power in the Party.  Adnan will try his hardest to put the pressure on Rami.

3. The old parents of Rami will be harassed and they will tell Rami: “We are old and have nowhere to go. Where do you expect us to live if the community turns against us?”

Note 1: The book “The Path of the Bees” by Rami Elayk was published in 2008 and translated in several languages.

Note 2: The problem didn’t stop here. Rami published a follow us book “Under the Green water” in 2013. This manuscript is basically an accumulation of diaries of the past 5 years. This voluminous book of 600 pages describes the many ways of soft tactics adopted by the Party to dissuade him from publishing  hard copy manuscripts. The entire book could be told in a dozen pages or a couple of articles, but Rami was intent on describing in details every nooks and crannies of Lebanon, the traffic, his daily life, how bitter were his tears, how depressed was his shriveled father, how inconsolable was his mother…This latest book is not that good, and soft tactics were not necessary to be used.

However, the Party is in difficult situations and struggling on many fronts, politically and militarily, and is in no mood of wasting energy and time on ridiculous soft tactics, this time around…

However, Iran is in a tight spot, and pouring in all its energy to retain Syria in the “Confrontation Front” against the imperialist USA and its stooges Israel. Iran does not want to be bogged down in the labyrinth of Lebanese political nonsense…

Note 3: Rami was ambushed and was saved. His home in Yohmor was blown up.

“These are my memories at the University of Oklahoma…”: From another person recollection…

I wrote extensively in my autobiography on the city of Norman and the University of Oklahoma during two periods of higher education. And here I am reading “Reading Lolita in Tehran” and am taken aback that Iranian author Azar Nafisi also studied and lived many years there, and may have joined the same demonstrations that I participated in…

Azar started her studies in English literature early in the 1970’s, when the US students were demonstrating against the war in Vietnam.

I arrived in the summer of 1975, and the Vietnam war had ended, and the demonstrations were headed by the Iranian student movements against the Shah of Iran, and I had started my MS degree in Industrial engineering…

What follows is Nafisi’s recollection (and whatever comments I might butt in are in parenthesis).

“Red earth and fireflies, singing and demonstrating on South Oval lawn, reading Melville, Poe, Lenin and Mao, reading Ovid and Shakespeare on warm spring mornings, singing revolutionary songs…

(I read all of Lenin, Mao, and even the North KoreanKim Il Sung in Lebanon before I left to the USA. The civl war in Lebanon had just started. On several occasions, I had to rely on the Red Cross for news on my family safety status, and mails were dispatched via Paris where I had relatives…)

At night watching new films by Bergman, Fellini, Godard, and Pasolini… (I watched their movies in Beirut, and kept watching all the European movies on Friday evening, organized by the film student association, usually in the microbiology department by the main library. It is in one of these Fridays that I saw what I thought was the most beautiful girl in the wide world…)

One of my radical professor David singing on his guitar:

“Long-haired preachers come out every night

And they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right

And when you ask them for something to eat…

Work and pray, live on hay, you will get pie

In the sky when you die.

That’s a lie!”

Four of my favorite English professors were of different political leaning. Dr. Yoch was conservative, Dr. Gross was a revolutionary, and the two liberal Dr. Veile and Dr. Elconin.

Taking over the administration building, occasional streakers running across the green toward the redbrick main library…

The suffering ROTC students trying to ignore our presence, while we were protesting against the Vietnam war. (After 1975, our demonstrations were mainly against the Shah of Iran, since most of the radical students were Iranians of the two Marxist factions of Mujahideen Khalk and Fedayeen Khalk…)

Later, I would go to parties with my true love Ted, who introduced me to Nabokov, and gave me “Ada”, writing on the flyleaf “To Azar, my Ada”

I reluctantly joined the Iranian Students movement: I was more of a rebel than a politics activist, and I never fully integrated into the movement…

In the Univ. of Oklahoma at Norman, the Iranian movement was a chapter of the World Confederation of Iranian Students. The militant branch of the Revolutionary Communist Party RSB and the Third World Committee Against Imperialism were created later on.

The Marxist elements in the movement came to dominate the group and the male members wore Che Guevara sports jackets and boots. The women cropped their hair short, no makeup, and wore Mao jackets and khaki pants… I insisted on wearing long dresses, I didn’t cut my hair, and loved reading “counterrevolutionary” authors such as TS Eliot, Austen, Plath, Fitzgerald, Nabovov…and occasionally delivered speeches in rallies.

The Iranian students held study groups, reading Engels‘s “Origin of the family, Private Properties, and the State“, and Marx’s “The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte”.

The mood was revolutionary and the romantic atmosphere infectious, and the Iranian students were at the forefront of the struggle…(Eventually bringing Ayatollah Khomeini to power, who ultimately instituted a theocratic system… I was there as a few secular and radical factions supported the return of Khomeini, and I attended a few of their meetings)

In the fall of 1977, I got married with Bijan Nadiri, whom I met 2 years earlier at a meeting at Berkeley.

I felt nostalgic about places in Iran and famiyl, but the meetings mostly tried to reconstruct another Iran.

The movement started discouraging alcoholic beverages, dancing or playing “decadent” music during Iranian celebrations: They wanted us to avoid the “bourgeois” habits of studying

The most radical faction “The Confederation of Iranian Students” convened a conference in Oklahoma City. One of the members, a former running champion, was suspected of being a SAVAK agent (the Shah’s secret services).  This suspect war lured into a room at the Holiday Inn and tortured to “extract” the truth… He manged to escape.

The next day, several FBI agents barged into the conference. As the suspect reached the “culprit” or the leader, he broke down and cried and asked in Persian “Why did you treat me so cruelly?”, but he refrained to expose his tormentors, and left with the FBI agents.

The news were reported in the Univ. “Oklahoma Daily” and there were heated discussions engaged in coffee shops and the Student Union…Many boasted of the “power of the masses“. Many others quoted Stalin on the need to “destroy once and for all the Trotskyites, the White Guards, the termites, and poisonous rats…” Many defended the right of the masses to torture and physically eliminate their oppressors…

Azar warned: “Be careful what you wish for. The Islamic revolution will answer the wishes of the radical students and destroy the left-leaning and westernized citizens…Could my former comrades have predicted that one day they would be tried in a revolutionary Islamic court? Tortured, humiliated, put in jail, and executed as traitors and spies? They could not have predicted these outcomes, Not in their wildest dreams…”

I wanted to do comparative study of the American literature of the 20’s and 30’s.  I thought Fitzgerald represented the 20’s generations, but I had difficulty selecting a counterpoint in the 30’s, like Steinbeck, Farrell or Dos Passos..

And here I come across the real proletarians, whose spirit was best captured by Mike Gold, the radical editor of the popular literary journal “New Masses“. Gold was a big shot in his day: Even Hemingway took notice. Gold had called Thornton Wilder “the Emily Post of culture

What to expect from Iran Islamic Republic as “Ayatollah” Khomeini had proclaimed:

Ayatollah Khomeini, the original, not the current Khamenei, said: “Criminals should not be tried. The trial of a criminal is against Human Rights.  Human Rights demand that we should have killed them in the first place, as it became known that they were criminals…

They (International Human Rights Organization) criticize us because we are executing the brutes… We all made mistakes: We thought we were dealing with human beings.  It is not evident: We are dealing with wild animals... We will not tolerate these criminal and corrupt elements anymore…”

And who are these criminal elements, the wild animals, the brutes…?

They were the “Westernized” citizens, brought up in a westernized family, having stayed too long in Europe and the USA to study, smoking US cigarette brands in Iran, displaying leftist tendencies in not wearing the traditional Islamic attires, reading subversive foreign books like The Great Gatsby of Fitzgerald, or Farewell to Arm by Hemingway, all those non-politically motivated, considered monarchists, employees who worked in institutions during the Shah’s regime…

Khomeini went on: “The turbaned (militias) are about to execute in public the corrupt elements and burn them, and the story will be over… The corrupt elements are not allowed to publish newspapers…We will close all political parties except the One (Hezbollah?), or a few acting in a proper manner…”

Ayatollah Shariatmadari was heading the most popular party of Muslim People’s Republic Party and this party was disbanded.  The second in command, Ayatollah Muntazeri was blown up in the hotel where his party convention was being held, along with a hundred of the leaders…The irony is that the Communist Tudeh Party and the Marxist Fedayeen Organization sided with Khomeini. Why? Khomeini was against the US imperialist!

And successive waves of makeshift trials executed thousands of Iranians, and the communists and marxists were diligently persecuted and massacred.

Women were forbidden to dance and sing in public, and going to movie theaters, and going out without veil and long nails…

Azar Nafisi wrote in her book “Reading Lolita in Tehran” a fitting similarity between radical ideals and their consequences when grabbing power.

Mike Gold, the American radical Marxist of the 20’s, wrote about his American dream in his newspaper New Masses: “The old ideals must die…Let us fling all we are into the cauldron of the Revolution.  For out of our death shall arise glories…”

Iran Islamic Republic “Revolution” applied Gold ideals, adopting exactly the mechanism that should lead to glory… and did much harm to Islam by manipulating the religion to its political ends…

For example, Mike Gold wrote an essay in 1929 titled “Toward Proletarian Art“:

“Art is no longer snobbish or cowardly. It teaches peasants to use tractors. gives lyrics to young soldiers, design textiles for factory women’s dresses, writes burlesque for factory theaters, does a hundred other useful tasks. Art is useful as bread…”

I was under the impression that this long statement was being utterly sarcastic: Gold was damned serious.

Compare the above proclamations with Conrad‘s description of the artist in his preface to The Nigger of the Narcissus:

The artist appeals to our capacity for delight and wonder, to the sense of mystery surrounding our lives, to our sense of pity, and beauty and pain…and to the subtle and invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts, to the solidarity in dreams, in joy, in sorrow, in aspirations, in illusions, in hope, in fear which binds men to each other, the dead to the living and the living to the unborn...”

Part 2. Genesis of Hezbollah of Lebanon: Accounts of Robert Fisk

It is recommended, in order to appreciate the facts, eye-witness accounts, and reports of Robert Fisk, which points to the creation of Hezbollah and how it started to resist Israel occupation of Lebanon from 1982 to 2000, to read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/09/11/part-1-genesis-of-hezbollah-in-lebanon-accounts-of-robert-fisk/

Robert Fisk wrote the book “Affliction of a Nation” and I am reading the Arabic translated version. Fisk was the correspondent to the British The Times in Beirut and covered Lebanon civil war for nine years.

“The Moslem Shias in south Lebanon believed the claims and pledges of Israel that Israel invasion was meant to “liberate the south from Palestinian occupation”.  Very quickly, the claims didn’t match what they inflicted on the Shias on the ground.  During the siege of West Beirut, most of the casualties were Shias living in the suburbs of Bourj Barajneh, Shiyah, and Hai Selum.

Sheikh Ali Mahdi Ibrahim (64 year-old) of the town of Adlun knew Ayatollah Khomeini intimately:  He studied in the Iraqi city of Najaf, where Khomeini spent 15 years of his exile. Sheikh Ibrahim said: “It is the Iranian revolutionary clerics who learned from us in Tyr…”  Many of Ibrahim students presented themselves as members of Hezbollah.  This was in 1984, and most of the kidnapping were claimed by “Islamic Jihad” before they adopted the name of Hezbollah.

When the Shia inhabitants in the south asked me “Are you a spy?”, it was less of their animosity against the western States behaviors, but rather relevant to their endemic isolation:  The successive Lebanese governments ignored the regions in the south and totally forgot to budget in any development resources.  It was incumbent on the “citizens” to shoulder the central State responsibilities in building schools, and hospitals…, even before the total collapse of the government in the civil war that started in April 1975 to 1991.

Before the Lebanese resistance got organized and spread to the south, most of the attacks and ambushes targeted the Israeli brigade 162, stationed in the Druze Chouf district, and commanded by Brigadier General Amnon Lifkin (39 year-old).  Ten years earlier, Lifkin commanded a terrorist team of the Mossad:  This team entered Beirut and assassinated three Palestinian officials; two Israeli soldiers were killed in this infiltration (Read “Searching for the red prince” by Barzhar Whitan Haber).

As of February 1983, this brigade was ambushed eight times.  I arrived in March to a headquarter located in a villa.  The Israeli soldiers were celebrating their Jewish Easter.  One soldier told me “There is no future to Lebanon”. Suddenly, a detonation like a thunder-clap shook the villa.  The second detonation got the soldiers scrambling for their guns and running outside.  Two Jeeps were ambushed and a rocket missile killed two soldiers and injured many others.  The spirit in the villa had changed: Up until now, it didn’t yet sink in the Israelis that they were an occupation force, and unwanted in the land.

By mid May, all hopes had evaporated to staying in the Chouf. Lifkin was making plans to withdraw his troops to north Saida.  Already, brigade 162 had lost 118 soldiers in 6 months (one-fourth the total loss during the invasion). In the south, the Israeli defense line extended from the Awali River, crossing the valley of Bisry River, all the way to the Baruk Mountain. Israel had built helicopter fields, radar stations, and depots for tanks…

In June 1983, Israel Shin Beth secret agents, in civilian cloths, and backed up by soldiers rounded-up 60 young men in the city of Tyr Palestinian camps.  In one month, the Lebanese resistance ambushed the occupation troops 35 times on the regular roads lounging the Karawon artificial lake.  Israel started constructing a highway to avoid old roads.

Israel adopted blackmail tactics:  Mayors of towns and villages had to cough up $5,000 per month in order to hire Israeli appointed “guards” to secure “law and order”.  Otherwise, the sons of the village will not be released from the Ansar prison, and the militias will barge into town, ransack it and round-up more people to prison…

Mayor (mokhtar) Ahmad Shebli of Beit Leef wrote to the UN Netherlands peace force contingent saying: “Are we living within the State of Israel?”  The mokhtar of Yater disbursed the first installment and refused to pay more. Consequently, Israel set up check points at the exit of the town and levied fees on every car and truck leaving town.

In June 10, an Israeli convoy was ambushed by 10 resistance fighters and three soldiers killed.  The town of Gebsheet was stormed and its religious cleric sheikh Ragheb Harb arrested and detained in Tyr.  Gebsheet was thus on the resistance path. When I visited Gebsheet the next day, a banner said “Death is part of our attributes. Martyrdom is a grace from God”.  The Mosque displayed large photos of Khomeini and Imam Moussa Sadr.  A bearded young man named Jihad, a member of Islamic Jihad, was talking of “America the greatest Satan”  Jihad said: “For months, Israel secret service agent, code-named Abu Nour, tried hard to meet sheikh Ragheb, who refused any communication with this occupation officer.  On March 17, sheikh Ragheb was arrested.

A week later after the arrest of Ragheb, ten militia “guards” drove to the Shin Beth headquarter in Nabatieh and returned their guns:  They refused to be part of Israel watch dogs.  Israel appointed Lebanese to head selected associations in order to facilitate communications; for example, requesting the freeing of prisoners in exchange of favors…

On September 4, Israel withdrew its forces from Chouf to north of Saida.  It re-organized the 25,000 occupation forces, and maintained 300 tanks, and 100 field guns in 5 brigades.

In November 4, a Lebanese kamikaze blew up his car, packed with explosive, in the Israel military headquarter in Tyr; over 75 people were killed instantly.  It was time for Israel to regroup its troops and shrink its occupation territory.  (to be continued)

“The Satanic Verses” by Salman Rushdi, Part 1 (October 30, 2008)

This manuscript is of 547 pages and divided into nine parts: The Angel Gabriel (Gibreel), Mahound, Ellowen Deeowen, Ayesha, A city visible but unseen, Return to Jahilia, The Angel Azraeel, The Parting of the Arabian Sea, and A Wonderful lamp.

I will review the chapter “Mahound” because this section is crucial for setting the geo-political, commercial and society structure in Mecca and the neighboring towns.  This description would help comprehend the climate within which Islam was born and grew.

Mahound is one of several names given to the Devil.  It is very unfortunate that Rushdie decided to represent the Prophet Muhammad by this name just to state that one of the verses was inspired by the Devil, and thus forbade over one billion Moslems from reading this essentially wonderful and most informative book.

Many “fatwas” in the Moslem World, and especially in Iran of Ayatollah Khomeini, permitted the killing of Salman Rushdi for this blasphemy.

Rushdi has been since then protected by the British police and been mostly in hiding.  Actually, Moslems should be thankful to Rushdi in not naming Muhammad as the one who delivered the two “Satanic” verses that deviated from the message of One God.  I will use the name of Muhammad in the remaining review.

Mecca at the time of Muhammad was built four generation ago to cater for desert caravans bringing goods from Zafar and Yemen to bifurcate toward Egypt, Iraq/Iran, or Syria/Turkey and back to Mecca.

It barely rains in that region and the only potable well was called Zamzam.  The story goes that Abraham abandoned his Egyptian wife Hagar and his son Ismail to their fate in this unforgiving area.  Luckily for Hagar, Angel Gabriel (Gibreel) uncovered for Hagar the well Zamzam and she survived with her newly born son.

Once a year, the Bedouins of Arabia who adored 360 idols, which are imported from the neighboring countries to encourage pilgrimage to the Black Stone (Al Ka3ba), celebrated the passage of this same Abraham (Ibraheem) in the vicinity!

Mecca was structured around concentric dwellings starting from the Black Stone and fanning away.  Houses closest to the Black Stone belonged to the most prominent personalities in the city council and their respective clans in the extended Kuraich (Shark) tribe.

There were four main clans and each clan was specialized in one kind of commerce; the Scarlet tents sold spices and scents, the Black tents the cloth and leather, the Silver tents precious metals and swords and the fourth colored tents or the owners of the Dappled Camels specialized in entertainments, wine, hashish, and the slave trade. Water carriers were despised because any overflowing of water would damage the streets and homes built out of sand.

Around the year of 600 the businessmen in Mecca were losing trade to the sea transports; worse, another new and famous Temple was built in Sheba in Yemen and pilgrims were investigating these new regions.  The pilgrims were getting scarce in Mecca because they realized that they were being bilked (milked) from every penny they had and young girls were abducted for ransom.  Consequently, in order to keep afloat the Kuraich tribe encouraged vile entertainment activities during the pilgrimage season to attract more customers.

The Black Stone enshrined around 360 idols brought from around the neighboring civilizations to entice pilgrims in from all around the regions.  The colossus Hubal the shepherd was sent by the Amalekites of Hit, the idol Kain was the patron of musicians and blacksmiths, Astarte (He-of-Shara) was brought by the Nabataen as well as saturnine Nakruh.  Manaf was the sun-god, in the eagle-form Nasr, Quzah or rainbow; Uzza the goddess of beauty and love, and Lat the all-powerful mother goddess.

The idol Allah had some sort of overall authority, an all-rounder in an age of specialist idols and thus was not that popular and didn’t generate money.

Hind, the all-powerful wife of the preeminent Karim Abu Simbel owned the three most famous goddesses of Al Lat, Manat, and Uzza.

Muhammad was rich (he married one of richess women in Mecca Khadija), but he was an orphan and his clan was of lower stature and thus was not represented in the city council. His wife Khadija was 10 years older than him and she had hired Muhammad to lead and manage her caravans heading to Damascus.

Khadija was the first person to believe in the predication of Muhammad.  By the age of 44 Muhammad message of “no God but Allah” was not making any major breakthrough among the city dwellers.  The lampoons of the very young and most famous poet named Baal were pinned up all over town “Messenger, do please lend a careful ear.  Your monophilia, your One, One, One, isn’t for Jahilia. Return to sender

Beside his uncle Hamza and a few poor fellows not many were paying any attention to Muhammad revelations.  Among those poor individuals were Khalid the water carrier, Salman from Persia (who later would suggest to dig a wide ditch around Medina to prevent the cavalry of Kuraich to enter the town), and Bilal the mighty slave that Muhammad set free from his owner and would later be appointed the first official “muezzin” calling the believers to the five prayers of the day.

In order for his message to breakthrough Muhammad was inclined to accept the deal of Abu Simbel.  Abu Simbel would recognize Allah as the mightiest God and would offer Muhammad a seat in the city council in return of recognition of Al Lat, Manat, and Uzza as Gods or the best interceding goddesses to Allah.

The clan of Hind, the Umayyad, owned these three most privileged Goddesses from pilgrimage revenues.  Muhammad thus returned from the Mount Cone and delivered publicly the verses stating that “Lat, Manat, and Uzza are the exalted birds, and their intercession is desired indeed”.  I guess these were the “Satanic verses” alluded to by Rushdie

The disciples of Muhammad were beside themselves and could not assent to accepting a God but Allah.  Muhammad did not dare face his wife Khadija that night and did not enter his house.

Follow the story in the next part or the chapter “Return to Jahiliahttps://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/11/02/the-satanic-verses-part-2/


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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