Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Byzantium Empire

 

 

The shared genetic heritage of Jews and Palestinians

The Times recently carried this unusual report on an Israeli Jew (Tsvi Misinai, a retired computer expert) who’s hoping to prove that Palestinians are descended from Jews.

Apparently, he thinks that proving this will help to stop the bloodshed. His idea is that modern Jews are descended from emigration in the first few centuries of the Christian era. The Jews who stayed put in Palestine converted to Islam, and became Palestinian Arabs. There’s hope that genetic tests might be able to prove this.

There is good news and bad news on that score.

Hammer_2000_Jew_Arab_YchromosomeThe good news is that the genetics of Arabs  (Palestinians?) and Jews have been pretty extensively researched.

The classic study dates to 2000, from a team lead by Michael Hammer of University of Arizona. They looked at Y-chromosome haplotypes – this is the genetic material passed from father to son down the generations.

What they revealed was that Arabs and Jews are essentially a single population, and that Palestinians are slap bang in the middle of the different Jewish populations (as shown in this figure).

Another team, lead by Almut Nebel at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, took a closer look in 2001. They found that Jewish lineages essentially bracket Muslim Kurds, but they were also very closely related to Palestinians.

In fact, what their analysis suggested was that Palestinians were identical to Jews, but with a small mix of Arab genes – what you would expect if they were originally from the same stock, but that Palestinians had mixed a little with Arab immigrants. They conclude:

We propose that the Y chromosomes in Palestinian Arabs and Bedouin represent, to a large extent, early lineages derived from the Neolithic inhabitants of the area and additional lineages from more-recent population movements. The early lineages are part of the common chromosome pool shared with Jews (Nebel et al. 2000). According to our working model, the more-recent migrations were mostly from the Arabian Peninsula…

So, as far as male lineage goes, the genetic story is very clear. Palestinians and Jews are virtually indistinguishable.

Women are a bit more tricky

Up until last year, the matrilineal heritage of Jews also seemed pretty clear. Analysis of elements in mitochondrial DNA (which is passed from mother to daughter) seemed to show that Jewish populations around Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East were derived from at least 8 unrelated ‘founding mothers’.

Where they came from wasn’t clear, but the most likely explanation was that they were from local populations that bred with immigrant Jewish males. Their offspring became absorbed into the Jewish community.

In 2008, a more sophisticated analysis was published that made use of whole mitochondrial DNA sequences. They found no evidence for the genetic bottle necks that indicate founding mothers in the large Jewish populations.

Instead, they found a complicated picture with a very diverse gene pool suggesting intermarriage both with local populations and other Jewish groups.

The overall conclusion is that the female Jewish line deviates a lot more from the Palestinian heritage than the male line, but the heritage is still there.

So that’s the good news.

Jews and Palestinian Arabs are blood brothers – although this close genetic relationship probably stems from pre-Judaic times, rather than any more recent conversion of Palestinian Jews to Islam.

And the bad news?

This basic story has been known for the best part of a decade now. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, it hasn’t lead to the warring sides laying down their weapons and engaging in a group hug. This is a religious conflict, not a genetic one.

Mr Misinai is, sadly, on a hiding to nothing.

M. F. Hammer (2000). Jewish and Middle Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome biallelic haplotypes Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97 (12), 6769-6774 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.100115997

A NEBEL, D FILON, B BRINKMANN, P MAJUMDER, M FAERMAN, A OPPENHEIM (2001). The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East The American Journal of Human Genetics, 69 (5), 1095-1112 DOI: 10.1086/324070

M THOMAS (2002). Founding Mothers of Jewish Communities: Geographically Separated Jewish Groups Were Independently Founded by Very Few Female Ancestors The American Journal of Human Genetics, 70 (6), 1411-1420 DOI: 10.1086/340609

Doron M. Behar, Ene Metspalu, Toomas Kivisild, Saharon Rosset, Shay Tzur, Yarin Hadid, Guennady Yudkovsky, Dror Rosengarten, Luisa Pereira, Antonio Amorim, Ildus Kutuev, David Gurwitz, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir, Richard Villems, Karl Skorecki (2008). Counting the Founders: The Matrilineal Genetic Ancestry of the Jewish Diaspora PLoS ONE, 3 (4) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002062

Note: All the people living in Greater Syria (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan… and basically those living on the western side of the Euphrates River, including part of modern Turkey and Kurdistan) are one people that witnessed countless foreign invasions, religious diversification, intensive migrations to neighbouring countries,  but remained mostly autonomous and prosperous. Until the advent of the colonial powers that physically tried to split the land and invented imaginary borders.

During the long Byzantium Empire, most Christian sects considered Heretics and the Jews fled west of the Euphrates River to Persia Kingdom and to the Arabic Peninsula. After the Arabic invasion, many refugees returned to their homeland, either converted to Islam or not converted.

Easter or Ishtar: Same pagan and beautiful celebration of fertility March 30, 2013

Most of the Christian religious ceremonies and customs were inherited from the pagan Empires, particularly Byzantium, after Christianity was recognized as an official religion.

More than a century elapsed (year of 425) before Christianity became majority or over 50% of the population and spread in many sects.

The Oriental sects carried on the customs and traditions of the Land of the Levant (Near-East region), while the Christian in Rome emulated traditions relevant to the pagan Rome Empire.

For example, this year, the Christian Orthodox Church will celebrate Easter a full month after the Catholics or on May 3.

The stories would like us to believe that Jesus was tried, crucified and resurrected within the span of a week. This is not possible:

1. The Roman judicial procedures were exhaustive and well-oiled.

2. Jesus was not considered a Jew by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem

3. Jesus was born and lived in the administrative Tyr district, which included Upper Galilee, and thus, the trial process needed far more time to prosecute….

Photo
Whether Easter is taken from Ishtar or a German Goddess Eoster, most Christian ceremonies and customs have roots in previous pagan traditions.
Culture and civilization are a continuation process and build upon previous mankind habits and routines.

Do Not curse a God you don’t worship.

Written in the Aramaic language of Tadmor (Syria) over 2,500 years ago on a pagan Temple.

كُتب على أحد المعابد في تدمر باللغة الآرامية التدمرية عبارة:" لا تشتم إلهاً لا تعبده"..<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> هذه العبارة التي كتبت قبل ألفين وخمس مائة عام تقريباً، لم يكتبها عبثاً أجدادنا الذين تباهوا بتعدد آلهتهم، بل إنهم عندما حفروها على الصخر، هم أرادوها رسالة لتقرأها كل الاجيال<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> التي كانت ستولد على أرض سورية الجميلة الملونة..<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />  لماذا "إلها لا تعبده" ؟؟<br /><br /><br /><br /><br />  لأنك عندما تشتم إله الآخر (دينه ، طائفته ، عشيرته ..إلخ)، فإنك بذلك الفعل تخلق منه عدواً. إنك بذلك تحشره في زاوية ضيقة وتبعث لديه كل الاحساس البدئي بالدفاع عن النفس ..شتم دين الآخر او طائفته او اتجرأ على القول (قناعاته)، يوقظ المشاعر الماقبل مدنية، ويخرب المجتمعات ويفكك الأوطان ..<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> منقول

Peace words‎’s photo.

كُتب على أحد المعابد في تدمر باللغة الآرامية التدمرية عبارة:” لا تشتم إلهاً لا تعبد

هذه العبارة التي كتبت قبل ألفين وخمس مائة عام تقريباً، لم يكتبها عبثاً أجدادنا الذين تباهوا بتعدد آلهتهم، بل إنهم عندما حفروها على الصخر، هم أرادوها رسالة لتقرأها كل الاجيال
التي كانت ستولد على أرض سورية الجميلة الملونة..
لماذا “إلها لا تعبده” ؟؟
لأنك عندما تشتم إله الآخر (دينه ، طائفته ، عشيرته ..إلخ)، فإنك بذلك الفعل تخلق منه عدواً. إنك بذلك تحشره في زاوية ضيقة وتبعث لديه كل الاحساس البدئي بالدفاع عن النفس ..شتم دين الآخر او طائفته او اتجرأ على القول (قناعاته)، يوقظ المشاعر الماقبل مدنية، ويخرب المجتمعات ويفكك الأوطان ..
منقول

Syria: A fractured central power since antiquity

Since antiquity, Syria stretched from south Turkey to actual Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan and Gaza.  Syria was called “Bilad el Sham” (North of Mecca region) during the Arab/Islam Empires. It was located between the Mediterranean Sea over a stretch of 700 km of coastal shore, starting from the northern mountain chain of Al Loukam (inside current Turkey) to the borders of the Sinai Desert.

The inland of Syria is divided by two parallel mountain chains from north to south. The western mountain chain is barely 100 km from the sea at its widest.

The fertile valley between the two mountain chains stretching for 1,000 km starts from the city of Meresh (Anatolia) to Aqaba on the Red Sea.

Syria had three distinct sets of City-States:

First set of cities along the sea-shore;

Second set of cities in the valley and along internal, non-navigable rivers such as Al Assy, Litany… studded by cities such as Hama, Homs, Baalbek, Anjar, Damascus… and

Third set of cities bordering the desert and the western part of the Euphrates River.

Syria, located between the sea and the desert, attracted land trades coming from rich Yemen (southern region of the Arabic Peninsula) with powerful centers in Moeen, Sabaa, Kotban, Awssan, Hadramout….  These centers of commerce sent forward land caravans toward Syria via strategic trade cities such as Mecca, Thoumud, Medina, all the way to desert City-States in the southern province of Syria.

Kingdoms such as Adomim, Mouabit, Ambat (Petra)…were located in the strategic southern Syrian province, where most land trade converged before heading north to Damascus, or going west to Gaza and Egypt.

For example, the Christian tribe of Ghassassina (originally from Yemen) had expanded over many desert City-States and became almost a prosperous empire during the 5th and 6th century AC.  This tribe paid allegiance to the Byzantium Empire.

By the 7th century, many “Arabic” tribes had transplanted branches or clans to the central Syrian province (Damascus).  These tribes were Tyme, Aamel, Bahrea, Thaalabat

Maritime and land routes converged from three continents.

This land was invaded by almost every war-like empires (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greek, Roman, Byzantium, Arab/Islamic, Ottoman, western mandated powers as France and England).

The main characteristic of Syria is that it is easy to conquer, but hardly any empire managed to administer it.  All these war-like empires relied on third-party tribes or alliance of tribes to collect taxes and maintain a semblance of central power.

When empires with navy powers were at war, such as Egypt and Byzantium, the port cities in Syria suffered trade “embargo” and gave way to higher prosperity to inland cities, and vice versa.

For example, during 11 centuries, the various Arab/Islam empires failed to effectively govern Syria, even the Umayyad Dynasty with Damascus as Capital.

The complex topography of the land inhibited the unification of the various tribes and communities, though it facilitate incursions of foreign powers.  Warrior empires could easily occupy Syria once they crossed the first mountain chains or desert, but they could not administer the land due to the multitude of local cultures and sense of retaining self-autonomy on mountain hills

The social structure of Syria resulted from two natural characteristics:

First, tribes living on mountain chains and hills, mostly labeled “heretics” by orthodox religious sects (both Christian and Moslem) and opposing any central power for administration of their communities. These tribes were armed, warrior, and could rely on support coming from their mother tribes in the Arabic Peninsula.

Second, sedentary peasant tribes, which settled in the fertile valley and along rivers, were mostly cooperative with central powers, regardless how far the Capital was located.

The first kinds of mountain settled tribes exhibited the major problems for any unification and centrally administered empire. They demanded their share from looting expeditions, since they were the warriors.  Consequently, the sedentary cities were frequently harassed and looted, vying for survival means and self-autonomy in customs and traditions. (Read note #1 for further details on various sects and how Syria was administered during the Arab/Islamic Empires).

Every city and its environs was governed by an Emir, the leader of tribe that participated in one of the countless expeditions against another Emir. More often than not, an Emir would bribe juvenile delinquents, seeking some action and food, and constitute his local militia to tame and harass recalcitrant tribes.

As soon as the Emir receive fresh troops from central government, his first decision is to eradicate the local militia, and restore law and order for trades. The “Shabab” militias in Syrian cities, hired by the regime are repeating Syria history: The fate of these militia is pretty gloomy…

During the reign of Mehemet Ali to Egypt (starting in 1805), his son Ibrahim led the army to within 200 km from Istanbul: The Ottoman Empire was ripe to fall to the army of Ibrahim.  The western nations wanted to let the Ottoman Empire survive for some period, and a deal was struck to allow Mehemet Ali rule Syria, in addition to Sudan and the Arabic Peninsula.

The empire of Egypt stretched from the region of Adana in Turkey to all Sudan. It is recorded that Ibrahim said: “I will lead my army as far as people speak Arabic...”  The region of Adana is the most strategic military area: Troops have to cross a tiny treacherous route in order to pass the high mountain chain toward the valley of Syria. Actually, historic Syria included the southern part of Anatolia, all the way to current Dyar Bakr…

Note 1: Ibrahim Mehemet Ali governed Syria for 8 years.  This was the best period of prosperity and security that the Syrian enjoyed in its history.  For the first time in its history, Syria had a central power and administered from Damascus. Still, the Syrian revolted several times because Ibrahim forced upon them military service and forced labor…

Note 2: https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2011/10/07/are-you-curious-how-syria-upheaval-will-unfold-must-know-history-of-syria-between-7th-and-11th-centuries/

Note 3:  This article was inspired by a chapter of “Syria under Islam, (1977)” by late history academics Kamal Salibi, and translated from English to Arabic by Kamal Khoury

No women representation? “The Arab League represents half the Arabs…”: Who is Hoda Sha3rawi?

In “Letters from Egypt, 1863“, the British Lucie Duff-Gordon wrote that the Christian copt of higher Egypt were far more stringent in wearing the veil than the Moslem women.

Wearing the veil was a symbol of higher social status, regardless of religion, even in the Arabic Peninsula during the Prophet Muhammad time.

Wearing the veil was a tradition inherited from the strict Christian Byzantium Empire that ruled the Near East from 325 AC to 650.

Summer 1923 was a turning point for women liberation in Egypt:  Hoda Shaarawi was returning from a women conference in Rome, and stepped out of a train in Cairo.  As she landed, Hoda removed her veil and threw it on the ground saying: “No more veil”.

Her companion Saiza Nabarawi imitated the gesture and all the women waiting in the train station followed suit.

Note 1:  The Arab League does not represent the “Arabs”.

It represent the stability of the regimes of dictators and absolute monarchs.  With the fall of the oligarchies in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya…we expect the representatives to the League of the “liberated States” to be capable and acknowledge the engaged women.

The “Arab States” will be democratic or not, depending on the engaged women.  We expect the women representatives not to be exclusively the mouth speakers of their respective governments, but to shoulder the aspiration of all women, according to the UN definition of human rights, and human development indicators, and be the vanguard to what is meant by democracy, fair and equitable election laws…

Note 2:  Article inspired from the French book “12 women of the Orient who changed history” by Gilbert Sinoue.  I have reviewed a book on Hoda Shaarawi by another author (maybe Fatima Mernisi)

Note 3:  Iqbal, mother of Hoda and second wife to Muhammad Sultan, was Circassian by origin (from the Caucasus region). Russia invaded the Caucasus to expand on the detriment of the Ottoman Empire.

Iqbal was sent to Istanbul and at the age of 10 was dispatched to Cairo,  Her uncle Youssef Sabri was a military officer, but the wife of her uncle refused to admit this poor relative.  Consequently, Iqbal was raised by relatives of her mother.

Iqbal was behind Hoda getting education and enjoying liberty for expressing opinions and getting involved.

Lacking a National identity? Is it a big deal?

We don’t need to unite under an identity:  All national identities everywhere were invariably built and sustained on myths, historical falsehood, and faked stories.

What we need is to be unified under the banners of civil rights, human rights, sustainable environment, equitable and fair election laws and regulations, civil marriage, linked to fast communication technologies, access to social platforms, freedom of expression, laws not discriminating among genders, versatile opportunities to jobs and to applying our expertise, affordable education system, national health system…

What we need is to unite against any State invading our borders, bombing our infrastructure, humiliating us, destabilizing our society and economy.

What we need is to unify against any political current that has proven to work against democratic representations, racial demagoguery, sectarian political ideology.

What identity are we claiming?  

Are we to emulate other Nations that based their “identity” on myths and falsehood?

Do you know any powerful colonial nation that gained an identity Without a strong army and suffered millions of soldiers fallen in battlefields for fictitious claims?

Youth sacrificed to institute a Nation and never taken seriously because they are viewed as just meat for the canon and a burden to a stable political system…

There are sections in Lebanon (mostly Christian Maronites) advancing the French mandatory alternative of a “Phoenician” ancestors.

Currently, there are Lebanese testing their blood for DNA evidences of any physical “Phoenician inheritance“.

A few are wary that they won’t be found to have any Phoenician stain/strain and be caste off as “strangers”.  What a load of crap.

The Phoenicians ruled the Mediterranean Sea in 1,200 BC and the string of their City-States extended from southern Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, up to Haifa in Palestine.

The Phoenicians were famous for maritime trade and commerce and established many trading centers around the Sea.  The written language has been around for 3,000 years, but the Phoenicians in the City-State of Byblos are credited for inventing the alphabet (currently in use with slight modifications.)

Before the Phoenicians and afterward, the Near East region of the Mediterranean (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine) has been invaded by a dozen warrior empires, many invaded us repeatedly.

For example, the empires in Iraq (Akkad, Babylon, Assyria), Egypt, Persia under various dynasties (at least four of them), Greece, Roman, Byzantium, Arabic, Ottoman, and finally the colonial powers of France and Britain.

All these warrior empires didn’t build anything worth showing as representative of civilization until they invaded our region and rounded off and hoarded the educated and master craftsmen to their capitals.

We are a region of multiple identities if we have to rely on occupation empires.

How about we identify with education and craftsmanship?  I love this identity.  Let us focus on affordable efficient schooling system; let us encourage technical and craftsmanship schooling system; let us focus on building commercial ships; let us invest in railways and fast communication facilities; let us open up to knowledge facilities all over the world.

I love this identity; let us get to work and planning.

Another sections of Lebanese, mostly Muslim-Sunnis, would like to have an Arabic identity and pushing it too far to claiming that we are from the Arabic Peninsula. Are we Arabs?  What that means?

The Islamic Arabic army that came from the Arabic Peninsula to fight the Byzantium Empire and later the Persian Empire barely numbered 7,000 men of war.  The other three-forth of the army that backed and supplemented the “Arabic army” was constituted from people and tribes living in Syria, Iraq, and Jordan wanting to defeat the Byzantium unforgiving Orthodox Church and domination.  How can we be descendant of the sparsely populated Arabic Peninsula?

The “Arabic identity” group would claim that our culture and civilization is Islamic Arabic. How that?

The cultural development during the Arabic Empire was shouldered by the scholars in Syria, Iraq, and Iran and they were mostly Christians. They would like to rely on the Arabic language as basis for our identity.  Excellent idea.

Let us prove that the Arabic language is a viable foundation; let us infuse a new spirit in that dying language; let us translate the worthy manuscripts; let us invent new terms that have no religious connotation and spread the Arabic language as a universal language, valid to sustaining modern civilization with fresh brains and advanced sciences and technologies.  I will be for it and will support it vehemently.

There are other factions wanting to claim that we are Moslems.  How about the dozen minority religious sects?  Are we to agree on a theocratic identity?

Turkish Ataturk cancelled the caliphate in 1925 and there is no caliphate anymore, anywhere.  Tiny Lebanon has 19 recognized self-autonomous religious communities running our civil life.  Let us get real.

A theocratic State will never pass and will never find unity for identity.

Should we hide behind a reality of disparate communities to establish the concept of plurality community government?  Should 19 wrong identities constitute a valid identity?

What we need is to be unified under the banners of civil rights, human rights, sustainable environment, equitable and fair election laws and regulations, civil marriage, linked to fast communication technologies, access to social platforms, freedom of expression, laws not discriminating among genders, versatile opportunities to jobs and expertise, affordable education system, national health system…

What we need is to unify against any State invading our borders, bombing our infrastructure, humiliating us, destabilizing our society and economy.  

What we need is to unify against any political current that has proven to working against democratic representations, racial demagoguery, sectarian political ideology.

“Beryte (Beirut) School of law” by Joy Tabet

In the previous two articles, I recounted the story of Beirut (Lebanon), confirming its status as the Roman Empire city for teaching laws and generating professors of jurisprudence between 150 to 556 AC.

Beirut was the “Mother and wet-nurse of laws“.  This article is providing details on the 5 most famous jurists in the second and third century who acceded to the highest functions in administration and governance in the Roman Empire and Byzantium Empire.

The Roman Emperial Constitution called “law of citations” ordered judges to applying the opinions of the five illustrious jurists.  When there is equality in alternative opinions then, it was Papinian opinion that prevailed.

Gaius (110-180) produced the course in law school called “Institutes”; it was a manual in 4 volumes exposing the Roman laws for civil rights.  He commented on the “Twelve Tables” code in seven books.  The doctrine of Gaius was authority to judges in the second and third centuries.

Armilius Papinian (142-212) was born in Homs (Syria).  Cervidius Scaevola was his law teacher and emperor Septimus Severus was his schoolmate and relative.  He was named “Lawyer of the treasury” by Emperor Marcus Aurelius and then became the prefect of the magistrate (the first dignitary of the Empire).  Emperor Septimus died in 211 and asked Papinian to guide his two sons Caracalla and Geta.

A year later, Caracalla assassinated Geta and demanded of Papinian to justify to the senate and the people the murder.  Papinian refused saying: “It is easier to commit parricide than to justifying it.  It is worse than a new parricide to accusing an innocent victim.”  Papinian was assassinated by a praetorian guard of Caracalla.  He was considered the “primus” among the other four illustrious classic masters of laws.

The doctrine of Papinian constituted the curriculum of the third years in law school; only 8 out of 19 books of “responses” were taught in that year.  In a period where slaves were considered chattel Papinian stated the principle of “Equality to all and liberty for each individual” almost 1,800 years before the UN universal declaration on human rights in 1948.

Julius Paulus was born in Tyr (Lebanon) and became a member of the “Emperor council”.  He ruled the Empire with the Emperor grand mother Julia Maesa as Emperor Alexander Sevirus was under age.  He wrote 236 works and was the most prolific among the classic jurists.  Of all his production, only the “fragments” in the “Digeste” and 5 books addressed to his son remain.  The 23 books of “Responses” were taught at the 4th year in law school.  There are over 2,000 citations of Paulus in the Digeste.

Domitius Ulpian (170-228) was born in Tyr (Lebanon) and lived in Beirut.  He succeeded Papinian as head of the law school and taught jurisprudence in Rome for a while.  He revised laws to reforming the Roman society and to limiting the dictatorship and vast privileges of the Praetorian Guards.

Even Emperor Alexander Severus could not protect Ulpian from the wrath of the praetorian guards who assassinated Ulpian in the presence of the emperor.  Ulpian wrote 16 books called “Libri ad edictum” that were taught in the second year at law school.  Over the third of the Digeste are compilation of Ulpian opinions.  He contributed to Roman civil code more than all the combined Roman jurists.  He stated: “All mankind are equal in natural rights”

Herennius Modestinus was a famous jurisconsult under Emperor Alexander Severus (222-235).  He was the most brilliant disciple of Ulpian.  He became consul with emperor Probus (276-282) and wrote 92 books of laws.

Beirut was destroyed by earthquake in 556 and was finished up by a major fire.

In the beginning of the 20th century, Beirut was a quaint fishing and small port village.  The European consuls deserted Sidon in order to build an adequate merchant port in Beirut.  The civil war destroyed Beirut again and is being rebuilt according to commercial standards of high towers devoid of any Orient character or spirit.

You can no longer rent a small apartment in Beirut:  Oil money after the latest financial crash overvalued Real Estate by 600% within two years in Beirut and Lebanon.

Beirut: Wet Nurse of laws during Roman Empire. Part 1

A brief history:  Between 150 and 551 AC, the city of Beirut (Beryte) was the official Roman State law center and this recognition extended to the Byzantium Empire.

Beirut had the preferred law school for law students and the professors flocked from the four corners of the Empire.  There were 6 other law centers such as the ones in Rome, Constantinople, Athens, Alexandria, Caesar of Cappadocia, and Caesar of Palestine, but Beirut kept her high standing over four centuries as the main official law center.

Beirut was called “Mother of laws” and “The most magnificent city” during the Roman Empire.  Emperor Justinian I (527-566) attributed to Beirut the title of “wet-nurse of laws

Between 150 and 551, Beirut was the official location for posting law articles and saving the Constitutions and compilations of laws.

Comparative law studies is the immediate successor of the roman laws that was initiated and updated in Beirut.  In the 5th century, Beirut law school started to teach in both languages of Latin and Greek.

Paradoxically, the main language of the common people was the written language Syriac (Aramaic,  the language spoken by Jesus).  Another demonstration that written languages are the domain of the elite classes, and used as coded language for administrations and government of people.

The Common people had to suffer the consequences of not knowing the language of their dominating Masters; in this case either Latin or Greek.

Rome fell in 476 and Western Europe had to wait until the Crusader’s campaigns (1096-1291) for the Justinian civil code of laws the “Digeste” to be found and rediscovered and then applied in Europe starting in the 12th century.

In 551, an earthquake demolished the city of Beirut.  The law school was temporarily moved to Sidon. In 560, as the professors returned to Beirut then a huge fire burned the city again.  Beirut was still in ruin by 600.

As Islam Arab conquered the near east region in 635, Beirut recaptured its previous status as a law center but without the brilliance of previous periods. Beirut was compiling Islamic laws according to “Charia”.

During the last 7 Omayyad caliphs and the first two Abbassid caliphs (690 to 770) the Lebanese theologians (ulema) and judges (fakihs and cadis) were the cornerstones for the nascent Islamic jurisprudence.  Imam El Uzahi (707-774) from Baalbek and who studied in Beirut and lived was the most brilliant and most sought after fakih in his life.  His doctrine was applied in Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria for 200 years.

Then, the doctrines of Hanafi (Syria), the Chafii (Egypt), the Maliki (Andalusia and Northern Africa  took the ascendency.

Note: The next chapters will give details on the most famous law professors in ancient Beirut and a few current updates.

“Satan, Azazeel” by Yussof Zaidan

In 5th century Alexandria (Egypt), the Greek language was the official administrative language and the one used for knowledge and culture.  The Egyptian Copt language was spoken and written everywhere else.

Apparently, Christian Copt monks and priests were persecuted in 284 AC and hundreds were killed “martyrs”. The Christian Copt sect then adopted a calendar starting at date zero as of this year.  In around 410 AC, the non-Christian Hypatia was the most learned woman philosopher and mathematician; she gave lecture in the open air Great Theater every Sunday Morning, as her arch-enemy Archbishop Cyril was holding mass and preaching from his golden chair, his gold cross, and golden attire.

A young Copt monk, originating from upper Egypt,  was studying theology and medicine in Alexandria and witnessed the murder of Hypatia by zealot Christians.

After mass, Christian zealots, lead by a certain Peter, were galvanized by Cyril to express their power over the governor and the “heathen” and they invaded the main streets claiming to be the soldiers of God Christ.

Hypatia had finished her lecture around noon and was in her carriage.  It happened that people had disbanded and there were no soldiers accompanying Hypatia. The zealots got hold of the famous philosopher, grabbed her by her long hair and dragged her on the streets until her skin was torn out; they brought shells from the seashore and endeavored to totally skin her alive and then they burned her still alive around 420 AC.  The monk fled cruel Alexandria and took the name Hypa in respect for Hypatia.

Cruel and extremist Archbishop Cyril inherited the position from his cruel uncle Archbishop Theophilus.

For many centuries before Christianity became the official religion of the Byzantium Empire, the wealthy and professional Jews in Alexandria made sure to keeping the indigenes Egyptians and Christians off city limits.  The Egyptians would work during the day in Alexandria and then leave the city limits to dwell in shantytowns outside the western walls.  Consequently, as Christians acquired power then, the Jews were sent packing outside the eastern city walls.  Christians of Alexandria persecuted the Jews and the non-Christians relentlessly.

In 375, the Egyptian Christians from Alexandria assassinated archbishop Georgius of Cappadocia because he favored the dogma of the monk Arius of Alexandria who was excommunicated in 325 by the new official Christian church of the Byzantium empire during Constantine.  Arius believed that Jesus was a man and not God incarnate as was the dogma in ancient Egyptian idolatry religion and that Christians in Egypt emulated the concept.

Around the North-Western region of Aleppo (Syria), ruins stretch for three kilometers on the main road to Antakia (situated in Turkey).  This road was the last link of the famous “Silk Road” coming from China.  In one of those ruins were found 30 parchments or leather rolls, still intact, written in Syriac or the Aramean language spoken by Jesus.  These rolls were signed by Hypa the monk, an autobiography of his peregrinations from Egypt to the Orient.  Hypa was already 40 years old when he finished his writing.

Apparently, this Egyptian monk was a follower of Archbishop Nestor who was excommunicated by the conclave held in Ephesus at the time of the writing of these parchments.  Nestor was born in Meresh (Germanica) in Syria and was the right hand of archbishop Theodosius.  Nestor became the Pope or Patriarch of Constantinople at the age of 48.

Later, Cyril of Alexandria coordinated with the Pope of Rome for arranging a conclave in Ephesus; both Archbishops ex-communicated one another before the arrival of the Emperor.  The Emperor was angry that these activities took place in his absence and excommunicated the two archbishops and then, he changed his mind and retained the one on Nestor. The Nestorian sect would later expand eastward and translated their Bible to Chinese and built monasteries and churches along the Silk Road before the advent of Islam.

The dogma of Cyril of Alexandria was that Virgin Mary was mother of god and Jesus the son of god.  Nestor saw in Mary just the mother of Jesus and that Jesus was a man born normally with a holly message and who resurrected from death.

The father of Hypa used to offer the pagan priests, secluded in their Great Temple near the town of Elephantine in upper Egypt, half his catch of fish every two days .  Hypa’s mother was a zealot Christian who incited her ignorant Christian relatives to assassinate her husband.  They killed Hypa’s father in the presence of the 8 year-old kid.  The mother then married one her killer relatives.  Hypa’s uncle sent him to study at Akhmeem (Panopolis) at a convent.  Hypa learned Greek, theology, and philosophy before he ventured to Alexandria to study medicine.

A week after his arrival to Alexandria, Hypa listened to Hypatia lecture who said: “After my lecture on philosophy, I will entertain the mathematicians and engineers on the latest theory of Diophantus on the arithmetics of unknown numerical values.”  She resumed: “Comprehension is a mental process, but truths that we reach through logic and mathematics remain cold facts until we assimilate them spiritually.  We have to understand that philosophical issues cannot be correct unless it is supported on mathematical foundations.”

Hypa crossed the Sinai desert for three months then he toured Palestine for three years, he visited with monks living in grottos around the Dead Sea and then spent three years in Jerusalem as a healing monk.  He then spent 5 years in a monastery in northern Syria and founded a library and cured the sick.  He fell in love with young Martha who had to leave in order to sing in Aleppo.

Hypa fell sick with fever for 20 days and he decided to write his autobiography and finish it at the end of 40 days of fasting.  Then, Hypa had decided to quit monastic life after he finishes what he had to testify on his life and period.

Note 1:  The harsh monastery life is imported from ancient Egypt customs and it spread in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey.  The oriental monks were not as harsh in their devotion or waited for people to bring them food.  They worked hard and cultivated the land in the step shape garden (Babylonian style) and raised livestock of goats, sheep, and cows.

Note 2:  The dozen of Christian sects persecuted one another for over one thousand years, after Christianity became the religion of the Byzantium Empire, and displaced one another far more frequently and more cruelly than the other religious sects or idolaters religions did to them.

Note 3:  The Patriarch of Alexandria called himself the Pope of Egypt and was a powerful personality who extended his domination to the five cities in Libya, all of Egypt, and Ethiopia.  The Byzantium Emperors were very lenient with the Pope of Egypt because Egypt was the bread basket of the Empire and Byzantium barely controlled the main cities on the sea shore.

Note 4:  Every period is dominated by major paradigms in sciences, religious dogma, and set of values.  The next generations resolve part of the controversy by adopting alternative paradigms.  Maybe only reason, experiments, and knowledge resolve real life problems, but it is the peace of mind (relying on a few “truths” within the realm of belief) that gives courage to persevere in the investigation.  This sort of individual “peace of mind” is what I call personal passion.

Fact is, most cruel and bloody battles (in sciences and religions) are wars of passions emanating from individual passions wrapped into “collective spirituality.”  It is a mankind process to preserving “peace of mind” in order to get the courage to resume resolving the thousands of questions that have no ready answers.

The passions of the learned people are the decision makers, initiator, and planners of the cruel engagements and the passion of the ignorant are the executioners of the sordid deeds, massacres, and revenge attacks.  Maybe our individual purpose in life is to get ready and prepared mentally for the signs and then the consequences of passion outbursts in order to keeping our sanity and learning to enjoying the few moments of positive and compassionate attitutdes.

Islam is one of the “heretic” Christian-Jewish sects,(Feb. 23, 2010)

A challenge to all theologians and social scientists

Before Emperor Constantine, who established Constantinople as Capital for the Roman Empire in the Orient (called Byzantium Empire) around 315 AC, there were hundreds of Christian sects in the Middle East.  Each sect had its dogma and its Bible (there were hundreds of versions).

The belief systems of these Christian sects differed greatly in the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, the Holy Spirit, the status of the Virgin Mary (many would not even mention her name since women were considered impure), the status of Judas Iscariot, the rites, the language, the daily rituals, the status of the Old Testament, the communion of the flesh, the age to baptizing new converts, and to which race to focus on.

Many sects obeyed the laws of the Old Testaments in their integrity and many refused to adopt the Old Testament as part of their belief systems.

The Council of Nicaea (on the shore of Turkey) in 325 made things even worse: Constantine wanted to unify all the Christian sects into a religion of the Empire.  The notion of three Gods into one (Father, son, and Holy Ghost) were forced upon the sects as well as the Sanctity of Mary and many abstract concepts wrapped into the Credo.

Any sect that refused the unified Orthodox dogma, of the Emperor in power  at the time, was labeled “heretic” and was persecuted.  It turned out that, for over 70 years, successive Emperors were in favor of one or another “heretic” belief system, and a few emperor reverted to paganism.

Around the year 400, another Emperor reverted to the Orthodox dogma and the persecutions resumed and even intensified.  The heretic sects fled to beyond the Euphrates River under the dominion of Persia Empire and spread to the Arabic Peninsula and reached India and China.

Prophet Mohammad was from a clan that believed in one of these Christian-Jewish heretic sects that were established in Mecca; the father of Mohammad was a convert and his uncle was the Patriarch of the Christian sect.

In the year 1000, another schism took place between the Bishop of Rome (Catholic) and the Bishop of Constantinople (Orthodox) and another wave of persecution of heretic sects got under way.

The various Protestant “heretic” sects in the 16th century are but the latest in the variety of Christian sects and offshoot of ancient heretic Christian sects.

All that Prophet Muhammad did was to drop the abstract notions in the Orthodox dogma and to adopt the common denominator belief system of the various heretic Christian-Jewish sects in the Arabic Peninsula, Syria, and Iraq.

Thus, Islam combined the Old Testament integrally and the version of New Testament read by the Jewish-Christians sect, the Ebionites, of Mohammad’s tribe in the Mecca: the Patriarch of this sect was one of Muhammad’s uncles.

The Ebionites sect was fundamentally a Jewish sect that attached the teachings of Jesus (another Prophet) to the Old Testament.  This sect considered St.Paul as a heretic because he opened the religion to the “gentiles”.

Historical facts prove that the early Christians, and particularly the illiterate disciples lead by Jack, the eldest brother of Jesus, who conglomerated in Jerusalem were very conservative Essenism Jews:  Jesus was their Rabbi and they tried to follow his message.

When Peter finally marched out of Jerusalem it was to follow on the trail of Paul in order to dismantling Paul’s Christian communities and converting them to the Jewish laws.  Paul had to tone down his discourse and adopt a few Jewish social laws in order to counter the vehement practical attacks of the “Jerusalem sect of Christians“.

Islam became the unified Christian-Jewish heretic sect opposing the Orthodox Christian Church in Constantinople.  It is no surprise that the heretic Christians in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and Palestine rallied and supported Islamic troops  against Byzantium and Persia.

After Constantinople fell in around 1450 to the Ottoman Empire, many of the non-Moslem Christian sects united politically to the Catholic Church in Rome, even though their dogma did not mesh nicely with the Catholic Credo.

Islam means submission (to God, the one and only).  I submit a challenge to all theologians, religious researchers, and philosophers of all religious denominations (monolithic or not).

My hypothesis is: The religious message of the Prophet Muhammad, during the first 13 years of proselytizing in Mecca, is identical to one of the Christian-Jewish sects. Let me suggest the following procedure or protocol:

First, select all the religious Christian sects till the Council of Nicaea in 325; and then select the Christian sects after Nicaea until the year 400.

Continue the selection process of the sects after the split between Rome and Byzantium around the year 1000, then go over the Christian sects that were formed between 1000 to the Martin Luther schism, all the way to the modern Christian sects from Protestantism, Calvinism, Baptism, Methodism, Episcopalian, Armenians (Catholic and Orthodox), and all the sects in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere.

Second, develop taxonomy of attributes in order to categorize all these Christian sects.

Third, allocate all the sects to one of six categories or more if need be.

Fourth, select the verses in Islam that correspond to the period of 13 years in Mecca, before the flight of the Prophet Muhammad to Medina (Yathreb) and the establishment of the first City-State of Islam

Five, assign each verse in that period to the taxonomy of step two.

Six, allocate the message of the prophet Muhammad in one of the categories chosen in step three.

The foundation to my hypothesis stems from reading a manuscript titled “Islam in its two messages: Christ and Muhammad.”

The author of the book is late Antoun Saadeh, a Lebanese of Christian Geek Orthodox denomination.  The book was written in 1942 and Saadeh proves that Islam is almost identical to the message of Christ when we analyze the verses of the Koran pronounced during Muhammad proselytizing of his message before the legislation period for the new community in Medina.

Since Christianity is an amalgam of many sects that split into schisms in the last two thousand years, I figured that, from a scientific perspective, it would be more appropriate to differentiate Christianity according to sects.

It would also be fitting to study Islam by analyzing the various Moslem sects; though the variations would be based more on the legislation (Chari3a) and Hadith (stories on Muhammad) than the fundamental spiritual content during the first 13 years of the message in Mecca.

I suggest to start with four broad categories: Catholic, Orthodox, Christian-Jews, and Jewish-Christians.  The basic differences are in the adoption of the Old Testament as act of faith and social regulations to follow.

There are Christians who do not adopt the Old Testament in their act of faith neither intrinsically or even using it in preaching and its myths in rhetoric; other use Old Testament as act of faith but do not adopt the Jewish laws for daily rituals; others adopt the Jewish laws either partially or entirely.

For example, Islam and Jehovah Witnesses may be allocated within the Jewish-Christian category because they abide by the nomadic Jewish laws for daily behaviors.

Note:  I find many resemblance between St.Paul and the prophet Muhammad.  Both avatars of God had apparitions and revelations and did what they had to do to spreading the message.  Their message was to be universal:

1. Paul disseminated monotheism to the Mediterranean Sea basin (Roman and Byzantium Empires) and Mohammad spread monotheism to all of Asia (India, China, and Indonesia).

2. Paul’s method took 300 years to grabbing 10% share of the population; Mohammad’s method was more efficient, and rallied millions in just two decades.

I demand freedom to pay tribute to my Idol

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 on 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.

One God who created man and the universe is fine, but is not sufficient for man.  Several Gods doing the job is more convincing and pragmatic: specialization is highly valued.

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

Ever since man descended from his tree, his prime concern was struggling for his freedom to pay tribute to his favorite Idol God.

Fear of the many dangers threatening his survival forced man to seeking a much more powerful ally to protect him and come to the rescue.  Depending on his wide spectrum of phobia, man wanted the total freedom to worship and be loyal to his “loyal” companions in times of imminent dangers.

Man would not take for granted Idols imposed upon him; he wanted his personal choices that most satisfied his psychological world.  Freedom of belief is not a modern concept; man fought all his life and for millennia for this natural right and is continuing the struggle.

I noticed lately that my dad, at each pass in front of the Virgin Mary or Mar Charbel (a Lebanese 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, that she has not, for the Saint so that the church make “good” use of it.

Obviously, Mar Charbel is in her pantheon too, along with the newly beatified Hardini.  Interestingly, miracles have a way of occurring 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 idolater 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 Maries, tailored made to a specific locality, ready to come to the rescue.

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

In predominantly Moslem Egypt, and generally in North Africa, you have St. Fatima, Aicha, Ali, Hussein, the Imam of the regional 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 Moslem 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 adopting monotheism; it is just a myth. 

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

God El was the all encompassing God in the Middle East as was Allah in the Arab 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 demy-gods; 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) was one of the Gods to the Jews after Moses introduced Him during the long crossing of Sinai and the worship of the “golden cow”: the Jews had, before and after Moses, many regional demy-Gods who did exist even if at periods they were forbidden to be worship.

Jews might have converged to a unique God in Judea in the second century BC.  Many of Canaan demy-Gods were far more beneficial and interesting than this newly created Yahweh that came into the picture during war periods. In war time, Jewish mercenaries were asked to support Baal under the banner of the dusted off Temple and bust of Yahweh.

Salomon worshiped Ashtarout (the Goddess of Sidon in Lebanon), and idol Baal had many Temples in Jerusalem while Yahweh had only one.

One common denominator to all salafist or extremist religious sects (Christian, Jewish, Moslems, 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 demy-Gods.  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 Prophet Mohammad entered Mecca without a fight, after 9 years of taking Yathreb as his headquarter for his companions, 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 the interceding process.

The most honest monotheists were the “heretic” Christian sects that the Orthodox Christian Church during the Byzantium 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.  The Nestorian sect proselytized in China and translated its Bible in Chinese in around the year 600; it built churches all along the “silk road”.  Thus, you don’t need to create saints along with pictures and busts to have the faith that travels to China.

I have noticed that:

1. 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;

2. that these centralized churches inherited pagan religions aided a lot to the widespread propagation of multiple idols for each locality.

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

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.

Note 1:  This is a revised version of my post “Mono-idolatry (monolatry) or monotheism? (Nov. 6, 2009)

Note 2: The Christian Greek Orthodox is the church of Byzantium that persecuted the “heretic” Maronites in the year 1,000 and forced them to settle in the northern mountain chains of Lebanon. Decades later, the Maronite allied to the Church of Rome  and has been a steady ally to France since then.

These persecutions took place at a period the Moslem Arabic empire was disintegrating into small fiefdoms and Byzantium re-conquered the coastal portion in Turkey and Syria. The second crusade campaign burned Constantinople and occupied the lands of Byzantium in Turkey, Syria, all the way to Jerusalem.

Note 3: The various Protestant sects have similarity with the Wahhabi Moslem sect by discarding icons and pictures of saints in their place of worship.  The Wahhabi makes it a trend to demolish any worshiping place that is decorated with pictures, icon, and shrines, whether they are Christians or Moslems…


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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