Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘“heretic” Christian sects

 

 

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.

 

Curious how Syria upheaval will unfold? Know history of Syria between 7th and 11th centuries

Syria, known as “Bilad el Sham” during the Arabic Empire, was mainly divided into 3 major provinces. The northern, middle and southern provinces.

Labeling Syria as Bilad el Sham (country to the left, or the western side of the Arabic Peninsula) by the Arabic Empire stems from being located in the other direction to Yemen (on the right side).  You can figure a tribe leader standing in Mecca and gesticulating, facing north and pointing his left hand toward Syria and his right hand toward Yemen.

The northern region included the southern region of current Turkey, all the way to the seashore, the western part of the Euphrates River, Aleppo, Hama and Homs. The Al Assy River was a major source of water for the  flourishing agricultural diversity.  The province situated in north-east Aleppo was called the Kannasrine province.

Homs was the most important city in economy, trade, and population concentration. Invading man-of-war Empires had to capture Homs first for supply route before setting siege to Aleppo.  Aleppo was usually the de-facto Capital of the province, its  administrative center (basically where the prince and his entourage resided) and a strategic military location.

From Aleppo, almost all invading Empire extended their possessions toward Turkey, Mosul, and ultimately toward Damascus and Palestine.

This norther region assembled most of the religious sects, which were upset with any religious central power during all foreign occupations. It had the heaviest concentration of “heretic” Christian sects, and “heretic” non-Sunni Islamic sects such as the 4 varieties of Moslem Shias. The Shias sect of the 12th Imam was most of time governing Aleppo, though they were allied to the Caliphs in Damascus or Bagdad.  The Sunni sect at the time didn’t view this sect as a main threat religiously. (Read explanation in note #2)

The main “Arabic” tribe, meaning the tribe that immigrated from a region in the Arabic Peninsula, was named Kilab.  I was a relatively newly arrived tribe and consequently, had strong connections with its related tribes and clans in the Peninsula, and could expect support in man-of war contingents in time of military crises.

By the middle of the 10th century, successive and steady streams of immigrant tribes and clans converged toward the norther province of Syria.  These tribes were from Christian Armenia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan… (regions in southeast the Lake of Kazwin). Why now? (Read note #3)

The warrying “Arab” tribes and leaders in Aleppo, Homs, and Hama demanded support from these newly arriving “foreign” tribes. By the end of the 11th century, Arab tribes in northern Syria didn’t constitute any weight in current political affairs.

(It is to be noted that the new converted tribes to Islam in the Caucasus region and central Asia were staunch Sunnis and refused any interpretation of the Coran.  Arab/Islam Empire in the East diverged from rational thinking, but resumed in Andalusia (Spain till the 15th century).

Middle Syria province was constituted of Damascus, Baalbak, Houran, Golan Heights, all the way to Tiberias (Tabaraya) and Akka on the current Palestinian sea-shore.  Damascus (formerly the Capital of the Arabic Omayyad Empire) was mostly Sunni Moslems.  The sedentary Sunnis in Damascus seek stability and paid allegiance to the reigning Sunni Caliph, regardless of location of the capital of the Empire, or the main power behind the Caliph.  Thus, Damascus was the main thorn toward the expansion of so-called “Heretic Moslem sects” of Ismaili or Karamita. (Read more on these two sects in note 2)

The southern Syria province included all of current Jordan and Palestine.  The city of Ramleh (close to current Tel Aviv) was the capital of the region.  This province had the most strategic trade and military location in all of Syria, (for example the Nabatean Empire with Capital Petra): What used to be known as the Decapolis region was the crossroad to most land trade and caravans and ships crisscrossing the Red Sea.

Gaza and Eshklan were mostly ruled by the power in Egypt.  The main Arab tribe was Tayy: it was newly established and had still strong connection to its clans and branches in the Arabic Peninsula, and could rely on man-of-war supply in critical crisis. (Might expand in later articles)

When the European crusaders invaded Syria, most of the cities with majority “heretic” sects (both Christians and Moslems) facilitated the occupation of their cities by the crusaders.  Aleppo and Damascus (mostly of sunni sect at the time) remained outside the crusaders’ dominion.  It is from these two cities that the counter attacks were concentraded and kicked the occupiers out, a century later.

What’s happening in Syria now?

The people in Homs have been virulent and demonstrating nightly against the regime. Why?

During late Hafez Assad, the socialist central government invested and funneled money into this major City. In the last five years, and the spread of liberal capitalism that pressured Syria to revise its economic and financial laws, the insiders in the central government and Bashar Assad clan opted to invest outside Syria, in Damascus, and Aleppo. Government funding for Homs disappeared.

Hama is virulent for two major reason:

First, Hama has been punished for over 3 decades from serious government investment related to the 1982 mass uprising. Hafez Assad decreed that: “Every Syrian who is found to be a member of Syria Moslem Brotherhood Party will be executed“.  Hafez was very consistent in his position and many Syrians were persecuted and hanged.

Second, Hama want revenge!

Why Damascus is not currently that excited for reform change?

As usual and historically, Sunnis in Damascus give priority to stability and security. Second, merchant class in Damascus is still reaping the advantages of being resident of the Capital.  When the regime shows definite weaknesses, you can be sure that Damascus will take over and lead the “revolution”: They have to maintain and protect their interest, economically and politically.

The people in Aleppo wish that what is taking place is actually a terrible bad dream: They will wake up from just a nightmarish dream. Aleppo is in a situation of “No Win”, regardless of which side to take.  If it sides with the government, Aleppo will suffer the most from a civil war because it is in the middle of the Sunni Kurds in the north and Sunni “Arabs” in the south.

Note 1: Information on the geopolitical structure of ancient Syria was extracted mostly from the book “Bilad el Sham during Arab Empire till the 10th century” by the late historian Kamal Salibi (he died two months ago).  It was written and published in English in 1982.  I am reading the Arabic version.

Note 2: As the Prophet Mohammad died in 631, many tribes opted to revert to paganism. The first Caliph Abu Bakr, and the second Caliph Omar needed 4 years of skirmishes before bringing back the hostile tribes into Islam.  The third Calif Othman was also from the Quraich tribe, the main powerful tribe of Mecca, from which the Prophet and Ali are from. Othman was assassinated in Medina.  Ali was next in line to be appointed caliph, and he was perceived as reluctant to prosecuting the assassins. The governor of Damascus, Muawiyah, was from the same clan of Othman and claimed the right for the position of Caliph and Imam of the Moslems.

Muaweya begged to differ. Ali was the husband of one of Muhammad daughters (Fatima who died 6 months after Mohammad) and whose two sons are consequently direct descendent from the Prophet. At a critical battle where the troops of Ali had ascendency after three days of war, Muaweyah raised the bloody shirt of Caliph Othman and asked Ali for negotiation by putting their hands on the Coran. Ali accepted a third-party decision for avoiding a civil war.

Two groups of Ali’s followers dissented.  The first group was called the Shias, and the second group Al Khawarej. The Shia said: “We didn’t fight with Ali to having a second opinion on his legitimacy as a descendent of the Prophet.”  The Khawarej said: “Enough is enough. We already had four caliph from the Quraich tribe. We don’t care anymore that a Caliph must necessarily be from the Quraich tribe.”  This extremist group constituted the worst anti-Quraich hegemony and received the worst and most sustained persecution. A member of Khawarej assassinated Ali five years later in Koufa. The same day, another member attempted to assassinate Muawiyah.  Muawiyah was wounded but didn’t succumb to his wounds.

The Shia sects are of four kinds.  Two sects are main and two others are branches. You have the Shia believing that the 12th Imam will return on earth to spread everlasting peace, and those who claim it is the 6th Imam known as the Ismailia sect.  The 12th sect is the predominant sect in Iran, Lebanon, and Aleppo region in north Syria. The 6th sect was predominant in North Africa and was called Fatimid when they conquered Egypt in the 9th century; they are currently dominant in India.

The Druze sect is a branch from the Ismailia sect and majority in the Chouf and west Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, and in Houran and Golan Heights in Syria. The Alawi or Nussairi sect are also a branch of the 6th Imam and mostly a majority in the western region of Syria (this sect claim that Jesus is the one to return to earth and he didn’t die on the cross…)

Historically, the Karamita were a branch of the 6th Imam but would not suffer a centralized religious system in Cairo during the Fatimid dynasty. The Karamita established their headquarter in Al Ihsaa in East Arabic Peninsula, and expanded their territory to all the Arabic Peninsula, Yemen, Palestine and attempted several times to threaten Egypt.  They are still majority in that eastern part of Saudi Arabia.

Note 3: First, Byzantium Empire was re-expanding, and recapturing lost territories, and the strategy was to empty the re-conquered provinces and send the turbulent tribes toward “enemy territories” to forming a buffer zone.

Second, the newly established Seljuk Empire in Iran, which covered its legitimacy by recognizing the Caliph of Bagdad as Islam (Sunni) religious Imam, prohibited the immigrating tribes to settle on the Iranian borders, and encouraged them to move toward north Syria: A strategy meant for these tribes to becoming the front line for future expansion toward all of Syria. The Seljuk Empire managed to conquer Aleppo and Damascus, a couple of decades before the Crusaders waves started.

Note 4: You may read the differences between the rural and sedentary Islam sects https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/07/23/urban-islam-and-rural-islam/

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…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christianity: From total persecution to State religion: what happened? (Nov. 2, 2009)

            By the beginning of the fourth century, Christians in the Roman Empire were no longer persecuted as a sect behaving contrary to the Roman values.  The Christians have suffered one of the worst waves of persecutions from 303 to 311.

The father of Constantine persecuted the Christian mercilessly and Constantine witnessed the massacres. Constantine inherited England and France as co-Emperor, one of three other co-Emperors to the Roman Empire that dominated the Mediterranean Sea.

This article is not about the fictitious story or not of Constantine seeing the symbol of the Christians at night or in a dream before the battle to capturing Rome from Maxence in 312. This post intends on explaining the moratorium on Christian persecutions as this sect reached the threshold of a minority of 10% of the total population.

At that period, a Christian was not born a Christian: he was not baptized a week or longer after birth.  A Christian had to prove that he believed in Christ as the Redemptor of our sins, that Christ resurrected from death and that God is the creator of man and the universe and that God is One and all powerful, and all our actions were to be offered in honor of Him.

The intellectuals and educated leaned toward this concept of a unique God, an abstract God who is not emulated on earthly natural powers or actual planets and Sun: it was the cultural rage of the time.  The high ranked in the Roman caste system didn’t have to proselytize or proclaim their conversion; this task was relegated to the poorer Romans in the caste system so that the Christian religion spread its tenants with example of persecutions in arenas for the pleasure of the Romans.

The four co-Emperors needed stability in their respective allocated Empires and they needed the Christians support in the highest administrative jobs.  If the Christians were about 10% of the total they constituted a much higher ratio in the Orient and in Africa.  After Constantine won the Orient he was left with only one co-Emperor Licinius in Africa.

Emperor Constantine who build Constantinople (later to be named the Byzantium Empire) converted to Christianity and was both pragmatic toward the vast majority of pagans and an intolerant Christian who wanted to unite all the Christian sects in his empire, a sort of centralized orthodox church with a dogma that suited a newly converted Emperor.

Christianity was Not a new ideology to Emperor Constantine; that would be the case a century later. The people were born in the rituals to being “patriotic” to the Roman Empire and to obeying the reigning Emperor. The people were not dupe: not a single ex-voto (in Greek or Latin) to an Emperor (living or dead) was found. People asked and demanded from their Gods to be cured or saved from calamities.

The temporal sovereign was considered a need to safeguard the peace and continuity of the communities; as long as no new heavy taxes were imposed the Emperor could be labeled “The so good and beloved monarch”. The luxurious way of life of the monarch was accepted as a right that fit the position: the monarch didn’t have to abuse of pageantry to impress upon the people, it was not a sort of propaganda to remind the people of his role and power. It was simply a right attached to the position of power.  All that an Emperor had to do is to occasionally speak on the virtue of the existing rituals so that to clear the void and the silence in the kingdom.

In 325 Emperor Constantine summoned all the Bishops to a conclave in Nicaea (Turkey).  The conclave dragged on for four months and ended with a slight majority agreeing to a new abstract dogma of the Trinity of Father, Son, and the Virgin Mary, the Holy Ghost and the Credo.  The dissenting Christian sects were labeled “heretics” because they wanted to believe in One God and not bestow divinity on Jesus and much less on Mary.

Ten years later Emperor Constantine defeated Licinius and became the sole Emperor to the Mediterranean Sea Empire. Persecution of the heretic Christian sects started in earnests and they had to flee to the eastern shores of the Euphrates River, a kingdom under the Persian Sassanide Empire.

Apparently, Emperor Constantine was never defeated in military battles; if he were he might have had a second thought about his all powerful protector new God; at least he might have listened more seriously to the heretic Christian Unique God.  Two years before his death, Emperor Constantine defeated the Germans and wrote to the Bishops meeting in conclave in Tyr (Lebanon) “The Germans are converting to Christianity; they are convinced that our God cannot be defeated or vanquished.”

Constantine died in 337.

From this year to 400 Christianity could have easily lost its supremacy as the Emperor religion.  Emperor Julian reverted to paganism but died two years later; he could have easily converted the whole Empire to paganism which was the vast majority.  Several Christian Emperors were elected by factional armies not on religious ground but for many other reasons.

One main reason that Christian Emperors succeeded to the throne in the next 60 years was because the paganism was flexible, indifferent, and tolerant, while the Christian Church was exclusive (once converted then you are sucked in) and it grabbed tightly at any rights it gained.  The minority Church used to the hilt the temporal power of the Emperors to affirm its positions.

In 394, Emperor Theodosius managed to defeat the pagan German General Arbogast in Slovenia. This defeat was a pure fluke of nature: a violent wind blew in the face of the combined more powerful Roman/Germanic army.  Arbogast had reigned in Rome and installed a figure head Emperor Eugene; he re-confirmed paganism in Rome and for six years paganism was master in the western provinces. Also, two years earlier to the definitive battle, Theodosius had banished all public pagan rituals in the Orient in reaction to Arbogast attempts to restore paganism.

This military defeat had set the stage for the supremacy of Christianity in the Roman Empire. Thus, in the 5th century, the number of bishops jumped drastically; from around 6 to 50 in North Italy, from 20 to 70 in France (Gaul), and in North Africa the number tripled. The pagans transformed Christianity into paganism rituals of visiting every new sanctified Saint or shrines where miracles were invented and propagated.  Pictures and statues of Saints and the Virgin Mary proliferated much quicker than churches.

When Islam conquered the Near East by defeating Heracles in the battle of Yarmouk, the heretic Christian sects (the true monolithic sects) converted to a religion that coincided with their belief system in One and Unique God and that accepted all the Jewish and Christian Bibles as forming integral part of Islam’s fundamental doctrine.  If the Byzantium Empire had selected the Christian heretic dogma instead of the Trinity Islam would have never emerged to fill this vacuum since the Prophet Muhammad was initially a convert to one of the Christian-Jewish sects in Mecca.

There are two distinct civilizations around the Mediterranean Sea. 

The main difference is in the transmission of rituals and traditions among the people.  The Oriental civilization accepts a temporal sovereign who appoints the religious clergy of bishops and Imam (a decentralized religion) and the western civilization was comfortable with the cast of the clergy using the temporal power to expand its dominion over the people (a centralized religious power in Rome); that was the case after the year 400 in pagan Rome.

The Christian religion emulated the trend of former civilizations and a major schism occurred in 1000 between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches based on the perception, power, and the rights of the temporal power. In fact, Emperor Theodoric of Constantinople exerted pressures on Pope Gelase 1st to submit to the temporal rights of the sovereign; then, the Pope created the theory of separation of the spiritual and temporal powers in order to appease the Emperor.

While the Orient experienced a resurgence of the sciences and rational thinking in the 7th century, Europe was engulfed in the Dark Age till the 15th century because the Catholic Church prohibited any rational challenges to its authority.

The barbaric Catholic Church;(October 13, 2009)

There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

By 324 AC, the Roman Emperor Constantine had defeated the three other co-Emperors and is the sole ruler of the Mediterranean Sea Empire, including England, France, northern Africa, Egypt, Turkey, and the Near East to the Euphrates River. Emperor Constantine ordered the Bishops of all the Christian sects in his Empire (they were a dozen at least) to meet in Nicea (Turkey) to adopt a unifying “dogma” for a central Orthodox Church based in Constantinople. By a slight majority, bishops who agreed to Constantine’s radical abstract dogma (he was a new convert) started to persecute the “heretic” Christian sects who fled to the western side of the Euphrates River that was under Persia Empire.

From 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanid Dynasty.  For four centuries, the Christians of the Orient under the central power of the Church of Constantinople shied rational thinking and sciences were halted.

The Arabic Empire, around 650 AC, did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria. The Christians of the Orient, especially the heretic sects, converted to Islam that represented a pragmatic common denominator religion away from the Orthodox Church. Rational thinking got a boost; translation of foreign knowledge and Greek manuscripts to the Syriac and Arabic languages got underway; it was about time.

In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

The Koran was translated in Constantinople in the 9th century. It was translated in Toledo (Spain) in the 12th century but was not disseminated in Europe.  Europe got aware of Islam’s concept of decentralized religious power in the 16th century when printing made it feasible; this was the period when the Catholic Church of Rome experienced its decline on holding on absolute religious and civilian power.

Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?

Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

Greece after Aristotle did not produce much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessa, Ugarit, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East.  It is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not.

It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, and the most recent French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.

It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

Europe would have remained barbaric if it was not superseded as a superpower by the USA and Russia after WWII. The recent colonial dominations and the slaughtering of indigent people is a striking proof.  The single streak that the USA inherited mostly from Europe is its barbaric pre-emptive wars against smaller nations and its racist tendency for hegemony whenever the chance knocks.

Thus, the break up of the “heretic” protestant sects with the Catholic Church of Rome opened the way for Europe’s renaissance and the transfer of Islamic scientific discoveries and scientific methods with sound mathematical discipline. Strong with new sciences the “heretic” Protestant sects created models of nationalism to civilize the “barbarians” of the world.  Renaissance of Europe turned out not to be driven toward humanitarian purposes but based on exclusive nationalism proprietary that exhibited its brutal and ugly racist behavior for many decades.

After the 18th century, Papal Rome tried hastily to catch up with the scientific trend and put up a face of progress and the conservator of scientific investigation.  This obscurantist religious central power initiated and backed all European invasions; it supervised the extermination of aborigines under the guise of “Christianize” the pagan barbarians.

Note: I use shock titles to lure readers; those who patronize my blog comprehend that my posts are highly rational: They are the work of much analysis and reflection. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture and language”.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

June 2020
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