Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘month of Muharram

Iran: Hussein, Karbala, Ashura, Shias, Ayatollah marjaa, Wilayat fakih,…

Prophet Muhammad refused to designate a successor:  He was aware of his fragile health condition 8 days before he died and he was mentally conscious and able to make this decision.

When Muhammad died, his close relatives such as his 8 wives, his remaining two daughters and his sons-in-laws got in charge of the burial procedures and ceremony.

The leading companions such as Abu Bakr and Omar negotiated transition with the original leading tribes of Medina, called Ansars.  The ansars are those who welcomed the Moslems to settle in their city as the tribes of Mecca started persecuting the Moslems in 632.

Abu Bakr was selected Caliph.

The Sunni sect in Islam is this branch that doesn’t mind caliphs not being direct descendants of Muhammad, as long as they are considered from “noble” tribes of Mecca.  The Shia sect insisted that caliphs should be direct descended of Muhammad.

Abu Bakr, Omar bin Khattab, Uthman bin Affan, and Abi bin Abi Taleb were the four caliphs called Rashidun, meaning adult companions who followed Muhammad from the start and fought all his battles.  They were all from tribes of Mecca, which upset the ansar tribes who welcomed the Moslems and saved them from persecution and permitted them to establishing their first City-State in Yathreb named Medina later on.

It is to be noted that all male sons of Muhammad died in very young age and he had four married daughters.

Two daughters died before him.  The youngest daughter Fatima married Ali, his nephew and later son-in-law.  One of his daughters had married Uthman bin Affan.  Hassan and Hussein were the grandsons of Muhammad from Fatima and Ali who were born while the Prophet was alive.

Caliph Muawiya bin Ummaya (from the richest tribe in Mecca) was named governor of Damascus by Uthman and contested the caliphat with Ali.

Ali’s troops had the advantage of vanquishing Muawiya troops but Ali decided to negotiate.  Thus, those against the negotiation as victory was near were called “khawarej” (the ones who aabandoned Ali’s troops); they may as well be the first Shias (those who disagreed).

Ali might have been the most promising Imam, but he was no political statesman.  A few khawarej met in Mecca and decided to assassinate both Ali and Muawiya on the same day.  Muawiya’s assassin barely wounded him, but Ali’s assassin was successful as Ali was leading the prayer in Kufa.

After the assassination of Ali, Muawiya established the first hereditary dynasty in Islam with capital Damascus.  Muawiya struck a deal with Hassan.  The deal was that Hassan will be the next caliph after the death of Muawiya.  In a sense, the deal was sharing power between the Sunnis and the Shias in turn.

Muawiya poisoned Hassan:  He cooperated with Hassan’s wife to convince Hassan to wearing a poisoned expensive robe that Muawiya sent as gift for the deal.  Then, Muawiya killed Hassan’s wife and eliminated direct witnesses.

Hussein continued with the deal and left Muawiya at peace from political upheavals.  Muawiya died and his son Yazid succeeded him as caliph.  Hussein didn’t appreciate this treachery and reclaimed his right according to the deal and moved from Mecca with his family and 72 followers intending to settle in Kufa (southern Iraq).

Three months of marches in the desert brought Hussein in Karbala.

By dawn, Hussein realized that the troops of Yazid had surrounded his small party and cut off the way to the main water sources at the Euphrates River. Hussein negotiated for 10 days, hoping that the citizens of Kufa will come to the rescue, at no avail.  Hussein was beheaded and his head sent to Caliph Yazid on a spear in 680.

The uneven battle of Karbala was waged during Ashura, the tenth day of the month of Muharram.

The Shias adopted the account story of the engagement in Karbala as written by Hussein Kashefi in his “Garden of Martyrs” and which was widely circulated in the 15th century.  The story goes as follows:

“Hussein was hit by an arrow in the neck while trying to drink from the river.  Ten cavalry men from Yazid army rushed to achieve Hussein so that to receiving huge rewards.  Hussein was lying for dead and every time Hussein opened his eyes and looked at the coming killer then, the knight would feel shame and retreat.

Commander Chemr was decided to finish the job and sat at Hussein chest.  Hussein asked Chemr to remove his iron mask and show his face, which he did and Hussein said: “This is the first veritable sign.”  Chemr’s face looked porcupine with two incisive shooting out his lips.  Hussein asked Chemr to open his shirt and said: “This is the second veritable sign”  Chemr’s chest showed scars of leprosy.  Hussein said: “I had a vision last night by the Prophet and He told me how my assassin would look like.”

Hussein asked Chemr: “What day it is?”  Chmer said: “This is the Friday of Ashura”  Hussein asked “What time is it?”  Chemr replied: “This is the time of prayer.”  Hussein said: “The believers are praying and you are indulging in killing me.  Get off my chest and do your job while I am praying facing Mecca.”

The surviving family members of Hussein were given a roundabout three-month long trip up north Iraq, then north Syria before descending to Damascus and suffered hardship and humiliation.

Muawiya made sure to assassinating all males of direct descendant to Muhammad, including the surviving husbands of his daughters and even Muhammad’s wives.

Aicha, the most learned and beloved of Muhammad’s wives, was spared humiliation and assassination for two reasons:

First, she sided with him against Ali after the assassination of the third caliph Uthman and

Second, Aicha was the prime eminent in Islam jurisprudence.  She had gathered all the verses of the Prophet and confronted the Hadith that were lies and incorrect.  Uthman manipulated many verses and officially published the current Koran.

The Shias believe that the Abbassid caliph Al Maamoun assassinated Imam Rida in 817 in the city of Mashhad by poison.

All the streets in Mashhad converge to Imam Rida’s mausoleum and the city welcome 20 million pilgrims per year. The Abbassid dynasty are descendent of one of Muhammad’s uncle Abbas.

Kufa was not spared persecution, even though it didn’t come to succor Hussein.

The new governor Hajaj bin Youssef made the citizens of Kufa check their necks as his first speech started: “I see heads ripening and ready for the harvest…”  Kufa is renowned for its bad luck of supporting the losing party:  It supported Aicha, the youngest and most beloved wife of Muhammad, against the troops of Ali in the first civil-war battle of the “Camel” around Kufa.

Iran was Sunni before the 16th century.  An Azeri prince, Shah Ismail, took power of Iran in 1502.

The successor of Ismail decided to have the Shia sect as the kingdom official religion in order to unite Iran against his nemesis the Caliph of the  Ottoman Empire.  The ottoman Empire crushed the Iranian army but didn’t venture in resuming the war inside Iran.  The ottoman Empire just got Iraq as one of the wilayyats  of the Empire.

The Shia sect has a highly structured hierarchy and the curriculum for religious proficiency is lengthy and passes by degrees of study programs. There are currently 12 “ayatollah marjaa” among the Shias, two them died recently: Montazari and Fadhlallah of Lebanon.  An ayatollah marjaa is the highest cleric who can institute his school of jurisprudence and proclaim fatwas (interpretation opinion on an Islamic law).

The followers of other Ayatollah marjaa do not have to agree with the fatwas of one ayatollah.

Ayatollah Khomeini didn’t vehemently refuse the title of Imam, a title reserved for the “hidden Mahdi” who was declared hidden at the age of 5 in 874.  The successor of Khomeini, Kamenei, was not even ayatollah and still, he is considered “Supreme Guide” of the “Wilayat fakih” or the rule of the highest religious cleric in jurisprudence.

Note:  I read a few articles of Khomeini’s fatwas and I must say that so many years of learning theology and Islamic laws left something to be desired.  I think an ayatollah must have also a PhD in a scientific field in addition to religious knowledge.

Date Zero: Prior period to Islam is untouchable to investigation; (April 1, 2010)

Islam calendar starts in 622 AC, the date the Prophet Muhammad fled to Medina (Yathreb) from Mecca.

The past or before date zero, or the culture and tradition of pre-Islam Arabic Peninsula, has been practically untouched by researchers and Islamic investigators.

The period prior to 622 or year one of “Hegire” is lumped as the period of ignorance (Jahiliyya) by Moslems.

The Arab World still teaches pre-Islamic poetry and poets; it is mostly through these poems that the Arabs are acquainted with the very rich parts of pre-Islamic culture, traditions, and customs.

Fact is, you cannot understand Islam without the contexts that pressured the prophet Muhammad to compromise with the multitude of tribes allied to Byzantium and Persia empires.

We can claim that a curtain (hijab) has descended on pre-Islamic period simultaneously with the veil that descended on women after the Prophet’s death.

Thus, women were banished from political power and dealing with political affairs in public two decades after Muhammad’s death.

This is no coincidence that Islam after Muhammad’s death had made the connection between pulling a curtain on the Jahiliyya period and the veiling of women in society; removing women from the public political landscape.

During Jahiliyya, each Arabic tribe worshiped idols made of wood or stone; there were many Jewish and “heretic” Christian-Jew sects (as labeled by Christian Orthodox Byzantium Empire) in Arabia and in Mecca.

The 3 most potent and powerful idols were female idols such as Al Uzza, Manat, and Al Lat.  Although the tribes made their yearly pilgrimage to Mecca where the Kaaba contained over 360 idols, this pilgrimage was mainly for doing commerce and enjoying the weeklong festivities and debauchery.  The main pilgrimage (hajj) for the powerful tribes was to their preferred idols in other locations and towns.

The pragmatic nomads in the Arabic Peninsula and the neighboring deserts have created idols commensurate to their individualistic needs to vent their frustrations with periodic sacrifices, including babies of both genders.

During Muhammad’s time, baby girls were mostly the sacrificial human kind by poor families, especially in periods of great food distress.

Since violence, revenge, and frequent wars “razzias” against other clans were the norm for looting of animals, camels, and slave girls…  powerful female goddesses were purchased and erected for pilgrimage as scapegoats to the tribes’ violent activities.

Thus, female goddesses represented violence, symbol that violence and revenge are the mark of female behavior and dark spirit.

For example, goddess Manat (death) was the oldest idol and was worshiped by the tribes of Aws and Kazradj that inhabited the region of Yathreb, later called Medina (the first Islam City-State).  The original meaning of Manat is taken from a Semitic root meaning “counting of the days of life” that connote death (manyya).

The temple of Manat was a natural rock (sakhra) on the coast between Mecca and Yathreb; the two tribes considered that the pilgrimage was not complete until they stopped at the temple of Manat where they shaved their head and offered sacrifices. Manat was a powerful goddess dictator (taghia) and swords were deposited in her temple.

The Prophet gave his nephew Ali bin Abi Taleb the two swords in the temple after it was demolished; one of the sword was called Zul Faqar. Representatives of the tribes of Aws and Khazradj had extended permission to Muhammad, after three years of negotiation, to settle in Yathreb with his converts after the tribes of Mecca decided to chase them out.

The other female goddess was Al Lat and was worshiped in Taif, a region on the eastern shores facing Persia.  The main tribe of Taif, the Banu Taqif, erected square walls around the rock of Al Lat.  Most desert tribes, all the way to Palmyra in northern Syria, worshiped this goddess.

Al Lat had all the attributes of goddess Athena wearing battle helmet, breastplate, armor, and holding a lance.  Banu Thaqif was one of the latest tribes to submit to Allah because Muhammad failed at several expeditions to enter Taif. Actually, it was Taif that was the preferred destination to Muhammad when he decided to flee Mecca but he was chased out of Taif after his failed negotiation to settle there.

The third most powerful “taghia” goddess was Al Uzza (dignity, physical force and power); the most powerful tribe of Quraich in Mecca consecrated her.  Al Uzza was the most violent divine warrior and was represented in the form of a tree or three acacias trees and located way up north in Nakhla as Shamiya on the way to Iraq’s caravans.

The temple of Al Uzza was equipped with a slaughtering alter (manhar) called “ghabghab”.  General Khaled bin Al Waleed was ordered to destroy the temple of Al Uzza in 630 after Muhammad entered Mecca peacefully as the victor.

General Al Waleed was the Quraich leader who defeated Muhammad’s troops in the battle of Uhud; this failed campaign of the Prophet generated 3 years of civil unrest in the City-State of Medina and most of the verses that abridged female equal rights that were previously gained in the first four years.

Note: About ten years after Muhammad’s death, the Arabic Islamic Empire had extended vastly.

The governor Abu Mussa al Ach3ari wrote to the second caliph Omar bin Al Khattab: “You sent me several letters that were not dated.” Omar assembled a council to set up a calendar.

A few opted to using the Byzantium calendar, others the Persian calendar, but the majority recognized that a calendar means power and wanted an Arabic/Islamic calendar.

The discussions led to adopting the date of the Prophet’s immigration to Medina in 622 AC as Date Zero. Omar had said: “this is the year that divided truth from falsehood.”

Islam lunar calendar is of 354 days and started with the month of “Muharram”; the pre-Islamic particular month that prohibited wars and revenge among clans.

In pre-Islam, the tribes used to add one month on the third year for calibration with their commercial dealings. Muhammad forbid to add this month; thus, the Islamic calendar is one year ahead for every 33 Christian years since the year 622.


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adonis49

adonis49

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