Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ottoman Empire

How current “modern” Islam radicalized into negative and oppressive precepts?

I’ll discuss three radical trends: The Moslem Brotherhood of Egypt, the Wahhabi Islam brand in the Arabic Peninsula, and the Ben Laden (Al Qaeda) for international jihadists.

1. In 1929, Egypt was relatively the most modern State in the Arab World. The Al Azhar religious university was guided by an enlightened sheikh Abdel Razeq.  Author Taha Hussein had published a very controversial book on poetry during Jahiliya period (before Islam in the Arabic Peninsula), and the Egyptian court refused to ban it.

During that period, the monarchs Fouad and Farouk and their entourage went overboard emulating the western life-style and flaunting blatantly their unacceptable behaviors to the little people.

Hassan al Banna (founder of the Brotherhood in 1929) jumped at the occasion of life-styles that obfuscated the common people and blamed the modern interpretation of Islamic teachings as a cover to the to the ill-behavior of the ruling classes.

Consequently, a return to Chariaa and fundamental “bedouin” Islam: tribal ancient customs and rules were prescribed in order to overcome the current degenerate conditions that will weaken the Moslem spirit for Jihad against the infidels…

The presence of colonial Britain in Egypt was mainly opportunistic catalysts for every time the British governor harshly confronted street demonstrations and uprisings…

Colonial western life-style was added as a practical dimension to the reactions of the Brotherhood members. The Brotherhood was implicitly regarded anti-colonial and, as a logical result, a de facto national movement…

2. The Wahhabi brand of Islam.  This sect was initiated by Abd el Wahhab in the Najd region in the Arabic peninsula in the early 19th century, during the Ottoman Empire. This Hanafi sect was quickly supported by the emirs in Najd, particularly the Saud tribe, and is currently classified as the fourth admitted sect in Sunni Islam.

Mainly, the Wahhabi movement was opposed to the Ottoman Empire, which didn’t really administered directly the Arabic Peninsula, and was funded and supported with arms by the British Empire, which had plans to occupy strategic ports in Aden (Yemen) and the Arabic/Persian Gulf.

Mind you that Islam of the Ottoman Empire was pretty loose and accommodating since the foundation of the Empire, and the Chariaa was observed with wide latitude  All that the Sultan wanted was the title of Calif of all the Moslems.

It happened that in the early 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was wide open to western culture and life-style and some Constitutional reforms were underway, called “Tanzimat” (Regulations)

The British got wary of reforms starting in the Ottoman Empire, and worked on minorities to destabilize the already shaky and declining Ottoman Empire. And how best to rally the tribes around in the peninsula if not by adopting opposite theological and radical religious positions against the Calif?

And quick to a drastic shift to the “fundamentals” of Islam, as the Protestants acted against the Catholic Church in the 15th century. What are these fundamentals? Abolishing and destroying all icons, pictures of Imams and Holy men, prohibiting pilgrimage to Imam sites wide dispersed in all Islamic world, as substitute to the expensive pilgrimage to Mecca…And back to Bedouin customs, traditions, setting more constraints on women…: The modus operandi to rooting the movement within the dominant tribes.

The Ottoman Sultan kept harassing his Viceroy in Egypt, Muhammad Ali, to send an expeditionary military force to wipe out the spreading of the Wahhabi uprising.  Finally, Ali dispatched his young 19-year old second son who entered Mecca and liberated it from the Wahhabis after many difficulties. The elder son Ibrahim Pasha carried out an extensive campaign for years and managed to enter and destroy the main City-State of the Wahhabi inside the deep desert.

And for two decades, the Wahhabi movement subsided, until the Egyptian forces had to return home. The British resumed their funding and support for the Wahhabi movement and eventually conquered all of the Peninsula in 1923.

Since Sadat of Egypt acceded to power in 1970, the Saudi Arabia absolute monarchy had been building mosques all over Egypt and hiring clerics of Wahhabi  inclination, re-publishing their own Coran and distributing it for free…

3. The Ben Laden phenomena of international jihadist movement. Ben laden kept swinging between the Moslem Brotherhood and the Wahhabi sect, driven by the political opportunities opened to him and which captured his attention. Ben laden had no fundamental theological doctrine or dogma and with no definite long-term purpose for his movement.

In the early 1980, he was a CIA agent and was dispatched by Saudi Arabia to usurp the nascent movement of Arab Jihadist flocking to the city of Peshawar (Pakistan) to be trained and sent to fight the Soviet communists in Afghanistan. The CIA wanted to be in control of the “resistance movement” against the Soviet…

After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, no Arabic State wanted these fighters to return home. These jihadists were relocated to created Hot Spots around the world. The CIA took charge of that bounty of cheap recruits who are zealot and already trained and dispatched them to “containment regions” under the Soviet dominion…It was still the Cold War era.

To make a long story short, (extensively developed in a previous article) the US became an ideal target for the Al Qaeda movement which resulted in the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and the reactions in conducting frequent drone attacks killing potential Al Qaeda “leaders”…

Note 1: The US has got to understand that the Arab peoples feel that an entire century was wasted, for nothing, and worse than going back to point one in 1918, where the Arab people hoped and demanded independence, and the colonial mandated powers replaced the Ottoman and created the Zionist state of Israel. More on that in a follow-up article.

Note 2: How to win war on terrorism

Are secular States an Impossible Mission? Lebanon Civic (Laic) Pride movement. Part 3

I have been following the comments and suggestions on “How to establish a secular central State in Lebanon”. You may read the previous post:

Over a century ago, while the current Near-East States were part of the Ottoman Empire, Butrus al-Bustani (1819-83), the Lebanese polymath author, secular and Arab nationalist, wrote: “Religion belongs to God, the country to everyone

The secular leader Antoun Saadeh wrote: “Our fighting for Heaven made us lose the Land”

Alex posted a condensed version of the article on the UK National Secular Society website (with minor editing).

Under the title “Asking the impossible? Lebanon’s march for secularism”, Alex wrote:

“While in most respects the previous 17 months have seen undreamed-of victories for civil liberties in the Middle East, there is one crucial measure that didn’t improve. In fact, the  problem of not separating religion from politics threaten to worsen considerably.
In the Arab Gulf States, petro-monarchs and absolute Emirs have set aside their traditional tribal and other distrusts in the spirit of Islam Sunni unity and purity against the Shiaa heretics of Bahrain and Iran.
Entire cities in Yemen have been taken over by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
In Syria, what started as a nonviolent uprising now looks to be heading toward a civil war with ugly sectarian undertones.
And in North Africa, Islamist parties have won by dizzying margins in every election from Cairo to Casablanca (Morocco).

So it was with no small satisfaction that I surveyed the crowd at the Lebanese Laïque (Civic) Pride Secular March Towards Citizenship in central Beirut on Sunday.

For the third year in a row, the country’s secular community took to the streets to call for an end to the sectarian order and the implementation of a number of draft laws against things like censorship and domestic violence.

To the bemusement and occasional encouragement of bystanders, some 1,500 students, professionals, activists and even the odd celebrity marched for three hours carrying banners like “Civil marriage not civil war” and variously chanting “What’s your sect? None of your business!”; “Revolution!”; and “The people want a secular state”.

Lebanon is a country where being born into the wrong religion means you can’t become President of the State, or Prime Minister, or Chairman of the Parliament… and so on down the cabinet level, every seat of which is constitutionally reserved for a member of one faith or another.

Civil service, military and security positions are rationed along communal lines. Not even university faculty appointments are  suffered to upset the sanctity of the sectarian calculus.

Similarly, citizenship is officially defined by faith, so that marital, inheritance and other such disputes are settled not by civil lawyers but the clergy of the religious sect (theologians). What does that mean in practice?

A Muslim man thinks that he is fully within his rights to beat his wife, thanks to Sura 4:34 of the Qur’an, which, after laying down that “Men are in charge of women”, instructs husbands to “strike” wayward spouses.

This jewel of 7th century Bedouin culture is the Law of the Land in 21st century Lebanon, though most verses are stated “Out of Context”.

In 2011, the Sunni Grand Mufti, Muhammad Qabbani, actually rejected a draft law against domestic violence on the grounds that “it harms the Muslim woman and denies her of the rights granted [to her]”.

But the humiliation doesn’t end there: that same husband may also rape his wife, since the learned sheikhs decline to recognize the concept of marital rape in the first place. “There’s nothing called rape between a husband and wife”, as the al-Jamaa al-Islamiyah [Islamic Group] MP Imad Hout eloquently put it last December. “It’s called forcing someone violently to have intercourse.”

What else?

Those born outside the 18 officially recognized sects – such as the 4,000-odd Jehovah’s Witnesses – are effectively disowned by the State, unable to get married and denied various other basic entitlements. While atheism isn’t illegal – Article 9 of the constitution guaranteeing “absolute freedom of conscience” on the God question – every Lebanese is nevertheless branded from birth, on official identity documents (except the passport), by his father’s sect, so that an atheist born of a Christian is forbidden from marrying an atheist born of a Muslim.

Nearby Cyprus, as a result, does a lucrative trade in civil marriage tourism. In that case, civil marriages performed in Cyprus are recognized, but the couple does not enjoy any civil status outside the religious framework…

To the outsider, this might all seem fairly straightforward to reform with some basic legislation. How  immense are the obstacles to secular reforms?

Many of the barriers are spawned and cultivated by the system itself. For one, the clergy has a financial interest in the status quo.

For example, every Christian who marries is obliged to pay a fee, or ‘donation’, to their local parish. This implicit tax or fees can run into the thousands of dollars, and is required irrespective of where the ceremony actually takes place. And it is, of course, distinct from the substantial extra raked in for the hiring of the premises and priest, or priests. Thus do the Lord’s terrestrial deputies succeed in turning even an occasion of love into yet another sordid extortion racket.

Politicians have created a viciously destructive cycle in the phenomenon of patronage. Without exception, every major party invests its funds in the development of its ‘own’ religious community, whether it’s Hizbollah for the Shia (bankrolled by Iran); the Future Movement for the Sunnis (bankrolled by Saudi Arabia); the PSP for the Druze (bankrolled by foreign western services); or any of the Christian parties (bankrolled by various domestic and foreign donors).

Nor is it limited to philanthropy – a tantalizing array of string-pulling services are offered the loyal coreligionists, from legal assistance to healthcare to circumventing commercial red tape to simply getting a better number plate for the Merc. This of course sees to it that the State is kept weak – for what politician would choose to work for legitimacy so long as it can be bought instead?

And what voter, without a viable state alternative, will opt for anyone who doesn’t put their interests first?

Kept permanently supine by these twin jackboots of religious and political authority, Lebanon’s secularists also face the task of winning over the country’s liberals, many of whom are unconvinced of the merits of scrapping the existing system altogether.

Michael Young, the Lebanese-American columnist and author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle, even partially defends the present arrangement, writing in the book that: “What makes Lebanon relatively free in an unfree Middle East is that the country’s sectarian system, its faults notwithstanding, has ensured that the society’s parts are stronger than the State; and where the state is weak, individuals are usually freer to function.

I asked Young last week to elaborate on his position, which he did as follows [Disclosure: He is a regular contributor to my employer, NOW Lebanon]: “I would love to see, between now and tomorrow morning, a completely civil and secular order in Lebanon, but the reality is that we are not in London or New York. This is a society whose social and political development since around the 19th century has been based on confessional power sharing. So it’s unrealistic to say we will simply dump this sociological reality and go for a secular system. Change has to come gradually, from within, and you have to think in terms of wedges. Civil marriage, for example….

Michael Young resumes: ” From these we can eventually move on to secular parliament, as stipulated by Ta’if [the revamped constitution that ended the civil war in 1989], in the context of a national dialogue on de-confessionalisation. But I’m not a big optimist that any of this will happen soon. Unfortunately, sectarianism has really entered the consciousness of many Lebanese, and it’s almost a default part of thinking in the country.”

Whether or not one agrees on the details, Young is surely right that secularism must be accepted socially before it can be sustained politically. The startling electoral successes of Islamists in countries as developed as Turkey, and now Tunisia, attest to that. What’s so disheartening in the case of Lebanon is that it didn’t by any means have to turn out this way.

For at that very moment, Young mentioned in the 19th century, when the Ottomans were beginning to institutionalize sectarianism by partitioning Mount Lebanon into two distinct Maronite and Druze qa’imaqamat, or administrative districts, something very different was taking place simultaneously.

From Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq, the lexicographer, novelist, founder of Arab socialism (al-ishtirakiyya) and pioneering modernizer of the Arabic language; to Ibrahim al-Yaziji, the poet, scholar of grammar, music, medicine, art and astronomy, and creator of the first Arabic typewriter font; to Butrus al-Bustani, the polymath known as al-mu’allim (the master)… the Lebanese were playing a central role in an extraordinary intellectual and cultural spring that was flourishing across the entire Levant.

It’s sometimes argued – usually by theocrats – that secularism is merely the latest guise of imperialism; yet another round in the White Man’s perennial quest to subdue the Orient. This is an argument that can only be made from the densest ignorance of Lebanese history, for, as the above men showed, there certainly need be nothing ‘Western’ about the values of the Enlightenment.

My favorite example of the unprecedented spirit of resistance to piety and irrationality in the air at the time is the 1882 ‘Lewis Affair’, in which students at the Syrian Protestant College (as the American University of Beirut was then known) boycotted classes and even dropped out in protest at the firing of a professor for expressing Darwinist leanings.

Orientalism, you say?

Tell it to the dozens of freethinking young Arabs who were prepared to sacrifice their college degrees to defend reason and science from the ossified superstitions of American Christian fundamentalists.

Indeed, in many ways that was the whole point. Bustani and his peers were men of tremendously diverse interests and backgrounds – both Christians and Muslims among them – but they were united by two passions above all: secularism and Arab nationalism. Crucially, they understood the subversive potential of the former, and its indispensability for the latter, so that, so far from being an appeasement of their colonial masters, they saw secularism as their greatest hope of shaking them off. Simply put, for them, secularism and independence were one and the same struggle.

Who can look at today’s Lebanon, beholden to the dictates of regional allegiances cultivated on purely sectarian grounds, and disagree?

To get an idea of how far we’ve declined since then, consider that the name given to the period by Arab historians is al-nahda, or ‘the awakening’. If that sounds familiar, it might be because it’s also the name of the new ruling party in Tunisia – a party that in just a few months has carried out what commentator Hussein Ibish has described as “severe attacks on religious dissidents”, including the jailing of bloggers and television producers for blasphemy.

To crush your country’s irreligious community is one thing, but to do it in the name of secular emancipation takes a very special kind of contempt.

Yet, nobody complains at this despicable insult to a noble chapter of Arab history. If the region’s secularists, therefore, are to indeed eradicate sectarianism from the consciousness of their people, there are surely worse ways to begin than by reclaiming the memory of their own intellectual – and yes, if you like, spiritual – forefathers, who appreciated so keenly so many years ago that secularism and liberation and dignity were not only mutually compatible, but in fact equivalent expressions of the same common goal.” End of quote

Revisiting most political systems, even in the so-called democratic developed States, religion still meddle heavily in the political process and decisions, particularly during election campaigns.

Are Palestinians an “Invented People”? And Israel, how was it created?

I received a developed feedback from a reader, probably from a collection of posts on Palestine, and I decided to publish it, with minor editing.
“The name “Palestine” has been around for a long time. “Peleset” is transliterated from Egyptian hieroglyphics “P-l-s-t”. Palestine is found in numerous Egyptian documents referring to a neighboring people or land starting from around 1150 BC.
The “Philistine” States existed concurrently with the ancient Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, above the coastal plain between Jaffa and south to Gaza. This supposed Kingdom of Israel never contemplated reaching the seashore.
In the 5th Century BC, Herodotus wrote of a “district of Syria, called Palestine”. About a century later, Aristotle described the Dead Sea in Meteorology and located it in Palestine:
“Again if, as is fabled, there is a lake in Palestine, such that if you bind a man or beast and throw it in it, it floats and does not sink, this would bear out what we have said. They say that this lake is so bitter and salty that no fish live in it and that if you soak clothes in it and shake them it cleans them.”
This writer frequently engaged in debates with Zionists (a bad habit I need to kick out!) who often tend to seize on small ideas, such as “When did the Palestinians ever have their own country?”
In order to win such an argument I would have to reduce myself to their terms, and produce a map that shows a country and borders: “Palestinian Kingdom, 1587- 1702”, and then let them present their map of ancient Israel and Judah, and then get into a wrestling match, and the winner would claim the territory of their own. 
Or perhaps the issue would be better settled the way the New York colony won Staten Island from New Jersey: with a boat race.
If the goal is exclusivity, as it always has been with Zionism, then the only criterion in achieving it is winning, whether a war or a race.
There was no 17th century Palestinian Kingdom, or 18th or 19th. There were, prior to Allied victory in World War I and the League of Nations “mandates”, which granted European powers control of the region.
Various provinces in a larger Ottoman empire, ruled from Istanbul (previously known as Constantinople, and before that, Byzantium), much as there are today various American States governed from Washington.
Objectors will cry “Foul!”, as Americans are governed by Americans in Washington, whereas Arabs were governed by Turks, a different ethnic group with a different language.
Fine. So I modify my comparison to the Spanish speaking Puerto Ricans governed from Washington, or the French speaking Quebecois governed from Ottawa. Neither the Puerto Ricans nor the French Canadians are being ethnically clean.
Prior to Zionism, there was no need for the Arabs of Palestine to focus on Palestinian identity. They were citizens of the Ottoman Empire. When, during the mandate years the British made contradictory promises to the Zionists and the Arabs, and the Arabs expected, and had the right to expect, eventual self-rule, it was certainly not a foregone conclusion that there was going to be an independent Palestine.
Palestinians might well have been a part of a larger South Syria, or of a Greater Syria, and happily so. They certainly would not have been ethnically cleansed under those circumstances. The Arabs of Palestine have always had their own distinct Arabic dialect, and various other cultural attributes that set them apart from other regional Arab cultures, but that was never particularly relevant.
Many various subcultures existed within the Ottoman Empire, and continued to exist within British and French mandates. Interestingly, during the years of the Yishuv, the pre-Israeli-statehood, Zionist community in Palestine and Jewish-Zionist settlers called themselves “Palestinians”.
In this way, the Zionists ironically affirmed the thing that many of them wish now to deny: Palestinian identity. In 1948, amid the massacres and military forced mass expulsions of the “nakba” (Arabic for catastrophe, the name commonly given to the events of 1948), as the State of “Israel” was recognized by the UN by a majority of a single vote, all of the Jews who had been calling themselves Palestinians became “Israelis”.
When the dust cleared after expelling the Palestinians from their towns and villages, the Arabs who remained within the green line became “Arab Israelis”, like it or not.
The designation “Palestinian” was more actively embraced beginning in 1964, with the forming of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), this out of necessity, because a people who had been ethnically cleansed, who were in a state of shock and humiliation, and who were desperate to recover and regain what was rightfully theirs, found it useful to rally around symbols representing themselves: A name and a flag are two of the basics.
Golda Meir famously said in 1969, during her tenure as Israeli prime minister;
“There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian State? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.”
I would not have been able to show Golda a map that says “Kingdom of Palestine” or “Grand Duchy of Palestine” or any of dozens of designations that might have satisfied her. But this I can say for sure: There were human beings on that land, and they had been there all their lives, and their families for many generations before them down through the centuries.
And many Palestinians were actually descended from ancient Jews who later converted to Christianity and Islam, while our ancestors, Golda’s and mine, the Ashkenazi Jews, were converting to Judaism in the Khazar Kingdom on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Golda actually knew and the information, which has become available to the general public in the decades since, that: We Jews did come and throw them out and take their country away from them. It’s been thoroughly documented. It wasn’t when she made this statement in 1969.  
Golda was able to get away with it then. But since an entire generation of Jewish-Israeli scholars, (and many others, but we Jews need to hear it from Jews first!) has carefully documented the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and presented the history that she personally knew, but actively hid and denied.
Golda and her colleagues concealed the truth from Jewish supporters of Israel all over the world including my family, who taught me lies quite innocently, because they didn’t know any better.
In 1984 a book written by Joan Peters, entitled From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine, was released to the world. The book claimed that the Palestinians were not resident in Palestine long-term, but were recent arrivals, having come to take advantage of economic opportunities in Palestine which were largely the result of Zionist Jewish settlement.
What a perfect way for us Zionist Jews to massage ourselves (I was one at the time!) and drive a wedge between ourselves and the growing awareness about Palestine in the world around us! So it really was a “land without people for a people without a land”! Those Arabs were all immigrants!
And how ungrateful that the Palestinians hate us after all the opportunity we gave them! A wave of related claims surfaced among the Zionist community. An essay by Mark Twain describing his touring of a sparsely populated 19th century Palestine, was offered up into the mix of “Palestinian-denier” evidence.
Twain, whose writing was full of humorous and ironic opposition to human bullshit, was no doubt rolling in his grave over this. And claims were often heard that prominent Palestinians, from Edward Said to Yassir Arafat, were “not really Palestinian”.
Enter another book, in 2003, The Case for Israel by Alan Dershowitz. In case 19 intervening years had given anyone a memory lapse since the publication of Peters’s book, Dershowitz borrowed heavily from same, giving the same statistics and making the same conclusions.
Enter yet another book, but this one very different: In Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, published in 2005, Norman G. Finkelstein exposed Peters’s statistics as fraudulent, and with that revelation both her argument and that of Dershowitz, collapsed.
However, the damage is done among those who wish to ignore Finkelstein, and there are many! “Isn’t Finkelstein a holocaust denier?”, I’ve been asked. I respond: “No. His parents were holocaust survivors.”
Zionists have long used a familiar tactic against those who challenge their propaganda: Defamation. And so the lies persist. This writer still has people putting From Time Immemorial in his face to prove their argument. They refuse to be embarrassed.
At the time of this writing (January 2012), the American public is being treated to an entertainment we get every four years: the run up to our presidential election. As the Democratic candidate will obviously be the incumbent, we are witnessing the Republican candidates claw at each other in their striving to win support for the Republican nomination.
Enter a billionaire Jewish American Zionist named Sheldon Adelson, casino magnate and the 8th wealthiest American alive, who along with his wife has donated $10 million to candidate Newt Gingrich. Adelson, whose holdings include the Israeli newspaper Israel HaYom (Israel Today) made some interesting statements while in Israel at an Israel Media Watch event in 2010:
“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF … our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back– his hobby is shooting – and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF.”
“All we (the Adelson family) care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart.
Does it sound like this guy has “divided loyalties?” Maybe like the Jewish neocons in the Bush administration who got us to fight a proxy war for Israel in Iraq? No- you can’t say that! It would be “anti-Semitic”!
So is it any wonder that Newt Gingrich has made the utterly incorrect and profoundly idiotic statement that he has made about the Palestinians being an “invented” people? It has nothing to do with any education on the subject of the history, or any awareness of the current situation. 
It’s simply a question of wanting to win, and of reiterating nonsense he has heard in conversations with a very rich and generous supporter, nonsense which jives with the general impressions that Americans get from our Zionist-controlled media, and that no doubt circulate in Gingrich’s Republican circles. Does anyone think Gingrich has read Finkelstein? I doubt it! And if he did, would he turn down $10 million in favor of truth and justice?
The people native to the land of Palestine were not “invented” as Rich Siegel said, and foolishly repeated by Newt Gingrich . It is indeed unfortunate that someone who is supposedly educated, and who has achieved position in life where he is poised to potentially become the next president of the United States, is putting forth such foolishness

Part 2. Mehemet Ali (1770-1849): The last modern Pharaoh?

Mehemet Ali (Turkish pronunciation) or Mohammad Ali was born around 1770 in the poor port town of Kavala in Macedonia. Macedonia was called Roumelia by the Ottoman Empire, and Kavala faced the close-by island of Thasos.  Mehemet Ali’s father married Zeinab, a daughter of Hussein agha, and he had the job of securing the district routes, in addition of trading in tobacco.

At the age of 19, Mehemet Ali married Amina Hanem, the widowed daughter of the governor of Kavala. His first son Ibrahim was born in the nearby village of Drama, where the family fled from the cholera infesting the small port.  Amina was the favorite wife of Mehemet Ali, although he had 30 kids from his harem.  Only 10 lived to adulthood, 7 boys and 3 girls.

The second son of Mehemet Ali, the most beloved Toussoun, also died at 23 of age after an all-night of pleasure and bingeing… Toussoun had led an army in 1811 into the Arabic peninsula and defeated the extremist religious Wahhabi uprising and entered Mecca. The elder son Ibrahim would resume the war and the conquest and in 1818 eradicate Deryeh, the main city of the Wahhabi who received arms and  finances from England.

Mehemet Ali was totally illiterate till the age of 45, and spoke only Turkish, although he learned to understand local Arabic. Most of his children received the best education of the time and spoke several languages such as Farisi and Greek.

In 1800, Mehemet Ali reluctantly had to join the 300-contingent of Macedonians dispatched to support the British in the attempt of dislodging the remnant of 20,000 French soldiers in Egypt, lead by General Menou. Within less than a year, the French soldiers were evacuated from Egypt and Mehemet Ali advancing twice in military ranks.

The Ottoman Empire and the Mamluke in Egypt wanted to revert to the previous state of affairs, and Mehemet Ali played both powers, one against the other for four years, until he was appointed governor of Cairo in June 1805.

For another 5 years, Mehemet Ali relentlessly confronted the internal forces resisting his supreme rule and even managed to defeat another smaller British expeditionary force. In March 1811, Mehemet Ali massacred over 250 high-ranking Mamelukes in his palace.  The Mamelukes had to flee to Sudan.

When Mehemet Ali’s son Ismail led the troops to conquer Sudan in 1820, the Mamelukes had to retreat even further to actual Darfur.  Ismail was burned alive in his tent in 1822 in Chendy (Sudan) after angering a local tribe.

Mehemet Ali became the sole ruler or Vice-King of Egypt, Sudan, and current Saudi Arabia and Yemen:  He behaved as the biggest capitalist of his time since all the lands were His, and he bought all the agricultural products and resold them at monopolistic prices to the people and at premium prices to England, France, and Turkey…

Mehemet Ali transformed Egypt from scratch:  He created a modern army, a modern navy, public schools, public hospitals, hundred of miles of irrigation canals…most of them using forced labor by the hundred of thousands of Egyptian peasants.

Ibrahim started the Syrian campaign in 1831 and defeated the Ottoman armies in several battles. He could have entered the Capital Istanbul, but Mehemet Ali refused that Ibrahim army move forward.  Consequently, Ibrahim became the governor of Syria (from the southern Anatolia plateau to Gaza) and was a born administrator and Syria experienced its most prosperous period.

In 1839, Ibrahim defeated again the Ottoman army in the battle of Nezib, which lasted only two hours, and Istanbul was again ripe to fall, but for the western European coalition and Russia to refuse Ibrahim his military victory.  Ibrahim could annihilate the small British contingent that landed in Beirut in 1839, but it was a political decision to withdraw to Egypt and to relinquish Syria to the Ottoman Empire in Nov. 1840.

In 1841, Sultan Abdel Hamid II signed the “firman” extending the hereditary right of Mehemet Ali in Egypt.  Mehemet Ali refused the French investment to open the Suez Canal and also refused British investment for a railroad linking Alexandria with the Red Sea: Mehemet Ali foresaw the consequences of these foreign investment in Egypt and said: “Once the Suez canal is opened to navigation then the British will take it and Egypt will become under British mandated power…”

Mehmet Ali managed the British all the time because he knew that only the most powerful maritime Empire of the period could impose its conditions.  For example, it was the Egyptian wheat and cereal sale to England (1810-13) that maintained the British troops in Spain.

Ibrahim died one year before his father in Nov. 1848.  The eldest male in the family.  Abbas I (son of Toussoun) became Vice-King and ruined all the achievement of Mehemet Ali and Ibrahim within a few years of his reign.

The Suez Canal will be opened by the French in the 1860’s and a railroad will crisscross the country

A decade later, the British government purchased the Egyptian share in the Canal.  In Aug. 1882, a British contingent occupied Suez Canal and the last soldier left in June 1956 after Eisenhower ordered the retreat of the British and French troops.

In 1885, the British occupied Sudan and left in 1956.

Note: A review of the French book “The last Pharaoh” by Gilbert Sinoue

To earning the status of a citizen: What are to change in Lebanon?

What culture is needed for the Lebanese is worth diagnosing.   Lebanon was involved in a civil war as Jacques Berque said:  “Culture is the movement of a society seeking explanation and trying to be endowed of an expression. Culture is a project to assembling past, present, and future on a vast perspective designed to galvanize desires, and hopes; a project that is applicable to the environment, a product of medias and the immediate situation.”

For example, the Sepharade Jews, over 65% of the Jews in Israel, who came from the Arab States and carried with them the customs and traditions of the Orient were pressured in the Zionist State not to speak or learn Arabic, and to dissociate from their oriental culture as a heavy baggage for the development of a modern Israel.

Since the Ottoman Empire was defeated in 1918, the Lebanese were tentatively searching for an identity without taking any responsibility in establishing a central government responding to the wishes and dreams of the “citizens”.  The Christian Maronite clergy was relying on a foreign powerful nation (France) to guarantee its existence, while imposing a definition of a citizen defined by his religious affiliation.  Thus, it was not agreeable to the Maronite to working toward a strong secular central government.

The Moslem Sunnis were at a loss:  They wanted to rely on a Caliphate religious concept, but based in Syria (meaning current Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) instead of Istanbul. Thus, they were ever ready to support any monarch claiming to be from the tribe of Kuraich in Mecca.

Gradually, but steadily, the political system in lebanon converged toward a confessionally recognized 18 religious sects defining the Lebanese, from birth to death.  The election laws ensured that voting would be tailor-made according to religious denomination or the religious caste system.

Antoun Saaadeh wrote in 1940, “Islam (peace) in its two messengers: Jesus and Mohammad”, and proved that the fundamentals of these two religions do not differ and that, when thirteen years later Mohammad established firmly his message, he had to deal with the socio-economic and political divergences among the tribes and had to codify their behaviors and thus, interpretations were necessary and differences with evolving societies required fine tuning.

Lebanon confessional socio-political  institution is efficacious in imposing auto-censorship in media. This confessional, feudal, and isolationist political system exhibited since independence in 1943 fascistic pressures on cultural movements that might challenge serious threats to its survival.

In 1919, Father Henri Lammens summed up the historical evolution of the Syrian nationality in well defined geographical borders and tradition, which the classical Antiquity and the Greek, Roman, and Arab empires recognized the fact that the people within these natural borders constitute one nation.

In fact, the colonial powers recognized that the people in the Near East constituted a cohesive entity within natural boundaries linking the east and Africa with rich and qualified human resources,  natural raw materials, and might eventually disrupt the colonial trade and expansion.

The current political States, established by the mandatory powers, should not erase the fact that we are one people in history, geography and culture, regardless of political consensus among the political states to live as independent States.

It is true that Israel would like to divide these States even further, according to religious sects, in order to provide political legitimacy to its existence and also to be able to subjugate these tiny and helpless States, one State at a time.  The Israeli archives prove that the Maronite Patriarchs and the Maronite parties of “Al Ketlate Al Watania” of the Edde family and “Al Kataeb” of the Gemayel family were in constant negotiations with Zionism, long before its foundation as the State of Israel.  Many Maronite clergy and political leaders were in cohort with Zionism so that it might acquire some political legitimacy in Lebanon in the face of the Moslem majority.

It is true that genuine representative democracy should offer minorities, whether religious sects, classes, or professions, proportional representation in parliament, government and jobs.  Thus, our genius should be directed at easing the apprehension of the minorities and establishing a unified civil code that group us as one people under the law.

First, we should start by diminishing the powers relegated to the 18 recognized religious sects,  the de facto ruler of our lives from birth to death. For the central government to recover its responsibilities, over all the Lebanese “citizens”, it can start by taxing heavily the financial resources of these religious hierarchies and gradually recuperating the duties that the central government is entitled to in modern democracies.

Since our independence in 1943, the motto of the ruling class was that we need first to erase the confessional inclinations from our mind before putting in writing a civil code, as if it is possible to reach a civil society without first codifying our civil status as the law of the land.

The National Pact of 1943 for tiny Lebanon was not bad in itself if the intention was to represent the various communities constituting the Lebanese fabric, but it quickly degenerated into a confessional oligarchy of spoilage of the political privileges between the feudal and financial figures of the Maronite and Sunny sects, which dominated the urban centers and economic comprador infrastructure.

The flawed electoral systems, heavily biased to the religious castes since independence, meant the hegemony of the leaders of the two sects. It is so true that leaders in these two sects had to run in the districts of Bekaa, Akar, and the south in order to win a seat in the parliament as they failed in their own districts.

The various alternative electoral systems prevented a normal evolution toward a stable democracy because political secular parties and associations were unable to be represented and when they had the popular support then the governments managed to cheat them out of their due rights; this political system could not generate a stabilizing effect in our multi-religious society.  Lebanon suffered two “military coup d’etat” simply because the system refused to recognize the election of secular figures.

My opinion is that it seems that the Lebanese intelligence is not so far working toward a stable and secure State after over 65 years of independence from the French mandate.  What is needed is to create a bi-level parliament; one parliament would be constituted by political parties, professional associations and syndicates in a proportional quota and the other parliament represented by one deputy for one electoral district so that all religious minorities will be represented. The latter parliament would have a certain level of veto power over specific legislations by the former parliament and would also cater specifically to the individual districts.

It is hoped that the combined number of deputies in both parliaments should never exceed 128 deputies who are taxing heavily our resources and providing largess to their descendents in amenities and political privileges.

The issue of national resistance against the successive aggressions of Israel on Lebanon and the neighboring Arab States has been discussed.  The author mentioned the articles of Michel Chiha in the daily “Le Jour” where he warned in 1948, four days after the foundation of the State of Israel, that resistance is a question of life and death for the Near East and Egypt.

Again, either the author, Maitre Phares Zoghbi, in his “Lebanon: Saved by its culture” wanted to restrict his references to articles written in French and didn’t want to venture into translating from Arabic manuscripts, or he just wanted to select articles that appeared in the daily “L’Orient Le Jour”, or most probably the auto-censor is working against the teaching of Antoun Saaadeh.

The leader Saaadeh has founded a party in 1937 for the purpose of uniting the people against the Zionism development; he warned that if an organized force is not formed to counter the ever expanding forces of Zionism then the State of Israel will be founded and we will have to suffer the consequences of precarious existence for centuries.

Sa3adeh also was the first to warn that oil is an international weapon that was not used to counter the schemes of the Western nations in Palestine.  Actually, Sa3adeh was summarily executed because the British and American were anxious to have the oil pipeline “Tapeline” contract ratified and Habib Abu Chahla, the appointed Lebanese lawyer for Tapeline, was the force behind convincing the President of the Republic Bechara Khoury to get rid of that Saadeh nuisance to the comprador economy.

Since every single one of our problems is current from the time of our Independence, and getting worse, it is worthwhile to discuss the immediate quagmire about the election of a new president to the Republic.  And since the President is elected by the members of the parliament it would be fair to suggest that the timing of the election to the Chamber of deputies be done four months before the end of the term of the President in order to correspond to the wishes of the people.

Obviously, the terms of the deputies must be modified from four to three years or one third of the chamber should be renewed every two years.  The President should be given the right to dismiss the parliament once in his term and also to dismiss the government once in his term so that the system can avoid these gridlocks so very frequent in our history and go back to the people for referendums.

If we have any intelligence left to organize our society, it is about time to re-think a Constitution that has learned from our constant and frequent political troubles and insert any revised national pact into the one an unique Constitution as the foundation for our survival and progress.

Note 1:  I wrote this article as a response to the French book “Lebanon: Saved by its culture” by the Lebanese Maitre Phares Zoghbi, who summarized our situation by five problems:

1. Islam admits the idea of a State-nation. It is nowhere mentioned in the Koran or in the hadith that when Moslems are part of a nation that Islam should dominate or be the religion of the State.

2.  The Christian religion should not be confounded with the periods of inquisition since Islam experienced long periods of tolerance and the sourate of the Table is an example.

3.  Historically and sociologically, the culture of any community cannot dissociate from its surrounding.

4. If the West is presently our primary source of cultural nourishment, the East is our lot, our beginning and our destination.

5. It is an enterprise of long-term cultural osmoses and synthesis, it should not entitle any constraints in religion, ethnic particularities, any refusal of differences as long as the communal effort is preserved.

Note 2:  I posted 4 years ago a detailed program for a grass movement for change in Lebanon

Why this wave of immigration to Africa at the turn of the 20th century?

There are evidences that most of the immigrants, (from the Levantine region such as Lebanon and Syria), at the turn of the century paid dear money to go to “America” (read the USA).  Many scoundrel ship Captains tried to increase their turnover rates of customers; thus, they dropped many travelers in Africa and told them “Here is America”.

Many Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians ended in Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere: “Here is America” would say the ship captains.  Then, those established immigrants sent for their relatives. 

The city of Sao Paulo (Brazil) counts twice more Lebanese descendants than all of Lebanon.  Immigrants from the Levant used to be called “Turks” because they were citizens of the Ottoman Empire; then, they were called Syrians after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918.  Being called a Syrian meant to be a citizen of one of the independent Levantine States.

Immigrants to Africa were fleeing famine during the first world war: locusts and the Turkish army (worse than locusts because they horded all the food and forced citizens to enlist in this empoverished and demoralized army).  Many citizens bartered their lands and houses for a loaf of bread or wheat clandestinally brought from Syria by mule caravans.

Immigrants to Africa managed to accumulate wealth in honest hard work, mostly in trading or commerce; many of them were the lonely “white” people in remote areas like my young parents. Many were entirely robbed of their saved and hidden money and they restarted in another town like my young parents; fact is, my parents were robbed of everything one month prior of my birth.  Immigrants imported from France or England and traded with the lovely natives.  Mother used to tailor make cloths from “patrons” or drawings in fashion magazines and then offer new born complete set of needed clothing. Immigrants  installed the first motors to generating electricity.

Africa is still the best place to immigrate to and make money.  The only handicap is that the USA, China, and France are constantly distabilizing this rich and beautiful continent. Until these colonial powers come to terms on how to divide regions of influence and plunger its natural resources Africa will be the land of stupid genocides and tribal warfares.  Africa is the continent of the future where it is great to settle in and work hard among great people in heart and in life style.

From 1970 and on, Lebanese from the south immigrated to Africa and Detroit to flee the frequent collective “reprisals” of Israel against so-called Palestinian “rocket launching” and infiltrations into northern Israel.  This wave of immigration increased during the following 13 years of civil war that began in 1975.  

The Lebanese graduates immigrated to continue their education in the US and Europe. My stay in the US lasted 20 years because of the civil war; I had to be in frequent touch with the Red Cross to get news from my family: there were no internet or cellular phones.

Note: Israel has been accepting Africans in the 1980’s as slave workers (from Eretria, Sudan, Ethiopia…) in order to refrain from using the Palestinians. This July, 2013, Israel is in contact with several African States to barter the African immigrants in Israel in exchange for arms.

What if a sticky myth can’t be disproved? Who is Tah Hussein?

I lean for the notion that a myth has factual features, though the story becomes fundamentally a myth by successive alterations.  So what?  Most novels are claimed to be fictions, though there is no doubt authors are describing their own feelings and positions in many sections of the novel.

For example, there is this story of Abraham and his sons Ismael and Jacob and his many wives, legitimate or not.  Obviously, there is no way to disprove this story (this story should not be a big deal: it must have been a common story among families and societies, related to customs and traditions at the time and in the region…)  

For example, all the monotheist, which I prefer to label mono-idolatery, religions (Jewish, Islam, and Christian) claim Abraham for father figure, and they discriminate their religions based on Abraham’s descendents.  In fact, if these religions didn’t disseminate the Abraham story as true, who would care if it was a factual story or one of the famous mythical fictions?

The process of disproving a myth, or its inherent value and the futile labor in investing time in non-documented research, is not the theme of this article. 

My question is: “If you know that there is no adequate means to tackle disproving a myth connected to religious beliefs then, is it worth antagonizing religious people just by stating that (their convictions are based on myths) and not having the moral courage to specializing in all the aspects of the myth?”

Some people would say: “If this myth is wrecking havoc to the unity of society (meaning  of disturbing conformity) then, is it your moral obligation to say that a myth is a myth until proven otherwise?”

Some people would say: “If the impacts of this myth is redundant on society then, it is a crime to approaching and taking out the skeletal of this myth and making it an issue that harms peaceful coexistence and encourages extremist, racist, and obscurantist elements around the myth.”

For example, in 1926, the late Egyptian author Tah Hussein published “On poetry in Jahilyya” (the pre-Islamic period in the Arabic Peninsula.)  First, who is Tah Hussein?

Hussein was blind by birth and is dubbed “Dean of Arab literature”. He continued his education in France and received a doctoral on his thesis related to Ibn Khaldoun (Ibn Khaldoun lived in the 15th century Tunisia and is known as the founder of sociology or ethnography). Hussein divorced his Egyptian wife and married a French woman Suzanne.

“On poetry in Jahilyya” Hussein claimed that his critique is Cartesian; which means a rational method requiring the author to “forget” or set aside all that he knew on a subject matter and then, starts with a clean sheet re-studying the topic from a rational and scientific perspective. Obviously, the sentence “forgetting what we knew” cannot be feasible; saying that an author has to do his best to starting with a neutral position might seem more accurate, but it is not:  How can you get interested in a topic if you are essentially neutral about it? (see note 2)

In one of the chapters of this monumental manuscript, Hussein proposed several views.

First, Hussein claimed that Abraham is a fictional character (but he failed to back up this contention) in his drive to discrediting many religions meddling in literature, which obscured and prevented serious investigations for the development of the Arabic language and literature: religions asserted facts that are principally myths in nature.

For example, Islam (submission to Allah), by claiming Abraham as the founder of Jewish and Islam religions, was a gimmick  adopted by the Prophet Muhammad to uniting Jewish and Christian sects into one comprehensive and common denominator system of belief.

Hussein might not have known then that:

1. Muhammad’s father was a convert to one of the “heretic” Christian-Jewish sects in Mecca (“heretic” was a label extended by the orthodox Byzantium Church);

2. One of Muhammad’s uncles was the Patriarch of this sect;

3. Muhammad joined his uncle once a year, and for an entire month of fasting, prayer, and meditation;

4. Muhammad was versed and immersed in the belief system and the stories of his uncle’s sect.

Second, Hussein proposed that the Prophet Muhammad read his verses in seven Arabic dialects corresponding to the main Arabic tribes in the Arabic Peninsula. (The Coran was finally codified during the third Caliph Othman bin Affan (from Quraich tribe of Mecca) into the Quraichi tribe dialect.)

Third, Hussein claimed that it is not true that Islam was the first religion that the Arabic Peninsula experienced.

Fourth, Hussein denounced the zeal of claiming that the genealogy of the Prophet (the successive clans and tribes) must be the best among the tribes.

There are more propositions which incited the ire of the clerics in Al Azhar who took Hussein to court.  Hussein didn’t hesitate to cancelling this “controversial” chapter from his next versions titled “On Jahilkiyya literature”.  Actually, the press coverage of the proceedings had disseminated the views of Hussein extensively among the intelligentsia in Egypt and the Arab World.

What was striking in these court proceedings is that the prosecutor basically defended the book in a 40-page investigation; the investigation was balanced and rational and the book was not condemned.  That was Egypt between the two world wars; a period of enlightenment that the Lebanese immigrants participated mightily in promoting freedom of speech and opinions in dailies and magazines.

Note:  Tah Hussein published another highly controversial book “The future of Egypt’s culture”.  In this book, Hussein claimed that Egypt culture is basically a Mediterranean Sea culture and a close relative to Greece, Italy, and France, but in no way related to the cultures in Persia and India.  Hussein demonstrated that most of Greek and Roman intelligentsia studied in Egypt, before a few returned to their City-States and established their own schools.

Hussein proposed that ancient Greek and Latin be taught at Egyptian schools as was the case in Europe at the turn of the century. (I think that is the case of the culture in Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. It was the case of coastal Turkey till the 16th century).  In the 16th and 17th century, the Ottoman Empire experienced total embargo with Europe, economically and culturally, due to its military expansions in Europe. The Ottoman Empire had to turn toward Iran and India to satisfying all its demands in all fields and sectors.  You may read my article “Lions and lionesses in the Fertile Crescent”

Note 2: The famous poet of the 8th century (Baghdad) Abu Nawas was asked by his mentor to memorize 1,000 pieces of poems.  The next season, the mentor demanded from Abu Nawas to doing his best forgetting all the poems he has memorized.  This was an exercise of renewing with your own personality and character…

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.

Turkey is currently the main cornerstone regional power;

Erdogan next in line for Nobel Peace; (October 21, 2009)

In December 18, 2004 I wrote “Turkey: A Regional Power in the Making “.  In February 4, 2009 I updated my article “A Regional Power out of hibernation in the Near East“.  Another update is required because Turkey seems to vigorously and quickly act everywhere.

Turkey forgot the Islamic world for over 60 years and relied on its military to impose a secular state and emulate the Western culture in alphabet and in dress codes. Ataturk wanted to shed the image of backward Ottoman Empire that lost an Empire extending from Hungry to Iraq to Arabic Peninsula, the Near East, Egypt and all Northern Africa.

The other Empire to the east was the Persian Safafid Dynasty that extended to Pakistan. The Safafid Empire was founded by another Turkish leader and opted to adopt the Chiaa Moslem sect as the religion of his Empire.

Turkey is part of NATO (this year is its turn to lead the NATO forces in Afghanistan) thanks to the cold war against the defunct neighbor of Soviet Union: Turkey was the main effective ally to the US in the region during the cold war. Turkey was denied full membership in the European Union because the same Soviet Union disintegrated into “independent States” recognized by the UN.

France and Germany offered a rational for their refusal on ground of Turkey not satisfying the basic social and political requirement of a homogenous member.  For 60 years Turkey had turned its back to the Arab problems, and allied to the State of Israel and the Shah of Iran.

Things are changing fast after the horrors of Gaza and the tearing down of the mask of the Zionist ideology of terror, expansion, and apartheid.  Turkey was playing the fair mediator between Syria and Israel in order for the return of the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Turkey was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians to render the life of the Palestinians under occupation more bearable during the peace negotiations for a separate Palestinian State.  Israel Olmert PM lied to the Turkish PM Erdogan before the barbaric re-incursion into Gaza.

Erdogan, Turkey’s PM is undeniably the most powerful leader criticizing the Zionist State for its genocide in Gaza. He canceled a joint military maneuver with the US and Israel. The US has nobody else to conduct military maneuvers but Israel in this region; the latest naval one is to last two weeks with objective to save Israel of mass missile attack!

Turkey, under Erdogan, is currently more powerful than the whole of Europe in the Near East for establishing peace, stability and equitable political resolutions.  Turkey is a self sufficient independent Nation and has ruled the whole Middle East for four centuries. Turkey has awakened from a long hibernation and decided to be a major regional power broker.

Turkey is demanding and acting as the main power broker in the Near East because it has interest in the stability of its south eastern borders with Syria, Iran, and Iraq.  So far, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq were peons for the larger policies of the US, Europe, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

Turkey’s current policies beg to differ: “no more war zones at my borders and in my back yards“.

The US and Israel must have understood the message clearly and loudly. The so-called “moderate” Arab States of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are cowering down and are taken by surprise to the emergence of the new revitalized Turkey siding with the underdogs.

We are not hearing anymore about the Turkish war on the Kurdish self-autonomous movement.

I wholeheartedly wish that negotiations are secretly and seriously underway with the Kurdish Workers’ Party for a peaceful resolution.  The Kurdish problem was used by the USA and Israel to blackmail Turkey.

I have a feeling that the Kurds in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran appreciate the new directions of Erdogan’s government and would find in Erdogan a viable interlocutor and would cooperate with Turkey to lighten up this heavy burden of a useless and fruitless civil war. The new policy in Turkey is to open peaceful negotiations with the opposition Kurds; around 200 Kurdish leaders in the resistance movement have turned themselves in and all indicates that a resolution is palpable.

Turkey will be asked to exercise its beneficial influence in restoring peace, stability and economic prosperity in the region.  It will inevitably join the European Union with the unavoidable important changes that Turkey will have to accept and undergo in matters of democracy, liberty, human rights, social and economical constraints.

This transformation of a powerful neighbor will transcend into a drastic transformation of the societies surrounding Turkey. The benefits are already materializing in closer ties with Syria, pressures on Israel to agree on a Palestinian State, and greater normalization with Iran.

Turkey is obviously the main power that can provide autonomy to the Kurdish nationalism spreading among Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. Turkey is the main power that can efficiently check US omnipotence in the Middle East and any resurgence of Russia militarism.

Turkey prevented Bush Junior to invade Iraq through its territory; the US air base in Interlink was prohibited to launch air raids on Iraq.  I have great hope in this new power amongst us, especially that the current Turkish government has proven to be far sighted and confident in its power and role in this region.

For a couple of years after Europe shut off the door for Turkey entering the Union Turkey felt the need to crawl in a cave and hibernate; Turkey shook off its lethargic attitude and is now in the driving seat and operating a strategy that befits its power in the Middle East.  It has surmounted tough obstacles in economic difficulties, human rights issues that are frequently reemerging, and demonstrations that are occasionally broken by brute force.

Turkey is no longer allowed to relax.  Turkey is quickly learning that it has to keep pace with the culture of Europe and to fight harder to catch up with lost time. Its dialogue with Syria has brought fruits: no visas are needed to cross joint borders, seasonal water resource shortages are frequently revised, and the western world had come to term that it can no longer circumvent Syria in this volatile region with Turkey’s backing.

Europe must be appreciating the decision of Turkey to play a major role in the Near East but the US is very wary because it refuses to share pre-eminence in the Middle East.  Turkey active diplomacy and clear policies should weight heavier in the decision process for joining the European Union.  The frustrations of Turkey with the EU must have given it a clear hint of what its policies should be based on and where its focus should be directed to.

Turkey is the new pivotal power in the Middle East in the coming decades.  It is the cornerstone for new emerging Northern Middle East Block with Syria, Iraq, and Iran.  This strategic block in formation is inevitable after the US troops leave Iraq and would constitute the best guarantee for this volatile region to peace and security.

Erdogan should have received the Nobel Award for Peace instead of Barak Obama who has no active records to show for earning this prize (Read my post “What that! Nobel Prize for Passivity?”  Erdogan has already executed peace treaties with his archenemies: Syria, Armenia, the Kurds, soon with Cyprus, and has definitely sided with the Palestinians against apartheid Israel.

Normally, Erdogan is in line for the peace prize. Judging from the trend, the cynical Nobel Committee never feels comfortable awarding Peace Prizes to Middle Eastern leaders unless it is shared with the devils such as Began and Peres. Erdogan got my highest prize and we all feel much more optimist in our future.




June 2021

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