Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘The Levant

Women rights and Written Constitution: A chapter in my novel set in the 15th century during the Mamluk Empire

Note: A re-edit of of a 2008 post “Rainbow over the Levant: Women rights and Written Constitution

Chapter 16: Postponement of a written Constitution (#23)

The First Emir had secretly adopted the party lines of the Aram National Party and he swore allegiance and signed the contract as a regular Party member.  He directed Miriam to be his official representative, thus propelling Miriam firmly into the highest hierarchy of the Party, which was the legislative committee.

The government allocated a budget to promote the expansion of the Party through an increase in the educational budget and proclaimed that all political parties should join efforts for the “Unity and Defense” of the nation.

Although the First Emir kingdom did not stretch beyond the Eastern mountain chains of today’s Lebanon, he recognized the necessity of unifying the people in Syria for a satisfactory defense front from any major invader.

The First Emir was willing to negotiate in due time for an alternative name of the Party and other concessions on the political principles by the opposition groups.

The First Emir felt that winning the mind and heart of his citizens to the new program was going to be much harder than anything contemplated before.

He knew that the society was enjoying wealth and stability from an open sea, an economy relying on medium size industries and tourism: the Syrian market was conquered without the need for direct interventions.

This state of affairs was ideal for business and suited greatly the institutions of the government which abhorred undue risks to their profitable businesses by hinting to probable preparation for war.

Since rational dialogue was not propitious at this stage because of the powerful institutions, the First Emir had to create a climate of emotional need for the slogans of the new party.

Before setting the propaganda machine at work, the new party had to propose its position on a written Constitution and a draft electoral system.

The new spirit disseminated in the land was highly controversial in most of the regions, but the new society had enjoyed enough freedom of expression that the fundamental issues were tolerably discussed.

Women, for example, would enjoy equal rights as men in education, work opportunities, inheritance and acquiring properties and businesses.

The suffrage of the female gender

Miriam stepped in as candidate for the coming legislative election and struggled hard to provide women all the rights accorded to men. She led a vast campaign of civic demands to alter the previous temporary electoral system into a fair and equitable Constitution that would guarantee equal rights to both gender in duties, responsibilities, and rights.

Miriam’s position as head of the Legislative committee in the Aram National Party gave her an important leverage for organizing impact lobbying pressure groups in the State administrations, propagating the new demands within the masses and concentrating their energies into a few targeted reform changes.

Miriam was installed in Baldat El Mir and had a wing in the Saraya as minister of education. She was still not married because of unusual circumstances but had a steady gentleman for many years by the name of Ignatios Doumany.

They both did not mind a formal wedding but realized that the social traditions would inevitably pressure the couple into changing their priorities; Miriam would have to refrain from open political activities and cramp her flexibility to maneuver in the political scene; and Ignatios would have to assume roles that he was not willing or capable of shouldering as head of the family and controlling its behavior according to the expected norms.

Ignatios was an academician and a linguist versed in ancient languages such as Latin, Greek, and Farisi; he used to teach at the Foreign Office Center in Baldat El Mir.(Currently Beit Mery).

Later on, during Latifa Regency, (Eldest sister of the First Emir), he would transfer to Mtein as head of the new branch of that department which was recently established in the historic Capital.  He was housed in an annex to the house of Miriam and instructed her two adoptive daughters and played the role of the adoptive father in the household management.

Samar, the eldest daughter, was already about eighteen and was adopted during the mountain outlaws’ period and was the dynamo for refueling Miriam with recharged energy and revolutionary zeal for change, especially in gender discrimination issues and females rights.

The second daughter Sahar, who was rumored that she was Miriam’s legitimate kid,  was seven and had the freckled face of Miriam but resembled more to Ignatios.

Miriam had adopted Sahar after she returned from her leave of absence that lasted ten months in Palestine; she went there accompanied by Ignatios to study the school systems of the European missionaries in Jerusalem.

During her stay, she trekked behind Jesus’ footsteps throughout Galilee, Judea, Jericho, and the Dead Sea, and then crossed the Jordan River to Jerash and Petra.

Ignatios was aware of the different treatments received by Samar and Sahar from Mariam.

Samar was encouraged to behave as boys were raised, independent and self-confident in society but Sahar succumbed to the unconscious symbiotic relationship of mother and daughter.

By attitudes, gestures, and remarks Miriam unconsciously sent messages to Sahar who assimilated them in her upbringing and generated reactions as daughters do to preserving the “love” of their mothers:  Sahar was wholly scared to part from her mother during her travels and behaved in subordination to customs with sudden violent outcries and revolts when the pressures of rivalry and jealousy aroused among her mother and her sister.

Sahar was fond of making the life of Miriam untenable in most circumstances and the kind and patient support of Ignatius was essential in keeping the peace and tranquility in the family atmosphere; the efficiency of Ignatius was far better when Miriam was away.

In the town of Antelias, Miriam called for and organized a vast gathering for the female gender active in the electoral process for holding administrative, organizational, or management positions in the government or private enterprises. This assembly lasted for two days and Miriam spoke on the first session saying:

“Compatriots, mothers, daughters, wives, single women and grandmothers; I welcome you wholeheartedly and admire your courage and determination to join this beautiful gathering of dedicated citizens.

As you can witness, male citizens are excluded from this gathering, not on the basis of our unwillingness to have a fruitful dialogue with them but because we need to be alone to boldly discuss critical issues among ourselves without shame or innuendoes, or patronizing attitudes.

As far as I know, this is a first grand gathering of its kind made possible by the new era of openness and freedom of speech and assembly. Let us take full advantage of being together and openly discuss and set up a workable agenda for our political and social platform”.

“Please, this is not the time to feel intimidated; we don’t have to work on the basis that the next gathering will be more suited to expound on your grievances because this sort of get together, among the female gender, might not happen again for decades, realizing full well the entrenchment of the patriarchal system we are still experiencing in every step of our life.  The strength of this system can handicap our development and the acquisition of our political, economic and social rights”.

“Understand that this is Not the time to dwell on what your father, or husband, or brother might think or say or do.  This is an opportunity to think and feel for yourself as a full fledge individual. What are your needs, emotionally, financially and educationally as an integral citizen of this free Nation?”

“This is an exciting time but fraught with serious dangers if we fail to unite and express our steadfastness and stubbornness for securing our natural rights and demonstrate that we are the group on which is founded the survival of our society.

We are not to dwell on survival anymore; we are here to go beyond the de facto status we have been subjugated to. We are to design the new life process that this society need to erect in order to progress and the best strategy to counter the calamities that our Nation might have to sustain”.

“First, we will form committees to discuss, study and make recommendations on the subjects of education of the girls, the inheritance both tangible and immaterial, wedding traditions and conditions both financially and emotionally, voting rights, representation in the Parliament, municipalities, and governance as half the society, mothers’ rights in childbearing and support from the public funds for medical and babies growth, travel rights, and work rights”.

“This is your golden opportunity to talk plainly in everything that is cramping your life and your dreams.

Please, I urge you to recall all your dreams when you were young and how you might be able to accomplish them if full citizenship rights are accorded to you by your valiant fights.

Remember, rights are never offered without struggle; let us fight with the firm determination to earn them publicly and in the privacy of our own homes and families”.

“We can win our rights by our union after agreeing on a platform.

Let this platform represent our youthful dreams and not what our fathers, husbands or brothers might agree with.

Let our feelings and our minds mesh to win the battle of gender equality and equitable progress of our people and children.  Long Live our First Emir! Long Live women rights! Long Live the Levant Nation!”

To protect the convention of the women, each of the three accesses to the meeting place was guarded by a phalanx of the army, located half a kilometer away, with an order to deny entrance to disturbing or curious elements.  Male supporters were assembled close to the military barracks to cater to the requirements of the convention and ensure smooth logistical supplies.

Two female phalanxes  (the army included women phalanxes) insured the internal security of the convention and participated in the military committee.

The first day of the convention was hectic in the administrative and management tasks, but a learning curve settled as the days went by.

Many bold and articulated female leaders went beyond the enthusiastic themes of claiming laws for the equality of the sexes and dwelled deeper on the other facets that were restricting their independence to growing wings.

They reminded their colleagues that they were mostly responsible for their secondary status in society because they exhibited the attitude that a good wife has the duty to efface herself in conversation among men and avoided the critical financial decisions in the household.  They encouraged the wives and daughters to voice their concerns in family matters and stop interjecting their accumulated anger as a mean to establishing peace in the family environment.

After the convention, which made the headline news in social gatherings for months to come, the female population vented their feelings and inclinations to the public and were ready to pay the price for their rights as equal to men in social status.

There were  divergent arguments.

One group viewed that individual family decisions such as who is head of the family, how to lead life and maintain family cohesion should be separate from the Constitution and only female rights as a complete human being equal to men in everything in the law should be an integral item in the Constitution.

Another group maintained that specific articles in the Constitution relative to women might harm their peace of mind and the harmony in the households. Instead, the laws should maintain her power to reclaim her rights at critical circumstances whenever she is ready to grasp them, especially for divorce and separation cases.

Securing female rights in the Constitution was the glorious fight that Miriam accepted to lead against all odds.

It was at this period that the government proclaimed prizes for anyone inventing techniques or equipments that would facilitate the printing of leaflets which were done manually.

The demand for mass writing materials generated ideas and the rudiment of a few inventions that did not materialize because of the political instability in the Levant.

End of tome I

 

Three generations after the Nakba, still struggling to define home

For Madlaine Ahmad, born and raised in Doha to Palestinian parents with Jordanian citizenship, the answer to ‘where are you from?’ is never simple, and always seems to be wrong.

By Madlaine Ahmad

From left to right, the author's aunt, mother and grandmother on the land they used to harvest in Jordan. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

From left to right, the author’s aunt, mother and grandmother on the land they used to harvest in Jordan. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

I changed my Facebook profile picture the other day. It was a photo of a fair woman covered in gold and henna. It would have been clear to anyone from bilad al-sham (the Levant) that she was from the Gulf region, where women dress up a certain way.

“How beautiful,” one person remarked. The comment that followed, by a Palestinian girl friend, surprised me: “Women are beautiful, but the hands of our women in particular are the most beautiful.”

I didn’t understand what she meant, and a discussion ensued: “If you lined up everybody’s hands side by side, I would still be able to distinguish those of the Palestinian fallaha (peasant), and I would feel an immense love for her.”

We Palestinians stand out in many ways: with our scorched arms after the harvest, our diaspora, the occupation, our widows and orphans, and death – so much death.

Usually, the word “Palestinian” elicits images of a child hurling stones at a military tank, and the perception is that only Palestinians who live within the borders of Sykes-Picot (division of control of the region between France and England during WWI) still suffer, that those who freed themselves from these invented borders managed to survive and thrive. Well, let me tell you about my experience, as a Palestinian whose ancestors escaped.

My Palestine story is brief. It does not contain death, or soldiers, or hurling rocks. I have never had to face the occupier, but I also haven’t been fortunate enough to visit any part of Palestine.

During the 1948 war, my grandfather fled with his family to Karak in Jordan. They were told they would be able to return in a matter of weeks. They set up tents and planted wheat and waited for Palestine, but Palestine never came. In a heartbeat, the Palestinian dream was lost, and they became victims of history, uprooted, with nothing but a key to a home they would never return to.

They moved to Amman, where they tried to forge a new life with their 9 children. They could only afford a two-bedroom house – one room for the chickens they were raising, and another to sleep the family of 11.

My father told me how, at 13, he helped build the railway that still functions to this day. He told me how he would study under the street lights at night, because they did not have electricity at home. It was painful for him when he had to move to Lebanon to complete his studies. Upon graduating, he returned to Jordan, where he served in the military for two years.

Soon after, the dream of a job opportunity in the Gulf presented itself, and he moved with my mother to Qatar. There, I was born. I was raised in Doha as a Jordanian – my official papers had no mention of my Palestinian heritage.

My father would say we were from Palestine, but who ever paid attention to my father’s words? Whenever I was asked, “where are you from, Madlaine?” I would say, “from Jordan.”

The author's father, right, in the Jordanian military service. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

The author’s father, right, in the Jordanian military service. (Photo courtesy of the author.)

In 2010, a dispute developed between the two countries; Qatar would revoke all work permits for Jordanians, and expel them back.

I arrived in Jordan two years short of 20, thinking I had finally come home! It had not occurred to me that the dispute which ended my father’s work prospects would also destroy my childhood memories. I had never lived in Jordan, and was new to everything in my homeland, which, I soon learned, it was not.

Now, when asked “where are you from, Madlaine?” I simply say, “from here.” I am then confronted with a more precise question: “Which province in Jordan are you from?” To which I feel compelled to say, “I am Palestinian, originally from the city of Hebron.”

I soon learned that, whatever my answer, it would be the wrong thing to say in any situation.

If you say you’re Palestinian, you are usually reprimanded for denying a favor: “You [Palestinians] came here, were raised here, given the chance to study and work – is that not enough to warrant your assimilation?” But if I were to say that I’m Jordanian, I wouldn’t hear the end of it from fellow Palestinians who would accuse me of denying my identity and “selling the cause” for some privileges.

In my journey of discovery, I learned of two sports clubs in Jordan. Al-Wehdat was established in 1956, at the Wehdat Palestinian refugee camp, and remained a subsidiary of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that every Palestinian in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan roots for Al-Wehdat. Perhaps they see themselves in the team, see proof that refugees, too, can succeed, and therefore find it easier to accept the stamp of diaspora. And then there’s the Faisaly Sports Club, which enjoys support and admiration from all Jordanians.

Any match between these two teams is a war: a cold war precedes the games, and then it turns into a full-blown battle on social media, where Palestinians are nothing short of bullied, with statements like, “pack your mulukhiyyahs and make your way home through the bridge.”

They mean the King Hussein Bridge, which most of our ancestors walked when they sought refuge. There have been plenty of violent incidents in the stands at these games, leaving many wounded, and some even dead.

I got engaged to my ex-husband – who was Jordanian-Jordanian, not Palestinian- Jordanian, as I am – after a love affair that lasted for months. His family, however, did not approve of a Palestinian woman. But I am Jordanian, I would think to myself. I don’t know what the trick was, but eventually, they accepted me.

Still, I would have to sit in their living room and endure the hurtful statements of news commentators, who would say things like “Palestinians are to be blame for selling their lands,” or “they [Palestinians] are all agents.” Perhaps his family thought that, now that they’ve accepted me as a Jordanian, I did not have the right to oppose those statements or defend Palestinians.

Once, when my husband and I were living in Saudi Arabia, my mother-in-law and her brother came for a visit on their way to Hajj (pilgrimage). As we walked down one of the streets, some souvenirs in the colors of the Jordanian flag caught their eyes. “Why don’t you get one for yourself,” suggested my mother-in-law, “since the colors of our flag are the same as those of the Palestinian one.” Her brother took offence: “Palestine? What is your nationality, Madlaine?” I said I carry a Jordanian passport. “Then you will buy these on the grounds that you are Jordanian.”

I had given up on talking back, or making any statements at all, really. Until I gave birth to my son. As any mother, I felt the need to pass on my culture and history to my child.

My husband and his family were not pleased with that. They made it clear to me that my son was Jordanian, with no stake in the Palestinian struggle. He is even to be prevented from listening to Al-Wehdat’s anthem. For this and several other reasons, I divorced my husband.

We fled from the occupier to find ourselves in countries that consider us, Palestinians, occupiers. They see us as people who have robbed them of their livelihood and stole their lands. As if our ancestors did not harvest this land with them, as if we had not built their railways with them, or studied in the flickers of street lights to complete our education, or served in their armies.

My childhood was wiped out because the country that saw me as Jordanian expelled me, but I came here only to discover that I am not Jordanian. That for my son to be considered Jordanian, he must not have any association with his mother’s Palestinian roots. Not everyone who fled Palestine has managed to survive, and the occupation is not the only source of our oppression. I can no longer tell where I am from, for my homeland denies my identity, and I have no evidence of my heritage.

Note: The creation of this monarchic Jordan State was the brain child of Churchill in order to eventually allow refugee Palestinians to settle in after the creation of Israel. Thus Jordan was created 2 decades before Israel when France and England enjoyed a mandate over all this Near-East region, including Iraq and a large part of Turkey.

Madlaine Ahmad is Jordanian of Palestinian descent. She lives in Jordan, where she works as a translator for local online platforms, and edits for aljazeera.net. She is interested in covering marginalized voices in society in a way that humanizes their experiences.

Related stories

The Old living way in the Levant

كنت تفوت على الدار
تلاقي حمار مربوطة بعامود الكهربا الخشب ع مدخل الدار …
وبوابة عتيقة خشبها مشقق
وقفلها مصدي …وبتفتحها
بتزيزأ وبينكسر الصمت…
بتدخل عالدار وبتعبق ريحة
الحطب الوالع بالموقدة للطبخ ..
وبتفح ريحة صابون البرش العربي
من اللكن الطافح بالغسيل
والمي دارجة مع رغوة
الصابون …جنب البركة …
من حد حملة حطب
السنديان والغار بتاخد معها
الوراق اليابسة …
وعايمينك على المسطبة بالارض شوية
بامية يابسة وشوية ملوخية بلاطة
لحمة بجنب البركة
مغسولة …
ومنجل معلق بمسمار بالحيط …وشاكوش …
وفاروعة …وأدوم …
وكيس جنفيص مخيط
بالمسلة داخلو مقص عريش وسكين سان ويت لتطعيم الزيتون ..
وبنطلون عري منشور
ع سلم خشب قديم متكي
ع حيط مورق بالطين …
وميزان بصحنين قش …
ومد لكيل القمح والزيتون
والسميد…
وبالزاوية عدة لشك الدخان
ميبر ومسلة وخيطان …
واوضة البقرات ع مدخلها
فدان الفلاحة ..السكة ..
والنير وجلال الحمار ..
واوضة القعدة فيها
حصيرة ومساند وطراحة …
ومعلق عالحيطان صورة الكعبة .وسيف ذو الفقار.. والإمام علي والأسد رابض عند قدميه …
وبتدخل لجوا بتلاقي
اللحف والفرش والشراشف
فوق بعضها مغطايين بشرشف ابيض …
وخزانة خشب قديمة
نملية ….بتعبق منها ريحة
الزمن …
وببور كاز ساحر
وروائح الزعتر اليابس واليانسون والزوفا والسميد والسماق بتفوت ع مناخيرك منعشة ..
وارض الدار مروبة
ناعمة وبتندهلك يلا عالغدا …

كبة بطاطا .. وصحن كمونة وبطاطا مقلية عالحطب
سلطة …فرفحين …ومقتا وبندورة بعلية مع زيت زيتون ..
كاسة لبن …وجاط بليلة ..
وعدة خبز مرقوق …
وبعد الغدا بتطلع بطلع لتحت التينة
عادرج معمر من حجارة المقلع وبتشرب كباية شاي وبتتلئح عالحصيرة بخيمة الغوردل والهوا بيلعب لعب …

ومرات بتنام تحت خيمة العريش وبتغفل وما بيعود فيك تفتح عيونك..

آخ يا زمن آخ …
يا ريت بيرجع
الزمن الماضي …
وما بدنا لا مصاري ولا تقدم ولا مدنية …
ونرجع نلعب بالدار
ومانحلم
نكون اد الكبار…
يا ريت ..

تحية حب 💕 لكل من عاش ذالك الزمن الماضي ..

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Story of “This Land is Mine”

The story shared by Israel and Palestine has been told in several stunning films, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it told like this.

 created this brief animated history of the land that was at one time called Israel, Palestine, Canaan and the Levant.

She even created this viewer’s guide to make sense of what’s happening.

Posted by Films For Action this Oct. 7, 2012 a 3 min – Short Film:

I’ve Never Seen the Israel / Palestine Conflict Illustrated More Uniquely Than This

Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide

Because you can’t tell the players without a pogrom!

Early Man

Early Man This generic “cave man” represents the first human settlers in Israel/Canaan/the Levant. Whoever they were.

Canaanite

Canaanite.  What did ancient Canaanites look like? I don’t know, so this is based on ancient Sumerian art.

Ancient Egyptian

Egyptian. Canaan was located between two huge empires. Egypt controlled it sometimes, and…

Assyrian

Assyrian ….Assyria controlled it other times.

Israelite

Israelite The “Children of Israel” conquered the shit out of the region, according to bloody and violent Old Testament accounts.

Babylonian

Babylonian. The Baylonians destroyed their temple and took the Hebrews into exile.

Macedonian/Alexander

Macedonian/Greek.  Here comes Alexander the Great, conquering everything!

Greek

Greek/Macedonian. No sooner did Alexander conquer everything, than his generals divided it up and fought with each other.

Ptolmaic

Ptolemaic. Greek descendants of Ptolemy, another of Alexander’s competing generals, ruled Egypt dressed like Egyptian god-kings. (The famous Cleopatra of western mythology and Hollywood was a Ptolemy.)

Seleucid

Seleucid. More Greek-Macedonian legacies of Alexander.

Hebrew Priest

Hebrew Priest. This guy didn’t fight, he just ran the Second Temple re-established by Hebrews in Jerusalem after the Babylonian Exile.

Maccabee

Maccabee.  Led by Judah “The Hammer” Maccabee, who fought the Seleucids, saved the Temple, and invented Channukah. Until…

Roman

Roman ….the Romans destroyed the Second Temple and absorbed the region into the Roman Empire…

Byzantine

Byzantine ….which split into Eastern and Western Empires. The eastern part was called the Byzantine Empire. I don’t know if “Romans” ever fought “Byzantines” (Eastern Romans) but this is a cartoon.

Caliph

Arab Caliph Speaking of cartoon, what did an Arab Caliph look like? This was my best guess.

Crusader

Crusader After Crusaders went a-killin’ in the name of Jesus Christ, they established Crusader states, most notably the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

Egyptian Mamluk

Mamluk of Egypt.Wikipedia sez, “Over time, mamluks became a powerful military caste in various Muslim societies…In places such as Egypt from the Ayyubid dynasty to the time of Muhammad Ali of Egypt, mamluks were considered to be “true lords”, with social status above freeborn Muslims.[7]” And apparently they controlled Palestine for a while.

Ottoman Turk

Ottoman Turk Did I mention this is a cartoon? Probably no one went to battle looking like this. But big turbans, rich clothing and jewelry seemed to be in vogue among Ottoman Turkish elites, according to paintings I found on the Internet.

Arab

Arab  A gross generalization of a generic 19-century “Arab”.

British

British The British formed alliances with Arabs, then occupied Palestine. This cartoon is an oversimplification, and uses this British caricature as a stand-in for Europeans in general.

Palestinian

Palestinian The British occupied this guy’s land, only to leave it to a vast influx of….

European Jew/Zionist

European Jew/Zionist Desperate and traumatized survivors of European pogroms and death camps, Jewish Zionist settlers were ready to fight to the death for a place to call home, but…

Hezbollah

PLO/Hamas/Hezbollah

….so were the people that lived there. Various militarized resistance movements arose in response to Israel: The Palestinian Liberation OrganizationHamas, and Hezbollah.

State of Israel

State of Israel

Backed by “the West,” especially the US, they got lots of weapons and the only sanctioned nukes in the region.

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist

Guerrilla/Freedom Fighter/Terrorist Sometimes people fight in military uniforms, sometimes they don’t. Creeping up alongside are illicit nukes possibly from Iran or elsewhere in the region. Who’s Next?

Angel of Death

and finally…

The Angel of Death The real hero of the Old Testament, and right now too.

Note: If you want to support this project, please notice I have Paypal and Flattr buttons. TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donations accepted via the nonprofit QuestionCopyright.org.

Prophesies of “end of time”: In “Rainbow over the Levant”

Note:  This article is a section of chapter 17 of  the fiction novel “Rainbow over the Levant”: The Exile

In 1400, Timorlank was closing in with his Tatar hordes toward Northern Syria. The Viceroy of Aleppo was frantic and sent messengers after messengers for directions from his master the Mameluk Sultan of Egypt.  He requested reinforcements and financial support but Cairo did not stir.

The Viceroys of Damascus and Hama were of no help either, and as completely in the dark as to the policies of the Sultan of Egypt.  The agents of the First Emir of Lebanon reported that Egypt’s position was not to intervene at this stage either financially or militarily and to concentrate its resources in Egypt for the time being.

It seems that the advisers to the Sultan reminded his Majesty that these hordes, like the Moguls before them, never ventured into Egypt, and most of the time they retreat after capturing Damascus. They also reminded the Sultan that when Holago the Mogul decided to advance to Palestine a century and a half ago the Mameluks defeated him easily in 1260 at two major battles.

These counselors assured the Sultan that the Mameluks would repeat the previous military feats if Timorlank dared advance toward Palestine with his already exhausted forces and stressed on the facts that the previous Fatimide and Ayubid dynasties had deteriorated and their hold on power had begun to decline when they had tried to stretch their dominions into Iraq.

The Mameluk’s Viceroys in Damascus and Hama decided not to put up a fight against the Tatars and invested their time in hoarding as much money and riches as they could gather and flee in due time.  Aleppo was destroyed and Timorlank entered Damascus in 1401 without a fight and transferred all its remaining artisans to Samarqand, his Capital, within a year.

Prophesies of the end of time

There were other factors accounting to this social uneasiness, apathy and helplessness.  Any society facing changes in its structural order is usually ripe to the cyclical apocalyptic prophesies of the ultimate end of the World.  The Levant (people living in Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) had already experienced one such depressing mood during the lifetime of the First Emir and twice in the previous century, with a slight delay of such rumors since they were emanating from Europe.

The Fatimide dynasty in the 11th century reigned in Egypt and claimed its right to the Caliphate of the Moslems by proclaiming the imminent coming of a disappeared Imam. The decline of the Crusaders’ hold on the Levant, and lack of subsequent infusions of men and financial support, combined with the occurrence of pests or plagues prompted one of these cataclysmic beliefs within the Levant Crusaders.

The other period happened when news of the Mogul invasion were imminent and the fact that indeed Holago erased the Capital Baghdad in 1258.

In the mid 14th century, society remembered the plague that devastated Aleppo half a century before, a catastroph which added to the fear of an imminent recurrence of a Tatar invasion led by Timorlank toward Syria.  These apocalyptic prophesies were shared by both Christians and Moslems.   the Shiaa Moslems would preach the coming of either the 6th disappeared Imam or the 12th Imam to unite the Moslems to some kind of victory and the Christians would rely on the eschatology of Christ returning and reigning for one thousand years over a peaceful and happy World before the end of time would take place.

Antichrist finger pointing, or which power was represented by Satan, was convenient and successful in fomenting pockets of extremist sects within each religion.  Actually, a century later, with the Renaissance upheaval in Europe, Luther was able to establish his religious Reforms by capitalizing on the fears spreading in Europe of the coming of the end and using the advancing Ottoman armies toward Vienna as the sign of an angry God punishing the Christians for following the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church who forgot the Word of God.

After the devastation of Aleppo, the First Emir realized that his stay might induce Timorlank into driving a hard bargain over the Levant; he determined that his high profile in the region was a liability to the Levant.  He nevertheless ordered Gergis to join Ibn Khaldoun’s mission waiting to meet with Timorlank encamping around Damascus and to try reaching an agreement that would spare the Levant from further distresses.

Ibn Khaldoun was the famous 14th century Arabic North African author of “History of Civilizations” and he met with Timorlank camping outside Damascus and made him promise not to exact his vengeance on the population; a promise that Timorlank never kept.  Most of the craftsmen and merchants had evacuated Damascus and fled to Lebanon and Egypt while the remaining craftsmen were denied exiting this city after the hordes of Timorlank sacked it and would be transferred to Samarqand the Capital of the Tatar.  In disgust at his helplessness and the inaction of Cairo the First Emir decided to travel overseas for an extended period until the political situation was stabilized.

Although the societies in Syria, Lebanon and part of Palestine suffered economically and organizationally, the Mameluks in Egypt retained their cohesion and managed to survive another century before they were defeated militarily by the ascending Ottoman Empire in 1516.

Did Tamerlane (Timor Lank) Create Empires?

There is this army commander of the 14th century who kept his army on the march longer (for over 25 years) and crossed more lands than Alexander, Genghis Khan, or Attila and conquered more Empires and was never defeated and slept in his tent, outside city-limits, even in his Capital Samarkand (in current Uzbekistan).

The Persian gave him the nickname Lank because he was slightly lame in one leg.  This is Timor Lank who was not the son of any Monarch, prince, or even a tribal leader.

Timor Lank was from the Caucasus region (probably around the region of Azerbaijan and Chechnya (I get pretty upset when history authors fail to located current geographical areas and just paste the ancient names).

He was a Moslem and veneered Imams and clerics claimed to be descendants of the Prophet Muhammad’s family, and who wore the black turban.

Otherwise, he didn’t give a hoot about Moslems when conquering lands and people. He killed mostly Moslems since the vast area of his operations were mostly Islam Land.

For example, he built pyramids of skulls: 60,000 heads in Asfahan (Iran), 3,000 in Aleppo, and many other skull pyramids in India…

First, Timor Lank chased out the Tatar “Golden Hordes” (led by a descendant of Genghis Khan) along the Volga River (current Russia) and burned and sacked all their cities and villages.  He did not resume his operations, but by the end of his war, the Golden Hordes were weakened and displaced.  It was the fate of the Russian Tsar, Ivan the Terrible, to finish off the job against the Tatars in the 16th century and expand his Empire. You may claim that Tamerlane ultimately created current Russia.

Timor Lank captured Samarkand and made it its Capital.

He descended on Persia and conquered this Empire and beheaded over 60,000 of the population in Isfahan and piled up the head in shapes of pyramids.  This city surrendered peacefully and Timor Lank had no plans to occupy it; he was just crossing!

It happened that for a few cases of rape within the city by Timor Lank’s garrison of 500 soldiers, the inhabitants slaughtered the soldiers.  Timor Lank was camping outside city limit, always in his tent. And the reaction was a nightmare on the city inhabitants.

The commander moved on toward Turkey in 1400.  The Turkish Sultan army was completely demolished and the Sultan was put in a tiny cage so that Timor Lank could use it as a stool to mount his horse. This commander could have conquered all of Turkey, but instead he headed south to enter Aleppo and Damascus in Syria.

If Timor Lank had not vanquished the Turkish army then the Byzantium Capital of Constantinople would have fallen 50 years earlier along with most of Europe.

There would be no Western Europe or the Renaissance:  at that time, the enmities between Genoa and Venice was at its zenith, the Kingdom of Poland was weak, there was no Russian Empire, and the King Henry of Portugal had not begun challenging the high seas to discover new routes to India and the Far East.

And the King of France Charles 8 would not have entered and ruined Rome and displaced the skilled artisans and thinkers, located and concentrated in Papal Rome, to all over western Europe that started the Renaissance.

In the 13th century, the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt had moved out from Egypt with his army and defeated the Mogul army of Hulagu in Palestine around 1250.  This time around, the Mameluke Sultan did not venture to come out to rescue his vassals  in Syria.

Damascus put up a serious fight, but Timor Lank tactics were always to destabilize any city before setting siege.  The skilled people in Syria and Palestine were sent to build and develop Samarkand. (That is the story of the Levant since antiquity: armies conquer The Levant to capture its skilled workers.)

The Ottoman Sultan would later defeat the Mameluke Sultan in the 16th century and conquer Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and all North African countries.

Timor Lank conquered Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

One of Timor Lank offspring would establish the Mogul Empire in India (the Punjab) that lasted over 5 centuries.  The British Empire would finally take over all of India by the end of the 19th century, but failed to retain Afghanistan after two bloody massacres of its troops.

The British had drawn the current borders among Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Kashmir.  As well as drawing many other borders in the Middle-East and Africa with colonial France

This ruthless commander Tamerlane was getting ready to march on China when he died at the age of 63.

Note:  My published novel on wordpress.com “Rainbow over the Levant” is set in that time period.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2020
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