Jump to content
In the Name of God بسم الله
  • entries
    30
  • comments
    130
  • views
    333,538

Mufadhal b. Umar: Sinner or Saint?


Islamic Salvation

2,566 views

اكتب وبث علمك في إخوانك، فإن مت فأورث كتبك بنيك

Write down and spread your knowledge among your brothers. And if you are about to die then will your books to your children [What the Imam al-Sadiq is supposed to have said to al-Mufadhal]

 

فلما انصرفت إلى الكوفة أقبلت علي الشيعة فمزقوني كل ممزق، يأكلون لحمي ويشتمون عرضي، حتى أن بعضهم استقبلني فوثب في وجهي، وبعضهم قعد لي في سكك الكوفة يريد ضربي، ورموني بكل بهتان

When I reached Kufa and met the Shia, they tore me to shreds, eating my flesh and disparaging my honour, such that one of them faced me and punched me in the face, and one of them lay in ambush for me in the markets of Kufa wishing to beat me up, and they made false accusations against me [Mufadhal in his Last Will and Testimony]

 

ما يقولون في المفضل بن عمر؟ قلت: يقولون فيه: هيئة يهوديا أو نصرانيا

What do they say about al-Mufadhal b. Umar? They say: He has the appearance and manner of a Jew or a Christian [The General Populace of Kufa was not impressed by Mufadhal]

 

Who was He?

Abu Abdallah Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi (d. before 179), a money-changer by profession, was a Kufan companion of the two Imams, al-Sadiq and al-Kadhim. He was charged with performing certain tasks for them.

al-Tusi sees no problem in him. He includes him among the praiseworthy ‘intimate ones’ and ‘managers of the Imam’s affairs’ citing the following report as evidence:

علي بن محمد، قال: حدثني سلمة بن الخطاب، عن علي بن حسان، عن موسى بن بكير قال: كنت في خدمة أبي الحسن عليه السلام ولم أكن أرى شيئا يصل إلى إلا من ناحية المفضل بن عمر، ولربما رأيت الرجل يجئ بالشئ فلا يقبله منه ويقول: أوصله إلى المفضل

Ali b. Muhammad – Salama b. al-Khattab – Ali b. Hassan – Musa b. Bukayr: I was in the service of Abi al-Hasan  عليه السلام. Nothing [of the monetary dues] used to reach him [from any other route] except through Mufadhal b. Umar. I would sometimes see a man bringing something to the Imam directly and he [the Imam] would refuse to accept it and say: take it to Mufadhal.   

That he was an important figure who exerted considerable influence on the Shi’ite community is undeniable. This can be glimpsed from the number of narrations under his name and the books attributed to him. 

 

A Controversial Narrator

However, there is a controversy about his status. A controversy which probably began in his own lifetime. Some saw him as the bearer of the ‘secrets’ of the Imams who was understandably misunderstood by the laymen who could not bear them, while others saw him as a crypto-syncretist who distorted the teachings of the Imam.

There exists both praise and censure of him attributed to the Imams. Most of the narrations which extol him are narrated by the Ghulat who glorify him as one of their pillars.

The books ascribed to him include partially surviving esoteric manuals like Kitab al-Sirat (‘The Book of the Way’) and Kitab al-Haft wa al-Azilla (‘The Book of the Seven and the Phantoms’) among others. These are treasured by contemporary Nusayri-Alawis but would be considered heretical in the Twelver Madhhab. It is unclear whether this attribution is historical or merely based on the communal memory of his significance for their teachings. Modern academic research sees these books as consisting of many layers, with unidentified authors adding material to the oldest core.

al-Ayyashi encountered some of this suspect literature as he retells below:

 وأمّا أبو يعقوب إسحاق بن محمد البصري، فإنّه كان غالياً، وسرت إليه إلى بغداد لاكتب عنه وسألته كتاباً أنسخه، فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث المفضّل بن عمر في التفويض ، فلم أرغب فيه فأخرج إليّ من أحاديث مشيخته من الثقات

As for Abu Ya’qub Ishaq b. Muhammad al-Basri then he was a Ghali. I went to him in Baghdad to write from him. I asked him a book to copy so he took out for me a collection of narrations from Mufadhal b. Umar regarding Tafwidh [that the ‘Aimma are independent beings who run the world after its initial creation] but I did not express any interest in that, then he produced narrations relayed by the trustworthy ones among his teachers …

Traditionalist scholars like al-Najashi and Ibn al-Ghadhairi had a negative assessment of him for this very reason. They went through the works ascribed to him and found them to be unpalatable.

Ibn al-Ghadhairi is scathing when he says:

خطابي، وقد زيد عليه شئ كثير، وحمل الغلاة في حديثه حملا عظيما

A Khattabi. A lot of fabricated material has been attributed to him. The Ghulat have launched a full-scale attack on his narrations (i.e. they have invaded his original corpus infiltrating it with their own ideas)

al-Najashi warns:

وقد ذكرت له مصنفات لا يعول عليها، وإنما ذكرنا للشرط الذي قدمناه

‘A number of books are listed as authored by him but they are not to be depended upon. I only include their names because of the condition which we have mentioned before [i.e. to list the titles of all Shi’i authors]’

Even if he is not responsible for what circulates under his name, the fact that the Ghulat considered him one of their own should be reason enough for caution. Anonymous writers are  known to have penned material using his name seeking to enhance the authority of their works. It is an arduous task to sift the historical from the forged.

 

A Khattabi?

What can be asserted without doubt is that the historical Mufadhal was at one point in time connected to Abu al-Khattab and the Khatabiyya [there is even a splinter-sect of the Khatabiyya which was named after Mufadhal i.e. the Mufadhaliyya]. They are accused of deifying al-Sadiq in some way and of believing in continuation of prophecy. We have some narrations which indicate Mufadhal’s links with such beliefs:   

حدثني الحسين بن الحسن بن بندار القمي، قال حدثني سعد بن عبد الله بن أبي خلف القمي، قال حدثني محمد بن الحسين بن أبي الخطاب و الحسن بن موسى، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن عبد الله بن مسكان قال: دخل حجر بن زائدة و عامر بن جذاعة الأزدي على أبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقالا: جعلنا فداك، إن المفضل بن عمر يقول إنكم تقدرون أرزاق العباد ...

al-Husayn b. al-Hasan b. Bundar al-Qummi – Sa’d b. Abdallah b. Abi Khalaf al-Qummi – Muhammad b. al-Husayn b. Abi al-Khattab and al-Hasan b. Musa from Safwan b. Yahya from Abdallah b. Muskan who said: Hujr b. Zaida and A’mir b. Judha’a al-Azdi entered upon Abi Abdillah عليه السلام and said to him: May we be made your ransom, Mufadhal b. Umar says that you are the ones who allot the Rizq of the slaves …

علي بن محمد، عن صالح بن أبي حماد، عن محمد بن أورمة، عن ابن سنان، عن المفضل بن عمر قال: كنت أنا والقاسم شريكي ونجم بن حطيم وصالح بن سهل بالمدينة فتناظرنا في الربوبية، قال: فقال بعضنا لبعض: ما تصنعون بهذا نحن بالقرب منه وليس منا في تقية قوموا بنا إليه، قال: فقمنا فوالله ما بلغنا الباب إلا وقد خرج علينا بلا حذاء ولا رداء قد قام كل شعرة من رأسه منه وهو يقول: لا لا يا مفضل ويا قاسم ويا نجم، لا لا بل عباد مكرمون لا يسبقونه بالقول وهم بأمره يعملون

Ali b. Muhammad – Salih b. Abi Hammad – Muhammad b. Awrama – Ibn Sinan – al-Mufadhal b. Umar who said I, al-Qasim al-Shariki, Najm b. Hutaym and Salih b. Sahl were in Madina when we disputed each other over the divinity [of the ‘Aimma]. He [Mufadhal] said: We said to each other - why are we speculating on this when we are nearby to him [the Imam] and he is not in Taqiyya with us [does not answer us in dissimulation], let’s go meet him. He [Mufadhal] said: We headed towards him - by Allah we had not reached the door before he came out bare-footed, without a cloak and all the hair on his head stood on end [in apprehension] saying: No - O Mufadhal, Qasim and Najm, No! “rather mere honored slaves, never preceding Him (Allah) in word, and they always follow His orders” (21:26-27)

حدثني حمدويه وإبراهيم ابنا نصير، قالا: حدثنا محمد بن عيسى، عن علي ابن الحكم، عن المفضل بن عمر أنه كان يبشر أبا الخطاب وفلان أنكما لمن المرسلين

Hamduwayh b. Nusayr and Ibrahim b. Nusayr – Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam: That he [Mufadhal b. Umar] used to give glad tidings to Aba al-Khattab and one other saying: ‘verily you are messengers’

قال الكشى: وذكرت الطيارة الغالية في بعض كتبها عن المفضل: أنه قال لقد قتل مع أبي اسماعيل يعني أبا الخطاب سبعون نبيا ... وأن المفضل قال: أدخلنا على أبي عبد الله عليه‌ السلام ونحن اثنى عشر رجلا، قال: فجعل أبو عبد الله عليه‌ السلام يسلم على رجل رجل منا ويسمي كل رجل منا باسم نبي، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا نوح، وقال لبعضنا: السلام عليك يا ابراهيم، وكان آخر من سلم عليه وقال: السلام عليك يا يونس، ثم قال: لا تخاير بين الانبياء

al-Kashshi said: The Tayyara Ghulat say in one of their books that al-Mufadhal said: Seventy prophets were killed with Aba al-Khattab … Mufadhal is also supposed to have said: Twelve of us entered in to see Abi Abdillah عليه‌ السلام. He [the Imam] began greeting each one of us individually and calling each one of us by the name of a prophet, saying to one of us ‘peace be upon you O Noah’ to another ‘peace be upon you O Ibrahim’, he greeted the last one of us saying: ‘peace be upon you O Yunus’. Then he [the Imam] said: do not distinguish between the prophets! 

 

Mufadhal, The Khattabiyya and Ismail

The Khatabbiya seem to have taken Ismail the son of al-Sadiq as their figure-head and pinned their hopes on him as the next Imam. It is hard to discern from the meager sources available whether Ismail’s participation in this was of his own volition or not.

رجال الكشي: حمدويه بن نصير، عن يعقوب بن يزيد، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن هشام بن الحكم وحماد بن عثمان، عن إسماعيل بن جابر قال: قال أبو عبد الله: ايت المفضل قل له: يا كافر يا مشرك ما تريد إلى ابني تريد أن تقتله

Hamduwayh b. Nusayr – Ya’qub b. Yazid – Ibn Abi Umayr – Hisham b. al-Hakam and Hammad b. Uthman –  Ismail b. Jabir who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: Go to Mufadhal and say to him - O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you want for my son Ismail? Do you want to kill him!?

The narration above has the Imam using very harsh language with Mufadhal in the context of the latter’s ‘grooming’ of Ismail which al-Sadiq felt was dangerous. 

On the other hand, there also exists a countervailing narration as below:


الكافي: محمد بن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن علي بن الحكم، عن يونس بن يعقوب قال: أمرني أبو عبد الله عليه السلام أن آتي المفضل واعزيه باسماعيل وقال: اقرأ المفضل السلام وقل له: إنا قد اصبنا بإسماعيل فصبرنا، فاصبر كما صبرنا، إنا أردنا أمرا وأراد الله عزوجل أمرا، فسلمنا لامر الله عزوجل

Muhammad b. Yahya – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa – Ali b. al-Hakam – Yunus b. Ya’qub who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام ordered me to go to Mufadhal and condole him for [the death of] Ismail. He [the Imam] said: Convey my greetings of peace to Mufadhal and say to him: We have been tried through Ismail and have remained patient, so be patient the way we have been patient. We wanted something but Allah Mighty and Majestic wanted something else so we have submitted to the command of Allah Mighty and Majestic.   

This one is much more warm. The Imam condoles Mufadhal on the occasion of Ismail’s death - the two must have been especially close - and commends him to be patient in emulation of the Imam’s own patience.   

How can we explain this difference in tone?

 

A Rapprochement?

It seems that one way to reconcile between them is to posit that Mufadhal had a period of estrangement from the Imam - because of his involvement with the Khattabis and their intentions for Ismail, however, he later repented from this and broke away with Abu al-Khattab, consequently the relation with the Imam improved.

Evidence for this can be found in the narration below:

جبرئيل بن أحمد قال: حدّثني محمّد بن عيسى، عن يونس، عن حماد بن عثمان قال: سمعت أبا عبداللّه عليه السلام يقول للمفضّل بن عمر الجعفي: يا كافر يا مشرك ما لك ولابني، يعني إسماعيل بن جعفر، وكان منقطعا إليه، يقول فيه مع الخطابية، ثم رجع بعد

Jibrail b. Ahmad – Muhammad b. Isa – Yunus – Hammad b. Uthman who said: I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying to al-Mufadhal b. Umar al-Ju’fi: O Kafir, O Mushrik, what do you have to do with my son - meaning Ismail b. Ja’far? - and he [Mufadhal] was loyal to him [Ismail], believing about him [that he is the Imam and much more] together with the Khatabiyya, then he returned afterwards.

That Mufadhal returned back to the truth after deviation can be proved also by the fact that he was not among those followers of Abu al-Khattab who died with their leader when they were attacked by the men of Isa b. Musa [the Abbasid governor of Kufa] after barricading themselves in the central mosque as part of an aborted revolt.

Another piece of evidence for this view is that Mufadhal seems to have a more cordial relation with al-Kadhim after the death of al-Sadiq [indeed there are no censures against him quoted from this Imam, which would tally with his reform in his later years]. 

محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني عبد الله بن خلف، قال: حدثنا علي بن حسان الواسطي، قال: حدثني موسى بن بكير قال: سمعت أبا الحسن يقول لما أتاه موت المفضل بن عمر، قال: رحمه الله، كان الوالد بعد الوالد، أما انه قد استراح

Muhammad b. Masud – Abdallah b. Khalaf – Ali b. Hassan al-Wasiti – Musa b. Bukayr who said: I heard Aba al-Hasan saying when he was informed of the death of al-Mufadhal b. Umar - May Allah have mercy on him, he was a father after the father [al-Sadiq i.e. a second father to him]. Verily he is now resting in peace.

 

Summary 

The case of al-Mufadhal is a complicated one. More needs to be done to collect all the relevant evidence and formulate a coherent position, if at all possible. This is obviously not the place for an in-depth study. Such research should also consider the provenance of famous books attributed to him like Tawhid al-Mufadhal, al-Ihlilaja etc. Having said all this, caution must be exercised as regards narrations attributed to him, specifically if the contents have to do with Imamology.

0 Comments


Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Add a comment...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Latest Blog Entries

         6 comments
      [This post was initially published as 'A little conspiracy theory of mine' on Oct 25 2016. I've now retitled it and linked some of the text with the notion of the Great Replacement Theory.]
      Summary
      Britain, after the Second World War ostensibly recruited workers from various developing countries in order to fill skill shortages. However, around the same time, there was a concerted effort by Australia to recruit working-class Britons. A possible explanation to this anomalous situation is that there was a concerted policy by Britain and Australia to ensure that Australia remained white. This is one argument against the idea that inward migration into the West is somehow an attack on white people. The two examples of migration examined here represent the opposite.
      The Great Replacement Theory
      According to Prof Matthew Feldman there is a lite of versions of The Great Replacement Theory and a full-fat one and the latter holds that:
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/08/a-deadly-ideology-how-the-great-replacement-theory-went-mainstream
      In this post, I will argue that at least in terms of one example, this is indeed the case, but rather than representing some form of surrender on the part of the 'white race' as the far right claims the policy represents, it is actually the opposite.
      The Windrush Generation
      This is the narrative all Britons have been brought up with (the following is from the UK government's own website):
      http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/citizenship/brave_new_world/immigration.htm
      It sounds very multi-culti, liberal and nice. Britain needed labour, brown people needed jobs and everyone would get along swimmingly in post-war Britain. This was not illegal immigration, it was planned and made good economic sense.
      Here's some more justification from the British Library:
      http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item107671.html
      To help immigration into the UK, the British Nationality Act of 1948 gave rights to all people from the commonwealth to settle in the country. West Indian immigration to the UK from the 1940's to the 1960s was about 170,000. In Britain, there was an increase of about 80,000 people originating from the Indian sub-continent from 1951 to 1961.
      So if there was such a shortage of labour in postwar Britain, surely the British government would have been aghast at the prospect of Britons leaving the UK? And trying to put a stop to it?
      Apparently not.
      The Assisted Passage Scheme from Britain to Australia
      Australia's 'Assisted Passage Migration Scheme' started in 1945 and involved 1 million people migrating from Britain to Australia.
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7217889.stm
      The following paper adds some nuance to this:
      Yet despite the 'reluctance' we still get:
      Stephen Constantine (2003) British emigration to the empire- commonwealth since 1880: From overseas settlement to Diaspora?, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 31:2, 16-35, DOI: 10.1080/03086530310001705586
      From the same paper the following motivation, which refers to policies in the nineteenth century could perhaps explain the flow of people observed at the top of this post:
       
      Conclusion
      In sum, Britain was allowed to go a bit brown, because it was essential that Australia, Canada and other dominions remain essentially white. And this racist policy was maintained until the facts on the ground had been established. This point is one counter-arguments to the 'Great Replacement Theory' that has been espoused in some far-right circles in the West.
       
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/08/a-deadly-ideology-how-the-great-replacement-theory-went-mainstream
       
      So we have two migration stories. And the funny thing is that the first story is covered in the press, and you'll also find the second story given a lot of attention.
       
      But the two are never mentioned together.
       
      It's when you put, what are otherwise very positive stories together, that something far nastier emerges. Something which is within plain sight but unacknowledged.
       
      https://contemporaniablog.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/poms-and-windrush/
         1 comment
      Summary
      For Muslims, the questions around Riba are focused at the level of the individual because we want to know what we can and cannot do. This post looks at the broader societal issue. The conclusion is that riba and the business of lending can increase economic inequality between different segments in society.
      Assuming an Islamic state has an overriding need to address economic inequality - it cannot accede to the provision of credit in a manner that we are used to in the West.
      What is interest?
      This may seem obvious. but it's worth exploring since the result can generate new insights.
      Interest is a price charged by a lender to compensate them for not having the use of the money that they are lending. Interest can also be compensation for the fact that the money they have lent will be worth less in the future than today because of inflation Interest can also reflect a premium charged by the lender in order to account for the fact that some borrowers will not pay them back. The interest charged to the individual borrowers can vary because they vary in terms of their risk to the lender. Less risky borrowers are charged less and riskier ones are charged more. The last point is not immediately obvious to everyone it is important however and we shall come back to it.
      Access to credit
      In a free market, there are all sorts of lenders (e.g. seeking different levels of return and willing to take different levels of risk) and all sorts of borrowers (e.g. those with good 'credit scores vs. those with poor ones). Those with a good credit record can borrow more and more cheaply than those with a poor record. This may be because those with a good record have a history of making repayments on time and so on. And this is where we have our first macroeconomic effect.
      People who are poor and find it difficult to buy food and pay rent will invariably find it hard to keep up with their debt payments and if they don't pay their creditors on time, they will have a bad credit record. As a result, either they will not have access to credit at all or if they do, they will have to pay a higher price for it (a higher level of interest). This sounds crazy, but it is true. Credit is one product where the poor will generally pay more than the rich and it is certainly a product where those who need it to survive (rather than buying luxury goods) may not have access to it at all.
      Therefore in a society where there is credit, there are two mechanisms by which social inequality is increased, lack of credit to the poor and expensive credit where it is available. There is a third mechanism by which inequality is increased. If rich people have access to credit and the poor do not, the rich may bid up the prices of assets so that they become even more unaffordable to the poor. A real-life example of this is the UK property market, at the time of writing this post. Many young people are 'priced out' of the UK housing market because people with access to credit (e.g. investors) have bid up the prices of property.
      Materialism and credit
      A further reason why inequality is increased is that people are encouraged (as consumers) to buy things today and pay for them tomorrow. Over the period they borrow money, they pay interest. The assumption here is that the 'joy' they get for the chance to consume something earlier than they otherwise would have done compensates for the reduced consumption that they will have in the future. They will have reduced consumption because in the future their income will be paying interest for their previous consumption. 
      There is an important principle here. Such an approach to materialism has the following implications. This is a single-period gain. Because the only way you can keep doing it is to keep building up your debts! And at some point in the future, either you go bankrupt or the lender loses their capital or taxpayers' money is used to bail out both you and the lender. A materialist culture, therefore, combined with a system that makes credit easily available, rewards those people who have capital for pandering to the materialistic needs of the consumers but not much else.
      No easy solutions
      It would, however be naive to believe that the solution should be that lenders make credit available to all and at e.g. similar rates of interest. As we saw above interest performs a number of functions and one of these is to compensate lenders for risk. If lenders are forced to lend to the poor and at interest rates lower than they would normally offer, this may lead to losses for them.
      There is another reason why there are no easy solutions. If someone has poor financial circumstances, then offering them more credit and associated interest payments could add to their problems rather than improve them. Credit unions, which do not seek to make a profit and are run for the benefit of their members offer a partial but not a complete solution.
      Involvement of the State
      If the market is unable to lend without increasing inequality then we must consider the role of the State, the criteria it uses to make loans and how it manages demand if interest is not a pricing mechanism that it wishes to use. This may seem radical and an intervention that is far too statist and dirigiste some might even describe it as socialist or even communist.
      To put the above into context it's worth considering the role of the State when it comes to regulation of finance. It is notable that Martin Wolff a columnist writing in the Financial Times (the UK financial industry's newspaper) says:
      https://www.ft.com/content/09bfbb8d-22f5-4c70-9d85-2df7ed5c516e
      He arrives at this conclusion via an analysis of financial crises and not via the lens of inequality that I have used.
      It's worth examining some of the points that Wolff makes, they are widely considered to be true:
      This is a perennial issue, high levels of regulation stymie the returns that the financial sector can make and there is subsequently a call from economic liberals to remove the 'shackles', a new problem then arises, bailouts are needed and accompanied by new regulation.
      the latter being justification for a bailout.
      So state intervention in the financial markets is not an anomaly in a wholly capitalistic system. At the moment such intervention is justified given the damage that a bank run would cause for the whole economy.
      It's not outrageous therefore that if the welfare of the poor is considered to be important, the availability of credit for them and the terms of such finance should be of concern to policy-makers. 
      Practicalities of intervention
      One way of arriving at a solution is to consider why people need loans in the first place.
      It is clear that sometimes people need to borrow money to increase their earning power. Loans for such purposes are obviously a 'good thing'. This is one end of a spectrum and the State should intervene to provide such loans at 0% interest, thus making them completely halal. However, an effect of such intervention could be to encourage training providers to raise prices, so where government is effectively subsidising a sector it may also need to intervene in terms of the prices it is willing to pay. The same applies to goods such as medical services. Buying a car. Now we are moving along the spectrum, is the car for enjoyment or for work? And if it is for work, how blingy or spartan is it? The latter could attract state funding, but the former is less likely to do so. For enjoyment, people should be educated to understand that there is no alternative to saving up. And what about those who have capital?
      My understanding is that having capital is not a problem in Islam. Lending it for interest is a problem. But that is not the only productive use that capitalists have for their capital. They can own shares in enterprises and receive dividends for their risk capital i.e. the profit or dividends they make depends on the risk that they take. Such risk-taking can be inherently more productive than lending capital for interest. It can be applied to the development of new technologies and industries - rather than pandering to the materialist interests of consumers or indeed increasing such materialistic interests.
         3 comments
      Summary
      Iran is often accused of sponsoring groups such as Hamas. But what form is any help likely to take? Some speculative answers in the absence of any tangible proof.
      Background
      A short period after the Iranian revolution in 1979, Saddam Hussain, the Iraqi President decided to invade the country. He was funded by the Saudis and Kuwaitis amongst others and supplied by various western countries. Iran was embargoed. So they had to develop their own capabilities both in terms of hardware and likely software (military tactics etc.).
      Later on Iran helped set up Hizbollah because the Shias of Lebanon were being trodden on by all the other communities of that country as well as the invading Israelis. Hezbollah proved to be instrumental in helping the Israelis leave.
      Fast forward many years and Iranian-backed militia defeated ISIS in Iraq, and Hezbollah helped do the same in Syria (worth noting that very useful experience was derided by some who felt they should stay within Lebanese borders). Throughout all of this, Iran and its allies have no doubt picked up quite a few experiences and ideas about what it takes to fight in urban settings.
      In contrast, all other Arab countries relied on foreign armies' training. How effective that has been can be seen from the experience of the Iraqi army vs ISIS and the Afghan army vs the Taliban.
      Since the Nakba the Palestinian resistance was never known for the sophistication of its urban guerrilla warfare.
      Hamas
      The current anti-Israeli insurgency seems to be based on a mixture of small arms, tunnels and tactics. Assuming that sophisticated arms can't be smuggled, I'd hazard that the most valuable support they have received has been 'soft'. Strategies and tactics and that sort of thing. Knowing how to work around informers, etc., would also likely be very useful.
      No doubt someone has also been advising them how small arms can be made in motorcycle workshops. The Omani forts of centuries past had various defence mechanisms. One of them was the liquid produced by pressed dates. Nourishment for peacetime but a weapon for sieges when it could be boiled and poured onto invaders' heads. The point is that dual-use technology has a rich heritage and is eminently useful for a Gazan economy under siege for years. 
      Again throwing resources at problems such as this needs a state actor.
      Conclusion
      In sum, the Muslim world likely now has its own West Point, albeit not located in a physical location and one that does not need powerpoint slides and manuals. But as I said at the very start all speculation on my part.
       
         1 comment
      Looks like I've been here a while ...
      Twenty years ago today! I think I joined up after returning from Hajj, I should have done it beforehand I guess. It's been fun in the main, but gotten quieter over the years. Still, it has also served as a diary and a place to keep thoughts and ideas. I can understand why some people leave after a while - it's often the same issues that keep cropping up. It helps to have as bad a memory as mine - so things seem newer than they really are.
      And what about the future? This site like the rest of the net was the result of some transformative changes in tech. I think we are about to go through another inflexion point with AI and things won't be quite the same again. Exciting and challenging times ahead and I think the possible source of new ethical and fiqhi questions, albeit variations on existing themes to some extent.
      If you are wondering what 'Stories for Sakina' is about - the posts on this blog also serve the dual purpose of being (my niece) Sakina's birthday cards.
      So, for this post, I thought I'd collect an eclectic mix of my posts over the last 20 years. Eclectic means they are a haphazard mix of different types of posts, witterings, jokes and attempts to be useful and even philosophical.
      Finally, some career advice
      I joined in 2004 and got made a Mod in 2008, and became an Admin sometime after 2020 I think. So for those of you at the start of your careers the takeaway is that you don't need to be good to get to the top, you just need to hang around.
       
      2023
       
      2022
       
      2021
       
      2020
       
      2019
       
      2018
       
      2017
       
      2016
       
      2015
       
      2014
       
      2013
       
      2012
       
      2011
       
      2010
       
      2009
       
      2008
       
      2007
       
      2006
       
      2005
       
      2004
       
       
         2 comments
      Why has the West seen falling living standards?
      Variations on this question are commonly asked on social media. The common theme is that living standards in the West used to be so good but what happened?
      Popular answers to the following tweet include:
      But they didn't have internet and dad worked 50-60 hours a week Our rulers sent jobs overseas Women thought it would be a good idea to work Bigger government Inflation I think the real answers are pretty straightforward, looking at the above in turn.
      I agree that the way you measure living standards is important. There has been tremendous economic growth since then. This family likely could not watch their choice of television programming as easily as today.  Whether or not jobs were sent overseas, they would invariably end up there. The US was a first mover in terms of development, there would come a point where it would be cheaper to make things overseas. Also other countries began to figure out e.g. how to make cars better and more efficiently than the US. This is an interesting one. The issue is why/how could one wage-earner keep a family whereas now it takes two. I'll have to come back to this later. This is in response to more social problems - which themselves are a function of greater levels of personal freedom This is also a factor and one that's likely outside the control of government. in the 1950s the US was the world's largest volume car producer (safe to guess), since then other countries have taken over, so there is now more competition for those resources hence inflation. Same applies to gas/petrol In summary there was no agenda to do down the Caucasian populations of the US and Europe. The rest of the world simply caught up. It may have taken longer than it did, but if you spread the good news of Capitalism to Russia, China and India, its going to happen. Since communism dampened demand for consumer goods in those countries it dimmed inflationary pressures for the rest of us.
         
         0 comments
      [I co-wrote this with chatgpt4]
       
      In a softly lit, high-ceilinged room, a group of civil servants gathered around a large oval table. The air was thick with tension, a palpable sense of unease hovering over them. At the head of the table, Marianne, the committee chair, cleared her throat. "The reality is unavoidable," she began, her voice steady yet tinged with concern. "With the rise of artificial intelligence, we're facing unprecedented job losses across multiple industries."
      Heads nodded in agreement, eyes reflecting the gravity of the situation. A murmur of assent rippled through the room as each member pondered the implications. "But what do we do with our people?" asked Thomas, a veteran member known for his pragmatism. "How do we find meaningful work for them?"
      The question hung in the air like a heavy cloud, challenging the collective wisdom of the room. Suggestions were made - some practical, others far-fetched. "We can't simply create jobs for the sake of it," Marianne pointed out. "It needs to be meaningful, something that adds value to society."
      As the discussion deepened, a pattern began to emerge. They spoke of community, of human connection, of the things that machines could never replicate. Slowly, an idea took shape, gaining clarity and momentum. "What if," ventured Sarah, a younger member with a thoughtful expression, "we focus on our future generations? What if we turn our attention to raising and nurturing our children?"
      The room fell silent, each person considering the proposal. "Investing in our children," mused Marianne. "Teaching, mentoring, spending quality time with them - these are tasks no AI can fulfill. They require empathy, understanding, and a human touch."
      Excitement bubbled up as they explored the idea further. They spoke of parents having more time with their kids, of communities coming together to support each other, of a society where the nurturing of young minds and hearts became a central goal.
      "We can create programs, offer training for these new roles," suggested Thomas, his voice now imbued with hope. "We can redefine work in terms of contributing to the growth and development of our children."
      As the meeting drew to a close, there was a sense of resolution, a feeling that they had stumbled upon a solution that could truly make a difference. "We will face challenges," Marianne concluded, "but in focusing on our children, we invest in a future where humanity and compassion are at the forefront. This is what we do."
      The committee members left the room with a newfound purpose, ready to face the challenges ahead. They had found their answer in the most fundamental aspect of human existence - the nurturing and upbringing of the next generation. In a world dominated by artificial intelligence, they had rediscovered the irreplaceable value of human connection and care.
         0 comments
      https://thecontentedself.wordpress.com/2023/12/10/apolitical-intellectuals/
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Blog Statistics

    86
    Total Blogs
    478
    Total Entries
×
×
  • Create New...