In the Name of God بسم الله
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By Haji 2003 in ContemporaniaSummary
After October 7th 2023, there has been horror as to what happened on that day, with the rebuttal that the history of the conflict provides explanatory context. This article examines historical analysis which suggests that the violence that occurred in the region 90 years ago was entirely predictable due to uncontrolled immigration.
This is a letter published by The Times newspaper on October 14 1936. The writer was a well-known academic/ historian who had visited Palestine at the time of some tension.
The context of violence between Arabs and Zionists
He draws comparisons between the Zionist/Arab conflict and that which had taken place between other peoples within the British Empire.
He particularly draws attention to the scale of European immigration into Palestine as the cause of the violence. And he further draws attention to the cultural differences between Arabs and the Europeans who were settling in Palestine as another cause for the conflict.
He concludes that the cause (immigration) and effect (violence) had played out as expected.
By Haji 2003 in ContemporaniaI came across an interesting newspaper article published on February 27, 1920, in the Manchester Guardian newspaper (the forerunner of the modern Guardian newspaper), it's titled, "Some essential features of the Zionist Programme".
The author is listed as "from our Special Correspondent" and the location of the writing is given as Jerusalem.
The 'voice' of the piece appears to be an entirely Zionist one, as you may guess from the quotations that follow.
The article starts as follows:
That's interesting. As I've remarked previously on Shiachat, the Zionist ambitions seem to have changed over time.
Well Britain is no longer the power it once was, and these promises are nowadays being made to the Americans.
Hmm. This might have been labelled as being anti-semitic if the source had been non-Jewish.
I am not entirely sure what is being proposed here to the British rulers of Palestine, perhaps it may be a two level pay structure, higher pay for Jews vs. Arabs?
Interestingly the Zionist promoters of these ideas seem quite happy to use the term Palestine and nowhere is Israel mentioned.
By shadow_of_light in From Earth to Heavenلحظههای یادگاری
به یاد کردگارِ زندگیبخش
که هر جز جهان دارد از او نقش
به یاد روحِ در تربت دمیده
که تار و پود انسان را تنیده
به یاد عهد و میثاق اَلَستی
به بیعت با رَهِ یکتاپرستی
به یاد سجدهی کل ملائک
به یاد لحظهی آغاز هستی
به یاد توبههای ناب آدم
به هابیل اولین مظلوم عالم
به کشتی نشسته بر دلِ کوه
به یاد نوح و کشتیبانیِ نوح
به یاد هاجرِ جویندهی آب
زِ مروه تا صفا نالان و بیتاب
به آن لحظه که اسماعیل خندید
چو زمزم درکنارش میخروشید
به ابراهیم و آتش چون شَوَد سرد
به آن لحظه که بت را سرنگون کرد
سجدهی خورشید و ستاره و ماه
به یاد یوسفِ افتاده درچاه
به یاد دیدِگان خفته از غم
به یعقوبی که در سوگ است و ماتم
شدند آن خفتگان آن روز بیدار
که شد زنده دلش از شوقِ دیدار
به موسی و به یاد دستِ پر نور
به نعلِینی که جا ماندند در طور
به نجواهایی که از اعماقِ دریا
رَوَد بالا به سوی عرشِ اعلا
به یاد بهترین شاهان دنیا
به اسحاق و به ادریس و به یحیی
به یاد مریم و طفلی که در مهد
سخن گفت از کراماتِ خداوند
به آن لحظه که در تاریکیِ غار
پیام آوَرد سروشِ غیب از یار
به یاد آن که بتها را شکسته
رسولی که زِ دنیا دل گسسته
به یاد جمله من کنتُ مولاه
به اسرار نهفته در دل چاه
به یاد دختر از جور خسته
به اشک لالهی پهلو شکسته
به یاد چشمههای خشک و تشنه
به خونِ حنجرِ زخمی زِ دشنه
به مشکِ پاره و اشکِ دو دیده
تن بیجان و سرهای بریده
به میراثِ نهان از چشم خاکی
به یادِ آرمانشهرِِ آتی
شَهَنشاها! نمیدانم کجایی!
نمیدانم چرا از ما جدایی!
مسیحای زمان و جانِ عالم!
نمیدانم که آخر کی میآیی!
به یاد صوت عرش و حقالیقین
به شور و شوقِ پیروانِ یمین
به یادِ لحظههای یادگاری
به یاد خاطرات ماندگاری
By Meedy in Never thought I would see days like theseTake:
Everyday , Every second, Every situations, Every difficulties, Every achievements
Take all these a test and trials where your patient is tested, your faith is tested, your ability to control your desires and emotions are tested, family relations is tested etc.....
Focus on passing these tests with patient, faith in God, doing religious obligations, praying to God, always seeking help from God, seeking forgiveness and thanking him in every situations we are in.
Remember God has something better waiting for you in the after world so try and somehow put a smile on your face every now and then...
By Haji 2003 in ContemporaniaSummary
The theory that the pyramids were built or had their construction guided by extraterrestrials is challenged by the existence of mistakes in the construction of some of them.
But I think the Egyptians were privy to Divine Guidance, which in itself is interesting because the evidence of a Pharoah moving from polytheism to monotheism supports Qur'anic teaching as I understand it.
The bent pyramid at Dahshur
There is a populist theory that the pyramids must have had an alien inspiration. This is because of the range of innovations that they represent and knowledge across multiple disciplines and their orientation towards certain constellations.
My problem with this theory is the bent pyramid at Dahshur. It's bent, because they got the maths wrong (see the picture I took a few years ago below). It's weird that aliens who managed to get to this planet but then got their measurements for a stone structure wrong. Seems pretty clear to me that the pyramids we see represent the refinement and development of Egyptian technology, rather than discrete alien intervention. Also supporting my contention is a landscape literally littered with smaller pyramids, these people were learning, developing and increasing the scale of their creations as they grew more confident.
If not aliens then who?
My understanding of the Qur'anic references to Pharaoh is that they provide an example of a powerful leader, with immense resources, who was nevertheless brought down by divine intervention. The Pharaohs were representatives of a culture with a level of scientific, organisational, military and communications capability unknown at that time and for a long time yet to come.
Indeed the very existence of mistakes in their work and subsequent improvements demonstrates that they had the capability to learn. Nevertheless the fact that the Pharoah of the time of Moses was brought down by believers in Allah who were weaker in numbers and military strength, is a sign to subsequent rulers around the world about how weak their position can be.
And importantly the Qur'an tells us that the evidence of such civilisations is there for us to observe in order for us to better understand the message that is being conveyed to us:
A final thought
Were the ancient Egyptians privy to Divine guidance? I think there is evidence in the Qur'an that they may have been. Here are some references to Allah communicating with other cultures.
And indeed there is material in the historical record that at least one Pharoah (Akhenaten) tried to promulgate a faith that had similarities to monotheism. The initiative did not last very long and in the reign of the next Pharoah (Tutankhamun) the Egyptians reverted to polytheism. I use the phrase similarities to monotheism because although he removed references to the pantheon of deities that the Egyptians previously worshipped, his new religion nevertheless involved worship of the sun.
The following extract is from a book published within the last few years that addresses head on the issue of monotheism and Akhenaten's rule.
Hoffmeier, J.K., 2015. Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. Oxford University Press.
Perhaps Akhenaten was amongst the many Prophets that we believe have been sent by God at different times and places to different cultures? I am speculating here, but perhaps the message was corrupted? Still, I would like to believe that the archaeological evidence of Akhenaten's rule supports the idea that Allah's message was not restricted to just the children of Abraham.
By Haji 2003 in ContemporaniaSummary
Since the inception of Islam, there had been various sects competing for prominence; many had died out, and the two major ones were Twelver Shia and the Sunni fiqh.
Then suddenly, from the start of the 19th century to the end of that century, we have the emergence of Ahmadiyya, the renewal of Ismailism and the creation of a new faith entirely, Baha ism. Go back a hundred years, and we can add Wahhabism to this list. I identify a common thread amongst all these new religions in this post.
Four religions in a couple of hundred years ... and three Knights
That's an unusually fertile period of spiritual spontaneity by any measure. Or is the explanation for such flowering of faith more mundane and perhaps guided by vested foreign interests or even stimulated by them? Because what marked that period, from the ones that preceded it was the growing recognition by countries from outside the middle eastern region that it was an important geographical location in itself and also for its proximity to the wealth of India. That latter point is important because there is little disagreement that British foreign policy towards the middle east paid due cognisance to the views and interests of the Government of India - of course, that is a pre-independence Government, so wholly controlled by Britain.
Abdul Wahhab developed what is commonly referred to as an austere interpretation of Islam, one that denounces the rituals and beliefs that he felt had accreted over the centuries. There is a rich vein of (conspiracy) theories, easily found on the internet, that in his travel to Iraq in the early 18th century, he could have come across British agents (specifically a 'Mr Hempher'). Certainly, the British East India Company had been well established at that time, and a British consulate had been established in Iraq in 1802. Less widely commented on is the fact that the famous Danish/German explorer Carsten Niebuhr travelled to Arabia in 1761.
But leaving conspiracy theories aside, it's possible to develop an argument about foreign involvement based on far less controversial ideas. Britain may not have been a midwife to Wahhabism, but I think people of all geo-political persuasions would agree that Britain was a helpful nanny.
The person with whom the British did have extensive dealings was Ibn Saud, who had entered into a pact with Abdul Wahhab in 1744. British sources said he persistently approached Britain for support and was generally rebuffed. Saud was a political leader who continued to promote the Wahhabi philosophy after the death of its founder. Saud was no cleric. But he was shrewd enough to mould the ideology as the basis for providing a motivation for conquest and a glue that would hold his fighters together. British records show that he took responsibility for hiring and firing clerics based on his political agenda.
My source for this and some other information about Wahhabism that is presented here is a PhD dissertation submitted to King's College London in 2002 by Hassan Syed Abedin, titled "Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the great game in Arabia, 1896-1946".
Ibn Saud (who would in due course be given the British title 'Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire') was ultimately successful in his goal of receiving support from Britain in 1914 when Britain needed to have someone distracting the Ottomans so that they could devote fewer resources to World War I taking place in Europe.
Prior to that, it's argued that Ibn Saud had spent considerable efforts in achieving a status similar to the one held by Mubarak Al Sabah, the emir of Kuwait. This ideal status would have meant that Sauds and their territories would have been subjects of the Ottoman empire, but who would be given the protection of the British.
This version of events does not look very good for Ibn Saud, presenting him as someone who is willing to do business with non-Muslims in order to undermine a Muslim ruler, and he'd serve a useful role in helping Britain with the following objective:
Crewe private telegram to Hardinge, Viceroy of India, November 12,1914, cited in Busch Britain, India and the Arabs: 1914-1921, p. 62.
Further, east we find the rise of the modern-day Nizari Ismailis, whose Aga Khan in the mid-19th century created a new role for himself in providing services to the British Empire (Aga Khan I would receive an annual British pension of £20,000 per year). Mihir Bose (a noted writer on the subject) says that the Aga Khan had to plead his case for some time before the British took him seriously since they wanted to be sure that they were backing a local ally who'd present them with better value than the alternatives. His grandson Aga Khan III would be bestowed the title of 'Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India'. Their esoteric faith was totally at odds with the one promulgated by Wahhab, but regardless of that difference served a useful purpose.
Regardless of the support he gave, the British were aware of the hypocrisy of his religious position:
Sir Charles Napier to Governor-General of India, Earl of Ellenborough, 1843
The period around the 1840s is interesting for the following reason, as the following letter makes clear:
Purohit, T. (2012) The Aga Khan Case (religion and identity in colonial India). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
The writer of the letter is Major Henry Rawlinson, the military officer who worked for the commission in Persia from 1834 to 1838 and subsequently served as a political agent in Qandahar. So the British were interested in there being dislocation in Iran at around this time because of a perceived threat to their interests in Afghanistan.
This makes the genesis and development of the third religion covered here all the more interesting.
In roughly the same period, the mid-nineteenth century, we also see the rise of the Bahai faith in Iran. Mirza Ali Mohammad was born in 1820 and was executed in 1850. A focus of his attention was economic inequality in Iran. There were clear political implications, as noted by the middle eastern commentator Juan Cole:
The socio-economic aspect of Bab's teachings are also explained here:
Mansoor Moaddel (1986) The Shi'i Ulama and the State in Iran. Theory and Society, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Jul., 1986), pp. 519-556. This extract: p526.
This socio-religio-poliitcal impact of a new faith did not go unnoticed by the colonial powers of the time and gained ground as a result of their support as a means of destabilising the Qajar dynasty. Like Ibn Saud, Abdul Baha, eldest son of the Baha'u'llah, would also be awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, ostensibly for his work in alleviating famine.
Shahvar, S. (2018) ‘Oppression of Religious Minority Groups in Times of Great Upheaval in Late Qajar Iran: The 1892 Persecution of Jews and Baha’is of Jewish Origin in Hamadan Based on Two Newly Discovered Letters’, The Jewish quarterly review. University of Pennsylvania Press, 108(2), pp. 225–251.
Going further east, we find the third innovation in the Muslim religion towards the end of the 19th century and one that would lead to charges of being the creation of a new religion entirely. The Ahmadis would destabilise Muslims in the Indian sub-continent. Their support for the British in India is expressed in their texts:
There is a reason for this approach; unlike the established religions of the Indian sub-continent, the leader of this new religion needed legitimacy. By acquiescing to the needs of the invaders, he sought to achieve that. For the established religions doing the same would have been challenging because they would have lost the legitimacy of their many existing followers; the new religion with far fewer followers had much less to lose in this respect but potentially a great deal more to gain.
I am not saying that the British went into the middle east with the prior notion of introducing new faiths. However, it is reasonable to say that in an environment where there were new powers in the region, for someone starting a new faith, the potential for a symbiotic relationship with these new arrivals was obvious.
For the invaders, these new religions provided a ready-made supportive constituency with which to challenge the established order, whether it be the Ottomans, the Qajars or the established religious order in India.
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