Monday, August 28, 2006

Just been watching a report...

..on Vietnam. Really very interesting, it outlined the economic reforms that were put in place. Given that I bought Capital on my 18th birthday and read it cover to cover, accompanied by jumping back and forth, what has come to be known as 'Communism' is really a misnomer. I think there is an axiom that people like to quote to appear clever, it goes 'Communists have read Marx, Capitalists have understood him'. Well then perhaps in the truest sense they can maybe write a paper on the economic system of the future, let's say in 4000 words, '21st Century economics: Fluidity in the movement of Capital. Discuss.'. Must have issues would be the synthesis of Marxism and capitalism, given that the Marxist system is often called dialectic materialism, it seems quite a good proposition.

The programme focused on what would occur in staggered parallel between economics and politics. This is very interesting, and I'm sure that Vietnam is being closely watched by its larger brother, China. I find the whole region fascinating, as a westerner fixated with the Levant, the Orient proper holds many secrets and a truly ancient culture. It is alluded to by Muhammad himself, when he says 'Seek ye knowledge, even when it is in China'. There is of course an old Islamic tradition in China, which was recounted to me by some muslim elders I travelled with from the sub-continent, it is said that the emperor of China welcomed the muslim migrants saying 'There is no conflict between Islam and Confuciounism', who quickly became successful partcipants in the business and economic affairs of China.

I just can't help thinking that maybe Muhammad saw something during his journey on the night of ascension. After all we do not know how long he was actually gone, nor what he saw, tho' in the linear time of the life of the prophet it was merely a night. How is it said 'When they see the true reality it will be as if their whole life was the blinking of an eye', so plenty of time in a night to see what may come to pass....

Monday, August 21, 2006

You're on a crowded street....

...life or death decision...Q.) Which one looks suspicious????



A.) All of them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

I hope that the party ceasing firing missiles...

...at 05:00am tomorrow morning. I know they didn't fire them initially and only used them in what was called a response to the aerial attack etc., but let's face it they are ineffectual weapons in the face of Goliath, far better to use the philosopher's stone. There is no doubt that Israel will continue their attacks, but if Hizbollah can stop the missiles and solely engage them on the ground in South Lebanon, they will curry international favour. Sometimes warriors need not only to fight hard, but fight smart.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Speaking in metaphor...

...gate in shock troops at the appropriate moment, then gate them out like they were never there, like ghosts. Clone army deploy. If i hear anyone say using this technology is unfair, all I'm going to say is that in 2006 so is using F16s and Apaches. Worm/Torchwood is making an exec. scout ship decision.

Hollow Categories.

"Even while suffering a disproportionately high number of casualties in Hezbollah rocket attacks, Dr Azmi Bishara, an Israeli Arab Knesset member and leader of the Balad political party, says that most Arab-Israelis empathise with the Lebanese.

"The division between us and the Lebanese is artificial," he says. "They are Arabs, they look like us, laugh like us, and eat the same food."

Some Israelis are angered by what they see as Israeli Arab sympathy with their enemy.

"Despite the developments that threaten their very homes, they (Israeli Arabs) are still capable of expressing solidarity with the Lebanese and attacking Israel's policy," wrote Dganit Kenig in the mass market Maariv Israeli daily newspaper."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Emirate of Britian.


I keep hearing this term, Londistan. I think I kind of understand it, tho' I'm not sure. Then of course there are the people who seem to think that Cornwall is somehow doing something wrong by not being an ignorant about Islam. He is in good company, I'm sure de Molay would be proud. When the truth dawns on people, God willing, this lineage should be well placed to take up the mantle of Emir, after all they seem to be getting in the practice...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bishop of Jerusalem.

I think following the last post about Syria's Christians it is suitable to post a link to the BBC programme 'Hard Talk' which interviewed the Bishop of Jerusalem, The Right Reverend Riah Abi el-Assal.

Syria's Christians rally behind Hizbollah.

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Seventy-seven-year-old Mona Muzaber lights a candle for Hizbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah at the Orthodox Church of the Cross in the centre of Damascus.

"I love him. I never felt Nasrallah was a religious zealot. He is a patriot who doesn't seek personal gain," she said. "I light a candle daily for him to remain under God's protection."

Israel's offensive against Lebanon has brought Christians in neighbouring Syria closer to Nasrallah, a Shi'ite Muslim, reviving Arab nationalist feelings and blurring sectarian divisions.


Bishops and priests say Syria's Christians, a devout community of around three million out of a population of 18 million, identify strongly with Nasrallah's battle with Israel, which has occupied Syria's Golan Heights since 1967.

"Pray for the resistance, pray for Hassan Nasrallah. He is defending justice," Father Elias Zahlawi told the congregation at special mass held at the Lady of Damascus, a Catholic church.

Across Damascus Christians, like Muslims, sit glued to Nasrallah's al-Manar television, receptive to his portrayal of the war as one in defence of all Arabs, as well as Muslims.

At the biblical-era Straight Street, Khaldoun Uzrai hung the yellow flags of Hizbollah all over his liquor and grocery shop.

"We are Arabs at the end of the day. Nasrallah is one of our own. He is realising our dreams," Uzrai said.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Evolutionary strategies.

I'm watching the Sec. Gen. of the Arab league on Al Jazeera. I recall from an evolution lecture that it was said that close cooperation of individuals to form confederacy or between clans can facilitate survival strategies and thus evolutionary strategy. As individual nations with no confedaracy the Arabs are weak. To strike an analogy they can be picked off by wolves. They need to strengthen ties and as I said draw up a formal constitution changing the Arab League to an Arab Union. Iran could not be ignored or exluded from this union as a result of its geo-political location, and the sooner it is effected the better for the Ummah no matter what their geography (i.e. Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Sudan, Somalia, etc.)

Mind Control



Classic Animation

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Arab League.

I just watched a report of the Arab League meeting in Beirut, and the subsequent sending of a delegation to the United Nations (when can we move that by the way, I think it would be far better placed on the 'old world'?). If I had any advice for the Ummah, and advice I am sure Muhammad would give if he could come down to you from the company of Gabriel on the Lailat al Isra, it would be this, Allah Alim. Next time you meet begin preparation for the Ummah's constitution. Do this now and your people will love you, rather than call you puppets. The United States shares one language and is thus one nation, the EU does not even share a language and yet they voted on a constition. You share a language, the religion and the knowledge from the progression of prophets. Thus not only must you believe in Tawheed when it comes to Allah, you must make moves toward a Tawheed of the Ummah with all your hearts. Prove to us that the day has not come. That great men are great men, not the least the most.

An Athletics Analogy. (AAA)

Here's an analogy, but you might want to try it out for real. Take 10 average athletes and a 100m track. Have 9 of them bend down in a racing start. Allow one to begin from 10m behind the start line and let of the gun as he crosses the start line. Guess who my money is on to win even tho' he ran 110m.

Mandate Powers....

...are certainly not to be trusted. If the Arabs trust France, Britain and America (I know America didn't have de juro mandate, but....) they will do with previous knowledge of their agenda. Let's face it, while the British were telling the Arab Rebellion about the greater Arabia they longed for in an attempt to rally support for the fight against the Turk, Balfour was discussing the establishment of the Israeli nation with Lord Rothschild. It would have been impossible to insert Israel in a unified Arab peninsula.

Then we have the Suez crisis, and we have three countries involved, not counting Egypt. Of course America was kept out of the loop on that one and threw a tantrum.

So should the Arabs believe anything these players say or propose? Well only if they are completely naive, and that's a euphemism.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The best teacher I ever had....

waxing lyrical....
(N.B. Takes a while to d/load the mpeg!!!)

My blogg map!!!!




Visit my blogg, let me know where you were from?

The Spheres and Adam Kadmon

To supplement some earlier posts, I found a version of the tree with Adam Kadmon
upon it. I didn't fully agree with the 'chakra' positioning so had a dabble...image follows....




Original source...



Thursday, August 03, 2006

The name is Bond



Now of course this has to be related to Universal Exports, or as was delineated recently 'Universal Imports and Exports', and with the breakdown of the trade talks recently, maybe this is exactly what the 3rd world needs. After all isn't BOND all about fairplay, so how about fairtrade???

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet…

Building upon the foundations of the first sourcefile submitted a deeper analysis of ideology presents as appropriate. We will deal with the concept of ideology, beyond the ‘science of ideas’ posed by the ‘Ideologues’ of the ‘French post-Enlightenment’ (Mullins, 1972, p.499), considering ideology ‘a particular form of consciousness which gives an inadequate or distorted picture of contradictions, either by ignor­ing them, or by misrepresenting them’ (Purvis & Hunt, 1993, p.477, citing Larrain, 1983) specifically, relating to ‘Western imperial hegemony’ (Asad, 1991, p.138) illustrated by the current nation-building in Iraq. The Western agenda for secular democratisation of the region illustrates the ethnocentricity inherent with Western ideology. The concept upon which this paper focuses is that of the prevailing philosophy in the world today which ‘…hinges on the agency of dominant social groups’ (Comaroff & Comaroff, 1991, pp.209-10), and is a ‘kind of ideology, organic ideology…producing…autonomous action (agency)’ (Smith, 2004, p.105) acquiring ‘“…the same energy as a material force”’ (Smith, 2004, p.105, citing Gramsci), whereupon such an ideology becomes manifest in praxis.

It would be far too easy to lay blame with institutions such as the White House. However the agenda of administrations, past and present, is as much a result of this ideology, as it is its cause; considering Bourdieu’s notion of habitus; ‘a system of durable, transposable dispositions, structured structures predisposed towards acting as structuring structures.’ (Glendhill, 2000, p.139, citing Bourdieu, 1977, p.72)

A part of this current philosophy manifests as ‘…neo-imperialism…’ (Gough, 2002, p.112), the root of which has been formalised eloquently by Edward Said (alongside its historic colonial form) in his work ‘Orientalism’ (2003), and will be simplified here as simply ‘us’ and ‘them’ or as identifying those who are not ‘us’ as ‘the Other’ (Said, E. W., 2003, p.xii). This idea, in the present (Hall & Held, 1989, cited by Billig, 2002, p.94), far from disappearing, has been reinforced in the democratic model as ‘the sovereignty of the people’ (Billig, 2002, p.91 citing Fukayama, 1992), but people in ‘a world of different nations’ which is, as Billig states, ‘a world which has institutionalised ‘them’ and ‘us’’ (2002, p.94)

As the current president George W. Bush stated (Sept. 2001) ‘Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.’ Such an idea may leave some, liminally, between a rock and a hard place. The president continues, ‘I also want to speak tonight directly to Muslims throughout the world. We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans, and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends’. The ‘hospitality’ of Western pseudo-secular states in respecting Islam as a spiritual path, as a ‘faith’, would appear on the whole to be true. But Islam, if it can itself be considered an ideology, is far more than this. This will be considered in depth as we consider the reconstruction of Iraq and the ‘hegemonic discourses of “progress,”’ (Asad, 1991, p.136)

To now focus on the Iraq situation, and the desired ‘democratisation’ post war, it adequately illustrates the programme for implementation of Western secular democracy, in Iraq and over the region generally, imposing an ‘idealistic superstructure’ (Marx and Engels, 1977, p.76), as reported ‘the “idealists” or neo-conservatives of the US Defense Department envisage a march to democracy, imposed on Iraq and spreading across the Middle East.’ (BBC, 16/04/03). Even the philosophy (read as ideology) of supposed liberals, such as Rorty, can be considered ‘as flags for the nationalism of the Pax Americana in the new global order’ (Bellig, 2002, p.161). The desire for the spreading of this ‘ideal’ may be historically compared with the missionaries of colonial times ‘who sought to convert ‘heathen’ peoples to Christian beliefs, yet the effect…was to reinforce the destruction of traditional cultures and the imposition of white domination.’ (Giddens, 1994, p.468) Contemporarily the development of a “‘New World Order’” (Herman, 1991, p. 42, citing Bush G. H. W., 1991) can be seen in contrast, in a photographic sense, with colonialism of old. Hence, the ideology that is defined and desired for Iraq may be considered as ethnocentric and a repeated attempt at domination from Western powers ‘aimed at polluting the intellectual and spiritual sources, and diverting Muslims toward other, alien, sources.’ (Al-Hashami, 1997, p.379)

Iraq has once before toyed with ideas of Western politics and ideology (Kienle, 1990). The Baath party may be considered the illegitimate child of socialism, and Pan-Arab nationalism. The Intellectuals behind the Baath movement were middle class educated Arabs with pretensions toward secular Western political structure, while opposing Western self-interest. It is the judgment of the writer of this paper that this alone can stand as evidence that a politic based within, and drawing from, Muslim cultural origins should be explored as the basis for any electoral/representative system in Iraq specifically, and for the region in general, rather than the paradigm shift the West imagines/desires. As Fuss observes ‘what, then, is the political utility of mimesis for the colonized, when mimesis operates as one of the very terms of their cultural and political dispossession’ (Cited by Linke, 1999, p.37). The idea of an ‘emic’ politic is in opposition to the following idea, ‘what explains the recurrent political assertiveness of Islamic tradition? Typically, the answers tend to be given in terms of the localized failures of modernization, or in terms of an irrational reluctance to abandon tradition.’ (Asad, 1991, p.136) as Fukuyama writes ‘this resistance to globalization has given rise to ‘Islamo-fascism’ – that is, the radically intolerant and antimodern doctrine that has recently arisen in many parts of the Muslim world’ (Bendle, 2002, p.219, citing Fukuyama, 2002, p.58). ‘Islamism’ can also be considered as ‘…an anomaly or as a spurious claim to historicity’ (Asad, 1991, p.136) and naught more than attempts at ‘…political and social inventions of tradition,’ (Hobsbawm, E., 1989, p.263) but as noted, drawing on Kapferer’s study on Sinhalese nationalism,

The organising and integrating potential of ideology, the propensity of certain ideological formations to unify, to embrace persons of varying and perhaps opposed political and social interests, and to engage them in concerted, directed action, may owe much to the logic of an ontology that the ideology prescribes
(1988, Kapferer cited by Eriksen, 1993, p.112)


Democratic processes were not imposed upon the West; they came to be not contra tradition, but gradually from within the culture, accompanied by reinterpretation. Many years passed between Magna Carta and universal suffrage.
The fundamental ‘political or intellectual/cultural’ (Smith, 2004, p.100), and thus ideological, differences are profound, and rest in part on a perceived separation of power within the ‘state’ and may lead, if they have not already, to a ‘clash of civilisations’ (Gledhill, 2000, p.166, citing Huntington) ‘the conflict’ being ‘a conflict of embodied ideas’ (Asad, p.613, 1979, citing Gellner, 1958), where ‘culture, not politics or economics’ will ‘dominate and divide the world.’ (Ali, 2003, p.299)

Christianity, and thus some ‘Christian’ countries, may be considered to have had a separation within the state defined for them in the famous axiom of Jesus; ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.’ (Bible, King James Version, Matthew Ch. 22 Vs. 21, cited by Asad, 1986, p.3 & Said, 2003, p.299, citing Halpern, M.). Here then can be seen a clear distinction between the political, economic, and the spiritual. Whether this is the reality within the (pseudo)secular West is succinctly characterised thus, ‘Today the USA has become a virtual theocracy (de facto if not de jure)’ (Kurtz, P., 2001). One must only consider the current president’s leanings on the subject of medical research (Pinkerton, 2004) and abortion (Loder, 2003) to see the role religion plays at the highest echelons of the USA.

This supposed separation is not the case with Islam. The prophet Muhammad received a divine revelation, which, with the words of the prophet himself, laid down edicts on all matters concerning humankind; social, economic, political, military, and spiritual. For the Muslims ‘religion penetrates all aspects of their lives - there is no experience or part of the day that does not come under its jurisdiction.’ (Bowie, F., 2002, p.27) and one may consider ‘Islamism’ as a political ideology, which ‘posits Islam as the central consideration in all spheres of life.’ (Bendle, 2002, p.214). Islam is considered by some to be a rigid orthodoxy. Weber considered Islam ‘steeped in tradition’ while, contrariwise, the progressive and revolutionary nature of Islam is considered by Maxine Rondinson, ‘…the ideology of the Koran was by no means traditionalist.’ (Morris, B., 2000, pp.86-87) Islam having been ‘a prophetically announced religion of redemption has had its permanent locus among the less-favoured social strata’ (Gerth & Mills, 1948, p.247, cited by Morris, 2000, p.76). As Bernard Lewis states, ‘the advent of Islam itself was a revolution…the Prophet Muhammad began his career in Mecca as an opposition leader, and was for some time engaged in a struggle against authority as established among his people and in his birthplace.’ (1987, cited by Khasan, 1997, p.7)
Thus the attempts to introduce a western concept of democracy in Iraq, and the Middle East generally, illustrate ideology, ethnocentricity, and the attempted imposition of a culturally foreign system. Indeed the very nature of the nation state in the region is a Western construct. The Arab nations themselves can be considered foreign to the region, having only been created during the twentieth century, and certainly fulfil the criteria for being considered as ‘hollow categories’ (Ardener, 1972, p.70). As a consequence, when Western powers, and their national press, talk of ‘foreign fighters’ (Fox News, 2003, & The Guardian, 2004) there is tragic irony. Without the arbitrary division of the Ottoman Empire post the First World War (Thomas, 2003), and had the promise made by the British been kept to the fighters of the Arab rebellion, the Arabic peninsula, at least, may have been one nation; a geographic population with a shared history, language, culture, and thus to a large extent shared ethnicity (Ardener, 1972, pp.65-71).

By way of conclusion, it appears to the writer of this paper that the concept of the Nation of Islam may be seen by some as a ‘clear and present danger’ (Bonca, 2002) by others comparable to a ‘utopian nonsense’ (Marx, 1977, p.404), but it is often misrepresented as being at odds with modernity. However, the ‘Ummah’ were it to be achieved politically would create an influential union that would combat/balance, in part, the overwhelming socio-economic, political, military and accompanying ideological domination of the West. It is then fortunate for the Western powers that negative and radical instances of what is termed ‘Islamism’ are manifest, for if they were not such powers would have to create them.

REFERENCES.

Al-Hashami, M. A., 1997, The ideal muslim, International Islamic Publishing House, Riyadh, SA.
Ali, T., 2003, The clash of fundamentalisms: crusades, jihads, and modernity, Verso, London. UK.

Ardener, E., 1972, Language, Ethnicity and Population, in Ardener, E. (ed.), 1989, The voice of prophecy, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Asad, T., 1979, Anthropology and the Analysis of Ideology, Man, Vol. 14, No. 4, Royal Anthropological Institute, London, UK.

Asad, T., 1986, The idea of an anthropology of islam, Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA.

Asad, T., 1991, From the History of Colonial Anthropology to the Anthropology of Western Hegemony, in Vincent, J., 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

BBC, 16/04/03, Analysis: conditions for democracy in iraq, retrieved from URL on 24th Oct., 2004,
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2952867.stm

Bendle, M. F., 2002, Trajectories of Anti-globalism, Journal of Sociology, Vol. 38, No. 3, SAGE Publications, London, UK

Billig, M., 2002, Banal nationalism, Sage Publications, London, UK.

Bonca, D., 2002, A clear and present danger, retrieved from URL on 28th Oct., 2004,
http://www.danielpipes.org/comments/1376

Bush, G. W., 2001, Address to a joint session of congress and the american people, retrieved from URL on 28th Oct., 2004,
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010920-8.html

Comaroff, J., and Comaroff, J., 2002, Of Revelation and Revolution, in Vincent, J., 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Fox News, 2003, U.S. Nabs 80 Foreign Fighters in Iraq, retrieved from URL on 24th Oct., 2004,
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,97074,00.html

Giddens, A. G., 1993, Sociology, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK.

Glendhill, J., 2000, Power and its disguises: anthropological perspectives on politics, Pluto Press, London, UK.

Gough, K., 2002, New Proposals for Anthropologists, in Vincent, J., 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Guardian, 2004, Bremer: Foreign Fighters in Iraq Attack, retrieved from URL on 24th Oct., 2004,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-3750885,00.html

Herman, R. K., 1991, The Middle East and the New World Order, Rethinking U.S. Political Strategy after the Gulf War, International Security, Vol. 16, No. 2, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA.

Hobsbawm, E., 1989, Mass-Producing Traditions: Europe, 1870-1914, in Hobsbawm, E., and Ranger, T., (eds), 1989, The invention of tradition, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Khashan, H., 1997, The New World Order and the Tempo of Militant Islam, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 24, No. 1, Taylor & Francis Ltd., London, UK.

Kienle, E., 1990, Ba'ath versus ba'ath: the conflict between syria and iraq, I.B. Tauris, London, UK.

Kurtz, P., 2001, The new american theocracy, retrieved from URL on 24th Oct., 2004,
http://www.womensenews.org/article.cfm/dyn/aid/1189

Pinkerton, J., New American Foundation, 2004, Stem cells - no matter, science will win, retrieved from URL on 24th Oct., 2004,
http://www.newamerica.net/index.cfm?pg=article&DocID=531

Purvis, T., and Hunt, A., 1993, Discourse, ideology, discourse, ideology, discourse, ideology., The British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 44, No. 3, The London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

Said, E. W., 2003, Orientalism, Penguin Books, London, UK.

Smith, G, 2004, Hegemony: critical interpretations in anthropology and beyond, Focaal, European Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 43, Berghahn Books, Oxford, UK.

Thomas, M., 2003, Bedouin Tribes and the Imperial Intelligence Services, Journal of contemporary history, SAGE Publications, London, UK.

Follow the White Rabbit

In this sourcefile we shall consider power, ideology (though this will also be examined in greater detail in a further sourcefile), hegemony, and resistance. The difficulty of defining exactly what is meant by such terms (Comaroff & Comaroff, 2000, p.207) suitably acts as analogy for the elusive nature of their manifest reality. We shall then move on to consider the present Intifada in Palestine, as the word itself means ‘uprising or shaking off’ (Barber, 1999, 206), and consider the manner in which it which it illustrates the extreme ‘…dialectics of domination and resistance,’ (Comaroff & Camaroff, 2002, p.208) in the fight against; ‘state terror.’ (Glendhill, 2000, p.158)

Power and hegemony may be considered as flip sides of the same coin, given that ‘hegemonic apparatus’ (Gramsci, 1971, p.365) are the socio-cultural, political, and economic means of ensuring the continuation of such a power, and only if realisation that such hegemony actually exists can a ‘reform of consciousness’ (Gramsci, 1971, p.365 referring to Lenin) occur. When hegemony is successful it engrains an ideology so discreetly that speaking of such a phenomenon often elicits comments comparable ‘that’s just the way the world is.’ or, and potentially worse, complete denial of the existence of such an observable fact. The truth may actually be that the constraints of the discourse have been set. From a Marxist perspective, ‘people owning means of production also control the process of government and can use this domination to impose their views on society.’ (Evans, 1995, p.230). Speaking of domination, Weber (Lukes, (ed), 1986, p.29, reproducing Weber, 1978, p.941-2) states that ‘the control over economic goods, i.e., economic power, is a frequent…consequence of domination as well as one of its most important instruments.’
Scott in his study on the Malay ‘Weapons of the Weak’ (1990, p.36-7) expounds the sometime delicate ways in which peasants can oppose in what he terms ‘everyday peasant resistance’ (cited by Glendhill, 2000, p.77 & p.88-9). Despite his intricate and sympathetic arguments about how this may apply in his ethnographic area and the ‘dual consciousness’ (Haralambos & Holborn, 1994, p.156) of the peasants, those who truly own the ‘means of production’ are unlikely to live in the Malay. The very discourses which Scott delineates between the ‘classes’, despite the eloquence of his report, can appear an account of a false consciousness, as he notes ‘60 percent of the share capital of Malaysian corporations’ was ‘held by foreigners’ (Scott, 1990, p.51). Scott further cites Engels, who, speaking of class division in nineteenth century England, says,

the workers speak other dialects, have other thoughts and ideals, other customs and moral principles, a different religion and other politics than those of the bourgeoisie. Thus they are two radically dissimilar nations as unlike as difference of race could make them.
(Scott citing Engels, 1990, p.321)

In the modern global economy the ‘bourgeoisie’ are literally in a different ‘nation’ and if one accepts the notion of different races, they are usually distinguishable in this way also. As Lord Cromer (cited by Said, 1994, p.239) states; ‘we do not govern Egypt, we only govern the governors of Egypt’. ‘Weapons of the Weak’ seldom reach into the Western homeland.
Thus talk of the global free market is seldom companion to discussions concerning global labour or human rights, and can be seen as little more than the mask of power shifting from old fashioned colonialism, and/or national class division, to ‘neo-imperialism’ imposing itself on ‘indigenous governments…by Western military or economic aid and by private investment’ (Gough, 2002, p.112). The writer of this paper is reminded of a TV news report in the initial days of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. A free pipeline supplying water had been run into the city of Basra, and hijacked by local criminals, who proceeded to sell it to their desperate fellow countrymen. A US military officer commenting on the situation joked ‘well at least capitalism is alive and well in Iraq.’ Hegemony and ideology must surely be seen illustrated here, where the nature of capitalism and its proponents is revealed, as Tariq Ali observes ‘this is not so much ‘post-imperialism’ as ‘ultra-imperialism’. It may be invisible to the average Western citizen, but the rest of the world knows of its existence’ (Ali, 2003, p.303). Thus, we may well be left thinking ‘that’s just the way the world is’ or worse, in denial of observable facts.
Globalisation is then, as Howell (2003, p.199) considers, ‘the normative goal that seeks to impose one moral universe. Viewed in this perspective, globalisation gives rise to discourses that ultimately ignore socio-cultural differences, and presuppose, at a macro-level, a single moral universe’. If the legionnaires of the new empire are rarely on the ground (other than indigenous proxy forces) and

If direct political control has disappeared, economic, political, and sometimes military domination, accompanied by cultural hegemony – the force of ruling and, as Gramsci calls them, directive (dirigente) ideas – emanating from the West and exerting power over the peripheral world, has sustained it.
(Said, 1994, p.300)

If we now turn our attention to the Intifada and revisit Scott (1990, p.xv), ‘subordinate classes…have rarely been afforded…open, organised, political activity…such activity was dangerous, if not suicidal.’ In the case of the Palestinians, suicide often takes ‘Bani Israel’ with them.
The current situation is a direct result of the Imperial British mandate over the region (Thomas, 2003). The establishment of the state of Israel, and further by way of its status as a ‘client’ of the US, is seen as a continuation of the ‘problem’ (Glendhill, 2000, p.46) of occidental occupation. The UN recognition of the state of Israel can then be considered naught but the continuation of the ‘League of Nations’ granting mandate. The recent American veto at the UN over a resolution concerning the incursions into Gaza exercised on 5th October ’04 (UN Press release, 05/10/04), will do little to dispel this perception. Should the Palestinians continue their resistance to occupation, what will the international community do about the raising of ‘apartheid structures’? (Usher, 2000, p.79, & Bornstein, 2002, p.202) An Israeli answer to the disapproval of future, or indeed past, criticism might well be, ‘It is not important what the Goyim [the other nations] say, but rather what the Jews do’ (Mor, 2004, p.318, citing Ben-Gurion). Whether the Palestinians will persist in attempting to throw of the yoke long worn is best summated again by David Ben-Gurion, ‘if I were an Arab leader, I would never accept the existence of Israel. It’s only natural! We took their land.’ (Mor, 2004, p.317). However the issue of the occupation is not the end of the Palestinians’ motivation to resist. It is reported that the Israeli journalist Tom Segev (Chomsky, 1999), while walking with an Arab lawyer through the West Bank, experienced the humiliation meted upon the Palestinians first hand. At a check point a member of the IDF ordered the lawyer to follow commands, then whilst laughing dropped his papers and ordered him to recover them from the floor, explaining;

These people will do whatever you tell them to do, if I tell him to jump, he will jump. Run, he will run. Take your clothes off, he will take them off. If I tell him to kiss the wall, he will kiss it. If I tell him to crawl on the road, won’t he crawl?…Everything. Tell him to curse his mother and he will curse her too…Really, not humans.’
(Chomsky, 1999, p.490)

This would appear to be beyond an ethereal hegemony and ghostlike ideology, but rather ‘direct domination’ (Smith, 2004, p.102 citing Gramsci) and oppression without the need of a ‘disguise’. If there is hegemony at play it more likely in the complicity of the media in the West (an accusation that some sectors of the Israeli press are innocent of, as illustrated above); an involvement which is given historical and financial context by Benedict Anderson (2002, p.264-5). This ‘self censorship’ is discussed at length and eloquently by Chomsky in his work ‘Necessary Illusions’ (1989) in relationship to the Middle Eastern situation, but also focusing on US foreign policy in Nicaragua in the 1980’s. Gramsci speaks of the way hegemonic mechanisms can come to be, other than by a conspicuous plan (Gramsci, 1971, pp.57-60). He reports that in the case of the Action Party of the late nineteenth century (admittedly benign in comparison to the fascists of his time), it was done by ‘liberal’, ‘individual’ and ‘molecular’ processes. The mechanisms of hegemony, if naught else, can be so faint as to be invisible. Yet the nature of the dialectic means that dominance and oppression are bound to be met with resistance; astutely in the vein of Chomsky and Said, subtly as illustrated by Scott’s ‘peasants’ (1985), or more aggressively in the case of the Intifada.

To close, remembering the wit of the American officer in Iraq, and borrowing from David Howarth (1995, p.124) who succinctly characterises ‘Western imperial hegemony’ (Asad, 2002, p.138) in a suitable manner citing ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (Carroll, 1987, p.124)

‘“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “It means just what I choose it to mean. Neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “who is the master. That is all.”’




REFERENCES

Ali, T., 2003, The clash of fundamentalisms: crusades, jihads, and modernity, Verso, London. UK.

Anderson, B., The New World Disorder, in Vincent, J., 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Asad, T., 2002, From the History of Colonial Anthropology to the Anthropology of Western Hegemony, in Vincent, J., 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Barber, B. K., 1999, Political Violence, Family Relations, and Palestinian Youth Functioning., Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 14, No. 2, Sage Publications, London, UK.

Bornstein, A. S., 2002, Borders and the Utility of Violence: State Effects on the ‘Superexploitation’ of West Bank Palestinians, Critique of anthropology, Vol. 22, No. 1, Sage Publications, London, UK.

Comaroff, J., and Comaroff, J., 1991, Of Revelation and Revolution, in Vincent, J., (ed.) 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Chomsky, N., 1999, Fateful triangle: the united states, israel & the palestinians, Pluto Press, London, UK.

Chomsky, N., 1989, Necessary illusions: thought control in democratic societies, Pluto Press, London, UK.

Evans, M., 1995, Theories of the State, Marsh, D., and Stoker, G., (eds.), Approaches to political science, Macmillan Press, London, UK.

Gough, K., 2002, New Proposals for Anthropologists, in Vincent, J., 2002, The anthropology of politics: a reader in ethnography, theory, and critique, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.

Glendhill, J., 2000, Power and its disguises: anthropological perspectives on politics, Pluto Press, London, UK.

Gramsci, A., 1986, Selections from prison notebooks, Lawrence and Wishart, London, UK.
Haralambos, M., & Holborn, M., 1994, Sociology: themes and perspectives, Collins Educational/Harper Collins, London, UK.

Howarth, D., 1995, Discourse Theory, in Marsh, D., and Stoker, G., (eds.), Approaches to political science, Macmillan Press, London, UK.

Howell, S., 2003, The diffusion of moral values in a global perspective, in Eriksen, T. H., (ed), Globalisation; studies in anthropology, Pluto Press, London, UK.

Mor, B. D., 2004, Strategic Beliefs and the Formation of Enduring International Rivalries: Israel’s National Security Conception, 1948–56, International relations, Vol. 18, No. 3, SAGE Publications, London, UK.

Said, E. W., 1994, Culture and imperialism, Vintage, London, UK.

Scott, J., 1990, Weapons of the weak: everyday forms of peasant resistance, Oxford University Press, Delhi, India.

Smith, G, 2004, Hegemony: critical interpretations in anthropology and beyond, Focaal, European Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 43, Berghagn Books, Oxford, UK.

Thomas, M., 2003, Bedouin Tribes and the Imperial Intelligence Services, Journal of contemporary history, SAGE Publications, London, UK.

United Nations Press Release (SC/8207), Security Council Fails to Adopt Text Demanding End to Israeli Military Offensive in Gaza, retrieved from URL on 15th Oct. 2004,

Usher, G., 2001, Palestine: The Intifada this Time, Race and Class, SAGE Publications, London, UK.

Weber, 1978, Economy and Society, in Lukes, S., (ed), 1986, Power: readings in social and political theory, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, UK.

Islam and the West: Al Andalus in the context of and as exemplifying the Islamic Nation as Established by the Constitution of Medina.

Islam and the West: Al Andalus in the context of and as exemplifying the Islamic Nation as Established by the Constitution of Medina.

This article intends to deal with the historic presence of Islam in Europe, specifically in Al Andalus in what today is known as Spain and thus what is termed ‘The West’. It will consider the concept of this period as the ‘Golden Era’ (Mann, et al., 1992, p.xi), weighing whether this is a fitting appellation for Islamic Spain, and if it is one that was used, or should be, by Muslims. Consideration will be given to the constitution of Medina, how this is fundamental to an understanding of Spain, early Islam, and thus the concept of dhimmi generally. It will finish by considering the future of Islam in the context of Europe, the wider world, but also considering differing Islamic opinions on ideas of governance.

Islamic rule in Spain and invasion can be considered to begin in 710 when ‘a party of four hundred Muslims landed at the southernmost tip of Spain’ (Watt, 1965, p.13) and is considered to have reached its completion, but by no means end, by 715 with a significant treaty signed with ‘Tudmir (Theodemir), the prince of Murcia, confirming him…and his subjects…the same status of “protected persons”’ (Watt, 1965, p.19). The rule of Islam continues until the surrender of ‘the last Muslim ruler in Spain - Abu-‘Abd-Allah’ (Watt, 1956, p.150) in 1492. The period in-between is known by ‘Spanish historians’ as ‘convivencia…the word’ being ‘loosely defined as “coexistence”’ (Mann, et al., 1992, p.1), with some referring to it as ‘The Golden Age’ (Mann, et al., 1992, p.xi). It would however appear that this term does not have its origin with Muslims, rather ‘the words “Golden Age” connoted a Jewish community living in harmony with its neighbours and, therefore free to explore its creative potential in a wide variety of fields’ (ibid.), so in actuality this term is more usually used by people ‘who received Jewish education’ (ibid.), i.e. ‘Jews’, to describe Islamic Spain, rather than by Muslims. This is of course not to say that Muslims would not admit to the historicity of the period rather that the ‘Golden Age’ for the Muslims would begin with the commandment from Gabriel to Muhammad to ‘Read!’ (The Noble Quran, Surat Al-‘Alaq, 1996, p.807). So it can be seen that the ‘Golden Age’ (to borrow the Jewish concept) of the Islamic world spread far beyond the shores of Spain, having ‘intellectual centres’ across the Ummah, whether in Al Andalus, ‘Medina, Damascus,’ or ‘Baghdad’ (Watt, 1972, p.13). It seems natural to move on and consider Medina before returning to Al Andalus.

The Islamic nation/Ummah is considered to begin at year 0 with the Hijrah from Mecca to Yathrib/Medina. Yathrib when considered in a socio-economic and political sense was a complete contrast to Mecca. In ‘Mecca…no agriculture was possible’ whereas ‘Medina…about 250 miles to the north, was an oasis of twenty square miles or more, and gained its livelihood chiefly from growing dates and cereals’ (Watt, 1961, p.84) considered as ‘an urban center whose main functions were commerce and trade’ (Parvin and Sommer, 1980, p.8). The word Ummah is considered to convey ‘varying connotations in different times and places, but most commonly used for the religio-political community of Islam as a whole’ (Savory, 1976, p.203). It was instituted in part as a means of unity in the newly established state at Medina changing the culture and tradition of primarily the peninsula Arabs,

‘and shaped and moulded Islamic society into something totally different from pre-Islamic society. First, the blood-tie, which was the basis of pre-Islamic tribal society, was abandoned, and replaced by loyalty to the ummah, to the Muslim community as a whole.’
(Savoury, 1976, p.55).


However, it must be emphasised that Islam highly values the family structure, so long as it does not cause division between the believers, and a hint of this can be seen in the word Ummah itself, which while having ‘the general meaning of…‘community’’ may also be considered to have ‘an association with the term umm, ‘mother, source’’ (Al Ahsan, 1992, p.11). The word occurs 64 times in the Quran (ibid.) with varying meanings, as Bernard Lewis states,

Umma seems to mean no more than a group, however defined – by descent, by language, by creed, by conduct, or other. It may refer to whole communities, or to subgroups within such communities…In some passages it is even applied to the Jinn…and in one passage to all living creatures. With the advent of Islam, the umma of the Arabs became the umma of Muhammad, a religiously defined community…In this usage of the term, the Jews, Christians, and others each had their own umma.
(Lewis, 1998, p.83)


The use of the term as a religio-poitical expression is delineated by Serjeant thus, ‘Ummah is basically a political confederation, but since confederations…are so generally associated with an hereditary ‘priestly’ house, most confederations are theocratic’ (Serjeant, 1978, p.4). This point is further emphasised by Lewis who states that ‘the umma thus expressed from its inception the fusion of politics and religion characteristic of the later Islamic states’ (Midlarsky, 1998, p.486, citing Lewis). It is said that on the day Muhammad entered Yathrib he addressed the gathered saying ‘O people, give unto one another greetings of Peace; feed food unto the hungry; honour the ties of kinship; pray in the hours when men sleep. Even so shall ye enter Paradise in Peace’ (Lings, 1991, p.121). Even orientalists such as Lewis have lately credited the ‘strong egalitarian elements in Islam’ (Midlarsky, 1998, p.486) which was ‘in the great majority of cases, a prophetically announced religion of redemption has had its permanent locus among the less-favoured social strata’ (Gerth & Mills, 1948, p.247, cited by Morris, 2000, p.76). Medina’s inhabitants ‘were of different origins’ with as many as ‘eleven main groups’ considered ‘‘clans’…as well as a number of smaller ones.’ (Watt, 1961, p.84), and it is in this context that the formation of the nation, but also its later expansion, must be viewed.

The Islamic Nation is considered to have come into existence formally at Medina with this being codified by the ‘Constitution of Medina’ (Faizer, 1996, p.465, see appendix i). With this agreement, rights of minorities like People of the Book/Ahl Al Kitab as People of the Covenant/Ahl Al Dhimmah, (Kritzeck, 1962, p.390 and Denny, 1977, p.47) specifically the three Jewish within the eleven Medinan already mentioned, were established with them allowed to ‘live unmolested and as a part of the umma in accordance with their religious beliefs’ (Faizer, 1996, p.467). The protection within the Islamic state did include a tariff ‘for non- Muslims who’ made ‘a treaty with Muhammad the demand’ being ‘usually called jizyah’ (Watt, 1956, p.246). This is not to be considered solely as a payment for protection (ibid.), but also in light of the obligatory yearly tax payment by Muslims, Zakat. The treasury, sometimes also referred to as ‘Bayt al Zakat’ received ‘a fifth of the amount of the booty captured on military expeditions, the rents of most of the lands in conquered provinces, and the poll-tax and other dues from ‘protected groups’’ (Watt, 1968, p.42). This was under the jurisdiction of Muhammad, and subsequently the Caliphs, in what has been considered as the archetypal welfare state. Islam is however considered less spiritual by its dealing with worldly matters, the axiom of Jesus; ‘…render unto Caesar that which is Caesars, and render unto God that which is God’s’ is cited as emphasising this when compared to Christianity (Asad, 1986, p.3 & Said, 2003, p.299, citing Halpern, M.). Islam, when considered within both its historical and contemporary context may be seen as progressive in the socio-economic and political fields, and equally as revolutionary in its prohibition of spiritual hierarchy.

All the clans that came to form part of the Ummah, and thus in confederacy, put forward representatives or nuqaba’ (Watt, 1956, p.248) which, when added to the concept of shura or council (Watt, 1968, p.35) may be considered as a prototypical form of parliament. As a moot point it may be argued that these people were not elected in what can be recognised as the democratic model, rather they were elected as speakers for their clans. However it could be contested as to just how different this is to having a choice of three candidates elected by their parties, one is ‘free to vote for anyone’ so long as they have been proposed by the party, though as of yet that party is not ‘Hizb Allah’ (Watt, 1956, p.247).
Before returning to the Al Andalus model, it is diligent to consider the movement of political power within the Islamic nation prior to, and during its period of existence. At the time the Muslims crossed the straits of Gibraltar, the governmental ‘seat’ had moved from Medina to Damascus, post the death of the last rightly guided Caliph, ‘Ali, and with the establishment of the Ummayid Caliphate. There is of course the whole dynamic based in pre-Islamic Mecca between the Qurayshi houses of Hashim and Ummayyah, and the power plays leading up to the present dynamics between Sunni (Salafi/Wahhabi) and Shi’a. This is exemplified during the period of Al Andalus in the dynamics between Damascus (Ummayid) and Baghdad (Abbasid) and even the Fatimid influence in North Africa (Glick, 1979, pp.35-42); however deep considerations of this politick is far beyond the remit of this paper. Nevertheless, Al Andalus was established under the political Ummayid Caliphate, and continued as an independent Ummayid region under Cordoba even after the move of power from Damascus to Bagdad.

To again consider Islamic Spain it may be seen as standing as an example of tolerance and Islamic coexistence with Dhimmi, with ‘Al Andalus’ being ‘the home of the “Thousand-and-One Nights”’ romantic imagery (Harbron, 1956, pp.136-7). It can be contrasted with the subtle conversion attempts of Coptic Christians under the Mamluks. During the C13th in Egypt ‘the Dhimmis had been in a state of extreme humiliation and degradation’ (Little, 1976, p.554) which is considered to have parallels in Modern Egypt. It is proposed that the reason for the extension of the right of dhimmitude in Al Andalus was as a result of smaller numbers of ruling Muslims. Yet it appears that this was not always so, though maybe true directly after the conquest. Glick writes that ‘the perception of the frontier by Castillians and Leonese of the ninth and tenth centuries was the awareness of the paucity of their own population in comparison with the great numbers of their Muslim adversaries’ (Glick, 1979, p.63). The writer of this paper would contest that the atmosphere in Islamic Spain and Fatimid lands, as opposed to say Mamluk Egypt, lies more in the nature of the state established at Medina, and adherence to that model, than as a clever survival strategy while in small numbers, ‘a protection which is guaranteed by the Prophet’s saying ‘He who harms a Dhimmi will have me for his enemy’’ (Bosworth, 1972, p.314). In actuality during the Fatimid period Christians and Jews lived in better conditions than in the preceeding Mamluk era. Cohen writes that ‘it is conventional to characterize the Mamluk reign as one of persecution for the Jews and Christians…In 1442, the repressive action began with the Jews, and only later were the Christians drawn into the suffering.’ (Cohen, 1984, p.446), adding that ‘compared with Christian Europe…the atmosphere surrounding the crisis of 1442 was not one of widespread terror…there was no wholesale violence against the community’ (ibid.). Even in light of this persecution in North Africa the Jews, and even the Morisco Christians, faired better in Dar As Salaam than within Christendom, ‘after the fall of Granada in 1492 Christian priests gave the Muslims and Jews a nightmare choice: either convert or leave the land’ but even then ‘they could be burnt at the stake’ with the Moriscos eventually being expelled or killed in 1609 (Ahmed, 1993, p.75). To consider the extended and continuing rights of Dhimmi under Islamic rule it is perhaps pertinent to consider not only were Dhimmi afforded the right to follow their faith, but even to have jurisprudent autonomy within the Ottoman Empire (Al Quattan, 1999). Though this is by no means to suggest such relationships were trouble free, it illustrates a continued model of ‘Islam in the West’ beyond Al-Andalus, in land that was formerly Byzantine territory, and with its foundation in Medina.

If we consider current trends within Islam as relating to Europe, but also democratisation of the Muslim world both the Al Andalus Model, and by extension the Medinan, play a crucial part. Current political thought is highlighted by what may be delineated as the Caliphate : Ummah dialectic. There are those who call for the reestablishment of the rule of a Caliph. This is thought to be personified by the politics of modern wahhabis/salafis (Ali, 2003, pp.73-78) who often tend to reject ideas of representative/deomcratic government, ironically given the history of the movement. While there are others who believe that the Ummah comprises of Caliphs in that all men are sons of Adam who was designated Caliph by Allah. Thus the raising of a representative and egalitarian voice is the legacy of all sons of Adam, and certainly by the inheritors of Muhammad. The Ummah that may come, as with its historic forbearer (Al Ahsan, 1992, p.109) could provide the synthesis between this apparent political dialectic. To believe Islam backward looking politically is to ignore history, with some of the roots of both social and political sciences often attributed to Muslim thinkers, such as the scholar Ibn Khaldun (Watt, 1968).
In conclusion and in consideration of Occident and Orient (Said, 2003), of East and West, and in the context of the old world it is surely an irony that the furthest point of the Maghreb lies further west than the most westerly point of the continent of Europe, hence its name. Thus despite of the present posited and disputed ‘Clash of Civilisations’ theory (Fox, 2001, pp.459-460, citing Huntingdon) as shown by the suppos├ęd conflict between ‘Democracy and Islamic Revivalism’ (Nasr, 1995) and given that ‘those concerned with the possible threat of Islamic revivalism should take the implications of its greater participation…seriously’ (Nasr, 1995, p.285), it is then with these facts borne in mind, that one might make sound analysis for the future of ‘Islam and the West’ if indeed the phrase has any real meaning. While Ibn Khaldun’s observation that “Arabs Conquer only Plains” (cited by Issawi, 1961, p.550) may still be thought to hold true, ultimately the pen may well prove to be mightier than the sword.



REFERENCES.

Ahmed, A. S. 1993, Living islam: from samarkand to stornoway, Penguin Books, London, UK.

Al Ahsan, A., 1992, Ummah or nation: identity crisis in contemporary muslim society, The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK.

Al Qattan, N., 1999, Dhimmis in the Muslim Court: Legal Autonomy and Religious Discrimination, in International journal of middle east studies, Vol. 31, No. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Ali, T., 2003, The clash of fundamentalisms: crusades, jihads, and modernity, Verso, London, UK.

Asad, T., 1986, The idea of an anthropology of islam, Centre for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA

Bosworth, C. E., 1972, Christian and Jewish Dignitaries in Mamluk Egypt and Syria, Qalqashandi’s Information on Their Hierarchy, Titulature, and Appointment, in International journal of middle east studies, Vol. 3, No. 2, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Cohen, M. R., 1984, Jews in the Mamluk Environment: The Crisis of 1442 (A Geniza Study), in Bulletin of the school of oriental and african studies, university of london, Vol. 47, No. 3, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK.

Denny, F. M., 1977, Ummah in the Constitution of Medina, in Journal of near eastern studies, Vol. 36, No. 1, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, USA.

Faizer, R. S., 1996, Muhammad and the Medinan Jews: A Comparison of the Texts of Ibn Ishaq’s Kitab Sirat Rasul Allah with al-Waqidi’s Kitab al-Maghazi, in International journal of middle east studies, Vol. 28, No. 4, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Fox, J., 2001, Two Civilisations and Ethnic Conflict: Islam and the West, in Journal of peace research, Vol. 38, No. 4, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA.

Glick, T. F., 1979, Islamic and christian spain in the early middle ages, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA.

Harbron, J. D., 1956, Spain, Spanish Morroco, and Arab Policy, in African Affairs, Vol. 55, No. 219, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Issawi, C., 1961, The Christian- Muslim Frontier in the Mediterranean: A History of Two Peninsulas, in Political science quarterly, Vol. 76, No. 4, The Academy of Political Science, New York, NY, USA.

Kritzeck, J., 1962, Moslem-Christian Understanding in Medieval Times: A Review Article, in Comparative studies in society and history, Vol. 4, No. 3, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Lewis, B., 1998, The multiple identities of the middle east, Phoenix, London, UK.

Lings, M., 1991, Muhammad: his life based on the earliest sources, The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, UK.

Little, D. P., 1976, Coptic Conversion to Islam under the Bahri Mamluks, 692-755/1293-1354, in Bulletin of the school of oriental and african studies, university of london, Vol. 39, No. 3, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK.

Mann, V. B., Glick, T. F., and Dodds, J. D. (eds.), 1992, Convivencia: jews, muslims, and Christians in medieval spain, George Braziller, New York, NY, USA.

Midlarsky, M. I., 1998, Democracy and Islam: Implications for Civilisational Conflict and the Democratic Peace, in International studies quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 3, The International Studies Association, Tucson, AZ, USA.

Morris, B., 2000 (first published 1987), Anthropological studies of religion: an introductory text, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Nasr, S. V. R., 1995, Democracy and Islamic Revivalism, in Political science quarterly, Vol. 110, No. 2, The Academy of Political Science, New York, NY, USA.

Parvin, M., and Sommer, M., 1980, Dar al-Islam: The Evolution of Muslim Territoriality and Its Implications for Conflict Resolution in the Middle East, in International journal of middle east studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Said, E. W., 2003, Orientalism, Penguin Books, London, UK.

Savory, R. M., 1976, Introduction to islamic civilisation, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Serjeant, R. B., 1978, The “Sunnah Jami’ah,” Pacts with the Yathrib Jews, and the “Tahrim” of Yathrib: Analysis of the Documents Comprised in the So-Called ‘Constitution of Medina’, in Bulletin of the school of oriental and african studies, university of london, Vol. 41, No. 1, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK.

The Noble Quran, 1996, Darussalam, Riyadh, KSA.

Watt, W. M., 1956, Muhammad at medina, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Watt, W. M., 1961, Muhammad: prophet and statesman, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.

Watt, W. M. 1968, Islamic political thought, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK.

Watt, W. M., 1972, The influence of islam on medieval europe, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK.

Watt, W. M. and Cachia, P., 1965, A history of islamic spain, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, UK.

To what extent is the medieval Western preconception about Islam still prevalent today?

“Maumet” was also used [in medieval times] in the sense of idol. He who smashed the hundreds of idols at the Kaaba, whose followers pride themselves on being the only Unitarians and authorize no idols, images or icons, himself was made by Western fablers a deity and an idol” (Hitti, Islam and the West, 1962, p. 55). Explain and analyse this quote. To what extent is the medieval Western preconception about Islam still prevalent today? Examine possible reasons for its existence and persistence.

In this article we will consider the issue highlighted by Hitti’s quote and the question posited, that being whether or not medieval perceptions are still prevalent and/or propagated concerning Islam. We will consider medieval attitudes toward Islam, and the actuality of the doctrine of that faith, considering the attitude at the time of the crusades and consider the effect of the time spent in the Levant on the knights, and subsequent accusations against them. We will reflect on the pre Islamic period known as the ‘Asr al Jahiliyah’ or ‘Time of Ignorance’, and how this not only set the stage for the revelation to bring the pagan Arabs back to the faith of Ibrahim/Abraham, but also plays a part in the propagation of Islam as a pagan and idolatrous faith in the contemporary world. As supplemental we will look at how this contributes to the continuation of the accusation against Islam today as idolatrous, pagan, and even ‘satanic’.

Prior to embarking on a disputation of the claim against Islam of idolatry, we must first look at the basis for the cross accusation of defamation, whether it be from the past or contemporary eras. The historical context for the general misinformation and what has been called ‘psychological warfare’ (Adolf, 1957, p.107) was the advance of Islam out of the Arabic peninsula, and relevant to Christendom westward, specifically into Spain, which can be seen to manifest in the Holy Land itself with the crusades. It is thus from within this standpoint that the historic threat to ‘Christendom’ (read as Rome) must be viewed. It becomes immediately obvious in light of the actual doctrine of Islam and Mohammad the need for it to be misrepresented, as arguably the creed of Jeheshuah was with the syncretism which manifested as the Roman faith, and one might argue continued hegemony, albeit that that was temporarily suspended within Europe. It can clearly be seen that it was as a counter-revolutionary tactic, as Morris delineates and in relation to the messages of both Jeheshuah and Mohammad ‘in the great majority of cases, a prophetically announced religion of redemption has had its permanent locus among the less-favoured social strata’ (Morris, 2000, p.76, citing Gerth & Mills, 1948, p.247), and was it not for this very sedition that one of the thirteen hung at Golgotha. It is surely a high irony when one considers the rite of Sol Invictus/Apollo Helios, the resurrection myth, the Roman faith, the emperor Constantine and the previously mentioned syncretism, that in the Chanson de Roland (circa 1100) the Saracen worship idols one of which is Apollyon (Cruz, 1999, p.57), unfortunately it is of beyond the remit of this paper to dissect the Revelation to St. John. The Muslims were also accused, as cited by Cruz (1999, p.57) of worshipping Mohammad/Mahomet, but also as worshipping ‘Tervagant’ (ibid.) which is thought to come to the English by way of the Italian ‘Trivigante’ meaning ‘thrice wandering’ which is thought to refer to the triplicity of the goddess(es) as manifest by the moon (Hoad, 1996), which will be touched upon when we revisit the Qurayshi Meccan cult, and the contemporary Salman Rusdie/ ‘Satanic Verses’ affair. According to Cruz in ‘later epics’ (circa 1200) writers ‘continue to treat Saracens as idol worshippers’ but that they are ‘even more wickedly and cruelly portrayed’ as ‘the authors of all evil, hating God and actively seeking Satan’ (Cruz, 1999, p57). The triumph of Christendom over Islam is characterised as ‘the victory of Christ over Antichrist’ though Cruz is at pains to point out that this view ‘represents only a portion of Europe’. The whole situation can certainly be seen as a political intrigue eclipsing any present day manipulation. The crusades are oft’ thought to have been found during the papacy of Gregory VII with the pope declaring that ‘Christians in the Holy Land were ‘being destroyed by the heathen with unheard-of slaughter and are daily being slain like so many sheep’ (Cruz, 1999, p.62, citing Correspondence of Gregory VII, 57.) juxtaposed to a letter to a Muslim leader, in which the pope writes,


This affection we and you owe to each other in a more peculiar way than to people of other races because we worship and confess the same God though in diverse forms and daily praise and adore him as the creator and ruler of this world. For, in the words of the apostle, ‘He is our peace who hath made both one’
(Cruz, 1999, p.62, citing Correspondence of Gregory VII, 94.)


Here it is plain to see that at least at the higher echelons of Christendom there was an understanding of the monotheism of Islam, known as Tahweed, with the pope even holding the pretension that the Roman faith worshiped the same God, certainly something that was not propagated widely within Christendom, and even after the crusades a ‘better knowledge of Islam was not one of the results’ Cruz, 1999, p.63). This was true of the main population in Europe, but may not have been true of the returning knights or their orders. This can be clearly seem in the accusations against the Order of the Temple in 1308, where the accusation of idolatry, heresy and Satanism were wheeled out again,


Those who framed the charge that the Templar worshipped idols…aimed to exploit certain persistent popular beliefs. In general terms they were implying that the Templars were corrupted by Islam, pandering to the idea, long since rejected by the educated, that the Moslems worshipped idols.
(Barber, 1993, p.185)


The accusations which included the denial of the divinity of Jesus, denial of the crucifixion, and worship of idols namely known as ‘Baphome’t and ‘YaAllah’ (Barber, 1993, p.62) lead to the subsequent trials ultimately resulting in the martyrdom of fifty-four Templar in 1310, followed by those of the last Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, and the Preceptor of Normandy, Geoffroi de Charney, in 1314.

It seems appropriate at this point to briefly consider the Islamic concept of Tawheed or Unity, which can be considered the foundation of monotheism upon which the five pillars of Islam, Arkan ul Islam, (Sarwar, 1984, p.40) stand. We will look at how the Islamic cosmology is figured in relation to the absolute and infinite beyond the creation, considering selected ayat from the quran, and hadith directly in relation to these ayat. The first ayat to be considered is ‘Ayat al Kursi’ (2:255), which may be considered one of the most recited verses of the Quran. Although the word ‘Kursi’ is often translated as ‘Throne’ it is considered more correct in its Quranic context to consider it as ‘footstool’


Allah! There is no god but He, The Living, The Self-subsisting, Supporter of all, No slumber can seize Him nor Sleep. His are all the things in the heavens and on earth. Who is thee can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to his creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they compass aught of his knowledge except as He willeth. His Footstool doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and he feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is Most High, The Supreme (in glory). (Quran, Surah 2, Ayat 255)



This when considered in light of modern scientific cosmology (Ar Rahaman At Tarjumana, 1980), could signify that the Footstool extends over the heavens. The ‘heavens’, may indeed be taken to mean our own created universe. If the universe exists, as posited by modern scientific paradigm, as spherical, then the Kursi that extends over it must encompass it. ‘Al-Arsh’ or ‘The Throne’ is considered to lie at an unperceivable distance beyond ‘Al-Kursi’, beyond what is referred to as a sea, and just as the Kursi extends over the creation, so does the Arsh extend over Paradise. Despite being unable to verify this cosmology via scientific method, when asked of the relation between the Kursi and the Arsh;

It is confirmed from Abu Dharr that the Prophet said; “The seven heavens are to the Kursi but like a ring thrown in a desert land. And the superiority of the Arsh compared to that of the Kursi is like the superiority of that desert compared to the ring. (Al-Sa‘di, 2003, p.274, note 147)


‘Firdaws’, the highest part of paradise is described thus,


The highest of the degrees of Paradise is al-Firdaws, as it was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “… When you ask of Allaah, ask Him for al-Firdaws, for it is in the middle of Paradise and is the highest part of Paradise, and above it is the Throne of the Most Merciful, and from it spring forth the rivers of Paradise.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2637; Muslim, 2831. (The degrees and levels of Paradise and Hell, Web Resource)


The Quran states that Allah, ‘The Most Gracious is firmly established on the throne.’ (Quran, Sura 20, Ayat 5), and Islamic scholarly edict makes plane the separation between Allah and his creation with Imam `Abd al-Ghani al-Nabulusi renowned statement ‘Whoever believes that Allah permeates the Heavens and the Earth, or that He is a body sitting on His Throne, is a disbeliever, even if he thinks he is a Muslim.’ (Kabbani, 1996, p.86). This concept of Tawhweed, added to the actions of Muhammad of, as cited by Hitti in the title, smashing ‘hundreds of idols at the Kaaba’ in the vein of his ancestor Abraham makes plainly absurd the accusation of idolatry against Islam. Tawheed is revolutionary within the modern paradigm of physics, and certainly it would have appeared the same for the system that accused Gallileo of heresy in 17th Century for his heliocentric beliefs in regard to our stellar system. Science has a deep root within the Islamic sciences with Imam Al Ghazali writing in 11th Century ‘sight also looks at a star and sees it as something small, the size of a dinar; then geometrical proofs demonstrate that it surpasses the earth in size’ (McCarthy, 2000, p.21), and the contemporary accusations of Allah as a moon god(dess) that will shortly be touched upon again seem illogical in light of the Quranic verses relating to what may be termed ‘heavenly bodies’, as again highlighted by Al Ghazali in the 11th Century, ‘the sun, moon, stars and elements are subject to God’s command’ (McCarthy, 2000, p.35).

It now seems opportune to consider together things alluded to during the progression of this paper, these being the pagan idolatry of the pre-Islamic period specifically the ‘daughters of Allah’, the Italian word ‘Trivigante’ and how this may relate to ‘the only well known triad of pre-Islamic deities…al- ‘Uzza, al-Lat, and Manat’ (Septimus, 1981, p.528), the relationship of these three and the disputed ‘satanic verses’ ascribed by some as Quranic revelation and the source of Rusdie’s novel by that name, the ascription of Allah currently propagated as a Moon god(dess), and thus how medieval misconceptions not only survive currently, but are actively encouraged by some quarters. In the time immediately prior to Muhammad’s revelation Mecca and the Kabba, as delineated by Hitti’s quote within the title, were home to many idols. Chief amongst these were the cited ‘daughters of Allah’ beloved of the Quraysh. Muhammad thus considered that by smashing these idols he was returning his people to the religion of their father, Ibrahim, in fact Muhammad’s actions are seen to be directly repetitive of the deeds of Ibrahim himself. There is no doubt, nor is it disputed my Muslims that this was the case, with it actually considered a part of Muhammad’s raison d’etre in regard to his own house.

Thus to conclude it is the proposed theory that the defamation suffered by Islam historically was as a result of the scholarly threat posed to the ideas of the times, whether scientific or theological, and indeed from an Islamic perspective if in actuality there is a difference. It was thought that Islam was a real threat to the Latin faith with the hierarchy believing ‘it was impossible to convert the Muslims’ being ‘alarmed at the number of Christians who had gone over to Islam’ (Munro, 1931, p.343) and ‘the awesome possibilities of international Islam’ (Kagay, 1999, p.122). It does not require the writer of this paper to propose why such ideas concerning Islam have persisted, and as shown continue to be propagated in the contemporary world for the motivations are borne from the same mother. As Benjamin Kedar writes ‘the availability of correct information’ does not ‘guarantee its acceptance by all the learned, to say nothing of the unlearned’ (Cruz, 1999, p.65, citing Kedar, 1984).


REFERENCES.

Adolf, H., 1957, Christendom and Islam in the Middle Ages: New Light on “Grail Stone” and “Hidden Host”, in Speculum, Vol. 32, No. 1, pp.103-115, Medieval Academy of America, Cambridge, MA, USA..

Al-Sa‘di, A. A., 2003, An explanation of muhammad ibn ‘abd al-wahhab’s Kitab al-tawhid, Al-Hidayat Publishing, Birmingham, U.K..

Ar Rahaman At Tarjumana, A., 1980, The subatomic world in the quran, Diwan Press, Norwich, UK.

Barber, M., 1993, The Trial of the Templars, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Hoad, T. F., 1996, Oxford Reference Online, Oxford University Press, retrieved 2nd May 2006 from http://www.oxfordreference.com.

Kabbani, M. H., 1996, Islamic beliefs and doctrine according to ahl as-sunna: a repudiation of "salafi" innovations, ASFA, Kazi Publications, Chicago, IL, USA.

Morris, B., 2000, Anthropological studies of religion: an introductory text, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

McCarthy, R. J., 2000, Al-ghazali’s path to Sufism, his deliverance from error: al-munqidh min al-dala, Fons Vitae, Louisville, KY, USA.

Sarwar, G., 1984, Islam: beliefs and teachings, The Muslim Education Trust, London, UK.

Septimus, B., 1981, Petrus Alfonsi on the Cult at Mecca, in Speculum, Vol. 56, No. 3, pp.517-533, Medieval Academy of America, Cambridge, MA, USA..

The Holy Quran, 1992 (1413 H), English Translation of ‘The meanings and commentary’, The Custodian of The Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Complex for the Printing of The Holy Quran, P.O. Box 3561, Al-Madinah Al-Munawarah, K, of S.A..

The degrees and levels of Paradise and Hell, 2004, Retrieved on 2nd May 2006 from http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ln=eng&ds=qa&lv=browse&QR=27075&dgn=4

Love is a great reason...

...to learn about Islam, but other than love for Allah, it's not a good reason to become Muslim. I took receipt today of a first edition of Kipling's book 'Kim'. So when I saw a young couple one with the air of europe the other with the air of the subcontinent I though about the famous axiom 'east is east...'. I'd actually thought about it earlier in the day when I pondered that east (orient) and west (occident) do meet, not only do they meet, they are joined. The european young man raised his right index finger, well like I said, love is a great reason to learn about Islam...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Playing on generation gap.

I'm watching a programme on the BBC News 24 channel, and just watched a busy eyebrowed chap (rather like my preparatory school science master) speaking about what started this problem, erm...thats easy...giving Palestine to the Jews? Some of the older generation seem to play the game with my generation that we are too stupid to read history. As Israel has been there since 1948, then it's there to stay. How so? It wasn't there for 2000 years, so the fact that Palestine has been under occupation since only 1948 is hardly an argument that it won't exist again. I think that people need to realise that the creation of Israel proposed by Balfour (ironically sent to someone I'm supposedly meant to related to) just prior to the end of WWI, and executed in 1948 accepted by UN resolution should not govern our opinions to what effectively was the dying throws of Old Empire (i.e. France and UK, lets not bring in Suez) and is maintained by what is oft' called Neo Imperialism. There is a premise within Liberal Democracy that the actions of one parliament should not bind another parliament. I think that our generation should apply this to the resolution recognising Israel. After all why shouldn't we say the resolution is worthless, there are others who flagrantly ignore UN resolutions when it suits them....

PAX AMERICANA.

There is an Islamic story that explains about the Muslim salutation of 'Salaam'.

""Verily if the Jews greet you, and one of them says,
'As-saamu 'alaykum,' then say, 'wa 'alaykum.'" [an authentic hadeeth collected by Imaam Muslim (#5619, 7/370 of Sharh An-Nawawee) on the authority of Ibn 'Umar.]

Upon inspection of the hadeeth, we find that the ruling here is dependant on a certain action, that is their saying, 'As-saamu 'alaykum.' This proves that our response to them in this circumstance must be, 'wa 'alaykum,' and the proper time and place for this abridged reply is when they say, 'As-saamu 'alaykum.' Our response could be understood as the Islaamic greeting or a reply to the Jews' curse."

http://www.bakkah.net/articles/salaamstojews.htm

so I guess in a 21st century equivalent, we should understand what the US means when they say....