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Archive for August 15th, 2016

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man”. Heraclitus

Great ideas are the children of so many parents both of low and noble bloodline. These are called chains of events. Christianity was the pariah at the time of Nero and Domitian. But times changed and the Imperial Rome was somewhat like Ottoman Empire in 1916, sick and lacking in fresh blood.

Constantine the Great legitimized his shifting the capital of the empire to Rome from Constantinople as continuation of the old. This came to be called as New Rome. Giuseppe Mazzini, Italian nationalist and patriot found it useful to promote the notion of the Third Rome. He said, “After the Rome of the emperors, after the Rome of the Popes, there will come the Rome of the people”, and it had to do with the struggle of Italian unification with Rome as the capital. Benito Mussolini also in his speeches referred to Fascist Rome as Terza Roma and here was proposing expansion of Rome towards Ostia and the sea.

There were many such attempts at reviving the vanished glory of the old. One such attempt was to retake Constantinople after the Ottomans had captured it in 1453. Historical process that went into shape the Church of Rome after the collapse of the Empire brought out its backlash in the form of Reformation and Counter-Reformation and it deflected much of the force to prevent recapture of Constantinople a reality. France had once espoused the Crusades and in these cross currents of religious movements it allied with the Ottomans thereby preventing a concerted war effort. Constantinople remained in the hands of Ottoman Empire. After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI Greek armies invaded Turkey during the Greco- Turkish War of 1919-1922 but their dream of reviving the old glory of Rome did not realize.

Large forces that rake up past lessons in history and pass on as in the case the Fall of Constantinople led to Renaissance and liberal thought all across the globe keep only way forward. Pax Romana did not either repeat itself in the Pax Britannia or in the Pax American. Integration principle sees to that the lessons in history impact collective experience of mankind so evolution of man’s attempt to recreate a New Canaan in the New World would fail as much as the Great Leap Forward by Republic of China in a Soviet Model would lead to altogether new. In fact China would strike a different path forward different from that of Soviet model.

ii

As history moved on, Islam spread over a vast region, encountering and adjusting to numerous other societies, faiths and cultures. Inevitably in practice it mutated in different ways, often becoming more pragmatic and indulgent, often given second place to the demands of power and politics and temporal rulers.

For hardline Muslim traditionalists this amounted to deviationism, and from early on, there was a clash of ideas in which those arguing for a strict return to the “purity” of the early days of Islam often paid a price.

The eminent scholar Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855), who founded one of the main schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence, was jailed and once flogged unconscious in a dispute with the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad. Nearly five centuries later, another supreme theologian of the same strict orthodox school, Ibn Taymiyya, died in prison in Damascus.

These two men are seen as the spiritual forefathers of later thinkers and movements which became known as “salafist”, advocating a return to the ways of the first Muslim ancestors, the salaf al-salih (righteous ancestors).

They inspired a later figure whose thinking and writings were to have a huge and continuing impact on the region and on the salafist movement, one form of which, Wahhabism, took his name. Now the biggest underwriters of Wahhabism, the Saudi Regime whose petrodollars under the guise of charities in the late Eighties went on to spread their own brand of Islam. Are they safe in the way the religion has morphed into a religion of hate? (ack: Jim Muir/IS Group,-the full story/BBC)

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