Posts Tagged ‘wahhabism’

Only consistent thing about our world is that it changes. What are the fads we all sported and now are discarded for something of the moment? Pokemon Go! seems to have taken the world by storm as Elvis Presley hair cut and drainpipes were the thing in my youth. Fads in their very sillines carry some profound truth. The world changes and along with it man also changes.

If everything were to keep changing, how do we keep our balance? There is no up or down in space but still we take a bearing on celestial objects these are also not keeping still. Yet in our context these give us a bearing as ancient mariners relied on pole star during their voyages(1). We are on a planet that is revolving on the sun that itself is revolving through the Milky Way. But on the earth what is certain is the gravity that works. What does it tell us? If you throw a ball up, it shall sure come down. Such is the truth for which we kill and defend with tooth and nail.

We say God is Truth. But how well we understand or follow it?

God with his mighty arm delivered the Israelites from Egypt. He called Moses and Aaron his brother and elders before him. With such up and close encounter with God we may assume that he has had greater understanding of Truth than others. Yet within a space of 40 days Aaron was guilty of making a golden calf for the tumultuous crowd who wanted a god to lead them. When man is not fully engaged his heart and soul, the first casuality is truth. Aaron simply wanted to give the people what they wanted. He heard God but he heard it through the grapevine of populism, I suspect.

When I see the mob howling, ‘blasphemy’ on some perceived slight to the Quran, I know the feeling. The man lost his horse and he could not go anywhere because the whole household was arguing over the ways the noble steed could have bolted. After rewriting the Prophet, in scholarly ways of course, the theologians (they have several schools all well funded too,) have made him look a liar and his ideas dragged through mud and have made the world a slaughterhouse. O Truth! How Compassionate! How Beneficent! How Merciful!


1.By the dawn of the sixteenth century, the ancient art of navigation had begun to develop rapidly in response to oceanic explorers who needed to find their positions without landmarks, to determine the locations of their discoveries, and to establish routes between the new-found lands and home. Although the relationship of certain heavenly bodies to time of day and terrestrial directions had been known since ancient times, the first two decades of the sixteenth century saw the rigorous application of astronomy and mathematics to navigation. The new learning met the New World. Before longitude was invented  sixteenth-century navigators relied on dead reckoning. Beginning at a known or assumed position, the navigator measured, as best he could, the heading and speed of the ship, the speeds of the ocean currents and the leeward (downwind) drift of the ship, and the time spent on each heading. From this information he could compute the course he had made and the distance he had covered. Dead reckoning, through educated guesswork, is often very accurate.(ack: nps.gov)


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“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.


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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Camel driver: “Can’t you just get up from this fundamentalist mess and go?”

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What is Art ? It is the mirror to life.
Primitive art thus has certain characteristics that mirror the culture of the artist. In May or June 1907, Picasso experienced a “revelation” while viewing African art at the ethnographic museum at Palais du Trocadéro. Picasso’s discovery of African art influenced the style of his painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon (begun in May 1907 and reworked in July of that year.) In the early 20th century African artifacts were being brought back to Paris museums in consequence of the expansion of the French empire into Africa. The press was abuzz with exaggerated stories of cannibalism and exotic tales about the African kingdom of Dahomey. It was in this climate of African interest that Picasso would look towards African artifacts as inspiration for some of his work and it makes no difference that he was an outsider reinventing artistic impulses of his life and the times into art. It is recognizable and and the life of a nameless primitive artist is interpreted according to canons of art. Whereas in the hands of Joseph Conrad the African interest would focus altogether on the mistreatment of Africans in the Belgian Congo. Heart of Darkness is a literary work of exceptional quality that can transcend the narrow boundaries of time and place to be equally at home in another time and place. Francis Coppola set it in Vietnam with equal success and called it Apocalypse now.
Art as the mirror of life. This is what Art can achieve. It gives life thousand faces and the mirror is telling the truth each time. Only that the beholder need to remember the emphasis is laid in each case differently. Truth is absolute and only God can define what it is. So let us not assume to know what it is.
When Patriarch Jacob wrestled with angel or saw a ladder reaching heavewards we need to accept Truth is set in a certain form that does not vitiate the narrative or the underlying veracity. Does it touch some familiar chord in you? If you have in your life wrestled with good impulses with all the might and sought a blessing from the Highest the story of Jacob cannot remain alien to you. It does not mean if you succeeded or not. The Scriptures holds up the mirror to your life so as to elicit certain feelings in you. When you respond to it in a positive manner the Word has achieved its purpose.
According to Moslem tradition Prophet Mohammad was carried at night by a fabled beast Al-Buraq to the presence of Angel Gabriel. We need to remember that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction simply because we have no way of knowing Truth in its perfection. Art as I said earlier gives Truth a human tongue. It is thus we get the best out of the Word. For that matter how is that we have the Hand of Fatima in many versions ranging from Egyptian, Hebrew and Christian traditions? It is life given a certain symbol naming it as good omen or charm and so on. It is to be treated as such and not make undue fuss over it. Instead some silly fellows want to impose their own nonsense as truth. They pose as the Watch and Ward staff for God. Among Jews and Moslems alike there are those who want to make worshippers think in the way they think. What makes them think they know the truth? Wahhabism would try hard to make Islam ‘pure’ but would require plenty of money to stuff down the throats to make it digestable! In sacred and secular art also you find such misguided fellows. Shakespeare had been bowdlerized by some and yet Shakespeare lives on preeminent above such ignoble souls.
For me art must serve life. When we see Truth in its perfection words of human artifice shall fail since we ourselves shall be part of that Absolute quality.

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Wahhabism is a religious movement developed by an 18th century Muslim theologian Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) from Najd, Saudi Arabia. He advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. Abd-al-Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned classical interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur’an and the Hadith. He attacked a “perceived moral decline and political weakness” in the Arabian Peninsula and condemned what he perceived as idolatry, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation. Wahhabism is often used interchangeably with Salafism. They are considered ultra conservative and heretical by their detractors.
The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of veneration of the historical sites associated with early Islam, on the grounds that only God should be worshipped and that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaar, mausoleums and other artifacts have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from early 19th century through the present day.
According to Riadh Sidaoui it is an Islamic doctrine which is based on the historical alliance between the political and financial power represented by Ibn Saud and the religious authority represented by Abdul Al-Wahhab, the doctrine continues to exist to this day thanks to this alliance, the financing of several religious channels and the formation of several sheikhs. Perhaps in not so distant future it will be seen how this purportedly charitable institutions bankrolled the recruits who were sent from third world,- from Malappuram District in Kerala to Malaysia, to support the Jihadist elements in the Afghanistan. Their covert mission was nothing less than bringing down the financial might of the USA.
International influence and propagation
According to observers such as Gilles Kepel, Wahhabism gained considerable influence in the Islamic world following a tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco in the 1974-1980 period. The Saudi government began to spend tens of billions of dollars throughout the Islamic world to promote Wahhabism, which was sometimes referred to as “petro-Islam.” According to the documentary called The Qur’an aired in the UK, presenter Antony Thomas suggested the figure may be “upward of $100 billion”.
Does money corrupt? The Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad which goes under the guise of charity. Some of the hundreds of thousands of non-Saudis who live in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf are recipients of its largesse and the fervent converts to Petro-Islam and are intended as carriers of their message.
What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and Jihadi Salafis is disputed. Natana De Long-Bas, senior research assistant at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argues: the militant Islam of Osama bin Laden did not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and was not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it came to define Wahhabi Islam..’ (note: . Karen Armstrong, former US “emissary” to Islam, states that Osama bin Laden, like most extremists, followed the ideology of Sayyid Qutb, not “Wahhabism”)
Noah Feldman distinguishes between what he calls the “deeply conservative” Wahhabis and what he calls the “followers of political Islam in the 1980s and 1990s,” such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. While Saudi Wahhabis were “the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood chapters and other hard-line Islamists” during this time, they opposed jihadi resistance to Muslim governments and assassination of Muslim leaders.’ By the same token it could be argued that wahhabism of Ibn Saud family did not forbid if global Jihad were set in motion against the Christian west.

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