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October 23, 2014 / 29 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘JIHAD’

Netanyahu ‘Retaliates’ To Missile Strike with Words and Threats

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu assured Israel, attacked by enemy missiles in the northwestern Galilee, “We are using a variety of measures – of both defense and prevention – and we are operating in a responsible manner. Our policy is clear: to protect and also to prevent.”

He added, “Anyone who hurts us, and anyone who tries to hurt us, must know that we will hit him.” The IDF did not respond to the advanced Grad rocket attacks and denied reports by Lebanese media that artillery units fired into Lebanon.

Earlier in the day, the Prime Minister said that the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria “proves yet again that we cannot permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons.”

Can Islam Be Reformed?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

Commentary requested an internet supplement for this article and I chose the key passage on the Medieval Synthesis from my 1983 book, In the Path of God; Islam and Political Power. To read it, click here.

Islam currently represents a backward, aggressive, and violent force. Must it remain this way, or can it be reformed and become moderate, modern, and good-neighborly? Can Islamic authorities formulate an understanding of their religion that grants full rights to women and non-Muslims as well as freedom of conscience to Muslims, that accepts the basic principles of modern finance and jurisprudence, and that does not seek to impose Sharia law or establish a caliphate?

A growing body of analysts believe that no, the Muslim faith cannot do these things, that these features are inherent to Islam and immutably part of its makeup. Asked if she agrees with my formulation that “radical Islam is the problem, but moderate Islam is the solution,” the writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali replied, “He’s wrong. Sorry about that.” She and I stand in the same trench, fighting for the same goals and against the same opponents, but we disagree on this vital point.

My argument has two parts. First, the essentialist position of many analysts is wrong; and second, a reformed Islam can emerge.

Arguing Against Essentialism

Rumi (1207-73), a leading mystic of Islam.

Rumi (1207-73), a leading mystic of Islam.

To state that Islam can never change is to assert that the Koran and Hadith, which constitute the religion’s core, must always be understood in the same way. But to articulate this position is to reveal its error, for nothing human abides forever. Everything, including the reading of sacred texts, changes over time. Everything has a history. And everything has a future that will be unlike its past.

Only by failing to account for human nature and by ignoring more than a millennium of actual changes in the Koran’s interpretation can one claim that the Koran has been understood identically over time. Changes have applied in such matters as jihad, slavery, usury, the principle of “no compulsion in religion,” and the role of women. Moreover, the many important interpreters of Islam over the past 1,400 years—ash-Shafi’i, al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiya, Rumi, Shah Waliullah, and Ruhollah Khomeini come to mind—disagreed deeply among themselves about the content of the message of Islam.

However central the Koran and Hadith may be, they are not the totality of the Muslim experience; the accumulated experience of Muslim peoples from Morocco to Indonesia and beyond matters no less. To dwell on Islam’s scriptures is akin to interpreting the United States solely through the lens of the Constitution; ignoring the country’s history would lead to a distorted understanding.

Put differently, medieval Muslim civilization excelled and today’s Muslims lag behind in nearly every index of achievement. But if things can get worse, they can also get better. Likewise, in my own career, I witnessed Islamism rise from minimal beginnings when I entered the field in 1969 to the great powers it enjoys today; if Islamism can thus grow, it can also decline.

How might that happen?

The Medieval Synthesis

Shah Waliullah (1703-62) a leading thinker of Indian Islam.

Shah Waliullah (1703-62) a leading thinker of Indian Islam.

Key to Islam’s role in public life is Sharia and the many untenable demands it makes on Muslims. Running a government with the minimal taxes permitted by Sharia has proved to be unsustainable; and how can one run a financial system without charging interest? A penal system that requires four men to view an adulterous act in flagrante delicto is impractical. Sharia’s prohibition on warfare against fellow Muslims is impossible for all to live up to; indeed, roughly three-quarters of all warfare waged by Muslims has been directed against other Muslims. Likewise, the insistence on perpetual jihad against non-Muslims demands too much.

To get around these and other unrealistic demands, premodern Muslims developed certain legal fig leaves that allowed for the relaxation of Islamic provisions without directly violating them. Jurists came up with hiyal (tricks) and other means by which the letter of the law could be fulfilled while negating its spirit. For example, various mechanisms were developed to live in harmony with non-Muslim states. There is also the double sale (bai al-inah) of an item, which permits the purchaser to pay a disguised form of interest. Wars against fellow Muslims were renamed jihad.

Obama Doctrine: Backing Muslim Radicals Despite 10 Western Failures

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

There is a long history of Western powers believing that they could manipulate or work with radical Arabic-speaking states or movements to redo the regional order. All have ended badly.

–During the 1880s and 1890s, Germany became convinced that it could turn the forces of jihad against British, French, and Russian rivals. The kaiser presented himself as the Muslim world’s friend and German propaganda even hinted that their ruler had converted to Islam.

–In World War One, the Germans launched a jihad, complete with the Ottoman caliph’s proclamation. Wiser heads warned that the Ottoman ruler didn’t have real authority to do so or that the raising of the jihad spirit could cause massacres of Christians in the empire. They were ignored.

As a result, few responded to this jihad; Armenians were massacred, at times with the at least passive complicity of the German government.

–Nevertheless, Adolf Hitler, whose close comrades included many veterans of the earlier jihad strategy, tried the same approach in World War Two. This time, the Jews in the Middle East were to be the massacred scapegoats. Yet despite close collaboration by the leader of the Palestine Arabs, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, and the Muslim Brotherhood, among others, the defeat of the German armies along with other factors (incompetence, unkept Arab promises, and German priorities) prevented this alliance from succeeding.

By the way, the Nazi collaborators were the same Muslim Brotherhood to which the United States is allied today. There are huge amounts of archival evidence, including documents showing Nazi payments to the Brotherhood and providing them with arms for a rebellion to kill Christians and Jews in Egypt.

There is no evidence that the Brotherhood has changed its positions. The story above is told in a new book, by Barry Rubin and the brilliant scholar Wolfgang G. Schwanitz, Nazis, Islamists, and the Making of the Modern Middle East which will be published by Yale University Press in January 2014. It will be an explosive rethinking of Middle Eastern history which could not be more timely.

Incidentally, might one think that the Western mass media might mention that the chief U.S. ally in the Arab world—one of whose branches is now receiving American weapons—were Nazi collaborators who have never abandoned their anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish views?

How much has the Brotherhood visibly reconsidered its ideology since the man who is still its leader, Muhammad al-Badi, explained in  October 2010 that the Egyptian regime would be overthrown and then the Brotherhood would wage jihad on a weak and retreating America?

–In 1939 the British offered to sell out the Balfour Declaration and the promise of a Jewish homeland in order to gain Arab support in the coming war. The Islamist-radical nationalist faction rejected these offers, though moderate Arabs wanted to accept them. After World War Two, the British decided to try to secure their interests in the region. Most students are probably being taught today that this was through Israel’s creation. In fact, of course, the British were opposed to this outcome. They believed, understandably, that it would be better to court the Arabs. The result was the creation of the Arab League, a body that the British thought they could control. Of course, the Arab League would become a vehicle for anti-Western radicalism.

–During the early 1950s, the United States thought that it could do something both good and in its interests. It would support the takeover by moderate elements who would modernize their countries. No more would America be held responsible for corrupt dictators but would receive gratitude from liberated people living in prosperity. The first case was encouragement for the Egyptian coup of 1952, the one which brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power ultimately.

The result of the British and American efforts to harness radical Arab nationalism–which led to decades of violence and war in the region is told in Barry Rubin, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict which you can read online or download for free. A variation of this reformist as a U.S. strategy took place in Iran, which you can read in Barry Rubin, Paved with Good Intentions: The American Experience and Iran which you can read online or download for free.

Muslim Brotherhood Digging Roots in Boston

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Good American Muslim citizens in Boston have been shocked to find material in local mosques backed by the Muslim Brotherhood movement and calling for jihad against the United States.

Boston has been eyeballed by anti-jihad monitors since the Boston Massacre in April, carried out by Islamic terrorists Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They were not known to be part of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they attended mosques that preach radical Islam.

“The fact is that these fellows attended, blocks from their house, a radical mosque that has been the center of controversy in Boston for 10 years,” according to CBN (Christian Broadcast Network), quoting  Charles Jacobs, who heads Americans for Peace and Tolerance. The organization monitors local Islamic radicals.

Referring to the Islamic Society of Boston mosque in Cambridge, Jacobs said, “The founder of that mosque, blocks from where the Tsarnaevs lived and where they prayed, was Abdulrahman Alamoudi.. He is the model of deception in American-Muslim history…

“He…convinced President Clinton and also President George W. Bush that he was precisely the kind of moderate Muslim leader that America was looking for,” Jacobs said. “In fact, he deceived everyone. He’s now in jail for 23 years for giving money, for funding al Qaeda.

Other worshippers at the Cambridge mosque have included an al Qaeda member convicted of plotting attacks on New York City and a man sentenced to 17 years in prison for planning a shooting spree on a Boston-area shopping mall.

One former trustee of the mosque is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader and terrorist supporter who’s banned from entering the United States.

The explosive material found in the mosque is not new.

One moderate Muslim leader who visited the mosque 10 years ago told CBN. “We go upstairs and I find the library and it’s full of flyers, full of newsletters in Arabic,” Dr. Ahmed Mansour of the International Quranic Institute said. “And they call for jihad against America and against the Jews and against the Christians.”

The Muslim Brotherhood in the United States hides under the name Muslim American Society (MAS), which the Muslim Brotherhood founded in 1993. and which federal prosecutors have called “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”

MAS opened up another mosque four years the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury and goes by the lovely-sounding name of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

It cost $15,5 million to build. Getting money was no problem. More than half of it reportedly came from Saudi Arabia, the country whose terrorists pulled off the 9/11 terrorist attack.

Both mosques are run by the same leadership and have the same ideology, according to Jacobs.

Massachusetts politicians endorsed the Roxbury mosque although two months earlier, the mosque’s cleric incited Muslims who had been arrested for terrorism.

“Grab onto the typewriter, grab onto the shovel, grab onto the gun and the sword,” Imam Abdullah Farooq told his listeners.

The current imam of the mosque was supposed to attend an event in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon terror attack, but the governor, the same man who endorsed the Roxbury mosque in 2009, told him he could stay home. The imam, William Suhaib Webb, has been called by many to be a moderate Muslim leader.

But many in his mosque are not happy with his moderation.

When Webb spoke favorably about President Barack Obama, Muslims complained on line, charging the Obama is a “war criminal.”

Webb also said he could nit publicly pray over the body of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon terrorist who was killed in a shootout. Tweet responses scolded him..

However, the situation in Boston and other American cities is approaching that of most European countries where radical Muslims have gained a foothold in their communities to the point that leaders are charged with racism if they oppose them.

“If you question them, even if you question them, you’re a racist, Islamophobic bigot,” Jacobs said.

The Extremist Moderates and the Moderate Extremists

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Like a band that only knows one song, politicians only know one response to Islamic terrorism. They wall off that vast majority of Muslims who did not actually come down to Woolwich and hack at a soldier with a machete and did not fly two planes into the World Trade Center from those who actually did those things using action and inaction as the defining line between the extremists and the moderates. The couch potatoes watching at home and cheering them on are moderates.

That might be fine if we were discussing an individual crime, like a gas station robbery in Cleveland. But Islamic terrorism isn’t like that. To Muslims, Jihad isn’t an act of violence; it’s an act of faith.

Islamic terrorism isn’t a crime. It’s a form of religious warfare that goes back all the way to its founding. Islam sanctifies crime and violence and elevates them to acts of worship and that is why its acts of terror cannot and do not occur in isolation. It is never the act of a single madman, because its intents and ambitions are communal.

When a Muslim kills a Non-Muslim for the religious reasons of Jihad, whether he is a lone wolf or a member of a large cell, the act cannot be divorced from its goals for the larger Islamic community. No Muslim terrorist is an island. His terrorism is a communal activity that takes place within the context of an Islamic manifest destiny. He does not kill for himself. He takes the lives of others and offers his own life in the name of a historical idea of theocracy and supremacy.

The distinction between action and inaction is meaningless. It’s the distinctions between active support, passive support and direct opposition that matter. Those Muslims who support both the ends and the means of Muslim terrorism are active supporters. Those who support the ends of Islamic theocracy, but not the means of Islamic terrorism, can be labeled passive supporters. And the tiny minority of secular extremists who oppose both the ends and the means are the direct opposition.

The majority of Muslims can at best be described as moderate extremists, while a tiny minority can be complimented for being extremist moderates. And the existence of that minority is often as hard to verify as the presence of Bigfoot in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Some people claim to have seen one, but the sightings never amount to anything tangible.

While not all Muslims support every act of terror, nearly all Muslims support some acts of terror. They define acts that they disapprove of as terrorism and acts that they approve of as resistance which makes the formal condemnations of terrorism by Muslim groups completely meaningless. Each condemnation only applies to a specific case. And that’s even if you take the condemnations at face value.

After September 11, National Geographic interviewed a moderate “Islamic scholar” for his response to the attacks. “No religion would condone this,” he said, “Islam does not approve of this. There is no way that the people who did this could be Muslim, and if they claim to be Muslim, then they have perverted their religion.”

The scholar was Anwar Al-Awlaki, who had ties to the 9/11 hijackers and was an Al Qaeda leader.

Even if applying the term “moderate” to any mainstream Muslim leader ever made any sense, it became meaningless once the ranks of moderates grew to include the Muslim Brotherhood, Anwar Al-Awlaki and any Muslim who was not at the moment engaged in chopping off someone’s head. And once he was done sawing away and washed his hands of the blood, then he too could be considered a moderate.

Of the two Muslim countries most frequently presented as moderate examples, Turkey and Indonesia, both have committed genocide against non-Muslim minorities in the last hundred years.

Around the time of the Arab Spring, reporters began describing the Muslim Brotherhood, which had a long history of terrorism and whose writings call for genocide, as moderate. The Free Syrian Army, which is dominated by the Brotherhood, is constantly described as both “moderate” and “secular”. But Hamas, which is the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, is described as militant, rather than moderate.

There is no actual standard for what makes a Muslim group moderate. The sobriquet is a form of approval granted by Western elites to Muslim groups and figures that most people would conventionally associate with terrorism.

Muslims that might conceivably be described as moderate rarely are. It would be redundant to do so. It’s invariably Muslims with a long record of public statements in support of terrorism and associations with terrorist groups that are described that way. When a Muslim figure is described as moderate, it’s meant to be an alibi. You might think him extreme, but the media has preemptively stepped in and labeled him a moderate. That’s how it worked for Anwar Al-Awlaki. That’s how it still works for the Muslim Brotherhood.

Muslims describe acts of terror selectively as terrorism or resistance based on whether or not they support them. Similarly Western elites describe Muslim terrorist groups as moderates or extremists based on whether or not they support them. It is impossible to determine anything meaningful from a dialogue in which Muslim groups are not defined by their beliefs or actions.

If a Muslim group can be both terrorist and genocidal and still be labeled “moderate”, then moderation has no meaning. When the New York Times and the Washington Post describe the Muslim Brotherhood as moderate, it’s no different than telling the police that your cousin was with you all night when he was actually carrying out a series of gruesome murders. It’s not a supportable claim; it’s an alibi that doesn’t hold up under even the slightest scrutiny.

That precariousness is why Western elites unleash such an astonishing volume of vitriol against anyone who challenges the moderate alibi.

Muslim and Western leaders both describe Muslim groups that they support as moderates and those that they oppose as extremists. These groups are never moderate because their basis for supporting them is the perception that these groups are forging a path that is on the right side of history.

The exact geographical location of the right side of history varies somewhat between Muslim and Western leaders, but is largely the same. Muslim and Western leaders both look for Islamic populists who can combine modernity with Islam.

To Muslims, that means groups like the Muslim Brotherhood that use Western knowledge as a means of Islamizing their societies. To Westerners, that means Islamic reformers who will embrace democracy and fight corruption while being able to hold a dialogue with their diplomats and reporters. And in the Arab Spring, American and European leaders agreed that the Muslim Brotherhood was the one.

Whether in Egypt or in London, there is no requirement that these moderate groups actually stop supporting acts of terror, only that they stop embarrassing the Western politicians and journalists providing them with an alibi by actually carrying them out. For Western elites, Islamic acts of terror are not an outrage, but an inconvenience, that upsets the public and makes it harder to push forward on the larger agenda of integrating the Muslim world into the modern world through immigration and democratization.

Moderation refers to a seeming willingness to get with the program. Anwar Al-Awlaki was considered moderate because he was willing to stand in front of the cameras and say the right things after September 11, even though he was involved in the attacks of September 11.

The Muslim Brotherhood is similarly considered moderate because it’s willing to say the right things, even while its thugs burn down churches and terrorize the opposition. It’s not the violence that matters, but the willingness to put in a good appearance at UN, WTO and IMF events, to fall in with all the trends and to maintain the farce that is the international community and international law.

The moderate Muslim prized by Western elites is not an opponent of violence. If that were the qualification then many of the Western elites, who support and supported all sorts of leftist terrorists, wouldn’t qualify. It’s a willingness to join the club and maintain the illusion that a united world under international law is possible.

A month after September 11, the New York Times described Anwar Al-Awlaki as “a new generation of Muslim leader capable of merging East and West”. That is the soulless calculation behind the moderate brand. It isn’t given to those Muslims who eschew violence, but to those Muslims who support the union of east and west. And they don’t look too closely at the fine print to determine whether this united world will run under international law or the manifest destiny of Islam.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Decentralized Jihad

Monday, April 29th, 2013

If you gain mastery over them in battle, inflict such a defeat as would terrorize them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned. — Qur’an 8:57

Allah made the Jews leave their homes by terrorizing them so that you killed some and made many captive. And He made you inherit their lands, their homes, and their wealth. He gave you a country you had not traversed before. — Qur’an 33:26

It’s been said that the Cold War was a conflict of civilizations, between opposing ideological views of the world. But it can also be seen as a simple geopolitical struggle between blocs. From the end of WWII until the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was common to find local disputes turned into proxy wars by the opposing powers.

There were also conflicts that were primarily instigated by the powers, as they tried to find an advantage in the struggle to protect or extend their spheres of influence. While there were exceptions, I think it is correct to say that there was a degree of centralized control, or at least strong influence, over much of the mischief in the world, and it was located in Moscow (or, if you prefer, Washington — my point is the same).

Today we are in the midst of a real conflict of civilizations, one which has been under way for much longer than the duration of the Cold War. It has gone up and down in intensity, sometimes remaining on simmer for hundreds of years, sometimes erupting into large-scale conflict, taking the form of traditional war, economic struggle, demographic competition, or all of those.

Unlike the cold war, this war is not directed from the capitals of the great powers. And unlike the cold war, in which ideology was wielded as a tool of the combatants, this war is in essence a war between ideologies. And at least on one side, it has become a truly grass-roots struggle.

Of course I am talking about the religion-ideology of Islam, whose endeavor to overpower the West has been going on for hundreds of years.

And not just the West. Most people are familiar with the rapid Muslim conquest of the Middle East and North Africa, and Islam’s advance into Europe until it was stopped at Tours in 732, but not the conquest of India which primarily took place during the 12th century, with Muslim rule dominating until the 1700′s.  Indonesia, today the most populous Muslim nation in the world probably obtained its Muslim majority around 1600, with Islam gradually driving out minority Christian, Hindu and animist beliefs since then. In Africa, Islam moved southward and inland from the coasts, more or less continuously until the present day, when bloody fighting continues.

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one of the most important “commandments” of Muslim doctrine is to spread Islam throughout the world, by any means necessary. To do Jihad.

The struggle with the West was on hold for several centuries, as the Christian nations of Europe made comparatively rapid scientific, technological and economic progress, in some cases actually turning history (and Islamic doctrine) on its head by colonizing or at least controlling Muslim lands. Militarily, it was no contest, with traditional Muslim fighters on horseback facing machine guns, tanks and air forces.

But something has changed. Europe has to a great extent abandoned its Christian faith and even seems to have abandoned its desire to reproduce, with birth rates below the replacement level. It has no stomach for warfare, or even to confront small-scale attrition by terrorism and ‘crime’ by Muslim immigrants (whose birthrate is much higher than that of the natives). The question is not ‘will Europe fall?’ but when it will happen.

Why did I mention Christianity? Because when individuals believe that the world ends with their own death, why should they care about the future of their culture as a whole? This is why religious belief is critical to cultural survival. Worse, what replaced Christianity is a secular humanism which is hostile to nationalism or peoplehood. What does a European have to fight for?

Muslims have learned to use modern weapons, and in places where the terrain and home field advantage is favorable enough, have managed to hold off Western armies, if not defeat them. The crown jewel of Western military technology, the nuclear bomb, is now in Muslim hands, although it is yet to be used. And the degree of commitment to Islam and Islamic ideology is growing and deepening among Muslims everywhere, thanks in part to modern technology.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev: What’s in a Name?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Killed Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, an ethnic Chechen Muslim, has been identified by the FBI as a “strong believer” in Islam, and an adept of jihadism. Tamerlan was unabashed in his Muslim piety and avowal of jihad—the latter bringing him to the attention of both Russian intelligence and the FBI.

Indeed, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was identified last summer, during a 6-month sojourn in Russia, as having frequented a well-known jihad-fomenting mosque in Machachkala, Dagestan, meeting directly with a jihadist underground movement leader there at least six times.  It has further been suggested that Tamerlan and his surviving brother Dzhokar, a Boston Marathon bombing suspect co-conspirator, who was in thrall to his elder brother (as well as to jihadism), were jointly “inspired” by Doku Umarov, known as Russia’s Bin Laden, and also an ethnic Chechen. Umarov is believed to have organized jihad terror attacks, such as the mass-murderous homicide bombing of Moscow’s Metro system, which slaughtered at least 40. Ominously, as noted by Chechen analyst, Dr. Carlo Gallo, “Umarov has made statements in which he said that the enemy of Islam is not just Russia, but America….”

But the astute observations of young freelance writer Alyssa Kilzer—a client of Zubeidat Tsarnaev, mother to Tamerlan and Dzhokar—are even more chilling, and indicate that the brother’s “radicalization” was a pious Muslim family affair. Ms. Kilzer, who received facials from Zubeidat Tsarnaev for several years at the Tsarnaev household (410 Norfolk Street, on the border between Cambridge and Watertown, M.A.), therein witnessed arranged marriages, wife-battering, hijab donning, strict Islamic piety with repeated Koranic references, and ultimately, baleful anti-American Islamic conspiracy theories about 9/11/2001. Kilzer also alludes to the “political activities” of Zubeidat Tsarnaev and her husband (Anzor) had engaged in (a euphemism for their anti-Russian jihadism?), which caused the Daghestani native parents—both lawyers—to flee.

The Tsarnaev family ties to Daghestan—a primordial hub of Islamic jihadism in the Causcasus for over a millennium—may prove critical to understanding the jihad carnage in Boston wrought by the Tsarnaev brothers. Moreover, it is also worth noting that Dzhokar Tsarnaev was mentored (albeit only via e-mail correspondence) by a full-throated University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth apologist for so-called Chechen separatism, Brian Glyn Williams.

But there was an even more basic, profound warning sign of the Tsarnaev family’s dangerous Weltanschauung—the very name Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev chose for their eldest son: “Tamerlan(e).”

The cover art for "Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism," a miniature painting from a sixteenth century manuscript of the Zafarnama by Sharaf al-Din Ali-Yazdi, from the year 1552.

The cover art for “Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism,” a miniature painting from a sixteenth century manuscript of the Zafarnama by Sharaf al-Din Ali-Yazdi, from the year 1552.

The cover art for my recent book “Sharia Versus Freedom—The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism” (at right) reproduces a miniature painting from a sixteenth century manuscript of the Zafarnama by Sharaf al-Din Ali-Yazdi, the best-known example of early Persian historiography the Islamized Mongol conqueror Amir Timur-i-lang, or “Tamerlane.” The image was housed in the British Library and originally published/produced in Shiraz, Iran, 1552. It depicts soldiers filing before Tamerlane holding heads of their decapitated enemies which they used to build a tower shaped like the minaret of a mosque, in Baghdad (1401).

The upper inscription embedded within the painting reads,

How fate and destiny have cast awe in the minds of the “Tavaajis”! [king’s messengers, and herein, more generally, “traitors”], In an orderly and numerical fashion, They made minarets with the heads of the wretched “Tavaajis” As a lesson to the inhabitants of the world.

While the lower embedded inscription states,

So that no subordinate would dare to challenge superiors and no fox acts like a lion, and threatens the kings; Under the temptation of the demon pride…

Historian Jean Aubin’s 1962 analysis notes that the Baghdad siege lasted nearly forty days, adding that the Zafarnama insists, “in hopes of seeing the city surrender and conserve it intact, Tamerlane delayed several times the attack requested by his officers.” Ravaged by starvation, groups of soldiers and residents fled the city, “by jumping from the summit of the ramparts.” When Tamerlane’s forces launched their final assault, escape from Baghdad was prevented by archers who were arranged on both riverbanks of the Tigris.  Consistent with the earlier accounts of Browne and Grousset, Aubin summarizes the fate of Baghdad’s hapless population, stating,  

The rare survivors—approximately one person out of a hundred, according to the Zafar-nama—were sold into slavery. The only ones spared were theologians, sheiks, and dervishes who managed to reach Tamerlane’s pavilion. They were given food and clothes, and sent to a safe place.

Tamerlane was born at Kash (Shahr-i-Sebz, the “GreenCity”) in Transoxiana (some 50 miles south of Samarkand, in modern Uzbekistan), on April 8 (or 11), 1336 A.D.  Amir Turghay, his father, was chief of the Gurgan or Chagtai branch of the Barlas Turks. By age 34 (1369/70), Timur had killed his major rival (Mir Husain), becoming the pre-eminent ruler of Transoxiana. He spent the next six to seven years consolidating his power in Transoxiana before launching the aggressive conquests of Persia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and then attacking Hindustan (India) under the tottering Delhi Sultanate.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/tamerlan-tsarnaev-whats-in-a-name/2013/04/24/

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