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Showing posts from February, 2011

The Caliphates - 7. The Ali Connection

Abraham and His Family Abraham, father of the Jewish and Christian faiths, is also a prophet of Islam. Jews believe they are the descendants of Abraham through his second son, Isaac; Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad is a descendant of Abraham through his first son, Ishmael. Shiites thus believe the Twelve Imams are also descendants of Abraham. Muslims believe Abraham visited present-day Najaf, Iraq with Isaac. Isaac argued with his father against his intention to settle there because he believed the land wouldn't support growing crops and grazing livestock, but Abraham held his ground, so to speak, saying one day there would be a tomb built there with a shrine where thousands of people would find entrance to Paradise. Twenty-five hundred years later, Abbasid Caliph Harun al-Rashid was hunting deer with dogs in Najaf when the deer ran onto a piece of raised ground, but the dogs would not follow them. The caliph tried to encourage his horse to follow the deer, but it refused

The Caliphates - 6. The Ottomans

Osman I The Mongols who captured Baghdad and brought an end to the Abbasid Caliphate in 1258 were Turks. While the Mongol Turks took Baghdad, the Seljuk Turks seized Syria from the Crusaders before the Mongols captured it. The Mamluk Turks established a caliphate in Cairo, Egypt in 1261. Meanwhile, Anatolia, located in the eastern part of Turkey, experienced weakening and was divided into ten emirates, or principalities. The leader of one of those emirates was Osman I; it's from Osman that the name Ottoman is derived. Osman quickly began to expand his territory.  Over the next three centuries the Ottomans continued to grow their reach into Europe and North Africa, and even established a naval presence in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Indian Ocean. It had become such a potent competitor to European trading empires, that Queen Isabella commissioned Christopher Columbus to discover a new route to Asia, one that would avoid the Eastern Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean

The Caliphates - 5. The Abbasids

The descendants of Muhammad had competed unsuccessfully for years to wrest control of Islamic authority. First, Ali failed in his bid to succeed Muhammad immediately after the Prophet's death. Then, he was overlooked as Umar and Uthman succeeded Abu Bakr as Rightly Guided Caliphs. Finally, Ali was named the fourth and final Rightly Guided Caliph. He's also known today by Shiites as the First Imam in the line of twelve Imams who were all Ali's descendants. Their legacy as Imams is colored, however, by the fact that Ali's sons were both killed by Umayyads and the next eight Imams were poisoned by Umayyad or Abbasid assassins. Every single one of the Imams was assassinated except for the Twelfth Imam who simply disappeared at the age of 5 and remains hidden until he reappears to preside over the Worldwide Caliphate. Spherical Astrolabe Finally, however, descendants of Muhammad's uncle established the Abbasid Caliphate in 750 A.D. in modern-day Turkey. The linkage

The Caliphates - 4. The Umayyads

Mu'awiyah ascended to the leadership of the Umayyad Caliphate after Ali's son and heir, Hasan, surrendered the Rashidun Caliphate in 661 A.D. A new era in Islamic government had arrived. The Dome of the Rock built by the Umayyads over the remains of a Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The name "Umayyad" comes from Umayya ibn Abd Shams, who was Mu'awiyah's great-grandfather. The family lineage is significant because a good bit of the discontent and civil war during Imam Ali's caliphate arose when Ali dismissed many of the Umayyad family members from their offices, including Mu'awiyah who was the governor of Syria in Damascus. The lineage is even more "involved" than that, though. Tradition holds that the Umayyad family and Muhammad's line share an ancestor. They came from the same city, Mecca, and the same tribe, but as the lineage split, they separated into different clans. The two clans fought through the years. The fighting outlasted

The Caliphates - 3. The Imams

The Twelve Imams While the Rashidun Caliphate ended when Mu'awiyah's army subdued Hasan's forces in modern-day Iraq, it wasn't the end of the line for the descendents of the Prophet Muhammad and their claim to the leadership of the Islamic empire. Ali, who had finally become the fourth Rightly Guided Caliph in the Sunni tradition, is regarded as the first Islamic caliph by Shiites. They also know him as the First Imam in the line of Twelve. Hasan, vanquished by Mu'awiyah in Iraq, was the Second Imam. At some point after Hasan surrendered the caliphate that had been passed to him by the Patriarchs of Islam, he was poisoned by his wife, apparently on the orders of Mu'awiyah, and was succeeded by his brother, Husayn, the Third Imam. Husayn was later killed and beheaded in a battle with Caliph Yazid, son of and successor to Mu'awiyah. Caliph Yazid was the second caliph of the Umayyad Caliphate (discussed here in the next posting). To make a long story short

The Caliphates - 2. The Rashidun Patriarchs

The Muslim caliphates are best understood as dynasties or eras as they're not only represented by the land and people they've occupied, but also by the periods of time they've encompassed. The Four Rightly Guided Caliphs The first caliphate - the Rashidun Caliphate - lasted just twenty-nine years from Muhammad's death in 632 AD until 661 AD. The caliphate, also known as the "Rightly Guided Caliphate," was governed by a succession of four Rightly Guided Caliphs, the patriarchs of Islam. The Islam of Muhammad's time had been at war during the final dozen years of his life and it was thrust into internal strife immediately after his death. This internal conflict formed the basis of the division between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that endures today as they disagreed fundamentally over whether the Muslim faithful should be governed by a blood relative of Muhammad or by a member of Muhammad's inner circle, elected by others from the inner circle who knew

The Caliphates - 1. The Chaos Agenda

We're beginning to hear a lot about the Worldwide Caliphate, universal governance under Islamic Sharia law. The Muslim Brotherhood has been beating that drum for nearly a century, and with unrest in Egypt and elsewhere, many are wondering and speculating on the organization's role in the upheaval there and its future in the region. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad speaking to the UN General Assembly The Ayatollah Khomeini and Mahmoud Ahmedinejad both rose to power in Iran with an eye on hastening the return of the Twelfth Imam so he could preside over the Worldwide Caliphate, as they believe has been prophesied. Ahmedinejad pursues his notions through the advocacy and financing of regional chaos. The belief is that chaos is necessary so the Twelfth Imam can come to reestablish order and justice. When Ahmedinejad asks God - as he did in front of the UN General Assembly - for the hastening of the return of the Twelfth Imam, he brings to mind the Iranian Hojjatieh Socie

Warming Temperatures

Well, it's happening again: global weather change. All across the United States, cities are checking in with warmer temperatures, a sign, according to longtime observers, that global weather change is for real. There are signs that the Earth’s weather has begun to change ominously and that these changes may portend a drastic increase in temperatures over the coming months – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The regions of the United States destined to feel its impact are the wheat and corn-producing lands of the Midwest, the avocado and lettuce-producing lands of the West, the blueberry and spruce-producing lands of the Northeast, the magnolia and cotton-producing lands of the South, and the cactus and coyote-producing lands of the Southwest. Hawaii should be okay. The evidence supporting these predictions has now begun to accumulate so massively that meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it. All across the United States, farmers a

JFK Moments

When John F. Kennedy was inaugurated as the 35th President of the United States on January 20, 1961, the American economy was at the pit of a recession and the unemployment rate was 7%.  His statements cited below span the period of his presidency from two months after his inauguration to two months before his assassination. The next time you hear the words, "JFK-esque" or "JFK moment" attributed to someone speaking on economics, think of these JFK statements and judge the appropriateness of the comparison for yourself. These are real JFK moments: "Expansion and modernization of the nation's productive plant is essential to accelerate economic growth and to improve the international competitive position of American industry ... An early stimulus to business investment will promote recovery and increase employment ." – John F. Kennedy, Feb. 2, 1961, message on economic recovery "I have asked the secretary of the treasury to report by April

Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood: A Means to an End

PART IV of IV So, the other day, the U. S. Director of National Intelligence characterized the Muslim Brotherhood as an "umbrella term for a variety of movements." He seems to have gotten at least that  part of his Congressional testimony right, but I'm probably thinking of it in a different context than he had in mind.  I wonder if he was thinking of organizations like Hizb ut-Tahrir  when he mentioned those other "secular" movements. There are other organizations under the Muslim Brotherhood umbrella. Among the better-known branches of the Brotherhood in the past 30 years are the al-Jihad in Egypt, Hamas in Palestine, the Afghan mujahadeen, and others, the latter being a group also supported by the United States in fighting against the Soviet Union that has since morphed into the group led by, here he is again, Osama bin Laden. In recent years, the Muslim Brotherhood has taken on a new tactic, in part because it's been outlawed in Egypt. It has embrac