The Sh’ite Apocalyptic Vision

The deep enmity of Shi’ite Iran towards the US and Israel does not come from the usual political and economic reasons as many suppose, according to an article in The Jerusalem Post by Lela Gilbert entitled “Iran’s aggression and the Shia apocalypse” (https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Irans-aggression-and-the-Shiite-apocalypse-598904).  In fact it comes from the religion of Shi’ism that is deeply ingrained in the culture of the Iranian nation and which has an apocalyptic vision of the future.  

Shi’ism results from the beginning of Islam, when after Mohammed died in 632 ce he had not named a successor.  As a result, his immediate followers decided to elect chief among them Abu Bakr as Caliph, both as spiritual and temporal leader.  These became the Sunni Muslims. However, there were many who thought his successor should be a blood relative, and his only surviving blood relative was his grandson Ali, son of his daughter Fatimah and son-in-law Hussein. His followers became the Shia

After Mohammed’s death the Sunni Muslims raised an army and began their series of conquests, including Damascus in 634, Jerusalem in 639, and North Africa in 652.  The inevitable Sunni-Shia clash came at Karbala in what is now Iraq in 680 when the Shia army under Ali were defeated by a much larger Sunni army under the Caliph.  From then on the Shia were a persecuted heretical minority of Islam that developed its own culture.

Although there are several sub-sects of Shia Islam, the majority and that practiced in Iran is what is known as “Twelver” Islam.  They believe that after the death of Ali there were 10 other Imams, who were his descendants and for the most part were secret.  But, the Twelth Imam is the Mahdi or savior (obviously derived from the Judaic concept of the Messiah that Christianity also adopted) known as the Hidden Imam. The Twelver Shia, i.e. the Iranians and their proxies, believe that at  the end of days when the hidden Imam appears there will be be an apocalyptic bloody conflict between the Muslim believers (i.e the Shia) and the infidels, which of course the Shia will win.

According to the article by Lela Gilbert, Iranian foreign policy is specifically devoted to bringing about the conditions of this apocalypse that they expect to win and defeat Israel, the US and the West in a cataclysmic bloody conflict.  While many in the West are looking for Iran to show rational behavior, the Iranians are in fact waiting for the Mahdi to appear.  So when the crowds in Tehran shout “Death to Israel”, “Death to America,” they really mean it!

 

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Kashmir

I have always maintained  that the Kashmir problem is far more serious than the Palestine problem.  Kashmir is much greater in size and population and the claimants to Kashmir, India and Pakistan, both have large armies and nuclear weapons.  The current crisis was triggered when India put Kashmir under martial law and then yesterday  rescinded article 370 of the agreement between India and Kashmir that gave it special autonomous status.  This means that the limited protections Kashmir had have been cancelled and India has now taken direct control of Kashmir.  Actually India occupies about 2/3 of Kashmir, while Pakistan illegally controls about 1/3 which its army occupied in 1948 immediately following independence.   

For those not familiar with the issue, Kashmir has a largely Muslim population, but had a Hindu ruler.  Upon Indian independence in 1948 he chose to join India rather than Pakistan, as was his right, but he asked for assurances from India that Kashmiri’s rights would be protected by a special status.  That is the article 370 that has now been unilaterally rescinded by the Indian Government.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars at various times since 1948, and there have been many clashes and Islamic terrorism in Kashmir.  When the BNP Party was re-elected to rule India under PM Modi with a big majority, such a move could have been expected in Kashmir, although it took most observers by surprise.  His party has intended to make such a move for a long time, but now the time has arrived, while the US and others are distracted by the trade war with China and the problems with Iran. 

There is no doubt that in India Kashmir is seen as a legitimate part of India and they intend to make it that way.  What Pakistan will do now is unknown.  They might annex their portion of Kashmir, they might foment unrest among the Muslim population of Kashmir and they might even attack and start another war over Kashmir.  If they do there is little doubt on which side the USA and \Israel will be.  Currently Israel is selling arms to India and training its military. India is a pro-Western democracy and it will find support in the West as long as it does not itself start hostilities.   

Muslim Women in Trouble

There are several cases currently of Muslim women fleeing Gulf countries because of the control and abuses they claim to have received at the hands of their relatives.  For example in Saudi Arabia until now a woman cannot travel alone without the permission of a male relative, husband, father, or son.  Of course, it is demeaning for a grown woman to have to ask the written permission of her son to go shopping for example, or to have a letter from her husband allowing her to fly to Paris.  It has recently been reported that this demeaning law will be revoked in Saudi Arabia under the direction of the son of the King Salman bin Mohammed, who is his expected successor.

Here are the specific cases:

  1.  Sheika Latifa (32), daughter of the ruler of Dubai Sheikh al-Maktoum, last March announced on YouTube that she was escaping form her father’s control and then boarded a yacht off the coast of Oman aided by several friends in what has been dramatized ina  video entitled “Escape From Dubai.  Later the yacht was boarded off the coast of India by a group of men and Latifa was then returned to Dubai, where she is effectively imprisoned. 
  2. Princess Haya (45), sixth wife of Sheikh Maktoum (69), has escaped from Dubai to London because she has discovered “disturbing facts” about the disappearance of Sheika Latifa, her step-daughter.  Sheikh Maktoum has filed an application against Princess Haya in the High Court of Justice in London.  Princess Haya is the sister of King Abdullah II of Jordan.
  3. Two Saudi sisters, Maha and Wafa al-Subaie (28 and 25) fled Saudi Arabia and managed to reach Georgia, where they were stranded.  They feared being abducted back to Saudi Arabia, but recently announced that they will be able to legally leave Georgia for a third country.

These are just a few of the women from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, which have extremely conservative laws regarding the treatment of women, who have fled their home countries, some of whom have been returned forcibly.  Many women in these Muslim countries have lived and been educated in the West and cannot reconcile themselves to the control and antiquated laws practised against women in these countries.

It is surprising that the female (and male) liberals who are so active in the BDS movement, who call themselves supporters of human rights, have done so little to support the rights of women in Muslim countries.  Among the malpractises are female genital mutilation (FGM), polygamy, male control of all aspects of life and so on.  No, on the contrary, these supposed liberals are obsessed with the Palestinians and their false claims against Israel.  Why do the ultra-conservative Muslim countries that mistreat there own women get a free pass?  Could it be because these BDS campaigners aren’t really interested in human rights at all?

Natural Selection Guides Evolution

A letter from Efraim A. Cohen appeared in the Letters column of The Jerusalem Post Magazine  (Letters June 21) that completely misstates the use of the philosophical principle known as Occam’s Razor.  This states that when faced with several equally convincing explanations for a problem, it is necessary to take the simplest explanation, the one that involves the least number of variables.  He concluded that in relation to biological evolution, the simplest explanation is to assume that God guides evolution.

Charles Darwin chose the term “natural selection” to explain biological evolution in order to indicate that the process was completely natural, there was no need to invoke any external force, either man, as in the selection of domesticated animals and plants, or God.  Since this is the simplest explanation we are required to accept it, so that the idea that God or any creationist guides evolution must be rejected.   Natural selection results from the survival of the fittest in the competition for survival in the natural environment.

In regards to the complexity found in the animal world, he is again wrong when he states that only God could have produced such complexity.  For there is definite evidence of separate evolution on each isolated island on earth, such as Madagascar that has lemurs, Australia that has kangaroos, New Guinea that has bower birds, Mauritius that had the Dodo, and so on (for a brilliant discussion of this aspect of evolution see David Quammen’s book “The Song of the Dodo: Island bio-geography in an age of extinction“).  The very existence of different species on each island shows not that God created them, but that evolution has occurred by natural selection in each island in isolation, as Darwin observed and reported on the Galapagos Islands long ago and that formed a necessary basis for his theory of evolution.

Freedom of Speech in Europe

Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, has been involved in a long-drawn out legal case of freedom of speech in Europe. She spoke to us during our visit with the MEF tour in Vienna.  In a course given at the Freedom Party on “Basic Knowledge of Islam,” she was recorded by a reporter as saying that Mohammed had pedophile tendencies because he liked little girls, for example, it is widely accepted that he married Aisha when she was 6 years old and he was 56 years old, and he consummated the marriage when she was only 9 years old.   

Elizabeth was taken to court and found guilty in 2011 of  “Publicly denigrating a person who is an object of veneration, namely Mohammed the Prophet of Islam.”  She appealed to the Supreme Court of Austria, and her conviction was upheld,  because they concluded that “she intended to denigrate and ridicule Muslims unnecessarily.”   She then appealed to the EU Court of Human Rights, that rejected her appeal in 2018 saying essentially that her statement was an example of “hate speech” against a “public figure” (see https://english.savefreespeech.org/)

Elisabeth points out that there has been no similar prosecution of individuals who have ridiculed Jesus Christ (such as the Monty Python: “Life of Brian“) or made anti-Semitic statements about Jews.  She not only questions why she was prosecuted and found guilty, but why does the UN Court of Human Rights uphold such an obvious case denying freedom of expression.  Can we no longer state the facts about any religion, or is it only Islam that is thus protected.

As a result of this case and her pursuing justice she lost her job as a teacher, and it has affected her whole life.  She has received death threats, and is now spending much time in the US, where she has received great support.  She points out that that there is no European equivalent to the First Amendment of the US Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech.

Here is another example of a fact about Islam that is not generally known, it is strange that the paragraphs in the Koran are arranged in terms of length, the longest first.  This is because the exact chronological order of the verses or suras were not known when the Koran was compiled hundreds of years after Mohammed’s death.  Several European writers have rearranged the chapters according to their analysis of chronological order. But, although such books are available in English and German, do not suggest such a rearranged Koran to any Muslim authority, it could be dangerous.

The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate is one of the 12 gates of the Old City of Jerusalem and is one of two gates facing east, both of which are walled up.  There is a Jewish tradition that the Messiah will enter Jerusalem through this Gate, and a Christian belief based on this that Jesus entered Jerusalem thru this Gate.  In order to prevent the coming of the Messiah or the second coming of Christ (an adaptation of the Messiah legend) the Muslims walled these Gates up during the medieval period.  

However, there is an entrance to the Gate inside the Old City Wall, that was being used by the Muslims as a protected site from which to attack the Israeli guards on the Temple Mount.  So several years ago the inner side of the Gate was also closed by a metal gate by the Israeli authorities.  Recently the Muslim Wakf, in charge of Muslim interests on the site, called by them the Haram al-Sharif, used mob force to open these gates and tried to use the adjoining area again.  This lead to a clash with the Israeli police and there are now threats of further violence by the Muslims.

It does not strike them as ironic that the Muslims were responsible for permanently closing the Gate by walling it up in the first place, but now they are rioting to keep it open. I wonder what would happen if the Israel authorities decided to actually remove the wall that is blocking the Gate and leave it open for all to enter the Old City.  Then there would probably be an even greater riot.  That seems to be the only solution to all their problems.

The Pope’s Visit to UAE

Among the more extraordinary events of the present time was the visit of the Pope to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).  This was the first recorded visit of a leader of Christianity to the Arabian peninsula, from which Christians (and Jews) have historically been excluded.  This in itself is extraordinary, that a group could exclude all other religions from a whole sub-continent, merely because their prophet lived there!  Of course, up to and during Mohammed’s time Jews and  Christians did live in the Arabian peninsula.  But, they were all killed or driven out by the Muslims.

Now in the modern world, where they need Western tourists and connections to the wider world, some of the small Gulf Arab States are seeking to project the image of modernity and tolerance.  Hence the declaration by the UAE of a year of tolerance, during which they invited the Pope and other world religious leaders to attend a conference on Peace and Tolerance. Very nice.  Of course, one should not forget that these tiny sheikdoms lived through centuries of mutual conflict and were only brought into the modern world by British control and American oil dollars.  But, now some of them are opting for a more peaceful coexistence and in fact Abu Dhabi now calls itself the Land of Peace.

In contrast, in most other parts of the Muslim world, Christians are under physical attack, in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Libya, Turkey, Pakistan and more, Christians are being blown up in their Churches and Cathedrals and receiving death threats. (They can’t attack Jews living there because they already expelled or killed all of them, except in Morocco).   So we should be pleased that at least in some parts of the Arab Muslim world there is a tendency towards tolerance and modernization.  Even the Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, considered the most important in the Arab world, came to Abu Dhabi and embraced the Pope.

But, let’s not get too carried away by this gesture.  One of the Gulf Arab States, Qatar, while also modernizing, has embraced extremism to the extent that the other Gulf States led by Saudi Arabia have broken diplomatic ties with it.  Qatar pays the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas m$15 per month in Gaza (thru an agreement with the Israeli Govt., so that they can pay for their electricity and water, etc.).  Qatar also flirts with ties with Iran.  Recently an Israeli Arab woman was murdered in Turkey by her brother and father because she wanted to go to medical school.  A Christian woman named Asia Bibi who was rumored to have blasphemed against the Koran in Pakistan was beaten by a mob and then condemned to death in 2010.  She spent 8 years on death row before she was declared innocent of the crime, but she was recently forced to leave the country under State protection because mobs were rioting demanding her death.  The Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared that blasphemy laws must be retained as they protect Islam.