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After IS, what next? — the missing (apocalyptic) strand

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

[ by Charles Cameron — four recent tweets, some lines of inquiry, & no certain conclusion, no date certain ]
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The four recent tweets that set me off..

**

There are a multitude of voices now raising the question After ISIS< What Next? They can be heard from as far back as October 2014, onwards:

  • Al Arabiya English, What comes after ISIS’ defeat?
  • Foreign Policy, What Comes After the Islamic State Is Defeated?
  • Lexington Institute, What Do We Do The Day After ISIS Is Defeated?
  • The National Interest, We Defeat ISIS. Then What?
  • The Telegraph, What happens once Isil is defeated?
  • Wilson Center, Iraq: Now and After ISIS
  • The [Huffington] World Post, The Middle East after ISIS
  • and most recently:

  • The Atlantic, The Hell After ISIS
  • If IS continues losing territory, as suggested in the tweets above, this question can only gain in force.

    **

    I have been following Islamic eschatology since 1998 or thereabouts, when I met David Cook, and I thought that what was at that time an eerily unappreciated question had at last made its way into informed consciousness after..

  • 2002, David Cook, Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic
  • 2005, David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature
  • 2011, J-P Filiu, Apocalypse in Islam
  • 2014, Martin Dempsey, speech: IS has “an apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision”
  • 2015, Jessica Stern & JM Berger, ISIS: The State of Terror
  • 2015, Graeme Wood, What ISIS Really Wants
  • 2015, Will McCants, The ISIS Apocalypse
  • But no, the question I’m interested in has not been raised:

    Is there a more potent form of apocalyptic movement than the two we have most recently seen?

  • a Mahdist movement, one focused on the army with black flags from Khorasan — AQ
  • a Caliphal movement, one focused on the establishment of the rightly-guided kingdom — IS
  • **

    Four hints:

    It seems to me that you can have a Caliphal (kingdom based), or a Mahdist (leader based) movement, and that the Caliphal approach, should IS be a clear failure as a global quasi-state, will be exhausted for quite some time — and that since AQ, to the extent that it is or was an apocalyptic movement, was one that looked to a future Mahdi, the only route “up” from either one would be the declaration of an actual Mahdi-claimant with armed insurrection to follow.

  • The worst messianic movement, in terms of fatalities, would still be China’s 19th Century Taiping Rebellion, 20-30 million dead. Strangely enough, Gordon of Khartoum was involved.

  • The most recent and widely notable Mahdist rebellion was the Sudanese one that killed Gordon, led initially by Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi.

  • The next highly plausible date for the appearance of a Mahdi would be at the start of the next Islamic century, 1500 AH / 2076 BCE, since ahadith suggest a Mujaddid or Reformer will be sent every 100 years, and there have been assertions that the Ummah will not endure longer than 1,500 years (see here eg)
  • My guess is that we’ll have a cooling-off period in terms of Islamic apocalyptic if IS is seen to fail — but as they say, mortal mind cannot know the time of the end, and Allah knows best.

    Doing it right, doing it wrong, & it could be your Sunday surprise

    Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a quick note about putting the mind through hoops, aka connecting dots ]
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    For the record, the mind is not a phalanx but a swarm — IOW it gets creative when the links are leaps, not serried ranks.

    So when your evidence board, memory jolt, graphical display looks like this (and it’s not the unavoidable dimness of the screen-grab I’m talking about):

    wrong way to stir memories The Killing s3 e8 around 39 mins 2

    the mind won’t see as many possibilities as when it’s more like this:

    **

    Randomize. Create uneven spaces between items. Shift items around. The idea here is to create fresh possibilities, not to look tidy.

    I had a friend once who was an artist. His studio and his life were both disasters — and in his studio, in the middle of that life, he created dazzling, gorgeously colored and delicately graduated geometric patterns — as though he was a disorder organizer, and the more disorderly his input, the greater the precision of his output.

    Think about that.

    Here is what may be a diagrammatic version of what I’m saying, or maybe not, but which stirs my mind in any case, just thinking about it — from Ron Scroggin about a year ago, shared in John Kellden‘s Conversations on G+:

    projectmixtape RC

    **

    Sources:

  • Evidence board, The Killing, series 3 episode 8
  • Al Qaida board, Manhunter
  • Gilmore Girls and FaceBook Friends

    Saturday, May 14th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — on relationships today, a DoubleQuote found in the Wild ]
    .

    Call it unconscious humor, found art, or a DoubleQuote in the Wild — these things “catch the eye” and “capture the heart”. Nice work, David Masad, and thanks fore passing it along, Kelsey Atherton.

    Trying these shoes on for size — nah!

    Saturday, April 23rd, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — a little semi-private laughing at myself via Madam Secretary ]
    .

    I’ve been having some private chuckles watching season 1 of Madam Secretary, and I’m betting Dr Henry McCord, the religion professor / NSA guy, doesn’t have to beg his friends for copies of their journal papers the way I do, lol.

    Here are some screengrabs:

    argue with religion prof

    I’m afraid you may sometimes feel much the same when I forcefeed my own equivalent on you all.

    And then there’s this:

    not an expert on apocalyptic lit Madame Secretary s 1 e 18 ~25'

    He’s good on Aquinas and reads Arabic to boot. That’s impressive.

    But it’s true you know, religion professors don’t necessarily know apocalyptic, and apocalyptic specialists don’t necessarily know the full range of apocalyptic expressions across continents and centuries. At which point, may I recommend:

  • Richard Landes, Heaven on Earth: the Varieties of the Millennial Experience
  • **

    I was impressed that the show, in covering a “cult” situation in season 1 episode 18, showed knowledge not only for Jonestown and Waco, but more specifically of scholars of religion Phillip Arnold and James Tabor‘s contact with David Koresh, which had the potential to resolve the Waco situation in ways the FBI’s dismissal of theology as “Bible-babble” sadly ruled out:

    Henry McCord: You know, in Waco, Koresh was at an absolute standoff with the FBI until a couple of religious scholars got him talking about his beliefs, the Bible, and then that’s when he was ready to come out peacefully.

    Elizabeth McCord: So scholars almost saved the day at Waco, huh?

    Henry McCord: Okay. There’s no way of telling how that might have turned out.

    Spot on.

    And while we’re on this topic, may I recommend:

  • Nancy T. Ammerman, Waco, Federal Law Enforcement, and Scholars of Religion
  • James Tabor & Eugene Gallagher, Why Waco?
  • Jayne Docherty, Learning Lessons from Waco: When Parties Bring Their Gods to the Negotiation Table
  • **

    Okay, I can’t walk in Dr McCord’s shoes, but I’d happily follow his footsteps a little farther — once Season 2 arrives on Netflix.

    Envoi:

    For a little unintended current political input:

    ethics cant be trumped

    An irresistible use of DoubleQuotes

    Saturday, April 16th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — and yes, they are a-changin’ — or not? ]
    .

    h/t @pmarca.

    **

    I’d probably have reversed the order here, so cause was followed by effect — but maybe I’m just being too “stick in the mud / stuck in the box” conventional.

    Fine work.


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