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Jabhat al-Nusra and IS: same hadith, same message

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — just a curiosity ]
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SPEC DQ same hadith JN IS

The hadith quoted in the upper panel is from p. 11 of the new issue of Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi captions the hadith in the lower panel:

“When a son of Adam dies, his deeds are cut off except for three things: ongoing charity, knowledge from which one can obtain benefit, or the supplication of a righteous son for him.” [hadith on the authority of Abu Huraira]

His post attributes it, along with many other examples, to Jabhat al-Nusra.

**

Sources:

  • Islamic State, Dabiq issue 9, p 11
  • Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Archive of Jabhat al-Nusra Billboards and Murals
  • Insight into Iraq in Seierstad’s bio of Anders Breivik

    Monday, April 27th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — another example of what I call “landmines in the garden” ]
    .

    I wouldn’t have picked a bio of Anders Breivik as a likely source for insights into Iraq, but Åsne Seierstad‘s bio, One of Us, provides one all the same… first quoting the Qur’anic sura Al-Anfal (upper panel, below) in her epigraph to a chapter —

    SPEC DQ Al-Anfal

    — then commenting on that quotation (lower panel, above) a page later.

    **

    What interests me here is Seierstad’s last sentence as quoted in the lower panel:

    By naming the campaign of extermination after a sura of the Qur’an, the Iraqi government sought to legitimate its executions as a war against believers.

    We have seen jihadists quote scripture often enough to suggest they have divine sanction for their acts of violence. Here it was Saddam Hussein in 1988 whose interpretation of the Qur’an provided that sanction. And I emphasize the word “interpretation” since Sura 8, Al-Anfal (The Spoils of War), was received shortly after the Battle of Badr, which it is understood to describe in detail, and its applicability by analogy to completely different circumstances such as Saddam’s campaign against the Kurds (and also, as Wikipedia notes, Assyrians, Shabaks, Iraqi Turkmens, Yazidis, Jews, and Mandeans) is indeed interpretive and subjective rather than “authoritative”.

    Saddam Hussein’s “authority” in Quranic exegesis would be questionable at best — so long as one was not overheard questioning it in Iraq at the time.

    Specifically, the very next verse of Al-Anfal clarifies the context. It does not say “When you find the unbelievers living in their villages and towns” — it says:

    O believers, when you encounter the unbelievers marching to battle, turn not your backs to them.

    But it is a little late for anyone to presume to give Saddam Hussein lessons in the book he once ordered written in his own blood, least of all myself.

    **

    My overall point here is that the world’s scriptures in general offer paths towards paradise, pardes, pardis — a tranquil garden or orchard. Not infrequently, though, they also contain texts which can blow up in our faces if read not in historical context but with contemporary violent intent.

    Landmines in the Garden.

    Caveat lector.

    It’s not quite Easter yet (for the Orthodox)

    Saturday, April 11th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — so I trust you’ll forgive me posting a couple of stunning movie crucifixion images ]
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    My first image comes rom the forthcoming Ernst Haas book, On Set, and features his sbehind-the-scenes shot of the crucifixion in The Greatest Stiry Ever Told:

    On Set crucifixion Haas

    The second image turned up while I was researching the Armednian Genocide for a forthcoming article. It’s taken from a 1919 documentary, Auction of Souls, and it brings crucifixion into the twentieth century:

    Crucifixion 2 Armenian Genocide

    **

    For crucifixion in antiquity, see A Tomb in Jerusalem Reveals the History of Crucifixion and Roman Crucifixion Methods:

    Examination of Yehohanan’s bones showed one of the many Roman crucifixion methods. Both of his feet had been nailed together to the cross with a wooden plaque while his legs were bent to one side. His arm bones revealed scratches where the nails had passed between. Both legs were badly fractured, most likely from a crushing blow meant to end his suffering and bring about a faster death. Yehohanan was probably a political dissident against Roman oppression. In death his bones have helped fill in gaps in the history of crucifixion.

    Crucifixion in the Qur’an is one of several severe “hudud” punishments {Q 5.32-34):

    Therefore We prescribed for the Children of Israel that whoso slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoso gives life to a soul, shall be as if he ha given life to mankind altogether. Our Messengers have already come to them with the clear signs; then many of them thereafter commit excesses in the earth. This is the recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and hasten about the earth, to do corruption there: they shall be slaughtered, or crucified, or their hands and feet shall alternately be struck off; or they shall be banished from the land. That is a degradation for them in this world; and in the world to come awaits them a mighty chastisement, except for such as repent, before you have power over them. So know you that God is All-forgiving, All-compassionate.

    The Qur’an also states that Jesus was not crucified (q 4.157):

    And for their [the Jews] saying, ‘We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God’ — yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him, only a likeness of that was shown to them.

    It should be noted that this suggestion is similar to that in the (Gnostic) Acts of John, #97:

    I, then, when I saw him suffer, did not even abide by his suffering, but fled unto the Mount of Olives, weeping at that which had befallen. And when he was crucified on the Friday, at the sixth hour of the day, darkness came upon all the earth. And my Lord standing in the midst of the cave and enlightening it, said: John, unto the multitude below in Jerusalem I am being crucified and pierced with lances and reeds, and gall and vinegar is given me to drink. But unto thee I speak, and what I speak hear thou. I put it into thy mind to come up into this mountain, that thou mightest hear those things which it behoveth a disciple to learn from his teacher and a man from his God.

    For crucifixions today, we must turn to the Islamic State. A Fox News report noted that while “IS crucifixion” photos have been circulating, what is meant by crucifixion here may not be what we assume it means:

    The series of photographs show different men bound to crosses in what appears to be a public square area, though it could not be independently confirmed that the subjects were dead or, if they were, by what means the executions had been carried out. The pictures do not show any apparent signs of the men nailed to a cross, nor are there any obvious, visible signs of fatal wounds.

    crucifixion Fox

    **

    Plenty of room for thought herein.

    Tomorrow: Christos aneste!

    On fire

    Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — there’s rather more going on in the burning of the Jordanian pilot than I can handle — here are some of today’s relevant highlights ]
    .

    I’ll start and close with JM Berger, who has two of the wisest contextual comments of the day to offer us:

    That’s the context as I see it, though you’ll note that Tim Furnish differs, later in this post.

    **

    Two tweets give us Qur’anic justification for and against the use of fire in punishment:

    and:

    The Quranic verse Zaid Benjamin quotes is given in English in his tweet. The first seven verses of Sura 85, quoted by Will McCants, read in the Arberry translation:

    By heaven of the constellations, by the promised day, by the witness and the witnessed, slain were the Men of the Pit, the fire abounding in fuel, when they were seated over it and were themselves witnesses of what they did with the believers.

    I would really like to see a detailed scholarly post commenting on McCants’ reading of Qur’an 85.1-7, with or without notes on related ahadith and tafsir.

    **

    Two tweets offer ahadith related to the case:

    and:

    **

    Two from Tim Furnish:

    and:

    Here is Tim Furnish’s commentary, from MahdiWatch:

    ISIS gruesomely burned alive Jordanian Air Force officer Mu`adh al-Kasabeh not simply to horrify or intimidate, but rather in order to exact retribution for the “Crusaders” and their Coalition allies dropping bombs and launching missiles that consumed Muslims (especially, allegedly, children) in flames. The Islamic doctrine of shifa’ al-sudur (the name of the video, note) was derived from Sura al-Baqarah [II]:179 and its idea of “legal retribution” which is supposed to lead to reconciliation between Muslims once scores have been settled in like fashion—between, presumably, ISIS and the Muslim nations (Jordan, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Oman) named in the video as helping the “Crusaders.” So, in this mindset, al-Kasabeh had to burn–not simply be decapitated. Lex talionis according to Allah.

    ISIS also adduces a saying from the famous Sunni cleric Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) that desecrating bodies is allowable if it horrifies (unbelieving) enemies into ceasing their aggression against Muslims—or, in this case, against the Islamic State proper.

    So, just as with beheadings and enslavement of “pagan” women, ISIS is acting in a supremely, albeit brutally, atavistic Islamic fashion (not a nihilistic one, as the President keeps saying). Only when we admit that will we (Westerners and Muslims) be on the path to refuting and eradicating ISIS.

    **

    Mark Safranski, my gracious host and the publisher of this blog, refers us to the ICRC:

    Mr Orange suggests there have been previous burnings by ISI, the predecessor to IS / Daesh:

    It seems to me there’s room for plenty of research as between international lawyers and experts in the history of Islamic exegesis…

    **

    Three tweets regarding the Jordanian response:

    and:

    **

    Common sense: this, from Daveed Gartenstein-Ross:

    and John Horgan:

    in light of which, let me add by way of requiescat:

    **

    I’ll close as I began, with JM Berger:

    Let’s not feed the flames.

    Brief brief: of binding and loosing

    Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — really just a note to myself, but you may read it over my shoulder ]
    .

    Joas Wagemakers, blogging on Jihadi-Salafi views of the Islamic State at the Washington Post, was talking about the “caliphate” today, and as usual, I went off on my own DoubleQuoting tangent:

    SPEC DQ bind and loose

    **

    Here’s Wagemakers’s para that triggered the above:

    In 2014 the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria set itself apart from most other radical Islamist groups by actually settling in a certain territory and establishing a state there. The group even declared a caliphate on June 29 and changed its name simply to the Islamic State (IS). Even al-Qaeda, which has long had similar ambitions to establish a caliphate encompassing all Muslims, has never achieved this. In its justification for the announcement of its caliphate, IS has made use of classical Islamic concepts: its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, had been vetted by a group of scholars described as “the people who loosen and bind” (ahl al-hall wa-l-aqd), was found by them to be a pious Muslim ruler who fit all the criteria for a caliph and was therefore worthy of believers’ oath of allegiance (baya).

    Do I detect an echo here, between the two phrases — or is the concept of loosing and binding so basic to human experience that it crops up all over?

    It’s a question at the intersection of two of my fields of special interest — depth psychology and cultural anthro — see for example Anthony Stevens, writing under the subtitle Archetypes versus cultural transmission:

    Essentially, the theory can be stated as a psychological law: whenever a phenomenon is found to be characteristic of all human communities, it is an expression of an archetype of the collective unconscious. It is not possible to demonstrate that such universally apparent phenomena are exclusively due to archetypal determinants or entirely due to cultural diffusion, because in all probability both are involved. However, the likelihood is that there will be a strong bias for those phenomena which are archetypally determined to diffuse more readily and more lastingly than those that are not.

    **

    Now go read Wagemakers.


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