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The Caliphate, Hamas, and the Gharqad Tree hadith

Monday, July 28th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- The second issue of the caliphate's Dabiq magazine leads with another "end times" reference ]


The second issue of the caliphate’s digital magazine Dabiq is now out, and once again, it contains a clear “end times” reference in the Foreword, p. 4:

As for the massacres taking place in Gaza against the Muslim men, women, and children, then the Islamic State will do everything within its means to continue striking down every apostate who stands as an obstacle on its path towards Palestine. It is not the manner of the Islamic State to throw empty, dry, and hypocritical words of condemnation and condolences like the Arab taw?gh?t do in the UN and Arab League. Rather, its actions speak louder than its words and it is only a matter of time and patience before it reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric jews and kill those of them hiding behind the gharqad trees – the trees of the jews.

The reference here is to the hadith of the gharqad tree, as found in context in the Charter of Hamas, Article 7:

thereafter. Even though the episodes were few and far between, and were not continuous in Jihad due to the obstacles placed by those in the sphere of [influence of] the Zionist entity in the face of the Mujahidin. Even though the Islamic Resistance Movement looks forward to fulfill the promise of Allah no matter how long it takes because the Prophet of Allah (saas) says:

The Last Hour would not come until the Muslims fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them, and until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say. Muslim or Servant of Allah there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree of Gharqad would not say it, for it is the tree of the Jews (Bukhari and Muslim).

This is a clearly apocalyptic hadith, as indicated by it’s reference to “the Last Hour” or Day of judgement.


The Federation of American Scientists site offers a different translation, and footnotes this particular passage with the words:

The Egyptian troops who launched the assault on the Bar-Lev Line in October 1973, were equipped with “booklets of guidance” which included, inter alia, this same quotation.

Another noteworthy use of the “Gharqad tree hadith” comes from Bin Laden:

Doomsday shall not come until Muslims fight Jews. A Jew would be hiding behind a tree or a stone. The tree or the stone would say, O Muslim, O subject of God, there is a Jew behind me come and kill him. The only exception is [Gharqad] tree is a tree that belongs to Jews.

with his comment [p. 244]:

Whoever claims that there is lasting peace with the Jews is a disbeliever of what the prophet, may the peace and blessings of God upon him, said. Our conflict with the enemies of Islam will continue until Doomsday.


The most interesting writing in English on the gharqad tree that I am aware of is to be found in Anne Marie Oliver and Paul Steinberg, The Road to Martyrs’ Square, pp 19-21.

This issue’s title and cover illustration, as you can see above, references the Flood, which is described in Suras 11 and 71 of the Qur’an, as well as in Genesis chapters 6 through 9. Apparently the caliphate’s editors have yet to read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

And now to see if the rest of the magazine contains further insights.


Rape as Strategy: Gaza and London

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- at least three ways of looking at a pair of tweets ]

If there can be Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, there are at least three or four ways of looking at these two tweets:

The similarities are eerie, the differences are enormous.


You could, I suppose, look at it as an Israel to London comparison, although I don’t think that approach would be particularly insightful. Or gang-members vs academics, which might be a little more interesting. I’d suggest, however, that the first way many people will read the comparison above will be as a statement about the Israeli-Palestinian situation: London fades into the background, a professor’s (from my POV intermerate) statement of a seemingly intractable problem gets equated with an actual gangland threat and praxis:

On that reading, the juxtaposition is an indictment of the Israeli side in the current Gaza conflict. And that’s a huge pity, because the professor’s words were specifically not about “what should be done” but about “what it would take” to do the job — in this case, of getting suicide bombers to refrain from killing themselves and others.

So from my POV the second reading, which critiques the first (IMO appropriately) is of a comparison between what in my diagram I’ll call “thought experiment” and “threat, tactic” — the latter word indicating that the threat is one that is carried out in practice, ie in the form of selective, vengeful, punitive rape of the daughters and sisters of enemies:

Here is a little more of the context — note the professor’s disclaimer, “I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts”:

“The only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” This assertion was made by Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University about three weeks ago on an Israel Radio program. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” added Kedar, of Bar-Ilan’s Department of Arabic. [ .. ]

“You have to understand the culture in which we live,” said Kedar. “The only thing that deters [Hamas leaders] is a threat to the connection between their heads and their shoulders.” When presenter Yossi Hadar asked if that “could filter down” the organization’s ranks, Kedar replied: “No, because lower down the considerations are entirely different.

Terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them — the only thing that deters them is if they know that their sister or their mother will be raped in the event that they are caught. What can you do, that’s the culture in which we live.”

When Hadar said, “We can’t take such steps, of course,” Kedar continued: “I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts. The only thing that deters a suicide bomber is the knowledge that if he pulls the trigger or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s all. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, in order to preserve his sister’s honor.”

Now, is that a valid disclaimer — or a slippery slope?

Mileages, I fear, will differ greatly on the answers to that question.


But wait.

What if you’re not a partisan of the Palestinian or Israeli side, but of a humanity long weary of wars but seemingly woven into them by nature and nurture — warp and woof on the loom of history?

What if you’re a woman?

I’m not a woman, and it is only through the promptings of friends like Elizabeth Pearson and Cheryl Rofer that I eventually get around to looking at this particular juxtaposition — and other analytic complexities as appropriate — with an eye to gender differences.

Here the picture may overlay one or both of the previous ones — or obliterate their carefully-drawn distinctions completely. The picture is this:

Wives, of course, too, aunts, nieces — wherever it hurts, whoever the adversary is honor-bound to protect.

And some will say, that’s the nature of war! — and not be entirely wrong.

What a world. And in it, across time, the minds and hearts that gave us the books of Isaiah and Job, the masses of Bach and Beethoven, the Mezquita of Cordoba and the Taj Mahal, Abhinavagupta and Chuang Tzu, Gell-Mann and Francis Crick



  • Guardian: Gangs draw up lists of girls to rape as proxy attacks on rivals
  • Haaretz: Israeli professor’s ‘rape as terror deterrent’ statement draws ire
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    DoubleQuote in the wild: gun, flag, scripture

    Monday, July 7th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- offered as an opportunity to compare and contrast -- not an equation to swear by ]

    Some will prefer one side of this DoubleQuote to the other, and feel it proposes an unjustified “equality” between them. Some will want to say “A pox on both your houses”.


    I prefer to think of it as a Socratic question — an equation with a question mark, perhaps?



  • The Blue Street Journal
  • **

    If there are such qualities as the words good and evil denote, I’d say with Solzhenitsyn:

    Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart – and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. And even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained. And even in the best of all hearts, there remains … an uprooted small corner of evil.


    Ramadan, the military and the Bible: misplaced juxtapositions, paradoxes, nuances

    Monday, July 7th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- on the paradoxes, double standards, accommodations and hypocrisies -- whatever you call them, however you see them -- that arise when religions overlap -- or bump up against one another ]


    That’s a juxtaposition of title and photo, straight out of my morning mail from Vision to America News a few days back.

    As you know, juxtaposition is a particular favorite of mine, the rhetorical flourish I most enjoy — but it can manifestly be abused. Do you suppose the personnel in the photo were under orders to perform the characteristic Muslim five-times-daily prayers known as salat? Were they led, perhaps, by an officer or senior NCO? Isn’t that what this juxtaposition suggests?

    Or is the photo simply a photo of Muslim members of the armed forces at prayer, in accordance with their beliefs?


    Pamela Geller uses the same photo with the title you see here:

    Her text, below, begins:

    Our troops must adhere to the sharia during the Islamic month of Ramadan in Bahrain and other Muslim countries. Subjected to dawah (proselytizing) by an Islamic cultural adviser at the Naval Support Activity, soldiers are forced to sit through lessons on Islam. No eating, drinking, alcohol, smoking during the month of Ramadan.

    This is what the Obama administration and the US military are obsessed with as armies of jihad tear through the Middle East.


    By way of contrast, back in 2009 Army dot Mil datelined Fort Jackson, SC, FORT JACKSON, S.C., September 24, carried the same photo under the headline Soldiers celebrate end of Ramadan

    with the caption:

    Muslim Soldiers bow down in prayer during the celebration of Eid-Al-Fitr Sunday at the Joe E. Mann Center. Eid-Al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the holy month for Muslims worldwide.

    and text that begins:

    About 100 Muslim Soldiers gathered at the Joe E. Mann Center Sunday to celebrate Eid-Al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.

    “It’s a great honor and privilege to do this,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad, U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School, who presided over the ceremonial part of the celebration. “We want (the Soldiers) to be empowered through the spiritual foundation that Islam provides. Eid-Al-Fitr is a culmination of the fasting during the month of Ramadan. As a result of that, we do the celebration traditionally for three days, but the biggest (part) is this particular day.”


    And the truth shall set you free.


    The fact is, though, that much as I think Vision to America and Ms Geller are playing dirty pool here, I do think we have a bit of a paradox going when we offer our troops in Dubai sensitivity training in Islamic traditions and ask them to be respectful of them…


    — even going so far as to ban and burn Bibles in Pashto and Dari sent to troops in Afghanistan, because they might be used by enthusiastic evangelicals to evangelize the locals:

    Military personnel threw away, and ultimately burned, confiscated Bibles that were printed in the two most common Afghan languages amid concern they would be used to try to convert Afghans, a Defense Department spokesman said Tuesday.

    The unsolicited Bibles sent by a church in the United States were confiscated about a year ago at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan because military rules forbid troops of any religion from proselytizing while deployed there, Lt. Col. Mark Wright said. Such religious outreach can endanger American troops and civilians in the devoutly Muslim nation, Wright said.

    “The decision was made that it was a ‘force protection’ measure to throw them away, because, if they did get out, it could be perceived by Afghans that the U.S. government or the U.S. military was trying to convert Muslims,” Wright told CNN on Tuesday.

    Hey, I have to say I sympathize with that argument —


    But I also sympathize with the Air Force kid who wanted to put a Gospel verse up on his personal whiteboard, and was ordered to take it down. As Onan Coca writing at Eagle Rising pointed out:

    The truth of the matter is that no Christian would have complained had a Jewish or Muslim cadet placed a verse from their religious scriptures on their whiteboards.

    I certainly hope that’s the case — Baruch haShem, and Allah knows best.


    Observations of a religion watcher

    Friday, June 13th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- ISIS in Iraq, the battle of Badr, and 5,000 swooping angels ]


    Two days ago, under the title Iraq army capitulates to Isis militants in four cities, the Guardian reported:

    The extent of the Iraqi army’s defeat at the hands of militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) became clear on Wednesday when officials in Baghdad conceded that insurgents had stripped the main army base in the northern city of Mosul of weapons, released hundreds of prisoners from the city’s jails and may have seized up to $480m in banknotes from the city’s banks.

    Iraqi officials told the Guardian that two divisions of Iraqi soldiers – roughly 30,000 men – simply turned and ran in the face of the assault by an insurgent force of just 800 fighters.

    It’s that second paragraph that interests me.

    Supposing you were among the 800 ISIS fighters at the point when those 30,000 Iraqi soldiers desert the field, will your mind not move instantly to the Qur’an 3.124-25, verses which describe how 300 Muslims decisively defeated 1,000 fighters of the Quraysh at the seminal battle of Badr?

    When thou saidst to the believers, “Is it not enough for you that your Lord should reinforce you with three thousand angels sent down upon you? Yea; if you are patient and godfearing, and the foe come against you instantly, your Lord will reinforce you with five thousand swooping angels.”

    — or to Qur’an 8.9?

    When you were calling upon your Lord for succour, and He answered you, “I shall reinforce you with a thousand angels riding behind you.”

    The impact on ISIS morale must be enormous — surely God is assisting them!

    To win a battle is one thing. To win a battle when outnumbered is another. To win a battle when outnumbered with the blessings of God is a third and yet more powerful thing.


    Well, yeah.

    After I’d written this, but before posting it, I came across Ibn Siqilli’s blog post today titled Translation of the Message from Abu Muhammad al-’Adnani al-Shami, Official Spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, after Mosul, in which al-Shami says, quoting yet another Qur’anic verse about the battle of Badr:

    Allah ta’ala? said, {[Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”} [Al-Anfal: 12]

    All praise is to Allah, who fulfilled His promise, kept His slaves firm, gave victory to His soldiers, and alone vanquished the Rawafid. All praise is to Allah who filled their hearts with terror and their feet with defeat. All praise is to Allah who made their weapons, equipment, vehicles, and wealth, war booty for the mujahidin.


    And yet, and yet — there’s also Kirkuk.

    Indeed, it’s possible that angels weren’t required in either instance, and that the Washington Post got it right in an article titled Iraq disintegrating as insurgents advance toward capital; Kurds seize Kirkuk.

    If God gave ISIS the melting away of Iraqi forces in Mosul and elsewhere, he appears to have given the Kurds a similar melting-away of Iraqi forces in Kirkuk, where the oil sits… Thus the BBC reports on the Kurdish situation:

    Iraqi Kurdish forces say they have taken full control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk as the army flees before an Islamist offensive nearby.

    “The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga,” Kurdish spokesman Jabbar Yawar told Reuters. “No Iraq army remains in Kirkuk now.”

    Even the melting away of the army on two fronts, however, doesn’t stop the Iraqi propaganda machine. The WaPo article linked above also contained this more than slightly surreal item for a propagandap-quote collection::

    Meanwhile, in Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and in towns and cities further south, young men flocked to recruitment centers to volunteer to fight the extremists, underscoring the sharpening sectarian divide that risks engulfing all of Iraq in war.

    State television broadcast footage of the long lines, accompanied by patriotic songs whose lyrics tout the army’s achievements: “We’re the soldiers of the nation, we shall never retreat.”


    There is more to say on such varied topics as the major Shia shrines and hawza or seminaries at risk, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani‘s call to arms, the role Iran and the IRGC is adopting, and the presence of senior Ba’athist officers in the ranks of ISIS, etc — but this must do for now.

    I’ll return with more from Ibn Siqilli shortly, but leave you with this — from my POV, the most horrifying part of al-Shami’s statement, coming right at the end of his rant, and specifically threatening the two Shia holy cities of Karbala and Najaf:

    The Rafidah [lit. "those who reject", ie the Shia] will continue to curse you as long as some of them exist. Truly, between us is a settling of debts. … There will be a heavy and long account. However, the settling of debts will not be in Samarra and Baghdad, rather in Karbala al-munajjasah (the defiled) and Najaf al-ashrak (the most polytheistic).


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