Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category
[ by Charles Cameron — as one headline put it, 20 Million Shia Muslims Brave Isis by Making Pilgrimage to Karbala ]
You may remember IS / Daesh bulldozing the berm separating Syria and Iraq (upper image, below) not so long ago:
Putting that into perspective is this image from the border between Iran and Iraq (lower image, above), as millions of pilgrims queue up there on their way to Karbala for Arbaeen, the final day of the Shia’s forty days mourning for Imam Hussein.
At a time when the sectarian anti-Shia brutalities of Daesh / IS are capturing the attention of many in the west, the presence of Christian priests participating in the Arbaeen proceedings (upper panel, below)) echoes Pope Francis’ recent gesture in offering his prayers in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul:
The enormous turnout for Arbaeen in Karbala this year — those gathering at the shrine are reported to number 17.5 million (lower panel, above) — can be seen as a mark of Shia solidarity and devotion in the face of possible violence from Sunni jihadists.
One tweeter posted this image of a road sign seen along the pilgrimage route early in the forty-day period of mourning:
The sign reads: If it rains Daesh, still we will visit Hussein!
Guardian: Isis breach of Iraq-Syria border merges two wars into one ‘nightmarish reality’ Iraq Live Update: Iran-Iraq border crossing … Millions queue to go Karbala
Shafaqna: Christian priests in the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS) Iraq Live Update: Largest prayer congregation in the world
IB Times: 20 Million Shia Muslims Brave Isis by Making Pilgrimage to Karbala for Arbaeen
[ by Charles Cameron — taking a hint from the twitter stream of HSM Press and running with it ]
As of Monday morning 11am California time:
I now think it’s clear that the twitter stream I was commenting on in this post and the second in the series was not an official Shabaab feed, and thus untrustworthy as to its statements — although it’s exact status (fan, mimic, troll, loosely connected?) is undetermined.
I am leaving the post up (a) for the record, and (b) for whatever minor interest it may still have.
Al-Shabaab’s “HSM Press Office” had been tweeting up a storm during the Nairobi mall “operation” — it’s been shut down at least rwice, maybe more? — and some of the claims made are worth a little exploration. Let’s start with the “bullet-proof” claim:
For some (not by any means exhaustive) historical context on that, consider this report from the Phillipines a decade ago:
The kidnapped head of the Jesus Miracle Crusade, fiery televangelist Wilde Almeda, particularly has special powers that will protect him from bullets, said Robert Chua, a member of the group. Almeda and the 12 other members of his ministry went to the camp of the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf in southern Jolo island on Saturday to pray over 20 mostly-foreign hostages seized by the rebels from a Malaysian resort on April 23 and to convince the kidnappers to free their captives. The military says they together with a German journalist, Andreas Lorenz, are also now being held hostage by the notorious Abu Sayyaf.
This, from Myanmar:
Thailand said Wednesday it may give humanitarian asylum to Johnny and Luther Htoo, the twin boy leaders of a mystical rebel movement from Myanmar who have surrendered with some of their followers. Hunted and hungry, 14 members of the God’s Army group – nine of them children, including the charismatic twins – turned themselves over to Thai authorities on Tuesday after a year on the run along the Thai-Myanmar border. For more than three years, the boys fought to overthrow Myanmar’s military government, and their followers believe Johnny and Luther have magical powers that make them invincible in battle.
Or this from the Lakota Ghost Dancers:
The presence of the troops frightened the dancers into running for the outlying areas of the some skirmishes fought. One legend of the Ghost Shirt was born during one of these skirmishes. The Ghost Shirt was part of the special clothing worn while dancing the Ghost Dance. The Sioux were the only Indians to give the Ghost Shirt bullet proof qualities. (2-42) During one of the skirmishes with the soldiers, a lone Indian rode his pony within easy rifle range of soldiers, line and allowed them to fire on him. Whether true to the qualities of the Ghost Shirt he was wearing, or due to the poor shooting of the soldiers he escaped unscathed.
They’re singing hymns. They literally are awaiting a glorious triumph. Muentzer assures them that he will catch the cannonballs in his shirthhsleeves. Of course, it turned into a slaughter. Five thousand ill-equipped peasants were slaughtered. The Peasants’ Revolt was utterly destroyed. It was one of those incredible explosions of apocalypticism that arise in history.
Just whether the individuals in the Nairobi mall or tweeting for HSM Press take that “bullet-proof” reference literally or figuratively is an open question.
For a sense of the levels of non-scientific thinking — ie shamanism aka “witchcraft” — in today’s Kenya, see for instance this semi-skeptical account and its apocalyptic touch, or perhaps Believe it or not: Witchcraft in Kenya, with this interesting and quite relevant paragraph:
Another friend’s sister was victim of a grenade attack at a church in Mombasa. Shattered glass went everywhere but she, standing at the window, was not injured. She said that people were muttering things about the protection afforded by genies. Interestingly, she was at church but had recently converted to Islam, not that anyone knew. Not anyone visible, anyway.
And before we assume that all these experiments pitting prayer against guns always turn out badly for the prayerful side — it’s worth noting that “fiery televangelist Wilde Almeda” survived to tell the tale….
There’s a great deal more of interest on several levels in the HSM tweets, but I’ll break here and pick up in a following post.
[ by Charles Cameron — a DoubleQuote in two tweets on the importance of religious knowledge in due season ]
From about a month ago:
— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) August 24, 2013
"'What is the name of Muhammad's mother?' When he couldn't answer they just shot him." http://t.co/hkMkWRdnxj
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) September 21, 2013
[ by Charles Cameron — second of two quick posts, this one concerning hasty comparisons between two school tragedies, the one here and the one in China ]
You’ve no doubt noted the same double school tragedy that I have today — twenty school kids wounded in China, twenty school kids gunned down in America.
I can’t do much more than try to be respectful of the victims and their families in both cases: my prayers are with them. But being a pattern seeker, I’m also wondering what questions this raises.
For some, it will seem clear that guns are to knives as deaths are to wounds.
Or should that be: America is to China as guns are to knives? America is to China as death is to injury? Once you start comparing what are, after all, two close similarities — brought forcibly to our attention by their commonality location in schools, their common date, their closely similar numbers of victims — it becomes clear that there are also very many differences to take into account, and that no one-size-fits-all ratio will accommodate their complexity.
Something for me to ponder, as I jump — as all humans, athletes of the mind, appear to jump — to hasty conclusions.