Posts Tagged ‘religion of peace’

The Yazidis

August 9, 2014

The Yazidis of Iraq have been much in the news lately and not in a good way. The Islamic terrorists who have been gaining power in Iraq in the wake of the US withdrawal have taken to murdering and oppressing every non Muslim in the territories they control, but they seem to have a particular hatred for the Yazidis. Currently, some 40,000 of these people are trapped on a mountain without food or water with the choice of dying for their faith or converting to Islam. Who are the Yazidis and why do the Islamic fanatics hate them?

The Yazidis are a people that live in the Kurdish regions of Iraq, Turkey and Syria as well as Armenia and Georgia. There is also a small population of Yazidis in Europe who have fled the persecution in their native lands.  They speak Kurdish as their native language and many speak Arabic, but they are neither Arabs or Kurds. While their culture is very similar to Kurdish culture they have a distinctive religion of their own. The precise population of the Yazidis is not know but it is estimated that there are around 700,000 of them. Their numbers are declining due to persecution.

Yazidi men in Mardin, late 19th century

Yazidi men in Mardin, late 19th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Yazidis are distinguished most by their ancient religion. They are quite secretive about their beliefs and little is known. Their religion seems to be something of an offshoot of Zoroastrianism, but there are many other influences including the religions of ancient Mesopotamia, Mithraism, and some mystic elements of Christianity and Islam. The Yazidis are monotheists, believing in one God who created the universe. After the creation, God entrusted the rule of the universe to seven angels who were His emanations. The chief of these angels is named Malik Taus or the Peacock Angel. Malek Taus was either cast out of Heaven or left voluntarily in a manner strikingly similar to legends of the fall of Lucifer, especially as found in the Koran. Like Satan or Iblis, refused to bow to Adam. While Allah in the Koran expelled Iblis from Heaven for his pride and he became Satan, the Yazidi account has the Creator praising Malik Taus for his steadfast refusal to worship anyone besides God and places him in charge of the Universe.  Malik Taus extinguished the fires with his tears and was reconciled with God.

English: Malak Taus ქართული: მალაკ ტავუსი Kurd...

English: Malak Taus  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These beliefs along with an alternate name for Malik Taus, Shaytan, have led many believers of the other monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, to suspect that the Yazidsis are devil worshipers. This the Yazidis steadfastly deny. They do not believe that Malik Taus is an evil being. Indeed, they do not believe in a devil at all, holding that evil comes from human actions. Nevertheless, the coming of the religion of peace and tolerance to Mesopotamia in the seventh century has resulted in centuries of often savage persecution.

In practice, the Yazidi religion is much concerned with ritual purity, much like Zoroastrianism. They do not like to mix the elements; earth, air, fire, and water and have a complicated system of taboos. They believe that they are a people apart, descended not from Adam and Eve like the rest of the human race, but they are descended from Adam alone. They do not marry outside their community and they do not accept converts. In addition, they believe that too much contact with outsiders is polluting and limit such contacts. This, doubtless, does not endear them to their neighbors.

The Yazidi pray five times a day, facing the sun and make pilgrimages to the  tomb of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir, a Sufi mystic whom they believe to be an avatar of Malik Taus. This tomb is in the city of Lalish, Iraq, where there are many Yazidi shrines. They are supposed to have two holy books, the Kitêba Cilwe or Book of Revelations and the Mishefa Reş or the Black Book. These books seem to be forgeries, however, written by Westerners around 1912 to take advantage of travellers’ interest in the Yazidis. The material in the books seems to incorporate the actual oral traditions of the Yazidis and may be accurate accounts of their beliefs. Westerners have been fascinated by the Yazidis’ obscure and secretive religion and they have often been depicted as on order of devil worshipers by writers such as H. P Lovecraft.

Now there is a distinct possibility that this ancient community will be exterminated. It seems to me that the real devil worshipers in Iraq, and elsewhere, are the ones whose god commands them:

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

and:

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

But perhaps the ISIS simply doesn’t understand their own religion.

 

 

Advertisements

Denial is a River

April 22, 2013

Denial is the major river in Liberal Land, at least in regards to Islam as a possible motive for terrorism. It is truly remarkable the mental gymnastics that some commentators will undergo to deny that the Religion of Peace is perhaps not so peaceful. If backed into a corner that will admit that some violence is committed by fanatic Muslims but will assert that other religions have their fanatics that are just as violent. Consider this exchange between Bill Maher and one Brian Levin. I don’t usually have much use for Bill Maher but he has his head screwed on right here.

There are hypocrites and fanatics in every religion, but the Christian or Buddhist fanatics are not blowing people up. I do disagree with one statement of Maher’s, that Christianity may have been more of a problem  in the Middle Ages. The truth is that throughout the Middle Ages Islam was an aggressive expansionist ideology. We must not forget that the Crusades were a belated Christian response to centuries of Muslim aggression against Christendom.

Melissa Harris-Perry does not think the Tsarnaev brothers’ religion is not relevant to their actions.

According to her guests, the only reason why anyone would want to blame Islam for the recent atrocity is the preserve a sense of “otherness”. Why is it so hard for them to connect the dots? Why can they not realize that noticing a pattern that almost every contemporary terrorist attack is committed by Muslims is not being prejudiced or islamophobic.

Marc Ambinder at The Week thinks that it is insane to blame Islam for terrorist attacks committed by Muslims.

We are still speculating about virtually everything right now, but I feel as though I need to explain why I find the quick and easy conversation about Muslims being radicalized in America to be so illogical and laced with bigotry.

Of course, there is a global violent jihadist movement, loosely organized, that wants to recruit young men to influence policies at home and abroad and perhaps usher in the global caliphate. That ideology motivates some Muslims to kill innocent people.

But you’re allowed to be a radical Muslim in America. You’re allowed to believe that the Qu’ran proscribes the most elegant set of laws. You’re allowed to believe that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. And you can say, in America, pretty much anything you want. Not everything, and after 9/11, a little less, but you can still make very unpopular arguments.

So just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the only factor that motivated these two brothers from Chechnya to set off bombs and kill police officers is their decision to accept some form of radical Islamic teachings as their foundational belief system. (I highly doubt this is the case, but let’s just throw it out there.)

We ask: “We have to look at the whole issue of radicalization. What prompts someone raised as an American to cause such carnage?”

I don’t think that he realizes that freedom is the problem for some people. Yes, you are allowed to be a radical Muslim in America, but you are also free to be a more moderate Muslim, or a Christian, or a Jew or even an atheist. To people who believe that sharia law should be imposed, this freedom is hateful and even against the will of God. To them, the only just and good society is one in which either everyone is a Muslim or one in which the Muslims dominate and non-Muslims are submissive.

Let’s move on.

It’s a horrible habit: A Korean-American shoots fellow students at Virginia Tech, and suddenly, we’re forced to pretend that it’s OK to blame Korean-American family structure and culture for putting him over the edge, ignoring the millions of Korean-Americans who have never considered taking up arms.

The murderer Andrew Cunanan was, in Tom Brokaw’s famous words, a “homicidal homosexual.”

See? The gay made him do it.

But when a white kid murders dozens of children, we don’t ask whether the predominant Christian religion in America somehow radicalized him, or whether his upbringing was somehow less American than anyone else’s. Stupid questions! Glad we don’t ask them.

I don’t recall anyone arguing that Korean family structures or homosexuality is a cause of mass murder. There are not large numbers of Korean-Americans or homosexuals flying planes into buildings, placing bombs to kill people, or trying to ignite their shoes. If there were, the question of whether Korean culture or homosexuality encourages violence would be a legitimate one. The predominant Christian religion in America does not preach hatred and violence against non believers. I doubt there is a single priest, minister or preacher, with the exception of Fred Phelps, at any church in America who has called for the extermination of any group. There are any number of Imams both here and abroad who do preach violence at their mosques.

It is far more plausible that American gun culture, the way that Americans are uncomfortable with people who are different, the gaps in the mental heath system, and a hundred other things, some of which cannot ever be controlled, pushed these two men over the edge. If it was Islam, or a hidden network of radical jihadists, then these types of events would not be rare in America. That they are is the answer to whether Islamic radicalization is a problem that Americans can and must contend with by stigmatizing Muslims.

What is it about America that so alienates young men?

What is it about their community — Cambridge, lower-middle class, American popular culture — that isolated them and encouraged their pursuit of a different way to add meaning to their lives?

So, its our fault. We have immigrants from all over the world in this country. Why is it that only people from predominantly Muslim countries feel so alienated that they turn to jihad. There are not large numbers of Mexican-Americans or Chinese-Americans engaging in violence. Surely, someone just arrived from India or Africa would feel a certain culture shock and perhaps some alienation. Young men native to the United States who commit crimes and atrocities are rarely of any religion, McVeigh was an agnostic. Yet, somehow when a young man does turn to religion and commits an act of terrorism, the religion he turns to is Islam, never Hinduism or Rastafarianism.

He concludes.

Bias against Muslims is real and it hurts. And the easiest way to radicalize un-radicalized people is to treat them like enemies.

Bias by Muslims hurts a whole lot more. I do not think it is right to blame every Muslim for terrorism, but there is a connection there that we ignore at our peril. How many more people must be killed before Brian Levin, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Marc Ambinder will admit there is a problem?

 

Boston Massacre

April 16, 2013

Yesterday, two bombs went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and injuring at least one hundred thirty. It is still too early to speculate much on who is responsible for this atrocity and what their motives might be, though some have already begun. There is a Saudi national who has been taken into custody and it is likely that this is the work of Islamic terrorists. If it does turn out to be Muslims, it will be interesting to see how the media and the Obama administration tries to spin things. I would guess that they will repeat the lines about extremists hijacking a religion of peace, etc. They certainly will never concede that the Religion of Peace‘s holy scriptures condone and encourage eternal war against the unbeliever. But, I am only speculating on insufficient evidence.

Of course there are other explanations and some have been quick to blame their fellow Americans, especially those who differ with them in politics. There is not much to be said about Mr. Tingle Up My Leg Chris Matthew’s rant except to recommend he read a history of the Weather Underground (Barack Obama’s old friends) if he really believes that domestic terrorists are all on the far right.

On a more positive note, the first responders and rescue personnel have, by all accounts, behaved with professionalism and even heroism as have the crowds at the event. We have learned some lessons since 9-11. One lesson seems to be that ordinary people react to terrorism more reasonably than their government. But, then most of the people at the highest levels of government are not worthy of the people they presume to lead.

 

 

Deja Vu

September 11, 2012

Here is another item I read at USA Today. It seems to me that I have seen something like this before but I can’t quite remember where.

Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET: CNN reports that U.S. security guards fired a volley of warning shots as the crowd gathered outside the embassy walls.

CNN adds that the embassy had been expecting a demonstration and cleared all diplomatic personnel earlier from the facility.

Original post: The Associated Press reports that embassy officials say there was no staff inside at the time.

Reuters reports that protesters tried to raise a black flag carrying the slogan: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.”

The news agency says about 2,000 protesters have gathered outside the embassy and about 20 have scaled the walls.

The AP says the protesters were largely ultra-conservative Islamists.

Iran’s FARS news agency says the film is the work of a group of “extremist” members of the Egyptian Coptic Church in the United States.

Al Ahram online says the film is reportedly being produced by U.S.-based Coptic-Christian Egyptians, including Esmat Zaklama and Morees Sadek, with the support of the Terry Jones Church in the United States.

Jones is the evangelical pastor who stirred controversy last year by threatening to burn a Quran in public.

CNN says the film in question is a Dutch production.

The AP says clips of the film available on YouTube show the prophet having sex and question his role as the messenger of Godâ??s words.

After the protest, the U.S. Embassy issued this statement on its website:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims â?? as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of other

The Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gomaa strongly condemned the movie, AllAfrica.com reports.

“Freedom of speech does not warrant desecrating sanctities,” Gomaa said in a statement Sunday.

Oh, yes. Iran. An embassy seizure would be all we need to complete the “Carterization” of Barack Obama.

By the way, I am a little disgusted by the U. S. Embassy’s statement, not to mention Ali Gomaa’s. Yes, freedom of speech does indeed mean that you have to tolerate what you might believe to be desecration. Otherwise, it is not really freedom of speech at all.It is not an abuse of the universal right of free speech to question or even to insult someone’s religious beliefs. Even, if it were, no hurt feelings justify the sort of violent rage these people have demonstrated.

The fact that this Grand Mufti of Egypt is excusing these people’s’ actions, and perhaps even encouraging them is a good indication what direction Egypt is heading. The fact that the U. S. Embassy, which ought to be standing up for freedom of religion and expression has issued such a mealy mouthed, spineless statement is a good indication that we are not going to do anything to stop Egypt from going down the road to Hell.

 


%d bloggers like this: