Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Once More About: " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca? "

By Sodium

Although the essay entitled, " Thoughts On Edward Said And T.E. Lawrence, " as published on this website, has more interested readers than all other essays published, here, for the last year or so, the essay entitled, " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca? " has become currently the most read. It is obvious to me that, most likely, considerable disagreements or debates are going on for finding the correct answer.  Because of such a trend, I have felt that I must offer a helping hand to those interested readers. The helping hand can be summarized as follows:

~ Read first the essay entitled, " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca? " dated February 2, 2013.  And try to comprehend the difficulty involved in attempting to answer the question, due to discrepancies that exist in the available historical records, in English, or even in Arabic.

~ Only then, read the essay that was being published immediately after the publication of " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca? " That particular essay, or rather post, was entitled as, " Some Thoughts On The Question: " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca ? "  dated February 13, 2013.

~ Please notice the different dates involved in their publication: the former and latter essays have date of publication as February 2, 2013 and February 13, 2013, respectively.

~ The content of the essay entitled, " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca? " is essentially based upon historical records the writer of this essay could review while the content of the essay, or rather post, entitled, " Some Thoughts On The Question: " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca ? " is fundamentally my own analysis in attempting to reach a logical, or at least, a reasonable and acceptable answer to the question being raised..

~ The main point for writing this particular essay is to recommend to the interested readers to read the essay entitled, " Some Thoughts On The Question: In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca ? " dated February 13, 2013,  immediately after reading the essay entitled, " In What Year Did Muhammad Return To Mecca? " dated February 2, 2013, since my analysis, as embodied in this essay for answering the question, has been based on the several historical records I had reviewed. And such records have obvious discrepancies which had/have made answering the question, with a degree of certainty, very difficult. I do not claim that my analysis is correct, but I do raise it for a possible, if not probable consideration, by those Islamic scholars who know better

Of course, the readers have the full rights to reject or accept any answer or analysis, including mine which has been offered in good faith and with good intent.  .

I wish you all, happy reading and happy search for an answer. Good luck.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

On The Ocasion Of Eid Al-Adha, A Muslim Religious Holiday.

To: My Muslim friends and readers of this website, world wide,

From: Sodium.

I know it is a kind of late, but as the well known adage says: it is better to be late than never to show-up at all.

Based on such an adage, I take my chances to wish you the best of wishes for the Eid Al-Adha and beyond.

May the future be kind to you all.


( 12 ) " Islam and China. "

By Sodium

There are 20 million Muslims in China. Yes, you have just read it correctly: 20 million.

It is amazing and amusing to read that China has 20 million, Russia has another 20 million Muslims and India has 178 million Muslims. Why the " amazing " and " amusing " ?

Well, the " amazing " is due to the fact that none of these important countries is a member in any important and internationally recognized Islamic organizations. The " amusing " is stemmed from the fact that the Muslim population of Russia or China or India is much greater than the Muslim populations in most Arab countries. At least, 14 Arab countries of a total of 22-23 Arab States have less Muslim population, in each, than either Russia or China, let alone India. When one considers that Islam was originated from that part of the world, specifically from what is currently known as Saudi Arabia, the intensity of one's " amusement " will turn into a response to those proactive Islamophobes who endlessly claim that " Islam was spread by the sword." Hence, I wish to know what kind of an Arab sword that has ever reached Russia or China, let alone Indonesia which has the largest Muslim population, ( more than 200 million Muslims ), in the world. It seems to me that the " amazing " and " amusing " have become more appropriate to hold, as one realizes that the Muslim Arabs have ended up a minority in the Islamic World. Therefore, the Islamophobes' allegation has become a joke, as far as far as the writer of this review is concerned; and he is not a Muslim. Yes, yes, there were battles fought by the Muslim Arabs, but not to " spread Islam by the sword ", at all. It was simply an Arab desire to conquer and dominate. In short, it was an Arab  imperialism, just like the Greek imperialism as manifested by Alexander the Great, or the Persian empire, Roman empire, Ottoman empire, French empire, British empire, Soviet Russian empire, and currently, the American empire which has more than 700 military bases across the globe. Nothing has changed in the human nature to conquer and dominate others, since time immemorial.

As I reviewed the chapter of the book, " A World Without Islam," for this topic ( 12 ) Islam and China, I could not overcome some critical thoughts that engulfed me in an overwhelming way and felt I should raise:

 At present time, a great country like China has hardly any serious problems with its 20 million Muslims while all Western European countries have much less Muslim population, and yet Western Europe has serious problems with its Muslim population. The question is " why " ?

In order to reach an acceptable or rather rational answer to the above " why, " I will quote Graham Fuller, author of the book, " A World Without Islam," and other knowledgeable persons provide some answers to the " why " raised in the foregoing:

Quotation One, As Expressed By Graham Fuller:
   " The popular image of  " propagation of Islam by the sword "is once again erroneous in the Chines case. According to Muslim accounts, Islam reached China surprisingly early in 651 CE, some eighteen years after the Prophet's death, brought by sea to Canton by an envoy of the Caliph Umar. There is a well known saying of the Prophet, " Seek knowledge, even in China." According to Muslim tradition, the Tang Dynasty emperor ordered a mosque to be built in Canton, the first in China, which still stands today. The emperor believed Islam to be compatible with the teaching of Confucianism and granted rights to Arab and Persian merchants to establish the first Muslim settlement in the area. Early Chinese encounters with Islam in Canton were therefore peaceful and productive, and Muslims were granted a place in Chinese society, where their mercantile skills and contacts were known from pre-Islamic Arab traders. China quickly recognized the great seafaring capabilities of the Muslims and the potential benefits to China in expanding its influence and reach. "

Quotation Two, As Expressed By Graham Fuller:
" As in Russia and India, Islam in China reached some fascinating accommodation with ambient Chinese culture. And in China, as else where in the world, periodic Islamic renewal movements cropped up, designed to scrub the faith, remove the accretions of non-Islamic thought and practice, and maintain a sharp focus on the essentials of Islam. Both of these contradictory trends-absorption of new ideas versus a rejection of innovation-affected Islam in China."

Quotation Three, As Expressed By Anwar Ibrahim, Islamic Thinker:
   " There are a number of striking similarities between Islam and Confucianism, both in ideals and historical experience, in their refusal to detach religion, ethics and morality from the public sphere. The Islamic argument against secularism, that is the separation of politics and other societal concerns from religion and morality, is not dissimilar to the Confucianist perspective presented by Professor Tu Wei-ming in his admirable book Way, Learning and Politics. A Muslim would have no difficulty identifying with the Confucian project to restore trust in government and to transform society into a moral community. "

Quotation Four, As Expressed By Jonathan Lipman, Historian:
   " The influence and permeation of Chinese Islam by Confucian thinking seems to have given late Ming and Qing Islam, which was tending toward decline, a transfusion of fresh, new blood, a new vitality .... A group of Sino-Islamicits sprang forth. They used Confucian language and Confucian ideas systematically to study, arrange, and summarize Islamic religious doctrine; they constructed a complete Chinese Islamic intellectual system, writing a set of Chinese-language Islamic works with a uniquely Chinese style. These works are called by the Muslims in China the Han Kitab-that is, the Chinese canon-and they had a definite influence in Sino-Muslim society. "

Quotation Five, As Expressed By Graham Fuller:
   " Muslim gravitation toward Confucianism might at first glance seem unusual, given the latter's essentially " secular "and ethical orientation, verging on philosophy rather than transcendental religious emphasis. Yet precisely because Confucianism primarily provides an ethical and moral framework, it was less challenging to Islam on a theological level. "

It seems to the writer of this review that one may be able to extract an answer to the " why " that has been raised above, from some of the quotations quoted in the foregoing. I leave it up to the interested readers to do their own extractions, since I may deal with this " why " again in the conclusions, at the very end of this series of topics, meaning conclusions that would be based on the entire series of the topics covered.




Thursday, October 10, 2013

Is Vladimir Putin a Russian Eisenhower ? Just a Question.

By Sodium

President Dwight Eisenhower had led the free world by his molar authority, not by America's military might. In fact, after stopping the human bloodshed that was going on in Korea, ( Korean War of 1950-1953 ), through the good offices of the United Nations, extreme pressures were exerted on him by the dogs of wars, to start a new war, in some place else in the world. And he was quoted by the people who recorded his presidency, as a response to the dogs of wars: "If they want a war, let them go and fight it. The American people want peace and I intend to give it to them." Not exactly Eisenhower's words, but close enough to convey to the readers the fact that the eight years of Eisenhower's presidency, ( 1952-1960 ) were the only eight years that the blood of America's young soldiers was not shed on the soil of a foreign country, in spite of America's Cold War with what was known then the Soviet Union. In short, Eisenhower adhered firmly to International Law and the United Nations Charter in his dealing with international crises as they occurred. A shinning example of his adherence to International Law and United Nations was the position he took on the Suez Canal War certainly attest to that. It was one of those rare occasions in which the United States of America and what was known then the Soviet Union had agreed on. I was then undergraduate university student and I watched the dramatic events, as they happened, on my white and black television. I am a witness on that period, the period of the Cold War that was going on, mainly, between the United States and Soviet Union. And I must say that I was delighted witnessing the United States and Soviet Union agreed on something, since the heat of the competition between them, across the globe, was potentially dangerous, with the huge nuclear arsenal each one of them had.     

Although President Vladimir Putin of Russia does not really resemble Eisenhower in many ways, namely, physical appearance and military experiences. As to physical appearance, Eisenhower was taller than Putin. Eisenhower had a shiny bald head. Putin still has plenty of hear on his head, in comparison to Eisenhower's shiny baldness. The strongest evidence of the body language of Eisenhower was so obvious in his broad, extremely likable and strongly disarming smile that could disarm heads of states, diplomats, politicians; and voters as well. Putin body language is concentrated in his gazing, glaring penetrating eyes, ( they look like talking eyes ),  whose effect cab be devastating on heads of states, diplomats, politicians, and even voters. As to military experiences, Eisenhower was, ( and still is ), the only Five Stars General in the entire military history of the United States of America. Putin spent his younger years, before becoming President of Russia, a real professional KGB officer.

Based on the foregoing, no similarity exists between the two leaders. Hence, why raise the question: Is Vladimir Putin a Russian Eisenhower ?

Well, the answer to the question, that is questioning the essay's titled-question, maybe found in the following article, as published on page 13 of October-November issue, 2013, of " The Washington Report On Middle East Affairs," I publish, here, part of it, for mainly recognizing the international public figures or leaders who truly have succeeded in solving international crises by way of diplomacy has not violated international law and charter of the United Nations. And, of course, for the benefit of the readers of this website, especially those readers who have no access to the magazine, The Washington Report On Middle East Affairs:



By Eric S. Margolis

Add a warning to Obama's amateur foreign policy advisors: "Do not play chess with the KGB ! "
In fact, Obama, who rudely snubbed former KGB agent Putin recently, owes  Russia's leader A "  Bolshi Spaseba " ( big thanks ) for pulling his bacon out of the fire in Syria Putin brilliantly demonstrated to the world the difference between diplomacy and force, the rapier versus the cudgel
The American cynic Ambrose Bierce aptly defined a diplomat as " a patriot ready to lie for his country."
True enough, but diplomacy is the essential lubricant of international relations. Ever since the Bush administration, America's foreign relations have become militarized and run by the Pentagon while the State Department ( Ministry of Foreign Affairs ) has been eclipsed. America has become addicted to small wars and debt.

It is also painful and disturbing watching Obama and Kerry deliver  impassioned orations about poor little Syrian babies gassed by the wicked Bashar al-Assad, a former eye specialist who would probably prefer to be living in London.

What about all those babies killed in Afghanistan and Iraq ?  What about those killer drone strike in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia ?

Vietnam anyone ?  Nagasaki ?

Enough, please, with the synthetic moral outrage over Syrian babies or ludicrous claims Syria was threatening the U.S. Remember the phony Kuwaiti babies dreamed up by a Washington PR ( Public Relations ) agency ?

As the crisis mounted we heard increased patriotic guff about " American exceptionalism," a code phrase for American proto-fascism, for " Amerika Uber Alles. "  Scary stuff. President Putin warned about this in an incisive analysis of the Syrian crisis in The New York Times.

The U.S. Congress also owes big thanks to President Putin. Had he not short circuited Obama's foolish war plans for Syria, Congress would  have been caught between anti-war Americans and major cash donor, from, special interests who are lusting for war.

What happened to the planned Syrian peace conference in Geneva ?  The real question is ending this awful war, not chemical weapons.

Next question: why did Syria ( and Egypt ) acquire chemical weapons ?  The answer is a poor man's counter to Israel's large nuclear and chemical arsenal. If Iran ever decided to make nuclear weapons, it will be for the same reason. So why not revive talks proposed by the Arabs and Iran for a nuclear-free Mideast that were repeatedlybrushed aside by the U.S. and Israel.

Finally, what about a Palestinian state ?  Much of the uproar over Iran and Syria was designed to divert attention from this essential subject, the essential element of Mideast peace.

Meanwhile, Vlad Putin and his very able foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov deserve Kudos for their patient diplomacy and acute timing. By the way, the idea of removing Syria's Chemical weapons did not come from an off-hand remark by John Kerry. It originated in Moscow.

So in what could have been a second Cuban missile crisis, Putin and Lavrov got A+. Obama and his angry advisors got an F- and orders to get intense tutoring in diplomacy.


Based on all of the foregoing, it is clear, at least to me, that a touch of similarity does exist between  the policies that were followed by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952-1960 and the recent policies followed by President Vladimir Putin, with regards to the crisis of Syria's chemical weapons. Both President adhered firmly to International Law and the good offices of the United Nations. The proof:

Eisenhower's policy brilliantly shinned in the Suez Canal War of 1956.
Putin's policy has brilliantly shone in the current Syrian chemical weapons crisis of 2013.

Therefore, the question, Is Putin a Russian Eisenhower ?  has essentially been appropriated to raise for complimenting President Vladimir Putin's successful diplomacy in averting American destructive strikes against Syria which has suffered enough in the last two years and still counting. A Russian splendid act of diplomacy that could not possibly be ignored or marginalized by the self-respecting and peace-loving people of the world. I am one of those people of the world.

Whether or not Vladimir Putin is another Dwight Eisenhower is not for me to say. What I have essentially done, here, is simply raise the question. So far so good from Putin. Let the future and history be the ultimate judge. Meanwhile, one can only hope for another Eisenhower in the making-this time in Russia.

 Final Words
Once more, I regret the interruption I have found myself doing to the series of topics extracted from the book entitled, "A World Without Islam." I simply could not help it, since I have felt that I must publicly recognize and support the importance of what President Putin has lately done to avert more destructive agony for Syria. And above all, I feel content in doing what, I strongly believed, should have been done, in the first place, as the drama unfolded bit by bit, three weeks ago.


Next topic mustl be topic ( 12 ) Islam and China.


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