Monday, October 20, 2003

Al-Sadr update and some Shi'a jargon

The Higher Command of Al-Mahdi's Army issued yesterday an order to it's brigades all over Iraq to hunt, track down and arrest Saddam Hussein dead or alive.

Wow. And how pray do you intend to do that Muqtada? Armed militia members raiding and searching houses? Seems like an excuse for civil war to me. He might as well make his own version of the WANTED OFFICIALS deck of cards.

This juvenile is getting so desperate. He is obviously trying hard to appeal to most Iraqis. This just isn't working Muqty. F*ck off.

He also blatantly denied having anything to do with the recent unrest in Najaf, he referred to the accusations as being spread "by ignorant fools and lackeys of the west and the US". Does this sound familiar to anyone? Hello? Iran?

Here's the biggest laugh of all, by one of his 'agents': "We intend to build an Islamic democracy in Iraq, not an Islamic theocracy".
Sure, like the Taliban for instance. This egocentric looney is starting to sound like Al-Sahaf. I am now seriously considering making a 'We Love Muqty' website like this one We Love MSS. That would be such a blast. Anyone creative taking notes?

What bugs me most is that he keeps on insisting that his actions are peaceful and do not instigate violence. Yes, I agree. Veiled threats, calling for insurgence, armed demonstrations, and assaulting rival religious figures is very very peaceful. In fact it is also democratic as well.

And he is employing a curious mix of blackmailing and threatening tactics to try and get himself an established place in the Governing Council.

Catfish and Cod has arranged and compiled an interesting and very accurate timeline for all Al-Sadr related trouble in Iraq since September 29. Read it here

However I wish to point out to him that Grand Ayatollah Ali Taqi Al-Sistani is not a leader of SCIRI nor is he affiliated with them. SCIRI's current leader is Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim (a brother of the late Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir Al-Sadr who was killed in the Najaf bombing). Abdul Aziz is also a member of the Governing Council and part of it's nine rotating chairmen council.

Al-Sistani is a prominent independent Iranian Iraqi Shi'ite Hawza marji' with a significant following inside both Iraq and Iran. He is not anti-american although he does call for American forces to leave Iraq immediately. His fatwas are controversial. He described a Women organization meeting in Hilla as 'a disgrace'. He also issued a fatwa a week ago that it was prohibited to appoint women judges in Iraq. He is supposed to have a large role in preparing our Constitution. A fact which does not appeal to me at all.

Shi'ite jargon

A marji' is an influential religious figure (usually a Sayed which means his ancestry goes back to Ali bin Abi talib, the prophet's cousin) to whom Shi'ites from all over the world turn to, and follow fatwas issued by him. There are tens of thousand of Sayeds in Iraq and Iran who are regarded as 'holy figures', but only a handful are marji's. Sometimes these marji's run huge beneficial corporations and are very wealthy. Some operate offices and branches in many countries including in Europe and the US, and have agents there representing them.

Al Hawza Al-Ilmiyah is a politico-religious Islamic school in Najaf, which teaches Shi'ite Islamic Laws and science. It played an important part in Iraqi politics early in the last century. Students mainly come from Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan, and other countries with Shi'ite populations. The late Ayatollah Khomeini is a sample graduate. Some of them literally spend ten or twenty years of their life studying hundreds of volumes of Islamic Jurisprudence. After which they graduate at 40 or 50 years old to become marji's. Muqty is apparently still a sophomore.

There is another Hawza university in Qum, Iran. Which competes with the original in Najaf.

The four cornerstone marji's in Najaf's Hawza are Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, Ishaq Al-Fayadh, Mohammad Hussein Al-Hakim, and Bashir Al-Najafi. I've also heard some Shi'ites referring to Ayatollah Kazim Al-Ha'iri (residing in Meshed, Iran) to be a part also. There are in addition to these a few less known marji's.

Shi'a are known in Islamic history as Ithney Asharia, Imamia, or Ja'ffaria Shia. There are other minor Sh'ite factions as Ishmaeliya (followers of Agha Khan), Baha'ia (many of them live in Israel), Babia, Nassiriya, and Alawiyah (Syria).

Ithney Asharia Shi'a are estimated to comprise 65-70 percent of Iraq's poplulation (we can't be sure of that with the absence of reliable statistics). And about 85 percent of Iran's. There are sizeable Sh'ite communities in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Some in Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries, and Yemen as well.

Shi'ites are passionate followers and avid supporters of 'Al Al Bayt', or the prophet Mohammad's Household who, according to them, are Ali bin Abi Talib, his wife Fatima Al-Zahraa (Muhammad's daughter), and their sons Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein. They believe that those, together with nine others of their grandsons and grandsons grandsons are "Al A'ima Alma'sumin Al ithney Ashar", the Twelve Infallible Imams. The last of these Imams is Al-Mahdi, who is thought to have dissapeared in a cave at Samarrah about a 1000 years ago, they believe that Al-Mahdi lives and will return from his cave one day to bring justice to the world. In other words he is their Messiah.

I have seen many banners and signs around Baghdad the last 6 months carrying Al-Mahdi's name. One of these was put on Al-Sadr city council building by Muqty's thugs. Some examples of these I have noticed lately are black banners all over Baghdad that go like this:
"Our consolations to Al Imam Al-Mahdi (may Allah speed his return) on the anniversary of the death of Imam Al-Kazim (peace be upon him),...", or another: "We congratulate Al Imam Al-Mahdi...on Fatima Al-Zahraa's birth anniversary". There are scores more of these anniversaries that I have been trying hard to keep up with.

One one occasion, about 5 weeks ago, an American Black hawk was trying to remove one of those holy black flags from a communications tower at Al-Sadr city, when all hell broke loose. Hundreds of indignant people and Al-Mahdi militia members gathered and some started shooting at the helicopter. Which responded by killing two militia. This caused such a fuss and angry anti-american protests marched to the Republican Palace(CPA Hq.) hours later. Muqtada demanded an official apology from the White House not just from the CPA. I believe this was the incident that started all the unrest in Al-Sadr city and Najaf.

It's at times like these that I start worrying and get pessimistic about the future of freedom in this country. I see many people reject it, because 'its an American and zionist plot to spread immorality and degradation in our virtous society'. Then they give me all the holy crap. The problem with their logic is that they are not even holy themselves. I don't want to believe in their scriptures. I don't want to be forced to fast in Ramadan. I want to be able to freely criticize them without being burnt at a stake. I want to be able to buy my vodka without having to look left and right. I want to be able to walk with my girlfriend in the street while holding hands together without people glaring at me. Is this TOO MUCH to ask? Do I have to immigrate and leave my country for wanting to do all that?