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September 25, 2014

Itís Complicated

Patricia A. Kelly

The other day, a good friend of mine posted two photos on Facebook. The first was of the Klu Klux Klan, the second of ISIL fighters. His comment was that no one equates the Klan with Christianity. Why, then, equate ISIL with Islam?


That’s a good question. To follow it up, let me ask this one: “How many of you, who assert that the Koran calls for the type of Jihad we are seeing in the world today, has ever studied it?”


What very limited knowledge I have of the Koran is that Allah (God) always forbids the killing of innocents. Every mosque has a spot, a niche in the wall that commemorates the time when the Virgin Mary studied at the Temple. The story is that, every day, her father brought her food, and, every day, there was already, miraculously, food there for her. There is great reverence for Jesus, and for earlier, Jewish prophets, as well.


In my limited reading of the Koran, Heaven is not just “70 virgins” for men who die fighting for Allah. The term 70 is an Arabic colloquialism implying an infinite number, just as American slang uses the term “millions”. Descriptions of Heaven, for both sexes, include such descriptions as “lying on a satin couch, with fruit dangling from a branch overhead, rivers of wine and milk, being served by “beautiful youths with eyes like pearls” or “beautiful, dark-eyed virgins, the concept being that, in Heaven, every want and need of mankind will be fulfilled. “Sex for slaughter” is not mentioned.


In the battles ongoing, complications abound. We can’t figure out what to call the current top-ranking terrorists. ISIS means “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.” ISIL means “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.” If you’re wondering what the Levant is, it is an area east of the Mediterranean that now includes Cypress, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and southern Turkey. Third, and my personal favorite, is the name the French have chosen, “Da’esh.” This can mean one who tramples, and that seems appropriate.


What these people say they want is to create a Caliphate, a country ruled by an Islamic priest, and following the tradition of Sharia. That means a very strict society with veiled and hidden women, and harsh punishment for any perceived violation of the Koran.


Another bit of information is that Shiites and Sunnis are two groups of Muslims that divided in the seventh century over who should succeed Mohammad after his death. Shiites, or followers of Ali ibn Abi Talib believe that Ali, Mohammad’s cousin, adopted son, and husband of his daughter Fatima, is the true heir of Mohammad. Sunnis, followers of Abu Baki as-Siddiq, believe that he, one of Mohammad’s closest companions, was the designated heir. No Sunni is even named Ali.


One thing that might have helped the growth of ISIS, ISIL, Da’esh, or, those murderous bastards, if you prefer, is that the recently ousted Iraqi premier, Nouri al-Maliki, in spite of his promise to provide inclusive government, kept the Sunnis and Kurds out of government, encouraging the Sunnis to support ISIl.


When the U.S. left, we were negotiating a Status of Forces Agreement that might have allowed us to push Maliki in a better direction, but when things got tough, we came home. Our president decided that we should stay home and let the Middle East take care of itself, except sometimes, when he popped up with an opinion, on Assad of Syria, the state of Egyptian government, the weird video that he had the nerve to suggest caused the murder of our Ambassador to Benghazi.


Now, after snoozing along, unilaterally changing the Affordable Care Act, and embarrassing himself in front of Vladimir Putin, he has stepped up and done a few good things.


The first good thing, not good enough to make up for twiddling his thumbs during the growth of ISIL, but good, was to insist that Maliki go before we began bombing in Iraq.


The second good thing has been building a coalition, now including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and France. Let’s hope his history of walking away from promises and fights doesn’t get in the way. Of course, these Middle Eastern leaders may be in because they’re afraid of their own demise if ISIL wins.


In any case, we may not have to worry because some Shiites think the 12th Imam, the last direct heir to Ali, is coming back soon, possibly when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia dies. If they’re correct, he may fix everything. I hope so. It would be hard to imagine things becoming worse than they are now.


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