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... Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends,
it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,
and to institute new Government ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Islam -- an Imperialist Political Ideology

When was Islam created? Islamic mythology gives us a portrait of Islam’s founding in the early 7th century. Other sources confirm the rise of an Arab imperial state and political ideology to rationalize conquest and subjugation. But when did Islam, as a religion, assume its present form?
Most documents go back to the Abbasid Caliphate, which overthrew the Arab-centric Umayyad rule centering in Damascus. The Umayyad’s failure at Tours and failure to conquer Constantinople led to a crisis in faith. What were the religious practices prior to the Abbasid? The Wall Street Journal discusses some of the archeological evidence—a desert retreat of an Umayyad prince.
“More noteworthy than Qusayr Amra's architecture is its interior decoration. Brightly colored frescoes cover practically every inch of wall and ceiling—presenting images of battle and the hunt, symbols of the zodiac, and mythological scenes. … Indeed, for a bathhouse that once belonged to a Muslim prince, the imagery is shockingly profane, showing little regard for modesty, much less for religious prohibitions on the depiction of human and animal forms.

Qusayr Amra was probably built by the caliph al-Walid II between 724 and 743 while he was still an amir, or prince. Medieval sources (some of them exaggerated, no doubt) portray him as a reckless and profligate man, who allegedly used the Quran for target practice, sent a singing girl from his harem to lead the communal prayers, and planned to build an open air "martini deck" atop the Ka'ba in Mecca, where he could sip wine and gossip about the passers-by.

Qusayr Amra perfectly expressed al-Walid's alleged love of debauchery and power. All around, he placed frescoes of naked women—some dancing, others lifting basins of water. …

Al-Walid included another political statement on the hall's eastern wall. Here, we find six kings paying obeisance to members of al-Walid's family, who are shown nearby. With labels in Arabic and Greek, we can identify them as the rulers of Persia, Byzantium, Spain, Ethiopia, China and central Asia. They were the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient world, and by the time of al-Walid, several had fallen to the forces of Islam. The fresco thus celebrates Islam's victory over its enemies, as well as its role as heir and caretaker of the ancient past.
Islam was basically a political ideology before the Abbasid Caliphate needed a religious identity to unite Persians and Arabs. How much of the religion was written back into history by Islamic revisionists will always be hard to tell. It is much less than the religious mythology claims.
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posted by Jason Pappas at permanent link#


Blogger Always On Watch said...

My friend, wonderful to see you posting here at IBA!

Saturday, November 27, 2010 5:06:00 pm  

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