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#Monotheism vs #AstroTriad #Babylon #Ur #Uruk #Sumeria #AncientMesopotamia: #Qur’an Reveals Lost Knowledge About Prophet #Abraham!

Qur’an Reveals Lost Knowledge About Prophet Abraham | Many Prophets One Message | 14 October 2014

Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, is an important figure in the history of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. While there is a lot of overlap in the stories about Abraham in the Qur’an and Bible, both Scriptures also contain unique incidents. This article is going to focus on a particular story about Abraham that is only found in the Qur’an and how 20th century archaeological discoveries affirm the historical claims found in the Qur’an.

Ziggurat of Ur, a giant complex built in around 2100 BCE dedicated to the worship of Nanna, the principle deity of the city cf, Encyclopaedia Britannica, see entry for “Ur Ancient city Iraq”. Accessed 28th February 2016: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ur

ANCIENT BABYLONIA

Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources all place Abraham’s birthplace in ancient Babylonia, the region where we find modern-day Iraq. This region worshipped a multitude of gods and goddesses. Of particular prominence in the pantheon were celestial bodies such as the stars and planets. Since the end of the 3rd millennium, Mesopotamians observed the sky, thinking that what happens in the sky was reflected on the earth. Between the numerous heavenly bodies that cross the sky, the Moon, the Sun and Venus were the first and the most important ones that were identified as gods [1]. The Moon god Nanna, symbolised by the crescent, was worshipped at cities such as Ur and Haran. Here is the Ziggurat of Ur, a giant complex built in around 2100 BCE dedicated to the worship of Nanna, the principle deity of the city [2]:

Ziggarut built by King Ur-Nammu who dedicated it in honour of Nanna, c. 2000 BC.
Ziggurat of Ur, a giant complex built in around 2100 BCE dedicated to the worship of Nanna, the principle deity of the city cf, Encyclopaedia Britannica, see entry for “Ur Ancient city Iraq”. Accessed 28th February 2016: http://www.britannica.com/place/Ur

The prominence of Nanna is also reflected in literature discovered at Ur. Sir Leonard Woolley discovered clay tablets in a hoard in a house at Ur [3]. The texts deal with the construction of some object for Nanna by the King Iddin-Dagan (1975-1954 BCE) which invoke Nanna as the “foremost one of the gods” to “put in order the ground plan of Ur”: The god Nanna, foremost one of the Anuna gods, trusted one of the Ekur, whose mes [decrees of the gods] embrace heaven and earth (and) are those which no storm can disperse, the lord who alone is a god, who shines forth, first-born son of the god Enlil in order to restore the ancient mes (and) to put in order the ground plan of Ur, the princely son (Nanna) brought forth the best mes from the Enkur. (Poem of Iddin-Dagan 1-12)

According to historians, the Moon god Nanna has been symbolically represented as a crescent since the end of the 3rd millennium BCE [4]. Here is the cylinder seal of Hashamer, dated to around 2100 BCE. This relic depicts Ur-Nammu, the King of Ur, and the Moon god Nanna in the form of a crescent:

Impression of the cylinder seal at Ur. c. 2100 BC.

Archaeological excavations have found that the people of this region also worshipped additional gods and goddesses alongside the Moon, including the Sun. Shamash, god of the Sun, represented by the solar disc, was worshipped at Larsa and Sippar. According to historians, Shamash has been symbolically represented as the Sun since at least the late 3rd millennium BCE [5]. Here is the famous Stele of Ur-Nammu, dated to 2112 – 2095 BCE. This relic is one the treasures of Mesopotamian art because it provides rare pictorial representations of the King of Ur’s relations to the divine world. Very few pieces of sculpture have survived from this period or from any early period of Mesopotamian history as most were smashed by invading enemies. It depicts the King of Ur and his priests engaged in sacrificial rituals to the Moon and Sun. You can see Nanna and the Sun god, Shamash, joined together at the top in the form of a crescent and star (notice the rays emerging from the star):

relic2

Together with the Moon and Sun, the people of Ur also worshipped the planet Venus. This bronze figure represents Ur-Nammu, the ruler of Ur. It’s from Uruk, southern Iraq, Third Dynasty of Ur, 2100 – 2000 BCE. The inscription around and over the king’s body states that Ur-Nammu dedicated the figure to the goddess Ishtar [6]:

relic1

According to historians, Ishtar is personified as the planet Venus throughout Mesopotamian literature, at least since the beginning of the second millennium BCE, and perhaps even as far back as the third millennium BCE [7]. We can see this in the writings of Enheduanna (2285 – 2250 BCE), a high priestess of the Moon god Nanna in the city of Ur [8]. She became the most important religious figure of her day, and her evocative prayers, stories, and incantations, which were devoted to the goddess Ishtar, were highly influential [9]. Although she was the priestess of Nanna, Enheduanna’s most famous work is her Nin-me-sharra, or “Exaltation of Inanna”. She refers to Ishtar as “great lady of the horizon and zenith of the heavens”, an allusion to her astral aspect as the planet Venus: Most precious lady, beloved by An, your holy heart is great; may it be assuaged on my behalf! Beloved spouse of Ušumgal-ana, you are the great lady of the horizon and zenith of the heavens. The Anuna have submitted to you. From birth you were the junior queen: how supreme you are now over the Anuna, the great gods! The Anuna kiss the ground with their lips before you. But my own trial is not yet concluded, although a hostile verdict encloses me as if it were my own verdict. I did not reach out my hands to [the] flowered bed. I did not reveal the pronouncements of Ningal to anybody. My lady beloved of An, may your heart be calmed towards me, the brilliant en priestess of Nanna! (Nin-me-sharra 109-121)

In fact some Sumerian hymns are much more explicit about Ishtar’s connection with Venus. For example in a poem of praise to the King Iddin-Dagan (1975-1954 BCE) and Inanna, which is the Sumerian equivalent of the name Ishtar, she is invoked as the planet Venus: To the great [lady] of heaven, Inanna, I would say: ‘Hail!’ To the holy torch who fills the heaven, to the light, to her who shines like daylight… Of the holy torch who fills the heaven, of her stance in heaven, like the moon and the sun… In heaven she surely stands, the good wild cow of An… With An she takes her seat upon the great throne… Upon them [the people, described as ‘black heads’] my lady looks in a friendly way from the midst of heaven… At evening, the radiant star, the great light which fills the heaven… She comes forth like the moon at night. She comes forth like bright daylight in the heat of noon… The lady, the amazement of the land, the solitary star, the Venus-star… [10]

Here, as so often in Mesopotamian literature, Ishtar/Inanna is referred to as Venus and is said to stand alongside the celestial gods of the Moon and the Sun.

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE SUN, MOON, AND VENUS

According to Mesopotamian mythology, these three celestial bodies – the Sun, the Moon, and Venus – were believed to be genealogically related to each other and formed an astral triad. The goddess of Venus, Ishtar/Inanna, and the Sun god Shamash, were said to be siblings and both the offspring of the Moon god Nanna [11]. This relationship between the Moon, Sun and Venus is reflected throughout Sumerian literature. For example, “Inanna and Ebih” is another famous composition by the high priestess of Ur, Enheduanna, depicting Ishtar/Inanna as the daughter of Sin/Suen: For destroying Ebih, great child of Suen, maiden Inana, be praised. (Inanna and Ebih 182-183)

According to historians, Sin/Suen is the Akkadian equivalent of the Sumerian name Nanna. The earliest writings of both names are roughly contemporary, and occur interchangeably [12].

Here Enheduanna calls on Nanna/Sin/Suen and Ishtar/Inanna for help because she has been dislodged from her position by a rebelling Sumerian king, Lugal-Ane, who, she complains, did not show proper respect for the gods and has desecrated a temple at Uruk: Sin, tell An about Lugal-ane and my fate!… En-hedu-ana will recite a prayer to you. To you, holy Inanna I shall give free vent to my tears like sweet beer!… Lugal-ane has altered everything and has stripped An of the E-ana (temple). He has not stood in awe of the greatest deity. He has turned that temple, whose attractions were inexhaustible, whose beauty was endless, into a desolation. (Nin-me-sharra 74-90)

Nanna, Ningal (Nanna’s wife), the Sun god Utu (the Sumerian equivalent of the name Shamash) and Ishtar/Inanna are mentioned together in a clay tablet discovered by Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur [13]. The text invokes these gods and goddesses as part of a curse: Whether he be a king, an en priest, or an ordinary human being, may that man not get a name or beget any descendants. May the god Nanna, my lord, (and) the goddess Ningal, my lady, curse him, (and) may the god Utu and the goddess Inanna forever be its (the curse’s) evil spirit who cannot be countermanded. (Poem of Iddin-Dagan 32-41)

The composition “Inanna’s descent into underworld” was excavated at Nippur. It is dated to the first half of the second millennium (2000 – 1500 BCE). It mentions Ishtar/Inanna’s relation to her brother, the Sun god Shamash/Utu, through her husband, Dumuzid, who is Shamash/Utu’s brother in law: Dumuzid let out a wail and turned very pale. The lad raised his hands to heaven, to Utu: “Utu, you are my brother-in-law. I am your relation by marriage. I brought butter to your mother’s house. I brought milk to Ningal’s house. Turn my hands into snake’s hands and turn my feet into snake’s feet, so I can escape my demons, let them not keep hold of me. (Inanna’s descent into underworld 368-375)

Based on these Sumerian writings, it’s possible to depict the relationship between the Sun, Moon, and Venus in a diagram:

Ancient relics depict Nanna/Sin/Suen as a crescent, Shamash/Utu as a solar disk and Ishtar/Inanna as an eight-pointed star as follows [14]:

Recent archaeological discoveries depict the special relationship between these deities. The “Kudurru of King Melishipak I”, discovered at Susa, shows the astral triad in full:

The “Kudurru of Nebuchadnezzar I”, discovered at Sippar, also shows the astral triad in full. Note the numerous Mesopotamian gods in segmented registers on the stone. We can see that the astral triad of the Sun. Moon, and Venus take their place at the top of the pantheon of gods, signifying their prominence:

The “Stele of Nabonidus”, discovered at Haran, also shows the astral triad in full:

The wide geographic distribution of these artefacts indicates that this astral triad of the Sun, Moon, and Venus was a prominent cult throughout the region.

THE QUR’AN AND THE STORY OF ABRAHAM

The Qur’an informs us about some very specific details with regards to the idols that Abraham’s people worshipped:

6:75

And thus did We show Abraham the realm of the heavens and the earth that he would be among the certain [in faith]

6:76

So when the night covered him [with darkness], he saw a star. He said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “I like not those that disappear.”

6:77

And when he saw the moon rising, he said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the people gone astray.”

6:78

And when he saw the sun rising, he said, “This is my lord; this is greater.” But when it set, he said, “O my people, indeed I am free from what you associate with Allah.

6:79

Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, inclining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allah.” [Chapter 6, verses 75-79] Surat Al-‘An`ām (The Cattle) – سورة الأنعام

Enlarge Text

We can see from this story how Abraham debated with his people, explaining to them the error of their way in worshipping false gods. We can see the Qur’an draws our attention to their worship of the Sun, Moon and a third idol. Note the details provided about the third idol: When the night grew dark over him he saw a star and said, ‘This is my Lord,’ but when it set, he said, ‘I do not like things that disappear…’

The word translated here as “star” is the Arabic word “kawkab”, which carries the meaning of celestial object and can be used to refer to a star or planet. Notice the words of the verse, “I like not those that disappear”. The Qur’an tells us that at the onset of nightfall this celestial object appeared for only a brief amount of time. This description of the third idol matches the characteristics of the goddess Ishtar/Inanna. One of her names was “the Evening Star” because she personified Venus, a planet that is visible for only a short amount of time in the evening just after sunset. We find support for this interpretation of Venus in the works of several classical scholars who wrote books explaining the meaning of the Qur’an. For example, the 14th century scholar Ismail ibn Kathir in his work Tafsir Ibn Kathir“Abraham, may God’s peace and blessings be on him, first proved that Venus is not worthy of being worshipped…” Also the 15th century scholar Jalal ad-Din al-Mahalli in his work Tafsir al-Jalalayn“When night descended, [when] it darkened, upon him he saw a star — said to have been Venus…”.

In summary, we can see that the Qur’an’s claims about the idolatry of Abraham’s people is accurate in light of what we know historically about the cult of the astral triad.

THE SOURCE OF THIS KNOWLEDGE IN THE QUR’AN

Historians typically date Abraham to 2100 BCE – 1550 BCE. His chronology is tied directly to the date of the Exodus of Moses. The two major proposals for the date of the Exodus are the 15th and 13th centuries BCE, hence the variation of the chronology of Abraham [15]. Knowledge of ancient Babylonian religion had been lost for thousands of years until their re-discovery and excavation starting in the 20th century. It was recorded at temple sites such as the famous “Ziggurat of Ur” in the city of Ur which was founded around 4000 BCE and was the capital of the Sumerian civilisation and once a great harbour city on the banks of the Euphrates River. The city started to decline from around 550 BC and was no longer inhabited after about 500 BC. Eventually the city fell into ruin and the area was buried beneath the desert sands [16]. The British archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley conducted an excavation of the city of Ur in the early 20th century for the British Museum. He was forced to dig a vast hole over 40 feet deep to uncover the lowest levels of the city. His findings enabled scholars to trace the history of the city from its final days during the 4th century BCE back to its prehistoric beginnings. Before the 20th century, written history had told the world very little about Ur. Thanks to Woolley’s findings we now know much about everyday life, art, architecture, literature, government, and religion in what has come to be called “the cradle of civilization” [17]. Even the Sumerian language that these ancient artefacts were written in, was unknown. This language was spoken at the time of Abraham and continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the first century CE [18]. Then it was forgotten until the mid-19th century, when Assyriologists such as George Smith (1840-1876 CE) and Henry Rawlinson (1810-1895 CE) began deciphering the excavated inscriptions and tablets and translated them into English.

In light of these facts, how could Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, have accessed such knowledge, given that he lived in the seventh century? We’ve seen that the historical claims that have been mentioned in the Qur’an about the deities worshipped by Abraham’s people – the triad of the Sun, Moon, and Venus – is remarkably accurate. The only sources about Abraham that would be readily available to Muhammad in the 7th century would have been the Bible-based stories and Jewish legends in circulation. If we examine the Bible, we find that it is silent on such details: “Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods” [Joshua 24:2]

We can see that the story of Abraham in the Bible is silent on the details of the religious beliefs of his people. There is no mention of specific idols that were worshipped, they are simply referred to as “other gods”. Regarding the Jewish legends that pre-date the Qur’an, the Rabbi Louis Ginzberg identified six different versions of stories about Abraham that are similar to the Qur’anic narrative [19]. Although these bear some resemblance, they are in fact much more general in nature and they do not contain the same level of detail that is present in the Qur’an. For example one of the stories found in Jewish legend is that Abraham observed the sky in order to find a sign that would foretell the rains for the year. While doing so he had a spiritual experience: And he was sitting alone making observations and a voice came into his heart saying, “All the signs of the stars and the signs of the sun and the moon are all under the Lord’s control. Why am I seeking [them out]?” If He wishes, He will make it rain morning and evening, and if He desires He will not make it fall, for everything under His control.” [20]

Notice that the Jewish legend only provides a general description of “stars”; it lacks the level of detail that is found in the Qur’an which, as we’ve seen, pinpoints the specific planet Venus. In another Jewish legend, Abraham mentions the elements of fire, water and earth alongside the Sun, Moon and stars as gods that are worshipped by his people: “Behold, the fire is more worthy of honour than all things formed because even that which is not subjected is subjected unto it, and things easily perishable are mocked by its flames. But even more worthy of honour is the water, because it conquereth the fire and satisfieth the earth. But even it I do not call God, because it is subjected to the earth under which the water inclineth. But I call the earth much more worthy of honour, because it overpowereth the nature (and the fulness) of the water. Even it [the earth], however, I do not call God, [because] it, too, is dried up by the sun, [and] is apportioned to man to be tilled. [I call the sun more worthy of honour than the earth,] because it with its rays illumineth the whole world and the different atmospheres. [But] even it I do not call God, because at night and by clouds its course is obscured. Nor, again, do I call the moon or the stars God, because they also in their season obscure [their] light at night. [21]

Nowhere does the Qur’an mention that Abraham’s people worshipped the elements fire, water and earth. Now if the Qur’an were copying from Jewish legend, then it would have included the mention of these elements. We can see from these examples that Jewish legends were also not used as sources by Muhammad. Now, it’s important to point out that some of the deities did spread outside the region of Babylonia. For example, the goddess of Venus, Ishtar, was also worshipped in Arabia. However, she took on very different characteristics. She became the male deity Athtar, representing the god of thunderstorms, symbolised as an antelope. In Egypt she was Astarte, the goddess of war, symbolised by a horse and chariot. These incarnations are radically different to their Babylonian counterpart, Ishtar the evening star. We can see that Ishtar had a chameleon-like quality, her identity was constantly evolving with her attributes, symbolism and even gender differing from region to region. This would have made it difficult for Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, to accurately pinpoint her identity in the context of Abraham.

CONCLUSION

The Qur’an is filled with stories about past nations. It wants us to reflect on  history which facilitates humility and  discourages arrogance of one’s own civilisation. Power comes and goes, and we must be humble as we will not last forever. Another benefit of focusing on history is that we learn from the mistakes of others. We have seen how in discussing the story of Abraham, the Qur’an demonstrates an accurate insight into lost history. The Qur’an proclaims that it reveals knowledge of the unseen: That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muḥammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people before this [11:49]

11:49
That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people, before this. So be patient; indeed, the [best] outcome is for the righteous .”

The author of the Qur’an consistently demonstrates knowledge of the unseen, of different times and places in history. This is not a quality of human beings but rather God Almighty.

Learn more

To learn more about the miracles of the Qur’an you can order and download the free book “The Eternal Challenge: A Journey Through The Miraculous Qur’an” from the One Reason website (click on the image below):

Web

References

1 – Sara Pizzimenti, The Astral Family in Kassite Kudurrus Reliefs, p. 151.

2 – Encyclopaedia Britannica, see entry for “Ur Ancient city Iraq”. Accessed 28th February 2016:

http://www.britannica.com/place/Ur

3 – Douglas Frayne, Old Babylonian Period (2003-1595 BC), p. 23.

4 – Sara Pizzimenti, The Astral Family in Kassite Kudurrus Reliefs, p. 152.

5 – Sara Pizzimenti, The Astral Family in Kassite Kudurrus Reliefs, p. 152.

6 – British Museum website. Go to online collection viewer and search for “Foundation figure Ur-Nammu”. Accessed 28th February 2016:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx

Alternatively the Ancient History Encyclopedia website. Search for “Foundation figure Ur-Nammu”. Accessed 28th February 2016:

http://www.ancient.eu/image/578/

7 – Sara Pizzimenti, The Astral Family in Kassite Kudurrus Reliefs, p. 152.

8 – Gods, Demons, and Symbols of Ancient Mesopotamia: An Illustrated Dictionary by Jeremy Black and Anthony Green, p. 134 (entry “Nanna-Suen”).

9 – Hallo, William W. and Van Dijk, J.J.A. (1968). The Exaltation of Inanna. Yale University Press. p. 3.

10 – D. Reisman, Iddin-Dagan’s Sacred Marriage Hymn, 1973, pp. 186 – 191.

11 – Encyclopaedia Britannica, see entry for “Nanna Mesopotamian god”. Accessed 28th February 2016:

http://www.britannica.com/topic/Sin-Mesopotamian-god

12 – Krebernik, Manfred, In Reallexikon der Assyriologie und vorderasiatischen Archäologie vol. 8, pp. 361-369.

13 – Douglas Frayne, Old Babylonian Period (2003-1595 BC), p. 24.

14 – Sara Pizzimenti, The Astral Family in Kassite Kudurrus Reliefs, p. 153.

15 – William H Shea, The Date of the Exodus, p. 236.

16 – Ancient History Encyclopedia, see entry for “Ur”. Accessed 28th February 2016:

http://www.ancient.eu/ur/

17 – Encyclopaedia Britannica, see entry for “Sir Leonard Woolley British archaeologist”. Accessed 28th February 2016:

http://www.britannica.com/biography/Leonard-Woolley

18 – The A.K. Grayson, Penguin Encyclopedia of Ancient Civilizations, ed. Arthur Cotterell, Penguin Books Ltd. 1980. p. 92

19 – The Legends of the Jews, Louis Ginzberg, vol. v, p. 210, see footnote 16.

20 – Jubilees 12:16-17.

21 – Apocalypse of Abraham, chapter 7.

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ALSO SEE:

Unveiling History: The Qur’an’s Remarkable Insight into the Past | Abu Zakariya | ISLAM21C | 10 Aug 2015 

A popular trend among some Orientalists is to try and attack the Qur’ān by casting doubt on its historical reliability. What should we as Muslims make of these claims? It is important to understand the way historians view history. Much like detectives, they work by piecing together clues that they find in the present to form a bigger picture about something that happened in the past. The clues can vary from archaeological evidence to testimonies of those who lived during, or close to, a particular historical person or event. Motives must be sought, sometimes even second guessed. Therefore much like a jigsaw, the more pieces of the puzzle they have, the clearer and more complete the picture of the past will be. The further back in history one goes, the more difficult this task becomes, as there are fewer pieces of the jigsaw that have survived.

Historians are limited in what they can discover about the past because they can only deal with what is apparent. A good example of this is the late Mother Teresa. She was a Roman Catholic nun who dedicated her life to the poor, sick and dying in India. Such was her dedication to charitable work that she has been dubbed the Saint of the Poor. She was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2003, she was beatified by the Catholic Church as “Blessed Teresa of Calcutta”. It is believed that she will soon be officially recognised as a saint by the Catholic Church. For a long time historians held her as an exemplary of piety. No credible historian questioned her faith because of what was apparent, everyone judged her by her public persona.

All of this changed ten years after her death with the release of some of her private letters.[1] They revealed for the first time that throughout her life she was deeply tormented about her faith and suffered periods of doubt about God. This stands in marked contrast to her public image as a selfless and tireless minister for the poor who was driven by faith. Literally overnight she went from being the Saint of the Poor to a doubting Thomas. Because these letters were kept secret by her colleagues and seniors, historians held to a distorted picture of her even long after her death. What this example serves to demonstrate is that the reality of a situation can, and often is, at odds with what human beings are able to perceive using our limited senses.

By contrast the Qur’ān is not limited by the apparent; it in fact reveals the reality of history. The Qur’ān proclaims that it reveals knowledge of the unseen:

That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muammad]. You knew it not, neither you nor your people before this… [2]

This quality is illustrated beautifully in the story of Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿalayhi al-Salām). The oldest historical accounts we have for Ibrāhīm are found in the Old Testament. Biblical tradition places Ibrāhīm’s birthplace to be a location called “Ur of the Chaldeans”:

This is the account of Terah’s family line. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. [3]

Ur was an ancient city of Mesopotamia located in modern day Iraq.

ur

The Bible states that Ibrāhīm’s people were idol worshippers. It must be noted that the Bible makes no mention of specific idols that were worshipped, they are simply referred to as “other gods”:

Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates River and worshiped other gods.’” [4]

While there is a lot of overlap in the stories about Ibrāhīm in the Qur’ān and Bible, there is a particular story about Ibrāhīm that is only found in the Qur’an:

And thus did We show Abraham the realm of the heavens and the earth that he would be among the certain [in faith].

So when the night covered him [with darkness], he saw a star. He said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “I like not those that disappear.”

And when he saw the moon rising, he said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “Unless my Lord guides me, I will surely be among the people gone astray.”

And when he saw the sun rising, he said, “This is my lord; this is greater.” But when it set, he said, “O my people, indeed I am free from what you associate with Allāh.

Indeed, I have turned my face toward He who created the heavens and the earth, inclining toward truth, and I am not of those who associate others with Allāh.” [5]

We can see from this story how Ibrahim debated with his people, explaining to them the error of their way in worshipping false gods. We are taught an important principle by this story; we should only worship that which is worthy. Even though the sun, moon and stars are attractive, ultimately they are part of the creation which means they have a creator and therefore one that is more worthy of our worship than they are. Like the Biblical narrative, the Qur’ān states that Ibrāhīm’s people worshipped idols. However unlike the Bible, the Qur’ān goes into historical detail as it elaborates on the idolatry of his people.

There is strong evidence to suggest that the star spoken of in the Qur’ān is in fact Venus. We find mention of this in the works of Tafāsīr of several classical scholars of the Qur’ān. For example from Tafsīr al-Jalalayn:

“When night descended, [when] it darkened, upon him he saw a star — said to have been Venus…”

From Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr:

“Ibrāhīm, may Allāh’s peace and blessings be on him, first proved that Venus is not worthy of being worshipped…”

That the celestial body mentioned by the Qur’ān is Venus can also be deduced from astronomy. Let us analyse the verses in detail:

So when the night covered him [with darkness], he saw a star. He said, “This is my lord.” But when it set, he said, “I like not those that disappear.” [6]

Venus plays a very prominent role in the night sky. Venus is the brightest planet in sky, but it is only visible shortly after sunset or before sunrise. Notice the words of the verse, “I like not those that disappear”. Venus is in fact known as the “Morning Star” and “Evening Star” because it is visible for only a short amount of time just after sunset and again for a short amount of time just before sunrise. From the verse itself we can see that the star disappeared just after night fall. Furthermore, the very next verse tells us that the Moon rose after the disappearance of the star:

“And when he saw the moon rising…” 

Again this would indicate that the celestial body is Venus. Even from a logical standpoint, if his people did worship the celestial bodies then they would surely worship the most prominent ones. It so happens that Venus is the third brightest object in the sky, after the Sun and Moon, sometimes appearing so bright that it can actually cast shadows on the ground. In summary, the Qur’ān alludes to the claim that Ibrāhīm’s people worshipped three celestial gods: the Sun, the Moon and Venus.

Does archaeology support the Qur’ān’s claims? Ibrāhīm’s city, Ur, was founded around 4000 BC and was the capital of the Sumerian civilisation and once a great harbour city on the banks of the Euphrates River. The city started to decline from around 550 BC and was no longer inhabited after about 500 BC. Eventually the city fell into ruin and the area was buried beneath the desert sands.[7] Before the 20th century, written history had told the world very little about Ur. Beyond the Bible’s brief references to it as the home of Ibrāhīm, almost nothing was known. The British Museum commenced excavations in Ur under the direction of archaeologists in 1918. They were forced to dig a vast hole over 40ft deep to uncover the lowest levels of the city. Their findings revealed much about everyday life, art, architecture, literature, government, and religion in what has come to be called “the cradle of civilisation”.[8]

They discovered that Ur was especially devoted to the worship of the Moon god Nanna. Here is the Ziggurat of Ur, a giant complex containing a temple dedicated to Nanna, the principle deity of the city [9]:

temple

Here is a relic discovered at Ur which depicts the moon god Nanna in the form of a crescent:

nanna

The people of Ur also worshipped other astral gods and goddesses. This bronze figure represents Ur-Nammu, the ruler of Ur. The inscription around and over the king’s body states that Ur-Nammu dedicated the figure to the goddess of Venus, Ishtar [10]:

ishtar

The people of this region also worshipped the sun. In this stele the sun god Shamash, god of justice, is depicted handing authority to the king. If you look closely at the figure on the right you see sun rays proceeding from his shoulders [11]:

stone

In fact these three astral deities – Nanna (the Moon god), Shamash (the Sun god) and Ishtar (goddess Venus) – were believed to be genealogically related to each other and formed an astral triad. According to Sumerian mythology, Ishtar and Shamash were siblings and both the offspring of the moon god Nanna [12].

The famous Stele of Ur-Nammu depicts this relationship between the Moon god Nanna joined together with his daughter Ishtar the goddess of Venus:

venus stone

A lot of the relics from this period of Sumerian history have been lost or destroyed. Later surviving relics depict the astral triad together in full:

triad

Here is an example of a boundary stone. It portrays numerous Mesopotamian gods graphically in segmented registers on the stone. Notice how the astral triad of Venus, the Moon and the Sun take their place at the top of the pantheon of gods, signifying their prominence:

boundary stone

What is remarkable is that this knowledge had been lost for thousands of years at the time of the Qur’ān’s revelation in the 7th century. These historical claims that have been mentioned in the Qur’ān about the deities worshipped by Prophet Ibrāhīm’s people – the astral triad of the Sun, Moon and Venus – could not have naturally been known to Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). Knowledge of Sumerian religion (especially the birthplace of Ibrāhīm, the city of Ur) had been lost for thousands of years until their rediscovery and excavation in the 20th century.

The only realistic natural source of knowledge about Ibrāhīm available to Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would have been the Bible based stories in circulation. As we have seen however, the story of Prophet Ibrāhīm in the Bible is silent on the details of the religious beliefs of his people. Critics may claim that the author of the Qur’ān merely luckily guessed the gods and goddesses that were worshipped by Ibrāhīm’s people. This is highly unlikely given the fact that the people across this region worshipped thousands of deities. They had gods for everything from brick making to brewing, even including a Lord of Livestock Pens.[13] From where then did Prophet Muḥammad obtain this information? The Qur’ān answers:

53:2

Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled.

53:3

Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire.

53:4

It is no less than inspiration sent down to him.

53:5

He was taught by one mighty in Power. [14]

We have looked at one example in detail, the story of Ibrāhīm. However the author of the Qur’ān consistently demonstrates knowledge of the unseen, of different times and places in history. This is not a quality of fallible human beings but rather the divine. This is one of the many reasons why we have certainty in the perfect words of our Lord. Allāh is the knower of the unseen, His knowledge trumps all human knowledge. So if there ever is an apparent conflict between historians and the Qur’ān, we can rest assured that the Qur’ān goes beyond what is apparent and reveals the true reality of the situation:

2:2

This is the Scripture in which there is no doubt, containing guidance for those who are mindful of God… [15]

References

[1] Reuters article (valid as of 02/08/2015):

http://www.reuters.com/article/2007/08/24/us-teresa-letters-idUSN2435506020070824

[2] Al-Qur’ān 11:49

[3] Genesis 11:7-28

[4] Joshua 24:2

[5] Al-Qur’ān 6:75-79

[6] Al-Qur’ān 7:76

[7] British Museum website (valid as of 02/08/2015):

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/u/ur.aspx

[8] Pennsylvania Museum website (valid as of 02/08/2015):

http://www.penn.museum/press-releases/983-british-museum-and-penn-museum-collaborate-on-web-resource.html

[9] Charles Kahn, World History: Societies of the Past.

[10] British Museum website (valid as of 02/08/2015):

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/me/f/foundation_figure_of_ur-nammu.aspx

[11] Louvre website (valid as of 02/08/2015):

http://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/law-code-hammurabi-king-babylon

[12] Kramer, Sumerian Mythology.

[13] Robert Wright, The Evolution of God.

[14] Al-Qur’ān 53:2-5

[15] Al-Qur’ān 2:2

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Imam Ghazali on the ‘Ulamā’ of the Hereafter, the Teachers of Falsehood and Avoiding Rulers

A masterfully timeless and classic exposition, which holds as true today as when first written …

The Caliphate

In the first section of his Iḥyā’ ‘ulūm al-dīn, entitled Kitāb al-‘ilm (The Book of Knowledge),Imam Ghazali includes a chapter On the Evils of Knowledge and on Determining the Distinguishing Features of the Scholars of the Hereafter [‘Ulamā’ al-Ākhirah] and those of the Teachers of Falsehood [‘Ulamā’ al-Sū’].

The following is excerpted from the English translation by Nabih Amin Faris (Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2002). Minor alterations have been made to the translation and words in square brackets have been added:

‘We have already enumerated the excellence of knowledge and of the scholars, while concerning the teachers of falsehood several important strictures have been mentioned. These strictures have shown that the teachers of falsehood are the most severely punished of all men on the Day of Resurrection. It is therefore very important to ascertain what distinguishes the scholars of this world from the scholars…

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#Ramadhan #Tasawwuf #Spirituality: The Inner Dimensions of #Fasting!

The Inner Dimensions of Fasting | Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali RA | IHYA UL ULOOM UDEEN | Tasawwuf – The Islamic Science of Spirituality (Sufism) | ISLAMICITY | 1 May 2021

Three Grades

It should be known that there are three grades of fasting: ordinary, special and extra-special.

Ordinary fasting means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.

Special Fasting means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet – and all other organs – free from sin.

Extra-special Fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world.

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Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of God, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.

To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true awliya and the intimates of God. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to God, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than God, Exalted is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: ‘Say: “Allah (sent it down)”: then leave them to play in their vain discussions.’ [al-An’am, 6:91]

6:91
And they did not appraise Allah with true appraisal when they said, ” Allah did not reveal to a human being anything.” Say, “Who revealed the Scripture that Moses brought as light and guidance to the people? You [Jews] make it into pages, disclosing [some of] it and concealing much. And you were taught that which you knew not – neither you nor your fathers.” Say, ” Allah [revealed it].” Then leave them in their [empty] discourse, amusing themselves.

Inward Requirements

As for Special Fasting, this is the kind practiced by the righteous. It means keeping all one’s organs free from sin and six things are required for its accomplishment.

See Not What Displeases God

A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or that distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of God will receive from Him, Great and Glorious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.’

Jabir relates from Anas that God’s Messenger, on him be peace, said: ‘Five things break a man’s Fast: lying, backbiting, gossiping, perjury and a lustful gaze.’

Speak Not..

Guarding one’s tongue from idle chatter, lying, gossiping, obscenity, rudeness, arguing and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance of God, Great and Glorious is He, and with recitation of Quran. This is the fasting of the tongue. Said Sufyan: ‘Backbiting annuls the Fast.’ Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: ‘Two habits annul Fasting: backbiting and telling lies.’

The Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is Fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am Fasting, I am Fasting!”‘

According to Tradition: ‘Two women were Fasting during the time of God’s Messenger, on him be peace. They were so fatigued towards the end of the day, from hunger and thirst, that they were on the verge of collapsing. They therefore sent a message to God’s Messenger, on him be peace, requesting permission to break their Fast. In response, the Prophet, on him be peace, sent them a bowl and said: “Tell them to vomit into it what they have eaten.” One of them vomited and half filled the bowl with fresh blood and tender meat, while the other brought up the same so that they filled it between them. The onlookers were astonished. Then the Prophet, on him be peace, said: “These two women have been Fasting from what God made lawful to them, and have broken their Fast on what God, Exalted is He, made unlawful to them. They sat together and indulged in backbiting, and here is the flesh of the people they maligned!”‘

Hear Not..

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why God, Great and Glorious is He, equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer, in His words, Exalted is He: ‘Listeners to falsehood, consumers of illicit gain.’ [al-Ma’idah 5:42]

5:42
[They are] avid listeners to falsehood, devourers of [what is] unlawful. So if they come to you, [O Muhammad], judge between them or turn away from them. And if you turn away from them – never will they harm you at all. And if you judge, judge between them with justice. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.

God, Great and Glorious is He, also said: ‘Why do their rabbis and priests not forbid them to utter sin and consume unlawful profit?’ [al-Ma’idah 5:63]

5:63
Why do the rabbis and religious scholars not forbid them from saying what is sinful and devouring what is unlawful? How wretched is what they have been practicing.

Silence in the face of backbiting is therefore unlawful. God, Exalted is He, said: ‘You are then just like them.’ [al-Nisa 4:140]

4:140
And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together –

That is why the Prophet, on him be peace, said: ‘The backbiter and his listener are co-partners in sin.’

Do Not..

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast – to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful. A man who Fast like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food injurious in quantity not in quality, so Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison. The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

Avoid Overeating

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:’We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [al-Qadr 97:1]

97:1
Indeed, We sent the Qur’an down during the Night of Decree.

Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

Look To God With Fear And Hope

After the Fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s Fast will be accepted, so that one will find favor with God, or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

It is related of al-Hasan ibn Abil Hasan al-Basri that he once passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily. He said: ‘God, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors, and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds.’ In too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while for one who has suffered rejection laughter will be precluded by remorse.

Of al-Ahnaf ibn Qays it is reported that he was once told: ‘You are an aged elder; Fasting would enfeeble you.’ But he replied: ‘By this I am making ready for a long journey, Obedience to God, Glorified is He, is easier to endure than His punishment.’

Such are the inwardly significant meanings of Fasting.


Category: Faith & SpiritualityFeatured
Topics: Fasting (Sawm)Ramadan
Channel: Ramadan – Day 14

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#TransitionalJustice #ICantBreathe #FloydMurder #PoliceBrutality #UniformedMafia #BLM: Does #US need a #Truth+ReconciliationCommission?

Does America Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission? | Kelebogile Zvobgo | FOREIGN POLICY | 30 April 2021

Accountability, but not justice: That was Kelebogile Zvobgo’s verdict in Foreign Policy after a jury found former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of the murder of George Floyd. Yet, Zvobgo hopes, transitional justice can be a part of Floyd’s legacy. As FP’s Christina Lu explained this week, transitional justice can take many forms: truth commissions, memorials, reparations, institutional reforms, even prosecution. At its core, it is a way for societies to redress human rights abuses and mass atrocities so severe that the normal justice system can’t handle them.

And it’s more than just an idea. Although the term was coined in the 1990s, transitional justice has had a long and successful history, as Eduardo González and Zvobgo wrote earlier this year, from Brazil and Colombia to Morocco and South Africa—and even communities within the United States. Germany in particular has been held up as a model for Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung, or “processing the past,” as FP’s Allison Meakem discussed with the philosopher Susan Neiman in January.

Transitional justice, Zvobgo argued recently, will be a crucial tool for the Biden administration as it seeks to remedy past—and present—racial and religious discrimination and abuse. It won’t just make for good domestic policy. Only after implementing transitional justice, Zvobgo wrote, will Washington have the authority to promote human rights abroad. —Chloe Hadavas

Last week, almost a year after George Floyd’s death first sparked a global reckoning over racial injustice and police violence, Derek Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. While the verdict brought widespread relief, the decision—which was punctuated by other police killings—also raised questions about whether justice was actually served. Just 30 minutes before Chauvin’s conviction, Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, was killed by an officer in Ohio. On April 11, Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop only 10 miles from where Chauvin was on trial. And in late March, 13-year-old Adam Toledo was killed by police in Chicago.  In recent weeks, there have been increasing calls for action that goes beyond the U.S. criminal justice system. “Truth commissions, and transitional justice more broadly, are long overdue in the United States,” the political scientist Kelebogile Zvobgo wrote in Foreign Policy in response to Chauvin’s conviction. But what exactly is transitional justice—and what could it look like in the United States?


What is transitional justice?

The term is broadly used to refer to measures, both judicial and nonjudicial, meant to remedy systemic human rights abuses and widespread, sustained violence. “Transitional justice is the process of dealing with widespread wrongdoing,” said Colleen Murphy, a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “So it’s not interested in [or] doesn’t focus on sort of isolated criminal acts but is relevant when there’s patterns of wrongdoing—and often, the wrongdoing that is of interest characteristically implicates state actors.”  Right now, in the United States and many other countries, the standard recourse is the criminal justice system, which doles out prison terms or fines for specific individuals in response to specific crimes. But this process “doesn’t transform societies. It doesn’t help us to achieve ‘never again,’” Zvobgo said.  In contrast, “transitional justice is really a generational project, a sort of committed undertaking to try and change how we interact in our community,” Murphy said. But there are still limitations to what it can do; since these are usually government programs, expectations of what they can accomplish must be realistic. “[A complete transformation] is not something that a single truth commission can achieve or a single process of security sector reform or program of reparations,” Murphy said.


In practice, what does that actually look like?

Zvobgo talks of a “transitional justice toolkit,” or a collection of instruments that governments can use to redress past violence and safeguard against future abuses. The toolkit can include a number of measures—truth and reconciliation commissions, memorials, reparations, institutional reforms, prosecution, and commemoration—that can address historical injustices.  Together, these tools are “mutually constitutive and mutually reinforcing,” Zvobgo said. “If you determine or ascertain a particular truth, then what do you do with them?” In some cases, she said, that will mean criminal prosecutions. In others, reparations for survivors or the families of victims. More broadly, she said, structural reforms can “prevent the abuse that you’ve documented … from happening again.”


Where has this been done before?

All around the world. If the United States went down this path, it would be following in the footsteps of countries like South Africa, Colombia, and Germany that have turned to transitional justice to grapple with painful legacies. In the past few decades, more than 40 truth commissions have been established across the globe.  “You see transitional justice being pursued on every continent on the globe, from Cambodia dealing with the legacy of the Khmer Rouge to Europe dealing with the aftermath of Nazi Germany in the Holocaust and the fall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe to Latin America,” Murphy said.  In post-genocide Rwanda, for example, the government established more than 12,000 community-based courts, a combination of local conflict resolution practices and punitive legal measures, in pursuing transitional justice. In South Africa, a truth and reconciliation commission grappled with the country’s long legacy of apartheid. And in Guatemala, the country’s Historical Clarification Commission released a report concluding that genocide was perpetrated against the Mayan people. “Being able to put words to reality and meaning to those words was incredibly powerful for communities, especially the Maya population that was the primary target of violence,” Zvobgo said. 


What would this look like in the United States?

The United States has yet to fully embrace transitional justice on a federal level, but these kinds of measures aren’t entirely new, either. In some states, certain transitional justice measures have already been—or are in the process of being—adopted.  Maryland, for instance, has established a Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate and bring justice to those impacted by racial lynchings. And in March, Evanston, Illinois, approved reparations for eligible Black residents that suffered under discriminatory housing policies between 1919 and 1969.  Nationally, strides have also been made in this direction. In June 2020, Rep. Barbara Lee introduced a bill to establish a Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation. The bill is meant to help “understand [the] racial discrimination imbalance in this country … [and] actually establish that throughline that threads and helps to explain how what happened then affects us today,” Zvobgo said.  But since places have different historical legacies, there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. The specifics of transitional justice depend on the place—and context.  “You need initiatives like you’re seeing at the city level, at the state level, because the history of places is not identical. … What redlining looked like in Evanston is not the same as it looked like in other places,” Murphy said.


Is now the best time to do this, at a time of intense political polarization?

“I’m optimistic about the present moment, just because there’s so much happening in different places by way of transitional justice efforts,” Murphy said, while noting that transitional justice is always deeply contested. Deep polarization hasn’t stopped other countries from undertaking these efforts. “It’s a promising context for saying, OK, let’s try and do this.’”  This is not to say that it will be easy. “There’s still ongoing denial about how wrong our past was,” said Murphy, who pointed to Sen. Tom Cotton’s remarks that slavery was a “necessary evil.” “Instead of just categorically condemning that aspect of our history, to try and rationalize it—that’s an impediment to getting transformative change.” But even with these challenges, confronting the past is necessary for transitional justice to work.  “You don’t actually get real unity, you don’t actually get real healing, until you first acknowledge the past,” Murphy said. 

Only after implementing transitional justice, Zvobgo wrote, will Washington have the authority to promote human rights abroad. —Chloe Hadavas

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‘We are witnessing a crime against humanity’: Arundhati Roy on #India’s #Covid catastrophe!

‘We are witnessing a crime against humanity’: Arundhati Roy on India’s Covid catastrophe | Arundhati Roy | THE GUARDIAN | 28 Apr 2021

During a particularly polarising election campaign in the state of Uttar Pradesh in 2017, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, waded into the fray to stir things up even further. From a public podium, he accused the state government – which was led by an opposition party – of pandering to the Muslim community by spending more on Muslim graveyards (kabristans) than on Hindu cremation grounds (shamshans). With his customary braying sneer, in which every taunt and barb rises to a high note mid-sentence before it falls away in a menacing echo, he stirred up the crowd. “If a kabristan is built in a village, a shamshan should also be constructed there,” he said.

“Shamshan! Shamshan!” the mesmerised, adoring crowd echoed back.

Perhaps he is happy now that the haunting image of the flames rising from the mass funerals in India’s cremation grounds is making the front page of international newspapers. And that all the kabristans and shamshans in his country are working properly, in direct proportion to the populations they cater for, and far beyond their capacities.

“Can India, population 1.3 billion, be isolated?” the Washington Post asked rhetorically in a recent editorial about India’s unfolding catastrophe and the difficulty of containing new, fast-spreading Covid variants within national borders. “Not easily,” it replied. It’s unlikely this question was posed in quite the same way when the coronavirus was raging through the UK and Europe just a few months ago. But we in India have little right to take offence, given our prime minister’s words at the World Economic Forum in January this year.

Modi spoke at a time when people in Europe and the US were suffering through the peak of the second wave of the pandemic. He had not one word of sympathy to offer, only a long, gloating boast about India’s infrastructure and Covid-preparedness. I downloaded the speech because I fear that when history is rewritten by the Modi regime, as it soon will be, it might disappear, or become hard to find. Here are some priceless snippets:

“Friends, I have brought the message of confidence, positivity and hope from 1.3 billion Indians amid these times of apprehension … It was predicted that India would be the most affected country from corona all over the world. It was said that there would be a tsunami of corona infections in India, somebody said 700-800 million Indians would get infected while others said 2 million Indians would die.”

“Friends, it would not be advisable to judge India’s success with that of another country. In a country which is home to 18% of the world population, that country has saved humanity from a big disaster by containing corona effectively.”

Modi the magician takes a bow for saving humanity by containing the coronavirus effectively. Now that it turns out that he has not contained it, can we complain about being viewed as though we are radioactive? That other countries’ borders are being closed to us and flights are being cancelled? That we’re being sealed in with our virus and our prime minister, along with all the sickness, the anti-science, the hatred and the idiocy that he, his party and its brand of politics represent?


When the first wave of Covid came to India and then subsided last year, the government and its supportive commentariat were triumphant. “India isn’t having a picnic,” tweeted Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of the online news site the Print. “But our drains aren’t choked with bodies, hospitals aren’t out of beds, nor crematoriums & graveyards out of wood or space. Too good to be true? Bring data if you disagree. Unless you think you’re god.” Leave aside the callous, disrespectful imagery – did we need a god to tell us that most pandemics have a second wave?

This one was predicted, although its virulence has taken even scientists and virologists by surprise. So where is the Covid-specific infrastructure and the “people’s movement” against the virus that Modi boasted about in his speech? Hospital beds are unavailable. Doctors and medical staff are at breaking point. Friends call with stories about wards with no staff and more dead patients than live ones. People are dying in hospital corridors, on roads and in their homes. Crematoriums in Delhi have run out of firewood. The forest department has had to give special permission for the felling of city trees. Desperate people are using whatever kindling they can find. Parks and car parks are being turned into cremation grounds. It’s as if there’s an invisible UFO parked in our skies, sucking the air out of our lungs. An air raid of a kind we’ve never known.

Oxygen is the new currency on India’s morbid new stock exchange. Senior politicians, journalists, lawyers – India’s elite – are on Twitter pleading for hospital beds and oxygen cylinders. The hidden market for cylinders is booming. Oxygen saturation machines and drugs are hard to come by.

There are markets for other things, too. At the bottom end of the free market, a bribe to sneak a last look at your loved one, bagged and stacked in a hospital mortuary. A surcharge for a priest who agrees to say the final prayers. Online medical consultancies in which desperate families are fleeced by ruthless doctors. At the top end, you might need to sell your land and home and use up every last rupee for treatment at a private hospital. Just the deposit alone, before they even agree to admit you, could set your family back a couple of generations.

None of this conveys the full depth and range of the trauma, the chaos and, above all, the indignity that people are being subjected to. What happened to my young friend T is just one of hundreds, perhaps thousands of similar stories in Delhi alone. T, who is in his 20s, lives in his parents’ tiny flat in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi. All three of them tested positive for Covid. His mother was critically ill. Since it was in the early days, he was lucky enough to find a hospital bed for her. His father, diagnosed with severe bipolar depression, turned violent and began to harm himself. He stopped sleeping. He soiled himself. His psychiatrist was online trying to help, although she also broke down from time to time because her husband had just died from Covid. She said T’s father needed hospitalisation, but since he was Covid positive there was no chance of that. So T stayed awake, night after night, holding his father down, sponging him, cleaning him up. Each time I spoke to him I felt my own breath falter. Finally, the message came: “Father’s dead.” He did not die of Covid, but of a massive spike in blood pressure induced by a psychiatric meltdown induced by utter helplessness.

What to do with the body? I desperately called everybody I knew. Among those who responded was Anirban Bhattacharya, who works with the well-known social activist Harsh Mander. Bhattacharya is about to stand trial on a charge of sedition for a protest he helped organise on his university campus in 2016. Mander, who has not fully recovered from a savage case of Covid last year, is being threatened with arrest and the closure of the orphanages he runs after he mobilised people against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) passed in December 2019, both of which blatantly discriminate against Muslims. Mander and Bhattacharya are among the many citizens who, in the absence of all forms of governance, have set up helplines and emergency responses, and are running themselves ragged organising ambulances and coordinating funerals and the transport of dead bodies. It’s not safe for these volunteers to do what they’re doing. In this wave of the pandemic, it’s the young who are falling, who are filling the intensive care units. When young people die, the older among us lose a little of our will to live.

T’s father was cremated. T and his mother are recovering.


Things will settle down eventually. Of course, they will. But we don’t know who among us will survive to see that day. The rich will breathe easier. The poor will not. For now, among the sick and dying, there is a vestige of democracy. The rich have been felled, too. Hospitals are begging for oxygen. Some have started bring-your-own-oxygen schemes. The oxygen crisis has led to intense, unseemly battles between states, with political parties trying to deflect blame from themselves.

On the night of 22 April, 25 critically ill coronavirus patients on high-flow oxygen died in one of Delhi’s biggest private hospitals, Sir Ganga Ram. The hospital issued several desperate SOS messages for the replenishment of its oxygen supply. A day later, the chair of the hospital board rushed to clarify matters: “We cannot say that they have died due to lack of oxygen support.” On 24 April, 20 more patients died when oxygen supplies were depleted in another big Delhi hospital, Jaipur Golden. That same day, in the Delhi high court, Tushar Mehta, India’s solicitor general, speaking for the government of India, said: “Let’s try and not be a cry baby … so far we have ensured that no one in the country was left without oxygen.”

Ajay Mohan Bisht, the saffron-robed chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, who goes by the name Yogi Adityanath, has declared that there is no shortage of oxygen in any hospital in his state and that rumourmongers will be arrested without bail under the National Security Act and have their property seized.

Yogi Adityanath doesn’t play around. Siddique Kappan, a Muslim journalist from Kerala, jailed for months in Uttar Pradesh when he and two others travelled there to report on the gang-rape and murder of a Dalit girl in Hathras district, is critically ill and has tested positive for Covid. His wife, in a desperate petition to the chief justice of the supreme court of India, says her husband is lying chained “like an animal” to a hospital bed in the Medical College hospital in Mathura. (The supreme court has now ordered the Uttar Pradesh government to move him to a hospital in Delhi.) So, if you live in Uttar Pradesh, the message seems to be, please do yourself a favour and die without complaining.

Funeral pyres in Delhi april 2021.
Funeral pyres in Delhi last week. Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images

The threat to those who complain is not restricted to Uttar Pradesh. A spokesperson for the fascist Hindu nationalist organisation the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – of which Modi and several of his ministers are members, and which runs its own armed militia – has warned that “anti-India forces” would use the crisis to fuel “negativity” and “mistrust” and asked the media to help foster a “positive atmosphere”. Twitter has helped them out by deactivating accounts critical of the government.

Where shall we look for solace? For science? Shall we cling to numbers? How many dead? How many recovered? How many infected? When will the peak come? On 27 April, the report was 323,144 new cases, 2,771 deaths. The precision is somewhat reassuring. Except – how do we know? Tests are hard to come by, even in Delhi. The number of Covid-protocol funerals from graveyards and crematoriums in small towns and cities suggest a death toll up to 30 times higher than the official count. Doctors who are working outside the metropolitan areas can tell you how it is.

If Delhi is breaking down, what should we imagine is happening in villages in Bihar, in Uttar Pradesh, in Madhya Pradesh? Where tens of millions of workers from the cities, carrying the virus with them, are fleeing home to their families, traumatised by their memory of Modi’s national lockdown in 2020. It was the strictest lockdown in the world, announced with only four hours’ notice. It left migrant workers stranded in cities with no work, no money to pay their rent, no food and no transport. Many had to walk hundreds of miles to their homes in far-flung villages. Hundreds died on the way.

This time around, although there is no national lockdown, the workers have left while transport is still available, while trains and buses are still running. They’ve left because they know that even though they make up the engine of the economy in this huge country, when a crisis comes, in the eyes of this administration, they simply don’t exist. This year’s exodus has resulted in a different kind of chaos: there are no quarantine centres for them to stay in before they enter their village homes. There’s not even the meagre pretence of trying to protect the countryside from the city virus.

These are villages where people die of easily treatable diseases like diarrhoea and tuberculosis. How are they to cope with Covid? Are Covid tests available to them? Are there hospitals? Is there oxygen? More than that, is there love? Forget love, is there even concern? There isn’t. Because there is only a heart-shaped hole filled with cold indifference where India’s public heart should be.


Early this morning, on 28 April, news came that our friend Prabhubhai has died. Before he died, he showed classic Covid symptoms. But his death will not register in the official Covid count because he died at home without a test or treatment. Prabhubhai was a stalwart of the anti-dam movement in the Narmada valley. I stayed several times at his home in Kevadia, where decades ago the first group of indigenous tribespeople were thrown off their lands to make room for the dam-builders and officers’ colony. Displaced families like Prabhubhai’s still remain on the edges of that colony, impoverished and unsettled, transgressors on land that was once theirs.

There is no hospital in Kevadia. There’s only the Statue of Unity, built in the likeness of the freedom fighter and first deputy prime minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, who the dam is named after. At 182 metres high, it’s the tallest statue in the world and cost US$422m. High-speed elevators inside take tourists up to view the Narmada dam from the level of Sardar Patel’s chest. Of course, you cannot see the river valley civilisation that lies destroyed, submerged in the depths of the vast reservoir, or hear the stories of the people who waged one of the most beautiful, profound struggles the world has ever known – not just against that one dam, but against the accepted ideas of what constitutes civilisation, happiness and progress. The statue was Modi’s pet project. He inaugurated it in October 2018.

Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, in India’s western Gujarat state in 2018.
Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the Statue of Unity, the world’s tallest statue, in India’s western Gujarat state in 2018. Photograph: HANDOUT/AFP/Getty Images

The friend who messaged about Prabhubhai had spent years as an anti-dam activist in the Narmada valley. She wrote: “My hands shiver as I write this. Covid situation in and around Kevadia Colony grim.”

The precise numbers that make up India’s Covid graph are like the wall that was built in Ahmedabad to hide the slums Donald Trump would drive past on his way to the “Namaste Trump” event that Modi hosted for him in February 2020. Grim as those numbers are, they give you a picture of the India-that-matters, but certainly not the India that is. In the India that is, people are expected to vote as Hindus, but die as disposables.

“Let’s try and not be a cry baby.”

Try not to pay attention to the fact that the possibility of a dire shortage of oxygen had been flagged as far back as April 2020, and then again in November by a committee set up by the government itself. Try not to wonder why even Delhi’s biggest hospitals don’t have their own oxygen-generating plants. Try not to wonder why the PM Cares Fund – the opaque organisation that has recently replaced the more public Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, and which uses public money and government infrastructure but functions like a private trust with zero public accountability – has suddenly moved in to address the oxygen crisis. Will Modi own shares in our air-supply now?

“Let’s try and not be a cry baby.”


Understand that there were and are so many far more pressing issues for the Modi government to attend to. Destroying the last vestiges of democracy, persecuting non-Hindu minorities and consolidating the foundations of the Hindu Nation makes for a relentless schedule. There are massive prison complexes, for example, that must be urgently constructed in Assam for the 2 million people who have lived there for generations and have suddenly been stripped of their citizenship. (On this matter, our independent supreme court came down hard on the side of the government and leniently on the side of the vandals.)

There are hundreds of students and activists and young Muslim citizens to be tried and imprisoned as the primary accused in the anti-Muslim pogrom that took place against their own community in north-east Delhi last March. If you are Muslim in India, it’s a crime to be murdered. Your folks will pay for it. There was the inauguration of the new Ram Temple in Ayodhya, which is being built in place of the mosque that was hammered to dust by Hindu vandals watched over by senior BJP politicians. (On this matter, our independent supreme court came down hard on the side of the government and the vandals.) There were the controversial new Farm Bills to be passed, corporatising agriculture. There were hundreds of thousands of farmers to be beaten and teargassed when they came out on to the streets to protest.

Then there’s the multi-multi-multimillion-dollar plan for a grand new replacement for the fading grandeur of New Delhi’s imperial centre to be urgently attended to. After all, how can the government of the new Hindu India be housed in old buildings? While Delhi is locked down, ravaged by the pandemic, construction work on the “Central Vista” project, declared as an essential service, has begun. Workers are being transported in. Maybe they can alter the plans to add a crematorium.

Crowds at the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar april 2021
Crowds at the Kumbh Mela festival in Haridwar earlier this month. Photograph: Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

There was also the Kumbh Mela to be organised, so that millions of Hindu pilgrims could crowd together in a small town to bathe in the Ganges and spread the virus even-handedly as they returned to their homes across the country, blessed and purified. This Kumbh rocks on, although Modi has gently suggested that it might be an idea for the holy dip to become “symbolic” – whatever that means. (Unlike what happened with those who attended a conference for the Islamic organisation Tablighi Jamaat last year, the media has not run a campaign against them calling them “corona jihadis” or accusing them of committing crimes against humanity.) There were also those few thousand Rohingya refugees who had to be urgently deported back to the genocidal regime in Myanmar from where they had fled – in the middle of a coup. (Once again, when our independent supreme court was petitioned on this matter, it concurred with the government’s view.)

So, as you can tell, it’s been busy, busy, busy.

Over and above all this urgent activity, there is an election to be won in the state of West Bengal. This required our home minister, Modi’s man Amit Shah, to more or less abandon his cabinet duties and focus all his attention on Bengal for months, to disseminate his party’s murderous propaganda, to pit human against human in every little town and village. Geographically, West Bengal is a small state. The election could have taken place in a single day, and has done so in the past. But since it is new territory for the BJP, the party needed time to move its cadres, many of who are not from Bengal, from constituency to constituency to oversee the voting. The election schedule was divided into eight phases, spread out over a month, the last on 29 April. As the count of corona infections ticked up, the other political parties pleaded with the election commission to rethink the election schedule. The commission refused and came down hard on the side of the BJP, and the campaign continued. Who hasn’t seen the videos of the BJP’s star campaigner, the prime minister himself, triumphant and maskless, speaking to the maskless crowds, thanking people for coming out in unprecedented numbers? That was on 17 April, when the official number of daily infections was already rocketing upward of 200,000.

Now, as voting closes, Bengal is poised to become the new corona cauldron, with a new triple mutant strain known as – guess what – the “Bengal strain”. Newspapers report that every second person tested in the state capital, Kolkata, is Covid positive. The BJP has declared that if it wins Bengal, it will ensure people get free vaccines. And if it doesn’t?

“Let’s try and not be a cry baby.”


Anyway, what about the vaccines? Surely they’ll save us? Isn’t India a vaccine powerhouse? In fact, the Indian government is entirely dependent on two manufacturers, the Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech. Both are being allowed to roll out two of the most expensive vaccines in the world, to the poorest people in the world. This week they announced that they will sell to private hospitals at a slightly elevated price, and to state governments at a somewhat lower price. Back-of-the-envelope calculations show the vaccine companies are likely to make obscene profits.

Under Modi, India’s economy has been hollowed out, and hundreds of millions of people who were already living precarious lives have been pushed into abject poverty. A huge number now depend for survival on paltry earnings from the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), which was instituted in 2005 when the Congress party was in power. It is impossible to expect that families on the verge of starvation will pay most of a month’s income to have themselves vaccinated. In the UK, vaccines are free and a fundamental right. Those trying to get vaccinated out of turn can be prosecuted. In India, the main underlying impetus of the vaccination campaign seems to be corporate profit.

People with breathing problems caused by Covid-19 wait to receive oxygen in Ghaziabad, India, April 27, 2021.
People with breathing problems caused by Covid-19 wait to receive oxygen in Ghaziabad. Photograph: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

As this epic catastrophe plays out on our Modi-aligned Indian television channels, you’ll notice how they all speak in one tutored voice. The “system” has collapsed, they say, again and again. The virus has overwhelmed India’s health care “system”.

The system has not collapsed. The “system” barely existed. The government – this one, as well as the Congress government that preceded it – deliberately dismantled what little medical infrastructure there was. This is what happens when a pandemic hits a country with an almost nonexistent public healthcare system. India spends about 1.25% of its gross domestic product on health, far lower than most countries in the world, even the poorest ones. Even that figure is thought to be inflated, because things that are important but do not strictly qualify as healthcare have been slipped into it. So the real figure is estimated to be more like 0.34%. The tragedy is that in this devastatingly poor country, as a 2016 Lancet study shows, 78% of the healthcare in urban areas and 71% in rural areas is now handled by the private sector. The resources that remain in the public sector are systematically siphoned into the private sector by a nexus of corrupt administrators and medical practitioners, corrupt referrals and insurance rackets.

Healthcare is a fundamental right. The private sector will not cater to starving, sick, dying people who don’t have money. This massive privatisation of India’s healthcare is a crime.

The system hasn’t collapsed. The government has failed. Perhaps “failed” is an inaccurate word, because what we are witnessing is not criminal negligence, but an outright crime against humanity. Virologists predict that the number of cases in India will grow exponentially to more than 500,000 a day. They predict the death of many hundreds of thousands in the coming months, perhaps more. My friends and I have agreed to call each other every day just to mark ourselves present, like roll call in our school classrooms. We speak to those we love in tears, and with trepidation, not knowing if we will ever see each other again. We write, we work, not knowing if we will live to finish what we started. Not knowing what horror and humiliation awaits us. The indignity of it all. That is what breaks us.


The hashtag #ModiMustResign is trending on social media. Some of the memes and illustrations show Modi with a heap of skulls peeping out from behind the curtain of his beard. Modi the Messiah speaking at a public rally of corpses. Modi and Amit Shah as vultures, scanning the horizon for corpses to harvest votes from. But that is only one part of the story. The other part is that the man with no feelings, the man with empty eyes and a mirthless smile, can, like so many tyrants in the past, arouse passionate feelings in others. His pathology is infectious. And that is what sets him apart. In north India, which is home to his largest voting base, and which, by dint of sheer numbers, tends to decide the political fate of the country, the pain he inflicts seems to turn into a peculiar pleasure.

Fredrick Douglass said it right: “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” How we in India pride ourselves on our capacity to endure. How beautifully we have trained ourselves to meditate, to turn inward, to exorcise our fury as well as justify our inability to be egalitarian. How meekly we embrace our humiliation.

When he made his political debut as Gujarat’s new chief minister in 2001, Modi ensured his place in posterity after what has come to be known as the 2002 Gujarat pogrom. Over a period of a few days, Hindu vigilante mobs, watched over and sometimes actively assisted by the Gujarat police, murdered, raped and burned alive thousands of Muslims as “revenge” for a gruesome arson attack on a train in which more than 50 Hindu pilgrims had been burned alive. Once the violence subsided, Modi, who had until then only been appointed as chief minister by his party, called for early elections. The campaign in which he was portrayed as Hindu Hriday Samrat (“The Emperor of Hindu Hearts”) won him a landslide victory. Modi hasn’t lost an election since.

Several of the killers in the Gujrat pogrom were subsequently captured on camera by the journalist Ashish Khetan, boasting of how they hacked people to death, slashed pregnant women’s stomachs open and smashed infants’ heads against rocks. They said they could only have done what they did because Modi was their chief minister. Those tapes were broadcast on national TV. While Modi remained in the seat of power, Khetan, whose tapes were submitted to the courts and forensically examined, appeared as a witness on several occasions. Over time, some of the killers were arrested and imprisoned, but many were let off. In his recent book, Undercover: My Journey Into the Darkness of Hindutva, Khetan describes in detail how, during Modi’s tenure as chief minister, the Gujarat police, judges, lawyers, prosecutors and inquiry committees all colluded to tamper with evidence, intimidate witnesses and transfer judges.

Despite knowing all this, many of India’s so-called public intellectuals, the CEOs of its major corporations and the media houses they own, worked hard to pave the way for Modi to become the prime minister. They humiliated and shouted down those of us who persisted in our criticism. “Move on”, was their mantra. Even today, they mitigate their harsh words for Modi with praise for his oratory skills and his “hard work”. Their denunciation and bullying contempt for politicians in opposition parties is far more strident. They reserve their special scorn for Rahul Gandhi of the Congress party, the only politician who has consistently warned of the coming Covid crisis and repeatedly asked the government to prepare itself as best it could. To assist the ruling party in its campaign to destroy all opposition parties amounts to colluding with the destruction of democracy.

So here we are now, in the hell of their collective making, with every independent institution essential to the functioning of a democracy compromised and hollowed out, and a virus that is out of control.

The crisis-generating machine that we call our government is incapable of leading us out of this disaster. Not least because one man makes all the decisions in this government, and that man is dangerous – and not very bright. This virus is an international problem. To deal with it, decision-making, at least on the control and administration of the pandemic, will need to pass into the hands of some sort of non-partisan body consisting of members of the ruling party, members of the opposition, and health and public policy experts.

As for Modi, is resigning from your crimes a feasible proposition? Perhaps he could just take a break from them – a break from all his hard work. There’s that $564m Boeing 777, Air India One, customised for VVIP travel – for him, actually – that’s been sitting idle on the runway for a while now. He and his men could just leave. The rest of us will do all we can to clean up their mess.

No, India cannot be isolated. We need help.

______________
source

ALSO SEE:

When India Stopped Prescribing Ivermectin and Started Vaccinating, Deaths Shot Up |

Patrick Delaney | SeeMoreRocks | 4 April, 2021

Back in January, all talk was about Ivermectin, a cheap and effective remedy being used in India. However, the attention went onto the vaccine and since then the deaths have gone up and up and there are indications this might be repeated elsewhere.

About six weeks ago, the WHO promised to issue updated guidance about ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that many believe is a panacea for COVID-19. “This drug has broad spectrum activity,” they admitted, “and this is why it can be used at the early stage of the disease, trying to prevent the severe disease,” but of course, they said, as they have said from the start, more studies are needed to determine if it actually works. “We need more clinical trials.” That was their guidance six months ago, that was their guidance six weeks ago, and that is the same horseshit they regurgitated when they finally issued their updated guidance Wednesday, on the heels of some Philippines-specific guidance WHO had issued the very day before, serving to muddy those murky waters.

For weeks, health care professionals, ivermectin advocates and early treatment activists had lobbied the organization to #BeBraveWHO, but some of those people are now realizing that it was not cowardice driving these acts, but rampant, unchecked corruption. Others take the more generous view that the WHO was only negligent issuing counter-productive guidance from the belated start of the pandemic, when they advised against travel restrictions, asserted that there was no evidence for human-to-human transmission, insisted there was no evidence for asymptomatic transmission and that it was rare before walking that backplayed dumb about the implications of what “aerosolized” meansadamantly denied that the virus is airborne, finally admitted the virus might be aerosolized and airborne, but couched it in mealy-mouthed, weaselly wording, saying they’re “open to ’emerging’ evidence on modes of transmission,” said that masks “create a false sense of security” and advised against their use for the general population before recommending in favor of mass-masking, and demanded that people refrain from even wondering about the origin of the virus aloud, saying that the potential “stigma” was actually “more dangerous than the virus itself“.

WHY IS ANYBODY LISTENING TO THE WHO?

This is an organization that redefined “pandemic” and quietly deleted the definition from their website weeks before declaring a “level six” pandemic in 2009, explaining, just as the DNC asserted in court that the definition of “impartial” is too difficult to define, the definition of what a pandemic is is “too elusive” to have nailed down, then backtracked and said actually, it’s not “too elusive,” but by classical definitions, the pandemic they declared after revising the definition of pandemic was already a classic pandemic anyway, so the controversy was beside the point.

_____________________
source


| Remember the Battle of Badr on 17th Ramadhan 2 AH {15th March 624 CE}

| truthaholics

22:39

Surat Al-Ĥaj [22:39] (The Pilgrimage) – سورة الحج

Permission to fight is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is surely able to give them victory; The Holy Qur’an, Chapter 22,Verse 39

| Remember the Battle of Badr on 17th Ramadhan 2 AH {15th March 624 CE} where with Divine intervention, 313 fasting Muslims valiantly defeat 950 armed enemy warriors:

Map depicting the battlefield, with al-‘Udwatul Dunya and al-‘Udwatul Quswa, shown to the right.

THE Muslims, who had gone to Medina, had left all their belongings behind in Mecca and these had been taken by their enemies. Thus, when the Muslims heard that Abu Sufyan, one of the leaders of Quraysh, was on his way back to Mecca from Syria with a large caravan of goods, they decided that the time had come for them to retrieve some of their losses. The Prophet (pbuh) gave…

View original post 1,804 more words

#Palestine #Justice #Enough! Scathing #HumanRightsWatch Report Says #Israel #Guilty of #Apartheid!

Scathing Human Rights Watch Report Says Israel Guilty of Apartheid | Andrea Germanos | 27 April 2021 | Common Dreams

The prominent watchdog group’s new analysis finds the oppression of Palestinians has reached a “threshold.”

Palestinians inspect the debris of a quarantine center established to fight the coronavirus pandemic after Israeli soldiers demolished the single-story center in Hebron, West Bank on July 21, 2020.
Palestinians inspect the debris of a quarantine center established to fight the coronavirus pandemic after Israeli soldiers demolished the single-story center in Hebron, West Bank on July 21, 2020. (Photo: Mamoun Wazwaz/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the policies and actions of the Israeli government against the Palestinian people amount to systematic “apartheid” and unlawful persecution that must be stopped.

The accusations related to Israel’s actions in the occupied territories (OPT) and within Israel are laid out in a new report entitled “A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution.” The findings are based on over two years of research and documentation including official government statements, internal planning documents, and interviews.

“Human Rights Watch concludes that the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT,” the report states. “In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid.”

The specific label of apartheid, the group notes, is accurate based on the Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute’s definitions.

The accusation of persecution is based on “the widespread confiscation of privately owned land, the effective prohibition on building or living in many areas, the mass denial of residency rights, and sweeping, decades-long restrictions on the freedom of movement and basic civil rights,” the publication says.

Israeli officials are committing the crimes of apartheid and persecution.

The world needs to act on behalf of the millions of Palestinians being institutionally discriminated against.  https://t.co/b7uzsDfiVD #Courage2FightApartheid pic.twitter.com/CrWtRUt51e — Human Rights Watch (@hrw) April 27, 2021

HRW also notes that the report is not comprehensive, as it does not include all human rights abuses in the areas, including those committed by armed groups or Palestinian authorities.

“Prominent voices have warned for years that apartheid lurks just around the corner if the trajectory of Israel’s rule over Palestinians does not change,” HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said in a statement. “This detailed study shows that Israeli authorities have already turned that corner and today are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

Your rights shouldn’t depend on who you are. But, in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, it defines everything.  https://t.co/b7uzsCXI45 #Courage2FightApartheid pic.twitter.com/KKBvBOlB6A — Human Rights Watch (@hrw) April 27, 2021

Among the discriminatory actions detailed in the report is Israel’s allocation, of lack thereof, of water to Palestinians. From the report:

Israel has used its control over parts of the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to serve its own citizens and settlers, in contravention of international humanitarian law which prohibits occupiers from exploiting natural resources for its own economic benefit. While 80% of the Mountain Aquifer’s water recharge area lies beneath the West Bank, Israel directly extracts about 90% of the water that is withdrawn from the aquifer annually, leaving Palestinians only the remaining 10% or so to exploit directly. In monopolizing this shared resource, Israeli authorities sharply restrict the ability of Palestinians to directly exploit their own natural resources and render them dependent on Israel for their water supply. For decades, authorities have denied Palestinians permits to drill new wells, in particular in the most productive Western Aquifer basins, or to rehabilitate existing ones. While the Oslo Accords of 1995 included provisions that promised to increase Palestinian access to water, Palestinian extraction levels have largely remained at pre-Oslo levels while the population has increased.

Despite the establishment of a “Joint Water Commission” (JWC) as part of the Oslo Accords, the World Bank in 2009 noted that Israel has retained “virtually all the power,” including veto power, over the West Bank’s water resources. While approving virtually all requests for Israeli-proposed projects to serve settlers, the JWC has rejected many Palestinian-initiated projects, including all requests to drill in the Western Aquifer Basin. Israelis are often permitted to drill deeper into the Aquifer, regularly develop internal settlement water networks without seeking JWC approval, and can extract water without limit when it flows downstream into Israel without need for JWC approval, while Palestinians face strict extraction quotas…

In addition, Israeli authorities have almost entirely deprived Palestinians access to water from the Jordan River, the only major surface water resource in the West Bank, by diverting its flow upstream of the West Bank.

HRW says the findings should serve as a call to action to the international community.

Global powers like the U.S. and European Union’s approach to Israel thus far “overlooks the deeply entrenched nature of Israeli discrimination and repression of Palestinians there [and] minimizes serious human rights abuses by treating them as temporary symptoms of the occupation that the ‘peace process’ will soon cure.” This failure to hold Israel to account for its abuses, the report continues, has allowed the apartheid regime to “metastasize and consolidate.”

Among the recommendations the report lays out are for the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged crimes against humanity. The United Nations must also take action by establishing an envoy position focused on ending persecution and apartheid worldwide, and businesses operating in the OPT must stop contributing to any actions that facilitate the deprivation of Palestinian rights such as the demolition of their homes.

Israel, for its part, rejected the findings. Its foreign ministry dismissed the report’s claims as “both preposterous and false.”

Earlier his year, another human rights group—Israel-based B’Tselem—also said Israel acts as an apartheid regime in light of its policies “advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group—Jews—over another—Palestinians.”

B’Tselem’s executive director Hagai El-Ad said at the time: “This sobering look at reality need not lead to despair, but quite the opposite. It is a call for change. After all, people created this regime, and people can change it.”

HRW’s Roth, in his statement Tuesday, gave a similar message.

“While much of the world treats Israel’s half-century occupation as a temporary situation that a decades-long ‘peace process’ will soon cure, the oppression of Palestinians there has reached a threshold and a permanence that meets the definitions of the crimes of apartheid and persecution,” he said.

“Those who strive for Israeli-Palestinian peace, whether a one or two-state solution or a confederation, should in the meantime recognize this reality for what it is,” said Roth, “and bring to bear the sorts of human rights tools needed to end it.”

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Secularism and The Spiderweb Simile of Surah Al-’Ankabut

Traversing Tradition

“Those who take protectors other than God can be compared to the spider which builds itself a cobweb. But the frailest of all structures is the house of the spider, if but they knew it” – Surah Al-’Ankabut, 29:41 (Trans. Wahiduddin Khan)

The spiderweb simile found in Surah Al-‘Ankabut of The Qur’an occurs in reference to the recipients of God’s message before the time of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. The Surah recounts the stories of previous prophets who, despite having their faith tested by God, did not succumb to disbelief and were consequently rewarded. However, it also recounts instances of those who did succumb to disbelief; the ancient Arabian tribes of ‘Ad and Thamud, along with Korah, Pharaoh and Haman of the Old Testament, are mentioned in Ayahs 38 and 39 respectively as having rejected the messages of their prophets, instead constructing their own laws and principles to guide their…

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A judicial T-shirt cannon loaded with “whoop-ass” t-shirts

Another systemically corrupt local authority beggars belief about effectiveness and credibility of UK child protection system!

suesspiciousminds

I occasionally make reference to judgments where the Judge opens a can of whoop-ass on one party, usually the Local Authority. This one goes so far beyond a can, and even beyond a supermarket trolley filled with cans of whoop-ass that only the title I’ve selected will suffice to show just how much whoop-ass was being thrown about. And rightly so.

IF you are from Herefordshire CC, you may want to skip this particular post. Or at least get a very strong coffee before reading.

I’ll open with the conclusion:-

  1. My strongest criticism must be directed at this local authority. In the whole of my professional life I have rarely encountered such egregious and long-standing failures by a local authority. The worst of it is, I cannot after the closest possible enquiry, understand why or what motivated the local authority to fail these children, this mother and the interveners as…

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Guy Baldwin: Banning Public Worship during the Pandemic?

“However, considering the third stage, the Court found there were less intrusive measures: the government had “not demonstrated why there was an unacceptable degree of risk by continuing to allow places of worship which employed effective mitigation measures and had good ventilation to admit a limited number of people for communal worship” (at [115]). The fourth stage entailed “a weighing up of the severity of the measure’s effects on the one hand, against the benefits secured by the measure on the other” (at [118]). The Court said that “it is not clear … that the blanket closure of all places of worship can be said to have contributed to a material reduction in risk” (at [119]). Mitigating factors were possible instead, and online worship was not a substitute for public worship given, for example, communion, baptism and confession could not take place online (at [121]). Although the severity of Covid-19 deserved “considerable weight” (at [123]), the Regulations were not within the margin of appreciation (at [126]). The Regulations constituted a disproportionate interference with the Article 9 right, and so were beyond legislative competence.”

UK Constitutional Law Association

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches into its second year, the tension between freedom of religion and public health measures has become increasingly acute. In Scotland, the issue has come to the fore with the decision of the Outer House of the Court of Session in Philip. In that case, Lord Braid found that Scottish regulations that temporarily closed places of worship altogether (forcing worship to occur online) were both “unconstitutional” due to the independence of the church and incompatible with Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The Court did not issue a remedy, but following the decision, the Scottish Government announced that places of worship were allowed to open for communal worship and individual prayer, with a cap of 50 people. This brought forward, by two days, an already planned loosening of restrictions.

The challenged regulations, the

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