Even Simpler Minds

I used to enjoy going to the Pearl Continental in Karachi. It was cosmopolitan, discreetly luxurious and the Japanese rooftop restaurant served the best sashimi with wasabi in town. I was saddened that its sister in Peshawar had been so cruelly and unnecessarily targeted. The Abdullah Azzam Brigades would appear to have been named after Abdullah Azzam, a Palestinian militant who joined the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan and was killed in 1989. An Internet website calls him “Bin Laden’s spiritual mentor”; or “The Man Before Osama bin Laden,” and notes that there is an armed wing of Hamas called the Abdullah Azzam Brigades. A favourable profile on Islam.org calls him “The Striving Sheikh,” while a 2002 account of his life on Salon calls him both “The Godfather of Jihad” and “The Lenin of International Jihad” which will almost certainly tick off both doctrinaire Leninists and James Brown fans.
This bombing was carried out to ‘pressure the government to stop military offensive against the Taliban in Swat and Bannu’. If the Taliban were to realise that civilisation perceives their organisation as backward, reactionary and mediaeval, with no place in the modern world, furthermore their violence cannot be tolerated by intellectually self-aware people and their brand of Islam is flawed, dangerous and criminal, then the sooner they would be welcomed back into the human race.
When, I wonder, will the rage and visceral hatred of this kind of impoverished Islam burn itself out? I also wonder, was the intention to kill and maim, or merely to cause damage to property? If the latter, then the charge is vandalism, if the former, it’s simply murder.
As an afterthought, I wonder how civilisation will react to the re-election of the Iranian despot – the word ‘re-election’ being used almost metaphorically since it seems clear that coercion, thuggery and baseball bats win battles at the polls in Tehran as efficiently as in Mingora. Obama’s reference to a ‘robust campaign’ seems uncomfortably pertinent, if naive. I wonder who he thinks runs the country and is he prepared to engage unilaterally with unelected clerics as well as an administration as racially venomous as Ahmedinajad’s? Dweebish, wide-eyed willingness to meet on the mat isn’t gonna cut it this time, Mr President. They actually do mean you harm.

3 thoughts on “Even Simpler Minds

  1. “…impoverished Islam…” Coincidentally, in a recent conversation with a Kuwaiti professor, he reflected on our topic (culture) and lamented, “We (meaning Arabs) are living on the faintest remaining whiffs of a glorious and rich past. We no longer produce exquisite poetry, laudable prose, or elegant tapestries. Instead, we claim gentility vicariously while funding a form of Islam which makes a lie of all our cultural posturing.”


  2. Cultural posturing indeed. Went to a gig at the Sheraton last night where the unimaginative held hands with the talentless in a setting worthy of the Oscars. Applause to mediocrity does much for self-image, little for self-worth. Daisy-Mae's comments always get me a-ponderin'.


  3. Oh, yes…
    We owe much to mathematics developed in the Islamic world between 622 and 1600. My fascination with Fibonacci is well known for those who browse here. He learned mathematics from Islamic scientists and mathematicians who flourished under the Islamic caliphate established across the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, Sicily, the Iberian Peninsula, and in parts of France and India. The centre of Islamic mathematics was in Persia or Iran. It seems a shame that their descendants seem unable to perform simple calculations – one paper, one vote, without apparently subtracting vast numbers from the totals.


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