This is a post I found about Jafar Ibn Abi Talib who was one of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions. He is one of the earliest converts to Islam and was personally sent by the Prophet to lead a small group of believers on a migration into Abyssinia. It was in Abyssinia where he spoke to the Ethiopian King about the persecution suffered by him and his fellow believers in Mecca. He died in the battle of Mu’Tah where it is said he fought until both of his arms were cut off and he was cut into two halves.
The first link gives a brief description of Kurdish, which is part of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European language family, and was developed between 4,000 and 2,000 years ago (paragraph 1). The dialect of Kurmanji is spoken mainly in Turkey and the former Soviet states and written with either the Latin or Cyrillic alphabet depending on the location. Kurmanji claims the highest number of speakers. Sorani is the dialect of those who live in Iraq and Iran. This form is written with the Arabic script. Both dialects are recognized and promoted by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), the semi-autonomous political power in northern Iraq. There are other dialects spoken in more southern regions. Included are resources within the post for those who wish to learn Kurdish.
The next link gives a technical analysis of the phonetic differences in Kurdish dialects as well as comparing these to other Iranian languages. In trying to understand the history of the evolution of the Kurdish language, the authors use old Persian, middle Persian, Zazaki, and Gurani to make comparisons. The cultural identity of the Kurds is an important factor; There is great religious, ethnic, and linguistic diversity within those who identify as Kurdish. This adds complications when trying to determine whether Kurdish has many dialects or is actually a blending of many different languages. The conclusion is drawn that Kurdish is a relative of Balochi, however, there are fundamental differences.
Pashto and Dari are the two official languages of Afghanistan. While both are part of the Indo-European language family and use the Arabic alphabet, they are not mutually intelligible. Pashto is considered the national language of Afghanistan and the national anthem is written in it, but Dari is the more commonly spoken language. Almost all Pashto speakers learn Dari as their second language. Dari was the only language used in the royal courts in Afghanistan until the 1920’s when King Amanullah Khan promoted Pashto as a marker of ethnic identity and nationalism during the fight for independence from the British. Up until that point Pashto was primarily spoken by the Pashtun tribes as their native language.
A war between pastoral nomadism and settlement societies has persisted since the dawn of time. In regards to Islamic civilization, though, Ibn Khaldun claimed that there is a pattern that is found when observing the history of interactions between the two. The social evolution that he describes gives a glimpse at the ebb and flow between nomadic and settled lifestyles, in regards to how an empire rises from nomads being indoctrinated into a sedentary, or settled, lifestyle and reign until new nomads attack and get indoctrinated, and so on. This scholar, Khaldun, died in the early 15th century, but his words seem to stand the tests of time when observing the Ottoman Empire, and more, within Islamic Civilization.
In the Islamic lunar calendar, Ramadan is the ninth month. During this month, Muslims spend daylight hours fasting every single day. Fasting is identified as one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan consists of no food, drink, and other physical needs such as smoking or sex. However, it is not just about the absence of these things, it is also a time that should be dedicated to purifying the soul, paying attention to God, and practicing sacrifice as well as self-discipline. The point of fasting is for Muslims to feel what those who are poor, homeless, or have become refugees feel throughout the year.
“During Ramadan, every part of our bodies must be restrained. The tongue must be restrained from backbiting and gossip. The eyes must restrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. The hand must give in charity, and not touch or take anything that does not belong to it. The ears must refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. The feet must refrain from going to sinful places. In such a way, every part of the body observes the fast.”
The Arabs believed in demons and shadowy beings (spirits), which they called the jinn. Some people believed that the word meant covered or hidden, implying that they were unable to be seen by the human eye. Arabs thought of them to be crafty, mischievous, malevolent, and fearful. The jinn were supposed to haunt places either because they were lonely or because of their unhealthy climate. Since people feared the jinn, this lead to a rise of various stories in which the spirits are said to have murdered or abducted human beings. The Arabs also believed in demonical possession. They believed the jinn could enter human and animal bodies and possess them. “According to the testimony of the Qur’an, the Meccans believed that there was a kinship between Allah and the jinn, and that they were his partners. Accordingly they made offerings to them and sought aid from them” (Inayatullah, 1).
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto has 48 pieces of art originating in Syria that vary in ages, some thousands of years old. As the museum collects more artifacts, it hopes to preserve much of the artistic beauty being lost in the Syrian Civil War. One artifact is a lion’s head carving from the 8th or 9th century.
Representatives of around 40 countries have approved plans to establish a fund to protect heritage sites in war zones and a network of safe havens for endangered artworks.
I rented Scheherazade, Tell Me a Story this past weekend as a source for my paper, and I highly recommend it. It’s available to stream on Amazon. You can also purchase the DVD. It’s in Arabic, so, if you don’t understand Arabic you’ll need to read the subtitles. The movie is also a bit graphic at points and covers some sensitive topics.
These stories are the top headlines in Haaretz and Al Jazeera. Very obviously, our election is important all around the world.