intellectual property rights: This blogger firmly believes in intellectual and other property rights. Links have been given to the material including images and maps used from outside sources. The blogger requests pointing out any material that have escaped this policy.
Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

see end of page for buttoned useful links

Monday, November 23, 2009

Israel is the light onto the nations

Israel is the light onto the nations’ says the Torah. Indeed it is, and not just because the Torah says so. Israel is ahead of everyone else in many fronts. Take for instance, terrorizing civilian populations and practicing some of the most devastating murderous tactics upon elders, women and young.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Eid blues

After 9 days of a living and lively home, there is now silence.

Little Haneya and her parents have left - my son back to Dubai, since his leave has been cancelled by his manager, my d-i-l to her parents' house with Haneya. For a whole year I won't be seeing them in person. :(

Now I know how my mother felt when I would leave, or when I wouldn't visit her.

My daughter and s-i-l also came for a visit, and they too have left.

The wife is watching cricket. When my son was here, I rediscovered my interest in cricket, but it has waned with his departure.

ملیر کی گلیاں - زینت حسام

sorry, don't feel like translating it now. Maybe later:

taken from:

the streets of Maleer by Zeenat Hissaam

ملیر کی گلیاں
Posted Thu, 2008-02-14 19:10 by Anonymous
ملیر کی یادوں کے ساتھ ہرے بھرے پیڑ وابستہ ہیں: امرود، آم، انار، نیم، گلاب، چمبیلی، موتیا۔
ہم بچے نانی کے گھر ہر ہفتے جایا کرتے۔ نانا اور ماموں کے کوارٹر ملے ہوئے تھے۔ ہر کوارٹر میں ایک کمرہ اور ایک بڑا سا آنگن تھا۔ نانا، نانی کے ساتھ خالہ رہتی تھیں اور ماموں، ممانی اور ان کے تین بیٹے ایک ساتھ۔ دونوں کوارٹروں کی درمیانی دیوار نہ تھی لہذا یہ ایک بڑا سا گھر نظر آتا۔ نانی کے آنگن میں امرود کے تین چار پیڑ قطار سے لگے ہوئے تھے اور ایک انار کا درخت تھا۔ ماموں کی طرف ایک بڑا سا نیم کا پیڑ اور موتیا، چمبیلی، اور گلاب کی جھاڑیاں تھیں۔
چھٹیوں کی دوپہر ہم بچے درختوں پر چڑھتے، امرود توڑ توڑ کر کھاتے، آنکھ مچولی کھیلتے۔ شام کو سڑک کے اس پار ملیر ریلوے اسٹیشن کی سیر کو جاتے۔ اور اسٹیشن کے باہر ریل کی پٹریوں کے نیچے بنی پلیاؤں کے اندر بیٹھ کر اوپر سے جاتی ہوئی ٹرین کی آواز سنتے۔ رات کو نانی چار پائیوں پر صاف ستھرے بستر لگاتیں اور ہمیں کہانیاں سناتیں۔ اور ہم تاروں بھرے آسمان کو تکتے تکتے سوجاتے۔ یہ ۱۹۶۰ کی دہائی کی بات ہے۔

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Quide Azam, Pakistan and us

The Quide Azam, Pakistan and us

Debate has been going on (and raised again by comments on Jaswant Singh's book) about what the Quaid wanted Pakistan to be. A case in point is Yasser Latif Hamdani's article "Jaswant's book and Partition" in the News, Pakistan, Sep 24, 2009.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Bashing Wahabism and Wahabis

From time to time, vitriolic pieces appear in the press by regular contributors and even the editors on the evils of Wahabism. These writings show a lack of understanding of the origins and propagation of this term. Wahabism is a misnomer coined by the British to turn away the Indian Muslims from those who were resisting Imperialism. The term was of course eagerly adopted  by the exploitative pirs and jagirdars who used to milk the ordinary Muslim through ensuring his contribution to the local saints at their graves, a practice that has not gone away after independence. A little help in the form of cash and land grants by the British was also persuasive. The same is now being applied today for the benefit of another Imperial power, and its local cohorts. Unfortunately the so-called "progressive" elements among us are also in the forefront of this bashing.

Friday, July 31, 2009

وهو صوت عاقل في العالم المجنون

Like I tried translating my blog into Arabic through Google Translate.

Well, not the whole blog, just the main page as of today: August 1st, 2009

The result is rather pleasing, although I haven't read the whole page yet.

The tilte of the blog translates well, too:

وهو صوت عاقل في العالم المجنون

and he/that is وهو

صوت عاقل a sane voice

في in

العالم المجنون the mad world

not bad, not bad at all!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A gaping hole in the bedroom wall

The scene: a house in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, early morning, June 1993

A man is removing the air conditioner in his bedroom, His wife asks: "What are you doing? The AC is working fine". The man does not answer. He keeps at his work. When his wife's voice become too loud, he tells her quietly. "I am taking it for the Bosnian guests". "The what? …" His wife is flabbergasted. "This is my AC. I need it in my bedroom. What will I do without it? You know you cannot buy me another one."

"You will be all right. After all, we have lived without an AC for until this summer."

"I can't live without it. Leave it alone". The woman is in no mood to let go of her comfort appliance.

"Look, we are from a village in this hot part. These people are from a place that is even cooler than Kashmir. They will fry in this heat. They need this AC much more than we do."

When the wife does not stop protesting, the man tells her he will send her back to her village, where there is not even an electric ceiling fan.

Saying this he walks out and heads towards the motor rickshaw stand. The wife stares at the gaping hole left in her bedroom. She feels too angry to cover it with something. Let him do it when he come back. Outside, the man has hailed a rickshaw, A long time ago, pedaled rickshaws were banned, and replaced with motor ones.

The scene changes to just outside Madinatul Hujjaj - the city of the Pilgrims, a complex of plain buildings built for departing pilgrims to Mecca. It comes alive only prior to Hajj, when intending pilgrims are trained and facilitated for their onward journey to the holy land. This is June, much too early for Hajj, but it is inhabited again, as the first batch of Bosnian guests (as the refugees are called) have arrived in the night and accommodated here.

Outside the Madinatul Hujjaj gate, one sees a sea of people in all sorts of vehicles, and even on foot - carrying various things, charpoys (beds), bedding, covers, kitchen ware, daigs (huge cooking pots with cooked food), fruits, meat, chickens, vegetables, pedestal fans, toys for kids, refrigerators, … and this man with an air conditioner. And there are guards, police, welfare organisations' employees, ...

"Please, please, take this AC inside and give it to the Bosnians", he is pleading with everyone he thinks has an official position or may be of help, but no. The guards are not letting anyone or anything in. They have instructions to make sure the guests are not disturbed.

Everywhere is the same story. People have brought out what ever possessions they have for their guests. "Please, please, take these and give to our guests".

As Sajida Sladjic, the Bosnian ambassador to Pakistan, tells this story to us, her special guests at the Bosnian Village, her eyes are filled with tears. "Where else will you find such people, who remind you of the Ansaar", she asks.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The curious case of US consulate in Karachi

Pakistanis subsidize the poor US government!

Shawkat Aziz, a Citibank banker in New York, was imposed on Pakistan as a wonderboy who would take Pakistan out of its economic mess. He was not the only one to be so imposed. Moeen Qureshi, and Shoaib, among others, had preceded him in the list of such wonder-boys.

He was made the Finance Minister, and then the Prime Minister. Here is the first order he issued on becoming PM:

The first order of PM Aziz: serve the US
Concessions to friendly countries is a norm, says former official

by Ansar Abbasi

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Musharraf, the clean guy

Everyone, except the army, was corrupt, he said, and set about cleaning the system. Here is a sample of Mr. Clean_Guy's actions:

Documents reveal power scandal in Chak Shahzad palaces
Government found illegally subsidising Musharraf, Shaukat’s electricity bills

Saturday, May 23, 2009
By Ansar Abbasi

ISLAMABAD: Former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, who have built up multi-million rupee palaces in the name of farmhouses in Chak Shahzad bordering Islamabad, are getting subsidy on their electricity bills and are charged at the cheapest agricultural rates, copies of their bills obtained by The News have revealed.

A selected few amongst the other highly influential and well-connected residents of Chak Shahzad are also paying the cheapest rates with the connivance of the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco).

While the whole world knows that Musharraf has constructed a modern house on the farm, obtained for breeding poultry and vegetables, the Iesco is still allowing him to enjoy the cheapest of power tariff D-2(1), which is meant for agriculture tube-wells and lift irrigation pumps and is even subsidised by the government from the taxpayers’ money.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quranee Urdu, or Urdu words from the Quran

The easier it is here, the more difficult it will be in the Hereafter

we born Muslims did not have to struggle with having to search for the truth, except may be in a superficial way. Being brought up as Muslims we could always see the wrong in other aqeedas. There is a downside, for all will be asked what action they took on the knowledge they possessed.

Some take it to mean we should not try to gain knowledge - if we do not know, we won't be asked about it, but that is wrong. We will be taken to task for not trying to learn.

Those who understand Arabic will have a harder time. Those of us who have a language close to Arabic, will also have to explain why we did not try to learn it.

Subhanallah. There is good news for those who can understand, read and write Urdu:

Urdu is similar to Hindi. Both were indistinguishable, except for the script. Urdu became closer to Arabic because of incorporating the script, but retaining a few letters of the alphabet for sounds peculiar to its Indian origin.

A book called "Quranee Urdu" has just come out by Col. Aashiq Hussain. He has spent his life in the education corps, with Urdu, Arabic and linguistics as his passion. He claims that 94% of the words in the Quran are in use in Urdu in some derived form or the other (sometimes the meanings are different from the Quranic ones).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

world heritage tour: Moenjodaro

This is part of the Indus Valley civilization, which thrived about 5000 years ago. The city had straight and perpendicular road grid, covered sewage lines running along the roads, and the city was made entirely of unbaked bricks. It had a rich quarter: on higher ground, and more spacious, and a poor quarter, the opposite.

Seals and Toys from this and the sister site of Harrappa are also dintinguishing features.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The reason for suffering in this world

It is wonderful we haven't had more accidents and sufferings than we have had.

There is so much that could have gone wrong in my life.

And whatever has gone wrong, has also resulted in my betterment, and whatever hasn't, obviously was for the good.


When the doctors told me I would go blind in six months, and I thought the world had ended for me, and I blamed Allah for shattering my dreams. Little did I know that my affliction would save me from being insufferably arrogant.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

world heritage tour: Petra

Here is Petra on the world heritage site. The panoramic photos are awesome. Please do visit that website linked below and see for yourself

Petra: interactive map

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

world heritage tour: Damascus

It is amazing the info available on the net. take a look at this site:

world heritage tours

I registered and looked at ancient Damascus. Here is a map displayed when we search for damascus. To discover more, and see the interactive panoramic photos, go and register. If you can, donate as well, and do subscribe to their feed:

world heritage tour.RSS

and for Damascus (Damishq), the link is:

Damascus interactive map

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The war on Muslims - III

comment on previous two posts by JustOne

I agree with you, but...

Do you think maybe it starts from a far more micro level then what you have proposed?

The muslim world is faced either with things like dwindling literacy rates and minimal health care OR with mismanaged resources.  Not to mention petty corruption, broken homes, and a preoccupation with western popular culture that is spacing out both the youth and adults.

I mean I point the finger at myself first.  Currently, I am a part of the problem, if only by lack of action to bring about a lasting change.

timbuktu's reply:

Of course, the problems do stem from the individual, whether of the elite or the common man.

I am not sure if it is true that there is dwindling literacy and health care rate. True that the government funded services have failed to keep with the rising needs brought on by increased population, urbanization, improved infrastructure and hence demand, and increased expectations. In the private sector, however, both indicators have gone up, unless the increase in population has caused a decline in the percentage of those covered.

The economy, literacy rate, and health care can be improved if there is investment in the Ummah. As I have mentioned on other threads, consider the 3.1/2 trillion dollars of only Saudi money parked in the US. $2.3 trillion of this was private money, and $0.8 trillion was Saudi government's. Who are the Saudi individuals who have that kind of money? They are the princes and associated tycoons, of course. Where did they get this money from? From sale of the oil and execution of infrastructure projects at inflated rates. To whom does the oil belong? It should belong to the Saudi people, but since this is a kingdom, it is usurped by the royal family.

Imagine what just the investment of this 3.1 trillion dollars can do to the Ummah. There are other Muslims with large amounts of money - the Kuwaitis, the Emiratis, etc. And here the external factors come into play. If Suhartu had not been placed in power in Indonesia by the CIA, the murder of over a million Indonesians would not have taken place, and the oil money from Indonesia would have been invested in Indonesia, not in the US. Similarly, the history of Iran would have been different if Musaddiq had not been deposed by CIA.

The leadership of Pakistan has been mostly feudal, and it pays only lip service to Islam, which it uses with either direct assumption of peership, or co-opts the local peer to control the rural population.

There are other players here, too: Musharraf and other generals before him, Zardari and other corrupt people before him. If the money they had swindled from their nations had not found safe havens in the West, it would have to stay in their homelands, and would have to be invested there.

Since these generals and politicians and business leaders come from the ordinary citizen class, it is indeed our failure at the micro level. We are not just good Muslims. Having accepted that, is it necessary to become good Muslims in order to defeat the Imperialists of today? It is true that the Quran tells us if we are good Muslims, Allah (swt) will hand over power to us.

If you look at the history of Muslims, time and again an ideologically motivated group has managed to gain control of a region and dispelled the kuffar. Yusuf bin Tashfeen's murabeteen were not the same as the easy-going urbanite Andalucíans, yet they were the need of the hour. The muwwahedeen who replaced them were followers of Imam Ghazali, a different approach to the deen, but they too were successful in defeating the Christian Reconquesta until the Andalucians as a whole fell to schism on ethnic and sectarian grounds.

The culprit then is schism, but I agree that this comes from the individual's ignoring of the basic injunctions of being one ummah in the Quran and Sunnah, hence it is a failure at the micro-level. What I have demonstrated above is that despite this schism, many times it was possible to impose rule of one group, and keep the kuffar at bay. Of course it is better that instead of a coercive imposition, there is voluntary acceptance (and that would definitely involve power sharing). There are many organizations that claim to bring Muslims together as one. Some individuals among them may falter, but by and large these organizations do try.

Unscrupulous people come mostly from the class educated in the secular western way. Me and you are part of this class. But not all from this only class are corrupt. The madrassa educated (and scion of the very pious Mufti Mahmood) Fazlur Rehman gets into politics, he plays the same game, but he is not the only Islamist player. There are others, and they are seemingly pious.

What happened in the decolonization era was a fraud. The departing empires left behind a class to which the empire's capital was still home. The leadership was subservient to the white master. The leading world powers also devised financial institutions - the World bank and the IMF - that served to bring the so-called independent nations under inflated debt burdens, so as to keep them permanently under their thumbs. The leaders of these third world countries were encouraged to be corrupt and wars were imposed on them so that the loot could find its way into the banks of the West.

This is the story of my generation. We understood some of what was happening, and we struggled in our own ways to break the yoke.

My intention is to make people aware of what is happening around them. Just as decolonization was made possible due to several factors - indigenous struggle, development of an aware class in the center of the Empire, economic decline of the Empire through wars, this struggle for emancipation may involve  all three factors. Of course, it is Allah's will that will cause the emancipation. But we have to analyze and struggle accordingly. Praying in the dead of night may not be enough.

If people in the West were made aware of the money-laundering that goes on there, eventually loot and corruption on such a large scale may come to an end.

The war on Muslims - II; Failure of the State

 Failure of the state

Friday, February 20, 2009
By by Dr Masooda Bano

The agreement between the NWFP government and Maulana Sufi Mohammad of Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat, which promises enforcement of 'Nizam-e-Adl Regulation' in Malakand division in return for promises of Maulana Fazlullah and his followers stopping taking the law in their hands does not have an easy response. True, the regulation will only lead to some cosmetic changes and Qazi courts already exist in that area. Also, the Malakand division and FATA already have many peculiarities and if the population there has a higher preference for Shariah law then the solution might be to let them have a slightly different set of constitutional rules. Finally, it has been argued that imposing the regulation will deprive Maulana Fazlullah of the moral authority that he enjoys among his recruits. This far the arguments make sense. However, what is important is that this peace agreement does not deter analysts from arguing for bigger reforms within the state that are required to check underlying causes of the mayhem visible in Swat today.

The war on Muslims - I

To think that there is no war on Muslims is to close your eyes to the truth, and to buy the line of our enemies.

To start with, we accept that there are major internal problems with the Muslim world, and these need urgent attention.

However, there are similarly urgent external problems. To dismiss these as conspiracy theories would be to bury our heads in the sand.

The primary aims of the major powers are:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

USA not an ATM, and Pakistan no vending machine

America not an ATM

Monday, February 16, 2009

This is with reference to the article “Can the US get real on Pakistan” by Mosharraf Zaidi (Feb 12). I want to ask the writer when Pakistan will learn to ‘get real about its relationship with the United States’? From the 1950s onwards the US gave an immense amount of aid to Pakistan to build its military and economic potential. However, it should be clear to Pakistan that the US will never go to war with India for Pakistan’s sake. That was something the Americans emphasised right from the very beginning. Despite the huge amount of aid that Pakistan received and in spite of being a US ally for five decades the average American sees Pakistan as a dangerous country. The US gave Pakistan aid and helped it both economically and militarily. However, Pakistan betrayed the US trust by secretly building nuclear weapons while insisting it was doing nothing of the sort.

Also while doing all this Pakistan still insists it is America’s ally and keeps asking for economic and military aid. Pakistan needs to realise that the United States is not an ATM machine where Pakistan can keep taking out money without there being any accounting. There is a need for Pakistan to realise it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

Greg Martin

Springfield, MA, US

USA not an ATM

Pakistan no vending machine

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This is with reference to Greg Martin's letter "America not an ATM machine" (Feb 16). As a Pakistani I am extremely offended by the writer's assertion that Pakistan is a banana republic that has no economy and military and is strictly dependent on US aid. The writer seems to be imagining things when he makes the claim that Pakistan expects the US to go to war with India for Pakistan's sake. Furthermore, I wonder if the opinion of average Americans matters considering that they can't even locate Pakistan on the map let alone understand the dynamics of the problems that Pakistan is facing today.

The average Pakistani sees the United States as a global bully. How can the average Pakistani respect the US if it keeps on attacking Pakistan's sovereignty day in and day out via drone attacks? Do I need to remind Mr Martin about how the US ditched Pakistan after achieving its goals in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion?

The fact of the matter is that America needs to realise that Pakistan is not a vending machine that it can just use and then discard.

Zubair Nabi



This is in reference to the letter titled "America not an ATM machine" by Greg Martin (Feb 16). Mr Martin seems to be slightly well-versed with history than the average American. Yet, he suffers from partial amnesia. He remembers the aid that flowed to Pakistan from the US in the 1950s but somehow forgets that it was given because Islamabad was a CENTO/SEATO ally during the Cold War and to counter a USSR-leaning India. He remembers the aid given during the 1980s but forgets that Pakistani intelligence and troops were coordinating the US fight against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.

He also remembers the aid given in the past eight years but forgets the thousands of Pakistani civilians and soldiers who have died fighting yet another war on behalf of America. He says that Pakistan secretly built nuclear weapons but forgets that the US is the only country to actually have used a nuclear device on an enemy population. It is time for the US to stop pointing fingers and clean up the mess it has created over decades of incompetence in world affairs.

Syed Umair Javed


Pakistan no vending machine

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Timbuktu, Islamic History: video by Dr Abdul Hakim Quick

isn't this great?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

An Eyewitness Account of the Eruption of Vesuvius

My dear Tacitus,

You ask me to write you something about the death of my uncle so that the account you transmit to posterity is as reliable as possible. I am grateful to you, for I see that his death will be remembered forever if you treat it [sc. in your Histories]. He perished in a devastation of the loveliest of lands, in a memorable disaster shared by peoples and cities, but this will be a kind of eternal life for him. Although he wrote a great number of enduring works himself, the imperishable nature of your writings will add a great deal to his survival. Happy are they, in my opinion, to whom it is given either to do something worth writing about, or to write something worth reading; most happy, of course, those who do both. With his own books and yours, my uncle will be counted among the latter. It is therefore with great pleasure that I take up, or rather take upon myself the task you have set me.

He was at Misenum in his capacity as commander of the fleet on the 24th of August [sc. in 79 AD], when between 2 and 3 in the afternoon my mother drew his attention to a cloud of unusual size and appearance. He had had a sunbath, then a cold bath, and was reclining after dinner with his books. He called for his shoes and climbed up to where he could get the best view of the phenomenon. The cloud was rising from a mountain-at such a distance we couldn't tell which, but afterwards learned that it was Vesuvius. I can best describe its shape by likening it to a pine tree. It rose into the sky on a very long "trunk" from which spread some "branches." I imagine it had been raised by a sudden blast, which then weakened, leaving the cloud unsupported so that its own weight caused it to spread sideways. Some of the cloud was white, in other parts there were dark patches of dirt and ash. The sight of it made the scientist in my uncle determined to see it from closer at hand.

He ordered a boat made ready. He offered me the opportunity of going along, but I preferred to study-he himself happened to have set me a writing exercise. As he was leaving the house he was brought a letter from Tascius' wife Rectina, who was terrified by the looming danger. Her villa lay at the foot of Vesuvius, and there was no way out except by boat. She begged him to get her away. He changed his plans. The expedition that started out as a quest for knowledge now called for courage. He launched the quadriremes and embarked himself, a source of aid for more people than just Rectina, for that delightful shore was a populous one. He hurried to a place from which others were fleeing, and held his course directly into danger. Was he afraid? It seems not, as he kept up a continuous observation of the various movements and shapes of that evil cloud, dictating what he saw.

Ash was falling onto the ships now, darker and denser the closer they went. Now it was bits of pumice, and rocks that were blackened and burned and shattered by the fire. Now the sea is shoal; debris from the mountain blocks the shore. He paused for a moment wondering whether to turn back as the helmsman urged him. "Fortune helps the brave," he said, "Head for Pomponianus."

At Stabiae, on the other side of the bay formed by the gradually curving shore, Pomponianus had loaded up his ships even before the danger arrived, though it was visible and indeed extremely close, once it intensified. He planned to put out as soon as the contrary wind let up. That very wind carried my uncle right in, and he embraced the frightened man and gave him comfort and courage. In order to lessen the other's fear by showing his own unconcern he asked to be taken to the baths. He bathed and dined, carefree or at least appearing so (which is equally impressive). Meanwhile, broad sheets of flame were lighting up many parts of Vesuvius; their light and brightness were the more vivid for the darkness of the night. To alleviate people's fears my uncle claimed that the flames came from the deserted homes of farmers who had left in a panic with the hearth fires still alight. Then he rested, and gave every indication of actually sleeping; people who passed by his door heard his snores, which were rather resonant since he was a heavy man. The ground outside his room rose so high with the mixture of ash and stones that if he had spent any more time there escape would have been impossible. He got up and came out, restoring himself to Pomponianus and the others who had been unable to sleep. They discussed what to do, whether to remain under cover or to try the open air. The buildings were being rocked by a series of strong tremors, and appeared to have come loose from their foundations and to be sliding this way and that. Outside, however, there was danger from the rocks that were coming down, light and fire-consumed as these bits of pumice were. Weighing the relative dangers they chose the outdoors; in my uncle's case it was a rational decision, others just chose the alternative that frightened them the least.

They tied pillows on top of their heads as protection against the shower of rock. It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night. But they had torches and other lights. They decided to go down to the shore, to see from close up if anything was possible by sea. But it remained as rough and uncooperative as before. Resting in the shade of a sail he drank once or twice from the cold water he had asked for. Then came an smell of sulfur, announcing the flames, and the flames themselves, sending others into flight but reviving him. Supported by two small slaves he stood up, and immediately collapsed. As I understand it, his breathing was obstructed by the dust-laden air, and his innards, which were never strong and often blocked or upset, simply shut down. When daylight came again 2 days after he died, his body was found untouched, unharmed, in the clothing that he had had on. He looked more asleep than dead.

Meanwhile at Misenum, my mother and I-but this has nothing to do with history, and you only asked for information about his death. I'll stop here then. But I will say one more thing, namely, that I have written out everything that I did at the time and heard while memories were still fresh. You will use the important bits, for it is one thing to write a letter, another to write history, one thing to write to a friend, another to write for the public. Farewell.

-- Pliny the Younger (A.D. 61 - 113)

Found on the Website ... it is a site well worth visiting!

Vesuvius the Volcano

Pliny the Younger describes Vesuvius eruption in 79 CE

7. The story of Caius Julius Polybius


By Rossella Lorenzi

A day in the life of one of Pompeii's residents is re-created in this fictional account based on research findings.

Caius Julius Polybius woke up early that summer day in A.D. 79. He was excited: workers were to arrive soon to restore some rooms in his beautiful house.
He was proud of himself.

A descendant of a former slave who in A.D 14 wrote and read the testament of the emperor Augustus, he was now a wealthy and respected merchant.

He opened the front door and breathed deeply the cool air of the morning. Like every day, he read the graffiti on the facade of his house: "The mule drivers ask you to elect Caius Julius Polybius as duovir." He smiled.

At 65 he was finally enjoying an enviable social position, holding the most important public office in Pompeii.

He turned and began to walk through his house, stopping to look at a fresco and admire his treasure. Others in the city had more interesting pieces. How much he would have liked to have had the silver collection he saw in the House of the Meander!

Yet, he couldn't complain: on the table, lit by a bronze lamp sculpture of young Apollo, were bronzes, vases, a beautiful embossed tray, and the best piece of the collection, a Greek water container.

The house was bustling. Women were already in the kitchen preparing honey doughnuts and Julius' favorite dish, garum, a sauce made with marinated fish.

In the garden, a tortoise was sleeping under the fig tree, undisturbed by Julius' grandchild, who had just put down a tree ladder and a basket full of figs. The earth was shaking lightly beneath people's feet, but nobody cared. They were used to earthquakes, which occurred often in Pompeii.

But at noon a frightening roar made the 12 people in the house forget their lunch. Julius looked at Mount Vesuvius. A huge cloud spewed out of the massive volcano, and fire reached for the sky. Soon white and gray pumice began to fall from the column of smoke. A false night, darker and thicker than any night, descended on the city.

There was panic. People cried in terror, rushing into the streets looking for shelter. Like everybody, Julius and his family tried to escape, but a horse that had collapsed on the ground blocked their way. They returned under a shower of burning rock, flaming cinders, fragments of lava and pumice. They rushed into two rooms in the back of their house, away from the street.

They sat on the floor and waited for what seemed an eternity. In the darkness, they could hear groans of the dying and shrieks of the terrified, noises from the mountain, the sound of roofs collapsing. It was nothing compared to what was still to come.

At 7 a.m. strong winds howled down the streets, bringing sharp streams of ash, poisonous vapors and an unbearable temperature.

In Julius' garden, the tortoise withdrew into its shell for the last time.

 End of slide show. But click here for ongoing archaeological work in and around Pompeii. »


7. The story of Caius Julius Polybius

6. Pompeii: part II

By Rossella Lorenzi

"Here are impressive pieces of evidence of the degree of civilization in Pompeii," says Paolo Galluzzi, director of Florence's Institute and Museum of the History of Science.

Several of the contraptions show a surprising similarity to modern machines. For example, any Pompeian embarking on a trip could establish how many Roman miles he had traveled through the use of a contraption attached to the wheel of a cart. For every mile, it dropped a pebble into a box.

To help assemble this strikingly detailed re-creation of life in Pompeii, researchers employed a range of high-tech tools. Among them were DNA testing of bones to decipher genetic history and physical analysis of the bones to study the physical structure of Pompeians and to determine some of the most prevalent diseases, such as arthritis.

With high-powered microscopes, scientists analyzed pollens, animal bones and fragments of wood, glass, plants and daily objects to figure out the natural history of the region as well as cultural and agricultural practices.

Using 3-D forensic techniques, they reconstructed the faces of four Pompeians (including Caius Julius Polybius), bringing the ancient residents back to life hundreds of years into the future. Their blank eyes stare at a harsh, unforgiving light.


Next »7654321« Previous

Pompeii, part II

5. Pompeii


By Rossella Lorenzi

More than 400 finds recorded by 25 international research groups in the past 10 years have provided the most accurate picture of what life was like in Pompeii.

At the time Mount Vesuvius erupted, this was a wealthy Roman trading town, famous for its fish sauce and grand villas. Indeed, it was international and cosmopolitan.

In addition to Greeks and Etruscans, the population included residents from Africa. Of Pompeii's 20,000 inhabitants, half were children. The average Pompeian woman was 4 1/2 feet tall and lived to the age of 39. The average man was a few inches taller and could expect to live to the age of 41.

Pompeians poured their savings into their houses. Wealthy people enriched their homes with elegant courtyard gardens decorated with frescoes of plants and flowers and an abundance of modern conveniences. Each room was heated by hot air running through cavity walls and spaces under the floors, while sophisticated hydraulic pumps provided running water.

The entire city had an excellent system for the control and distribution of water. From a great reservoir, water flowed invisibly through underground pipelines into drainage systems and into aqueducts supported by arches. It reappeared in the city's houses, public buildings and fountains.

"The ancient Romans achieved their power because they had a deep knowledge of technology and science, not to mention that they understood many aspects of nature," Paolo Galluzzi, director of Florence's Institute and Museum of the History of Science, said.

Having studied iconographic sources and ancient texts for three years, Galluzzi has been able to reconstruct models and computer animations of the complex machines created by the ancient residents.


4. The story of Lupercus

By Rossella Lorenzi

Lupercus is one of the only victims whose identity has survived, thanks to his personal bronze seal declaring his status as an imperial slave. This fictional account of his last day is based on the recent findings.

It was a summer night in A.D. 79 and Lupercus watched a young couple sitting cross-legged on the beach at Herculaneum. They looked like they were under the spell of the Cupids on the fresco near the Decumanus Maximus, but it wasn't a romantic moment. The couple was frightened; torrents of hot mud were spewing out of Mount Vesuvius.

Lupercus cleaned his mouth with his left hand. Despite the sea breeze, his tongue felt furry with thin ash. In the other hand he held his bronze seal, inscribed with "Lupercus Augusti servus." It was the only thing he took with him as he rushed to the beach.

He looked again at Vesuvius, worried. "I am close to the water, I shall be safe," he reassured himself. But what would happen to the imperial villa he had to take care of? He had worked so hard to make a good impression on the emperor and be released one day.

After all, he wasn't a just a common slave. He had been appointed with a great responsibility: he had to take care of the garden of the villa that had belonged to the lunatic emperor Caligula.

He looked around at the crowded beach. The women wore their most beautiful jewels. Lupercus recognized the matron of the house with the mosaic atrium: she was wearing rings on every finger and two beautiful bracelets in the shape of snakes. A more modest woman was carrying a basket with nuts and pomegranates, while others carried bronze oil lamps.

"It is going be a long night," Lupercus thought. Some lay on the beach to sleep, while many others decided to find shelter in the boat chambers.

Lupercus entered the one reserved to men. He noticed the doctor with his bag of surgical instruments and a soldier clad in armor, who stood at the entrance.
There was nothing to do but wait. They huddled together in a circle, talking late into the night.

Suddenly, an unbearable heat struck like lightning. The soldier was thrown on his face, his arms outstretched to try to break his fall. Lupercus fell with the others in a tangle of bodies.

Outside, gray ash drifted down like snow. The young couple lay solidified on the beach, the man's arm wrapped around his love.

Next »7654321« Previous

\The story of Lupercus

3. Two days in August 79 AD

By Rossella Lorenzi

Aug. 24, A.D. 79

1 p.m.: When the people of Herculaneum saw a column of smoke bursting from Vesuvius, reaching nine miles into the sky, they looked around, astonished. As the first ash fell on the roofs of their houses, they understood it was time to run. Most stopped to gather what belongings they could: money, jewels, the family dog. Everybody rushed into the streets. Some thought the sea was their route to safety; those who didn't try to escape on boats assembled on the beach.

Midnight: The cloud reached almost 19 miles into the sky, and torrents of lava poured down Vesuvius. The beach probably offered a spectacular view of the eruption, but the fugitives didn't live much longer to admire it.

Aug. 25, A.D. 79

1 a.m.: A cloud of gas and ash plunged down on the town; the hot breath of Vesuvius killed the fugitives in a fraction of a second. By studying bone fractures and the position of the remains, anthropologist Paolo Petrone and volcanologist Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo established beyond a doubt that the fugitives were wrapped in a 900-degree Fahrenheit cloud. They died instantly of thermal shock, not from slow suffocation as scientists long assumed.

1 to 6 a.m.: More surges followed.

7 a.m.: A devastating surge killed the remaining inhabitants of Pompeii; they lay down with death on a thick carpet of pumice.

8 a.m.: Silence fell on Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Two days in August 79 AD

2. Herculaneum

By Rossella Lorenzi

Since it was discovered in the 18th century buried under 75 feet of solidified ash, the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum has always been overshadowed by Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.

Yet, in ancient times, Herculaneum was a dream town. Overlooking the Bay of Naples, it was the aristocratic dwelling of a wealthy elite, a cluster of fabulous villas and gardens.

"Herculaneum could not stand out in all its importance because of problems with digging. The resistance of the volcanic material made it very difficult to excavate, not to mention the urban settlements that had grown above the ancient town.
There is still a lot to discover about this place," archaeologist Mario Pagano, director of the town's excavation, said.

Indeed, a 18-year dig led by Pagano near the ancient seashore has provided the conclusive evidence on how the victims of history's most famous volcanic explosion died.

The excavation uncovered 300 bodies, a significant and precious sample of Herculaneum's population, which at the time of the eruption in A.D. 79 numbered about 5,000.

Pagano's team found bodies of adults on the surface, many carrying money and valuable objects; deeper down, they found children and newborns.
Most of all, Pagano found 80 nearly intact bodies trapped by death as they packed into 12 storerooms on the beach to escape the molten lava and boiling mud pouring down from the crater.

It has long been assumed that the victims died from asphyxiation. But a study of the bone fractures and the position of the remains, indicates that the fugitives died instantly from extreme thermal shock when the surge hurled down on the beach area, covering the seven miles to the coast in about four minutes. Herculaneum was baked in seconds.

"These 80 people do not display any evidence of voluntary self-protective reaction or agony contortions. They were killed before they had time to display a reaction, in less than a fraction of a second," said study author Giuseppe Mastrolorenzo, a volcanologist with the Vesuvius Observatory.

The finding prompted a team of archaeologists, vulcanologists, geologists and anthropologists to draw a diary of Herculaneum's last hours.


Pompeii: The Last Day - I/7

The Long, Deathly Silence

By Rossella Lorenzi

"You could hear women lamenting, children crying, men shouting. There were some so afraid of death that they prayed for death. Many raised their hands to the gods, and even more believed that there were no gods any longer and that this was one unending night for the world." —Pliny the Younger, circa A.D. 97 to 109

It all lasted 19 hours.

Then, there was only a long, deathly silence. Pompeii lay buried for nearly 1,700 years. It wasn't until 1748 that archaeologists began slowly uncovering the ancient city, preserved under 9 feet of volcanic ash and frozen in time by Pliny the Younger's vivid report.

About three-fifths of the city has been liberated from the solidified volcanic ash and pumice that engulfed it. But many questions remained unanswered for a long time.

What was life like under the volcano? What exactly did happen that summer day in A.D. 79? Here we take a look into the latest findings.

The Long, Deathly Silence

Vesuvius: Deadly Fury

BBC: Pompeii, The Last Day - part 1 of 5

BBC: Pompeii, The Last Day

BBC - Pompeii - The Last Day

part 1/5

part 2/5

part 3/5

part 4/5

part 5/5

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


80% words & practice

Explanatory Dictionary

Thursday, February 05, 2009

JuD writes to the UN for lifting of ban

JuD writes to the UN for lifting of ban

The News International reported on its front page today (Thursday Feb 5th, Kashmir Day) that the Jamaatud-Dawa has made a six-page representation to the Secreatary General of the UN that the ban on its activities at the misinformation campaign of the Indian government is unjustified under the rules of the UN as it is neither connected wih the Taliban or al-Qaeda, and is not engaged in any activities related to terrorrism. Rather this ban is detrimental to the people of Pakistan as it has resulted in cessation of JuD's welfare activities.

I read this report together with the representation in the printed newspaper, but the site is down. The report starts on the front page in a small column and continues on page 8.

Now it is up to the UN to either prove that the JuD is a terrorist group, or to lift the ban and apologize to the people of Pakistan, including the Hindu and Christian womwen and children which were being supported by the JuD, and who have now been without this humantarian support ever since the ban on JuD.

Nandankanan, Chittagong: once my home

What is my home?

Among other places, once we also lived in Jamila Manzil, in a lane off the main road where the Nandakanan Buddhist Temple is situated. The temple had a huge statue of Buddha, and I wondered why people prayed to it. I went to Chittagong Government College. And I went to many schools before that. At Chittagong, it was St. Placid's.

When I lived there, Chittagong was my home, or so I thought, until I was told that I was mistaken. I wasn't a Bengali, and so I could not consider it my home.

Most of my life up to age thirty was spent like that. I have lived in many places. Most of the time, I fell in love with that place, thinking it was home, and then discovered that no, it wasn't. I did not have the right identity, that I did not speak the right language, the color of my skin wasn't right, mine was not the right religion, etc. etc.

Until I figured this Earth couldn't be my home. It was just a transit camp. Since that discovery, I haven't been pushed out, although having the wrong identity has not left me.

It does not matter to me anymore. If people want false identities, it is their choice. On the Day of Judgment the only real identity that will count is whether you are of the people of Jannah, or of Jahannam; whether you have recognised your God as the One, indivisible, above everyone beyond comprehension, etc. or you follow false gods, including your whims.

Here is the entrance to the Buddhist temple there, that I passed every day to College:

today's false gods and goddesses: ethnicity and nationalism

False gods and goddesses need not take the shape of idols.

Here I talk of some:

The Quran tells us of not dividing ourselves into sects. The final Prophet Muhammad (saw) told us that the Jews divided themselves into 71, the Christians into 72, and this Ummah (the Ummah of the last Prophet) will divide itself into 73 sects, and of those only one will be on the right path.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Trip to Petra

Petra Jordan (a video tour) part 2

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Petra Jordan (a video tour) part 1

Monday, February 02, 2009

Great Pyramid Mystery Solved?

BBC: Building the Great Pyramid - 6 of 6

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 10 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 9 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 8 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 7 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 6 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 5 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 4 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 3 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 2 of 10

Engineering an Empire - Egypt - 1 of 10

Lost Civilization - Inca - 6 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 5 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 4 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 3 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 2 of 6

Lost Civilization - Inca - 1 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 6 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 5 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 4 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 3 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 2 of 6

Lost Civilization - Maya - 1 of 6

Cities of the Underworld - Maya underground cities

Don Wildman takes us underground into cities of the Maya

Decline of the Maya Civilization

Friday, January 30, 2009

US war on Pakistan

10-Jun-2008 US Drone Attack on Mohmand
12-Jun-2008 US coalition releases video of Pakistan air strikes
15-Jun-2008 US. Missile strike kills one in S Waziristan
1-Sep-2008 Suspected U.S. drone attack in Pakistan kills six villagers
15-May-2008 Suspected US drone attack on Damadola
3-Sept-2008 Pakistan reacts with fury after up to 20 die in ‘American’ attack on its soil
5-Sep-2008 Drone plane’s air strike kills six in North Waziristan
8-Sep-2008 More killed in another US drone attack in Pakistan
12-Sep-2008 Pakistani fury as suspected US drone attack kills 12
18-Sep-2008 Seven killed in U.S. missile strike in South Waziristan
1-Oct-2008 US drone ‘kills six’ in Pakistan
16-Oct-2008 Five killed in US drone attack in Pakistan: officials
23-Oct-2008 US drone attack kills 10 militants
27-Oct-2008 U.S. drone attack kills 20 in Pakistan
29-Oct-2008 US Artillery firing on Angoor Adda
31-Oct-2008 U.S. missile strike in Pakistan
17-Nov-2008 Pakistan says new U.S. drone attack kills at least 10
7-Nov-2008 Suspected U.S. missile kills 10 in Pakistan
13-Nov-2008 12 people killed by another cross-border American raid
19-Nov-2008 Missile fired by US drone kills five in Bannu
Nov. 21, 2008 Suspected US missile strike kills five
Nov. 29, 2008 US strike in North Waziristan kills 3
Dec. 5, 2008 US Predator hits in North Waziristan kills 3
Dec. 11, 2008 US strike in South Waziristan kills 7
Dec. 15, 2008 US Predator strikes in North Waziristan
Dec 22, 2008 Eight dead in as missile hit northwest Pakistan

more attacks and murder of civilians took place in the final days of Bush II. Then after Obama took over:

Jan 23, 2009 22 dead in missile strike by drone in Waziristan


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

so Americans are not our enemy! then why:

Obama sends message to Muslims that Americans are not their enemy.

President to Muslim World: Americans are not your enemy

No question about that. Why should Americans be our enemy?

It is the US government, which is the enemy. Otherwise how can one explain the continued drone attacks that kill innocents, including women and children. And the continued shipment of deadly arsenal to Israel.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

why Israelis are proud

Of killing more than 1400 Palestinians, overwhelmingly civilian, 410 of them children. Must be proud of using Phosphorus bombs, like they were proud of using cluster bombs in Lebanon.

(10 pictures)

3 / 10

Amal Abed Rabbo, two, pictured after she died in an attack at the village of Izbit Abed Rabbo, on January 7, 2009. According to her father Khalid, 30, Amal and her sister Souad, seven, were killed by gunfire from an Israeli tank after soldiers ordered the family out of their house. Another sister, Samer, four, survived the attack but is paralysed below the waist. “Amal was just learning to talk,” said Khalid. “I want to know from the Israeli army: why did they kill my daughters?”
Photograph: Family photograph

Pasted from

To hell with Obama

So this the change promised. Within a day or two of his announcing a new approach, Obama's drones attacked two villages in Waziristan, killing 20 civilians, including women and children.

So this is the promised change - the new approach with Muslims!

As troubled as we are with the Taliban and common criminal activities in Pakistan, Obama can rest assured that we will first fight non Muslim attackers

Saluting Islam's merciful warrior

Saluting Islam's merciful warrior

In 1891, a French army officer published a book in which he recalled the horrors of the French conquest of Algeria, which had begun in 1830 and, by some accounts, by the turn of the century had led to the extermination of an estimated one million Algerians.

“We would bring back a barrel full of ears harvested, pair by pair, from prisoners, friends or foes,” wrote Count d’Hérisson in La chasse à l’homme (The Manhunt); the French army, he said, had inflicted “unbelievable cruelties”.

The French colonisation of Algeria began on a pretext – to punish a supposed insult to a French diplomat – with the real aim of giving France a foothold on the far shores of the Mediterranean and a chance of curbing the free-ranging British navy.

According to Olivier Le Cour Grandmaison, a modern French historian, “the means employed were atrocious”. Writing in Le Monde Diplomatique in 2001, he said the army “massacred or deported villagers en masse; raped women and took children hostage; stole harvests and livestock and destroyed orchards ... The careers of several field marshals and a minister of war owed a great deal to the piles of Algerian and Kabyle corpses.”

Such horrors were not uncommon during Europe’s years of ruthless imperial expansion; but the truly surprising feature of France’s 70-year reign of terror in Algeria was how one Islamic warrior responded to it – not with equally mindless violence and terror, but with a mercy and humanity even more uncommon then than it is now.

The extraordinary but largely forgotten story of Emir Abd el Kader, one of the key leaders of the tribal resistance to French aggression in Algeria, has now been told in a book by an American author. In Commander of the Faithful, John Kiser restores to the spotlight the reputation of the only Arab after whom a town in the US is named.

The book, with its provocative sub-title, “A story of true jihad”, has inspired both Muslim and Christian commentators and leaders to compare and contrast the activities of Kader with those of the jihadists of today.

“Today more than ever, Muslims and non-Muslims alike need to be reminded of the courage, compassion and intellect of Emir Abd el-Kader,” Prince Hassan bin Talal of Jordan has said. Kader was a “truly great treasure for the world”, whose conduct “in war, prison and in exile represented the true concept of jihad” and “provides Muslims with a much-needed antidote to the toxic false jihads of today, dominated by anger, violence and politics”.

For Muhammad Ammar Khan Nassir, the editor of Pakistan’s monthly Al Sharia, Kader’s story as told by Kiser is “highly relevant to what is going on in the Islamic world. Abd el-Kader is the embodiment of the true moral, theological and rational ideas taught by Islam.”

In 2005, Dr Reza Shah-Kazemi, a research associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London and founding editor of Islamic World Report, wrote that, while “few doubt that the ongoing injustices in Palestine and other parts of the Muslim world give rise to legitimate grievances”, there was “nothing in Islam that justifies the killing or injuring of civilians, nor of perpetrating any excess as a result of hatred, even if that hatred is based on legitimate grievances.

“The pursuit of justice must be conducted in accordance with justice; the means should not undermine the end: ‘O ye who believe, be upright for God, witnesses in justice; and let not hatred of a people cause you to be unjust. Be just, that is closer to piety’.”

And this was the creed by which Kader, a scholar and warrior, lived his remarkable life.

In 1841, General Bugeaud, the new French governor-general and a self-confessed “ardent coloniser”, landed in Algiers to take control of 80,000 troops and launch a ruthless campaign to crush the Arab resistance. He became known in the British press at the time as “the butcher of the Bedouins”. That year, however, Bugeaud found Kader to be not the merciless adversary of French myth, “who was said to be little better than a savage beast”, but a man who knew the meaning of honour.

The despairing wife of a captured French officer, holding her young daughter, had gone to the Bishop of Algiers, begging him to intercede with Kader for the life of the child’s father, her husband. With little hope, the bishop wrote to Kader. To his surprise, the Emir’s response was immediate: why not ask for the freedom of the hundreds of captured Christians, he said, in exchange for “an equal number of Muslims who languish in your prisons? It is written: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Some prisoners were exchanged, before the French put an end to the practice. The invader’s “columns from hell” continued to prowl the country; Kader, meanwhile, strove to end the time-honoured practice among his warriors of cutting off the heads of anyone found alive after a battle.

“At a time when the French were mutilating Arab prisoners, wiping out whole tribes, burning men, women, and children alive; and when severed Arab heads were regarded as trophies of war‚ the Emir manifested his magnanimity, his unflinching adherence to Islamic principle, and his refusal to stoop to the level of his ‘civilised’ adversaries,” wrote Dr Shah-Kazemi.

Instead, Kader offered his men rewards for live prisoners and even questioned his captives to make sure they had been treated well, as he had ordered.

It was Kader’s religious knowledge, writes Kiser, that gave him the authority he needed to persuade his warriors “to adhere to the reformed morality ... After all, he was only implementing the admonitions of the Prophet himself. The emir knew the hadiths by heart.”

By the summer of 1847, Kader – increasingly harried by the French, aided by tribes which had betrayed him – was on the run, once again “a pure Bedouin, a child of the wind”, deprived of fixed bases and his dwindling army and nation reduced to little more than “a migratory city of goat and camel skins”.

Eventually, Kader retreated to Morocco, but the end was in sight: Muslims were turning on their brothers, betraying the cause, and on Dec 21 Kader called together his council. It was time to surrender and, with 100 followers – including, to the surprise of the French, 21 European women who had married Arabs and chose to remain by their side – he was sent into exile. He agreed never to return to Algeria and he kept his word.

His finest hour, however, was yet to come. After a period of imprisonment in France, Kader was sent first to Turkey and then to Damascus, where, according to Colonel Charles Churchill, a British army officer who was to become his friend and biographer, “The whole Mohammedan population turned out to receive him ... to feast their eyes by gazing on the renowned champion and hero of Islam ... no such Arab had entered Damascus since the days of Saladin.”

Kader, surrounded by his extended family, hoped to live out the rest of his days in peace and prayer among the Muslims, Christians and Jews of the city. It was not to be. Throughout 1860, rumours of an impending widespread “correction” of Christians filtered through to Kader. In vain he wrote to various Muslim leaders in the region, hoping to head off the impending disaster. Then, on July 9, 1860, a row over taxes flared into wholesale reprisals against the Christian community in Damascus.

According to contemporary accounts, as mobs began to rampage through the streets in a hunt for Christians, Kader and his two sons rallied their battle-hardened Algerian soldiers and plunged into the Christian quarter, rescuing anyone they could find, including priests and diplomats from European nations.

“The furious mob ... glutted with spoil, began to cry for blood,” wrote Col Churchill. “Men and boys of all ages were forced to apostatise and were then circumcised on the spot ... women were raped or hurried away to distant parts of the country where they were put in harems”. The Turks, he added, “connived at it, they instigated it, they shared in it. Abd el-Kader alone stood between the living and dead.”

At the head of his heavily outnumbered men, Kader confronted one mob, imploring them to turn back. According to Churchill, in his Life of Abdel Kader, published in 1867, the response was: “What! You the great slayer of Christians, are you come out to prevent us slaying them in our turn? Away!”

“If I slew Christians,” the emir responded, “it was in accordance with our law – Christians who had declared war against me and were arrayed in arms against our faith.”

By the following day, the emir’s house had become a refuge for hundreds of Christians, including diplomats from France, his old enemy. A baying mob gathered at the gates, demanding that the Christians be handed over. Again the emir and his band of veterans, weapons drawn, confronted them.

“Wretches,” Churchill recorded Kader as saying. “Is this the way you honour the Prophet? Not a Christian will I give up. They are my brothers. Stand back, or I give my men the order to fire.” His men reportedly shouted, over and over, “God is great”.

Whatever was said on the steps of the emir’s fortess-like home that day, the crowd melted away, but five days of riots left thousands of Christians dead in the city. Thousands more, however, owed their lives to Kader and his men, who later accompanied a party of 3,000 to safety in Beirut.

The story of Kader’s actions flickered like a flame around the Christian world. For Le Gazette de France, “One of the most beautiful pages of the history of the 19th century will be devoted to him”; “When the carnage was at its worst,” reported Le Pays, “the emir appeared on the streets, as if sent by God”.

His fame crossed the Atlantic, where the New York Times noted that 20 years ago the emir had been “an enemy of Christendom, hunted through the ranges of his native hills”. Today, however, “the Christian world unites to honor the dethroned Prince of Islam, the most unselfish of knightly warriors, risking limb and life to rescue his ancient foes ... This indeed is a chapter of glory”.

It was, as the Times concluded, ”no light thing for history to record that the most uncompromising soldier of Mohammedan independence became the most intrepid guardian of Christian lives and Christian honor in the days of his political downfall and in the decline of his people”.

Honours and tributes poured in from world leaders, including the Pope, Queen Victoria, Napolean III and Abraham Lincoln, who sent Kader a pair of Colt pistols.

The emir survived another 20 years, succumbing to kidney failure on May 25, 1883, at the age of 76. He was, wrote the New York Times three months before his death, “foremost of the few great men of the century”.

Today, as Americans battle Muslim fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, history throws up an irony in the name of a small town in Iowa, in the American Midwest.

In 1846, Timothy Davis, a New York lawyer who had headed west to make his fortune, teamed up with two other men to build a mill and a settlement on the banks of the Turkey River. At the time, in an America where the yoke of British occupation had been thrown off only a generation earlier, the exploits of Kader were being widely reported in a press hostile to the French brand of imperialism. Davis, inspired by the struggle of the “daring Arab chieftain” in Algeria, named the new town Elkader in his honour.

And, on the banks of the Turkey River, the story of the emir was not forgotten. Researching Commander of the Faithful, Kiser found the following tribute to the Muslim warrior, recorded in Elkader High School’s 1915 year book: “A scholar, a philosopher, a lover of liberty; a champion of his religion, a born leader of men, a great soldier ... a chivalrous opponent; the selection was well made, and with those pioneers of seventy years ago, we do honor The Sheik”.

Commander of the Faithful, by John W Kiser, is published by Monkfish Book Publishing Company, New York. More information at

Saluting Islam's merciful warrior

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Salafi sites buttons

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Gaza massacres and offshore gas fields

War and Natural Gas: The Israeli Invasion and Gaza's Offshore Gas Fields
News Watch
Sunday, 11 January 2009

Update: in response to the request for maps mentioned in the first comment, the post has now been modified to include the maps:

The military invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israeli Forces bears a direct relation to the control and ownership of strategic offshore gas reserves.

This is a war of conquest. Discovered in 2000, there are extensive gas reserves off the Gaza coastline. British Gas (BG Group) and its partner, the Athens based Consolidated Contractors International Company (CCC) owned by Lebanon's Sabbagh and Koury families, were granted oil and gas exploration rights in a 25 year agreement signed in November 1999 with the Palestinian Authority.

The rights to the offshore gas field are respectively British Gas (60 percent); Consolidated Contractors (CCC) (30 percent); and the Investment Fund of the Palestinian Authority (10 percent). (Haaretz, October 21, 2007).

The PA-BG-CCC agreement includes field development and the construction of a gas pipeline.(Middle East Economic Digest, Jan 5, 2001).

The BG licence covers the entire Gazan offshore marine area, which is contiguous to several Israeli offshore gas facilities. (See Map below). It should be noted that 60 percent of the gas reserves along the Gaza-Israel coastline belong to Palestine.

The BG Group drilled two wells in 2000: Gaza Marine-1 and Gaza Marine-2. Reserves are estimated by British Gas to be of the order of 1.4 trillion cubic feet, valued at approximately 4 billion dollars. These are the figures made public by British Gas. The size of Palestine's gas reserves could be much larger.

Who Owns the Gas Fields

The issue of sovereignty over Gaza's gas fields is crucial. From a legal standpoint, the gas reserves belong to Palestine.

The death of Yasser Arafat, the election of the Hamas government and the ruin of the Palestinian Authority have enabled Israel to establish de facto control over Gaza's offshore gas reserves.

British Gas (BG Group) has been dealing with the Tel Aviv government. In turn, the Hamas government has been bypassed in regards to exploration and development rights over the gas fields.

The election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 was a major turning point. Palestine's sovereignty over the offshore gas fields was challenged in the Israeli Supreme Court. Sharon stated unequivocally that "Israel would never buy gas from Palestine" intimating that Gaza's offshore gas reserves belong to Israel.

In 2003, Ariel Sharon, vetoed an initial deal, which would allow British Gas to supply Israel with natural gas from Gaza's offshore wells. (The Independent, August 19, 2003)

The election victory of Hamas in 2006 was conducive to the demise of the Palestinian Authority, which became confined to the West Bank, under the proxy regime of Mahmoud Abbas.

In 2006, British Gas "was close to signing a deal to pump the gas to Egypt." (Times, May, 23, 2007). According to reports, British Prime Minister Tony Blair intervened on behalf of Israel with a view to shunting the agreement with Egypt.

The following year, in May 2007, the Israeli Cabinet approved a proposal by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "to buy gas from the Palestinian Authority." The proposed contract was for $4 billion, with profits of the order of $2 billion of which one billion was to go the Palestinians.

Tel Aviv, however, had no intention on sharing the revenues with Palestine. An Israeli team of negotiators was set up by the Israeli Cabinet to thrash out a deal with the BG Group, bypassing both the Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority:

"Israeli defence authorities want the Palestinians to be paid in goods and services and insist that no money go to the Hamas-controlled Government." (Ibid, emphasis added)

The objective was essentially to nullify the contract signed in 1999 between the BG Group and the Palestinian Authority under Yasser Arafat.

Under the proposed 2007 agreement with BG, Palestinian gas from Gaza's offshore wells was to be channeled by an undersea pipeline to the Israeli seaport of Ashkelon, thereby transferring control over the sale of the natural gas to Israel.

The deal fell through. The negotiations were suspended:

"Mossad Chief Meir Dagan opposed the transaction on security grounds, that the proceeds would fund terror". (Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan, Address to the Knesset on "The Intention of Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Purchase Gas from the Palestinians When Payment Will Serve Hamas," March 1, 2006, quoted in Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe Yaalon, Does the Prospective Purchase of British Gas from Gaza's Coastal Waters Threaten Israel's National Security? Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, October 2007)

Israel's intent was to foreclose the possibility that royalties be paid to the Palestinians. In December 2007, The BG Group withdrew from the negotiations with Israel and in January 2008 they closed their office in Israel.(BG website).

Invasion Plan on The Drawing Board

The invasion plan of the Gaza Strip under "Operation Cast Lead" was set in motion in June 2008, according to Israeli military sources:

"Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago [June or before June] , even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas."(Barak Ravid, Operation "Cast Lead": Israeli Air Force strike followed months of planning, Haaretz, December 27, 2008)

That very same month, the Israeli authorities contacted British Gas, with a view to resuming crucial negotiations pertaining to the purchase of Gaza's natural gas:

"Both Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler agreed to inform BG of Israel's wish to renew the talks.

The sources added that BG has not yet officially responded to Israel's request, but that company executives would probably come to Israel in a few weeks to hold talks with government officials." (Globes online- Israel's Business Arena, June 23, 2008)

The decision to speed up negotiations with British Gas (BG Group) coincided, chronologically, with the planning of the invasion of Gaza initiated in June. It would appear that Israel was anxious to reach an agreement with the BG Group prior to the invasion, which was already in an advanced planning stage.

Moreover, these negotiations with British Gas were conducted by the Ehud Olmert government with the knowledge that a military invasion was on the drawing board. In all likelihood, a new "post war" political-territorial arrangement for the Gaza strip was also being contemplated by the Israeli government.

In fact, negotiations between British Gas and Israeli officials were ongoing in October 2008, 2-3 months prior to the commencement of the bombings on December 27th.

In November 2008, the Israeli Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Infrastructures instructed Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) to enter into negotiations with British Gas, on the purchase of natural gas from the BG's offshore concession in Gaza. (Globes, November 13, 2008)

"Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav and Ministry of National Infrastructures director general Hezi Kugler wrote to IEC CEO Amos Lasker recently, informing him of the government's decision to allow negotiations to go forward, in line with the framework proposal it approved earlier this year.

The IEC board, headed by chairman Moti Friedman, approved the principles of the framework proposal a few weeks ago. The talks with BG Group will begin once the board approves the exemption from a tender." (Globes Nov. 13, 2008)

Gaza and Energy Geopolitics

The military occupation of Gaza is intent upon transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel in violation of international law.

What can we expect in the wake of the invasion?

What is the intent of Israel with regard to Palestine's Natural Gas reserves?

A new territorial arrangement, with the stationing of Israeli and/or "peacekeeping" troops?

The militarization of the entire Gaza coastline, which is strategic for Israel?

The outright confiscation of Palestinian gas fields and the unilateral declaration of Israeli sovereignty over Gaza's maritime areas?

If this were to occur, the Gaza gas fields would be integrated into Israel's offshore installations, which are contiguous to those of the Gaza Strip. (See Map 1 above).

These various offshore installations are also linked up to Israel's energy transport corridor, extending from the port of Eilat, which is an oil pipeline terminal, on the Red Sea to the seaport - pipeline terminal at Ashkelon, and northwards to Haifa, and eventually linking up through a proposed Israeli-Turkish pipeline with the Turkish port of Ceyhan.

Ceyhan is the terminal of the Baku, Tblisi Ceyhan Trans Caspian pipeline. "What is envisaged is to link the BTC pipeline to the Trans-Israel Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline, also known as Israel's Tipline." (See Michel Chossudovsky, The War on Lebanon and the Battle for Oil, Global Research, July 23, 2006)