Dawn of a new day

Muslims seem fanatical in their devotion to Muslim ethnic tyrants. Considering that Indonesians and virtually every other Muslim population has protested for Saddam they seemingly fail to remember that Saddam is a part of the 20,000 strong Tirkiti clan, which has co-opted the rest of Iraq's Muslim population. In Syria the Alawites, forming 2% of the population, are in control whereas in Saudi Arabia the Al-Saud Dynasty hails from the Nejd enclave and remains fiercely loyal to the tribal tradition.

Muslims tend to be rail against American troops in these heartlands of Islam (“Saudi Arabia” is home to Mecca, Syria to Damascus, the seat of the Umayyad Dynasty and Iraq was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate) however the conduct of these tyrants, who often practise revisionist or heterodox versions of Islam (the Alawites are marginal Muslims at best) do not earn censure.

Why doesn't Jakarta, Dhaka or Doha protests against these tyrants, directly responsible for the death of countless Muslims (Hafez Assad killed at least 20,000 Muslims in his brutal uprising of Hama's population) and active in their suppression of indigenous Islamic customs? I wonder why Muslims paradoxically demonstrate against the liberation of an Islamic population!

Baghdad is indeed the capital to the Islamic world and figures prominently in the sentiments of Muslims throughout. Nevertheless rather than mourn its liberation they should cast a glance towards its sordid recent history where memorials to a tyrant and the screams of the innocent pervaded the city. The Allies truly are infusing new life into the Baghdad and will realize that with power will be responsibility for the immense, and rather unenviable, task of rebuilding Iraq. We should bow ours heads in collective modesty to pray for a new inauguration of an era of welfare and freedom for Iraqis.

The valour with which the soldiers of Allied forces have fought and achieved this fastest victory in the annals of human history reminds all the tyrants of the world shape up or ship out. As forces enter to liberate Baghdad, and I see thousands of civilians welcoming the UD forces as expected, may we all pray for the fallen soldiers and join in the grief of the families of military and non-military. I am confident that the day of Baghdad's fall will be associated with the great show of magnanimity and greatness continually displayed by the Allied forces

It would be mindful to recount, as we await the capitulation of a Baghdad, to recount its history. Baghdad was a Persian village and lay on the other side of the Tigris River from the Sassanian capital of Ctesphion. In its construction by the Abbasids the bricks and mortar were used from the Imperial Palaces of Ctesphion to provide for the new city, a subtle tribute to the Persian genius in the life of the new city.

The stories of Scherezade, as recounted in the Arabian Nights, give an idea of life about 800 AD in the court of one of the most famous Abbasid rulers, Caliph Harun al-Rashid. Baghdad became a famous center of learning in the Middle Ages, and by the tenth century was regarded as the intellectual center of the world. As capital of the caliphate, Baghdad was also to become the cultural capital of the Islamic world. Baghdad reached its apogee of cultural elevation and refinement during the time of Mamun al-Rashid who had founded Beit al-Hikmah (House of Wisdom) where all kinds of scholars, scientists and mathematicians were employed for the advancement of rational sciences.

Baghdad was the city of education and research, grand mosques and other places of worship, hospitals, the center of Sufis and Saints, and vibrant discussions and debates. Baghdad?s Golden Age did not last since autocracy ensured that the society would ossify to the extent that in February 1258, when the Mongolian hordes under Genghis Khan's grandson raged from Turan, the city capitulated with the first signs of a siege.

The Mongolian massacre, according to Diyarbakri (d. 982/1574) in his Tarikh al-Khamis, continued for thirty-four days during which 1,800,000 persons were put to the sword. It was said, no doubt an exaggeration by terrified authors who had never seen such sort of carnge, that days blood flowed along the streets of Baghdad and the water of the Tigris was dyed red for miles. To quote Kitab al-Fakhri, “Then there took place such wholesale slaughter and unrestrained looting and excessive torture and mutilation as it is hard to be spoken of even generally.” Al-Must'asim bi Allah, the last nominal Calip, was beaten to death or in a more gruesome version rolled in carpets and trampled by wild horseman.

Describing the fall of Baghdad, Bernard Lewis (The Middle East, p.97) states, “Finally, in January 1258, the Mongol armies converged on the city of Baghdad. The last caliph, al-Musta'sim, after a brief and futile resistance, pleaded in vain for terms or for mercy. The city was stormed, looted and burnt, and on 20 February 1258, the Commander of the Faithful, together with as many members of his family as could be found, was put to death. The House of Abbas, for almost exactly five centuries the titular heads of Sunni Islam, had ceased to reign.”

According to Philip K. Hitti (Islam – A Way of Life, p. 102), “So offensive were the odors from the corpses strewn in the streets that even the terrible Mongols had to keep away for several days.”

Baghdad was again sacked by Timur Lang in 1401 who massacred many of its inhabitants. Later, Iraq was overtaken by the Ottomans who maintained it as a buffer state. After World War I, the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to administer Iraq and in1921 Britain installed Faisal ibn Husayn as king of Iraq. The mandate ended in 1932 and Iraq became a constitutional monarchy until 1958 when the monarchy was overthrown by the army in a coup d'etat.

Saddam eventually came to power after a series of coups in 1979-2003. Today as his regime a tyranny unfolds the whole world will see the new miracle of a new surrender and fall of Baghdad, no massacres, no looting and no callous treatment of the civilians, the power from tyrant finally transferred to the poor people of Iraq. I despair at the images of citizens of Al-Zubayr and Basra looking for clean drinking water, when they sit astride the largest oil reserves and live Mesopotamia, the land of the two rivers.

Shoeless children and eyes full of fright will be the lasting images of this war.It seems throughout its history Baghdad, and indeed Iraq, reached an apex of glory only for its fall to be even more appalling. Let's hope that Allies will restore Baghdad to its old glory and the world will collectively break the chains through which Baath regime dragged Baghdad from its glory of greatness to darkness of medievalism. We can only be thankful that this time the catalyst for change are not blodd-thirsty Mongols but benevolent Allies, who place a premium on all life.

The Allies in this instance are pitted against the modern day Mongols, the Baath party. A horrific new discovery in Basra of mutilated corpses of Iraqi soldiers, at the hands of their own people, remind us that the enemy still remains mired in the mould of Hulegu. The perpetual decline for progress to anarchy has its roots in the denial of freedom; freedom and welfare are intricately joined, with freedom will come the fruit of prosperity. It can be hoped that just as once the seeds of civilization nurtured itself on the rivers of the Euphrates and Tigris, once will its lands become the bread-basket for the entire Middle East and be a harbinger of progress in that region.

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