The Wrath of Allah: dissing a she-camel

Is this a Koranic Lorica?

[Image: detail of St. Patrick’s Lorica by Catanea–see below]*

For some time I have been pondering the proper Koran verse to put above my door, as they do in Jordan. I ran across a collection of selected suras that includes this one, Sura 91 Shams–The Sun:

1. By the sun in his glorious splendour;
2. By the moon as she follows him;
3. By the day as it shows up (the sun’s) glory;
4. By the night as it conceals it;
5. By the firmament and its wonderful structure;
6. By the earth and its (wide) expanse;
7. By the soul, and the proportion and order given to it;
8. And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right;
9. Truly he succeeds that purifies it,
10. And he fails that corrupts it!
11. The Thamud (people) rejected (their prophet) through their inordinate wrongdoing.
12. Behold the most wicked man among them was deputed (for impiety).
13. But the apostle of Allah said to them: “It is a she-camel of Allah! and (bar her not from) having her drink!”
14. Then they rejected him, and they hamstrung her. So their Lord on account of their crime, obliterated their traces and made them equal (in destruction, high and low)!
15. And for Him is no fear of its consequences.


This sounds awfully familiar. I do believe it’s similar to the Lorica, or Rune of St. Patrick.

At Tara in this fateful hour
I place all Heaven with its power
And the sun with its brightness,
And the snow with its whiteness,
And the fire with all the strength it hath,
And the lightning with its rapid wrath,
And the winds with their swiftness along their path,
And the sea with its deepness,
And the rocks with their steepness,
And the Earth with its starkness —
All these I place
By God’s almighty help and grace
Between myself and the powers of darkness.

Here is the meaning of the Koranic verse:

The apostle of Allah is Saleh, prophet to the arrogant and greedy people of the Thamud, who demanded a miracle from Allah. They were given a she-camel for sustenance and told to provide it with pasture, which is also a free gift from Allah.

This she-camel of Allah is a Sign unto you: So leave her to graze in Allah’s earth, and let her come to no harm, or ye shall be seized with a grievous punishment. -Koran 7:73

Instead they cruelly killed the camel. Given three days to repent, they did not, and on the third night there was a blast in the sky and an earthquake, and they were buried in their homes. The site of this city is thought to be Mada’in Saleh in present day Saudi Arabia, a city contemporary with the Nabatean city of Petra in Jordan.

Here is a transliterated version of the Koranic verse:

1. Wash shamsi wa duhaahaa
2. Wal qamari idzaa talaahaa
3. Wan nahaari idzaa jallaahaa
4. Wal layli idzaa yaguhshaahaa
5. Was samaa’i wa maa banaahaa
6. Wal ardi wa maa tahaahaa
7. Wa nafsin wa maa sawwaahaa
8. Fa’alhamahaa fujuurahaa wataqwaahaa
9. Qa d aflaha man zakkaahaa
10. Wa qad khaaba man dassaahaa
11. Kadzdzabat thamuudu bitagh waahaa
12. idzin ba’atha ashqaahaa
13. faqaala lahum rasuulullaahi naaqatallaahi wa suqyaahaa
14. Fakadzdzabuuhu fa’aqaruuhaa fadamdama ‘alayhim Rabbuhum bidzanbihim fasawwaahaa
15. Wa laa yakhaafu ‘uqbaahaa

And here is a YouTube recitation of sura 91 As-Shams by Mishary Al-Afasy.

*Image: (click to embiggen) detail from Lorica of Patrick by Catanea. Original text with XII Century Irish script and Latin gloss.  About  530 x 210 mm on  (kosher) cow or more likely bull calf vellum.  Ink is ferro-gallic, some pigments dug out of the earth (in Soria, Tereul and Olleros de Paredes Rubias [Palencia]), and some bought (vermilion), written with swan quills and painted with brushes. (Catanea, I hope this is all okay.)


Feeling the ground

The foot feels the foot when it feels the ground.

In the continuing saga of my ankle surgery with no health insurance, I have  been told that I *can* now put 25% of my body weight on my toe. The difference between can=permission and can=ability is painfully obvious here as I can only manage 30 pounds without pain. Unless it means that I only weigh 120 pounds. Highly unlikely, that, although I have surprisingly lost some 20 pounds during the last few months of forced inactivity.

I have just come across a photo of the first time I learned to walk at 9-some months.  I looked much more cheerful that time.

Eye of the beholder

An interesting view of reporting of the Lara Logan assault in Egypt using a word cloud generator.
How We’re Talking About Lara Logan, by Gender

For my part, I hope this story gets wide play and stays long in the news cycle. Whenever there is some rumor about a Muslim woman having her scarf pulled off on a western country, it receives wide coverage in the Arab press, even if it is later discovered not to be true.

But the frequent sexual assaults (both major and minor) of western women in Arab countries is a taboo subject. And Arab women won’t report sexual assaults at all, for fear of being killed (honor killings still happen.)

via The Crawdad Hole


Jordanian schoolchildren start the school day by lining up in the courtyard of the school and singing what is possibly the shortest national anthem in the world, plus another song that sounds like “Mountanee”. The song, I have discovered, is now the national anthem of Iraq, and is based on a poem موطني‎ “My Homeland” by Palestinian Ibrahim Touqan.
Here are the words to the Jordanian national anthem as usually performed in public:

عاش المليك
عاش المليك
سامياً مقامهُ
خافقاتٍ في المعالي أعلامه

A-Sha-al Maleek
A-Sha-al Maleek
Sa-Mi-yan-ma-qa mu-ho
Kha-fi-qa-tin fil ma-ali
a-lam m-hu

Long live the King!
Long live the King!
His position is sublime,
His banners waving in glory supreme.

And here is mountanee (mawtini?), but I think in the video the third verse gets lost, and they just do the first verse twice:

My homeland, My homeland
Glory and beauty, Sublimity and splendor
Are in your hills, Are in your hills
Life and deliverance, Pleasure and hope
Are in your air, Are in your Air
Will I see you? Will I see you?
Safe and comforted, Sound and honored
Will I see you in your eminence?
Reaching to the stars, Reaching to the stars
My homeland, My homeland

My homeland, My homeland
The youth will not tire, ’till your independence
Or they die, Or they die
We will drink from death
And will not be to our enemies
Like slaves, Like slaves
We do not want, We do not want
An eternal humiliation
Nor a miserable life
We do not want
But we will bring back
Our storied glory, Our storied glory
My homeland, My homeland

My homeland, My homeland
The sword and the pen
Not the talk nor the quarrel
Are our symbols, Are our symbols
Our glory and our covenant
And a duty to be faithful
Moves us, moves us
Our glory, Our glory
Is an honorable cause
And a waving standard
O, behold you
In your eminence
Victorious over your enemies
Victorious over your enemies
My homeland, My homeland

Posted in Jordan. Comments Off on Mountanee

Some Links

How to order Indian food in Hindi. (via Organizations and Markets)

Which countries have the most dentists per capita? Look for the UK.

Average faces – select or upload faces to average  (thanks, read)

Coffee map of Ethiopia (thanks, Jake)

King Alfred’s Grammar Book (Jake again)

Jake’s sig:

Singapore Jake:
The Best Banjo Player in Bangkok

“If wishes were horses we’d all be eating steak.”
Jayne Cobb

The Iowa Republican focus group Obama muslim video.  I count 26 people in this group of “Republican caucus voters”. The moderator asks how many people believe Obama is a Muslim and 6 people raise their hands.  Everyone looks around, then an additional 4 people raise their hands.  Let’s see, 10 out of 26 is about 38%, not even a majority.  So what is the title of the video?

Iowa Focus Group on Obama Agrees: He’s a Muslim

Ha, ha, ha.  38%.  “The group agrees.”  Ten out of twenty-six.  And four of them didn’t even know the answer until they looked around to see how many people had their hands up. That’s why I stopped reading political commentary.

BTW, if you ask that question in Jordan, I hear you get 100%. That’s because a person’s religion is supposed to be inherited from their father.  And that’s why Muslim men are allowed to marry outside their religion, but Muslim women are not.

Of course it doesn’t always work that way.  What really happens is that the bride’s family threatens to kill her, so it is the husband who ends up changing his religion, then the children are raised without any religious instruction.  (There is no civil marriage, it’s all done by the families.)

Posted in Curiosities. Comments Off on Some Links

Egypt. Again.

Some Egypt commentary.

Game Over: The Chance for Democracy in Egypt is Lost” asserts that the military is firmly in control, and Egypt’s future, now that Mubarak’s civilian  son Gamal is out of the picture, will be “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”:

The threat to the military’s control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak. The only possible civilian candidate, Gamal Mubarak, has been chased into exile, thereby clearing the path for the new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman….

The last challenge remaining is economic. Even before demonstrations broke out a few weeks ago, the economy was just limping along. It is now broken. Even in the best-case scenario of a rapid return to stability, Egypt faces a cash crunch. Capital flight, loss of foreign direct investment, drying up of tourist revenues, downgrading of sovereign debt and commensurate increase in interest, and lost earnings from interrupted production will all hammer the revenue side of the balance sheet. The expenditure side will be placed under yet more stress by acceleration of inflation already running at 10 percent, devaluation of the currency, and need to repair damage resulting from the clashes. Egypt will have to turn to its “friends” if it is to avert economic disaster and if the regime that just narrowly survived defeat is not to be challenged yet again.

Game Over!” views the protests as an outgrowth of exponential population growth

Nothing symbolizes the fact that this is Generation Next Rising more than the widely used slogan “Game Over!” The generation who grew up playing video games and whose language incorporates international-video-game-English is turning against the gerontocracy.

In 50 years, less than two generations, Egypt’s population has exploded from less than 30 million to close to 75 million. Its population pyramid looks like a pyramid sitting on a huge raised dais as the vast majority of the population are under 30 years old, with a median age of 24….

I spoke with many highly educated young people who chafe at their economic marginalization, who are alternately depressed and angry about the fact that their talents, ambitions and best years are going to waste and who want out, nothing more than out.

Without wanting to compare Iran and Egypt in any way, population pressure is real across much of the Middle East, and indeed the global South, and it has generated masses of angry, frustrated and largely hopeless youths….

To date, the marginalized youths of the global South have mostly been kept at bay by plying them with video games and virtual worlds – the social equivalent to parenting-by-TV. English has been part and parcel of those virtual worlds….

The most sensible analysis comes from “Why Mubarak is out“:

Many international media commentators – and some academic and political analysts – are having a hard time understanding the complexity of forces driving and responding to these momentous events. This confusion is driven by the binary “good guys versus bad guys” lenses most use to view this uprising. Such perspectives obscure more than they illuminate. There are three prominent binary models out there and each one carries its own baggage:  (1) People versus Dictatorship: This perspective leads to liberal naïveté and confusion about the active role of military and elites in this uprising. (2) Seculars versus Islamists: This model leads to a 1980s-style call for “stability” and Islamophobic fears about the containment of the supposedly extremist “Arab street.” Or, (3) Old Guard versus Frustrated Youth: This lens imposes a 1960s-style romance on the protests but cannot begin to explain the structural and institutional dynamics driving the uprising, nor account for the key roles played by many 70-year-old Nasser-era figures.

The dynamics of the power groups are then explained, the police, the gangs, the divided military, the generals who are not allowed to fight wars any more, but are “granted concessions to run shopping malls in Egypt, develop gated cities in the desert and beach resorts on the coasts” and “are encouraged to sit around in cheap social clubs.” The same generals are “blood rivals of the neoliberal ‘crony capitalists’ associated with Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal who have privatized anything they can get their hands on and sold the country’s assets off to China, the US, and Persian Gulf capital.” A group of “new businessmen” whose interests overlap somewhat with the business generals, labor movements, and “new leftist political parties that have no relation to the Muslim Brotherhood” have joined the “new nationalist capital alliance”, along with the “new leftist, feminist, rural and worker social movements,” all aligning themselves with the protesters.

Mubarak is already out of power. The new cabinet is composed of chiefs of Intelligence, Air Force and the prison authority, as well as one International Labor Organization official. This group embodies a hard-core “stability coalition” that will work to bring together the interests of new military, national capital and labor, all the while reassuring the United States. Yes, this is a reshuffling of the cabinet, but one which reflects a very significant change in political direction. But none of it will count as a democratic transition until the vast new coalition of local social movements and internationalist Egyptians break into this circle and insist on setting the terms and agenda for transition.

So why do they continue to demonstrate? It seems like a fast transition would only consolidate the military (and U.S, influence) in power, while a slower transition with Mubarak as a weakened lame duck president until September elections would give the smaller groups time to jockey for a democratic niche in the New World Order.

And via Marginal Revolution:

Hernando de Soto on Egypt:

• Egypt’s underground economy was the nation’s biggest employer. The legal private sector employed 6.8 million people and the public sector employed 5.9 million, while 9.6 million people worked in the extralegal sector.

• As far as real estate is concerned, 92% of Egyptians hold their property without normal legal title.

• We estimated the value of all these extralegal businesses and property, rural as well as urban, to be $248 billion—30 times greater than the market value of the companies registered on the Cairo Stock Exchange and 55 times greater than the value of foreign direct investment in Egypt since Napoleon invaded—including the financing of the Suez Canal and the Aswan Dam. (Those same extralegal assets would be worth more than $400 billion in today’s dollars.)

More “game over” signs

I was terribly excited last week when, on an impulse, I sent a photo of  Egyptian “game over” graffiti to Language Log,  and it was deemed interesting enough for a post.  After that, I started to see the phrase everywhere. [Image on right: “game over” sign montage from Tunisia and Egypt, via al-Jazeera]

After that, the phrase turned up on signs at protests in DC and in Chicago . The pre-printed signs in both cities looked very similar, as if they were from the same organized effort. Were the hand-written “game over” signs centrally planned?  There were demonstrations in several other U.S. cities as well, but I didn’t have time to look for the photos.

The “game over” meme also showed up in online titles.  Al-Jazeera had one “Game Over: First Tunisia now Egypt?“;  here are two more: “Game over: the chance for democracy in Egypt is lost,” and “Game Over.”

But my favorite Egyptian “game over” sign is from the Feb. 1 Jordan Times:

Posted in Adventures. Comments Off on More “game over” signs