The Arabs central experience has been tied to the fortunes of Islam: the uniting under Mohammed, the conquest of a vast portion of the civilized world, and the fall into disunity, impotence, and obloquy, which lasted from the thirteenth century to the early twentieth. Little wonder that Arabs ,and Israelis as well, are determined to suffer no further loss, either at the hands of each other or of anybody else….
It was on the twenty-seventh day of Ramadan in the year 610 that the Koran was first revealed to the prophet Mohammed. In celebration of this event, Moslems are encouraged to fast from sunrise to sunset, for as the Koran commands: “Eat and drink until you can tell a white thread from a black one in the light of the coming dawn. Then resume your fast until nightfall and do not approach your wives.”In countries where it is observed, Ramadan is a month of economic slowdown, and observance is usually not only encouraged, but enforced: one can be arrested for eating in public, drinking a cup of coffee, or even smoking a cigarette during the daylight hours. In our age of scientific skepticism, when Christian religions are questioning the relevance of their doctrines to the problems of society, Moslems continue to practice their faith with the undoubting fervor of early days. Watches are still kept on Mecca time, and considerable prestige is attached to the man who has been to Mecca, and who is rewarded with the title al-Hadj- he who has been on the pilgrimage. Mecca, of course, is the birthplace of an illiterate camel driver named Mohammed, who was chosen by Allah to pass on the Koran to his people and who, on the strength of a book, founded an empire that once, in 732, stretched from Samarkand to Poitiers. Americans who admire the self-made man can find in Mohammed an example that eclipses all others. For he was not, like Christ, the Son of God. He could not perform miracles, and he did not rise from his tomb. His qualities were human, and so were his failings.
Every Muslim seems to possess a personal fund of information about Mohammed that is not to be found in the Koran. Stories spiral one into another: Mohammed cutting off the heads of his enemies in such a way that they do not know it until all their heads fell off at once; about Mohammed being met by a Christian king who dropped to his knees to kiss his feet; and about Mohammed’s ability to satisfy all of his fifteen wives in a twenty-four hour marathon span.
Through this traditional information, Mohammed is made more familiar than Christ is to Christians. Muslims talk about the prophet as if they had personally known him. Such stories and sayings, repeated after the Prophet’s death and embellished by successive generations, are known as Hadiths. …( to be continued)
(see link at end)…The supreme leader disapproves of Iran’s dependence on hydrocarbon revenues and has called for investment in the country’s
-oil economy. But speculation offers better returns. Industrial units on Tehran’s southern fringe lie idle as investors buy foreign currencies or fixed assets as a hedge. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is hard to find Iranians who argue that their travails are a price worth paying for nuclear self-sufficiency as a barrier against foreign-inspired regime change.
This is what their leaders insist, but they do their cause little good by squabbling among themselves. Less than a year before he is due to step down, Mr Ahmadinejad seems to be losing a power struggle with rivals who enjoy the support of Mr Khamenei. On July 30th four men believed to be associates of the president’s most controversial ally, Esfandiyar Rahim Mashaei, were sentenced to death for their role in a bank fraud said to have been worth $2.6 billion. Rumours suggest Mr Mashaei may himself be a defendant.
The president has accused his political enemies of deliberately stoking inflation in order to harm him. Parliament plans to deny the government a role in staging next year’s elections, the plan apparently being to “elect” a candidate more fully obedient to the supreme leader, whom obsequious disciples now consider quasi-divine….Read More:http://www.economist.com/node/21560596