Mohammed, two years before his death, had met his immediate goals. The Moslem faith, once practiced by a persecuted minority, was now, through the Word and more preponderantly, by the Sword, was now a state religion. He was strong enough and wealthy enough to pursue a policy of conquest. He had an army. But he needed an ideology. One year after the capture of Mecca, a revelation came to him that all idolatry should be converted, by force of arms if necessary. This meant first those Arabs who opposed Islam, and the half-hearted ones who Mohammed called hypocrites. But it also meant Christians and Jews: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day… The Jews say Ezra is the son of god, while the Christians say Christ is the son of god. That is what they say with their mouths, imitating the speech of those who disbelieved aforetime. May god fight them, how perverse they are.”
Mohammed chose to stress the divergences rather than the common ground between Islam and the two other monotheistic creeds, in order to motivate his followers. In fact, there are between Christianity and Islam more reasons for agreeing than quarreling. They agree that one god created the universe, that Christ was miraculously born of a virgin, that he rose into heaven, and that God will grant men eternal life if they obey His divine will. Moslems reject the idea of god the Father , since it implies that god had a wife, and of Christ as the Son of God, which implies physical generation on the part of a pure being. They also reject Crucifixion. The subtle Arab mind is convinced that someone other than Christ was substituted on the Cross.
The Prophet’s call to arms against the infidels was to propel his followers across North Africa and into Spain and France. Six years after his death, his disciple Omar had captured Jerusalem. In less than a century, Islam had imposed its faith on three continents. Mohammed did not live to see the empire he had founded. He was planning a military expedition to the Syrian border in 632 when he fell ill. He asked to be taken to his favorite wife Aisha, who put him to bed. He tried to get up to attend prayers in the mosque, but collapsed in her arms, raised his hand, said, ” with the most high companion,” and died.
This idea of romanticizing the Syrian rebels has been seen before: Afghanistan when Bin Laden was an asset.Typical New York Times spin, in the Thomas Friedman trademark style; we know very well who the colonized are and who are the tolerated guests:
(see link at end)…During five days last week, Mr. Yasin and his group, the Lions of Tawhid, allowed two journalists from The New York Times to live and travel beside them as they fought their part in the war to unseat President Bashar al-Assad.
This group falls under the command of Al Tawhid Brigade, a relatively new structure in Aleppo Province that has unified several groups and fights under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, the loose coalition of armed rebels.
While broad extrapolations are difficult to glean from one fighting group in a complex society, the activities and personal stories of these men, a mix of civilians who took up arms and dozens of army defectors who joined them, offers a fine-grained look of the uprising, and the momentum and guerrilla energy it has attained.
Mr. Yasin, 37, was a clean-shaven accountant before the war. He lived a quiet life with his wife and two young sons. Now thickly bearded and projecting a stoic calm under fire, he has been hardened by his war in ways he could not have foreseen.
He roams the Aleppo region with dozens of armed men in camouflage, plotting attacks with other commanders, evading airstrikes, meeting with smugglers and bombmakers to gather more weapons, and rotating through front-line duties in a gritty street-by-street urban campaign. He prefers to sleep by day, and fight by night.Read More:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/21/world/middleeast/syrian-rebels-coalesce-into-a-fighting-force.html?_r=1&ref=middleeast
(see link at end)…Jonathan Steele, Guardian: As destruction creeps nearer, the mood has changed dramatically in the six months since I was last here. People on all sides – government sympathisers, opposition supporters and civilians who waver in the middle – all feel that Syria has become a victim and a plaything taken over by foreigners. “The situation is no longer in the hands of Syrians. We are pawns in a big game,” said Youssef Abdelke, a leading artist.
Whatever awaits them in the next few months, whether a change of regime, a political compromise or – the most likely scenario in the minds of people I spoke to – a further intensification of war, they feel it will be decided by outsiders.
Discussion among Damascenes no longer centres on whether to support change or stick with the status quo for fear that the alternative to Bashar al-Assad’s regime will be worse. The focus is on priorities. Which objective is more urgent: to stop the killing or to topple a regime that has shown greater resilience than many predicted?
The argument that the opposition should negotiate with the regime about reform was never popular, given the regime’s rejection of compromise and its record of detaining critics. Dialogue now seems an even more remote option.
Conversation centres on the tactics of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), or at least of those bands of young men who fight the government under its banner without co-ordination from any centre. Are they right to come into city districts and attack police and army buildings, knowing that retaliation will be massive, bloody and brutal? The army is to blame for destroying people’s homes, but had the FSA not provoked it the homes might still be there and people might be alive.Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/20/pawns-syrian-conflict-await-endgame#start-of-comments