Think, in this batter’d Caravanserai
Whose Portals are alternate Night and Day,
How Sultan after Sultan with his Pomp
Abode his destined Hour, and went his way.
One Moment in Annihilation’s Waste,
One moment, of the Well of Life to taste–
The Stars are setting, and the Caravan
Starts for the dawn of Nothing–Oh, make haste! ( Edward Fitzgerald )
”We hope to see many caravans”. The word caravan is a powerful metaphor in Islamic tradition speaking to pilgrimage and is a key phrase in the marketing of global jihad; marketing a fundamentalist ideology which uses powerful cultural and religious metaphors to woo citizens to their cause. The call to arms is made in the name of Mohammed not Allah. A mission in the name of a man, not a deity; the ambitions are worldly, territorial, of the here and now. An anti-democratic, anti-woman , self-righteous ideology that in areas like Pakistan is funded through kidnappings for ransom and the heroin trade.
Global jihad as an imperialistic phenomenon seems to have much in common with one of the most central “doctrines” or pseudo-doctrines to the Nazi Belief System; that of “Blood and Soil” or Blut und Boden. “Blood & Soil” was the foundational concept for other concepts such as “Lebensraum and was rooted in occultic philosophies prevalent in German mysticism and Ancient legend, which posited that German Racial Identity, was essentially tied literally and metaphorically to the land. The Jihadist’s use the same allegorical packaging that was marketed at the beginning of the reign of the Third Reich. Except here the Koran is shaped in a euphemistic ‘back to the land’ , back-to-basics approach of bringing back the historical lifestyle of an Islamic nation; a history tied in farming and rural values. The concept however is far greater than the ‘back to farming ‘ and country life mentality which was couched in terms of patriotism and nationalism by the Nazis. The Jihadist concept of the bloodlines is a carbon copy replication of Germany being integrally tied to the soil or land necessitated a German people on a German land, with all others as intruders.
”The election of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 galvanized the Arab world; this in turn further accelerated and cemented Husseini’s influence. Using the new Nazi regime’s rise to power and subsequent infrastructure as a template, Husseini played a decisive role in creating pro-Nazi parties within the Arab world, most notably in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and indirectly helping in the creation of the Social Nationalist Party in Syria. The emulation went far beyond just simple admiration as pan-Arab partied began to model themselves after the Nazi infrastructure. A young and powerful Abdul Gamal Nasser was heavily influenced by Husseini. Later to become one of Israel’s greatest enemies, Nasser belonged to the Green Shirts who went so far as to adopt the Nazi party motto, “One Folk, One Party, One Leader.” Consequently, National Socialism had a far more prevalent role in creating today’s Arab nationalist parties and subsequent governments. Sami al_Joundi, the founder and father of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, influential both in Syria and later Iraq wrote, “ We were racists. We admired the Nazis. We were immersed in reading Nazi literature and books that were the source of the Nazi spirit. We were the first who thought of a translation of Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Anyone who lived in Damascus at that time was a witness to the Arab inclination toward Nazism.” ( Alan Bogle )
Salman Rushie and Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard have never been on the short list for the Jihad version of the Booker prize. A latest member of Club Fatwa is Hayan Hirsi Ali. In her first book, ”Infidel”, the Somalian born Muslim turned atheist described Islam as a viscious tribal creed that turns men into brutes and women into slaves. In the newly released ”Nomad” Ms. Ali toes further out on the plank of apostasy punishable by death and a second death after death for violating clan honour; or at least a thorough mutilation. Ms. Ali’s mother was abandoned, along with her three co-wives, by her polygamist husband, and spent her last years alone hauling wood for camel herders.
Consumed by their own powerlessness, the women of Ms. Ali’s world inevitably retreat into madness or child like fatalism. The world she depicts is cruel and profoundly unattractive. Ms. Ali’s own grandmother insisted, over the father’s objections, that the author’s genitals be mutilated according to local tradition. ” By creating the illusions that one can hold onto tribal norms and at the same time become a successful citizen ( in the West ) , the proponents of multiculturalism lock subsequent generations born in the West into a no-man’s land of moral values”, she writes. ”What comes packaged in a compassionate language of acceptance is really a cruel form of racism” . The choice she and Rushdie as well as other free thinkers have made necessitates sacrificing the certainties of belonging in choosing to suffer the loneliness of gratifying their individualism. As Ms. Ali implies the global Jihad is really a new resurgence of the old days of slavery, a twisted form of romanticism couched in the idiom and ideology of the new hard left….
”There had always been slavery in Africa, but the Arabs brought to the trade a new thoroughness and energy, unsurpassed in its rapaciousness until the mercantilist economies of the West turned their attention to Africa. Once the first phase of Muslim conquest was over, none of the newly “protected” subjects, such as Jews, Christians, or Zoroastrians, could any longer be reduced to slavery, and slaves had to be sought elsewhere. Most were simply seized in punitive raids, but many were bought by Arab slavers from local chiefs, usually in weaker, less tightly knit societies incapable of defending themselves, like Nubia, Ethiopia, and central and western Sudan.” ( www.ralphmag.org )
To the Western observer of a romantic and sentimental turn of mind the disappearance of the camel from the desert is a cause of regret until, perhaps after considering the amount and degree of suffering that the system entailed. There are certainly tens if not hundreds of thousands of human and animal skeletons buried beneath the sands of the Saharan trade routes to bear witness to this fact. The loss of entire caravans consisting of 2000 men and 1,800 camels, as in 1805, is not uncommon in Saharan history. on this occasion the whole convoy perished of thirst on the Tmbuktu-Taghaza trail. Other large parties wearily marching across the desert had met the same fate before and since.
”A slave was worth much less than a good camel, which was a fair approximation of their relative value. A “good black slave” was about half the price of a good piebald, brindled, or white camel, and considerably less than the tawny reddish-buff racing camels, so prized for their speed and endurance. An Ethiopian called Kafur, who later became regent of Egypt (945-966), was once a slave, picked up for a mere 18 dinars, a paltry sum. Still, there were many exceptions, for talent was expensive and market economics were brought to bear on the slave trade. ( Sheila Hirtle, Marq de Villiers )
Women were always more valued, and therefore dearer, than men by one-third or even one-half; young women, in turn, were more valuable still, for they could be concubines as well as toil for their masters. In medieval times, trained dancing girls had price tags between one thousand and two thousand dinars — for that, you could get a dozen camels or more. A female singer was sold in an aristocratic circle in 912 for thirteen thousand dinars. Men, on the other hand, were prone to violence and sudden rages, which made them uncertain goods.
In fact, what with the sufferings of the Africans driven northward to slavery, the horrible life of the salt miners, the torments of thirst endured by the caravners, the terror of the dwellers in the oases subjected to continual raids by desert bandits, not to mention the misery of the overladen and exhausted beasts of burden, the history of the Saharan trade in neither romantic nor pleasant. In a sense it is further debased by the ruthlessness and cruelty of the Arab bosses who controlled it from earliest times.
”We have stimulated the prince to sell his subjects, the father to sell his child, the brother to sell the sister, the husband the wife, into thrice-accursed and again accursed slavery! We have done all and more than this, whilst we have convulsed every state and kingdom of Africa with war, for the supply of cargoes of human beings. And for what? To cultivate our miserable cotton and sugar plantations! These are the doctrines of mercy and charity which we have taught the poor untutored children of Africa. Happy for poor forlorn, dusky, naked Africa, had she never seen the pale visage or met the Satanic brow of the European Christian! Does any man in his senses, who believes in God and Providence, think that the wrongs of Africa will go on for ever unavenged? Already, has not Providence avenged the wrongs of Africa upon Spain and Portugal, by reducing their national character and consideration to the lowest in the European family of nations? And as to the United States of America, has not the boasted liberty of our Republican countrymen, who colonized America, become a by-word, a hissing, and a scorn, amongst the nations of the earth? Have not these slave-holding Americans committed acts, nationally, within the last few years, which the most absolute Governments of Europe would blush to be guilty of? And what is one of their last acts, on a smaller scale, but not less decisively indicative of their national morality? The New York Bible Society has declared that it will not give the Bible to slaves, even when they are able to read the Bible! ( Richardson )
About all that can be said in excuse, as weak as it is, is that Christians and Jews exploited and profited from the same trade for four hundred years, during which captive Africans were shipped to the Americas from the West African ports by the hundreds of thousands. Whether conditions were any better on the ocean voyage than on the desert journey is doubtful; equally speculative is whether slaves were any more contented on the cotton plantations of the southern United States than in the palmeries of southern Tunisia; in any event the African men were hunted like wild game, herded like criminals and then allowed to die like flies.
The Arabs ask me if Said is my slave. I tell them the English have no slaves, and that it is against their religion, but that some other Christian nations have slaves. They are greatly astonished that slavery is not permitted amongst us. The women of the village continue to visit me as an object of curiosity. They never saw a Christian before. They are always declaring me “bahea,” handsome, of which compliment I am, indeed, very sensible.
This evening, however, the women of our two or three huts, and their neighbours, played me an indecent trick, with, of course, a mercenary object. Although the Barbary dance is rare amongst the Arab women, they can have recourse to it at times to suit their objects. The men were gone to bring the camels, and the women sent Said after them on some frivolous message. Four of the women now came into my apartment, and taking hold of hands, formed a circle round me. They then began dancing, or rather making certain indecent motions of the body, known to travellers in North Africa. At once nearly smothered and overpowered, I could scarcely get out of the circle, and pushed them back with great difficulty. At this they were astonished, and wondered all men, Christians and Mussulmans, did not like such delicate condescension on their part. “Don’t you like it, infidel?” they cried, and retreated from my room. I now saw their object. They began begging for money vehemently, saying, “Pay, pay, every body pays for this.” Nothing they got from me; and the wife of the Marabout came afterwards, imploring me to say nothing to her husband. It is thus these rude women will act for money, as many who are better taught, in the streets of London. But acts of indelicacy are nevertheless very rare amongst the mountain tribes. ( James Richardson, 1845. )
The sufferings of slave children dying from starvation after they had crawled to the wells had long been justified in official Church circles, both Catholic and Protestant. The slave trade, said the divines, gave Christians an opportunity of saving the Negro soul. With the blessings then, of both the Moslem and the Christian religions, the trade continued unabated until the British decided to abolish it. The immediate result was that the slave ships, chased by Royal Navy gunboats, crowded on all sail and jettisoned their cargo. In the meantime, the overland caravans continued to plod across he Sahara Desert under the whips of their Moslem masters. In both cases the priests were proved correct. The Africans bound for the Americas were converted to Christianity; those for the Middle East, to Islam.
”To recognise the part played by the Christian churches in the slave trade one should read again the words of Mr. Alpers who writes, inter alia, that the Christians “were aware that to sell their fellow human beings could not be morally justified. Yet the Christian church came forward with excuses for the slave-trade. Many priests themselves carried on slave-trading, especially in Angola, and many others owned slaves in the Americas. The only reason the Catholic church give for its action was that it was trying to save African souls by baptising the slaves. The Protestants were worse, for they did not even make it clear that they accepted that the Africans had a soul. Instead, they supported the view that the African slave was a piece of property like a furniture or a domestic animal. There is no part of the history of Christian church which was more disgraceful than its support of the Atlantic slave-trade.”
The arguments of James Boswell have already been quoted where he emphasises that slavery was an institution sanctioned in all ages by God and that to abolish slavery would be to shut the gate of mercy on mankind! ”
- ”Sometimes they even tried to escape or suicide: The suicide could be individual or collective: the collective suicide was not rare. To escape was more difficult because the slaves were supervised day and night. The slaves had different jobs: some worked in sugar plantations, gold mines or in the coffee plantations. In Africa, 40% of the captured blacks died during the displacement up to the coast, and other 10% or 20% where they were housed, in the port, before embarks. The slaves’ “traffickers” set up a net of agents called pumbeiros. They brought slaves at these big markets called pumbos (market where they changed slaves for products).–”
”In the course of time sensation writers came up on the surface of society, and by way of originality they condemned almost every measure and person of the past. “Emancipation was a mistake;” and these fast writers drew along with them a large body, who would fain be slaveholders themselves. We must never lose sight of the fact that though the majority perhaps are on the side of freedom, large numbers of Englishmen are not slaveholders only because the law forbids the practice. In this proclivity we see a great part of the reason of the frantic sympathy of thousands with the rebels in the great Black war in America…..This is a den of the worst kind of slave-traders; those whom I met in Urungu and Itawa were gentlemen slavers: the Ujiji slavers, like the Kilwa and Portuguese, are the vilest of the vile. It is not a trade, but a system of consecutive murders; they go to plunder and kidnap, and every trading trip is nothing but a foray. Moené Mokaia, the headman of this place, sent canoes through to Nzigé, and his people, feeling their prowess among men ignorant of guns, made a regular assault but were repulsed, and the whole, twenty in number, were killed. Moené Mokaia is now negotiating with Syde bin Habib to go and revenge this, for so much ivory, and all he can get besides.( Dr. David Livingstone, 1869 )