The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
July 8, 2014

The Architecture of an Islamic Caliphate

Here at the Eye of the Fish, religion is pretty much avoided as a topic of discussion. Apart from a love of old gothic architecture, and in fact old buildings in general, I feel that religion is pretty much a pointless belief system, out-dated and irrelevant. Which is why I am, on occasions, irreverent. But others think differently.

Religious nutters are on the loose. No, I’m not talking about Colin Craig (although did you see that full-page advert in the paper on Monday? That’s one full-blown monster raving loony party right there…). I’m talking about ISIL, the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, ISIS, or ISIL, or just the Islamic State, where there has been a notable and disturbing development. Well, everything from that part of the world is fairly disturbing these days, but this even more so. They’re blowing up Mosques now.

I’ve spoken to a few of my Muslim friends, and they all agree: ISIL are extremist religious terrorist fanatics, and should not be allowed to flourish, or continue, but I fear that this particular Islamic cat is out of the muslim bag, and may not be able to be pushed back into the cage they crawled out of. Should an Islamic state truly come to pass, what would it mean for us? For the world? What chances are there for great works of architecture in a new Islamic State?

Well, not much it seems. These are the same sort of extremists that blew up the giant Buddha of Bamiyan, because it was a depiction of a foreign god, despite an age that well exceeded that of their own religion. They have no respect for others religions, and certainly no interest in religious idols. As far as I understand, they’re a branch off the Sunni tree, but even the Sunni don’t like them. Needless to say, they don’t like Shia. And I’m pretty sure that they don’t like Americans, the Western way of life, and probably not that keen on Christians, Jews or Atheists either. Damn, they probably even hate Quakers and the Amish – and no one dislikes the Amish, except for people stuck behind them at the lights.

I’m not entirely sure why they are blowing up Shia mosques, or even more curiously, what they plan to achieve by bulldozing Sunni facilities. It’s like they are just trying really hard to piss absolutely everybody off. Well, they’re succeeding. It’s convoluted, but these are the same guys who are battling Syrian President Bashir – the same guys who until recently at least, we’re getting covert funding from the US and Europe to fight for freedom in Syria. Democracy is a bitch, ain’t it? Be careful what you wish for…. Want Bashir dead and gone? Fight a war. Fund an opposition. Want Saddam Hussein dead and gone? Same thing – and just how well did that turn out now?

Yep, chalk that one up as a real success towards world peace and political stability. Thanks Tony and George!

There’s no way that anyone will be able to win this war with sane and rationale discussion, and the way that modern warfare is going, ‘Murica is just going to send in the drones – which will inevitably just alienate the population further, and radicalism still more impressionable youths.

I’m reminded a little of the last time that Islamic leaders ruled over Europe. The signs of it are still visible in the architecture of Spain and of course in certain parts of the Baltics -sorry, Balkans. The Moors were in southern Spain from 709 until 1614! Which is just over 900 years, while Christian armies roamed through France, so we shouldn’t really be that surprised if there is another period of Islamicism in the Western world. The Ottoman Empire lasted from 1299 to 1923, just over 600 years, and spread over large swathes of Europe and the Levant, while the ancient city of Damascus (probably the oldest continuously occupied site of human urban habitation ever) has been an important city since at least a couple of thousand years BC, and was settled possibly up to thirteen thousand years ago. It’s had more religions through it than I’ve had hot dinners, although certainly Islam has had a hold on it for the last 1200 years or so.

I’ve always wanted to go to Damascus, but never got on the road to go there: right now it’s not looking like the most comfortable place to be in.

But much of the rest of the Islamic world has a fine tradition of fantastic architecture. Istanbul has not just the “recent” Islamic architecture of the Blue Mosque and the many minarets that make it such a beautiful sight, but also the Hagia Sophia that started off this whole Dome thing back in 537.

Both of these buildings are incredible works of architecture, one started by Justinian at the time of the schism between the Catholic and the Orthodox churches, the other celebrating peace with the Persians, built in 1616. Fanatical belief in God can indeed produce great architectural beauty – in fact, one could argue that without that fanatical belief, the resulting architecture is nothing. Does the Modern Movement suck at soul-searching architecture because the buildings are worshipping Mammon and Onnan instead of God?

We’re not likely to get any great architecture from the idiots of ISIS, sadly, who despite their renouncing of Western ways, seem quite happy to use the very Western inventions of the Kalashnikov, the bazooka, the Nissan pickup truck and the cellphone, yet rant at the unholiness of the any depiction of Mohammed, anything living, and any worship of any saint. The hypocrisy seems unlimited. While I’m sure that the vast majority of Muslims are against the extremes of ISIL, there is a small radicalising sect that will continue to get converts, and to breed more extremists. As far as I’m concerned, they can all go to hell, if indeed I believed in such a place.

I have no doubt that things will get worse before they get better, but on the other hand, I have no doubt that they will improve in the end, although it may take decades, even centuries. In the mean time, buy shares in Raytheon.

Post-script addendum: True terrorists prefer Toyota, not Nissan.
Ironic post-modern slogans that seem appropriate right now: Toyota’s: “You asked for it – you got it!” and “Toyota – moving forward.”
and Nissan: “Innovation that excites”. But didn’t they used to have one that said: “Power. Shift. Control” ? Now that would be ironic…

Michael Hudson-Doyle
8 - 07 - 14

Just nitpicks I’m afraid: Do you mean Balkans when you said Baltics? And the Kalashnikov is a Western invention?

Maximus
8 - 07 - 14

Nit-picking is fine. You’re quite right – I meant Balkans, but yes, Kalashnikov – definitely not from the West, but undeniably (to me at least) the gun is an inherently Western part of “civilisation.” We seem to specialise in developing ways of death and destruction. I guess that my argument is that for a group which espouses to hate everything about the West, ie modern technology, modern way of life, modern attitudes towards women, modern attitudes towards almost anything – they just don’t like it, and won’t have it. I find it incredulous that a religion can be so stubbornly inflexible towards – say – a cartoon depiction of Mohammed, and declare a fatwa on anyone who publishes that picture, or to kidnap school-girls because they dare to learn their way out of the ghetto – and yet is happy to adopt the advanced technology we have in our world, and use it to blow up buildings and destroy lives.

There are some parts of the “American way of life” that I think we all do find abhorent on some level or another – such as their penchant for orange liquid processed cheese, their love of large automobiles and their passion for guns (Georgia has just passed a law allowing you to carry your gun with you AT ALL TIMES – ie into a shop, a movie, the library, etc – you just know that is going to end in tears….). But I think that to bury your head in the sand and to try and bomb your way back to an illiterate stone age is not the answer for the world’s woes.

denny
9 - 07 - 14

While you’re nitpicking… how western is a Nissan anything?

denny
9 - 07 - 14

Interesting that an exploding minaret looks like a rocket on a launch pad…

Maximus
9 - 07 - 14

Denny – Nissan is part owned by Renault, make engines in Decherd (Tennessee, USA) and make / assemble cars in Smyrna (Tennessee, USA), Canton (Mississippi, USA), Sunderland (UK), Australia, Russia, Kenya, South Africa, Spain, Brazil, India, China, Korea and of course Japan. To name just a few. I believe that as the Nissan Patrol is made in Japan, Morrocco, South Africa, Pakistan, the Philippines and the UK, I’m entitled to say that a Nissan is a vehicle for the western world.

But you’re missing my point. Granted, there is little chance of an Islamic State establishing itself in somewhere like Gore, certainly within the immediate future, but I feel less certain about the middle East.

deepred
9 - 07 - 14

The whole ISIS blowup has ‘blowback’ written all over it. When even al-Qaeda think ISIS has a screw loose, that’s pretty telling.

The Kalashnikov is effectively a Western invention, although it’s become a staple of anyone considered ‘anti-Western’, a hangover from the Cold War era.

Maximus
9 - 07 - 14

Deep red – nice to see you here again – my understanding is that the AK47 has achieved its preference amongst the nations of the third world because of its sheer bloody indestructibility. I’ve heard stories from British squaddies on how their British-supplied weapons were fantastic when everything was clean and tidy, but a bit of sand and grit in the mechanism, and it would all turn to custard. But the AK47 could be buried under a pile of rocks for ten years, covered in sand and dust and crap, and it would still work. It loads so simply that even a child can use it – as we can see from the armies of Africa. The perceived anti-Western bias is just a bonus.

On behalf of others
10 - 07 - 14

When the Caliphate in Baghdad ended, it would not be revitalized until one of the most absurd events in human history, the creation of the Ottoman Empire.  Historically, Caliphs had to be related to the bloodlines of the Messenger, Muhammad.  So, how could Turcomans claim a lineage to the Arabs of Mecca?  Well, Saleem I (1512-1520), the Ottoman Sultan who would wrest Syria away from its Mameluke rulers and later conquered Egypt (1517-1518), first used the title Caliph with the argument that because he brought from Egypt the body of Al-Musata’sim, the last Abbaasid Caliph, the dead Caliph spoke to him and renewed in him the Caliphate.  If any of you want to know why Erdoghan is insane, you might want to consider this story as told by Ahmet Cevdet Pasha.  You haven’t lived, by the way, until you have studied how successive Ottoman Sultans tried to establish their geneology in Arabia through fatwas issued by their own “qaadhi”, the obnoxious “Shaykhulislam”.

So, what do ISIS and Nusra want with this Caliphate?  Why is it necessary to recreate (hmm) an order built around a defunct institution whose last Arab occupant was brutally converted into canned hash under the hooves of Mongol steeds?

The word “recreate” might give away the reason.  It is clear to this author that the murdering hordes who have invaded Syria and Iraq are daydreaming malignant narcissists who hide inside a cloak of false piety while exhorting their followers to help in re-establishing the glorious Golden Age of Islam.  There is also the facet of divinity; after all, to the murdering hordes of terrorists, the Caliph could be viewed as “Alllah’s vicar on earth” – a position that would grant to the Caliph power not less than that enjoyed by the greatest of the Caliphs, Haroon Al-Rasheed, for one, or Al-Ma’moon, or even the unlikely “Sulaymaan the Magnificent”.

So there you have it.  An army of fantasts, beheading innocent people, crucifying some, burning others alive in bakery ovens, marrying Tunisian prostitutes in a Sex Jihad that would have the Messenger of Allah rolling in his grave or SyrPer readers, laughing their heads off.  The need to establish a Caliphate on earth has terrified most Muslims who view the institution as something of the past that only reminds us of how backward the Arab World really is. ZAF

Read more at http://www.syrianperspective.com/2014/06/the-caliphate-from-the-abyss-what-is-a-caliphate.html

On behalf of others
10 - 07 - 14

Sorry, that last comment should have had quote marks round it – all from the article noted at the bottom. Well worth reading, even if the Author, Ziad Fadel, is quite excitable in the way he writes.
For a calmer, quieter viewpoint, read this post:
http://www.syrianperspective.com/2014/06/isis-and-the-american-plot-to-redesign-the-near-east.html

John H
10 - 07 - 14

The other thing the AK47 (and it’s more recent offspring, the AK74) have going for it is it’s 7.62 x 39mm round. NZ troops with their 5.56 NATO ammo were out-gunned in Afghanistan by the 7.62 x 39mm and I’ve been told (by someone who was there) they were even pinned down at times by Taliban armed with 100-year old .303 British Lee-Enfield rifles which have a far greater range. Partly as a result of this, the NZ Army are planning to dump their Steyr AUG rifles (a “designer’s rifle” if there ever was one) which have been in use since 1988 but will have to stick to NATO calibres.

Maximus
10 - 07 - 14

John H – Yes, the AK47s are particularly inaccurate – the rationale is just to spray bullets everywhere and one of them will hit a target. Very different from effectively, one shot sniper rifles. Very scary how accurate modern sniper rifles can be, although contrary to recent Hollywood fiction, we don’t yet have smart bullets that can curve around corners.

On behalf of others – excellent references, thank you, and I’m now immersing myself in the scarily real life world of Mr Fadel, and the daily battles in Syria. Sobering stuff indeed…

60 MPa
10 - 07 - 14

Max we don’t have bullets that curve yet (beyond the Coriolis Effect) but there is this available
http://tracking-point.com/precision-guided-firearms/xs1#video
The user “paints” the target then the software decides when to pull the trigger – all the user has to input is the wind factor
Lapua 338 should be good out to a kilometre plus. If you like longrange I’ve got links to NZ guys shooting 375s out to 2km+

The interesting thing about this unit is that it has (wifi? bluetooth? one of them) so that someone can stand behind them with a tablet and see the shot

What THAT leads to is this gif of a Glasshole operator using the same type of system to hit targets without sticking his face around the corner
http://31.media.tumblr.com/40dd06024b10c755788865c8e41eacef/tumblr_n7o110VeJl1rw1rr4o1_500.gif

If you hear of “smart guns” that usually means something else – usually pistols but basically firearms that recognise their owner’s fingerprints and let no-one else fire the weapon. Of course the NRA are fighting these being released to the public market in the US

Sorry, I’ll stop raving now

minimus
11 - 07 - 14

what?! orange liquid cheese is the best.

Maximus
11 - 07 - 14

Minimus – I’m hoping that you’re being at least slightly tongue in cheek there… Nice to see you back here. How’s tricks?

60 – I hadn’t picked you for a sniper specialist. And so, by the sounds of it, that terrible silly movie I watched a couple of weeks ago – about a band of secret assassins who could bend bullets – almost true now? There was one amazing reverse tracking shot of a bullet’s progress from a couple of kilometers away, sounds like your sniper.

Actually, did anyone else note the full page advert recently for the opening of a new Gun City store in the Hutt? I was really rather sickened to see semi-automatics being advertised in such quantities, in NZ. I keep feeling that no good will come of this.

Chico
11 - 07 - 14

It’s hard for nutbars to kill a family without a gun.
http://gawker.com/texas-shooter-killed-parents-four-children-execution-s-1603229349
And not really any other use for them.
Except of course for the vast numbers of people out there killing the possums and rabbits (PS you’re all doing a terrible job at it).
I guess you might always need a semi in case you want to clear a pastel-hued meadow of bunny rabbits before your election-winning glamour shot.

deepred
12 - 07 - 14

Chico – that the shooting happened in a middle-class suburb makes it all the more unsettling.

Here’s a thought: if the 2nd Amendment was to be invoked against a regime dominated by 2nd Amendment types – basically hoisting them on their own petard – would it be called a Communist insurgency?

deepred
12 - 07 - 14

And here’s one school of thought on the real reasons for the 2nd Amendment:

http://worldofdrjustice.blogspot.co.nz/2012/12/on-gun-control-updated.html

“First of all, it is quite obvious that the insistence of the gun lobby on access to assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and armor-piercing bullets, has nothing to do with hunting ducks or deer. The demand compasses two principal purposes:
(a) To overthrow the government, in the event that it should become tyrannical (a point already reaching, according to some, whose hard core includes ZOG-mavens and Christian Identity types);
(b) To kill blacks in the event of a race war.”

60 MPa
12 - 07 - 14

Oh, fate deliver me from 2nd Amendment whackjobs and their cold dead hands – as a country the US is helpful in showing what NOT to do re firearms.
The first amendment, on the other hand, is a fine idea

Maximus
12 - 07 - 14

And then there is the comparison against Japan – what are the figures again? Something like only 5 people killed by guns per year, vs how many thousand each year by gun in the US? I need to do some fact checking – but anyway deep red : great link – totally depressing, but that explains a lot! Wow, I am humbled by America’s planned descent into darkness….

Maximus
13 - 07 - 14

Just done some wiki-searching, and unearthed some interesting figures.
Regarding the number of guns owned, per 100 residents, the figures are more than slightly scary. I’m presuming that Wikipedia has not made a mistake and listed number of guns per hundred thousand, but no: this is Per 100. Read it and weep.

Guns per 100 residents
97 USA (yes, they really do top the list, by a long way)
58 Serbia
54 Yemen
45 Switzerland – a self-armed militia, where every man must keep his Swiss Army gun locked in his house.
Then I missed out a whole lot, to get to:
22 NZ
15 Australia
And then really, at the bottom of the list for gun nuts, there is a lot of competition:
0.6 Japan Haiti Bangladesh etc.
And some countries even sit at 0.1

By comparison, the amount of people killed in each country, per year, per hundred thousand of population:

0.06 Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Azerbaijan
0.25 UK Ukraine Poland
1.06 Australia
1.45 NZ Denmark Sweden etc. We seem to be Nordic in our approach to murder.
Quite a few other countries in between… Then:
9.42 USA (with Argentina and Montenegro close by)
Then another jump to the top of the list:
39.74 Jamaica
46.85 El Salvador
50.90 Venezuela
64.8 Honduras

So the end result of all that is: I dunno – what we expected maybe? That USA doesn’t have the most murders, but it sure has the most guns!

60 MPa
14 - 07 - 14

These two maps look like the best info I’ve found

http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/otago/309039/lock-stock-and-barrel-south

For those looking for simplistic solutions, keeping handgun/pistol numbers low is the main plank of policy

Price is also a factor – crims aren’t usually running about with $7000 rifles

John H
14 - 07 - 14

The Gun Lobby in the United States receive most of their support not (surprisingly) from individual members of the NRA but from gun manufacturers who are currently making huge profits with ammo prices rocketing up and concealed-carry laws spreading to many States. Recent polls showed that a majority of NRA members actually supported toughening up purchase laws (particular around private sales and the gun-show loophole) but there was no way the board / exec of the NRA would ever support it.

The biggest firearms risk in NZ is probably cuts to police budgets. The problem is that the politicians won’t allow the police to reduce uniformed / sworn officers so the firearms licensing side of things (which is mostly administered by un-sworn civilian police staff) gets cut to the bone. The ones I know of are ridiculously overworked with massive back-logs and desks drowning in paperwork. There are a couple of indications of this buried in the police annual report with firearms licenses taking about twice as long to process as they should and (more concerning) the average length of time taken to check to see that people whose licenses have expired no longer hold any firearms is 228 days (their target is 60 days). This is what happened in the case of Jan Molenaar whose license was revoked in 2002 but in the seven years leading up to 2009 Napier siege, the Police never got around to check to see that he wasn’t sitting on an arsenal.

Maximus
14 - 07 - 14

60 – thanks for that – the table in your reference certainly seems to put paid to the accuracy of Wikipedia’s figures – for NZ at least, as Wiki seems to say that 22% of the population here have a gun – but on the table you refer to, it lists Auckland as only having 1.39% of them having a gun license. And there is a heck of a lot of Aucklanders (and I’m kinda glad they don’t have a lot of guns).

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