Islam has been, from its very beginning, not only a religion but a political community (Ummat al-Islām), and Muhammad was not merely a prophet, but a political leader and military commander whose aim is occupying the world. Therefore, Islam is more politics than a religion. Since Allah promised the Muslims victory and superiority over all other religions worldwide, it is sanctioned for all Muslims to occupy the world. Humanity is divided into two groups: the followers of Islam who are called “believers,” as compare to all the others, who, being not Muslims, are infidels or apostates by definition and deserve death.
It is the duty of the Muslims to propagate the only one true faith, Islam, throughout the world. It is the duty of the Muslim to invade, by force, to the lands of the infidels. Should the infidels refuse to embrace Islam, jihad is the means to vanquish them. These are the three main arms of Islam, the Muslims use at will and according to the circumstances.
A brief glance to world situation today clearly reveals what Western leaders refuse to utter; and Western media refuses to display; and what Western academia refuses to teach and to investigate – that Islam is the main source of all humanity’s troubles. 95 percent of world terrorism and more than 70 percent of world violence are purely Islamic. There are political, religious and ethnic minorities all over the world. In our global world, there is not even one country that has not minorities. However, there are three salient facts:
First, and of critical importance, Muslims are the only minority that do not want to integrate and assimilate. On the contrary, they have come to change and transform. Muslim minorities are almost the only cause of turbulence, agitation, hatred, rage and violence. This fact is one of the main reasons to the mired situation in most states globally.
Second, In the US, they have exacerbated the rage of Blacks and Hispanics, large parts of them converted to Islam, and part of them have deteriorated their upheavals to more radical-violent spectrum. In other states Muslims are the cause violence takes so high level of societies’ situation.
Third, in Arab-Islamic states, minorities are extinct species. They are persecuted, butchered, massacred, and slaughtered. This fact shows the true face of Islam. While demanding (by force of violence!) civilian rights in the West without accepting and recognizing any civility or loyalty, they treat other minorities savagely and deadly.
We have clearly to understand and declare that only one religion today regularly motivates large numbers of its followers to murder, behead, terrorize, rape, butcher, and enslave all other peoples across the globe. It is Islam; not Christianity; not Judaism; not Buddhism; not others. Islam. Only Islam. We know it, and still run away; we see it, and still we close our eyes; it is so clear and obvious, and still we deny it. It is one of the unfortunate facts that we all ignore this unprecedented evil in history and continue to pay protection money out of deep intimidation and ignorance. We all whitewash this horrific situation, as we are in deep mental and willful blindness.
Contrary to the Free World’s beliefs and conceptions, Muslims take Islam’s doctrine and teachings seriously and take it a must to follow. The Qur’an explicitly and repeatedly commands Muslims to engage in Jihad: “Jihad is ordained for you Muslims.” It explicitly and repeatedly commands Muslims to “kill the infidels wherever you find them;” “strike off their heads,” enslave and make sex slaves of their wives and daughters, and continue this Jihad “until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.”
As is clearly seen from current history, Muslim terrorists across the globe are murdering, beheading, enslaving, and raping infidels wherever and whenever they can. There is not even one state around the world that is not influenced and/or inflicted by Jihad, Da’wah and Hijrah. These Jihadists are encouraged by Islamic exegetes and Imāms’ preaching; are directly supported by many Muslim sponsor states, like Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, and Iran; and by terrorist exporting states, like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, and Sudan.
The Qur’an explicitly and repeatedly commands Muslims to use all means of propagation to accomplish Islam’s targets and Muslim exegetes. Travelling Imāms, who are the uppermost enemy as preachers of evil, legalize the immigration, Hijrah, as a strategy to occupy the world. There is a perpetual Islamic political and religious encroachment into the deep fabrics of the non-Muslim states, perpetuated by Da’wah and Hijrah. This new kind of invasion, unknown in the record of history, happens since the Free World is voluntarily conceding to Islamic whims.
The strategy is simple but brilliant: Muslims consistently suppress any criticism of Islam by all means, from intimidation and riots to butchering and slaughtering. They immediately cry out, ‘racism,’ even though Islam is not a race; or ‘Islamophobia,’ even though it is absolutely not a phobia to fear Islam as it is founded upon a concrete reality. Indeed, this horrific situation is due to the fact that Islam is a political religion with political goals and political means to achieve its political strategy. It is a political system meant to impose its political ideological teachings on the entire universe.
The fact is that Muslims present their sensibilities and cry out they are insulted as a tactic and a strategy at the same time. When they do it, they are successful in imposing their will and censoring the Free World’s freedoms. With Western stupidity, ignorance, and intimidation, Muslims aim at bringing the world into submission.
The last example of continuing stupidity that motivates and drives Islamic atrocities is the media’s idiotic, retarded, unprecedented stupidity, detached from reality, as if, Muslim grievances, poverty and lack of education, is responsible for the terrorism. We have already referred to this in one of the articles in Modern Diplomacy. The fact is it is exactly the opposite. But the media continue to spread Islamic Da’wah, propagation, and the result is blaming the West and defending Islam.
The Nice massacre, is another example how the media viciously acts to rescue its narrative that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. With this line, Reuters reporter, Tom Heneghan, leaves no stone unturned, in portraying France as an “aggrieving” Muslims. The Islamic Caliphate State’ French-language magazine Dar al-Islam appeared with the Eiffel Tower on the cover and the headline “May Allah curse France.” In its words: “France is gripped by an irrational and deaf hatred against Islam and Muslims that pushed it to the head of the coalition against the caliphate.” For Heneghan, Muslims are angry with France because it is warring against ISIS. Why? Because France is secular and it alienates non-Christian minorities. Muslim community is discriminated and Muslims live in poorer neighborhoods.
However, the truth is that Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, the Muslim terrorist who massacred 84 people at Nice was not a “lone Wolf” (what is this stupid definition?); he had accomplices, part of the Jihad syndrome. No, we was not poor and miserable in France and he was not depressed because of a divorce. No, he was not mentally unstable but good Muslim believer. No, his father is not a good French citizen but a member of a Tunisian Islamic party. No, his vicious terrorist murderous attack was not out of whim but meticulously planned and well thought out. No, his terrorism is not an isolated incident, but part of large world-wide Islamic Jihad.
However, the stupidity of the day concerning Nice massacre was the declaration of the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, that “France must live with terrorism.” Is it? Moreover, what was the reaction of French President, Francois Hollande, to the Islamic atrocity? He sounds almost as if he was being forced to speak: “We cannot deny that it was a terrorist attack.” Thank you so much. Raymond Ibrahim is so correct by blaming: imagine Winston Churchill declaring, “Britain must live with Nazism.”
And how both French leaders get out of this shame? They ‘externalize’ France’s foreign policy in the Middle East: now there is a ‘new’ diplomatic move to resolve the so-called “the Middle East Conflict,” by organizing a peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians. Instead of finding and executing a reliable strategy to fight Islamic Jihad, in fact Islamic atrocities in France and in Europe at large, France is meddling in Israeli affairs, and finds time to deal with Israel, as if pressing Israel will ease its mired Islamic situation. The standing ovation Abu Mazen received in his racial anti-Semitic speech in the European Parliament was a shame and must be totally denounced.
To the French oblivious and ignorant leaders there is Hungary’s Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, declaration that there was a clear link between illegal immigration to Europe and terrorist attacks on the continent. “It is clear as two and two makes four, it is plain as day. There is an obvious connection… If somebody denies this connection then, in fact, this person harms the safety of European citizens.”
Europe is a dying continent. Europe has become a province of Islam, as the late Oriana Fallaci referred to years ago. Europe is walking toward its own cultural suicide with eyes wide open, as if it does not care surrendering to a 7th century cult. Indeed, with its disastrous multiculturalism, European self-loathing and self-hatred gain ground over its Judeo-Christian values. The European states in their trauma of “no more war,” has created a deep black-hall, a vacuum that Islam entered freely and with full force. Not only that Europe has no answer to this hideous encroachment, it adds insult by helping to establish Islamic occupation in its continent.
William Kilpatrick has referred to the current situation in the US. Nihad Awad, the Executive Director of CAIR, urged Muslim Americans to take up the cause of Black Lives Matter. “Black Lives Matter is our matter… Black Lives Matter is our campaign.” At the same conference, Khalilah Sabra told the Muslim audience, “Basically you are the new black people of America… We are the “community that staged a revolution across the world; why can’t we have that revolution in America?”
In 2014, CAIR used the protests and clashes in Ferguson, Missouri as an opportunity to attempt to recruit blacks. The same is relevant to most of massacre atrocities done in the US. The paradox is that CAIR has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates, but not in the US, though it is a direct outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is listed as a terrorist group by the by Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Islam is a missionary political religion. Islamic proselytizers see the present situation in the US as an opportune time to concentrate on blacks and to radicalize them. They are the tool, the means to transform the US, according to the Muslim Brotherhood grand strategy, published in 1991. Islam has managed to convince the blacks and Hispanics that America is a racist society that was built on the back of slavery and Hispanic hard workers. America belong to them and not to the Whites. CAIR and other Muslim “civil rights” organization reinforce this narrative, while advocating that Muslims are victims of a similar oppression, colonialism, racism, and Islamophobia.
According to an academic approach the chief theorists of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, and Abu al-A’la al-Maududi, were heavily influenced by Lenin and by the communist revolutionary thought. Maududi said: “Islam is a revolutionary ideology and program which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals… it is an International Revolutionary Party organized to carry into effect its revolutionary program… Muslims are under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge the infidels from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”
Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti of Egypt, said: “Muslims must kill the infidels wherever they are unless they convert to Islam.” Infidels are apes and pigs. Muhammad Sayyid al-Tantawi, the president of al-Azhar University, also approves of killing Christians, Jews, and other infidels. He added, “This is not my personal view. This what the Shari’ah says, the law of Allah, the only valid law on the earth.” Abdallah Bin Muhammad Bin Humaid, The Chief Justice of Saudi Arabia, teaches In his book, Islamic Law and Constitution, that “Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam.”
Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Islam is an all-embracing world concept which regulates every aspect of life. Waging warfare against the infidels is the highest expression of fidelity… It is a duty incumbent on every Muslim to struggle towards the aim of making every people Muslim and the whole world Islamic, so that the banner of Islam can flutter over the earth and the call of the Muezzin can resound in all the corners of the world.” Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the prominent Islamic cleric, “the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today,” said: “No peace can be made between us (Muslims) and the infidels. This what our holy book says. This is what Allah says. As Islam is a comprehensive system of worship (’Ibadah) and legislation (Shari’ah), the acceptance of secularism means abandonment of Shari’ah, a denial of the divine guidance and a rejection of Allah’s injunctions. The call for secularism among Muslims is atheism and a rejection of Islam.”
Muslims are not ‘radicals;’ they are ‘orthodox.’ They follow and observe the scriptures of Islam. They are abiding by the law of Muslims. They do not ‘hijack’ Islam and they do not misinterpret it. They adhere to their accepted established faith. The ‘radical’ Muslims, according to the Free World’s vocabulary, are in fact true orthodox believers in Islam, while ‘moderate’ Muslims, according to the Free World’s vocabulary, are in fact heterodox Muslims, who are also butchered.
It is clearly commanded: “Fight in the name of Allah and for the sake of Allah against those who disbelieve in Allah… When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them… If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizyah. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.” These are the words of Muhammad.
The first directive is to understand the track Professor Mike Dobbins, from Georgia Tech, has passed over and to follow it. For years, he was an apologist for Islam. In his words: I believed those who painted Islam in a peaceful, glowing light. I made excuses for radical Muslims and lived in a flood of denial that religious teachings could still motivate a person to commit evil. I criticized those who warn of the dangers of Islamic doctrine, recklessly labeling them Islamophobes.
Today I am writing to say I am sorry, I apologize, and I ask for forgiveness. Those who have blindly defended Islam are tragically wrong. The critics of Islam are right. Islam is intrinsically, alarmingly violent, hate-ridden and oppressive on a scale greater than all other major religions combined. To say that Islamists are motivated to commit atrocities and embrace oppression based on religious doctrine is the understatement of the century. I, like most defenders of Islam, was ignorant, naïve, and in deep denial. I wrongly assumed that Muhammad promoted peace, love, and non-violence.
We who have carelessly thrown around the Islamophobe label, should lower our heads in shame and guilt. We must now live with the knowledge that we have abandoned and betrayed our principles. Those who criticize Islam, especially reform minded Muslims, are the bravest of the brave. They are literally putting their lives at risk by the simple act of criticizing the Qur’an, Muhammad, and the Sharī’ah.
We were unwittingly misinforming the public and deluding ourselves by not making the connection between Islamic religious teachings and Islamic hate and violence. We did not connect the dots and we refused to look for proper solutions. At the same time, we liberals were busy tarnishing the critics of Islam as bigots and racists, and by that abandoned our cherished values of defending equality of women, gays, and minorities, protecting free speech and religion, and other freedoms and civil rights.
No religion, book, prophet, law, or god, no matter how sacredly held by the follower, is exempt from criticism. We either live in a free society or a tyrannical one. Rather than self-censoring and abiding by Islamic blasphemy laws, we should be defending our values and freedoms. I challenge everyone, especially the people who smear the critics, to read the Qur’an, the biographies of Muhammad, the history of Jihad, and the political ideology of Islam.
Indeed, apologists not only pretend that Islam is not inherently aggressive and deadly; they also smear those who point out that it is inherently aggressive and deadly. As Sam Harris says: the leftist-smear-brigade will label you “Islamophobic” (as if fear of Muslims who actively seek to kill you were irrational); “racist” (as if Islam were a race rather than a religion); “intolerant” (as if you should put up with people who seek to behead, enslave, or rape you and your loved ones); and all manner of other absurdities. Leftists will also point out that, like the Qur’an, the Bible contains commandments to kill unbelievers, homosexuals, and other sinners, ignoring the fact that today only Islam motivates large numbers of its followers, indeed entire nations, to murder and enslave people in the name of Allah.
What the Free World has to do as a must?
The first task is that is it should recognize, define and understand Islam. It was Albert Einstein whom we can take an analogy: “if I was given one hour to solve a problem, I would have spent 55 minutes to understand the issue, and 5 minutes to find a solution.” Indeed, we must really and deeply understand Islam and its cultural framework, by reading its scriptures, by learning its bloody history, and by analyzing its current behavior and practices. Then, the Free World should learn its own weaknesses and strengths and openly tell, loud and clear, with sobriety and wisdom, the true story of the situation. Without these, the Ummah, the Islamic Caliphate, wins.
Islam wins because we fail to understand its motives and aims. We must call a spade, spade. It is impossible to understand what the situation is all about, if one fails to call it by its name, or is not ready to name its ideology, or cannot define the situation. However, concerning Islam, we do not understand or we are afraid to declare that Islam is the problem all along. We even do not want to admit that we have the solution to the Islamic horrific encroachment.
The Free World’s media and the cultural elite love root causes, but the root causes of al-Qaeda, the Islamic Caliphate State and other Muslim organizations are not poverty, unemployment, lack of education, or lacking democracy. It is Islamic religion. The Muslim terrorist groups are not unnatural to Islamic reality; they are in fact an organic part of the Islamic religion and its culture. It is exactly the teaching of the Qur’an that matters; it is exactly Islam that is important.
Former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, is correct by rattling the orthodoxy of political correctness, saying that Shari’ah is incompatible with Western civilization, the US constitution and the Free world basic values. Those who follow it are not loyal citizens, and either should not be allowed to enter the U.S. or should be deported from it. Islam and the values of democracy are totally incompatible. Everything that America stands for, freedoms, free speech, freedom of religion, civil rights, equal rights for all, and all the democratic power plays that are enshrined in the U.S. Constitution are in total contrast to Islamic teachings and doctrine.
Anything that is not in Islam is apostasy and all non-Muslims are infidels, including those Muslims who do not follow the articles of the Shari’ah. As early as 1991, the “Muslim Brotherhood in North America” has delineated in details the process of Islamic occupation of the US. The plan is to carry out a “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated.”
Indeed, the Shari’ah is toxic; it is totalitarian with everything the democratic West stands for. It is an unfortunate fact that Europe ignored the announced goals and intentions of Adolf Hitler in his Mein Kampf, now the entire West ignore the horrific and much more concrete ideology and intentions of the Islamic doctrine. Moreover, the Nazis concealed the Holocaust and did everything to hide their actions. But today the spokesmen of Islam – Sunni-Salafi; Sunni-Wahhabi; Shiites – proclaim their intentions loud and clear without any camouflage. To paraphrase Mubarak Hussein Obama, the future must not belong Islam and those adhere the Shari’ah.
Arab and Muslim countries are not modern states with civil sovereign peoples. They are collections of quarreling antagonistic tribes and clans that were forced to live in states without any of the substance. When the Europeans left, the countries quickly became military juntas, and now they are fighting for survival against Muslim Jihadi groups that strive to bring the Muslims and the infidels to their 7th century desert. These Muslim groups are not a reaction against, but constitute the underlying pathology in the Muslim world.
The Free World’s media and cultural elite, with their ignorance and stupidity, are oblivious to the situation and insist that Western colonialism is the problem. But they fail to understand that the true regional alternative to Western colonialism is tyrannical rule, genocide of the minorities, discrimination of the other, and slavery.
Therefore, instead of pursuing liberalism and democracy as a solution to the Muslim countries, the Free World should strengthen the non-Islamic and counter-Islamic forces in the Muslim world. In order to win over, even trying to stop Islamic encroachment, it has to understand that the way that leads to the defeat of the Muslim Jihadi groups is paved only by defeating the culture and ideology that sustains and encourages them.
The problem is that Western leadership does not want to connect the dots between the Islamic ideology and teachings, so clearly permeating in the Sharī’ah. The cultural elite and the media even refuse to realize that the battlefield is in our own homelands; in our own streets and neighborhoods; in the TV studios; in the editorials of the papers; in university campuses; in the public opinion venues; and in the courts of law. That is why, if the Free World does not follow this, it has to experience Winston Churchill’s declaration:
If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
The House of Mary
1820, Westphalia: Clemens Brentano sits next to her bed. Two years ago he moved to the city of Dülmen in Westphalia to be with her every day. With a notebook in his hands, he keeps notes of her visions, dreams and becomes her personal assistant. The German Romantic poet took the decision to stand next to Anna Katerina Emmerick, a young woman in the countryside who had been stuck for decades in her bed. She herself saw for years visions which concerned the life of the Virgin Mary and Christ and described everything in every detail. Clemens holds detailed notes and in 1835, 11 years after Anna Katerina’s death, he will publish his first book with her visions, “The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In 1842, after his death, another work with her visions entitled “The Life of Virgin Mary” will be published.
1891: Smyrna French Hospital, Ottoman Empire: Marie de Mandat Grancey, a member of the Daughters of Charity s run by the French Hospital of Smyrna, is dining at the Hospital’s dining room. There she will hear an excerpt from the books with Anna Katerina’s visions and ask two Lazarist missionaries, Fathers Poulin and Jung, to visit the point mentioned in the book as the last house of the Virgin Mary.
They began their mission on July 29, 1891, holding in their hands the excerpt of the book, ready to find every detail. Going to the Sirince area in Ephesus and going up Mount Bülbüldağı (Koressos) will stop asking a woman for water. She will tell them that they can find water a few miles further in the springs of the Monastery. After a few hours they will find themselves in front of the ruins of a monastery and a house where it will fit Anna Katerina’s descriptions. There She lived in the last years of her life, Our Lady, the Mother of Christ after His Crucifixion when she followed St. John. There she lived until the day of the Dormition (according to the Orthodox doctrine) and the Assumption (according to the Catholic doctrine) to Heaven.
The missionaries are returning to announce the news and their discovery. In August 1891, two more “missions” will begin for the place where Mother Mary’s House, Meryem Ana Evi, was discovered. They wanted to be sure they had found the right place.
In 1882, Archbishop Smyrna, Timoni, will visit the site where he will recognize the similarities with Anna Katerina’s narratives and begin the procedures for officially recognizing the part of the Catholic Church. Until then, the place was known as Panagia Kapoulou.
2018: A mini bus begind from Kusadasi and has as destination the location of Meryem Ana Evi, 7 km from Selçuk. An announcement has been made a long time ago so that the Temple Management Association (Dernek) can reserve the bus” for specific times of arrival and departure. Inside the bus, you’ll see a mosaic of tourists keeping their camera tightly, believers holding their rosaries and crosses in hands, women with foulards and the Quran in their bag. Most of them hold tightly the papers that have written their wishes. The desire is usually one: to bring to life the baby. And where else will they ask for it except for Mother Mary?
In 2015, filmmaker Manoël Pénicaud, along with his team, visited Meryem Ana Evi. In his camera he will speak, Paolo Pugliese, Capuchin Friar serving in the Temple. The Order of the Capuchins took over the care and management of the place in 1966, after the invitation of the Archbishop Smyrna, Alfred Cuthbert OFMCap Gumbinger. Sitting in a simple coffee table and wearing the Capuccino brown tunic, Paolo Pugliese will talk about his experience in Turkey.
“Virgin Mary is a woman. The main feature of a woman in every respect is a welcome and motherhood. She is here as a mother and as a woman who welcomes her children, both Christians and Muslims.”
While it’s heavy winter, the camera shows people in jacket and coat coming to pray. Outside the temple, there is the spot where candles light. Christians and Muslims lit their candles side by side with reverence and tranquility. Inside the shrine, Christins and Muslims attend the mass in Italia. Muslim women pay in their knees. At the entrance there is a large sign with extracts from the Qur’an that mention Virgin Mary and emphasize Her significance.
“I touched the paper on the wall and at that moment I realized that until that day I had not understood how much the world suffered. How many misery and needs there have been out there. How many personal tragedies!“The wall is full of papers. “The wall is the connection of the prayers of all these people.”
A few years ago, the New York Times will dedicate a few pages to Meryem Ana Evi. Scott Spencer traveled to Turkey to be able to describe the uniqueness of the place and talk to those who visited it. Friar Matthias will explain to him, “Muslims believe that Mary or Mary was a sacred figure but not the mother of God. She was just a woman with great virtues.”
Friar Matthias will continue explaining to the reporter that Maria is mentioned more than 30 times in the Koran and refers to Surah 3, verse 37. The journalist leaving the church will meet a woman who would open her heart “I live and work in Paris but I was born in Algeria. Since I was a little girl, I believed in miracles. I come here often. I come here because I believe in Maria. I’m a muslim.”
If you ever want to visit Meryem Ana Evi, you can find more information (in five different languages) on their website: http://www.meryemana.info/ and on their Facebook page where they make announcements about the functions and times and ways of visit and masses.
The “mysterious” Jew of Tunisia
33 days after the Jewish Easter. The Jews are preparing to celebrate Lag BaOmer. The Ghriba Synagogue with its Blue Tiles on Djerba Island in Tunisia wears its festivals to welcome its faithful who come from all corners of the world to celebrate Lag BaOmer with the 1100 Jews of the island.
Jews, Christians and Muslims come to the synagogue to pray and light candles. Women sit on the floor to put their eggs there with their wishes written on them. According to the local tradition, the stone of the floor used to be in the Temple of Jerusalem. Outside of the synagogue, the musicians have not stopped playing, the dried figs of wine flow abundantly and all of them eat from a table full of fish and couscous.
The story of the Jewish community
According to the history, a large number of Jews fled to Tunisia after the first temple was destroyed by the Romans, around 500 BC. During this period the first synagogue was built. The Jews brought with them a door from the Temple as well as a stone from the altar of the Temple. Today, according to the residents of the area, both the door and the stone are placed into the “Ghriba” Synagogue.
However, the Sephardic Jews of Spain found shelter on the island of Tunisia after the persecutions suffered by King Ferdinand and Isabella. Until 1956, when Tunisia gained its independence from France, the Jews would count 100,000 of which most would live on Djerba Island in harmony with their Muslim brothers.
In Arabic, Ghriba means “mysterious”, “strange” and many wonder why this name was given to the synagogue. According to the myth that dominates the narratives, the place where the congregation was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century inhabited a young “mysterious” girl who never spoke to anyone on the island. The girl died in her cabin when it grabbed fire. Surprisingly, the Jewish residents found her body intact and, in honor of the “mysterious” girl, founded the “Ghriba” Synagogue in the Jewish village of Harah Seghira.
The Lag BaOmer feast and coexistence
The pilgrimage to Lag BaOmer attracts hundreds of Jews from all over the world. They visit the synagogue, pray and participate in the rites that take place in both days of the feast. The marches are in the form of a wedding ceremony and symbolize the secret union between the People of Israel and the Divine. Women leave eggs with the name of a single girl in the place where the girl’s body is supposed to be found. The festival includes both Jews and Muslims. Muslim neighbors help the Jews prepare the place to welcome all this crowd. They also pray in the Synagogue while Muslim women leave the same eggs with written wishes in Arabic so they can get married in the future.
Muhammad has been making mats for the congregation for 50 years. “The most important thing for us is to show that in Djerba Jews and Muslims can live together harmoniously.”
As many people leave for a nearby beach or casino, the local Jews stay in the Synagogue so they can continue their own local customs: the first haircut of a three-year-old boy or the preparation of a big and specific dinner where the whole community will sit together.
The revenue that comes from the Lag BaOmer feast is enough. All the money is for the Jewish nursing home of the village of Harah Seghira and for the maintenance of the twenty synagogues on the island.
Amal who works in Houmt’s market and goes every year to the Synagogue to worship, says “Everything is to be human. We sit here next to each other and we see no difference. “
Walking through the streets of Djerba you can not recognize the Jew by the Muslim. Only a few older Jews put a piece of black cloth at the bottom of their trousers. Mourning for the destruction of the Temple.
Over the last three decades most visitors come from places outside Tunisia. By 2015, however, Israel issued a directive to Israeli citizens not to travel to Tunisia for the annual pilgrimage for safety reasons.
Earlier in the year, the country had suffered three terrorist attacks by extremist religious organizations. Almost all the attacks were in places an hour away from the island. That year, the security measures for the pilgrimage were draconian with checkpoints all over the island, special forces scattered all over, and military trucks full of guns.
On the first day of the feast, Abdelfattah Mourou, spokesman for the moderate Muslim party Islamic Enhanda, embraced rabbi Bittan outside the synagogue and told the crowd “Tunisia is protecting its Jews. What leads to the extremes is the existence of only one culture and one culture. The existence of many cultures leads us to accept one another normally. “
The Jews of today
Today, 1100 Jews live in Djerba. According to chief rabbi Haim Bittan each year only 30 new births are made to Jewish families. In recent years, Jews have begun to leave the place not because of persecution of a religious or racial nature but because of a financial crisis.
Yisha Mamou, 24, who is a teacher at the Hebrew Kindergarten, says “I graduated economically at public high school but, like most in Tunisia, I did not have the opportunity to continue at the University. I want to leave because I have nothing to do. All I do is go back to work and work on the house. “
Until 2004, the Jewish community of Tunisia supported three elementary schools, two lyceums and a religious study school (yeshiva) as well as archbishop. A few years ago, the only Kosher restaurant was closed, and as the whole Jewish community shows, it will begin to shrink if both their own state and the community itself find ways to keep young people there.
The Muslim Saint of a Greek Orthodox city
The Albanian Bektashi Monastery of Farsala
May 1st 2017: Some hundred meters outside Farsala, in the village of Asprogia, cars start gathering early in the morning. Whole families flock to pilgrimage, take out the spit with lambs, beers freeze on portable refrigerators, and someone puts on the cd player folk dances.
“They say it was Church, they say a lot. I know just one thing. That it was and still is a holy place, “says the pilgrim to the filmmaker Manoël Pénicaud. The Durbali Tekke or otherwise, Ireni Tekke was founded according to sources in 1492. The founder, the Durbali dervish came from the Iconio area of Minor Asia. As soon as he arrived in the village Ireni (the name of the village of Asprogia during the Ottoman domination), was granted the land and the building to create a new worship site, the tekke (monastery of Islamic mysticism and souffism). Also, according to sources, today’s temple was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church dedicated to St. George.
In Manoël Pénicaud’s short film, his “tour guide” will show us a hagiography of Saint George on a wall of the teke. “Saint George is being worshipped everywhere” he will explain. Especially in the Muslim world, the warrior and fighter Saint George has a prominent place. Over the centuries, the teke will be expanded by purchasing land from various villages in the surrounding areas. Many travelers and writers, including Andreas Karkavitsas, a Greek well known novelist(1892), will describe in his experiences the functioning of the teke and its role in the harmonious religious coexistence of Christians and Muslims. Archaeologist Frederick Hasluck will record in 1914 that only twenty years ago, in 1888, there were 55 dervishes living on the teke and that the coexistence of Christians and Muslims was perfectly normal.
The blooming and preservation of the teke will bring about the disruption of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Republic of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk will declare the Sufi and the Dervishes fraternities illegal and chase them mercilessly. The order of the Ottomans in the administration and in the life of Tekke will be taken over by the Albanians Bektashi. Bektashism was dominant in the Balkans, and especially in Albania, where to date there is a large number of believers. The successors of the teke will keep their reins up until 1973 when the last Albanian abbot of the Monastery dies and the memory will be almost erased
The Tekes today
Few people know the presence of Teke and even fewer locals remember its story. What remains is the mosque of the monastery and the tombs of the abbots. Both the mosque and graves are preserved in a very good condition since Albanians Bektashi i try to rescue them with the help of archaeologists and conservators. The problem of preservation of the teke is due to its legal and ownership status. While belonging to a religious institution in Albania, the Land Office of Larissa is in charge of its management. The various disagreements between the parties and the legal dangers have not so far enabled the use of the amount intended for teke’s maintenance.
In recent years the Farsala Municipality has prioritized teke and its proper maintenance. With the help of experts, the Municipality investigates the violations that occur in the area and proceeds to the complaints so that the image of teke is not distorted and be rescued before it is too late. Nevertheless, the Municipality’s objective is far superior to the mere maintenance of a historical and religious monument. The Municipality sees tekke as the opportunity to create an international center of study of the peoples and religions of the Balkans for the past 5 centuries.
God does not ask what you are
Before they enter the site of funerary monuments, they take off their shoes. Young, older, young children kiss the grave with the green covers. On the outside, the tomb of Durbali Sultan and the bust of Hatzi Bektas Veli, founder of Bektashism, in the 13th century. “Bektas Veli chose the best flowers of the religions and created the Bektashism,” says the old man with redheaded cheeks.
The cinematographer Manoël Pénicaud and his team visited the teke to record these moments of love and sharing on May 2017. I was fortunate to watch his short film at the “Shared Sacred Sites” Exhibition at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, in the last January. In a green landscape, the believer who has taken over the duties of a guide confesses to the camera “Whoever is inside this temple does not ask the one who comes, what are you? Christian or Muslim? “ At the entrance, a green sign is hanging on a tree in Greek and in Albanian “We never forget you Durballi Sultan Baba.” An old woman enters to worship Saint Durbali “Durbali is Holy to us, He is saint to all and is a miracle maker.” “Every year Christians come from nearby villages. They worship, we celebrate the Kurban (feast) all together, we clean the place. This year, Easter was on the same dates, and so, many did not manage to come. “At the entrance of the Teke, there are the holy icons of Ali, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, St. Demetrius and the Virgin Mary.
The pilgrimage ends and the feast begins. Dozens of lambs for families and for those who come to worship and celebrate together are served on plastic tables. When he turns the spit, another pilgrim will share his life story with the camera .“God is for all. It’s not just mine or yours. We are from Albania. My daughter is 17 years baptized and goes to the Church and believes and receives the Eucharist. Me too. But she wants to come here too. Nobody and nothing compels us to come here. I drove 300 kilometers to come, another one came from Albania, and another one from Chalkida. “ “I do not ask anyone if he is a Christian or a Muslim. Why shall I care? If we eat and drink together, what do I care? So I have done so far in my life and so I will continue to do. “
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