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Posts Tagged ‘time’

Habari Ya Lamu, the Story of Lamu

July 19th, 2012 Comments off


Lamu; Photograph by Daniel Martin Varisco

by Irena Knehtl, Yemen Post, April 15, 2012

One of the city-states founded by Yemeni Hadhrami Arabs was Lamu, an island off the present Kenyan coast, a world heritage site

Throughout its history Yemen has been a seafaring nation, famed for boat building and its mariners navigation skills. While the Yemeni sailors harnessed the monsoon winds to reach distant ports, inland its farmers harnessed water to develop life-sustaining agriculture adopting to a harsh and often formidable environment.

Archaeologists are still investigating these long gone civilizations that have played a major role in transforming global history. These ancient civilizations introduced deep-sea sailing vessels capable of long distance travel and trade. At this time writing, banking, shareholding were established and developed societies were formed for perhaps the first time over.

Linen, cotton, wool and metal were taken to China, where cargoes of silk, camphor, musk, spice were exchanged and Yemen acquired ceramics. Southern Arabia was on cross roads on the trade routes between China and India to the East, and the Red Sea and East Africa to the southwest providing merchants with a huge and lucrative markets. One of the city-states founded by Yemeni Hadhrami Arab travelers was located on the island just off the northern coast of present day Kenya called Lamu.

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Still time to avoid civil war in Syria says Hollande

July 15th, 2012 Comments off

Paris, July 14(IANS/RIA Novosti) French President Francois Hollande has said there is still time to find a political solution to the Syrian crisis and avoid a civil war in the Middle East country. …
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Links 9-13 July 2012

July 13th, 2012 Comments off

Please do continue to leave suggestions on how to improve the links list (presentation, frequency, etc.), I am listening.



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Eric Schewe’s map of the presidential election results

July 13th, 2012 Comments off

Eric Schewe's map of the Egyptian presidential election results

The above map of from Eric Schewe’s blog, which has some great analysis of the presidential election and much else. It’s a great blog for Egypt nerds. He writes of the map and the data behind it:

The fact that the Muslim Brotherhood count from June 18 and the official state count were so close gives me confidence that, while votes may have been illegitimately influenced by actions outside the polling booth, that the polls themselves were relatively fairly conducted. This means this body of data is the first reliable indication ever of Egyptians’ preferences over a very stark binary choice for the direction of the state: Islamism or “Feloul” (old-regime) revanchism. Obviously, many Egyptians went out to vote AGAINST either choice, but the geographical distribution of the result shows very strong regional tendencies, raising interesting questions about voters’ overall motives.

Getting this kind of data and spreading will lead, over time, in a quantum leap in how we understand Egyptian politics. Of course it needs to be combined with new data added over time and knowledge of local-level dynamics. But at long last, we have a base based on an electoral process that was reasonably free and fair.



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Online Resources: The Claremont Coptic Encylopedia and the Legacy of Aziz S. Atiya

July 13th, 2012 Comments off

One thing I like to do here from time to time is mention great research tools now available online. Others specialize in this, like Access to Middle East and Islamic Resources Online (AMIR), but their readers tend to be in academia. What if you’re just an ordinary blog reader who, once in a while, suddenly has a question about fifth century Christology, such as, say, the Acacian Schism. Oh, of course you can go to Wikipedia, and get a probably decent enough account of the dispute between Rome and Constantinople. But what if your real question involves the significance of the Acacian schism for the Copts in Alexandria? Not much about that in Wikipedia. What if, in other words, you need this kind of detail:

And it goes on.  Yet hard as it is to believe, the Wikipedia article doesn’t even mention Timothy Wobble-Cap!

When you need detail about, well, just about anything relating to the Church of Alexandria, the Coptic language, Coptic art, or, well, anything Coptic, it’s time to turn to the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia, an online resource of value to anyone (including Muslims) interested in Egypt. And given the fact that this summer we are witnessing the election of a new Coptic Pope to succeed the late Pope Shenouda, there will be plenty of reporters, religion columnists, and such looking for a quick source of information on the Church of Egypt. Click the link above.

Aziz S. Atiya

Aziz Suryal Atiya (1898-1988) was the founding father of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Utah, and a pioneer of Coptic history in the United States, where Coptic specialists had previously tended to focus on linguistics for Bible studies. Atiya also wrote extensively on the period of the later Crusades. After studying in Britain, he taught in Cairo and Alexandria, then came to the US in the 1950s, teaching at Michigan, Indiana and Princeton before going to Utah in 1959.  An Egyptian and, of course, a Copt, he was also the father of the Coptic Encyclopedia, which he initiated and edited, and which was completed after his death under his wife’s supervision. The Middle East library at Utah carries his name. He is said to be the man who coined the terms “Coptology” and “Coptologist,” now in general use. (Well, at least in general use among persons interested in the subject.)

His role as an interpreter of the Copts was appreciated. Once in the 1970s I was on a bus trip of American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) fellows to the ancient monasteries of the Wadi Natrun. When the bus arrived a monk informed us that it was Great Lent and no visitors were allowed. Then he saw that Professor Atiya was our guide. Problem solved.

Claremont’s site has digitized the original Encyclopedia in a form that allows constant updating and expansion, so it is still growing beyond what Atiya envisioned. You can search, browse, download PDFs of individual articles, etc. While the papal election may be the main area readers will be searching for this summer, you can also find much more obscure material:


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Pelham: How Morocco Dodged the Arab Spring

July 12th, 2012 Comments off

At least for now, says Nick Pelham in the NYRblog:

But while Benkirane’s government has for the time being stayed any prospect of a broader upheaval, Morocco is not yet out of the woods. The carping, which Benkirane’s election initially silenced, has returned with renewed vigor as Moroccans ask themselves whether their new constitution was merely cosmetic. Most recently, this view has been confirmed in a battle over who gets to make senior government appointments. Unsurprisingly, the King seems to have won.

“I appoint five hundred of the country’s most senior positions,” Benkirane had insisted to me in March. “The king appoints only thirty-seven.” But those thirty-seven are the most important. King Mohammed remains head of the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Security Council, and the Ulama Council, which runs the mosques. He runs the military, the security forces, and the intelligence. The targets of the February 20 protests—including the interior minister at the time, Ali al-Himma—are firmly ensconced as advisers in the King’s shadow government. Tellingly, when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to the kingdom in March she met the King’s foreign affairs adviser ahead of the foreign minister. “The King returns to Morocco, business resumes,” ran the headline in the official newspaper, Le Soir, on June 13, after the King returned from an absence of several weeks in Europe. It was clear who it thought called the shots.

Excellent piece worth reading on the unfinished business from 2011 in Morocco, with vivid reporting from the dark underbelly of the country.



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Nasser on the Muslim Brotherhood, This Time With Subtitles

July 12th, 2012 Comments off

Some time back I posted a clip of Gamal Abdel Nasser talking about his meeting with the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood back in the 1950s (before he crushed the Brotherhood), but at the time couldn’t find one with subtitles, so it was a loss for those without Arabic. Here’s one with subtitles, still worth watching if only to see how well Nasser could lead an audience. Let’s see Mr.Morsi do this.


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Saudi anti-Ibadhi campaign

July 12th, 2012 Comments off
Bob sent me this in response that was sent to me by A. yesterday:  “The story about the Saudi-Ibadhi contains many factual errors

1- Ibn Bazz died in 1999. He couldn’t have had issued a fatwa against Ibadhis in 2009. Even if the author meant to write 1999 it still does not reflect reality because the Wahhabi and Ibn Bazz have long declared Ibadhis as deviant. You can check ???? ?????? ??????? ??? 6935. I do not know yet the date of the fatwa but it definitely predates 1999 since one of the signatories on this fatwa is Ibn Bazz and its number indicates that it has been issued long time before the death of Ibn Bazz. The number of fatwas of ?????? ??????? under Ibn Bazz goes beyong 21000. Also you can check this fatwa

????? ??? (15255)

?: ??? ???? ?? ???? ??????? ???????? ?????? ?????? ????? ?????????? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ??? ????? ???? ?????? ???? ??? ?? ??? ??? ???? ?????? ???????? ??????: (?????? ??????? ??????? ??? ????? ?????? ??? ???????? ???? ????? ????? ?????? ????? ?????) ??? ??? ????? ????? ??? ?? ??????? ??????? ???? ?????? ???????? ??? ???? ?? ??????? ?????? ?? ??? ???????. ?????? ???? ??? ?? ??? .

? : ??? ??? ???? ????????? ??? ??? ??? ?????? ????? ?????????? ??? ???? ????? ?????? ????? ????? – ?? ???? ?? ??? ??????? ?????? ??? ??????? ???????? ????????? ???????? ??? ?????? ????? ??? ?? ???? ?????? ??????? ???? ?? ????? ????

(????? ??? : 26? ?????? ???: 415)

??? ??? ???? ????? ?????????? ?? ??? ??????? ????? ????? ????? ??????? ????????? ?? ?? ??? ??????? ?????? ???.

?????? ???????? ???? ???? ??? ????? ???? ???? ????? ???? .
2- It is untrue that the wahhabi have recently started agitating against the Ibadhis accusing them of opressing the Sunnis in Oman. It started long time ago. Here is one speech by Mamdouh Al Harbi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-nQqxnnl-w

it is really disgusting how this Mamdouh Al Harbi decries how the Omani Gov. bans the Wahhabi (he calls them Ahlus-Sunna) books from entering Oman while the wahhabi do not allow Even Al Azhar books from entering Saudi Arabia.
The issue between Ibn Bazz and Al Khalili goes back 30 years from today. It was on 1986 when Al Khalili challenged Ibn Bazz for an open debate.”

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Morsi in Saudi Arabia: Wrong Trip, Wrong Timing?

July 12th, 2012 Comments off

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi has left for Saudi Arabia on his first foreign visit since his inauguration. He leaves right in the middle of a constitutional crisis largely of his own making, and may be sending the wrong message at the wrong time.

On paper, the visit makes sense: Morsi wants to re-forge fraying ties with Riyadh and rebuild a onetime alliance with the Saudis; he also wants to reassure the Saudis about Iran’s gestures of friendship to Egypt now that the Muslim Brotherhood has the Presidency.

But the Brotherhood’s opponents in Egypt (and remember, Morsi got barely a quarter of the votes in the first round) suspect him of aiming to turn Egypt into something along the lines of the Saudi model, and others believe Saudi funding helped elect Morsi. (Officially, the Saudis have problems with the MB, though it isn’t the sort of open propaganda campaign waged by the UAE against the Egyptian Brotherhood. But many private Saudis support the Brotherhood.) Leaving in the middle of a confrontation with the judiciary (and indirectly, SCAF) adds to the sense that Morsi is going to ask for seek support from his Saudi patrons at a difficult time.

Going anywhere in the midst of a crisis is a questionable call. Eleven days after taking office there is still no Prime Minister and not a single cabinet member named, except for the assurance (not really Morsi’s call) that Field Marshal Tantawi will remain Defense Minister. The interim Cabinet of Prime Minister Ganzuri is presumably on its way out, the country is in a crisis, and the President is in Saudi Arabia.

I’d say it’s the wrong trip, and any trip at this time is shows questionable judgment. His opponents — who may sense weakness right now — are unlikely to miss that.


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Travels with Ibn al-Mujabbir #2

July 11th, 2012 Comments off


Sailing Seasons in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean:
The View from Rasulid (13th-14th Centuries) Aden

by Daniel Martin Varisco

[This is a lecture presented at the Red Sea Trade and Travel Study Day of the Society for Arabian Studies at the British Museum, October 5, 2002, and subsequently published in Yemen Update. For Part 1, click here.]

Monday, 13 Rajab, 691 (June 30, 1292)

Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim. I, Ibn al-Mujabbir, begin this diary full of hope, a pilgrim sure of his destination, not a lost soul adrift. Who but God in his indescribable mercy could have provided a calmer sea and more willing wind to our sails than our good fortune holds aboard this ship, Hut Yunis. As Jonah was saved in God’s good time, so I trust in that very God to set foot once again in my homeland. There are three ships under the protection of the Karimi assurances, traveling together for safety and among the last of the season bound south for Yemen. I humbly beg forgiveness from the One before whom I submit, who knows the danger in every unseen shoal.

In two hours time, before the evening prayer, the captain informs me we will put ashore in a safe place. We sail by day in sight of land, but at night we rest. As God is our only guide, the wisely guided do not lead themselves into temptation. There are many dangers here, for they say the devil himself is master of the sea when darkness settles and the afarit do his bidding. Even Solomon, wise and powerful as God made him, took precaution when traveling to see Sheba’s beauty queen. Should I, a poor Yemeni born in Zabid, and now a stranger to no land where freshly minted Kamiliya dirhams are valued, do less. There are, I trust, no monsters in these depths, but the jinn inhabit all seven climes and more, if there be more.

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