Thursday, 20 October 2016

** FATHER FRANK’S RANTS Rant Number 698 19 October 16 ALEXANDER AT MOSUL


They ask you concerning Zul-qarnain. Say “I will rehearse to you something of his story”. Qur’an 18:83

Does Alexander the Great appear into Islam’s holy book?  Zul-qarnain, the King with Two Horns, or the Lord of Two Worlds (alluding to his rule over East and West), was he Alexander, King of Macedon? Scholars are divided. Some disagree but others have detected many parallels with the iconic conqueror. As Iraqi-Kurdish forces prepare to recapture the ISIS-held city of Mosul, the spectre of Alexander arises before the priest’s mind. Because one of his greatest victories against the Persians was fought in 331 BC at Arbela (today Kurdish Erbil), near Mosul. The golden hero’s example and charm are irresistible. Besides, how could a man whose name arguably made it into the Arabic Scripture sacred to over a billion human beings, not be pertinent when it comes to the tormented Middle East?

Historian Arrian’s work, The Campaigns of Alexander, shows that the hero was no vulgar cultural imperialist. He was tolerant and always respected the gods, beliefs and customs of the nations he conquered. Far from seeking to destroy the Persian Empire, he wished to combine the traditions of Orient and Occident. Note how, unlike Alexander, after 9/11 the rulers of the West have been hell-bent on exporting, imposing militarily their ‘democracy’ on Arab and Muslim nations. Along with their dubious Zeitgeist doctrines of secularism, atheism and feminism. The dire results are patent for all to see. The monster of ISIS is partly an extreme reaction to such alien intrusions.

Although Alexander could be impulsive and violent he was also forgiving and generous. Before Arbela, at the battle of Issus he had routed Darius so thoroughly that the Persian in his hurry to escape had left behind his mother, wife and children. It is said that Darius’ wife was a lady of incomparable beauty. Yet Alexander did not succumb to lust. He treated her and the other royal prisoners with all dignity and compassion.

Alexander was God-fearing – well, as much as a pagan could be. When he approached the city of Tyre he desired to worship there in the Temple of Hercules, from whom he fancied he was descended. It is only when the Tyrians, loyal to King Darius, obstinately refused to let him in that he prepared for war. When, after a long and bloody siege, Tyre was taken by storm, King Azemilcus, his dignitaries and others found refuge within Hercules’ Temple. Alexander spared and released them. All the other inhabitants were sold into slavery. Shocking? To the modern mind but that was the universal custom then. The institution of slavery was as old as mankind. All races, regardless of colour, including fellow Greeks, could be enslaved after a lost battle. Alexander simply followed the accepted rule.

The great General carried his conquest as far as India. Is there a hint to that in the Qur’an? ‘Until he came to the rising of the sun’, al Kitab, the Book says. The distinguished commentator Abdullah Yusuf Ali, say it is an allusion to ‘an expedition to the East’. There follow references to strange peoples whose language was obscure. ‘They did not understand the speech of the Conqueror’, Ali explain. Maybe tribes encountered by Alexander? The Qur’an goes on to mention the mysterious God and Magog, wild races against whom Zul-qarnain built a might barrier. Again, the gloss is that the Conqueror was not greedy but a fair and just ruler, not burdening his subjects with excessive taxation and mindful of the law of God…

The Bible also cites Gog and Magog. The Prophet Ezekiel speaks of a great invasion by Gog, ‘from the land of Magog’. He is the barbarous leader of the demonic forces that launch a final assault against the chosen people - the instrument of divine vengeance on erring Israel but later destined to total annihilation. The Book of Revelation’s scenario instead has Gog and Magog as dupes of Satan, unleashed on Jerusalem, the city of God, but eventually destroyed by ‘fire from Heaven’. Fabulous, apocalyptic stuff. Could you see that as a prophetic reference to ISIS? The fire from the sky as that rained by Yanks airstrikes on the Caliphate? The latter, of course, have their own narrative. Their deadly enemy is the great Western Satan and its abominations. Hhmm…have they no case at all?

When ISIS is thrown out of Mosul, will it be a righteous liberation? Most media so plug it sanctimoniously, harping on the plight of fleeing civilians, but Robert Fisk in The Independent suggests another, sinister angle. The US-planned campaign will allow thousands of Caliphate guys to flee Mosul towards Syria. They will then link up with the Jihadi gangs already raging there. Why do that? In order to bring down President Assad, the long-declared declared war aim of NATO. Oh, what about the poor Syrian Christians then? Only Assad stands before them and the ISIS butchers. Do infidel Western rulers give a damn? Answer: no!

What if Alexander the Great fought at Mosul? I figure he would not be terribly sentimental about his means – humanitarian NGOs had not appeared to plague the scene yet – but one thing he would certainly do. Teach all murderers and scoundrels a good lesson.

Revd Frank Julian Gelli


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