November 2006

[Webshaykh’s Note: One of the more delightfully nonsensical take-offs on the famous ‘Tales of the 1001 Nights’ was penned by the late 18th century literary wit Horace Walpole. The following is a selection from his ‘Hieroglyphic Tales’, published in 1785.]

The King and his Three Daughters

There was formerly a king, who had three daughters—that is, he would have had three, if he had had one more, but some how or other the eldest never was born. She was extremely handsome, had a great deal of wit, and spoke French in perfection, as all the authors of that age affirm, and yet none of them pretend that she ever existed. It is very certain that the two other princesses were far from beauties; the second had a strong Yorkshire dialect, and the youngest had bad teeth and but one leg, which occasioned her dancing very ill. (more…)


Women imprisoned by Saudi fundamentalists’ false claims of ‘tradition’


By Saad Sowayan
King Saud University, Riyad
November 11, 2006

When you see your dear aunt or sister after a long absence you expect them to run to you with overt joy and open arms to kiss you and hug you with her bare hands and uncovered head. Now, she meets you coolly with her head tightly wrapped in a scarf and hands tucked in black gloves and she barely shakes hands with you. Funny jokes and joyful laughs have completely disappeared, replaced by austere religious formulas and clichés, as if every minute of our lives should be used solely and exclusively preparing our souls for the grave and life after death. (more…)

If you are interested in weapons of less than mass destruction from the Middle East, then you should take a look at a recent, amply illustrated book by Manoucher Moshtagh Khorasani entitled Arms and Armor from Iran: The Bronze Age to the End of the Qajar Period , 780 pages and over 2,800 color images, ISBN-10: 3-932942-22-1, ISBN-13: 978-3-932942-22-8

Here is a sample from the online description of the book:

The present book describes the developmental trajectory of Iranian arms and armor through the centuries. The Iranian epics such as Shahname are full of stories about ancient heroes who fought for the just cause and destroyed the forces of Ahriman. The legendary figure of Rostam, from Shahname, has served as a role model of a pahlavan, a hero who supported the Iranian kings and fought against injustice, for countless generations of Iranian kings and warriors. The weapons used by these heroes are meticulously described in the Shahname. The holy book of the Avesta, sacred to the Zoroastrians, also names many types of arms and armor and describes each of them in detail. Various archeological excavations in the northern regions of Iran, such as those in Gilan, and archeological excavations and illegal digs in southwestern areas, such as Luristan, have revealed a tremendous number and variety of bronze weaponry, such as bronze daggers and swords, and some pieces of armor. This book exhibits a number of selected bronze daggers and swords that were excavated by Dr. Ezat Negahban in Marlik, as well as an array of bronze weapons from Luristan that is currently kept in the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. These bronze weapons show a variety of manufacturing techniques that utilized very advanced technology, such as one-mold casting, cast-on technique and cire perdu (the lost wax process). This book contains an accurate and detailed description of all these techniques, along with breathtaking pictures of bronze weapons that accompany the text to give the readers a good grasp of the topic… [For the rest of this introduction, click here. ]

Daniel Martin Varisco

by Mohammad Qadeer
March 23, 2002

The Burqa is not the Taliban’s invention. This tent-like cloak that completely drapes a woman’s body and face, with only a crocheted screen as an eye-piece, has been worn by women to go out in public for almost a century or more in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and parts of the Arabian peninsula. It literally draws a curtain around a woman and allows her to move about outside the family compound, while conforming to the religious-cultural custom of remaining secluded from men. The Taliban enforced its use as a law, contrary to traditions, and thus turned this very photogenic object into a symbol of their oppression and foolishness. (more…)

by Rabbi Jerome K. Davidson
Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth-El of Great Neck, New York

A number of articles and letters have appeared in the press, secular and Jewish, criticizing Temple Beth-El and its rabbis for engaging in joint activities with the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury. The source of the criticism clearly is a Long Island congressman, who, in interviews on television and with newspaper journalists, has charged that 85% of America’s mosques are controlled by extremists and that the Westbury Mosque is a prime example. Substantial evidence for these charges is never presented. (more…)

[Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali, left;
Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer (1489 – 1556), right]

Islam, Islam, Islam and again Islam. Do you want to make money? Do you want to attract attention? Do you want to start your political career? Do you want to candidate yourself as the future Archbishop of Canterbury? Here’s the solution: Say something controversial about Islam and Muslims. Yet, remember, you are up against incredible competition: Satanic Verses, Danish Cartoons, apologetic Popes and the Bush and Blair supporters. (more…)

[A view of Sanaa’s Tahrir Square from the air, courtesy of Google Earth.]

Terrorists used Google Earth to Plan Attacks


By Abdul-Aziz Oudah
Yemen Observer, Oct 31, 2006, 10:55

The terrorists who attacked oil facilities in Marib and Hadhramout in September took advantage of some of the latest Internet technology to home in on their targets, investigations into the terror cell have revealed. The terrorists allegedly used the free satellite photos offered on Google Earth to plan their attacks. (more…)

[President Bush Thursday in Billings, Montana, photo by Jason Reed, Reuters, left; President Bush speaking under a halo at the dedication of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship’s Youth Education Center in Dallas, Texas, 10/29/03, photo by Charles Dharapak, AP, right.]

Recent polls from a number of news organizations and independent groups make it clear that the Bush administration’s dragged-out, coalition-of-the-once-upon-a-time-willing war in Iraq can best be labeled “Mission Botched.” A Newsweek poll from October 26-27 indicated that twice as many American adults think the current strategy is losing ground (60%) as opposed to making progress (29%) in Iraq. Recent polls also indicate that despite the White House election strategy of not straying (even if not calling it staying) from the course, public opinion is singing the blues even in the red states. The reasons for this dissatisfaction with the way in which the war has been waged now cross party lines. The liberal vs. conservative, cut-and-run vs. lobby-and-don’t-tell mantras are increasingly (and fortunately) falling on deafened ears.


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