duminică, 26 iunie 2016

Who is the god of fortresses? (Cine este dumnezeul fortaretelor)

"But in his estate shall he honour the God of fortresses: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things." Daniel 11.38

The passage above contains a key notion. Who is this god of fortresses? Knowing this would make the understanding of the prophecy a lot more easy and certain.
First of all some translations render fortresses as forces. The correct meaning is this:

Original: מעז מעז מעוּז מעוז
Transliteration: mâ‛ôz mâ‛ûz mâ‛ôz mâ‛ûz
Phonetic: maw-oze'
BDB Definition:
place or means of safety, protection, refuge, stronghold
place of safety, fastness, harbour, stronghold
refuge (of God) (figuratively)
human protection (figuratively)
Origin: from H5810
TWOT entry: 1578a
Part(s) of speech: Noun Masculine
Strong's Definition: From H5810; a fortified place; figuratively a defence: - force, fort (-ress), rock, strength (-en), (X most) strong (hold).

Inaccurate translations have caused some to interpret this in terms of New Age spirituality, the Star Wars "force", etc. As fascinating as this may be the correct translation is still "fortresses".
Another interpretation that I've seen is that this refers to the god of islam, Alah. As controversial as it sounds this might not be far from the truth.
But again it uses the word forces and it interprets it as the forces of islam, the jihadi warriors.
I have also seen an interpretation that combine the two interpretations above saying that the god of islam is described as an impersonal god  much like the intelligent force of New Age lore. Now that's interesting.
All of this interpretations sound, unfortunately, like speculation, but I have to admit that I haven't spent much time doing a thorough study of the subject. I decided to investigate the subject on my own starting, somewhat biased, with searching for the word stronghold in combination with al-Aqsa. After reading through some sites I came across the concept of "ribat". This is a concept in islam charged with profound meaning. Its use is usually in the context of jihad.
The root of the word means "to tie", or hold strong, and it has been used in the Quran and the Hadith in the sense of tying horses and getting ready for war: " To secure Islamic frontiers for which it is necessary to be armed with military hardware, conventional or modern, so that the enemy abstains from venturing against Islamic frontiers." (http://www.muftisays.com/blog/Seifeddine-M/2517_02-02-2012/surah-aal-imran-200.html)

But the word has more than one sense or meaning and another simple definition would go like this:

"A ribat (Arabic: رﺑ ﺎ ط; ribāṭ, hospice, hostel, base or retreat) is an Arabic term for a small fortification as built along a frontier during the first years of the Muslim conquest of North Africa to house military volunteers, called the murabitun." (Wikipedia - Ribat)

The Ribat at Monastir, Tunisia.

So a ribat was a fotified place that guarded islamic conquests in which volunteers called murabitun or marabout where lodged.

"Marabout , Arabic murābiṭ,  (“one who is garrisoned”), originally, in North Africa, member of a Muslim religious community living in a ribāṭ, a fortified monastery, serving both religious and military functions. Men who possessed certain religious qualifications, such as the reciters of the Qurʾān (qurrāʾ), transmitters of Ḥadith (muḥaddithūn), jurists of Islamic law (fuqahāʾ), and ascetics, lived in the ribāṭ and were held in honour by the common people. When Islam spread to western Africa in the 12th century, its propagators became known as al-Murābiṭūn (Almoravids), and every missionary who organized a group of disciples became known as a murābiṭ. In the 14th century, when Sufism (mysticism) pervaded Muslim religious life, the murābiṭ, in the Maghrib, came to be the designation for any preacher calling for the formation of Sufi fraternities according to the “order” (ṭarīqah) of Abū Madyan. Thus, the word lost all trace of its original literal meaning of military defense, and in Algeria murābiṭ came to be used for the tomb, usually domed, in which a pious man is buried." (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/363722/marabout)

Originaly the term ribat was used to designate the coastal cities along the Mediteranean shores. However in the Middle Ages, perhaps due to the Crusades, a tradition developed that connected sacred places, like Jerusalem, to the original ribat cities. In contemporary times the notion has been used in the context of the struggle against western colonialism and zionism. In time the concept has taken on epic proportions with the entire Levant being considered "an immense ribat":

"And yet Jerusalem and Palestine were only parts of the larger territory of geographical Syria (a region much larger than the modern country of Syria), known in Arabic as al-Sham, which was also claimed as sacred space, from Egypt in the west to Euphrates in the east, and from the Taurus Mountains in the north to the Red Sea in the south. Like al-Andalus, certain traditions have it that Syria was to be treated as one immense ribat. "Whoever stays in one of its cities, he is in a ribat; whoever stays in one of its frontier-fortresses he is on jihad." Its armies were styled the swords or arrows of a wrathful God; it was a region protected  by the wings of angels; prayer there was held to be virtuous beyond prayer in other regions, for "God has divided goodness in ten parts; He put nine-tenths of it in Syria and the remainder in other parts of the world." During the End Times "true belief will be in Syria," where the righteous will assemble and from which all humanity will be judged." (The Race for Paradise: An Islamic History of the Crusades By Paul M. Cobb, page 34)

The need to guard this places has been echoed in an official document from which I give the following quote from an organization such as the OIC, comprised of about 57 muslim countries:

"Jerusalem is the key to the Ka'ba [in Mecca] and to the Tomb of the Prophet [in al-Madina], in as much as its topographic structure makes it imperative to be under [Muslim] control, in order to ensure that Mecca and al-Madina will be protected." (see Jerusalem and Its Role in Islamic Solidarity By Yitzhak Reiter, Palgrave Macmillan; page 33)
This quote is too relevant to be left unmentioned although I haven't been able to confirm its autenticity. But after all, even so, if you think about it, it is just the pure truth.

To show how vast and important the concept of ribat is even now it's worth mentioning that sites like Twiter and Facebook are called by modern jihadists electronic ribats meaning "fronts". (http://www.jihadica.com/the-‘who’s-who’-of-the-most-important-jihadi-accounts-on-twitter/)

The concept is apparently used even in schoolbooks by the Palestinian Arabs:
"The Ribat for Allah is one of the actions related to Jihad for Allah, it means: Being found in areas where there is a struggle between Muslims and their enemies... the endurance of Palestine’s people on their land … is one of the greatest of the Ribat and they are worthy of a great reward from Allah." [Islamic Education, grade 12, pp. 86-87] (From nationalist battle to religious conflict: New 12th Grade Palestinian schoolbooks present a world without Israel  February 2007   Written by Itamar Marcus, Director, Palestinian Media Watch Barbara Crook, Associate Director, Palestinian Media Watch  With PMW research staff )

Now who is the god of the ribats? It is Alah indeed. Though I might be wrong.

And here is the cure:
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 2 Cor 10.3-5

Ribat in todays news


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