History

Various writings on historical topics

George Saliba of Columbia University on Islamic Science

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Dr. George Saliba of Columbia University gave a lecture at Princeton on Islamic science. A few years back, I attended a lecture he gave at the University of Waterloo, and wrote about it. I got his permission to republish some of his articles as well. I later started digging some of what he discussed, and the result was many articles on my site about Leo Africanus, Joseph Barbatus, Elmacinus, Erpenius, Rhazes, Alhazen and Ibn Khaldun.

al-Hakim: Execution of viziers and others

While al-Hakim appointed several viziers (Katib), none of them lasted more than a few years. The great majority of them were ordered killed by al-Hakim as they fell from favor for any real or perceived transgressions, financial or loyalty.

Most of those viziers were Christians. Some of them served as physicians as well.

An example is Ibn Abdun, who initially was co-vizier, then later sole vizier:

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al-Hakim: People should not question his actions

Because of his eccentric and erratic behavior, people must have talked a lot about his orders, his actions, his mental well being and more.

This can be deduced from the repeated orders by al Hakim, instructing the public not to question or discuss his orders.

Al Maqrizi mentions several instances of such orders:

وقرئ سجل بترك الخوض فيما لا يعنى واشتغال كل أحد بمعيشته عن الخوض في أعمال أمير المؤمنين وأوامره

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al-Hakim: Feared by all officials, soldiers and subjects

Due to him being unpredictable, eccentric and in a position of power, al-Hakim was much feared by his officials, soldiers and subjects alike.

On several occasions, they would fear his wrath and he would issue declarations of safety for various factions in his service as well as the public.

At one point, he ordered a collection of wood and reeds at the base of a hill. Everyone in his employ was fearful, as well as the general public.

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al-Hakim: Eccentric and Erratic behavior

Al-Hakim repeatedly exhibited erratic, eccentric and contradictory behavior. He seemed to have been keen on the morality of his subjects, repeatedly issuing orders for this to be done or that not to be done. This goes as far as micromanaging what is eaten and what is not.

Moreover, he would forbid something then later allow it. He would repeatedly enforce trivial orders he issued.

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al-Hakim bi Amr Allah: Fatimid Caliph of Egypt الحاكم بأمر الله

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One of history's most controversial characters is Al Hakim Bi Amr Allah. Seen as God incarnate by some, as an eccentric "mad" ruler by others, and vilianised by yet others.

Al Hakim was a Caliph of the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt, North Africa, Palestine and Syria. Contrary to the majority of their subjects, who were Sunni, the Fatimids were Shia of the Ismaili branch. They engaged in missionary work to spread their sect's belief as wide as possible.

Jose Pardo Hidalgo and Jewish origins of Iberia

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Jose Pardo Hidalgo, of Murcia, Spain writes to me by email:

Dear Sirs, Do you know if Iberia is coming of Ibrya=Hebrew,the Hebrew land of Spain and Portugal.Ivry is a Jewish surnames, Ivrya,may pe "Ladino", for femenine.. where Iberos semitic people, Assyrian tablets say even Celts were a tribe Lost of Israel, red.haired and blue eyes,losing his identity, not lost, only identity, Judah, benjamin, dan, etc... which is your opinion?.Thanks and peace,lover and friendships,Thank you.

I write back that this does not fit with the pattern of settlement of Iberia in pre-Roman times, before the Jewish diaspora, and I include a few links, such as:

Kamal Salibi and the "Israel from Yemen" theory

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One highly tenuous theory, is by Professor Kamal Salibi's of American University in Beirut. In his 1985 book Bible Came from Arabia,he compares place names in the Bible with names in Arabia today, andconcludes that Palestine had absolutely no histoical Hebrew presence,and rather South West Arabia is what the Bible refers to as Israel!Moreover, Moses and Pharoah were not in Egypt, but rather in Yemen!Egypt in the Bible is not today's Egypt, ...etc.

History: Who's version should we believe?

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A common theme throughout the ages is that history is always written by the victor. Only the version of those who wins is heard, with the losers' version either lost, or relegated to the forgotten niches.Another theme is how nationalism impacts the point of view, with one nation's version of heroic history viewed as sheer propaganda and glorification of aggressiveness.These two themes can be seen today in how media coverage of the victor (USA) malignes rivals using organized propaganda to brain wash its citizens, or how one people's terrorist is another people's freedom fighter.

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