Topic: Arab world
Hawala or hewala (Arabic: حِوالة ḥawāla, meaning transfer or sometimes trust), also known as havaleh in Persian, and xawala or xawilaad in Somali, is a popular and informal value transfer system based not on the movement of cash, or on telegraph or computer network wire transfers between banks, but instead on the performance and honour of a huge network of money brokers (known as hawaladars). While hawaladars are spread throughout the world, they are primarily located in the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Indian subcontinent, operating outside of, or parallel to, traditional banking, financial channels, and remittance systems. Hawala follows Islamic traditions but its use is not limited to Muslims.
- "Hawala" | 2013-11-04 | 200 Upvotes 55 Comments
- "Hawala: transferring money without actually moving it" | 2009-04-19 | 58 Upvotes 19 Comments
SN 1006 was a supernova that is likely the brightest observed stellar event in recorded history, reaching an estimated −7.5 visual magnitude, and exceeding roughly sixteen times the brightness of Venus. Appearing between April 30 and May 1, 1006 AD in the constellation of Lupus, this "guest star" was described by observers across the modern day countries of China, Japan, Iraq, Egypt, and the continent of Europe, and possibly recorded in North American petroglyphs. Some reports state it was clearly visible in the daytime. Modern astronomers now consider its distance from Earth to be about 7,200 light-years.
The elephant clock was a medieval invention by Al-Jazari (1136–1206), an Arab engineer and inventor of various clocks. The device consisted of a weight powered water clock in the form of an Asian elephant. This horological technology was derived from earlier Indian clocks and Chinese clocks.
In China clock escapement mechanism was invented by the polymath and Buddhist monk Yi Xing as well as the hydraulic powered waterwheel and water clock in the mechanically-driven and rotated equatorial armillary sphere of the polymaths Zhang Heng and Ma Jun. The Elephant clock had some design differences compared to earlier Indian and Chinese clocks and the various elements of the clock are in the housing (howdah) on top of the elephant.
Al-Jazari upon finishing the development and construction of his Elephant clock wrote: "The elephant represents the Indian and African cultures, the two dragons represents Chinese culture, the phoenix represents Persian culture, the water work represents Greek culture, and the turban represents Islamic culture" signifying the multicultural mentality of the intellectual Al-Jazari.
In addition to its mechanical innovations, the clock itself is seen as an early example of multiculturalism represented in technology.
- "Elephant Clock" | 2018-07-12 | 64 Upvotes 15 Comments
The "Debate between sheep and grain" or "Myth of cattle and grain" is a Sumerian creation myth, written on clay tablets in the mid to late 3rd millennium BCE.
- "Debate between sheep and grain" | 2018-04-06 | 47 Upvotes 18 Comments
A mellified man, or a human mummy confection, was a legendary medicinal substance created by steeping a human cadaver in honey. The concoction is detailed in Chinese medical sources, most significantly the Bencao Gangmu of the 16th-century Chinese medical doctor and pharmacologist Li Shizhen. Relying on a second-hand account, Li reports a story that some elderly men in Arabia, nearing the end of their lives, would submit themselves to a process of mummification in honey to create a healing confection.
This process differed from a simple body donation because of the aspect of self-sacrifice; the mellification process would ideally start before death. The donor would stop eating any food other than honey, going as far as to bathe in the substance. Shortly, his feces (and even his sweat, according to legend) would consist of honey. When this diet finally proved fatal, the donor's body would be placed in a stone coffin filled with honey.
After a century or so, the contents would have turned into a sort of confection reputedly capable of healing broken limbs and other ailments. This confection would then be sold in street markets as a hard to find item with a hefty price.
- "Mellified man" | 2017-02-14 | 35 Upvotes 5 Comments
The Druze (; Arabic: دَرْزِيٌّ, darzī or Arabic: دُرْزِيٌّ durzī, pl. دُرُوزٌ, durūz), known to adherents as al-Muwaḥḥidūn (Monotheists) or Muwaḥḥidūn (unitarians), are an Arab and Arabic-speaking esoteric ethnoreligious group from Western Asia who adhere to the Druze faith, an Abrahamic, monotheistic, syncretic, and ethnic religion whose main tenets are the unity of God and the belief in reincarnation and the eternity of the soul. Adherents of the Druze religion call themselves simply "the Monotheists" (al-Muwaḥḥidūn). Most Druze religious practices are kept secret. The Druze do not permit outsiders to convert to their religion. Marriage outside the Druze faith is rare and strongly discouraged.
The Epistles of Wisdom is the foundational and central text of the Druze faith. The Druze faith incorporates elements of Isma'ilism, Christianity, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Pythagoreanism, and other philosophies and beliefs, creating a distinct and secretive theology based on an esoteric interpretation of scripture, which emphasizes the role of the mind and truthfulness. Druze believe in theophany and reincarnation. Druze believe that at the end of the cycle of rebirth, which is achieved through successive reincarnations, the soul is united with the Cosmic Mind (al-ʻaql al-kullī).
The Druze have a special reverence for Shuaib, who they believe is the same person as the biblical Jethro. The Druze believe that Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and Isma'il ibn Ja'far were prophets. Druze tradition also honors and reveres Salman the Persian, al-Khidr (who they identify as Elijah, reborn as John the Baptist and Saint George), Job, Luke the Evangelist, and others as "mentors" and "prophets".
Even though the faith originally developed out of Isma'ilism, the Druze are not Muslims. The Druze faith is one of the major religious groups in the Levant, with between 800,000 and a million adherents. They are found primarily in Lebanon, Syria, and Israel, with small communities in Jordan. They make up 5.5% of the population of Lebanon, 3% of Syria and 1.6% of Israel. The oldest and most densely-populated Druze communities exist in Mount Lebanon and in the south of Syria around Jabal al-Druze (literally the "Mountain of the Druze").
The Druze community played a critically important role in shaping the history of the Levant, where it continues to play a significant political role. As a religious minority in every country in which they are found, they have frequently experienced persecution by different Muslim regimes, including contemporary Islamic extremism.
- "Druze" | 2023-09-04 | 22 Upvotes 2 Comments
The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War announcing its support for the establishment of a "national home for the Jewish people" in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The text of the declaration was published in the press on 9 November 1917.
Immediately following their declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire in November 1914, the British War Cabinet began to consider the future of Palestine; within two months a memorandum was circulated to the Cabinet by a Zionist Cabinet member, Herbert Samuel, proposing the support of Zionist ambitions in order to enlist the support of Jews in the wider war. A committee was established in April 1915 by British Prime Minister H. H. Asquith to determine their policy towards the Ottoman Empire including Palestine. Asquith, who had favoured post-war reform of the Ottoman Empire, resigned in December 1916; his replacement David Lloyd George favoured partition of the Empire. The first negotiations between the British and the Zionists took place at a conference on 7 February 1917 that included Sir Mark Sykes and the Zionist leadership. Subsequent discussions led to Balfour's request, on 19 June, that Rothschild and Chaim Weizmann submit a draft of a public declaration. Further drafts were discussed by the British Cabinet during September and October, with input from Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews but with no representation from the local population in Palestine.
By late 1917, in the lead-up to the Balfour Declaration, the wider war had reached a stalemate, with two of Britain's allies not fully engaged: the United States had yet to suffer a casualty, and the Russians were in the midst of a revolution with Bolsheviks taking over the government. A stalemate in southern Palestine was broken by the Battle of Beersheba on 31 October 1917. The release of the final declaration was authorised on 31 October; the preceding Cabinet discussion had referenced perceived propaganda benefits amongst the worldwide Jewish community for the Allied war effort.
The opening words of the declaration represented the first public expression of support for Zionism by a major political power. The term "national home" had no precedent in international law, and was intentionally vague as to whether a Jewish state was contemplated. The intended boundaries of Palestine were not specified, and the British government later confirmed that the words "in Palestine" meant that the Jewish national home was not intended to cover all of Palestine. The second half of the declaration was added to satisfy opponents of the policy, who had claimed that it would otherwise prejudice the position of the local population of Palestine and encourage antisemitism worldwide by "stamping the Jews as strangers in their native lands". The declaration called for safeguarding the civil and religious rights for the Palestinian Arabs, who composed the vast majority of the local population, and also the rights and political status of the Jewish communities in other countries outside of Palestine. The British government acknowledged in 1939 that the local population's wishes and interests should have been taken into account, and recognised in 2017 that the declaration should have called for the protection of the Palestinian Arabs' political rights.
The declaration had many long-lasting consequences. It greatly increased popular support for Zionism within Jewish communities worldwide, and became a core component of the British Mandate for Palestine, the founding document of Mandatory Palestine. It indirectly led to the emergence of Israel and is considered a principal cause of the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, often described as the world's most intractable conflict. Controversy remains over a number of areas, such as whether the declaration contradicted earlier promises the British made to the Sharif of Mecca in the McMahon–Hussein correspondence.
- "Balfour Declaration" | 2023-10-19 | 16 Upvotes 7 Comments
The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, or Jewish exodus from Arab countries, was the departure, flight, expulsion, evacuation and migration of 850,000 Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab countries and the Muslim world, mainly from 1948 to the early 1970s. The last major migration wave took place from Iran in 1979–80, as a consequence of the Iranian Revolution.
A number of small-scale Jewish exoduses began in many Middle Eastern countries early in the 20th century with the only substantial aliyah (immigration to the area today known as Israel) coming from Yemen and Syria. Very few Jews from Muslim countries immigrated during the period of Mandatory Palestine. Prior to the creation of Israel in 1948, approximately 800,000 Jews were living in lands that now make up the Arab world. Of these, just under two-thirds lived in the French and Italian-controlled North Africa, 15–20% in the Kingdom of Iraq, approximately 10% in the Kingdom of Egypt and approximately 7% in the Kingdom of Yemen. A further 200,000 lived in Pahlavi Iran and the Republic of Turkey.
The first large-scale exoduses took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from Iraq, Yemen and Libya. In these cases over 90% of the Jewish population left, despite the necessity of leaving their property behind. Two hundred and sixty thousand Jews from Arab countries immigrated to Israel between 1948 and 1951, accounting for 56% of the total immigration to the newly founded state; this was the product of a policy change in favour of mass immigration focused on Jews from Arab and Muslim countries. The Israeli government's policy to accommodate 600,000 immigrants over four years, doubling the existing Jewish population, encountered mixed reactions in the Knesset; there were those within the Jewish Agency and government who opposed promoting a large-scale emigration movement among Jews whose lives were not in danger.
Later waves peaked at different times in different regions over the subsequent decades. The peak of the exodus from Egypt occurred in 1956 following the Suez Crisis. The exodus from the other North African Arab countries peaked in the 1960s. Lebanon was the only Arab country to see a temporary increase in its Jewish population during this period, due to an influx of Jews from other Arab countries, although by the mid-1970s the Jewish community of Lebanon had also dwindled. Six hundred thousand Jews from Arab and Muslim countries had reached Israel by 1972. In total, of the 900,000 Jews who left Arab and other Muslim countries, 600,000 settled in the new state of Israel, and 300,000 migrated to France and the United States. The descendants of the Jewish immigrants from the region, known as Mizrahi Jews ("Eastern Jews") and Sephardic Jews ("Spanish Jews"), currently constitute more than half of the total population of Israel, partially as a result of their higher fertility rate. In 2009, only 26,000 Jews remained in Arab countries and Iran. and 26,000 in Turkey.
The reasons for the exoduses are manifold, including push factors, such as persecution, antisemitism, political instability, poverty and expulsion, together with pull factors, such as the desire to fulfill Zionist yearnings or find a better economic status and a secure home in Europe or the Americas. The history of the exodus has been politicized, given its proposed relevance to the historical narrative of the Arab–Israeli conflict. When presenting the history, those who view the Jewish exodus as analogous to the 1948 Palestinian exodus generally emphasize the push factors and consider those who left as refugees, while those who do not, emphasize the pull factors and consider them willing immigrants.