Here on the periphery

O self, what are you wittering on about now? You have always been destined for a life on the periphery, so why start grumbling now? I thought you had reconciled yourself to your station.

So what if your fellow Muslamic bloggers despise you? So what if your convert brethren ignore you, judging you a renegade or backslider? Who cares if you are nobody amongst the Muslims? Is it the creation that you serve now? Is it their pleasure you seek?

Did school and college teach you nothing? From the first day of primary school, you should have learnt that you would be picked last for every team. Long ago, you should have learnt that you would forever remain on the outer circle, gazing in.

So why this sudden disquiet? It does not matter if your work colleagues consider you an idiot; you have your way and they have theirs. It does not matter if your brother in faith writes you off as a perpetual loser; who are you to those who love you? It does not matter if you have been forgotten by all who once knew you; perhaps you have discovered a special kind of freedom.

O self, your place is on the periphery. Be glad in it. Embrace it. Cherish it. Just as I thought you long ago had.

Khorasan

Here we go again. Another generation redeploying the same old tales as the last one, speaking of amazing prophecies being fulfilled before our very eyes. They don’t remember the exact same claims in the 1990s and 1980s, and back through the centuries.

No, the Taliban is not the Mahdi’s army. They are just one of many rival political movements with the backing of Pakistan. No, they come not from historical Khorasan, but from the Pashtun regions of southern and eastern Afghanistan. They do not even try to mimic the black flags of everybody’s favourite hadith; their flag is white.

What nobody is telling you, dear young fellow, is that the black flags referred to events in the 8th century, 130 years after hijrah, when the Abbasid Revolution overthrew the Umayyad caliphate. Those tales have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with contemporary politics. They were deployed a millennium and a quarter ago to galvanise the people behind a political movement claiming religious authority.

Don’t be drawn into associating partners with God, placing your trust in some saviour figure who will never come. That is not the message of your Book at all. That is an invention of the parallel religion made real only by cunning politicians. Go back to the Book. Have faith in it.

They ask you, [O Muhammad], about the Hour: when is its arrival? Say, “Its knowledge is only with my Lord. None will reveal its time except Him. It lays heavily upon the heavens and the earth. It will not come upon you except unexpectedly.” They ask you as if you are familiar with it. Say, “Its knowledge is only with Allah, but most of the people do not know.” — Qur’an 7:187

Daylight robbery

We managed to book a four-day holiday by the sea. It cost us an absolute fortune. The hotel was as basic as it gets. The beds in our family room were comfortable, but the bathroom was a disgrace. Our four night stay cost us the equivalent of a month’s rent for a furnished house. We got breakfast with the room, but no evening meals were available. They blamed Brexit.

We found some nice places to eat, but it was very expensive. We found nice places to visit too. But parking charges were extortionate. I paid in full, but got a parking ticket for parking outside a bay in one car park. I was careful to park considerately and cause inconvenience to no one, but I fell foul of the rules. I acknowledge my error, but still feel like the state has robbed me.

I spent a small fortune suppoting local businesses today. Presumably they will pay business rates and taxes back to the local council on their earnings. But never mind, I’ve been taxed multiple times today, for the pleasure of sunning myself in their locality. A real tourist’s welcome.

There has been some pleasure these past few days. But the overwhelming feeling: I have been utterly ripped off. I cannot sleep tonight. Restless ahead of the four hour journey home.

Local vs global

How grand. In our local interactions with our immediate neighbours, we are called upon to anathematise the sectarian other of Deoband, due to their alleged beliefs and mildly different positions on the minutae of Hanafi fiqh. But on the international geopolitical scene, the local mosque is right behind the militant Deobandis of the east.

Nothing new here, I suppose. In the battle between the West and the rest, we are one. Yes, and in the UK vs Europe we are one. And in England vs Scotland we are one. And in North vs South we are one. And in Yorkshire vs Lancashire we are one. And in Hull vs Leeds we are one. And in West Hull vs East Hull we are one. And in Bransholme vs Sutton we are one. And in Warne Road vs Honiton Road we are one. Yes, but the Pickerings hate the bloody Jibsons through and through.

Lie in it

After complaining about and vilifying for years Afghan families making perilous journeys from the east, all across Europe and the English channel, British news anchors now say in all seriousness: “Why do all these people suddenly want to leave Afghanistan? We didn’t see an exodus like this before!”

The stupidity of those who set the national mood is endless. They can’t even remember their own narrative now, contradicting themselves day after day. Of course people want to leave a poor country where they have no prospects: no jobs, extreme poverty, unimaginable difficulty, the scars of decades of conflict.

And our bankrupt and spineless politicians? Well the focus groups said people want to see more Union Jacks, so they must tread carefully as they attempt futilely to unpick two decades of domestic propaganda.

Go easy on our poor overlords; forgive masters Raab and Wallace caught sleeping on the job again, for it has been a difficult year, what with sending gun ships to collect PPE from Asia and belatedly understanding the significance of the Dover-Calais crossing to UK trade.

Well, we only have ourselves to blame, willingly embracing the platter of lies served to us for breakfast every morning, then washing it down with a carafe of narcissistic pride and undiluted malice. We made this bed for ourselves.

Opposition

You can oppose war and military occupation without being a supporter of the bogeymen of the enemy.

The occupying forces wiped out most of the old guard with BLU-82 Daisy Cutter bombs, air strikes and armed combat years ago, though their founding father reportedly died of tuberculosis.

In the two decades since their invasion, the occupying forces have made plenty of alliances with unsavoury people with unpalatable beliefs and behaviour.

Indeed, we have rolled out the red carpet for friendly tyrants throughout this period, welcoming them into the great houses of the state, to be showered in vulgar adulation, in pursuit of trade deals and long-term strategic objectives.

The hypocrisy of this perilous moment in time is obscene. Our jingoistic patriotism will not allow us to admit: we have been morally bankrupt for years.

The electric vehicle revolution

The transition of global technology from dependence on oil to a dependence on lithium means the world needs Afghanistan more than ever. China, Russia, Turkey and all of Europe need a share of the $1trillion mineral deposits buried beneath its soils. China will soon dominate the extraction of gold and copper there. Two decades of war only hindered efforts to exploit those massive mineral resources. It’s time to try something new.

Continue reading “The electric vehicle revolution”

Chip on your shoulder

He was never the sharpest knife in the drawer. On Facebook, YouTube and Twitter — his every thought stamped with a date, time, GPS location, wifi location, IP address and his every interaction, stored in a giant database accessed by no one but big data mining analysts and the intelligence community — he posts about a malevolent global elite embedding microchips in the shoulders of 7 billion people, to track the movements and thoughts of all mankind. Don’t ask me.