Five Years With the Taliban

Thirty-one-year old Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been kept in captivity by Taliban in Afghanistan for five years after having left his post had pleaded guilty to desertion. Now he is awaiting being sentenced in Fort Bragg in N.Y. He might face life in presence.

Bowman was  freed after President Obama had agreed to release five Taliban terrorists in exchange. I have reported about that moment here. It had reminded me of the fate of Daniel Perle and Nick Berg who had been killed by al-Qaida terrorists in 2002 and 2004, respectively. Bergdahl was lucky that he survived his captivity.

President Trump had called Bergdahl a “no-good traitor” who would have been executed “in the old days” when campaigning for presidency.

22 October 2017 @ 6:43 pm.

Last modified October 22, 2017.

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Human Nature is That of a Virus


Agent Smith: I’d like to share a revelation during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure.

The above quote is from the famous Wachowskis movie The Matrix (1999). Smith, an “agent” computer program teaches Morpheus, a human who has freed himself from the “Matrix”, a computer simulation of the world as it seems to be in 1999.

A new study published today in The Lancet illustrates how humans destroy the environment and themselves just by pollution. The study speaks of 9 million premature deaths in 2015 due to pollution. Pollution disproportionately kills the poor and vulnerable.

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No Kufic Script on Viking Funeral Garment


Couple of days ago, it had been reported that a funeral garment, datable to the 9th and 10th century, which had been found in Sweden contains the words Allah and Ali (the name of the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law) in Kufic script. Textile archaeologist Annika Larsson of Uppsala University had re-examined the remnants of burial costumes from male and female boat and chamber graves originally excavated in Birka and Gamla Uppsala in Sweden in the late 19th and mid-20th centuries.

Dr. Larsson assumed that the fragments may have originated from Iran, Central Asia or even China, as some design elements on the fragments reminded her of those she had seen in Moorish textiles. BBC reports that she identified Arabic Kufic script rather than Viking patterns and recognized, with the help of an Iranian colleague, the words Allah and Ali.

I suddenly saw that the word ‘Allah’ had been written in mirrored lettering.

The possibility that some of those in the graves were Muslim cannot be completely ruled out.

We know from other Viking tomb excavations that DNA analysis has shown some of the people buried in them originated from places like Persia, where Islam was very dominant.

However, it is more likely these findings show that Viking age burial customs were influenced by Islamic ideas such as eternal life in paradise after death.

Dr. Larsson has found these two words which always appeared together, in 10 of 100 fragments screened so far.

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Ophelia Hits Ireland

Hurricane season 2017

For the first time in my memory, a major hurricane is going to hit Europe. Ophelia, on her long way from north of the tropic of cancer northwards, has strengthened and will make landfall later today in Ireland.

The tenth hurricane in the Northern Atlantic in 2017 is probably the last of a hyperactive season which brought one disaster after the other in the Caribbean and the US.

Above are screenshots of the amazing website On 8 September, three hurricanes battered the Gulf and Caribbean islands, Irma, Jose and Katia. In the second half of September, hurricane Maria devastated in particular Puerto Rico and hurricane Nate, the fastest moving hurricane in the Gulf on record followed in early October making landfall in the Mississippi delta.

16 October 2017 @ 6:43 am.

Last modified October 16, 2017.

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Qur’an in Context

Jesus Muhammad Isaiah

Early 14th century image in an illuminated Ilkhanid manuscript of کتاب الآثار الباقية عن القرون الخالية (The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries) by Abu Rayhan al-Biruni (completed about 1000 AD)

The above picture from a famous 14th century manuscript, celebrated as one of al-Biruni’s (d. 1048) major works, shows two determined riders approaching a watchtower with a fearful looking guard. One rider has mounted a camel while the other is riding an ass. Faces of the three persons are deliberate Mongolian. Both heads are surrounded by a halo, and the right one is pointing at the left. It is intuitively clear that the artist wants to characterize Jesus and Muhammad in his painting.

I have written about the Ilkhanid manuscript of al-Biruni work before.

One of the key manuscripts in the formative period of Ilkhanid painting is the Kitab al-Athar al-Baqiya , or “The Remaining Signs of Past Centuries”, by Abu Rayhan al-Biruni who had died in 1048 (MS Arab 161, Edinburgh University Library) which is dated 707 AH/ 1307 CE. It contains 25 paintings. The Edinburgh al-Biruni manuscript has been written in either Maragha, the Ilkhanid scientific center, or in its capital Tabriz, the cultural and commercial hub at the crossroads between East and West in early 14th century. The miniatures include multiple non-Islamic elements, Jewish, Byzantine and Buddhist.

The context in the above miniature is as follows. According to its description in the respective catalogue (Chronology of Ancient Nations) by the Edinburgh University Library, it “[a]llegedly depicts a passage from Is[a]iah 21, presenting it as a prophecy about Muhammad: shown riding on a camel next to Christ, who is riding a donkey, Al-Biruni asserts that the Prophet’s arrival at the watchman’s tower announced the destruction of Babylon.” The passage reads (according to King James Version),

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