News & opinion on Greater China and the even Greater Beyond: by Biff Cappuccino.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Review of the first half of Islam: the Arab National Movement by Anwar Shaikh
"Anwar Shaikh is no ordinary mortal." - from About the Author at

"I have not resorted to swearing or falsification simply to uphold the dignity of truth. ... I must add that by making me a martyr, they will sound the death-knell of Islam." & "This is an excellent question and proves your competence as a journalist." - from an interview with Anwar Shaikh conducted by Dr. Ranjit Kanwar, Chandigarh Times, India.
Despite Anwar Sheikh's brazen self-promotion, blithe non-sequiturs, and shameless stroking of his interviewer, he is still very much worth reading. Considering his handicaps, as demonstrated above, it is sort of a miracle that he wrote a logically cohesive and persuasive book at all. Kudo's to the Shaikh are in order.
There's something touching about the naivete of Third Worlders. Of course that reeks of condescension and yet the fact remains that it can be intensely amusing to observe simple traditional folk in their natural environments, playing their social roles as faithfully as ants in farms, bees in hives; conducting themselves in a narrow, often wooden, manner that less traditional communities of fellow human beings cannot help but find hide-bound, comically counter-productive, and glaringly obvious. Naturally the same occurs back home as people move from the farm to the city, and America's Founding Fathers surely observed the bulk of their disenfranchized Americans with disdain; some of their wives put their feelings on paper and those feelings weren't always generous.
It's also perhaps worth mentioning as a second introduction that, back in 1991, a friend and I earnestly considered establishing a cult in Japan. An ex-girlfriend had sent back a couple of magazines from Tokyo containing a range of ads for crude mystics and improbable religions. We realized this contained the answer to our prayers, so to speak: to manufacture our own eschatology, liturgy, and ritual, and lets not forget the most important aspect, the Special Dispensations. Whereafter we'd hawk the whole kit and kaboodle to eager believers.
In brief, we could bang Japanese chicks and get paid for it. We began to consider a masthead, charter, and business model. My fellow prophet and co-founder advised that I immerse myself in the mysteries and revelations of several respectable pioneers in the trade: Gurdjieff*, Rajneesh, Ron L. Hubbard, et al. In the end however, to the eternal regret of my accountant, I concluded I couldn't take advantage of the benighted in good conscience.
Sheikh's book is particularly interesting as it conducts some of the analysis we planned for back in 1991. He conducts an autopsy of two Prophets, their devices, business models, and rates their successes and failures, all the while providing anecdotes and commentary. All of this constitutes as sort of Idiots Guide for reinventing onself as a member of the beatific tribe: shimmering seraphs with naughty feet of clay who elbow their way savagely into the good people's finances and sex action.

Essentially, Shaikh's thesis is the obvious one -- the one that most of my (admittedly few) readers presume and take for granted -- that Mohammed, like every other religious leader, was an entrepreneur who took advantage of the psychological defectives in his neighborhood to make a few coppers and go downtown.

Shaikh describes the modus operandi whereby old-time Prophets get themselves installed in the confidences of the confiding. The Prophets receive a calling from God. They reply coyly, shyly, diffidently, that they are unqualified. Moses, for example, mumbles that he has a stutter and lacks eloquence. Mohammed, on the other hand, shrieks that he's illiterate and not qualified to read God's written directions. Whereupon God orders an angel to wring his neck and get the truth out of him. Shaikh points out the defect in the Koran story: the all-knowing Allah who yet fails to know that the Prophet is illiterate. Oops!

Another giveaway that mortals lie in the wings operating the props and that the angels rely heavily on the assistance of piano wire is that Moses debates with God and wins. Outstanding! A small step for God, a giant leap for Mankind. For example, in Exodus 32: 12-14 and in Numbers 14:11 - 20 God blows his stack and threatens to kill every living person; no surprise there, he's always the drama queen in the Old Testament. Moses, to his credit, saves the day. In other words, Moses, the self-appointed Prophet, appoints himself the lion tamer and trainer of the Bible. Good thinking.

Then Shaikh shocks us with the heresy that both Judaism and Islam were founded by Prophets who took advantage of the human weakness for nationalism. In other words, both were super patriots promising to help everybody who got on team via good works. Both attacked polytheism because monotheism enabled them to unify their rubes and to keep them both unified and paranoid. Plus, by designating them the chosen people, he got fanaticism and cock-sureness in the bargain. These dudes were way cool...

Having done so, Moses lead his tribe out of Egypt and Mohammed leads his crew out of Mecca to Medina and back again. Key here is the selflessness ploy. Both Prophets say they're powerless, just mediums for God. Thus, they can claim they just want to help while deflecting dissatisfaction with their decisions on to God's shoulders.
Some of the commentary above is silly, I'm sure, but I'm tired. What a difference fatigues makes... Below is still unrevised first-draft material from my notes.
Interestingly, Allah is Arabic for El, the old God who ruled over Yahwe the God of Israel. Allah is the God of the universe, not just Israel and is therefore more powerful.

Also, Mohammed changes the Jewish covenant which was God with Isaac, one of the two Sons of Abraham. Isaac, conveniently, is the patriarch of Israel. Mohammed changes the covenant to God with Abraham and the other son, Ishmael, the patriarch of the rest of mankind. Convenient that.

Allah originally was the God of the Kaaba (a meteorite that the region's yokelry believed was sent out of the sky to slay a demon) and which took the form of a statue. The Kaaba originally hosted a pantheon of gods like a Hindu temple. It's a credit to the commendable audacity of Mohammed and the stupidity of his followers, that he brazenly writes up the Koran to suit his various profane needs (banging his brother's wife, conducting assassination campaigns and ethnic cleansing, pillaging caravans during holy months, etc.) by issuing dispensations from Allah.

As if that wasn't enough to test one's credulity, check this out: From Confederate 55: "God and his angels pray peace to the Prophet. O believers, you must also bless him, and pray him peace." Shaikh writes "Here is something extraordinary! Instead of men worshiping God, it is God, along with his angels, who worship man, the true purpose of the device of revelation."

In other words, revelation, the divine process whereby any God reveals himself to his prophet is the sophistical act whereby the prophet convinces his moron followers of his personal sanctity.

Discuss the eminent suitability of Sheikh for vivisecting religion as he has the appropriate Thirld World mind of the founders of these religions and is thus in an excellent position to understand their crude but effective thinking and the simple-minded monkeyshines they engage in.
Biff Cappuccino

*Gurdjieff was a champ and his evasions, circumlocutions, and daring repackaging of the obvious has to be experienced first-hand to be appreciated:
Question: Sir, I asked you last Thursday, if there was a way to develop attention; you said that attention was measured in the degree that one remembers oneself. You told me to especially look into myself. I especially asked you that because I wasn't able to put my attention on the reading of Beelzebub. During this week I understood that attention was what I was. As many "I's" as there were, so many different attentions. I wanted to ask you if there was, for developing attention, only the method of "I am" or if there are other special methods?
Gurdjieff: One thing I can tell you. Methods do not exist. I do not know any. But I can explain now everything simply. For example, in Beelzebub, I know, there is everything one must know. It is a very interesting book. Everything is there. All that exists, all that has existed, all that can exist. The beginning, the end, all the secrets of the creation of the world; all is there. But one must understand, and to understand depends on one's individuality. The more man has been instructed in a certain way, the more he can see. Subjectively, everyone is able to understand according to the level he occupies, for it is an objective book, and everyone should understand something in it. One person understands one part, another a thousand times more. Now, find a way to put your attention on understanding all of Beelzebub. This will be your task, and it is a good way to fix a real attention. If you can put real attention on Beelzebub, you can have a real attention in life. You didn't know this secret. In Beelzebub there is everything, I have said it, even how to make an omelet. Among other things, it is explained; and at the same time there isn't a word in Beelzebub about cooking. So, you put your attention on Beelzebub, another attention than that to which you are accustomed, and you will be able to have the same attention in life.

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