Archive for the ‘Islam’ Category

I have always been the patriotic sort, I love my home, my Englishness. I have worn and adorned my motorcycle with the cross of St George, the flag of England. My daughter challenged me, ‘Why have you got a racist flag on your bike?’

I explained patiently that the cross is more than an emblem of English thugishness, that it was the proud declaration of English heritage, Henry V and all that. Empire and two world wars, well maybe these are examples of English Thugishness in themselves. Scientific achievements, Art and great engineering. The flag was something to be proud of. 

I have now succumbed. After the Euro 2016 debacle, the Brexit vote which took all Englishness away from the emblem. Let me explain why.

In about 8000 BC Mesolithic hunter gatherers walked from Europe across the land bridge of Doggerland. The ice continued to melt eventually stranding the continental tribes people in what has become Britain. It seems, so far as has thus been proved via archaeology, that there was no settled population at the time of the severing of physical links with the continent. So, forgetting the evidence that every single one of us come from Africa, more recently we were all sausage eaters, garlic crunchers or whatever other disrespectful epithet comes to mind.

I am also aware of the arrival of the ‘Beaker People’ in these Islands. One, the Amesbury Archer, at least was so well thought of by ‘locals’ that they buried him close to Stonehenge. Another foreigner accepted by these Islands, and respected.
‘The latest tests on the Amesbury Archer, whose grave astonished archaeologists last year with the richness of its contents, show he was originally from the Alps region, probably Switzerland, Austria or Germany. The tests also show that the gold hair tresses found in the grave are the earliest gold objects found in Britain.’ (Wessex Archaeology Online)

In the years around 75 BC it seems that my home county was taken over by the Atrebates, a tribe of Celtic and German stock arriving from the continent.

55BC the first Roman Invasion, which would have undertaken by peoples from across the Roman Empire as soldiers, tradesmen, slaves, families and visitors. At this time the DNA of Britain must have contained traces of every other country in the then known world. 

Just after the end of the first Roman incursion a Celtic tribe, the Regnenses arrived on these shores under the leadership of Commius. His grandson Cogidubnus is probably the person who had the Palace at Fishbourne built and was an ally of Rome and welcomed them for the second ‘Invasion’.

Fishbourne Palace

Following the departure of Rome for the second time, the Picts became a problem, the Angles and Saxons were invited to settle and assist the country. There appears to have been no violent takeover by the Angles and Saxons, more a peaceful co-existence and development of a merging culture.

Then Vikings, Danes and ultimately French Normans (who were Vikings really). 

By 1066 therefore this country could not claim to be made up of one peoples. Truly the British were mongrels. A mix of stock from across Europe, the Mediterranean and beyond.

Further waves of French, Dutch then arrived with others from Europe. The Romani originiating in South Asia arrived in the 16th Century.

Peoples of the Indian sub continent began arriving as a result of the exploitation of the East India Company (founded in 1600). Many of those arriving from India way settled and took local wives. The first London Indian Restaurant was founded in 1810 by Sake Dean Mahomed a captain of the East India Company. His restaurant was called the Hindoostane Coffee House and he is also credited as the person introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to Britain.

Sake Dean Mohamed

The 18th Century saw the continued migration of peoples to and from the UK. Africans, Indians and others. Following the war of independence 1100 black loyalist soldiers came to Britain, they were badly treated by those they had fought to protect / assist.

‘Thomas Peters: slave, millwright, soldier…and politician. His voyage from slavery to freedom began when he was kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery; at the onset of the American revolution, he seized the opportunity to reclaim his freedom fighting with British forces. A talented craftsman, he became a leader of men on the fields of battle. The war’s conclusion found him traveling once again, hoping to redeem the British promise of freedom in Nova Scotia. In the 1780s and 1790s, the former sergeant found himself fighting in unfamiliar territory: the world of British politics. From New Brunswick to London, he tirelessly pursued freedom and justice for his community. He would help found the country Sierra Leone.’

The 19th century saw a substantial population of Germans arrive on these shores, then Russian Jews.

I find it strange that a land of mongrels, who in the past have welcomed ‘jonny foreigner’ and provided comfort and succour in times of need, has turned it’s back on the nations of their forefathers. 

So where am I left with my Englishness? I had thought, King Alfred and Wessex, that’s an answer. I will display Alfreds wyvern. I looked on line, the red Dragon is Celtic apparently. There is a discussion in some places as to whether Alfred used a gold or white wyvern. The white wyvern has been taken to the heart of WASPish organisations.

 I am left, I think looking for an emblem used by Commius (was he a red under the bed?) or the flag of Sussex. Of course the golden martletts on a blue field is a relatively new invention having been first used in 1622 by John Speed in his atlas, Theatrum Imperii Maganae Britanniae. 


I watched this documentary, on channel 4

It was very interesting. It tried to discover if Islam was a strong motivator for the rapid expansion of the Arabic empire in the 7 th century. The presenter was seeking evidence of the influence of the prophet, whether the Islamic faith was produced as a complete entity from the outset or whether there was  evidence which was suggestive of its gradual evolution.

Now, I know very little about Islam. I have never studied the texts, although I have read an English translation of the Qur’an.

The television presenter appeared, for the camer I am sure, to be perplexed at the lack of any evidence, save the Qur’an itself.

The various experts interviewed (Western) seem to agree thtraditions an oral tradition. Indeed the presenter spent some time with Bedouin people who shared oral history with him.

The western experts were concerned that the oral tradition could not be verified and it could have been changed or manipulated. There was no written source to verify the existence birthplace or any other historic place reference in the Qur’an. The lack of documents was a problem.

The first visible representation of the Prophet was on a coin. This was the very first record of any kind in a solid form save the holy book itself. I am not so sure that I would be surprised. The Prophet was not in favour of any kind of idolatry. Christians had taken the symbol of Christ on the cross as a symbol of veneration. My understanding is that Alllah is the only God, that he and only he should be worshipped. Mosques do not have likenesses of Allah, nor of any prophet. The representation of any kind of manifestation of Allah would be a blasphemy. I understand that the words of the Qur’an appear among the decoration in a mosque, acceptable as the belief is the word came direct from Allah. Given the strong sense against portraying Allah is it really surprising that no depiction of His prophet can be found. Christ is depicted in every church, his symbol is worn by his followers and icons containing various bits and pieces of saints and items related to Christ and his disciples. This is, in my opinion, a form of idolatry. Is it surprising therefore, that the Prophet and his followers would have ensured that there was no such image of the prophet. The Western historian was frustrated by the lack of clarity over the birthplace of the prophet when viewed from the point of view of a Western historian.

The obfuscation was taken by the presenter as evidence which may or may not point to a developing religeon rather than the fully developed code in which Muslims believe. However, in my view, that obfuscation may be a clue to the truth of the claim of Islamic scholars. Forget religeon for a moment. Any figure of historical significance is hijacked by financial interests, as are mythological beings. In prehistory, we know there was some form of female goddess due to the stone carvings we have found. An idolatrous image? The are places of pilgrimage to Thomas A Beckett, the Tolpuddle martyrs have been used to generate income and provide political propaganda. Guido Fawkes beliefs have been hijacked he has been vilified and pilloried. His image is, though, well known. Boudicca is also well known and we also know how false the image of her on the embankment.

It is entirely understandable that a nomadic people with a strong oral tradition who do not have permanent structures or perhaps very few, with an abhorrence of false images would not want their belief system corrupted by idolatry. Their faith carried in their Holy book, coupled with their oral tradition, or am I mad?