How war is changing Iraqi names

How we name our children is informed by our community and our sense of history, isn’t it? I mean, at least it can be. We might name our children after older family members, or after a particularly admired figure from the past; even naming our kids after ourselves is meant for posterity, although saddling a… Continue reading How war is changing Iraqi names

Islamic History, part 28: Islamic legal terms

Islamic History Series If I listed all the caveats I should list about this episode of our series, this post would be nothing but caveats. Suffice it to say that there are lots of people who spend their entire lives pursuing a study of Law, and lots of people who spend their entire lives pursuing… Continue reading Islamic History, part 28: Islamic legal terms

About that “Shiʿa Crescent”…

Way back in 2004, King Abdullah of Jordan told Chris Matthews, for some reason, that Sunni governments in the Middle East were askeert about the growing power of Iranian-backed Shiʿa movements in the region, despite the fact that Sunnis constitute about 60% of all Muslims in the Middle East and 90% of all Muslims around… Continue reading About that “Shiʿa Crescent”…

One step back

Ramadi, capital of Iraq’s Anbar Province, finally appears to be falling to ISIS: IS “now occupies the government centre in Ramadi and has also raised its flag over the police HQ for Anbar”, a police major told the AFP news agency. The militant group itself issued a statement confirming it had taken control of the… Continue reading One step back

How sectarianism matters and how it doesn’t

I wanted to flag this piece in the Washington Post from a week and a half ago because I think it’s always important to counter the notion that Islamic sectarianism is all you need to know to explain the current situation in the Middle East. It’s written by Nick Danforth, a grad student at Georgetown,… Continue reading How sectarianism matters and how it doesn’t

Iraq (and Iran) are screwing up the fight against ISIS

A couple of weeks ago some enterprising “US official” declared that plans were in place for an Iraqi force to attempt to push ISIS out of Mosul in “April or May.” This seemed like a pretty odd way to go about your business in a time of war. For one thing, no sooner had the… Continue reading Iraq (and Iran) are screwing up the fight against ISIS

Deadly ISIS attack on Baghdad during Shiʿa holiday

Today is Eid al-Ghadir (or Eid al-Ghadeer if you prefer), a Shiʿa festival commemorating Muhammad’s final sermon, delivered at a place called Ghadir al-Khumm in 632. During this sermon, Muhammad is said to have told the thousands of people assembled that “Of whomsoever I have been mawla, Ali [Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law] is also to… Continue reading Deadly ISIS attack on Baghdad during Shiʿa holiday