Winter and the Future Moon
Thursday gratefuls: Alan is back from the Bahamas. Our regular breakfasts. Rabbi Jamie’s clear explanation about Judaism as a vehicle for mystical consciousness. Our Thursday afternoon mussar class. A lot of good friends in that one. MVP tonight. Friends there, too.
Got the new vegetable chopper. Ready for the next round of Israeli salad or pico de gallo.
I’m on episode 73 out of the 80 in the final season of Resurrection: Ertugrul. That means I’ve watched a whole lot of episodes. I’ve enjoyed the storylines, the immersion in an imagined Turkic tribal culture, and the sets, costumes. Are the plot holes in it big enough to swing a sword through without hitting anything? Oh, yeah. Is some of it melodramatic? Hmm. Yes. But as a story of a people committed to a cause, suffering for it, and succeeding, a good one.
Read a NYT article yesterday about M.B.Z., Mohammed bin-Zayed, ruler of the United Arab Emirates. His father, Zayed, was a pluralist and a believer in a tolerant, peaceful Islam. He opposed Islamists of all stripes. Mohammed, after a flirtation with Islamists, experienced 9/11 and converted to his father’s opinion.
MBZ sounds like a contemporary Erugrul. He has a particular perspective on Islam and has put his Emirates resources behind it. He fought the Islamists in the UAE, finding those who collabarated with bin Laden, three of the attackers were Emiratis. He had 200 Emiratis arrested and about 1,600 hundred foreigners.
He has lifted up women and the poor. He has fought in other nations for a more tolerant form of Islam. His troops are in Libya right now and have been a major force in Yemen.
Though the Saudi state is, as the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said, “…the mother and father of political Islam.”, MBZ mentors MBS, Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince accused of ordering Khashoggi’s death. MBZ wants to temper the Wahhabi stream of Islam, the one married to the founding of the Saudi state and radical in its political ideas. Wahhabi funded madrasa around the Middle East and elsewhere in the Islamic world spread its violent propensities.
Resurrection: Ertugrul showcases the Islamic love of a strong leader, a Prophet, a Caliph, an Emperor who loves his people and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe and prosperous. MBZ, like Ertugrul, has an affiliation for Sufi’s and is a Sunni.
Americans, as democrats (small d) and individualists, children of the Enlightenment, will find both Ertugrul and MBZ, and MBS for that matter, suffocating. Like the clan chieftain he was Ertugrul relied on the leaders of his tribe, beys, for authority in decision making. They met in council and debated issues before the Bey, bey of the whole Kayi tribe, Ertugrul in the later episodes, made a final decision.
The councils were advisory, though. The Bey’s decision was the one that mattered. Same with MBZ and MBS. There’s a lot paternalism and patriarchy running through Resurrection: Ertugrul and the worlds of MBZ and MBS.
Autocrats. Much like Egypt, Syria, Iran. Erdogan in Turkey. Some benevolent. Some not. I suspect much of Resurrection comes from contemporary fantasies for a return to the noble Caliphate of Harun al-Rashid. It certainly glorifies the mujaheddin, the warrior of jihad, of Allah’s Holy War. And it glorifies the strong central authority figure, Ertugrul. It could be seen as propaganda for Islamist extremists though I don’t believe that’s its intent.
I’ll miss the antics of Bamsi, the ax of Turgut, the strong swordarm and wisdom of Ertugrul. Finishing this week. Wow.