I was hoping to highlight the appearance of Mr. Ibrahim Sharif on Alhurra satellite channel last night. The head of NDAS (or wa3ad as it is now called) was the closest an opposition figure came to arguing the case, forthrightly, non circuitously, and convincingly. A very good performance by all accounts. If you were an opposition sympathizer, you may have gone to bed feeling unusually refreshed. But then, a story in the morning paper taketh what a TV program giveth: The inauguration of the Ibn Taymia Mosque in East Riffa. I'm not sure whether this is a new or expanded mosque, which can now accommodate 1400 worshippers. But it is the name rather than the capacity that turns heads here. Shaykh al-Islam crossing the causeway to install in the land of Shaykh Maytham? ( both were near contemporaries, Kamal Al-Din Maytham Al-Bahrani died 679 AH, while Taqqi Al-Din Ahmed Bin Taymia Al-Harrani died 728 AH). No small feat, although very low key. A story which should have been celebrated in the manner that greeted the opening of the first Macdonald in Beijing or Moscow, was buried in Page 4 of two papers. A new way of life coming to town. A new cultural frontier marching forward, or backward. There is more to the matter than a different taste in names here. Widely flashed these days is Assad's threat to “break Lebanon on the heads of Hariri and Junblatt". Ibn Taymia was the jurist widely credited with breaking the legal and theological skies over Shia heads. Say you are an imaginary embattled leader with imaginary political foes who happen to be one/group/majority of shias, and you need immediate spiritual cash to deal with the situation, where do you turn to? His bank of fatwas (and ITM’s) is at your service 24/7. "The Shia's are more infidel than Jews or Christians. Their harms is far greater". "No Shia is free of a strand of treachery". "If Jews were to rule in Iraq, you will find Shias to be their first servants". All valid, binding, non-expiring immunity-shredders coming to you courtesy of one of the foremost, most prominent, unadulterated authority of all-time Islam. Who can do without it.
May be one is reading too much of it, or may be it is a harbinger of more things to come, a logical extension of the need to replace wishy-washy legal school with razor-sharp theology that puts your adversaries on the defensive, or lay sacred siege around them, one and all. It may not be taught at your favourite prestigious cadet academy, but it does not escape the strategic minds of this land, who are certainly more brilliant then their opposition counterparts.