Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Forty & Seventy.

This is coolbert:

Thanks to Al Nofi of StrategyPage CIC for the original tip to this subject matter.

This regards the Battle of Bassorah. An engagement of the Islamic Civil Wars following the death of Muhammad. Occurred in the year 655 A.D.

The Lady Aisha, the favorite wife and then widow of the Prophet, led an insurgent army into what is now Iraq, contesting the succession of the Caliphate [the Islamic ruler after Muhammad].

"The Battle of Bassorah, Battle of the Camel, or Battle of Jamal is a battle that took place at Basra, Iraq in 655 between forces allied to Caliph Ali and the superior forces of rebel Arabs allied to Aisha who opposed Ali's status as Caliph."

Bassorah turned out to be a disaster for the insurgent army led by Aisha.


Aisha, riding a litter atop a favorite camel, [this camel had a name, "It was named Al-Askar and was specially presented for Aisha's personal use."] found herself in great peril.

"Attacked fiercely from all around, she from within her litter, held the Quran and cried out, "stop fighting, in the name of Allah." The words ran through the retiring ranks, that "the Mother of the Faithful was in peril," and they stayed their flight to rescue her. Long the conflict raged around the camel. One after another warriors rushed to seize her standard; one after another they were cut down."

[this would be the most dangerous place on the battlefield. Carrying and protecting a standard was a place of honor and great danger. Capturing an enemy standard brought with it great glory.]

[Thomas Custer, the younger brother of the famous George Armstrong Custer, twice won the Medal of Honor in the American Civil War, on one occasion for capturing single handedly a Confederate flag. Such is the nature of capturing an enemy "standard".]

While holding the bridle of Aisha's camel, a great number of loyal followers met their end.

"Of Quraish is the Meccan tribe that the Islamic prophet Muhammad belonged to before he received the revelations of Islam.], 70 perished by the bridle. At last, Ali, perceiving that her camel was the rallying-point of the enemy, sent one of his captains to hamstring, and thus disable it. With a loud cry the animal fell to the ground. The struggle ceased and the insurgents retired into the city."

We must be skeptical in this case of the number seventy [the number of loyal followers killed while holding the bridle of Aisha].

Seventy can be considered to be symbolic. NOT a real number of warriors holding the bridle of Aisha at Bassorah.

Bassorah was a real battle, not a fictional narrative with the exception of the seventy warriors dying while holding the bridle of Aisha.

From other Islamic sources regarding the number seventy:

"‘We knew beforehand that you used to say this.’ Then his grave will be widened for him to a size of seventy cubits by seventy cubits and it will be illuminated for him."

"seventy thousand ropes, each of which will be pulled by seventy thousand angels." (Reported by Muslim, no. 2842)."

"Seize ye him, and bind ye him, And burn ye him in the Blazing Fire. Further, make him march in a chain, whereof the length is seventy cubits!"

"According to the Mohammedan authority, Syed Ahmed Khan, Mohammed was the seventieth descendant of Ishmael through his second son, Kedar. In the Word of God [the Word of GOD in this sense includes the Old and New Testament as well as the Koran], certain numbers carry significance; and among them is this number, seventy. Seventy is a composite number, consisting of the product of seven and ten. Seven is the number of perfect or dispensational fullness, while ten is the number of worldly completion."

In the modern appreciation, along with seventy two [72] black eyed virgins to be supplied in paradise to the one who is a martyr in the way of Islam, seventy [70] close relatives will also be given special dispensation for entry into Heaven. So the martyr for Islam is told and believes prior to his death.

Aisha, even in defeat, as the head of the insurgent army, was treated with great respect.

"The best house in Basra was given up to her and there she was waited on by her own adherents. Not long after, she left with a retinue of 40 maids"

Again, we can be suspect of the number forty [forty maids]. Forty in scripture is also a number of great significance. Indicates the end of one era and the beginning of a new age!!

The use of the number forty as the number of female attendants can also be seen as symbolic. One era has ended, another has begun!!



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