Ayatollah Mohseni dead, serious rumors from Kabul

A cartoon of Mohseni by Bashir Bakhtiari.

Some rumors, or khabar-haye sar chawk, from Kabul say that Ayatollah Asif Mohseni has died in a hospital in Iran. It’s not officially confirmed yet, but I have heard the news from credible sources.

Mr. Mohseni was a very notorious Shia mulla from Kandahar who gained international attention with the 2009 Shia Family Law controversy. He and his circle in Khatam al-Nabiyeen Seminary drafted the bill which, among other things, proposed the legalization of domestic sexual violence against women. It was no surprise for those who knew him, as he himself married his second wife, a young Hazara girl of 18, by force while he was about 70 years old. He ordered the murder of her brother to prevent any revenge.

Mohseni’s status as a clergyman gave him some influence over the Shia communities in Afghanistan. Because of his close ties with Iran, the Sayed Shia community in particular followed his religious and political agenda. Contrary to what is believed, he was not a Hazara, but a very vocal anti-Hazara person. He was Baloch by ethnicity.

He also led a party during the jihad and civil war years called Harakt Islami. His party was in great rivalry with Abdul-Ali Mazari’s Wahdat party which is the largest Hazara political organization in Afghanistan. These two parties fought against each other to the extents where Mr. Mohseni issued a fitwa for killing of Mazarai. His anti-Hazara activities during the war and after that made him a treacherous figure among the Hazara people. There are evidences that he even cooperated with Sayyaf and Ahmad Shah Massoud in the Afshar massacre in 1993.

The Hazara intellectuals call him Shaikh-e shatan (“the devil mulla”). Not only in his political and military activities he deceived and cheated on Hazaras, but also after 2001, when he said he wanted to concentrate on his religious studies. He built a huge Madrasa in West Kabul on 17 jiribs of land grabbed during the jihad years from the properties of the ministry of interior. The Madrasa’s architecture, as well as its builders and the fund came from Iran. He then established a TV called Tamadon. The TV’s top officials, according to my former classmates who work there, are all Iranians.  Tamadon is a sister TV of Al-munar (in Lebanon) and Al-furat (in Iraq) both funded by Iran. Aytollah Mohseni appeared regularly on his TV for denouncing the “absurd” western civilization and promoting the Iranian agenda.  He was a very clever populist who knew how to talk to and cheat on the religious masses. He was a walking bag of lie, deception, treachery and hypocrisy.

Even after his death, he keeps deceiving the people. According to my sources, he has died two days ago but his family (and Iranians) wants to break the news a week later on 10th of Muharram on the sacred day of Ashura. So they could make great TV programs about how good this man was who died on the same day that the prophet’s grandchild was murdered in Karbala. This news would definitely make the Satan look like a saint.

If the news of his death turned out to be true, have no doubt that world will be a better place without him.

Update:
He is ALIVE!

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“For what sin was she created?”

A Hazara woman in Central Afghanistan. Photo: urozgan.org

“For what sin was she killed?” (Al-Takwir: 9)

This is a popular verse in Quran that Muslim preachers and orators use a lot in  mourning ceremonies of Martyrs. In particular, the Shias use it during Moharram days when they commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the prophet’s grandson in 680 AD.

This verse is part of the  Al-Takwir (the overthrowing) Sura, where God describes the Judgement Day and apocalypse. The Sura goes like this:

When the sun is wrapped up [in darkness]. And when the stars fall, dispersing. And when the mountains are removed. And when full-term she-camels are neglected. And when the wild beasts are gathered. And when the seas are filled with flame. And when the souls are paired. And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked. For what sin was she killed.  And when the pages are made public. And when the sky is stripped away. …………………. (The full text here).

The verse in question is one of the rare examples where God turns feminist and criticizes the long-established Arab tradition of burying the female children alive right after they were born. This tradition which had roots in tribal honor was demolished when the Arabs converted to Islam (however, still in many Muslim countries in the world, including Afghanistan, it’s a shame for a man if his wife gives birth to a girl – although they don’t bury the babies anymore).

Asad Buda, a writer in Kabul has written a lyrical short piece about his mother and rest of Afghan mothers, inspired by the above picture which shows a white-haired woman in central Afghanistan carrying a large load of plants on her back. The woman’s face is wrinkled, her body is bent, her cloths are old and dirty, she is exhausted of walking the long mountain road and will be even more exhausted until she arrives home. This is her entire life suffering in misery, poverty and isolation until the day she dies. Buda has altered that Quranic verse and asks: “For what sin was she created?” His question is addressed to God who should give an answer on Judgement Day to many millions of Afghan women. Only if that day ever comes.

Afghan joke 3

It was Ramadan in Kabul and a man was eating a piece of bread on street. A police officer arrested him for not fasting and brought him to a judge. He found the judge in his office eating Kebab.

The judge looked at the policeman: “What’s up officer?”

“Nothing sir, I found this man on street eating a piece of dry bread, I brought him here to get some Kebab”!

Giving Khayyam a chance

This is cherry juice ;) ... Kabul/Fall 2010

The following verses are sang in every Afghan wedding with the melancholic melody of ahesta boro (“go slowly”) song. The poem is that of Omar Khayyam (1048-1131) the celebrated Persian poet of earthly pleasures.

And sour or sweet, why fuss since life shall fly,
At Balkh or Baghdad – why care where we die?
Drink wine, for silv’ry Moon will keep its beat
From full to new long after you and I.

— Khayyam (Saidi, translator)

In the same wedding night, a mulla also gives  a religious speech prohibiting the things that Khayyams’ poetry suggests. Which one should we listen to? We have been listening to mulla’s for far too long and this is what we got, I think it is time to give Khayyam a chance as well. Or it isn’t?

The code for pimps?

An interesting report in WSJ about a new urban myth in Kabul city: the number 39.

When I was in Herat city, the number 39 was notoriously believed to be the code for pimps. No one wanted to have it on his car license plate, cell phone or even age. If you asked someone “how old are you?” he would say “around 40” or “1 year less than 40” if it was in the passport office. Sometimes people used 38+1 instead of 39 when had no other choice. In 2004 when I came to Kabul I didn’t notice this attitude towards 39, and I was so happy to see Kabulis were not superstitious like Heratis who probably imported this odd idea from Iran.

But last year when I went to Kabul, a friend of mine who is a car dealer told me that the 39 thing has arrived from Herat to Kabul as well, and now no one buys cars with a 39 on its license plate. He told me stories about a guy who resisted the sweeping urban myth and said it was bullshit, but after a month he begged him to “melt” his car.

The number 420 is also a nationally recognized bad number in Afghanistan which means a dishonest and villain person. People use it to tease each other, to curse, or in Panjshir to compliment! (However I’ve noticed that in Canada the number 420 has a better reputation ;)

There is an ancient Islamic science of numbers known as Abjad, in which each alphabet letter is coded with one number and then instead of using a certain number you use a word, a phrase or a verse of poetry to express something.  Most of the classical biographers used a poem to say an important date. Even some old grave stones have a poem instead of the exact date of the death of the person. Probably they believed it was easier to memorize a poem than a number.

Even today some Abjad numbers are widely and respectfully used in all Muslim countries like the number 786. Muslims usually begin a speech or any writing piece such as a letter with “In the name of Allah the most compassionate the most merciful” which is the first verse of Kuran. Since a piece of paper bearing the holy name might be unintentionally disrespected by throwing, burning or  smashing, so the people instead started to use 785 which is the Abjad number for that verse.

I am not sure if 39 has an Abjad basis as well, but to me it seems very ridiculous. The notion of “pimp” in Afghanistan had already been covered with myths. One was the vague Dari term we use for pimp: mordah gaw, which literally means “caw dead” or “someone whose caw is dead”. We don’t have any other equivalent for pimp in Dari; Iranians use other words for it. I have always been wondering what kind of connection there might have been between a pimp and a dead caw? This is even more bizarre than the connection between a pimp and the number 39.