194 - The United States of Islam
From a young age, Frank was fascinated by maps and atlases, and the stories they contained. Finding his birthplace on the map in the endpapers of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings only increased his interest in the mystery and message of maps.
While pursuing a career in journalism, Frank started a blog called Strange Maps, as a repository for the weird and wonderful cartography he found hidden in books, posing as everyday objects and (of course) floating around the Internet.
"Each map tells a story, but the stories told by your standard atlas for school or reference are limited and literal: they show only the most practical side of the world, its geography and its political divisions. Strange Maps aims to collect and comment on maps that do everything but that - maps that show the world from a different angle".
A remit that wide allows for a steady, varied diet of maps: Frank has been writing about strange maps since 2006, published a book on the subject in 2009 and joined Big Think in 2010. Readers send in new material daily, and he keeps bumping in to cartography that is delightfully obscure, amazingly beautiful, shockingly partisan, and more.
For a brief window of time after the fall of communism, it really seemed that the world was at the ‘end of history‘. That phrase was coined by Francis Fukuyama, and also was the title of the book in which the American philosopher explained that the fall of the Berlin Wall signified the final victory of liberal democracy. The sole remaining ideology would go on to ‘conquer’ the rest of the world.
Fukuyama’s (essentially Hegelian) view of a dialectic progression towards political perfection has at least one thing wrong with it: to paraphrase Elbert Hubbart’s famous quote on life itself, history is “just one damned thing after another”. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 in 2001 were the start of another chapter of history, one that some perceive as a struggle for global dominance between the west and the east (not a communist, but an Islamic east this time).
That’s not how the governments of west (or east) describe the current ‘War on Terror‘, but it’s clear that extremists on both sides believe the current nastiness to be a ‘clash of civilisations’ (to quote another book title, this one by Samuel Huntingdon) – or wish that it were so, and help the conflict conflagrate by provoking the ‘other’ side. This might explain why this map seems to pop up on websites critical of Islam, even though it seems to originate from an Islamic organisation.
The map purports to show a plan for Islamic world dominance. Entitled ‘The Map of the United States of Islam’ – The Dream of 20th Century Muslims Will Be Real In 21st Century.’ That dream, for some Muslims, is the political unity of all Muslims in a religious state called the Caliphate, with the Caliph combining supreme spiritual and temporal powers, as it was in the early days of Islam. The map shows the countries and areas to be included in such a Caliphate in green, mainly, and surrounded by a black line. The list mentions these countries:
Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Chechnya, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Yemen.
The list is problematic, as it contains countries mainly non-Islamic, such as Uganda or Armenia, or containing significantly non-Islamic territories, such as Sudan or Nigeria. The Caliphate’s territory on the map is larger than the countries listed above, which again raises some issues:
• it includes the eastern part of China, not only the mainly Islamic area of Xinjiang (East Turkestan), but also Tibet, which is predominantly Buddhist. • Some areas in central Russia are added, indeed inhabited by Tatars and other traditionally Islamic peoples – but also by many others. • India, which has a large Muslim population of over 100 million, nevertheless is mainly Hindu.
Strangely, some majority Muslim countries are left out of the Caliphate, notably: • Albania • Malaysia • Indonesia • Bangladesh
The map specifies that the capital of the Caliphate would be ‘Saudi Arabia’, its head of state the ‘Khalifa’ (Caliph), the currency the Islamic dinar and the law the Quran and the ‘hadees’ (hadith). “The result”, it says, would be “all resources available in Islamic states:” • strongest army in the world; • strongest currency in the world; • largest country in the world; • atomic & super power country; • Europe & US can not seize assets in future of Muslim Ummah; • the heart of globe in Muslim hand; • half population of world in Islamic state.
The smaller world map in the bottom right hand corner paints picture of a world where the issues raised above no longer apply: after 100 years, the whole world is coloured green, the colour of Islam, including the by then aptly named Arctic island of Greenland. It is somewhat ironic that the map name and some of the attributes of the Islamic superstate clearly refer to the ‘Great Satan’ itself, the United States – an enemy and an example…
The map refers to an organisation called the World Islamic Mission, which is a real organisation, although its website at first glance doesn’t include this map (which was taken here from the anti-Islamic site savecivilization.org).
The map was suggested to me by several readers, including Ilya Vinarsky, James Cambias and Bruno De Cordier, who remarks: “It’s unclear whether this map is a joke or the dream of some muslims.”
A new AI-produced commercial from Lexus shows how AI might be particularly suited for the advertising industry.
- The commercial was written by IBM's Watson. It was acted and directed by humans.
- Lexus says humans played a minimal part in influencing Watson, in terms of the writing.
- Advertising, with its clearly defined goals and troves of data, seems like one creative field in which AI would prove particularly useful.
A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.
- A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
- This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
- The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
Then again, maybe the study is fake news too.
- Recent research challenged study participants to pick real news headlines from fake ones.
- The results showed that people prone to delusional thinking, religious fundamentalists, and dogmatists tended to believe all news, regardless of plausibility.
- What can you do to protect yourself and others from fake news?
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