From the ancient Chinese philosophical principle of “Yin-Yang” we learn that everything has its positive and negative aspect. Electricity, and therefore the reading of this article, wouldn’t be possible without the positive and negative poles.
You don’t need much investigation to perceive the negative side of mankind. Just a quick look in the world news gives us a very dark diagnosis about it. In other words, what’s bad about mankind is really bad. However, although not very much announced, what’s good about mankind is really good. I still choke every time I remember reading about this American teenager that had cancer and had to shave his head. His classmates decided that the whole class should do the same. What a beautiful demonstration of solidarity! I’m sure the event was not as much covered than the beheadings of the Islamic State. “A falling tree makes more noise than a growing forest.” That’s a very disappointing truth.
I honestly believe that the so-called “superiority” of our species it’s very relative. Genesis (1:27), states that God created human beings in His own image. That would easily explain the magnificent capacity we have to think and create amazing things. To find the cure of diseases and to put men on the surface of the moon. But also our “capacity” of stupidly destroying our planet, our very own habitat, compromising the future of our offspring reflects more a virus’ than a deity’s behavior.
But truly, what’s the problem with mankind?
In one word? Ignorance. We are ignorant. We don’t think long term. We cannot see, beyond our ego and interests, the big picture. We are not capable of comprehending the interdependence of the Universe. Meaning, we don’t ponder that by harming our fellow beings (human or not), we are harming ourselves.
I know, that may sound like Pope Francis’ last speech or something taken from a Dalai Lama’s self-help book. But it can be easily proven in practice. I’m openly in favor of capitalism. However, I truly believe we are facing an extreme situation regarding the wealth distribution in the whole world. Am I a communist? Never! But you can see in cities like Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, how amazingly dangerous a bad wealth distribution can be.
There you have the rich people living in “cages”, highly luxuriant apartments inside fortresses with electrified barbwire fences and 24/7 heavily armed security. Those people cannot enjoy a nice drive by the lovely beaches on their expensive cars with their windows down. They cannot freely smell the sea breeze without risking being robbed or even worse, kidnapped. Since it’s very common for the drug dealers exchange bullets anytime of the day, their cars must be – no matter what – bulletproof.
Then, comes a reflection: what’s the use of having so much money if they cannot enjoy it?
Unfortunately, that sad reality won’t take much time to reach the United States and Europe. There’s nothing wrong about having money and nice things but we are losing the common sense, we are losing the balance. There’s not much difference between the life of a multimillionaire and of a billionaire. They both can afford the best homes, the best cars and the best lifestyle. But greed and ignorance makes them want more and more, usually not enjoying the money they already have because they spend so much time working for more.
The same with the environment. Regardless of the debate of if global warming is made by men or not, what’s the problem of living a most responsible life? A more conscious life about the planet we live in?
I always say that we have to change our mindset. We have to understand, once for all, that we are the janitors of this planet, not the landlords!
We are responsible for our fellow beings. There’s no true happiness if that’s based on somebody else’s suffering. Harmony is the word! Let’s find it! Instead of being radical right or radical left, let’s find the middle way! How can a rich person still be rich but being aware of the suffering of others and the well-being of the planet?
Adapting the famous speech by American president Bill Clinton, I honestly believe that there is nothing wrong with mankind that cannot be cured with what is right in mankind. So help us God!
His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Otto von Habsburg (20 November 1912 – 4 July 2011), also known by his royal name as Archduke Otto of Austria, was the last Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary. The realm comprised modern-day Austria, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, and parts of Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Ukraine. He became the pretender to the former thrones, Head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine, and Sovereign of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1922, upon the death of his father. The current head of the House (since 2007) is his son, His Imperial and Royal Highness Archduke Karl Habsburg-Lothringen (born in 1961). HIRH Archduke Otto left us in 2011.
Both videos presented here, show the wisdom of a Catholic prince that sees beyond the labels. And sees the greater good with the eyes of a scholar and a real statesman. May we “drink” from the elixir of his wisdom.
Unfortunately, the historical cover up is seen in many forms written by the historians that consciously or unconsciously emanate prejudice on ink.
Using the Ghassanids as an example, instead of portraying them as the very evolved, tolerant and educated society that they were, bearing a royal tradition from biblical times, brought to Ghassan (present Syria) from Sheba, in Yemen; authors rather use the term “tribe” in a pejorative fashion. According to serious dictionaries, “tribe” means a group of people that has the same language, beliefs, customs and interests. However, those historians use the term “tribe” in a sense of indigenous, primitive and insignificant.
“Despite their physical isolation, the southern Arabs were as technically and socially advanced as any other people in the Ancient World.”
– Sitwell, p82.
They use the term “client” or “vassal” state, again to denote a lack of sovereignty that didn’t exist according to the original historical accounts, even the most bias against Ghassan like historian Procopius.
The Ghassanids respected the emperor and performed a service, for which they were paid with the called “salaria” or salary, to protect the northern Arabian Peninsula, including the Holy land, from the attack of the barbarians and nomads.
Instead of calling the Ghassanid kings as such, even though there are hard evidence corroborating with such assertion – they were known as “Malik” or “King” in Arab since their first appearance in today’s Syria in the 3rd century AD. The kings’ sons and daughters were called “Amir” (prince) and “Amira” (princess) and the local leaders were called “sheiks”. The prejudiced historians, preferred to call the kings as “Phylarchs”, a Byzantine sovereign title, which was additional and not a substitute to the kings of Ghassan. And even after 529 AD when the Byzantine emperor Justinian I bestowed upon the already Ghassanid King Al-Harith (Arethas) the Imperial title (Basileia) of “King of All Arabs” and also what’s known as the “Archyphylarchia” or the supreme sovereignty over all the princes and sheiks of the peninsula, the historians prefer to treat the mighty Kings – which according to several authors used to meet with the Byzantine emperors on equal grounds, as “comrades in arms”- as mere chieftains, tribal primitive rulers. So, the Byzantine emperor Justin II named his only daughter as “Arabia” just to please the “mere” primitive illiterate chieftain? It’s not likely. The most powerful man on earth at the time wouldn’t have to please a simple tribesman.
Many historians “burble in anxiety” to determine the end of Ghassan after the Islamic conquest, ignoring the well-known fact that many rulers – even Islamic – like the Rasulid sultans and the Burj Mameluks – in a counterproductive statement to a Muslim – claimed to be Ghassanid royal heirs 800 years after the fall of the first kingdom.
So, the history told by those pseudo-historians makes no sense and the light of the truth has to inundate the dry mind of ignorance of those irresponsible authors. Either by intention or negligence, someone has to silence their deceitful voice.
Can we have real democracy? The majority really rules in a democracy? Is democracy just an utopia?
At this point I’ll imitate the mighty Morpheus, the character of the movie “Matrix”, and offer you one of the two pills: the red one, you should stop reading, at once. The green one, you’ll know the truth.
Assuming that you’ve chosen the green pill:
In practice, there’s no such thing as democracy. Especially, for a people that is not politicized, educated and used to the system.
What we see is an illusion. Usually, we misplace the word “democracy” by the word “freedom”.
One of the most important aspects of Muslim Arab politics is the difference of concepts. In the West, Democracy is (or should be) ‘the government of the people, by the people, for the people’.
Personally, I believe that what we call Democracy is the ideal form of government; however, it doesn’t work for every situation and culture. It’s more dangerous to have a bad democracy than a good dictatorship. Plato agrees with me. Well, I can explain. If a democracy is based on the deception of voters, it’s a bad democracy. In some 3rd world countries like Brazil, a candidate can easily buy a vote today by giving the voter a t-shirt and a pair of flip-flops.
Even the multi-party system can be a deception since it’s not rare in the world having politicians from opposite idealistic sides making collusions to achieve personal and political favors.
“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”
That principle can be easily verified in a very developed democracy, the United States. During the process of primaries to choose the candidate to run, for example, for the Presidency, all kinds of low attacks are made between the candidates. After the official candidate is appointed, they’re all best friends again and, usually, they’re part of each other’s administrations.
Back to the Middle East, since the very beginning, Islam was always associated with secular power; therefore, a purely secular Arab state sounds a little utopic after the Pan Arabism idea started to fade in the 60’s, although the separation of church and state in the region is around 300 years old.
According to Muslim politics, the sovereignty doesn’t belong to people but to God. That’s also conflicting with the monarchical hereditary regime, according to some scholars.
Professor Bernard Lewis said that we’ve this feeling in the West that Democracy is the natural and normal condition in humanity and any departure from it is “either a disease to be cured or a crime to be punished”. I agree with him, democracy is not for everyone. But freedom definitely is.
Nobody can deny that the called “Arab Spring” in 2011 was a hope of “winds of change”. However, the people’s mindset makes us believe that nothing significant will change. On the contrary, the quest for freedom will bring an unbalance to the region as the fall of Saddam Hussein did in 2003. And that brings us to a “golden rule” to understand the region.
Nothing is “black & white”. Personally, I believe Saddam was a terrible person and tyrannical ruler. His regime was a burden to the Iraqis’ shoulders. No doubt, Iraq without Saddam is better than Iraq with Saddam, right?
In theory yes, however the region went out of balance once Saddam’s regime used to “hold” one of the most important tension’s clusters of the Middle East: the Iran-Iraq.
According with Professor Chaney, from Harvard University:
“Will the Arab Spring lead to long-lasting democratic change? As Islamists perform well in elections across the Arab world, many have begun to predict that the recent uprisings will usher in a wave of Islamist-dominated autocracies instead of the democratic institutions many protestors initially demanded. These observers often point to the political trajectories of non-Arab states such as Iran and implicitly claim that Islamist-dominated states cannot be democratic. Others note that the emergence of democratic regimes in Indonesia and Turkey demonstrates that Islamists can play a constructive role in democratic institutions.” (Democratic Change in the Arab World, Past and Present, Prof. Eric Chaney, March 10, 2012, p.2)
“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
John F. Kennedy
I’m part of the observers that believe that the Arab Spring, although necessary, will bring unbalance to the region, at least in the first decades.
I agree with many things with Professor Chaney, however, I don’t think Turkey is a perfect example of democracy. It’s easy to see, for example, the constant censuring of the internet by the government, cannot be overlooked. Also, the lack of freedom of religion once the Patriarch of Constantinople, leader for the whole Orthodox Christian Church, has encroached over the years his freedom and also his monastery was closed by the government who also dictates the rules of succession in the Church of Constantinople which is, without a single solitary doubt, not their business.
The same with Lebanon, which was created to be a secular country with a Christian majority and now has less than 39% of Christians living there.
It’s very hard to have a real democracy if you have church and State together. A real democracy is not a rule of the majority but a regime where every single group of people is considered and equal.
For example, right after first Egypt’s presidential elections, Time magazine exhibits the following cover (July 9 2012):
“The revolution that wasn’t – Why generals remain Egypt’s real rulers”
Inside (pg. 28), the article written by Jay Newton-Small (Washington) and Abigail Hauslohner (Cairo) starts:
“How military won the Egyptian Election – Mohamed Morsy may be Egypt’s first popular chosen President but a group of 19 generals are still the country’s real rulers”
Clearly, the power has changed hands, however for the people, very little will change. The worst form of dictatorship is the illusion of democracy. People think they’re choosing something but, in the end of the day, they’re just puppets in a pathetic but well-written play. In other words, they’ve no real freedom of choice.
“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
There’s absolutely no precedent of an Arab country that had dethroned a monarchy and got a democracy. Even the countries that started as democratic countries have their impartiality challenged by the Islamic interests.
I’m not against Muslim regimes; I’m against any religious regime. I’m in favor of secular governments with total freedom of religion. If you want to be a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew, etc… God bless you! You should be able to worship with no fear.
To all of this, we can conclude that Democracy is a process, not some “magic trick”, and it’s only effective when the people / voters are relatively educated and politicized.
The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) was may be one of the greatest rulers of all times. He hired a servant with the sole task of walking behind him as he received the accolades of his citizenry; every time the emperor was praised, the servant had been instructed to whisper in his ear, “You’re just a man…” Even being the most powerful man on the planet in his time, he was known as a kind and unpretentious person.
In my humble opinion, a title of nobility is just a label, a beautiful golden label. We’re the product. You can have the most beautiful label in the world but if the product is bad, regardless of the label, it’ll still be bad. Personally, I rather a great product with a simple label (or no label at all) than a bad product with a great label. In the end, the product is what matters.
How could I dare to assume that I’m better than, for example, a fireman that saves lives (risking his own) every day for a minuscule paycheck just because I’ve a title? Nonsense.
The general people misunderstand the concept of Royalty. The sovereign (reigning or not) is the ultimate servant.
Two stories from the Brazilian Empire illustrate exactly my idea of Royalty:
Brazil was an empire from 1822 until 1889. The last emperor was Petrus II “the magnanimous” (1825-1891) known as the “greatest Brazilian”. His life taught me the real meaning of royalty. One day, he was receiving ovation from thousands in a public square and his then small daughter and heir, imperial princess Isabel asked the emperor: “one day they will all be mine?” And he wisely replied: “no dear, one day you will belong to them.”
In 1888, the Princess now an adult and acting as regent, signs the law abolishing slavery in Brazil. She did it even after all the imperial ministers advised her that she’d lose the throne of her father if she signed it, since that was a terrible blow in the Brazilian’s elite back then. After the signing, the Baron of Cotegipe approached the princess and said: “You’ve freed a race but just lost the throne!” And she replied: “If a thousand thrones I’ve had, a thousand thrones I’d give to free the slaves of Brazil!”
That’s the real meaning of royalty to me.
A prince is not noble merely by the legitimacy of his claims but, above all, by his character and by the unconditional love for his people.
A title from a deposed monarchy has little use in our world today. Socially, is more a bother, raising questions and jokes, than actually a privilege. There are better ways to get a good table in a restaurant or to be invited to cool parties.
The reason I’m keeping this tradition is simple: the world is lacking of historical secular advocates for the cause of the Middle Eastern Christians and they’re being exterminated as you read these words. There must be a worldwide enduring peace between Christians and Muslims. Also, because there’s a legacy that has to be preserved and that heritage belongs to over 15 million Ghassanids and descendants all over the world.
My office is important, my person isn’t.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not humble at all. You’ve to be really arrogant to think you can change the world. But I agree with the late Steve Jobs on the quote:
“the ones crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
I hope I’m “insane enough”…
There’s a popular saying which states that the difference between the insane and the genius is measured only by success.
Well, the future will tell…
Now, on a more serious tone, I believe one day, if the persecution of the Middle Eastern Christians stops, also the prejudice for Muslims in the west and the real history of the Middle East can surface being notorious worldwide preserving the Ghassanid heirloom, maybe then will be no need for a Prince of Ghassan. I really hope to live enough to see this day.
The Ghassanid Imperial address is object of interest of the historians, jurists and also people curious about the etymology of dynastic titles
Although not very commented and notorious, the historical information and evidence are very abundant confirming that initially the Ghassanid rulers, even though already Kings by their own right, have received the title of “Basileus” which back in the 6th century CE was the official title of the emperor himself.
About the “Basileus” title:
“Basileus and Megas Basileus were exclusively used by Alexander the Great and his Hellenistic successors in Ptolemaic Egypt, Asia (e.g. the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon and by non-Greek, but Greek-influenced states like the Kingdom of Pontus) and Macedon. The feminine counterpart is basilissa (queen), meaning both a queen regnant (such as Cleopatra VII of Egypt) and a queen consort. It is precisely at this time that the term basileus acquired a fully royal connotation, in stark contrast with the much less sophisticated earlier perceptions of kingship within Greece.”Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), “The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks) 32: 66–67, JSTOR 1291418
“By the 4th century however, basileus was applied in official usage exclusively to the two rulers considered equals to the Roman Emperor: the Sassanid Persian Shahan shah (“king of kings”), and to a far lesser degree the King of Axum, whose importance was rather peripheral in the Byzantine worldview.”Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), “The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks) 32: 35, 42, JSTOR 1291418
“… the title acquired the connotation of “emperor“, and when barbarian kingdoms emerged on the ruins of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century, their rulers were referred to in Greek not as basileus but as rēx or rēgas, the hellenized forms of the Latin title rex, king.”Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991), Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, Oxford University Press, p. 264, ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
“Until the 9th century, the Byzantines reserved the term Basileus among Christian rulers exclusively for their own emperor in Constantinople.”Chrysos, Evangelos K. (1978), “The Title ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΣ in Early Byzantine International Relations”, Dumbarton Oaks Papers (Dumbarton Oaks) 32: 52–57, JSTOR 1291418
Unfortunately, there’s some confusion regarding the early Ghassanid titles. Many authors, for lack of information and interest in study the Ghassanid history in depth, have confused and mixed the numerous Ghassanid titles altogether: “Al-Malik Al-Ghassassinah” (from the Arab “King of the Ghassanids”), “Basileus Araves” (from the Greek “Emperor of all Arabs”), Phylarch, Archphylarch, etc.
Some authors even try to use the term “Chieftain” in the pejorative way. The most common mistake is to call the Ghassanid Kings merely as “Phylarchs”.
“A phylarch (Greek: φύλαρχος, Latin: phylarchus) is a Greek title meaning “ruler of a tribe”, from phyle, “tribe” + archein “to rule”. In Classical Athens, a phylarch was the elected commander of the cavalry provided by each of the city’s ten tribes. In the later Roman Empire of the 4th to 7th centuries, the title was given to the leading princes of the Empire’s Arab allies in the East (essentially the equivalent to “sheikh”), both those settled within the Empire and outside. From ca. 530 to ca. 585, the individual phylarchs were subordinated to a supreme phylarch from the Ghassanid dynasty.”Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. (1991). Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press. p. 1672. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6
Here is also important to make a reference regarding the title “Sheikh”.
Sheikh also transliterated Sheik, Shaik, Shayk, Shaykh, Shaikh, Cheikh, and Shekh— is a noble and honorific title in the Arabic culture. Commonly designates a hereditary ruler of a tribe or people. The title is given to a royal male at birth, whereas the related title “Sheikha” is given to a royal female at birth. The title “Sheikh” also has a religious connotation being given to prominent Islamic leaders or clerics, which is not our focus here. The word literally means “a man of great power and nobility”, and it is used strictly for the royal families of the middle east. The title means: leader, elder, or noble. However, there are many degrees of “Sheikh”. It goes from a non-sovereign, non-dynastic Ottoman tax collector or a leader of small Bedouin tribe to the prince of a nation, like the UAE, Bahrain, etc. Hence, a Sheikh from a sovereign or semi-sovereign ruling family is the equivalent of a prince.
Here’s also important to mention the principle of sovereign equivalency. Although there are differences in Royal rank (with merely honorific meaning), the Prince of Monaco is as sovereign as the Emperor of Japan or the Queen of the United Kingdom.
But “Sheikh” was not the title given to the Ghassanid Kings. According to Professor Irfan Shahid:
“The title awarded to the Ghassanid Ruler or Chief by his own people was neither Patricius nor Phylarch but king (Malik). The title, established beyond doubt by Procopius is confirmed by the contemporary poetry of Hassan and of later poets who continued this authentic tradition.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2 part 2 pg.164
“The dignity of king in Procopius had been sharply differentiated from the “Supreme Phylarchate” (archyphilarchia), with which Arethas was endowed …” Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 103
“The dignity of king was not new to the Ghassanids; they had brought it with them from the Arabian Peninsula where its assumption by a Ghassanid ruler is attested in a Sabaic inscription. When the Ghassanids appeared on the stage of Byzantine history, their chiefs, such as Tha’laba and Harith had already been kings to their subjects.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.104
In 528 CE, emperor Justinian I bestowed upon King Al-Harith VI (Arethas in Greek sources) the aforementioned title of “Basileus” which, as cited, signified at that period the same as emperor.
“The old Basileia (kingship) was confirmed by the byzantine emperor; the new one was bestowed by him…”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 1, p.104
“In the case of the Ghassanids it was a confirmation and an extension of the royal tradition that the Ghassanids had had and which they had brought with them from south Arabia.”(Ibid p.111)
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, an empire is:
“a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority; especially: one having an emperor as chief of state”
The “Basileus Araves” or “the Emperor of the Arabs”ruled over many tribes in addition to the Ghassanid people.
“These were included in the phrase in Procopius that spoke of the elevation of Arethas to the Archyphilarchia and the Basileia: ‘as many tribes as possible placed under his command’.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 2, part 1, 1995, p. 51
Traditionally, each tribe was sovereign or semi-sovereign, having its own autonomous ruler. By simple logic that would make the bestowed “Basileia” an imperial title to all of the Arabs allied to the Byzantine empire.
“And though the Ghassanid King was the head of what we would today call a client state, he and the [byzantine] emperor met on equal footing – as comrades in arms – discussing matters of earthshaking and less-than-earthshaking importance.”Gene Gurney, “Kingdoms of Asia, the Middle east and Africa”, 1986, p.70
Here, the Ghassanid vassalage also has to be explained.
“Feudal Vassalage. So, also, tributary states, and those subject to a kind of feudal dependence or vassalage, are still considered as sovereign, unless their sovereignty is destroyed by their relation to other states. Tribute… does not necessarily affect sovereignty …, nor does the acknowledgement of a nominal vassalage or feudal dependency.”Henry Wager Halleck, Elements of international law and laws of war p.44
” . . . the mere fact of dependence or feudal vassalage and payment of tribute, or of occasional obedience, or of habitual influence, does not destroy, although it may greatly impair, the sovereignty of the state so situated.”(Ibid. p. 188)
According to one of the Forefathers of International Law, Emmerich de Vattel in his book, “Law of Nations”:
BOOK I – CHAP. I.
OF NATIONS OR SOVEREIGN STATES
5. States bound by unequal alliance. We ought, therefore, to account as sovereign states those which have united themselves to another more powerful, by an unequal alliance, in which, as Aristotle says, to the more powerful is given more honour, and to the weaker, more assistance. The conditions of those unequal alliances may be infinitely varied, but whatever they are, provided the inferior ally reserve to itself the sovereignty, or the right of governing its own body, it ought to be considered as an independent state, that keeps up an intercourse with others under the authority of the law of nations.
6. Or by treaties of protection. Consequently, a weak state, which, in order to provide for its safety, places itself under the protection of a more powerful one, and engages, in return, to perform several offices equivalent to that protection, without however divesting itself of the right of government and sovereignty, – that state, i say, does not, on this account, cease to rank among the sovereigns who acknowledge no other law than that of nations.
. . .
8. Of feudatory states. The Germanic nations introduced another custom – that of requiring homage from a state either vanquished, or too weak to make resistance. Sometimes even, a prince has given sovereignties in fee, and sovereigns have voluntarily rendered themselves feudatories to others. When the homage leaves independency and sovereign authority in the administration of the state, and only means certain duties to the lord of the fee, or even a mere honorary acknowledgment, it does not prevent the state or the feudatory prince being strictly sovereign. the king of Naples pays homage for his kingdom to the pope, and is nevertheless reckoned among the principal sovereigns of Europe…”
The Ghassanid vassalage was limited to honorific homage and military alliance. Not even financial tribute or taxes were paid to Constantinople, on the contrary, a “salaria” or salary was paid to the Ghassanid kings so they could pay the Arab armies. Therefore, no harm to the Ghassanid sovereignty.
Such imperial bestowal to the Ghassanid King was so colossal and magnanimous that was criticized by Greek historian Procopius, a harsh critic of Arabs and especially the Ghassanid kings:
” . . . the Basileia (kingship) conferred by Justinian on Arethas takes a new meaning, one which Procopius’ comment that is something that ‘among the Romans (both western and eastern – byzantine) had never been done before‘…”(Ibid)
The imperial bestowal was very well documented being corroborated by hard evidence as the Usays inscription.
“The (Usays) inscription is considered to be the most important Arabic inscription of the sixth century, the second most important of all the pre-Islamic Arab inscriptions as a historical document.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the Sixth Century, vol. 1, 1995, p. 117
“But the strongest evidence [of the imperial bestowal] is supplied by contemporary epigraphy — the Usays Inscription carved by one of [King] Arethas commanders, Ibn Al-Mughira, who refers to him around A.D. 530 as Al-Malik, the King. There is also no doubt that the Ghassanid Arethas was dressed as a King on important occasions in Ghassanland, since the poet laureate of later times underscores his own eminent position among his Ghassanid patrons by nothing that he used to sit not far from their crowned head.”Irfan Shahîd, Byzantium and the Arabs in the sixth century, Volume 2 part 2 pg.164
“Contemporary documents reflect the contrast between the two Basileiai (kingships). In Simeon, Jabala is termed as ‘King of The Ghassanids’, in Usays inscription Arethas is called simply ‘The King’, possibly indicating the extension of the Basileia (kingship) over non-Ghassanids including the person who sets up the inscription.”(Ibid)
Also important to mention that the title of “Emperor of the Arabs” – wrongly called “king of the Arabs” by some authors – was subsequently confirmed by at least two other byzantine emperors. King Al-Mundhir ibn Al-Harith in 580 CE by Emperor Tiberius II Constantine (Justinian Dynasty /ruled 578-582 CE); and King Jabla ibn Al-Ayham by Emperor Heraclius (Heraclian Dynasty / ruled 610-641 CE). (See John A. Shoup, Culture and Customs of Jordan, pg. xvii)
It’s known by academia that the Ghassanid Dynasty ruled many realms in direct male line after the fall of the first State until 1747 CE. (See Ignatious Tannos Khoury, The Sheikhs Chemor rulers of Akoura (1211-1633 CE) and rulers of Zawie (1641-1747 CE)” Beirut, Lebanon, 1948)
“After the disappearance of the Ghassanid state, isolated Ghassanian Princes continued to reign in some oases and castles, along with Salihids and some other phylae.”Bowesock/Brown/Grabar “Late Antiquity” –, Harvard University Press, 1999, p. 469
Certainly, the most noteworthy of those reigns was the Byzatine Empire in the 9th Century CE.
“Although little is known of Jabala’s activities after his emigration to Anatolia, his place in the history of the Ghassanids in the Middle Byzantine period is important, since it was he who established a strong Ghassanid presence in Byzantine Anatolia, one which lasted for many centuries. The climax of this presence was the elevation of one of his descendants to the purple and his establishment of a short-lived dynasty which might be described as the House of Nicephorus.” “Ghassan post Ghassan” by Prof. Irfan Shahid, Festschrift “The Islamic World – From classical to modern times”, for Bernard Lewis, Darwin Press l989, pg. 325
“Nicephorus (A.D. 802-11) was a descendant of the Ghassanid [King] Jabala.” (Ibid.)
This assertion was even stronger not merely citing the King Jabala as ancestor, but the eponym of the Royal Ghassanid Dynasty using the name of King Jafna, the founder of the Ghassanid Kingdom. Therefore, we can conclude that Emperor Nicephorus (or Nikephoros) was not only citing his ascendancy but by using the term “Jafna” he was claiming to be the head of the Ghassanid Dynasty.
“…This valuable information comes from Tabari; see Tarik (Cairo, 1966), VIII, 307, when he speaks of [King] Jafna, the eponym of the Ghassanids, rather than [King] Jabala.” (Ibid. pg.334)
For all of the aforementioned, the Ghassanid Dynasty has the imperial dignity not only once, but three times. First, in 528 CE receiving it from the highest emperor of those times, the Byzantine; second by being elevated to that very throne in 802 CE and third by being recognized as “Ceasars” (emperors) and Masters of Rhodes in 1203 CE.
Important to mention that the legal existence of those titles today is not due to an ancient link to a monarchy that ended fourteen centuries ago but through the a Princely Family (El-Chemor) that reigned until the 18th century in Zgharta-Zawie (currently Lebanon) and was recognized as the lawful heir of those Ghassanid titles by the Ottoman empire until its end in 1924 and is also recognized by the Lebanese republic until today. Please, click on the link to an official 2014’s article (in Arabic) from the Lebanese Government News’ Agency (Lebanese Republic – Ministry of Information) mentioning the titles and validating the book written in 1947 about the family’s history. http://nna-leb.gov.lb/ar/show-report/371/
The celebration of the 90th birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
I’m personally against the “glamorization’ of the role of a monarch. We should perceive a sovereign as the ultimate servant. Someone that decides to give his/her life in its totality to a nation and people. That means service24 /7 and almost no freewill and privacy. And… to include all the family in the package.
And in that sense, HM Queen Elizabeth II is an example to be followed. Ninety years of age and over 63 dedicated to service. Very few monarchs in history had her impeccable sense of duty.
So today, I celebrate Her Majesty’s birthday and congratulating the Queen of Britain for her amazing example.
How ethnic and religious “labeling” is destroying the Middle East and menacing the whole world
As we watch bewildered the fantastic technological advancements in the world we also see the barbaric reflexes of our still primitive nature. It’s absolutely paradoxical to put a man on the moon and still kill each other because of religion or ideology. The rise of groups like
ISIS, recruiting people from many western countries shows how far behind we are regarding tolerance and coexistence.
Before, the worst sectarian conflicts were restricted to the Middle East region, but today we see them infecting the whole world as a social cancer. Unfortunately, the middle eastern “patient” is in a terminal condition and will die very soon if noting is done. As if it was possible the situation in the region to get any worse, some might question. The answer is a rotund “yes”!
Before the so-called “globalization”, nations could live almost independently as “social islands”. Currently, that behavior became more and more difficult. The most closed and solid regimes are getting more and more poriferous of the novelties from the “free” world. Naturally, the internet has a considerable share on this process of penetrating the once inexpugnable system. The politicians and the religious leaders must fill the gaps creating legal systems where everyone is the same, regardless of any label.
Religions and ideologies are an important part of our individuality and shall be preserved as inalienable rights. However, when those transpire to the political and legal establishment, that’s when there are problems.
“It is time for Middle Eastern countries to remove all mention of religious and sectarian affiliation from official documents, and to abolish religious family courts.
This would not only be good for the freedom of belief – not to mention love and the equality of citizens – it would also reinforce a sense of common national identity among communities within a country, promoting a sense of unity in diversity.”
We share this opinion. We shall never forget that before everything and anything we are human beings all sharing the same small planet. Sadly, sometimes the labels make us to forget this paramount and self-evident truth.
Impressive stateliness, dignity. Imposing character; grandeur. Many synonyms can describe the word “majesty”. According to protocol, that’s the correct way to address a monarch, however, a very few are really worthy of the adjective. Not many rulers have at heart the real interest of their people.
Once upon a time, there was this kingdom. The only treasure, its people. A kind, honest and hospitable people. The only abundance, sand. Alias, no oil. But this small and poor kingdom would be the most stable nation of its region. And when the whole world asked “why”, the answer was simple: a great king to rule a great people.
Today it was announced that King Abullah II of Jordan will pay for the restoration of the Jesus’ Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The Holy Sepulcher has been the holiest site of Christian pilgrimage since the 4th century. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reports that the restoration work was needed because scientific studies had revealed grave problems of moisture from the “condensation of the breath of visitors,” and oxidation due to candle smoke.
Since Jordan is a poor country, King Abdullah will pay for the project with his personal money. That’s a real king, a real Muslim, a real humanitarian, but above all, a real human being.
King Abdullah II of Jordan, you’re not only deserving of our respect and gratitude but, beyond a single solitary doubt, wondrously worthy of the word “majesty”.