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Minaret of Aleppo’s Umayyad Mosque Destroyed

Taken from AFP News

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BEIRUT: The minaret of Aleppo’s ancient Umayyad mosque was destroyed on Wednesday, Syrian state media and a watchdog reported, with the regime and the opposition blaming each other.

An archaeological treasure in Aleppo’s Unesco-listed Old City, the mosque has been the centre of fighting for months and had already suffered extensive damage.

With insurgents and the regime caught in a stalemate in the key northern city, the ancient mosque has fallen in and out of rebel hands several times.

The Umayyad mosque was originally built in the 8th century but was apparently destroyed and then rebuilt in the 13th century.

It has recently fallen back into rebel hands, but has been left pockmarked by bullets and stained with soot.

Antique furnishings and intricately sculpted colonnades have been charred, valuable Islamic relics ransacked and ancient artefacts, including a box purported to contain a strand of the Prophet Mohammed’s (PBUH) hair, looted.

Rebels say they have managed to salvage ancient handwritten Quranic manuscripts and have hidden them.

On Wednesday, as reports broke of the minaret’s destruction, activists uploaded video shot at the scene, but there was no video immediately available showing the moment of the blast that caused the collapse.

As with multiple other attacks in Syria’s spiralling conflict, which the UN says has left more than 70,000 people dead, the regime and the opposition blamed each other for the damage.

State media said jihadist Al-Nusra Front fighters blew up the minaret, and accused the group classed by the United States as a “terrorist” organisation of seeking to blame loyalist forces.

But rebels, the opposition and activists all said the army was responsible.

“Tanks began firing in the direction of the minaret until it was destroyed,” one rebel said in a video posted on YouTube, insisting rebel snipers were not stationed inside the minaret.

“We were afraid that it would be targeted,” he said.

“The Assad regime has done everything it can to destroy Syria’s social fabric. Today, by killing people and destroying culture, it is sowing a bitterness in people’s hearts that will be difficult to erase for a very long time,” the video added.

Meanwhile, an activist who identified himself as Zain al-Rifai said he saw an army tank “fire several shells directly at the Umayyad mosque, including at the minaret”.

He also claimed the force of the explosion was magnified because of landmines planted by the army in the mosque complex before the rebel takeover.

“When the army was in control of the mosque, it planted mines across the complex. When the rebels took over, they demined the area, but couldn’t come near the minaret for fear of snipers.

“When the tank shell hit the minaret, it must have caused the mine to explode,” said Rifai, who works with the Aleppo Media Centre, a network of citizen journalists on the ground.

Responding to regime claims that the jihadi-Al-Nusra Front had blown up the minaret, Rifai asked: “Why would an Islamic group blow up a minaret?”

The main opposition National Coalition, recognised by dozens of states and organisations as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, mourned the ancient minaret’s destruction.

“The deliberate destruction of this minaret, under whose shadow Saladin… and (10th century Iraqi poet) Al-Mutanabbi rested, is a crime against human civilisation,” said the Coalition.

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Cultural | , , | 2 Comments

April’s ‘Pink’ Moon and Lunar Eclipse Thursday

I found this on Weather Underground News; this is just an excerpt. For the entire article, click on the blue type here.

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While I don’t recall the year of this episode, I can state most definitely that it took place in the month of April, since many years later I learned that traditionally the full moon of April is called the “pink moon,” a reference made to the grass pink or wild ground phlox which is one of the earliest widespread flowers of the spring season.

So on Thursday night, when you look skyward at this year’s version of the “pink” April full moon, remember not to take the term literally!

A Bit of an Eclipse

While this month’s full moon may not look pink, if you live in Europe, Africa or much of Asia, you will notice something a bit different about it, because it will take place on the night of a lunar eclipse.   

Unfortunately, in North America, none of this eclipse will be visible, since the actual instant of full moon occurs on Thursday afternoon (April 25), when the moon is below the horizon.

Beginning at 2:04 p.m. EDT, the moon begins to meet the Earth’s shadow; a little over two hours later it arrives under the middle of that shadow. By then the moon will have just risen and will be visible low to the east-southeast horizon as seen from Ireland, and will be setting over south-central Japan in the morning hours of Friday, April 26.

Feeble at Best

If we were to rank a total eclipse of the moon as a first-rate event, then what is scheduled to be seen on Thursday for those living in the Eastern Hemisphere would almost certainly fall into the third- or even fourth-rate category; in fact it might add new meaning to the term “underwhelming.”

During the first 110-minutes of the eclipse, the moon’s northern hemisphere pushes ever-so-gradually into the Earth’s partial shadow, called the penumbra. The outer two-thirds of this are too subtle to detect; but then perhaps by 3:30 p.m. you may realize you are beginning to detect the ever-so-slight gradient of a soft grey darkening around the top of the moon.

At 3:54 p.m., the moon’s northern limb finally makes contact with a much more abrupt shadow, the blackish-brown umbra. This chord of shadow on the moon grows and retreats over a span of less than half an hour; yet at its deepest at 4:07 p.m. EDT, the partial eclipse will reach its peak at a puny 1.48 percent as the moon’s northern (upper) limb literally grazes the umbral shadow and remains in contact with it until 4:21 p.m.  

This dark shadow’s coverage can be described as feeble at best. To the unaided eye, even to those with acute visual skills, it will hardly cause a perceptible dent on the lunar disk. However, anyone who glances up at the moon around that time will likely notice that the uppermost part of the disk of the moon will appear smudged or tarnished. This effect will probably fade away by around 5 p.m., with the moon appearing as its normal self. Officially, though, the moon will not completely free itself from the outer penumbral shadow until 6:11 p.m.

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Luke 6 – The Hard Teachings

It just doesn’t make sense. It goes against everything we think we know. If someone hits you on the cheek, turn the other one to be hit, too? If someone robs you, don’t go looking for your stolen goods? If someone asks you for something, give it to them, and more?

And, for me, the one that convicts me –

30Give to everyone who begs from you;

We have always worked hard and saved hard for what we want. How to know who is conning when he begs, and who is genuinely in need? Jesus says it doesn’t matter – give.

Luke 6:27-38

 

27 ‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. 30Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 ‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.34If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again.35But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.* Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37 ‘Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; 38give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’

 

The above is from the Lectionary readings for today.

April 24, 2013 Posted by | Character, Charity, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Financial Issues, Lectionary Readings | Leave a comment