Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review

Latest Articles and Blog Posts

The Island of Sark (Post in Western Neo-Aramaic)

June 7, 2024

I have recently had the great fortune of visiting the island of Sark, one of the Channel Islands located between England and France. Here, cars are banned. There are also no street lights, meaning that there is very little light pollution. On a clear night with no moon, it is possible to discern the Milky Way.

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No 'One Size Fits All': Iranian Influence Building in Syria

Summer 2024  •  Middle East Quarterly

The Iranian project of influence building in neighboring states forms a core part of Tehran's regional strategy. It has produced a situation in which Iran exerts major influence in a number of Arab states, including Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. Close observation of the specifics in each case, however, reveals that Iran does not operate according to a "one size fits all" pattern. Rather, Iranian state bodies, most significantly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), can adapt their methods to the local context in each given situation.

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The 'Hadd' Punishment Against Apostasy from Islam

May 31, 2024

Recently, Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a prominent British Muslim convert to Islam, issued an 'apology' on Twitter/X in which he clarified: "I fully believe in, support and defend all Islamic laws, including hadd for ridda." As the historian and linguist Marijn van Putten notes, just remove the veil of the Arabic terminology and what Hamza is calling for is the application of the death penalty against apostates (i.e. people who have abandoned Islam). While Marijn decried Hamza's remarks and suggested he would report them, Professor Jonathan Brown of Georgetown University (himself a convert to Islam) offered soft apologia for Hamza's position, describing them as "totally unremarkable religious belief." For his part, Javad Hashmi of Harvard University, who co-hosted a Bible-Qur'an course with famous New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, critiqued Hamza's position as a "backwards, medieval view" and offered a substantive refutation of it, but he nonetheless suggested it was reflective of 'cancel culture' to report such views as problematic to social media or employers. That there are academics at prestigious Western universities offering these sorts of soft apologetics for Hamza's position is remarkable to me, but I guess the issue requires some explanation.

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Behind the Idlib Protests

May 29, 2024 at 5:11 am

The Syrian government is not the only actor to be facing sustained protests against its rule. In the 'liberated' northwest of Syria- specifically the region of Idlib and its environs- there have been widespread demonstrations over the past three months or so against some of the policies of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the dominant insurgent faction, led by Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani. Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham exercises authority not only through its military wing but also various bodies that are nominally independent but in fact backed and controlled by the group, such as the 'Salvation Government' and the 'Public Security Apparatus.' Ultimately, the status quo in the northwest- sustained since 2020 by a ceasefire arrangement brokered between Russia and Turkey- has given rise to a system that has many parallels with how Hamas governed Gaza prior to Israel's latest military campaign: one faction exerting hegemony and implementing an Islamist, authoritarian mode of governance.

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Jihadists and Andalusian History

May 27, 2024 at 5:07 am

Commenting on Spain's recent recognition of a Palestinian state, Israel's foreign minister- Israel Katz- furiously commented that "if this ignorant, hate-filled individual [Spain's deputy prime minister] wants to understand what radical Islam truly seeks, she should study the 700 years of Islamic rule in al-Andalus- today's Spain." The comment itself was met with much derision as reflecting ignorance of the history of Muslim Spain (al-Andalus). It does, however, afford an opportunity to explore in more detail how jihadists (who are equated with 'radical Islam') view and understand the history of al-Andalus, spanning the time of the initial conquest in 711 CE until the fall of Granada in 1492 CE.

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