Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Reality bleeds into Robert Ferrigno's novel...

From www.prayersfortheassassin.com :

December 19th, 2005
Dreaming of the Caliphate
Posted by Robert Ferrigno

One of the odd things about writing a book set in the future is seeing it bleed through into the present. Muslims burning cars in France, Muslims and whites fighting each other in Australian beach towns, Muslims in Indonesia risking their lives to protect Christian churches during Christmas, prayer rooms set aside at an NFL stadium in New Jersey. I was a reporter for eight years, such bleed through is expected when you write a fact-based WHAT IF? thriller.

The most recent installment of me checking the date on my newspaper was a few days ago, December 12, when Elizabeth Bumiller wrote a piece in the New York Times accusing Rumsfield/Cheney/Bush of fear mongering.

The word getting the workout from the nation’s top guns these days is “caliphate” - the term for the seventh-century Islamic empire that spanned the Middle East, spread to Southwest Asia, North Africa and Spain, then ended with the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. …

So now, Mr. Cheney and others warn, Al Qaeda’s ultimate goal is the re-establishment of the caliphate, with calamitous consequences for the United States. As Mr. Cheney put it in Lake Elmo, referring to Osama bin Laden and his followers: “They talk about wanting to re-establish what you could refer to as the seventh-century caliphate” to be “governed by Sharia law, the most rigid interpretation of the Koran.”

One of the motifs running through Prayers for the Assassin is the desire of a secretive Muslim billionaire to actively work towards the establishment of this world wide caliphate. In the book, he’s known as “the wise old one,” taken from Middle East history referring to a mystical leader, Hassan ibn al-Sabbah, who ruled a mountain kingdom during the late Tenth Century. Al-Sabbah, known also as the old man of the mountains, had no standing army, but instead ruled by sending out teams of assassins to murder his enemies. Though relatively few in number, his assassins were totally devoted, reputedly willing to commit suicide on command. Dozens of his enemies were murdered, and the fear of assassination gave him great power and influence.

Bumiller’s article in the Times quotes a couple of noteworthy academics that though the desire to spread Islam throughout the world, creating a true Caliphate, is one of the stated goals of Osama bin Laden, such a lofty goal is impossible. Probably, but this seems to miss the point. Is it not incumbent on our leaders to understand the intentions of our enemy? One of the reasons I think Al Qaeda is winning the media war in the Islamic world is their message resonates with the people, painting the struggle in world-historic terms and promising ultimate victory.

Besides, when it comes to evaluating the opinions of a couple of college professors vs. the writings of a renegade millionaire who changed the world with a few men armed with boxcutters and a rudimentary knowledge of Microsoft Flight Simulator… well, I hope the guys with tenure know what they’re talking about.

For the purpose of my book, I blended the historic old man of the mountains with the ancient Muslim prophecy of the Madhi. The Mahdi is to be a man descended from the Prophet, who will come to prominence during a time of greatest peril for the Muslim people, uniting them and driving out their enemies. The Madhi will bring about the one-world Caliphate.

The wise old one of Prayers for the Assassin has these same attributes and career goals, but he lives in Las Vegas, plays a killer game of blackjack, and has a wicked sense of humor. Fun ensues. This entry was posted on Monday, December 19th, 2005 at 4:56 pm.


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