A Kuwaiti preacher has called on Muslims to destroy the Sphinx and pyramids of Egypt in the name of Allah, and the militant Islamist group Islamic State agreed, according to news accounts published this week. Echoing an Egyptian cleric’s demand for the monuments’ destruction in 2012, Ibrahim Al Kandari, an Islamist cleric, said that the Muslim invaders who conquered Egypt from the Byzantine Empire erred in leaving the ancient sites undamaged.
“The fact that early Muslims who were among prophet Mohammed’s followers did not destroy the pharaohs’ monuments upon entering the Egyptian soil, does not mean that we shouldn't do it now,” Al Kandari said.
Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the destruction of the Sphinx and pyramids to be a “religious duty” for Muslims.
Muslim extremists have tried to destroy the Sphinx in the name of eradicating idol worship in the past. The historian Al-Maqrizi reported that in the fourteenth century Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, a Sufi, damaged the Sphinx after learning some locals worshipped it:
In our time, a figure named Sheikh Muhammad Sa’im al-Dahr, one of the Sufis of the convent of Dervishes founded by Sa’id al-Su’ada, set off in 780 (1378-1379 CE) to combat and destroy superstitions. He went to the pyramids and mutilated the face of Abu al-Hul (i.e., the Sphinx), which has remained in that state down to the present. (my trans.)
According to medieval Arab historians, the Sabaeans made pilgrimages to the pyramids and the Sphinx to pay homage to Hermes Trismegistus and Seth.
Maqrizi also reports that under pressure from Islamic extremists Saladin’s son Al-Aziz Uthman, who reigned in Egypt, attempted to dismantle the pyramid of Menkaure but gave up for lack of manpower and money:
King Al-Aziz Uthman ibn Salah al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, who reigned after his father, was pushed by ignorant people of his court to destroy the pyramids. He began with the small red pyramid and sent quarrymen and stonemasons, led by some emirs of the kingdom and the great empire, ordering them to destroy it. They pitched their tents near the pyramid, gathered laborers and workers, and did not spare any expense. They remained there about eight months with their people and their horses, destroying every day one or two stones with infinite pains and after strenuous efforts. Men posted above raised each stone with levers, and others pulled from below by means of ropes and cables. The falling of each stone made a terrible noise that could be heard from afar; the mountains quaked and the earth trembled. The stone sank into the sand, and new efforts were needed to lift it by means of levers placed below by digging a path through which they made the drive. Thus, they broke the stone into heaps, and each piece was carried away on carts and thrown at the foot of the nearby mountain. And after lengthy efforts and enormous expense, exhausted by fatigue, they were forced to abandon the work without being able to accomplish it. All they managed to do was to deface the pyramid and give proof of their impotence and the futility of their efforts. This was in 593 [1196-1197 CE]. Today, if you look at the heap of stones torn from the pyramid, you would think it was completely destroyed, but if we look at the pyramid itself, you would be convinced that the men did nothing at all for they removed only a small part of the side, which is now a mass of fallen stones. A fellow who witnessed the tragic attempt to demolish every stone asked the head of the workers: “If the sultan gave you a thousand dinars to put one of these stones back in place as it was, could you do it?” “No, by God,” replied the other, “it would be impossible, even if he doubled the amount.” (my trans.)
Karakush, a eunuch who ruled Egypt for Saladin two decades earlier, had destroyed several small pyramids for the more prosaic purpose of building fortifications in Cairo.
Meanwhile, if that weren’t bad enough, the Russian government has decided that there just isn’t enough paranoia and conspiracy theorizing on television. RT, the propaganda network funded by the Russian government and seen around the world, has hired the sons of noted conspiracy-mongers Oliver Stone and Jesse Ventura (of TruTV’s Conspiracy Theory) to present a conspiracy theory program in the guise of news. Sean Stone and Tyrel Ventura, of the web show Buzzsaw, will be bringing their conspiracy theory program to RT, covering such pressing issues as the latest maneuvers of the Illuminati and, if last month’s online Buzzsaw is indicative, whether a lost Ice Age civilization possessed super-technology that built the pyramids. The new show will be called Watching the Hawks and will focus more on the political and military conspiracies that RT is famous for promoting, according to a press release.
Here’s a clip from Buzzsaw’s interview with John Anthony West, the man who has been pushing an occultist line about pre-Ice Age pyramids since the 1980s, and occultism in general since the 1960s. In this interview, West endorses Martin Bernal’s Black Athena, particularly the idea that all of Western civilization can be traced back to ancient Egypt. He also argues that history as we know it is racist Victorian propaganda, which I guess is a neat way of sidestepping the fact that many fringe views of the antiquity of Egypt were promoted by a series of racists, including the Victorians.
Now here’s West discussing ancient astronauts on the same program, tying his claims to R. A. Schwaller de Lubitz, the occultist whose work West uses as the basis for his own. Note that in arguing for an occult view of Egypt over Zecharia Sitchin’s ancient astronaut view, he mistakenly calls Mike Heiser “George Heiser.” West takes Sitchin to task for having an “agenda,” and he praises Heiser for not having an agenda. He says he can “rest in peace” because Heiser has thoroughly discredited Sitchin, which he seems to feel is a prerequisite for accepting his own occult/Atlantean views of ancient history:
Just for anyone who Googles my name: In college I briefly worked for a student magazine named Buzzsaw Haircut, now called Buzzsaw magazine, but it is of no relation.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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