Myth No. 9: We Evolve

Karfan visited the “Outside World” on a single occasion only for a few days, and managed to communicate a little bit with people from other countries with his very limited language ability. That was when he was faced with the question [Where are you from?] that he figured out the answer to is: [From Syria] despite all the Anti-Regionalism Arabic education that he was showered with day and night by the Baathi regime (Myth No. 1). Another question that Karafan found perplexing is the one that all foreigners had asked after he said he is from Syria: [So you are a Muslim?]! The foreign people who wanted to brag a little bit more about their “thorough knowledge of all things middle-eastern” asked: [So are you Sunni or Sheia?] followed by a smile which said (You see, I know a LOT about your countries)!. The first thing that came to Karfan's mind at that time was: [Well, fuck, we are not the only ones that were stuffed with bullshit about the others]. None of the other foreigners who came from Europe or America or even Japan was asked that question. Basically, according to Karfan, the foreigners think they are human beings who evolved to being able to choose to believe in whatever the hell they want. On the other hand, we are still some sort of backward creatures who are denied the right of choosing and we have to fall under one of the few stupid categories the foreigners happen to know.

Although Karfan was a bit upset about it at the time, later when he thought about the whole matter he decided that those foreigners might be very right in deed! We have not evolved an inch. Evolution means that a person in the twenty first century should think differently from someone who lives in the tenth century. But unfortunately, if there were a time-machine that could transfer all of us here in Syria to the tenth century, there would be very few who would take more than two hours to adapt fully to that environment.

Karfan finds it alright to respect Islam, Christianity, Alawism, Durzism, etc.. at the times when they emerged and respect those who brought those new ideas to the open. But he can not figure out why one should give a damn bit of respect to people who are still believing in the exact same things more than a thousand year later without trying to change the slightest detail. As he puts it in his own words: In the period between when Ibn Nusayr came up with the Alawie religion idea in the ninth century and today, there must have been some warms that evolved and developed wings and became able to fly. Meanwhile, not a word has changed in our books or a thought in our minds.

That is the reason why Karfan, unlike his fellow Alawies or Druz, never curse Ibn Taymyyah. Ibn Taymyyah is a Sunni scholar dickhead who lived in the thirteenth century and wanted to become famous. So he came up with this wonderful idea of issuing a detailed religious edict describing all the new religious ideas at the time (Alwis, Druz, Ismailies, and all other Sufi or Bateni sects, etc..) as heretics and sinful bullshit that has nothing to do with Islam. He then issued a religious edict, which has never been revoked since, to fight the followers of such sinful ideas and either “eliminate” them or re-convert them to the mainstream Islam. Karfan sees nothing wrong with that; Karfan himself might issue a book tomorrow for example saying that we should blow up the sun. If thousand years later when technology permits, some stupid monkeys decide to follow Krafan's words and go and actually blow up the sun, who should you blame then? Do you curse Karfan or the stupid monkeys who still believe what another stupid monkey said a thousand year earlier?

The unrest that chook the city of Misyaff few weeks ago is a big example of such stupidity. Of course, not many have heard of this unrest outside Syria because apparently the foreign media decided it was not as important as the Kurdish unrest in Kameshli which took place last year. Maybe it is not as important since Misyaff cannot be claimed as separate sovereign country as Kameshli could be. But it underlines the same principle: people here are still thinking the same way their ancestors did a million light-year ago.

Here is what happened three weeks ago with no comments at first:
- A quarrel started between few Alawie and Smaeili taxi drivers in the Taxi center at Hama City. All of those drivers came from Misyaff or the surrounding villages (Misyaff located on top of the mountains overseeing Hama city and belongs to the province of Hama).
- The Smaeili drivers, being more numbered than the Alawie ones, beat the shit out of those Alawies.
- The Alawies then went back to their village, brought backup of Alawie young men fully armed with Kalashnikovs and pistols and established checkpoints on the way between Misyaff and Hama. They dragged every single Smaeili driver out of his car and beat the shit out of his living soul.
- Angry Smaileis in Misyaff then attacked some Alawies living in the city, beat them, and told them to leave the city back to their villages.
- Alawies from a near by village famous for arm smuggling came to Misyaff with vehicles fully armed with heavy machine guns and RBGs and started shouting in the loudspeakers that they will fuck the biggest Smailie in the city and kick the Smailies away from the city back to whatever the hell they came from.
- Smailies then complained to the region governor in Hama, who happened to be a Sunni. His reply was: [What the hell, they are both Shiaa heretic sects, let them kill each other to the last living soul.] He refused to act.
- Angry Smailies then went to the streets of Misyaff in large numbers and started stoning houses of Alawies and the matter grew up to a near total civil unrest.
- By that time, our Lord King Lion the 2nd had heard of this turmoil that might disturb his calm and peaceful kingdom, so he sent the Army and anty-riot troops to calm the situation. He also ordered the careless Sunni governor to be replaced.
- The matter was contained but the people of both sides are boycotting the other side. The city looks like a dead city because what Misyaff lives on mainly is the trade between the Smailie merchants and the Alawie peasants.

Eventually, what was started by uneducated insect-brain taxi drivers spread all over the whole social and educational spectrum of both parties! In the entire world, educated and smart people inspire uneducated and stupid mob and lead them the way they want. Only here, the reverse is true. Time after time, a stupid high-school educated officer took the lead with a coup d'etat and assumed the presidency. Time after time, stupid mob started quarrels over things happened thousands of years ago and the supposedly-smart people just followed like sheep.

Karfan met with couple of Smailie and Alawie friends who were educated and supposedly had evolved a little bit. Although this meeting did not end up as a boxing match, it was nevertheless as frustrating to Karfan as this frustrating life could be. Instead of just agreeing that what happened was a stupid act of stupid people, they started throwing accusations at each other. Here is a briefing of those marvelous accusations:

The Smailies accused the Alawies of having a plot to drive them out of the city of Misyaff. They said that this plot goes back to an attempt in the nineteenth century and after that to the days of Saleh-El-Ali, whom they described as a gangster whose revolution's sole purpose was to kill the Smailies. It might come as a chock for the majority in Syria who were told during schooling years that Salih-El-Ali was a hero who revolted against the French occupation in the 1919. Naturally, the Alawies in that meeting were offended that their Alawie hero was called a gangster. Karfan was not offended though. Karfan considered "a gangster" every single person who belonged to any of the generations that was born before him and somehow contributed to the fucked up miserable state that we ended up in. Karfan have heard before those stories and other stories about every single hero of our history from Salah El Dine to Jamal Abdul Naser. You can always find a group or sect who considers some hero a gangster because what he did to them. Ask the Druz about Adnan-Al-Malki, ask the Alawies about Yousef-El-Azmeh, ask the Sunnis about Sultan-El-Atrash, and etc.

The Smailies also accused the Alawies of trying to extend the massacre of Hama in the eighties to Misyaff. They claimed that the troops of the White Knight of Tadmur (brother of King Lion the 1st) were just about to enter the city of Misyaff and erase it as they did to Hama if it was not for the last moment intervention of some Alawie clerk. This accusation was new for Karfan actually. Karfan knew very well that, unlike what most people think about Smailies and Alawies being very close and similar and all that, they both consider each other as different from the other party as they are different from cow-worshipping religions. But he was sure that this difference does not go all the way up to plotting the extermination of the other party. It is an example of how smart people regurgitate what some stupid uneducated monkey might have said.

The Smailies emphasized that the Alawies plot was to take over the historical city of Smailies, Misyaff, in which the Alawies never had a presence before King Lion the 1st took the lead of the country. The Alawies denied all of the above and accused the Smailies of trying to kick them away from the city which they had presence in since the creation of the universe.

It is not very surprising to hear people throwing accusations against each other regarding things that happened in the very faraway past. After all, we live in an area where people speak about what happened between Ali and Muawia 1500 years ago like it took place last Friday. In this area there are entire religions and ideologies based on distrusting the other and defined as merely the opposite of that other. Although quite different, Alawie and Smailie might still the closest sects to each other in comparison with the other sects and groups. You may imagine what the situation of distrust and myths-circulation might be between two not-so-close sects. Karfan has heard the funniest stories about Smailies from Sunni people, and about Druz from Alawie people and so on.

You think that a thousand year was enough to evolve and become like those foreigners, who asked Karfan about his religion, free in what you choose to believe in. Free from the sets of ideas and myths that your sect created about the others. Free from being a prisoner of notions that have been invented by stupid uneducated brainless people.

At the end of that gathering of Karfan's Alawie and Smailie educated friends, he stood up and told them that out of all what he heard about this turmoil, the one and only person that was completely right was that discriminating Sunni governor. If people are so stupid to carry-on a turmoil that was started by stupid brainless taxi drivers, so stupid to believe what those brainless suckers said, and so stupid to quarrel over things that might have happened or might have not happened a hundred year ago, then you should let them kill each other to the last living soul without intervention.
But, as Karfan says always, King Lion and his regime, will never let things go that far. They encourage people to distrust and hate each other but they do not want things to go out of hand and threaten their rule. It was always like that in this land since the times of Muawea really. The kings always played a game of balance between inflaming hatred and containing its flames from going so high as to burn their rule. Still, people have never evolved and they are still playing the same game. Even those who somehow acquired some education and supposedly walked a bit the path of evolution are still clueless players in the same game.

Karfan cannot really blame his friends on the way they think. After all, people need to belong and have an identity, unless they want to end up like him; a senseless sarcastic gloomy bastard that doesn't care if the whole universe collapses tomorrow. No one believes in the Arab identity joke anymore and our Kings have made all efforts to erase and destroy any attempt of creating a Syrian Identity that gathers all of us. Eventually people find that those stupid sectarian and religious identities are the only way to belong. If the Smailies for example do not believe they are only Smailies and act like it, then what is left for them to believe or belong to? Nothing, either that or the Karfanian way; but it is not fun to be Karfan, believe me.

But then again, what makes us so different from monkeys? Karfan saw once on TV a program about jungle monkeys. When a monkey from a group starts a fight with another monkey from another group, the entire group starts fighting with it without even questioning what the hell was that quarrel about.
Karfan was silent when he came back after that gathering. I asked him what he was thinking of. "I am working on an alteration of Darwin's theory", he said. "You see, if this bugger Darwin has ever bothered himself and visited the Middle East, he would have altered his theory for sure. He would have distinguished between physical and mental evolutions, and proved that there are people who cannot evolve. More importantly, he could have proven that some people actually can un-evolve back to their monkey state after they have acquired some brain. I feel like eating a banana now, next time you go to Lebanon for blogging get me some, the smuggled ones are tastier than the one they sell here."


Blogger Yaman said...

This is genius.

Do you need an editor to check grammar and spelling? I'd be happy to help... send me an email: ysalahi@berkeley.edu

19/4/05 10:06  
Blogger Mohammed said...

great post karfan...

19/4/05 10:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Arabic there is this about this incident:
See the second piece of news in that page. Interesting.

19/4/05 13:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post Karfan, I've become addicted to your wonderful & succinct myths.

Wishing you all the best.

19/4/05 15:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you Karfan!

F*cking awesome posting, makes me proud to be Syrian (-American). We need to get you a contract for a book! Maybe a movie as well!!

I feel better knowing that at least one Syrian hasn't un-evolved and lost his intellect. I hate to tell you this, but I've seen plenty of Americans who have unevolved back to a monkey state, although it is not nearly as bleak here.

Keep it up man, Syria needs this....hell, the whole world needs this!!

19/4/05 22:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


20/4/05 06:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a wise man once said...

'worst two evils that humanity has ever known are RELIGION and NATIONALISM'

think about that...

karfan, you are a briliant man... i really enjoy your writings.

20/4/05 06:18  
Blogger Catherine said...

I really love your blog..It's so great how you put our thoughts and feelings into words and express in the best way.
When I am completly hopeless...At least I get happy knowing I am not alone and there are others who think the same and even use the same words! ( I have often said that we love to go back in time instead of developping,and beeing proud of living like animals..In the name of great tradition and cultural identity and holy religion ofcourse...If our parents lived like monkeys...Than how dare we change our traditions and change?!)..No matter how bad the day gets it always get better when I read a new post on this blog :) Take good care!

21/4/05 11:52  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a senseless sarcastic gloomy bastard that doesn't care if the whole universe collapses tomorrow"

Welcome to the club, Karfan mate. We're all like that sometimes. :-) Makes you want to scream, doesn't it? :-) Really, it's an excellent essay, showing the frustrations of the ordinary man under dictatorship.

21/4/05 12:39  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent post. Reminds me of Dave Bartholomew's song "The Monkey Speaks His Mind".

23/4/05 14:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Karfan & friend I live in Syria too ;)

23/4/05 18:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salute to Karfan,
I read your essays as works of art, not as facts. Therefore, I don't find it necessary to take them seriously, nor criticise them. The best one can do with works of art is use them as tools to peer into another's soul. Keep it up. It lifts the spirit, as it portrays the self. The true identity is the shared life people have. Your blogs are a good focal point for like-minded Syrians who have lived the human side of the experience, the one that they "identify" with. After all, WE identify our identity. Salam to all. Majd

24/4/05 04:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so good I am sending the address to everyone I know.

I have two points to comment about though.

It's a bit too dark. Not because Karfan doesn't predict brighter future. But in his deep depression and Karaf (that wonderfully reflects what we Syrians all feel), he forgets how Syrian still managed to go on. Syria is a greedy corrupted police state, but I think many people still kept their faith in life(ironically, with the help of some ages-old traditions), to survive these Lions as they did with the other predators along our shiny history.

The second point is that I agree with the forign speculations and "story hunting". A system is too complicated to describe just like that. Specially when we talk about Syria, you'd better the Chaos theory, rather than Darwinism, to come out with anything useful. What you point out as a planned scenario by the regime I mostly assume that is a pure chance outcome, a result of apathy and neglect. Never a calculated and malicious plan, Our dear institutions fuck up everything and anything they ever try to plan for. So trust me on this one: NO ONE planned anything of our major mesries, they are simply falling on our heads as a simple logical sequence. remember the "failed generation"? Don't you think it will answer for a lot when we can define Ol' Lion as belonging to it?.

One last thing, there is some hippie old song by John Lennon that only says:"Why don't we do it in the road?", meaning love or sex or whatever they called fucking back then. So, my question is, why don't we do it in Arabic?

Cheers, or whatever.

24/4/05 13:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ARFAN, your blog is Amazing. Seriusly, I wish more Syrians think the way you do... :)
Keep up the good work :)

24/4/05 22:42  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kids don't do this at home

Get a large cage with five hungry monkeys. Hang a banana on a string inside the cage, and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will approach the stairs and climb towards the banana. However, as soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with freezing cold water and temporarily withdraw the banana.

After a while, another monkey will attempt to get the banana - react the exact same way you did with the first monkey. When the third or fourth monkey eventually tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will do everything in their power to prevent it (fearing the blast of cold water).

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt, and attack, he finaly gets the point that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another member of the original group of five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer eventually goes to the stairs and is attacked (the previous newcomer also takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm)!

Likewise, replace the third member of the original group with a new monkey, then the fourth and ultimately, the fifth.

Every time the new-commer takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they themselves were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are beating of the newest "gullible" monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, absolutely none of the monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, they never approach the stairs and beat any newcommers who try....

Moral of the story: the Assad tricked the chimps

25/4/05 17:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm interested in communicating with you for a story in Reason magazine. If you'd like to get your message out to a large American audience (using whatever alias you choose, and through whatever means of communication you feel is safest), please contact me at tcavanaugh@reason.com. You can check up on me at the site www.reason.com, which contains other contact info. Thanks.

26/4/05 01:25  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if 2 people of different sects fight for any stupid reason, it is not a problem between sects, and I think that who analyzes this as a religious matter is the one who has not evolved, sorry karfan, but you will be karfan wherever you live.

26/4/05 09:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have known people like Karfan all my life. I think this begging will lead them no where -personal opinion- your (our if you wish) situation karfan will only change if you change your sick self.

26/4/05 15:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same anon is speaking, my father is such a Karfan, just like him. I hate Karfan's, they don't beleive in work and not in themselves.

Karfan when life passes you by, thats your fault, no one elses.

26/4/05 15:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello???!!! Is this Ziad Al Rahbani? Ah, I could swear it is you.

Same style, same sarcasm...Anyway, Excellent writing and excellent humour. The message goes right through! Keep up the good work.

30/4/05 15:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Equitor says Ismailis and Alawites have nothing in common! In fact if there are any two theologies that are close, these would be Ismailis and Alawites (Blending Gnostic, Neo-Platonian, Irano-semitic traditions). Just read Muhammed Emin Ghalib et Taweel "Tarihk al Alawiyeen" and you will see that that attempted more than once to unify the two sects! Yes, et-Taweel may be an apologist but still he is the authority most quoted on the history of the Alawite sect. But historically, -and even today- we learn from Karfan, they hate one another like cats and dogs. A very curious enmity and mistrust...

1/5/05 19:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Karfan,
I really enjoyed your blog. I just found it and read all your essays at one sitting. You have such a funny way of telling us about your life and situation in Syria. I never knew much at all about Syria--just Arab, Muslim country with a nasty dictator, and then a nasty dictator's son--nothing at all about the people and the sects, the dictator's tactics, and such that you have shared with us so brilliantly.

Thanks for your efforts.
Stay safe,

7/5/05 08:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PERFECT! How sweet of Roger L. Simon to recogize genius. And, share the link.

7/5/05 08:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment regarding evolution is very nice one. There is on the current issue of harpers magazine:
a carton by Mr. Fish, kind of resembling your article if I am not wrong.
I would suggest to send your writing to harper's magazine it worth being read by the reader of this magazine.

here is a shortcut to that cartoon:

8/5/05 19:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I met a Syrian women at a French language class, very sweet person. Sorry if I am about to be offensive, but your right about the Darwin bit, I have a theory about the Jews and the Arabs, though like any generalisation it is not totally true.

The Jews have developed into a wonderfully intelligent and talanted race due to the fact that they have been universally mistreated across thousands of years. Any stupid, thick aggresive Jew was killed as soon as he showed these tendencies as they got noticed by the persecuters. Only those that were clever, kept their heads down and did not offend survived, natural selection in action.

Arabs are also interesting, because its the other way around, in their societies it seems that only the cruel, the nasty, those that ask no questions and just believe and the intolerant ever get anywhere, if you are kind, respectful and questioning you will live in misery, while those that are prepared to do anything rise to the top.

I don't want to say that we are in the West are perfect, we it seems have no natural selection at this point apart from those that are able to be educated and those that are not.

23/5/05 11:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a funny post, even though i disagree with what you are saying on sooo many levels. I feel your posts can only be a healthy addition to the "Syria" debate.

But i really hope you did not take Tim Cavanaugh offer to have an interview with “Reason” magazine cause its one of the most biased piece of shit magazine out there. Look at their website and see for yourself, they are quoting the New York Post on how much they “kick-ass”. The New York Post for fuck’s sake, that’s as good as having Ariel Sharon and Richard Pearle’s pictures with two thumbs up on the cover.

Anyways, hope you stay independent. And try to open up your mind a bit, mention the good as well as the bad.

26/5/05 17:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 things, First Nationalism should not be examined as a stand alone item. It needs to be examined in comparison to the other 'isms' it competes with. So to say Nationalism is bad it has to be compared with what is good, or what is average, or what is worse. Nationalism was the replacement for Tribalism, and it is better then tribalism. Socialism was supposed to replace nationalism and capitalism, until they withered away and left communism. Those little 'isms' led to the murder of 200 + million humans last century. So now the current 'fresh face' replacement for nationalism is globalism. I have my doubts.
Second, there is a popular misperception about Darwin's theory. Darwin's theory covers how plants and animals adapt to their environmet. Humans don't adapt to their environment, but change their environment. So Darwin's Theory doesn't apply to humans. For example; As the Earth continues thru it's normal and unstoppable cycle of climate change, thigns will get a little warmer. Animals will lose hair and tend to hang around water more. Humans will build more air conditioners. Once the warming cycle is over and we head into the next Ice Age, animals will grow more hair ands move to the forest. Humans will build more heaters.
sod off swampy

6/6/05 03:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your posts, hope u can post again soon!

11/6/05 15:24  

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