Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Bridge to Hell

The Muslims have a bridge they want to sell to Americans. They talk about building a bridge between our cultures. But we understand one thing by a bridge and they understand another, and they know Americans generally don’t understand what they mean.

As-Sirat (The Bridge) or As-Sirat al-Mustaqim (The Straight Bridge) is a crucial element in the religion of Islam. It’s their version of St. Peter’s Gate. Some of the more militant Muslims take the concept literally.

As-Sirat is the very narrow bridge, extremely thin, like a pencil, and sharp as a sword, which every person must pass on the Yawm ad-Din (The Day of Judgment) in order to enter Paradise. Underneath the bridge burn the fires of Hell, whose heat will make the faithless fall. True believers, who performed acts of in goodness in life, are transported across the path in speeds relative to their deeds, leading them to the Hauzu’l-Kausr, the Lake of Abundance.

Faithful Muslims who hope to make it across the bridge must offer the five obligatory prayers (Fajr, Dhuhur, Asr, Maghrib, Isha) and recite the Surah Al-Fatiha at least 17 times a day, which is a supplication to Allah to guide them through the “straight path.”

It is also referred to as Sirat al-Jahim, the Bridge of Hell.

Sirat al-Mustaqim is the Arabic term for the straight path. In an Islamic context, it has been interpreted as the right path, Islamic faith or that which pleases God. There are five obligatory daily prayers in Islam. During the two first cycles of each prayer the following phrase is included:

Ihtina s-siraata l-mustaqeem, Siraata l-ladheena anamta alaihim ghair al-maghdhoobi alaihim wa la dhaaleen

Show us the straight path, the path of those You bestowed favor upon, not anger upon, and not of those who go astray.

This is included when the believer recites Surah Al-Fatiha.

The Muslims borrowed their concept of As-Sirat from the ancient Zoroastrian belief in the The Chinvat Bridge (Avestan Cinvatô Peretûm, “bridge of judgment” or “beam-shaped bridge”).

The Chinvat Bridge separates the world of the living from the world of the dead. All souls must cross the bridge upon death. The bridge's appearance varied depending on the observer's asha, or righteousness. As related in the text known as the Bundahishn, if a person had been wicked, the bridge would appear narrow and the demon Vizaresh would emerge and drag their soul into the druj-demana (the House of Lies), a place of eternal punishment and suffering.

However, if a person's good thoughts, words and deeds in life were many, the bridge would be wide enough to cross, and the Daena, a spirit representing revelation, would appear and lead the soul into the House of Song. Those souls that successfully cross the bridge are united with Ahura Mazda.

Often, the Chinvat Bridge is identified with the rainbow, or with the Milky Way galaxy, such as in Professor C.P. Tiele's “History of Religion.” However, other scholars such as C.F. Keary and Ferdinand Justi disagree with this interpretation, citing descriptions of the Chinvat Bridge as straight upward, rather than curvilinear.

Three divinities were thought to be guardians of the Chinvat Bridge: Sraosha (Obedience), Mithra (Covenant) and Rashnu (Justice). Alternate names for this bridge include Chinwad, Cinvat, Chinvar or Chinavat.

Christianity is known for its proselytization; its attempt to save non-Christians from going to Hell. Only the Christians say that there’s nothing a soul has to do but ask for and receive God’s love and forgiveness (have I got that right, Christian friends?).

Islam says you have to prove it. There are probably many peaceful Muslims who are simply concerned for their non-Muslim friends’ souls; they want to “save” us the way Christians want to “save” other people.

This is a one-way bridge, though, not a connection between two worlds where they’re willing to meet other religions in the middle. Once they get you out onto that bridge, if you don’t accept their religion (according to theory), if you haven’t been a good person in life – and the only way to do that is through obeying or submitting to the strict laws of Islam; free will has no role in this religion – over you go. The more militant-minded Muslims won’t wait for the fires of Hell to singe your toes; they’ll push you off.

In 1993, Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman attempted to execute “The Day of Terror Plot” or “Ring of Fire Plot” in New York City. He and his minions had targeted the U.N., the FBI building, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, and the George Washington Bridge. It was quite an ambitious plot. Initially, Rahman had thought to blow up every major crossing into Manhattan – all the bridges and tunnels, thus, “The Ring of Fire.”

They didn’t have enough manpower for such an undertaking, so they scaled it back. The authorities have videotapes of them driving through the Holland Tunnel, determining the best location to set off the bomb, and the raid was made on them as they were making the bomb.

The mighty GW, one of the world’s longest suspension bridges, proved to be a bigger challenge than they could handle. Osama Bin Laden was rumored to have blown up every bridge in Afghanistan, and later, most of the bridges into Baghdad would be destroyed. But their engineers weren’t as conscientious as the Americans in constructing their bridges (the I-35 bridge and the Tappan Zee notwithstanding).

The terrorist guys soon discovered they didn’t have enough explosives or manpower to destroy the bridge; it was simply too big (3,500 feet) and its cables too thick. They set their sites on other bridges, as well: The Brooklyn Bridge, The Golden Gate, the Mackinac. But the authorities set their sites on the terrorists and most notably thwarted the attempt against the Brooklyn Bridge.

Whether it’s a plot to destroy a real bridge, or a seemingly conciliatory appeal to build a cultural bridge, Americans must be sure of the soundness of the bridge before they drive onto it.

As we all know, you cannot turn around on a bridge (except in an emergency directed by authorities). Once onto this bridge, you have to go all the way to the other side or pay their toll (dhimmitude - second-class status). Or be thrown over the side.


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