Wednesday, February 18, 2015

عقبة بن نافع

In our earlier post, we discussed the rhetoric and linguistics of the ISIL-associated name Dabiq.  And now, in this morning’s headlines, there is another:

In the latest terror incident in Tunisia, a group which, a while back, pledged allegiance to ISIL, killed four policemen.  The group is being reported as Phalange Okba Ibn Nafaâ, Okba Ibn Nafaa Brigade and various other renditions.   A proper transcription would be Katîbat `Uqba ibn Nâfi`, or `Uqbah ibn Nâfi` Brigade.   (Here the circumflexes, for which you may also substitute a macron, indicate a long vowel, which affects the stress:  thus, it is the first syllable of Nâfi` that is stressed.)  In Arabic:

عقبة بن نافع

So who is this gentleman, for whom the brigade is named?  
Not, as one might suppose, some recent martyr who is being commemorated (such is the style of Palestinian groups, for instance).   Rather, the group has reached all the way back to the 600s A.D. -- the first few years of the Islamic era. Uqba ibn Nafi was a Crusading Muslim general who led the conquest of the Maghreb, after his famous uncle had conquered Egypt.

Here they are  smiling for their group portrait:

Having a wonderful Time -- Wish U were here

This harking back to the earliest days of Islam, is typical of Salafis, and is in line with the choice of Dabiq for the magazine.

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