Islam - Il Cairo 07

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Taken by the Arabs in the seventh century, it endured until the sixteenth. Because of its location on the principal east-west caravan route, Palmyra’s culture and society were influenced by Phoenicians, Hebrews, Babylonians, Persians and Greeks. Its cultural tapestry was rich and diverse. When the Romans seized the city, Palmyra’s main temple, said to have been built by King Solomon of the Israelites, had already stood for two thousand years. Impressive ruins, including temples to Semitic deities such as Ba'al of the Canaanites, Nabu of Babylon and the goddess Allat of Arabia, survive to this day.

Pazuzu, a demon brought into Western consciousness by the novel and film The Exorcist, is an early form of nature spirit, probably a fallen deity of antiquity relegated to the world of the jinn. Pazuzu is first mentioned by the Sumerians and is later identified in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology as the son of Hanpa (or Hanbi), who is lord of all demons and sometimes identified with Satan himself. Novelist William Burroughs, in his Cities of the Red Night, called Pazuzu ‘Lord of Fevers and Plagues, Dark Angel of the Four Winds with rotting genitals from which he howls through sharpened teeth over stricken cities’.

Geographer-historian Ibn Fadl Allah al-'Umari of Damascus (1301–1349), in his encyclopaedia Masalik al-Absar fi Mamalik al-Amsar (Pathways of Vision in the Realms of the Metropolises), wrote: ‘All mountains are branches of the range which encircles most of the inhabited world. ’32 Qaf was the loftiest of the mountain ranges created by Allah to support the earth and was the parent of all other earthly mountains, to which it was linked by subterranean ranges. The range is separated from the world of men by the oceans that surround the known world.

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