As a regular follower of the informative discourses of Shaykh Anwar al Awlaki RA, I am routinely exposed to what happens to be an oft-recurring theme in the treasury of the martyred scholar. The outspoken Imam, with great relish, on numerous occasions refers to a group he denotes as “The Soldiers of Allah”.
Remarkably, what al Awlaki alludes to pertains not to any standing army, guerrilla force, valiant warriors or militias. Instead, he has something altogether more curious in mind.
In one such instance, the Shaykh draws on an interesting story from Hadith to illustrate his important motif. As narrated by Imam Ahmed, the Messenger of Allah(SAW) once conveyed to his companions the story of a man in former times who used to sell wine. However, he would mix water with his product, thereby cheating his clients. As it turned out, the man owned a monkey who once accompanied him on a naval journey. The monkey seized the opportunity to climb aloft the ship’s mast carrying with him all the money the man had made. He then proceeded to throw one coin in the ship and one in the sea till he had dispensed all of his owners takings.
Commenting on the incident, al Awlaki designates the monkey as a soldier of Allah, whose Divinely ordained mission it was to purify the wealth of the corrupt merchant.
Elucidating further, the Shaykh provides the full purport of his analogy. Quoting the Quranic verse, ‘And no one knows the soldiers of your Lord but He,’ he explains that anything qualifies to be a Soldier of Allah. “This monkey was a soldier of Allah. The whale that swallowed Yunus AS was a soldier of Allah. Allah can use His soldiers to benefit or harm. Nimrud was killed by a mosquito. Firaun was killed by water..Water, the source of life, can be an instrument in Allah’s Hands to take away life. Wind is a soldier of Allah. Lightning is a soldier of Allah. ‘And no one knows the soldiers of your Lord but He’ “.
The soldiers of Allah can intervene even where conventional armies fail to act. While the State of ‘Israel’ – the illegal Occupier and Oppressor of the Palestinian people for over 6 decades – still waited with baited breath to determine what threat a new Egypt could pose to its borders, little did it envisage an aerial invasion of another kind.
According to the Times of Israel, for the past three weeks Israel has battled swarm after swarm of locusts, with ever-larger plagues of the destructive insects arriving daily from neighboring Egypt. At the start of March, the Israeli Agriculture Ministry launched a major crop-dusting campaign to kill the aerial invaders.
A month later, the voracious insects still keep coming.
A day before the Jewish celebration of Passover last week, farmers in southern Israel reported an assault from yet another plague of locusts, entering the country from Egypt, in the process evoking eerie Biblical memories (Of the 10 plagues which, according to the Bible, smote Pharaoh to ensure the release of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, the eighth was locusts.)
The pests hit fields and greenhouses in the south of Israel; the Agriculture Ministry was working hard to prevent heavy damage to crops in the Negev(Naqab) Desert and stop the insects from penetrating deeper into the country.
An Israeli resident witness to a previous swarm could not disguise his alarm. “It was crazy. There were millions of them,” said Doron Laks, resident of the Kibbutz of Ein Gedi(Ain Jidy). “We drove toward them and millions just kept coming. All Ein Gedi was crawling with locusts.”
Locusts swarm in an Israeli village in the Negev Desert near the Egyptian border.
Earlier in March the Ramat Negev Regional Council in southern Israel sent a letter to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, requesting permission for Israeli crop-dusters to fly over the Sinai region in an effort to combat the destructive swarms.
The letter was written in Arabic and was handed to the Egyptian Embassy in Israel before being delivered to the office of the president, according to Israeli news site Nana10.
Shmulik Ripman, the head of the council, said he also turned to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, asking him to advance cooperation between the two countries on the issue.
According to a spokesperson for the Israeli Agriculture Ministry, the crisis could set the State of Israel’s eceonomy back with crop and financial losses of approximately 100 million shekels ($27 million).
However, it is not only from the skies that Israel has been facing an assault. In 2011, a naval invasion of millions of jellyfish threatened to shut down a major Israeli power plant.
More than 200 million jellyfish, known in Israel as “Meduzot,” ‘attacked’ Israel, leaving authorities there with a gargantuan challenge. The jellyfish were of an invasive species called Rhopilema Nomadica that originally migrated from the Red Sea.
Quoted by NBC at the time, Dr. Dror Angel, who works at the Department of Maritime Civilization at the University of Haifa, said jellyfish were assaulting swimmers, fishermen and wreaking havoc at power stations.
Seawater is used to cool the turbines that supply most of the electricity in Israel.
Millions of jellyfish that blocked the water supply to a major Israeli power station are removed.
“When we suck the water, we also suck the jellyfish,” explained Rafi Nagar, the chief maintenance officer at the Israel Electric Corp. near the town of Hadera. “And if we let them go through the filters, they can cause the plant to shut down, leaving millions of Israelis without electricity.”
“It’s a very difficult problem,” he said. “In the last three days, we pulled out 100 tons of jellyfish from our filters.”
Nagar’s crew were nicknamed the “Jellyfish Busters.” They wore special goggles, rubber gloves and long-sleeve shirts and pants to help them protect themselves from the stings. They used long poking iron sticks to pull the jellyfish off the filters, piling them into huge canisters. Nagar said that in his 33 years at the electric company he had never seen anything quite like that jellyfish invasion.
Another instance of the soldiers of nature unleashing their fury on Israel in recent history occurred in 2010 with the deadly Mount Carmel forest fire consuming much of the Mediterranean forest in Northern Israel. The fire claimed 44 lives, making it the deadliest in Israeli history.
The dead were mostly Israel Prison Service officer cadets, as well as three senior police officers, among them the chief of Haifa’s police. More than 17,000 people were evacuated, including several villages in the vicinity of the fire, and there was considerable property and environmental damage.
Commenting on the fires, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told Reuters the blaze was Allah’s expression of anger towards Israelis.
“These are plagues from God,” said Haniyeh in a recorded Reuters video interview during Sunday prayers in Gaza. “Allah is punishing them [the Israelis] from a place they did not expect it.”
Mount Carmel forest fire 2010
Just this week, nature again played its hand when Israel was hit by strong winds and dust as sandstorms traveled northeast from Egypt. In some coastal areas, air pollution levels were 40 times higher than usual.
Environmental Protection Ministry officials advised people with heart and lung conditions, the elderly, young children and pregnant women to stay inside and avoid excessive exercise.
Due to the weather, the National Traffic Police asked that drivers turn on their headlights and take road conditions into consideration. Visibility in most areas throughout the country was below 3 miles (5 kilometers) at 1 a.m. local time, and at Ben-Gurion International Airport, visibility was down to less than a mile, according to Israel Radio.
While the Islamic world still falters in its responsibility towards the Palestinians, and the fruits of the Arab Spring still await their harvesting, it seems Israel today has the woes of much larger foes to contend with: The indomitable Soldiers of Allah