Eucalyptus: Star & Crescent

Sunday, August 5, 2007, 2:00 pm
Walking up Galvez to Stanford and finding
an eucalyptus branch with fruits symbolizing
Christians (cross) & Arabs (crescent & star)

    Eucalyptus branch
    with crescent leaves and fruits shaped
    like a star and cross.
Flags with Star & Crescent: The star and crescent are Muslim symbols, but also have a long pre-Islamic past in Asia Minor. Diana was the patron goddess of Byzantium and that her symbol was a moon. In 330 A.D., the Emperor Constantine rededicated the city which he called Constantinople to the Virgin Mary, whose star symbol was superimposed over the crescent. In 1453 Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Turks and renamed Istanbul, but its new rulers may have adopted the existing emblem for their own use. A reflection of the moon occulting a star, appearing in pools of blood after the battle of Kosovo in 1448, led to the adoption of the Turkish flag by Sultan Murad II according to one legend. Others refer to a dream of the first Ottoman Emperor in which a crescent and star appeared from his chest and expanded, presaging the dynasty's seizure of Constantinople. Turkish people call their national flag ay yildiz (moon star).

Flag of Turkey

Flag of Pakistan

Flag of Tunisia

Eucalyptus Fruits with Star & Cross: These nuts the size of acorns were gathered in the Eucalyptus Grove at Stanford University on Galvez Street opposite the Stanford Stadium while walking to Green Library on Sunday, August 5, 2007. Since the star and cross are symbols of the Islamic and Christian religions, it is interesting that these fruits are cohabiting peacefully on the same eucalyptus tree. Recent rantings of the clash of civilizations between the Muslim world of the East with the Christian world of the West seem to be media hype to create more discord in our world. May Nature be our guide to peace, brotherhood, and understanding.

Islamic Science & Philosophy: The Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco (859 A.D.) was the first university in the world, founded before the Oxford University (1096) and the University of Paris (1167). Islamic science played an important contribution to the world during 900 A.D. to 1200 A.D. These scientists include Al-Farabi (870-950), Al-Biruni (973-1048), Avicenna (986-1037), Omar Khayyam (1044-1123), and Al-Tusi (1201-1274). I recall reading about them and admiring their achievements in George Sarton's History Science as well as philosophers such as Al-Ghazali (1058-1128), Ibn Arabi (1165-1240), and Jalaladin Rumi (1207-1273) for their insights on spiritual enlightenment. The reason why China, India, Japan, and Korea have been successful in the global economy is because many of their students are majoring in science and engineering. Young Muslim students should do likewise to be more creative and productive as their ancestors have done. An interesting article: Why Does the Muslim World Lag in Science? Here are two role models— Professor Bassam Z. Shakhashiri (University of Wisconsin), "reigning dean of American chemistry lecture demonstrators", born in Lebanon and came to America when 17 years old. Massy Mehdipour, 60-year-old Iranian female immigrant, CEO and Founder of Skire, a Menlo Park company that marries the construction and software businesses (Mercury News, 8-16-2007). It is interesting that both of these scientists from Islamic countries excelled in their profession in America and not in Lebanon or Iran where free scientific inquiry is not supported by the reigning regimes.

Halley Comet of 1456: Following the 1453 invasion of Constantinople by the Turks, the Halley Comet of 1456 appeared in the sky, and was thought by some to be a gesture of heavenly support for their victory. When the comet came near a crescent moon, the image of star and crescent (symbol of the Ottoman Empire), Pope Calixtus III (reigned 1455-1458) excommunicated the comet and ordered prayers to prevent the Turks from taking over all of Europe. He inserted into the Ave Maria: "From the Devil, the Turk, and the Comet, Good Lord help us." Notes: Before, during, and after the year of Comet Halley's 19 appearances between 66 A.D. and 1456, there were 16 deaths of popes (double the average rate). After Comet Halley was "excommunicated" by Pope Callixtus III during its appearance in 1456, there was only one papal death during Comet Halley's 7 appearances between 1531 and 1986 (1/3 the average rate). Between 66 A.D. and 1986 (1921 years), 261 popes have died with average papal reign of 7.4 years. (from Peter Y. Chou, Halley's Comet of 1301: Disaster Symbol or Divine Soul?, talk presented on October 17, 1986 at 20th Annual Conference "Classics in the Middle Ages", Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York, Binghamton)

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email: (8-16-2007)