Friday, May 12, 2006

Not "Sincerely Yours" or "Best Wishes"

Earlier this week, Pres. Ahmadinejad of Iran sent a long letter to Pres. Bush. Instead of our familiar "Sincerely yours", Ahmadinejad's closing salutation is "Vasalam Ala Man Ataba'al hoda", which means "Peace only unto those who follow the true path". A New York Sun editorial tells us more about the salutation:

It is a phrase with historical significance in Islam, for, according to Islamic tradition, in year six of the Hejira - the late 620s - the prophet Mohammad sent letters to the Byzantine emperor and the Sassanid emperor telling them to convert to the true faith of Islam or be conquered. The letters included the same phrase that President Ahmadinejad used to conclude his letter to Mr. Bush. For Mohammad, the letters were a prelude to a Muslim offensive, a war launched for the purpose of imposing Islamic rule over infidels.

Whether the closing salutation indicates a declaration of war, as the Sun and some others believe, I am not sure. I am sure that the salutation is not the same as "Best wishes".

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