Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ismail's Ax Theories

Much discussion has ensued the past 24 hours over the meaning of Ismail's Ax.
What might "Ismail Ax" mean?

One theory spreading across the Web speculates that it comes from a story in the Quran, the holy book of Islam, about Ibrahim and his son, Ismail.

In Islam, Ibrahim is the father of the prophets and, upset that people in his hometown still worshiped idols and not Allah, he smashed all but one statue in a local temple with an ax. Ibrahim's son is Ismail, who also became a prophet. Ibrahim is Arabic for Abraham, who plays a significant role in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

This theory picked up speed because many bloggers wondered if the actions at Virginia Tech could be related to terrorism.
Trust me, it wasn't just bloggers who were concerned this was related to terrorism. Virtually anyone who has a pulse thought terrorism the instant they learned of this massacre.
Two theories come from literature, where Ismail is spelled Ishmael.

In James Fenimore Cooper's novel "The Prairie," Ishmael Bush is known as an outcast and outlawed warrior, according to an essay written in 1969 by William Goetzmann, a University of Texas history professor. In Cooper's book, "Bush carries the prime symbol of evil -- the spoiler's ax," the professor wrote.

Also, the narrator from "Moby Dick," Ishmael, is considered an enigma who is well educated yet considers his time on a whaling ship worthy of time at Yale or Harvard, according to education site

Cho Seung Hui was an English major at Virginia Tech.
AJ Strata has some more thoughts on Ismail Ax, and also offers speculation here on Cho's religion.

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