Charles Rangel is proposing the "Mother of All Tax Reforms." But he may not know the origin of the phrase he’s using to describe it.
It’s obviously a takeoff of Saddam Hussein’s "Mother of All Battles" description of what turned out to be (for him) the rout of the first Gulf War. In a place as patriarchal as the Middle East, it would seem that describing anything as the mother of something else isn’t as impressive as it would be to Americans, who put "mother, apple pie and the flag" at the top of the list.
But calling such battles or tax reforms as the mother of anything is an Islamic term. Islam teaches that the Qur’an is the perfect earthly copy of the heavenly "Mother of the Book:"
We did send messengers before thee, and appointed for them wives and children: and it was never the part of a messenger to bring a sign except as Allah permitted (or commanded). For each period is a Book (revealed). Allah doth blot out or confirm what He pleaseth: with Him is the Mother of the Book. (Sura 13:38-39)
Nay, this is a Glorious Qur’an, (Inscribed) in a Tablet Preserved! (Sura 85:21-22)
The "Mother of All Battles" would thus have been the earthly copy of a heavenly struggle. Saddam felt that the war on earth with the infidel (although Saddam wasn’t much of a Muslim) would go as the heavenly one would. But it didn’t either time. (Or did it?)
It’s unlikely that Rangel realises the meaning of the phrase he’s using, or even that he’s considered that the result of the first "Mother of All Battles" doesn’t bode well for him. But they take their politics seriously in New York, and a backdrop of spiritual warfare is, in some ways, entirely appropriate. One Hispanic correctional chaplain from New York told me that the 2004 election was a contest between God and Satan. It puts a Clinton-Giuliani match-up in an entirely different light!