Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for November, 2011

The Angel Who Drew Pictures ©

Angel Gamaliel once flew in the direction of Cairo and saw the great throng that weaved through the busy market place. ‘There must be some matter of great import and requires my careful attention,’ thought the angel. So he zoomed straight into the north-west minaret of the Mosque of Blessed virtues and saw a mule driver tagging behind the crowd. Becoming curious he flew towards him and whispered into his ears, ‘What, are you also with the crowd?’
The fellow shrugged his shoulder and without looking up said, ‘My mule just would not go any where that I had a mind to but follow the crowd. So I just followed.’ Poor Angel! He thought he never heard more sorry excuse from the mouth of a man.
That night the angel visited the mule driver while he was asleep. Angel knew he slept like a log too tired to think even a sweet dream. The angel drew a series of pictures and knew the mule driver would be well for it.
Next morning the fellow was all astir with excitement. He told his wife excitedly what befell him during the night. She had brought him tea and she was excited and asked what was it all about.
‘Is it some buried treasure, oh light of my eyes?’ He shook his head and said his dream was much more than that. He said the dream showed him what was wrong with the city. He said as clear as a bell and in clear stream of words a utopian state . It was modeled as Cairo. He exhorted his neighbors who had heard something curious and come to check. He said, ‘Heed the warning: The city must be saved from damnation and people should work for their livelihood. Blessed state is when each citizen has enough to fill his belly with food.’
Naturally those who heard were excited. One fellow who knew how to read and write told him thus, ‘O prophet recite what you have seen. I shall write it down so the city of Cairo shall be the most blessed city in the whole world.’ Thus the prophet of Perfect Understanding gave the inhabitants of Cairo their Word and they were so taken up with it. Naturally since from that day on not a day’s work was done. They spent reciting the words and learning by heart the Word. At last the Khedive sent reports to the Sultan of the change taking place under his suzerainty. Naturally one morning the prophet was called to answer the charges that he had incited people not to work any more. Angel Gamaliel came to hear of this and instantly he came down and sat on a parapet in the Palace courtyard where the Khedive was hearing the case. The Mule- Driver deposed before the governor the dream that he had. ‘It was a revelation, O master. I could not have gone against it.’ He narrated the series of images that had impressed into his mind’s eye as he was asleep.
The angel snorted to hear the images and exclaimed, ‘Poppycock! And as the mule driver ended his speech he said, ‘Nothing of the sort. I painted the blessed state of a man to have his own opinions and freedom of action. ’
When the prophet was reciting what the mule driver had told him the Angel stood up wearily, ‘I draw pictures in vain in the minds of man. He cannot obviously see the difference between images and words.’ Angel Gamaliel flew off feeling put out by his waste of effort.
Prophets are merely putting certain images in words and they shall never hit it off correctly. Think of great books when adapted for films need to be treated differently. Several descriptive passages need to be said in a montage of images. Why the difference? The film is a different medium where images have to serve in place of words. The Prophets speak truth and those who cannot understand the difference between their vision and their words read between the lines, neither true nor 100% false. Only way one can prove his meaning is in his actions.
benny

Read Full Post »

Syyed Qutb (1906- 1966)
He is regarded as the father of modern fundamentalism and described by his (Arab) biographer as “the most famous personality of the Muslim world in the second half of the 20th century”. Born in Egypt and his stay in the USA clarified his Islam roots,- and for all his anarcho-Islamic position, he dared to think his own thoughts and died in prison for his unflinching stance and he died by hanging for plotting to overthrow the government.
Qutb, is being increasingly cited as the figure who has most influenced late bin-Laden, the al-Qaida leader. Yet outside the Muslim world, he remains virtually unknown. Associate professor of history at Creighton University, John Calvert, states that “the Al Qaeda threat” has “monopolized and distorted our understanding” of Qutb’s “real contribution to contemporary Islamism.” Every prophet might as well place a rider about his life and works with this caveat,’ save me from my disciples!’ Likewise man whose only credentials is his thoughts may put them in words lest he should be misinterpreted. Even so he requires such a caveat. Qutb in his work Fi Zalal al-Koran (In the Shadow of the Koran), a commentary on the Koran in 30 volumes which began to appear in 1952 has been vilified for espousing a pernicious doctrine for which the blame lies elsewhere. What is his work? In writing already certain paraphrasing has undergone from what he had in mind, but for which think how clear the Quran would be to render any commentary as superfluous? Syyed Qutb suffers for this reason and his doctrinal position is an exposition of the explanation of Islam scholars who have already claimed their position as uncontestable. Is this what the blessed prophet had in mind? Your guess is as good as mine.
benny

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1780-1839)

Known as the Lion of Punjab he earns his rightful place in the Hall of Fame for the enlightenment he brought into a country whose bane was lack of vision among rulers who roughshod over subjects in order to prove their exalted position. He was a protector of the weak and poor in a state that he established where he proved by example the strong were as just and their strength was in making the weak feel secure.
Succeeding his father at the age of 18 he wielded the Sikh Raj a region straddling the border into modern –day People’s Republic of China and Islamic Republic of Afghanistan or the Kingdom of Kabul as it was known then.
In his reign lasting nearly forty years he had conquered vast tracts of territory strategically juxtaposed between the limits of British India to the left and the powerful Afghan Empire to the right. The land that eventually became the Kingdom of the Sikhs had been ruthlessly subjected to the worse kind of atrocities by invading armies coming through the Khyber Pass into the Indian sub-continent, over eight centuries. Among his conquests most notable achievements were in his conquest of Lahore in 1799 and he made it his capital, annexed Kashmir (1819). He wore out the Afghan army by sheer doggedness won from them the control of Peshwar in 1834.
The extent of his kingdom steadily broke away after his death and the sway of Great Britain had become all too powerful to break. But one lasting legacy of this great ruler was his religious tolerance. The empire of the Sikhs was most exceptional in that it allowed men from religions other than their own to rise to commanding positions of authority. Besides the Singh (Sikh), the Khan (Muslim) and the Misr (Hindu Brahmin) feature as prominent administrators. The Christians formed a part of the militia of the Sikhs. In 1831, Ranjit Singh deputed his mission to Simla to confer with the British Governor General, Lord William Bentinck. Sardar Hari Singh Nalwa, Fakir Aziz-ud-din and Diwan Moti Ram ― a Sikh, a Muslim and a Hindu representative ― were nominated at its head. Rather than caste merit was considered for appointment to important offices.
‘At present, flushed by a series of victories, they (the Sikhs) have a zeal and buoyancy of spirit amounting to enthusiasm; and with the power of taking the most exemplary revenge, they have been still more lenient than the Mohammedan were ever towards them.’(Masson, Charles. 1842. Narrative of Various Journeys in Balochistan, Afghanistan and the Panjab, 3 v. London: Richard Bentley)
Maharaja Ranjit Singh is remembered for uniting the Punjab as a strong nation and his possession of the Koh-i-noor diamond. Ranjit Singh willed the Koh-i-noor to Jagannath Temple in Puri, Orissa while on his deathbed in 1839. His most lasting legacy was the golden beautification of the Harmandir Sahib, most revered Gurudwara of the Sikhs, with marble and gold, from which the popular name of the “Golden Temple” is derived.
He was also known as “Sher-e-Punjab” which means the “Lion of Punjab” and is considered one of the three lions of modern India, the most famous and revered heroes in Indian subcontinent’s history. The other lions are Rana Pratap Singh of Mewar and Chhatrapati Shivaji, the great Maratha ruler. The title of “Sher-e-Punjab” is still widely used as a term of respect for a powerful man.
Captain William Murray’s memoirs on Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s character:
Ranjit Singh has been likened to Mehmet Ali and to Napoleon. There are some points in which he resembles both; but estimating his character with reference to his circumstances and positions, he is perhaps a more remarkable man than either. There was no ferocity in his disposition and he never punished a criminal with death even under circumstances of aggravated offence. Humanity indeed, or rather tenderness for life, was a trait in the character of Ranjit Singh. There is no instance of his having wantonly infused his hand in blood.”
Many famous folk stories about Maharaja portray a leader and the inspiration Maharaja Ranjit Singh was. In one famous incident, when Maharaja was about to cross the badly flooded river near Attock (now in Pakistan and called Kabul River). One of Maharaja’s generals reported this fact to Maharaja, saying that the river cannot be crossed and it is now an Atak (an obstacle in Hindi) for us. Maharaja retorted “eh Attock uhna lai atak hai, jehna de dillan wich atak hai” or “This river Attock is an obstacle for those, who have obstacles in their hearts”, then crossed the river successfully. The army and other generals followed his lead.(ack: wikipedia)
benny

Read Full Post »

In the evolution of man instinct came to play a vital role since Nature fine-tuned his physiology to address the question: flee or fight? The adrenalin rush of your body in sensing danger is of different make up than when you need to think seriously what is the best course for your future. In the latter case time is on your side and you may weigh pros and cons to arrive at a conclusion. This is what thinking means. You brain is not merely reptelian brain but has also complex rewiring to help you in the process. Speech, visual and other faculties are controlled from locations that can be mapped and studied. Thus nature has provided certain initial back-up to which your life among men and animals add ancillary support. The thinking machine Head has its adjunct the Heart with which your feelings reinforce your life experience. Basic emotions fear and pleasure have myriad shades of meaning to make your life significant. This is what makes man different from animals.
Such a man also has rational and irrational side to which I only need to point the wakeful state and the dream state. If you go by the latter irrational side alone you are a menace to the society and you might require supervision and medicine to keep you from harm. The point is the head should remain in its place and consequently the heart must hold its own. The relationship of State and religion is like this.
ii
In order to understand how poorly religion and state can hold together we only need to look at the Church of Rome.
In the Early Church the bishops elected for the office were considered as shepherds of the flock. Following the stricture of Jesus to Simon Peter they were to cater to the spiritual needs of the early converts who were mostly marginalized in society or were actively hounded out by Rome as a threat to the empire. As seized of their charge the early bishops did not dabble in temporal matters. The serious threat to the religion actually came from the time Constantine made Christianity as the state religion. He made it not out of any genuine conviction but as a matter of state policy. Such explosive mixture could only delay but not prevent the march of events. The empire was doomed to collapse and it did happen. With it the primary aim of the Church was seriously compromised.
After the fall of Rome during the “Middle Ages”, the papacy was influenced by the temporal rulers of and surrounding the Italian Peninsula; these periods are known as the Ostrogothic Papacy, Byzantine Papacy, and Frankish Papacy. Over time, the papacy consolidated its territorial claims to a portion of the peninsula known as the Papal States. Thereafter, the role of neighboring sovereigns was replaced by powerful Roman families of which I may merely mention the Tusculan Papacy.
From 1048 to 1257, the papacy experienced increasing conflict with the leaders and churches of the Holy Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire. The latter culminated in the East-West Schism, dividing the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. While Popes were politicking the Church underwent through serious spiritual crisis among believers that came in the form of the Black Death. With such a calamity for the suffering flock the Church failed to address their spiritual confusion. They believed it was the divine chastisement and came from God. ( The Black Death wiped out nearly two thirds of Europe and the Pope sat out through this terrible times in Avignion,France. No wonder the survivors came out with a new idea of making their present life count. The Carpe Diem effect. This led to Reformation and the Enlightenment in course of time. Initiative in trade and commerce had passed from Italy to Germany, England and Holland.)
The Church was split by politics rather than any theological disagreement that quickly escalated from a church problem to a diplomatic crisis that divided Europe. Secular leaders had to choose which claimant they would recognize that showed the lie that the authority of the Pope came straight from St. Peter. The schism was ended by the Council of Constance (1414–1418).

Islam also suffers from the same tragedy. Petro-Islam is out and out buying converts who fit neither here nor there. Their head is a counting machine while their heart is far from obedience to their God.
P.S: The tragedy of putting the cart before the horse , mistaking the heart for the head led to the decline of the Church and Italy never survived the Black Death. In a manner of speaking the medieval mindset still plagues them. Unification of Italy was hampered by Papacy and the present economic crisis owe partly to it. We see conjugation principle at work here.
benny

Read Full Post »

Wahhabism is a religious movement developed by an 18th century Muslim theologian Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab (1703–1792) from Najd, Saudi Arabia. He advocated purging Islam of what he considered to be impurities and innovations. Wahhabism is the dominant form of Islam in Saudi Arabia. Abd-al-Wahhab was influenced by the writings of Ibn Taymiyya and questioned classical interpretations of Islam, claiming to rely on the Qur’an and the Hadith. He attacked a “perceived moral decline and political weakness” in the Arabian Peninsula and condemned what he perceived as idolatry, the popular cult of saints, and shrine and tomb visitation. Wahhabism is often used interchangeably with Salafism. They are considered ultra conservative and heretical by their detractors.
The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of veneration of the historical sites associated with early Islam, on the grounds that only God should be worshipped and that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mazaar, mausoleums and other artifacts have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from early 19th century through the present day.
According to Riadh Sidaoui it is an Islamic doctrine which is based on the historical alliance between the political and financial power represented by Ibn Saud and the religious authority represented by Abdul Al-Wahhab, the doctrine continues to exist to this day thanks to this alliance, the financing of several religious channels and the formation of several sheikhs. Perhaps in not so distant future it will be seen how this purportedly charitable institutions bankrolled the recruits who were sent from third world,- from Malappuram District in Kerala to Malaysia, to support the Jihadist elements in the Afghanistan. Their covert mission was nothing less than bringing down the financial might of the USA.
International influence and propagation
According to observers such as Gilles Kepel, Wahhabism gained considerable influence in the Islamic world following a tripling in the price of oil in the mid-1970s and the progressive takeover of Saudi Aramco in the 1974-1980 period. The Saudi government began to spend tens of billions of dollars throughout the Islamic world to promote Wahhabism, which was sometimes referred to as “petro-Islam.” According to the documentary called The Qur’an aired in the UK, presenter Antony Thomas suggested the figure may be “upward of $100 billion”.
Does money corrupt? The Saudis have spent at least $87 billion propagating Wahhabism abroad which goes under the guise of charity. Some of the hundreds of thousands of non-Saudis who live in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf are recipients of its largesse and the fervent converts to Petro-Islam and are intended as carriers of their message.
What connection, if any, there is between Wahhabism and Jihadi Salafis is disputed. Natana De Long-Bas, senior research assistant at the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, argues: the militant Islam of Osama bin Laden did not have its origins in the teachings of Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab and was not representative of Wahhabi Islam as it is practiced in contemporary Saudi Arabia, yet for the media it came to define Wahhabi Islam..’ (note: . Karen Armstrong, former US “emissary” to Islam, states that Osama bin Laden, like most extremists, followed the ideology of Sayyid Qutb, not “Wahhabism”)
Noah Feldman distinguishes between what he calls the “deeply conservative” Wahhabis and what he calls the “followers of political Islam in the 1980s and 1990s,” such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and later Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. While Saudi Wahhabis were “the largest funders of local Muslim Brotherhood chapters and other hard-line Islamists” during this time, they opposed jihadi resistance to Muslim governments and assassination of Muslim leaders.’ By the same token it could be argued that wahhabism of Ibn Saud family did not forbid if global Jihad were set in motion against the Christian west.
benny

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,040 other followers