Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Supna Zaidi

The Middle East Forum announces the appointment of Supna Zaidi as assistant director of Islamist Watch, a project to resist the Islamist agenda to spread Shari‘a through lawful means and to gain special rights for Muslims in the West.

from MEF

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

quatrain 36

I've visited this quatrain previously at staying awake. Sunlight has three further translations or versions, to which I'll add the Houshmand one.
I cannot sleep in your presence.
In your absence, tears prevent me.
You watch me My Beloved
on each sleepless night and
only You can see the difference.

trans Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

When I am with you, we stay up all night.
When you're not here, I can't go to sleep.

Praise God for these two insomnias!
And the difference between them.

version Coleman Barks

as long as I'm with you
I can't sleep
having you
as long as you are away
I can't sleep
crying for you
dear God
I'm sleepless
both nights
but look at the
difference in the
two insomnias

trans Nader Khalili

When I'm with you, your love keeps me awake.
When I'm not, I can't sleep for weeping.
Good God... I'm up all night both nights, awake,
But what a difference just your presence makes.

trans Zara Houshmand

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Listening to the prophet David play,
psalms and music, a strange excitement

came, presence and patience. Egyptian
granaries full of grain and Joseph's

handsomeness. Actual sun and nearness.
Sky, undecided; earth, silent: in this

precarious unknowing we live, love
doesn't want to say the name of Hu.

You stay concealed. A falcon lights.
How far away? Mount Sinai under Moses.

The indications are that you are the one
who appears, not again, but continuously.

Ghazal 2953, version by Coleman Barks, with Nevit Ergin via Sunlight


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mansur on Sharia

Sharia is a legal system derived from the Qur'an and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, and devised by Muslim scholars more than a millennium ago to dictate just about every aspect of individual living and thinking.

It is a closed system disallowing any innovation based on a modern reading of Islam's sacred texts, and it is violently at odds with liberal-democratic values.

The Islamist demand for introducing Sharia is strategically conceived to render Muslim populated areas in a multicultural Britain -- and similarly in other western democracies -- as Sharia-based enclaves set apart from the majority population.

The evidence of havoc Islamists have wrought across the Arab-Muslim world is overwhelming, and since Sept. 11, 2001, this evidence is daily news.

Yet a growing elite opinion in Britain, defying logic and history, has taken hold in support of Sharia while remaining unmindful of consequences and dismissive of the peril [...] of how internal enemies push their agenda to fatally weaken democracies.

from Salim Mansur: Sharia law thin edge of wedge

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vehemently black and white

Why is Islam the only religion that is so “misunderstood”? Where are the series dedicated to "demystifying" Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism — you know, so we can “clear the air,” once and for all? As with the canard that, one need be fluent in Arabic to truly understand the commandments of the Koran, the hackneyed concept that Islam is so “profound” that only some sort of transcended sage can truly understand it — and in the meantime, the rest of humanity are better keeping silent on the matter — is no more than a shameless smokescreen. Indeed, that's Suffi and, to a much lesser extent, Shia talk. Sunni Islam, on the other hand (which makes up well over 90% of all Islam) is of all the major religions the most straightforward, black and white, totally legalistic and therefore totally “demystified” religion there is.

from Raymond Ibrahim: Islam: the perpetually “misunderstood” religion


on sofa cushions

An exchange on sofa cushions at the atheists meetup message board:
JD: Anne, what would you say about the position taken by the fictional character of 'Nicky' in this fictional dialogue?

Nicky: I think you should know that I'm sitting on God.
Jerry: What do you mean?
Nicky: This sofa cushion. It's God.
Jerry: But God isn't a sofa cushion!
Nicky: I'm telling you that this sofa cushion is God.
Jerry: You're not telling me that that sofa cushion created the Universe!
Nicky: No, of course not.
Jerry: But you just said that that sofa cushion is God!
Nicky: That's right. It is.
Jerry: But God created the Universe!
Nicky: Don't be silly. How could a sofa cushion create the Universe?
Jerry: You're not making any sense!

full post

anne: I would say that he (or she) has his (or her) buttocks positioned on a sofa cushion.

If I were in Jerry's place I would simply accept that the sofa cushion is God and leave it at that.

Where Nicky says "Don't be silly. How could a sofa cushion create the Universe?" I think he (or she) is the one being silly for surely a sofa cushion can indeed create the Universe. That being said, Nicky is entitled to his (or her) opinion on the matter and again, if I were in Jerry's place I would leave it at that.

from this page

Ansgar: The interesting question is, why so much value is attached to the word "God". Anne said in another thread, that the "word god is god". If you look at the link that Anne provided to process theism, it is mentions explicitly that it disagrees in almost every aspects with how theists view god.But for some reason they are able let go of the every aspect that defines the word "god", but not of the word "god", itself. That is to say the least interesting.

Some scientists when canvassing these issues of philosophical theology may prefer to call themselves 'agnostics' rather than 'atheists' because they have been over impressed by a generalised philosophical scepticism or by a too simple understanding of Popper's dictum that we can never verify a theory but only refute it. Such a view would preclude us from saying quite reasonably that we know that the Sun consists largely of hydrogen and helium. When we say 'I know' we are saying something defeasible. If later we discover that though what we said was at the time justified, it nevertheless turned out to be false, we would say 'I thought I knew but I now see that I didn't know'. Never or hardly ever to say 'I know' would be to deprive these words of their usefulness, just as the fact that some promises have to be broken does not deprive the institution of promising of its legitimacy.

source: Atheism and Agnosticism @ Stanford

The one thing binding atheists to theists is the word "God". Neither group can get enough of this word.

I love God. I am God. I know God. I love the word "God" like Romeo loves the word "Juliet".

But as Rumi put it:

Believer, unbeliever, cynic, lover,
all combine in the spirit-form we are,

but no one yet is awake like Shams.

So it's also true that ...

I hate God. I reject God. I place my buttocks firmly onto God. I insist that I and God are separate and apart. And while I, my buttocks and my sofa cushion all quite clearly exist, poor God is not so blessed. Though given that life is such shit, perhaps God is the fortunate one after all.

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love dogs


One night a man was crying, Allah! Allah!
His lips grew sweet with the praising,
until a cynic said,
"So! I have heard you calling out,
but have you ever gotten any response?"

The man had no answer to that.
He quit praying and fell into a confused sleep.

He dreamed he saw Khidr, the guide of souls,
in a thick, green foliage.

"Why did you stop praising?"

"Because I've never heard anything back."

"This longing you express IS the return message."

The grief you cry out from
draws you toward union.

Your pure sadness
that wants help
is the secret cup.

Listen to the moan of a dog for its master.
That whining is the connection.

There are love dogs
No one knows the names of.

Give your life
to be one of them.

Mathnawi III, 189 – 211, version by Coleman Barks

This poem is available at Sunlight but I found it at Crossword Bebop where Douglas provides a link to an exquisite reading of the poem. I also stole his image of Rumi. And I loved the Sufi tale he linked to in which Khidr also appears.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

quatrain 67

From Sunlight, three interpretations of Quatrain 67:
Sometimes I feel like a king,
sometimes I moan in my own prison.
Swaying between these states
I can't be proud of myself.
This "I" is a figment of my imagination.

trans Azima Melita Kolin and Maryam Mafi

I thought I had self-control,
so I regretted times I didn't.

With that considering over, the one thing I know
is I don't know who I am.

version by Coleman Barks

there was a time
when my thought
soared as a king
or a time when I mourned
like a prisoner
those days are gone
and I have promised
not to take myself
seriously again

trans Nader Khalili

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Islam and the Unitarians

It suddenly occurred to me that there might be a connection between the Unitarian Church and Islam, given the origins of the Church in Transylvania which was, at the time, on the border of the Hapsburg and Ottoman Empires. A 2004 paper by a Unitarian Universalist minister details the cross-cultural influences.

Anti-Socinian [anti-Unitarian] writers [...] were generally writing out of the alarmed conviction that Unitarianism might represent a stage towards conversion to Islam, a belief partially inherited from the early days of the magisterial reformation, when the spread of Islam was seen as both an extension of anti-Trinitarian heresies and as a consequence of divine wrath over such apostasy. After all, none other than Martin Luther himself had famously blamed the spread of Islam on the Unitarians in exactly this fashion, writing that “Arius’s punishment in hell becomes greater each day as long as this error lasts. For Mohammed came from this sect” (5:206). The ultimate concern about Unitarians was more than a concern with heresy: the ultimate worry was also political, with many Europeans fearing that Islamic-happy Unitarians might possibly sympathize with Ottoman ambitions, a concern that had more than an element of truth.

from Susan Ritchie: The Islamic Ottoman Influence on the Development of Religious Toleration in Reformation Transylvania

This is another example of the political sentiment: "My enemy's enemy is my friend." The Ottoman leaders would have exploited the Reformation divisions in order to gain religious and political influence among the Reformation Protestants. Likewise, Luther is exploiting anti-Muslim sentiment in order to argue against Unitarian theology.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

quatrain 168

From Sunlight, two interpretations of Quatrain 168:
Tonight we go to that place of eternity.
This is the wedding night –
a never-ending union
of lover and Beloved.

We whisper gentle secrets to each other
and the child of the universe
takes its first breath.

version by Jonathan Star and Shahram Shiva

This night there are no limits to what may be given.
This is not a night but a marriage,
a couple whispering in bed in unison the same words.
Darkness simply lets down a curtain for that.

version by Coleman Barks

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

completely naked

I've given up on my brain.
I've torn the cloth to shreds
and thrown it away.

If you're not completely naked,
wrap your beautiful robe of words
around you,

and sleep.

ghazal 314 - version by Coleman Barks via Sunlight

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

our silent chords

We live and move and think; but we are not the creators of our own origin and existence. We are not the arbiters of every motion of our own complicated nature; we are not the masters of our own imaginations and moods of mental being. There is a Power by which we are surrounded, like the atmosphere in which some motionless lyre is suspended, which visits with its breath our silent chords at will.

from Percy Bysshe Shelley: Essay on Christianity


new blog

I've been writing and collecting more and more material about Israel and following especially the vision and viewpoint of Caroline Glick. I thought it about time I devoted a blog to that and thereby keep my political concerns separate from the rest. The new blog is called glick4israel.

I am part of the worldwide
Zionist Conspiracy,
and I'm not even Jewish.

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The more money is poured into the Palestinian Authority, the more money is diverted to terrorism and the more murders of Israelis and Palestinians result. It is sickening to think that this is where our money goes and our leaders are so blind to it.

More details here.