Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 2010

That’s a long life: What Einstein equation has to do here?

I classified this article under “lucubrations” assuming that not many readers will select this category from among the other most interesting 35 categories in my blog.  In my dream, I managed an association between Einstein equation for defining energy and my definition for life.

 The details and clarifications of my equation were the products of my conscious state. Einstein defined the energy of an object as the product of the “mass” of the object by the square of the speed of light C. 

My definition of life is the sum of the products of elementary tasks by the speed of light.  Obviously, this equation needs plenty of clarifications.

First, the equation needs not be a sum of products and we can consider many other relevant functions after the definition of a task is understood.

Let us consider that any simple activity is constituted of hundreds of infinitesimal tasks, carried successively or in parallel, in order for an activity to be accomplished.  For example, in line production, every activity is subdivided into smaller tasks with computed standard time to finish an activity.  The idea is to train workers to be skilled, withing the standard time for each task, and even be paid accordingly to efficiency. 

Mind you, that acquiring skills and talent in any profession demands lots of repetition and investment of time and energy.  Well, every repetition of any task is counted in the equation; then, you can imagine how much life has been wasted just to be accredited as a professional or a skilled worker! 

If our brain and limbs could master a skill by simply “getting it” from the first trial of exposure then, imagine how much life we would have saved for another interesting things.  We would feel that life is stretching so long that it seems ageless.

Repetition of a task include the thousands of times that we copy, paste, reclassify, review, re-dust off our productions and memories.  Can you imagine how much life has been wasted by going back to long past activities? 

Dreaming is an activity with thousands of takes to constitute a movie.  Even the recurring dreams, mostly the unwanted ones, are counted.  The second time we experience a “deja-vue” dream is not as bad as the first projection: we tend to sit and watch as one of the audience, instead of being part of the movie; we just wait for this bad film to finish since we feel helpless to stop it or even press “Pause”.

Listen, this is a long story and a long article and I will get to you later for further clarifications and details.  Okay, I am back and I revisited my formula and revised it drastically.

Evidently, very few task go as fast as light C.  For example, the movements and reactions of limbs are pretty slow compared to light; brain reactions are at best as fast as electrons or 20 thousands km per second.  One of the rare task is as fast as C such as in the case when someone says: “I fell in love from the first look.”  This performance has high value rating in life: It can be repeated a hundred times a day; not necessarily with one hundred different women. 

For example, if you are endowed with a vivid imagination and can recapitulate “the moment” in your mind ad infinitum then, you can summarize the best that life can offer and very efficiently.  My position is that it is the first occurence that counts most, but recollecting this miraculous “moment” over and over again beats all other kinds of tasks in whatever criteria system you adopt.

Life equation clearly shows that there are many sorts of activities that ruin quality of life. What is your quality of life when you commute to work?  Repeating so-called automatic reactions in driving a car, a donkey, or a bike for hours a day is definitely cases of worsening the impact and mocking my formula. 

For example, how often you regurgitate worries left over from yesterday when you commute? How often you re-enact the clownish acting drama for the current day difficulties?  How often you ran a red light and ran over a lousy living person?  All these tasks count in the equation and should be eliminated the sooner the better. 

Think of algebra and how to cancel out redundant factors so that your life equation looks much simpler and beautiful.  So, how did you decide to commute in order to “save time” in congested metropolis?

One small problem remains to be resolved before we set our mind to changing our life style to maximize the life equation and its many constraint equations:  How many tasks and activities can fill a lifetime without being repeated again?  Are we indulging in repetitions simply because we lack the imagination to figure out plenty of activities?  Are traditions the main hurdle for our lack of imagination because it dangerously reduced licit or legitimate activities to be experienced?

How about getting on this wonderful job of revisiting taxonomies of tasks and activities that could excite you (or not) after retirement?  How about you fine tune the many tasks that constitute professional line fishing?

Turkey’s Strategy

In part one, I explained the many problems that Turkey resolved with its neighboring States such as Greece, Armenia, Cyprus, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.  The long-term strategy of the Turkish State in the coming two decades is to be at a par  with Italy, France, and Spain in deciding for the Mediterranean Sea peace, security, and development. To be able to be a credible partner and valued mediator Turkey has, in the mean time, to iron out all its historical and current difficulties with its global neighboring regions such as the Balkan States (such as Bulgaria, Romainia, Albania, and Serbia), the Caucasus States (such as Armenia, Azerbajan, Georgia, and Tchechnia), the Central Asian States (such as Tajikistan, and Uzbakistan), the Middle East States (such as Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan), the Near East States (Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine), the major north African States (Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco), and the Arab Gulf States. 

The Balkan States have over four centuries of interactions with the Othoman Empires.  Even in the 15th century, most princes in the Balkan States were vassals to the Turkish Prince who later will be called Sultan and the Caliph of Moslem after defeating the Mamelouk Sultan of Egypt in the 16th century.  Even the Byzantium Emperor was a vassal, paid tribute,  and had to join the Turkish Prince in his expansion wars.  After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, (the Turkish Prince had build a navy and blocked any sea entrance to Constantinople for sea supplies and secour by Genoa and Venice), the Othoman Empire expanded to all Central Europe and the Caucasus region. 

The Othoman Empire set siege twice to Vienne (later the Capital of the Habsburg Empire) and Vienna suffered famine and was saved at the nick of time.  At that time, there was no Russian Empire and the only Kingdom that could come to the rescue was the Catholic Kingdom of Poland that included current Belorussia and Ukraine.  Obviously, Greece was also part of Othoman Empire and the dividing line between Turkey and the rest of Europe was the Danub River (the eastern part of Hungary was under Othoman domination.)

Emperess Catherine of Russia in the 18th century expanded the Russian Empire toward the Caucasus and Central Europe.  The Balkan States were freed from the Othoman occupation but were vassals to various European Nations such as France, England, Russia, and mainly Austria (that was desintegrated after WWI) as the Othoman Empire (allied to Germany) was then defeated.  Communist Russia or the Soviet Union set claim to most of the Caucasus States and a few Central Europe States. 

The Caucasus region and many Central European States share many cultural, customs, linguistic, and culinary traditions (even among the Orthodox Christians) with the Turkish traditions.  It seems that Turkey managed diplomatic and political entente with most of these States and the oil pipelines crossing Turkey from the oil production sources in Azerbajan and the Ural region of Russia are vital economic relief to all these regional States. Turkey managed a peaceful settlement of the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabach within Azerbajan.

During the Cold War, the military regime in Turkey sided with the USA against Communist Russia and Turkey was included in the OTAN.  As West Germany was the main buffer Zone to the remaining Western European States, Turkey was the main buffer zone to the effective expansion of the Soviet Unions in the Middle East.  Israel was but a secondary ally and a typical mercenary State that the Western Powers supplied financially, militarily, economically, and politically so that the Israeli Jewish soldiers pay the price for believing that they were building their ancestral mythical State (that never existed historically but in stories in their Bible).  Fact is, most Arab States had sided with the US who purchased oil and supported the Arab monarchies and dictators.

The Soviet Unions extended defensive arms to the Middle East States because it refused to witness a reverse immigration of the Russian Jews.  Egypt was the main State that received substantial economic and financial aid from Soviet Unions, not because Egypt was viewed as the largest Arab State but mainly because Egypt did not consider itself directly concerned with the Israeli/Palestinian cause until the invasion of Israel, France, and England in 1956 on the Suez canal.

Turkey and Iran have a long history of interactions since antiquity.  Fact is, most of the Persian dynasties were Turkish in origine.  In the 18th century, the Persian Safafid dynasty was indeed a Turkish tribe and then, it turned to Chiaa Islamic sect and expanded its territory all the way to Afganistan and Central Asia.  Then, as it wanted to expand westward, the Othoman Sultan defeated badly the Safafid monarch and the current borders between the two nations were drawn at that period and remain intact since then.  Thus, the Othoman Sultan got control of Iraq and the Arabic Peninsula (current Saudi Arabia).

As the tribe of Seoud in the Hijjaz reverted to a fundamentalist Wahhabit sect and expanded in the Arabic Peninsula then, the Othoman Sultan dispatched one of his generals Muhammad Ali (Albanian of origine) to crush the Wahhabit revolts.  Muhammad Ali was very successful and destroyed the Seoud tribe Capital.  Thus, Muhammad Ali was appointed governor of Egypt and then, turned against his master and established his own dynasty in Egypt.  Consequently, the political relationship between Turkey (OTAN) and Egypt of Gamal Abdel Nasser (who had no option left but to side with Russia for military hardware and economic development) were mainly cold for over 35 years.  Turkey is attempting to warm up with Egypt, but the current Mubarak political regime in Egypt is viewing the growing power of Turkey with suspicion since it supplanted Egypt as the main power broker in the Middle East with the Western nations.

Modern Turkey is no longer an Othoman Empire but its rapid strategy, in the last two decades, to link up with all its regional States that were part and parcel of its vast Empire for over 4 centuries is giving ammunition to the so-called “moderate” isolationist and defeatist States in the Arab World (such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Morocco) that refuse to reform and plan for the future.

Fact is, Turkey is the cornerstone State for the larger alliance among Iran, Syria, and Iraq for a stronger and much more stable Middle East political climate.

Turkey’s Strategy

The long-term strategy of the Turkish State in the coming two decades is to be at a par  with Italy, France, and Spain in deciding for the Mediterranean Sea peace, security, and development. In the mean time, Turkey has to iron out all its historical and modern difficulties with its neighboring regions such as the Balkan States (such as Bulgaria, Romainia, Albania, and Serbia), the Caucasus States (such as Armenia, Azerbajan, Georgia, and Tchechnia), the Central Asian States (such as Tajikistan, and Uzbakistan), the Middle East States (such as Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan), the Near East States (Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine), the major north African States (Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco), and the Arab Gulf States.  So far, in the last decade, Turkey has been successful in bringing security and stability to most of its bordering States such as Greece, Syria, Iran, and Armenia.

For example,  on Turkey initiatives to its neighboring States, Turkey’s government extended a peace treaty with Armenia; the Armenian government signed it and the Armenian Parliament is yet to ratify the entire package.  The USA, pressued by Israel lobby, is delaying this ratification and even threatening to ask Congress to re-open the Armenian genocide file at the turn of the 20th century.  The Armenian/Lebanese demonstrated in Lebanon against the ratification, but this does not count. Sooner or later, this treaty will be ratified; and in the mean time, the many economic cooperation between the two States are growing fast. You may read my post on the Turkish and Armenian problems https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/04/17/cursed-cities-karss/

Turkey initiated a reconciliation between the two divided sections of Cyprus (the Greek and Turkish sectors).  The Cypriot Greeks are delaying the execution of this reconciliation; mainly, because the European Union (EU) does not want Turkey to have a leg in the union, even, indirectly (Cyprus Greek is part of the EU).

There are no problems between Syria and Turkey:  The borders are opened to trade, commerce, and without visas.  Turkey and Syria are conducting joint military maneuvers.  The Kurdish movements in Syria is under total control.  Syria had claims on the district of Iskandaron on the sea shore that mandated France relinquished to Turkey in 1936.  Turkey was a mediator between Syria and Israel for a peace treaty.

There are no problems between Turkey and Iran.  Both States have interest to contain and manage the Kurdish separatist movements on their lands.  Turkey and Iran have interest to keeping Iraq united a fter the withdrawal of the US troops in 2011 and are cooperating in that strategy.  Lately, Turkey joined Brazil to coaxing Iran into signing the nuclear treaty and Turkey was successful in that mediation.

Turkey and Greece are in great terms economically and politically.  Turkey aided Greece during the earthquake of 1999 and is contributing to get current Greece out of its financial morass.

Turkey has demonstrated the will to safeguard the rights of the Palestinians who were chased out of their homeland in 1948 by the new emerging State of Israel.  Turkey is leading the political and diplomatic endeavors to securing the human rights and civil rights in the occupied land of Palestine.

The main problem in Turkey is internal:  Turkey has to find a satisfactory resolution to its Kurdish separatist movement.  Negotiations are under way with most Kurdish movements but Israel has heavily infiltrated several radical Kurdish factions to keeping the heat on the Turkish State.  This case will be resolved as the US troops vacate Iraq and the Iraqi State regains some significant sovereignity over its land. (Article to be continued)

I say. Is it time to ask the two questions?

There is this time when we seriously ask the two fundamental questions:

First, are we still healthy? And

Second, is our physical handicap not very painful?

Then, smile to life:  Whatever comes during the day is fine.  You are among the living.

Before this time, we don’t have eyes or ears to listen to words of wisdom or advices.

It is not that we lack intelligence or the will to learn, but life has demands on our energies to worry a lot, a strive to fulfill whatever dream we think we have.  This is best strategy to mankind.  I had written this short poem in 1999 and I don’t think I was that conscious of getting the wiser.

I Say  

I say, every one must have his identity:

Death has forced on us the I.

I say, what exists must be discovered:

Death impressed on us to know.

I say, every feeling must be experienced:

Death created stages for us to grow.

I say, there must be a meaning to life:

Death did not leave us a choice in that.

Discredited certitude?

Unregulated capitalism (liberal capitalism) is plainly discredited; communism was discredited way before 1989; the doctrine of the Christian religion was discredited since the French Revolution in 1787 ; Islam was discredited less than a century after the Prophet’s death,  but can religion be eradicated from the spirit of the masses?

The power of current religions is that you don’t need to apply to any religious sect for fear of being  ex-communicated, whether you are a believer or not, or whether your opinions are not compatible with the predominant ideology. (Radical sects still kill those who change religions)

Religion exercises its legitimacy once it combines the doctrines of “communism or socialism” for equal opportunities and the aspiration for independence against a usurper of our wishes.  That is how extremist Islam has managed to package its ideology: an ideology targeting the poor and the disinherited who were deprived of dignity and were humiliated by the western powers.

The progress in Europe was established indirectly by a centralized Papal spiritual authority.   Ironically, this spiritual centralization was acquired when the pagan Roman Emperor Constantine supposedly converted to Christianity.

Christianity could have evolved without any serious centralization if it was not ordered by the Roman ideological system of centralized power.

Hundreds of Christian sects existed in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, and throughout the Roman Empire before the year 325:  They were persecuted as “heretics” after the conclave of Nicaea (current Turkey) in 325 and several other conclaves within the century.

Papal Rome vigorously hindered progress and any changes  for nine centuries, but once society expressed its willingness for change then it followed suit and even staunchly maintained the changes and supported them against any refracting bishops or religious Christian sects.

Centralized Papal Rome was a counterbalance to the tyranny of temporary authorities who had to compromise and rectify policies that challenged the dignity and well-being of the poor citizens.

Islam had no such centralized spiritual authority:  Islam viewed with suspicion any kinds of religious centralization: Islam didn’t appreciate mediators between the believer and his God.

Thus, the political sultans and sovereigns dominated the religious spiritual power.  In most instances the monarch grabbed the legitimacy of caliph. The counterbalance to tyranny lacked in the Moslem world:  Any recognized cleric, ordered by a sultan, could proclaim a “fatwa” (an injunction for the people to obey) as a religious obligation.  You could have several “fatwas” concurrently expressing injunction of opposite orders.

The problem in Islam is not in the source or the Koran, but the free interpretations of any monarch or leader at any period.  There are no stable and steady spiritual legitimacy in any interpretations that can be changed or neglected at other periods.

The author Amine Maaluf recounts this story.  A Moslem woman applies in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) for a private club that would allow Moslem women to meet and maybe share common hot baths along with sauna and Jacuzzi (hammam).

A week later, the municipality rejected the application on ground that the local Moslem cleric (Imam) had an objection to the club”.   If the woman was European would the municipality ask the opinion of a Christian cleric? It would certainly not.

What this story proves is that, under the good intentions of respecting ethnic minorities, the European are exercising covert apartheid: They are sending the message that minority rights are not covered by the UN declarations which are supposed to be valid for all human kinds.  The human rights approved by all States within the UN convention are applicable to all regardless of color, religion, sex, or origin.

What is fundamentally needed is that all States feel that the United Nation is a credible institution that is not dominated by veto power of Super Nations and that it has effective executive power to enforce its human rights proclamations to all world citizens and political concepts.

Let me resume my previous article on “Misleading Legitimacies“.

Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt managed to capture legitimacy in the emotions and spirit of the Arab populations as the leader of the Arab World by politically defeating the joint military attack by Britain, France, and Israel in 1956 to recapture the Suez Canal.  The Arab populations were satisfied that their crushed dignity for over 5 centuries was re-emerging among the nations (the western nations).

Even the crushing military defeat by tiny Zionist Israel in 1967 maintained Gamal Abdel Nasser as the legitimate leader, and most of the Arab State leaders converged to him to help resolve their conflicts with their neighbors or within their State.

Abdel Nasser resurrected the spirit but failed in his social promises, and of freeing the Arabic minds from oppression and dominant central government doctrines.

After the death of Gamal Abdel Nasser (The Raiyess) in 1970, the goal of Arab leaders was to re-capture Arab legitimacy.  The successor of the (Raiyess) in Egypt was Sadat who needed to rely on the legitimacy of the “Moslem Brotherhood” to strengthen his power and thus proclaimed to be “The First of the Believers (among Moslems)”.

All the Arab leaders realized that legitimacy reside in convincing victories against common enemies to the “Arabs”, or mainly any western nation and Israel as the closest geographically.  The initial victory in 1973 on the Sinai front against Israel was cancelled out by bedding with the USA and “My Dear Friend Henry (Kissinger)”.   Sadat was hated by most Arabs and no one shed a tear when he was assassinated.

Dictator Saddam Hussein enjoyed many potentials in Iraq: literate population, large army, and natural resources. He jumped at the occasion when the USA encouraged him to invade Iran of Khomeini in 1980.

This time, the enemy was the Persians who had re-captured lands that the Arab and Ottoman Empires had secured centuries ago and was called “Arabstan” or Khuzistan. After 8 years of mutual slaughtering in the battle field that resulted in over one million of victims, Saddam Hussein reverted to its neighboring “Arab” State of Kuwait and invaded it in 1990.  Saddam was vanquished by the USA (the arch-enemy of the Arab spirit) and a coalition of European and Arab armies.  Saddam lost his legitimacy.

Saudi Arabia’s successive monarchs endeavored to gain legitimacy in the Arab World through building thousands of mosques, appointing clerics who favored the Wahhabi sect, and lavishing petro-dollars for settling conflicts among the Arab States.  Saudi Arabia has been working for the long-term by proselytizing their conservative extremist Wahhabi sect among the Sunni Moslems and gaining legitimacy by proclaiming that they are the “Servitors or Guardians of the Holy Kaaba and Medina (al Haramine)”.

“Why the Arab World is not free?” : Reactions

Note: I decided to post a reply to the comments on my book review “Why the Arab World is not free?” by Moustapha Safouan https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/why-the-arab-world-is-not-free-by-moustapha-safouan/

The Iranian Shirin Ebadi is another Nobel laureate suffering at the hands of the radical Moslem Shiaa. Shirin Abadi, Islam’s most famous civil rights activists and a Nobel Prize winner, said in her acceptance speech: “Allow me to say a little about my country, region, culture and faith. I am an Iranian. A descendant of Cyrus “The Great”.  The Charter of Cyrus the Great is one of the most important documents that should be studied in the history of human rights. I am a Muslim. In the Koran the Prophet of Islam has been cited as saying: “Thou shalt believe in thine faith and I in my religion”. That same divine book sees the mission of all prophets as that of inviting all human beings to uphold justice. Since the advent of Islam, Iran’s civilization and culture has become imbued and infused with humanitarianism, respect for the life, belief and faith of others, propagation of tolerance and compromise and avoidance of violence, bloodshed and war. The luminaries of Iranian literature, in particular our Gnostic literature, from Hafiz, Mowlavi [better known in the West as Rumi] and Attar to Saadi, Sanaei, Naser Khosrow and Nezami, are emissaries of this humanitarian culture.”

The dark ages within any civilization is characterized with dogmatic extremism that denies civil liberties, including freedom of religion and justice or the right to a fair trial. “Golden age” periods should be about the freedom of expression and availability of justice for the downtrodden. A society is judged not by the standards of the richest among them but by the way the under privileged and the poorest live. A minor renaissance within the regions under the influence of Islam can be traced but the conditions that help ‘seeds of reason’ to take roots that are essential for free-thinking were just not allowed to be nurtured.

Unfortunately, in the current Arab world, the true values are rarely ever discussed freely. During the ‘Golden Age’ periods there was particularly strong tradition of rationalism known as the Mu3tazalah. They stressed that man is inherently free and were skeptic on the pre-destination concept that everything was foreordained. The Mu3tazilat carefully cultivated an ‘enlightened moderation’ and allowed for the growth of knowledge and actively promulgated the Sciences as a part of the religion doctrine.

Muslim countries supply 70 per cent of the world’s energy requirements and 40 per cent of its raw material exports. With all of their oil wealth, two-thirds of the world’s poorest people live in Muslim countries. This state of misery is unparalleled; Islam’s inability to translate its economic prowess into general good has baffled the intelligentsia of the world. In the last 20 years over one million people died in conflicts involving intra-Muslim wars.

Why are democracy and the rule of law nonexistent in most Moslim States? Why are most of the worst acts of terrorism carried out in the name of Islam? Whenever wicked fundamentalists have taken over reins of affairs they have gone for the jugular. Extremists have a single point agenda whereby ‘worldly decadence’ needs to be abolished for blessings and rewards in the after world. No devotion can gratify the extremists; every strain of deviancy over times has its own brand of virtuous approach; these anarchists at one point have inflicted devastation on embryonic societies of Islam.

Renaissance cannot be tainted with color of ideology, it cannot be “Islamic or Christian”,  it is a collective effort of minds to seek freedom from dogma and seek answers to complex questions of purpose of existence on this planet. Free thinking, logic and rationalism have to be the corner stones of any serious attempt to induce renaissance in the Islamic world. Pluralism of ideas and the prosperity of any land are intertwined. Freedom of minds and skill to ‘think the unthinkable’ is how humanity has progressed; when minds are incarcerated nothing endures.

Renaissance within all three monolithic religions was built around norms of free mind; Renaissance was about literature, architecture, arts and chiseling of marble to exquisite forms. The statue of David could only be created by the love of the free labor of Michelangelo: an enslaved mind could never be an artist or a creator. Physically enslaved men with free minds led revolutions and changed the world: they were ready to accept death instead of compromise with totalitarian or dogmatic despotism.

The first and foremost challenge that Islam has to face is freedom of intellectual inquiry, ability to ask the unthinkable and still be able to live in peace within a society. Prof. Ahmad Zewail’s use of the fast laser technique can be likened to Galileo use of his telescope that he directed towards everything that lit up the vault of heaven. Zewail tried his “femtosecond” laser on literally everything that moved in the world of molecules. He turned his telescope towards the frontiers of science. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry because he was the first to conduct experiments that clearly show the decisive moments in the life of a molecule – the breaking and formation of chemical bonds. He has been able to see the reality behind Arrhenius’ theory.

Prof. Ahmad Zewail acceptance speech like Ebadi’s referred to his richness of twin civilizations that of Islam and Egypt; he said: “Let me begin with a reflection on a personal story, that of a voyage through time. The medal I received from his Majesty this evening was designed by Erik Lindbergh in 1902 to represent Nature in the form of the Goddess Isis or the Egyptian Goddess of Motherhood.  She emerges from the clouds, holding a cornucopia in her arms and the veil which covers her cold and austere face is held up by the Genius of Science. Indeed, it is the genius of science which pushed forward the race against time, from the beginning of astronomical calendars six millennium ago in the land of Isis to the femtosecond regime honored tonight for the ultimate achievement in the micro-cosmos.

I began life and education in the same Land of Isis, Egypt, made the scientific unveiling in America, and tonight, I receive this honor in Sweden, with a Nobel Medal which takes me right back to the beginning. This internationalization by the Genius of Science is precisely what Mr. Nobel wished for more than a century ago.”

Professor Ahmed H. Zewail, the only Arab to ever win a Nobel Prize for science and, since the death of the Pakistani physicist Abdus Salam, the only one among the 1.2 billion Muslims with that honor.   The Egyptian author Mahfouz in his Nobel acceptance speech said: “The end will begin when seekers of knowledge become satisfied with their own achievements.” Unfortunately the embryonic renaissance in the late 700′s to 1300 of Islam was not extinguished by the satisfaction of its scientist’s queries; rather it was killed on the altar of dogma.

Abdus Salam once wrote: “The Holy Koran enjoins us to reflect on the verities of Allah’s created laws of nature; however, that our generation has been privileged to glimpse a part of His design is a bounty and a grace for which I render thanks with a humble heart.” Sad and tragic is the reality that this scion of Pakistan was not allowed to be buried in his homeland; an orphaned son of a nation thanked the luminaries on behalf of a nation who had disowned him.

In his acceptance speech Abdus Salam said: “… I thank the Nobel Foundation and the Royal Academy of Sciences for the great honor and the courtesies extended to us, including the courtesy to me of being addressed in my language Urdu. Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this. The creation of Physics is the shared heritage of all mankind. East and West, North and South have equally participated in it. In the Holy Book of Islam, Allah says: ‘Thou see not, in the creation of the All-merciful any imperfection, Return thy gaze, see thou any fissure. Then Return thy gaze, again and again. Thy gaze comes back to thee dazzled and aweary.”

On the global stage, it is these “heretical” scientists who are disowned by the Moslem orthodox clergy who have earned the greatest respect for Islam. Historically, we have distorted our real heroes into heretics, and the witch-hunt still continues. Dr. Abdus Salam is not the only one treated as heretic; we have the modern rationalist, Naguib Mahfouz – Nobel laureate in literature. Citation of his work, ‘Awlad Haratina,’ in the Swedish Academy’s declaration of award of the Nobel Prize to Mahfouz in 1988 greatly angered the Islamicists. His novel appeared in English under the title, “The Children of Gebelawi.”

Shortly after the eruption of the Salman Rushdie affair, the leading fundamentalist, Omar Abd al-Rahman currently imprisoned in the US for his role in the attack on the World Trade Center—declared that if they had killed Mahfouz in 1959 for writing ‘The Children of Our Alley,’ Rushdie would never have dared write his novel. This was taken as a fresh fatwa to kill Mahfouz.

In 1994, a failed attempt on his life leaft Mahfouz paralyzed in his right arm. The crime of association of present day heroes of Islam with their past intellectual ancestors has marginalized them. It was the same Mahfouz who presented the case of his twin civilizations so adequately in the forum of ‘Swedish academy of sciences’ and quoted the great Muslim rationalist poet Abul-’Alaa’ Ma’ari who asserted everywhere “the rights of reason against the claims of custom, tradition and authority.”

The world cannot remain hostage to medieval concepts; this modern fight has to be seen in its intellectual, historical and geographical context.  The Islamic world today is trying to re-ignite its lost “renaissance” but is led by demented people with medieval minds; they are supposed to cure our ills but are out in the open to slaughter and maim thousands. Respect of life is the first sign of an educated mind.

The Arabic language was synonymous with learning and science for over five hundred years; a golden age that can count among its credits the precursors to modern universities, algebra, and the names of the stars and even the notion of science as an empirical inquiry. Science flourished in the Golden Age of Islam because there was within Islam a strong rational tradition of inquiry. This tradition stressed human free will.  Under the Mut3azalah (enlightened moderation) knowledge grew. Moslim conventional Puritanism, led by Ghazali, reawakened in the twelfth century.  The Moslem puritans championed revelation over reason, predestination over free will. The Imam Ghazali described mathematics and medicine as (Fard-E-Kefaya) placing these knowledge secondary to religious knowledge.

A few Islamic clergies are trying to introduce elements of bigotry and fanaticism in mainstream Islamic thought. Our modern day laureates depict equally a sense of great connectivity to the rich past and that has to become a standard. Most likely the Islamic Renaissance that was about to be born 1000 years ago did not. We shall never know the extent of the harm that some celebrated religious zealots caused to mankind and civilization. We are once again at the crossroads; the only ways forward is to connect with the world and help make ours a true charitable society, the only way prosperity of mind can be ensured is through pluralism of ideas.

“Why the Arab World is not free?” : Reactions

Note: I decided to post a reply to the comments on my book review “Why the Arab World is not free?” by Moustapha Safouan; the length of the reactions demanded to be slpit in two parts.  https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/why-the-arab-world-is-not-free-by-moustapha-safouan/

One of the comments stated: “I am the son of two civilizations that have formed a happy marriage. The first civilization is 7 thousand years old of Pharaonic Egypt. The second is Islamic of 1,400 years old.

One day the great Pyramids will disappear but Truth and Justice will remain for as long as Mankind has a reflective mind and a living conscience.  A Moslim Caliph returned prisoners of war to the Byzantium Empire in exchange of ancient Greek manuscripts in philosophy, medicine and mathematics. This is a testimony of value for the human spirit in its demand for knowledge; the believer in One God demanded the fruits of a pagan civilization.

It was my fate to be born in the lap of these two civilizations and to feed on their literature and art. The truth of the matter is that Evil is a loud and boisterous debauchee, and that Man remembers what hurts more than what gives pleasure. Our great poet Abul-Alaa2 al Ma3ari was right when he said: “A grief at the hour of death is worse than a hundred-fold of Joy at the hour of birth.”

When the Moslem’s armies extended their territories from Spain to India, they took possession of the works of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Archimedes, and other Greek thinkers. One of the prime reasons attributed to Moslims’intellectual enhancement in the Middle Ages is the considerable influence of Greek philosophy to a rational new religion. Up to the nineth century, Muslim intellectuals valued reason in their interpretation of the Koran and Hadith.  Our present day Moslem heroes are associate with the rational past.

In early Islam, there was a philosophical debate that started with al-Ghazali and resumed by Ibn Rushd; this comprehensive debate led the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II (1451-1481), the conqueror of the Capital Byzantium, to order two of the Empire’ scholars to compile books to summarize the debate between Ghazali and Ibn Rushd.

The philosophy of al-Ghazali was attacking the ideas of the two philosophers Avicenna or Ibn Sina (980-1037) and Farabi who were inspired by Aristotle, Plato, and Plotinus.

Avicenna is known as al-Sheikh Rais (Leader among the wise men); in the west, he is also known as the “Prince of Physicians” for his famous medical text Qanun “Canon”. In Latin translations, his works influenced many Christian philosophers, most notably Thomas Aquinas.

The spread of Hellenistic philosophy in the Muslim world was started by the first Arabic philosopher Kindi (800-865) who wrote many works on Greek science and philosophy.

As a mathematician, Al Kindi realized the importance of Aristotelian logic. Farabi’s ideal rulers would be chosen for their intelligence and education in the sciences, philosophy, and religion.

According to Farabi, the best ruler for the Muslim Empire would be a “philosopher-king”, a concept described in Plato’s “Republic”.  One of the most important contributions of Farabi, beyond his political views and scientific philosophies, was to make the study of logic easier by dividing it into two categories – Takhayyul (idea) and Thubut (proof). He wrote several sociological books, including his famous work – Al-Madina al-Fadila (The Model City). 

In Andalusia (Spain) Ibn Rushd commented on Al Ghazali ,argument by argument, defending the power of rational and investigative thinking; his work became the foundation for Europe Renaissance in understanding Aristotle.

This part of history needs to be written; there are no takers yet.

Orthodoxy in Islam rarely allows the treatise of Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (980-1037), Kindi (800-865) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) to become the syllabus of mainstream thought process.

A Moslem student might revere Avicenna and Averroes but he is not offered the opportunity to read their works.

If Avicenna and Averroes’s thinking were part of the dialogue within Islam then the sun of the golden era would have never set.

We cannot cite Khayyam as an example of a great poet and completely forget the message he gave. We may disagree with Khayyam but introducing his thinking will help us to determine what pluralism is all about.

The works of our thinkers need to be revisited and their books should form an integral part of our academia. Khayyam is described as an atheist, philosopher, and naturalist.

The constant themes of Khayyam’s poetry are the certainty of death, the pointlessness of asking unanswerable questions, the mysteriousness of the universe, and the necessity of living joyfully the present.

This is clearly reflected in the verses taken from Rubaiyat: “…How much more of the mosque, of prayer and fasting? Better go drunk and begging round the taverns. O Khayyam, drink wine, for soon this clay of yours will make a cup, bowl, one day a jar….”

The attack; (continue #10 of fiction novel)

The night before the attack on the Capital Mtein, Antoun sensed the anxiety overwhelming his comrades and ordered to set up five bonfires and distributed the leaders to gather with the insurgents around the fires.  He refrained from meeting with his leaders in close quarters and repeated his address to the five encampments separately saying:

“The time is approaching to execute our decision for a better life, a life based on fairness in the laws as worthy equals in our society.  It is time to start erecting a society with the right to elect a government of the people and for the people; a government that understand the wishes and dreams of its people and has experienced the sufferings and injustices of the peasants and working people under the despotic and unfair feudal system.  It is natural to feel scared otherwise, I wouldn’t trust your courage and determination if you didn’t feel apprehensive tonight.  Our project is the life or death of our destiny tailored to our big heart. Our project is the dream and wish of many citizens in the towns and villages whom have been keeping these dreams burning deep in their compassionate hearts.  We know each other; we are friends and we will take care of one another as we had done for many years.  We have planned together our revolution to the minute details, as intelligent and responsible leaders of people should do, to succeed and win against the heartless and irresponsible feudal Cheiks, Beys and Emirs”.

“You all know by now that I don’t dwell much on abstract notions such as freedom, liberty and self-determination; we have discussed the meanings of these concepts so that we don’t abuse and short hand the intelligence of our citizens.  Opening and creating opportunities for learning and working go hand in hand with empowering the individual citizens to take bold decisions, fortified by laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender, religion and social status.  That is how we give sense to liberty and self–determination and that is what our citizens should demand from us.”

He went on saying: “In a few hours we march boldly toward the Capital of the loathed executioners of our rights; who denied us the joy of life commensurate to our labor, sweat and blood.  Obey the orders and directives of your elected leaders and be steadfast in your fight.  I can see our flags fluttering in the morning wind at the top of the Castle. Victory is whispering sweet songs and the shout of Long Live the Revolution is already deafening my ears.  I can see hundreds of peasants gathering around you in the Capital’ Square and shouting in unison ‘Long Live the Revolution’!  Is Victory singing to you too?  I cannot hear you! Long Live the Revolution! Louder! Louder!”

The insurgent detachment headed by Antoun descended from Baskenta toward Mrouj with 150 fighters while Mustafa and Hanna accompanied by Elias headed for Falougha, in currently the Chouf County, with 200 insurgents. They were advancing at the pace of caravans and looking very much like trading caravans with a few women prominently exhibited and some well know caravan regular leaders perched on their ornamented mules. As soon as the two groups reached their first destinations they would descend on Mtein at sun down helped by the moon light. They were to wait for the combined attack at 5 o’clock in the morning after the peasants had left their homes for the fields.  Supporters in the Capital were ready to guide the insurgents to the residencies of the strongmen and powerful landlords in and around the town.  The insurgents were successful in capturing the targeted noblemen and entered Mtein with no major resistance.

At the same time, two dozen fighters were guarding the entrances to the Bishop Atanasios’ residence, waiting for the fire signal to elevate over the highest hill to enter the residence and have the Bishop and his monks under house arrest.  At every entrance and exit passageway, a handful of guards with an officer disguised as a monk regulated the traffic of civilians and clergy.  People coming in to pay a visit to the Bishop were discouraged to resume their trip because of a special conclave for the clergy and the impossibility of meeting anyone for a couple of days.  The peasants working the land of the monastery or traders were allowed in and retained there.  Gergis was leading this group of partisans with the mission of striking a deal with the Bishop after Antoun’s insurgents enter Mtein.  Elias was behind the project of this necessary house arrest coup but was instead assigned another task because he was still officially excommunicated and for fear that his zeal might foil this important mission.

Gergis’ task was to convince the Bishop and his associates in the clergy that the takeover of power was not the work of ruffians and outlaws but of learned gentlemen, citizens concerned with the status of lawlessness and injustices which was fueling a feeling of restlessness among the population of believers.  To convince the clergy that this revolt sought the approval and leadership of their Patriarch, Gergis promised that they will receive the proper documents very shortly.  Gergis insisted that he was ready to deal fairly and squarely on behalf of the leaders of this popular movement of believers.

In the mean time, Bishop Atanasios agreed to say mass in the Capital Mtein next Sunday with all the official ceremonies befalling a highly important personality.  The two parties were not duped in their respective intentions but they implicitly agreed that this negotiation was the business of politicians awaiting better circumstances.  The Bishop was convinced that this movement, like other previous revolts, would not survive long, and that life as usual would return under the full control of the clergy and the feudal old political structure.

The official mass was to be held at nine o’clock and the leader was outside by 8 am accepting the congratulations and respect of the town people and dignitaries while anxiously keeping an eye on the horizon waiting for the Bishop to be sighted.  At twenty to nine, a small group of pedestrians wearing black cloaks and following a person perched on a mule was sighted, plodding at an average pace.  Antoun who had become mainly a city man and, relatively removed from the customs of the mountains and the declining economic status of the clergy, did not pay this group much attention and was scrutinizing the horizon for dust generated by a cavalry accompanying the Bishop in pageant procession.  When the black clad group, many bare feet in dirty cloaks, was thirty meters away Elias nudged Antoun and shouted: “The bastard has come”.

The leader briskly faced Elias and waited for an explanation to his rude comment when someone raised his voice saying: “Let peace be upon you, Antoun my son “.  The Bishop was directly confronting him from the top of his mule with a thin smile across his lips and hard eyes piercing toward the inattentive leader of the peasants.  Antoun was taken aback in total surprise and fumbled down his mount, helped the Bishop to dismount and then kissed the proffered hand.  Elias was beside himself and was ready to wriggle the neck of the Bishop as well as Antoun’s for his vile humility toward this despicable high placed clergy and shouted to the Bishop: “Atanathios, remember me?  I am waiting for you to publicly recant your excommunication of me and everyone in the Metn.”  The cunning Bishop seeing an opportunity to reclaim his power replied: “Son Elias, I am glad to admit you back into the flock. You have already suffered enough and the church is forgiving to human weaknesses”.  Elias was about to retort but was taken away by a gesture of impatience from Antoun.

The new leader was received as the avenging hero who will strengthen the force of order and prevent violence, injustice, and anarchy. He could deliver his promises since the outlaw men and deserters were part and parcel of his well organized army.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

June 2010
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