Monthly Archives: March 2015

Lessons from the Tunnel’s Tale

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Exactly two days after posting “Retelling Tale of a Long Tunnel,” an FB friend sent me this private message: “Thanks for this post. It’s actually a wakeup call for me. J I’m still stuck up with my research proposal. With all these office works, I doubt if I could finish my master’s. Any piece of advice?”

Late night of the same day, I received another message from a Caribbean friend informing me, thus: “Salam. I’m now in my first semester of PhD. Any tips about writing dissertation?” And then just yesterday, an ‘online’ buddy and an ‘offline’ student at the same time told me as we bumped on each other in a nearby 7-Eleven convenient store: “Sir, we will appreciate if you could share some personal reflections on pursuing graduate studies.”

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Retelling Tale of a Long Tunnel

Tunnel

This month of March brings a particular mirth and joy as we read in FB posts some friends finishing their graduate and post-graduate studies – not to mention the many graduation photos of FB friends’ elementary and high school kids.

With such feeling, I can’t help but retell my own tale of a long tunnel with the intention of sharing personal reflections and identifying moral lessons that may guide others before experiencing the same; hence, this marginalia…

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Categories: Education, International Relations | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

2015 Now Rouz

2015 New Year Supplication

Sal’e now-ye hameh-ye tun pur-barakat va sarafraz bashad!

Categories: Ethics and Mysticism, Middle East | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Is ‘Gems Sigay’ a Kaleidoscope, Rainbow or Mosaic?

Gems

Kaleidoscope. Rainbow. Mosaic. These are three words which are commonly used to describe a high school reunion’s reorganization, and its subsequent gatherings and activities.

Kaleidoscope refers to a tube-shaped optical instrument that is rotated to produce a succession of symmetrical designs by means of mirrors reflecting the constantly changing patterns made by small objects. It depicts a high school reunion group that constantly changes its colors of activities. At one time, it is all about wining and dining, while at another time, it is purely community service and civic action.

Rainbow, as we all know, is a bow or arc of prismatic colors appearing in the sky opposite the sun and caused by the refraction and reflection of the sun’s rays in drops of rain. A high school reunion is said to be a rainbow if its planned activities are too high and too big to be implemented or realized. And after a long period, they will just remain as ‘planned’ activities.

Mosaic, meanwhile, is used to describe the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. This word portrays a high school reunion which determines a set of diverse activities and then takes small, yet constant, steps toward their realization.

Today, exactly three months (or a quarter year) after the first ever reunion 25 years after graduation in high school, it is worthwhile for CCSPC Batch ’89 (Gems Sigay) to assess the identity it tends to assume – a kaleidoscope, rainbow or mosaic?

Immediately after the reunion day, the following steps in building our Contact Directory have been proposed: (1) Maintenance of FB Group Page, (2) Listing of mobile contacts, (3) Grouping according to fields of endeavor or line agencies, and (4) Grouping according to locations. (It’s part of commitment to the first step that this nondescript has to join the FB community.)

The following guiding principles have also been suggested: (1) Managing the Batch shall be a microcosm of our ability to duly serve (a) others (batch mates), (b) our alma mater, and (c) the community; (2) Batch ’89 shall be a marketplace of different and differing ideas; (3) Transparency shall be observed in financial matters and motives; (4) Reunion shall be an avenue for community service and giving back of blessings; and (5) To aim big while doing the doable things no matter how small they may be.

With these proposed steps in building our Contact Directory and guiding principles, the scene of actions in the past three months is dominated by the following activities, among others: charity works, luncheon meetings, homecoming parties, reaching out to a sick batch mate, wedding events, funeral services, entrepreneurship seminars, birthday greetings, etc.

The coming months, until the next reunion, will determine if we could maintain this mosaic of small, yet diverse, activities and programs. We hope we can – and we will!

Categories: Community Service, Current Events, High School Reunion, Throwback | Leave a comment

Current Translation Project: “Philosophy of Ethics”

PhilosophyofEthics

Murtada Mutahhari, “Philosophy of Ethics,” trans. Mansoor Limba (London: MIU Press, translation in progress), approx. 240 pp.

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An Act of Treachery

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My translation venture started more than 15 years ago as I was working part-time in the translation bureau of an international cultural institute. During a short orientation meeting on the first day of work, I can never forget the bureau chief, who was also the head of the French Desk, sharing a French proverb which means, “Translation is treachery.”

Yes, translation is an act of treachery because no matter how good the quality of a translation piece is, it is still not the original text and it can never be. So, basically, the function of the translator is to minimize, as much as he or she can, the magnitude of this treachery being committed. This is done by engaging in what is called ‘meaning-based translation’ in contradistinction to the usual literal translation.

While recently translating the last chapter of Murtada Mutahhari’s “Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition,” which was also the most difficult part of the book to translate, I was armed with the following set of tools:

Farhang Moaser Persian – English Dictionary” by S. Haim (Tehran: Farhang Moaser Publishers, 2004)

“Farhang Maaref Persian – English Dictionary” by Fakhollahi Khodaparasti (Tehran: Farhang Moaser Publishers, 2006)

A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic: Arabic – English” by Hans Wehr (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1980)

The Divan of Hafiz English – Persian,” translated by Henry Wilberforce Clarke (Tehran: Ketab-e Aban, 2005)

Tales from the Khamseh of Nizami,” translated by P.J. Chelkowski (Tehran: Peyke Farhang, 2003)

“The Metaphysics of Sabzavari,” translated by Mehdi Mohaghegh and Toshihico Izutsu (Tehran: Iran University Press, 1983)

Yes, these and a few other electronic books were my instruments then in committing the literary crime of treachery, which is euphemistically called ‘translation’.

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Forthcoming Publication: “Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition”

fitrah

Murtada Mutahhari, FITRAH: MAN’S NATURAL DISPOSITION, trans. Mansoor Limba (London: MIU Press, forthcoming), 192 pp.

Its English translation is finished just today, al-hamdulillah.

It is expected to be published within this year or early next year, insha’ Allah.

About the Book:

“Fitrah: Man’s Natural Disposition” is a translation of the Persian book “Fitrat” (Tehran: Sadra Publications, 2006) by the great Muslim thinker and reformer, Ayatollah Murtada Muttahari. “Fitrah” is the theme of a 10-session lecture series given the martyred thinker in 1976-77 in the presence of teachers in Nikan School in Tehran, and apparently due to his involvement in the Islamic movement and his increasing social activities, it was not continued. With ample citations from the Qur’an and other traditional Islamic sources, Mutahhari discusses the concept of ‘fitrah’ or man’s natural disposition. The author does not confine himself to Islamic references as he continuously engages with the views of a wide range of philosophers including Plato, William James, Russell, Nietzsche, Marx, Feuerbach, Auguste Comte, Spencer, Will Durant, and Durkheim, among others. Mutahhari’s ontological discussion covers a range of issues, including the literal and technical meaning of ‘fitrah’, sacred inclinations, love and worship, and the evolution of human originality. He also examines materialism and provides a theistic approach to some issues pertaining to the theories on the origin of religion, evolution of human society, intrinsic and acquired guidance, and intuitive and sensory dispositions.

Murtada Mutahhari was a leading theoretician of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. As an accomplished scholar of Islamic sciences, he played a pivotal role in forming the modern Islamic discourse which served as the foundation of the revolution. With close to ninety works to his credit, he is considered one of the leading thinkers of the global Islamic movement in the twentieth century.

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