Author Archives: mlimba

About mlimba

a PhD holder in International Relations who translates books (Persian into English and Filipino, English into Filipino) on such subjects as international politics, history, political philosophy, jurisprudence (fiqh), scholastic theology (‘ilm al-kalām), Qur’anic sciences, ḥadīth, ethics, and mysticism.

My Magic Wand While Lecturing on Federalism in Maguindanao

As the 2018 Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) International Conference draws to a close, last weekend I reluctantly accepted – as I’m still recovering from a minor surgical operation – the invitation to be the resource person of a three-hour “Municipal Orientation on Federalism” of a Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-recognized Drug-free municipality in Maguindanao and a recipient of 2017 Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) Award.

When I grabbed the microphone, the sound system turned to be uncooperative! What a timing! So, the attention of the person in charge was immediately called upon to fix the problem. While everybody was anxiously waiting and sitting idly, I suddenly stood up again in front and shared a Maguindanaon ‘bayuk’ (proverb):

NELATAN SU LAGAT SA TIMPU NA KABPAGULUG, NA NANGITIS SU KALUDAN SA BASA NA KAPEMBALAT.

(Translation: “The sea dried up at the time of high tide, while the ocean turned into a draught during rainy season.”)

I was trying to allude that sometimes something undesirable happens at the most unexpected moment – an uncooperative sound system at the beginning of a program, as a good example. 

“Now, what shall we do?” I rhetorically asked the audience. Then I answered it myself through another ‘bayuk’:

PAGAWANG KA SA SABAL NA SAN KA SA KAPAGIMAN, KA BETAD NA PAPEDTAYAN I MAPAMATALU.

(Translation: “Ride on the boat of patience and take asylum in faith, for it is but natural for the darling to be tested.”)

As I sensed that the audience’s silence transformed into smile, laughter and even giggle, I pulled another ‘bayuk’ out of my sleeve, so to speak, followed by another, until the problem with the sound system was fixed.

Apart from a general overview of the federal system of government, I also informed the 250 or so members of the audience – including the mayor, vice mayor, municipal councilors, employees, barangay officials, civil society organizations’ (CSOs) representatives, and military and police personnel – of the current proposals and debates on federalism at the national level, particularly the PDP-Laban Party’s proposed constitutional amendments.

“Let’s not think of federalism – the upcoming carabao in the national political field – as an automatic panacea. It’s not necessarily ‘manna and quail from heaven’. It’s up to us to make a paradise or hell, as the case may be, out of it,” I concluded. 

During the open forum, the time for the transition mechanism, the possible scenarios if the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) lags behind the government’s agenda for federalism, and the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) vis-à-vis the so-called Equalization Fund were among the issues and concerns raised by the audience.

As I was reflecting on the lecture while on board the aircraft in my way to co-facilitate a conflict analysis workshop in another city the other day, I realized the importance of the law of connection in public speaking. In the said experience, just a few lines of Maguindanaon proverbs unexpectedly served as a magic wand for me to catch the Maguindanaon audience’s attention, and more importantly, their sympathy.

In short, when you are invited to speak, do not ever forget to bring your magic wands.

Categories: Community Service, Current Events, Public Speaking, Social Issues | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Philosophy of Ethics

Author: Murtada Mutahhari
Translator: Mansoor Limba
Number of Pages: 272
eBook Price: $3/Php150

Table of Contents

Translator’s Foreword
About the Author
Preface
Part One
Chapter 1 – What is Ethics?
Chapter 2 – Natural Action and Moral Action
Chapter 3 – Theory of Emotionalism and the Muslim Philosophers’ Theory
Chapter 4 – Conscience Theory
Chapter 5 – Theory of Beauty
Chapter 6 – Theory on Worship
Chapter 7 – Islamic Ethics and Morality
Chapter 8 – Self and Non-self
Chapter 9 – Knowledge of the Self
Chapter 10 – Spiritual and Moral Crises in the Present Age
Part Two
Chapter 11 – The Criterion for Moral Action
Chapter 12 – Communist Morality and Russell’s School of Morality
Chapter 13 – Question of the Self in Ethics

Categories: Ethics and Mysticism, Philosophy | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Mystical Sound of Maguindanaon ‘Palendag’

MAKATI CITY (19 March) – Though for only a short while, yesterday I was able to drop by the ribbon-cutting ceremony of a new social enterprise in Cotabato City, led by no less than the incumbent city mayor, Atty. Frances Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, as the guest of honor.

Beyond its acclaimed feat of “brew and books,” Café Mindanaw is indeed a showcase of Mindanao coffee and foods, books and old photos, traditional music and artifacts. In short, it is a perfect place to nourish one’s body, mind and spirit combined together.

While savoring native cuisine for free, the most refreshing for me was the rare presence of Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan-awardee (National Artist) Bapa Mael as he fascinatingly serenaded the jubilant visitors with the mystical sound of his ‘palendag’.

Also called ‘pulalu’ (among the Manobos and Mansakas), ‘palandag’ (among the Bagobos), ‘pulala’ (in Bukidnon), and ‘lumundeg’ (among the Banuwaens), the ‘palendag’ is a kind of bamboo flute in the Philippines, the largest being used by the Maguindanaons. Being a lip-valley flute, it is regarded by music experts as the toughest of the three bamboo flutes (the others being the ‘tumpong’ and the ‘suling’) to play due to the way one must shape his or her lips against its tip to make a sound. Accordingly, the construction of the mouthpiece is such that the lower end is cut diagonally to accommodate the lower lip and the second diagonal cut is made for the blowing edge.

In the parlance of Maguindanaon and other vernaculars, ‘palendag’ literally means ‘wailing,’ ‘lamentation’ and ‘crying for grief’. It symbolizes the cry of the bamboo stalk (which was turned into a flute) as it was cut off from the bamboo ‘tree’. It symbolizes complaint of separation and longing for return to one’s roots. It represents uneasiness for being driven away from one’s comfort zone and the corollary desire to regain this lost comfort. Simply put, it is a litany of unwanted rupture and yearning for union.

What’s the secret behind the melancholic sound of ‘palendag’?

In Islamic mysticism (‘irfan), this flute’s lamentation is a symbol of the soul’s sorrow at being parted from the Divine Beloved. This is exactly the subject of the first poem – “The Song of the Reed” – of the four-volume Mathnawi-ye Ma‘nawi (Spiritual Couplets), which is the Persian magnum opus of the classical Muslim poet-mystic Mawlana Jalaluddin al-Balkhi, better known in the Western world as ‘Rumi’.

Rumi thus sings:

Listen to this reed, how it makes complaint,
Telling a tale of separation:

“Ever since I was cut off from my reed-bed,
Men and women all have lamented my bewailing.

I want a breast torn asunder by severance,
So that I may fully declare the agony of yearning.

Everyone who is sundered far from his origin
Longs to recapture the time when he was united with it.”

Everyone who is sundered far from his origin
Longs to recapture the time when he was united with it.”

The reed (flute) also reveals that it expresses its sorrow to everyone, and everyone attentively listens to but none is capable enough to understand the secret behind the agony:

“In every company I have poured forth my lament,
I have consorted alike with the miserable and the happy:

Each became my friend out of his own surmise,
None sought to discover the secrets in my heart.

Body is not veiled from soul, nor soul from body,
Yet to no man is leave given to see the soul.”

Body is not veiled from soul, nor soul from body,
Yet to no man is leave given to see the soul.”

For Rumi, the reason behind this failure to perceive is the human beings’ wrong assumption that the reed’s sound is just sound wave, where in fact it is a glowing fire! And one cannot truly perceive fire unless he himself is set ablaze:

This cry of the reed is fire, it is not wind;
Whoever possesses not this fire, let him be naught!

It is the fire of love that has set the reed aflame;
It is the surge of love that bubbles in the wine.

It is the fire of love that has set the reed aflame;
It is the surge of love that bubbles in the wine.

Whoever is not a fish is soon satiated with His water,
He who lacks his daily bread, for him the day is very long.

None that is inexperienced comprehends the state of the ripe,
Wherefore my words must be short, and now, farewell!

***

Click below to listen to ‘palendag’:

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

My Darling’s Anklets

When I was supposed to give a lecture at a Mindanao-wide academic convention last Saturday, the inexorable web of fate brought me instead to a solitary confinement in which the sound of my Darling’s anklets could potentially be heard.

To Him is the praise in every condition.

Perhaps, this decades-long journey leading to the said confinement could be the subject of another book to write… in order for others to draw lessons from…

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

It Needs Much Editing!

Yesterday afternoon, out of the blue, I received a message via Telegram app:

“Salamun ‘alaykum. I’m _____ _____, one of the lecturers of _____ _____ University. I have a question for you.”

I replied, “‘Alaykumis-salam Shaykh. I’m at your service.”

“I teach using Shahid Mutahhari’s book ‘Islamic Training and Education’ which is translated into English. As I browsed online, I have learned that it’s your translation, and we’re provided a copy of it in our university.”

(Actually the book’s title is “Training and Education in Islam”.)

“Yes. it’s my translation. https://www.islamic-college.ac.uk/…/training-education-isl…/
Any problem with the translation?”

“Yes, professor. It needs much of edition!” (He then attached two photos of a text with his alleged corrections.)

      

“Is that the actual page of the book, or something retyped from the book? If it’s retyped, then typographical errors might have occurred. Kindly scan so that I can properly read it.

“Do you have your translation file? If yes, send it please to compare both.”

(As can be noticed, he refuses to answer my question, but instead asked for the softcopy of the book for FREE.)

“You can’t expect me to give you my copy because it’s violative of the contract I have signed with the publisher. I’m asking, is it the actual page of the book, or something retyped from the book?”

“I don’t have the book.”

“That’s what I was expecting: it’s something retyped from the book, not the actual book! I do suggest you to do two things: (1) to get your copy of the book, and then (2) compare the text of the actual book with the sheets in your hand. And if you discover that they are not exactly the same with the text in the book, then tell those who are responsible in typing the modules in your school to type the text
correctly!”

“What is the name and address of publisher?”

“It only shows that you have not checked the link I have given you. Please check my earlier messages.

“I checked but couldn’t download the file.”

“You are asking me about the name and address of the publisher. It’s mentioned there in the link. Or, are you really looking for the name of the publisher, or for the electronic copy of the book to download IN GRATIS?”

“This part (attaching again the photo) is the same in your link. Also there is (sic) some differences in some parts. You are somehow right, mistyped some parts, but as you saw again there is (sic) some to be edited.”

“It’s clear now that the text of the book is not exactly reflected in the sheets. We will talk about your claim that my translation requires editing once you have already a copy of the book.”

“Surely my professor. Is that publisher in London?”

“Please read again the link.”

“It was written that the publisher is in London; just to be sure my professor.”

“You are addressing me as ‘my professor’ and yet you are saying that my translation requires editing!”

“Some teachers have talented students than themselves. Humbly I am your student. Waiting [for] the right copy of your translation. I have heard of you here as a professional translator.”

“Wow! Then you have the audacity to say that you are ‘humble’ and at the same time saying that you are more talented than your teacher.”

“So finding that copy in your name shocked me. So I decided to make you aware of this. Thanks for beautiful chat.”

“Wow, you are saying that you are shocked [due to my poor translation], and yet you haven’t read my translation as a whole.”

“Bravery is our heritage… at same time being humble to the teachers. That was what I had in my hand and find it for your name. Anyway it was a good start for our relationship if you want.”

“Three things you can do: (1) Get your copy of the book, (2) and then enumerate the errors to the publisher and (3) to Dr. Muhammad Mutahhari, the author’s son who manages the Mutahhari Foundation (the repository of the author’s extensive works).

“How can I get the proper copy? Please give me a number or address to contact directly to (sic) the publisher. Thanks a million.”

“How to get a copy? Very simple, borrow from a library, or buy your own copy.”

“U mentioned that the same in the link has mistyped. So which library has the authentic copy?”

“The issue here is not which copy is authentic. The fact is that you have not yet read the whole book and yet you claim that it needs ‘much editing’.”

“Ok.”

—– 

I just hope my fellow interlocutor above would soon meet Dr. Muhammad Mutahhari, who himself had personally given his feedback to me some years ago on my translation of his late father’s two books, namely, “Training and Education in Islam” and “The Theory of Knowledge: An Islamic Perspective”.

Now, let me ask those who have read the whole book: Does it really need ‘much editing’?

This translator and the book’s editor, Dr. Amina Inloes, will surely be very grateful if you can let us know of the errors in the translation. As the Indonesian proverb goes, “Dimana gading yang tida retak,” which means “There’s no ivory without a crack.”

=====

Even after this post of mine, he did not stop notifying me of the alleged errors in my translation: “Here are some I noticed in your given link…” (Actually, I didn’t give any link to him.)

            

Thereafter, I replied to him: “After bringing your list of the alleged errors in my translation to the attention of (1) the publisher and (2) Dr. Muhammad Mutahhari, the Director of Mutahhari Foundation, please let me know their reaction. Thanks 

Then he responded thus, “Don’t you feel that this is your own business and responsibility? A book is distributing worldwide via your given link in your name full of errors! You yourself referred me to that university site for your translated book, And in a little glance l encountered this mistakes again there! Just in some available parts there. I saw and feel some non religious and non Muslim scholars worldwide are more receptive to my comments and critics even for misprintings. While YOU evaluate that as ALLEGED! While they are of your link!! Instead of begin thankful. Again maybe I will hear it’s for mistyped copy:blush: No time for looking publisher or the man without address or phone.Or writing down the list which will be named ALLEGED! Nice chat Bye my professor:pray:”

(He’s lying in saying that I referred him a certain university site.)

Naturally, I was smiling while reading his message, and then I replied. “Salam. ” I hope that will be our parting message – salam. 

Categories: Education, Translated Books, Translation | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bus 18

During the first week, part of our training was the afternoon visit to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), with the purpose, among others, of understanding better the difference mediation and arbitration. 

As indicated in the pertinent memo, from the Clingendael we would take Bus 18 of the public transport to go to The Hague Central (Den Hag Centraal), and from there we would take Bus 22 to go to the PCA. We were accompanied by two interns, Maxim and Melanie, who would serve as guides.

While we were still walking toward the Clingendael bus station along with our two guides, Damien mounted the bus which left us all! (Public bus leaves and arrives at every station at a particular time, and the driver never reopens the door once closed for departure from one station to another.)

Naturally, Maxim and Melanie were very much worried, thinking that Damien would get lost in The Hague Central, or worse still, in his way to the PCA. Since Day 1 – Orientation Day – Maxim’s favorite maxim he would share to us is this: “If you have difficult question, ask Sharon!” Sharon, by the way, is the training’s overall facilitator who had been in contact with us from the very beginning.

Under this situation wherein one of the trainees potentially gets lost in the urban jungle of The Hague during a chilling winter afternoon, Maxim had no option but to dexterously follow his own maxim. He immediately grabbed his mobile and phoned Sharon: “Hello, Sharon! Damien mounted the bus which left us. He is now alone in The Hague Central. Do you have his number? How about his Facebook account? Is there any other way to contact him?”

Trying to assure Maxim, Sofhie whom we fondly call “Mama Clingendael” or “Mama Cling” for short, said, “Don’t worry, Damien is adult enough to know his options. Either he would immediate alight at the next bus stop and wait for us, or get back to Arendsdorp and relax.” (Arendsorp Complex is our momentary detention center whose de facto warden, Mr. George, is responsible for initiating its infamous two-level sensor-operated door.)

Worried and making the wildest speculations on what would happen to Damien, we all mounted the next bus.

As the bus reached the next station, we were all happy to see Damien, shivering notwithstanding his thick winter garment, just waiting in the said station.

“Look, Damien is here!” we all exclaimed.

In spite of the gloomy winter, Maxim’s face brightened once again. So was Damien’s.

Inside the bus on our way to The Hague Central, I noticed Melanie memorizing our names, making many rehearsals therein. Since then, she has been able to memorize the names of all of us 20. I’m sure, the name “Damien” was the first registered in her mind and could not be erased even by the strong wicked storm that swept the whole Netherlands and some neighboring countries the following day.

Since then, everytime we would take Bus 18 as a group, we would simultaneously ask, “Is Damien around?”

This is one reason why we named our group “Bus 18 Batch”.

Tips:
1. To be the first is not always good.
2. Always remember that the Bus has specific time to leave and arrive at a given station.
3. While serving as tour guide to a group, never allow anyone to go ahead or be left behind without your explicit consent.

(An excerpt of my forthcoming travelogue, “HUGGING THE HAGUE: WINTER STINT AT THE NETHERLANDS INSTITUTE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS,” Mansoor Limba (Amazon.com, 2018.)

Categories: International Relations, Seminars, Trainings, and Conferences, Travel | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

On Global Rectificatory Justice

Just last Friday afternoon, I received an invitation to be a Reactor to a Lecture on ‘Global Rectificatory Justice’ to be given today by a distinguished professor. Also enclosed in the invitation was a photocopy of the 22-page chapter 1 (Introduction) of the book which the Lecturer has recently written about this topic.

As the basic idea of ‘rectificatory justice,’ when harm is perpetrated, the victim can claim redress under the moral principle of non-maleficence or ‘do-not-harm’. Building his argument for rectificatory justice around this principle, the author maintains that during the era of colonialism, colonies were harmed in different ways (interventions, war and occupations, slavery and forced labor, genocides and massacres, extermination of domestic religions and cultures, forced replacement of populations, economic dominance and exploitation, and various other kinds of human rights violations), and that individuals and peoples who were victims of these harmful acts have a right to redress.

Since I cannot physically attend the Lecture due to another commitment set earlier, let me take this platform to share my immediate observation:

‘Rectificatory’ justice is yet another ‘cool’ modifier for the word ‘justice,’ the others being ‘distributive,’ ‘compensatory,’ ‘transitional,’ and many more. As you may have no qualms in agreeing, justice is such a concept that whenever you attempt to modify it, you will definitely run the risk of delimiting and restricting its meaning. Even without modifying it, justice which essentially means “putting everything in its proper place,” distributes something, compensates something, provides a transition, and of course, rectifies something. Justice is no justice at all if it does not imply all these things.

On our way to the airport the other week, a Lebanese friend of mine was narrating his visit to selected places in Rwanda where post-conflict ‘transitory justice’ is being enforced. “As you see, we coin the term ‘transitory justice’ whenever the Authority cannot or is not willing to implement justice in the strictest sense of the word,” he told me.

Categories: Current Events, Ethics and Mysticism, International Relations, Jargons and Terminologies, Seminars, Trainings, and Conferences | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Mediating ‘Insider Mediation’

MAKATI CITY (MindaNews/4 February) – One lazy afternoon, I received an email from a friend who shared a link and asked me if I’m interested to apply for a United Nations Development Program (UNDP)-sponsored short course on negotiation and mediation as an instrument of conflict resolution being regularly conducted by a think-tank in the Netherlands.

Naturally, I said resoundingly, “Yes!” So, as it was the deadline for submission of the application, I immediately filled up the online form for about an hour and then clicked “Submit”! I was then hopeful to be accepted, but not necessarily expecting.

Two weeks after, I received an email of my application’s acceptance with much jubilation. “Back to school again,” I told myself, “and this time, in The Hague-based Clingendael Institute.”

Literally means “a valley in the dunes” and located in a 17th century manor house surrounded by a large park, Clingendael, or the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, is a leading think-tank and diplomatic academy in the world, whose primary aim is to contribute to a secure, sustainable and just world.

As a result of fusion of five smaller institutes in January 1983, Clingendael is unique for its multifunctional character of regularly conducting a host of integrated training, research, and educational consultative activities under a single roof.

Since 2015 Clingendael has been partnering with the UNDP in its initiative since 2004 to support insider mediation capacity-building in about 40 countries, by providing mediation and negotiation trainings.

Attended by 20 participants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Venezuela, this fourth batch of “Negotiation and Mediation Training as an Instrument for Conflict Resolution for Insider Mediators” was a combination of interactive simulations to improve the participants’ skills and case studies to help them reflect on both the theory and practice of mediation.

In a bid to provide the trainees with an in-depth understanding of how negotiations work so as for them to effectively facilitate a negotiation as a mediator, the first week was primarily focused on negotiation training (discussions on negotiation theory, strategies and simulations), while the second week concentrated on mediation and the specific role and skills of insider mediators and their role within the UNDP framework, with particular emphasis on understanding modalities for inclusivity and ownership of the peace agenda.

The classroom training sessions were also ideally interspersed with an educational visit to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at the Peace Palace in The Hague and to Von Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

After our training session on stakeholders- and negotiators-mapping on the second week, I saw myself accompanying three fellow Southeast Asian trainees and the representative of an international non-government organization (NGO), in going to Utrecht by train to meet with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) chief political consultant Jose Maria Sison, NDFP senior adviser Luis Jalandoni, NDFP Peace Panel Chairman Fidel Agcaoili, and NDFP Peace Panel member Connie Ledesma, in order to listen to their narratives and concerns on the stalled negotiations with the Philippine government.

The following day, three of us trainees from the Philippines were invited at the embassy by the Philippine ambassador to the Netherlands, His Excellency Mr. Jaime Victor B. Ledda, for a casual discussion on various issues including our two-week training and the peace process with the NDF.

Listening to the two narratives, I observed that each camp has identified its own ‘culprit’ of the stalled peace process: the Philippine government’s principal (Pres. Rodrigo Duterte), or the lack of enabling environment for the peace talk.

This personal observation inevitably calls to mind the concluding remark of our trainer on conflict analysis: “Conflict analysis, therefore, is not about the conflict per se; it is rather about you; it is about your perception of the conflict!” In other words, it is not about the story, but rather your narrative of the story.

Paradoxically, after almost two weeks of training on ‘insider mediation,’ our last trainer told us, “If you are an ‘insider mediator’ then you don’t exist!” As he clarified in the open forum, the reason for this claim is that every mediator is invariably a stakeholder in the conflict he or she is mediating and that mediating is becoming a lucrative business for some ‘mediators’.

In short, it is mediating ‘insider mediation’.

Categories: International Relations, Seminars, Trainings, and Conferences, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

20 Spoilers

As they are released from the momentary detention at Arendsdorp Complex, 20 are added to the number of spoilers, provocateurs, rebels, and fighters in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Lebanon, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Venezuela.

These 20 spoilers identify themselves as “Bus 18 Batch”.

(An excerpt of the forthcoming travelogue, “Hugging the Hague: Winter Stint at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations,” Mansoor Limba (Amazon.com, 2018.)

 

     

Categories: International Relations, Seminars, Trainings, and Conferences, Travel | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Wicked-Strong Storm

Wicked-strong storm coming from the North Sea recently slammed into the Netherlands, tearing off roofs, flipping trucks, tipping stacks of empty shipping containers, blowing pedestrians in the street, and prompting flight cancellations and havoc at the airports.

In the Hague, we witnessed even big tall trees being literally uprooted in our way to attend the morning session of training at the Clingendael.

(An excerpt of the forthcoming travelogue, “Hugging the Hague: Winter Stint at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations,” Mansoor Limba (Amazon.com, 2018.)

     

     

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