Today, January 28, 2015, was supposed to be one of the brightest days for one of our high school colleagues as it is his wedding day, but sad to say, it turned out to be one of the gloomiest days for him and his family as his beloved father passed away last night (January 27).
This melodramatic incident unambiguously speaks about an often neglected slice of life – that our life is nothing but a paradox of union and separation. The birth of a baby is obviously a panorama of union and a joyous addition to a family. Yet, we rarely realize that it is also a moment of separation for him from the world of the womb to which he was too much accustomed for a period of nine months or so. Death of a senior family member is obviously a source of grief and sorrow as it signals his departure from our realm of corporeality. Yet, it hardly dawns upon us that it is also his rendezvous with his long-deceased loved ones, say, his parents and grandparents.
Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister of Adolf Hitler, once said, “A lie, if it is repeated a hundred times, becomes the gospel truth.”
The World of Propaganda
When the people of Sham received the news that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib was fatally wounded by Ibn Muljim in the mihrab (niche) of the Kufah Mosque, they could hardly believe that Abu Turab (‘Ali ibn Abi Talib’s epithet) would visit a mosque and much less that he knows how to pray! These they were saying about a person who would spend the whole night privately conversing with His Lord, entreating, imploring and beseeching Him in utmost humility and abjectness. Lady Zaynab bint ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib – that articulate voice of ‘Ashura – had to swim against the tide of ‘truth,’ ‘justice’ and ‘movement’ in inverted commas in order to hoist the true banner of the truth of Muhammad truth, the justice of ‘Ali and the movement of Husayn.
Early morning yesterday – that is, only a few hours after reposting the other night an old piece entitled “On Being a Resident Stranger” originally written on February 9, 2009 – I was reading an article “Reading the Qur’an as a Resident Alien” by His Reverence Whitney Bodman of the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Texas) published in The Muslim World Journal (volume 99, October 2009).
It is interesting to know from this journal article about a concept similar to that of the ethical-mystical ghurbah espoused in “On Being a Resident Stranger”. Rev. Bodman talks about the concept of gēr (‘resident aliens’) in Hebrew which refers to the sojourners of the Old Testament. Accordingly, like Abraham sojourning in Egypt (Genesis 12:10), the gēr is both resident and alien.
For further information, one may refer to the article on ‘Sojourner’ in The Anchor Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992) VI, 103-4.
Written: February 1, 2009
After yet another post-‘Ashura commemoration program held recently at the research institute with which I am currently connected, my daughter handed to me an LBC package. “Yes, Mustafa has sent them as he promised,” I whispered to myself while reading the sender’s address.
A few days earlier, I had received a text message from my Batangeño friend asking for my postal address as he has a gift for me. As I found out, the brotherly present consists of DVD films about Saint Mary, the Holy Messiah and the Companions of the Cave [ashab al-kahf] from an Islamic perspective. In his subsequent text message, I learnt that Mustafa offered similar items to his Christian relatives and friends as Christmas gift.
On the month of the wiladah (birth) of Prophet Muhammad – Rabi‘ al-Awwal – the third month in the Islamic lunar calendar, it’s quite appalling to hear the news of the Charlie Hebdo incident that resulted in the death of 12 people and wounding of 10 others.
For me, two issues are mainly involved here, viz. (1) the horrendous crimes committed and (2) freedom of expression. In this space, let me just deal with the first issue.
Written: January 5, 2009
On my return home last October from abroad where I attended an international conference and spent the whole month of Ramadan, my wife and I were treated by a longtime friend and brother-in-faith at a favorite Thai restaurant somewhere in Makati City.
No sooner that Tom Yam Goong was served than my former classmate started a casual tête-à-tête, “You know, I regularly monitor the US presidential race. I would hardly miss watching Obama’s speeches and interviews. I also read news reports of his election campaigns and debates. I like his ideas. With him, I hope for a change for the better. I really like to see him campaigning along with his hijab-wearing sister.”
CCSPC Batch ’89 (Day and Night Classes) colleagues’ short visit to ‘Bahay Maria’ last January 4 was worthy of reflection for many reasons:
1. It’s a first-time experience for many, if not most of us, to visit such a noble place. Contrary to the common notion that it’s a home for the aged, it’s actually more than that; it’s a home for the abandoned ones regardless of age and religious affiliation.