Archive for March, 2007

Believe Me, I Love Seyyed Hossein Nasr

March 25, 2007

I was intrigued by Ali’s post which talked about Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s experience with a tonga driver in Lahore. In short, the tonga driver figures out that Nasr is persian and on the spot, starts reciting Hafiz, Attar, Rumi et al. with what we gather, heartfelt surr.

That example — riding in that carriage that night under the starry sky of the Punjabi countryside listening to an illiterate tonga driver reciting some of the most sublime mystical love poetry ever written, reciting both from memory and from the center of his heart — shows how universal the living reality of the love for God is in the Islamic spiritual universe.

Undoubtedly, Nasr paints a beautiful picture. I let the post churn in my head for three days because something about it just didn’t sit right with me. Then it hit me. Even though there is much truth to Nasr’s observation, there exists a dark side to this spiritual universe, a quagmire that Muslims cannot seem to escape: they have difficulty manifesting this love in their daily lives. Unfortunately, connecting the batin to the zahir is an exercise that either died out a long time ago or one that Muslims have severe difficulty executing today. There is no doubt that western people suffer from deficient sexual morality. However, for the most part, western people tend to have an impeccable social morality. The Muslim world on the other hand, reciporcates this pattern to perfection. And that is a shame for people that are scions of a personality that will be remembered eternally for being the bearer of perfect morality in every sphere of life may it be inner, outer, private or social.

What use are the experiences of saints if all we can do is print them in glossy books and memorize them for recitation? The obvious rebuttal to that is that surely there is no harm in doing the above, perhaps one day some soul may gain some benefit. I disagree. Doing the abovementioned is akin to taking pictures of clothing, memorizing their details and reprinting those pictures for the world proclaiming ‘look! clothing! this is what will beautify us and this will what will keep us warm!’

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I Feel Like Screaming

March 24, 2007

I started too early. There’s no doubt I started blogging years ago at a time when it truly was a fad. Truth be told however, I was an awful writer with little to say. At the time, being a blogger didn’t improve my writing and I didn’t get smarter. True growth came after posting on messageboards and arguing about issues I truly cared for. To me, messageboards are still the superior method for improving one’s ability to synthesize ideas and to present viewpoints in a coherent manner. But there’s a caveat: you have to conciously make attempts at improving. I say this because I have seen one too many unfortunate souls who still sound horribly identical to what they did over a decade ago. So with that in mind, I am back to writing. The reason I feel like screaming is because If I dont write down some of the things that are going through my head these days, they will clog up my cranium until I am forced to regurgitate them all at once on someone not expecting a two hour rant on socio-political realities in the Muslim world.

In the spirit of improving, I am going to lift these gems right off the excellent ‘best blog’ blog.

• Best Bloggers respect their readers. They don’t take you for granted. They respond to your comments. They keep their promises or tell you why they haven’t been able to. (For example: We tried to do a Blog-A-Day every day this December. But we went to too many parties to do one EVERY single day. Still, even falling short of the goal, we gave you more great blogs this month than we have in many months this year.)

• Best Bloggers hook you. They drawn you in from the first sentence. That can happen in as many ways as there are imaginations, but it never, ever means this sort of beginning: Sorry I haven’t blogged in so long, but I’ve been busy. Or Not much to say, but I don’t have anything else to do but blog. A Best Blogger has got something to say, and they make you want to hear it.

• Best Bloggers know how to use the tools at their disposal. Mostly, that means they’re good at the language in which they blog. Their writing is clear and sharp, they can punctuate, they proofread, and they sound like the smart people they are.

• Best Bloggers are generous. They know there’s room for everyone. They know that another great blog in no way diminishes them. They link to people they admire, regardless of whether that other blog is bigger or smaller than they are.

• Best Bloggers never stop learning. They read other blogs and learn from what they discover there. They read books — books that are so well written they feel compelled to try to do the same. They’re curious. They’re not afraid to say, I don’t understand that. They try new things. Maybe they’ll learn to podcast. Or take some pictures. Or try out a new template. Find out what CSS is.

• Best Bloggers know themselves. They don’t try to be other people. They know what they love, even if it’s a little odd, and their enthusiasm and affection for their subject animates their writing.

• Best Bloggers know they’re part of a community. They contribute to forums, help new folks out, welcome people to blogging.