My greatest hope is that they begin from where I leave off, because no human has a complete and final answer. To rely on someone’s past insights is the gravest error, for our knowledge grows with time, and to dogmatize an opinion is to stop our progress towards the truth and to make way for atrophy and decay.

From “Even Angels Ask” , by Jeffrey Lang

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فلسفة “الأنا في النحن” و الصمغ الاجتماعي، تتجسد أكثر ما تتجسد في صلاة الجماعة؛ حيث يتساوى الجميع في شعيرة تذيب الفوارق و تلغي الطبقات. حيث يقف كتفاً بكتف، قدماً بقدم الوزير و الفقير، و أولئك الذين فوق و أولئك الذين تحت، الكل في صف واحد في رمز لما يجب أن يتحقق خارج الأوقات الخمسة عبر تحقيق “القيام” الاجتماعي .. بكل معاني العدالة المتضمنة فيه…

من كتاب كيمياء الصلاة (الجزء الرابع) لأحمد خيري العمري

“لكي تحتفظ بقليل من الماء دافئا لا يكفي أن تقربه من النار مرة، و لكن يلزم أن تكون له صلة متكررة أو مستديمة بالنار و إلا فقد دفئه و أدركته برودته الأولى. هكذا القلب أيضا يجب أن يشعل أثناء اليوم بنار الحب الإلهي، و ذلك بالصلاة، لكي يحتفظ على الدوام بحرارة عواطفه فتدوم غيرته و لا يعود سريعا إلى برودته الأولى.”
يوحنا ذهبي الفم
من كتاب حياة الصلاة الأرثوذكسية

Dune

Reading a highly acclaimed classic sometimes puts certain expectations on a certain novel, so what about your expectations about  “best-selling science fiction novel of all time”. So putting this idea aside, Dune was an enjoyable read. From time to time, I felt it was not that big of a deal, then I remembered that this novel was published in 1965, so when Egyptian writers were renovating our literature, Frank Herbert was building a whole universe. 

Note that as far as I know, this is one of the earliest “complete sci fi sagas”, it is even said that Star Wars was heavily influenced by Dune, especially in its earlier drafts. But let’s leave this to the experts.

I liked the depiction of political struggles, ecology, religion, social interactions in general.. I found the multitude of several cultural / religious connotations pretty interesting, especially the Arabic ones. I was very surprised with the multitude of Arabic names, phrases, sayings. Why was Herbert so interested in the Islamic culture? However, I know that the book also mentioned some other oriental influences, but because I don’t have a background on them, I couldn’t figure them out.

Here are some interesting quotes:

“Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them.” ” ‘Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a man’s mind,’ ” Paul quoted.

A visionary on computer hacking? 🙂

Hawat looked at the boy. “I was thinking we’ll all be out of here soon and likely never see the place again.” “Does that make you sad?” “Sad? Nonsense! Parting with friends is a sadness. A place is only a place.” He glanced at the charts on the table. “And Arrakis is just another place.”

very true.

“If wishes were fishes we’d all cast nets,”
 
the proximity of a desirable thing tempts one to overindulgence. On that path lies danger.
 
Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic.
 
You see, gentlemen, they have something to die for. They’ve discovered they’re a people. They’re awakening.”

Very suitable for our post 25 Jan mentality 🙂

The Sardaukar had never been prepared for such happenings as this day. They’d never known anything but victory which, Paul realized, could be a weakness in itself.
 
The Guild navigators, gifted with limited prescience, had made the fatal decision: they’d chosen always the clear, safe course that leads ever downward into stagnation.
 
The proper teaching is recognized with ease. You can know it without fail because it awakens within you that sensation which tells you this is something you’ve always known.”

On religion.

From Shaitan did we not get the hurtfulness of speed?” (This is the source of the Fremen saying: “Speed comes from Shaitan.” Consider: for every one hundred calories of heat generated by exercise [speed] the body evaporates about six ounces of perspiration. The Fremen word for perspiration is bakka or tears and, in one pronunciation, translates: “The life essence that Shaitan squeezes from your soul.”

Frank Herbert’s explanation of ” العجلة من الشيطان”

 

All in all, it’s a must read for sci fi fans, for more reviews, check out the goodreads link. As for me, definitely I will continue the series, but maybe after a break.

Not a Happy New Year

I can’t fully comprehend what has happened. People were praying and some brainwashed venomous worm stepped forward and turned prayers into moans.

At the same moment people were having fun in the warmth of family and friends, celebrating the start of a new year in our calendar, other people in my home country were crying, suffering and dying.
while SMS’s were flying all over the globe in celebrations, and phone operators facing an overload of happy calls, other families were receiving other calls, incomprehensible news about their loved ones. And then the mourning starts.

I wonder who is the responsible. Who thought about this plan, who put it together and who executed. Didn’t they think that they are going to inflict pain upon believers? Why would they choose people praying as their targets?
It is just so painful to even imagine….

I wanted to write happy thoughts here, review about a book I enjoyed, personal thoughts and happy events in my life, but how could I do that?

God, please help us, and help those in pain, and strengthen our fellow Christians, and punish those who caused this tragedy. Ameen.

اللاهوت العربي – يوسف زيدان

Reading this book was not an easy task. Maybe because of the topic itself and the complexity of reading about theology in Judaism, Christianity and Islam condensed in 200 pages, and the sensitive approach of Youssef Zidan, putting in mind the accalaims and accusations he received after his novel Azazeel.

In this book, Zidan aimed at presenting certain historical incidents or ancient thoughts from the 3 religions, and analyzes them to reach certain conclusions at the end of the book, which entails you try to compare what you already know about this subject, then decide whether what he says is plausible or not, while trying to overcome your background tendencies from affecting your views. That’s why the author noted at the beginning that this book was not put for the lazy reader or those seeking ready made answers to the ordinary questions.

As for the language used, the author while targeting the common reader wasn’t unfortunately very successful in making the book fully digestible to the common reader. Maybe because of the heavy academic background of Zidan, or perhaps due to the subject at hand which brings philosophical terminology to the surface. That’s  why I had to read certain pages twice and thrice to get an idea of what he meant, yet at other times I still failed.

The book’s main aim is coining the new term The Arabic Theology / اللاهوت العربي, stressing on the correlation between the Abrahamic religions’ impacts on the Arab region (including the Arabian peninsula, Egypt and the Fertile Crescent), and how they shaped our image of religious practice and influenced the social and political status across the centuries, while avoiding the usual approaches of comparative religions.

His second target is to discuss the origins of religious violence, and to analyze the relationship between religion, violence and politics, then finding patterns that leads to the rise of religious violence, in order to raise ideas on how to contain them.

I can not claim that I am for nor against the author’s ideas, with the exception that for sure religious practices are affected by inherent religious and political thought, and this is one of the main reasons there are so many deep divergences between different religious sub-groups. However, this book raised so many questions about the Old and the New Testament, about Coptic history, and about Islamic political thought, and this compels me to search more in order to build some views, while keeping in my mind that holding these views should avoid rigidity by all means. Yet at least I should try, and I guess by this, the book has already reached one of its goals, raising awareness.

Mandaenism

Remember when I was talking about the Sabeans? I was surprised that there weren’t much info about them online. Yesterday I was discussing them with a friend of mine and he told me that I should search with the term المندائيين / Mandaean, and I found lots of info!

Here is an opinion about the origin of their name:

يقول البعض أن كلمة صابئة جاءت من جذر الكلمة الارامي المندائي (صبا) أي بمعنى (تعمد، اصطبغ، غط ،غطس) وهي تطابق اهم شعيرة دينية لديهم وهو طقس (المصبتا – الصباغة – التعميد) فلذلك نرى ان كلمة صابئي تعني (المصطبغ او المتعمد) .. اما كلمة مندائي فهي اتية من جذر الكلمة الارامي المندائي (مندا) بمعنى المعرفة او العلم، وبالتالي تعني المندائي (العارف او العالم بوجود الخالق الاوحد.

في حين يرجع اللغويون العرب كلمة الصابئة إلى جذر الفعل العربي (صبأ) المهموز، وتعني خرج وغير حالته، وصار خلاف حاد حول اصل الكلمة اهو عربي من صبأ أم ارامي صبأ ممكن ان تعطي معنى كلمة الصابئي ايضا، أي الذي خرج من دين الضلالة واتحد بدين الحق، فمن الممكن جدا ان هذه الكلمة كانت تعبر عن فترة من التاريخ عندما كان الناس يتركون (يصبأوون) عن ديانتهم الوثنية، ويدخلون الدين المندائي الموحد، او الذين دعوا بالاحناف. وبما ان المندائيون ولغتهم ليسوا عربا فاخذ العرب هذه التسمية لتكون صفة مميزة لهم وخاصة قبل الإسلام، أضف إلى ذلك ان هذه التسمية قديمة ولها أصولها في اللغة العربية. ومن الجدير بالذكر بان حتى النبي محمد (ص) واتباعه دعيوا بالصباة، عندما جهروا بدعوتهم لاول مرة في مكة ودعوا إلى الإله الواحد الاحد، فدعاهم مشركي مكة بالصابئة

And more about their thoughts:https://i0.wp.com/www.lib.mq.edu.au/exhibitions/1997/images/mandaean1.jpg

ان الصابئة قوم موحدون، يؤمنون بالله واليوم الأخر، وأركان دينهم التوحيد – التعميد – الصلاة – الصوم – الصدقة).

اما بخصوص الكتب الدينية .. فللصابئة المندائيين كتاب ديني مقدس يدعى (كنزا ربا) أي الكنز العظيم مخطوط باللغة المندائية،. ويقع في 600 صفحة وهو بقسمين القسم الاول: من جهة اليمين ويتضمن سفر التكوين وتعاليم (الحي العظيم) والصراع الدائر بين الخير والشر والنور والظلام وكذلك تفاصيل هبوط (النفس) في جسد ادم ويتضمن كذلك تسبيحات للخالق واحكام فقهية ودينية القسم الثاني: من جهة اليسار ويتناول قضايا (النفس) وما يلحقها من عقاب وثواب.

التوحيد او الشهادة: وتسمى باللغة المندائية (سهدوثا اد هيي) أي شهادة الحي .. هو الاعتراف بالحي العظيم (هيي ربي) خالق الكون بما فيه، ويصفونه بصفات مقدسة لاتختلف عن ما ورد في الكتب المقدسة الاخرى كالتوراة والإنجيل والقران، مثل الرحيم، الرحمن، القوي، المخلص، الذي لايرى ولا يحد، العظيم، المحب .. الخ

فقد ورود في كتابهم المقدس (كنزا ربا) ما يلي (لا أب لك، ولا مولود كائن قبلك، ولا أخ يقاسمك الملكوت، ولاتؤام يشاركك الملكوت، ولا تمتزج، ولا تتجزأ، ولا انفصام في موطنك، جميل وقوي العالم الذي تسكنه)

الصلاة: وتدعى بالمندائية (براخا) وتعني المباركة او التبريكات. وهي لديهم نفس مفهوم الاديان الاخرى بالنسبة للصلاة وهي التقرب للذات العليا الله سبحانه وتعالى. حيث ورد في كتابهم المقدسة مايلي (( وامرناكم ان اسمعوا صوت الرب في قيامكم وقعودكم وذهابكم ومجيئكم وفي ضجعتكم وراحتكم وفي جميع الأعمال التي تعملون)

Now, this makes sense. At the end, they beleive in God and they have very similar rituals to what we have, main beleifs,,, etc. Now what I’m wondering are these sabeans the same people associated with the worship of the stars! I heard an opinion saying that they don’t worship the stars themselves, they consider the stars locations as something ‘sacred’ or ‘spiritual’ just like we -muslims- think of el Kaaba. I am not sure about the authenticity of this claim, but this is what I got so far.