Tag Archive | Christian

The Sacred City: Chich’én Itzá

The Sacred City: Chich’én Itzá

‘Technology’ was first used in the 1610s in a discourse on the arts. It is a word derived from the Greek, tekhnologia, which means a systematic treatment of a art, craft, or technique referring to grammar. It was first used in the context of mechanical and industrial arts in 1859. Going back to the original meaning, grammar is a verbal framework which is used to order our words to a higher order, which we use to describe observations and ‘experiences’ thus becoming a systematic treatment of the living arts and crafts for what else do we use grammar for but to relate and communicate our worlds. In this light, there is no greater perfection of that grammar when applied to sacred art and architecture for these represent objective art, which unlike modern day subjective art has the capability of having the same effect on all those who come into contact with it by means of an intrinsic purview.

Those conditions are shaped and guided by sacred geometry, which our brains/DNA are able to read without the process of learning, and those conditions are reflected in great works of art like that of the Temple of Kukulkan in the city of Chich’én Itzá (Chee-chen-eet-sa). The Temple of Kukulkan is an ancient Maya pyramid situated a few miles from Cancun where the 2010 climate talks took place on  the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico where a pre-Mayan nomadic civilization once lived.

Unlike much of modern architecture (excluding some places of worship) that lacks the kind of poetry in composition that emanates balance within the environment, the Temple of Kukulkan is poetry in design, function, philosophy, mathematics and geometry; and as we know, poetry expresses the emotions, the subconscious, and the formless.

Chich’én Itzá  means in English “the mouth of the well of the Itza.” It is the original names that survive Spanish conquest. The well is the sacred to the Mayan and is known as Cenote or as it was at the time, Wuk Yabnal (Abundance Place). It was given the name “El Castillo” by Bishop Landa. Other names are Uucil-Abnal (seven bushes) or Uucyabnal (seven great owners).  These natural wells would of course be treasured in an area where there are no rivers, and no streams.

The Temple of Kukulkan in the city of Chich’én Itzá  is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The pyramid that is the Temple of Kukulkan encasing an inner pyramid is founded on a squared-base, rising into a step pyramid, of which many exists around the world, not least the Step Pyramid of Giza, Egypt. Not as huge as the Step Pyramid of Giza, it rises to height of 30 meters and is crowned with a temple.  The main entrance to the temple is located to the north, with two serpent heads positioned on the ground either-side of the great stairway with what could be taken as their bodies forming the entire length of the great stairway that leads to the temple.

On three sides of the temple are vaulted chambers with doors opening to the East, West, and South. Each face of the pyramid has a steep stairway consisting of 91 steps, which are in turn divided by nine levels or terraces.

The inner pyramid has a stairway under the northern stairway which was discovered by a Mexican government excavation in the 1930s. By digging from the top, they discovered the inner pyramid a Chac Mool statue, and a painted red jaguar. After excavating a tunnel from the base of the northern stairway to the hidden temple, the Temple of Kukulcan was opened to tourists..

The inner temple consists of an outer room and an inner room which contains a lone jade jaguar inlaid with jade spots, and pyrite teeth away from the Temple of Jaguars in the Great Ball Court in the plaza of the city of Chich’én Itzá

The Temple of Kukulcan is purposely positioned like the Ramses Temple in Abu Simbel, Egypt, that every year without fail both the solstices and the equinoxes play a game of light and shadow as the sun casts a shadow on the northern steps of the pyramid. With Ramses Temple the play occurs only during the solstices. The illusionary affect is that of a feathered serpent in motion slithering down the western side of the northern stairway to the sculpted heads of the serpent that lie at the base as a result of the shadow casted by the terraces. The snake is meant to represent Kukulcan (Quetzalcoatl to the Aztecs) before vanishing into the earth adjacent to which is the doorway to the inner staircase that stops at a small shrine.

Depending on where one is in relation to the pyramid, whatever sound one makes travels/echoes but the returning sound is differs from the original sound made. e For example if one sits at the bottom of the stairs, the footsteps of those above sounds like raindrops falling into a bucket as the original sound skims the surface of the stairway. If one claps, in the courtyard the returning sound is as if a strange bird is replying repeating the original sound as a flutter echo. It has been said that the temple was designed this way so that priests far from each other could communicate. Even a whisper travels a great distance! The same acoustics exists in the Ball Courts, where a whisper at one end can be heard clearly at another.

One wonders if a particular language was spoken if it is possible that the returning sound/language would deliver a different message?

In the city between the sacred well, Cenote and the Temple there is a Platform of Venus with a ceremonial causeway that leads north to the Cenote which is a natural well. Skeletal remains of adults and children have been found in this well, and it has been assumed and purported that this well was used for human sacrifices, but given the aggressive nature of those who came after the Mayan, the Aztecs, it is equally possible that they carried out the massacres which might explain the sudden disappearance of human life from the city in 1200AD. The skeletal remains were found by Edward Thompson, the American consul in Mérida along with a fortune in gold and jade all of which given to Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

There are nine partially enclosed areas known as Ball Courts, with the largest, the Juego de Pelota (Main Ball Court) as host to the national Mayan ball game northwest of the The Temple of Kukulcan. The wall depicts carvings of Mayan ball players cladded out in the Mayan version of the American baseball kit. It is obviously as dangerous as baseball, with some figures more than nearly headless! If there is any consolation, and it depends on what really occurred, small temples are situated at each end of the ball court with the northern temple containing more sculpted pillars than the southern pillar. There is also a mural. The temple in the south east known as the Temple of the Jaguars (Templo de los Guerreros) with serpent columns and carved panels that depict warriors and jaguars, with a mural depicting a battle in a village while Chaac-Mool sits atop the temple surrounded by columns carved to look like enormous feather serpents. Broken fragments remain of what was a thousand columns have been going through a process of restoration.

Tzompantli (Temple of the Skulls), is not a Mayan name, but a name from central Mexico is named after a row of skulls carved into the stone platform along with eagles attacking humans.

The Platform of Eagles is next to Tzompantli showing eagles and jaguars with human parts, and a head from the mouth of a serpent. In Mayan lore, a feathered serpent with a human head in its mouth is a symbol for Venus.

These are just some of the features of the city of Chich’én Itzá, but for me the gruesomeness of some of features depicting human sacrifices, and animals dismembering a human body is not congruent with the type of mind-set behind and ensuing technology of the Temple of Kukulkan, which is indicated by the observatory. The observatory referred to as El Caracol by the occupying Spanish was built over centuries. This minor detail implies that more than one generation was involved in the building of the city, each depicting what was important to them. Mayan scholars Linda Schele and David Freidel tell us:

“After over a thousand years of success, most of the kingdoms of the southern lowlands collapsed in the ninth century. In the wake of this upheaval, the Maya of the northern lowlands tried a different style of government. They centred their world around a single capital at Chich’én Itzá. Not quite ruler of an empire, Chich’én Itzá became, for a time, first among the many allied cities of the north and the pivot of the lowland Maya world. It also differed from the royal cities before it, for it had a council of many lords rather than one ruler.”

So Chich’én Itzá arose out of a kind of democracy, with many rulers, amidst the tradition of a single ruler who may have had little to counter-balance his control over his dominion.

El Caracol refers to the spiral staircase inside the observatory reflects the image of the Mayans that has been projected the most. The tower consists of slits through which astronomers of the time made their astute observations of the celestial bodies, the movements, the time frame, positions, solstices and equinoxes. The windows themselves are positioned to be in alignment with the key positions of the planet Venus, especially when Venus is the extreme north and south. This precision is also reflected in the Temple of Kukulcan

–        External stairways  = 4 x  91 (steps) + 1 (step of the temple) = 365 = days of the year.

–        Terraces = 9 x 4 (sides of pyramid) = 18 = 18 months of the Mayan calendar

As well as a synergistic encoding into the structure for time immemorial the procession of the equinoxes, and solstices, the Mayans have become well known, and sometimes infamously so by a culture that interprets the Mayan knowledge of time, in the context of its own limitations.

Out of a people who without nails, or beasts of burden built a city, were skilled farmers, had a well-developed social system, and traded with cities as far as Panama, they developed a sophisticate written language, were expert mathematicians of a higher order, and were the first people on record to use the number ‘0’.

The Awaited Countdown

They had 22 calendars, the main ones being the Long Count, the Tzolkin (divine calendar), and the Haab (civil calendar), only Haab has a direct relationship to the length of the year.

The Tzolkin calendar is still used today in the Guatemalan highlands and is called Ajilabal q’ij and Cholq’ij. It is a round of 260 days in the 365 day solar year of Haab.

The Haab is a 260 day calendar is based on the 26,000 year cycle of the Pleiades with the Tzolkin and the Haab repeating exactly with no left over days/hours every 52 Haab years. This 52 year cycle is known as the Calendar Round.

It is the Long Count that has been misinterpreted using the lower consciousness of one era to interpret a calendar which derives from a higher consciousness of another era. The Long Count does not speak of the End of Time as the Christian notion of Doomsday/Armageddon. However, if one was to refer to what is expected as The Apocalypse, one might be closer to the truth, as ‘apocalypse’ is Greek in origin for ‘the lifting of a veil/revealing what has been hidden’.

What has been hidden from us is ourselves, our true selves, the soul from the ego, and within that the true meaning of life and our purpose. With the God given gift of choice, we have chosen to hold onto our outer expression devoid of our inner meaning, as such we have shaped the world into dimensions that is beneficial to no one in the long term. As the Mayan cycle of Baktun comes to a close, it represents the passing of one time, (End of Time) to another time or the passing of one way of doing things, which many of us tire of, to another way of doing things.

It is New Ageist Dawning of Aquarius. It represents the awakening of a higher consciousness, and greater humanity within mankind, and an ending of the materialistic male dominated epoch that so many of us have grown so accustomed to i.e. take instead of give psychologically, emotionally, spiritually, and of course physically.  Just as we assume that all the people with real knowledge belong to the past (within all faiths) Mayan, Carlos Barrios, of the Eagle Clan of the Mam Maya in  Guatemala proves otherwise when it comes to a tradition that has been so badly misinterpreted:

“The world will not end. It will be transformed… Everything will change…Change is accelerating now, and it will continue to accelerate…If the people of the earth can get to this 2012 date in good shape, without having destroyed too much of the Earth, we will rise to a new, higher level. But to get there we must transform enormously powerful forces that seek to block the way…Humanity will continue, but in a different way. Material structures will change. From this we will have the opportunity to be more human…”

“This is the time people need to know what is the purpose of their own lives. This is a dangerous time because we can go to the next step, to the transition, to the fusion of the polarities, or it is a time when we can be destroyed. This materialistic way of life, all this business about economic and social position in the world, it needs to change and the people need to go inside themselves in order to know what they are and to find harmony with the mother earth, with human beings, with their brothers, with the animals, with the plants. It’s an important time because we are in the moment of the prophesies and humanity can be destroyed or we can be saved, all together.”

Even if we do not believe, we have a choice, hope over fear, and hope can move mountains!

As we walked through some of the structures within the city of Chich’én Itzá, there are repeated themes.

Kukulcan/ Quetzalcoatl for the Mayan symbolizes the conjunction of the Pleiades and the sun. The illusion of a descending snake embedded within the Temple of Kukulcun is a record of that meeting between the sun-Pleiades conjunction which occurs over the city Chich’én Itzá every 360 days. This is believed to be due again in May 2012 along with a solar eclipse.

Kukulcan/ Quetzalcoatl was symbol of paradox, an innovator, a preacher of love and compassion, with the snake as a symbol of the personal will, rising to a state of higher consciousness like the kundalini to the crown chakra– the head. Representing the day of the Divine Will as symbolized by the sun (not as in sun worshipping), and the night when Venus is most visible unless she appears as the Morning Star – in other words the transmutation of man’s desire…

Venus – Just as in pharoanic Egypt, the rising of the constellation of Sirius heralded in the flooding of the Nile – thus Sham Naseem/New Year, the transition of the Pleiades signifies the birth of Venus as Venus ascends in the sky the astrological symbol of which signifies the empowerment of spirituality over materialism by living through love. The key words that help define expression are: values, love, beauty, sociability, and cooperation all of which formed the basis of the lessons of Kukulcan/ Quetzalcoatl.

The Pleiades – represent the Seven Dancers/Sisters. Seven is represented in the illusion of the descending snake during the solstice, bearing the reflected pattern formed by the terraces and the sunlight of seven triangles. Again seven is represented in the Mayan names of the sacred well Uucil-Abnal (seven bushes) or Uucyabnal (seven great owners).  Seven in numerology represents the number of man, which combined with the motion of Kukulcan/ Quetzalcoatl represents the journey man must make from his lower self (represented by the tail), to his higher self represented by the crown. The paradox is with the head of Kukulcan/ Quetzalcoatl being on the ground, to which the entrance to the stairs of the inner temple are annexed – symbolizing the journey to our true nature (the earth) without corruption, before we can make the Ascension to the inner sanctum of ourselves and each other. Physical act alone cannot make this possible, hence the repeated theme of the North – representing the place of learning, our life lessons, and as such a place of tempering, the result of which is wisdom.

These are just a few of the themes, more of which one can discover for one ’s self.  True or false?

Recent discoveries via a tiny robot equipped with infrared scanners that enter paces humans cannot is the finding of hundreds of gold coloured spheres in previously unexplored tunnels.  Discovered by archaeologists from the Mexico National Institute of Anthropology and History, the clay spheres vary in size. The gold covering is from jarosite (oxidized pyrite) or Fools Gold. What the spheres are/the purpose they serve is open to debate, but the chamber they were found in is as covered in pyrite. The bas are about 1,800 years old.

As the earth is clearly shifting its magnetic poles, and thousands of sea and air animals wash up on land dead with no known cause, and as the forces of nature becomes more volatile at a time when all of man’s material exploits and inventions have only reaped suffering for many either physically, psychologically or spiritually, with mental health disorders topping the global health problems, not heart disease for example, it is time to go to the inbetween place of ourselves and ask is this just a phase, or an opportunity to do justice to ourselves and each other? If we wait for the answer rather than expect the answer, we will find that all that we see is suffering too!

Sources: 

“Chichen Itza.” http://www.world-mysteries.com/chichenitza_sn.htm

DeLange, G and C. “Chicehn Itza.” http://www.delange.org/ChichenItza/ChichenItza.htm

“El Castillo, Chichen Itza, Mexico.” http://www.sonicwonders.org/?p=805

Lemesurier, P. “The Great Pyramid Decoded.” Element Books, U.K. 1977

Lofthus, M. “A Spiritual Approach to Astrology.” CRCS, U.S. 1983.

“Mexico: Chichen Itza “http://www.sacred-destinations.com/mexico/chichen-itza

Ywahoo, D. “Voices of Our Ancestors.”  Shambala, U.S. 1987

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Christian By Name and Religious By Nature

{Revile not ye those whom they call upon besides God, lest they out of spite revile God in their ignorance. Thus have we made alluring to each people their own doings. In the end they will return to their Lord } (An-Anam 6: 108)Christian By Name and Religious By Nature

By Hwaa Irfan

In changing times, when the structures man has evolved over a period of time became normalized it was and has been established to be true, to the extent that when those very structures begin to falter like a domino effect, those who fully believe in those structures hold tighter to what is a changing paradigm.

Some of us need firm ground to stand on to be able to walk. Sometimes that firm ground can only take us in one limited direction, but we continue to walk on it because our life has been built upon it. When the road curves, or goes up hill demanding more of us we accept it as it is as long as it continues to be the same road. We may refuse to see the environment in which that road exists is changing, and so we hold even tighter to our perception of what that road should be. For people of faith the same can happen, and in doing so we become hardened and unable to see the beauty of the major highway in which our faith is taking us.

In this case, those who hold fast, who fear anything that questions their perception of reality, are those people without faith. They do not wish the ground they have walked for so long to change – it must remain the same, and anything that questions it to be reviled or denied. They have denied the wings that true faith can give them to walk the road least traveled, and will go to extremes to remove the major highway from their equation.

So it was for 64-year-old Christian Colin Atkinson , in the 21st century, the more liberal times one would like to believe, but a time that sometimes differs little from that of the Roman Empire. Atkinson faces being dismissed from his job with Wakefield District Housing, U.K. for his Christian beliefs, which in terms of work was practiced as a simple crucifix which Atkinson kept in the back of his van. Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey fund the situation to be unacceptable, and is asking for Atkinson to be allowed to mark Easter by displaying a tiny palm cross in his work van. Other people of faith have also come out in support of Atkinson.

Hindu

Niranjan Vakhaira, President of the Hindu Charitable Trust commented to the Daily Mail:

‘Everybody has the right to preach their own religion.

‘I don’t see how anyone can take offence at this cross, the employers are definitely in the wrong.

‘Every human being has the right to follow his faith, as long as it doesn’t harm anybody.

‘If it hasn’t harmed anybody then I don’t see the logic in telling him to remove it.’

Muslim

Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, of the Muslim Institute commented:

 ‘I can’t see any problem at all in displaying this symbol.

‘I can’t see how this would offend anybody.

‘I really don’t think people should become so touchy about these things.

‘You have to respect other people’s feelings and beliefs.’

Sikh

A spokesman for the Sikh Education Council commented to the Daily Mail:

‘We find it difficult to understand why an employer would terminate someone’s employment for having a crucifix in their vehicle.

‘We suggest the employer should rethink their actions in this particular case.

‘Sikhs believe in freedom of expression and freedom of belief with respect.

‘As long as what someone is doing is doing it with respect for other people we would support their right to practice as they see fit.’

Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus have come in support of Atkinson, along with his fellow Christians.

In the mind of the employer WDH, neutrality must be maintained, but if neutrality means being a hypocrite, hiding one’s belief then this is far from being neutral. Being neutral means being open, and accepting differences from person-to-person; not casting them into the melting pot of “the other” so that they can learn to feel ashamed, unworthy or become fanatical, while leaving secularists to become fanatical. In terms of the public face of WDH one can appreciate if they have a concern as to how others might react, but this just calls on those of faith to understand their faith more, and the genuine needs of their employers.  If Environment Manager for WDH, Denis Moody who attacked the Daily Mail photographer for covering the story can hang a poster of Che Guevara in his office, and a Muslim admin worker can hang a verse from the Qur’an in windscreen of a car she uses for work, why cannot Atkinson keep a crucifix in his work van?

As mentioned in the Daily Mail, there seems to be a rank-and-file hypocrisy, with Atkinson being out and about midst the public. This may not have been the intention of WDH which has a policy of not displaying personal items in company vehicles, and advise managers the same when using personal cars on company work. But if the practicing of one’s faith comes with a promotion then all this kind of policy does is increase disrespect for authority.

In the case of Atkinson the complaint was set in motion by complaints from tenants about his crucifix, but surely what is important is Atkinson’s ability to do his job well. By bowing to prejudicial complaints that have no bearing on Atkinson’s ability to do his job, one is issuing a false sense of power, and control to those who surely have better things to do with their lives!

Tolerance does not come from inhaling, it comes from the ability to exhale, and with each breath to learn and understand that we all recognize our needs differently. One sometimes wonders if communism had succeeded what difference there would be to the democracy (a confusing notion admittedly) we have now!?

Sources:

Fagge, N. “Muslims Give Backing to Christian Electrician Persecuted for Cross in Van.” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1378704/Muslims-backing-Christian-electrician-persecuted-cross-van.html

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Muslim Cordoba Going for a Song 

Muslim Cordoba Going for a Song

By Hwaa Irfan

It is more out of an attraction for the out of the ordinary that I find myself bemused by the auctioneer’s skill to sell lumber. Even more curious, when Christies of London, (the auctioneer house) aimed to sell these five 10th century wooden beams from the Great Mosque of Cordoba (The Mezquita) in Spain.

As someone who struggles with the onslaught of materialism and technology, the question that immediately comes to mind is who would sell (let alone keep) a set of wooden beams that are 11 centuries old for US$1.75 million (UPI), let alone something from a religion that seems a little too inconvenient to some. Then to add to it all, the sale was stopped by the Spanish authorities and the lawyer of the Cathedral of Cordoba. What is so important about those wooden beams to attract such attention?

Jonathan Wheeler, a lawyer, told Agence France Presse that the beams held “great cultural and religious importance” for Spain. Curious and more curious, considering it was in 2004, when a request to the Vatican by Spanish Muslims to pray in the cathedral was not open to dialogue on the idea. Muslims are not a part of the equation here, at least not on the surface, so what is all the fuss?

The Invasion

The wooden beams must have been some kind of structural support for what stands as the only monument left of the Muslim medieval past in Cordoba. Today’s Islamophobes would have us look at our past as an invasion into Europe territory, ignoring that there were dark-age “crusades” previous to the dawn of Islam in Europe. But when the Umayyad Emir Abd Al-Rahman was fleeing from Abbasid rule in Baghdad in the 8th century CE, there was no Muslim invasion on Spanish soil.

Emir Abd Al-Rahman was the only surviving member of his family. Being half Syrian and half Berber-Andalusian, the prince fled to live in exile in his mother’s country. Like all men before and since, Muslim outlanders and frontiersmen sought their equivalent of the “Wild West” in Spain since 711 CE (the historical date given for the invasion of Muslims) in seclusion. If there was an invasion in our sense of the word, how come it took 800 years for Europe to muster up an army? And how come such beautiful art was created and not destroyed as we see in Iraq under the American banners of “liberation”?

The Mezquita

It was not until 756 CE when Abd al-Rahman moved to Cordoba. Against the wishes of Baghdad, ‘Abd-ar Rahman sought to reestablish the Umayyad legacy with the building of the Great Mosque of Cordoba in 785 CE and much more. The original great Mosque of Cordoba was built on the strong geometrical principles of the square-circle on top of the place where the pagan Roman temple of Janus and the Christian Visigoth church of St. Vincent once stood.

To build the original mosque, it was not only finances that had to be mobilized, but also technical skills and craftsmanship. Even the Roman Emperor Constantine was solicited for a cargo of colored glass cubes and a master mosaicist. Old Roman columns (previously razed by the Visigoths) were reused in the building of the mosque. Having been improved and expanded upon five times, the eventual 23,400 square meter prayer hall and 500 columns are reflective of the size of the mosque, its place in the western Islamic empire and the growing Muslim ‘Ummah.

The forest of columns allowed sunlight through the hall, which had since been filled in by the builders of the cathedral inside the Mosque. With four entrances, the Gate of the Viziers (Bab Al-Wuzara), now called the Stephen Gate, stands as a memory to the important officials who would arrive in response to the call for prayer through this gate. In the Patio de los Naranjos (courtyard of the orange trees), which has survived to this day, Muslims would carry out their ablutions before entering the mosque.

For 300 hundred years, the great mosque had Christian worshippers; it was consecrated by King Ferdinand III when he conquered Cordoba. It wasn’t until the 16th century when the bishop of the cathedral decided to demolish the mosque in order to build a church on top of it. Sixty-three pillars were removed from the center of the mosque to allow for the cathedral’s structure.

Whereas the original mosque was built within the lifetime of ‘Abd-ar Rahman II (833-52 CE), it took over three centuries to complete the cathedral. Workers often dropped down their tools, not because they weren’t being paid, but because of frequent disputes that took place regarding building works spurred by a local attachment to the beauty of the mosque.

It was not until Roman Emperor Charles V gave a clear mandate in 16th century, when work on the cathedral progressed by consecrating the mosque as a Christian place of worship. When the emperor finally visited Cordoba, it was documented that he said, “Had I known what was here, I would never have dared touch the old structure. You have destroyed something that was unique in the world and added something one can see anywhere.”

In 1931, Allama Muhammad Iqbal prayed in the Great Mosque of Cordoba. In I980, Muslims were able to get permission to pray `Eid Al-Adha in the mosque from a local priest. In 2004, the Islamic Council of Spain made a formal request to the Vatican to pray in the mosque, but this was denied according to Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The Legacy of Cordoba

The Great Mosque of Cordoba stands as a symbolic testament of Muslim Cordoba (or Qurtuba in Arabic) which once contained 250,000 buildings and 3,000 mosques, palaces, and baths. Cordoba was the birthplace of the Roman stoic Seneca, the Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the Jewish physician and philosopher Maimonides (Abu ‘Imran Musa ibn Maymun ibn ‘Ubayd Allah).

Andalusia gave birth to others like Ibn Sina (Avicenna). Gerbert of Aurillac (955–1003 CE), who later became Pope Sylvester II, was sent to Catalunya to study mathematics, he benefited from close contact with Cordoba’s fountain of knowledge that contained over 400,000 books. In Europe, books were mainly kept in private collections and the Church had forbidden any investigation that was deemed to go against the Bible.
Cordoba’s fame for its knowledge of the sciences, arts, and commerce led to communication and dialogue between the Catholic Church and Muslim Cordoba. All the works of Aristotle, Archimedes, Apollonius, Euclid, Hippocrates, and Galen survived through Arabic translation into Latin to become valuable tools that led to the reanimation of civilization in Europe through the Renaissance. Through the medium of the Arabic language, Europe was reintroduced to part of its heritage.

Cordoba’s prosperity between the 9th and 10th centuries was nurtured by the introduction of irrigation systems designs brought from Damascus which assigned water to each cultivator in proportion to land size and Yemeni irrigation techniques were employed in the distribution of water over a fixed time period. The sahib al-saqiya (the person who was responsible for irrigation) managed the distribution of water that led to a cultivation of cherries, apples, pears, almonds, pomegranates, figs, dates, sugarcane, bananas, cotton, flax, and much more. Providing what seemed like exotic fruits and finery to Europe, economic reform was aided and abetted by access to international trade.

Spanish poetry, albeit originally based on Arabic models, evolved into a new form, its rhythm and rhyme came under the influence of Romanesque poetry. Under the patronage of the caliphate, literature flourished with scholars from the east emigrating to Spain. Grammar and philology came from Iraq, Aristotle’s philosophy was introduced and the medical standard was set by Galen’s books.

It was under the dictatorship of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Amir when Cordoba fell, splintering into smaller states, namely Seville, Badajoz, Toledo, Saragossa, Albarrac’n, Valencia, Almer’a, and Granada which all bickered among themselves. Their disputes left them weak, vulnerable, and ripe for attack by ensuing armies from the Christian north and the impending Crusades.

A Symbol of Prosperity, Diversity, and Tolerance

On Cordoba, Earl Bertrand Russell, a philosopher and a recipient of the Nobel Prize for literature (1872-1970) wrote the following:

    “Throughout the Middle Ages, Jews had no part in the culture of Christian countries, and were too severely persecuted to be able to make contributions to civilization, beyond supplying capital for the building of cathedrals and such enterprises. It was only among the Mohammedans, at that period, that Jews were treated humanely, and were able to pursue philosophy and enlightened speculation. The Mohammedans were more civilized and more humane than the Christians. Christians persecuted Jews, especially at times of religious excitement; the Crusades were associated with appalling pogroms. In Mohammedan countries, on the contrary, Jews at most times were not in any way ill-treated. Especially in Moorish Spain they contributed to learning; Maimonides, who was born in Cordoba, is recorded by some as the source of much of Spinoza’s philosophy”.

The Christian Visigoths who ruled Spain prior to Muslim’s took control of Andalusia, made the following dictates on Jews in their code (constitution) as follows:

• Jews shall not celebrate the Passover according to their Custom.

• Jews shall not contract marriage according to their custom.

• Jews shall not perform the rite of circumcision.

• Jews shall not divide their food into clean and unclean according to their custom.

• No Jew shall subject a Christian to torture.

• No Jew shall testify against a Christian.

• The descendants of Jews may testify.

• No Jew shall circumcise a Christian slave

• Under no circumstances shall Christian slaves attach themselves to Jews, or be admitted into their sect.
• All Christians are forbidden to defend or protect a Jew, by either force or favor.

And much more…

Spain and Palestine had become the centers of Judaic literature development during a period that Jews referred to as “The Golden Age.” Even the Jewish Virtual Library acknowledges that Cordoba
was “the seat of Jewish learning, scholarship, and culture, gradually eclipsing the Babylonian academies of Sura and Pumbeditha.” Albeit, they attribute these facts to a Cordoban Jew. Jews were not second-class citizens, nor were they maltreated, rather, they participated in all levels of Cordoban society.
Not everyone accepts the “either/or” paradigm of history. One such person is Maria Rosa Menocal, philologist, professor of Spanish and Portuguese, and director of the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale University. Echoing Betrand Russell, Menocal illustrated:

    “Throughout medieval Europe, Arabic had a far more powerful impact on the transformation and shaping of culture than most narratives of our history reveal.”

In response to someone’s desire to live in a place “where the religions of the children of Abraham all tolerate each other and where, in the peace of that tolerance, and in the shade and fragrance of orange trees,” Menocal stated that such a place did exist and pointed out the following facts:

• The first generation of Muslims were immigrant Berbers from North Africa. Within a few generations, the majority of the Muslims, in part or in whole, were ethnically no different from those who remained Christian, such as the Celto-Iberians, Romans, and Visigoths.

• The unconverted Christians and Jews, called the dhimmis, of al-Andalus, were not very ethnically different from their brothers and neighbors who did convert; and soon enough they were not very different in other crucial ways, since Christians and Jews took to Arab culture. A ninth-century churchman of Cordoba once complained that young Christian men could barely write decent letters in Latin, yet they were so in love with Arabic poetry that they could recite it better than the Muslims themselves.

• Ibn Khaldun, a descendant of an old Andalusian family, was offered the restoration of his ancestral lands by Peter the Venerable if he would stay on as his vizier.

• In 1360, Samuel Halevi Abulafia had built for himself and his community a synagogue in the extravagant new Nasrid style. Writings on the wall were in Hebrew and Arabic (with verses from the Qur’an).

• Arabic poetry was central to the lives of all educated men in Andalus. This meant that the educated Jewish community came to know it, write it, and covet it. For hundreds of years, Hebrew was used only for liturgy. Pious Muslims could recite the Qur’an in God’s own sacred language, but for the Muslims, God did not hoard His language or keep it locked up in His temples, and so those same Muslims could also do a thousand different things in Arabic.

• New Hebrew poetry was born not out of “translation” in any conventional way, but out of that intimate understanding, gleaned directly from the use of Arabic as a religious and a secular poetic language, and born not in the comfort of Jewish society of Umayyad caliphate but rather in the exile of theTaifas.

• Maimonides, a Jew and a “Greek,” wrote “The Guide for the Perplexed in Arabic’.

• The translation movement from Arabic to Latin led to the translations of so much of the imperial culture of adab (the vast genre in Arabic traditionally translated as “belles lettres” but perhaps better understood as “humanistic study”) into the Castilian language at the end of the 13th century CE.

• The Abbot of Cluny was responsible for the translation of al-Khawarizmi’s great work on algebra (al-jabr). He was a key player in the introduction of the number system that would revolutionize computation in the west and make all modern calculations possible, using what we call Arabic numerals in English.

• In the courts of Languedoc, the jewelry boxes of the women who could afford them were engraved in Arabic. The style was introduced to Europe a form of luxury. Thus the first great songs of the vernaculars of Europe, those songs which Nietzsche composed defined the very essence of our culture, were sung in courts also graced with exquisitely carved ivory boxes, perfectly executed and engraved astrolabes, and of course new musical instruments upon which love songs were sung. And they were all part of a very Arabic world.

It shouldn’t be ironic that a seminar entitled Peace and Human Rights in Europe and the Middle East should take place in Cordoba. In Ken Coates’ summary of the goals of the seminar he wrote:

    “All the known works of Aristotle had survived in the Arabic language, but not in Europe, so that Cordoba could be said to have provided a vital link not only between the monotheistic faiths, but also between the ancient world and the dawning of modern times.”

The Beginning or the End?

I may not have found out who kept the five wooden beams in their barn or why; what the importance of the five wooden beams that led Christies of London to believe that they could be sold for US$1.75 million; or why the Catholic Church of Cordoba deemed them to be of such importance that they should not be sold, but a least, here, the beams served to remind us that Islam was brought to mankind as a mercy and that we as Muslims have helped to shape this world. For those of us who want a more harmonious life, this cannot be done in seclusion, with intolerance, or by being passive or blind to the 360 degrees that is Islam.

Cordoba

Shrine of the lovers of art! Visible power of the Faith!
Sacred as Mecca you made, once, Andalusia’s soil.
If there is under these skies loveliness equal to yours,
Only in Muslim hearts, nowhere else can it be.
Ah, those proud cavaliers, champions Arabia sent forth
Pledged to the splendid Way, knights of the truth and the creed!
Through their empire a strange secret was understood:
Friends of mankind hold sway not to command but to serve.
Europe and Asia from them gathered instruction: the West
Lay in darkness, and their wisdom discovered the path.
Even to-day in its breeze fragrance of Yemen still floats,
Even to-day in its songs echoes live on of Hejaz.

(from Menocal. M. R. ” The Literature of Al-Andalus.”)

Sources:
AFP. ” Controversial London Sale of Spanish Mosque Beams Withdrawn ‘

Coates, Ken. ” The Cordoba Seminar on Peace and Human Rights in Europe and the Middle East”

Gedal, Najib. ” The Great Mosque of Cordoba: A Geometrical Analysis.”

Guichard,P. ” Cordoba the Magnificent.”

Kubisch,N. ” The Great Mosque of Cordoba.”

Menocal. M. R. ” Culture in the Time of Tolerance.”

Menocal. M. R. ” The Culture of Translation.”

Menocal. M. R. ” The Literature of Al-Andalus.”

Phyun5. ” The Middle Ages.”

Scott, S.P. “The Visigoth Code”

Sills, Ben. ” Cathedral May See Return of Muslims .” Apr. 19, 2004.

United Press International (UPI). ” Rare Mosque Beams Pulled from Auction .” Apr. 4, 2006.

Wikipedia ” Cordoba, Spain ”

Wikipedia ” Mezquita”
http://mdarik.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1158658413798&pagename=Zone-English-ArtCulture%2FACELayout

Related Topics:
A Sacred Place
Hassan Fathy: The Barefoot Architect
A Home Amidst a Never-Ending Cycle of Disasters

A Sacred Place

A Sacred Place

By Hwaa Irfan

Of those who have struggled to obtain greater insight into God’s law, they have been blessed with a greater responsibility, to teach and guide the rest of us. As we tend to believe what is visible, importance is placed on the physical. When we seek refuge we run to a physical place. Rather than make the environment in which we live in a place of worship and remembrance we separate worship as something that can only be done in the domain of a building that has been designed specifically for that purpose.

A fundamental aspect to the design of some sacred places is geodesy meaning earthlike or spheroidal. Abu Raihan Muhammed ibn Ahmad Al-Biruni (362 A.H/973 B.C.) as a naturalist, geographer, astronomer, and astrologer, geodesy was classified as natural philosophy involving matter + form, and time + space, whereas it was classified as a mathematical science under ibn Sina. In the reductive times in which we live, geodesy has fallen under the physical domain, as a branch of mathematics that focuses on the size and shape of the earth. Regardless, it still involved geometry which is rooted in the religious sciences as sacred geometry.
Islamic religious architectural design is based on sacred geometry. One can find geometry in the design of all life forms from the cells of our bodies, plant forms, water, and geological structures hence the expression “geometry is God manifest”. As much as we try to move away from God, His presence is wherever we are. Water molecules, carbon atoms, proteins, cells, bodily tissues etc, are able to facilitate their purpose in the cycle of life because of their geometrical design. The ability of organisms to stabilize mechanically is due to their connectedness to a frame of triangles, pentagons, and hexagons etc.

Rahul Singhvi and others believed that by changing the shape of cells, they could switch God’s genetic programming. They tried to force living cells to take on other geometrical shapes, but their knowledge achieved little. Instead the cells became flat away from their geodesic dome shapes and developed a propensity to divide and activate apoptosis – death program. This is man dabbling with the laws of His nature.

Following through, an analogy can be drawn with man who forces others to be the same – we are not all squares or rectangles. Man is splitting and dividing the world, against the laws of nature, triggering a death wish can be witnessed by the extent of the violence that is occurring today at all levels of society.

The problem for man’s ego is, that geodesic forms existed in inorganic forms long before DNA existed even water molecules are structurally geodesic for all matter is subject to the same spatial parameters regardless of scale or position. This confirms that The Plan was set from the very beginning of creation.

Everything as a purpose and a purpose for everything, even art once served a greater purpose as objective art. George Gurdjieff, a philosopher who traveled much in the Islamic and pre-Islamic world described objective art as follows:

    “Among works of art, especially ancient works of art, you meet with many things you cannot explain, and which contains a certain something you do not feel in modern works of art.

    “Objective art requires at least flashes of objective consciousness; in order to understand these flashes properly and to make proper use of them a great inner unity is necessary and a great control of one’s self”

Both geodesy and objective art reflect fundamentals of Islamic architecture. Mechanically domes are power enhancers. A whisper on one side of a sound-reflecting dome building is easily heard because the sound becomes focused towards the center of the spherical shape. This principle applies to all forms of energy under a dome: a concave lens, dish antennae’s and electromagnetic waves.

Arab and Muslim builders who adopted the dome from traditions prior to Islam, introduced other concepts, and applied this knowledge into Islamic architecture. They have made the non-physical physical, through centuries of experience, knowledge, craftsmanship and artistry using local materials. From these contributions the attempt at environmental harmony as a reflection of the divine concept of humanity was made.

An Example in Time

It is this transcendence of objective art that the Dome of the Rock – El-Qubbet El-Sakhrah speaks of. In ancient Semetic tradition, this site was the intersection of the underworld and upperworld (which brings to mind the Hermetic axiom “As above, so below”). It was where Prophet Ibrahim/Abraham built an alter to sacrifice his son Ishmael, it was where God through Prophet Nathaniel rejected David’s wish to build a temple because he had shed blood (Bible: Samuel II 7:12 -13), it was where the Hellenic and Greek god Apollo was worshipped in the belief that this is the intersection of both worlds. It was there that Prophet Muhammed (SAW) ascended to his “Night Journey” leading prophet Abraham/Ibrahim, Musa/Moses, Issa/Jesus, and others in prayer. Today, Muslims do not pray inside the Dome, for it is forbidden for anyone to pray inside what is seen as the gateway between two worlds. Even the “halakhah” in rabbinical text does not permit entry into this site. Mustafa Mould, a convert to Islam from Judaism recounted:

“Standing at the wall of Solomon’s Temple, the Dome of the Rock, and El-Aqsa gave me an intense feeling I could not describe at the time. I can describe it now: I was sensing a feeling of holiness; it’s no wonder the Islamic name is El-Quds.”

Yitzhak Hayat-Ma’n describes the design of the Dome as one that creates movement in physical space causing the pilgrim to move in comprehension. This sense of circumambulation is reflect in the sensation of spiraling upwards as in the Sufi dance, the centrifugal force and the double helix of DNA.

Brian Wingate who loves to visit sites of Islamic architecture pondered on the Dome and said:

    “The designs are so intricate and geometric that they seem to turn in endlessly upon themselves, inviting your own mind to do the same”.

This is the difference between objective art, and modern art, as modern art has a different effect on each onlooker, whereas with objective art the effect is the same on all onlookers calling on the unification of man.

This was first written in 2002.

Sources:
‘Abu-Sway, M. “Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence of the Environment” http://www.muslimonline.com/bicnews.Articles/environment.htm 1998.

Fathy, H. “Architecture and the Environment”. Arid Land Newsletter. 36 (1994) Arizona.edu.

Hayat-Ma’n,Y. “Investigation of the Dome of the Rock” Academy of Jerusalem”
http://www.thehope.org/domeinvs.htm

Ingber, D. “The Architecture of Life” http://www.sciam.com/1998/0198issue/0198ingber.html 1998.

Integraton.com. “The Virtues of the Dome”. http://www.integraton.com/5sacredGeometry/SacredGeometry.html 2001

Lapidus, I. “A History of Islamic Societies”. Britain: Cambridge University Press. 1995.

Mould, M. “Odyssey to Islam”. http://jews-for-allah/Jewish-Converts-to-islam/odyssey_to_islam.htm 2001.

Nasr, S. “Islamic Cosmological Doctrines” Britain: Thames & Hudson. 1978.

Ouspensky, P. “In Search of the Miraculous” Britain: Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1983.

Sacred Sites. “Dome of the Rock” http://www.sacredsites.com/1st30/domeof.html 2002

Sakkal, M. “(Computational) Geometry in Islam Architecture”. University of Washington. http://www.kalam.org/abst.htm 2002

Templemount Faithful. “The Riddle of the Dome of the Rock”. http:///www.templemountfaithful.org/Newsletters/2001/5761-12.htm 2001

Related Topics:
The Great Flood & Noah’s Ark
The Patterns of Our Lives

The Tresses of Forgetfulness. 

Veiling Through Time
The Tresses of Forgetfulness.

By Hwaa Irfan

A time remembered is a period of historical films on British history when to see a woman veiled was quite normal. To surf on the ‘net, one could be led to believe that the veil begins and starts with Islam or as a wedding dress accessory. The event of banning the veil in France has only served to show how much is based a gut reaction so deep that there is a past to it. Another misnomer is the underlying reason President Chirac banned all religious symbols of expression form all religions as a desperate man trying to quell the growing uncontrollable tide of anti-Semitism in France. The last time one looked, Jews indigenous to the Middle East were of the same Semite race as those they feel superior to – the Palestinians (both Christian and Muslims)! As such, the growing attacks against Jews spreading across Europe in Britain, Germany, Italy and Belgium etc as been engineered to turn against Muslims. This has symbolized how far humanity has to go before it can become humane where men women and children have taken to the streets in the 20th century to march for their individual rights. The suffragettes once fought for women’s rights that only released women into a slavery to the body beautiful against the dictates of a Christian Europe that incarcerated women to a life of servitude in mind and body when Islam had given Muslim women their rights.

This dictate, descends from the Christian Bible which states in 1Corinthians II:

4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered brings shame upon his head.

5 But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved.

6 For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil.

7 A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.

8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man;

9 nor was man created for woman, but woman for man;”

Further clarification is given in 1 Timothy II 8-9 of the Gospels:

10 For this I was appointed preacher and apostle (I am speaking the truth, I am not lying), teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

11 It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.

12 Similarly, (too,) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes,

13 but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds.

14 A woman must receive instruction silently and under complete control.

15 I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.

16 She must be quiet.”

Hence it is written early in the codes of Christianity that women should. Far from ending in the past, the veil was used to subjugate women in Christianity. It was the first Latin theologian of the 2nd and 3RD century Quinus Septimus Florens Tertullianus who with fervor wrote on the veiling of women:

    “. For that custom which belies virgins while it exhibits them, would never have been approved by ant except by some men who must have been similar in character to the virgins themselves. Such eyes will wish that a virgin be seen as has the virgin who shall wish to be seen. The same kinds of eyes reciprocally crave after each other. Seeing and being belong to the self-same lust…

    The matter that has been left to choice, for each virgin to veil herself with, as she might have chosen, just as (she had equal liberty)… But when the power of discerning began to advance, so that the license granted to either fashion was becoming the mean whereby the indication of the better part emerged; immediately the great adversary of good things and much more of good institutions set to his own work…

    Every public exposure of an honorable virgin is (to her0 a suffering of rape: and yet the suffering of carnal violence is the less evil, because it comes of natural office. But when the very spirit itself is violated in a virgin by the abstracting of her covering, she has learnt to lose what she what she used to keep….”

The Western patriarchal view of women can be embodied as Tertullian wrote:

    “ It is not permitted to a woman to speak in the church; but neither (is it permitted her), to teach, not to baptize, not to office”

    “It remains likewise that we turn to (the virgins) themselves, to induce them to accept these (suggestions) the more willingly… But we admonish you, too women of the second (degree of) modesty, who have fallen into wedlock, not to outgrow so far the discipline of the veil, not even in a moment of an hour, as, because you cannot refuse it, to take some other means to nullify it, by going neither covered nor bare. … Arabia’s heathen females will be your judges, who cover not only the head, but the face also, so entirely, that they are content, with one eye free, to enjoy rather half the light than to prostitute the entire face. A female would rather see than be seen”.

Enveloped in the Western perception of women is the ‘Fall of Eve’ which has shaped Western societal norms throughout the centuries. Christian scholar Leland Haines spells it out: It was only the wealthy that one can find explored their sense of sexuality outside of social mores. “Not to wear the veiling implies freedom from submission to man.

Medieval Era

It was the noble women who wore covered their hair with bonnets and veils especially after the church issued an edict that women should keep their hair covered.

Middle Ages

A lot of Western women’s frustration over their gender can be attributed down to the church as opposed to Christianity and the general view of women in society. During this period, it was single, divorced and noblewomen that had the right to possess property the right to which was lost once they married. Women could trade, save money and were legally liable until then. Under French ‘Salic Law’ women could inherit land in the 6th & 7th century as long as there were no male relatives. It was a combination of theologies of Aristotle and Augustus that culminated in Thomas the Aquinas Head of the English Church who firmly established in this period the belief that women’s role was solely to marry, procreate and raise children. Any intellectual pursuit was the prerogative of men. Women were inferior and the causes of evil. It was this that increased the flow of women to become nuns where they could have some degree of control over their lives.

Elizabethan Period

The ‘snood’ that arose out of the Tudor period became the rage with fashion trendsetter of the day, Queen Elizabeth. Crocheted or beaded, ‘snoods kept the hair out of the way and clean. Still popular today.

Victorian Period

Often deemed the most oppressive period in Western women’s history, It was during the middle of the 19th century that the hair started to hang loose at the nape, with curls, crimps and all kinds of tantalizing hairstyles when the agricultural revolution had offered more food than before, and the Industrial Revolution offered new jobs, new towns, new societies, more and varied commodities. Queen Victoria’s introduction of the wedding dress gave a new life to the veil. It has set a trend that has become a dream for most girls.

19th Century
With major renovations taking place in Paris, doctors were strongly recommending that women wore veiled bonnets to protect themselves from dust and airborne diseases. In fact it was fashionable to the extent that women viewed the veil as a symbol of high-class and respectability. Art historian Dr. Marni Kessler as a male had contradictory views on the subject but stated that the veil provided a barrier between the woman and the city “She was not blinded by the veil, but nevertheless held back, protected and shielded from modern life”.

Hence, women were appendages of men with no rights of there own as embodied in Christian teachings and were the property of men. Is it embedded somewhere in their trace memory every time they look at a veiled Muslim woman. Can it not be seen that unlike certain Christian teachings of old, that the veil in Islam is not about subjugation to men, but about not being subjugated to the body. Can it not be seen that the rights of women in Islam, is written into Islam and is not an influence from elsewhere?

Western women were void of any sought of rights until the 19th century. That past was to be broken with the advent of industrialization that only respects profit not rights. Through the vehicle of the Suffragette movement, became free from one form of slavery into the slavery of the body. Believing to be free, Western women were no longer appendages of men. The fast sweeping changes was too much for the likes of some. The free Church rose, part of which is he conservative Christian group the Amish, who separated themselves from this world they wished not to belong to and followed strict codes against military involvement and the older members are against the use of electricity the veil was a part of the Amish wife’s daily wear. Some communities still hold onto their traditions

For many women today, the hair has become all too important although the essence of femininity has been associated with the hair. Yet, in the West, up until the twentieth century, hairstyling was limited to the upper classes in the West. We never think of how much we adulterate hair with many harsh chemicals found in modern day shampoos and permanent dyes. Whatever the tradition, in general, the hair when styled was confined by shaving, cutting, the hairstyle itself and veiling except for those where every ploy was used to entice the men as long holds much provocation to men. Otherwise it was considered unhygienic and impractical to have the hair loose.

Pt.II

Hair Crazy

To show how obsessed with visual appeal we have become, a poll by Yankelovich Partners in 2001 showed that 69% of Americans felt that clothing, hair and make-up were the most important determining factors in deciding on whether or not one got a job and 67% said that ones appearance affects whether one gets a new challenge, responsibility or opportunity and can you believe that 78% of Americans believed that clothes, hair and make-up affects the ability to do the job. However, one should bear in mind that Yankelovich were sponsored by the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association to provide this survey!

The Process of Making Something Positive, Negative.

It is almost as if, those that seize the opportunity to attack Islam through the issue of women or use Muslim women to unload what is still imbedded in their psyche from an oppressive past have associated the Islamic veil as a tool of male chauvinism under the guise of ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ yet have no working alternative to put in its place!. Through the old game of ‘labeling’ in the church.

    “The technique of labeling is used to discount a person who opposes the beliefs of a religious addict. Labeling attempts to dehumanize persons so that dismissing them or their opinions is much easier. Choosing not to address someone individually who has doubted the toxic faith, the religious addict places a blanket negative label on all who would disagree with his or her personal habits. Rather than state that John Smith has made a negative statement, the addict proclaims that there are ‘detractors’, ‘traitors’ or ‘malcontents’ who would destroy the ministry or organization. The label becomes a rallying point under which the other followers can be moved to action to squelch a revolt”!

So as such, the rallying cry has been made and we arise our voices, the question is not who, but when will there be success in de-robing the Muslim woman? This is the idea after all, to make the Muslim woman feel as if she is ancient and therefore making her react emotionally to what is going on and unwittingly undo all that supports the fabric and well-being of a Muslim society – the family. The fairy-tale of Rapunzel was only enchanting to many because of the length of her hair which her knight in shining armor used to climb his way into her heart. A people have been made to feel inferior because of their hair:

“We are still enslaved in our thinking.
Society has molded us in our speaking.
I have a problem with the word nappy because it is not being associated with our true identity as being happy.
Why do I have to have a chemical on any of my hair.
I don’t want to conform to any standard of theirs.
They, are those who impose their repressed feelings on the impressionable youth.
Who are just learning to love themselves inside and out.
Youth who want only to fit in with a set standard of beauty, without a doubt.
We as a people need to come together on this.
Most are living happily because ignorance is bliss.
They don’t know that saying “good hair” is as degrading as using the N-word as a term of endearment.
By changing our thinking, we can not only come out of darkness mentally but come out of our concealment!” –

Nappy Hair.com

Many distance themselves from others because of the loss of hair in illness. One teenager wrote:

    “Her hair Her hair was like an ocean with curls and curls and waves. There were red streaks, in her long brown hair; her eyes were emeralds, her skin a golden bronze. She is my best friend. I would do anything to have her hair – the way it fell Against her shoulder, Like a golden maple frame around a beautiful picture.
    “What’s chemo?” I asked as Mom pulled me aside. I hope she doesn’t die. I hope she can still have her hair. But; she can’t, and it fell out She had Hodgkins disease And she lost her hair. Seeing her in the hospital with clearly painful tubes tied to her chest with massive grey machines attached to her – without her hair. It was hard to look. To see her hurting so badly, made me hurt too, So I cut my hair. by Ashley Nestor, New City, NY”

(Ashley from teenink.com).

The High Cost of Sexploitation

We are in denial I think as to what impact the hair has in determining who we not because it actually does, but for some deeper meaning, it has an illogical affect on human-beings that can make one like, hate, resent, bully, desire and reject a person an for no other reason. Every physical feature on a woman’s body has to have a visual appeal that only some non-Western women try to not emulate. That visual appeal has become packaged as sex – sex as a commodity. Beautiful women have become visually available to sell the unsaleable. Sexploitation invites men to poses with their eye what they cannot possess with their hands. Playing on the desires of men, heightening their sensibilities to a point whereby many find it difficult to not take what they have been ‘invited’ to take. The illusion of women’s rights in the West have been at the cost of men’s rights only serving to enslave both genders to the unalienable right ‘to have’. The other term for it is ‘consumerism’ -the same consumerism that is the rock-bed of Western industrialization, colonialism and globalization that has led to all forms of violence occurring in civil society. The RAINN Organization that provide the ‘National Sexual Assault Hotline’ in the U.S. state: “Every two minutes, somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted”. There were 247,730 victims of rape in 2002, 44,000 of rape victims were under 18 years of age, 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims knew their attackers, 34% were family members and only 7% of the attackers were strangers. This only serves to show how even the individual concept of family is being eroded.

When women choose to neglect their rights as recognized under Islam, they also become negligent of the possible consequences not only to herself, but to her family and society as a whole. The veil is a protection of those rights which only a few non-Westerners are beginning to wake-up to. Transforming from the common Western perception of veiled Muslim women, that was shaped by their own past, Production Coordinator, Mary Walker for the BBC2 series ‘Living in Islam’ said in ‘ Impact Magazine’:

Dissolving a Myth

    “To me the veil symbolized the oppression of women, making them invisible, anonymous and voiceless, and the cause of this oppression lay in the will to perpetuate the family and maintain a patriarchal framework – the very basis of an Islamic Society. I thought women were entirely submerged by divine justification of their role as wife and mother… ‘Living in Islam’ was filmed over two years in 19 different countries and on location I was a lone female in an otherwise male team… The first Muslim woman I met in Mali was far removed from my preconception about the Muslim female. She was the wife of a sheikh dedicated to converting pagan villagers to Islam. A sophisticated, well-educated woman, previously married to a diplomat, she had renounced a Western lifestyle for a life in purdah… The emancipated woman in the West faces the conflict between confirmation of her femininity and the privileges that she associates with it, and repudiation of the confines of her female role and all the limitations that men want her to assume. From where I stood, this woman had transformed those limitations into privileges… On my next trip to northern Nigeria, I met two more women who would alter my views even further.. And once again they had rejected the Western lifestyle which I considered so superior to Islam in its treatment of women… The women talked and in their answers I saw seeds of my own re-evaluations. They argued that the veil signified their rejection of an unacceptable system of values which debased women while Islam elevated women to a position of honor and respect.

    “It is not liberation where you say women should go naked” Just as to us the veil represents Muslim oppression, to them miniskirts and plunging necklines represent oppression. They said that men are cheating women in the West. They let us believe we’re liberated, but enslave us to the male gaze…”

The tresses of forgetfulness is what fell with an enchanting dance
To grace her body in the glowing sun.

Those tresses caught not his eye, but his senses and could not,

Would not rise above that trance

His imagination unfolded passions within from where he cared not

For all he saw in that moment

Was a need to fulfill what lied within with what he saw –

Who she was

Did not matter, neither did her honor.

Enraged by her rejection he triumphed in that hour.

First Written 01/19/04

Sources:

Ashley, N. “Her Hair”. 12/22/03. http://www.teenink.com/Past/1999/10604.html

Barker, Katrina. “Symposium Looks at Costume Veil History”. 2. 12/21/03. http://newsnet.byu.edu/textonly/story.cfm/46860

Ccel.org. “Ante-Nicene Fathers: On the Veiling of Virgins”. 14. 12/21/03.http://www.ccel.org/fathers2?ANF-04/anf04-09.htm

Cyculture.net. “Lefkara Lace Designs”. 4. 12/20/03. http://www.cyculture.net/lefkara/html/designs.html

Eliznik.org.uk. “Womens’ Headwear”. 2. 12/2/03.
http://www.eliznik.org.uk/RomaniaPortul/w_headwear.htm

Haines, Leland. M. “The Christian Veiling”. 16. http://www.bibleviews.com/Veil.html

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Facing Armageddon

The Oldest Image of the CosmosFacing Armageddon

Between the Sun & the Moon

By Hwaa Irfan

What does one do when everything that has held to be true is turned upside down? Shaytan promises and manipulates through our weaknesses all that we have forsaken in our lives. When one is in the midst of an unidentifiable enemy, the ability to comprehend is thwarted by the instinctive nature to survive, and the lower self.

In these time, no one knows that more than, both those who thought they knew their religion and those who have realized that they know very little. Those that have unreasonable fear of Islam/Muslims, have learnt how to exploit overly sensitive Muslims too well; with examples like the Danish cartoons heightening the panic amongst Muslims. This panic has helped to polarize positions; and have brought to the surface personal demons for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

{O believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others towards you make you swerve towards wrong and depart from justice. Deal justly, that is next to piety; and fear Allah, for lo! Allah Knows very well all that you do} (Al Maidah 5: 9).

A Symbol of Reciprocity

In recent years, a few have noticed the procession of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian events descending upon us within days, and weeks of each other. To live in an environment whereby these occasions can be shared with related salutations which are reciprocated one could think that Allah (SWT) has been providing for us a window of opportunity to get to know each other more. In the year Islamic lunar year of 1427 and the solar year of 2006 the days are numerically the same, if one removes the accustomed 11 day difference; a controversy abounds over the findings of a 3600 year old device (dated to the Bronze Age) that was used to synchronize the solar and lunar calendar.

When Europe knew not philosophy, Muslims lived their lives by scientific-based philosophy; today’s experts question how such an ancient piece of technology can be from pagan Europe, because the device, The Sky Disc was found in the forest of Germany in 1999 by looters, then officially seized in 2002 in Switzerland, has been referred to as the Sky Disc of Nebra. The Sky Disc is one of those items that seems to be discovered or “re-discovered” at times when we are in need of guidance – challenging Europe understands of its own history as the West challenges the identity of anything not Western.

    “In other words, perhaps the Sky Disc itself wasn’t European at all. Perhaps the disc had simply been passed by traders from the advanced East, and had somehow wound up in the hands of primitive Europeans. The importance of the Disc now hangs in the balance” commented Thusitha Jayasundera from the BBC Horizon program.

Since then, it has been found to have Babylonian origins, and that it was used to calculate whether a 13th month should be added to the lunar calendar.

What is for sure is that humanity hangs in the balance!

The universe holds all that is in an intricate balance. The Sky Disc holds the symbol of the sun and the moon, yet we humans can only hold each other in contempt. Much has been done to Muslims and other peoples of the earth since the 19th century with the balkanization of Muslim lands to support the prosperity of the global dominant culture of the last century and the beginning of this century; a prosperity with an expensive price tag! Re-marketed as globalization, self interest was the driving seat with a nationalistic thinking that could not be sustained without respect and the cooperation of each other’s nations and the subjugation of the rest of creation. Using reductionism in Islam, we forsook our rich heritage accommodating this secularism, which accommodates all kinds of injustices, which in turn we too have accommodated. This secularism are in arm with it’s foundation stone, capitalism has turned citizens away from being human, and into being a collection of individuals all self interested. As the grandson of Mahatma Ghandi, late Ramachandra Ghandi so poignantly described:

    “The implicit anthropocentrism of the secularist imagination, even more than its explicit Eurocentrism, is its chief weakness. Anthropocentrism makes it impossible for secularism to be ecologically sensitive. Licensed to plunder nature, secularism, becomes the ideology of those who are most capable of plundering nature: the industrialized, scientifically and technologically advanced societies of Europe and their imitators and servitors around the world.”

We have found it easier to accept the false notions against each other, because the dominant cultural paradigm which we all play a part in perpetuating banks on this alienating competitiveness. As long as we remain divided the sun and the moon within us will remain divided like ourselves and thus unable to provide answers. The Sky Disc found at a time when we are each other’s answers, and at a time when nature revolts at our malaise warns us of what we need to do to return an equilibrium to our inner nature, and the earth on which we live.

{Mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may come to know one another} (Al Hujurat 49: 13)

First written 2002
Updated April 26 2010

Sources:
The Sky Disc of Nebra
http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/arqueologia/nebra_disk.htm