Tag Archive | religious

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

The Hypocrisy of Anti-Immigration in Arizona 


The Hypocrisy of Anti-Immigration in Arizona

By Hwaa Irfan

Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona who is about to sign the Anti-Migrant Law SB 1070, speaks of Arizona as a place that rose from the ocean floor spouting hot lava from its volcanos. Canyons were carved out by former rivers and as millions of years passed the land formed along with desertification to provide a home for the Hopi and Navajo Indians today. What Brewer means by “today” can surely not be in the same breath as the rest of the Arizona population that migrated there. Yes, I say “migrated” though other terms can easily be employed when looking at the earliest settlements by non-natives.

Those that migrated there did not change the place names given by the Native Americans such as “Ear of the Wind Arch”, and “Spider Web Arch” albeit the English equivalent; and the Native Americans were more than just the Hopi and Navajo when it comes to Arizona. They include:

• The Apache (Navajo)

• The Maricopas

• The Pimas

• The Papagos

• The Yumas

• The Mohaves

• The Wallapais

• The Chiricahuas

• The Havasupais

• The Hohokam

• The Tohono O’odham Nation

• The Yavapai

• The Hopi

Federally, there is recognition of 21 tribes/clans consisting of 250,000 Native Americans according to the 2000 census living on 24 Indian Reservations.

Before the First Migrants

Before Native Americans were bundled off to live on Reservations – away from the land and life they had known, and separated from the rest of the incoming population/migrants from beyond the sea, life was very different. The Navajo were nomads, living off the land as they roamed. Albeit plentiful in fish, the two things the Navajo never ate was fish or pork. In the winter, their camps could be found on the highlands, and near the rivers in the scorching summer sun. Their homes were of brush, with the earth scooped out beneath for the domestic floor. When they moved camp, they burned their temporary homes. For food they lived on berries, nuts, fruits from various trees, mesquite beans, acorns, the fruit of the giant cacti/yucca, and calves as well as horse meat. There life was self sustaining not desiring more than they needed. There are reports of them being selfish, but they were generous with food.

There was no hierarchical structure, as all members with the clan were considered the same, but like in most things, there was division of labor, with councils of men, and the chief being male. Women built the homes each time they moved.

When it came to marriage, they married outside of the clan, never allowing marriage to near second cousin. A man interested in marrying a young girl/woman, as in Islam, approached the parents. Polygny was not unusual. Women had the privilege of women’s time when menstruating, and would keep the company of other women. This was her time to not be imbalanced by the presence of men. Boys and girls grew up in without having to obey, and like the children of Nubia, both had the kind of freedom where they never had to obey.

Amongst the Hopi, every village is an autonomous government. Given the inability of democracy to facilitate the needs of “all of the people”, maybe this form of governance argued for by many anti-federalists is the natural way. Their language is ancient (Aztec) in origin, and their belief system is deep-rooted in religion which transpires as a deep reverence for all things. They are ancestors of the Anasazi who have a complete belief system which covers all things in life to the extent that they have a ceremonial calendar.
They believed in One Supreme Being Who is the invisible Source of everything.

The Hopis traditionally were farmers, but the force of progress has undermined this self sustaining lifestyle towards cash for work. Part of their contribution to humanity’s food supply is the corn of which they grew 24 varieties. They hunted wild mammoth until they became extinct, and then bison, The Hopi home is made of stone and mud, standing several stories high, this may be the most likelihood origin of the American skyscraper. Unlike American homes, the basement, the kiva, is a place of worship and religious ceremony blessing the home above.

Like the traditional societal structure of the Nubia of Upper Egypt and Sudan, the structure was matrilineal. The nature of commitment from a man to a woman as a stage towards marriage is most honorable, as the groom and his male relatives weave the bridal costume, and the bride to be grinds corn for three days for her groom. When a man marries, the offspring become members of the wife’s clan.

These are but two examples missing from a much wider debate over migration.

From Native American Land to U.S. Land

From life before the first migrants, the rude awakening took the form of the following as described by current Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer:

    “Spaniards sent exploration parties northward from Mexico. The first was a Franciscan priest named Marcos de Niza, who entered the territory in 1539. Other Spanish missionaries followed and established missions to bring Christianity to the Indians [see the Doctrine of Discovery]. Tumacacori Mission, north of Nogales, was founded by Padre Kino at the center of an Indian settlement”.

    “After Kino’s death, Spanish development of this area came to a halt. In 1821 Mexico declared its independence from Spain and eventually went to war with the United States. This war ended in 1848, and the land north of the Gila River became United States territory. In 1853 the rest of the area was acquired by the Gadsden Purchase”

There was an open invitation to settlers, not unlike the Zionist invitation to settlers in Palestine. The response involved over 50,000 miners seeking to make it rich overnight because of the abundance of gold, silver, and copper. After Mexican independence won from Spain in 1822, Arizona became a part of the Mexican State of Vieja California under the Treaty of Cordoba in response to the War of Independence by Mexico.

In 1846, the ideology of “Manifest Destiny” or the “Doctrine of Discovery” America initiated the American-Mexican War. In 1848, Mexico was forced under the The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to hand over its land to America, under the condition that America paid Mexico $15 million in compensation. America was still haggling over desired, land, and it was not until the Gadsden Purchase/Treaty of La Mesilla for $10 million . After the great American Civil War, Anglo-Americans feared the influence and political clout of Mexican-Americans, so the capital of Arizona remained fluid moving from Tucson, Fort-Whipple, Prescott, and then finally to Phoenix.

With the advent of the 1900s, the Republicans sought to keep Arizona American, by making it a part of the Union under New Mexico. It was not until 1912 that Arizona became the 48th state. World War I helped to transform Arizona from a frontier state into a modern state with the demand for copper.

Migration Today

Allah (SWT) made the earth a wide expanse for us to roam in, the Qur’an tells us, but we are the ones who create our own borders. The fact that Arizona is on the border with its past, and the fact that the natives of Arizona to some extent live on their land has become a part of the scenery, but where are their rights? As the protest raises against the Anti-Immigrant Law SB1070 the thought that technically speaking, such a law is utter nonsense when Native Americans are being treated as illegal migrants in their own land, and that those who propose the law are migrants themselves, or are descendent of migrants should be the focus. The issue of how the U.S. treats its neighbors when it comes to politics, trade, employment, and social issues should be the focus. If the U.S. stopped seeing its geographical neighbors as it’s back-door from which to exploit resources and labor for its own benefit, along with corruption and the U.S. – led drugs war in Mexico, there would be less need to cross the border with Arizona, as dangerous as it is, because the reason would be removed. There can be no peace until there is justice for all, and justice is not just a matter of rights, but it is also a matter of a way of life that is so different than the one that the U.S. seeks to impose on the people of the land, the Native Americans. Practice what you preach America, and stop practicing what is in fact unsustainable.

In the words of the Artists Against SB 1070:

“We believe, the decision by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to sign into law the poorly conceived immigration measure SB1070, marks a new low in the fight to protect civil liberties in The United States. This law allows any officer of the law at the state, county, or city level in Arizona to determine the legal immigration status of anyone at anytime, among other provisions, including making it a crime to be in Arizona illegally.

“Millions of people everywhere believe it will lead to rampant racial profiling, particularly against people of Latino/a heritage. President Obama has called it “misguided.” Furthermore, immigration is a national issue and the state of Arizona has no constitutional role in determining who has legal status in this country.

“We are calling on members of the worldwide artistic community—whether visual, performing, literary or other discipline—to boycott the state of Arizona in opposition to this unjust legislation, for as long as it remains on the books. We ask artists to not perform, produce, present, appear or conduct business in Arizona so that lawmakers there understand that the rest of the country disapproves, so they will feel the economic impact of their bad decision. We call on talent agents, managers, publicists, unions and associations to also support this effort and the artists they represent who choose to join.

“We also call on fans and supporters of the arts to contact their favorite performers and artists and encourage them to participate in this boycott. Fans can also show their support for the boycott by writing to Arizona Governor Brewer, and by supporting their favorite artists when they make appearances in other states.

“The artistic community has a natural role to play in commenting and responding to social issues. Now more than ever the time is right to act.

To Sign-on & Endorse this Campaign as an organization, group or as an individual; please send your: Name, Title/Affiliation and City & State to

artistsagainstarizona@yahoo.com

The law was signed in by Governor Jan Brewer on May 17th 2010, setting the example that it is possible to make anything legal even if it is against the laws of the nation. To comment from New America Media, native American Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, professor at the University of Arizona has the following to say:

“With Arizona in the spotlight, most of the nation has focused on the draconian anti-immigrant law SB 1070, which makes it a crime to be an undocumented immigrant. But this is the culmination of a war that has been going on for 518 years. The mood here is not anti-immigrant. It is anti-Mexican. The racial profiling law has little to do with legalities; it is about the expressed targeting of red-brown indigenous peoples.

“Law officers will not target generic Hispanics or even Mexicans. Their profile is 100 percent indigenous. That’s why American Indians in Arizona understand precisely what this law is all about (Navajo Times, May 13). They are subject to this profile because the similarities are obvious: short, dark hair, dark eyes and red-brown skin. Spaniards are not at risk.

“How do we know this? Look to the historic practices of la migra, or the current practices of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. They have been racial profiling for years, and now the governor has authorized all law enforcement to be able to do the same, under threat of lawsuits. For years, those of us with red-brown skin have lived this reality anywhere along the U.S.-Mexico border. Nowadays, this anti-Mexican sentiment, under the veneer of anti-illegal immigrant fervor, is nationwide.

“This is about our bodies.

“In past years, they’ve gone after our tongues. In Arizona, in the year 2000, Proposition 203 virtually gutted bilingual education, based on the belief that it is better to be monolingual than bilingual. Arizona was simply following the lead of California’s Proposition 227 in 1998. But to this day, the question remains: What does language have to do with legal status?

“The latest salvo is HB 2281. This one is about our souls.

“This new law is an attempt by Superintendent Tom Horne to eliminate ethnic studies. Specifically, Horne has targeted Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program, arguing that what is taught there is outside of western civilization and should not be taught in Arizona schools.

“This law has nothing to do with “illegal immigration.” If anything, it resembles the practices of the early European friars who deemed indigenous knowledge to be godless and demonic and attempted to destroy it completely. The burning of the books of our ancestors – indigenous peoples of this continent – resides deep within our psyche. The philosophical foundation for Mexican American studies in general is Maya-Nahuatl knowledge – derived from thousands of years of maize culture.

“Anthropologists refer to it as Mesoamerican knowledge. One part of it is: In Lak Ech – Tu eres mi otro yo – you are my other self. It is an ethic that teaches us that we are all part of each other. It is a human rights ethos connected to social justice and love of humanity.

“This is what Horne wants to ban. Could book burning and an auto-de-fe be next? Of course. This is what he wants. He has singled out Rodolfo Acuña’s book, “Occupied America,” and Paolo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” as examples of books that preach hate, promote segregation, anti-Americanism and the violent overthrow of the U.S. government.

“After the law was signed last week by Gov. Jan Brewer, metaphorically, an auto-de-fe was precisely what Horne came to conduct at TUSD the very next day. Hundreds of middle and high school students laid siege to the TUSD headquarters. When he failed to show his face, he scheduled a press conference at the nearby state building a couple of miles away. The same students marched there, laying siege to the state building. Eventually, 15 arrests were made. I was one of them.

“Why are students willing to be arrested? Because the two books singled out are but the beginning. The new law authorizes the monitoring and censorship of books to ensure that they are in compliance with the law. Only non-educators could have come up with this one.

“And so here we are again. Welcome to Apartheid Arizona, U.S.A”. from source

Sources

Arizona Councils of Government Arizona’s Native American Tribes http://edrp.arid.arizona.edu/tribes.html

Brewer, J. “The Arizona Story” http://azgovernor.gov/kids/AZ_History.asp

Hopi http://www.crystalinks.com/hopi.html

June, P. Mexican-Spanish War: Mexican War of Independence http://www.pjjune.net/history/arizona/arizonapage2.htm

The Apache http://southwest.library.arizona.edu/hav7/body.1_div.1.html

Related Topics:
Humanity as a Goal
The Doctrine of Discovery
To the Person with the Worst Job in the World

When the Waters Were Changed 

It was on BBC World Service, for all its sins that I recall a reporter (whose name I know not) who replied to a question that surpasses me that she could not imagine if everywhere in the world was the same. As someone who liked to travel, and had a career that allowed her to, she appreciated the diverse, colors, sounds, and ways of life that she has been privileged to see.

If someone behaves differently, does this make them unacceptable, and as a result everything they do? Whatever contribution they have to make will their opinion count?

Could you imagine a world where everyone dressed the same, thought, and behaved the same, had the same likes and dislikes? If we all perceived the world in the same way, if there was something wrong with it, who would see about putting it right?

From ‘Tales of the Dervishes’ by Idries Shah

When the Waters Were Changed

Once upon a time Khidr, called upon mankind with a warning. At a certain date, he said, all the water in the world which had not been specially hoarded, would disappear. It would then be renewed, with different water, which would drive men mad.

Only one man listened to the meaning of this advice. He collected water and went to a secure place where he stored it, and waited for the water to change its character.

On the appointed date the streams stopped running, the wells went dry, and the man who had listened, seeing this happening, went to his retreat and drank his preserved water.

When he saw the waterfalls again begin to flow, this man descended among the other sons of men.
He found that they were thinking and talking in an entirely different way from before; yet they had no memory of what had happened, nor of having been warned.

When he tried to talk to them, he realized that they thought that he was mad, and they showed hostility or compassion, not understanding.

At first, he drank none of the new water, but went back to his concealment, to draw on his supplies, every day.

Finally, however, he took the decision to drink the new water because he could not bear the loneliness of living, behaving and thinking in a different way from everyone else.

He drank the new water, and became like the rest. Then he forgot all about his own store of special water, and his fellows began to look upon him as a madman who had miraculously been restored to sanity.