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aminasadr

Every new social, religious, political movement in history goes through various stages. And although the sequence and variation of these stages are unique for every movement, parallels and repetitions do occur, making it vital for us to study history and be mindful of the mistakes of the past. Being far from any level of historic expertise, I, nonetheless, cannot help but experience déjà vu as I observe the life and development of Islamic communities.

The first highly disturbing yet very prominent trend can be characterized as 'The Islamic Era of Stagnation”, as it has unknowingly borrowed many of its' features from the Soviet Era of Stagnation. The latter was a result of gradual loss of the original ideological essence of the movement, separation from what has caused it in the first place, loss of genuine motivation and replacement of sincere struggle of those who had faith in it with empty slogans emanating from the mouths of bureaucrats, opportunists and those who have simply adopted to the new ways of climbing to the top of the social ladder. People used to carry the posters with the outdated and oftentimes nonsensical slogans which no one truly cared about, including those who composed them; the value and status of a person was determined by how much he is willing to comply, march along, and promote the very same slogans and mottos, and even the works of art had to obey all the same shallow formulas, or else they risked to stay forever unrecognized. Needless to say, such developments have led to gradual disintegration and collapse of one of the world's superpowers.

And so, today, looking at our communities I can't help but wonder: have the fourteen centuries of development of the Islamic thought only served our ability to operate a rich set of sophisticated cliché and slogans? Do we even have anything that can be genuinely considered to be Islamic thought, Islamic art, Islamic culture or Islamic revolutionary movement, or is it, instead, Islamic plagiarism and propaganda competitions? Are we working for the ideals we have, or to satisfy the wishes and tastes of local community elites, so that we too could find our place in the superficial hierarchy? Indeed, whereas a thinker is supposed to be decades and centuries ahead of his people, our “inspirational figures” are usually called such only because they have satisfied the mindsets of the most backwards layers of the society. If one talks about “standing for justice”, a part of the community will consider him an activist. If one discusses “taboo topics” and “social stigmas” , he may be deemed progressive by some. If one rhymes words ending with “-ation”, he may become a spoken word artist in the eyes of a small community, and putting together the names of Ahlul-Bayt(sa) with words like “pearl”, “rose”, “light”, “stranger” may give one a fame of a poet among those who understand nothing in poetry. In fact, these days poets can apparently be inspired by competitions and material prizes – I wonder which muse visits them for such a small wage?

We have mastered serving Islam to the narrow-minded, uneducated masses. We have mastered blowing fanfares, singing duty odes and decorating our speech with sophisticated terms. But what about intellectuals? What about genuine artists and thinkers? As long as Islamic thought, Islamic art, and Islamic movements overall are inferior to what has been produced before Islam, it does not matter how strong our theological, philosophical and scholarly base is.

Yes, the Islamic world had at some point been deprived of access to technological and scientific know-hows and starting from zero was the only option. Yet, we have never been barred from the intellectual and cultural heights of other nations, save alone our own, and so we shouldn't imagine that we could produce anything worthy without studying and appreciating what is already there.

We have confused the means and ends: becoming familiar with Islamic teachings, personalities and rules is not the peak of aspirations or even an achievement until one uses these fundamental principles and directions to develop and build upon. Speaking about the revolution and its' leader is of no use if the goals if that revolution have been forgotten. Quoting the leader continuously on the issue of “the plots of enemies” and missing out on all the other subjects he emphasizes only shows the desires and the limited vision of those who keep insisting on such filtering. The truth is that we cannot stay plebeians while claiming to be the followers of such highly educated, refined and broad-minded individuals. We cannot toss around moral anecdotes and yet exhibit the level of integrity which is lower than that of a non-Muslim alcoholic, speaking about ethics as a set of social behavior rules and not refinement of the soul.

The ultimatum of our time does not favor mediocre mindsets, the mindsets of slaves and consumers: we either create a competitive, rich and respectable culture or vanish as many similar communities did before. To be clear, I don't mean that Islam will vanish or stop growing and developing. Rather, we, as a community will vanish from the Islamic history and leave it for others, unknown to us, to develop.

Speaking about having rich foundations and using them as trophies and slogans rather than building upon them, I can now mention a second disturbing trend: modern-day Pharisees. The word “Pharisees”, according to what can be gathered from the Biblical narratives, as well as classic literature, refers to a group that existed in Judaism before the arrival of Jesus(sa). The narratives may or may not be historically accurate, yet they still contain an important lesson:

Pharisees emerged from the middle and lower classes of Jewish population, held the right beliefs, knew, maintained and strictly observed the religious rulings in the most detailed way. But they missed one thing: the essence of faith. Their strict observance did nothing to reform their hearts and led them towards decay instead of spiritual reformation; their beliefs have not prevented them from eventually opposing the prophet of God and his mission. They were as religious and as observant as one can be, but they lacked faith, sincerity, and the fruits of genuine religious observance, such as humility, compassion, kindness and integrity.

And so, as we keep up with all the intensive activism, let us not lose sight of the original ideals of spiritual purity or confuse the means with the goals. Islam is the way, but knowing the way is not the end. Paths exist to be walked upon, not to be admired, praised, described and advertised. No Islamophobic rhetoric would have any weight if it was directed towards a nation of competitive intellectuals, well-educated and culturally refined youth, independent thinkers, genuine and well-developed talents and individuals with high cultural and moral standards. But If we don't keep libraries in our houses, we should expect libraries of Islamophobic literature to be written. If we easily attack the honor of fellow Muslims or search for sensational faults in the lives of strangers or even the dead, we should not be surprised that our entire nation is subject to mockery, shaming and misrepresentation. What goes around, comes around, be it on a personal or collective level.

 
 
aminasadr
27 December 2016 @ 08:57 pm

I wish, the minutes which were not
Towards eternity intended
Could be returned, refused, amended
From endless lives we thought we'd got.

I wish from here I could flee
Towards the homes of dear friends
Who mix, in thirty square meters,
Like alchemists, the pure blends
Of greater worlds with bitter tea.

I wish I could release, untie
The tired strings of broken oaths
And promises, along with those
Which are unuttered but implied
Between the lines of love confessions,
Just like my voice behind expressions,
Behind the words I fail to tame;
The face of truth remains the same,
No matter how we pose the question,
No matter how the legislation
Permits to cover imperfections
Of under-love and semi-passions.

O, save my mind, the pure velvet
Beneath my feet - the winter's art,
And cleanse the fortress of my heart
From captives, bound to overwhelm it
And take it quietly apart..
I wish, like you, to melt and rise
To be reborn, naive and gentle,
To twirl in waltzes sentimental
Descending slowly from the skies,
And pass before the dear eyes,
In worlds eternal and momental

 
 
aminasadr
13 December 2016 @ 11:17 pm

When normal life obeys the rules of farce,
I'd rather follow not its' laws and rules,
And safely guard my ladder to the stars
From watchful eyes of wiseacres and fools.

I'd rather not approach from any side
The propaganda's swamp in search of fame,
For nightingales, that sing alone at night,
And croaking frogs - will never be the same

I'd rather shake in fits of holy ire,
When merchants rule, exploiting the saints,
Than lend an ear to an honoured liar
With utter lack of decency and sense.

-

 
 
aminasadr
04 December 2016 @ 03:36 pm

Мы - цыгане-мгновеньекрады,

и, с добычей из сада судьбы,

мы неслышно идем по канату

над бушующей бездной толпы.

Вот, дрожит середина каната -

не оставь же нас, Господи!

Не позволь нам, мгновеньекрадам,

затеряться в той пропасти.

Там, на дальнем конце каната,

мы сумеем нагнать, найти

пестрый табор мгновеньекрадов -

лишь бы только дойти, донести.

Не взыщи же, владелец сада,

но за вечную тягу к пути

нам, цыганам-мгновеньекрадам,

щедро душу позолоти.

 
 
aminasadr
24 November 2016 @ 12:02 am
***  

Only an artist could paint these moments:
Smoking the smog, barefoot in the cold
Sits on his throne the king of the mornings,
Solving the plights of the young and the old.

Everyone chooses his lot and profession:
Businessmen sell, and traitors betray;
You are a witness, a judge and the questioned;
I am a writer, and so I portray.

Here I stand by this mission enraptured,
Carefully capturing my prototype..
The prototype has forever been captured.
Let us now wait for the plot to be ripe.

And in the meantime, the merchants are trading
Easier efforts for greater results.
They speculate, and I am speculating
If “ever after” can grow from “without”s.

 
 
 
aminasadr

It is well known that our leader has an excellent taste and deep familiarity with art and literature. On various occasions he has taken an opportunity to emphasise the necessity and benefits of reading. I have already discussed some of the benefits of reading in another post,  however, many people who are not raised in cultures with strong emphasis on literature and reading, especially when it comes to fiction, have difficulty selecting and identifying good books. Yet, even here our leader has done his part and provided extensive guidance. Thus, to help fellow perfection-seekers, I have compiled his reading recommendations from various sources and speeches.  Please, feel free to add more items in the comments.

Reading list based on recommendations of imam Khamenei:

general list of authors:

-Honore de Balzac

-Victor Hugo

-Russian classics (ex. Leo Tolstoy, F. Dostoevsky, etc.)

-William Shakespeare

-Aleksei Tolstoy

-Michel Zevaco

-Karl Popper

-Frantz Fanon

-Émile Zola

particular books mentioned:

"History of Science", Pierre Rousseau

"Les Miserables", Victor Hugo

"The Name of the Rose",Umberto Eco

"The Ordeal", Aleksei Tolstoy

"Quietly Flows the Don", Mikhail Sholokhov

"A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, And Power", Jimmy Carter

"War and Peace", Leo Tolstoy

"Roots", Alexander Haley

"Uncle Tom's Cabin", Harriet Beecher Stowe

"The Thibaults”, Roger Martin

"“The Bicentennial Man,” Isaac Asimov

"The American", Howard Fast

"Heart of a Dog" -Mikhail Bulgakov

"Mahatma Gandhi", Romain Rolland

"The Grapes of Wrath" John Steinbeck

 
 
aminasadr
03 November 2016 @ 05:58 pm

This post is a short note for parents, educators and translators.

We often(and rightfully so) complain about  lack of good children's literature. And while production and development of the latter is in the process, I can't help but once again point at the following two masterpieces and insist that they must be translated into English and made available for all our children:

"Cipollino"("Le aventure di Cipollino) , and "Gelsomino in the countyof liars"("Gelsomino nel paese dei bugiardi") by Gianni Rodari.

"Cipollino" is a story of adventures of an onion boy in a vegetable country which is ruled by a corrupt system. The book is full of sharp satire and easy to recognize characters with perfect contemporary relevance.  Cipolliono a,d his friends by means of peaceful struggle end up overthrowing the corrupt ruling system, together with all its' characteristic elements. The book was, for obvious reasons, very popular in Communist countries, but by no means the values reflected in it belong to Communism exclusively and never should it be labeled as a "communist book".

What "Cipollino" teaches:

-justice

-empathy

-bravery

-disregard towards corrupt elements

-ability to think and understand the difference between universal and imposed values

-friendship and loyalty

-the power of unity

-weakness and fragility of any unjust establishment in the face of united struggle

-humbleness and the sad end of the arrogant

-appreciating small things in life

"Gelsomino in the country of liars" is a story of a gifted boy with an unusually strong voice who finds no place in his society, leaves it in search of a way to put his talent to a good use and encounters a country hijacked and corrupt to such an extent, that speaking truth in it is a crime( we knowof such countries, don't we?). He meets a few friends who, just like him, refuse to part with common sense, and their humble resistance to the collective madness and corruption, step by step, overthrows the entire system.

What "Gelsomino" teaches:

-being true to your values

-the power of a little bit of truth to overthrow an entire system of lies

-a decisive role one or a few individuals can play in a society

-empathy

-finding a good use for your abilities and tallents, no matter how odd they may seem

-a healthy attitude and critical thinking

-sacrifise (the character of Bananito)

-value and possibilities that can be derived from the smallest encounters

-the evil of vanity and greed

-the sad end of the vain, arrogant and greedy ones

The above list of meritsof these two books is by no means complete, but should suffice to prove a universal value of these masterpieces of the great childrens' writer and educator Gianni Rodari.

The original books are in Italian, "Cipollino" is also available in Russian, French(in France, not in Canada), Chinese, and, perhaps other languages. Not in English, however. So, If anyone could translate or sposor translation of these books into English, they would do a great service not only to Muslim children, but to English-speaking children worldwide.

 
 
aminasadr


Rise, O Abbas! In the name of your Lord!

For the sake of your brother and his parched lips!

My eyes, O Abbas, are blind to this world,

Once the Moon of Bani Hashem has been eclipsed!

Stand, O Abbas! Pick up your sword!

For Hussain is all alone with the merciless!

He is a prey for the vicious horde!..

Would you bear if they step on your brothers chest?

Ya Abal Fadhl! Where are your hands

Which would hold the sky from falling upon the earth!

Enemy's eyes are upon the tents -

We are trophies, we are toys for Yazeed, the cursed!

Rise, O the Moon! Where is your glow?

Can it be that Abal Fadhl does not respond?

Children are waiting.. They didn't know

We had sent you to Al-Kawthar, the Sacred Pond

 
 
aminasadr
26 September 2016 @ 11:40 pm
***  

It's been a long exile; we slowly languish,

Concealing gardens-souls beneath the rags

And throwing verses rhymed in every language

Into the whirl of uniforms and flags.

They fall without making any sound

Sustaining life despite a stranger's boot

In hope, one day, when us and  them are found,

To be, perhaps to You of any good.

The stage is empty, sitting on the stairs,

I seem to hear Hamlet's monologue;

My taxi's driver tirelessly stares

Into the road enshrouded in fog.

I do confess: it's hard to be poetic

Without a credit history and score,

And in the mighty world of arithmetic

I am a ghost, and stranger therefore.

So let it be - the game is worth the candle,

The book is worth the weight of every page;

We only ask, o Allah, help us handle

The suffocation of the Final Age

 
 
aminasadr
28 July 2016 @ 11:51 pm

In our movie, black-and-white,

The fairy's role is sad and tragic:

Arrested, once upon a night

And charged on fifty counts of magic,

She froze in utter disbelief

As someone searched through her possessions:

Three bags of love, a jar of grief,

Some verses full of deviations,

Illegal thoughts, forbidden dreams,

A bunch of undeclared friends...

"A vicious criminal, it seems

Is what we have in our hands!"

_

- "Indeed, her history is known;

Respected people have related

That they have witnessed on their own

The range of crimes she perpetrated:

She followed not the Party's line,

Refused to march and carry banners

With slogans clearly defined

And demonstrated lack of manners."

_

How strange and cold... the breath of dawn

And  scents of herbs have disappeared.

Your life - the fairy - is gone

Along with everything you feared.

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