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Tag: Knowledge

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Forthcoming projects...

I’m often asked about what I’m working on. Here’s a sneak peek into what’s in the works at the moment:

Scorpion Soup (In Production)

A story within a story, the book is inspired by The Arabian Nights in its use of a frame tale. One story leads to another, taking the reader down through numerous levels. The idea is derived partly from my fascination for The Arabian Nights, as well as my love for my grandfather’s book THE GOLDEN PILGRIMAGE — in which fellow travellers to and from Mecca relate their own tales.

Hannibal Fogg and the Supreme Secret of Man (In Production)

An epic work of fiction, I wrote Hannibal Fogg back in 2009, with the intention of creating a character that would satisfy my obsession for the obscure, the fantastic, and all the places I had been to but never really spoken of.

The House of Wisdom (In Production)

Having lectured on the legacy of Arab science, I have taken every opportunity to draw attention to the extraordinary contribution that Arab science from the Abbasid era — the ‘Golden Age’ of Islam — has played in the development of Occidental know how and science. Named after the Bayt al Hikma, The House of Wisdom is a fast-paced thriller that considers the roles of Arab science from the great polymaths of the Abbasid age.

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Six Moroccan Proverbs

  • Trust in God but tie your camel well.
  • The answer to a fool is silence.
  • To its mother, the baby son of a serpent is a gazelle.
  • That which is written on the brow will be seen in the eye.
  • The wind doesn’t always blow as the ship would want it to.
  • The dog barked but the caravan moved on.

 

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Translations

A huge number of Classical texts no longer exist in their original Greek or Latin, and were brought to the Renaissance through the Arabic. The Abbasids drew from Greek and Roman classics, as well as the classical Persian, Turkic and Indian sources. In this way, information on subjects such as Zero, came to the Arabs (from the Indian subcontinent). Such breakthroughs led to a snowballing effect, with problems of mathematics, physics and so on that were uncrackable before, being solved for the first time.

The House of Wisdom was at first essentially a translation house and giant library. Then gradually it turned into a think-tank, which built on the foundations of earlier cultures, and welcomed Christians and Jews as well as Muslims to study.



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The Arab Contribution

In the sciences, the Arabs took Classical work and breakthroughs and refined them, as well as developing their own fields of study from scratch. Their contribution was profound, and is often sidelined or completely forgotten in the Occident. And very often it was centuries ahead of its time. For example: The Arabs under the Abbasids and others constructed the first hospitals and lending libraries, gave the first academic degrees, and treated mental patients with music (more than a millennia before our idea of music therapy); they invented the fountain pen (because a tenth century Sultan wanted a pen that would write when he was ready), the camera obscura, water clocks, hydraulics, decryption of codes, and soap. 

They wrote about the concept of evolution, environmentalism, classification (mineral, animal, vegetable), scientific method and peer review… and refined all sorts of other things that are so key to our world, like paper as we have seen, the ‘Indian numbers’, and the massive mathematical breakthrough of ZERO.

They made contributions in almost all the sciences: mathematics, botany, chemistry, psychology, philosophy, engineering, physics, agriculture, astronomy, metallurgy, medicine and zoology.




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Misinformation

Western society tends to believe that the scientific and cultural bedrock upon which it sits was a product of the Classical world, most notably of the Romans and the Greeks. At our schools, teachers rant on about Latin etymology, and about Euclid, Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle. But in our obsession for those empires, we blinker ourselves to the full picture, of how the two Classical civilizations arrived at our doors. The knowledge of the Romans and the Greeks passed through a matrix, a system that honed them and gave them shape, like a swordsmith giving edge to a blade.

The general idea that’s been commonly believed is that the fall of the Roman Empire (in 476 AD), was followed by centuries of darkness, until the blinding light of the European Renaissance. And during that era of darkness, there was no important scholarship, no learning, no breakthroughs in their desert of darkness.

It was almost a thousand years when nothing really happened at all.

But then the Renaissance, the rebirth of learning, was constructed solely on the classical cultures.

Nothing could be farther from the truth…


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April 22, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Set Sawdust Alight with Spit

You will need: very dry sawdust, powdered sodium peroxide


So many common Godmen miracles are based on fire, and this is a good example, as it’s cheap and easy to do. The Godman just needs to find a supply of sodium peroxide which, in India, is relatively easy, as chemicals are readily sold without any questions being asked.

the method involves the powdered sodium peroxide being mixed in with the sawdust before the performance. Before going on show, the Godman takes a big sip of water and, when he’s sitting in front of his audience, he spits the water out nearby on the sawdust. The chemical reaction of the sodium peroxide and the water causes fire, which combusts the sawdust.

NB: Godmen’s miracles such as this should not be attempted by children, or by anyone else except trainee Godmen.



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April 21, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Set Drying Clothes Alight

You will need: Yellow or white phosphorous in a solution of carbon disulphide (ration 1:6)


Pour a little of the solution on the clothes just before the audience assemble, and a few minutes later the clothes will spontaneously catch fire as the solution dries and ignites.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children or anyone else, except for trainee godmen.



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April 20, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Stop the Pulse

You will need: one lime


The best godman miracles require simple props, the kind that are available anywhere… an excellent example is stopping the pulse, an old favourite. The audience gathers around, the godman sitting in the lotus position before them. He closes his eyes and slows his breathing. A member of the crowd is called forward to take his pulse. As his fingers press on the wrist of the holy man, the pulse gradually reduces and then fades away completely. The trick is as simple as the prop. The lime has been secreted in the armpit. As the godman presses down on the lime, it itself presses on the artery that runs down the arm, stopping the pulse.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or anyone except for trainee godmen.


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April 19, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Cut the Skin With a Knife

You will need: Ferric chloride, sodium sulphocyanide, a knife


Rub the solution of Ferric chloride on the arm or the hand, where you will be cutting, and then dig the knife in the solution of sodium sulphocyanide, and motion as if you are carving with the knife. Crimson-coloured streaks will become visible where the knife blade has come in contact with the skin. Once you have finished the routine, wipe the affected skin clean and wash with soap.

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or by anyone else except trainee godmen.



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April 18, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

How to Eat Red Hot Chillis

You will need:  Olive Oil, some red hot chillis


This is an easy one and popular with godmen. Chillis burn the mouth when they come into contact with saliva. If this is prevented, then they don’t burn and can be swallowed. To stop the chillis from touching the saliva, you must rinse your mouth very well with olive oil before performing the feat. The olive oil coats the mouth for just long enough to chew and swallow the chillis, but beware, the whole act has to be done quite quick. The chillis can later be expelled from the stomach through vomiting (or ingesting an emetic).

NB Godmen’s miracles such as this should never be attempted by children, or by anyone except trainee godmen.


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