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Tag: Religion

4
March 28, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The King, the Dog, and the Golden Bowl, II

There was a great concourse of people, young and old, being given food and money by the generous monarch, who sat upon a great golden throne in the middle of the lofty hall.

Suddenly from his hiding place, Hassan saw three great hounds being brought to space a few feet away from him; and an attendant placed to three bowls of finest meat before each of the dogs. The man then went away, and Hassan found his eyes fixed upon the delicious meat which had been given to the dogs. As he was thinking that he could with joy feed from even the leftovers in the animals’ bowls, so great was his hunger, the dog nearest to him raised his eyes. Looking at him in an almost human fashion he pushed his jewelled  golden bowl towards Hassan. The famished man, unable to wait a second longer, helped himself to one of the pieces of succulent meat, and pushed the bowl back to the dog. But, with its paw, the animal again pushed it over to Hassan, until he had eaten to his heart’s content. Then the intelligent creature ate, and after it had licked the bowl clean, it pushed it back to Hassan. The man saw it was offering him the bowl, and so he took it in his hands and then hid the precious object under his tattered cloak. When he had done so, the animal seem to nod his head in agreement.
Hassan realised that if he sold the bowl, and bought himself new clothes, he would at least have a chance to approach a merchant to do some sort of work.
He patted the hound gratefully on the head, and slipped away from the crowd. Next day he sold the bowl, which, being studded with precious jewels, brought him in such a good price, but he was able to set himself up in business once again.


TS
2
March 27, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The King, the Dog, and the Golden Bowl I

Here is one of my favourite stories… I’m giving it here because I have just been to see the carpenter, Mr. Reda, who built the library for me at Dar Khalifa.  I was reminded of the king’s fate in the story, because Mr. Reda  was sitting in his workshop, alone. He said there was no work, and he had let all his carpenters go… but instead of being sad he had resigned himself to fate.


Once upon a time there lived a merchant, called Hassan,  who was wealthy and generous, happy and fortunate.
But one day, disaster stared him in the face. His ships, bearing great loads of treasure from afar, were captured by pirates and his warehouse — containing many valuables — was burned down. Unable to face his friends, he sold his house and his remaining belongings, and set off in search of his fortune.
But good luck deserted Hassan. A thief stole his remaining money while he was asleep in a caravanerai, and this time he found himself without a single coin to his name, in a strange and foreign land.
He went to the mosque and asked if he could stay the night, and was very ashamed at having to ask the charity. How was he ever going to hold up his head again, he wondered? He asked the mosque-keeper what he should do. “My brother,” said the old man, “go three days march from here, and you will arrive at such and such a place. The king there is generous and kind, and you may be able to put your case before him. He would be sure to give you more charity but I can give, because we are so poor.”
  Before leaving the mosque, Hassan gave his last few coins to the imam, and wished him a long and prosperous life.
Hassan set off on a rough road and was soon thirsty and tired, wondering whether the journey was a good idea at all.
  After three days he arrived almost starving at a walled city. The shopkeepers there were richly dressed in contented. Hassan walked wearily towards the palace, where the old mosque-keeper had told him the generous king helped thousands of people each night. But when he finally got there he was so ashamed of his rags, and so fearful of presenting himself in such a state before the king, that he hid behind a pillar, from which vantage point he could look upon the scene of the royal court….


TS

0
March 21, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Arabic

Arabs believe that their language, Arabic, contains within it many layers of concealed information. It is for this reason that it is often believed that Arabic is the only language in which the Qur’an should be read, and that by translating the holy book one loses secret meaning. The matter is dabated endlessly, as one can imagine. What is very certain however, is that Arabic is a labyrinth within itself, one in which specific roots of words can be used in many different ways. I’m not going to start giving Arabic lessons, but I want to observe how Arabic is used to conceal information. It’s a subject that is well known across the Arab world, especially to scholars, and has been used for millennia by Sufis.




TS


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