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Tag: Wisdom

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Boiled Frog

I was recently asked for an interview, ‘What are your thoughts on the way society is changing?’

My response:

We are urbanising at the same time as technologising. It’s happening everywhere at the same time.

Where I am living, in Casablanca, the city grows each day as more and more people come from the countryside and try to live here in the city. Of course, most of them can’t get jobs, and once they have seen the bright lights of the city, they can’t go back to their villages.

The world is changing, but most people aren’t seeing it happen. They’re not programmed to notice the change.

It’s very similar to the BOILED FROG idea:

If a frog is placed in a pot of cold water, water that is heated very slowly, the frog won’t notice the increasing temperature, and it will be boiled alive.

Our society is very similar to the boiled frog. We are going to be ‘boiled alive’ — as the world in which we live changes. We have been developed as a species for the savannah… to react to an instant threat, but not to a gradual one.

The only way to survive is to alter the way we notice change, and the way we react to it.

 

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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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August 7, 2010 Posted by tahir in Travel

With the Dalai Lama


Spent the last few days in Dharamsala, northern India. And was lucky enough to have a 45 minute meeting with the Dalai Lama yesterday. We spoke about Tibet, Afghanistan and life. I can’t ever remember encountering such a gentle and sincere man.

TS

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August 1, 2010 Posted by tahir in Travel

Raining cats, rats and dogs


In Mumbai…


Where I can’t remember the monsoon fiercer than it was yesterday. Torrents of water cascading down from the graphite sky… waterfalls ripping through the streets, pedestrians wading, pyedogs huddled miserably in doorways, traffic even more gridlock than ever.

How wonderful though to be back in this mesmerising city, one that I have watch change through twists and turns over two decades and more. The place is booming, although every layer of humanity can be found on each street corner. India defies description and sings to the imagination in ways that most countries could only hope to do.

This morning flying up to Delhi with Rachana and the kids… and planning to visit the Taj Mahal. In all the dozens of times I’ve visited India, I’ve never been there. In a strange way it all seemed too easy.

Overwhelmed with a childlike excitement.

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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.



TS


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April 9, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

The Book of the Book IX

Yasavi of  the Masters Transmits it

Ahmed Yasavi had a history of the content of the Book of the Book bound in a volume of over two hundred pages, on whose cover was written: “If the thickness of books determines the value of their content, this one should issue really be even thicker.”
Since Ahmed Yasavi, of the masters of Central Asia, this story has been transmitted for more than seven hundred years.
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April 8, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

The Book of the Book VIII

Yasavi Buys it for Twelve Gold Pieces


When Ahmed Yasavi was a student, he bought a copy of the Book from Mali, paying two gold pieces.
 The following day he returned, and gave only another ten pieces of gold, saying: “What I have learned from the Book is worth more than this. But since I have no more money I will give it all to you, in token of my valuing this lesson is equal to my entire possessions.”…



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April 7, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Book of the Book VII

Mali Saves the Book


The Barbarian had the book had destroyed, but his interpreter, whose name was Mali, remembered its contents. It is through his work with its teaching was passed down.
Mali opened a shop.
He kept copies of the Book of the Book on view, for sale. Nobody was allowed to look inside until he had paid two gold pieces for a copy. Some learned the lesson of the book, and came back to study with Mali.  others wanted their money returned, but Mali always said:
“I cannot give back your money until you return me what you have learned from the transaction, as well as the book itself.”
Some who preferred mere appearance to inner content, called Mali a deceiver.
But Mali told them: “You were, all along, seeking deceivers so you will assume that you have found one in anyone.”…



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April 6, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Book of the Book VI

The Guarding and Theft of the Book


The king was so impressed by the stranger’s story that he ordered the story to be inscribed and bound in a large book. This was placed in a niche in his Treasury and guarded by armed men, day and night. The aged king died and a barbarian conqueror devastated his realm.
Breaking into the Treasury, this man saw the book in its place of honour and said to himself: “This must be the source of the country’s happiness, wisdom and prosperity.” He said aloud: “Let the book be taken down and read out to me in our own language.”
But this conqueror, for all his physical power, was an ignoramus; he could make no sense of the words in the book…


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