A return to jahiliyyah

painting of arab warriors charging

One of my favorite podcasts, The Golden Age of Islam, just returned after almost a year-long hiatus.

No judgment here. It happens.

This episode dives deep on Bedouin culture.

Like any religion, Islam was shaped by the culture in which it emerged.  The rules and values of the Bedouin – from the treatment of women to concepts of honor and leadership – would impact the Islamic society that grew out of Arabia.  In this episode, we take a look at that culture to understand what Islam preserved and what it changed.

64 – (0.1) The Bedouin Culture of Arabia

If you’re interested in the roots of early Islam, this is a great and accessible podcast. It is a must-listen for me.

Two fascinating things from this episode: 1) a discussion on anti-tribal poetry, which features lots of bragging and grandstanding – what Dr. DiMeo likens to ancient “epic rap battles,” and 2) the Bedouin concept of leadership succession, which was rooted in meritocracy, not bloodlines.

And of course, some ancient tribal code.

I against my brother. My brother and I against my cousin. And my cousin and I against a stranger.


Enjoy these posts? Enter your email below to join the monthly newsletter.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

So Kill Them Back!

brown tree in desert

One of my not-so-guilty pleasures is the Bulaq podcast.

We look at new writing from Syria and about the experiences of Syrian refugees, including Ramy Al-Asheq’s Ever Since I Did Not Die, a book he categorizes not as poetry or prose but as “pieces of my body, haphazardly brought together in a paper bag.”

So Kill Them Back!

The below excerpt from the book Ever Since I Did Not Die struck me, and I’ve added it to my list.

Going back kills you.

A child running from his innocent features kills you, to become a hero.

But heroism ends up killing him.

It kills whatever can grow in a child who is planning to grow up.

There is no hero on that land sown with injustice and war.

There is no hero there except for death, standing victorious as it awaits your flesh.

The spreadout dirt of worms and intermittent wailing fades to silence.

Eventually, you fade too.

No one says your name anymore.

A child sinking in the drowning sea of death kills you.

A child born to be killed kills you.

A child born to kill kills you.

Yearning, love, family, light, age, god, homeland, and sea, kill you.

Earth, paradise, memories of old photos, mourning’s enterouage, happiness as waste, and exile, kill you.

Revolution, women of death, and grandmother’s stories, kill you.

Return kills you.

Going back kills you.

So kill them back.

It’s really worth listening to. The passage starts at about the ~15:00 mark.


Enjoy these posts? Enter your email below to join the monthly newsletter.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Trench Friend

I’ve been thumbing through Poetry of the Taliban and of all the poems I’ve read this one stuck with me the most. If you like it, go buy the book.

Trench Friend

May my head and property be sacrificed for you, friend,
O my trench friend.
May my heart’s flesh be sacrificed for you, friend,
O my trench friend.

May I be sacrificed for you – may I be sacrificed for your faith,
You are close in the trench, my faith in you grew stronger,
O my trench friend.

You take on tanks – you go with pride,
You don’t fear the artillery or tanks of the enemy,
O my trench friend.

On the storms of the time – on the floods of the time,
You don’t care about them, may you be as strong as mountains
against them,
O my trench friend.

In the bosom of red flames – in the bosom of storms,
You like them, you have the morals of the butterfly and the sea,
O my trench friend.

In the roar of earthquakes – in the roars of storms,
The echoes of your honor are spread all over,
O my trench friend.

O my brave friend – my dawn’s friend
May your turban not fall, my turban-owning friend,
O my trench friend.

-Bismillah Sahar
May 2000

Enjoy these posts? Follow me on Twitter and sign up for the monthly newsletter.

Poetry of the Taliban: a book for your rucksack

20120606-151006.jpg

Poetry of the Taliban is a new book by SOAS alum Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn. It is a compilation of poems written by members of the Taliban and posted to their website. I’ve never been to Afghanistan, but if I do go, this will be going with me.

The fact that this book exists says more about the Taliban than you will probably learn from all the intelligence briefs your brain can handle.

Enjoy these posts? Follow me on Twitter and sign up for the monthly newsletter.