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The Museum of Lago Atitlan 9 March 2009

Posted by ANNA in ANNA, Culture, History, Spirituality, Travel.
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A male cardinal in March; a flash of red against snow. He jumps up the branches of the oak tree wearing a black mask over his eyes. He is crimson from his crest to the tip of his tail; one is almost glad, seeing him, for the bareness of the season. Were there leaves on the trees or sun in the sky, he might not seem as bright. I throw burnt popcorn from the second floor porch. He fights sparrows for the seeds.

I trace the shape of the minor chords up and down my knees. My hand makes a small round shape, gloves curled, imagining keys. It is a habit of thinking; in the familiarity of the scales from C up an octave to C, I find familiarity upon which to daydream. I have learned enough of my religion to feel at ease with submission and belief. Islam and iman, the first two i-words, have meanings which are clear to me. One can list their requirements on two hands, and fulfilling them, feel complete. But what of the third i-word, what of ihsan? It appears in the dictionary under husn: beauty, perfection, excellence. Ihsan is a derivative verbal form meaning the enacting of these. To do what is beautiful, to do what is perfect, to do what is excellent; what do these mean? Each time I consider these questions, I recall the same hadith.

Narrated Omar bin Al-Khattab:

One day while we were sitting with the messenger of Allah there appeared before us a man whose clothes were exceedingly white and whose hair was exceedingly black; no signs of journeying were to be seen on him and none of us knew him. He walked up and sat down by the Prophet. Resting his knees against the Prophet’s and placing the palms of his hands on the Prophet’s thighs, he said, “O Muhammad, tell me about Islam”.

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Ezkina’s Moon 13 February 2009

Posted by ANNA in ANNA, Education, Spirituality.
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The yellow is fading from Ezkina’s world.

She sits at her table, coloring, singing a sad song to herself. A story of bees rests under her crayon; she spreads lemon over pink. “Ezkina,” I call to her from my desk. “Ta’ali, mama. Come here, please.” She looks up from her singing with the surprise of one who has felt invisible. Her head tilts to one side. “Me?”

I nod at my palest child. She lines up her crayons on the edge of the tape which marks her First Grade seat. From the box in the center of the table, she has taken three: lemon, chartreuse, maize. Why do you love yellow so? My heart wants to understand. Most of the girls in our class love blue, or purple or silvery pink. Our boys love green or red or red and green. They are too young to realize that these are the colors of Christmas. For a moment I wonder how they will feel when they realize that their favorites speak of a holiday which we do not celebrate. Who among my children will change, and who will stay the same?

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Today 28 January 2009

Posted by ABD in ABD, Poetry, Spirituality.
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Put away your toys,
put on your clothes—
We are going to be godly today.

Stop stuffing your face—
slow down, look at yourself.
Turn down that noise
Heavy with sin, let us begin
to pick and choose our way

“The time for rest is over”,
he said.

Learn to be nimble, retrain your gaze

We are going to be godly today.

Confronting Consequences 6 October 2008

Posted by MOZAFFAR in Psychology, Spirituality.
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We do what we can to keep the unintended consequences of our actions beneficial consequences. We can teach a man to fish, and he continues to eat. He might teach others to fish.

But, we do not overlook the unintended consequences of our actions. He might teach others to fish, who teach others to fish, who teach others to fish. Everyone continues to fish until there are no more fish left to eat.

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No Glasses, Day Four 13 September 2008

Posted by EDITOR in GUESTS, Spirituality, Theology.
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Our guest contributor this week is Ahmed Elewa, a Cairo/Boston-based student of Islamic jurisprudence.

September 04, 2008
Ramadan 4th 1429

I met a friend last night, who happens to be a Jew. He just had a daughter and named her Tali (lit. my dew). He told me that he always wanted to tell me something but never had a chance. “Remember when you came over for the Shabbat dinner, and listened to us chant our prayers? You were reading along and writing notes, picking out Hebrew words that had similar Arabic roots. When we came to a certain verse I was afraid you’d be offended, and I later told my friends that it should be omitted.”

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