Friday, December 11, 2009

Introduction and Food for Thought

For several weeks I have been mulling over what would be on the sign I would hold this Saturday, in solidarity with the many people around the globe who would be saying NO to the surge planned by our US leaders. I had mentioned to just a few that the sign would be NO MORE CRUSADES.

Thus, I took as confirmation of my choice of signs the following blogpost from online friends in another part of the world. This world of Pakistan is much larger and holds so many keys to our world's well-being then many in the US appear to know.

Since there are dynamics today which bring the US and Pakistan into increasingly painful connections, I am introducing this my new blogsite with a post from a favorite site (or cluster of sites) which is both rare in insight and culture as well as universal in awareness and values.

(I will tell more about how I found this site and why I continue to read it soon enough.)

From: "The Republic of Rumi"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

No more crusades?

Some time ago, Mauj Collective organized an event where dancers from Lyari (a neighborhood in Karachi) were going to offer Pakistani folk dance on Western tunes being broadcast live from North America through the Internet. I was quite amused to notice that actually such a thing had been envisaged by the Urdu fiction writer Ibne Safi (1928-1980) in the early 1970s. In Bamboo Castle, Ali Imran danced a Pakistani folk dance on Western pop music in an Italian disco.

As I revisited that novel, I was struck by another detail whose symbolism had escaped me earlier. Imran's host in Italy is his friend from the Oxford days, an Italian count who is now a police commissioner threatened by a local drug overlord. As part of a plan to help his friend, Imran borrows the sword with which the friend's ancestor had fought against Saladin during the Crusades. "By the will of God, I shall slay your enemy with this same sword," says Imran to his Italian friend.

I interpret this symbolism at two levels. Firstly, the work of Imran itself is symbolically about a world which is moving on from hostilities of the past, and joining hands on fighting common enemies, such as crime and drugs in this instance. As a foriegner, Imran has no business fighting Italian mafia in their homeland, and hence his using the sword of an Italian crusader becomes an act of courtesy to the host country, giving him legitimacy in a deeper sense.

Secondly, just as Imran is helping his Italian friend to get rid of local mafia, so Ibne Safi can lend a helping hand to foreigner readers in warding off those yarns of literature which glorify crime. Very interestingly, his novel came out just when Mario Puzo's Godfather had started a new cult.

Posted by Khurram Ali Shafique at 7:42 AM
Labels: Literature etc, Regional Studies

2 comments placed at RR blogsite:
Connie L. Nash said...
Thank you for so often and so clearly pointing our where story can be metaphorical yet also have direct bearing on our own current history in-the-making. Which of Ibne Safi novels should I try to translate with the help of my Urdu-speaking friend?

Yes, so interesting on all these levels with food for thought for our "fights" today all around the spectrum and our long-standing and sometimes changing allegiences. Or perhaps more often these are "widening" loyalties when several principles are mixed. I.e.- the helping in warding off present local evil facing a friend in another locale or culture -with the purest and most beautiful value I'm sure seldom nearly as developed as among Pakistanis: courtesy.

Meantime, the title of this post with this perfect story you've chosen - leads to important inner reflections and to great conversations. I am askng a lot these days: how is who we are becoming as nations and as individuals influenced by who we are with, what we do, read, study and whom we are willing to help and even HOW we do THAT? I look forward to more comments, maybe even from a friend from my home town?

December 10, 2009 8:48 PM
Akhtar Wasim Dar said...
Ibne Safi was a visionary and a seer. Like all great artists he had the vision and imagination to see tomorrow, posterity and the world to come. Khurram Sahib as always” breaking codes”and deciphering metaphors.

The world to come is going to be an exciting one, no need to feel jittery, as all shall be well. The Creator has taken all necessary precautions to see the world go into the direction of perfection that it has to go. The winds are conducive and all our sails are in right direction. Always the few will disagree, jostle and create hurdles, but the majority although being disillusioned, will always wait for the miracle that happens and will continue to happen, though few understand its real implications.

December 10, 2009 10:39 PM


So few people here in the US, I'm discovering, know or care WHO the people of Pakistan are and HOW many work day and night in various peaceful ways to improve their country from within and without. Why, then, are we sending over more challenges and turning the nation against the US which was there as a friend early in their founding and to which they have turned in the forming of their own democracy?? (The drones and the variations from Blackwater are only a few of the challenges we have sent their way.)

So then, how can our nation's leaders - who, given their knowledge of law, history and military engagements past (as well as recent Nobel PEACE Prize) dare to begin what looks like another crusade? Watch for more to follow or easily google to see how so much to come out of Blackwater uses crusade mentality. How could our leaders NOT know this?

Connie, blogger of No More Crusades

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