Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Pedestrian

On September 13, 1899, 68 year-old Henry H. Bliss paused to help a woman dismount from a New York City streetcar. He was then struck by a taxicab and died the next day, becoming the first person killed by a motor vehicle in the western hemisphere. This photo was taken in 1873, 26 years before his death.

Federal Highway Administration Domestic Pedestrian Safety Scanning Tour Emmett McDevitt, James Mearkle, Elena Modicamore, Jason Purvis, Janine Schultz, Scott Wise, Joseph Wolff 2005.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Stop Judging

You know my name, not my story. You've heard what I've done, not what I've been through. So stop judging me.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day

Infant Anna Jarvis with her mother Ann Maria Jarvis.

"A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world. And candy! You take a box to Mother — and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment."

Anna Jarvis was born in the tiny town of Webster, West Virginia. She was the daughter of Ann Maria Reeves Jarvis. The family moved to nearby Grafton, West Virginia in her childhood. She graduated from what is now Mary Baldwin College in 1883. On May 12, 1907, two years after her mother's death, Anna held a memorial to her mother and thereafter embarked upon a campaign to make "Mother's Day" a recognized holiday. She succeeded in making this nationally recognized in 1914. The International Mother's Day Shrine was established in Grafton to commemorate her accomplishment. By the 1920s, Anna Jarvis had become soured by the commercialization of the holiday. She incorporated herself as the Mother’s Day International Association, trademarked the phrases "second Sunday in May" and "Mother's Day", and was once arrested for disturbing the peace. She and her sister Ellsinore spent their family inheritance campaigning against what the holiday had become. Both died in poverty. According to her New York Times obituary, Jarvis became embittered because too many people sent their mothers a printed greeting card.

Women who Made Difference Malcolm S. Forbes & Jeff Bloch 1991.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Ascetic Life of Jesus

Jesus said, "Blessed is he who guards his tongue, whose house is sufficient for his needs, and who weeps for his sins." [1]

Jesus said to his people, "Do not talk much without the mention of God, lest your hearts grow hard; for the hard heart is far from God, but you do not know. Do not examine the sins of people as though you were lords, but examine them, rather, as you were servants. Men are of two kinds: the sick and the healthy. Be merciful to the sick and give thanks to God for the health." [1]

Jesus said, "If it is a day of fasting for one of you, let him anoint his head and beard and wipe his lips so that people will not know that he is fasting. If he gives with the right hand, let him hide this from his left hand. If he prays, let him pull down the door curtain, for God apportions praise as He apportions livelihood." [1]

Jesus said, "Son of Adam, if you do good deed, try to forget it, for it abides with Him who will not forget it." [1]

Jesus said, "Strive for the sake of God and not for the sake of your bellies. Look at the birds coming and going. They neither reap nor plough, and God provides for them. If you say, 'Our bellies are larger than the bellies of birds,' then look at these cattle, wild or tame, as the come and go, neither reaping nor plowing, and God provides for them too. Beware the excesses of the world, for the excesses of the world are an abomination in God's eyes."[1]

Jesus said, "For the patient man, misfortune soon results in ease; for the sinner, ease soon results in misfortune." [1]

John son of Zachariah met Jesus and said, "Tell me what it is that draws one near to God's favor and distances one from God's wrath." Jesus said, "Avoid feeling anger." John asked, What arouses anger and what makes it recur?" Jesus replied, "Pride, fanaticism, haughtiness, and magnificence." [1]

Jesus said to John, "...Do not stare at what does not belong to you, for what you have not seen will not make you wiser and what you do not hear will not trouble you." [1]

The disciples asked Jesus, " Tell us, which man is the most devoted to God?" "He who labors for the sake of God without seeking the praise of mankind," replied Jesus. "Which man offers sincere counsel for the sake of God?" they asked. "He who begin by fulfilling his duties toward God before his duties of men. When faced with two choices, worldly matters and matters of the afterlife, he begins with what concerns the afterlife and then turns his attention to this world." [1]

God revealed to Jesus: "O Jesus, admonish yourself. Once admonished, admonished people. Otherwise, be modest in My sight." [2]

Jesus was standing near a grave with his disciples as a dead man was being lowered into the grave. they mentioned the darkness, loneliness, and narrowness of the grave. Jesus said, "You were once in a place narrower than this: in your mothers' wombs. If God wishes to expand (His mercy), He does so." [2]

Christ said, "Make frequent mention of God the Exalted, also of His praise and glorification, and obey Him. It suffices for one of you when praying, and if God is truly pleased with him, to say: 'O God, forgive my sins, reform my way of life, and keep me safe from hateful things, O my God." [2]

Jesus said, "Why do I not observe in you the best of worship?" They said, "What is the best of worship, Spirit of God?" He said, "Humility before God." [2]

Jesus used to say, "Charity does not mean doing good to him who does good to you, for this is to return good for good. Charity means that you should do good to him who does you harm." [2]

God revealed to Jesus: "O Jesus, I have granted you the love of the poor and mercy toward them. You love them, and they love you and accept you as their spiritual guide and leader, and you accept them as companions and followers. These are two traits of character. Know that whoever meets me on Judgment Day with these two character traits has met with the purest of works and the ones most beloved by me." [2]

Jesus used to say, "Truly I say to you, to eat wheat bread, to drink pure water, and to sleep upon dunghills with the dogs more than suffices him who wishes to inherit paradise." [2]

Jesus said, "It is no use to you to come to know what did you know, so long as you do not act in accordance with what you already know. Too much knowledge only increase pride if you do not act in accordance with it.' [2]

Jesus said, "Time revolves around three days: a yesterday which has passed away and during which you had been admonished, a today which supplies your needs, and a tomorrow in which you do not know what is in store for you. All matters revolve around three things: a thing which you must follow, a thing whose evil has become apparent to you and which you must shun, and a thing which appears uncertain to you and which you must defer to God." [2]

Jesus said, "What God loves most are the strangers," He was asked, "Who are the strangers?" He replied, "Those who flee (the world) with their faith (intact). They shall be gathered together with Jesus on the Day of Judgment." [2]

Jesus said, "Slaves of this world, instead of dispensing alms, be merciful to those whom you treat unjustly." [2]

Jesus said, "The greatest sin is love of the world. Women are the ropes of Satan. Wine is the key of every evil." [2]

Jesus used to say, "I preach to you so that you may learn. I do not preach to you so that you may grow conceited." [2]

Jesus said to the disciples, "O disciples, do not cast pearls before swine, for the swine can do nothing with them. Do not impart wisdom to one who does not desire it, for wisdom is more precious than pearls and whoever rejects wisdom is worse than swine." [2]

Jesus said, "Satan accompanies the world. His deceit accompanies wealth. His seductiveness accompanies caprice. his ultimate power accompanies the appetites." [2]

Christ passed by a group of Israelites who insulted him. Everytime they spoke a word of evil, Christ answered with good. Simon the pure said to him, "Will you answer them with good each time they speak evil?" Christ said, "Each person spends of what he owns." [3]

Jesus said, "You work for this world, where you are provided for without working; whereas you do not work for the afterlife, where you will not be provided for except by working." [3]

Jesus was asked, "Which of your deeds is the best?" He answered, "Leaving alone that which does not concern me." [4]

Jesus met a man and asked him, "What are you doing?" "I am devoting myself to God," the man replied. Jesus asked, "Who is caring for you?" "My brother," replied the man. Jesus said, "Your brother is more devoted to God than you are." [5]

The day Jesus was raised to heaven, he left behind nothing but a woolen garment, a slingshot, and two sandals. [6]

[1] Kitab al-Zuhd wa al-Raqa'iq 'Abdallah ibn al-Mubarak.
[2] Kitab al-Zuhd Ahmad bin Hanbal.
[3] Al-Bayan Abu 'Uthman al-Jahiz.
[4] Kitab Kitman al-Sirr Abu 'Uthman al-Jahiz.
[5] 'Uyun Abdallah ibn Qutayba.
[6] Kitab al-Zuhd Hannad ibn al-Sariyy.

The Muslim Jesus Edited and Translated by Tarif Khalidi 2001.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Five Stages of Grieve

The Kübler-Ross model, commonly known as the five stages of grief, describes a process by which people deal with grief and tragedy, especially when diagnosed with a terminal illness or catastrophic loss, and heartbreak.

Stage I: Denial

Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.


“I feel fine.”
“This can’t be happening, not to me.

Stage II: Anger

Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.


“Why me? It’s not fair!”
“How can this happen to me?”
“Who is to blame?”

Stage III: Bargaining

The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, “I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time…”


“Just let me live to see my children graduate.”
“I’ll do anything for a few more years.”
“I will give my life savings if…”

Stage IV: Depression

During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.

“I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”
“I’m going to die . . . What’s the point?”
“I miss my loved one, why go on?”

Stage V: Acceptance

This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle.

“It’s going to be okay.”
“I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”

On Death and Dying Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 1969

Friday, January 28, 2011

I have a Dream

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone.

And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead.

We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."¹

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."2

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.

Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.

Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.

Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado.

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California.

But not only that:

Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi.

From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

I Have A Dream Martin Luther King Jr, delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Pursuit of Happyness

"I couldn't tell you that we were homeless, I just knew that we were always having to go. So, if anything, I remember us just moving, always moving."

Christopher Paul Gardner (born February 9, 1954 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a millionaire, entrepreneur, motivational speaker and philanthropist who, during the early 1980s, struggled with homelessness while raising his toddler son, Christopher, Jr. Gardner and his son secretly struggled with homelessness while he saved money for a rental house in Berkeley, California. Meanwhile, none of Gardner's co-workers knew that he and his son were homeless in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco for nearly a year. Gardner often scrambled to place his child in daycare, stood in soup lines and slept wherever he and his son could find safety—in his office after hours, at flophouses, at parks and even in a locked bathroom at the Bay Area Rapid Transit station. Concerned for Chris Jr.’s well-being, Gardner asked Reverend Cecil Williams to allow them to stay at the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church’s shelter for homeless women, now known as The Cecil Williams Glide Community House which Williams agreed without hesitation. Despite having never gone to college, and after a period of being homeless, he became a wildly successful stockbroker and wrote his memoir, Pursuit of Happyness.

The Pursuit of Happyness Christopher Paul Gardner 2006.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Rhythm and Song

Getaran jiwa
The stirring of my soul
Melanda hatiku
Bathes my heart with emotion
Tersusun nada
By the arranged notes
Irama dan lagu
Of rhythm and song

Walau hanya sederhana
If it is only modest
Tetapi tak mengapa
It doesn't matter
Moga dapat membangkitkan
Perhaps it could awaken you.
Sedarlah kamu wahai insan
Realize this, good man.

Tak mungkin hilang
Never will they vanish
Irama dan lagu
Rhythm and song
Bagaikan kembang
Like blossoms
Sentiasa bermadu
They will linger forever

Andai dipisah
If you separate
Lagu dan irama
The song and the rhythm
Lemah tiada berjiwa
They'll be weak and soulless
And empty

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr. P. Ramlee (22 March 1929 – 29 May 1973), born as Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh, was a Malaysian film actor, director, singer, songwriter,composer, and producer. Due to his contributions to the movie and music industry and his literary work, he is often considered the icon of Malay entertainment in Malaysia, Singapore, and Sumatra (especially in Aceh due to his ancestry). P. Ramlee passed away on 29th of May 1973 at the age of 44 due to a heart attack and was buried in Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur. His untimely death was a huge shock to the nation, and a sense of collective guilt began to spread nationwide, as prior to his death, he had been discredited and rejected by his own nation.

Antara Dua Darjat: Getaran Jiwa Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh 1960.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

O Fortuna

O Fortuna
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
Hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

O Fortune,
like the moon
changing state,
always growing
or decreasing;
Detestable life
now difficult
and then easy
deceptive sharp mind;
it melts them like ice.

and empty,
you whirling wheel,
stand malevolent,
vain is the help
fade to nothing,
and veiled
you plague me too;
now through the game,
my bare back
I bring to your villainy.

Fate, in health
and in virtue,
is now against me,
driven on
and weighted down,
always in the vale of Angaria.
So at this hour
without delay
pluck the vibrating string;
since Fate
strikes down the strong,
everyone weep with me!

Carmina Burana The Goliards 1227.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Lir iLir lir iLir tandure wus sumiLir
The breeze blows over the rice field

Tak ijo royo royo. Tak sengguh Panganten anyar
Its dark green as pretty as a newly wed.

Cah angon, cah angon! Penekna blimbing kuwi
O Shepherds, O Shepherd! Please climb that star fruit tree for me.

Lunyu lunyu penekna, kanggo mbasuh dodotira
Eventhough its slippery, please climb it, I need the star fruit to wash my clothes

Dodotira dodotira kumintir bedah ing pinggir.
My clothes fluttered in the wind, the edges are frayed.

Dondomana jrumatana kanggo seba mengko sore.
Sew it and prepare it, I need it, to meet my master tonight.

Mumpung padang rembulane, mumpung jembar kalangane.
While the moon is big and bright, and the meeting hall is spacious.

Yo Suraka Surak Hiyo!!
Let us yell Horrey!

Yo Suraka Surak Hiyo!!
Let us yell Horrey!

Lir Ilir Sunan Kalijaga Raden Mas Said 1546.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walking in the Dark

"Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light"

Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968). An American author, political activist, socialist, anti-war activist, lecturer and the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

From the Archieve of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Donated by Thaxter Spencer in 1888.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Will The Rain Smell The Same?

What will I be years from now?
What will I wear how will I look?
I think too much..
I think too much...

Sometimes its scary over thinking.
What you have or haven’t done.
You think too much..
You think too much...

Will the rain smell the same?
Will our loosing trentrous game?
And the star much shine..
The color seems so blurry...

Will l endup all alone?
Without a shoulder to cry on..

What will I be years from now?
I have answered them but none have answered me!
And when my time has come..
I hope my last seconds in this life will have you..
Will have you...

Will the rain smell the same?
Will our loosing trentrous game?
And neglect most people views..
Seems so worthy...

Will l endup all alone?
Without a shoulder to cry on..

What will I be years from now?
I have answered them but none have answered me!
And when my time has come..
I hope my last seconds in this life will have you..
Will have you...

Years From Now Aizat 2010.

On The First Voyage

My story, noble gentlemen, is a wondrous one. From birth blessed with wealth, I lived extravagantly in Baghdad, the city of pleasures, indulging in the joys of life in the belief that my riches would never be exhausted. I was to learn that this was not so. In the hope of avoiding poverty and want, I put everything together that remained to me, sold my properties for some thousand Dirhems, bought and equipped a fine ship, had it laden with goods of best quality and set off like other merchants to trade at sea.

I took on an experienced captain and entrusted him with the ship and crew. We weighed anchor and set off to sea. Basra was my first port of call. After about seven days sailing we saw a small sunny island covered in bushes, small sized palm trees and rare plants. We dropped anchor and I made my way alone in a wooden tub of a small boat to the island to collect herbs, which I wanted to use to make a hashish dish.

As I was unsuspectingly plucking the best ones, the captain suddenly shouted to me from deck as loudly as he could: "Sindbad, your life is in danger! Return to the ship as fast as you can! This is not an island, but a colossal fish!"

Sindbad shipwrecked At that very moment the monster sprang up out of the water. It thundered and hissed; the waves crashed - I was thrown up together with the wooden tub and sent flying into the billows. My captain had lost his head and in his terror set sail as fast as he could and abandoned me to my fate. He and the ship had soon disappeared from sight.

Remembering the sweetness of life, I swung myself up on the back of the capsized tub, took off my shoes and began to use my feet as oars working the water. Fish big and small, of the most bizarre forms and gleaming in all colours accompanyied me, leaping out of the water as if to encourage me and spur me on to continue my strange voyage. I rowed with all my might. But what I was trying to do to save myself soon turned out to be a hopeless undertaking. A storm arose, took violent hold of me and hurled me up and down the mountains of water. I was certain my doom was approaching.

Night fell, leaving me in this desperate situation. I was driven hither and thither in the darkness endlessly and hopelessly until I lost consciousness due to weakness and exhaustion.

When I awoke, wind and waves - oh kind fate! - had thrown me on to the shore of a high island whose bright sand gleamed in the glorious light of the morning. Sindbad's sore feet When I opened my eyes, the first thing I saw was the dark face of a black bending over me in astonishment.

"Who are you, where have you come from?!" he called.

"I am a stranger who has experienced extraordinary things", I replied politely, and tried to stand up.

But as soon as I put my feet, which I had used as oars, on the hard ground of the island, I found that they were numb and the soles had been gnawed by fish. Not enough with that: mussles, crabs, little sea urchins and all sorts of other known and unknown small water creatures had attached themselves to them and could not be easily removed. Concerned about this new plight, I sat down again in the soft sand. Now I made inquiries about the situation and nature of the island.

"This island", the black began, "belongs to King Mihrdshan; but His Majesty's city lies on the opposite side of the island to where we are now. This part is uninhabited and nobody ever sets foot on it for years on end. Only a coincidence has brought me here. The king's horses broke loose to bathe in the sea, and while I was searching for them I came here and found you, Sir."

Sindbad on crutches We set off without delay. A warm and gentle wind blew, rich fruits and many sweet water springs could be seen on both sides of our path. As we approached the city, the king had already received a report and sent for me.

I was brought to him, and as soon as I stood before him, I greeted him respectfully, whereupon he returned my salaam, wished me a long life and made me most welcome. Then he inquired about my story. I told it to him from beginning to end: what had happened to me, and what I had seen.

"Oh my son, you have been miraculously saved!" said the king, who was astonished by my adventures and experiences, but kept looking surreptitiously at my feet and was hardly able to suppress his laughter. - "Were you not destined to have a long life, you would never have escaped these hardships." When I broached the subject of my greatest torment and mentioned my feet, his reticence was abandoned. King Mihrdshan began to laugh heartily and took immense pleasure in my tale.

King Mihrdshan is amused The king was well disposed towards me and made me his harbour master and registrar of all incoming ships. I fulfilled my duties conscientiously and was content with my fate. But one thing grieved me. Every time the king caught sight of me, he winked merrily, which indicated quite clearly to me that he regarded me as a charlatan, that he considered the stories of my adventures as amusing and fantastic inventions which could not be taken seriously but were a ploy with which I had wormed my way into his favour and into an exalted position. I had no greater desire than to be able to correct the false idea which the king had of me. And so it came to pass - my wish was granted.

One day, early in the morning, a splendid merchant ship dropped anchor. To whom, noble gentlemen, do you think the ship belonged? - It was my own! - After some hesitation, the captain recognised me. He confirmed my story to the king, after I had asked him to describe the journey we had undertaken together to the living island - my feet proved the rest.

Sindbad rich again As I still went around barefoot, the king secretly filled my shoes with gold and costly jewels and handed them to me, expressing his sincere regret for having so misjudged me. Then he had his slaves bring carpets and valuable textiles on board my ship, which was soon filled with treasures from top to bottom. I began to prepare for the voyage home.

King Mihrdshan stood with his entire court on the terrace overlooking the sea. He smiled benevolently at me and let me depart with all honours. But it was clear that it pained him to bid me farewell. - He said he would never again find somebody like me, Sindbad the Sailor, who not only actually had experienced such extraordinary adventures, but who was able to relate them so splendidly and with such style. Everybody waved farewell.

Soon King Mihrdshan's island had become a small streak on the horizon and then it disappeared completely. A fortnight later I reached Baghdad, having been favoured by winds and weather. Now I was full of happiness. Having returned to the city of my fathers richer than ever and safe and sound, I resolved to begin a quiet and contemplative life.

To do that, I had to take care to suppress my love of adventure, so as to avoid falling victim again to the devil of the sea who was waiting for me out there on the broad seas with all his caprices and tricks.

One Thousand and One Night Al-Masudi 956.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lovers and Friends

בָּ֣אתִי לְגַנִּי֮ אֲחֹתִ֣י כַלָּה֒ אָרִ֤יתִי מֹורִי֙ עִם־בְּשָׂמִ֔י אָכַ֤לְתִּי יַעְרִי֙ עִם־דִּבְשִׁ֔י שָׁתִ֥יתִי יֵינִ֖י עִם־חֲלָבִ֑י אִכְל֣וּ רֵעִ֔ים שְׁת֥וּ וְשִׁכְר֖וּ דֹּודִֽים׃

I have come into my garden, my sister, my bride;
I have gathered my myrrh with my spice.
I have eaten my honeycomb and my honey;
I have drunk my wine and my milk.
Eat, O friends, and drink;
drink your fill, O lovers.

אֲנִ֥י יְשֵׁנָ֖ה וְלִבִּ֣י עֵ֑ר קֹ֣ול ׀ דֹּודִ֣י דֹופֵ֗ק פִּתְחִי־לִ֞י אֲחֹתִ֤י רַעְיָתִי֙ יֹונָתִ֣י תַמָּתִ֔י שֶׁרֹּאשִׁי֙ נִמְלָא־טָ֔ל קְוֻּצֹּותַ֖י רְסִ֥יסֵי לָֽיְלָה׃

I slept but my heart was awake.
Listen! My lover is knocking:
"Open to me, my sister, my darling,
my dove, my flawless one.
My head is drenched with dew,
my hair with the dampness of the night."

פָּשַׁ֙טְתִּי֙ אֶת־כֻּתָּנְתִּ֔י אֵיכָ֖כָה אֶלְבָּשֶׁ֑נָּה רָחַ֥צְתִּי אֶת־רַגְלַ֖י אֵיכָ֥כָה אֲטַנְּפֵֽם׃

I have taken off my robe—
must I put it on again?
I have washed my feet—
must I soil them again?

 דֹּודִ֗י שָׁלַ֤ח יָדֹו֙ מִן־הַחֹ֔ר וּמֵעַ֖י הָמ֥וּ עָלָֽיו׃

My lover thrust his hand through the latch-opening;
my heart began to pound for him.

 קַ֥מְתִּֽי אֲנִ֖י לִפְתֹּ֣חַ לְדֹודִ֑י וְיָדַ֣י נָֽטְפוּ־מֹ֗ור וְאֶצְבְּעֹתַי֙ מֹ֣ור עֹבֵ֔ר עַ֖ל כַּפֹּ֥ות הַמַּנְעֽוּל׃

I arose to open for my lover,
and my hands dripped with myrrh,
my fingers with flowing myrrh,
on the handles of the lock.

 פָּתַ֤חְתִּֽי אֲנִי֙ לְדֹודִ֔י וְדֹודִ֖י חָמַ֣ק עָבָ֑ר נַפְשִׁי֙ יָֽצְאָ֣ה בְדַבְּרֹ֔ו בִּקַּשְׁתִּ֙יהוּ֙ וְלֹ֣א מְצָאתִ֔יהוּ קְרָאתִ֖יו וְלֹ֥א עָנָֽנִי׃

I opened for my lover,
but my lover had left; he was gone.
My heart sank at his departure
I looked for him but did not find him.
I called him but he did not answer.

 מְצָאֻ֧נִי הַשֹּׁמְרִ֛ים הַסֹּבְבִ֥ים בָּעִ֖יר הִכּ֣וּנִי פְצָע֑וּנִי נָשְׂא֤וּ אֶת־רְדִידִי֙ מֵֽעָלַ֔י שֹׁמְרֵ֖י הַחֹמֹֽות׃

The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
They beat me, they bruised me;
they took away my cloak,
those watchmen of the walls!

 הִשְׁבַּ֥עְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֖ם בְּנֹ֣ות יְרוּשָׁלִָ֑ם אִֽם־תִּמְצְאוּ֙ אֶת־דֹּודִ֔י מַה־תַּגִּ֣ידוּ לֹ֔ו שֶׁחֹולַ֥ת אַהֲבָ֖ה אָֽנִי׃

O daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you—
if you find my lover,
what will you tell him?
Tell him I am faint with love.

 מַה־דֹּודֵ֣ךְ מִדֹּ֔וד הַיָּפָ֖ה בַּנָּשִׁ֑ים מַה־דֹּודֵ֣ךְ מִדֹּ֔וד שֶׁכָּ֖כָה הִשְׁבַּעְתָּֽנוּ׃

How is your beloved better than others,
most beautiful of women?
How is your beloved better than others,
that you charge us so?

 דֹּודִ֥י צַח֙ וְאָדֹ֔ום דָּג֖וּל מֵרְבָבָֽה׃
My lover is radiant and ruddy,
outstanding among ten thousand.

 רֹאשֹׁ֖ו כֶּ֣תֶם פָּ֑ז קְוּצֹּותָיו֙ תַּלְתַּלִּ֔ים שְׁחֹרֹ֖ות כָּעֹורֵֽב׃

His head is purest gold;
his hair is wavy
and black as a raven.

 עֵינָ֕יו כְּיֹונִ֖ים עַל־אֲפִ֣יקֵי מָ֑יִם רֹֽחֲצֹות֙ בֶּֽחָלָ֔ב יֹשְׁבֹ֖ות עַל־מִלֵּֽאת׃

His eyes are like doves
by the water streams,
washed in milk,
mounted like jewels.

 לְחָיָו֙ כַּעֲרוּגַ֣ת הַבֹּ֔שֶׂם מִגְדְּלֹ֖ות מֶרְקָחִ֑ים שִׂפְתֹותָיו֙ שֹֽׁושַׁנִּ֔ים נֹטְפֹ֖ות מֹ֥ור עֹבֵֽר׃

His cheeks are like beds of spice
yielding perfume.
His lips are like lilies
dripping with myrrh

 יָדָיו֙ גְּלִילֵ֣י זָהָ֔ב מְמֻלָּאִ֖ים בַּתַּרְשִׁ֑ישׁ מֵעָיו֙ עֶ֣שֶׁת שֵׁ֔ן מְעֻלֶּ֖פֶת סַפִּירִֽים׃

His arms are rods of gold
set with chrysolite.
His body is like polished ivory
decorated with sapphires

 שֹׁוקָיו֙ עַמּ֣וּדֵי שֵׁ֔שׁ מְיֻסָּדִ֖ים עַל־אַדְנֵי־פָ֑ז מַרְאֵ֙הוּ֙ כַּלְּבָנֹ֔ון בָּח֖וּר כָּאֲרָזִֽים׃

His legs are pillars of marble
set on bases of pure gold.
His appearance is like Lebanon,
choice as its cedars.

 חִכֹּו֙ מַֽמְתַקִּ֔ים וְכֻלֹּ֖ו מַחֲמַדִּ֑ים זֶ֤ה דֹודִי֙ וְזֶ֣ה רֵעִ֔י בְּנֹ֖ות יְרוּשָׁלִָֽם׃

His mouth is sweetness itself;
he is altogether lovely.
This is my lover, this my friend,
O daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon V Solomon, son of David 931BC.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Beginning of Love

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.

Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat. Famous quotes of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu later known as Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, the Founder of Missionaries of Charity. Born in 1910 in Uskub, Ottoman Empire, Theresa was internationally famed as a humanitarian and advocate for the poor and helpless. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, in 1980 for her humanitarian work.

Works of love are works of peace:Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity : a photographic record Mother Theresa, Micheal Collopy, 1996.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Great Debt

A man once approached a wise sage complaining of poverty. The sage asked him: “Would you sell me your eyesight for 100 thousand gold coins?” The man said no. The sage continued: “Would you sell me your hearing for 100 thousand gold coins?” The man again said no. The sage then asked the man about his hands, his feet, his sanity, and his other limbs. To each question the man replied that he would not sell. The sage then pointed out to the man that he had valued himself to the tune of a few million gold coins.

The sage then declared: “You have a great debt upon your shoulders. This great wealth you possess places demands on you. When are you going to show thanks? Instead, you complain that you want more. Your Lord is truly forgiving and generous.”

A person who is free from worry, secure in home and health, takes greater pleasure in food and drink and life in general. The simple everyday enjoyments are savored, like time spent with one’s spouse or children and in partaking of even the simplest meals. The happy atmosphere that comes from being relaxed, feeling safe, and having one’s health makes one’s enjoyments all the greater.

By contrast, if someone possesses a variety of food and drink and wealth in abundance, but lives in a constant state of fear, anxiety, and stress, what that person possesses will be of little real value. The same can be said for a person who is stricken with a serious physical or mental illness.

This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Whoever is secure in his home, has his health and enough provisions for a day, it is as if he has everything in the world.” 

[Sunan al-Tirmidhi (2346) and Sunan Ibn Majah (4141)]

It is a great blessing to have enough food, clothing, and shelter to satisfy one’s needs. There is nothing wrong with desiring more than that, as long as one seeks it by lawful means, since Allah apportions His bounty among His creatures as He pleases. Some people are better off being wealthy. If Allah gives them wealth, they spend a portion of it on the poor and needy. Moreover, they feel humble before Allah in recognition of what He has given them.

We should never forget that Allah provides us with our health, our minds, our food and drink, our children, our good appearances, our strength, our vitality in youth and our good sense. Many of us take these blessings for granted and fail to recognize them as Allah’s gifts. Only those whose hearts are alive with faith recognize the blessings in everyday things. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“Allah is pleased with a servant who praises Him when he eats something and praises Him when he has something to drink.” 
[Sahih Muslim (2734)]

We show our thanks to Allah for all of His blessings when we praise Him. Is it a small thing to have your health and strength? Is it a small thing to live assured of enough food and drink, a home to live in, clothes to wear, and the means to get around?

”Glorified be He who has subdued these unto us, and we were not capable (of subduing them); and surely to our Lord we must return.” 

[Surah al-Zukhruf: 13-14]

The water we drink, the air we breathe, the ears we hear with, the eyes that allow us to see, the minds we reason with, the hearts by which we feel – these are all enjoyments that Allah provides for us, whether we realize it or not. We should make ourselves aware of this fact, thank Allah, and avoid ingratitude. When we show thanks for Allah’s blessings, they grow stronger in our lives. When we are ungrateful, those blessings abandon us. Allah tells us: “…proclaim the favor of your Lord.” 

[Surah al-Duha: 11]

One of the best things Allah can provide us with is a contented heart. We are also blessed immensely if we have stability in our lives, harmony in our homes, and peace in our hearts.

Be Thankful for the Simple Things King 2010.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Peace Will Come to the World

"Peace will come to the world when the people have enough food to eat."

Wu Pai-fu (1910-2007) later known as Andō Momofuku, a Taiwanese-Japanese, inventor of Instant Noodle and Cup Noodle.

The Ramen King and I: How the Inventor of Instant Noodles Fixed My Love Life Andy Raskin 2009.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Living Martyr

Whenever the battle of Uhud was mentioned to Abu Bakr [ra], he would say, 'It was a day that belonged all to Talha'

Talhah left Makkah in one of Quraysh's trade caravans between Makkah and ash-Sham. Although he was younger than the other merchants and lacked their experience, his wit and cleverness permitted him to surpass any of them and succeed in acquiring more transactions.

When the caravan reached Busrah, a town in Syria, the ciders among the merchants rushed towards its busy market buying and selling. Talhah was coming and going in the marketplace which was crowded with people coming from all places, when he heard a man calling, "O merchants is there any one of you coming from Makkah?" Talhah turned around and saw a monk. Being the one closest to him he answered him. The monk asked, "Has Ahmad appeared among you?" "Who is Ahmad?" asked Talhah. "He is the son of Abdullah," replied the monk, "and this is the month he is due to come forward. He is the last of the prophets, and he will appear from your land, the land of the sacred House. He will emigrate to a land of black rocks, that has date palm groves, its salty soil oozes water. Do hasten to believe in him young man." This conversation with the monk was to change the life of Talhah.

Talhah prepared his mount, rounded up his camels, gathered his goods, and hurried back towards Makkah, leaving the rest of the caravan behind him. There, he asked his wife, "Anything new had happened while I was away?" "Yes," she said, "Muhammad ibn Abdullah has come forth, pretending he was a prophet, and Abu Bakr has followed him." Talhah knew Abu Bakr well. Abu Bakr was a merchant of easy going nature, much beloved by people, and of the most praised manners. He went to him inquiring about the matter. Not only did Abu Bakr confirm the news but he also called Talhah to Islam and suggested that he meets Muhammad, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam. It did not take long for Talhah to realize that indeed Muhammad was the foretold prophet and that his name and description matched the one given by the monk. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, explained Islam to him and recited some of the Qur'an to him. Talhah narrated to the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, what he has heard from the monk, then he pronounced the shahadah and joined the small group of Muslims. He was the fourth person to accept Islam.

The news of Talhah's acceptance of Islam hit his parents like a thunderbolt. His mother was especially afflicted for she had hope that he would one day be a leader of his tribe, given his fine character, and wealth. In vain did his people try to convince him to abandon his dee'n. When they gave all hope they resorted to harass him and torture him. One of the Prophet's companions narrated, "I was one day walking between as Safa and al-Marwa when I saw a large crowd following a young man, his hands tied to his neck, pushing him in the back and hitting him on the head. Behind him was an old woman who was cursing him and yelling at him. I asked what the matter with the man was and I was told that he was Talhah ibn Ubaydillah who forsake the religion of his forefathers for a new one. Then I asked who the old woman behind him was? I was told that she was his mother." Things got worse for Talhah as time went by. One day, Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid, nick named "Quraysh's lion", took hold of him and tied him up. Then he tied Abu Bakr up and bounded them together, and delivered them to the mob of the tribe to be tortured without mercy. For this incident, Talhah and Abu Bakr were nicknamed the Qareenayn (The two linked together).

Talhah migrated to Madinah with the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, when the order came to migrate having no doubt in his heart that this was the fulfillment of what the monk in ash-Sham informed him. He witnessed all the battles with the Prophet and passed all the tests with success to the point that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, nick named him Talhah the generous, the open-handed, and the living martyr. Each of these attributes was earned by Talhah following events where he alone stood up when others fell.

He earned the title of The Living Martyr on the battle of Uhud. Many Muslims fled the battlefield that day leaving the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, with only a handful of his companions. The Prophet and the companions climbed the mountain when a group from the pagans followed them seeking to kill him. He asked, "Who can drive those men away and he will be my companion in Paradise?" "I can O Messenger of Allah," said Talhah. "No, stay where you are," replied the Prophet. Then a man from the Ansar offered to be the one, and the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, said yes. The man fought until he was killed. The Prophet asked, "Who can drive those men away and he will be my companion in Paradise?" Again Talhah said, "I can O Messenger of Allah." The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, said, "No stay in your place," And another man from the Ansar offered to fight. He fought until he was killed. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam climbed the mountain with those with him, and the pagans were still following them. He continued asking his companions to drive them away and each time Talhah offered to help, but the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wasallam, would allow another Ansari to fight instead until all the Ansar around him were killed, and only Talhah was left with him. The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, then said, "Now you can." Talhah sprang like a lion chasing away the enemy, and protecting the Prophet who was by then exhausted from fighting, his front tooth was broken, his forehead was gashed, blood was running all over his blessed face. Talhah would charge at the enemies keeping them away and then he would go back to the Prophet helping him climb higher. He would do this again and again until he drove away all of them and got the Prophet to a safer place. By that time Abu Bakr and Abu Ubaydah who were fighting the pagans in an area far from the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhe wa sallam, came up to him to help him, but he said, "Leave me and go help your friend," meaning Talhah. When they got to Talhah, they found him bleeding profusely; his body pierced in more then seventy places by the swords and the spears of the pagans, his hand was severed and he was laying unconscious in a ditch. Later the Prophet sallallahu alayhe wa sallam said, "Whoever would like to see a man who is still walking on earth after he has met his death, he should see Talhah ibn Ubaydillah." And that is how he earned the title of "The Living Martyr". Whenever the battle of Uhud was mentioned to Abu Bakr, he would say, "That was a day that belonged all to Talhah (meaning that he had saved the day)."

Talhah was no less known for his generosity, spending his wealth in the sake of Allah. He was a wealthy and successful trader, his caravans traveled north to ash-Sham and south to Yemen. One day he had received the revenue of his trade from Yemen, which totaled seven hundred thousand Dirham. He spent the night worrying, looking at the large sum of money sitting in his house. His wife Um Kulthoom the daughter of Abu Bakr came to him asking, "What is the matter, Abu Muhammad? Is there anything I have done that displeased you?" "O no," he replied, "But I was wondering about this money and said to myself, a man who can sleep with all this money in his house, while he does not know if he will be alive the next day, is really arrogant towards his Lord!" "Do not worry," she said, "Tomorrow, look for the needy among your people and friends, and divide it among them." "May Allah have mercy on you," he said, "you are a wise woman, daughter of a wise man." The next day, he divided the money into bundles and distributed it to the poor until not a Dirham was left.

This was not the only time when Talhah gave all his money for the sake of Allah. It was said that he did not leave a single poor person from among his tribe but he provided for him. Jabir ibn Abdullah said, "I never saw a man who gave more abundantly without being asked than Talhah ibn Ubaydillah". Another said, "I have accompanied Talhah in his travels and I was with him in town, and I have never seen a man more generous in giving money, food and clothing than Talhah."

Talhah lived a long life until he witnessed the great trials of the Muslim Ummah when the Khalifah Uthman was slain, and he was among those who asked for his killers to be executed. Talhah was about to participate in the battle of al-Jamal against the Khalifah Ali, but he turned away after he realized that it was a fitnah (trial), and that Muslims should not fight against each other. This did not deter one of the opposing parties to hit him with an arrow that left him dead. When Ali heard of his death, he cried and said, "I heard with my own ears the Messenger of Allah say, 'Talhah and az-Zubair are my neighbors in Paradise."

Talhah ibn Ubaydullah Alia Amer, Madrasah Al-Inaamiyah 2009.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Albino Buffaloes

There was once a herd of buffaloes, among whom were a pair of albino buffaloes. The pair had been born with red hides, and not the black hides of the other buffaloes in the herd.

Because their hides were of a different colour to the other buffaloes, the red buffaloes were shunned by the other buffaloes. The other buffaloes would not talk to the red buffaloes. They would not graze together with the red buffaloes. And whenever the red buffaloes tried to enter the buffalo pen, they were kicked and driven away by the other buffaloes.

“You do not look the same as us,” the other buffaloes said. “So you cannot stay with us. Go away from us and live somewhere else!”

So the red buffaloes had to live outside the buffalo pen, sleeping wherever they could find some shelter and grazing wherever they could find some grass. They were sad and miserable because they were hated and scorned by the other buffaloes. They so much wanted to belong to and be part of the herd.

One day, the farmer who owned the buffaloes told all the buffaloes that he was going to take them over the nearby hill in the evening, to a field where he would give them all the gift of a beautiful red collar. The buffaloes were all very excited to hear this news but could not go out of their pens to see this wonderful field over the hill where they would receive this gift. However, because the red buffaloes lived outside of the pen, they decided to go to this field and come back to tell the other buffaloes about it. Maybe then, they could be accepted by the herd.

So the red buffaloes climbed up the hill and over it and arrived at that field. To their horror, all they could see there were the heads and legs of hundreds of slaughtered buffaloes scattered all around, with the ground soaked in their blood. Unknown to the buffaloes, the field was an abattoir.

The red buffaloes galloped back to the pen and tried to warn the other buffaloes. But before they could say anything, the other buffaloes all bellowed: “You do not look the same as us - go away from us and live somewhere else!”. As much as they tried, none of other buffaloes would listen to or even go near the red buffaloes, and would only charge them with their horns and tell them to go away from their pen.

The two red buffaloes could only flee to the forest. And true enough, when evening came, the farmer came and led all the black buffaloes away over the hill and to the field, where they all had their throats cut and were slaughtered for the market.

But the two red buffaloes were safe in the forest and they became wild buffaloes, which could not be caught. They lived alone, but free, for a very long, long time.

Kerbau Balar Sabri Zain 2009.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Voyage of Enrique of Malacca

Over the years, there has been considerable debate about who actually was the first man to sail around the world. We were all taught this historic honour belongs to Ferdinand Magellan (Fernao de Magalhaes, in his native Portuguese) who led the expedition of five ships and over 270 men out of Spain in 1519 and sailed westwards, reaching the Philippines, where he was killed. However, Magellan was thought to have travelled to as far as Sabah before, and one can argue that he had indeed actually completed circumnavigating the globe. There are also those who argue that the accolade should rightly belong to Sebastian del Cano, a mutineer from Magellan's crew, who led the one surviving ship, Victoria, and 17 other men, and limped back to Spain on September 8, 1522.

However, only one individual can truly claim to have been the first man to leave his home, sail around the globe and arrive at a part of the world where his mother tongue was spoken. That man was a Malay, Magellan's able servant and interpreter, called Enrique of Melaka or Henry the Black.

If there is any single Malay ever who has had the greatest impact on world history, it would probably be Enrique. It is therefore ironic that we know so little of the man. He is called Panglima Awang by Harun Aminurrashid in Malay literature but there is no mention of him in any credible Malay historical records. There is brief mention of Enrique in the official Spanish crew lists, as well as Magellan's last will and testament. Almost all of the certain facts that we know of Enrique come from the most comprehensive chronicle of Magellan's voyage, the narrative by Antonio Pigafetta, an Italian volunteer who joined Magellan's crew.

Pigafetta does briefly mention Enrique's origins - he was a Malay who had lived in Melaka but was originally from 'Zamatra' (Sumatra). Magellan was among the crew of the Portuguese squadron of five ships under Diego Lopez de Sequeira which sailed into Melaka on September 1, 1509, and became the first Europeans to have contact with the Malay Peninsula. Magellan also took part in the capture of the city by the Portuguese in 1511 and it was probably then that he acquired a Malay slave, whom he gave the name Enrique.

The young Enrique may have been about 18 at the time - Magellan's will and testament made eight years later cited Enrique as being "of the age of twenty-six years, more or less". The will also stated specifically that Enrique was a "captured slave" - indicating that Enrique was not bought in a slave market by Magellan. He may have been one of the defenders of the city who was taken captive in the final Portuguese assault. Prisoners of war would have been regarded as slaves and could be divided as booty among the officers and men of the victorious Portuguese expedition. He may also have been a slave before the fall of the city. There were thousands of slaves in Melaka belonging to the merchants and Malay nobility, and Portuguese records indicate that Sultan Mahmud of Melaka alone had over three thousand 'ambarages' ('Hamba Raja' or royal slaves). Many of the 'hamba raja' were in fact prisoners of war brought back from Melaka's successful campaigns against the kingdoms of Sumatra, Enrique's birthplace.

The new slave must have been a useful guide and interpreter when Magellan then travelled to different parts of the East Indies after Melaka's capture, reaching as far as Sabah. He then sailed back to Lisbon in 1512, with his loyal Malay servant in tow, and was dispatched to the Portuguese campaigns against the Moors in Morocco. There, Magellan was wounded in battle and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Accused of corruption while he was there, he bitterly left the service
of the King of Portugal and offered his services to King Charles I of Spain in 1517. Portugal controlled all the eastward routes to the rich Spice Islands of the Malay archipelago and Magellan presented the King of Spain with his daring plan - to find a route sailing westwards to the Spice Islands, avoiding the Portuguese. It is said that he even had Enrique presented to the King and his Privy Council, to convince them that accompanying him on the voyage would be a man with the local language, knowledge and experience needed to make the voyage a success.

Up to then, it does appear that Enrique was a loyal and able servant, and that his relationship with his master was a good one - perhaps even one of friendship. It was certainly good enough for Magellan to declare in his will and testament that, upon his death, Enrique "shall be free and manumitted, and quit, exempt, and relieved of every obligation and subjection, that he may act as he desires and thinks fit." Magellan even left Enrique a comfortable share from his estate, "the sum of ten thousand maravedis in money for his support".

The Spanish king was won over with the plan. Magellan was provided with five sailing ships - San Antonio, Conception, Victoria, Santiago and his flagship Trinidad - and crews comprising over 270 men. They left the Spanish port of Sanlucar de Barrameda on September 20th, 1519 and began perhaps the most daring and historic voyage of exploration ever - a voyage whose significance can only be equaled to Man's landing on the moon 450 years later.

Across the Atlantic, down the coast of South America and upwards across the Pacific, they sailed and suffered many hardships - thirst, starvation, disease, storms, desertion, hostile natives, even mutiny. Finally, on March 16th , 1521 - eighteen months after they left Spain - they sighted Samar, the most easterly of the Philippine islands. They continued their exploration of the islands and encountered a number of natives - but Enrique's Malay was unintelligible to them and they had to communicate using sign language. Magellan must have despaired, thinking that they were still far from their goal - the islands of the Malay archipelago.

But on March 28th, a momentous event occurred. Pigafetta wrote: ".... we saw approaching two long boats, which they called Ballanghai, full of men, and in the larger was their king seated below an awning made of mats. And when they came near the captain's ship, the said slave (Enrique) spoke to that king, who understood him well."

From that moment onwards, Enrique became the sole ears and voice of this band of explorers. As they continued their voyage to the surrounding island kingdoms, it was Enrique alone who, on behalf of Magellan and the Spanish crown, spoke with kings and traders - requesting provisions, bartering goods to trade, offering messages of peace, delivering threats of war.

It was after delivering one such threat that Enrique lost his master and friend, Magellan. Magellan had befriended the ruler of Cebu, Raja Humabon and was asked to punish a large band of rebellious natives in the village of Mactan, under the leadership of a warrior named Lapu Lapu. On Saturday, the 27th of April, Magellan attacked Lapu Lapu's village with 60 men-at-arms - cannon, muskets, crossbows and steel swords against bamboo spears and poison-tipped arrows. But the small Spaniard force suddenly found itself overwhelmed by over 1,500 of Lapu Lapu's warriors.

Pigafetta noted that Lapu Lapu's men were converging their attacks on the Spanish captain himself - Magellan was first struck in the right leg by an arrow and later a spear stabbed him in the arm. For some reason, his cannon had now stopped firing and, despite being pressed by attacks for nearly an hour, no reinforcements had arrived from his waiting ships. Then, many of his men began to flee for the safety of their ships. The Filipinos rushed forward and, with a wounded arm that was barely able to raise his sword in defence, the limp Magellan trailed behind his fleeing soldiers. Wading knee-deep in the surf, he was finally pierced by a spear in the right leg and he collapsed face down. A wall of spears converged upon the fallen captain and he was dead.

Enrique himself was wounded in the battle. Devastated by the death Magellan, he went into deep mourning. Pigafetta writes that "he no longer went ashore to do necessary business but was always wrapped in a blanket." A new commander was elected to replace Magellan - a Portuguese by the name of Duarte Barbosa - and he was determined to show the Malay slave that the new captain would not tolerate such behaviour. Shouting at Enrique, Barbosa told him that although his master was dead, he was not to be freed but was to remain a slave. Duarte ordered him to go ashore whenever he was needed or he would be driven away.

Pigafetta then writes that Enrique was then suspected of plotting the downfall of his ship mates but he did not elaborate on the reason behind this conspiracy. Enrique may have suspected that the captains who remained on the ships may have plotted the death of his master during the battle - intentionally not sending him any reinforcements or supporting cannon fire. He may have been enraged at Barbosa for denying him his liberty - having been promised by his master that he should be set free upon his death. He may have felt that a master whom he had loved and admired was now dead, and there was no longer any reason to remain a slave - it was now time to start a new life as a free man.

Whatever the reason - whether it was loyalty, revenge, rage or just an attempt at freedom - the plot was hatched just three days after Magellan's death. Pigafetta writes that Enrique went ashore and told Humabon that the Spaniards were about to depart immediately "but, if he would follow his advice, he would gain all their ships merchandise ... and so they plotted a conspiracy."

The next day, Enrique told the Spaniards that Humabon had prepared jewels and presents to be brought to the King of Spain and asked them to come ashore to receive these. A party of Spaniards led by Barbosa did come, accompanied as usual by Enrique, but they were attacked. A lone survivor fled back towards the ships and, when asked if there were any others who survived the attack, he said all were dead, except the interpreter.

Official Spanish records list Enrique of Melaka as one of the 27 men massacred in that attack, so we really do not know if Enrique did survive that attack, as Pigafetta claims. What we do know is that was the last we hear of Enrique in Pigafetta's diary - and he disappears into the mists of history. No one knows if he remained in Cebu, or found his way back to Melaka or maybe even returned to his
homeland in Sumatra. If he had indeed made his way home, he would have arrived there much earlier than del Cano - making the Malay slave the first man ever to have sailed around the world, rather than Magellan or del Cano.

One could also argue that the Spaniards may have indeed changed the official crew lists to ensure that this was not a possibility - how could a Malay slave have beaten the flower of Spanish manhood in the race around the globe? Certainly, Enrique was to be just a footnote to the heroic deeds of Magellan and del Cano that were told in countless books about this remarkable voyage written over the next few hundred years. It was only in this century that questions were raised about this Malay interpreter and his role in this historic achievement. Little was known about him even in Malaya until, in 1958, the writer Harun Aminurrashid published one of the greatest historical novels in modern Malay fiction, "Panglima Awang".

Despite there being no written evidence indicating that Enrique had any origins in or connections with the Philippines - and Pigafetta's quite clear statement that he was from Sumatra - Filipino writers and historians are now claiming Enrique as one of their own countrymen. Some suggest that he may have been abducted from Cebu and brought to Sumatra or Melaka as a slave. Others think that he may have been a member of the small Filipino community living in Melaka at the time of its fall to the Portuguese. The most convenient feature of these theories is that if Enrique was indeed from Cebu, that would without any doubt make a Filipino the first man to have sailed around the world.

The main argument behind these theories is that Enrique could speak in the language of the people inhabiting the islands around Cebu - Bisayan - and therefore must have been from Cebu himself. There is a fatal flaw in this argument - Pigafetta's narrative above does show that Enrique could not communicate at all with the natives in his first encounter with them. It was only when he spoke with royalty - in this case, their king - or with traders that they suddenly found a common language among them. This is certainly not surprising - Malay was, by then, the 'lingua franca' of the whole Archipelago, and the official language of international diplomacy and trade for the whole region. All references to Enrique in Pigafetta's chronicle have him speaking with kings, chiefs or traders - rather than the common folk who may not have known the international language of Malay.

But the continuing controversy of whether he was Malay or Filipino does not detract from the monumental achievements of this man. Burning with the unquenchable wanderlust and seafaring passion of his race, Enrique of Melaka had sailed the seas of the East Indies with his master; followed him across the Indian Ocean and around the rim of the African continent; loyally fought alongside him in North Africa; lived in the splendour of the royal courts of Portugal and Spain. He embarked upon the greatest adventure ever - to circle the globe, the final frontier; to explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life and new civilizations; to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Having done that, he had returned full circle, to a land where he could understand the people and they could understand him. And there is just still the possibility that this humble Malay slave was indeed the first human ever to have sailed around the world.

Magellan's Voyage--A narrative Account of the First Circumnavigation Antonio Pigafetta. Yale: Yale University 1969
Der Mann und seine Tat Zweig, S. Magellan. Zurich:Wien-Leipzig-Zürich, 1937.
Portuguese Documents On Melaka Pintado, M J. Kuala Lumpur: National Archives of Malaysia, 1993.
Sejarah Melayu: Enrique of Malacca Sabri Zain.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Door Duistermis tot Licht

It is presumptuous for us to play "mother," and with children who are older than we; but what does age matter? Every one needs love, the grey-beard as well as the child.

Should a woman only exclusively through marriage be able to come to her right — to the full awakening of the best gifts of her soul? because the highest and most sacred glory of woman is motherhood. But then must a woman be obliged to have a child of her own in order to be a true mother — a being who is all love and sacrifice? If that is true, how pitifully shallow is the idea of the world that it is only a piece of oneself that one can love better than oneself. There are so many who are called mothers only because they have brought children into the world, but beyond that they are not worthy of the name. A woman that gives all the love that is in her heart to others, with no thought of herself is, in a spiritual sense — mother. We set the spiritual mother higher than the physical.

We hope and pray fervently that later if it is granted us to realize our ideals, and we stand at the head of a school, our children will not call us "mother" as a matter of form, but because they feel that we are mothers.

We hope that Anneka will find cordial, affectionate people at Buitenzurg, who will make up to the poor lonely child for the lack of a mother and of a home of her own. Anneka lived our Javanese live with us here. I wish that you could have taken a peep at the little comer behind the door, where Anneka sat on the ground with us in such a sisterly manner. One evening she sat by us in our chamber, at the low table where I am now writing; she sewed, we wrote. There was still a fourth in the circle — a friend of ours. She read aloud or rather sang to us. You know of course, that all of our books are written in poetic metre, flower-tongue as we say, and they are meant to be sung.

Doors and windows were open. Outside the chamber there bloomed a tjempaka tree; its perfume came to us on the soft wind. The voice was gentle and tender, the song was sweet to our listening ears. It carried our souls back to the far distant past, to the golden age of barbaric splendour, and of men and women who were wise and beautiful and strong.

We bit our pen-holders absently — much oftener than we made them fly over the white paper, and amid these wholly Javanese surroundings, there between brown children of the Sunny Land, sat a pale daughter of the West. Oh how gladly would we have you, even so, among us.

We have learned the songs too, and if we were not bashful, we would sing and dream before you.

Yesterday Annie did something typically Javanese. She was so anxious to go away from Japara, we said to her "Ask the help of the Soenan of Kantingan, promise him an offering of flowers, if your wish comes true." So she did.

Day before yesterday evening we spoke of it, and the next morning she went with us to make her offering. We went there with a band of priests to the holy grave, and we took flowers and incense with us.

Anneka went with us into the building over the grave and sat with us on the ground at the foot of the tomb. Incense burned, and a mystic buzzing rose at first softly but gradually louder from the priestly choir. It was solemn and impressive. We sat with lowered heads and listened to the murmur of the mystic prayer, while blue clouds of incense rose upwards.

One of the priests creeping forward on the ground brought Anneka's flowers and laid them reverently on the grave of the Soenan, and after diat on the other graves. Next to me I heard a snickering. It was Anneka! Barefooted as a mark of reverence, she had come with us into the building. For it is our custom to look upon the dead as holy, and to show them reverence.

We then went to the little stream behind the churchyard to wash our feet. We asked the priest for Heaven's blessing for Anneka.

Dearest, we should so love to have you here, so that you could live our native life with us. There is so much that is touching in our Javanese life; especially in the honour that we show to our dead and to our parents. Nothing ever happens in our lives of any importance, either of joy or of sorrow, that we do not think of our dead. Anneka will remember Japara when she sits high and dry at Buitenzorg, although she may be a thousand times better off there than here. They that have known Japara; who have seen its soul, can never forget it. They must think of it again and again, whether it is with love or whether it is with hate.

Letters of a Javanese Princess: Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang Raden Adjeng Kartini September 2nd, 1902

Monday, September 20, 2010


Never contempt the poor
Never revere the rich
Never adore the authorities

Kasih Bapa Seluas Lautan Martinelli 2009.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Emotional Rule of Momentum

Isn't it Ironic, that..
we ignore the ones who adore us,
adore the ones that ignore us,
love the ones who hurt us, and
hurt the ones that love us.

quoted from Jordan Neill.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Da Spencer Code


"A few days after Jesus had died on the cross and been buried, his apostles claimed that they had seen and talked with him. They believed that Jesus was indeed the messiah and had risen from the dead, or been resurrected."

Global History and Geography: The Growth of Civilization pp 143 by Henry Brun, Lillian Forman and Herbert Brodsky, Amsco School Publications, Inc., 2008.

"Muhammad was the messenger of Allah."

Global History and Geography: The Growth of Civilization pp 182 by Henry Brun, Lillian Forman and Herbert Brodsky, Amsco School Publications, Inc., 2008.


"After the death of Jesus, his followers proclaimed that he had risen from death and had appeared to them. They believed Jesus to be the Messiah (anointed one)..."

World History pp 170 by Jackson J. Spielvogel, McGraw Hill Glencoe, 2008.

"The revelations of Allah (God) to Muhammad are written down in the Quran, or holy book of Islam."

World History pp 210 by Jackson J. Spielvogel, McGraw Hill Glencoe, 2008.


"The authors of the Gospels believed Jesus was the son of God..."

The Western Heritage Ninth Edition pp 161 by Donald Kagan, Steven Ozment and Frank M. Turner, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.

"[Muhammad] began to receive revelations from the angel Gabriel, who recited God's word to him at irregular intervals."

The Western Heritage Ninth Edition pp 200 by Donald Kagan, Steven Ozment and Frank M. Turner, Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eid ul-fitr

"Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha illallahu Wallahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar, Wa lillahil Hamd."

Allah is the greatest, Allah is the greatest. There is no deity besides Allah and Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest and all praises are for Allah only.

Happy upcoming Eid ul-fitr.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Einstein: The 1948 Letter to New York Times

To the Editor of New York Times:

Visit of Menachem Begin and Aims of Political Movement Discussed

Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the Freedom Party (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin's political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin's behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

The public avowals of Begin's party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

Attack on Arab Village

A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (THE NEW YORK TIMES), terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants - 240 men, women, and children - and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.

The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.

Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.

During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.

Discrepancies Seen

The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a 'Leader State' is the goal.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin's efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.

New York, Dec. 2, 1948

The 1948 Letter to New York Times signed by Isidore Abramowitz, Hannah Arendt, Abraham Brick, Rabbi Jessurun Cardozo, Albert Einstein, Herman Eisen, M.D., Hayim Fineman, M. Gallen, M.D., H.H. Harris, Zelig S. Harris, Sidney Hook, Fred Karush, Bruria Kaufman, Irma L. Lindheim, Nachman Maisel, Symour Melman, Myer D. Mendelson, M.D., Harry M. Orlinsky, Samuel Pitlick, Fritz Rohrlich, Louis P. Rocker, Ruth Sager, Itzhak Sankowsky, I.J. Schoenberg, Samuel Shuman, M. Znger, Irma Wolpe, Stefan Wolpe 1948.

Future Fastforward Matthias Chang  2006

Saturday, August 14, 2010

All These Things That I've Done

When there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
One more son
If you can hold on
If you can hold on, hold on
I wanna stand up, I wanna let go
You know, you know - no you don't, you don't
I wanna shine on in the hearts of men
I want a meaning from the back of my broken hand

Another head aches, another heart breaks
I am so much older than I can take
And my affection, well it comes and goes
I need direction to perfection, no no no no

Help me out
Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the blackburner
You know you got to help me out

And when there's nowhere else to run
Is there room for one more son
These changes ain't changing me
The cold-hearted boy I used to be

Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the blackburner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down

I got soul, but I'm not a soldier
I got soul, but I'm not a soldier

Yeah, you know you got to help me out
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the blackburner
You know you got to help me out
You're gonna bring yourself down
You're gonna bring yourself down
Yeah, oh don't you put me on the blackburner
Yeah, you're gonna bring yourself down

Over and out, last call for sin
While everyone's lost, the battle is won
With all these things that I've done
All these things that I've done
If you can hold on
If you can hold on

All These Things That I've Done Brandon Flowers and The Killers 2004.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sleeping Beauty

Rosalina Lombardo, a two-year-old Sicilian girl who died of pneumonia in 1920. "Sleeping Beauty," as she's known, appears to be merely dozing beneath the glass front of her coffin in the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo, Italy. She has been preserved there since the last 90 years in a small wooden and glass topped coffin.

Sleeping Beauty Vincent J Musi 2009.

Friday, August 6, 2010

How Could A Loving God

Each day brings new tragedy. A small child is diagnosed with leukemia and undergoes extensive medical treatment only to die in his mother’s arms. A newlywed couple is killed by a drunk driver as they leave for their honeymoon. A faithful missionary family is attacked and killed by the very people they were ministering to. Thousands are killed in a terrorist attack. Hundreds drown in a tsunami, while scores of others are buried in an earthquake.

How are these things possible if God really loves and cares for us? Is He a God of suffering?

Man’s usual response to tragedy is to blame God, as did Charles Darwin after the death of his beloved daughter Annie.

“Annie’s cruel death destroyed Charles’s tatters of beliefs in a moral, just universe. Later he would say that this period chimed the final death-knell for his Christianity . . . . Charles now took his stand as an unbeliever.”

Is this the proper response? A correct view of history, found in the Bible, provides the answer.
Was God’s Creation Really “Very Good”?

In the beginning, about 6,000 years ago, God created the universe and everything in it in six actual days. At the end of His creative acts on the sixth day, God “saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31).

To have been very good, God’s creation must have been without blemish, defect, disease, suffering, or death. There was no “survival of the fittest.” Animals did not prey on each other, and the first two humans, Adam and Eve, did not kill animals for food. The original creation was a beautiful place, full of life and joy in the presence of the Creator.

Both humans and animals were vegetarians at the time of creation. In Genesis 1:29–30 the Lord said, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food.”

This passage shows clearly that in God’s very good creation, animals did not eat each other (and thus, there was no animal death), as God gave Adam, Eve, and the animals only plants to eat. (It was was not until after the worldwide Flood of Noah’s Day—1,600 years later—that man was allowed to eat meat, according to Genesis 9:3.)
Why Do We Die Now?

If there was no animal or human death when God finished His creation and pronounced it very good, why do we die now? We see death all around us today. Something must have happened to change creation—that something was sin.

God placed Adam and Eve in a perfect paradise. As their Creator, He had authority over them. In His authority, God gave Adam a rule: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).

Sometime after God declared His completed creation “very good” at the end of the sixth day, one of God’s angels, Lucifer, led a rebellion against their Creator.Lucifer then took on the form of a serpent and tempted Eve to eat the fruit God had forbidden. Both Adam and Eve ate it. Their actions resulted in the punishment that God had warned them about. God is holy and cannot tolerate sin in His presence. The just Creator righteously kept His promise that punishment would follow their disobedience. With the rebellious actions of one man, death entered God’s creation.

Ashamed and afraid, Adam and Eve tried to escape the consequences of their sin by making coverings of fig leaves. But by themselves, they could not cover what they had done. They needed something else to provide a covering. According to the writer of Hebrews, “Without shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sin]” (Hebrews 9:22). A blood sacrifice was necessary to cover their guilt before God.

To illustrate the horrible consequences of sin, God killed an animal and made coats of skin to cover Adam and Eve We are not told what type of animal was killed, but perhaps it was something like a lamb to symbolize Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who would shed His own blood to take away our sins.

Genesis 3 also reveals that the ground was cursed. Thorns and thistles were now part of the world. Animals were cursed, the serpent more than the rest. The world was no longer perfect but sin-cursed. Suffering and death now abounded in that once-perfect creation.

If it was Adam’s decision to disobey God that brought sin into the world, why do we all have to suffer punishment?

After Adam and Eve sinned and were banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:20–24), they began to have children. Each child inherited Adam’s sinful nature, and each child rebelled against his or her Creator. Every human is a descendant of Adam and Eve, born with the same problem: a sinful nature.

If we are honest with ourselves, we will realize that Adam is a fair representative for all of us. If a perfect person in a perfect place decided to disobey God’s rules, none of us would have done better. The Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12).

As children of Adam, we all inherit Adam’s sin nature. We have all, at some point, disobeyed a command from the Creator, so we all deserve to die and suffer eternal punishment in hell. We must understand that not one of us is innocent before God. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Not one of us is worthy to stand before the Creator of the universe because we would each bring a sinful, rebellious nature into His presence.

In the beginning, God sustained His creation in its perfect state. The account of the Israelites wandering in the wilderness provides a glimpse of how things might have been in the original creation. The garments of the Israelites did not wear out, nor did their feet swell for the forty years they camped in the desert (Deuteronomy 8:4). God is omnipotent and perfectly capable of sustaining and protecting His creation.

When Adam sinned, however, the Lord cursed the universe. In essence there was a change, and along with that change God began to uphold the creation in a cursed state. Suffering and death entered into His creation. The whole universe now suffers from the effects of sin (Romans 8:22).

The sad things (e.g., the death of a loved one, tsunamis that kill thousands, hurricanes that leave many dead or homeless, etc.) that happen around us and to us are reminders that sin has consequences and that the world needs a Savior.

God took pleasure in all of His creation (Revelation 4:11), but He loved people most of all. He uses the deterioration of the created universe to show us the consequences of our sin. If we did not experience the consequences of our rebellion against the Creator, we would never understand that we need salvation from our sin, and we would never receive His offer of mercy for our sin.

Most people easily recognize that there is a problem in the world. We need to realize that there is One who has overcome this problem of death and suffering—Jesus Christ.

The Alternate View of History

Those who reject the Creator must explain how the world came into existence without God.

Evolutionists and most other “long agers” believe that 13–14 billion years ago, a big bang caused the universe to begin from nothing. Galaxies, stars, and planets formed as matter—scattered across the universe—cooled and coalesced. About five billion years ago, the earth itself began to form. The earth, it is claimed, cooled for a billion years or so, water formed on the surface, and in this primordial ocean, molecules somehow arranged themselves together to form the simplest one-celled life forms.

Due to environmental stresses and other forces, directionless mutations, say evolutionists, led to survival advantages for certain organisms. These organisms gradually changed into progressively more complex organisms. The strongest organisms were able to survive and reproduce, and the weaker organisms died off or were killed by the stronger creatures.

This merciless process eventually produced ape-like creatures who evolved into man himself. Thus humans are the ultimate product (so far!) of millions of years of death and suffering.

This naturalistic view of the universe uses the fossil record as proof for the belief that creatures became more advanced over millions of years. This view teaches that the fossil record is a record of millions of years of disease, struggle, and death. The late famous evolutionist Carl Sagan declared that “the secrets of evolution are time and death.”

Evolution requires millions of years of struggle and death.
Where Do Caring and Mercy Come From?

While many evolutionists/ atheists cry out that a loving God is inconsistent with this world of cruelty we inhabit, they conveniently overlook other things. For example, how does evolution explain mercy, charity, and caring? If evolution is true, the driving force of nature is “survival of the fittest.” Those less able to compete are destined to die. Any attempt to rescue these “less competitive” people would be to work against the most fundamental force of nature. The existence of doctors, hospitals, charitable organizations, and even a police force is contrary to raw evolutionary forces.

The evolutionist has no basis for moral judgments. If man is just the result of millions of years of evolution, our behavior is based on random chemical reactions. There is no ultimate moral code. All morality is relative. So if a person needs money, why is it wrong to rob someone? According to evolution, the stronger person should succeed. Might makes right. So, in the evolutionary view, such violence is a natural, and necessary, part of the world.

Those who have a worldview based on the Bible have a consistent basis for acts of kindness, charity, or caring. We are commanded in Scripture to love our neighbours as ourselves, to perform acts of mercy, and to care for the widows and orphans. If we take evolution to its logical conclusion, we will conclude that these widows and orphans should die because they are a drain on the resources of nature.

Only Bible-believers ultimately offer the world a basis to make moral judgments. Those who reject the Bible have no basis for morality.
What about Individual Suffering?

In John 9 Jesus addressed the issue of personal suffering. When His disciples assumed that a man’s blindness was the result of the man’s sin, Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3). Jesus did not consider the man’s suffering to be wasted or capricious, because God would be glorified in the man’s life.

The book of Job tells the history of a righteous man who pleased God but nevertheless suffered the loss of his wealth, his ten children, and his health. His friends were sure his sufferings represented judgment for some secret sins, but God denied this accusation. Many people have taken comfort simply in knowing that their personal tragedies did not necessarily represent personal judgments.

Jesus demonstrated that His love for us is not incompatible with personal suffering when Lazarus was sick and about to die. “When Jesus heard that, He said, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus” (John 11:4–5).

Jesus clearly loved Lazarus and his grieving family, but He was able to see a purpose to suffering that they could not see. Christ clearly revealed to them that He had power over death (by raising Lazarus from the dead), even prior to His crucifixion and resurrection.

Jesus commented on the purpose of tragedy after the tower of Siloam collapsed, killing eighteen people. “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4–5).

These examples show that it is not necessarily an individual’s sin that leads to suffering, but sin in general already has. God may use suffering as a reminder that sin has consequences—and perhaps for other purposes we do not fully investigate in this chapter. But the presence of suffering does not mean God does not love us. Quite the opposite—Christ came and suffered with us and took that punishment when He didn’t have to.

In times of suffering, Christians honor the Lord by trusting Him and knowing that He loves them and has a purpose for their lives. The presence of suffering in the world should remind us all that we are sinners in a sin-cursed world and also prompt us to tell others about the salvation available in Christ—after all, that would be the loving thing to do. We can tell people the truth of how they, too, can be saved from this sin-cursed world and live eternally with a perfect and good God.

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17–18).

Answers in Genesis: How Could A Loving God Tommy Mitchell and Answers in Genesis 2009.

Note: Reading for intelectual purpose only.