"Said a sheet of snow-white paper"
Title of a story by Khalil Jibran.
What I like about this word is that it comes from istaqbala which means ‘to meet; to face; to get on one’s way’. It’s not the future as a force that simply happens to you, it is everything you will encounter on your path as you walk upon it. It’s not the future so much as your future.
laghw: foolish talk, nonsense, ungrammatical language
Anonymous asked: Your writings are very interesting :)
Thank you very much, I appreciate that =)
You must have one of the worst reputations in the Arabic language. For a start, you mean a lot of nasty and often insulting things. Dictionaries have you listed as meaning ignorant, stupid, foolish, illiterate, New Jersey Shore, peevish. I think my favourite one has to be ‘the mind’s void of knowledge’. You also play a part in religious discourse: in the Islamic tradition, the time before Islam is known as the age of jahiliyya, the age of ignorance. One translation I haven’t found in dictionaries but which might be suitable is barbaric. People in the age of jahiliyya are thought of as being largely illiterate idiots who believed self-made statues would protect them against everything, and who would fight each other constantly because that’s what stupid people do. You are the very opposite of anything connected to intelligence (or are you? *foreshadowing*). Arabs have described jahiliyya-era Arabs as ‘the most backward people on earth’.
And I’m not here to argue that they didn’t have a point. Islam brought with it a basic if somewhat fragile degree of political stability and together with an increase in education, thus technology, thus wealth Arabic suddenly became a language of learning with the House of Knowledge in Baghdad as the prime spot to be for people technically known as ‘smarty-pants’. It paved the way for Arabs to experience their Golden Age, so called because historians are materialist bastards.
But is all that really deserved? Is jahl really a word with only negative connotations? Jahiliyya Arabs might not have thought so, and the reason might surprise you.
During one of my many interesting lectures, the teacher would ask us which word we would think of as opposite to jahl. And without fail, the class would answer with 'ilm, the Arabic word for knowledge. The teacher said this was correct in the present day but that Arabs way back would have a different answer. Sabr, or patience. Not only that, but they attached equal importance to sabr and jahl. Both of these were the most sought-after personal qualities they would look for in leaders, as it were. But patience isn’t really something many of us would associate with ignorance and a short temper, so what did jahl mean back then? The sentiment is perhaps best expressed in one of my favourite Arab sayings from a pre-Islamic poet:
ألا لا يجهلن أحد علينا فنجهل فوق جهل الجاهلينا
Basically it means: no one does jahl to us because we out-jahl everyone. Assuming the pre-Islamic Arabs weren’t idiots, it’s clear that the word doesn’t (just) mean the mind’s void of knowledge (still love that translation) but something more connected to the quick temper meaning. The dictionary of Steingass gives a more revealing translation in between all the stupid and ignorance: brutal. A willingness to commit acts of violence. Life in the desert was harsh and two main virtues were the ability to share precious resources and stick together, and the ability to take out those who would prey on your precious resources. That might sound paradoxical, and it’s the reason why as far as we can tell, pre-Islamic Arabs would think that a perfect balance between sabr and jahl, between hospitable patience and unbridled violence to be such an important quality in a leader, someone who would know which option was the right one in every situation. A leader without jahl would just let people walk over the whole tribe.
So is this bad rep for you deserved, jahl? There’s certainly something to be said for the connection between ignorance and violence to this day, from the person who abuses his/her partner because of false suspicions about his/her cheating to, I don’t know, let’s say one country declaring war on another country because of false assumptions regarding the presence of weapons of mass destruction. But then again, there’s also something to be said for the connection between violence and self-preservation: in the West it’s common to glorify the soldiers who used violence to stand up against for example the Nazis, and even the prophet Muhammad resorted to violence when being patient had run its course - the very person who is said to have ended jahiliyya. I guess it’s just all about context.
Raḥma: compassion; human understanding, sympathy; mercy; pity
targheeb: awakening of a desire or longing
Waleeja: intimate friend; one whom a person takes to rely upon or to place confidence in, not being of his/her family; secret depth (of the heart)
So my parents recently donated some rocks to me because writing nicely is kind of a thing of mine, if you hadn’t noticed yet. So I was wondering how well these rocks would absorb ink and if it wouldn’t just refuse to stay on or whatever.
As it turns out it’s pretty easy to write on them and it doesn’t give off ink. Pretty neat.