Thursday, December 20, 2012

Insights with Dr. Sherman Jackson

Check out this new video with Dr. Jackson about how some misunderstand his views on being an American Muslim.

Also, this is the poem that he shares as one of his favorites:

ذلك الطّفل الذي كنتُ, أتاني 


وجهًا غريبًا. 

لم يقل شيئًا. مشينا 

وكِلانا يرمقُ الآخرَ في صمتٍ. خُطانا 

نَهَرٌ يجري غريبًا. 

جمعتْنا, باسْمِ هذا الورقِ الضّارب في الرّيح, الأصولُ 


غابةً تكتبها الأرضُ وترْويها الفصولُ. 

أيها الطّفل الذي كنتُ, تَقَدَّمْ 

ما الذي يجمعنا, الآنَ, وماذا سنقولُ? .



"That child who once was me 
came to me once in a strange face, 
he didn't say anything,
we just looked at each other and then walked along the way
we were joined together in the name of that leaf that dangles in the wind by our roots,
then we departed
and we went into a jungle whose author is the earth and whose narrator is the seasons,
O child who once was me,
come forward now,
what is it that joins us together still
and what shall we say together?"

-Adonis, translated by Dr. Jackson.

Tradition: Concept and Claim by Josef Pieper

Hope to read in sha Allah.
Josef Pieper’s Tradition: Concept and Claim analyzes tradition as an idea and as a living reality in the lives and languages of ordinary people. In the modern world of constant, unrelenting change, tradition, says Pieper, is that which must be preserved unchanged. Drawing on thinkers from Plato to Pascal, Pieper describes the key elements and figures in the act of tradition and what is distinctive about it.
Pieper argues that the handing down of tradition is not the same as discussing or teaching, despite its similarities to those activities. It means accepting something as true and valid with the intent of handing it down again, unmixed with alien intrusions and yet kept alive for each new generation via imaginative reformulations. In the beginning, there is sacred tradition, founded on a revelation of God to man, yet secular tradition is important too. Tradition offers liberation from the prison of the present. “Understanding what tradition really means makes one free and independent in the face of conservatisms,” notes Pieper. At the same time, it links us to the past and is essential for a meaningful future.
“This is a profound reflection on contemporary understandings and misunderstandings of what tradition is. Pieper argues powerfully that the modern scientific situation, and the zeal for the new, do not and cannot supersede the human need of tradition if we are to orient ourselves in the world and find meaning. Pieper’s quest for the reconciliation of reason/science with tradition/revelation suggests Thomas Aquinas speaking in the language and context of our time.” – Timothy Fuller, Lloyd E. Worner Distinguished Service Professor, Colorado College
“Josef Pieper, in this lucid translation, shows that tradition is not the same as ‘traditionalism’; nor is it the mindless repetition of a past no longer understood. Rather, tradition is the handing down and the reception, generation after generation, of unchanging truths that originate vin a primal revelation. Pieper shows in a brilliant, paradigm-shifting way, how philosophy, theology, science, and the arts interact with tradition, and how a sense of unchanging sacred tradition is necessary for human community.” – Gene Edward Veith, Patrick Henry College


"The grandeur of the human state

is not that human beings can make complicated machines or conceptualize complex theories, but in that men and women are worthy of being addressed by God and being considered worthy of receiving His revelation and guidance. [...] To be human is to be capable of hearing the Word of God and being led back to Him.
-Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The Garden of Truth, pg. 16. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Unavoidable Question

Wherever we are and in whatever time we happen to live, we cannot avoid asking the basic questions of who we are, where we came from, what we are doing here, and where we are going? In everyone's life, especially when one is young, these basic questions arise in the mind, often with force, and demand answers from us. Many simply push them aside or remain satisfied with established answers provided by others in their family or community. In traditional societies such answers always came from the teachings of religion, and to a great extent they still do for the majority of people in many parts of the world. But there have always been and still are today the few who take the question "who am I?" seriously and existentially and who are not satisfied with answers provided by others. Rather, they seek to find the answers by themselves, trying with their whole being to delve into the inner meaning of religion and wisdom. They continue until they reach the goal and receive a response that provides for them certitude and removes from them the clouds of doubt. In any case, how we choose to live in this world - how we act and think and how we develop the latent possibilities within us - depends totally on the answer we provide for ourselves to this basic question of who we are, for human beings live and act for the most part according to the image they have of themselves.
-Seyyed Hossein Nasr, The Garden of Truth, pg. 4

Exclusive: LoonWatch Interview with Haroon Moghul


The most formative educational influence in my life was a great high school teacher named Charlie. At Brooklyn Prep, Charlie Winans simultaneously taught a group of us history, literature, art and music - and he was master of all of them. For three years, three hours a day, five days a week, he led us from the cave paintings of Altimira and the sounds of simple percussion to Jackson Pollock and Aaron Copland. To him, the word "boundary" had no meaning. After the Jesuits who ran our school followed the heinous example of Walter O'Malley and pulled out of Brooklyn, Charlie taught for several years at a yeshiva and today, at the age of 82, he volunteers at Mother Teresa's hospice for AIDS patients. Thank you, Charlie, for being in my life.
-John Sexton, "Installation Address."

"The central challenge

facing the academy in our time will be the discovery of the proper balance between preservation and adaptation - between maintaining the hallowed essence of what we have been and creating what we must become in a world that day to day hardly remains the same.
-John E. Sexton, "Installation Address," September 26, 2002.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Charlie quote

"Then, too, he spoke earnestly to the boys about the importance of choosing the right girl. "Of course you want beautiful girlfriends, but gentlemen, gentlemen, with today's methods any young female can be made to look good. You know what they say: 'powder and paint make a woman what she ain't.' No, find someone who is intelligent - smarter than you, even--and try hard to make it work. Because if you're lucky, she'll take you the distance."
-pg. 99-100 of Charlie's Prep by Steven Englund and Vincent Curcio

Charlie, my namesake, was John Sexton's mentor at Brooklyn Prep.

"The earlier texts

discuss worship and servanthood largely in terms of a moral imperative. Many later texts, especially from 'Ibn Arabi onwards, ground the moral imperative in what can be called an "ontological imperative". This perspective includes discussion of the Divine Being, the structure of the cosmos, and the reality of the human soul. In modern times, most well-known Muslim authors have continued to cling to the moral imperative, but they have lost touch with the ontological imperative. Indignantly denying "the death of God", they nonetheless go along with its implications by embracing the demise of metaphysics. Instead of standing on the solid ground of Being, they attempt to root the moral imperative in the shifting sands of empirical science, political ideology and critical theory.
 -William C. Chittick, "Worship" in The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology, edited by Tim Winter, p. 219.

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad's lesson on Imam Malik: Sage of the City of Light

Four great legal theorists dominate the history of Islamic Sacred Law. In this lecture, we meet Imam Malik ibn Anas (d.795), celebrated as the ‘Imam of the City of Emigration’ (Imam Dar al-Hijra).
Revered for his great love of the Sunna of the Chosen One (a.s.), Imam Malik dedicated his life to preserving the great treasure of Prophetic wisdom for future generations. As the honoured scholar of the City of Light, he knew that the Sunna was to be learned not only from the Hadith, but from the lived practice of the great people of Madina. His fiqh is therefore rooted in community practice, which gives it great flexibility and humanity.
Close to many of the Second Generation (the Tabi’un), he narrated the famous ‘Golden Chain’: his own teacher Nafi had learned hadiths from Ibn Umar, who reported directly from the Holy Prophet himself.
A sage who always made wudu before quoting a hadith, the Imam once remarked: ‘Allah places the gift of knowledge wherever He will. It does not consist in narrating a large amount.