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A Poem: I Come From There

I Come From There

I come from there and I have memories
Born as mortals are, I have a mother
And a house with many windows,
I have brothers, friends,
And a prison cell with a cold window.
Mine is the wave, snatched by sea-gulls,
I have my own view,
And an extra blade of grass.
Mine is the moon at the far edge of the words,
And the bounty of birds,
And the immortal olive tree.
I walked this land before the swords
Turned its living body into a laden table.

I come from there. I render the sky unto her mother
When the sky weeps for her mother.
And I weep to make myself known
To a returning cloud.
I learnt all the words worthy of the court of blood
So that I could break the rule.
I learnt all the words and broke them up
To make a single word: Homeland…..

Mahmoud Darwish

 

…in the Presence of Absence

Mahmoud Darwish is the winner of 2001 Lannan Prize for Cultural Freedom. The prize recognizes people whose extraordinary and courageous work celebrates the human right to freedom of imagination, inquiry, and expression. As defined by the foundation, cultural freedom is the right of individuals and communities to define and protect valued and diverse ways of life currently threatened by globalization.

Darwish is considered to be the most important contemporary Arab poet working today. He was born in 1942 in  the village of Barweh in the Galilee, which was razed to the ground by the Israelis in 1948. As a result of his politi-cal activism he faced house arrest and imprisonment. Darwish was the editor of Ittihad Newspaper before leaving in 1971 to study for a year in the USSR. Then he went to Egypt where he worked in Cairo for Al-Ahram Newspaper and in Beirut, Lebanon as an editor of the Journal “Palestinian Issues”. He was also the director of the Palestinian Research Center. Darwish was a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO and lived in exile between Beirut and Paris until his return in 1996 to Palestine.

His poems are known throughout the Arab world, and  several of them have been put to music. His poetry has gained great sophistication over the years, and has enjoyed international fame for a long time. He has published around 30 poetry and prose  collections, which have been translated into 35 languages. He is the editor in chief and founder   of the prestigious literary review Al Karmel, which has resumed publication in January 1997 out of the Sakakini Centre offices.

He published in 1998 the poetry collection: Sareer el Ghariba (Bed of the Stranger), his first collection of love poems. In 2000 he published Jidariyya (Mural) a book consisting of one poem about his near death experience in 1997. In 1997 a documentary was produced about him by French TV directed by noted French-Israeli director Simone Bitton. He is a commander of the French Order of Arts and Letters.

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Sufi music… A performance of remembrance.

Sufi music… A deeply inspired performance of remembrance …composed sometimes between 1640 – 1711 AD by Buhurizade Itri. He was a follower of Mevlana Rumi. He was a prolific composer with hundreds of works. This is one of the main spiritual compositions frequently used at Turkish Sufi center gatherings. His real name was Mustafa (1640-1712), […]

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A wonderful poem by Imam al-Haddad of Yemen. Translated into English and song in Arabic.

Imam Abd Allah ibn Alawi al-Haddad born in 1634. He lived his entire life in the town of Tarim in Yemen’s Valley of Hadramawt and died there in 1720 CE (1132 Hijri). In Islamic history, he was considered one of the sages. His works revolve around the attainment of certainty (yaqin), the degree of unshakeable faith in God and Muhammad. Imam ‘Abdallah al-Haddad was the renewer, or Mujaddid, of the twelfth Islamic century. He was renowned, and deservedly so, for the breadth of his knowledge and his manifest sanctity. The profundity of his influence on Muslims is reflected by the fact his books are still in print throughout the Islamic world.

 

The poem (Qasida): Qad Kafani Ilmu Rabbi
My Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me
from asking or choosing

For my du’a and my agonising supplication
is a witness to my poverty.

For this secret (reason) I make supplication
in times of ease and times of difficulty

I am a slave whose pride
is in his poverty and obligation

O my Lord and my King
You know my state

And what has settled in my heart
of agonies and preoccupations

Save me with a gentleness
from You, O Lord of Lords

Oh save me, Most Generous
before I run out of patience (with myself)

My Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me
from asking or choosing

O One who is swift in sending aid
I ask for aid that will arrive to me swiftly

It will defeat all difficulty
and it will bring all that I hope for

O Near One Who answers
and All-Knowing and All-Hearing

I have attained realisation through my incapacity,
my submission and my brokenness

My Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me
from asking or choosing

I am still standing by the door, so please my Lord
have mercy on my standing

And in the valley of generosity, I am in i’tikaf (solitary retreat)
So, Allah, make my retreat here permanent

And I’m abiding by good opinion (of You)
For it is my friend and ally

And it is the one that sits by me and keeps me company
All day and night

My Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me
from asking or choosing

There is a need in my soul, O Allah
so please fulfil it, O Best of Fulfillers

And comfort my secret and my heart
from its burning and its shrapnel

In pleasure and in happiness
and as long as You are pleased with me

For joy and expansion is my state
and my motto and my cover

My Lord’s knowledge has sufficed me
from asking or choosing

May Allah be pleased with him Imam al-Haddad .

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The Word: Wheat by Rumi; The Sound: One Truth by Omer Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek had been studying Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam, with the thought of becoming a Sufi cleric. At 15, he quit school to become a professional musician. “But I never quit studying, though,” he maintains. “In fact, I am still studying; it’s endless. Music for me is not something to show off. It’s my life. It’s the shortest path to God. Playing is prayer for me.”

Mevlana Jelaluddin Rumi Poem:

Wheat
If wheat sprouts out of my grave,
the bread you make of it will get you drunk.
The baker and the dough will go insane,
and the oven will recite intoxicating verses.
If you come to visit my grave,
My tomb will appear to dance.
Brother! Don’t come without a tambourine,
for the sad can’t join in God’s celebration.
Though deep in the grave, the chin closed tight,
this mouth still chews the beloved’s opium and sugarplum.
If you tear a piece off that shroud and fasten it round your chest,
a tavern will open up from your soul.
From every direction comes the sound of the harp,
and hue and cry from the drunk.
Every action will perforce give rise to another one.
God has created me from love’s wine;
even if death takes me, I am the same love.
I am intoxication; my origin is the wine of love.
Tell me: what comes from wine except intoxication?
Toward the lofty soul of Shams of Tabriz
my soul is flying, lingering not even a single moment.

Rumi translations courtesy of Reynold A. Nicholson.

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Poem by Rumi and Music by Omer Faruk Tekbilek

Omar Faruk Tekbilek, born in Turkey, has lived and worked in the New York area since 1976. He is a virtuoso on several Middle Eastern instruments and is a capable performer on dozens more. Tekbilek became familiar to many listeners through his work on Brian Keane’s soundtrack to Suleyman the Magnificent and subsequently through two additional collaborations, Fire Dance and Beyond the Sky, that combined the sounds of the Middle East with Western synthesizers and guitar. He has appeared at the Kool Jazz Festival and the New Sounds Live Concert Series, and has performed with Don Cherry, Ginger Baker, and many others.

O Drop
Listen, O drop, give yourself up without regret,
and in exchange gain the Ocean.
Listen, O drop, bestow upon yourself this honor,
and in the arms of the Sea be secure.
Who indeed should be so fortunate?
An Ocean wooing a drop!
In God’s name, in God’s name, sell and buy at once!
Give a drop, and take this Sea full of pearls.
[Mathnawi IV, 2619-2622]

Rumi translations courtesy of Kabir Helminski.

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Rumi: The Root of the Root of Your Self

Don’t go away, come near.
Don’t be faithless, be faithful.
Find the antidote in the venom.

Come to the root of the root of yourself.
Molded of clay, yet kneaded
from the substance of certainty,
a guard at the Treasury of Holy Light—
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Once you get hold of selflessness,
you’ll be dragged from your ego
and freed from many traps.
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You are born from the children of God’s creation,
but you have fixed your sight too low.
How can you be happy?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Although you are a talisman protecting a treasure,
you are also the mine.
Open your hidden eyes
and come to the root of the root of your Self.

 

You were born from a ray of God’s majesty
and have the blessings of a good star.
Why suffer at the hands of things that don’t exist?
Come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

You are a ruby embedded in granite.
How long will you pretend it isn’t true?
We can see it in your eyes.
Come to the root of the root of your Self.

You came here from the presence of that fine Friend,
a little drunk, but gentle, stealing our hearts
with that look so full of fire; so,
come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

Our master and host, Shamsi Tabrizi,
has put the eternal cup before you.
Glory be to God, what a rare wine!
So come, return to the root of the root of your Self.

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Rumi: You are Joy and We Are Laughter

Portrait of an old man dressing a Millstone from the collection of the Smithsonian Institute

O my God, our intoxicated eyes have blurred our vision.
Our burdens have been made heavy, forgive us.
You are hidden, and yet from East to West
You have filled the world with Your radiance.
Your Light is more magnificent than sunrise or sunset,
and You are the inmost ground of consciousness
revealing the secrets we hold.
You are an explosive force causing our damned up rivers to burst forth.
You whose essence is hidden while Your gifts are manifest,
You are like water and we are like millstones.
You are like wind and we are like dust.
The wind is hidden while the dust is plainly seen.
You are the invisible spring, and we are Your lush garden.
You are the Spirit of life and we are like hand and foot.
Spirit causes the hand to close and open.
You are intelligence; we are Your voice.
Your intelligence causes this tongue to speak.
You are joy and we are laughter,
for we are the result of the blessing of Your joy.
All our movement is really a continual profession of faith,
bearing witness to Your eternal power,
just as the powerful turning of the millstone professes faith in the river’s existence.
Dust settles upon my head and upon my metaphors,
for You are beyond anything we can ever think or say.

[Mathnawi V, 3307-3319]

Translation by Reynold A. Nicholson

O my God, our intoxicated eyes have blurred our vision.
Our burdens have been made heavy, forgive us.
You are hidden, and yet from East to West
You have filled the world with Your radiance.
Your Light is more magnificent than sunrise or sunset,
and You are the inmost ground of consciousness
revealing the secrets we hold.
You are an explosive force causing our damned up rivers to burst forth.
You whose essence is hidden while Your gifts are manifest,
You are like water and we are like millstones.
You are like wind and we are like dust.
The wind is hidden while the dust is plainly seen.
You are the invisible spring, and we are Your lush garden.
You are the Spirit of life and we are like hand and foot.
Spirit causes the hand to close and open.
You are intelligence; we are Your voice.
Your intelligence causes this tongue to speak.
You are joy and we are laughter,
for we are the result of the blessing of Your joy.
All our movement is really a continual profession of faith,
bearing witness to Your eternal power,
just as the powerful turning of the millstone professes faith in the river’s existence.
Dust settles upon my head and upon my metaphors,
for You are beyond anything we can ever think or say.

And yet, this servant cannot stop trying to express Your beauty,
in every moment, let my soul be Your carpet.

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Islam: Empire of Faith. Part 2: The Awakening (PBS Documentary)

This part is about the Awakening of the world under Islam. The advancements and discoveries credited to Islam as a system that ran society.

 

The Making of Islam: Empire of Faith
by Robert Gardner, Producer

The production of Islam: Empire of Faith was a big challenge from the beginning, simply because it covered more than a thousand years of history and culture, and a very large part of the world.

But we really wanted to push beyond the conventional form of historical documentaries, which have depended on pans and tilts of still pictures, supplemented with landscapes and interviews. We wanted to find a way to use the visual techniques usually reserved for fiction motion pictures to tell a story of great scope that took place in pre-photographic history. This meant the project would require very large scale costumed re-enactments and equipment far beyond the ordinary documentary production package of camera, zoom lens, tripod and small light-kit.

We knew that we had to find a way to present images of cultural history — both re-enacted scenes and contemporary scenes of Islamic architecture and city life — in a way that would evoke the past, but maintain a sense of authenticity. The scenes would be dream-like and impressionistic but would still give viewers a sense that what they were seeing was accurate in historical terms.

We designed a production package that included a robotic crane with an 18-foot reach (Jimmi-jib), allowing us to fly the camera through architectural spaces, and a Steadicam that would allow for smooth camera moves through buildings at ground level — even mounting it on a truck to shoot running horses at full speed. We took a wide selection of lenses from extremely wide to telephoto and we also brought a high-speed camera for true slow-motion (500 frames per second) allowing us to slow an action down that actually took one second to fully twenty seconds on-screen. All of these taken together would provide an extraordinarily production palette. But it also meant that we had to travel with more than 40 cases of equipment — and do so in seven different countries. The logistics were severe.

The actual American camera crew was very small — Director of Photography Rege Becker (who also operated the Steadicam) and First Assistant Cameraman and Jib Operator Nick Gardner, who also shot second camera when required. The rest of the crew was hired and trained in each country — Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Spain, Turkey and Iran.

It was in Iran that we used a motion picture company — with a crew of 50 — to produce the costumed re-enactments. Iran’s foremost Art Director Majid Mirfakhraei, had to create locations, costumes and props for more than a thousand years of history — from the deserts 7th century Arabia, to the palaces of the Ottoman empire. The same team of stunt riders had to be made-up and redressed to play Arabian mounted soldiers, Crusader knights, Mongol raiders, Ghazi horsemen and Ottoman cavalry. A full sized, four-story replica of the holiest shrine in the Muslim world (the Kaaba in Saudi Arabia), had to be built in the deserts of Southern Iran and the vanished world of 8th century Baghdad had to be created in the ruins of a 19th century Persian palace. More than 300 costumes were required, as well as a dozen camels and riders, dozens of sheep and goats, an entire Bedouin encampment and the streets of Jerusalem in the 11th century — complete with market stalls and citizens.

This extraordinary production design, set in epic landscapes, gives the film a startling sense of scope and provides a remarkable window through which to examine the past. The film took 18 months to edit, and is supported by an original score by Leonard Lionnet.
Film Credits

Narrated by
Ben Kingsley

Produced and Directed by
Robert Gardner

Documentary Producer
Stefano H. Kotsonis

Director of Photography
Regis Becker

Production Manager, Associate Producer
Char Gardner

Historical Re-enactments, Iran
Producer, Hedayat Films
Morteza Shayesta

Art Director, Production Designer
Majid Mir Fakhrai

First Assistant Director and Translator
Ebrahim Pourmansouri

Music
Leonard Lionnet

Writers
Jonathan Grupper
Patrick Prentice
Richard Roughton

Editors
Christopher Schultz
David Grossbach

Content Advisors
Sheila Blair, Jonathan Bloom, Ahmet Karamustafa, James W. Morris, Michael Sells,
Mohamad Arkoun

For Devillier Donegan Enterprises

Production Managers
Denise Glennon
Ciara Byrne

Program Development
Rebecca Goldfield

Supervising Producer
Greg Diefenbach

Executive Producers
Brian Donegan
Ron Devillier

A Gardner Films production in association with PBS and Devillier Donegan Enterprises

Islam: Empire of Faith was presented as part of the Empires ® series. To learn more about other programs in the series, visit the Empires ® series homepage.

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Islam: Empire of Faith (1)

Part 1 of the PBS Documentary “Islam: Empire of faith” produced in 2000.

“For Muslims, God is unique and without equal. They attempt to think and talk about God without either making Him into a thing or a projection of the human self. The Koran avoids this by constantly shifting pronouns to discourage believers from inadvertently reifying God and creating any physical image of Him.

God is known in Arabic as Allah to distinguish Him from ilah, which could refer to any of the gods once worshiped in Arabia. Just as one might say in English that the French or Germans worship God, not Dieu or Gott, so one should properly say that Muslims worship God, not Allah, which is simply the word for God (with a capital G) in the Arabic language. Giving a different name to the one God worshipped by the followers of Muhammad erroneously implies that their God is different from the one God worshipped by Jews or Christians. ” PBS.

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LA TIMES: “Miral: With “Immortals” and “Rise of the Apes,” Pinto will surely get her wish to go global”

“If we cannot find ways of peace and understanding, if the only way of establishing the Jewish National Home is upon the bayonets of some Empire, our whole enterprise is not worthwhile, and it is better that the Eternal People that has outlived many a mighty empire should possess its soul in patience… It is one of the great civilizing tasks before the Jewish people to enter the promised land, not in the Joshua way, but bringing peace and culture, hard work and sacrifice and love, and a determination to do nothing that cannot be justified before the conscience of the world.” — Judah Magnes

MIRAL SYNOPSIS

Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA
Starring: Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Massri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, Stella Schnabel, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave

From Julian Schnabel, director of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Before Night Falls and Basquiat, comes Miral, the visceral, first-person diary of a young girl growing up in East Jerusalem as she confronts the effects of occupation and war in every corner of her life. Schnabel pieces together momentary fragments of Miral’s world–how she was formed, who influenced her, all that she experiences in her tumultuous early years–to create a raw, moving, poetic portrait of a woman whose small, personal story is inextricably woven into the bigger history unfolding all around her.

Rula Jebreal

Miral’s story, which shifts sinuously through layers of time and emotions, begins with the woman who will become her teacher. Hind Husseini (HIAM ABBASS, The Visitor, Amreeka), who in 1948 turned her father’s home into the Dar Al-Tifel Institute, an orphanage and school for Palestinian children. What would you do if you found 55 orphans wandering the streets in the middle of a war-torn city? For Hind, the answer was to protect them, draw a line around them and make a safe haven where they could not be harmed, and where they could learn in safety and begin to imagine a more peaceful world.

In 1978, years after Hind starts the school, a 5 year-old girl arrives at the Institute in the wake of her mother’s tragic death. This is Miral (FREIDA PINTO, Slumdog Millionaire), and this is her story. She will grow up sheltered inside the protective walls of Dar-Al-Tifl, but then at the age of 16, on the cusp of the Intifada, Miral is assigned to teach at a refugee camp where she is awakened to the anger and struggles that seem to be her legacy. When she falls for a fervent political activist, Hani (OMAR METWALLY, Munich, Rendition), Miral is drawn into a personal dilemma: to choose a path of violence or to follow Mama Hind’s hard-fought belief that education is the only way to pursue lasting peace.

Jerome Seydoux presents Miral, a film by Julian Schnabel, starring Hiam Abbass, Freida Pinto, Yasmine Al Massri, Ruba Blal, Alexander Siddig, Omar Metwally, Stella Schnabel, Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave. The screenplay is by Rula Jebreal, based on her semi-autobiographical book of the same name. The producer is Jon Kilik. Francois Xavier Decraene is the executive producer. This film is a French-Israeli-Italian-Indian Co-Production of Pathe, ER Productions. Eagle Pictures and India Take One Productions, with the participation of Canal + and Cinecinema.

A Review:

Julian Schnabal’s sincere and thought-provoking film Miral is a film rich in compassion and drama… By By Mark Adams, chief film critic for Screen International.

LA Times: ‘Miral’s’ Freida Pinto aims for a global takeover

‘Miral’s’ Freida Pinto aims for a global takeover

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