Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy Mawlid-an Nabi and Christmas-Together for the first time since 1852!

Egyptians stand to take pictures with Christmas and El-Moulid lights in the shape of a tree with bride on top in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, Dec 24, 2015 (Photo: Hannah Porter)

The photo and caption above and the text below from Ahram English capture the spirit of the coincidence this year of El-Moulid, or Mawlid an-Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Mohamed, and Mawlid an-Nabi, the birthday of Jesus for Christians, including those Christians in the Arab world who follow the Roman rite (including some "Eastern" churches). This is the first time that the Islamic lunar calendar has coincided for this festival on the same day as the Gregorian solar calendar since 1852.

Dec. 24
This year's celebration of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday precedes Christmas by two days.

The humble Christmas tree has a rich history, from evergreen trees used to symbolise eternal life in Ancient Egypt to tree worship among pagan Europeans. The modern version has its origins in Germany, where the song "O Tannenbaum" is still a festive favourite.
Moulid dolls are part of the secular aspects of Mulids (Carnivals of Faith) in Egypt. Dating back to ancient Egypt, such celebrations were revived in Egypt during the Fatimid Era with special emphasis on Prophet Mohammed and his descendants. Moulid candy dolls are one of the most popular ornaments of the festivity.

While scholar, H. A. Hellyer, sees the occasion as one for reflection on the beginning of the Arab Spring 5 years ago January 25, and on the traumas since, I think it is rather a time for reflection on the similarities betweeb the two religions, and the better spirits of joy, acceptance, mercy, and peace that are heralded by the births of their prophets.


Celebrating Mawlid an-Nabi, in Karachi, Pakistan.(Foto EPA/FAROOQ KHAN)

The two images, above and below, of celebrants of Mawlid an-Nabi in Karachi, Pakistan are part of a series of 6 in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, as part of an article on the confluence of the two prophets' birthdays, La nascita di Gesù e Maometto nello stesso giorno: non succedeva da 457 anni.

Are you celebrating one or the other?, Both (culturally)?
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions?
*Thanks to the Anonymous commentator for the correction. :)


Celebrating Mawlid an-Nabi, in Karachi, Pakistan.(Foto EPA/FAROOQ KHAN)

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 2015 Update and Greetings

Aurora Borealis over Lower Mainland, British Colombia, Canada (CTV/ David Newcomb)

Greetings to all my readers who have been so patient with my long silences on this blog. I am not sure how much I have posted about the health condition which limits my energies such that I have not been able to actively post and comment as I would like, and as I always sincerely intend.

I have a form of cancer which fortunately has an excellent prognosis, but which has been a serious impediment to the full range of my normal activities. I have had treatment, and am being stabilized on medication, but that is still a work in progress. 

In the meantime, I do read blogs online, and do think often of posting here, but haven't been able to do so very often, as you must have noticed.

I consider myself to be very lucky in having a highly treatable and relatively easily treatable cancer, which will allow me a normal life and life expectancy. 

I hope this post finds all of you and your loved ones well, and that you continue to read here, as I continue to post as often as possible, and on the substantive issues affecting MENA, Saudi Arabia, Europe, and North America. 

Winter Solstice, Chinese Lantern Festival, Vancouver, Kitsilano

Merry Christmas To All Who Celebrate 
and To All Who Celebrate With Them


Please leave your comments. I promise to get to them quickly during this holiday time. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

"Honour thy father and thy mother" (Exodus 20:12); "be good to your parents" (Qu'ran 6:151)



Honour thy father and thy mother: 
that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
--Exodus 20:12 (KJV)






... be good to your parents... Surah 6 al-An'am verse 151



The last 2 days have been ones of remembering my father's passing on Friday February 19, 2010--so both the date of his passing February 19, and this year's Friday, February 20.

In thinking of my father this year, I was reminded of how important family was to him, of how good he was to his own parents, and of how his greatest concern when he was most ill was that we take care of my mother.

I have thought of the ways I can continue to honour him, by living up to his expectations and example for living well, and caring for others, and indeed by taking care of my mother--which happily at this time means socializing with an active, alert, engaged woman.

Mostly, I honour him by bringing out the best of him that finds some resemblance in myself--a surprise to all of us, who seemed to think I most resemble my mother in temperament and interests.


To my Dad,
Always present, always missed...


Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year 2015!



No, the above isn't an image from Canada, but from some weather-hardy Chinese university students in China.

As for celebrations in the Middle East, it seems that the festivities in Dubai captured the imagination of most photo editors.



However, the image below, from Baghdad's Firdous Square, is a reminder of human resilience in the face of ongoing difficulties, and why celebrations are important beyond their fun aspect. They help to normalize life, provide occasions for better spirits, and for joining in positive feelings with family, friends, and neighbours. This is part of the stuff of resilience.



Now, the one below is from Canada:


Personally, I'd rather be at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil!



A Happy New Year, 
and a 2015 Full of  Blessings, 
to All!

Please share how you spent the New Year. Mine has been very pleasant, but very quiet!

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