Seven questions for the Tailor

Isra and Mi'raj
Seven questions make for a mini-Mi'raj.
1) Do you believe in a concept of heaven & hell?

Yes, you might be surprised to hear that I believe in these concepts in the literal sense of an afterlife that you head off to as an individual self — in contrast to some mystics who will insist these things are merely states of being one-with-God/far-from-God that we can enter into right now. That said, of course I take all mysticism seriously.

2) Do you believe atheists will go to hell?

Only the ones that are unrepentant pedophiles, mass murderers etc. Richard Dawkins is presumably going to heaven because I suppose he truly loves both Darwin and Lilla Ward (his wife and former Doctor Who companion). If you love in the right kind of way — let’s call it “True Love” — even if you end up manifesting that Love through a temporary idol, no problem. Idolatry is only a problem when it becomes fixated and manifests a fascism of the soul, whose expression is Hatred.

3) Do you believe Allah is omnipotent and omnicient?

Probably not in the conventional sense meant by either of these two things.

4) Why did Allah bother creating us?

Because Allah is Time (see the hadiths) and Time requires a subject to move through it to an End: hence there are subjects that move forward in Time (that is, Life).

Another way of saying the same thing for me: because God is Love (see the Gospels) and Love requires a love story in which a lover to moves through ups and downs and eventually meets a happy ending: hence there are subjects that move forward in the Love Story (that is, Life).

Note that this is not a proper “reason”, but an equation that you can either take in faith or leave.

5) Have you ever experienced a paranormal event?

If you mean something that can be empirically validated to have violated the known laws of physics, then no. After all, “empirical violation of physics” is an oxymoron, no?

On the other hand, I have spoken directly to Elvis, and often find the Divine peeping out at me in the strangest of places (e.g., a perfume advertisement, a carton of milk, a piece of pop music, reading the “difficult” hadiths posted in anti-Islamic forums, listening to nutcase sheikhs on the occasions when I attend mosque and of course the things around me that I really, truly madly and deeply Adore). When this occurs, I write the result down in my blog and then proselytize to the world.

6) On a fundamental level, do you accept that you could be reading too much into things?

Yes. On a fundamental level, my idea of spirituality is as surplus or excess of meaning within all things, from chairs, to milk, to the good that is done, to the bad that is done, to warfare, to family, to the solar system, higher order type theory and to the Qur’an.

When one truly Loves another person, they perceive an excess, an overflow of meaning from their lover. To Love the world is to read it until its meaning overflows. To Love the Qur’an is to locate the source of this overflow.

This means I might well be deluded, but happily so. Unlike some sheikhs who attempt to restrict all overflow of meaning by definition. Their shariah restricts and binds all meaning, a sacrificed child of the Mind to the idol of objective reality. In contrast, my shariah derives from over-consumption of wine, though (in paradox) this is forbidden by itself.

7) Are you an extremely romantic person?
Yes, extremely.

Slave girls, pornography and reality

Rated "R" for "Real".
Rated "R" for "Real".

The following is a transcript of an interview between that dashing dilettante and neoplatonic man about town, Herman U. Ticz, for “Playsaint” magazine.

It began with a discussion of the following hadiths and verses.

Narrated Ibn Muhairiz: I saw Abu Said and asked him about coitus interruptus. Abu Said said, “We went with Allah’s Apostle, in the Ghazwa of Barli Al-Mustaliq and we captured some of the ‘Arabs as captives, and the long separation from our wives was pressing us hard and we wanted to practice coitus interruptus. We asked Allah’s Apostle (whether it was permissible). He said, “It is better for you not to do so. No soul, (that which Allah has) destined to exist, up to the Day of Resurrection, but will definitely come, into existence.” (Bukhari 3, 46, 718)

Marry off the single among you and those of your male and female slaves who are fit [for marriage]. If they are poor, God will provide for them from His bounty: God’s bounty is infinite and He is all knowing. Those who are unable to marry should keep chaste until God gives them enough out of His bounty. If any of your slaves wish to pay for their freedom, make a contract with them accordingly, if you know they have good in them, and give them some of the wealth God has given you. Do not force your slave-girls into prostitution, when they themselves wish to remain honourable, in your quest for the short-term gains of this world, authough, if they are forced, God will be forgiving and merciful to them. (Qur’an 24:32-33)

Question: What is your position on Islam and Slavery?

Answer: I read the use of “slave” in the Qur’an both literally and ironically. Revelation is often ironic because, by definition, the fragmentation of God’s Light into the fabric of the human misprision of Shariah/perceptive grammar is ironic. But irony may turn to sincerity and ecstasy: this is understood in a non-religious context within the act of making love.

Islam (specifically, the Tailorite Sufism that I converted to) does not abolish slavery: although it intimates we should try our best to be kind and charitable to the poor and, when possible for us, to assist our slaves to move out of slavery. But as long as humans are alive, they will enslave each other, in some form or another.

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Wine and wine criticism

Subjectivity of taste? What is the role of a wine critic? What is criticism? Criticism is from wine!
Subjectivity of taste? What is the role of a wine critic? What is criticism? Criticism is from wine!

Herman U. Ticz, the  decadent dilettante deconstructivist dada dandy of London, was perusing Nature, sipping a fine Château Lafite Rothschild at the Invisible College, a club which happens to be above the Tailor’s West End shop.

He was reading an article about an experiment that attempted to prove that the subjective taste of wine is linked to preconceptions of the wine given by, for example, critics, price and the name the wine itself. A group of people were given an Argentinean red wine, a 2006 Clos de Los Siete Mendoza. A well respected wine critic had given this an exceptional rating of 92 out of 100. The scientists divided the the group into three subgroups: one group who were informed of this rating before drinking, another group who were told (incorrectly) that the critic had given a poorer rating of 60 out of 100, and a final group were not told anything about the wine before drinking. Each group was asked to rate the wine and state how much they would be prepared to pay for it. The first group consistently rated the wine very highly and were prepared to pay the most. The second group was the exact opposite. While the final group provided an average reaction to both questions.

“Bally nonsense!” exclaimed Herman in outrage.

He continued as follows:

0) Contrary to the circumstantial evidence given in the article, the quality of wine is not “subjective” as such. The quality of the wine is a function of the Mind, but the article merely shows that the people, though equipped with the ability to taste (and reason about taste), do not yet have an experience of Mind for wine tasting.

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Jahannam and Ge Hinnom

JahanamThe Tailor was selling his wares in the lands north of the city. These areas are populated by tribes of militant apostates.

A group of these northern people were discussing Islam’s notion of hell. One of their number said the following: “For me, one of the hardest things to get over was the fact that I might spend eternity in a skin-melting, 70-tier fire pit, filled with unbelievers and sinners. What an awful thing to torment little kids with. In fifth grade, I had horrible night terrors where I would wake up mortified of the idea of hell.

“Now, I just found out that the word Jahannam occurs in the New Testament’s Aramaic as Gehenna, which in turn is a rendering of the Hebrew Ge Hinnom. In the New Testament it refers to a hellfire very similar to that described in the Qur’an. But, following the Torah, we see that Ge Hinnom, literally the Valley of Hinnom, is an actual geographical location, that still exists by the same name outside the southern gate of old Jerusalem!

It is an actual place in Jerusalem. It’s pretty amazing how that was directly ripped off the Old and New testament. What’s even more amazing, is that almost every Muslim, Christian, Jew that I have talked to does not know about this.”

The apostates had much fun and mockery at the expense of this realisation: accusing the Prophet (astagfirullah) of all kinds of crimes, from plagiarism to “mishearing” or misunderstanding the Christians and Jews around him and transcribing the term into an Arabic rendition, ignorant of its origin.

After their mockery had died down, the Tailor came out to them from his caravan and replied as follows:

You have partially uncovered a treasure that has been concealed and buried by someone who loves you and cares for you, an inheritance of wisdom shared between Judaism, Christianity and Islam, a hyper-Temporal trace of Truth encoded within the derivation of the word for hellfire.

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Angels, dogs and orders of infinity

A Sheikh and a Rabbi walked into a bar one day and found a Priest sitting on a stool with a dog by his side. (They had come for an interfaith dialogue event.)

“I’m terribly sorry,” apologized the Sheikh, firmly. “But I cannot sit here.”

“What’s the problem?” inquired the Rabbi.

“The dog is an unclean animal for us Muslims: we do not allow them.”

“We also think poorly of dogs,” concurred the Rabbi. “Although we allow them.”

The priest was silent, observing an earlier vow. However, the dog was a talking dog, and so replied: “I don’t see the problem. Let me review your narrations and holy books for you.”

The dog’s speech went as follows:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “Whoever keeps a dog, one Qirat of the reward of his good deeds is deducted daily, unless the dog is used for guarding a farm or cattle.” (Bukhari 3:515)

Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying; “Angels do not enter a house wherein there is a dog or a picture of a living creature.” (Bukhari 3:515)

All you beasts of the field, come to devour — all you beasts in the forest. His watchmen are blind; they are all without knowledge; they are all silent dogs; they cannot bark, dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber. The dogs have a mighty appetite; they never have enough. But they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each to his own gain, one and all. “Come,” they say, “let me get wine; let us fill ourselves with strong drink; and tomorrow will be like this day, great beyond measure.” (Isaiah 56:9-12)

What is a dog? A good dog guards the cattle and the wheat. A good dog acts as a shepherd to its flock, and keeps the beasts of the forest away from the crops.

A useless dog is kept within the house, idle, consuming, dreaming, in slumber.

As a metaphor, the meaning is clear: a dog is like a minister, a shepherd, a sheikh. Their purpose is to keep their flock along the path, to protect the fields of Wisdom, the fields of tafsir free of blight and vermin, for our consumption. The useless dog of the narration is the same kind of dog spoken of in Isaiah, an idle, corrupt sheikh, without knowledge, shepherds without understanding, intoxicated, consuming themselves the food of Wisdom, consuming the Qur’an, but without understanding. And angels will not enter a house with an idle dog. A house should be a shelter, a refuge, a sanctuary, a masjid. A house is a masjid. And the City of London has many houses now, the ummah rejoices in their plenitude: but how many contain idle dogs? Muslims check your houses, Angels fear to tread therein.

But the Qur’an and the narrations surrounding Prophecy are not metaphoric. The dog spoken of is not simply a metaphor, it is a Symbolic Function, regulating our relationship to the Real. Its function is to herd our relationship with the Real. Our relationship with the Real is linguistic, perceptual, active, communicative, logical: and so the way in which the dog herds this relationship is perceptual, linguistic, active and logical.

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Scientific miracles in the Qur’an

Scientific proofs that the Qur'an is the Divine word?!
Scientific proofs that the Qur'an is the Divine word?!

The Professor attended a conference run by the a group calling themselves the Association of Islamic Scientists, on Scientific Miracles in the Qur’an. Many of the talks concerned finding links between concepts of modern physics (models of the solar system, the big bang, etc) and biology (DNA, health and fitness, etc) and verses of the Qur’an. The point made again and again was that no ordinary 7th century document could allude so perfectly to these recent discoveries of science, and it must, therefore, be God given.

During a typical session on physics, a Turkish brother said the following:

“Today, the relativity of time is a proven scientific fact. This was revealed by Einstein’s theory of relativity during the early part of the 20th century. Until then, it was not known that time was relative, nor that it could change according to the circumstances. Yet, the renowned scientist Albert Einstein proved this fact by discovering the theory of relativity. He showed that time is dependent on mass and velocity.

“However, the Qur’an had already included information about time’s being relative! Some verses about the subject read:

… A day with your Lord is equivalent to a thousand years in the way you count. (Qur’an, 22:47)

He directs the whole affair from heaven to earth. Then it will again ascend to Him on a Day whose length is a thousand years by the way you measure. (Qur’an, 32:5)

The angels and the Spirit ascend to Him in a day whose length is fifty thousand years. (Qur’an, 70:4)

“The fact that the relativity of time is so definitely mentioned in the Qur’an, which began to be revealed in 610, is more evidence that it is a divine book.”

The Professor stood up and gave the following reply:

Speaking as a trained scientist, your naive discussion does not move me. Not so much for its inaccuracies (it certainly has them), but for taking what is, for me, basically a language game, a trinket, an empirical mode of interaction with the cosmos — and elevating that game to the level of the Divine Revelation.

Everyone at this meeting is playing with trinkets and finding them within the Holy Book. But recall you and your actions are mentioned therein:

Is then one brought up among trinkets, and unable to give a clear account in a dispute? (43:18)

My response to this link is almost the same as that of a plumber, who is told that someone has discovered a indisputable instructions within the Qur’an that inform us how to fix our bathroom sink.

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A wedding speech

The Happy Couple: Umar and Medina
The Happy Couple: Umar and Medina

This week in Almaty, the Tailor’s cousin (actually his wife Assel’s cousin-in-law Medina) got married to a young man named Umar. The following is an edited transcript of the Tailor’s mother’s speech.

Alhumdulilah, friends and family are gathered to celebrate the wedding of our daughter Medina and our son Umar.

My husband and I congratulate the happy couple, wishing them all joy and happiness on as they begin their new journey together in life. The other members of our family, our sons Musa and Ananda and their wives, Assel and Irza, have asked us to convey the same best wishes.

I’ve bought the couple a wedding present, but I’d like to give them something more valuable: a prayer.

We generally think of a marriage ceremony as a celebration and official stamp of recognition of a relationship between a man and a woman. Which it is. But the ceremony is much more than that.

For the ceremony is marriage itself: it is what constitutes a Real Marriage, a Marriage in the Real, a Marriage Forever. A successful marriage is based on the ability to enter physically — not conceptually or emotionally as such, but to enter physically — into the ritual of the ceremony and to be corporeally transformed by it, so that you cease to be simply Medina and Umar, and your very atoms are altered, realigned, so that you are Wife and Husband.

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