November 2006

[Image 1. The First International Conference on Hearing and Speech Development, Bahrain]

The bitterness of the hearing impaired person’s disability is witnessed in their feeling of insecurity and inferiority, compounding the disruption of communication between them and the rest of society including family members and friends. Science and technology have tremendously changed both modern and traditional societies at the material level. However, social and cultural awareness of the critical status of disabled persons in Arab and Third World countries lags behind. Children with special needs remain invisible to the society because of the lack of social recognition, rehabilitative support systems, and educational facilities. Disabled persons need extensive training and continuous rehabilitation to improve their quality of life especially at a time when material costs are sky rocketing and resources are available only to those who have sufficient economic resources. These disabled persons need assistance and support to participate in the mainstream of everyday life. (more…)

What makes a civil war a “civil war”? Obviously it depends less on who is actually fighting it and more on what other people want to make of it. Several news organizations, most notably NBC and MSNBC, have bitten the bullet and started calling the current “conflict” in Iraq a bonified “civil war.” The Bush administration, still Cheney-ganged into thinking the good guys will rout the bad guys according to the neocon scenario, is loathe to call the debacle of our occupation a “civil war.” But at least there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that what we see is some kind of war, and not just a few rowdies on a Saddam-nostalgia binge. (more…)

[Bruce Lawrence, left; his forthcoming book on the Qu’ran, right]

by Jana Riess
Religion BookLine , 11/22/2006

Duke University Islamic scholar Bruce Lawrence is running a half hour behind schedule, and it’s not even nine o’clock in the morning. At his hotel at the AAR/SBL meeting in Washington D.C., he chats with some Indonesian colleagues over a leisurely breakfast punctuated by laughter and snippets of Arabic. The visitors are trying to get the 65-year-old Lawrence to lecture in Indonesia in January, and he expresses enthusiasm about returning to a land where he recently spent four fruitful months. (more…)

Yesterday millions of Americans celebrated Thanksgiving, an annual food-stuffing ritual commemorating an event in 1621 when the Plymouth Rock Pilgrims hosted the native Wampanoags for a three-day feast to offer thanks for the survival aid given by these gracious hosts. Before long, the Wampanoags and most other indigenous groups encountered by the European illegal aliens of the time were devastated by disease and outright genocide to the point they had little to give thanks for. George Washington enshrined the idea of a national day of Thanksgiving and set November 26 as the mark. During America’s Civil War Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday for the last Thursday in November. When a country is embroiled in a terrible family-gutting war, why not broil a bird and give thanks you are still alive? (more…)

Dr. Mohammad Fadhil Jamali (third from left) at the Grand Mosque, Bandung.

There are many ways of describing Islam. One of the more profound personal testaments is a letter from Muhammad Fadhl Jamali, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Iraq in the 1950s. As a top government official, he was imprisoned after the July 1958 Revolution in Baghdad and for a year and a half lay under a death sentence. While in prison he wrote the following letter (dated 25 March 1961) to his son, ‘Abbas, at the University of Beirut. The translation from Arabic is by Dr. Jamali.

Dear ‘Abbas,
After presenting you my good greetings, I pray for your safety, success and guidance…. (more…)

[’I like freshly fermented horse urine’: Sacha Baron Cohen arrives at
the Toronto Film Festival in character as Borat; photography from The Telegraph.]

by Vernon James Schubel
Department of Religious Studies, Kenyon College

In his famous Orientalist novel Kim the British colonialist author Rudyard Kipling constructs a character who looks like an “oriental,” as he has been “burnt-black by the sun,” but is in reality an Irish orphan boy. His name is Kim and he is a character caught between two worlds. Ultimately he becomes both a seeker of spiritual truth and a spy in “the Great Game” for colonial control of Central Asia. At several points in the novel the question is asked “Who is Kim?” I have often wondered if the novel revolves around an elaborate pun on the word “kim” which in most Central Asian Turkic languages—including Uzbek and Kazakh–translates as “who.” (more…)

Are you bored? Is the latest gadget not anymore attractive? Has your girlfriend just left you for your best friend? Are you addicted to the Internet so much that you are now unemployable? Well, do not worry, you can become a member of Vigil, a cyber-crusader group which hunts web-terrorists! Fun is guaranteed and you may even become one of the greatly esteemed ‘Knights of the Beeb‘. Yes, we are speaking of grown-up children playing something like cyberspace “Cops and Robbers”. But let me start from the beginning. (more…)

by Sean Emer

One night, several months after Scheherazade had ended her fabled thousand and one night succession of tales, the king (sleeping beside his now pardoned bride) suddenly awoke from his slumber – quite a feat indeed, as he had not been able to sleep for the equivalent of roughly 2.7425 years, due to a certain progression of interesting and arousing recounts of people, places, and wonders.

Turning towards his queen, who was knitting contentedly (she had long since disposed of the pesky indulgence of sleep during the darker hours of the day), he started, “My wife, I have a question to ask of you.” (more…)

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