Saturday, 18 February 2012

Great short story - why it's wise to be stupid sometimes قصة قصيرة عن المقصلة

يحكى أنّ ثلاثة أشخاص حكم عليهم بالإعدام بالمقصلة ، وهم
عالم دين- محامي- فيزيائي

وعند لحظة الإعدام تقدّم ( عالم الدين ) ووضعوا رأسه تحت المقصلة ، وسألوه : هل هناك كلمة أخيرة توّد قولها؟
فقال ( عالم الدين ) : الله ...الله.. الله... هو من سينقذني
وعند ذلك أنزلوا المقصلة ،فنزلت المقصلة وعندما وصلت لرأس عالم الدين توقفت .تعجّب النّاس ، وقالوا : أطلقوا سراح عالم الدين فقد قال الله كلمته .نجا عالم الدين .

جاء دور المحامي إلى المقصلة ..فسألوه : هل هناك كلمة أخيرة تودّ قولها ؟
فقال : أنا لا أعرف الله كعالم الدين ،ولكن أعرف أكثر عن العدالة ، العدالة .. العدالة .. العدالة هي من سينقذني ..
ونزلت المقصلة على رأس المحامي ،وعندما وصلت لرأسه توقفت ..فتعجّب النّاس ، وقالوا : أطلقوا سراح المحامي قد قالت العدالة كلمتها، ونجا المحامي

أخيرا جاء دور الفيزيائي ..فسألوه : هل هناك كلمة أخيرة تودّ قولها ؟فقال : أنا لا أعرف الله كعالم الدين ،ولا أعرف العدالة كالمحامي ،لكنّي أعرف أنّ هناك عقدة في حبل المقصلة تمنع المقصلة من النزول ...

فنظروا للمقصلة ووجدوا فعلا عقدة تمنع المقصلة من النزول ، فأصلحوا العقدة وانزلوا المقصلة على رأس الفيزيائي وقطع رأسه .

هكذا من الأفضل أن تبقي فمك مقفلا أحيانا ، حتى وإن كنت تعرف الحقيقة .
 من الذكاء أن تكون غبياً في بعض المواقف.

A story goes that three people- a cleric, a lawyer and a physicist- were sentenced to death by guillotine. When the executions were due to take place, the cleric came forward and put his head under the guillotine, and was asked if he had any final words. The cleric said, ‘God, God, God is the one who will save me’, and the blade fell. Just as it reached his head it stopped still, and the crowd was amazed, saying, ‘Let the cleric go free, for God has spoken’. So the cleric survived.

Next came the turn of the lawyer, and they asked him if he had any final words. So he said, ‘I don’t know God like the cleric, but I do know more about justice, - justice will save me, and the blade fell. Just as it reached his head it stopped still, and the crowd was amazed, saying, ‘Let the lawyer go free, for justice has spoken’. So the lawyer survived.

Finally it was the physicist’s turn, and they asked him if he had any final words. He said, ‘I don’t know God like the cleric, or justice like the lawyer… but I do know that there is a knot in the rope stopping the guillotine blade from falling.

They looked at the guillotine and saw that the physicist was right. So they fixed it and let the guillotine fall and decapitate the physicist’s head.
That’s why is best to keep your mouth shut sometimes even if you know the truth. Sometimes it’s wise to be stupid.

Faisal al-Qassem- 'Letter from an Arab Leader' with translation

Veteran reporter and television host Faisal al-Qassem ((فايصل القاسم is renowned for his live debate show The Opposite Direction ((الاتجاه المعاكس on Al Jazeera, where he plays host, it seems, to two guests with the most diametrically opposed view points on current affairs. Fights break out on occasions.


But I like to watch it for Faisal al-Qassem’s wit and genius; his way with words is quite like that of Stephan Fry’s if we 
were to compare.

In December 2009 al-Qassem delivered his introduction to an episode entitled, ‘Peoples and Rulers in the Arab World’, and quoted a stunning polemic written by the Moroccan writer Mounir Bahi    منير باهي a year before called ‘A Letter from an Arab Ruler to his People’.

Here is the clip with my translation below it.


English translation-


'Let us hear what a letter from an Arab leader to his people might sound like...

“Allow me, good people, for you consider me backward and cowardly; are you not also cowards? For just as you are dumbfounded by this official, chronic Arab backwardness, I myself am struck with awe by the entrenched cowardice in you, the people.

You saw me yield in subservience to America, for it is my maker; but you the people, why do you stand quivering before my presence day after day, bowing low like cowards?

What is it that makes you lie prostrate in my presence, to proclaim in adulation the name of My Excellency day and night?

What was it that made you lose your ability to object so that I do not even speak of an opposition?
You did not choose me as your leader, neither could you do so. I do not consult you in decisions that affect your daily lives, and you do not have the courage to demand that I do.

What prevents you from revolting against me? I humiliated you for decades, I held you in contempt for years, and you, being you, did not change. You continue to sing my praises and to call me by the names of God.

My family and I seized your best land and the nation’s fortunes, and we lived off it in wealth to excess. But you are forever impoverished, famished, sick and backward.

You could not say ‘Enough!’ You saw me tread on your values, your identity, and your dignity, yet you did not whisper to my face. Could you even scream in pain as I push the knife deeper and deeper into your heart? I dare you! You cannot. Cowards”'.


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Two great Arab love stories with translation

Arabic literature and folklore recount some excellent love stories. Although most end in tragedy, it is often in the most tragic tales that the depth of human affection is experienced.


These two stories are based on historical characters, but some versions contain more legendary material that developed over the ages.

Antarah and Abla lived in the 6th century and Qays and Layla about a century after.


عنترة وعبلة
من أجمل هذه القصص وأكثرها تداولا، قصة الشاعر والفارس عنترة العبسي، الذي وقع في حب ابنة عمه عبلة بنت مالك، وصادف أن أحبته هي الأخرى.
وكان عنترة قد نشأ من أب عربي هو عمرو بن شداد، وكان سيدا من سادات قبيلته، وأم أجنبية هي الأمة السوداء الحبشية زبيبة، واكتسب عنترة السواد من أمه..
وبلغ الحب بعنترة وعبلة مبلغه فصارا عاشقين، وتقدم عنترة إلى عمه يخطب إليه ابنته، لكن لون بشرته السوداء ونسبه وقفا  في طريقه. فقد رفض مالك أن يزوج ابنته من رجل يجري في عروقه دم غير عربي. وحتى يصرفه عنها ويشعره بقلة الحيلة والعجز عن دفع مهرها، طلب منه أن يدفع لها مهراً ألف ناقة حمراء من نوق الملك النعمان المعروفة بالعصافير، فسعى عنترة لتحقيق ذلك، وبلغ منه الأمر من المشقة أقساها، إلا أنه لم يستسلم، وجاء بمهر عبلة، إلا أن والدها لم يقبله منه، وبدل ذلك جعل من مهر ابنته رأس عنترة لمن أراد الزواج منها، فرأى من ذلك عنترة الويل، وواجه المستحيل، وفي النهاية قضى الأمر أن تتزوج عبلة من فارس عربي، وتترك عنترة في حزنه، هائما في حبها ينظم الشعر فيها حتى مات.
Antarah and Abla
One of the most beautiful and most often told tales is that of the poet knight Antarah Al-Absi who fell in love with his cousin Abla bint Malik, and it just so happened that she was in love with him too.
Anatarah was raised by an Arab father, Amr Ibn Shaddad, a well-respected member of his tribe, and a black Ethiopian mother, Zabibah.
The romance between Antarah and Abla continued and the two became lovers. Antarah asked his uncle’s permission for his daughter’s hand in marriage, but his skin colour and lineage became a stumbling block. Malik refused his daughter to marry a man in whose veins flowed non-Arab blood. To keep him away from her, and to make him feel utterly helpless and unable to pay her dowry price, he demanded a dowry of one thousand red she-camels known as Asaafir. And so Antarah set about to pay the dowry, and despite great hardship, he didn’t give up. He brought the dowry to Abla’s father but he did not accept it, and instead made a new dowry for whoever wished to marry his daughter, - Antarah’s head. Facing the impossible, Antarah was best with woe, and Abla went on to marry an Arab knight, leaving Antarah to wallow in his sorrows. He was besotted, and would tell of his love for Abla in the poems he composed until his death.

قيس وليلى
وذكر التاريخ لنا قصة قيس وليلى، احب" قيس بن الملوح" ابنة عمه "ليلى بنت المهدى" وهما صغيران يرعيان ابل اهلهما، ولما كبرا حجبت عنه ليلى، وظل قيس على حبه وبادلته ليلى الحب، ولما شاعت بين الناس قصة حبهما غضب والد ليلى ورفض زواجه منها فحزن "قيس" واعتلت صحته بسبب حرمانه من ليلى فذهب والده الى أخيه والد ليلى وقال له: إن ابن أخيك على وشك الهلاك أو الجنون فاعدل عن عنادك وإصرارك، إلا أنه رفض وعاند وأصر على أن يزوجها، فلما علم بحبها لقيس هددها إن لم تقبل بزوج آخر ليمثلن بها، فوافقت على مضض، ولم تمض الا عدة ايام حتى زوج "المهدى" ابنته من "ورد بن محمد" فاعتزل قيس الناس وهام في الوديان، ذاهلا لا يفيق من ذهوله الا على ذكرى ليلى. وأصبح قيس يزور آثار ديارها ويستعبر ويبكي وينظم الشعر في حبها، حتى لقب بالمجنون.
وبادلته ليلى ذلك الحب العظيم حتى مرضت وألم بها الداء والهزال، فماتت قبله، وعلم بموتها فما كان منه إلا أن داوم على قبرها راثيا لها ولحبها، حتى مات.
History recalls the tale of Qays ibn al-Mulawwah and his cousin Layla bint Mahdi, popularly known as Qays  and Layla. The love story recounts the pair tending their families’ flocks in their youth before Layla was separated from Qays once they had grown up. Their love for one another, however, remained. When their romance became known among the people Layla’s father was enraged and refused to let Qays marry his daughter. Qays’ health deteriorated and so his father went to visit his brother, the father of Layla, and said, “Your nephew is at the point of death or madness, so temper your stubbornness”. But he refused, and after learning of her love for Qays, he threatened that if she did not accept another husband he would punish her severely. She agreed begrudgingly, and only a few days later her father married her off to Warad bin Muhammad. Dejected, Qays withdrew and wandered alone the valleys, distraught and unable to awaken from his numb stupor except at the memory of Layla. He would to visit the remains of her home and weep and write poems of his love for her, and was given the nickname ‘the madman’.
Layla held the same great affection for Qays, and it pained her so that she became ill and emaciated and died. When Qays learned of her death all he could do was sit at her grave and mourn for her and for her love for him until his death.