In Herod's Keep
I'm back in Egypt. Forgot my training shoes back in Amman, and I can't use the shoes I wear the rest of the time cause they're... not normal. Anyway, spent too long today in the Adidas and Nike shops across from my apt, without finding anything good enough. I need something that is mostly flat, wide, and firm, so I can use it for weightlifing (especially important for squats and deadlifts). But at the same time something I can run around and train kung fu with. Found out online that "Samba" by Adidas are perfect, but sadly the Adidas guy tells me they havent been sold in Egypt for three years. Apparently they're "old". The new version is called "Chile" but they have cleets. Guess I'll keep looking. Maybe I'll find some good Nike crosstrainers tomorrow. I shudder at the thought of having to go to the City Stars mall. For that reason I missed my workout today. God willing, I'll find something tomorrow so I dont keep missing workouts.
Also, my hands, which are waaaay too sensitive, are dry once more from too much washing. If i dont start really limiting washing my hands now they'll get dry and chappped and then i really gotta limit any contact with water. the problem is: wudu. This is a problem i often face and what ends up happening is that I usually dont limit washing my hands early enough until my hands are screwed up and then I can't pray anymore because I can't have contact with water more than once or twice a day. I thought about tayammum but dunno where I can get some nice clean sand. The park across my apt is a big dog livingground so it's out of the question. I need me some clean desert sand in a bucket... too bad they dont sell those. So what happens time and time again? I stop praying until my hands are ok again, and by then I havent prayed in a while and its hard for me to get back into it for another week or two of laziness, sometimes more. I can't keep doing this. So what I will do inshalla, starting tonight, is do all my prayers at night so I only have to do wudu once a day, so that way I do all my prayers every day even though they are late, and I never get out of "the groove" of prayer and have no excuse to leave it.
I thought about that in previous times but shaytan got the better of me. No more. Inshalla tomorrow i'll proudly be able to say: did all my prayers tonight and did not succumb to my excuses and satan's whisperings.
So what does all this have to do with the title, "In Herod's Keep"? Nothing. There's a very cool website called http://www.omphaloskepsis.com/ (don't ask me to pronounce that). They have completely free sufi books online, in their entirety.. great translations. I definitly recommend everyone download the following, and read some sections every now and again:
- Attar, Farid al-Din. Muslim Saints and Mystics (aka Remembrance of the Saints), the most famous collection of stories about the earliest sufis.
- Rumi: Fihi ma Fihi (aka Discourses of Rumi)
- Rumi: The Mathnawi (Abridged)
- Sa'di: The Orchard
- Sa'di: The Rosegarden (translation 1 is much better than 2)
The ones i read most are the Sa'di ones. They're short and sweet. Remembrance of the Saints is also great (but don't beleive all of it, its mostly hagriography). I've also read some of Rumi's Discourses, some of which are amazing.
Anyway, there was another one I downloaded but I had never read:
"The End of Reason" by Dawud Shawni. I read its description yesterday and realized how cool that book should be. So today I opened it to see what it's like, and the last thing I know, i'm sitting on the computer for hours reading it, until I finished the first 54 pages (ok so maybe it didnt take that long)!
The book is divided into three parts:
- In Herod's Keep (the one i read so far). In it, Herod is talking to the imprisoned Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist), peace be upon him, and asking him about God. Herod is an athiest and wants the Prophet to convince him of the existence of God. It's quite good (like I said, i read all 54 pages of it in one sitting.. it's really easy and fun cause it's all sufi stories and lessons, so it flows by real fast like a river). By the way, the remains of Herod's Keep (well, the remains of the castle) where the Prophet Yahya was decapitated are in a beautiful location in Jordan. Inshalla I will visit that place next time I go there (summer break).
- The Madness of God: A conversation between the monk Bahira and Iblis. 'The question that the characters return to repeatedly is, if God is all-powerful and if nothing occurs without “His explicit command,” how are men to blamed for their faults? As Iblis declares in his own defense, “Hath not the Potter power enough over the pot?” If so, Iblis reasons, then the horrors and injustices of the world are God's fault. If not, then God cannot be all-powerful.'
Part of this section was stolen and published before Shawni had finished writing the whole thing, and many critics attacked him, accusing him of being the devil's advocate. His reply to his critics (<---- read the letter) is what really convinced me to read the whole book "The End of Reason". Can't wait to get to this part next.
Anyway, read the description to find out about the whole thing and the third part. But basically that's what I've read today, aside from more chapters from Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources on the plane. I'm taking it slowly.
For PC users, I would never read these large pdfs on the computer because Adobe acrobat is so slow, and i dont like the way it shows the books. That's why I love using Preview on my Mac. It's much more elegant and beautiful and fast for reading books in pdf format.