Monthly Archives: February 2009

The Staggering Feature of My House!

 

Are they crazy!? That was my first re-action, when I saw those homeless people who used to sleep on the roofs, when I was a child. After couple years, I realized that sleeping on the roof was part of the Iraqi culture, and there are procedures before being on roof.

At first, I’ll brief the story of sleeping on the roof. Originally, the story of this awkward way of sleeping arose when our forefathers climbed up on their roofs and found them as shelters from the stubborn sizzling Iraqi weather.

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Ideologically, in the five-hot-summer months, Iraqis used to escape from the sweaty weather inside their houses up on their roofs. Cheerfully, the preparations and arrangements for this activity were done cooperatively between the family.

My house had two-level roofs. One, the upper, for my mom and dad, the other was for me and my two brothers. They can contain many beds. Every month we were sponging down the roof. The preparations for sleeping start at sundown, the cleaning ones in the afternoon. Daily, we, me and my brother, used to head up to the roof with two buckets for each. With jokes and gossips, we shampooed and rinsed the whole roof out. When the first phase ends, we heading for the next one, which was the unrolling-beds process. You must proceed in this order, so that the sun will not warm up those beds. When the night kills the last sunbeam, we unconsciously found our way to the roof.

After the jokes, the funny stories and the chit-chat, we used to sleep. But, I have two pictures of sleeping on the roof experience!

Tediously, the first one, especially if I was tired, is just falling into sleep. Offensively, a bunch of disturbing mobs of insects with this sinister look on their faces were hunting me, as a result of this mischievously cruel attack, I used to wake up during my peaceful solitude time rubbing my skin ferociously. Accordingly, I stumbled my way down to the interior of the house to wash and cool these stings.

On the other side of the sleeping on the roof picture, insomnia has a positive effect on the roof. Curiously, I used to look attentively at that dictator who took the weight off his feet in that gigantic firmament and at those pleasing and illuminated tiny mermaids that aligned amazingly in the sky, whom were appointed to serve their dictator, the moon. Stars are uniquely and professionally shaped. Attractively, from my bed I can see those small pearls adorning and ornamenting the dark blue vista above me! Once the gentle mellow breeze banter my spirit, late in night, and tremble my body, only then, I would doze off into a deep slumber.

The moment we fell into sleep, and moved to another worth-discovery world, the dream or subconscious world, we would be energized, despite the short period of sleeping. We would wake up in the early morning on a puff of air and the sassy birds’ cheeping and shrilling. Chirpily, I used to annoy my family and wake them up by saying the first good-morning to them with a grin of my face!

In summation, God knows how I miss those days! I want to be just like the homeless crazy people, who don’t have another place to sleep but the roof, as I guessed at my early stages. Being in the roof with the family and the combination of the marvelous sequence of actions before and after falling into sleep, is a hard thing to achieve in the host country, simply because there is no such houses as we used to have back in Baghdad. Unquestionably, if I would sleep on the roof of my building, people here in Syria, at deferent stages, will not just say crazy, but also they’ll call the police for satellite-dish rubbery suspicion!

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Histothracheology!

That day I was sitting in my veranda and wondering about my origin. Where did I come from, and how my religion developed? Many questions, and the answers were hidden somewhere back in thousands years ago. Following the great peoples’ footsteps is so helpful that a one can invest their life-styles and techniques in the obstacles or problems that they – a one might be facing daily. Civilization is combination of things achieved or erected when a few nations could do such things. Because of the Archeology, I had the chance to learn more about those nations. Archeology, the study of ancient civilization, in my personal point of view, is a useful and helpful way to know the origins of the first human beings, to determine the way of other civilizations lived and how to invest these concepts into our own life.

Archeology is a bit like historiography but the only deference is that the written documents of some civilization and the politic papers are examined by the historians. Archeologists are the ones who dug them up to the historians. In addition to that, archeology has a good relationship with Anthropology. Anthropology couldn’t work properly, if there is no base for its study. Archeology is Anthropology’s base, for it studies human fossils that are 4.5 or 3.5 million years old. Archeologists examined those fossils and study their behavior and their way of treating each other. Because life was hard at that time, people were labeled into kinds, for instance the strong and weak. The strong people were the most popular and famous, whereas the weeks were neglected and omitted. In fact, Romans have their competitions – battle-death where people have to fight against each other. The fighters, who survived, will gain respect and fear among their fellow-Romans, as many archeologist studied. That shows us how Romans managed their victories on the occupied territories.

Archeology is so important, for it can tells the origin and history of deferent kinds of humans and their ancestors who lived about 3.5 million years ago. The earliest archeological sites included these at Hadar, Ethiopia; Olduvai Gorge and Laetoli, Tanzania; Ease Turkana, Kenya; and many sites in East Africa. These sites contain evidence of the first appearance of the early humans. In addition, Laetoli even reveals footprints of the first humans of 3.6 million years ago. As a matter of fact, it shows the earliest use of simple tools: hammers, sickles and spears. Moreover, Laetoli shows an evidence of how people spread out of Africa into Asia 1.8 million years ago, and Europe 900.000 years ago. In addition to that, it shows how their beliefs were developed, where many fairy tales were emphasized and existed.

As much as Archeology is helpful for ancient civilization as much as it inspires people to apply it in modern life. Present-day societies can learn much from their forefathers. Applied Archeology refers to archeological research that is designed to have practical and educational importance for modern societies. In the hills of Bolivia and Peru, landfills, for instance, archeologists reconstructed systems of elevated field that once was used for the ancient farmers and allowed them to grow corps and potatoes without losing them from frost. Now, farmers at that region have learned to use the same technique with an outstanding success. Furthermore, since the 1960s, many urban archeologists have dug deep under the big cities like London, Paris and New York City, to reveal what lies underneath their streets and alleys and uncover the earlier cities. The excavations not only helped the archeologists to know more information about the earlier urban life, but also provided important information for city planning, for instance, the origin of social classes and also the idea of the infrastructures such as sewage systems.

In summation, Historiography, Anthropology and Archeology are connected. As we have seen, archeologists are digging things up and presenting them to historiogists, and those examine the things they have got and explain – write them down for anthropologists. How amazing this world is. I didn’t know that there is the science-cycle just like the life-cycle. An noted before, Archeology is so important to know how the past humans lived or how behaved. Seemingly, those things had developed through the old past to the present. This particular science is like a diagram that draws pictures of other people created, invented and achieved their future – what we call it “present!”

Who Should I Worship!

I grew up and I knew one religion, my parents raised me as a Muslim, they taught me what Islam is, what it means to be a Muslim and what we believe in. I acknowledge that in my life, I’ve seen a lot of people from different backgrounds, I’ve known Buddhists, Jews, Christians and Hindus. One day I had a class with my teacher and this class was about new people who made a creed for themselves. In fact, They called themselves Rastafarian.

I sat in front of my computer; I couldn’t stop my fingers from figuring out what Rasta is on the internet! I’ve found some unbelievable facts and information about these people. First, only a few people know the true story of this religion.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., National Hero of Jamaica, he was founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League

Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jr., National Hero of Jamaica. He was founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League

Rastafari has its roots by the philosophy of Marcus Garvey, he believed that all black people should be proud of their race. He became an inspiration to black people especially after organizing the Black Nationalist movement in America in 1920. The next year, he had almost a million followers. More people believed and supported him after his speech in 1920, “look to Africa, when a black king shall be crowned, for the day of deliverance is at hand.” That speech came true when Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned as Ethiopia’s king, who became known as Emperor Haile Selassi, the one who everybody considers as the Rastafarian movement’s founder. After his crowning, the movement officially began. Rastafarians settled in the small southern Ethiopian towns of Shashamene. Haile Selassi, who considered the God incarnate, gave them 500 hectors of land on which to settle; they started migrating to Ethiopia 38 years ago.

Rastafarianism is a mixture of politics and religion for many reasons. One of them is that they believed that Haile is their king because he is black and he will put them on the freedom ship and free them from slavery.

Selassi I, was Ethiopias regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Haile Selassie is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history.

Selassi I, was Ethiopia's regent from 1916 to 1930 and Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. The heir to a dynasty that traced its origins to the 13th century, and from there by tradition back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Haile Selassie is a defining figure in both Ethiopian and African history.

Rastafarians support and empower the black race and they consider Haile as an incarnation of God, and he is seen as part of the holy trinity, and as the returned Messiah that was promised in the bible. Furthermore, they believe in Christian doctrine that says God came onto earth in the form of Jesus Christ, to give instructions to humanity. That is true but they do not agree on this version of story. They believe that these instructions were corrupted by western societies, for instance, white people (called “Babylon.”). Moreover, they believed that God appeared again as the Ethiopian Emperor to adjust and fix the instructions to black people.

You can recognize Rastas by their colors, they wear red, yellow and green that came from the Ethiopian flag, their dreadlocks, and the reggae music, particularly they listen to Bob Marley. The reason they listen to that kind of music is that there is no bad language that outs women down or violent language or even gun talk like most Rap music. Also, they smoke Ganja.

The Rastafarian religion has interesting and unique beliefs. For instance, they cherish certain herbs that are mentioned in the holy Bible. Ganja is a primary element of their religion and they smoke it to reach the highest levels of spirituality. Another interesting belief, Rastafarians are too into any sharp implements to be used on man. For example, no trimming or shaving no tattooing on the skin or cutting in the flesh, as was said in Leviticus 21:5: “They shall not make baldness upon their heads, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.” Rastas are more likely to be vegetarians. They eat as little animal flesh as possible; they do not like the idea of eating pig flesh, shellfish, etc. Rastafarians worship Haile Selassi and consider him a model and they recognize no other God than him. They reject pagan beliefs, without disrespecting the believers. Rastas agree to live in a world of one brotherhood and a sign of that is they condemn jealousy, hate, deceit and humiliation. They believe in love to all mankind. An interesting fact is that they do not accept the aid, possessions or any help given by the enemy that may impart upon them, in fear. For that, their main purpose is to uphold Rastafari. Furthermore, they are opposed to the luxury and pleasure of modern city society.

I had the chance to meet a wonderful Rastafarian Jamaican man, Jason Janis, 45 year old. The meeting was as simple as you can imagine, firstly I asked him about their beliefs, “The basic beliefs of Rastas is to uphold the truth and defend good over evil, to do will of god here on earth to keep the 10 commandments.” He said. Actually, I was a bit curious about their religion, Muslims pray and fast to God, but as for the Rastas they fast in remembrance of past prophets and saints and holy men of times passed by, “we fast for our men who suffered a lot during the past 100 years.” Dreadlocks are something that identifying Rastas from non-Rastas. I considered it something to put onto your hair, but I was shocked when I knew it’s for religion purposes. “The origin of dreadlock comes from the times of Moses when there was a tribe called the Nazarenes (Bible, Ch.6) who wore dreadlocks, as did Samson as a sign of their covenant to the almighty God.” He explains this matter. Another thing I wanted to ask in order to satisfy my curiosity, Ganja, the holy herb, what is good in it and why Rastas smoke it to reach the highest levels of spirituality, “Ganja goes with the territory, it opens the mind, It’s good for meditation.” I had to ask him about its history “It was found on Selamon’s grave and the Bible says (all herbs are for the healing of the nation).” The meeting was great. I loved it; it was full of good information. Now, I know what Rasta really is. I asked him to talk to me about their social life and he said “We go to Rastafarian church dance, we listen to reggae music, I listen to it because of it has uplifting lyrics, not bringing down woman, the race and no gun talk.” He adds, “We don’t believe in homosexuality and abortion.”

During my usual morning walk. People were coming across me, I thought about talking to someone about Rastafarian to see if he has any idea. John T, a 22-year-old British man, was the one I ran into during my walk. He was polite and he accepted to do this interview. I asked him about Rastafarian, what he thinks of them and what their beliefs are, “I think Rastafarianism is a movement more than a religion, in other words it is a way of life, they do not have church or a central worship place, they just gather in a place and do whatever they do.” I asked him about their stereotype “Well, I’m not sure but most Rastas I’d known they’re Black Caribbean with dreadlocks in their hair and multicolor hats and most of the time a laid back attitude.” He said.

Sarah Shourd, an English teacher, welcomed the idea of Rastafarians. She had been to Ethiopia in the core of Rastafarianism. She thinks it’s a religion, it’s a way to direct people to the right path, “It’s a Bible based religion, it gives guides and clues to ‘reach the God’s rope’ to people who do not know the way. I’ve been in Ethiopia it’s amazing. The people there were just kind and simple. I saw no signs of an aggressive attitude.” She said. About their stereotype “well… smoking marijuana, the dreadlocks (their hair must be natural), they’re close to nature – away from modern society’s needs, they reject western traditions, and listen reggae music especially Bob Marley – one love,” she said. Sarah showed acceptance of to be a Rastafarianism and welcomed this idea, “yes, I would like to be Rasta, I agree with some of their beliefs, like they love each other (as obvious in Bob Marley song – one love), the rejection of and resistance against of western policy and imperialism. Also, I believe in black power and they should be freed from racial discrimination,” she adds.

Today there are an increasing number of White people. For Rastafarians, this period will mark the beginning of a new world, in which Blacks are respected. Many Rastafarians believe this is how the world would have been, but for the behaviour of corrupt whites, they will fix themselves by themselves.

A Person’s Impression in Life

Among the vast millions of people around the world, doubtless, few are kept in mind after their death. You don’t have to be famous or genius, in Physics or Math, in order to be remembered. I believe that, it is so important to put one’s best attitude everyday to the people, by treating them kind and nice. A person can spread joy and love to the people around them, as well as spread positive feelings in themselves.  In my personal opinion, I want to be remembered by my actions towards my community and the people around me.

 

Life is so long and amazing. It’s about choices, because everyone creates their own unique individuality and characteristics. If I asked to categorize people, I’ll do that according to their choices in life. For instance, people who make others comfortable and happy around them, and on the other hand, those who don’t care about others, that is what I believe in. I have faith in the own ability to make others comfortable and feel wonderful about themselves. I believe in tomorrow and in a second chance, because they are the most significant concepts to human beings. Through this idea, a person will does the best of his actions to the particular day that he lives. Take my case as an example, I’ve became more aware and concerned about my people’s needs. Moreover, now I’m working on completing my education and returning to my country where I can be an additional beneficial element to the combination of my community. Therefore, people will remember me as the one who helped his country to stand on its feet all over again, after the occupation.

 

When I wake up, I begin thinking every day. This is the beginning of a new day; I can waste it or use it for good. What I do today is important because I’m using a day of my life for it. For that matter, this day I will do good, appropriate and effective things towards the people around me. I want to be a friend to everybody. I want to have and achieve a dream of mine every single day of my life. However, I want to be remembered for the satisfactory and pleasant things I did. I’m certain that people will not remember what I said, and might for what I did for my own interest. They will always remember how I made them feel. I don’t want to be remembered as a bad soccer player or physically, strong or weak, or even smart or average. I want to be remembered by the friendship I made, the care and compassion towards others and the most important part, the faith and hope that never die inside. Furthermore, I want to be remembered by the happiness and goodness that I contributed with the world. Life would be so much enjoyable if every person looked to the inside beauty of others.

 

 To make a long story short, at your funeral, when someone comes up and say such nice things about you, and the way that you lived your life. Your children or even your grandchildren will be so happy and proud of you, for the only fact that you did things that last and remembered after death. I believe that, this is the most important thing that we all should live for, to commit to people’s memory. “Goodness does not consist in greatness, but greatness in goodness,” an Egyptian-born Greek writer, Athenaeus, once said.

My Best Friend, Jasmine

W. B. Yeats, an Irish poet, once said, “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.” And I say, my glory began when I met Jasmine. She is a 19-year-old neat, outgoing, funny and very kind person. Above all that, she is my best friend. I had the chance to know her two years ago. The moment we met, we became friends. She got her baccalaureate degree from Syria in 2007. A year later, she went back to Baghdad and started to study computer communications in Al-Mansour College.

I have been through a lot of difficulties in my last two years. Indeed, she was the only one who shared my hardships. She helped me to survive my baccalaureate year when I failed, and to get my baccalaureate the year after.

I gained a lot of study skills and effective strategies for my study. Moreover, she taught me how to change sad and upset moments into happy and joyful ones through doing what I’m good at, for instance playing guitar. “Do not be upset if you don’t understand something. You and I will figure it out. Every problem has its own solution,” she said in one of her teaching sessions.

Apart from that, my family and I had many discomforts. The first one occurred when my father had a financial problem. As a result, we sold our house in Baghdad. “Mustafa you cannot afford to live another month here if the house will not be sold,” Jasmine said. The second problem happened when my grandfather passed away. I was depressed and frustrated. Everything in my life at that time turned gloomy. She helped me to get through this, and told me that I should stand next to my father and help him to get over his father’s death. Furthermore, frequently, she stood next to me in my family problems last year. She helped me to control my temper and to be cool through anger and tense times. I have become a nice person who cheers up the home and decreases the tension.

For all those reasons, I cherish her friendship because Jasmine is the one who was with me in my hard times. She helped me to search for my skills and use them in the right places, like swimming and playing guitar, because I usually said that I’m not good in either swimming or guitar.

In short, she encourages me and supports me in every step in my life. She wants all good for me. I think that’s a hard thing to find in a friendship. Thanks to her I’ve become more ambitious and hardworking. Thanks, Jasmine.

The Procession of Reading Children’s and Classic’s Books

Every phase of life has its own readings that enrich this phase. When I was a child, I liked reading a lot, particularly the ones who communicate with me, which build up my mind and plant morals and ethics. Children’s books like scientific or fiction has a simple language that strengthens the reading passion in me. Now, as a grown up, I love to read a lot, but the only difference is that I read some classic books. I have to admit that in classic books, I found the pleasure of reading, I’m impressed by how clear, serene, and solid the words are, my brain imaginatively recreate what the words just implies. “When I had read this story to the end, I was filled with awe. I could not remain in my room and went out of doors. I felt as if I were locked up in a ward too,” Vladimir Ilyich Lenin once said. The classis books paint me a picture of what life at that time look like. The classic books writings have been developed during the past 100 years.

 

Naguib Mahfouz, one of the best-known Arabic novelists of the 20th century, was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988, has incredible books. For instance “Bayn Al Qasrain,” is one of the most encyclopedic books. It’s like moving diagrams of how the Egyptian community was looked like. This particular book picturing the Egyptian collapsed society. Mahfouz usually talked about controversial subjects, for example, the British occupation. Moreover, he mentioned Egyptians daily life and how they suffered, during the occupation. Mahfouz supported his piece by examples and facts derived from Egyptians social life. “When disasters come at the same time, they compete with each other,” Mahfouz said. I believe that this book is an immortal book, that Egyptians take it as a reference of their life at that time.

 

The second impressible author I admire, Charles Dickens. Through his fiction, Dickens did much to highlight the worst abuse in 19th century society. He was influenced by his youth readings and even by the childhood stories. In spite of all his life discomforts, he was more like Shakespeare, touched a range of readers, which was perhaps his greatest talent.

 

Just on his second novel, Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens describes characters from many different social and economic levels. The novel is set against the background of the New Poor Law of 1834, which established a system of workhouses for those who, because of poverty, sickness, mental disorder, or age, could not provide themselves. Young Oliver Twist, an orphan, spends his first nine years in a “baby farm,” a workhouse for children in which only the hardiest survive. Then he goes to London, and falls in with a gang of youthful thieves. Dickens renders a powerful and generally realistic description of this criminal.  Later, he contrasted the squalor and cruelty of the workhouse and the evilness city with the peace and love Oliver found in the country at the Maylies’ home.

 

As a result, I cannot cut off that a one should read only either children’s or classic books, but I can say that a one should read whatever book that satisfy his interest. Robertson Davies, a Canadian novelist and critic, said, “A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight.” That kind of books is what I call an immortal book.

No Stars, Palm-Trees!

The two magic words, palm trees and Iraq, are attached and tied some way or another. Iraq has a desert weather and palm trees, obviously, live in a kind of weather. Iraqi palms are distinguished by their large compound and evergreen leaves that arranged at the top of a trunk. However, many palms around the world are exceptions to this statement, and Iraqi palms in fact show an extraordinary importance and obligation towards its homeland – Iraq. Economically and historically, Palm trees exhibit the Iraqi Identity on deferent perspectives.

 

You can anticipate the palm trees from the second you enter the Iraqi border. Palm trees are one the most well-known and extensively useful plant families. Indeed, many common products are derived from palm trees: date-juice (Debes) is a typical food for Iraqis, especially when it combined with Rashi, a fluid that comes from sesame. Likewise, Kilecha is another product that labels Iraqis. it’s a cooked-dough that no-seed dates are cooked inside the dough. The look of the Kilecha can be shapes in many forms: circular, square, oval and might forms in any particular style. Surely, both Debes and Kilecha have their profitable importance. In fact, Iraq used to export palm’s products to its neighbors’ countries to stay economically stable. Moreover, Iraqi-Sothern’s palm trees, with dates that are borne on a branched spadix divided into 25 to 150 strands 30-75 cm long, are considered the most fruitful and productive palm trees in the region.

 

Apart from that, Palm trees have their historical significance. “The date-palm was first cultivated in Mesopotamia,” once said. Figuratively, palm trees can identify Iraqi money and formal identifications. As a matter of fact, my passport has an image of my palm tree! My identification card has an image of my palm tree! It’s not a coincidence, for almost 2000 B.C. years ago, Iraq had been known by its desert weather and fascinating landscapes, for it contains palms. “The palm tree is an ancient tree that has been grown in Iraq for thousands of years. There are about 450 varieties (cultivars) in Iraq. They vary in size, shape and color,” Mohammed A. Hegazi, an Iraqi-American writer, once said. In many cultures, including Iraqi’s, palms were frequently used as symbols for such ideas as victory, peace and prosperous era, Assyrians and Romans for instance.

 

In brief, I believe that Iraq had many accomplishments in its earlier life, so that it gained those three stars in its flag. In my personal point of view, stars should be replaced by three palm trees, for their values, merit and reputation among Iraqis. As noted earlier, a palm epitomizes my country, and so it corresponds to my beloved Iraqi identity. Although Iraq has the largest number of these amazing trees, still, Iraq suffers from poverty, negligence and omission towards palm trees. Palm trees, I love you; I miss you especially here in Syria, because there is no Khestawi!