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Ever heard of JS Mill, Prime Minister? 29 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory..., Quotes of the day/week/month.
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How English . . . and how un-Blairite:

If all mankind, minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

John Stuart Mill, ‘On Liberty

Nationalism? How silly. 9 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Iqbaliat, Islam and contemporary society, Land of the pure...and the not so pure.
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allama-iqbal.jpgIt is instructive that whilst the concept of the ‘nation state’ as a political or social construct has all but disappeared from Europe, the ‘cradle’ of post medieval nationalism and nationhood, it remains a powerful force in much of the Muslim world, from Egypt to Turkey, and from Pakistan to Malaysia.

This of course, in addition to being inimical to everything Muslims should believe in, and ought to do, is also rather silly. Arbitrary lines in the sand, put there on the whims of our erstwhile colonial masters or representing long-extinct tribal/ethnic affiliations, should not, and cannot, demand fealty from any sane, thinking individual. The ‘rational being’, or even the ‘reasonably sentient being’, should find this absurd: it is perfectly natural, even laudable, to have allegiance to ideas and ideologies, to be loyal to people and to their history, and to love those close to, or similar to, one; but isn’t it absurdly illogical to extend this allegiance, this loyalty and even this love to something as meaningless as a line in the sand, an obscure poem (aka the national anthem) and some random geometric patterns (aka the ‘national flag‘)?

Of course, I am not really saying anything new above (there’s a surprise!) or adding to the sum-total of human understanding, but sometimes, it helps to re-state the bleedin’ obvious by regurgitating, reheating or repeating that which has already been said before, and in this, as in most other cases, the most relevant 20th century Urdu-speaking person to turn to is the ‘Allama himself.

There. If that exciting, enticing and alluring paragraph does not get all the 2.4 readers interested in this post, nothing will. :-)

Without further twitterings from me, here’s Dr Iqbal on ‘Wataniat‘ ie the nation-state as a political construct.

Iss daur main may aur hai, jaam aur hai, jum aur

Saaqi ne bina ki rawish-e-lutf-o-sitam aur

Muslim nai bhi ta’ameer kia, apna harum aur

Tahzeeb ke azar ne trishwai sanam aur

In taza khudaon main baRa sab se watan hai

Jo pairhan iss ka hai, woh mazhab ka kafan hai

Yeh but keh tarasheeda-e-tahzeeb-i-navi hai

Gharat gar-e-khashan-e-deen-i-nabawi hai

Baazu tira tawheed ki quwwat se qawi hai

Islam tira dais he, tu Mustafawi hai!

Nazzara-e-deerana zamanay ko dikha dai

Ai Mustafawi, khaak main iss but to mila dai

Ho qaid-maqaami to nateeja hai tabahi

Rah bahar main azad-e-watan, soorat-e-maahi

Hai tark-e-watan sunnat-e-Mahboob-e-Ilaahi

Dai tu bhi nabuwwat ki sadaqat peh gawahi

Guftaar-e-siyasat main watan aur hi kuch hai

Irshaad-e-nabuwwat main watan aur hi kuch hai

Aqwaam-e-jahan main hai raqabat, to issi sai

Taskheer hai maqsood-e-tijarat, to issi sai

Khaali hai sadaqat sai siyasat, to issi sai

Kamzor ka ghar hota hai gharat, to issi sai

Aqwam main makhlooq-e-khuda bat-ti hai iss sai

Qaumeat islam ki jaR kat-ti hai iss sai

Some things never change…. 8 January 2007

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Land of Hope and Glory..., Quotes of the day/week/month.
4 comments

Aah… England.

And a double aah…Orwell.

So we get Orwell on England….

England Your England:

“When you come back to England from any foreign country, you have immediately the sensation of breathing a different air. Even in the first few minutes dozens of small things conspire to give you this feeling. The beer is bitterer, the coins are heavier, the grass is greener, the advertisements are more blatant. The crowds in the big towns, with their mild knobby faces, their bad teeth and gentle manners, are different from a European crowd. Then the vastness of England swallows you up, and you lose for a while your feeling that the whole nation has a single identifiable character. Are there really such things as nations? Are we not forty-six million individuals, all different? And the diversity of it, the chaos! The clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road, the queues outside the Labour Exchanges, the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning – all these are not only fragments, but characteristic fragments, of the English scene. How can one make a pattern out of this muddle?”

The Road to Wigan Pier:

“There is no doubt about the Englishman’s inbred conviction that those who live to the south of him are his inferiors; even our foreign policy is governed by it to some extent. . . “

And for extra credit, here’s something about a place that really has not changed. London in the words of a newly arrived immigrant from Eastern Europe:

On binge-drinking:

“On Saturday nights, a half-million workers, male and female, together with their children, flood the city like a sea, flocking especially in certain sections and celebrate the Sabbath all night until five in the morning … They stuff themselves and drink like animals … They all race against time to drink themselves insensate. The wives do not lag behind their husbands but get drunk with them; the children run and crawl among them…”

On London’s cosmopolitan nature:

“You look at these hundreds of thousands, these millions of people humbly streaming here from all over the face of the earth…It is like a biblical picture, something out of Babylon, a prophecy from the Apocalypse coming to pass before your eyes.”

On religion and veiled women:

“One night, in the crowd of lost women and profligates, I was stopped by a woman making her way hurriedly through the crowd. She was dressed all in black, and her hat hid her face almost completely.”

The woman pressed a piece of paper into his hand which said, in French, “I am the resurrection and the life“.

“I learned later that it was Catholic propaganda, as usual poking its nose everywhere … There is an abundance of these propagandists, men and women. It is subtle, calculating propaganda.”

But no, the above was not written last week by a Polish plumber or a Bulgarian engineer or even a Latvian nurse. It was written by Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky in 1862, almost 150 years ago.

Plus ça change