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A South African pastor and a young teacher from Cape Town battle over the fate of an eccentric elderly widow. The Road To medical-site.info Muhammad Asad Language: English | Format: PDF | Pages: 20 | Size: 1 MB As a child, Leopold Weiss received a. In this extraordinary and beautifully-written autobiography, Asad tells of his initial rejection of all institutional religions, his entree into Taoism.
Their prayer did not seem to be divorced from their working day; it was part of it - not meant to help them forget life, but to remember it better by remembering God.
I wish I could feel so myself. Is not God, as our Holy Book says, nearer to thee than the vein in thy neck? I had come face to face with a life-sense that was entirely new to me.
A warm, human breath seemed to flow out of these people's blood into their thoughts and gestures, with none of those painful cleavages of the spirit, those phantoms of fear, greed and inhibition that made European life so ugly and of so little promise. Might it not be possible, perhaps, by better understanding the life of the Arabs to discover the hidden link between our Western suffering - the corroding lack of inner integration - and the roots of that suffering? To find out, perhaps, what it was that made us Westerners run away from that solemn freedom of life which the Arabs seemed to possess, even in their social and political decay?
I became increasingly aware of an absorbing desire to know what it was that lay at the root of this emotional security and made Arab life so different from the European: and that desire seemed to be mysteriously bound up with my own innermost problems.
I began to look for openings that would give me a better insight into the character of the Arabs, into the ideas that had shaped them and made them spiritually so different from the Europeans. I began to read intensively about their history, culture and religion. His Arabic, although sufficient for conversation, was as yet too weak for reading the Qur'an in the original, and so he had to take recourse to translations.
For the rest, he had to rely on European orientalist works and on his friend's explanations. However fragmentary, these studies and talks were like the lifting of a curtain.
He began to discern a world of ideas of which hitherto he had been entirely ignorant.
Islam did not seem to be so much a religion in the popular sense of the word as, rather, a way of life; not so much a system of theology as a programme of personal and social behavior based on the consciousness of God. Nowhere in the Qur'an could he find any reference to a need for 'salvation'. No original, inherited sin stood between the individual and his destiny - for, nothing shall be attributed to man but what he himself has striven for.
No asceticism was required to open a hidden gate to purity: for purity was man's birthright, and sin meant no more than a lapse from the innate, positive qualities with which God was said to have endowed every human being. There was no trace of any dualism in the consideration of man's nature: body and soul seemed to be taken as one integral whole. At first he had been somewhat startled by the Qur'an's concern not only with spiritual matters but also with many seemingly trivial, mundane aspects of life; but in time he began to understand that if man were indeed an integral unity of body and soul - as Islam insisted he was - no aspect of his life could be too 'trivial' to come within the purview of religion.
With all this, the Qur'an never let its followers forget that the life of this world was only one stage of man's way to a higher existence, and that his ultimate goal was of a spiritual nature. Material prosperity, it said, is desirable but not as an end in itself: and therefore man's appetites, though justified in themselves, must be restrained and controlled by moral consciousness. This consciousness ought to relate not only to man's relationship with God but also to his relations with men; not only to the spiritual perfection of the individual but also to the creation of such social conditions as might be conductive to the spiritual development of all, so that all might live in fullness.
Leopold saw all this as intellectually and ethically far more 'respectable' than anything he had previously heard or read about Islam. Spirit and flesh stood, each in its own right, as the twin aspects of man's God-created life.
Was not perhaps this teaching, he asked himself, responsible for the emotional security he had so long sensed in the Arabs? After his departure from Syria, he spent a few months in Turkey on his way back to Europe and in this way his first journey to the Muslim world came to an end. He would later reflect upon this time: "As I sat in the train that was taking me from Trieste to Vienna, my recent impressions of Turkey began to lose all their vividness and the only reality that remained was the eighteen months I had spent in Arab countries.
It almost gave me a shock to realize that I was looking upon the once so familiar European scenery with the eyes of a stranger. The people seemed so ugly, their movements angular and clumsy, with no direct relationship to what they really felt or wanted: and all at once I knew that in spite of the outward appearance of purpose in all they did, they were living, without being aware of it, in a world of make-believe Obviously, my contact with the Arabs had utterly, irretrievably changed my approach to what I considered essential in life; and it was with something like astonishment that I remembered that other Europeans had experienced Arabian life before me; how was it possible, then, that they had not experienced the same shock of discovery?
Or - had they? Had perhaps one or another of them been as shaken to the depths as I was now? After all, Leopold was now a correspondent of the Frankfurter Zeitung - a name that people in Central Europe used to pronounce almost with awe in those days - and had thus justified his boastful claim that he would come out on top.
From Vienna he proceeded straight to Frankfurt to present himself in person to the newspaper for which he had been writing for well over a year. He did this with a great deal of self-assurance, for the letters from Frankfurt had made it evident that his work was appreciated.
His work at the Frankfurter Zeitung gave a strong impetus to his conscious thinking. With greater clarity then ever, he began to relate his Eastern experiences to the Western world of which he was once again a part. Just as some months earlier he had discovered a connection between the emotional security of the Arabs and the faith they professed, it now began to dawn upon him that Europe's lack of inner integration and the chaotic state of its ethics might be an outcome of its loss of contact with the religious faith that had shaped Western civilization.
While Western society did not expressly deny God, it simply no longer had room for Him in its intellectual system. After returning to Europe, he was beset by a feeling of discontent, the feeling of one who had been forced to halt right before arriving at a great discovery that would remove the veil from his eyes if only he were given a little more time. Leopold wanted to return to the East once more.
His wish was fulfilled when the paper's editor-in-chief, the world-famous Dr. Heinrich Simon, seeing him as a promising newspaper correspondent, readily agreed to let him. He returned from Europe with a new perspective on the Western world that grew in clarity as the days progressed.
He described this perspective as follows: "Western man has truly given himself up to the worship of the Dajjal. He has long ago lost all innocence, all inner integration with nature. Life has become a puzzle to him.
In order not to perish in this loneliness, he must endeavor to dominate life by outward means. The fact of being alive can, by itself, no longer give him inner security: he must always wrestle for it, with pain, from moment to new moment. Because he has lost all metaphysical orientation, and has decided to do without it, he must continuously invent for himself mechanical allies: and thus the furious, desperate drive of his technique.
He invents every day new machines and gives each of them something of his soul to make them fight for his existence. That they do indeed; but at the same time they create for him ever new needs, new dangers, new fears - and an unquenchable thirst for newer, yet artificial allies. His soul loses itself in the ever bolder, ever more fantastic, ever more powerful wheelwork of the creative machine: and the machine loses its true purpose - to be a protector and enricher of human life - and evolves into a deity in its own right, a devouring Moloch of steel.
Despite all of its advances in education, it has not been able to overcome man's stupid readiness to fall prey to any slogan, however absurd, which clever demagogues think fit to invent. It has raised the technique of 'organization' to a fine art - and nevertheless the nations of the West daily demonstrate their utter inability to control the forces which their scientists have brought into being, and have now reached a stage where apparently unbounded scientific possibilities go hand in hand with world-wide chaos.
Lacking all truly religious orientation, the Westerner cannot morally benefit by the light of the knowledge which his - undoubtedly great - science is shedding Instead of looking at Islam through the eyes of orientalists and non-Muslim translators, he was able to look directly into its cultural legacy. He was no longer certain of his former belief that a European could never consciously grasp the total picture of the Muslim mind.
It occurred to him that if one was able to achieve a certain degree of detachment from his own past habits of thought and allow for the possibility that they might not be the only valid ones, the once so strange Muslim world might indeed be graspable. His understanding of Islam grew during this second journey to the Muslim word in which he was afforded the opportunity to mix with people of various nations, engage in discussions with scholars, and meet with kings and rulers.
Every day new impressions broke over me; every day new questions arose from within and new answers came from without. The popular, Western view about Islam was that the downfall of the Muslims was mainly due to Islam; and, consequently, the sooner the Muslim peoples were freed from their subservience to Islamic beliefs and social practices and induced to adopt the Western way of life, the better for them and the rest of the world.
Leopold's own observations, however, had convinced him that the mind of the average Westerner had an utterly distorted image of Islam. For indeed it was Islam that had carried the early Muslims to tremendous cultural heights. Little wonder, then, that as soon as it emerged beyond the confines of Arabia, Islam won new adherents by leaps and bounds. Born and nurtured in the world-concept of Pauline and Augustinian Christianity, the populations of Syrian and North Africa, and a little later of Visigothic Spain, saw themselves suddenly confronted with a teaching which denied the dogma of Original Sin and stressed the inborn dignity of earthly life: and so they rallied in ever-increasing numbers to the new creed that gave them to understand that man was God's vicar on earth.
Especially interesting to me were his observations of Islam, but particularly of Muslims 'fitra' the Islamic concept of human nature and the synthesis of spirituality and action in their lives. The honesty and clarity of his writing about the religion was moving and brilliant. He covers ostensibly heavy topics in a manner which makes them flow effortlessly. This book has a really timeless quality, and as I mentioned it is a wonderful time-capsule of these countries and of a world which exists only in fragments today.
On top of all this the book is a page-turner, fantastically written and exciting.
Unreservedly recommended to anyone. As well as the price that an individual all too often pays for daring to be different. Although the main character of the play was inspired by the real artist Helen Martins, the other two characters are fictional.
She is viewed by the local community as a crazy recluse, and spends her days creating sculptures and artwork that decorates her garden and house.
Elsa is a young woman from Cape This is not a novel, it is a play script that involves 3 characters. Elsa is a young woman from Cape Town, and is Miss Helen's friend. She is the only person Miss Helen truly trusts. The third character is Dominee Marius Byleveld, who is the pastor of a local church and is determined to get Miss Helen moved to a home for the aged.
There is a strong theme of religion and conflict in the play.