Saturday, 2 May 2015

Day Twenty Five - 40 Rules of Love / 40 Days of Love


Rule 25
“Each and every reader comprehends the Holy Qur’an on a different level of tandem with the depth of his understanding. There are four levels of insight. The first level is the outer meaning and it is the one that the majority of the people are content with. Next is the Batin – the inner level. Third, there is the inner of the inner. And the fourth level is so deep it cannot be put into words and is therefore bound to remain indescribable.”

Words. They can be so wonderful, so magical, but sometimes they can rip you right apart. Words that harm, words that heal. It all depends on who uses them and how.

Last night, I went into Hulk mode. It was not pretty, I hated it, but it was necessary. They have to know not to cross a certain line with others, something they need to know for the rest of their lives. I love them more than my own life, but that will probably not be the case with others, and they have to know that even with their parents, they have to be considerate.

That said, I did not want the sun to set on my anger. After I recomposed myself, we kissed and hugged, I apologized to them. I asked them to help me, as well. We are a team, one unit, and have to be mindful of each other. I asked them why they fight so much. It was a very candid conversation, and I was glad we had it. We then decided on a code word whenever someone was about to lose it, a signal to defuse the situation. They chose the word "bum", and then giggled madly. Well, that will surely defuse the situation!

I bet this is how God feels about the various religions, too...

Words... crucial to our lives, but so dangerous in the wrong hands. Today's rule is about understanding the Holy Qur'an, but I believe it applies to any scripture, or even the universe at large. As far the Holy Qur'an goes, there is no shortcut - it's already no simple task because the original is in Arabic, one of the most nuanced and complex languages on earth. A friend was telling me that it took a noted scholar over 20 years to translate just one passage, and she could understand why - as she herself was trying to learn Arabic, it was the only language that got harder the more you learned. This means that translations don't really do it justice, and since most of the Muslim world is non-Arab speaking (this link will give you some perspective), we rely on translations. 

Not all translations are created equal, people. In the wrong hands, a passage can be interpreted in a very skewed way. This is addressed in Shafak's "Forty Rules of Love", when Shams is talking about the often mis-quoted passage about a man's rights over his wife. A poor translation and interpretation make it look like it's condoning physical abuse (and is widely accepted by most). A different interpretation would say the verse is telling the husband to walk away when there is an argument. These two interpretations are poles apart, so how do we proceed? We have to stop looking at mere words, and as we progress in faith, we have to understand the essence. Taken out of context, or with a bad translation, or even with a good translation, we will never be able to grasp the words fully unless we are scholars in Arabic, and even then we might have a hard time. Use your heart, is what Rumi says, not your head. 

Easier said than done, and not an exact science by any means. This is why there are so many conflicts in our own faith, with other faiths, and we find ourselves in the mess we are in today. I guess God wasn't going to make it that easy for us, He wanted us to also use our common sense and see which side of the line we fall on. 

No matter what your faith, insight is necessary in life. Understanding a bigger picture, a common good, knowing right from wrong... these are ideas that transcend words and our limited use of them. That's about as much justice I can do this topic with words alone. The rest is up to you.