Saturday, April 26, 2008


After 137 days of arrest Fouad al-Farhan is free! (See left panel). I'm very happy for him, his family, and his 25 reasons why he blogs.

In George Sale's translation (I734), the opening verse of Chapter XVII of the Koran consists of these words: "Praise be unto him, who transported his servant by night, from the sacred temple of Mecca to his farther temple of Jerusalem, the circuit of which we have blessed, that we might show him some of our signs. . . ." Commentators say that the one praised is God, that his servant is Mohammed, that the sacred temple is that of Mecca, that the distant temple is that of Jerusalem, and that from Jerusalem the Prophet was transported to the seventh heaven. In the oldest versions of the legend, Mohammed is guided by a man or an angel; in those of a later date he is furnished with a heavenly steed larger than an ass and smaller than a mule. This steed is Burak, whose name means "shining. " According to Richard Burton, translator of The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night, Moslems in India usually picture Burak with a man's face, the ears of an ass, a horse's body, and the wings and tail of a peacock.
One of the Islamic legends tells that Burak, on leaving the ground, tipped a jar of water. The Prophet was taken up to the seventh heaven, along the way speaking in each of the heavens with the patriarchs and angels living there, and he crossed the Unity and felt a coldness that chilled his heart when the Lord laid a hand on his shoulder. Man's time is not commensurate with God's time; on his return the Prophet raised the jar, out of which not a single drop had yet been spilled.
Miguel Asin Palacios, the twentieth-century Spanish Orientalist, speaks of a mystic from Murcia of the I zoo's who, in an allegory entitled the Book of the Night Journey to the Majesty of the All-Generous, has seen in Burak a symbol of divine love. In another text he speaks of the "Burak of the pureness of heart."

Jorge Luis Borges, "The book of imaginary beings".

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