Saturday, October 21, 2006

The critical blog

I'm a little burnt out, and also a little tired of blogging as well. So I thought we can use this time to be productive in something else...

I feel I don't get enough criticism as I should be in this blog. This request will naturally sound odd...but I suspect (and just confirmed one such case while surfing the net) that there must be people out there who disagree or disaprove of what I say, but who rather than express their disagreements with my posts, just silently sulk about it instead. I changed my mind about this idea and deemed it unworthy before, but coming across this random attack gave me a reason to make this space in my blog. Well here is their chance, and my special request actually, for them to let it all out, as I am genuinely interested in hearing what people feel about what I write.

Nevermind. Happy eid:-)


Mohamed said...

Here you go,
You're way over Egycentric (I seriously don't know if it's a good or a bad thing, it might be construed as racism, or over nationalism, I try to think that we're all one race sharing the same planet).
You've got an undeniable latent disdain for the palestinians.
Other than that you're quiet cool and I agree with most of your opinions, also what I disagree with you on, I'm sure those are your deep held convictions not out of malice or out of trying to please someone else.

Seneferu said...

Let me start off by saying the whole idea of this post is stupid, and I'm sorry I got provoked into doing it in the first place. I expect people to have the common sense and decency to express their disagreements with what I write right there in my posts when I write them. We're not in kindergarten here.

Mohamed, you surprise me. But thanks for enlightening me anyway, better late than never.

"You're way over Egycentric"

If you hadn't noticed already during all these past months that I've been blogging, this blog is primarily about Egypt. I comment on news items and issues related to Egypt. When I think of it now, most of my commentaries are criticism. That is what I do. I can't see you going up to the author of a history book about Abraham Lincoln and telling him, "Sorry dude, but your book is too America-centric." Well you are free to do so if you wish. Likewise, I choose not to post about personal issues in this blog. There are a few personal blogs that I like, but I don't go up to their authors and say, "Sorry but your blog is too Egocentric." I am either interested in what they talk about or I am not.

But now that you bring up the subject, I also think you are Egyphobic on the other hand to a certain degree. But I don't hold that against you; when I disagree with you I do so then and there on the spot, and that is that.

"(I seriously don't know if it's a good or a bad thing, it might be construed as racism, or over nationalism, I try to think that we're all one race sharing the same planet)."

When did I ever speak about Egyptians as a race? For starters I don't believe in such a thing as race, and if anything I have said that Egypt is a melting pot and amalgamation of what you call "race".

"You've got an undeniable latent disdain for the palestinians."

When did I ever write about the Palestinians unless I were talking about something, specifically in most cases the terrorist groups, that affect Egypt in one way or another? And in this Egycentric framework as you put it, what other nationality of people have been involved in attacks at our borders and bombings in tourist resorts, killing mostly Egyptians and some foreigners? Believe me, if the Martians were involved, I would write about the Martians, but I believe the Martians are innocent, Mohamed, until they are proven guilty.

"Other than that you're quiet cool and I agree with most of your opinions, also what I disagree with you on, I'm sure those are your deep held convictions not out of malice or out of trying to please someone else."

I don't post deep held convictions, Mohamed. I post arguments. If you disagree with the arguments, and wish to correct them, then challenge them. I would be grateful for that.

Gayyash said...

ironically i was trying to comment on your mufti post but the comments window was being slow. so i'll post here instead.

first, i don't understand what you find so backward about what the mufti said in the column you posted. second, the mufti is not wahabi and the term wahabi is not just an adjective to be applied to anyone we feel is too conservative. ask the mufti (email him or call dar el iftaa2) what he thinks of wahabism.

people think the mufti's just some religious guy who gets to say it like he thinks it should be. his job is to report the findings of previous mujtahids and to undertake new ijtihad himself to provide rulings for new phenomena based on traditional islamic principles. it's not just his personal opinion. now, if you think islam is generally irrelevant, that's one thing, but if you think the islamic position on certain matters should be different to what the mufti says than say what you've got. and present it to the mufti himself. ask him why it isn't this or that way. people criticised the statues thing and said you can't say such a thing in this society today because there are retards who will think it gives them license to go round and smash things (which happened). the mufti had simply related the traditional rulings on the matter. personally, i didn't follow the ensuing debate in its entirety but I do wonder whether more could have been done to caution people that they had no right to go out and damage things.

in short, i'm just writing to suggest you actually engage the issue instead of criticizing the mufti as a person. too many lame liberals have done that already and it never got anyone anywhere in the first place. also there's an articell in egypt today on this you might find interesting. (

cheers, and kul sana winta tayyeb.

Mohamed said...

Ok then buddy, don't ask for criricism if you can't take it, sorry for that.

Seneferu said...

Hi Gayyash,

Wahhabism for me I guess is the uncompromising fight against "idolatry", and by this meaning I also include the similar aspects of Protestantism. Wahhabism for me is also the total decapitation of the human mind and its submission to the rulings of a man whose aims are directed to that end...or even if they aren't, all the same. In the first column the man asks if it's okay for his brother to deal in a dog farm, and the mufti in his serious thinking face that is illustrated above the column, gives him this long technical answer that I find difficult to understand. Although the mufti says it's okay in this case, I find the whole process absurd; the asker and the column and the answer...they are all equal participants but I blame the mufti here as the role model for engaging in this dance. So the mufti's role here is a pendulum of authority swinging between the purity of Islam on the one hand and the native culture on the other, decidedly moving in the direction of the former and away from the latter.

You can say in some sense that this is Islam, and arguing against the mufti's most well intentioned interpretation of the spiritual purity of Islam (which I think wahhabism originally intended but went terribly wrong) is therefore rejection of Islam. This Islam degraded of native culture, interpretation and traditions is not the Islam that Egyptians have proudly and lovingly borne for all these years. When Islam was planted in Egypt it sprouted a different product of nomadic interpretation of spiritual unearthliness, the Egyptian Islam was different; it was one of saints, festivals, and even miracles and magic. It was one that celebrated the Christian saints and even the animist ones all the same. This was the natural product of Islam to the Egyptians. Now when you ask any mufti, no matter how open minded he is, if it is ok to celebrate a Muslim, Christian or non-Christian saint, is he even allowed to say it's ok? He will be legally bound to say no. But it was always ok before for Egyptians to do all these things; this was their Islam that they loved and the Islam that they knew, not the one of today which they are meeting as if anew, and this I think is why Egyptians are pouring in with their questions to ask the Mufti what is ok and what is not ok with their new religion.

The interpretation you give of the Mufti's job is interesting; an authority similar to that of a lawyer arguing cases bound among other things by the precedents of his predecessors. But I'd like to think of the highest interpreter of the word of God as something higher than that, but that is probably too much to ask for, and maybe that's exactly the point; Maybe the native Islam that I speak of above was never the individual product shaped by a succession of men embodied in the capacity of mufti, but the shared collective product of a culture as a whole. This was the age before television and mass communication.

I've spoken of this mufti sometimes positively and sometimes neutrally before, but what tipped me over to the negative here is the second column where he says it's not preferred to visit the dead in the eid. In whose favor does he rule this? Are the dead grouchy and unwelcoming of their living family to visit them at their tombs? Egyptians have been doing this as tradition for thousands of years as a festive and spiritual experience, what is the harm in this? Is it against the Islam of this new mufti? It was never against the Islam of these people, and such a thought would have never crossed their minds.

I love your blog by the way and hope to see you here more often. Kol sana winta tayeb. (Hey you know what, I just re-read the mufti's words in the second column and they're better and different than what the title makes them out to be, but I'll keep what I wrote anyway as I think the concept still applies in one sense or another.)

Seneferu said...

Mohamed, nevermind and kol sana winta tayeb. The first paragraph of that comment wasn't directed at you.

Mohamed said...

Wenta tayeb.

Gayyash said...

thanks for your thoughtful reply. i can't seem to gather my thoughts for a response and i need to sleep (driving early tomorrow, re7la, etc.). i'll write when i get back. but one thought stands out in my mind: the islam of egyptians is interesting indeed, being the mishmash that it is of islam plus other religions (in some issues at least). but these saints that people venerate, the muslim ones... from what i've read and heard, the vast majority of them (i would be surprised if there are exceptions) followed a very traditional 'purest form' sort of islam. i'm thinking egyptian islam simply is what it is and that contrasting it with what the mufit says we should do as muslims might be like comparing apples to oranges. there's also the issue of priority, namely, which islam is the one to be accomodated or accounted for? personally, i'm all about the funky bunky egyptian islam (saint veneration, etc.), but as a generally observant muslim i find myself very naturally wanting to know the traditional islamic position on these matters. and generally there doesn;t seem to be that much difference on the big issues. like you can visit a saint's tomb and pray for his soul and make a du3a2 but you shouldn't kiss the tomb or ask for intercession, masalan. (don't quote me on this one, i might have missed something, it's just an example).

your criticism of the no-visiting-dead-during-eid fatwa is interesting. it makes sense bu then anything could. i imagine there to be islamic principles behind such fatawi and criticisms should be based on not just reason but similar islamic principles. like i'd mentioned, and this is something i've found to be immensely useful, find out why the mufti said what he did. i think if you're sincere you have every right to be like 'ana 3ayez 7ad yefahhemni/yeqne3ni law sama7to'.

glad to hear that you like my blog (and that you link there). ahlan beek. hope you have a good eid. later.

Seneferu said...

thanks for your comment. I'm still recovering from my own re7la.