Forthcoming

October  Commentary is pre-empted for the month of fundraisiing. We resume early November.

Sept 24 Do war memoirs really advance education about our world? And--attacks on BDS and Americans' freedom of speech.

Sept 17-- Sport stars and politcal dissent stemming from Kaepernick's actions. Comment on NY State's Sept 13 Primaries

Sept 10  Assessing Muslim Americans' ongoing fight for Muslim rights, and in the context of today's election cycle.

Aug 27, Where are Muslim Americans in the US administration's immigrant purge?

Aug 20 Celebrating achievements-- Sam Anderson and Rosemari Mealy. And still more published memoirs fro Middle East peoples

August 1- The inexorable struggle for Palestinian rights

July 2, WBAI Radio  Exploring EXILE in American literature:--  "Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits", and "In The Light of What We Know".

June 25 EXILE in literature: a review of the novels "Cutting For Stone" and "A Thousand Years of Good Prayers".

June 18, The vicissitudes of Nepal's fledgling democracy. And a review of White House Ramadan "iftar" ceremonies.

June 11 The rentier economy of Jordan and current public protests. How the UK and US use Jordan. And celebrities' role in news.,

June 4 "Naila and The Uprising" a film memory of Palestinian resistance. And: why is Tariq Ramadan imprisoned?

April 30 How could detante in Korea affect other conflicts? And a look at our own role in plastic pollution.

April 23  The US mission creep into Syria, and more reviews of children's books about refugees. 

April 16  Why are Islamist rebels are being escorted out of the so called liberated areas, and where are they going? and a review of new Arab American memoirs 

April 9; Saudi Arabia's long and deep times with the US film industry. And we review the plethora of Arab women's memoirs

April 2 documenting war trauma. Do some war traumatized matter more than others? 

March 26 Iraq's neglected agricultural industry, and the persecution of Swiss-Arab Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan

March 19, Iraq today. And the legal challenges facing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against apartheid Israel.

March 12,Commentary on the fall of Myanmar's Ang Sang SuKyi; and recent observations for Iraq.

Jan 8, 7:45 am Film review of "Land of the Pomegranates", and an introduction to the American organization "Muslimish"

Nov 27, Russia and Syria: commentary on this longstanding relationship in the current international scene

Nov 20. A look at the new crisis created around Lebanon PM Hariri's resignation. Comments on a culture that's infused and spilling over with sexual predators.

Nov 13 Update on Kirkuk, Iraq. Veterans Day USA: Is celebration of war heros increasing?.

Nov 6, WBAI  News of Kirkuk, N. Iraq after the failed Kurdish referendum; Accusations towards male religious figures in ongoing sexual abuse exposes.

Sept 25: Syria update: the changing status quo and resulting change in US media coverage.. The Kurdish referendum

Sept 18: Myanmar's Ang San Su Kyi's eary history; beware of simplistic sectarian analyses

Sept 11: women as pawns in justifying American "wars to protect"

August 28, 7:45 am WBAI. Linda Sarsour, Arab American and US Muslim community leader: in her defence. Margo Shetterley author of "Hidden Figures"

Aug 21, WBAI Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh, stripped of citizenship and deported this week.

Aug 14: BN Review of the anti-Israel boycott action in the US Congress. WBAI, 90.5 fm

July 10:  Nepal just completed its first election in 20 years for nationwide local admin posts.

July 3, WBAI Radio. "All politics is local":-- the hard work of using local news resources.

June 26: WBAI Radio We ask why is there no anti-war movement in the US? And: “Martyrdom”—an archaic phrase but a concept we need to think about today.

June 19  On the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war, and Israel's seemingly unstoppable political, diplomatic and territorial march, it’s remarkable that the Palestinian voice is heard at all.

June 12  The dilemma of 'moderate Amercian Muslims; following ReclaimNY , a child of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.

May 1, Workers Day, WBAI 99.5 fm. BN Aziz highlights the rise of the 'gig economy'

April 24, 7:45 WBAI 99.5 fm. A check on our progress as American Muslims; and, Lynne Stewart: the Peoples' Lawyer. 

See Ramzy Baroud's assessment on how our Muslim community misuses celebrity Muslims as surrogates for their own stuggle.

 

Monday April 17 WBAI Radio, NYC. Why is there essential no anti-war movement in the USA?

April 10;  A critical look at media coverage of the US assault on Syria; and an update on ReclaimNY.

B. Nimri Aziz weekly radio commentary on events around the globe and in the USA. Listen in at 99.5 fm, or online www.wbai.org where we are livestreamed.

"We are more alike than we are different"

  Maya Angelou

March 8, Women's Day Radio Specials  10-11 am on WJFF Radio, 90.5 fm, and 11:am on WBAI, 99.5 New York: B. Nimri Aziz interviews director Amber Fares about her new film "Speed Sisters" and exerpts from 2009-2010 interviews with professional women in Syria, Nadia Khost and Nidaa Al-Islam.

 

 

As a Black writer, I was expected to accept the role of victim. That made it difficult in the beginning to be a writer.      James Baldwin

I often feel that there must have been something that I should’ve done that I didn’t do. But I can’t identify what it is that I didn’t do. That’s the first difficulty. And the second is, what makes you think you’re it?   

         Harry Belafonte, activist and singer at 89

 

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; It's what you know for sure that just ainst so.

Mark Twain

 

You can't be brave if you've only had wonderful things happen to you.

Mary Tyler Moore

 

 You can’t defend Christianity by being against refugees and other religions

Pope Francis:

 

"I don't have to be what you want me to be". Muhammad Ali

"The Secret of Living Well and Longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple, and love without measure"  attributed to Tibetan sources

Recent audio posts include interviews with Rumi interpreter Shahram Shiva, London-based author Aamer Hussein, South African Muslim scholar, professor Farid Esack, and Iraqi journalist Nermeen Al-Mufti's brief account of Kirkuk City history. Your comments on our blogs are always welcome.

 

Select Books

The Journey of Ibn Fattouma

by Naguib Mahfouz
Reviewed by BN Aziz

Thankfully, browsing bookshelves can still be an adventure.

There’s no end to new books worth reading, and those of us who enjoy literature have lists of ‘to order’ and ‘to read’. Best sellers compete for our leisure hours; literary prizes point us to new talent. Rather than preparing myself for conversations about Patrick Modiano, this year’s Nobel author, my hand rests on a volume by 1988 Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz.

Hmm; how did I miss this? “The Journey of Ibn Fattouma” (1983) by the acclaimed Egyptian writer is new to me. Eclipsed by Mahfouz’s popular Cairo series and omitted in his many online biographies, this is surely an overlooked masterpiece. So timely. This simple parable resonates especially poignantly today as we innocent mortals traverse our world of endless wars.

The universal relevance of Mahfouz’s 1983 “The Journey” is surely affirmation of his genius as a writer and political philosopher.

Several layers of morality thread through this short but complex story: there’re the traveler-merchants, protected and untouched, who journey through a series of cultures and wars, profiting as they continue unconcerned with either the morality or any suffering they witness, gliding amorally to their next marketplace. (For me they are Mahfouz’ primary target for criticism.) Accompanying them is Qindil, a young man who has left his home after betrayal by his teacher and his family. He shares the merchants’ immunity but he is more curious and so he dallies.

Qindil claims he’s in search of Gebel, a land of purported purity. Although he knows nothing of its merits and meets no one who’s been there. This traveler, himself from the unidentified, fuzzy ‘land of Islam’, confronts a series of ‘civilizations’— each a land which in its individual way, seems to be a utopia. Each claims religious integrity. Blind to their own deficits, none doubt their superiority which in the end will prove their destruction. And each nation confidently welcomes Qindil, luring him with irresistible hospitality. Is Mahfouz remarking on his society’s values? Or is the story simply a means of moving his protagonist through history? I am uncertain.

Qindil arrives first at Mishraq, a moon-worshipping pagan land of free love where he finds a partner and fathers four sons. He’s ultimately driven from there to the land of Haira –he is welcome here too--which also claims it embodies all that humans desire and need. The same in Halba, the hero’s next destiny. Then on to Aman, and finally to Ghuroub. Readers may identify Mishraq as an aboriginal society, Halba as a capitalist haven, and Aman as a socialistic utopia. Regardless, each people believe theirs is the zenith of human existence. Each proudly accepts that heading its utopia, is an authority whose rights and powers are unquestioned. 

Yet war seems to prevail wherever Qindil finds himself. The land of Haira must conquer Mishraq; then Halba is drawn into war and takes control of Aman, then Ghuroub must be subdued. Each conquest seems inevitable and morally wholesome as well. Wars are acts of grace rather than of ambition or ill will.

Qindil moves naively through these lands, withholding judgment whether or not he is mistreated. Whatever love he enjoys, he is able to move on. His sole aim, he claims, is knowledge and he seeks out the wise men in each place he enters.

Predictably, our traveler never reaches Gebel, his purported goal. And he also never seems to acquire the knowledge he asserts is his noble ambition.

Read this story and decide its message for yourself. You’ll find more meanings than I’ve discerned here. And you’ll certainly be struck by Mahfouz’ message on how humans rationalize our endless wars.



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