Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tis the season to be jawy!

OK, if I read one more thing about how wrong it is for Muslims to celebrate Xmas, then I'm just going to hurl! What's up with that? People sending questions to religious authorities asking whether they are permitted to attend a Xmas party. Dude, if you have to consult some authority on going to a party, then what the hell do you do with life's--slightly--more pressing questions? It's just fascinating!

We are not talking about some bizarre fringe elements. This is mainstream stuff. Today, I read in the government-controlled Libyan press that the authorities were rounding up merchants who sell Xmas items and symbols, treating the shops as "dens of corruption," and branding all participants in this trade as "people making jackasses of themselves." How's that for the free market of consumer products, let alone the free market of cultures, styles and ideas?

For the record, cultures copy each other. They have done it throughout history, and all too frequently, they have done it in bizarre ways. Christianity started in the middle east, but the injection of Christmas trees into Libyan and nearby popular taste (i.e. consumer culture) really has nothing to do with Christianity per se, as much as it has to do with importation of a "western" commodity, albeit cheaply produced in China! This reminds me of the last time I was in Libya on Milad (the anniversary of Prophet Mohammed's birth.) Nostalgically, I made it a point to go to Bab al-Hurriya and check out the scene. Kids were selling fireworks, officially "illegal" but somehow imported by the boatload, and the teenage vendors were being chased through the crowds by agents of the green-clad "Municipal Guard." OK, nothing changed--I loved it! But I did see something unusual that left me with an indelible memory: a plastic Christmas tree with a little palm chandelier (Khmesa) on top, and get this: the tree was hot pink! You get my drift about it being made in China? lol lol lol You gotta love globalism! You know, it is one thing to make a pink Christmas tree, but to find someone who buys the beast, now that's priceless! lol lol In short, Christianity was born in da 'Hood, got exported westward, embellished and infused with all kinds of local spices, then returned by way of China, and in a form that just takes it all off and runs out in Bab al-Hurriya! lol lol lol.

I also remember another cultural boomerang-in-the-head type of story from way back in ninth grade. In my history class, they were telling us all about the impact of Muslims on western civilization. (Or was it Arabs? Hard to say which way the mill spins sometimes.) So of course there was mention of the word "logarithm," and how it was a western hot-pinkification of the name of the famous mathematician, our homeboy al-Khawarizmi y'all! Then we'd have our math class, where we discussed something we awkwardly called "loo-gha-rithem," where we took a concept that had already been through the hot-pink transform, and instead of inverting it, we passed it through again! lol lol

All ye bearded dudes jawing about the immorality of Christmas trees: Chill out a bit. Cultures copy one another all the time, they even copy the horrid copies they make of one another. The results, if viewed in the proper light, usually make for fantastic entertainment. Support your local Bink Bushers, and if you ever want to bring me a gift with deep meaning: Please pass through Bab al-Hurriya.


  1. Thanks Suliman a lovely post I might add. I coud've not put it better !
    Here's wishing you , Hanu and your lovely children:
    Eid Mubarek and a Healthy , Prosperous ,and Happy New Year !