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"The Meaning of My Prayer" by Sargon Boulus


“Ma`na Salati” (The Meaning of my Prayer) appeared in Sargon Boulus’ posthumous collection `Azma Ukhra li-Kalb al-Qabila (Baghdad and Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2008). The Meaning of My Prayer Perhaps this is what I prayed for at times This is what I saw in moments of despair my eyes half shut sleepless until dawn That garden (Its leaves, from childhood, still glisten at noon washed by a sun no longer visible) A handful of trees A time not stained by the hand of days Summer, swarming with bees Not a sound about this cold country Not a word about the north, which will cover things, with its cold shadow Even though I have a fire, and my lamp overlooks a ...

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What is Sharia?

[Sharia For Dummies. Image From Unknown Archive]

This question has animated scholarly, religious, and political debates for centuries. These debates have been lively, at times contentious, and have been held (under different circumstances and leading to different results) in different parts of the Muslim majority world as well as in parts of the world with few, if any, Muslims. More recently, it seems that the question “What is sharia?” has become a pressing concern in Western countries with growing Muslim minorities who continue to be unevenly incorporated into the imagined image of the “French”, “Swedish”, “German”, or “American” citizen. Central to this uneven incorporation (and at times, explicit discrimination) is ...

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Independence, Nakba, and the Visual Archive

[Juliano Mir Khamis. Image from Unknown Archive]

As part of our recognition of the life, work and tragic death of Juliano Mer-Khamis (1958-2011), we are publishing an excerpt from Ella Shohat’s recent postscript chapter to the new edition of Israeli Cinema: East /West and the Politics of Representation (IB Tauris, London), which features a discussion of Juliano’s powerful documentary, Arna’s Children. The excerpt is taken from the section, “Independence, Nakba and the Visual Archive,” published with the author’s permission in memory of Juliano Mer-Khamis. . . . [At the time of the completion of] Israeli Cinema, the bulk of Israeli films, and documentary cinema in particular, relayed the ...

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Why Tamer Hosny Won't Go Away

[Tamer Hosny. Image from]

A bit of conventional wisdom making the rounds among Egyptian revolutionaries is they succeeded not only in bringing down their hated dictator, Hosni Mubarak, but also in taking down other despised figures associated with the regime. This includes technocrats, like ex-Minister of the Interior Habib al-Adly, and plutocrats, like Ahmed Ezz, the now-disgraced steel monopolist, both of whom now sit in Tura prison. Both of these figures named have been close allies of Gamal Mubarak, the younger son of Hosni Mubarak and, until the revolution came, the heir apparent to the presidency. While protesters are not blind to this fact, and to its implication that Gamal ...

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[Muhammad Farhat al-Shaltami. Image from]

The following poem is by Muhammad Farhat al-Shaltami (1945-2010), one of the leading figures of Libyan dissident literature. Born in Benghazi in the wake of Italy’s bloody colonial rule, al-Shaltami was a teacher by occupation. He was first imprisoned in the 1960s under the monarchy – for his poetry as much as for his politics. He was imprisoned again more than once during the 1970s by the Qaddafi regime. Shaltami was the author of numerous diwans, with many poems originally composed in and about prison. Much of his poetry was only published in the 1990s. The Arabic original (below) comes from the collection Tadhakir li-l-jahim (Tickets to ...

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On the Re-Mythification of the Arab

[Image from unknown source.]

Accompanying the ongoing events in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and Libya has been an emerging narrative of an “Arab awakening” that has been launched by so-called Arab revolutionaries. One can see this slogan, “the Arab Awakening,” promoted through various media, not least by the increasingly popular Al-Jazeera news channel.  In a recent article entitled “It’s Arab and it’s Personal” the “awakening” is declared to have the power to “rewrite history” ultimately unifying the “Arabs” in their goals and slogans. The “Arab street” is boiling with its internet-connected “youth” and we get fancy catch phrases like Uri Avnery’s “the genie is out of the bottle.” ...

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In the Shadow of Words: Le Trio Joubran in Memoriam of Mahmoud Darwish

[Le Trio Joubran. Image from]

It is inevitable that a dancer watching a dance performance, a film-maker watching a film, a musician watching a concert will take notice of details and little tricks that are not available to most others. A skilful camera movement, a new interpretation of a well-known choreography, a note that is played with a new insight…But, albeit rarely, there are instances when something happens on the stage or screen so that, in a moment, something flashes from the spectacle with such extreme power that even the most ignorant feels its presence. And when that happens, even though one lacks the words, the terminology, and the knowledge to pinpoint and define exactly what ...

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Update from Islamophoberia

[Glenn Beck. Image from The Daily Awesome]

Islamophoberia, a place millions of Americans call home, will get a lot colder come 2012 because the main gasbag is being shut down in December. The decision of Fox News to cancel The Glenn Beck Show will leave the idiosphere scrambling for a new source of fuel to motor anti-Muslim ranting. Sure, there are alternative sources, like bacon-bookmarked Qur’an burning proponent Ann Barnhardt, who admonished her blog readers: “Go out, buy a Koran, video yourself burning it and post that on YouTube. Do it NOW. Show the muslims [sic] how utterly futile it would be to kill me.”  Her burning and taunting was a gesture of “foursquare” solidarity with the mega- mustachioed ...

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Interview with Juliano Mer Khamis (2005)

[Image from]

This is an interview I conducted with Juliano Mer Khamis about his remarkable documentary, Arna's Children, in 2005. It was aired on "Voices of the Middle East and North Africa" on KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California.

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Juliano Mer Khamis

[Juliano Mer Khamis. Image by Alex Rozkovsky/AP]

Jadaliyya is tremendously saddened to report the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis earlier today. Juliano, 52, who was the Artistic Director of The Jenin Freedom Theater and the co-director of the award-winning documentary Arna’s Children, was shot by unknown assailants in Jenin as he was leaving the theater. We offer our deepest condolences to his family, his friends, and all who worked with him and loved him. Juliano was born in Nazareth in 1958. He was the son of Saliba Khamis, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who was at one time the secretary of the Israeli Communist Party, and Arna Mer Khamis, a Jewish Israeli who spent her youth in the Palmach but became an ...

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Waiting for Death: I Will Not Carry Flowers to my Grave

[Protesters near the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. Image from AP]

It’s not true that, when Death comes, it will have your eyes! And it’s not at all true that the desire for love resembles the desire for death. It’s not the same moment - maybe those desires are similar in nothingness because both are swimming in dissipation. In love, we merge with the other. In death, we merge with existence and transform from the tangible, the material into an idea. Humans’ ideas have always been nobler than their existence. Otherwise, what’s the meaning of that sacredness surrounding our dead? One of them could have been among us only moments ago; when he disappeared, he became a flash! I won’t say that I am calm now. I am truly silent. I listen to ...

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Two Poems by Rashid Hussein

[1980 Land Day Poster by Abed Abdi. Image from Unknown Archive]

March 30th is Yam al-Ard (Land Day). It marks the general strike and marches organized in Palestinian towns in Israel on that day in 1976 to protest the Israeli government’s expropriation of thousands of dunams of land for “security and settlement purposes.” Six Palestinians were killed in the confrontations. The day and its events marked a turning point in national mobilization and the relationship between Palestinian citizens and the Israeli state. It became an annual day of commemoration for Palestinians everywhere. Rashid Hussein (1936-1977) was born in Musmus, Palestine. He published his first collection in 1957 and established himself as a major Palestinian poet ...

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Memoir and Mythology

Facts aren’t the only thing that should be checked in Three Cups of Tea The recent uproar over Greg Mortenson’s immensely popular nonfiction book Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission To Promote Peace... One School at a Time has centered around the question of whether the account is factual, and whether Mortenson is siphoning money from his $20 million-a-year charity, the Central Asia Institute (CAI). Three Cups of Tea is the ostensibly nonfiction narrative of Mortenson’s efforts to build secular ...

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Jadaliyya Launches Culture Section

Today Jadaliyya launches its culture section; an open space for creative, original, and critical texts about culture(s) in Arabic and English. We seek to support cultural expression in a wide variety of sites and contexts, media and genres. To this end, we are interested in contributions dealing with literature, theatre, music, cinema, visual arts and design, photography, TV and Radio, video art, social media and Internet expression.  Here are this week's four ...

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Sultana: A Chapter from a Novel by Ghalib Halasa

Ghalib Halasa was an author of seven novels, two short story collections, and several works of journalism, literary criticism, translation and political analysis. He was born in a Jordanian village near Madaba in 1932 and died in Damascus in 1989. He lived in Baghdad, Cairo, Beirut and Damascus and his work is a powerful example of border-crossing engagement and brilliance. His work has only very rarely been translated. Sultana was first published in 1987 and was Halasa's second to ...

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Essential Viewing: Five Tunisian Films from a Postrevolutionary Perspective

It is impossible to watch a Tunisian film today from an exclusively prerevolutionary perspective. The present historical juncture will stealthily thrust itself to center stage. Besides, the value of film does not reside solely in its appropriateness to its own historical moment of production, but equally in its relevance to other, yet to come, historical moments. It becomes highly productive, not to say inevitable, that we rethink postcolonial Tunisian film through the lenses of the revolutionary and now ...

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Urge (to Keep) Going

Urge for Going. By Mona Mansour. Directed by Hal Brooks. Through April 17, Public LAB, The Public Theater, New York, NY. Urge for Going, Mona Mansour’s new work in development, is a coming-of-age story built from the outside in. Her 90-minute play follows Jamila, a seventeen-year-old Palestinian preparing to take the Baccalaureate on the eve of her graduation from a UN school in Beirut, Lebanon. Surrounded by her two uncles, her parents, and her brain-damaged brother, Jul, in a Beirut refugee camp, her ...

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Deposed Tyrants Retirement Home

What is to become of already-deposed dictators? And who will follow? Khalil Bendib portrays some of the issues implicated in these questions and more.    

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At the Table: Sharif Waked's Khumus

Just outside a Palestinian restaurant, named “al-Bayt” in the recently recognized village of Ayn Hawd southeast of Haifa, a table and two chairs stand precariously balanced on a steep slope. From a distance it is a pretty scene that promises the serenity of a picnic. On closer look, there is deformity and fragility. Together they offer an incisive reflection on those many moments when the Palestinian everyday in Israel meets the persistent apprehension and restlessness of memory. Sharif Waked’s ...

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Screening of "Arna's Children" in memory of Juliano Mer Khamis

The Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies, The Middle East Studies Program, and The Middle East Etc. Film Club present a screening of Arna's Children in memory of Juliano Mer Khamis, this Sunday, April 10th, 1:00 pm, at George Mason University's Johnson Center's Cinema. Juliano, 52, who was the Artistic Director of The Jenin Freedom Theater and the co-director of the award-winning documentary Arna’s Children, was shot by unknown assailants in Jenin [on April 4th, 2011] ...

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Statement by Family of Juliano Mer Khamis

[The below statement was issued by the family of Julian Mer Khamis on Tuesday April 5, 2011. For more on Juliano Mer Khamis, see here.] We are shocked and devastated by the death of our beloved Juliano. Juliano dedicated his life to love, people and freedom. Freedom was the essence of Juliano’s being and he fought for justice and equality on the collective and individual level. He was a caring and nurturing father to Keshet, Milay and Jay—a legacy they will surely share with their siblings, his yet ...

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"A Space Exodus": A Truly Palestinian Film

Larissa Sansour, A Space Exodus. Video (5' 29"). 2009. “Jerusalem, we have problem,” a woman’s voice says, as female fingers run over the controls of a space ship. “No . . . We are back on track,” she then mutters, breathing heavily; the only response from Jerusalem is a deafening silence. In a white spacesuit bearing her name, a Palestinian flag, and embroidery that looks like traditional tatrizz, the woman lands on the moon and plants a Palestinian flag. “A small step for a Palestinian, a giant ...

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The Arab Spring: Two Dictators Down, Twenty To Go

Dictators in Libya, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and other Arab countries have resorted to increasingly repressive and brutal tactics to hold on to power. Khalil Bendib's two cartoons succinctly portray the current state of the 'Arab Spring' as well as its future prospects.      

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Narrating the Past, Confronting the Present

The Kingdom of Women: Ein El Hilweh. Directed by Dahna Abourahme. Lebanon, 2010 Could I do today what I was able to do then, questions Nadia, one of the women in Dahna Abourahme’s latest documentary film The Kingdom of Women: Ein El Hilweh. Based on stories of the women of Ein El Hilweh, a Palestinian refugee camp in South Lebanon, between 1982-4 during the Israeli invasion and the imprisonment of the majority of the male population (those between the ages of 14-60), the film is also a reflection on the ...

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About Culture
Jadaliyya’s Culture page is an open space for creative, original and creative texts about culture(s). Jadaliyya understanding of culture encompasses the production and dissemination of meanings in all sites, contexts and in a variety of media and genres.