Saturday, October 27, 2007

my blog has moved

My blog site has moved to:

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Visit to Morocco: To Deliver Dourous Hasaniyya

On Friday 5 October 2007 I traveled to Casablanca in Morocco on the invitation of the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to deliver one of the Hasaniyya lectures in the month of Ramadan 1428 AH. On Tuesday 9 October 2007/27 Ramadan 1428 (26 Ramadan 1428 in terms of the Moroccan calculation of the Islamic calendar) I delivered my address to His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco titled "Ethical Challenges to Contemporary Islamic Thought."

The talk was delivered in the ancient Qarawiyin Mosque, built in 859 AD। It was a great honor as well as a humbling experience to sit on the lecturer's chair of the oldest mosque-university in the world and sit in the shadow and specter of the greatest scholars of Islam.

The Hasaniyya lectures were instituted by the late King Hasan II several decades ago, aimed at reviving and honoring an age-old Islamic tradition where scholars address monarchs and rulers on teachings of religion.

For further details see:

Friday, May 18, 2007

Writing Muscle

Writing can sometimes become an obsession. That is when you cannot get down to do the writing. At times it is one of the hardest things to do. As an educator, I have to double check myself when one often as a matter of routine insist on students submitting their work in writing. Good writing and creative writing can be very demanding. Academic writing has its own conventions and styles. Increasingly I find the best writing to be without jargon, yet profound. Although I also recognize that jargon is shorthand in order to communicate very complex ideas and eases discussion within an in-group where people understand and share the common language.

But to write profoundly requires a mastery of the craft of writing. It also means one is reading the work of accomplished authors and learning from their styles and methods. Stephan Jay Gould, for instance, with his simplicity of style managed to communicate effectively with his readers. I still find William H. Gass to be one of the most profound writers, who can weave complex ideas from Nietzsche's philosophy to Holderlin's hymns into digestible prose. In fact, I envy his skill and talent.

To become a writer one would profit to heed the advice of Gail Sher in One Continuos Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers. Sher writes:

1. Writers write.
2. Writing is a process
3. You don't know what your writing will be until the end of the process. (I thought it was only me!)
4. If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is not to write.

This is very true. Sher cites the poet John Ashberry who once told an interviewer, "It's important to try and write when you are in the wrong mood or the weather is wrong. Even if you don't succeed you'll be developing a muscle that may do it later."

Well the weather is cool today and my mood, well, I have been struggling all morning to get to my writing. So blogging is one way to develop a writing muscle.