topic: islam

Cutting off the Hydra’s Heads

In an ironic throwback to the Islamic medieval Cult of the Assassins, it is the West that seeks to suppress the enemies it terms terrorists by decapitating their organisations with drones. But what if killing the people at the top of a terrorist organisation – or anyone you’re fighting with – is like cutting the heads off a hydra: that every time you take one off, another two grow in its place? Perhaps a more […]

competition versus brotherhood

A mania for competition so possesses our societies that it is hard to imagine any other way of being, and yet I think it is critical that we free ourselves from its grip. In the West, the Christian churches, from long habit, had an explanation for everything. Alas, with the rise of science, these churches chose to cling to Old Testament ‘certainties’, with the result that, when the cosmology of ‘Creation’ was overturned, the New […]

being Persian

I wrote this on 19_11_11, but the internet went down at my hotel and, with the interminability of adding photos to this blog on a slow internet connection, I decided to finish this up at home. I nearly cried when I walked into the main hall of the Imam Mosque in Esfahan – overwhelmed by the beauty of that vast space. Perhaps the effect would have been almost as powerful had it merely been a […]

in Yazd

I wrote this on the 9th, but it’s taken me a few days to insert the photographs… Before I talk about Yazd, I want to tell you what happened today. I had, with pleasing efficiency, got up early, had a quick breakfast and had managed to see one last garden, as well as breezing through a museum on qanats (more about that later). A last minute rush to change some money, quick packing, ordering a […]

the kindness of strangers…

I’m in Kermanshah at the moment where it is raining gorbehah and sagah. To be able to inflict this (feeble) joke on you, I wanted to confirm what “cat” was in Persian and, since my bad pronunciation wasn’t doing it, and because my taxi driver’s English was rudimentary, I had to resort to making animal noises and feline impersonation (worse than rudimentary, I’m afraid). After an embarrassingly long period attempting this he suggested, cooly, in […]

on the Trans-Asia Express…

Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia interiors with exquisite Islamic calligraphy...

It was colder in Istanbul than in Scotland when I arrived, blustery and lashing rain. I spent the next day, my only day in the city, incredibly cold, but unable to return for an extra layer – I had not thought to bring warm clothes at all – because my rucksack was locked away in a cupboard in the hotel I had had to check out of. The Blue Mosque was closed for prayers – […]