Socrates goes to the oracle in Delphi and asks how one should live life. The oracle responds with two things:
1. Know thyself
2. Everything in moderation
The past few months, I’ve taken a break from updating the blog, but only to take these two sentiments to heart. After the article on Syria, I realized some of the great potentials of maintaining this medium of communication, while also learning some of my own limits in writing. So I took a bit of a break to process.
In October I went to India to six weeks and spent time in New Delhi, Pushkar, Jaipur, Agra, Goa, and Kochi with a friend. I prayed dhuhr at the Taj Mahal, hung out with some Wahhabis in Goa, and spent Ashura with the Shi’a in Kochi. I attempted to keep the lesson of Socrates in mind throughout these six weeks in order to get somewhere productive. I kept a few notebooks with me at all times to write down thoughts, experiences, and reactions to the world around me.
I’m now writing from an apartment in Leipzig, Germany, still reflecting on my past few months. I should also note that german keyboards switch the Y and the Z, so you can rest assured that I’ve been stumbling along while typing this.
I’ve also been reading quite a bit in order to filter some of my thoughts, so I should probably lay out those books so my biases are explicit:
1. Shabbir Akthar’s “The Qur’an and the Secular Mind”
2. Amina Wadud’s “Qur’an and Woman”
3. Michael Muhammad Knight’s “Blue-Eyed Devil”
4. Immanuel Kant’s “Prolegomena”
5. Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”
6. William James’ “The Varieties of Religious Experience”
7. Ulrike Meinhof’s “Die Würde des Mensch ist antastbar”
I’ve also been attempting to relearn German, a language that I studied for years before switching over to Russian. It’s been a slower process than I had hoped. God willing, I’ll be picking it up a little more as I start working a settle down a little bit. In the meantime, I can’t help but view Leipzig in relation to St. Petersburg: the wide streets, general demeanor of the population, and the environment reminds me more of Russia than of West Germany or of the Poland that exists right across the border.
My past few months have solidified my anti-capitalism as well as my Islam. I’m sure that will become obvious through my next few articles, which I’ll be posting over the next few days. Until then, I’ll leave you with a self-criticism that came to me while on a walk through the market in Kochi: “How can someone who thinks so much be so stupid?”