Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Kiss to Mankind

I decided to took a rest, opened the T.V. on the BBC ARABIC channel where there was a document about some religions and beliefs of some tribes living in Philippines. They were really strange. The man making the travel and documenting for us is a Christian feeling so estranged, and sometimes he passes us the feeling of how funny their beliefs were, in spite of the respect he is trying to show. The document then started to go south to tell us about the aboriginal people of Australia. He left the aboriginal people after seeing how they put their children in a smoke they made from setting fire in some herbs so that their children become stronge. He left them to go to Sydney. What he saw there made him look so serious.

I hesitated to buy his book. Malik Al Mutalibi is a well known poet, university professor, and a literary critic that writes in a very classic Arabic. I don’t understand most of his writings but that old man of that small library near the garage told me with his husky voice: “you should have it, it is a pleasure to read”. He rarely says that to me. I looked at the book and it is so elegant and with a clever cover and what a title: “the Abandoned Excavations of the Unconscious”.
In the minibus, I didn’t enjoy the first chapter which was a letter to both Gunter Grass and Kenzaburo Oe telling them about Iraq. I didn’t like the beginning much.

I put the book aside for some days.

I went back to the book in an afternoon. Malik Al Mutalibi tells us in one of his excavations about that Mandaean teacher they got at school in Al Mushrah (a city in the south of Iraq in the governorate of Umara\ Meesan). Malik Al Mutalibi was a student making a speech to welcome the visit of minister of interior to their school:

- God send our prophet Mohammed to Quraish in Mecca to invite them to Islam. Few believed in him, most did not at first. The apostates tried to abort his mission. The apostates…
- Are there apostates in Al Mushara (asked the minister of interior)
- Yes!

The minister of interior looked then looked at me with a waiting smile:
- Yes?
- Yes
- Now?

I shook my head with: “yes”.
- Who?
- Al Sub’ba (= the Mandaean)

On the next day the English teacher who was a Mandaean was upset. I raised my hand and asked him:

- How can we say minter of interior in English?

He sulked. Took some time then turned to the black board and wrote in bold letters: MAN KIND. I copied that in my copybook. After years, I understood what he meant.”

The trip went to Australia and suddenly the face of the man making the travel changed. He looked serious while looking at the Mandaeans making their baptizing in Sydney. They told him with the most kindness about their beliefs and about John the Baptist among other things.

They were having a marriage and the BBC was invited. In spite of my sadness that such peaceful people are away from their land, I felt happy for the peace they found in that far continent. Love and Respect for you Mandaeans.

Pictures taken from the T.V. (the first is taken from the Mandaeans marriage and is of the kiss of the new husband and wife , the second a young lady making some explanation about her religion, and the third is a scene from the mariage). The words in rosy color are my trial to translate some of the lines from Malik Al Mutalibi latest book: "the Writing Memory: the Excavation of the Abandoned Unconsious".


3eeraqimedic said...

Hi Sami
This sounds like a programme I watched a couple of months ago in Engish, the travelling reporter is a Church of England priest, and the programme was called something like around the world in 80 faiths, I started watching expecting something informative about the faiths, but was disappointed as it ended up simply being a collection of strange rituals, the most disturbing being that of dog sacrifice somewhere in Africa.

saminkie said...

Hi 3eeraqimedic,
Yes, it seems the same programme. In the episode I saw there was an ox sacrifice in Phillipine. But what I liked was a dance that brings fertility and to my surprise most of the dancers were old singing and laughing Phillipini women. They were joyful.

Due to my bias I felt resentful at first when I saw the Mandaene included, the programme was going funnier and funnier, so why the Mandaene, Now?

But as I saw their usual calm I get calmed down and accepted it since the programme showed them in great respect, what else it can do?

البرجوازي العراقي said...

It is a great post about the Sabians. There religion is not obvious to the rest of Iraqis. Moreover, wronge steriotype is done about it.
I have one note if you don't mind.
mankind is one word not two.

I wanna thank you for the great posting by putting spot light on this Iraqi minority.

Iraqi Bourgeois

saminkie said...

Thank you Birjwazi for the visit and for the correction. Malik Al Muttalibi wrote it in two words in his book. He seems not good in English like he is in Arabic.

As far as I know, Mandaean religion is very old and their language is the A'ARAMI language which is the origin to many other languages and is almost in extinction.