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March 09, 2008


He is amazing, your father-in-law.

I'm sure you've thought of this, and I know he has hearing issues, but perhaps books on tape? I remember you said he listened to the radio. My great-grandmother used them after she was unable to read, even with her large, pole mounted magnifying glass. I think it comforted her.

So touching and tear-inducing, this and all of the series. Yes, he is amazing, and I too was going to suggest books on tape. Does he watch films on DVD? I'm curious, what does "Allahu Akbar” mean, is it a thank you, or a prayer?



"Allahu Akbar” means 'God is the greatest'; it's the beginning of the Muslim call to prayer, which is given in full here: http://www.suficenter.org/Practices/adhan.html

The second -a- is drawn out, and the "akbar" is short and staccato: "Al-LAAAAA-hu akbar!"


He won't do books on tape - we've tried many times, with many different types of players. Thanks for the suggestion - you'd think it would work, but it doesn't, unfortunately.

Yes, as LH has explained, "Allahu Akbar" begins the Muslim call to prayer, and is a ubiquitous sound in the middle east. When I picked up my husband and father-in-law from their trip to Damascus in 2000, all the way home, my father-in-law would pipe up from the back seat singing the call. He was so excited about it - and he sings it really well! Of course, he is not Muslim, but as he said once, in an unguarded moment, "If you speak Arabic, you are a Muslim!" - in other words, it's unavoidable; you are part of Islamic culture if you come from there. Teasing apart what aspects of family culture are Arab and which are actually Islamic (like a fear and disgust of dogs) has been one of the most difficult and fascinating aspects of the past decade's journey into this subject.

His kind & lively intelligence just shines through these posts--does he know you are sharing fragments of his story, and how glad all your readers are to be gifted with it? I love the thought of him calling the azan from his balcony.

And if books on tape are not an option, would podcasts of radio shows perhaps be?

"teasing apart what aspects of family culture are Arab and which are actually Islamic"--the blurring of those lines is one of the things I found most fascinating about being in Syria, especially in the Christian communities. And often it shades into actual syncretism: members of both communities praying at each other's saints and shrines, and sharing symbols and practices. I'm reminded that another one of the minarets of that same mosque is named after Jesus.

good weblog...hope be successful always.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.