Friday, August 3, 2007

The Glass Wind Eye

Number 237
August 3, 2007



||| I caught Professor Seth Lerer of Stanford talking about his book on TV, Inventing English, and you can too, via the Web. There’s a radio podcast at On Point and a C-Span podcast (presumably different interviews, I haven’t checked). Lerer talks about the “deep poetry” of English ~ did you know “window” comes from “wind eye”? Something I’m glad to know.

||| Bear Grylls is an Australian ex-Special Forces guy who shows us how to survive in various inhospitable spots on Man vs. Wild. He has the best name on TV since Wolf Blitzer. Fred noticed that he said, “Piranha doesn’t taste half good” where an American would say, “Piranha doesn’t taste half bad.” It seems like “half good” is somewhat more logical: if you’re that hungry, you say it’s not just half good, it’s completely good. Americans perhaps see the piranha as not as bad as expected. Bear Grylls (it’s too good a name to truncate to the surname) also says “disorientated” a lot, which should be “disoriented” even in Australia, the Ecuadorian jungle, or an Icelandic ice cave. Also, on his web site some has written, “During this time he had a horrendous parachuting accident whilst in southern Africa and broke his back in three places.” Why don’t we say “whilst”? Let’s bring it back into popular usage up over.


I never remember how to pronounce “gyro” when I want to order one, but I learned from Garner’s Word of the Day that it is related to gyroscope, for instance, and the sandwich is named for the rotisserie on which the meat is cooked. It’s pronounced yeero or zhiro. I assume the “hero” sandwich (sub, hoagie, grinder) came from that word.


I got to wondering about Islamic humor. Everybody has some kind of humor. Ethnic humor includes jokes about oneself, jokes about other people (which may be hostile), and jokes about life in general that reflect your specific world view. I went to the web and found a few Islamic sites with jokes ~ mostly the same jokes, mostly with warnings like these, more warnings than jokes in some cases:

||| Some people joke too much and it becomes a habit for them. This is the opposite of the serious nature which is the characteristic of the believers. Joking is a break, a rest from ongoing seriousness and striving; it is a little relaxation for the soul. ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Fear joking, for it is folly and generates grudges.”

||| Imaam al-Nawawi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The kind of joking which is forbidden is that which is excessive and persistent, for it leads to too much laughter and hardening of the heart, it distracts from remembrance of Allaah, and it often leads to hurt feelings, generates hatred and causes people to lose respect and dignity. But whoever is safe from such dangers, then that which the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to do is permissible for him.”

||| The amount of joking should be like the amount of salt in one’s food.

||| A man said to Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah (may Allaah be pleased with him), “Joking is not right, it is to be denounced.” He replied, “Rather it is Sunnah, but only for those who know how to do it and do it at the appropriate time.”

||| Nowadays, although the ummah needs to increase the love between its individual members and to relieve itself of boredom, it has gone too far with regard to relaxation, laughter and jokes. This has become a habit which fills their gatherings and wastes their time, so their lives are wasted and their newspapers are filled with jokes and trivia.

||| The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If you knew what I know, you would laugh little and weep much.” In Fath al-Baari it says: “What is meant by knowledge here has to do with the might of Allaah and His vengeance upon those who disobey Him, and the terrors that occur at death, in the grave and on the Day of Resurrection.”

||| Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) was asked, “Did the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) laugh?” He said, “Yes, and the faith in their hearts was like mountains.”

||| So you have to follow the example of such people, who were knights by day and monks (i.e., devoted worshippers) by night.

Or else:

Reporters Without Borders said it firmly and utterly condemns a ban that has been slapped on the Arabic-language weekly "Nichane" and legal action launched against it for "damaging Islam". The paper carried a feature in its 9 to 15 December 2006 issue entitled, "Jokes: How Moroccans laugh at religion, sex and politics". The Moroccan government banned the paper on 20 December and the king's prosecutor at the Casablanca High Court ordered police to investigate the article.

And of course there was the incident of the Mohammed cartoons.

OK, now for a few jokes.


||| One day, one of Mullah Nasruddin's friend came over and wanted to borrow his donkey for a day or two. Mullah, knowing his friend, was not kindly inclined to the request, and came up with the excuse that someone had already borrowed his donkey. Just as Mullah uttered these words, his donkey started braying in his backyard. Hearing the sound, his friend gave him an accusing look, to which Mullah replied: "I refuse to have any further dealings with you since you take a donkey's word over mine."

This is the kind of story you might find in any collection of folk humor, from any folk.

Them against us]: [with my remarks and chortles]:

||| A man is taking a walk in Central park in New York. Suddenly he sees a little girl being attacked by a pit bull dog. He runs over and starts fighting with the dog. He succeeds in killing the dog and saving the girl's life. A policeman who was watching the scene walks over and says: "You are a hero, tomorrow you can read it in all the newspapers: Brave New Yorker saves the life of little girl." The man says: "But I am not a New Yorker!" "Oh, then it will say in newspapers in the morning: Brave American saves life of little girl" - the policeman answers. "But I am not an American!" - says the man. "Oh, what are you then?" The man says: "I am a Saudi!" Then next day the newspapers say: "Islamic extremist kills innocent American dog." [Or, “American dog kills itself.”]

||| Did you hear the one about Jewish-Muslim comedy night? The rehearsals were going really well until the Jews occupied the Muslim half of the stage. [Hmm, does Israel have half of anything?]

There’s a stand-up British woman Muslim comic (sounds like an oxymoron) named Shazia Mirza. She says she does not make fun of her religion though she says everything should be allowed to be talked about. Omid Djalili is also a British comic. Are there any American Muslim comics? Living?

I won’t list web sites for you, you can do a search, but just want to note that in the cartoon masthead of, the only female is sitting down and faced by a man with a scimitar. Several web sites list jokes from a stand-up comedian named Goffaq Yussef (note the phonetics) but I can’t locate or identify this supposedly Palestinian comic. Sample:

Light bulb:

How many Palestinians does it take to change a light bulb?

None! They sit in the dark forever and blame the Jews for it!


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