Archive for September, 2008

Out Of Control

Controlled Chaos
The month of Ramadan is just about over. In less than 24 hours, the search for the new crescent moon will begin for those who follow the tradition set more than 1400 years ago in marking the beginnings of the months. The day the follows the end of Ramadan is known as Eid Al-Fitr, the festival of fast breaking, and is celebrated the world round by observant Muslims. It is a joyous day that marks not only the end of a month-long devotion to our Creator but also that as Muslims we were able to stay away from and curb our desires during daylight hours. It is a month where those who observe it hope to gain the self-control and discipline to tame our egos, grow more conscience of the Divine, and foster love, mercy and compassion to all of humanity.

And so it is with this as a backdrop that the current events unfolding leave me somewhat introspective on our future. Continue Reading »

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The Real Deal

I am not a political analyst. Nor do I enjoy politics all that much. However recent events have brought on a new interest in what goes on with the governance of the land in which I live. When we elect people to run the country we would hope that they have some scruples. Unfortunately, most politicians are liars, they lie about what they will do for us once in office, they lie about what they do while in office as well. It used to be that leaders were the best among the people that they led. They were the wisest, the smartest, the strongest, the highest in good character, the most educated, the most God conscious, humble, courageous, steadfast, cool tempered, truthful, caring, generous, and merciful.

On the contrary, our leaders of today are the antithesis of these qualities – foolish, weak, foul in character, ignorant, heedless, arrogant, cowardly, capricious, hot headed, liars, selfish, miserly and wrathful. Where can such a ‘leader’ lead us except into ruin? It brings me to a level of indignation and frustration that I have not known before. It boggles my mind why we as a nation continue to put up with such mockery – can we not see that we are being played for fools? Do we not have a government in this country that is for the people by the people? Where are the people? Can we really choose this for ourselves, is this what we really want?

We are standing on the precipice of what is inarguably the largest financial breakdown the world has ever seen. As more and more information makes its way to the surface, it becomes clear that the driving force behind it all is Greed, or in other words, the love of material wealth. As the great Moroccan scholar of the thirteenth century, ‘Abdul-Wahid Ibn ‘Ashir said, the source of all wrong action is the love of material wealth. In fact he used the Arabic word ‘Ajilah, which literally means that which goes away quickly, as a descriptor in place of the words ‘material wealth’.

When one loves money, there is nothing that he or she will not do to acquire more of it. And its not that the person actually needs any of it, for we can get by with very little physical wealth, but it burns into the heart in such a way that it literally consumes the person. They love it for its own sake. They just want more and more, regardless if they actually need it or even use it for anything, they just want to have it and revel in the fact that they have it. The sad part is that we can’t take it with us. We will all die, and we find three things will accompany us to our graves – our family and friends, our wealth and our actions. Two of them return and one stays with us – family and friends leave us behind to squabble and consume our wealth that leaves with them and we are only left with our actions.

And here we are faced with the financial destruction of an entire nation because of a leadership that encouraged greed, fostered its growth and now wishes to reward those who brought all this upon us by bailing them out at our expense. The numbers they speak of are absolutely staggering! I don’t think we can even fathom the amount they speak of; it’s just not something we can get our minds around. And yet, the very people who propose the solution to this crisis are the very ones who not only allowed it to happen, but also fostered it and are diseased by that very sickness, greed, themselves. It leaves me to wonder if what motivates the solution is not the very thing that brought on the problem to begin with.

The real deal is that our leadership has failed us terribly. When this happens do we have anyone to blame but ourselves? For did we not put them in the position? When this happens do we have any other choice but to remove those who lead from the position of leadership? I hope we are not too late in acting on this, for if we are, I fear the end of freedom as we know it will be knocking on our doors.

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Why PAN?

It seems like a strange name, Organic Light Pan for a web journal. Why did I choose that? Well one reason which is kind of silly, but of importance in the branding of my company, Organic Light Photography, are the initials OLP. From Organic Light Photography to Organic Light Press to, hopefully in the future, Organic Light Philanthropy, I wanted the web journal to keep the same three letter moniker of OLP.

This is where the search started in naming this journal. I went to great lenghts of searching words that begin with the letter ‘P’ that would capture the sense of what this journal would serve. My photographic work is in general concerned with nature and the landscape. More specifically I am concerned with our relationship with the Earth as well as our relationship with our Maker.

For one, I find it interesting that the natural world, taken as a whole, is at peace with itself. Everything is in balance and it would stay that way if we did not come along and upset that tenuous equilibrium. Thus I write about that in the reflections that accompany my photographs. I also tend to see that if we open our eyes to how the natural world functions we can learn a great many things in how to live our lives in peace with each other. However to do this, one has to “pan” across all the strata of existent things in the universe to see this. And that is where the name of this journal appeared. I also found it fortutious that in many instances a photographer has to pan the camera while following a subject in the viewfinder.

And so, Organic Light Pan became the title of this journal that aims to extract Insights Through Reflections on Nature. Hopefully these insights will lead us to living in peace with each other on this planet and in peace with the Earth itself, our home and vessel as we are hurled through the universe.

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Ramadan 1429 Begins

Today was the first day of fasting for the month of Ramadan this year.

Enjoying the afternoon

Enjoying the afternoon

I lead a trip up to the Russian Ridge Open Space Preserve in the northern Santa Cruz mountians on Sunday after noon with about 20 people attending. We spent about two hours along one of the ridge trails in the preserve waiting for the sun to set so that we could start searching. We had a good time while we waited.

It was another perfect day for moonsighting. The sky was clear and visibility was excellent. Although it was clear and sunny we had mild temperatures in the upper 60’s.

As the sun began to set, we all anxiously waited to start searching. Although the sunset was quite impressive with its deep orange color, we had to really stop ourselves from looking to prevent the green spots from appearing in our eyes which would hamper seeing the delicate crescent moon.

Finally the sun had vanished below the horizon. It left us with sublte pastel colored skies.

However, try as we did, we could not see any sign of the new crescent moon. Even though is was a 30 hour old moon, its age determine from the moment it is in conjunction with the sun, it was low on the horizon, only about 3.5 degrees in altitude, and was only in the sky for 20 minutes after the sun set. Most 30 hour old crescents are easy to see in the sky after sunset, but this one was to low ont he horizon and set too soon after sunset.

In the end, no one in North America saw the crescent moon that evening. Making the month of Sha’ban a 30 day month and with Ramadan beginning on Tuesday September 2, 2008.

With one day now complete we look forward to a blessed month ahead of us.

Peace – Youssef

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