Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Look Up!_video

Look Up! is a spoken word film for an online generation, a lesson taught to us through a love story, in a world where we continue to find ways to make it easier for us to connect with one another, but always results in us spending more time alone. So, look up from your phone, shut the display, take in the surroundings and make the most of the day! Written, performed and directed by Gary Turk. Subtitled in Spanish. © Gary Turk, 2014
Related article: ¡Suelta el móvil, mamá!, by Cecilia Jan

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Muslim Democrats of the World, Unite!

Since the end of the nineteenth century, the movement for a critical reflection on the foundations and interpretations of Islam has lost momentum, impeded by the predominance of a sclerotic, Arabo-centric Islam based on an obsolete worldview and often dismissive of non-Arab Muslims.
Today, we solemnly call on Muslim leaders committed to democracy, whether political and religious authorities or intellectuals/theologians, to convene in France in early 2016 to define the contours of a progressive interpretation of Islam firmly grounded in the 21st century.
Following in the steps of such scholars as Malik Bennabi, we need to start questioning the romanticized, nostalgic historical doxa predominant in Muslim-majority societies. It is imperative we examine carefully our civilizational failures, from the precolonial era to that of globalization and the reason why regular calls for an Islamic Renaissance in the past were left largely unanswered.
It is also essential that we (finally!) relaunch the reformist work of ijtihâd(interpretation) undertaken by Muhammad Abduh, Abd al-Raḥman al-Kawakibi and Muhammad Iqbal at the turn of the 20th century: an uncompromising critical analysis of the Quran and the prophetic traditions.
It is time we stop projecting cultural parochialisms onto religious dogma: Muslims around the world should be able to understand much more clearly where Islam ends and where indigenous cultural practice begins.
It is time we question the legitimacy and overbearing influence of certain politically and socially backward countries in deciding what is Islamic and what is not, who is a good Muslim and who is not. And just as importantly, it is time we give far more weight in the latter matter to Asian Muslims, in no small measure more appeased, democratic and legitimate, by virtue of sheer demography, in the twenty-first century.
The Muslims of Asia, those of Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Americas are not second-class Muslims. Too often, the opposition between Western and certain Arab governments has been masqueraded as one between Western and Muslim people. Whatever the nationality and religious creed, humans must be free to approach their citizenship and relation to religion as they see fit. In 2015, to stress this is not more western than it is oriental, Judeo-Christian more than it is Islamic.

It is crucial also that we not let autocrats once again tarnish our reputation as Muslims by hijacking our cause as reformers and turning into a mockery one of the paramount aspirations of Muslims worldwide in the twenty-first century: to live in a just and democratic society. While we must stand up as Muslims to publicly voice our attachment to secular politics, let us never forget that on a global scale, Muslims themselves are the first victims of both the often brutal dogmatic literalists who claim to represent Islam and of the secular autocrats who claim they are the only resort to contain the former. Dictators like Bachar al Assad and Abd al Fattah Al Sissi of Egypt, to name only them, can call for a reform of Islam as much as they please, let there be no ambiguity: they do not roll on our team, nor do we on theirs.
We must take ISIS's and Boko Haram's claims to be practicing a rigorous Islam seriously -- suggesting that terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam have nothing to do with Islam is like suggesting that the crusades had nothing to do with Christianity. The accusations brought against the 'silent majority' of Muslims as a result of the actions of these terrorist groups may be unjust, but they must be addressed. Once and for all, we must let the barbarous murderers who justify their crimes in the name of Islam know: When they attack anyone, they are attacking us Muslims, our faith and values, first and foremost.
Muslim opinion leaders must be aware of their crucial responsibility in this area. If we do not want Islam to be permanently hijacked, it is our duty to constantly advocate moderation and a reformist approach to issues of religious education, governance, the rule of law, freedom of expression and the protection of fundamental liberties while taking a clear stand on the interpretation of scriptural sources.
Those who want to divide humanity use uneducated shortcuts to associate Islam and barbarism and imply that there is an intrinsic violence in our religion, a natural solidarity between Muslims and terrorists. They imply that Islam is intrinsically incompatible with democracy.
In reality, the vast majority of Muslims reject violence. And when freedom and democracy suffer, they suffer too, just as Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians or Jews do. The enemy is not our neighbor who goes to the synagogue, the church, or the temple. The danger is not our neighbor who covers her hair with a scarf or chooses not to. The real peril lies elsewhere: it is in the withdrawal, the ignorance, and the stigmatization of the other; it is in the prejudices that drive us apart when we should be joining together as humans.
The time has come to turn the tables on the hijackers and set a new course for Islam in the 21st century. Our future, as peace-loving Muslim democrats, is at stake.
Ghaleb Bencheikh, President of the World Conference for Religions for Peace.Anwar Ibrahim, former vice Prime Minister of Malaysia, head of the national opposition and chairman of the World Forum for Muslim Democrats. Felix Marquardt, founder of the Abd al-Raḥman al-Kawakibi Foundation and of the Khlass (Enough with) the silence! movement. Tariq Ramadan, Professor of Islamic Studies, Oxford University.  THE HUFFINGTON POST, February 10th 2015

Monday, February 02, 2015

The Theory of Everything_film

  1. In the 1960s, Cambridge University student and future physicist Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) falls in love with fellow collegian Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones). At 21, Hawking learns that he has motor neuron disease. Despite this -- and with Jane at his side -- he begins an ambitious study of time, of which he has very little left, according to his doctor. He and Jane defy terrible odds and break new ground in the fields of medicine and science, achieving more than either could hope to imagine. A must-see film!

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Localismos y aprendizaje de idiomas


La curiosidad por conocer al otro, la cultura del otro, la lengua del otro es requisito imprescindible para el aprendizaje de un idioma diferente al nuestro materno.  Una visión cosmopolita de nuestro entorno facilita la adquisición de habilidades idiomáticas diferentes de las propias. A la inversa, sucede que cuanto mayor sea el apego por la cultura local menor será el interés por conocer una lengua extranjera. Tras tres décadas dedicado a la enseñanza de idiomas, he podido constatar que, cuando un individuo está involucrado únicamente en su cultura autóctona, éste se ve incapaz de adquirir destreza en el uso de una lengua extranjera. Se trata de una relación causa efecto. Sin embargo, aquellos individuos que viajan a otros lugares, ven y escuchan películas de otras partes del mundo, o leen sobre otros asuntos además de sobre su cultura local, muestran una disposición natural al aprendizaje de una lengua extranjera, pues consideran que ésta les enriquece como personas y les hace sentirse ciudadanos del mundo, sentimiento que no ansían quienes, en su obsesión identitaria, sólo se enorgullecen de una cultura autóctona que, por su riqueza y omnipresencia en la vida colectiva, perciben como autosuficiente.

Por lo general, quienes simplemente se conforman con sus tradiciones, con la foto fija de liturgias locales, siempre idénticas y periódicas, carecen de la curiosidad por ver, a través de la ventana del cine, imágenes en movimiento de historias multiculturales localizadas en otras latitudes de la sociedad global. En su narcisismo no son capaces de apreciar otros acentos, otros idiomas, ni sienten la necesidad de aprenderlos. Dice Antonio Muñoz Molina que una cultura personal se adquiere con mucho tesón y esfuerzo a lo largo de la vida, igual que se adquiere la destreza para hablar un idioma extranjero; una cultura autóctona se posee tan solo por nacer en ella. Sentirse exageradamente orgulloso de haber nacido en tal o cual sitio es un acto empobrecedor y ridículo, como lo es también creerse el ombligo del mundo. El localismo es una forma primigenia de nacionalismo o, como dijo Karl Popper, una regresión a la tribu.

Estudiar y escuchar un idioma extranjero requiere un esfuerzo intelectual que es incompatible con la práctica de cualquier forma de fanatismo. Algunos se ven incapaces de abandonar su zona de confort, fascinados de por vida por la contemplación de la patrona local, una pequeña estatua articulada de madera a la que adoran, entre otros motivos, porque representa a una mujer que, dicen, "engendró" sin sexo previo.

Una vez conocí a un universitario de una ciudad del sur de España, narcisista como ninguna otra, que confesaba que sólo le interesaban los arquitectos nacidos en su ciudad y no entendía el entusiasmo que sus compañeros de la Escuela de Arquitectura sentían tras anunciarse un taller que iba a ser impartido por dos reputados arquitectos portugueses. A quienes durante gran parte del año ocupan su pensamiento en perpetuar las tradiciones locales o nacionales poco tiempo les queda para ocuparse de estudiar una lengua extranjera que ven ajena a su propio grupo social, no creen necesitar y a la que consideran una asignatura maría. Un estudiante de secundaria me confesó en cierta ocasión que, en lugar de irse de crucero en el viaje de fin de curso con sus compañeros para conocer el Mediterráneo esa primavera, había preferido peregrinar al Rocío, ¡por décimo año consecutivo! Ninguno de los dos habla una segunda lengua.