Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Blessed Eid to All

In commemoration of Eid Al Fitr I decided to post these favorite verses of mine from the Quran (in English for all of you non-Arabic speakers).

Quran 93: The Glorious Morning Light

By the Glorious Morning Light,
And by the Night when all is still
Your Guardian has not forsaken you,
nor is He displeased.
And the Hereafter will be better for you than the present.
And soon will He give you that wherewith you shall be well-pleased.
Did He not find you an orphan and give shelter?
Did He not find you lost and wandering, and give guidance?
Found you in need, and made you independent.
Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness,
Nor repulse that who, in need, seeks you
But speak of the blessings of the Lord

Quran 24:35; The Verse of Light

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth.
His Light is as like a Niche and within it a Lamp enclosed in Glass;
the glass like a brilliant star: Lit from a blessed Tree,
an Olive tree that is neither of the east nor the west,
whose oil is luminous even though no fire has touched it:
Light upon Light!
Allah guides whom He wills into to His Light;
Allah sets forth Parables for men: and Allah knows all things.

Note: Allah is God in Arabic

I re-translated parts of these so that they "flowed" better in English. I noticed that many Quranic verses tranlsated into English have an issue with readability; they contain far too many words like "verily", "God doth guide", etc. - and a style of writing that tends to sound archaic at times. I therefore touched up the verses above a little bit in order to make them more readable to a western audience (and in my opinion even more true to the Arabic original).

On 9/11 of this year I went with a Jordanian friend to St. Marks church here in Seattle, where they were commemorating 9/11 with services that were to be given by representitives of all 3 Abrahamic faiths, entitled "Moving Forward Together". To my ears, the Islamic part of the service sounded a little bit too foreign, too "other" than it needed to be. The 'Sufi' part, with touches of Rumi, was much more palatible to a western audience than the other parts. There were even blond women in white robes chanting "Istaghfarullah" (I ask forgiveness from God). Kudos to them, I say.

But what really baffles me is when Imams read Quranic verses to non Arabic speakers in Arabic. The must think that surely the poetry and music from the original Arabic will somehow transfer and become apparent to the Americans. Well, guess what - it doesn't; It just sounds like a foreign language, and usually they drone on and on. Sadly, when they recite English-language translations of the Quran it also sounds a bit too esoteric, like a cross between Shakespeare and the Arabian Nights (is 'verily' an English word?). Seems to me like a more contemporary translation of the Quran is in order. Especially as I get the sense that many Americans really want to learn more about Islam and get to know more of what it really is all about. Come to think of it, a lot of Muslims want exactly that as well.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Announcing: Freewaregenius

For the past month or so I've been working on my brand new Freeware blog. Check it out at is a freeware blog that contains reviews and download links of some of the coolest legal free PC software out there. The basic philosophy behind the site is simple: quality not quantity. Unlike other sites, this freeware blog does not list every single free program on the planet. It will, however, present one to three of the best freeware program reviews for each category, written from the perspective of an average computer user. The blog also allows visitors to leave comments under each review in a forum-style conversation.

The idea behind came to me when I was clean-installing Windows on my wife's laptop. I made a list of all the software categories that I had to install ... viruskiller, antispyware, firewall, cd-ripper, dvd player, etc., and realized that for most of these I knew of a competent 100% free option that was often my top pick even when compared with commercial/shareware software. The vision behind is therefore to replace as many retail/shareware programs that I ever need to use with a first rate freeware alternative, such that one day every installed program that I use will be FREE (hence the freewaregenius slogan: one day all software will be free).

Click here to learn more about Freewaregenius, or here to go the Freewaregenius main page.