08 February, 2008

Music Madness

I was, i confess, disgusted at work recently. Doesn't happen a lot; i'm usually pretty tolerant of the foibles and eccentricities of customers ~ and, trust me, some of them have foibles! This time, though, what i saw was a bit over the top.

There were two young mothers in the shop; i say young mothers, but if they hadn't been pushing prams i'd have called them girls: Neither of them can have been far into her twenties, if at all, both were dressed in typical “girl-clothes” rather than “mum-clothes”. The key point, however, the thing that so greatly surprised me, was that each of the girls had some kind of an MP3-player sitting near their babies, playing music, loudly enough to be heard from some feet away.

Now so far, you might think, this is just the story of two exceptionally rude youngsters, not terribly unusual i fear, who needed their music with no regard to politeness or thought for fellow customers (for they weren't alone in the shop). There is more, though, which makes the story, to my mind, just a bit stranger.

First, their music was particularly tinny sounding, evidently being played through a speaker that really wasn't designed for music, but probably for voice, while being held close to the ear ~ a mobile 'phone, in other words ~ and, as such, it wasn't doing the music any favours at all.

Second and, perhaps, even stranger, we have music playing at all times in the shop. Not Muzak; not classical stuff; not even old-time pop. GPHQ central office sends out CDs to be played, with relatively new, modern music, of a variety of popular genres. So, apparently, it was so important to these two girls that they keep hearing their own music that they were willing to put up with it in competition with two other music sources, and played in poor quality. Now, perhaps it is my age speaking, but i don't understand that, i confess.

Nor do i understand, and this is the part that i really found distasteful, the attitude that said that their own pleasure was so important that they were willing to subject everyone else in the shop ~ including each other, their friendship notwithstanding ~ to their ridiculous behaviour. I know that technology today is working quite hard at reducing us from people in relationship with our surroundings to individuals out of contact with all around, by mobile 'phones, by music players, by laptops, all of which say, “I am too involved in myself to have any relationship with you” ~ and say it far more effectively than a book or even a newspaper held up to the face can. I know it, i say, but i don't understand it, and nor do i, most assuredly, approve of it; we people only in relationships, denying them we lessen ourselves. Thus, though what they did was completely tasteless, in the end i am sorry for those two young mothers, because they are the sufferers for their own behaviour.

03 February, 2008

A Newish Review

Global Jihad, by Patrick Sookhdeo.

Patrick Sookhdeo spoke in St. Mike's about a month or so ago, and we bought this at that time, as it is his latest book. Interesting it is, if somewhat frightening.

Sookhdeo was raised in a Muslim family, as i understand it, and became a Christian around the time that he left home, and has, evidently, made the study of Islam one of his life's works. His has written this book primarily for those in power, the decision-makers in such countries as the US, Western Europe, and further afield though, the blurb assures us, it is useful to “any reader who seeks to understand Islamic violence in the world today.”

The basic, general thesis of the book is that violence is inherent in Islam, and has been present in just about every manifestation of the religion since Muhammad, so it is thus almost impossible to work against the violent interpretation of jihad until and unless there is a true reform of the religion, perhaps to the original Mecca-period suras of the Koran that have, by most interpretations been abrogated by the later, Medina writings. And, of course, anyone who writes on, promotes the cause of, or attempts to reform the religion is branded heretic, with the distinct possibility of being killed for that crime.

Interestingly, and quite contrary to many contemporary commentators, Sookhdeo does not go down the road, far from it, in fact, of trying to redeem Islam as a whole by condemning the few who are preaching jihad and practising war and terrorism, but he rather insists that the submission the word Islam refers to is to be forced (in the view its adherents) if there are any who will not submit willingly. This use of force is shown very clearly to go all the way back to the time of Muhammad, who was not above the judicious use of murder to enforce his will on the tribes of Arabia, even when claiming to be respectful of the people of the book (Jews and Christians), whom he actually killed as he chose.

The biggest issue i have with the book is nothing to do with the content, but the presentation. I know nothing about Isaac Publishing, but suspect that they are a minor operation, or a vanity house, because there are a number of errors in the style or presentation that a good editor or publisher ought to have caught. For example, the format of Arabic names is not consistent, as some are given as X bin-Y and others X b. Y, where the b. can only stand for bin. There are words or phrases used which are not defined in the glossary, though i would think that in a work like this, written to persuade, any and all means ought to be used to aid in that end. These, and others like, are minor irritations, i admit, but enough that i noticed them, and therefore they are flaws. Otherwise, however, this is a fine book, with detailed notes, a huge bibliography, a fairly comprehensive index, and seven appendices, four of which are quite substantial themselves. In over six hundred and fifty pages, well worth the almost unbelievable ten pounds we paid for it.