Archive for the ‘Heartland’ Category

The Universe

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“What if someone said to an embryo in the womb,

“Outside of your world of black nothing

is a miraculously ordered universe;

a vast Earth covered with tasty food;

mountains, oceans and plains,

fragrant orchards and fields full of crops;

a luminous sky beyond your reach,

with a sun, moonbeams, and uncountable stars;

and there are winds from south, north and west,

and gardens replete with sweet flowers

like a banquet at a wedding feast.

The wonders of this world are beyond description.

What are you doing living in a dark prison,

Drinking blood through that narrow tube?”

But the womb- world is all an embryo knows

And it would not be particularly impressed

By such amazing tales, saying dismissively:

“You’re crazy. That is all a deluded fantasy.”

One day you will look back and laugh at yourself.

You’ll say, “ I can’t believe I was so asleep!

How did I ever forget the truth?

How ridiculous to believe that sadness and sickness

Are anything other than bad dreams.”

~ Rumi (r)



Written by Magda M Ali

March 13, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Posted in Heartland, Poetry

yourself you must transcend

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“O heart let go of your soul
until you see the Soul Maker
leave behind this deceptive faker
so you reach your real goal.

unless you pass through here
you will never reach the beyond
free yourself from worldly bond
doubtless clear, to you appear.

if it is a sign that you seek
in this path, my dear friend
yourself you must transcend
and signs to you will speak.”

~ Jalaluddin Rumi

Written by Magda M Ali

February 15, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Posted in Heartland, Poetry

My love for the legend: Robert Fisk

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Robert Fisk is renowned globally as a diligent and honest journalist, one of a dying breed. For those that don’t know Fisk, he is a British Middle East correspondent for the Independent and is arguable one of the world’s most experienced and most acclaimed western reporter. He has won the British Press Awards’ International Journalist of the year honour seven times. Amnesty International and the United Nations have given awards to Fisk who speaks often at Harvard, Princeton, MIT and other prestigious American universities.


Fisk has lived in the Middle East for 30 years, has engulfed the problems of the Middle East and writes what he experiences firsthand. Robert Fisk is distinctively pugilistic and holds nothing back; never hesitates to fingerprint in stories. In his own words: “Surely there must be a way in which a reporter is honoured and privileged to absorb so much information, to express what he thinks about it.” 


I was speaking to one of my lecturers the other day, and he asked me a question about my ardour for Fisk. He asked: “What’s this love for Fisk about, is it his journalistic competence, or just because he tells you what you want to hear.” For some reason it took me quite a while to respond. Then it came to me. In many ways I would say that my admiration for Fisk stems from his journalistic dexterity, and it proliferates to his ongoing battle to expose what we all want to hear: the truth.


For every journalist to say something positive about him, there is another with a handful of negatives. Some critics complain that he is not objective and detached; he is subjective and engaged. But what exactly is wrong with that? Is the purpose of Journalism not to challenge the centres of power, and to describe with our own vividness the tragedies, injustices and viciousness of the world?


Journalists are there to make people think, Fisk lives and writes by this principle. He may not always be objective, but he exemplifies opinions that many people hold and we can agree or disagree. Fisk reports a fresh, unique and human dimension, and is not afraid to say what he really thinks; he is a profound writer and knows he is right. He may come across as being quite arrogant. Naturally, journalists are people who are insecure and have huge egos, which is a dangerous cocktail. I think a fair few good journalists are slightly arrogant – you need to be to get the story and to have the bottle to write it.


In his work, it is clear that Fisk goes to great lengths to side with the perceived victim. And what’s wrong with siding with the victim anyway? Just say you cover a rape trial, you’re not going to give equal space to the rapist as you are going to give to the victim, you’re not going to stand there impassively, and you’re going to write more about the victim and what s/he has suffered. There comes a time when journalists cannot be impartial. Of course we cannot stand in the middle, and the time has come when journalists must stand on the side of the victims and we’ve got to stand up against injustices and give a voice to people who wouldn’t ordinarily have a voice.


Orwell once said: “Telling the truth becomes a revolutionary Act.” Fisk brings this reality home. Journalists shouldn’t be completely ‘neutral’ – most journalists I have spoken to accept this. I for one don’t read his work for a “balanced” account. I read his work for his account, the account of a man who has heard both sides of the story, has been actively engaged in the middle east for 30 years and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. This is far more than can be said of the news desk team reading off the teleprompters. Sadly these very critics who condemn Fisk would like to believe that these mediums are the holy source of all truth.


Fisks work can be found on this link.


Written by Magda M Ali

January 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Comment, Features, Heartland

He spoke to me

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As the death rate in Gaza rises and hundreds of innocent Palestinians shed blood, the Israeli Authorities say: ‘this is just the beginning.’ The self destructive, powerless feeling is rifest within our hearts. His reassurance we are in dire need of – His speech – His remedy. Where did we go wrong? Where are we going wrong? Ya Haqq, why are we failing in our servitude to You? In His name, Bismillah Irr Rahman Irr Raheem, i felt the pages of the book of the Almighty, as He Most High, guided my fingers to Surah Ibrahim.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Magda M Ali

December 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Posted in Heartland

Between heart and heart

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“In love, nothing exists between heart and heart.
Speech is born out of longing,
True description from the real taste.
The one who tastes, knows;
the one who explains, lies.
How can you describe the true form of Something
In whose presence you are blotted out?
And in whose being you still exist?
And who lives as a sign for your journey?”


~ Rabiah al Adawiyya


Written by Magda M Ali

November 6, 2008 at 11:16 am

Posted in Heartland, Poetry, Quotes

The love of the Beloved

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“The love of the Beloved
must be unconditionally returned.
If you claim love
yet oppose the Beloved,
then your love is but a pretence.
You love the enemies of your Beloved
and still seek love in return.
You fight the beloved of your Beloved.
Is this Love or the following of shaitan?
True devotion is nothing
but total submission
of body and soul

to One Love.
We have seen humans claim to submit,
yet their loyalties are many.
They put their trust here, and their hope there,
and their love is without consequence.”

~ ibn al Qayyim al Jawziyah

Written by Magda M Ali

November 1, 2008 at 7:22 pm

Posted in Heartland, Poetry

My soul is not theirs to occupy

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The hardest thing in life is acceptance. An acceptance that something so resonantly significant in our hearts will never be — as it once was.  


“They can try to take over my country but my soul is not theirs to occupy.” Maha Omar points at her heart with shroud frustration and sadness. “I have no country, I’ve accepted that but I still have hope.” With those words, Maha distantly reminisced life as a Palestinian before the occupation and her sheer grief was distressing to see. The struggle for liberty for such a long time by a people is both a poignant sight to the human spirit and fatal to the universal hope for freedom. Palestine: suppressed painstakingly and progressively ruined. The human catastrophe deliberately inflicted on Gaza by western policies over the past decade is one of the great crimes of the century so far. 


Maha Omar, now 54, sat close beside me, our direct encounter and proximity in closeness had created a sense of empathy as she spoke with sorrow in regards to her life as a Palestinian. Maha was educated in Palestine, worked in Palestine, and says that she hopes to die in Palestine. I guess that’s understandable, our sense of being and our internal state is often influenced by our heritage, our place of birth and inevitably it’s where most of us wish to be deceased.


Maha Omar isn’t your typical image of a Palestinian woman. She, a mother to two children, happily married, inhabiting in an aristocratic residence right next to Westminster hall, just didn’t seem like an ordinary Palestinian. Lurking beneath this supposed secure peripheral, Maha was a woman of great grief. Her apparent “assets” had not spurred any form of console. “I’m not happy because I’m not at home. My presence might be in the Western world, but my soul is and always will be in Palestine.”


 Maha’s family were originally from Acre in what is now northern Israel. Maha migrated to the UK, four years ago with her husband and the youngest son. She had left her older son in Palestine because quite simply “he just wouldn’t budge.” Maha described her older son as a loyal and courageous man whose only predicament was his life and more importantly its vulnerability.


Maha’s son, Hashim, resided in Palestine in hope that he would be able to make a difference to his country. This hope was soon to be diminished when Maha received a call from the Palestinian authorities declaring the end to what was hoped to be the change factor of Palestine. Hashim died in shooting with Israeli troops two years ago. “My son would have made a difference to Palestine, had he been given a chance to,” Maha regretfully expressed.


And what was Maha’s reaction when she heard of her son’s death? “I did not imagine it. It was a shock. But one thing’s for sure. My son died, happy, in his country and departed from this world as a man of his word, a man of courage and a man who will be sorely missed. Which is far more than I can say for many others.”


Maha’s story – and her scorching frustration – has, until now, been undisclosed. Never before had she shared with the press, the sad reality of her state and her disillusionment as to what she considers to be just another Palestinian woman who has no power to do anything, but still envelops hope for tomorrow’s Palestine.


While all the Palestinians who have given their account of life without Palestine. Maha argued “As a first-generation Palestinian descent, I can vouch that nobody is more tired of this conflict than Palestinians. But many of us don’t have the luxury of flipping the channel or ignoring what is happening to our relatives and friends”


Conversations with Maha Omar’s family prove that the Palestinians are not only suffering in Palestine. But Palestinians are suffering right here in this very country. Suffering internally. “I wish I was still in Palestine” Maha’s younger son, Ahmed told me. He agreed that Palestine was far to fragile to live in but nonetheless to him, just like his mother, home is where the heart is. Ahmed’s grief was indeed, engraved into his face. He was a young man but looked like he was 90. ““Sometimes I’m 15 and sometimes I am 200” Ahmed said sincerely. Perhaps he meant that sometimes he’s just the little boy who happens to be having an identity crisis and sometimes he’s the ‘adult’ who, at the age of 10 endured a wretched childhood and now thinks about things that ordinary teenagers just don’t think about.


Maha’s husband, Ali Hussein, who has the mark of the Muslim prayer stone on his forehead, has been a political and religious influence on the family. “The world of justice and truth will prevail,” he says. “If I could give my life in return for hope for Palestinians and security, I would do so in a flash. But the reality is that too many people are obsessed with giving their life and it’s not doing anything for Palestinians or the country.” He says “What we need is reformation internally and our condition will never change until we change it within ourselves.”


 It remains a mystery to both me – and Maha’s family – and to many others – why a situation as severe, unthinkable, and unfathomable for citizens in other parts of the world is to be endured and accepted for the Palestinian people. As frustrating as the reality is. Maha proves that even if Palestinians are out of Palestine, Palestine is not out of Palestinians.





Written by Magda M Ali

October 10, 2008 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Features, Heartland