20 February, 2011

Three domes in the courtyard. (part IX in the series about the Grand Mosque of Damascus)

1.    Qubbat al-Khazna (‘the dome of the treasury’)

It stands on eight Roman columns topped by capitals, which probably date from the 2nd century AD. The octagonal treasury building was built in 788 AD to house the mosque's treasures. It is covered with 13th and 14th century mosaics and has a domed roof. Its purpose was to accommodate the treasury of the Muslim State.

2.    Dome of the clocks (‘Zein al-Abidin Dome’)

Zein al-Abidin Dome on the eastern side is also supported by eight columns. The presence of the clocks was a general and usual phenomenon as it was used to make people know the times of prayer. The Dome of the Clocks was built in the 18th century to counterbalance the older Dome of the Treasury at the other end of the courtyard. It was used to store the mosque's clocks. It is a fairly plain and simple structure.

3.    Ablutions fountain.

The centrepiece of the Umayyad Mosque's courtyard, flanked by the Dome of the Treasury to the west and the Dome of the Clocks to the east, is the Ablutions Fountain, which was built to provide a clean supply of water for the obligatory pre-prayer wash. It has a wooden-balustraded balcony and a metal, domed roof above it. 

08 February, 2011

Love, sex and marriage. ....................gf

Is sex out of marriage justifiable? Is sex without love agreeable? Is marriage a license to intermittent sex? What is important, love or sex? There are a lot of queries to be answered. But when we think about these matters of love and relationships, it’s all confusing.

Recently I happen to hear that from a good friend of mine, as she was explaining about their marriage hiccups. She remains with him just because she is not ready to have sex outside marriage. She doesn’t love but can’t go away. She is pretty sure that he is in a relationship with another. 
What is this sex? Is it so important to be given a primary value? Is the whole world revolving around this word ‘sex’? No. we just give unwanted attention, consideration, value and preference to sex. Sex is not the element, but just one of the elements that keep a relationship moving. The other important elements may be trust, sincerity, belief in each other, commitment, faithfulness, respect and so on. Sex is just one of the aspects along with this that keep the relationship or friendship rolling.
So sex outside or without love is not justifiable, rather than thinking sex outside marriage is not possible. No one cannot be bonded or forced to love with the institution called marriage. The point to be thought of is whether there is love before sex and not marriage before sex. Consummation is valued or endorsed with love and not to be by marriage. Sex without love is rape and carnal. Most mental illnesses have their origin in illegal and immoral love affairs that have very tragic consequences. Sex without love is pure animosity and immorality.
 Elsewhere I read that “Sex without love is the beginning of bipolar disorder and psychosis, because the human being feels that he is only an immoral animal, and his psyche cannot accept such misery.” In such a case, if marriage and not love that is the base to have sex, then the person is leading into a psychic state of disorder. So insist on love and not marriage.
Sex is not a feeling to be acted upon anyone and everyone. We cannot practice it on companions, any person we come into contact, but when there is love in deep. I believe that no one can love two persons deeply at a time. Love is possible to one at a time. To others it may be just an affection, care or concern. So sex is not possible with more than one at a time. The relationship thus demands faithfulness from either party. A balanced and really perfect love relationship exists only when there is sexual attraction between the couple, and only when love also exists between them.
I do not support any marriage leading into a desert state of love. I do not agree with the idea of just continuing a relationship limping without love. It is a crime to force someone to live together when there is absence of love. Try to revive it and rebuild. If the repair work doesn’t work, what can be done? So it is not a must, sex inside marriages only, when there is no love between them. So when it comes to having sex without love, where do you stand?

05 February, 2011

Can God be praised to get things done? ............................gfxavier

The whole world is just moving on the managerial skills. People love to use their management practical at anyone and everyone. The world is just losing the sincerity and scoring on pleasing and coaxing others. The workers pleasing bosses, friends trying to please each other, coaxing the officials to get things done, students playing tricks and becoming favorites of teachers, spouses practicing these techniques at home  and if I need to explain, and the list get elaborated with the different ways of pleasing and coaxing. I am done seeing all these around me.
The application of the whole idea of pleasing and coaxing to spiritual ways is the present tragedy. People are so inebriated with the idea of praising and pleasing God. What do you think that God can be pleased or the graces bought with our effective managerial skills? He is never a victim of our praises and thanks. Please do not coax him, do not try to please and get favors. These are very illusions that are being propagated. He is not a weak God, who can be trapped with our skills of management. He is not so little and mean, to be positively and favorably affected by our coaxes and praises. Remember Matthew 7: 21 “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
He is all love who will not allow his children to lose their good ways. He is almighty, just, loving and strong. Please do not think to put him to test. So continue practicing politics among yourselves and not be a fool to think that your cheap ways of pleasing by praise and coax will trap the almighty into showering graces and blessing. He is not one with human feelings to be affected with this but he took a form of human for a short period of time to convince us direct about the salvation of God.
Be bold, do right, trust him in faith, live the life just, think straight, leave the cunning ways and the kingdom of God is yours. It is not the number of candles and the smoke of the incense that will bring you grace but the meaningful life and participation in the sacrificial love of Jesus. Live after the pattern of the Cross, live for others. More than the songs, symbols, wealth, gestures and rituals, he expects us to live a life worthy of your God. If you still believe in pleasing him, use the method of living a meaningful life rather than depending on words of praise. God is gracious and merciful. His love compels us to treat others with mercy and kindness. When we do something for one of Christ's little ones, we do it for Christ.  Do you treat your neighbor with mercy and love as Christ has treated you?
Try reflecting the following without any further interpretations or influence of wrong ideas, such as praise him the most and the things are done.
Matthew 25:31-46
"When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, `Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'
Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'  Then he will say to those at his left hand, `Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'  Then he will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'  And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Do not practice politics on God. People here on earth get pleased with our words of praise, but not GOD. Do not underestimate HIM. He is not human, but became human for a short period of time out of his humility. He doesn’t possess all traits of human feelings. Do not give him an earthly and kingly version of existence, requiring our praises and flamboyance. He is beyond our control. Do not be so selfish to think that he can be controlled with our words of praise. He cannot be the victim of our politics.

03 February, 2011

Important structures and elements in Damascus mosque. (part VIII in the series about the Grand Mosque of Damascus)

The entire ‘temenos’ of the Roman Period appears to have been cleared of all earlier internal structures, pagan, Christian, and Muslim, and an overall plan was implemented. When the project began all remaining fragments on the site from Roman to Byzantine periods were removed to accommodate a large innovative mosque planned according to Islamic principles. The whole layout is rectangular approximately of 157 by 97 meters and consists of two main sections. The courtyard occupies nearly half of the site with a length of 122.5 and a width of 50 meters surrounded by galleries of horseshoe arches. The sahn is flagged in stark white marble, thus reflecting the intensity of the sun with brilliant effect. The covered mosque itself is nearly 136 m in length and a little over 37 m in depth, formed by three arcades running parallel to south wall. A broad transept, running from north to south, cuts three arcades into two nearly equal halves, each half consisting of eleven arches. The courtyard contains three structures of polygonal form standing on columns and topped with domes. 
The three interesting structures in the courtyard are the domed octagonal structure at the western end is the Treasury (Beit al Mal), which was raised intentionally on Roman columns for security reasons; the second in the middle of the courtyard is the square domed ablution fountain, and the third at the eastern end is Zein al-Abidin Dome, an Ottoman period addition.