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AFGHANISTAN : Honored to Be Your Host

AFGHANISTAN : Honored to Be Your Host
By Lisa Moore
Posted 3/18/07

U.S. News & World Report

Special Report: How They Do It Better

Being a generous host in Afghanistan is akin to a sacred duty-an obligation of honor, even of life and death. A host must provide food, shelter, and protection for a guest, whether friend or stranger. "Not to do so would be dishonorable," says Fawzia Etemadi, an Afghan author who's writing a book on her nation's codes.

Scottish writer Rory Stewart owes his life to such hospitality. In 2002, he walked across Afghanistan, and then told his story in his book The Places In Between. Stewart had hiked alone across much of Asia, but, he says, "only in Afghanistan did I find it difficult to walk alone, because the people have such a strong sense of obligation to a guest." Owners of even the poorest homes designate space as the guest room, where a visitor will be fed and housed. In wealthy homes, this space is called the memaan khana. "There's a strong sense that proper behavior toward guests brings back benefits to the host-honor, prestige, status, but also luck, that God will reward people who are generous to a guest," says Stewart.

Values. Such hospitality has deep roots in this country, a crossroads of the Silk Road where global merchants met to exchange wares, meals, and stories. Afghans adopted a philosophy of ayaraan, focused on trust and generosity. "If a person comes to your house it means that they trust you, and you would never betray that trust," says Etemadi. After more than two decades of war, many Afghans, especially in cities, have become wary of foreigners. Yet, says Etemadi, "most Afghans still carry the old values."

She describes her own upbringing in the war-torn country, which she fled after the Soviet invasion in 1979: "If I were home alone and friends of my parents came to visit, I would have 100 percent responsibility to bring them tea, feed them, and talk with them until my parents came home. We do this out of a sense of hospitality and respect." The poorest villagers share whatever they have, "and they would be embarrassed if you tried to repay them."

"I have been in 110 countries in the world, but the people who really touched me deep in my heart were the Afghans," says Iranian-born photojournalist Reza Deghati, a veteran of more than 50 trips to Afghanistan. On his first, in 1983, he was traveling along narrow mountain passes with mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets. They had to walk single file, or risk falling over cliffs. Yet occasionally the men would crowd near Reza despite the peril. When he asked why, they told him they knew when they were near hidden pockets of Soviets and wanted to protect him from gunfire. "The commander told me that from the moment he took responsibility for me, I was his guest," Reza says. "If I had been killed, all his tribe's and family's honor would be gone."

This story appears in the March 26, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report

Two insomnias

When I'm with you we stay up all night
When you're not here I can't get to sleep
Thank god for these two insomnias
and the difference between them.


Even after all this time

“Even after all this time, the
Sun never says to the Earth
‘You Owe Me.’ Look what
happens with a Love like that.
It lights the whole Sky.”


What is 'ishq?

What is 'ishq? This word is usually translated as love, and as such it is a part of everyday life, an expression of one's affection for another person, animal or thing. But the Sufic meaning of 'ishq is not simple. Rather than an expression of affection, although that constitutes a part of it, 'ishq is a way to a beloved. The Lughat-Nama defines love in the following manner:

'ishq is derived from the root 'a-sha-qa, referring to a plant from the ivy family. The main characteristic of this plant being that it winds itself around other plants and dries them by blocking their circulation. 'ishq is a disease. Those affected by this disease see only one face and have only one hope: to attain that face. Thus, the lover feels an intensity of passion and is blinded to the failings of the object loved. Love of the true beloved is the basis and foundation of existence. It is the totality of everything in one thing, namely the truth (haqq). The sublime stage of love is pure love ('ishq-i pak), and it is realized only by the perfect man. The perfect man is one who has walked the Way (tariqat) to the end. Love is the foundation of the is and the is not, even the existence of the planets (aflak) and their regular movement in the firmament are controlled by love.

As a Sufic station (hal) 'ishq is the totality of five stages (maratib) . These are:

  1. Loss of heart (fuqdan-i dil).
  2. Regret (ta'assuf), the lover repeatedly regrets that he is alive and away from his object of love.
  3. Ecstasy (wajd), during this stage the lover sees transient flashes of intense light as they appear and disappear.
  4. Loss of patience (bisabri).
  5. Ardour of love (sababat or bihushi), the lover loses all control over his senses, and overwhelmed by love rests unconscious

Source : http://www.angelfire.com/rnb/bashiri/Hafiz/Hafiz.html

Funny clip

Bangla Song/Wedding: Biyah Shajoni Shajo

Bengali WEDDING SONG...Palkithe Bou Chole Jai