God is Love

March 25, 2011

God is love:
And he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God,
And God in him.
Perfect love casteth out fear.

– Epistle 1 of St. John

Ya Haqq!

Tale of the Jinn – Sequel to Master of the Jinn – Pages Two and Three

March 21, 2011

Belief brings me closer to You, but only to the door.
It is only by disappearing into Your mystery that I will come in.
– Hakim Sanai

In the late summer of the following year, Professor Freeman completed his translation. Tonight he is to come to the khaniqah and present his work. The Master is also to return this evening. He has been traveling abroad nearly the entire year, recently accompanied by Aaron and Rebecca. Their return has thrown us into a frenzy of preparation and joy.

Glad Tidings! My brother and sister darvishes are to be married later this month, and a feast has been ordered to celebrate the return of the Master and the confluence of all our labors.

As happy as I am that the Master will soon be here, and that all the companions will be together once more, I am most curious about the final translation of the Jinn i Nama, the Book of the Jinn, in which I have had some small part.

I have not yet seen Professor Freeman’s final draft, and from the beginning the difficulties of such a task thoroughly daunted us. The Jinn do not speak as humans do, but communicate directly to each others’ minds. They know the full meaning and context of each others’ thoughts as well as the full range of emotions behind them. It is as complete a philology as is possible of a language without words. They also cannot lie to one another, and thus have no concept of deception. And they are the second children of Allah; their thought encompasses past, present and future, though how far into the future they see is still a mystery.

Soon after we began the translation, Professor Freeman and I approached the Master with these concerns.

“How can I possibly do justice to such a work?” the Professor asked. “My mind is locked in the present.”

“Remember that this book was given as a gift,” the Master said. “And as such, since he knows your innate natures, he is also speaking to both of you through it.”

“But how am I able to help with the translation?” I asked. “I do not know Canaanitish. Why could not the Jinni have used a language we both could understand?”

“You have listened, but you have not heard,” the Master said. “You will know Canaanitish before the end. Did I not say that the tale would also translate you? It is the faqir who wrote the book, not Ornias the Jinni, and he meant it for both of you: One to decipher the words, the other to help bring forth the subtler meaning. Consider, O darvishes, that when he aided you by allowing your minds to see through his, he also read your minds and hearts, their distinctiveness and their similarities, but he already knew both of you. Do you still not understand? Time is not a veil to his kindred. The book was written before you both were born, but he wrote the book for you!

“Oh my God!” the Professor said.

So there is no need to fear, Shlomo! As you continue on the path, even the meaning of the words you thought you knew will reveal their hidden depth, and the tale will become the clearer still.”

The tale will also translate you!

The thought emboldened us. Did we not survive fire and deep water, storm and demons? We resolved to begin without delay. Here, after all, was the real treasure of our journey. Within its pages we hoped to glimpse a measure of living history, witnessed by a being that lived it, unaltered by time and memory.

“Guide us then, Master!” the Professor implored. “How shall we begin?”

“Begin as a darvish would when undertaking any new task,” the Master said. “Ask God’s blessing, and commit your affairs to Him. Then clear your hearts of all motives related to yourselves, for no blessing arises from anything in which selfish interest has a part.”

The Master departed on his travels the next day, and we were left without his further guidance. No doubt he meant for us to decipher the ancient tongue and its meaning by ourselves, but it was soon apparent that Ornias had written not only a history, but a cosmology.

Jinn-i-Nama I

And God, the One, made first the Angels, the Holy Ones, and they were born of His light, the first children of his thought, and they served the Lord and dwelt in the house of His mercy.

And the second offspring of His design were the Jinn, and they were created out of the fire of His will, and they dwelt in the Subtle Realm, near to Him, though farther than the Angels who served Him only. And the Jinn were given free will, both a blessing and a curse.

In the green beginnings of the earth we made our home, on a vast mountainous island in the midst of the sea. And the mountains burned.

Great fires spewed forth, and rivers of molten earth ran into the waters, so that the land was utterly surrounded by vast walls of steam. Here we thrived and grew strong, for God was ever with us, and we rejoiced in Him. Our fiery spirit was well suited to the land, and we dwelt in the great cave cities of the high mountains.

Yea, the memory of the Jinn spans the ages, and the Jinn do not forget!

Ya Haqq!

Note: These pages are from the sequel to Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, which will be forthcoming, inshAllah (God-willing), by the end of the year. To read excerpts, reviews and comments from Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel, click Here!

Interview on Islam and Science Fiction

March 20, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

An interview I did some time ago was just published on the Islam and Science Fiction website about the writing of Master of the Jinn. To read it on the website, click HERE:

Or, read it below:

Aurangzeb: What attracted you to writing fiction in the first place?

Irving: I was not attracted to writing fiction, having written only poetry and articles before getting the idea for Master of the Jinn. The beginning and the end came to me fully formed during zekr, the Sufi meditation, and over the years as I filled in the middle story, I came to the inescapable conclusion that the book was writing me.

Aurangzeb: What are the main themes that inform your work, Master of the Jinn?

Irving: Master of the Jinn is really a Sufi novel, and so the main theme is the Sufi path of Love. The story and characters, by expressing through their words and deeds the courtesy, manners, and loving-kindness of the Path, drive the narrative.  Of course, since it also involves the Jinn, those legendary creatures of living fire that have been a part of Arabian myth since pre-Islamic times, there is a fantasy component to it.

Aurangzeb: Are you currently writing or planning to write more novels?

Irving: I am currently working on the sequel to Master of the Jinn, entitled Tale of the Jinn, which will continue the story of the main characters and also present the unknown cosmology of the Jinn race.  I am also working on two non-fiction books which I cannot discuss yet.

Aurangzeb: Any thoughts on the connection between Science Fiction and Fantasy?

Irving: I was at one time the publisher and editor of Fantastic Films magazine, which covered Science Fiction and Fantasy films and television, and have come to think that Science Fiction and Fantasy, though they are often grouped together, are two distinct literary forms that may often have the same audience.  Good Science Fiction is not fantasy, and good fantasy is not Science Fiction.

Aurangzeb: Any possible foray into Science Fiction by Irving Karchmar?

Irving: Possibly, as I have been considering a First Contact type of novel and may write it eventually.

Aurangzeb: Do you have any favorite Science Fiction author or a favorite novel that you would like to share?

Irving: Indeed!  My favorite Science Fiction author is Frank Herbert, the brilliant creator of the Dune series of books. He really is a first rate writer, as well as having a unique and fertile scientific mind for both science and fiction.  And of course, J.R.R. Tolkien is unsurpassable in fantasy literature, and its Sword and Sorcery sub-category.  Between those two, I am particularly fond of Robert Heinlein and his Lazarus Long books, as well as Stranger in a Strange Land. They are books that I reread every few years, which is the mark of a favorite.

Aurangzeb: Do you think the current political climate effected portrayal of Muslims in fiction?

Irving: Of course! How could it not?  Even before 9/11, the only portrayals of Muslims in books and films were mostly of the Palestinian terrorist type, or Arabic or Iranian men who married Western women and ran off with their children to Muslim countries. Until there are positive portrayals of Muslim heroes in fiction, both novels and films, there will only be the Western notion of Muslims as either terrorists or abused hijabis.  And it is up to the Muslim author to write the novels and stories that portray Muslims and Islamic culture in a positive light, without the bigoted nonsense of Holocaust denial, or Jewish and Christian Crusader conspiracy theories.

Aurangzeb: What advice do you have for young and burgeoning Muslim authors who may be interested in writing Fantasy or Science Fiction?

Irving: My only advice is to write what you know, and for Muslim authors it would be to write from an Islamic viewpoint, and to not try and emulate Western thinking and writing styles.  The Muslim voice is unique in the world, and so should it be written. Science Fiction has few interesting Muslim characters, besides the Fremen of Dune.  That is unfortunate, but testifies to the fact that Muslims consider fiction, whether Science Fiction or fantasty, as a form of lying, and so have no history of writing fiction. That has always struck me as ridiculous considering the vast history of Islamic storytellers, from the Arabian Nights to the Sufi teaching tales. Inshallah, it is slowly changing, thanks in part to such organizations as the Islamic Writers Alliance.  I would recommend any Muslim author to join it and not be discouraged by the lack of Muslim publishing companies or Muslim literary agencies. Those too will come in time.  And I would add that Master of the Jinn has been translated and published in eight languages, all through my own efforts in online marketing and networking, and you can do it too.  Never despair, and trust in Allah, and the way will be made clear in His good time.

Ya Haqq!

Tale of the Jinn – Sequel to Master of the Jinn – Page One

March 7, 2011

“Verily, Satan has said, ‘By Your Honor and Grandeur, O Allah, my temptations will not depart from your servants as long as their souls are in their bodies.’ And the Lord said, ‘By My Honor and My Grandeur, never will I cease forgiving those who ask My forgiveness.’”
– A hadith of the Prophet (peace be unto him), recorded by Ahmad and al-Haakim

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

O Lord, bestow on us Thy mercy, and provide for us a right course of action!  Praise be to God the Highest, who has revealed the mysteries to His intimates and the subtleties of the Way of Truth to His friends . He it is that brings the day in its glory and the night in its beauty, and brings dead hearts to life by the perception of His eternity.

I, Ishaq, named the scribe, am commanded by my Master to set forth the Jinn-i-Nama, this Book of the Jinn, to which, by the mercy of God, my companions and I have in part born witness.

Therefore, I have asked God’s blessing and resolved to tell the full tale, so that the eyes of the people may be opened and the truth of the Jinn and the Subtle Realm revealed. For verily an Age of Wonder is upon us, wherein the  two kindred, if they will, may know the love and mercy of God.

Thus, may Allah guide my pen, for by His will alone is the Truth revealed.

Ya Haqq!

Note: In two weeks, the next page of the Jinn-i-Nama, the Book of the Jinn, will be posted, the long awaited sequel to Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel.