View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Saturday 15 October

After the heavy rain that started the day, it cleared up to a fairly sunny but very windy day. The wind made it feel cold, at times bitingly so. Nonetheless, no rain is the only thing I would wish, so no real complaints. It will get colder over the next few months, so I'll get used to it yet.

Yesterday, the first legal single malt whisky produced in Lewis was launched at an event in Stornoway. The Abhainn Dearg distillery set up production in 2008, and now that three years have passed, its product can be described as whisky. At an earlier stage, it marketed an precursor product that boasted of 65% v/v alcohol, which is mind-blowingly strong - no, I didn't try it! The article I'm linking to is from the Am Paipear [The Paper], the local newspaper for the Uists.

The tropical cyclone season for the northern hemisphere has quietened down; the only system I am monitoring at present is called Irwin, a system that has been meandering in the Eastern Pacific Ocean between 105 and 120 degrees longitude West. Early on in its career (it has been on the go for nearly 10 days), it reached hurricane strength, but it got strangulated by its little sister Jova, which left cold seawater and a stirred-up atmosphere behind.

People of the Book

I have obtained a copy of the Qur'an, the Muslim Holy Book, for the purposes of study. Islam is one of the major religions of the world, and has a high profile in news events. Not always for the most positive reasons, but neither has its older brother, Christianity. The Qur'an is a slow read, as you have to read each verse and each chapter with full attention. The translator (for I have an English-language copy) warns of the dangers of misinterpretation, giving several examples of how the texts of the Qur'an have been warped to suit people's intentions.

Having gone through the first major sura [chapter], the parallel with the Old Testament is unmistakeable. Moses, Aaron, Abraham, David, Goliath, Saul, Solomon, Mary, Jesus (to give but a few examples) are all referred to by name. The differences between the Bible and the Qu'ran are also patently obvious. The Qu'ran directly refers to the Christians and the Judeans as People of the Book (hence the title of this post).

It is a fascinating read, as it grants an insight into Islamic culture, and by virtue of that, an insight into some of the events of the last few decades in the world.

I think it is highly deplorable that Islam has been given such a bad name by a tiny minority who abused the religion for political motives. It should not be forgotten that it was Arabic culture, where Islam is rooted, that granted us the phenomenon of the zero, without which we would not all be sitting by our computers, doing all these marvellous things on the WWW. In order to understand what goes on in a major religion of the world, it is imperative to read its holy text and do so with an open mind, which is what I am trying to do.