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Ajaban l'HelmellAh!

What does it mean?

Persians use the words "ajaban" "ajabA" and "ajab" interchangeably to mean "Odd!" "Strange!" "Wow!" "Gosh!" "How Wonderful!" "Amazing!"

When I was a tyke and something perplexed me, I would exclaim "ajab!" and Daddy would laugh.

He'd say, "You're just a BABY. Only ancient, wizened religious men say "Ajab," and only because they are too holy to curse.

"Say they witness some great injustice: a man beating his donkey, an orphan robbed. They are shocked and must cry out to God about this! But they can't curse, and they certainly can't accuse God of doing a poor job. So they are provoked to exclaim, "AJABAN l'helm'Allah!"

Isn't God's patience amazing.

Daddy would emphasize "PATIENCE" and you could just feel the tension in the bearing of the Holy Men. The reflexive praise for God's "Patience" holding back the outrage at resulting injustice until they could regain composure.

Yes. Ajaban l'helmellah, a thoroughly Arabic phrase. Here I am, Persian-American, and my favorite phrase is Arabic. It's like a Euro-American who has a favorite Latin catch phrase. Hey! I do! See "Cedamus Amori."

Isn't God's Patience AMAZING!

But look! From the sky!

It's Patience!

No! It's GRACE!

Yes, it's AMAZING GRACE!

How sweet the sound.

Ajaban l'helmellah can also mean "Isn't God's Grace Amazing." But when you focus on the "patience" component of the grace...well:

Yes, this matter is puzzling to the pious. You've got this supercomputer God, keeping account of every flake of dandruff on every balding head, keeping track of the least meter violation to the most gruesome genocide, but then what? The deity seems to be content with keeping track (Like Gholombezom!). Where's the action?

What is the poor devout cleric to do? A less spiritual man might utter an oath or curse. The pious are not supposed to curse or question the competence of the deity, hence "Ajaban L'Helm'Allah".  “Isn't God's Patience Amazing!”  

But then comes consolation. Patience because this is all going on people's tab, and there will be a JUDGEMENT DAY. Yay.

And yet, the promised Judgement Day (patience, my friend) doesn't satisfy many. Worse, some use some kind of Jugement Day model in the present, having painstakingly nursed every greivance they ever had and venting it all on some random or symbolic target to insure that "someone pays" for stuff. This spectacular malevolent misplaced aggression pops up all the time. Fanatical Muslims, like Crusading Christians of yore, or like any number of modern fanatics (for more on fanatics (get it, moron fanatics?), check out Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer), say bolsheviks, have no use for the Divine/Karmic Patience.

So boom. The pendulum of injustice keeps swinging. Someone takes the pendulum that pulses in their direction, and swings it so hard back in the other direction, not expecting it to come back. Behold, it comes back and hits them from behind. And hilariously (OK, it's not funny) They aren't even there when it comes around. It's their kid that gets it. Or some unsuspecting next door neighbor. Which is the other lesson about a tree falling in the forest. When it does, you just have to get out of the way. In fact, probably there was someone there to hear it fall, but they got squashed underneath, and no one heard their scream, and they weren't able to tell people about the sound it made as it fell.  

But Isn't God's Patience Amazing!  That he allows such horrible things to occur!  Repeatedly!

Ajaban!

Even non-fanatics remain frustrated by Divine patience.  Most have lost faith entirely, seeing the universe as uncaring. Which it is. Life is unfair. So many people are sociopathic, opportunistic bastards. Evolution all competition for resources and killing and eating.  Eating! I have a whole movie on this topic. (OK, evolution is also symbiosis and specialization in niches, but still...)

What blood thirsty creator came up with that?  Lovely for the gastronomist, but you realize that the deal with eating is that something has to die so that others can live!  It feels like a zero sum game, and who designed it anyway?"  

And while the sensitive ponder this, the strong and ruthless lunch on them. 

But the other side of the coin of God's Patience is his Grace.  Ajaban L'Helm'Allah means "Amazing Grace". Amazing Grace brings relief, and rapturous praise, as we realize the patience of God is our salvation.  He's giving us time and space to work it out.  He has more faith in us than we do. 

I like the fact that this "Amazing Grace" is free-floating Grace.  You see how natural it is when in response to a senseless occurrence like the Attack on America the bereft turn to the chorus of "Amazing Grace".  "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  Was blind, but now I see."  Why would anyone, at a time of grief sing about how they are lost wretches who now can see?  What can they see? 

Ajaban L'Helm'Allah. Whether you're shocked and barely holding back curses at the amazing patience, or stunned yet groping for rapturous relief to the tune of bagpipes is your choice.

Here at the Ajaban website we seek to both celebrate and lament that legendary patience by creating works of redemptive environmental science fiction, and exploring paths of redemptive environmental science fact. 


 

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The Root of Wonder and Miracles:

I'm not sure if these are related, but in the dictionary, I see ajab, and ojb. Both are spelled the same (the short vowels are not shown in the Persian language, so you can have different pronounciatians for the same consonant string). It may be that the root of ajab is ojb. But "ojb" is Arabic and means conceit or self-conceit. How does that relate to wonder and amazingness? Does it have to do with self-awareness, consciousness? Marvelling at the obvious?

The next word in the dictionary is "ajz" which means "disability, inability, impotence, weakness." And that is clearly the root word in miracle! (In Arabic, you have a three letter root that gets modified to turn into other words. In this case, you would take ajz and put an "m" in front of it and an "eh" at the end, to get "mo'jezeh" or "miracle.") Who knew that the Arabic root word for impotence is transformed - conjugated into the word for miracle? Actually, that makes sense.

 
               

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