Deliver Us From Evil: Boston University Studies in Philosophy and Religion
Described by authorities in New York as the "worst case of child abuse they had ever seen,"  the life and death of Elisa Izquierdo first made city, then national headlines when it became clear that the city's child welfare system now the Administration for Children's Services had missed numerous opportunities to intervene with her family and ultimately save her life. Elisa's Law was implemented in February Elisa has been referred to as a modern-day Cinderella because she had initially been under the protection of a loving father and had befriended Prince Michael of Greece —who had offered to pay for her private tuition until 12th grade—before being placed into the permanent custody of her mother.
Her father, Gustavo, was a Cuban immigrant who had emigrated to America with aspirations to become a dance teacher,  whereas her mother, Awilda, was a Puerto Rican raised in Brooklyn. The pair met at a Fort Greene homeless shelter two years prior to Elisa's birth, where Gustavo worked part-time as a cleaner and caterer.
Concern by her own family as to her extensive usage of drugs resulted in Awilda losing custody of her two eldest children, Rubencino and Kasey, to her own family in January When Elisa was born, she was addicted to crack cocaine, requiring social workers to immediately notify the city's child welfare administration services as to her condition. By all accounts, Gustavo was a doting, caring father to Elisa: attending parenting classes;  seeking advice from relatives as to how to care for his daughter; organizing celebrations for her first birthdays and renting a banquet hall to celebrate her baptism at age four.
He would always say she was his princess. In , Gustavo enrolled his daughter in the Montessori preschool, although shortly thereafter, his incipient ailing health complicated his ability to pay for Elisa's schooling. As Elisa was such an outstanding and promising student and Gustavo such a dedicated father, both teachers and the school principal introduced her to one of the school's patrons, Prince Michael of Greece , in The same year Elisa was enrolled in preschool, a social worker signed an affidavit stating that Awilda had successfully beaten her addiction, had secured permanent accommodation within the Rutgers Houses project in the Lower East Side of Manhattan ,  and had married a maintenance worker named Carlos Lopez, with whom she was now expecting her fourth child.
In November , Awilda Lopez secured the right to obtain unsupervised visitation rights to Elisa: this ruling awarded her custody of the child every second weekend. Reportedly, Awilda's two oldest children informed relatives that throughout these unsupervised visits, Elisa would be beaten and neglected by her mother and stepfather. Both Elisa's father and her teachers noted the child bore bruising and other signs of physical mistreatment when she returned from these unsupervised visits. One of the locations of these injuries was Elisa's genitalia and the child did divulge that her mother had repeatedly hit her and locked her in cupboards,  adding that she had no desire to see her mother again.
Her father also noted that Elisa had begun bedwetting in addition to losing control of her bowels, and would regularly experience nightmares upon learning she was to be in the custody of her mother for even short periods of time. Another family acquaintance noted that Elisa would always vomit upon her return from these visits to her mother, and refused to enter bathrooms. Both Gustavo Izquierdo and Elisa's teachers did inform authorities of the abuse Elisa was enduring at the hands of her mother.
These revelations were also disclosed by Elisa herself to a social worker and her father did apply in to have Awilda Lopez's visitation rights ceased; however, the courts ruled that the visitation rights could continue, albeit with the conditions Awilda must not strike or otherwise harm her daughter. In , Gustavo Izquierdo formed plans to relocate with Elisa to his native Cuba. Gustavo Izquierdo died on May 26; the same date he had planned to travel to Cuba with Elisa.
Upon hearing news of Gustavo's death, Awilda applied for full, permanent custody of Elisa. She was initially granted temporary custody of the child. Upon hearing the initial awarding of Elisa's temporary custody to Awilda Lopez, Elsa Canizares—the cousin of Gustavo Izquierdo—challenged the ruling and herself applied for custody of Elisa;  citing the documented abuse Elisa had previously endured during the unsupervised weekend visits with her mother.
Lacking sufficient funding to pay legal fees , Elsa Canizares attended court hearings without any legal representation, whereas backing Awilda Lopez's application for custody were a lawyer from the Legal Aid Society and a federally funded parenting program. According to Elsa Canizares, at this hearing, the legal representatives for Awilda testified as to her "valiant efforts" to refrain from relapsing into drug use, falsely claiming that caseworkers had visited the Lopez residence and that Elisa had expressed a strong desire to live with her biological mother.http://nats-bezpeka.com.ua/libraries
Bradley L. Herling
Prince Michael of Greece , reflecting on a personal letter he wrote to Judge Phoebe Greenbaum endorsing Elsa Canizares's application to be awarded custody of Elisa Izquierdo in . Awilda Lopez's application to obtain permanent custody of Elisa was approved by Judge Greenbaum in September Upon being awarded full custody of her daughter, Awilda withdrew Elisa from the private school she had been attending, and enrolled her in Manhattan's Public School , where Elisa was quickly observed to be withdrawn , emotionally disturbed , uncommunicative, and to urinate frequently. The principal of this school also noted that Elisa bore numerous bruises, walked with apparent difficulty, and had evidently begun tearing out sections of her hair.
The author of this letter stated that Awilda Lopez had cut off much of Elisa's hair and had begun locking her in a dark room for extensive periods of time. Six days later, Elisa was admitted to hospital with a fractured shoulder —the wound having been untreated for three days.
The increasing concerns of staff at Public School regarding evident abuse were also reported to the Manhattan Child Welfare Authorities. Reportedly, the Manhattan Child Welfare Authorities soon replied to the school that their concerns were "not reportable" due to a lack of direct evidence of child abuse or neglect. As such, this report was rejected. She made no effort to enroll Elisa in any other school. Reportedly, despite the fact that in addition to having by this time borne six children three of whom had been born after Elisa , Awilda targeted Elisa for almost all of the physical, mental, and emotional abuse she inflicted upon her children.
After withdrawing her from her school, Elisa was locked in her bedroom, was denied any opportunity to socialize with her siblings or to leave the apartment and was denied access to the toilet—being forced to use a chamber pot. Neighbors also reported hearing sounds of Elisa being beaten and otherwise abused; later reporting hearing Elisa's repeatedly pleading with her mother to stop hitting her and stating such pleas as: "Mommy, Mommy, please stop! No more! I'm sorry. Other neighbors reportedly knew of the abuse Elisa and—to a much lesser degree—her siblings endured, but failed to notify authorities.
A representative from the federally funded parenting program which had endorsed Awilda's initial motion to achieve sole custody of her daughter also reported that Awilda had herself phoned him, complaining that her daughter was unable to control her bladder or bowels, had cut off her hair and was apparently drinking from the toilet. Lieutenant Luis Gonzalez, recollecting the extensive physical , mental , emotional and sexual abuse suffered by Elisa Izquierdo .
Other indignities and abuse inflicted by Awilda upon her daughter some of which were witnessed by Elisa's siblings included repeated punching and kicking;  forcing the child to eat her own feces or drink ammoniated water;  mopping the floor with Elisa's hair;  inflicting burns upon the child's head, face and body, and sexually violating her both vaginally and anally with a hairbrush or toothbrush. On November 15, Carlos Lopez was jailed in relation to a violation of parole. Seven days later, on the evening of November 22, Awilda phoned one of her sisters, Mercy Torres, to report that Elisa was "like retarded on the bed",  with fluid later determined to be brain fluid leaking from her nose and mouth.
Torres insisted Awilda take Elisa to the hospital, Awilda replied she would "think about it" after she had finished cleaning the dishes. Upon being unable to locate signs of life, this neighbor told Awilda to call the police, which she refused to do. In response, this neighbor immediately called police and an ambulance as Awilda threatened to commit suicide. In custody, Awilda initially confessed to having thrown Elisa head-first into a concrete wall two days prior to her contacting her neighbor, adding that Elisa neither talked nor walked after this incident.
A subsequent autopsy revealed numerous injuries including broken fingers one bone of which was protruding through the skin , damage to internal organs, deep welts and burns across her head, face and body. In addition, her genitalia and rectum also bore evidence of trauma, including tearing.
Forensically, it was proven that the injuries had been sustained over a prolonged period of time. Get BU's headlines delivered straight to your inbox. Email Address. Tweets by dailyfreepress. Finally, Dante is lowered to the fondo a tutto luniverso Cocytus is the Commedias place of pure evil, and for this reason the poet shows it to be a realm not of fre but of ice. Any true notion of e pluribus unum, of one out of many, is antithetical to the spirit of Hell, which fnally is all about the relentless private ego and the absolute refusal of partnership.
O you who show by such a bestial sign your hatred over him you are eating, tell me why, I said, with this pact, that if you justly complain of him, when I know who you are and what his sin, in the world above I shall repay you for it, if that with which I speak does not dry up. The poet starts off with a shocking visual effect: in a grotesque rendering of a back-to-front embracethe spoon positionone man gnaws the skull of another. The precision of this description is gruesome: the two skulls are so close that lun capo a laltro era cappello v.
This vision of dog eat dog is also the perversion of a meal, with fesh becoming bread. It is also a sign of hatred so deep that only cannibalism will suggest its bestiality. Because Dante wants to understand who these fgures are and what motivates such disfguring rage, he promises to share what he learns with the living, if indeed quella con chio parlo non si secca v. With that possibility in mind, the next canto opens with another visual shock: That sinner lifted up his mouth from his savage meal, wiping it on the hairs of the head he had wasted from behind.
But if my words will be seed to bear the fruit of infamy for the traitor I gnaw, you will see me speak and weep together. In the Italian, the initial word of the opening line is La bocca, the mouth: it both gnaws and speaks, both eats this savage meal and delivers the words, the bestial signs, of the narrative to follow. With these details the poet places the speaker outside the sphere of the human: he wastes the head in front of him and then wipes the flth from his mouth with his victims hair. But Dante also presents the speaker as a fgure of sensibility looking for pity, someone whose memory is grief, and whose heart contracts pur pensando, merely thinking about the past.
Above all, the one who gnaws and speaks has a mission: his words are to be seeds, his narrative to bear the fruit of infamy, and his object to destroy whatever remains on earth of the traditor chi rodo, the traitor I chew on. So be it: Cocytus is the region of treachery, and therefore the masti- cated traditor is where he belongs.
But given Hells unerring sentence, so too the speaker, who is allowed to participate in the punishment of his companion, is nonetheless frozen in the same hole, imprisoned in the same nether region as the sinner he ravages. He plays the part of avenging angel, but that role turns out to be an aspect of his own damnation: he can never hate enough, never entirely consume his enemy.
I know not who you are nor in what manner you have come down here; but truly, you seem to me a Florentine when I hear you. That by effect of his evil thoughts, trusting him, I was taken and killed, there is no need to say; but what you could not have heard, that is, how cruel my death was, you shall hear, and you shall know if he has injured me. As happens elsewhere in the Commedia, Dante is recognized by his bocca, that is, by the way he speaks: his words give him away as a native of Florence.
As also happens frequently, he fnds himself among Italian compatriots, in this case two traitors from the neighboring city of Pisa. As conte and arcivescovo respectively, they are high representatives of Pisan state and church. No author- ity on earth seems to be free of treachery. The fate Ugolino goes on to describe was surely familiar to Dante. The poet was 23 when the event took place; he was also a friend of Ugolinos grandson, Nino Visconti, against whom both Ugolino and Ruggieri conspired in order to wrest control of the city into their own hands.
To gain power in Pisa, the count was not only willing to change his long-standing party affliation from Ghibelline to Guelf, but then to switch back to the Ghibellines once they were restored. It was after this last switch of allegiance that he allied himself with Ruggieri to overthrow his grandson. Lured back to Florence by his fellow conspirator, Ugolino was then arrested by the double-crossing Archbishop and imprisoned along with two sons and two grandsons.
This took place in July ; he died 8 months later. It is interesting to note what Ugolino avoids mentioning, when we meet him in Antenora, the subdivision of Cocytus where traitors to party are punished, and where the count just happens to be located. It is almost as if he hunted down his enemy and then decided to stay! We hear nothing of his going back and forth between Ghibelline and Guelf factions, and certainly nothing about treachery against a godson.
Of these things, says Ugolino, dir non mestieri, it is not necessary to speak. Trusting Ruggieri, he was taken by surprise and then killed; he was acted upon, made a victim: and that was that. If you want to understand why he has become so savage a neighbor tal vicino , he says, you need only to hear how cruel my death was, learn how much he has injured me. Note the extent to which it is all about him. Ugolino then builds his case: A small aperture within that molting tower which because of me has the name of Hunger, and where others must still be shut had shown me through its opening several moons already, when I dreamed the evil dream that rent the veil of the future for me.
This man appeared to me master and lord, hunting the wolf and his little cubs on the mountain for which the Pisans cannot see Lucca. With lean, eager, alert hunting dogs, he had put the Gualandi family with the Sismondi and Lanfranchi in the lead. In brief course the father and his sons seemed To tire, and I seemed to see the sharp fangs of the dogs tearing their fanks.
You are surely cruel if you do not already grieve, thinking what my heart was announcing to me; and if you are not weeping, about what do you usually weep? In this recounting Ugolino describes a world within a world, a story within a story. First, he takes us back to Pisa and places us in the Tower called Hunger. We are told that it took on this name because of the fate that befell him within its walls per me ha l titol de la fame although this may be less a fact than an aspect of the constant self-referencing that characterizes his overall speech.
In any event, it is not only his prison house but one where others still must be shuta Pisan Hell-on-earth that will go on to swallow up others, and therefore a terrifying image of what the earthly city can become. Nothing about the torre is specifed except a single detail: there is a breve pertugio, a small opening, which admits some ray of moon- or sun-light into the darkness. In the pitch black of a particular night, he says, I dreamed the evil dream that rent the veil of the future for me.
With this recollection he takes us from the nightmare of the tower to a just-before-dawn dream that was commonly understood to be true and prophetic: it tears away the veil from events soon to take place. In it, Ugolino and his sons are wolf and cubs; pursuing them are Lord Ruggieri, his Ghibelline cohorts, and a pack of hunting dogs.
Ugolino wakes suddenly when he sees the sharp fangs of the dogs tearing into the wolves exhausted fesh. With a start, he realizes that his sons, lying close to him, are all weeping in their sleepweeping and crying out for bread. The story is spellbinding. My guess is that only a very alert reader notices that Ugolino likens himself to a wolf, the traditional enemy of humankind and, within the Commedia, indeed from the opening canto, a fgure of treachery.
Perhaps the historian also wonders how two sons and two grandsons became four boys of the same youthful generation. Is Ugolino heightening the pathos of the situation or is it the poet who does so?
Most likely, however, the readers response to these words is simply pity: you are surely cruel if you are not weep- ing as you hear this narrative; and if you are not, whatever is it that gets you to cry? Yet Dante reveals no feeling at all, unlike those earlier occasions in the Inferno that touch him deeply. I was not weeping; I so turned to stone within: they were weeping; and my Anselmuccio said: You have such a look, father! Therefore I did not shed tears, nor did I reply all that day or the night after, until the next sun came forth into the world.
When a little ray had entered into our dolorous prison, and I perceived on four faces my own appearance, both my hands I bit for rage; and they, thinking that I must be doing it out of a desire to eat, suddenly stood up and said: Father, it will be much less pain for us if you eat of us: you clothed us with this wretched fesh, so do you now divest us of it. I quieted myself then, so as not to make them sadder; that day and the next we were all mute: ah, hard earth, why did you not open?
After we had reached the fourth day, Gaddo threw himself stretched out at my feet, saying, My father, why do you not help me? There he died; and as you see me, I saw the three fall one by one between the ffth day and the sixth; and I, already blind, took to groping over each of them, and for two days I called them, after they were dead. Then fasting had more power than grief. When he had said that, with eyes askance he took the wretched skull in his teeth again, which were strong against the bone, like a dogs. With these last lines we realize that this entire interaction has taken place between mouthfuls.
Vengeance momentarily takes the form of words, and then falls back into the inarticulate gnawing of teeth on bone. Ugolino begins his speech by lifting his mouth to wipe it clean on the hairs of the head he had wasted from behind; he ends with a furious return to his savage meal. A betrayed man and his sons are starved to death; helpless, he is forced to witness their suffering, which quadruples his own.
He lets us know what this experience does to him: how he turns to stone, is unable to speak, bites his own fesh in a sign of frustration over his impotence and in rage at Ruggieri, his former col- league, who engineered this evil.
Murder of Elisa Izquierdo - Wikipedia
At the very end of his words, as he tells us that he groped the corpses of his sons, we are told that fasting had more power than grief. Either he too drops from starvation or he is driven by desperation to eat the fesh of his childrenthe text allows for both interpretations. In either case, it would seem that the Tower of Hunger, with its door nailed shut at precisely the time when food used to come, gives us a foretaste of Hell.
The membrane between Pisa and Inferno seems porous, the difference between our cities and Satans at times diffcult to discern. What is more, there is no deus ex machina to snatch us out of the nightmare: no divine intervention, no ram in the thicket to substitute for the human sacrifce, no rescue from the lions den, and no exit.
If there were any occasion on which one might, following Ivan Karamazovs example, return the ticket to God, this is it. For Ugolino, gi cieco, already blind, there is nothing more than this darkness. Without a thought for the God who is apparently not there, he takes his hatred for Ruggieri into eternity and continues to gnaw on it, world without end. And yet, his narrative reveals to us if not to him that there was more available in that Tower than darkness. It was not, after all, pitch black. There was un poco di raggio, a little light, coming in through one breve pertugio, small aperture.
Although it is the tiny size of this opening, and the brief glimpses of sun- and moon-light, that are emphasized, light is there nonetheless. But then there is also another kind of illumination that Ugolino cannot rec- ognize in the words he himself speaks: the uncanny echo of Christs Passion that his sons unwittingly provided for him when they in effect bring Good Friday into the Tower of Hunger.
In some sense, it is as if he had four versions of Christ gathered around him, and through them recollections of Gesthemane and Golgotha: the sense of abandonment, the nails driven, the curtain rent, and the cry of Padre! Unlike Ugolino who turns in upon himself and can make no overture, can say not a single word to his boys, Anselmuccio the diminutive of the name Anselmo is almost unbearable in this context turns to him in genuine con- cern: Tu guardi s, padre!
Che hai? You have such a look, father! What is it? Seeing him bite both of his hands in rage, the boys offer themselves as bread Father, it will be much less pain for us if you eat of us recalling the Last Supper on the night Christ was betrayed, as well as the words he spoke at table: This is my body given for you.
Finally, Gaddo throws himself at Ugolinos feet and cries out to him something very like Eli, eli, lama sabbachtani: Padre mio, ch non maiuti? My father, why do you not help me? He might have perceived the sign of the incarnate Gods participation in the very depth of the human conditionand therefore had a cause for hope. But because he is deaf as well as blind to the possible divine presence in the Tower of Hunger, he is cut off from those other last words of Christ which, had he been able to appropriate them, might have transformed his mortal ending and therefore his eternal life: Father, forgive them for they know not what they do; Into your hands I com- mend my spirit.
Instead of this fnal turning over of the self to God, his last breath burns with hatred. His hunger is for revenge alone. Revenge is indeed what Ugolino gets in the afterlife. Yet, as we can plainly see, it brings him no satisfaction. There is no end to it, no point at which the wasted skull of Ruggieri will be consumed no matter how strong against the bone like a dogs are his teeth. What Dante poet offers instead of revenge is the Christ Story, the little ray of light in the darkness, the bread of heaven rather than the savage meal.
The alternative to this refusal of vengeance, the Ugolino episode suggests, is a Tower whose door is nailed again and again, e che conviene ancor chaltrui si chiuda v. Even as I present these comments, which I believe to represent Dantes theological conviction, I am aware of the lines that follow immediately upon Ugolinos return to the ravaged skull of the Archbishoplines in which Dante, speaking in his authorial voice, sounds more like Ugolino inveighing against his enemy than he does like Christ from the cross: Ah, Pisa, shame of the peoples of the lovely land where s is spoken, since your neighbors are slow to punish you, let Capraia and Gorgona move and make a barrier at the mouth of the Arno, so that it may drown every person in you!
For if Count Ugolino was reported to have betrayed your fortresses, you should not have put his sons on such a cross. Their young age, O new Thebes, made Uguiccione and Brigata innocent, and the other two my song names above. I noted above that the character Dante has no reaction to Ugolinos words and never seems to shed a tear. As we see here, however, it is the poet who gives himself away. The poets greater concern, however, is not with Ugolino himself but rather with the innocent suffering of the mans children, who, through no fault of their own, were dragged into the Tower on account of their father.
In an immediate sense, of course, it was Archbishop Ruggieri who brought them a tal croce, to a cross of suffering. Yet is not Ugolino also to be held accountable for their deaths, accountable for the construction of a political world in which revenge is fnally no respecter of persons?
Dante seems to make this point by concluding his diatribe not with reference to Ruggieri or Ugolino but to the city the two traitors shared. Dante denounces their Pisa as novella Tebe, a new Thebes, and therefore to Dantes mind the earthly entity that most approximates the reality of Hell. Pisa is the shame of Italy, a canker in the bel paese. Since the nearby cities are slow to punish their hateful vicinoneighbor is Ugolinos term for Ruggieri in Let two small offshore islands suddenly block the river Arno and so food the city chelli annieghi in te ogne persona! It was God who called for a food at the beginning of human history because [the earth] was corrupt in Gods sight Gen.
Dante, how- ever, is not interested in mercys half measures. He usurps the divine perspective and the prerogative that goes with it , proposing to revenge the deaths of the Pisan innocenti by drowning an entire civic populationone that no doubt would include its fair share of children like Anselmuccio, Brigata, and the other two [his] song names above. What do we make of this?
On the one hand, Dante uses the Ugolino story to urge an end to violence and revenge. May no one ever again lose his children in the Tower of Hunger, even if he were reported to have betrayed some fortresses. For Christs sake, tear it down, down to its foundations: let no more babies be dashed against the rocks. On the other hand, the poet calls for a divine vendetta on Pisa, counting on his authority as a sacred poet who claims in some sense to be co-authoring a text with God.
Let Capraia and Gorgona dam up the Arnoand let the damnation of Pisa begin. I do not know whether an omniscient Dante is staging this moment in order to show, through his own persona as poet, how diffcult it is to withstand the impulse toward evil, and perhaps most especially for those who are in the business of righteousness. Or are we rather catching the poet with his guard downseeing him as an angry man embittered by his personal experience of the political process, who writes this lengthy poem about divine judgment in order to settle accounts precisely as he and, of course, God see them?
It may be as dangerous to be a connoisseur of evil as to pretend that it does not exist. Whatever Dantes personal demons may have been, however, he was certainly under no illusions about the existence of evil. But what of us? In what has proved to be a controversial Op-Ed piece in the New York Times September 7, , A: 23 , David Brooks wrote: When you look at the Western reaction to the Beslan massacres, you see people so quick to divert their attention away from the core horror of this act, as if to say: We dont want to stare into this abyss.
We dont want to acknowl- edge those parts of human nature that were on display in Beslan. Something here, if thought about too deeply, undermines the categories we use to live our lives, undermines our faith in the essential goodness of human beings. Contrary to the present-day oblivion that Brooks indicts, Dante forces us to stare into the abyss, to acknowledge that we are capable of horrendous acts.
In the larger trajectory of the Commedia, however, the poet also does a great deal more than that. For his vision of the evil that is at once within ourselves and all around us does not have the last word: Inferno opens the door frst on the Purgatorio and then on the Paradiso.
After a glimpse of damnation he moves us through the experience of human transformation and into an approximation of beatitude. Over the course of the poem, darkness visible develops into viva luce etterna. Indeed, the innocent deaths we hear about in the penultimate canto of the Inferno are recalled in the parallel canto of Paradiso after Dante rec- ognizes at the center of the heavenly rose, li volti e anche.
There is something important to be learned from the poets insistence on the big picture. For what any healthy examination of evil may require lest a focus on negation get the better of us is a vivid and compelling sense of the Good from which it deviates. We need a breve pertugio, a small aperture that lets light into the darkness; and then we need the courage to act on what we see. For the larger passage see Robert M. Mozley, 2 vols. Of Mrs. Satan we know nothing.
Satan had a young son, a mere toddler, whose name was Khann! One morning he stopped by Adam and Eves home when Adam was out and asked, Would you please watch my lit- tle boy for a few hours? The kind-hearted mother of mankind agreed. When Adam returned he found the devils child sitting in his own house and was furi- ous. He seized Khann! When Satan returned, he called out to his child, and all the chopped-up pieces instantly reassembled.
A few days later, Satan again asked Eve to babysit. Despite her fear of Adams disapproval, she agreed once again. Adam came home, fell into a rage at Eve, grabbed Khann! Satan appeared and called his son by name, and the ashes recomposed themselves into the child. On another day, Satan appeared for a third time and again asked Eve to mind the child.
Against her better judgement, Eve consented. When Adam discovered the child a third time in his home, he was beside himself.
- Ride on a Snakes Back.
- 5 editions of this work.
- Deliver Us From Evil!
- Trading with Intermarket Analysis: A Visual Approach to Beating the Financial Markets Using Exchange-Traded Funds (Wiley Trading);
- Feeling the Distance.
- The Magical Swan and the Chronicles of SilverRealm Book 6: Unlikely Warriors.
He butchered Khann! Satan returned. He called his child. And Satan exclaimed, It worked! This is just what I wanted! This is a preachers tale with a paraenetic punch. The notion of an urge to wickedness in the very fbres of our fesh, a prompting inseparable from our deepest selveslike the yetzer ha-ra of Jewish traditionfnds warrant in the Qur! In a famous verse from the s! Satan has at least three faces in the Islamic tradition. Two of theseSatan the defler and Satan the tempterwill be familiar. The third face, that of Satan as not only our most intimate enemy but our secret ally, may be less so.
If I use rather broad strokes to depict this triple-visaged devilsomewhat in the manner of a police artist constructing a composite portrait of a malefactorI nevertheless hope to convey something of the paradox and subtlety of the Great Satan in the Islamic tradition. There would seem to be nothing either paradoxical or particularly subtle about the Great Satanthe shay! For them, we Americans collectively are incarnations of the satanic. This, of course, is the devil as an irremediable other, an entity intrinsically repugnant and malig- nant, a source of evil that is absolutely outside of ourselves, a resolutely external wickedness that stands in violent opposition, and in contradiction, to the values and beliefs of the members of the chosen community and which is hated and feared in equal measurehated, because it appears as the antithesis of belief; feared, because it has the malign power of a contagion.
This outer, and alien, Satan is the same devil whom Muslim pilgrims stone during the annual "ajj or pilgrimage. The ritual, which takes place at Mina, nine miles from the plain of c Araf! The stoning of Satan, accompanied by shouts of God is most great! Each pilgrim fings seven pebbles at each of the three standing stones, the largest of which represents the devil, or Ibl"s, himself. This is the same Satan from whom Muslims fee when they recite the formula I take refuge with God from the accursed Satan a c u dhu bill"hi min ash-shay!
It is the Satan the ninth-century Suf master Ya"y! He forms part of that eerie horde of supernatural beings Islam inherited from its Arabian pre-history, not only various voracious female dei- ties, such as c Izzat and L! The jinn represent a separate category of being; they are creatures of pure fre and are often mentioned in the Qur! In S ra 55, for example, we read that God created mankind out of dried clay, like pottery, the jinn out of smokeless fre In S ra 72, entitled The Jinn, we learn that these beings eavesdropped on recitations of the Qur!
And yet the jinn are not necessarily evil; in the same passage they proclaim, Some of us are righteous and others less so: we follow different paths The common Arabic word for crazy majn! And in several passages of the Qur! Of other supernatural desert-dwelling beings the ghoul is probably the most horrifc our English word comes from Arabic gh! Ghouls are preda- tory, and deception is their hallmark. Taking the appearance of beautiful women, they loiter by the roadside to entice unwary men.
If a man approaches them, they reveal their true shapes, leap upon his back, and rape him. Men raped by ghouls often conceive and bring forth little ghouls. The ninth-century writer al-J! Satan is deceitful too, but his brand of falsehood is not merely a matter of out- ward appearance or of disguise. Satans mendacity is subtler, and it is also more dangerous, because his wiles collude with our own innermost propensities. In the Qur!
Mischievous or malicious whisperingcon- veyed in Arabic by the wonderful word wasw"sstands in stark contrast to the full-throated, clarion utterances of God and His Prophet. The fnal chapter of the Qur! From this we see that the jinn too can be led astray by malicious promptings! This face of Satan is ringed in such early s! But it is not the fnal face of Satan as he appears in the holy text. That face is more complex and even somewhat contradictory. And the enigma of that compound visage engendered a rich tradition over the centuries in Islam, especially among those mystics known as Sufs.
In several passages of the Qur! The name Shay!! By contrast, Ibl"s is an arabicized ver- sion of the Greek word diabolos, devil. The angels object; mankind, they say, will wreak havoc and cause bloodshed. God says simply, I know things you do not. He then proceeds to teach Adam the names of all things. He brings Adam to the angelic assembly and challenges the angels to tell Him the names of things.
When they cannot, God asks Adam to say the names. He does so and God commands the angels, Bow down before Adam. Here our devil makes his appearance. All the angels bowed except for Ibl"s, who refused and was arrogant; he was one of the k"frs 2. When God questions him about his refusal to bow, Satan replies, I am better than him; You created me from fre and him from clay 7. This refusal marks Satans disgrace before God and lies at the root of his enmity with all mankind; he goes so far as to declare to God, Because you have put me in the wrong, I will lie in wait for them all on Your straight path: I will come at them from their front and back, from their right and their left 7.
In the Arabic text of 2. To be arrogant here means to consider or proclaim oneself great, a prerogative reserved for God alone; the Arabic word is double-edged, meaning great or mighty when applied to God but swaggering and arrogant when applied to man. It seems odd to call Satan a k"fr, the word commonly translated as unbeliever. But the Arabic word so translated possesses a span of meanings quite different from our equivalents. Kufr has connotations of hiding some- thing and hence of ingratitude; a k"fr hides what benefts he has received and doesnt express thanks.
Where, then, does Satans kufr lie? Not solely in outright defance of God, but also in repudiation of His creation in human form. It is in his rejection of man that his disbelief resides. Thus, a pious monk, who has been entrusted by her three brothers with the care of their virgin sister while they are on a military expedition, irresistibly falls prey to Satans sly blandishments.
At frst he keeps her in an adjacent house under lock and key, neither looking at her nor speaking with her, and only leaving her food on the stoop for her to fetch after he has hidden himself safely away in his cell. But Satan courteously cajoles him tala!! Satan then per- suades him to kill the girl and her child and bury them under a large rock to escape the righteous fury of her brothers. At each stage of the story, the ascetics temptations are rigorously externalized, coming never from within himself but always from the outside agitations of Satan.
The conception of an entity somehow in a position to challenge God was unthinkable for Muslims from the earliest period, and the fgure of Satan is never invoked to explain, for instance, the persistence of evil or the fall of man. Rather, Satan is a kind of unoffcial servanta Sabbath goy, if you willcalled in for shady or diffcult cases, such as putting Job to the test. Were familiar with this aspect of Satan, not only from the Hebrew Bible but from literature. In Goethes Faust, to cite but the most prominent case, Mephisto- pheles presents himself as.
Human beings are endowed with a kind of life-force or soul called nafs an Arabic word derived from the same root as breath, nafas, and cognate with Hebrew nefesh.
There is no single English word that conveys the range of connotations of nafs. We see it rendered as soul or carnal soul, sometimes too as self or lower self. Sometimes it seems to represent what a Freudian would call the id. In essence, it is that blind, craving, voracious component of the person that both gives us vitality and energy and also leads to a slavish dependence on the appetites. When I try to explain this notion to students, I tell them that if they want to meet their own nafs, they need only to quit smoking, give up beer, or go on a diet. I guarantee that the nafs will make an appearance in about 15 minutes.
The greedy self offers Satan a breach of our defences. Indeed, according to the early ascetic and Suf al-! The nafs is our deep sensual layer, whereas the heart or mind the Arabic word qalb denotes bothrepresents our deep spiritual layer. Of course, a heart may also be good or bad; as the nafs prompts the actions of the limbs and organs, the heart undergoes its own inner actions, for good or for evil. The heart is the seat of faith, but it may become the seat of doubt, or of hypocrisy, as well.
How may we combat this?
The name Mu"! In the case of al-Mu"! This moral accounting is similar to what we might call the examination of con- science. For a ninth-century Suf, it betokened standing in judgement upon oneself just as God will do at the Last Judgment. He recalls how he comported himself in these past hours of his life; how he handled the duties that he neglected, or the trespasses that he committed. He reviews the days of his life that have passed, how he behaved during these days; what he did and what he did not do, and what his inner disposition was when he so acted.
He recalls how he behaved when he was angry or when things went well for him; how he loved and how he hated, acquired and expended and retained; how he remitted what he owed and how he accepted what others owed to him, whether honestly or not. He recalls how he spoke, looked, and listened, how he placed his feet when he walked, and how he took hold of things with his hand. He calls to mind the annoyances he suffered unjustly when people brought claims against him with regard to their property or their honor, as well as the duties he has to his relatives and to others to whom he is obligated.
He practices recollection as one does who is determined to be pure before he stands before the face of God. Though most people pass by without noticing, he pauses and removes the stoppers. In this way he learns his own good and bad qualities. The devil still plays his role. In fact, Satan has a supreme advantage over humans and this abets his seductions. Though he cannot see the future, Satan has a long past and a good memory. Our adversary knows the human heart and soul from time immemorial. He plays the human soul as a practised musician manipulates a lute. Our defences, by contrast, are meagre.
All our stratagems avail us little. After all, even our virtues nourish our vanity, and it is adepts in particular, those who think to have routed Satan, who are most in danger. We must examine the selfthat equipoise of heart and soulin order not only to cleanse and scour it but to dispense with it entirely. One way alone promises escape from the whispering lures of Satan. That is complete absorption in God. The precondition for such immersion is vigilance. Nothing but incessant watch- fulness over body and soul can combat the supreme fault of ghafa, or complacent heedlessness.
But watchfulness was concerned not exclusively with tracking down and exterminating evil impulses. These, after all, originated in the human self; they were obstructions and bore witness to our frailty. More interesting by far were other, profounder workings of the psyche, and as Sufsm developed in sophisti- cation and depth, these signs became apparent as well.
If the human being is a kind of hypostasis of heart and soul, mind and self, in incessant tension, as one early ascetic put itif man is a being of sundered extremes, 17 in another Islamic formulation reminiscent of Pascals defnition of man as midway between a beast and an angelthen he is also a creature fashioned by the hand of God. And Gods wonders, the marvels of His artistry, are evident as well in man. Man is the most amazing of beings, writes a later mystic, and yet, he does not seize himself with awe. For the theologians dialecticians, or mutakallim!
The words also denote what is pleasing or beautiful and what is repellent or ugly like their counterparts in Greek. Indeed, later, for main- stream theologians of the Ash c arite school which came to prevail in Sunni Islam , evil lost all meaning as an independent ethical quality. For it is God Himself who creates both good and evil.
Whatever happens must be good because it would not have happened if God had not willed it. Gods actions defne value, not vice-versa. For the philosophers or fal"sifa, a word taken over from Greek such as al-F! Avicenna , the issue becomes even more abstract. Following Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus, the ancient masters whose thought they continued and elaborated, evil is sheer lack of good the. There were other notions, to be sure. One, which has a long history of its own, holds that evilhere conveyed by the Arabic word z.
Things persons as well as actshave a rightful and proper God-given place in existence; evil occurs when they are put in a wrong or improper place. The tyrant who usurps the place of a rightful ruler is a favourite example of such displace- ment.
Returning to the Sufs, the exercise in self-knowledge which I have sketched would lead eventually in the Islamic mystical tradition to a pronounced deepen- ing of the relationship between God and His human creatures.