Quote for the Day: Omar Khayyám on religious fundamentalists

And do you think that unto such as you
a maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew
God gave the Secret, and denied it me?
Well, well, what matters it! Believe that too.

– from The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

I liked it so much, selections from this same poem were read at my wedding at my request. This particular passage was referenced by Christopher Hitchens in a conversation with Andrew Sullivan that Sullivan recently revisited and placed in the context of the Boston Marathon bombings.

Of all the characters involved in these recent events, the uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, interests me the most. His own estimation of what motivated the “maggot-minded” fanatics in his own family may be reductionist, – “Being losers,..hatred to those who were able to settle themselves” – but also strikes me as perhaps the single, best explanation in this case. Beyond that, his declared love of country as rooted in her ideals, his evocation of personal responsibility, and his embrace of his own identity – “We are Muslims. We are Chechens.” – and also the shame brought upon him and his family: a very striking, humane performance. The article linked above includes the full video of his conversation with reporters in front of his house.

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