Mikhail Naimy 1889 – 1988
This is the welcoming rock-sign to Mikhail Naimy’s mausoleum in his Shakhroub land at the foothills of Mountain Sannine.
This path takes the visitor to the mausoleum, a path to Mikhail Naimy’s world of thought and spirit, perhaps a path that leads to the self, or even to a higher self engraved in the memory of life.
The path leads to Mikhail Naimy’s head and shoulder statue which is 3.4 meters high, 2.5 meters deep, and 3 meters wide within the general width of 7 meters. Next to the statue lies the door that closes on the body of the thinker. All were sculpted in 1999 by the three Assaf brothers: Assaf Assaf, Mansour Assaf, and Aref Assaf.
Comprehensively funded and created by Nadeem Naimy, The Mikhail Naimy mausoleum project started on May 1st, 1999. On that day, the Assaf brothers moved to the ancestors home of Shakhroub – that was renovated by Mikhail Naimy in the 1940’s – and stayed there until September 7, 1999, the day of the mausoleum completion. On September 9, 1999, the official inauguration took place, and it was attended by Mr. Michel Semaha, the Minister of Culture back then, as well as a host of public cultural artistic social figures, all covered by the different media.
The Assaf brothers emulated the cover photo of Prof. Nadeem Naimy’s book Tareeq Az-Zat Ela’Zat (The Path to the Wider Self), a book that documents Mikhail Naimy’s life, as if Nadeem Naimy is archiving his uncle’s philosophy in the records of Shakhroub nature, eternizing the land. Nadeem Naimy, a professor of philosophy at the American University of Beirut (AUB), expressed his own philosophy of love and bond towards his uncle Mikhail through the megaannum Shakhroub rock with Mikhail Naimy’s slightly tilted head, supported by his left hand, looking with serenity and bliss ahead at life, within and beyond its visible borders.
Through Mikhail Naimy’s philosophy of transcendence, the person is wider and farther than his and her direct burdens of the mundane. The human objectives are to melt in the One Light, the source of every form of Light and Life.
Mikhail Naimy paved the path of his nephew Nadeem Najeeb Naimy for a ‘wider self’, a self that reached beyond the ever-changing temporality. Similarly, it is the time for Nadeem Naimy to pave the path for Mikhail-Naimy-Mausoleum visitors for ‘a wider self’. The visitor treads the path that pours into the wider area, the area of the engraved statue and the door behind which the remains of Mikhail Naimy rest. In that wider space, there is a remarkable symbiotic relationship between Mikhail Naimy’s concepts of God, creation and beauty with the surrounding nature and perfection. This relationship oozes a noticeable form of peace and harmony.
Because of the osmotic quality of bond between Mikhail Naimy and creation, between Mikhail Naimy and God, Nadeem Naimy selected these lines to be inscribed on the door-like epitaph from Mikhail Naimy’s book of prayer Najwa’l Ghouroub (Soliloquy to the Sunset), published in 1973. Mikhail Naimy raises meditation, prayer and praise to God, as his years approach their setting.
طفلك أنا يا ربي
البديعة الكريمة الحنون
التي وضعتني في حضنها
ليست سوى المهد
أدرج منه إليك
I am Your infant my Lord
And this exquisite generous tender land
In whose bosom you have placed me
Is but the cradle
From which I step into you
The door is left ajar because it is time for Mikhail Naimy to leave this world for the other. He is not the only one. Many have preceded and many will succeed. There is a constant movement of stepping in and out of this life to the next and vice versa, eroding the doorstep of that door.
Mikhail Naimy believed in reincarnation. Reincarnation is the answer to the varied levels of awareness. Some people’s souls are mostly animalistic while others’ are purely humanistic. Naimy relates this fact to the number of lives the soul has experienced: the more the lives, the better the filtering to the soul, the deeper the awakening, and the wider the self.
In other words, according to Mikhail Naimy, life truths can be simulated through a pyramid: the majority of the people, with their instinctive motors and temporal drawn worries, are at the base. The higher the humans climb the pyramid, the more challenging the transcendence, therefore the less the companions, until an eclectic few reach the one point, the one God, on top of the pyramid. As people ascend the pyramid, they obtain a better wider scenery, since they are at an elevated pedestal; they are able to unveil what the people below are oblivious of. The higher the level, the clearer the view, and the wider the self.
On the eroded doorstep, Mikhail Naimy deposited his book, along with his pen, and a twig of oak. These will not be needed in this life anymore as Naimy crosses to the afterlife. Plucked from Shakhroub - the land of oak - the oak twig lays anaesthetized and purposeless.
On the book, these lines are written:
تلك الوليمة يا قلمي
تنتهي عند أعتابها مهمتك
That banquet, my pen,
Ends at its doorsteps your mission...
Al-Raida #59, Fall 1992
Weeennn Paaaaahhh…. Shelling is at its peak outside. The candle light in the shelter flutters once to the left, another to the right, afraid of being strangled, trying to escape the invisible hand. I can see it playing shadows on the iced-staring faces around. It digs its way transparently through thick walls of darkness. How can such fragility penetrate such thickness? It tilts its body so graciously as it spells whispers and temptations. I can hear its murmurs: "Wake up Suha, feel life, feel warmth."
I was too nervous to answer and neglected its encouragement. I simply waved a gesture, "Go away," . . . and it curved its way far, far away from me. SILENCE ...
I listened carefully to the sounds of sighs, of darkness. Everything was moving along with the slow rhythm of my heart.
- "It's your turn, Suha," uttered one of the neighbors.
It was my turn to shuffle the cards. As I shuffled, reshuffled and distributed the cards, I could feel its cold breath ticking tick-tick, tick-tick, tick-tick... My heart responded do-dj, do-dj, do-dj, do-dj… What an enchanting symphony these two compose!
Every now and then, amidst the shelling outside and the giggles of the fearers inside, I used to steal a look at the clock on the wall, to watch its pendulum move steadily left and right, in perfect symmetry and rhythm, with incredible precision. If only I ...
- Hey Suha, it's your tum; where are you?
- Yes. I'm sorry. I was thinking of something else. ...
And I would continue my game of cards with the aces and the hearts in the grab of my hand, assured that the clock is still ticking. Bombs are still falling heavily outside and it still .. Shh, listen to it: tick-tick, tick-tick, tick-tick... Children crying and playing; parents praying, shouting, pleading ... tick-tick, tick-tick, tick-tick… What harmony, what persistence.
- "SUHAA," calIing me. I woke up from my trance
- “What is wrong with you?” my neighbor wondered.
- “What? Are we playing cards?” I asked.
- “What do you mean? We are trying to kilI time.”
- “Kill time? Can we do that?” SILENCE. ..
We're too arrogant in claiming we can kill time.
- “What do you want us to do? Sit and stare at the wall?” my neighbor commented.
- “But we can never kill time. Time kills us. We can never count minutes. Minutes count us.”
- “Who cares. They count us, we count them! Just play; will you?”
I kept my silence. My heart was pumping faster. Cold sweat slipped on my body. Bombardment was extremely intense. I need reassurance; I need stability; I need the clock on the wall.
Its pendulum was still moving. How heavy is its movement and how swift at the same time. Funny, how unity is obtained through contrasts: day and night, black and white, man and woman, positive and negative, or are these continuations?
Do not name things, Suha. ThIngs are what they are, broader than any definition.
I imagined the pendulum as Dr. Eckelburg's eyes, from Fitzgerald's book The Great Gatsby. I felt them watching me; they pierced my flesh and bones and saw what was beyond. They saw facts I never dared to face, or even bothered and wanted to know existed.
Dr. Eckelburg's eyes scared me. I looked away; I avoided eye-contact, but I could still feel his eyes watching me from far, still steady, heavy and swift. I whispered to myself: get busy Suha. Do not look in time's eyes. You'll be blinded; you'll be swept away.
At that time, I felt a cold breath breathing down my neck, and a strange sort of music coming from Dr. Eckelburg's eyes. I looked at them. My eyes stared, my body shook, my heart, my heart, where is my heart? I can't catch my breath. What happened? Why did the pendulum stop? I need to feel its stability, its persistence; it gives me courage.
My heart is beating alone now. Where is the ticking? What happened to my symphony? Will I survive? I am petrified. Somebody, somewhere help me. I am suffocating. Now the pendulum stands still: no ticking, no moving, no tranquility, no coldness, no warmth, nothing. I looked at the people around. I saw lips moving, gestures waving, but I could not hear any words, nor understand any signs. I felt myself alone, yet surrounded by tens. I focused on those around, but they were distant, a blurred vision.
- “Where am I?” I asked myself. (No answer)
- “Did I step out of time? Why isn't the pendulum moving? Am I dead or alive? What is death? Could the pendulum be moving, but I am unable to see it, in the way that I cannot hear the moving, seemingly soundless lips?”
- Stop asking. Look within.
- Who is this?...
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