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A is for Arabs

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  • ummyakoub
    A is for Arabs From algebra and coffee to guitars, optics and universities -- an alphabetical reminder of what the West owes to the People of the Crescent
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 24, 2003
      A is for Arabs
      From algebra and coffee to guitars, optics and universities -- an
      alphabetical reminder of what the West owes to the People of the
      Crescent Moon.


      - - - - - - - - - - - -
      By George Rafael

      Jan. 8, 2002 | Even before Sept. 11 forced the West to face the
      cultural friction between it and the Arab/Islamic world, there was an
      unwarranted sense of superiority. The renowned Italian journalist and
      interviewer Oriana Fallaci wrote Arab culture off as a few
      interesting architectural flourishes and the Quran. Apparently, it's
      easy to forget that history is cyclical and the roles were once
      reversed. A millennium ago, while the West was shrouded in darkness,
      Islam enjoyed a golden age. Lighting in the streets of Cordoba when
      London was a barbarous pit; religious tolerance in Toledo while
      pogroms raged from York to Vienna. As custodians of our classical
      legacy, Arabs were midwives to our Renaissance. Their influence,
      however alien it might seem, has always been with us, whether it's a
      cup of steaming hot Joe or the algorithms in computer programs. A
      little magnanimity is called for.

      A is for algebra
      From "al-jabr," Arabic for "restoration," itself a transliteration of
      a Latin term, and just one of many contributions Arab mathematicians
      have made to the "Queen of Sciences." Al-Khwarizmi (c.780-c.850), the
      chief librarian of the observatory, research center and library
      called the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, was the man responsible for
      making my life miserable at school. The motivation behind his
      treatise, "Hisab al-jabr w'al-muqabala" ("Calculation by Restoration
      and Reduction": widely used up to the 17th century), which covers
      linear and quadratic equations, was to solve trade imbalances,
      inheritance questions and problems arising from land surveyance and
      allocation. In passing, he also introduced into common usage our
      present numerical system, which replaced the old, cumbersome Roman
      one. Al-Karaji of Baghdad (953-c.1029), founder of a highly
      influential school of algebraic thought, defined higher powers and
      their reciprocals in his "al-Fakhri" and showed how to find their
      products. He also looked at polynomials and gave the rule for
      expanding a binomial, anticipating Pascal's triangle by more than six
      centuries. Arab syntheses of Babylonian, Indian and Greek concepts
      also led to important developments in arithmetic, trigonometry (the
      algorithm, for instance, thanks to al-Khwarizmi) and spherical

      B is for backgammon
      Sheshbesh is what it's called in Beirut and Cairo, whence the
      savviest players hail. Although this beautiful waste of time dates
      back to the pharaohs, the form we enjoy today came to us via Moorish
      Spain in the 10th century. Ghioul and moultezim are two other
      variants of "the game of kings," popular wherever the happy hookah is

      C is for cough medicine
      Necessity being the mother of invention, the Arabs were the first to
      distill water, for long journeys across areas (such as the Sahara)
      where supplies were uncertain. Their experiments with various
      chemical compounds also gave us ethanol alcohol, sulfuric acid,
      ammonia (have you ever noticed the uncanny resemblance between Mr.
      Clean and the genie in "Thief of Baghdad"?) and mercury. In applied
      chemistry they discovered better and more efficient ways for tanning
      leather and forging metals. Messing around with mortars and pestles
      produced camphor, pomades and syrups.

      D is for Dante
      Her countryman Silvio Berlusconi echoed Fallaci's ill-spoken
      sentiments that, on the whole, Western civilization was superior to
      that of Islam. She said she was quite happy with Dante, thank you
      very much. She spoke too soon. Though the theory has long incited
      fierce debate, Dante may have been acquainted with "ascension
      literature," a fantastical literary genre that deals with Mohammed's
      ascent to Heaven (using a spiraling, magical ladder; ascension
      literature is still popular in the Middle East and Africa). Dante was
      undoubtedly acquainted with Avicenna and Averroes ("who made the
      great commentary"), assigned as they are to that benign circle of the
      Inferno reserved for pagan and non-Christian worthies known as Limbo.

      Moreover, according to the dean of Arabic literary studies, the
      formidable Robert Irwin, "a full understanding of the writings of
      Voltaire, Dickens, Melville, Proust and Borges, or indeed of the
      origins of science fiction, is impossible without some familiarity
      with the stories of the Arabian Nights." Aladdin, Sinbad the Sailor,
      Ali Baba and Scheherazade, archetypes each and every one, are
      honorary members of the Western canon. The mock, allegorical
      travelogues and cautionary tales of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Johnson
      and other 18th-century writers and philosophes, are inconceivable
      without the garrulous, wayward conceits of "The Arabian Nights."
      They're detectable as well in the parodic chivalry of Don Quixote and
      in Calvino's postmodern children's fable "Marcovaldo."

      E is for equestrian
      Although the ancestors of Mr. Ed and Secretariat probably originated
      in Central Asia (with the "Heavenly Horses" of the King of Ferghana),
      our equine friends were first bred for speed in the desert sands of
      the Empty Quarter. Arab historian al-Kelbi (c. 786) traced the
      Arabian to the pedigreed horses of Bax, great-great-great grandson of
      Noah. The conquest of the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa and Spain
      was due in no small part to the aptly named beast (and the
      indefatigable camel), mount of choice for the tribesmen who swept all
      in their path. The descendents of these terrible swift steeds were
      brought to the New World by the Conquistadors, to devastating effect,
      particularly in ancient Peru where the Incas mistook the horsemen for
      gods. (By the time they learned the truth it was too late.)
      Appropriately enough, the largest and most successful stable today
      belongs to Sheikh Maktoum of Dubai.

      F is for Fitzgerald
      Edward, translator of that beloved chestnut of yore, "The Rubáiyát of
      Omar Khayyám" (a jug of wine, a loaf of bread -- and thou). My
      concern here, of course, is not with Fitzgerald, nice duffer though
      he was, but with Khayyám himself (1048-1131) -- gifted physician,
      Persian bard and geometer extraordinaire. In his seminal "Algebra" he
      attempted a fusion of algebraic and geometric methods, discussing the
      solution of cubic equations by geometric means, anticipating
      analytical geometry. (Descartes took up this thread 500 years later,
      though it's unlikely he knew Khayyám's work.) Khayyám also dabbled in
      astronomy, his lunar calculations leading him to reform the calendar
      in 1079 (there are references to this throughout the Rubáiyát).
      Furthermore, Islamic astronomers invented the pendulum, improved upon
      the sundial, prognosticated the existence of sunspots and studied
      eclipses and comets. And al-Biruni calculated the length of the solar
      year to within 24 seconds and discussed the earth's rotation on its
      axis -- 500 years before Galileo. Arabian and Islamic astronomers
      also constructed the first observatories, in Toledo, Cordoba, Baghdad
      and Cairo.

      G is for guitar
      If the Moors had known they would be responsible for the spectacle of
      Mick Jagger shaking his scrawny ass onstage into his late 50s, they
      might have thought twice about schlepping the early prototypes of the
      instruments that make up the typical rock band to Spain and Southern
      Italy. Percussion in the form of cymbals and timpani, bowed
      instruments, the lute (from "al-ud," the wood; see "The Buena Vista
      Social Club" for more), the Spanish guitar (or guitarra morisca as it
      was originally called 800 years ago), the zither (brought west from
      Greece), the dulcimer began keeping the neighbors awake as early as
      the 9th century. There's also that unique Near Eastern sound and
      rhythm, which, aside from early Spanish music, made itself felt in
      18th-century classical music, most famously in Mozart's "The
      Abduction from the Seraglio." (Turkish things were so "in" then.
      Witness all those wonderfully exotic 18th-century Venetian scenes by
      Longhi and Reynolds' costumed, turbaned toffs.) Miles Davis accented
      the "Oriental," Near Eastern strain in his "Sketches of Spain." The
      godfather of world music, Davis incorporated Middle Eastern elements
      into his fusion of jazz and rock in the late '60s and '70s. Nowadays
      nobody thinks twice about such hybridization.

      H is for "Havi"
      Expanding on the legacy of the Greek physician and philosopher Galen
      was Rhazes (c. 865-c. 930), the greatest doctor of the Middle Ages.
      His extensive medical treatise in nine volumes, "Havi" ("The Virtuous
      Life"), was used as a textbook in the Sorbonne as late as 1395. In
      addition to case studies and clinical reports that still have
      anecdotal interest, Rhazes also wrote a celebrated monograph on
      smallpox. (Knock wood.)

      "The Book of Healing," by the Persian physician and philosopher
      Avicenna (980-1037), is a masterwork on hygiene and therapeutics that
      was used as a reference well into the 16th century. With Averroes
      (1126-1198), the Andalusian physician and philosopher, Arabian
      medicine attained its peak. Muslim surgeons in the 11th century knew
      how to treat cataracts and internal hemorrhaging, and they pioneered
      the usage of anesthetics, which they derived from herbs. Arabian
      hospitals anticipated our modern ones in combining teaching
      facilities and libraries, and in offering specializations such as
      internal medicine, opthamology, orthopedics and pharmacology (on the
      last, Ibn al-Bayter, who died in 1248, described 1,400 different
      medicines of vegetable and mineral origin alone). They also set
      standards for cleanliness and hygiene that in the West shamefully
      weren't met till the 19th century.

      I is for Ibn Khaldun of Tunis (1332-1406)
      He invented the scientific study of history (and, indirectly it could
      be argued, sociology) centuries before the French Enlightenment,
      Hegel, Weber and Braudel. His "Muqaddimah" ("The Prolegomena"), the
      introduction to a general survey of Islamic history with a specific
      focus on North Africa, was begun in 1377 and updated several times to
      account for sociopolitical changes. In it, he attempts to order the
      raw material and outward phenomena of history under basic principles.

      "Wise and ignorant are at one in appreciating history, since in its
      external aspect it is no more than narratives telling us how
      circumstances revolutionize the affairs of men, but in its internal
      aspect it involves an accurate perception of the causes and origins
      of phenomena. For this reason it is based on and deeply rooted in
      philosophy, worthy to be reckoned among its branches.

      "Human society in its various manifestations shows certain inherent
      features by which all narratives must be controlled ... The historian
      who relies solely upon tradition and who has no thorough
      understanding of the principles governing the normal course of
      events, the fundamental rules of the art of government, the nature of
      civilization and the characteristics of human society is seldom
      secure against straying from the highway of truth ... All traditional
      narratives must invariably be referred back to general principles and
      controlled by reference to fundamental rules."

      Of Olympian detachment, Ibn Khaldun was less prone than most
      historians, then and now, to fiddle the books and force facts to fit
      preconceived theories. He saw that the course of history is governed
      by the balance of two forces, which for him were the nomadic and the
      settled life. He identified history with civilization and, having
      established this theory, expounded in minute detail upon civilization
      in all its religious, administrative, economic, artistic and
      scientific layers.

      Ibn Khaldun briefly made headlines in the early 1980s, when President
      Reagan quoted him in a speech. His name mystified the White House
      press corps, driving them to their encyclopedias to bone up on this
      Ibn guy; within hours they were speaking knowledgeably of him. As an
      undergraduate at the time, I was taking a yearlong seminar
      entitled "Oriental Humanities." One of our assigned texts in the
      Arabian section was "Muqqadimah." Professor Meskill, an old China
      hand, informed us of the Great Communicator's "erudition." We all had
      a good laugh.

      J is for jihad
      This word, which has been misinterpreted as "religious war" but
      really means "an effort" or "striving," is one of many Arabic words
      that have entered the English language. Besides mullah and ayatollah,
      which have also acquired pejorative connotations, a partial list of
      Arabic words or derivatives thereof includes: alcohol, orange,
      coffee, sofa, caravan, tariff (from Tarifa -- the village through
      which the Moors invaded Spain, near Gibraltar), citrus, lemon,
      alembic, algebra, chess, sugar, cataract, magazine, seraphim, arsenal
      (also the name of a London soccer club, Osama bin Laden's favorite,
      appropriately enough), apricot, sandal, Satan (from "Shaitan," the
      Evil One), rice (from "al-ruzz"), sherbet and sorbet, talisman,
      artichoke, rack (from "arrack," perspiration, also the name of the
      fiery spirit, raqi; wrack your brains on that one), almanac, alcove,
      albatross (from "al-kadas," which the Portuguese corrupted
      into "alcatraz"; now what would the author of "Kubla Khan" make of
      that?), castle (from "alcazar"), albacore, Abyssinia, ginger, ghoul,
      zircon (from which we derive "jargon," one being a mixture of stones,
      the other of tongues), banana (from "banan," finger or toes), nadir,
      zenith, cipher, zero and monsoon (from "mausim," or season).

      K is for kebab
      Next time you're munching on a Nathans, or, in my case, disputing the
      nutritional value of chorizo with the missus, you have the Moor to
      thank. Cured meats and sausages and the humble kebab, usually lamb or
      beef (never pork), were among the culinary delights that came to
      Europe via Islamic Spain. Likewise the hotter spices and spicier
      condiments. The Moors were also the first to crystallize sugar (which
      they also brought to Europe).

      L is for latte
      As you sip one of those wimpy, froufrou confections in Starbucks,
      think about this: Arabica. Yes, the humble coffee bean. First
      cultivated and brewed as rocket fuel by Yemeni tribesman way back
      when -- though it's disputed whether the beans were transplanted from
      Abyssinia (Ethiopia) to the Arabian Peninsula or whether it was the
      other way around. As an afterthought, we might not now have this
      plague of Starbucks and chi-chi cafes were it not for the Ottoman
      Turks, the Viennese getting the clever idea of the coffeehouse from
      them in the late 17th century.

      M is for mosque
      Funny, thinking about what Oriana Fallaci said earlier, the
      architectural flourish commonly attributed to the Moors, the curved
      arch, was actually copied from the Visigoths in Spain. Byzantine art
      and architecture, above all the Hagia Sophia in what was then
      Constantinople, had a profound influence on Islamic builders and
      artisans. However, it's the humble church steeple (via the mighty
      cathedral tower) that has an Islamic antecedent, the minaret.

      N is for navigation
      Without Arabian improvements upon the compass, the astrolabe,
      nautical maps and seaworthy lanterns, Magellan, Cabot, Vasco da Gama,
      Columbus, et al., might have had trouble pulling anchor and leaving
      port. The Arabs also pioneered the usage of hydraulic presses and
      water clocks, which tracked the passage of time and phases of the

      O is for optics
      The concept of camera obscura, which is indispensable to the later
      development of photography, was first suggested in "The Treatise on
      Optics," by Hassan Ali Aitan (963-1009).

      P is for paradise
      Consider the varieties of roses -- the damask and the gallica, to
      name the two most common -- brought to Europe through Spain and
      Southern Italy by the Moor. Perhaps a rose is a rose is a rose, but
      what signifies here is where they're planted, and to Islamic sages
      and poets, gardens were symbolic of the paradise to come, a "blue
      green" paradise, blue for water, naturally, and green for greenery.
      The word "paradise" is of Persian origin ("paradaeza"); it literally
      means garden. Paradise as a garden or pleasure ground with swaying
      houris (heavenly handmaidens), the one that's promised to good male
      Muslims, figures heavily in the Quran, in contrast to Genesis where
      the Garden of Eden is a paradise lost. (And there are no houris in
      the Old Testament and definitely none in the New; is it any wonder
      Islam won so many converts?)

      Q is for Qasim
      Can you name the mystical Sufi poet who inspired Spiritual Girl
      Madonna to whirl like a dervish in "Speed of Light"? The one who is
      beloved by Demi Moore, quoted by Deepak Chopra and read by New Age
      ninnies from Beverly Hills to Notting Hill? (None of this,
      incidentally, should be held against him.) A Persian of Greek
      descent, who's up there in the Persian pantheon with Attar, Firdausi,
      Hafiz, Khayyam and Sadi? OK, OK, you know already: It's Jalad'din ,
      but actually before him there was another, more carnal Rumi. Ibn al-
      Rumi (836-896) was an expansive, unforgettable, larger than life
      figure, Walt Whitman and Dylan Thomas rolled into one. He was
      magnificently ugly, unkempt and unwashed, pugnacious and ferociously
      sarcastic ("Those who kiss ass shouldn't complain of wind"),
      promiscuous, gluttonous, bibulous, blasphemous and irredeemably
      bohemian -- and he wondered why he couldn't get a position at court.
      And Qasim, you ask? He was the Caliph's vizier, who, fearful of the
      poet's wicked tongue, graciously poisoned him at supper. Rumi,
      though, had the last laugh. Upon quaffing the fatal potion and having
      a good burp, Rumi rose to leave. Qasim asked where he was off to, and
      Rumi replied he was going where the vizier had sent him. "In that
      case, convey my greetings to my father," Qasim said, thinking himself
      very witty. "I am not going to the fires of hell," Rumi replied.
      (Well, I needed something for Q.)

      R is for religious tolerance and racial equality
      Yes, hard as that might be for some to believe, Islam was the first
      major religion, certainly the first monotheistic one, to practice
      religious tolerance. Not that Muslim tribesmen didn't put to the
      sword those who refused to convert -- they committed their fair share
      of well-documented massacres early on -- but military success came so
      swiftly to them and on such a vast scale, that they found themselves
      burdened with an empire, and needed all the help they could get from
      their cleverer subjects to run it. They were, after all, warriors,
      not administrators. As rulers they were lenient, even generous
      (unlike the Germanic tribes that ravaged the late Roman Empire).
      Besides, Jews and Christians were "People of the Book" -- Islam
      borrowed much from its elders; Abraham, Moses and Christ are
      recognized prophets in the Koran -- and as long as they paid their
      tithe to the Caliph and kept out of trouble, they were free to do as
      they wished (the Zoroastrians in Persia were treated in similar
      fashion). "Holy Toledo," the meeting point of the three great
      religions, became a model of religious tolerance and harmony -- an
      idyll that ended when the Christian kings of the north recaptured it
      in 1085. (Until the rise of Holland in the 17th century, if you were
      Jewish it was generally better for your overall health and well-being
      to live in Muslim lands such as North Africa, the Levant or Turkey
      than almost anywhere in Christendom, particularly those places where
      Catholicism prevailed. French missionaries are to blame for
      introducing the virus of anti-Semitism to the Middle East in the 19th
      century.) Of the three great thinkers who flourished under Islamic
      rule, one was non-Muslim, Maimonides of Cordoba (1135-1204), author
      of "The Guide for the Perplexed," who was Jewish. Like Avicenna and
      his fellow Cordoban, Averroes, Maimonides attempted to reconcile
      Aristotelian philosophy with religious belief. He died in Alexandria,
      where he founded the great synagogue.

      Regarding race, Islam is colorblind, which came as a surprise to
      Malcolm X on his pilgrimage to Mecca, where he found himself
      worshipping alongside blond-haired, blue-eyed white devils. Unlike
      Christianity, which justified racial slavery (blacks were inferior,
      less than human and so forth) by citing Ham in the Old Testament,
      Islam emphasized the equality of man before the eyes of God, whether
      black or white, rich or poor, man or woman. But, as we all know, what
      is preached isn't necessarily what is practiced. The cruel irony of
      Malcolm X's revelation, which challenged his ideas and changed the
      course of his life, was that he had it in a country that didn't
      abolish slavery until 1973. (Slavery exists today, despite claims to
      the contrary, in Mauritania and in the Sudan, both Muslim nations,
      the latter a fundamentalist state that has prosecuted a genocidal war
      against its southern, African half for more than 20 years. None of
      this, of course, was brought up at the United Nations conference on
      slavery in September.) And although the British, Dutch and Portuguese
      dominated the Atlantic slave trade in Caryl Philips' "Atlantic
      Sound," the Arabs held a firm whip hand in East Africa, built entire
      ports and cities devoted solely to that very profitable end, and
      played a significant role as middlemen throughout the continent.
      Still, it is good to know that Islam is colorblind.

      S is for shatranj
      Although modern chess originated in Northern India in the 7th century
      A.D., where it was called chaturanga, it was introduced to Spain and
      Sicily a century later by Moorish invaders and Saracen traders.
      Shatranj, which means "king's game" (shah tranj), differs slightly
      from the game we know today, in that instead of a queen there was a
      firzan, and in place of the bishop there was a fil (of course). The
      game was slower, with pawns allowed to advance but one square in the
      opening and no castling allowed. Victory came from checkmate (from
      the Persian, "Shah mat," the King is lost or helpless), stalemate or
      a "bare king" (the king alone, like Richard III at Bosworth Field).
      Some caliphs played "living chess" -- human pieces, slaves or
      prisoners -- the downside for the participants being possible
      decapitation if one was captured. As depicted by the Elizabethan
      playwright Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine -- in real life infamous
      for the Sack of Baghdad in which a million people died -- was fond of
      this pastime.

      T is for turban
      Let's face it, the turban, the burnoose, that wild and crazy Arafat
      thingy the college kids love to wear, whatever you wish to call it,
      is a brilliant fashion accessory. Imagine Edith Sitwell, Audrey
      Hepburn or David Hume without theirs; you can't, can you? With a
      little bit of water moistened about the inside you have a portable
      air conditioner. The turban was an early instance of form following
      function, though I have a feeling Sitwell, Hepburn and Hume were
      unaware of all this. Speaking of turbans, you need the right setting
      for one, too, something out of an odalisque by Ingres or Matisse:
      muslin, damask, chintz to cover sofas and pillows -- Moorish
      appurtenances on which to seat your little keester and to rest your
      weary head -- while being fanned by eunuchs, of course.

      U is for university
      The concept of the university originated with the madrassas, which
      were centers devoted to religious instruction, as they are in
      considerably less cosmopolitan forms in Muslim nations today. The
      first madrassas in Spain, in Malaga, Zaragoza and Cordoba, which
      later evolved into universities, started in the 11th century. The
      foundation of Damascus University dates back to the 8th century.

      V is for venetian glass
      Venetian glass blowers, famed for their miraculously intricate and
      delicate creations, learned their secrets from the Arabs (and went on
      to monopolize the glass trade for centuries). Islamic artisans and
      craftsmen, renowned for their ceramics, armory and masonry, made a
      deep impression on their Spanish, French and Italian counterparts.
      One could easily compose an alphabet of objects, decorative and
      otherwise, from Aubusson tapestries to the engravings on Zildjian
      cymbals, that bear traces of Arabic and Islamic design and

      W is for watermelon
      This is just one of the many crops the Arabs introduced to the West.
      Others include artichokes, rice, cotton, asparagus, oranges
      (from "naranj"), lemons, limes, figs, dates, spinach and eggplants.
      Arab methods of irrigation, which made the desert bloom, are still
      utilized today in North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, as are the
      wells and aqueducts they built.

      X is for Xenophon
      Have you heard of him? Friend of Socrates and Plato, guest at the
      Symposium, author of a treatise on horses (the Hippike), Xenophon, in
      truth, was a bit of bore. Nevertheless, we're better off for knowing
      him because of the company he kept. Aristotle was a special favorite
      of Islamic scholars and thinkers such as Avicenna and Averroes,
      particularly for his "Ethics." Much of what remains of the Greek
      classics was salvaged, translated -- into classical Arabic, Hebrew,
      Latin, Persian and vernacular languages such as Castillian -- and
      interpreted under the aegis of the Arabs, with non-Muslims, anonymous
      scribes and great thinkers alike playing their parts (Maimonides
      comes to mind). Contrary to popular belief, it was Christian fanatics
      who sacked the Great Library of Alexandria (they followed up with a
      pogrom), decades before Muhammad was born.

      Y is for the yearning one (el taleb)
      Like Scotsmen and their kilts, there's more going on under those
      burqas than you might think. El taleb, or "the yearning one," is one
      of the 46 different kinds of vulvae described in the ninth chapter of
      the Arabian equivalent of "The Kama Sutra," "The Perfumed Garden of
      the Shaykh Nefzawi," translated by my favorite roaming Brit (a very
      short list, that), the randy Sir Richard Burton. "This vagina is met
      with in a few women only. With some it is natural; with others it
      becomes what it is by long abstinence. It is burning for a member,
      and having got one in its embrace, it refuses to part with it until
      its fire is completely extinguished"; talk about vagina monologues.
      (Note, fair ladies, there's a similar chapter on male equipment.)
      Other chapters deal with the act of generation, with praiseworthy men
      and women, with contemptible men and women, with positions other than
      the missionary (mullah position, anyone?), with arousal techniques,
      with impotence and sterility, with pregnancy, and so on and so forth.
      In contrast to the early Christians, the Arabs had a refreshing view
      of sex -- it was for pleasure, too, not just procreation.

      Z is for zero
      From "zefira," or cipher. Nought, nothing, nil. What a concept.
      Carried over from India to the West by the Arabs. Less than zero?
      Well, you're getting into negative numbers there ...

      - - - - - - - - - - - -

      About the writer
      George Rafael has written extensively on literature and the arts,
      both here and in Britain



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