Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Sufism and Islam

(Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash)

Islam is a living religion because Muhammad was a living man who lived in the world as husband, father, business manager, politician, negotiator, mediator, religious leader, and warlord. He became a model of behavior for all of these human roles. With all of its emphasis on a Day of Judgment, Islam is really about everyday life and how human beings conduct themselves in their relations with each other. Muhammad, as both Prophet of Allah and social activist, used his Prophethood to create a more just society for the people of Arabia.

The Qur’an, as revealed to Muhammad, provides divine guidelines for living a life that brings believers into constant remembrance of God (dhikr). Right behavior is modeled on the examples given by the Prophet and his Companions. If any questions come up, religious and legal scholars can consult the Qur’an, study the examples of the Prophet (sunna), and the collected sayings and events of the Prophet as reported by others (hadith). Legal rulings can be made according to the precedent set by Muhammad and his revelations in the Qur’an. This ensures that legal rulings remain in conformity with the religion and social order established by the Prophet.

Sharia Law is based on all of these components and developed to counter the corruption that was slowly undermining the Muslim Caliphate. Islamic life became a set of laws that believers were obligated to accept and follow. It was believed that if all believers ritualistically followed the same rules, society as a whole would become more just and equitable. Conformity, however, leads ultimately to nonconformity. Believers who craved a more spiritual fulfillment began to form spiritual philosophies and communities that rejected the emptiness of a life oppressed by religious and governmental control.

Sufism is a departure from the empty rules and obligations imposed on daily Islamic life. While Sunni Islam rejects monasteries and asceticism, Sufism embraces them. While the Qur’an condones violent jihad against others for self-defense, Sufism emphasizes jihad of the self (fana, which means overcoming the ego and the self (nafs) in order to dissolve into a complete union with Allah). Sufism was meant to be an ecstatic experience that rises above mundane daily life.

The central tenet of Sufism is the divine union between the lover (the believer) and the beloved (Allah). This individual relationship with God automatically excludes others, which contradicts the social nature of Islam. It emphasizes the exclusive authority of God over the individual. Many Sufis and Sufi communities came into conflict with governmental authorities because of their bizarre behavior and rejection of orthodox Islam and government authority. Some, like al-Hallaj, were executed for heresy.

Sufism developed a mystical philosophy that elevates Muhammad to a saint with mystical powers – something Muhammad fought against. The mysticism of the Night Journey, in particular, has been expanded on by Sufi philosophers. For Sufis, inner experience is more important than outer knowledge. And practices developed that cultivate the divine experience, such as chanting Al-Ghazali’s 99 Names of God; reciting mystical poetry that enhances the believer’s drunken, erotic union with God; and performing the mind-altering dances of the whirling dervishes. For Sufis, union with God IS the Divine Reality that trumps ordinary life.

Popular culture gradually embraced Sufi saint worship, pilgrimages to the tombs of saints and holy places, and items such as prayer beads and icons. When Sufi communities began to get rich off of the public, however, their influence gradually faded away. Sunni Islamic leaders have always been skeptical of Sufism and regarded Sufi practices as innovations that detract from the example of the Prophet Muhammad and pure Islam. But the remnants of Sufi practices still exist among Sunni Muslims and Sufi communities still exist today.

Sufism added a spiritual dimension to Islam that helped it to grow and develop as a living religion that would survive into the modern era.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 14, 2019; November 30, 2022

Copyright 2019-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

18 Comments »

The Four Islamic Legal Schools

(Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash)

In the ideal Islamic society, there is no separation between church and state. Laws are made and interpreted according to the Qur’an, the example of the Prophet and his Companions, and collections of the hadith. It took several hundred years to compile and evaluate the validity of the hadith. In the end, they were categorized into three Sunni categories of authenticity: the sahih, the sunan, and the jami (Esposito 74-75).

The sahih includes the authenticated hadith of Muhammad al-Bukhari (810-870) (Esposito 66, 74) and Muslim ibn al-Hijjaj al-Nisaburi (817-875). The Hadith of Gabriel (Hadith Jibril), which is part of the Sahih Muslim, was compiled by Umar ibn al-Khattab (586-644), “a close companion of the Prophet Muhammad and the second [caliph] of the Muslim community” (Esposito 75). It has been revered as “the defining statement of the Islamic creed (aqidah)” (Esposito 75) even though it is not elevated to the same level as the Qur’an.

The sunan are “collections of precedents” (Esposito 75) and include the books of Abu Daud al-Sijistani (817-888), Ibn Majjah al-Qazwini (822-887), and al-Nasai (830-915). Jami are collections of hadith that may or may not be authentic, such as Jami al-Tirmidhi, compiled by al-Tirmidhi (824-892) (Esposito 75).

Shiites “consider the traditions of their imams . . . to be equal in importance to those of the Prophet himself” (Esposito 75) because they consider the bloodline of Muhammad as something sacred and open to divine revelation.

Four schools of Islamic legal thought survive: the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, and Hanbali. According to Esposito, the Hanafi School “has the largest following of all the surviving schools . . .” The Hanafi School has been influential in the formulation of laws governing personal freedoms, women’s rights, religious practices, and “contract rules for business transactions involving resale for profit and payment for goods for future delivery” (http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e798). Basing laws on “reason, logic, opinion (ray), analogy (qiyas), and preferences (istihsan), the Hanafi School is the most liberal school in Islamic law.

The most conservative of the Islamic schools is the Hanbali School of Law, which is “the official school in Saudi Arabia and Qatar” (http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e799). Laws formulated according to the Hanbali School are based on “the Qur’an, hadith, fatwas of Muhammad’s Companions, sayings of a single Companion, traditions with weaker chains of transmission or lacking the name of a transmitter in the chain, and reasoning by analogy (qiyas) when absolutely necessary” (http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e799).

The Maliki School of Law is called the “School of Medina . . . [and] many doctrines are attributed to early Muslims such as Muhammad’s wives, relatives, and Companions” (http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/articles/opr/t125/e1413). Although the Maliki School relies on personal opinion (ray) and analogy (qiyas), it is best known for basing Islamic law on the examples of Muhammad’s Companions in Medina.

The Shafii School of Law, founded by Muhammad ibn Idris ibn al-Abbas ibn Uthman ibn Shafii in the eighth century, “considers hadith superior to customary doctrines of earlier schools in formulation of Islamic law” (http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com.article/opr/t125/e2148). The Shafii School emphasizes the use of human reason and seeks to find common ground between the different schools.

Shariah Law developed as a means to fight the materialism and greed that were gradually undermining the Islamic Empire. “Because Muhammad was believed to have surrendered perfectly to God, Muslims were to imitate him in their daily lives . . . Islamic Holy Law helped Muslims to live a life that was open to the divine” (Armstrong 160). This ritualized lifestyle was meant to invoke a constant reminder of Allah (dhikr) and to internalize taqwa (God consciousness).

The living example of Muhammad, then, is the key to living a divine life.  And Shariah Law must always trace its roots back to the Prophet and the Qur’an. Having a plurality of schools provokes thought and encourages discourse but undermines the original intent of Shariah law. And when you have Imams claiming divine revelation based on their kinship to the Prophet, this opens the doorway to “innovations,” which are discouraged in Islam.

Internet Sources – incorporated into the body of the post

Armstrong, Karen. A History of God. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993.

Esposito, John L. The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

~

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

January 7, 2019; November 29, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments »

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumn to Winter

by Dawn Pisturino

The old year is fading

and Autumn blows

the misty clouds

of Winter our way.

(A runaway grizzly bear meets Jack Frost and Old Man Winter in this vintage cartoon from 1934. My father loved these old cartoons.)
(My favorite Thanksgiving hymn – “We Gather Together”)
(George Winston playing his beautiful and inspiring piece, “Thanksgiving.” My mother adored George Winston.)

My parents always came for Thanksgiving. Now that they are gone, I always think of them at this time of year.

PSALM 95:1-5 (NKJV)

Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the LORD is the great God, and the great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the heights of the hills are His also. The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land.

PLEASE NOTE: I WILL NOT BE POSTING ANYTHING UNTIL SOME TIME NEXT WEEK.

Have a joyful and blessed Thanksgiving!

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 23, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

58 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Paula Light and Lamittan Minsah

(Photo by Arash Asghari on Unsplash)

Monochrome: Poetry from the Ashes by Paula Light (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Paula is a California poet whose poetry collection is a delight to read. She writes with a gentle hand. Her poems are like butterflies which attract us with rich colors, feather-weight movements, velvety textures, and delicate wings. She explores the nature of love, loss, sadness, and acceptance with profound understanding and peace. At the same time, she has a sharp wit and approaches life with humor and positivity. When you read her WordPress blog, you will experience both sides of this very talented woman.

“Immersed in words,

Steamed in verse,

Lovesongs burning up my dreams . . .

It must be true:

I still hold

A torch for you . . .”

And from her poem, Grace:

“The night sky knows my sorrow:

An ice wind screams your name,

While thunder booms in horror

And lightning damns this place.

Then softly comes the music;

Gently falls the rainsong;

Rhythms drip down smoothly,

And the moon is bathed in grace.”

Website: Light Motifs

Let’s Talk Bride: A Poetry Collection by Lamittan Minsah (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

Lamittan is a Kenyan poet who has written a collection of poems about a very special person in his life, Apostle Darlan Rukih, also known as the Bride of the Lamb, a minister in the Bride of the Lamb Ministries International.

This book has a fascinating backstory. Darlan Rukih was born a hermaphrodite (someone who is born with both male and female genitalia and characteristics, also known as an intersex person). Since this condition is not accepted in Kenyan culture, Rukih grew up isolated, alienated, and rejected by others. But faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ helped Rukih to overcome this disability and to serve by helping others. Rukih first married a woman and was blessed with a son. After that relationship failed, Rukih dated a man and got pregnant. Blessed with two children, Rukih is devoted to helping children in need in Kenya. Reference: Mpasho website.

Lamittan’s admiration for the Bride of the Lamb knows no bounds in this fine collection of poems which praise Rukih, God, and His son, Jesus Christ. Lamittan expresses both his joy and his sorrow in these poems:

“There’s beauty walking in Africa,

Traversing a lonely desert –

A damsel formed by the maker

Out of the ribs of Adam, long ago.

There is beauty

Such as one that never was before.”

~

“They nailed our Lord by force.

The heavens roared,

His pain had reached God,

And for a moment,

Darkness covered the firmament

And hid God’s gaze from his son . . .”

Follow Lamittan Minsah on WordPress to read more of his poetry and stories and to learn more about Kenyan culture. His business site, Laminsa Indies, encourages and aids “budding writers, musicians, actors/actresses, self-publishers, photographers, drawing artists, dancers and many other talents from the creative industry.” Check it out!

Website: Laminsa Indies

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

26 Comments »

Poetry Book Review: Gabriela Marie Milton

(Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash)

Woman: Splendor and Sorrow by Gabriela Marie Milton (2021). Available on Amazon.com.

I met Gabriela a year ago, when she was editor for MasticadoresUSA. Impressed by the quality of the poems and prose I read there, I began to submit poems – both old and new – for her consideration. Well, she published them! And I have been following her ever since. It was her kindness and encouragement which prompted me to start writing poetry again after a long hiatus. She inspires me to reach farther and try harder than ever before.

A Pushcart nominee. A #1 Best-Selling Author on Amazon. The 2019 Author of the Year at Spillwords Press. Gabriela has published two books of high caliber poetry, co-authored anthologies, and edited the recent Amazon Best-Seller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, which she published with Ingrid Wilson of Experiments in Fiction. She resides in a higher realm of imagination, pulling ideas and images out of the clouds that Wow! the reader and transport him/her to another world. She employs language that is lush, exotic, sensual, and stimulating to all five senses. She is her poetry. Her poetry is her. She pushes the boundaries of creativity and encourages others to do the same. She is poet, teacher, mother, friend, divine goddess of the poetic art form. Many of her themes revolve around the strength, resilience, and beauty of women. She adores children, the magic of childhood, and the blessings of motherhood. And then, there’s Love! — and the perpetual tango between two lovers.

Woman: Splendor and Sorrow is a testament to the hypnotic power of love and its ability to elevate us to the heights of ecstasy or fling us into the burning depths of Hell. Every word is exquisitely crafted:

“each word I write cries on the tunes of spring,

a spring that ends in graveyards and in dreams

the night I abandoned you on that bench and left

snows in my mind the syllable of hell

I wanted to return

I wanted to love you . . .”

Poetry and love are the divine twins that rule Gabriela’s heart:

“Poetry?

Oh, poetry was too good to be read.

We tasted it and ate it with silver spoons.”

Gabriela runs her own publishing house now, Literary Revelations Publishing, which seeks to publish high-quality poetry and fiction that grab the reader unawares and trample down the boundaries of creativity.

Websites: Short Prose

Literary Revelations Publishing

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 20, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Kym Gordon Moore and Patricia Furstenberg

(Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash)

We are Poetry: Lessons I Didn’t Learn in a Textbook by Kym Gordon Moore (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

I’ve known Kym for about a year now and regularly follow her blog on WordPress. Although we don’t always agree, I’ve always found her to be intelligent, funny, well-educated, and articulate. And, she’s fierce! Whatever causes she embraces, she puts her whole heart and soul into them.

In her latest book, Kym provides a general overview of poetry and her vision for the future of poetry as an art form, a therapeutic tool, and an educational medium. She views poetry as a living, breathing thing that can transform the poet, the community, the country, and even the world. Poetry should be as rich, colorful, and diverse as life itself.

Her book is almost a textbook on creating poetry and would be a useful tool in the classroom. She introduces the concept of ArchiPoetry, which employs architectural ideas to design and perfect poetic creations. As she writes: “By combining the use of language, imagery, metaphors, and specific patterns, the design elements in ArchiPoetry have different disciplines and poetic variations.”

While journaling has been an accepted therapeutic tool for a while in mental health, Kym developed the concept of TheraPoetry, a process through which people can find emotional relief by expressing themselves with poetry. Kym speaks from experience. After the death of her mother, it was poetry – and writing poetry – which helped her through the grieving process.

Illiteracy is an issue about which Kym is very passionate; and she wants to use poetry as a medium to teach our children how to read and improve their reading comprehension skills. We all remember rhymes that we learned as children. Those rhymes stick in our heads as rhythmical pieces of our childhood, bring back fond memories, and encourage us to pass them on to the next generation.

Poetry is creativity, mental gymnastics, lyrical composition, and inner fantasy. Poetry is emotional release, mental growth, and spiritual expression. This is why Kym championed the cause of poetry in 2014 when she persuaded mayors all across North Carolina to submit proclamations officially recognizing April as National Poetry Month. Kym also endorses and supports the Academy of American Poets as a valuable resource for educators and poets everywhere. As she says, “Poetry is a revival and reminder of our aspirations, possibilities, and achievements for all people.”

Finally, I close with Kym’s own summation of poetry:

“Poetry paints emotion

art is imagination and passion

poetry inspires art

expressionism through creativity is art and poetry

-transformation-

poetry and art is creativity through expressionism

art inspires poetry

passion and imagination is art

emotion paints poetry.”

Website: From Behind the Pen

Christmas Haiku by Patricia Furstenberg (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Patricia is a Romanian poet living in South Africa. Her poetry appears regularly on MasticadoresRomania, Spillwords Press, and other poetry sites and literary magazines. With Christmas right around the corner, I was drawn to read her book of Christmas haiku. Charmed by the simplicity of her verses and photos, I sincerely recommend this little chapbook as the perfect way to get into the candy-gingerbread-tinsel-lights holiday mood! Patricia has written numerous books for adults and children, which are all available on Amazon. So, grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!

“Christmas, snow, giggles,

Young and old around the tree.

Scent of fresh cookies.”

Website: Patricia Furstenberg, Author

34 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Jeff Flesch and Ingrid Wilson

(Photo by Digital Content Writers India on Unsplash)

Today, I’m continuing with more Poetry Book Reviews.

Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow by Jeff Flesch (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

In his newly-published collection of poems, Jeff teaches us how the human heart, mind, and soul are intimately connected with the natural order. All the pain, sorrow, and happiness which are part of the human experience can be offset and complemented by the awe-inspiring beauty and wonder of nature. WE ARE ONE with the natural world, and Jeff expresses this beautifully through his poetic vision:

“pausing to breathe

fireflies come in a whisper, a wide grin

cascades over the clouds, revealing

the stars’ hearts.”

Jeff is a regular contributor to MasticadoresIndia, MasticadoresUSA, and Spillwords Press.

Website: www.jeffflesch.com

40 Poems at 40 by Ingrid Wilson (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

In this collection of poems commemorating Ingrid’s fortieth birthday, we are given a glimpse into the mind, heart, and soul of an incredibly talented and articulate poet. Ingrid contemplates the misgivings and successes of her own life in astounding verses that speak to the minds, hearts, and souls of her readers. Her honest examination of herself and her world can be summed up here:

“As my own treasure house is my own soul

I have fought long, I have fought hard to keep it

and in self-keeping, still my dreams are whole.

I have fought long, I have fought hard to keep it

you cannot have it now, e’en if you would:

it’s my reward, and only I shall reap it.”

Ingrid has her own publishing business now, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Website: www.experimentsinfiction.com

~

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

22 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Bogdan Dragos and Michele Lee Sefton

(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

I recently embarked on a Poetry Book Reading Marathon since so many of my WordPress friends have created and published poetry collections. Since they’ve been supportive of me, I want to support them! I will be posting a series of reviews of their books.

The Muse’s Bad Touch by Bogdan Dragos (2021). Available on Amazon.com.

Bogdan is a Romanian poet who appears regularly on MasticadoresIndia, MasticadoresRomania, and Gobblers & Masticadores. His poetry is dark and rich, like strong expresso, and leaves you questioning your own reality. He explores the darker side of life with characters that can only be described as eccentric, exotic, and deeply disturbing. His ability to test acceptable social boundaries and express a point of view that would shock most people, is what defines his work. In this collection, he writes about his dark muse:

“After all

a poet can’t live without

his demoness

to which he sometimes refers to

as muse.”

Website: www.bogdandragos.com

My Inspired Life: A Poetic Journey by Michele Lee Sefton (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

When I met Michele on WordPress, I sensed right away that she is a woman who possesses a beautiful soul. I regularly follow her blog, which truly is inspiring; so, it was only natural that I would read her book. Michele’s inner music resonates as a lovely song, a joyous dance, a raucous cheer for the strength and beauty of women everywhere. She shares her inspiring journey with positivity and hope, reinforcing those qualities in others. Her uplifting thoughts, words, and emotions make the daily struggle worthwhile. She approaches the world with quiet dignity, joyful pride, and a sincere expression of faith in herself and the people around her. She embraces life for all it is worth:

“Before the brush and palette are put away a final time

I too will live vibrantly and outwardly —

living a life that is uniquely mine.”

Website: www.MyInspiredLife.org

~

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

The First Sino-Japanese War, 1894-1895

(Artwork by Korechika)

Trade, Treaties, Francisco de Vitoria, and the First Sino-Japanese War

by Dawn Pisturino

Chinese Point of View

       In 2014, China commemorated the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War by releasing a collection of essays analyzing the event (Hengjun, 2014, pg.2; Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 2, 3).  China lost the war against Japan – a loss which still bothers the Chinese government and the Chinese people.  The essays were written “by members of the People’s Liberation Army ‘analyzing what China can learn from its defeat’” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3).  The writers concluded that “the Qing dynasty’s failure to effectively modernize” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3) China led to China’s defeat and that China must continue its program of Westernization (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 3).

       Japan’s strong navy was a key component in its victory.  China’s leader, Xi Jinping, wants to strengthen the country’s navy because “the ocean remains central to national security interests today” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 5).

       PLA writers also denounced Japan’s militaristic, nationalist, and imperialistic behavior that led to the war.  It was not until Japan’s defeat in World War II that this behavior was finally restrained (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 5).

       China still fears a rise in Japanese militarism and warns its military to “guard against the sneak attack that Japan has a history of making” (Tiezzi, 2014, pg. 6).

       On the bright side, the Chinese defeat led to the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the establishment of Taiwan as a democratic state, and the rise of China as a world power.  Japan’s war against China was “horrible . . . but that cannot cover up the fact that the Qing dynasty was a decadent and declining dynasty that existed in opposition both to historical trends and to the Chinese people” (Hengjun, 2014, pg. 3).

Japanese Point of View

       People in Japan believe that “the First Sino-Japanese War from August 1894 to April 1895 is one of the most important wars in Japanese history in that it heralded Japan’s appearance on the world stage as a serious player” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).  Although Japan recognized Korea as a tributary state of China, it was also aware of the turmoil in the country as factions fought for control of the government.  Reformists wanted more Japanese influence in Korea and pushed for increased Westernization.  Traditionalists identified with China and Chinese culture (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).

       Japan needed important natural resources, such as coal and iron, and looked to Korea to get them (Britannica, 2021, pg. 1; Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1).  Japan wanted free access without interference from China and, if possible, to control Korea’s natural resources.  Japan aggressively tried to break China’s influence and control in Korea for its own benefit (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 1). 

       Although China had a larger army, the Japanese navy was more organized, efficient, and better equipped.  Corruption in the Chinese military had left China’s navy weak and under-equipped.  Japan’s ground forces were also in better shape than China’s.  By October 1894, the Japanese “expelled the Chinese from Korea . . . [and] entered China itself” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 5).  Japan soon controlled Manchuria, the Liaodong Peninsula, Beijing, Weihaiwei, and Taiwan (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 5).

       Proudly, Japan became the dominant power in Asia, freed Korea from China’s domination, and brought Westernization and trade to the whole region (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 6).

Korean Point of View

       As a tribute state of China, Korea followed “the Confucian principles enshrined in the Chinese classics and the rules of tributes elaborated in the Chinese statutes [which] constituted the backbone of the system” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 1).  The Korean king was content to be under Chinese influence and Confucian international law.  But Japan wanted to break China’s hold over Korea in order to establish a base of power in which to prevent both China and Russia from controlling the region (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).

       On February 26, 1876, Japan and Korea signed the Treaty of Kanghwa which gave Japan trading rights to three Korean ports, access to the coastal seas, and unequal trading privileges in Japan’s favor.  Another treaty signed on August 24, 1876, granted Japan “duty-free importation of Japanese goods carried by the ships belonging to their government” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).

       Article 1 of the treaty declared that “Choson [Korea] being an independent state, enjoys the same sovereign rights as does Japan” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2).  This addition to the treaty was meant to undermine China’s claim on Korea.

       From the Korean point of view, “independence” meant that “the political and legal matters of tributary states are totally in the hands of them” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2), in accordance with the Confucian legal system.  Korea, therefore, felt no hesitation in signing the treaty because it meant that Korea would carry on its diplomatic duties as usual.  The Qing dynasty supported Korea as “entirely independent in her relations with other states” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2) but continued to regard Korea as a tribute state.

       In spite of the treaty, Korea did not make any changes in its relationships with Japan and China.  The treaty was regarded as more of a sign of friendship with Japan.  But since Japan and China both had special privileges over Korea and its resources, Korea became a pawn for both parties in their quest for control.  As Korea became more unstable from within, diplomatic relations began to break down.  After the Japanese were expelled from Korea by the Chinese, “the Convention between China and Japan for the Withdrawal of Troops from Korea, signed on 18 April 1885” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 2, 3), established Korea “as a buffer state between them” (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 3).

       The First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) spelled the end of Chinese dominance in Korea.  The Treaty of Shimonoseki between China and Japan ended the Confucian legal system and brought Western international law and trade to Eastern Asia, with Korea at its center.  The treaty ended Korea’s status as a tributary state to China and granted the country both independence and autonomy (Nho, Hyoung-Jin, 2021, pg. 3).

The War

       The First Sino-Japanese war began in the first place because Japan ended its isolation from foreign trade, embraced Western technology, and aspired to expand its trading territories.  Korea had been an important tributary state to China for many years.  “In 1876, the Japanese negotiated a treaty with Korea, opening Korea up to foreign trade for the first time” (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1), with Japan becoming the main beneficiary.

       The treaty led to much discourse in Korea, with pro- and anti-Japanese contenders vying for power.  In 1882, an anti-Japan uprising occurred against the Korean Royal family.  The Chinese stepped in to quell the rebellion (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1).

       Japan negotiated with Korea for peace and then secretly prepared for war.  Japanese influence in Korea continued to grow, with China suppressing a pro-Japanese rebellion in 1884.  “Japan and China signed a new treaty [Li-Ito Convention Tientsin Treaty]” (Rickard, 2013, pg. 1) which removed all Chinese and Japanese troops from Korea.  Korea became “a co-protectorate under [China] and Japan” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 3).

       Although Japan signed the treaty, its expansionist ambitions took priority.  In 1884, pro-Japan Korean leader, Kim Ok-Kyun, was assassinated — and his body mutilated – by the Chinese.  This led to more tension between Japan and China.  When China sent troops in to quell the Tonghak rebellion at the behest of the Korean king, Japan accused China of breaking the treaty and sent troops to Korea (Britannica, 2021, pg. 1, 2).  “On July 23, 1894, Japanese troops deposed the Korean king, annulled Korean-Chinese treaties, and proceeded to try and expel the Chinese from Korea” (Japan Visitor, 2021, pg. 3), something Japan had been planning to do all along.

       On August 1, 1894, war was declared.  Due to its more modern and better equipped military, Japan quickly won the war when it invaded Manchuria and the Shandong province, and China negotiated to end the war (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed by both countries, and Korea gained its independence.  Japan gained significant trade rights.  The conflict sparked a movement in China against foreigners and rebellion against the Qing dynasty (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

Francisco de Vitoria and the First Sino-Japanese War  

       Just war philosopher Francisco de Vitoria strongly believed that the “enlargement of empire and personal glory or convenience did not constitute just grounds for war” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 82).  Although he believed in free trade between sovereign nations (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 81), he would not have supported Japan’s aggressive actions to exclude China from the mix.  At the same time, I believe he would have condemned China for the assassination and mutilation of the Korean leader, Kim Ok-Kyun — which alone would have been a violation of the Tientsin treaty.  Japan, therefore, had a right to defend its interests when China sent troops to Korea, even though the Korean king had requested China’s help.  And China had a right to defend its interests.  Japan was already prepared to wage war, and when it sank the British steamer Kowshing, killing Chinese troops, there was no turning back (Britannica, 2021, pg. 2).

       Russia, Germany, and France attempted to moderate the Treaty of Shimonoseki in order to limit Japan’s influence in the region.  In the process, Russia gained control over Port Arthur and railway rights, which upset the British.  This, in turn, angered the Japanese and led to the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 (Rickard, 2013, pg. 2).

       Although Japan, China, and Korea all had a cause to wage war, it was Japan’s aggressive actions regarding trade which ultimately created the conditions that led to war.  The Japanese government should have honored its treaty with China and stopped trying to exclude China.  China should not have aggravated the situation by assassinating Kim Ok-Kyun.  Korea should not have played both ends against the middle.

       Vitoria would have viewed all of these shenanigans as an unjust basis for war because peaceful trade agreements between sovereign nations should be respected and negotiated peacefully. Japan’s continued aggression in the region, however, threatened China, and China reacted in response.  Korea was destabilized by warring factions within the country.  Both China and Japan wanted to control Korea exclusively.  In spite of their differences, Vitoria would see this as a fight over territorial conquest, which he condemned as unjust because “not all causes of war were just . . .such as territorial conquest and glory” (Bellamy, 2018, pg. 86).

(This essay is part of a longer paper. Contact author for sources.)

Happy Veterans Day 2022!

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; November 11, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Ode to Joy – Schiller ~ Beethoven

November is the month when we count our blessings and express gratitude and joy here in the United States.

~

Ode to Joy (“An die Freude”)

by Friedrich Schiller (Published 1786)

Part of this poem was used as the choral finale

(4th movement) in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (1824),

which Beethoven composed when he was completely deaf.

Listen to the choral section here (in German):

(This short but inspiring video is fantastic! – a rousing way to start your day.)

~

Ode to Joy (Schiller) – English translation, with notes


Joy, beautiful sparkle of god,

Daughter of Elysium,

We enter, fire-drunk,

Heavenly, your holy sanctuary.

Your magics bind again

What custom has strictly parted.


(1785 version: What custom’s sword has parted.)

All men become brothers


(1785 version: Beggars become princes’ brothers.)

Where your tender wing lingers.

Chorus

Be embraced, millions!

This kiss to the entire world!

Brothers, above the starry canopy

Must a loving Father reside.

Who has succeeded in the great attempt

To be a friend’s friend;

Whoever has won a lovely woman

Add in his jubilation!

Yes, who calls even one soul

His own on the earth’s sphere!

And whoever never could achieve this,

Let him steal away crying from this gathering!

Chorus

Those who occupy the great circle,

Pay homage to sympathy!

It leads to the stars

Where the unknown one reigns. 

All creatures drink joy

At the breasts of nature,

All good, all evil

Follow her trail of roses.

Kisses she gave us, and the vine,

A friend, proven in death.

Pleasure was given to the worm,

And the cherub stands before God. 

Chorus

Do you fall down, you millions?

Do you sense the creator, world?

Seek him above the starry canopy,

Above the stars he must live

Joy is the name of the strong spring

In eternal nature.

Joy, joy drives the wheels

In the great clock of worlds.

She lures flowers from the buds,

Suns out of the firmament,

She rolls spheres in the spaces

That the seer’s telescope does not know. 

Chorus

Happy, as his suns fly

Across Heaven’s splendid map,

Run, brothers, along your path

Joyfully, as a hero to victory. 

From the fiery mirror of truth

She smiles upon the researcher,

Towards virtue’s steep hill

She guides the endurer’s path.

Upon faith’s sunlit mountain

One sees her banners in the wind,

Through the opening of burst coffins

One sees them standing in the chorus of angels. 

Chorus

Endure courageously, millions!

Endure for the better world!

There above the starry canopy

A great God will reward

Gods one cannot repay

Beautiful it is, to be like them.

Grief and poverty, acquaint yourselves

With the joyful ones rejoice.

Anger and revenge be forgotten,

Our deadly enemy be forgiven,

No tears shall he shed

No remorse shall gnaw at him 

Chorus

Our debt registers be abolished

Reconcile the entire world!

Brothers, over the starry canopy

God judges, as we judged. 

Joy bubbles in the cup,

In the grape’s golden blood

Cannibals drink gentleness

The fearful, courage —

Brothers, fly from your perches,

When the full cup is passed,

Let the foam spray to the heavens

This glass to the good spirit 

Chorus

He whom the spirals of stars praise,

He whom the seraphim’s hymn glorifies,

This glass to the good spirit

Above the starry canopy

Courage firm in great suffering,

Help there, where innocence weeps,

Eternally sworn oaths,

Truth towards friend and foe,

Men’s pride before kings’ thrones —

Brothers, even if it costs property and blood, —

The crowns to those who earn them,

Defeat to the lying brood! 

Chorus

Close the holy circle tighter,

Swear by this golden vine:

Remain true to the vows,

Swear by the judge above the stars!

(The 1803 version ends here; the 1785 version continues with the following.)


Escape the tyrants’ chains,

Generosity also to the villain,

Hope upon the deathbeds,

Mercy from the high court!

The dead, too, shall live!

Brothers, drink and chime in,

All sinners shall be forgiven,

And hell shall be no more.

Chorus

A serene departing hour!

Sweet sleep in the shroud!

Brothers—a mild sentence

From the final judge!

(Other translations may differ)

Beethoven Choral (English translation)

(Baritone)

Oh, friends, not these tones!
Let us raise our voices in more
Pleasing and more joyful sounds!

(Baritone, Quarter, and Chorus)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
Daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

The magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing.

May he who has had the fortune
To gain a true friend
And he who has won a noble wife
Join in our jubilation!

Yes, even if he calls but one soul
His own in all the world.
But he who has failed in this
Must steal away alone and in tears.

All the world’s creatures
Draw joy from nature’s breast;
Both the good and the evil
Follow her rose-strewn path.

She gave us kisses and wine
And a friend loyal unto death;
She gave lust for life to the lowliest,
And the Cherub stands before God.

(Tenor Solo and Chorus)

Joyously, as his suns speed
Through Heaven’s glorious order,
Hasten, Brothers, on your way,
Exulting as a knight in victory.

(Chorus)

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,
daughter of Elysium,
We enter fire imbibed,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Can you sense the Creator, world?
Seek him above the starry canopy.
Above the stars He must dwell.

(The verses repeat here until . . .)

Joy, Daughter of Elysium,
Thy magic reunites those
Whom stern custom has parted;
All men will become brothers
Under thy gentle wing.

Be embraced, Millions!
This kiss for all the world!
Brothers!, above the starry canopy
A loving father must dwell.

Joy, beautiful spark of Gods!,
Daughter of Elysium,
Joy, beautiful spark of Gods!

(Other translations may differ)

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 7, 2022





28 Comments »

%d bloggers like this: