Friday, October 20, 2006
By Manny Frishberg - Vision Magazine
Monday, May 01, 2006
Art springs up from all sorts of sources. Sometimes it's a product of chance occurrences and opportunities–call it “Kismet.” That is how two rabbis, a Protestant editor, a Muslim painter and a nonprofit publisher in Tennessee came together to create a work of love called The Animal's Lawsuit Against Humanity, updating a 10th century Islamic fable for the 21st.
Versions of the tale of how the animals came together to protest their treatment by humans had been told from India across the ancient trade roots west, but the first written version was penned by members of a Sufi sect somewhere around Basra, in Iraq, about 1100 years ago.
“In their version,” said Laytner, “it was the 25th of 51 letters which described the mysteries and meanings of life.”
Pakistani artist Kulsum Begum illustrated the story with about a dozen paintings that are reproduced in color plates throughout the book, commissioned by her patron, Princess Maha Muhammad al-Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
“We are friends with a lot of the King Faisal family in Arabia,” said Gray Henry, director of Fons Vitae, the nonprofit publisher that has produced the lavishly illustrated paperback. “One of his granddaughters... took over the expense and effort of getting all these illustrations, which took a really long time.”
“It's really a collective endeavor, ”said Rabbi Laytner. “An Arabic Sufi tale that was translated by a rabbi into Hebrew in the Middle Ages and was translated by us, with a Sufi publisher and a Pakistani Muslim artist.”
To learn more about The Animal's Lawsuit Against Humanity, including to order copies, go to www.fonsvitae.com.