Harry Potter in Godric’s Hollow

My daughter asked me to read something to her. So I borrowed my little sister’s book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Kids like magic and fantasy stories, so why not read this famous children’s book to my little sweetheart. After the first chapter, I felt there was something wrong in it. Although my baby fell asleep but I simply couldn’t out the book down. JK Rowling had cast a reading charm on me it seemed. Next few weeks my girl saw less of me reading to her and more of reading for myself silently until I got all seven books completed.

The story begins with an orphan, whose parents have just been murdered in their very home in God-ric’s Hollow. Its not a mystery novel because that’s not how its presented. The identity of the murderer is not at all relevant but the thought behind the man is what really matters. All through out JK Rowling has the reader thinking about the purpose and motive behind this double murder. Why kill the Potter family?

Let me talk about my girl again. HP’s author is asking an 11 year old to walk into the mind of a “murderer”. What could my daughter say, “dad, tell me, why did you-know-who murder Harry’s parents? what was their fault? Why does he want to kill Harry so badly?” It makes me wonder, since when do children’s books target the lives and works of murderers and serial killers?

The murder scene at Godric’s Hollow is central to all the 7 books. Again and again we are reminded how the Dark Lord kills James and then moves towards HP. Lily pleads for Harry’s life. Move away you silly girl…as if to say “I just want the boy, not you, so just step aside”. Lily is murdered. Voldemort approaches Harry and wham. The Dark Lord falls. Harry rises.
Because the sacrifice of Lily was supremely cast in blood, being the purest form of miracle, it was stronger than anything any Dark power could ever muster. It was the power of pure love from a “Mugblood” that destroyed Voldemort when he was at the very top invincible, undefeatable, all powerful. It was SACRIFICE that brought the Dark Lord down to his knees. In Islam its called Shahadat, martyrdom.

Godric Hollow, James and Lily’s home town, was also the birth place of Godric Gryfindor, the Lion. Tom Riddle on the other hand is a descendent of Slazar Slytherin, the Snake. Godric, Slytheirn, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff founded Hogwarts. The Lion and the Snake were always at odds at almost everything, including Quidditch. Hogwarts was setup 1000 year ago. James and Lily died in 1981, so the school’s founding date must be around 1000 CE. Interesting, that was the time of the Crusades. It is well known that the European crusaders came into contact with an advanced Islamic civilization in Jerusalem (Al-Quds). One of the interesting areas where Arabs claimed world leadership was in their knowledge of Sciences like Physics, Biology, Medicine, Astrology, Mathematics and ofcourse – Chemistry (which they called Al-Kemia).

A particular branch of Al-Kemia dealt with transmutation, that is the study or research of how to turn lead into gold. Alchemy as it turns out had two aspects, physical and spiritual. The spiritual alchemy desired to transform ordinary men into purified souls. In Islamic terminology its called Tazakkah, to purify. The one who is purified is the one who is successful and is the one who will be accepted and received by the Lord of the Universe. Purification of the soul disregards obstacles such as blood, color, language, race, identity or any other prejudices.

The Knights Templars brought back with them newly found treasures from Jerusalem at the end of their missions. Some of those treasures were ancient books, wisdom, science and technology and ofcourse philosophy. It may just be a wild guess, but God-ric Gryfindor might have been a Templar who brought back the sword from the Arabs alongwith the ideological knowledge of Alkemia. Slytherin must have not liked very much to see his race loose power to half bloods and Mugbloods. For the preservation of his race he went the other way, over to the Dark side. This ideological conflict must have carried on down to the present age when Harry and Voldemort face off just like Dumbledore and Grindelwald did earlier.

Lets come back to Godric’s Hollow. This is where the story begins for this age, with roots that go back more than the crusades, even before the time of Christ (PBUH). It goes back to the Pharaos, especially to one known as Akhenaton, the first monotheist Pharaoh of Egypt. They say, Alchemy started here in Egypt. I don’t doubt that because Egypt (Misr actually) being the birthplace of civilization should have had world religious influence as well. The very idea of resurrection, return to God and submission to God’s will captures the essence of God-ric Hollow if seen through the Alchemist’s eyes. I that room, Lily represents Light, Life, Faith and Goodness while Voldemort brings the face of ego, envy, greed and hate. This war between the two sides started back in Eden and haunts us this very moment. How we respond to it, the choices we make, define us and our souls.

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Tolkien, Lewis, Orwell and Rowling

Four writers I regard as the best in my generation shared one thing in common. They viewed the world from my eyes. Sound strange doesn’t it? But not so much if you studied their characters carefully. These four esteemed writers believed and brought to life, in their books, noble characters who lived very ordinary lives that didn’t matter much for politicians, journalists, preachers or the so-called “upper-class nobility”. The Hobbits, the Mugbloods, the orphans, who dared to fight the power of evil all had humble beginnings and this is the important connection that means a lot to me, because I am from the common working class social category.

I used to think that writers sit down at a café with their “Apple” laptops and start firing away, playing with words like a Thesaurus was being revealed to them. I had the feeling that they “build” their story as they go on writing. This simple assumption might be the most important why most people never get to write a good book. At least seems that way to me. I did not understand the “thought” process that goes into weaving a good story. Writing is dam hard work. Its like a “pensieve” where one must fall into a world where characters unfold their stories and memories for the writer to glue them together into a nice package. Basically, writing a good book is HARD WORK.

Just to share an example, it took Tolkien 17 years to finish LOTR (Lord of the Rings)! He wrote his masterpiece “in between” work and family chores. Another great example, and my favorite one, is of JK Rowling, the charming writer who can throw spells on her readers from the moment they open the first chapter of her book. She was actually a single mother, bankrupt and on the verge of a mental breakdown. At possibly the worst moment of her life, she began to write Harry Potter series which eventually became the world’s best selling books with over 400 million copies sold world wide.

After reading Harry Potter, it dawned on me how much thought and effort goes into “imagination”. Of-course, words and prose are very nice to have, but that’s not the reason why readers fall in love with a story. A good story should have interesting plots, mysteries, adventure, humor, pain and excitement.

One more point, writers like Tolkien and Lewis read their stories to each other (the inkling club) where they challenged each other’s creativity, not their language, and that included books like LOTR and Chronicles of Narnia! Lewis didn’t think much about the Elves, while Tolkien was not too pleased about Lewis bringing Christianity directly. What I am trying to say is, lets instead ask the question, “can you think of a good story?”