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    • My post is focused mainly on how Western socio-political discourse occurs between two poles: (1) Freedom, and (2) Harm. This is the result of a long, crystallizing history. Islam may have areas of overlap with utilitarians and classical liberals, but overall the Islamic thesis puts God above everything else. Regarding your point about jahiliyya: I can easily say that jahiliyya gave many freedoms to women that Islam removed. Jahiliyya had no penalties for fornicators, it had rights for prostitutes, it allowed women to marry a second husband to conceive a high-status son, it had female prophetesses, and it had female goddesses. Islam restricted all of this. Yes, Islam did give many additional rights to women, but my point is that Islam is not all about freedom and liberation. It is about accountability, responsibility, and duty. It freed some aspects of our lives, but it restricted others. Anyone who reads Islamic literature with feminist glasses will be surely disappointed. As for your point that men in eastern culture "don't lift a finger when they are at home", that sounds like a gross generalization of billions of people and hundreds of cultures. Even if I were to concede that eastern men generally cook and clean less than their wives, they work longer hours, and a lot of the handiwork, lawn-mowing, technology fixing is done by men. Either way, it's not a competition. One shouldn't have a men vs women mindset, or even a victimized mindset. Men too are victims; they are the ones most effected by violence, suicide, work injuries, drugs, prisons, gangs, and dropping out of school... a victim mentality however would not solve these problems. Islam = Submission in Arabic, it's not submission to men, it's submission to Allah. Submission in some cases will be the opposite of freedom, but I would argue that sincere submission to Allah frees you from your fears and your desires, and leads to a good and contented life. I never said women should be slaves to men, or that womanhood is a disadvantage, or being dark-skinned (?) is bad. Men and women are simply different and have different rights and responsibilities in Islam. Islam is a sexually dimorphic religion. Women don't pay mahr, they don't pray/fast during their time of the month, they are not conscripted in wartime, they don't need to work, they don't need to divide their wealth, etc. By the same token, women have some unique laws and responsibilities. Total freedom and equality means removing every gendered law, including the ones that restrict men and free women, and vice versa. This is antithetical to our revelation. Please don't call me dishonest or a male chauvinist just because of one respectful criticism of modern feminism. That type of spiteful namecalling won't get you much sympathy from a neutral reader. State your arguments respectfully.
    • Really? You are implying that during the period of Jahiliyya, women were free and they had power. We have always heard that before islam, women were in bad condition. They were buried alive and Islam gave them more rights. Please learn a little honesty. Where have you seen women who live without any responsibilities? So, in eastern culture, men only do their 40 hour job and don't do anything else. They don't even lift a finger when they are at home and in most cases, men don't even work for 40 hours. But that's okay, no one gives them lectures. While women in west work 40 hours, and I am pretty sure they don't spend the rest of time sitting idle. They are always doing something for someone. But just because they don't want to work 120 hours a week and raise kids while they are working full time, it means they don't want to take any responsibility?  And what do you mean by submission? You sound so much like those male chauvenists who tell women: You are a woman, accept it, don't try to become a man or equal to a man. You can never be equal to man. Do you seriously believe that all women are supposed to be slaves? and being a woman is a disadvantage? Being a woman or being dark skinned is just like being born in a poor family or being in a war. This is a disadvantage which happened to you, now accept the consequences and submit to Allah who made you a woman. 
    • Every time i read these blog-posts i feel my IQ increases a little. May Allah reward you on behalf of sharing this knowledge with us. Eagerly awaiting the release of the Atoms post inshAllah, whenever you deem it appropriate. 
    • I liked this post. I believe it has a solid base to say humanism is a conclusion of individualism, but I somehow think that merely because individualism may result in harm for the soul, it doesn't mean that humanism by itself will, or that it will necessarily lead to the perpetuation of individualism in oneself. I think we naturally develop that individualistic approach in our life, and deciding to take distance from it must be a consequence of our convictions. In this case, these can be religious and spiritual convictions (eg Islamic convictions), but also ones developed by people and the way they understand the meaning of life (humanism). What I am saying is that humanism doesn't necessarily leads to individualism, as far as I can understand.
    • Hobbes and John Stuart Mill cane long, long before Ayn Rand or even Marx.
    • i dont think individualism came from Christianity, not even the dysfunctional version.  More likely to be the work of Ayn Rand which is probably somehow related to Mrxism
    • The Report by the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress is interesting. As you pointed out, the Muslims don't monetize everything they do. There is not one Muslim country in the top 15 of the Wikipedia "List of countries by GDP (nominal)." In the "List of countries by GDP (PPP)" Indonesia, Turkey and Saudi Arabia squeezed into the top 15 by tweaking the statistics. I did not read the whole report that you linked, but the words that stood out to me were "Quality of Life" and "Sustainable Development and Environment." Surely the Islamic societies are cognizant of these as well. I hope that there are studious intellectuals who are reading that document and thinking how they can help improve their own society. 
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About this blog

I started writing stories for my niece Sakina since she was about 6 or 7 years old. They've always been short enough to fit inside a birthday card.

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Haji 2003

[Octonauts is a television programme for children on the BBC]

“Abbas are you still watching Hottentots?” asked Abbas’s Dad coming into the kitchen

“But Baba, my breakfast isn’t finished yet!” said Abbas, pointing to the few scraps of omelette left on his plate.

“It’ll soon be lunchtime, so I am taking away laptoppy and you can finish breakfast all by yourself,” said Baba, “and remember to bring the battery-start with you.”

“Baba, why do you call Octonauts Hottentots?” asked Abbas, as his dad took away the laptop.

“Because Octonauts sounds like Hottentots.” came the reply.

Just then the doorbell rang and Baba opened to the door to let in Sakina and Zehra.

“Dot, haven’t you changed your clothes yet?” asked Zehra, pointing to Abbas’s nightclothes.

“I was having my breakfast.”

“And very slowly too, by the looks of it,” observed Sakina. “Where’s Mimi?” She must be on the desktoppy.”

“Because Octonauts sounds like Hottentots.” came the reply.

Just then the doorbell rang and Baba opened to the door to let in Sakina and Zehra.

“Dot, haven’t you changed your clothes yet?” asked Zehra, pointing to Abbas’s nightclothes.

“I was having my breakfast.”

“And very slowly too, by the looks of it,” observed Sakina. “Where’s Mimi?” She must be on the desktoppy.”

“It’s probably an Abujan word, like doogi-doogi.” answered Sakina with an air of authority.

“But Baba said that it was because Octonauts sound like Hottentots, so are Hottentots another cartoon or are they real?” asked a puzzled Abbas.

“I think it’s because the name Octonaut sounds like Hottentot,” replied Zehra resignedly.

“But what is a Hottentot?” asked Abbas.

“It’s definitely a sound,” said Mimi.

“But is that all it is?” Sakina wondered out aloud.

“It’s a special kind of sound,” interrupted Abujan. “Hottentot sounds like the language the southern African tribe the KhoiKhoi speak and that’s why the Dutch, when they entered Africa, called them the Hottentots. It also sounds like Octonaut, so that’s why I called the Octonauts Hottentots.”

It took the four kids a little time to take it all in. In the end Abbas observed, “So, it wasn’t a made-up Baba word?”

“Yes the word wasn’t made up, but I think the explanation was,” smiled Sakina.

Abbas was getting confused, “So the KhoiKhoi aren’t real?”

“Yes they are real and the Dutch did call them Hottentots, but Abujan deliberately calling Octonauts Hottentots because of it, that I am not so sure about.”

“But the explanation sounds good,” added Mimi.

Zehra peered at the screen of the desktop. “What are you doing Abujan?”

“I am writing an email to a friend, princess.”

“What are you writing?”

“After children leave the big, secondary school they go to university and at university they have to do research projects. Sometimes when they write about the projects, they’re told to write how they started with an idea and then explain how they did the project and what results they got. What actually may have happened is that they started with an idea, which got changed half-way through the project. I’m telling my friend that sometimes the story sounds better if you changed what really happened to make it seem as if it was all deliberately planned from the start, even though it wasn’t.”

“You mean a bit like the Hottentot story,” Sakina’s voice came from nowhere, but she’d obviously been listening.

Haji 2003

Once upon a time there were three little islands, separated by thousands of miles. One was called Swampy, because for most of its history it had been a swamp. The other was called Rocky because there was a big hill across most of it and Dusty was surrounded by sand.

As you can probably tell, there was not really much on Swampy, Rocky or Dusty to excite people and not many animals went there either. But all three lay just on the edge of large continents and all the other lands and islands around the continents laughed at Swampy, Rocky and Dusty because while civilisations grew everywhere else, nothing much ever happened there.

So for thousands of years as people fought over other lands and rivers and mountains, these three little islands lay undisturbed, except for some fishermen. Because it seemed to anyone who did ever land there, that there really was nothing much worth staying for, let alone fighting over.

Then after thousands of years of solitude, things changed. Swampy, Rocky and Dusty were the same as they had always been. But the people who lived on other lands and islands changed or rather they made changes. They changed their small ships into big ocean going ones and with that came the chance to travel to faraway places. Now Swampy and Rocky were no longer islands on the edge. They were on the route to somewhere and people needed to visit them.

As the visitors for buying and selling grew, so even more people came, because customers love having a choice. But still Swampy was hot, sticky and mosquitoey, because mosquitoes like hot and sticky places. And again someone, somewhere else discovered electricity and as often happens with big discoveries other people invented lots of other things that use  electricity and one of them was the air-conditioner. Suddenly Swampy wasn’t hot and sticky anymore. Actually, by now the people who now lived on Swampy (who were rich from the trading and cool from the air-conditioning) looked down on all those other people who were hot and sweaty, just as Swampy had been looked down on for all those centuries.

What about Dusty? Well Dusty saw all its neighbours grow rich since they were sitting on top of lots of oil, which they could sell to people driving cars. But Dusty couldn’t share in all this wealth because Dusty only had gas and it was impossible to put gas on a ship to send to another country far far away. Then, one day, someone discovered how you can covert gas into a liquid and that can be put on a ship and suddenly Dusty was very rich indeed.

So is that a happy ending?

Well other lands and islands made fun of Singapore (Swampy) and Dusty (Qatar) and Rocky (Hong Kong) for all those centuries and they didn’t see how things can change. Who knows what will happen in the future? Who knows whether the places we think are poor today will one day become rich (because someone somewhere discovers something that totally changes what we think they are).

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