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Everything posted by Reza

  1. You yourself haven’t shared any facts, including any research studies, authoritative sources, or data that supports any claims made. You are giving conjecture, and by your own terms, “thoughts”. Sharing individual experiences may be interesting to read, but anecdotal evidence is rarely sufficient to make a conclusion.
  2. We hear a lot about self driving cars. When will they become widespread and mainstream? And what will the effects be? As of now, they are still in the niche and experimental phase. But perhaps in a generation or so, I can hold the gyro wrap in one hand, and the fries in the other...
  3. It's been about two weeks since the forum opened. Any takers?
  4. Everyone: The New ShiaChat Debate Forum is now open! How it works: 1. Participants must volunteer (or nominate others) and agree on a subject and conditions here in this thread. Two people only is ideal, but more can be considered if appropriate. If there is sufficient support from members, and staff thinks it's worthwhile, then the debate will happen! 2. Your "Advanced Member" status will be temporarily replaced with "Debate Challenger" status, which will allow you to post in the Debate Forum. Only debate participants can post in the debate (As well as staff members, who can interject at any time). 3. A thread will be opened in the debate forum, for as long as judged appropriately. Only one debate will take place at a time. 4. Other members, while they cannot post, will be spectators and voters. A poll will be attached to the debate, asking members for their opinions in relation to the topic. 5. Once the debate is over, it will be locked, members will return to Advanced Member status, and the cycle repeats. Volunteers, nominations, proposals, and comments below! Disclaimer: Keep in mind a debate proposal may not be approved.
  5. A Christian Nation? Ryan LaMothe Photo by Forsaken Fotos | CC BY 2.0 Over the years I have often heard Christians of various political stripes assert that the United States is a Christian nation. More recently, Christian evangelicals, who supported Trump and his campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again,” seemed nostalgic for a white Christian America. One might be tempted to call the belief that the U.S. is a Christian nation a myth, the seeds of which were sown in 1630 when John Winthrop challenged his community to establish a city on the hill, reflecting the covenant of God and Christian charity. Many myths contain a grain or two of truth. Nevertheless, the belief in a Christian nation is more illusion than truth. This might be a provocative claim to many people that requires justification. Let me begin by acknowledging that most of the people who immigrated to America, taking native peoples’ lands, were primarily of various Christian denominations. Some saw this country as the new Promised Land, overlooking the fact that by occupying the land they removed any possibility of promise to the non-Christian people who lived here for millennia. So, I am willing to concede that white European settlers were mainly Christian. This was also true after the War of Independence and in this sense one might say this was a Christian nation in that most of the settlers called themselves Christian. I will come back to this, but for now let me say that this new “Christian nation” was clearly neither a Christian theocracy not a parliamentary system advocating a particular religion. Indeed, the Constitution enshrined the free exercise of religion, while establishing a wall between church and state. If we were to call this budding nation a Christian nation, it was oddly one that proclaimed the freedom of individuals to practice other religions—at least ideally—or no religion at all. Proclaiming the inalienable right of religious freedom would leave open the possibility that another religion might be dominant, which would mean we would no longer be a “Christian nation.” While some people cite numbers or percentage of Christians as a reason for calling the U.S. a Christian nation, others have argued that the U.S. is a Christian nation because it was founded by Christians and, therefore, some of their beliefs and principles were woven into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. In reality, the Magna Carta and English Bill of Rights influenced those who penned the Constitution. Also, House Congressional Resolution 331 (1988) acknowledged the influence of the Iroquois Confederacy of Nations in writing the U.S. Constitution. To be sure there are references to God in the Declaration of Independence, but not in the Constitution, which is not to deny that Christian principles, to some degree, shaped the writing of the Constitution, though it is not entirely clear which principles. More apparent is the secular political influences that shaped founding texts. Indeed, it is more accurate to say the U.S. was founded on English and Enlightenment political values. This will not deter those who will insist that since most colonial and later U.S. citizens nation were Christian, then the U.S. was, by and large, a Christian nation. Fast forward to the present and polls indicate that approximately 84% of people in the U.S. identify as Christians. So, our stalwart believer may proclaim that we are still a Christian nation by percentages alone. Of course, we might look more closely at those numbers to discover that many of those who self-identify as Christians do not actually belong to a Christian community of faith. In some polling less than 38% of Christians actually go to church. What percentage do we rely on for being a Christian nation—51% or above of those who believe in Christ? Or do we count those who are actually practicing their Christian faith? If it is the latter, then we do not qualify as a Christian nation. Percentages and numbers, though, are hardly adequate measures for determining whether we are a Christian nation or not. It would seem fairer to consider not so much belief, but whether the majority of citizens and their elected representatives embody and live out core principles associated with Christianity. This would be akin to considering whether the claim that we are a democratic nation is valid based on whether citizens and institutions uphold and live out the principles and practices of democracy. Do citizens act in democratic ways? Are there state and non-state institutions that uphold democratic values and principles? Let’s shift to whether we are a “Christian” nation. Do citizens and elected officials adhere to the core principles of Christianity as reflected in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ? Do state and non-state institutions promote Christian principles and practices? The simple answer is no, but it is important to at least identify a few key principles of Christianity. It is apparent in any cursory reading of history that there are various renderings of what it means to live a Christian life. Yet, it is safe to say that the ministry of Jesus Christ incarnates the love and compassion of God, which includes mercy and forgiveness. As Karen Armstrong (1993) notes, the three Abrahamic faiths elevate compassion as a central principle for living a religious life. If we consider love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness as central principles of being a Christian, then it is evident that these principles are less about mere belief than they are about actions or practices. I think most individual Christians and communities of faith, if they are honest, would say that they fall short of living out these principles. Indeed, Kierkegaard, surveying the landscape of Christian Europe, asked whether a Christian could be found in all of Christendom. No doubt he was aware of how far he and others fail to live out and up to Jesus Christ. More importantly, his query was not just about individuals, but calling Christendom itself into question. Individuals who call themselves Christian should be assessed in terms of the principles of Christianity, not so much to deny their identity, but to indicate to what degree they live out this faith. Those of us who call ourselves Christian know we do not measure up, yet we retain a Christian identity. When individuals use the term Christian to describe their nation, which includes identity, then it is fair game to use the principles as criteria. What does it mean to be called a Christian nation given the violent appropriation of land from Native Americans, which may rightly be called ethnic cleansing? Our ruthless treatment of Native peoples, which continues today, seems a far cry from any Christian principle. Consider how many American Christians legitimated slavery, Jim Crow, and racism. By what Christian principle do these fall under? The exploitation of Cuban, Philippine, and Central American peoples during the decades when the U.S. was a colonial power seems more in line with the principles of the Roman Empire than Christian values. The fire bombings of Dresden and Tokyo and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Has the U.S. ever asked for forgiveness for these acts? This kind of sociopathic brutality is a far cry from Christian compassion, though it is important to acknowledge that Christian communities perpetrated if not supported brutal actions (e.g., lynching). Let’s turn to the killing of around 2 million Vietnamese, which was more in line with the principles of realpolitik than Christian justice. Speaking of justice, read Acts and ask how Christian is it to have huge income and wealth disparities, millions of people without healthcare or inadequate healthcare, food deserts, and 7 million people in the penal system. Does this so-called Christian nation embody or even uphold any of the core values of Christianity? If this is not enough to dissuade people from calling the U.S. a Christian nation, I also raise the fact that I am not sure any nation could be Christian, except in only one sense and that is the view that we are a Christian nation because most citizens self-identify as Christian. That said, it is crucial to recognize that while religious communities can hold forth about their Christian values and principles vis-à-vis organizing the life of the community, nations abide by other principles, principles more in line with Machiavelli and Clausewitz, rather than Christ. To be sure, Constantine launched the West onto the idea of a Christian state, but this idea seemed to be far from anything Jesus had in mind. Moreover, Christ’s motivation, if I can talk about his motivation, seemed to be more about compassion, feeding the poor, healing the sick, etc., than it was about founding a nation. In short, Jesus’ kingdom is not to be found on earth, even though the kingdom of God is among us in acts of love, mercy, compassion, and forgiveness. These are virtues that are inimical the advancement of a nation state, let alone, an empire. So, let’s be honest and acknowledge that the U.S. and its government do not and, perhaps, cannot uphold Christian principles in organizing social or international relations. For this reason, we cannot claim the U.S. is a Christian nation. But I am not sanguine about people accepting this, especially those Christian individuals who are more likely to think of themselves as staunch patriots. By adhering to this belief, more accurately an illusion, they avoid facing the fact that the fundamental principles that actually operate in state-craft, namely, ruthless, rational calculation in the advancement of U.S. economic and political interests, are contrary to Christian principles used to organize the first Christian communities, namely sacrificial love, compassion, forgiveness, and distribution of resources according to needs. I also think there are a few other reasons why many Christian Americans are steadfast in their belief that the U.S. is a Christian nation. First, Christianity has long been the dominant religious tradition in this country and has become, for many, intertwined with a national identity. Even if people recognize that one can be American and from other faith traditions, patriotic Christians’ identity is wedded to national identity. To begin to believe we are not a Christian nation can evoke anxiety and rage because it is a threat to that identity. A second reason for retaining this illusion is that it deflects one from the inherent cruelty of the state’s actions (e.g., drone warfare and the killing of civilians, policing the poor). Even when we find ways to justify violence (e.g., they attacked us first—just war), we can continue to hold out that we are Christian nation. “Christian” denotes something good, unsullied by our excesses. It is analogous to someone saying, after being cruel to someone, “All have sinned. I know this as a Christian and that God still loves me.” Pasting the title Christian over the notion of the state or nation is like trying to cover over the indelible stain of our national sins. Third and relatedly, to come face to face with ourselves, as Carl Jung noted, is a terrible shock for we will see how far we really are from our cherished ideals of ourselves. Our shared histories, which undergird our shared identities, are, more often than not, facades that screen the reality of wrong on the throne and right on the scaffold (Niebuhr, 1941, p. 40). Better to hold onto the soporific illusions of the title “Christian” than to face our collective past and present sins. As James Baldwin noted Americans “have the most remarkable ability to alchemize all bitter truths into an innocuous but piquant confection and to transform their moral contradictions, into a proud decoration” (1955, p.31)—the proud decoration that we are a Christian nation. Baldwin also wrote, “(F)or there is a great deal of will power involved in the white man’s naïveté” (p.166)—a naiveté fostered by the illusion of a Christian America. So, there are three basic rationales for citizens proclaiming the U.S. is a Christian nation. The first is the view that sheer numbers of people who believe in Christ indicates we are a Christian nation, but this fails because of the low percentages of people who actually practice some version of Christian faith. More importantly it also fails because the Constitution not only does not proclaim this, but actually leaves open the possibility of some other religion having greater numbers of believers, let alone practitioners. A second argument is that the founding documents of the nation are heavily influenced by Christian beliefs and principles. This might seem to be true, but the reality is that there were other influences, including those of Native peoples. Third, individuals may claim that we are a Christian nation because Christian principles and values guide how we understand ourselves and organize society. The truth, however, is that the United States has operated out of other principles more suited to Machiavellian principles of statecraft. One might ask why is it so important to rid ourselves of the illusion that we are a Christian nation. What good will come of it? Isn’t holding this belief an inducement to live out a more moral existence as a nation? As for the second question, one need only go down the depressively long list of cruel, destructive, exploitive, and oppressive actions perpetrated in the name of a Christian nation to see that it has not been an inducement to live a more moral life, though people like Martin Luther King Jr. and others used this to [Edited Out] the consciences of white Americans. If we work to get rid of or limit this illusion, people of other religious and secular faiths may feel more at home in the U.S. Perhaps another benefit would be a growing awareness of the misdeeds done under the name of Christian nation. In facing the sins of our past, there might be a sliver of hope for change. As James Baldwin (2010) notes, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced” (p.34). Notes. Armstrong, K. (1993). A History of God. New York: Ballantine Books. Baldwin, J. (1955). Notes of a Native Son. Boston, MA: Beacon Press. Baldwin, J. (2010). The Cross of Redemption: Uncollected writings. New York: Pantheon. Kierkegaard, S. (1846). Concluding unscientific postscript to the philosophical fragments: A mimic-pathetic-dialectic composition: An existential contribution, by Johannes Climacus. Responsible for publication: S. Kierkegaard. Trans. D. Swenson and W. Lowrie (1941). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Niebuhr, H. R. (1941). Meaning and revelation. New York: Collier Books.
  6. Salaam everybody: Here's an opportunity to increase blessings throughout this community and throughout the whole world. I remember seeing old threads from years past about salawat pledges, but this thread will be slightly different. The only goal of this thread is to post the salawat as often as we can, and nothing more: اللّهُمّ صَلّ عَلَى مُحَمّدٍ وَآلِ مُحَمّدٍ Allahumma salli `ala muhammadin wa ali muhammadin O Allah: (please do) bless Muhammad and the Household of Muhammad Rules of this thread: 1. All members are encouraged to post the salawat as often as they like, English or Arabic (but only once per post please) 2. Like as many posts as possible (reciting it yourself out loud while you like the post) 3. No other discussions or statements please, this is purely for salawat only Let's see how long this chain will go, and how much blessing we can all accumulate from posting and liking. More information on the salawat: http://www.duas.org/salwaat.htm I'll get started: Allahumma salli ‘ala Muhammad wa ali Muhammad
  7. Every Friday (Eid-e-Jome), during God's most blessed day of the week, Moderators or Administrators will select one member as the "ShiaChat Member of the Week". Throughout the following week, everyone is encouraged to: Show that member general mercy and compassion, and an open, welcoming embrace. Make that member feel special and honored. Like that member's posts whenever possible. Withhold any grudges or divisive arguments with that member, if you have any. Once we pick a member, we'll put up their name, avatar picture, and give a few brief words here on this thread. No other prizes or anything beyond that. Nothing grand here. It's a very simple recognition. This thread will be locked to keep things simple. Stay tuned for this coming Friday, when the first person will be selected. Check the thread often, you could be selected next!
  8. Thoughts 2017

    Posts about marriage websites moved into separate topic:
  9. To have that, you need people who are professional and take their role seriously, rather than undermining it with neglect and distraction. It starts with each of us.
  10. This is just empty rhetoric hammered by those in privileged communities, who give little in practical solutions for the less fortunate. What does “traditional way of marriage” mean? The auntie system in some ethnic center? Our present time is a virtual one. That’s our reality. People shop, engage in religious debates, make friends, study for university, all online. Do we really think marriage and match making won’t follow this trend? How about instead of smugly denouncing the inevitable medium of our age, we discuss creative ways to innovate and adapt? How about credible people and organizations stepping up and finding ways to make it work properly? Instead nothing meaningful is offered. The fatwa you cite doesn’t mention marriage websites at all, or any description of how they may work, but only answers a generic gender relations question. This is how sloppy and careless this discourse becomes. Those who like to close doors carte blanche rarely bother to open another. All people get are condemnations, a lack of compassion, and generalities that leave them cold and confused. Sad!
  11. Just a side note, but of all the “main forums” on here, Science, Technology, Economics, and Health has the fewest amount of topics and posts, lagging far behind religion, social issues, politics, and off topic. So much posting about mutah, minor fiqhi issues, the caliphs, etc but not much about space travel, nanotechnology, bioethics, or breakthroughs in medicine. Many topics discussed on this forum have a peripheral religious component (ie evolution, Big Bang) or are about consumer electronics, like the latest iPhone. Most of you are students or have been students with some scientific literacy. There are so many articles and updates on scientific topics to share and discuss. Priorities are needed, or else Muslims will continue to humiliate themselves. We shape our own destiny. Science will help humanity. Talking about Umar for the 1000th time doesn’t really help anybody.
  12. Myanmar closes mosque in further crackdown on Muslims (AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Myanmar regime has closed a mosque and a seminary in the country’s commercial region of Yangon in further crackdown on Muslims in the Buddhist majority nation. A local newspaper the Voice Daily claimed that three buildings were chained shut on Wednesday, after it was found that they were being used as a mosque and seminary, without official permission, at Kywe Pone Lay village in Okkan Township, about 100 kilometres north of Yangon. Township administrator Myo Lwin claimed that the closure was to prevent problems in Okkan area which had seen an anti-Muslim riot in 2013. The riot had begun after a Muslim woman accidentally bumped into a monk, breaking his begging bowl in Okkan town. Hundreds of rampaging Buddhists armed with bricks stormed into Muslim villages, calling the accident an assault. A Muslim man was killed in the attack. Also, two mosques and 150 houses and shops owned by Muslims were destroyed by the mob. The incident in Yangon comes amidst an ongoing brutal crackdown and persecution of ethnic Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine state. The United Nations has established a fact-finding mission to investigate crimes against humanity committed by Myanmar's military during renewed brutal crackdown against Muslims which started last October. The country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1991, has been criticized by more than a dozen fellow laureates for the armed response. They wrote an open letter to the UN Security Council warning of a tragedy “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” in Rakhine state. Rakhine State in west Myanmar has seen the most serious violence perpetrated against Muslims in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar since the military began to end its decades of strict rule. Reports indicate that thousands of Rohingya Muslims killed and hundreds of thousands displaced there in attacks by government forces and extremists Buddhists since in 2012 in a deliberate state-backed policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide. According to the UN, the Rohingya Muslims are one of the most persecuted minorities in the world. http://en.abna24.com/news/east-asia/myanmar-closes-mosque-in-further-crackdown-on-muslims_845973.html
  13. Everyone: In case you didn't think things were awesome enough, we are delivering yet again. This time, with a new feature called Clubs. Clubs are like a site within the site. Somebody forms a club, invites members, and those members get access to special content --- forum topics, image galleries, files, calendars, and blogs within the club page. As you can see, there are many creative possibilities. A club can be formed around anything. An academic club. A hadith club. A book club. A debate club. A specific interest like weight lifting, sports, cooking. Any profession like doctors, engineers, IT people. A geographic location with info about local events, like a UK club, a Pakistani club. Fans of a certain person, team, or group. A brothers/sisters only club. And the list goes on. Clubs can be publicly viewable or private, open or closed, with a range of privacy and access settings. Any member may start a club, but they will have to be approved by a site moderator. They will then bring members into the club. With time, we'll see if regular members can open clubs. The rules of conduct pertaining to the rest of the site apply to Clubs as well. Clubs can have their own leader, and their own appointed moderators among members. However, keep in mind that ShiaChat admins and mods have access to all Clubs, including private ones, even if they're not a member. Clubs may be accessed at the top of the Homepage. Soon, activity from current clubs will be accessible from the home page, just like other material is. Club data will also be present on your Activity Monitors and Notifications. Two clubs have been formed already, by brothers repenter and Qa'im. Check them out. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/clubs/
  14. Chaotic Muslem's back

  15. #4 Are you a Coffee Drinker?

    Are You a Coffee Drinker?
  16. [MOD NOTE: Thank you to the SC Development Team for participating in this topic.] Important questions will be raised here with a nice, short, high quality, informative answer. This will include a range of subjects and topics. We're going for the pressing, the relevant, the captivating, and the important. Discussions happen all the time, but I feel like good, concise answers are in short supply within the post forest. Perhaps that's why the same questions keep getting raised. The confusions aren't being cleared up in our info saturated world! If you have any questions that want to be answered, please inform a Development Team member, and it may show up here. So expect good learning, concentrated in one thread! No discussing, no typing. Just reading! You can always discuss in other topics. -------------- If you want to be surprised about the questions in this topic, keep reading. If you are looking for a specific question, these are brief descriptions and links to the Important Questions Answered in this topic in the following pages: Question #1: What are the key differences between Islamic temporary marriage (mut'a) and prostitution? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2961382 Question #2: I often hear about the concepts of "human rights", "social justice", and "oppression" in the news media. As a Muslim, I am confused about all of this. What distinguishes human rights and justice in the Islamic perspective from the common secular perspective everyone around me believes? What is oppression really? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2961398 Question #3: Everyone keeps asking me, why weren't the 12 Imams of the Ahlul-Bayt AS specifically mentioned BY NAME in the Holy Qur'an? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2961417 Question #4: What does the Shi'i belief of taqiyyah entail and what is the proof for it? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2963651 Question #5: What is Khums and what is it paid on? Please give examples of things on which Khums is payable. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2966088 Question #6: Who are the Mahram and Non-Mahram for boys and men and who are the Mahram and Non-Mahram for girls and women? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2966125 Question #7: What does Taqleed mean? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2968583 Question #8: What is the difference between jealousy (Hasad) and envy (Ghibta)? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2970774 Question #9: What kind of prayer is the night vigil prayer? Please explain all the rules and issues regarding night vigil prayer or what is known as Salat al-Layl. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2973650 Question #10: In the early years of Islam, due to certain circumstances, slavery was condoned. But then, considering that the progress of human reason would one day compel him to renounce the enslavement of human beings by other human beings as inhuman and irrational, why was it allowed to endure? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2976207 Question #11: I have free will to choose good or evil. But Allah knows what choice I will make. If that's true, then it means it doesn't matter what choice I try to make (because no matter what I do, Allah knows I will make X choice even though I'm trying to make Y choice). Thus X choice is imposed upon me no matter what I do... So where's the free will? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2976997 Question #12 One of the Imams was once asked, “What proof is there for the contingency of the world?” The Imam replied, “Behold the egg; it consists of two liquids from which both male and female chicks of various types develop. This is proof of the createdness of the world.” The reply seems to have convinced the questioner, for he remained silent. However, how does this reply prove the contingency of the world? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2984422 Question #13 Is the world ever left without the presence of a representative of God? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2991284 Question #14: Is Family Planning allowed in Islam? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=2991804 Question #15: Whereas we know that the children born due to illegal relations have no role in their illegitimacy and have not committed any sins, then also according to Islamic traditions they are not treated fairly. And they are not allowed to take the important posts like that of a judge, Imam-e-Jamat and Maraja etc. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3000550 Question #16: Who is a kafir? Are they najis? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3002919 Question #17: Why is the word 'Ibrahim' in Surah al-Baqarah spelled differently than it is in every other surah? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3007317 Question #18: When was "hasten his reappearance" added to 'salawat' (greetings) and what was the reason behind it? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3009369 Question #19: What is the iddah for women? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3010023 Question #20: Why does Allah hate divorce so much? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3016349 Question #21: What about dreams? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3018655 Question #22a: Is sarcasm okay? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3019309 Question #22b: What legal reference do we have for Eid Nowruz? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3019434 Question #23: Why is the inheritance of women half that of men? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3023480 Question #24: Was Prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha a pedophilic relationship? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3025965 Question #25: What do we say when others spread that Rajab is not special and amal is bid’a (innovations)? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3028446 Question #26: What is the procedure of ghusl e janabat? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3031176 Question #27: Hadith about the death of Abdullah of Hijaz and the reappearance of Imam Mahdi, are they authentic? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3034166 Question #28: Why are shrimps halal and crabs haram? What makes one of them halal and the other haram despite the fact that both of them are from the same category? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3036802 Question #29: What is the Shia view on contraception?Can a woman practice birth control without the consent of her husband? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3038846 Question #30: Have The 313 Already Been Chosen? Is it true that the 313 companions have already been chosen and that we cannot be from amongst them nor make an intention to be from amongst them? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3041815 Question #31: What is the best verse in the Quran? Can we say the best Ayah or we should say that all ayāt are best depending on purpose? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3044611 Question #32: What is the philosophy behind the prohibition of (consumption of) liquor? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3046900 Question #33: What Does ‘Salawaat’ On Prophet Muhammad & His Family Mean? Why does it hold such a high importance in our faith? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3048559 Question #34: What is meant by Al –Fajr-ul-Kadhib (false dawn) and Al-Fajr-ul-Sadiq (true dawn)? According to which one of them do we offer Salah (Prayer) and how can we ascertain the time of the true dawn? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3050860 Question #35: What is the Fast of the Month of Ramadan? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3052974 Question #36: Did Imam Ali (AS) fight all innovations [for example Taraweeh] when he was in power? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3054955 Question #37: What is Zikr? Some people mention it all the time. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3057518 Question #38: Please let me know in detail the beliefs of Zaidiyyah sect, especially the Houthis? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3059691 Question #39: What are the rewards and benefits of wearing rings with valuable stones on them? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3061373 Question #40: According to Dua Kumayl, what are the MAJOR sins that bring upon calamities? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3066108 Question #41: Why is it forbidden to give the Arabic version of the Holy Qur`an to a disbeliever? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3068114 Question #42: Why do some people oppose mysticism and the mystics making reference to ahadith (traditions)? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3070378 Question #43: Remember when Imam Ali AS said "Ask me before you lose me?" Were people really not listening to him? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3072463 Question #44: What is your opinion about meditation of the Yoga-Zen variety? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3074860 Question #45: Why are the prophets free of sin and error? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3076739 Question #46: What is the opinion of Islam about the period between the engagement and the wedding? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3078936 Question #47: I saw a website asking people to sign a petition to urge the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to stop the barbaric practice of "honor killings" and wonder if "honor killing" is really part of Islam? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3081041 Question #48: Which one of the holy Imams (AS) recited Dua Faraj? Please provide references. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3083225 Question #49: What color should one wear? What is the ruling on wearing black? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3084633 Question #50: I want to know the history of the wedding of Janab Qasim (as). Are there any references available for this? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3086720 Question #51: Are we allowed to adopt children? If yes, then does an adopted girl have to wear hijâb when she becomes nine in front of her `father' and `brother'? Similarly, in case of an adopted boy, would the `mother' and `sister' have to observe hijâb in his presence? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3088217 Question #52: My question is with regards to the ziyarat/salaam we recite to the Ahlul-bayt A.S. after prayers and majalis. http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3089878 Question #53: Where and when did mourning for Imam Hussein (A.S.) start first? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3091529 Question #54: Is there any objection to a person doing exercise with music? Are athletic actions with music considered to be dancing? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3093351 Question #55: Was the wife of Hazrat Abbas, Lady Lubaba, present in Karbala? http://www.shiachat.com/forum/topic/235042512-important-questions-answered/?do=findComment&comment=3095575 .....to be continued.....
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  23. SEPTEMBER 19, 2017 In Bangkok – “No Speak Your Language, Speak Thai or Die!” by ANDRE VLTCHEK It is hard to calculate the cost of the stubborn refusal of the Thai population to learn foreign languages. Some daring estimates, however, calculate that the losses could be in tens of billions of dollars, annually. And the situation is not getting any better. Bangkok wants to be the center of Southeast Asia, and by many standards it has already achieved this goal. Suvarnabhumi International Airport is the second busiest in the region. Almost all of the international news agencies are here, and not in Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur. Several UN agencies are now located in Bangkok, as well as mega malls and top private medical facilities, catering mostly for people who live in Burma, Cambodia, Laos and as far away as the Middle East. For years and decades, Thailand was busy promoting itself, capturing the imagination of millions all over the world. Some wonder whether it could really do even better than it is already doing. According to Forbes, Bangkok recently became the most visited city on Earth: “According to Mastercard’s Global Destination Cities Index, the Thai capital had 21.5 million visitors who stayed at least one night in 2016. By comparison, London had 19.9 million overnight visitors last year while Paris had 18 million. The Big Apple was even further down the list with 12.8 million.” 32.59 million foreign visitors descended on Thailand in 2016 alone, and the numbers are not subsiding. Statistics vary, but travel and tourism now account for approximately 20 percent of Thailand’s GDP. That’s a lot, much more than in other countries of the region. *** For Thailand, that is all good news, or at least theoretically it is. But despite its cosmopolitan flair, Bangkok remains a relatively closed and segregated society. Now, there seems to be more Japanese eateries in the center of Bangkok than traditional Thai restaurants. However, try to order in one of them, for instance, an iced tea in any other language other than Thai, and you will be up with a great surprise. The chances are that, the staff will not speak any foreign languages. And it gets much more serious than that: people working in banks, at least theoretically catering to foreign customers, hardly speak anything except Thai. Even the ‘tourist police’ cannot understand what you are talking about when you try to report a crime. The other day, in Bangkok, I tried to retrieve a substantial payment from a foreign magazine, which for some reason utilized Western Union in order to transfer funds. Western Union in Thailand is teamed up with the large Krungsri Bank. In one of its branches, I spent a humiliating 90 minutes, trying to complete a simple transaction that would normally take 2 minutes, even in Beirut or Nairobi. The incompetence of the staff was covered up by spiteful facial expressions and outright rudeness (using Asian, not Western standards). More and more new ‘additional information’ was demanded sadistically, by pointing at some confusing printouts. Not one out of six people involved spoke anything but Thai. *** Generally speaking, many Thais believe that making a decent income from foreign tourists and expats is their inherent right. The perception is that no high level of knowledge, language proficiency or provision of quality services is required from them. Once my local interpreter told me: “Everyone wants to come to Thailand, everyone loves it here, so they should accept things the way they are done in the Kingdom.” Recently, trying to buy an item of professional video equipment at the SONY showroom in Bangkok, I realized that the assistants did not speak absolutely any foreign languages. I had the same experience in the studio, where I was attempting to capture two of my damaged HDV tapes. This was all totally acceptable when Thailand was, many years ago, one of the cheapest places on Earth, a haven for backpackers and romantics. Since then, everything has changed. The country is desperately trying to provide high-end services. But comparable services and goods are now often cheaper in London, Paris or Tokyo, than in Bangkok. So is the food in supermarkets. And still, there is no foreign languages proficiency. As a veteran traveller from Japan recently pointed out: “It was much easier to accept an overcooked and tasteless bowl of pasta from a waitress who was rude and spoke no foreign languages, when it came at a symbolic price of US$2. It is much more difficult to remain ‘benevolent’, if the service is still terrible, nobody speaks anything but Thai, but the cost is twice that of a good spaghetti dish in some excellent restaurant in Venice.” *** But Thailand is confident that hordes of people will keep coming. Partially it is because of the extremely positive propaganda coming out from countless Western mass media sources. If there is any criticism of Thailand, it is of an exceptionally mild and ‘kind’ sort. All the basic elements of Western dogmas – about how great, relaxed, safe and comfortable the country is – are upheld in such reports. No wonder! No matter which government is in charge, the country remains one of the staunchest US ally in Asia. Thailand fully implemented the economic system promoted by the West. During the Cold War, it killed, tortured or at least imprisoned thousands of its own Communists and leftists (no need for interventions). In the past, the Kingdom readily accepted and accommodated many defeated (in China), genocidal troops of Chiang kai-shek. It participated in the savage bombing campaigns of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, often lending its own pilots, and it brought poor young women from the countryside, in order to serve the US, Australian and other pilots and technicians based at Pattaya and other military airports, as prostitutes. It adopted draconic laws that forbid all criticism, and often even mention of almost all the basic power elements injected into Thailand by the West. The rewards have been great ever since. No matter how rude an interaction between locals and foreign visitors often is; the country still maintains the reputation of the ‘land of smiles’. While the murder rate is higher in Thailand than in the United States, the Kingdom is still perceived as a relatively safe place. Endless military coups that overthrow democratically elected governments are generally accepted and after a few headlines, ignored by the Western mainstream press. While virtually all coastlines are irreversibly over-commercialized, even ruined, Thailand is known as a ‘tropical paradise’. *** There is actually one group of Thais, which speaks perfect English – the elites. Most of their members were educated in the United States, in the UK or Australia. Some of them are leading jet set, cosmopolitan lives, with several properties in different parts of the world. But these are not people that foreigners stumble across during their two-week long vacations. I encountered several of them, on different occasions, and I can “testify” that their proficiency in foreign languages, particularly in English, is great. *** Frankly and honestly, I actually love Bangkok. It is chaotic, overgrown but an extremely complex and exciting city. I have worked in almost 160 countries, on all continents, but Bangkok is still one of my favorite places on Earth. It drives me insane, it often defeats me, but I cannot imagine my life without it. It is one of the places where I come to think and to write. But it is not a ‘friendly place, and it is not cheap. It is definitely not an easy and comfortable city. It is what it is. For me it is great, for many others it isn’t. But it is definitely not at all what it is being defined as by the Western positive propaganda. Thailand could change; it could greatly improve, if its populations would take advantage of those tens of millions of foreign visitors every year, and learn about many other places, not just about the United States, Europe and Japan. People don’t travel here only from the West; they are also arriving from China, India, Russia and Latin America, even Africa. And savage capitalism is not the only economic system now on offer. As the Western “truth” is not the exclusive one, anymore. The best thing for Thailand would be to interact, to learn something new from those millions of visitors. And what better way to learn than through interaction, through learning languages. Bangkok is now a world city, a cosmopolitan metropolis, but with a provincial mindset. All this can and should change. Not for the sake of foreign visitors, but for the sake of the people of Thailand! First published by NEO as “Can Thailand Evolve into A Regional Leader?” Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are revolutionary novel “Aurora” and two bestselling works of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. View his other books here. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Al-Mayadeen. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo. After having lived in Latin America, Africa and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.
  24. #8 Muharram Night Plans

    Where will you be?
  25. #9 Oppression in the World

    How will the state of oppression in the world be in the new Islamic year?