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    1. 1. In a worldly court of law, which is the worse final verdict?


      • An innocent person wrongly considered guilty
      • A guilty person wrongly considered innocent

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    • 16 November 2018
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      Rabi al-Awwal 08 is the martyrdom (shahadat) of Imam Hassan al-Askari (11th Imam) AS. Condolences.
    • 17 November 2018
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      Eid al-Zahra (The Day Imam Zaman, may Allah hasten his return, started his Imamate, after mourning the martyrdom of his father the 11th Imam AS on the previous day [Rabi al-Awwal 08]).
    • 18 November 2018
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      Oman independence from Portugal in 1650.
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      Lebanon independence from France in 1943.
    • 22 November 2018 06:00 AM
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      Thanksgiving Day in the US. 
    • 29 November 2018
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      Liberation from Nazi Germany. Dita e Çlirimit or Liberation Day
    • 30 November 2018
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      South Yemen Declaration of independence from the United Kingdom in 1967.
  • Recent Status Updates

    • Heavenly_Silk

      See the bad inside yourself, and see the good inside others ~ Imam Ali (a.s). 
      · 1 reply
    • Abu Nur

      Say, To whom belongs the earth and whoever is in it, if you should know?"
      They will say, "To Allah ." Say, "Then will you not remember?"
      Say, "Who is Lord of the seven heavens and Lord of the Great Throne?"
      They will say, "[They belong] to Allah ." Say, "Then will you not fear Him?"
      Say, "In whose hand is the realm of all things - and He protects while none can protect against Him - if you should know?"
      They will say, "[All belongs] to Allah ." Say, "Then how are you deluded?"
      Rather, We have brought them the truth, and indeed they are liars. Q23:84-90
      · 0 replies
    • Laayla

      Ya sahab Az zaman!
      Al 3jal al 3jal
      · 0 replies
    • laithAlIRAQI  »  Tonks

      Where did you go?
      · 1 reply
    • Salsabeel

      Ibne Abbas narrated the following tradition from the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.s.):
      مَا اَنْزَلَ آیَۃٌ فِیْہَا ’یَا اَیُّہَا الَّذِیْنَ آمَنُوْا‘ وَ عَلِيٌّ رَاسُہَا وَ اَمِیْرُہَا
      “All verses of the Quran that proclaim یا ایہا الذین آمنوا (yaa ayyohal lazeena aamanu), ‘O you who believe’ have Ali (a.s.) as their foundation and exemplar.”
      · 0 replies
  • Recent Blog Posts

    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         1
      Summary
      The factors which allow countries to produce lots of brains may be the very factors that mean such brains will find better opportunities in countries that are better able to pay brains.
      Whether the countries producing the brains are able to benefit from their education-positive actions depends on whether the brains who leave for better opportunities consider their success to be a function of their childhood country or their own hard work.
      Countries that produce brains need to work hard in order to ensure that people recognise the source of their success.
      Brain drainees
      Brain drainees are countries that lose qualified people to other countries. Brain drainees typically need to create the brains in the first place and typically there are some conditions that need to be met in order to do this. In order to develop an educated population you need pupils who have enough to eat and drink, feel secure and who are not compelled to work as child labourers. Ideally, they should not have so much wealth that they have too much access to distractions that will keep them away from their studies. 
      You need parents who are willing to provide the time and attention needed for children to learn i.e. people who don't feel compelled to work excessive hours in their employment activities either because such work is badly paid or because it is so well paid but competitive that they have to work those hours to keep up with their peers. You need a social system that keeps parents with children rather than in bars.
      You need teachers who are qualified, i.e. those who know their subjects well enough that they want to impart knowledge rather than rote learning. And you need education leaders who see their leadership positions as ones that serve society rather than their own pockets.
      Countries can create brains for export without the above conditions, but the above represent an ideal, a sort of goldilocks zone. Societies that are neither too dysfunctional or too successful.
      Being in the goldilocks zone also means that parents, teachers and children see the value of utilitarian, functional subjects such as maths and engineering. In contrast in more developed societies there may be a tendency to study more values-expressive subjects such as the arts and social sciences.
      Brain drainers
      These are societies that systematically draw brains from other countries. Typically these societies are rich. People with brains do not move to poor countries unless they are on a World Bank or an NGO contract.
      The wealth of these societies means that the children within them have access to distractions, X-boxes do not play themselves, this means that they don't create as many brains as they could. There are other factors at play as well. Parents may find it more economically beneficial to spend time at work rather than with kids and they may also find it more productive to have less kids to begin with. Both factors reduce brains. 
      In such societies, there are good teachers, (obviously). But supply may be limited, this is because people who are well-qualified have a lot of other employment opportunities that are typically better paid than education. Teachers could be paid more, but typically these societies find it more effective to reduce tax rates in order to encourage commerce and enterprise and/or spend their budgets on the military which in turn create non-education job opportunities.
      The lack of parental support at home, the availability of distractions and other social forces that challenge traditional teacher/pupil relationships can also mean that teaching becomes more demanding and challenging.
      Because these societies are rich, however, it remains relatively easy to recruit qualified people in a range of different activities from other countries that are effective at producing them.
      Assessments of cause and effect
      It may well be that the very factors that allow countries to produce brains are the ones which reduce the opportunities for those brains to exploit the skills that they have developed in their home countries.
      Crucial to this issue is the perception of the brains themselves. If they attribute their success to their own labours and that of the brain drainee country that allowed them in, then there will be a net loss to the brain drainee country, it may be less likely to see any future returns to its investment.
      If however, the brains feel that they either owe a debt to the drainee country and/or that the drainee country offers opportunities in the long-term they may make a contribution to it.
    • By Qa'im in Imamology
         5
      The idea that the world is composed of four or five elements (fire, water, earth, wind, and aether) was almost universal in the ancient world. The science and mythology of many ancient civilizations, from Greece to Japan, operated on this understanding.

      While Islam is not really married to the idea of four elements (it is not supported in an explicit way in the Quran or hadiths), it is interesting to note that Islamic metaphysics and cosmology use this system.

      This is especially the case in the spiritual world. The jinn are made from a smokeless Fire, the humans are made from Earth (Teen), and the soul (ruH) comes from the word for Wind (reeH). The Throne of Allah was settled upon Water (11:7), until that water was separated into the heavens and earth. The angels are from light (Noor, a word related to Nar).

      Allah does not raise a prophet except that he speaks the language of his people. He may have used these literary devices to explain a realm that is ultimately beyond our understanding (ghayb). The Quran is a book that needs to be intelligible to people, especially when speaking on the unseen and unknown.

      While the universe is simply not made up of H2O, the image of Water as a fluid, clear, shapeless structure is befitting to understanding the world. In physics, the concept of fields (gravitational, spatial) operate largely on fluid mechanics. “Water” is a chaotic substance that was then categorized, compartmentalized and distinguished into the world we know today.

      Similarly, a simple sample of the water (saliva) in your body can create an entire profile of who you are: your DNA, and therefore, your family lineage, your appearance, your susceptibility to diseases, and even parts of your personality.

      There are some things that are beyond literal and metaphorical. The dichotomy of literal and metaphorical is sometimes not just inaccurate, but harmful to our readings of scripture.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         2
      There is a populist theory that the pyramids must have had an alien inspiration. This is because of the range of innovations that they represent and knowledge across multiple disciplines and their orientation towards certain constellations.
      My problem with this theory is the bent pyramid at Dahshur. It's bent, because they got the maths wrong. Weird that aliens who managed to get to this planet but then got their measurements for a stone structure wrong. Seems pretty clear to me that the pyramids we see represent the refinement and development of Egyptian technology, rather than discrete alien intervention.
      In contrast, this planet is stuffed full of interesting resources in quantities just right for exploitation at the time that they'd be needed and human development would have reached a stage to take advantage. That's a far more likely candidate as evidence of extra-terrestrial involvement in the seeding of this planet with the correct quantities of resources at the time of its creation. Given the nature and extent of such material, it's likely to have been something more advanced than aliens doing the seeding.
      I was reminded of this by the current horseshoe crab shortage affecting north America. It seems as if they have been over-exploited because their blood contains a substance used to test medical products for the presence of bacteria.
    • By 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         6
      Why am I always agitated
      To the point where I'm just irritated
      At every small thing that comes my way
      I throw a tantrum not realising what I say
      Sometimes I reassure myself
      It's okay, your human, you can control yourself
      But everytime I try, its only temporary
      And I try to push away the guilt that I carry
      No matter how many times you fall
      Keep breaking through that strong immense wall
      Even if you still haven't been able to and you just wanna stop
      Be proud that you still didn't drop
      That you still haven't given up.
    • By Haji 2003 in Stories for Sakina
         0
      It's taken me nearly 15 years to get to 10,000 posts, so I thought I'd post something special.
      I remember the cold. I think it was the first time in my life that keeping warm was a struggle. Shafts of cold air channelled in through a train not designed to keep it out. Arriving at Amritsar station, there was some relief. I remember the shouts of ‘garam chai’ (hot tea) rising above the cacophony of engines, whistles, and general yells. This trip was the first time that I was allowed to drink tea. At home in London, tea was an adult’s drink, and there simply had been no occasion or need to drink it. Here at Amritsar station, in Indian Punjab, during the middle of the night, I was allowed to drink the strong, sugary hot tea and eat the hard-boiled eggs that the hawkers were selling. It was only many years later that I appreciated the business nous of selling hard-boiled eggs. Pre-packaged and ready to eat, what could be easier for a hawker to sell? 
      Some years later standing in the cold in the school playground would help me appreciate all the more as I read of Ivan Denisovich’s battles against hunger and cold in Solzhenitsyn’s account of life in a Soviet gulag. And many years later still this way of experiencing the novel would prompt me to encourage my daughter to read Denisovich’s account while she was fasting for Ramadan.
      Standing on the platform with my snacks, amongst the flow of passengers and porters, I took in the destination signs on the different trains, heading off to distant parts of a sub-continent. Perhaps my diminutive 10-year-old perspective added to the perceived size of the place; I would not be surprised. The porters wore a uniform, after a fashion. For each one of them, the acquisition of a customer provided a sense of purpose and superiority of status which would be underlined by rearranging their head-covering to better protect themselves from the luggage that would soon be loaded on top. On this trip, I was just a spectator to the rituals of engaging porters. When old enough to be a participant, I’d find it a difficult balance between exploiting and being exploited. 
      At last, it was time to get back in the train and cover myself as best I could with an assortment of clothes, waiting for the morning to bring some respite. Some mornings were awesome, the rising rays of sunshine spread across green fields, punctuated by trees and seemingly in rhythm with the regular beat of the wheels on the track. At some point, I’d have to go to the toilet, which was a balancing act of the toothbrush, toothpaste and some attempt at washing and keeping my distance from the ubiquitous hole in the floor.
      At first, I had distanced myself from the perceived filth of the train and had tried to keep myself to as small an area as possible. But as the hours passed my comfort zone expanded until I was even comfortable lying full stretch on the wooden slats of the third-class benches. As the miles passed the squalor, even that of the toilet, was no longer alien but something to which I had become habituated. Though I still haven’t managed to achieve the level of equanimity displayed by a fellow airline passenger who went into the toilet barefoot. As someone else commented on this practice, the liquid on the floor isn’t water.
      Safety was and still is a distant concept when it comes to Indian railways, best observed by the person at risk. In both my childhood travel and in recent times safety seems to lie, for example, in keeping your distance from the open door of the railway carriage. As a 30-year-old on a train from Chennai to Hyderabad and no parent to hold me back, I was able to lean out to take videos and photos to rekindle childhood memories of fleeting Indian railway stations. The observation stimulated the same sense of passing through and catching the moment in local lives. What I was not able to recapture in a photo was the rising dawn that I had observed in my childhood journey. 
      On that childhood trip, I had brought a couple of books with me, which I still remember. There was ‘Tarka the Otter’ and Joy Adamson’s ‘Home Free’. I can’t remember which one was more boring, but Tarka does stand out as being particularly good for being interrupted by the least remarkable scenery outside. The same can’t be said for the novel I discovered at our destination in Lucknow. Our host had a copy of ‘War of the Worlds’ the title itself was captivating and the story engrossing. I remember sitting in various locations of the house working my way through the invasion.
      A few years before this train trip, aged six, I had seen a book titled ‘War and Peace’ sitting on another relative’s bookshelf in London and that also seemed to suggest excitement within. I wasn’t there long enough to pick it up, but a few years after the Indian trip, when I was about 14 I made a point about buying the novel but the enthusiasm stimulated by the title was very, very quickly dimmed by the story within. I decided to grind down the story by reading a page a day. It took a couple of years, but I managed to finish it. 
      ‘War of the Worlds’ was the starting point, since then I’ve come to associate books with the places where I read them: Sterling Seagrave’s, ‘Dragon Lady’ accompanied me on a trip to Singapore and provided the incentive to visit China. 
      Aged 17, I was transiting between two Paris metro stations, on a trip to Aix-en-Provence when a kindly gentleman took pity on me and helped me with my overweight suitcase containing Lipsey’s tome ‘Positive Economics’. Amongst other books, this would be entirely superfluous to my needs at the French language summer course I was about to attend. Even in adulthood, I have never quite managed to balance taking on travels work-related things that I would use as opposed to those I might regret not having brought with me. Laptops and cloud storage have meant that that personal deficiency no longer has to be addressed.
      This had been a unique trip in some different ways. My mother was a widow, and we did not have a great deal of money. I hadn’t been abroad between the ages of 5 and 10. But travelling third class on Indian railways and staying with relatives wherever we went meant that this trip was fairly affordable. So, it was not unreasonable that my mother was not too impressed with what took place when we arrived at the border crossing between India and Pakistan sometime earlier. 
      When we got off the train for the immigration check, there was a French lady in front of us, and she and my mother started speaking. Quite proudly my mother presented me as someone who could speak French. The unexpectedness and ambition of the challenge meant that I was completely dumbstruck. For a good few hours to follow, I’d hear my mother’s lament about how much she had paid for a French Linguaphone course for me, which was well beyond our means. I had assured her that this would be a great aid to my linguistic efforts, the advertisement promised as much, and I had waited with great anticipation for its arrival. Finally, one day there was a brown rectangular package waiting for me outside our house. But for a 10-year-old to master the use of the different texts and develop some semblance of a study plan was quite an ambition and one for which my abilities and self-discipline fell seriously short. 
      There must have been a subconscious notion that the pursuit of academic endeavours would give access to budgets otherwise unavailable. A few years later I’d decide that photography O’level would offer a greater chance of scholastic success. Once more I was lured in by a mixture of an economy with the truth by the people promoting the offering and my imaginative willingness to fill in the blanks. First, there was a need to buy an SLR camera, and as time passed it became obvious that the necessary skills to process photos could not be acquired in the few minutes, I’d have to be in front of the enlarger at school every week. An investment in a darkroom became a necessity. This time self-discipline wasn’t needed to drive study. I had discovered a subject for which I had a passion. I’d end up spending many happy hours in the darkroom, well past midnight channelling Diane Arbus and Cartier Bresson. By the time a school trip to the Soviet Union took place, I was reasonably competent and still have some of the photos of that visit. 
      Looking back, both the camera and the Soviet trip itself seemed like a judicious investment in an unrepeatable experience, a few years later the USSR would cease to exist. This lesson in political upheaval was to prove particularly useful before a trip with my wife and kids to Syria. My brother had borrowed my video camera and forgotten to return it, and the realisation only came in the departure lounge at Heathrow. Buying a video camera specifically for one trip seemed like an extravagance, but soon afterward the civil war broke out. I have clips of my daughter walking amongst a temple to the Phoenician god Melquart, I wonder whether ISIS have left it standing?
      For the India trip, in contrast, there was no camera at all. As I had left London, I had been given a compact camera, which refused to show any sign of working for the duration of the trip and which it had not been possible to repair either. So, I have no tangible images of the entire trip. Whether that has forced me to try harder to remember over the years or whether I have become better at embellishing the details, I don’t know. I do know that on one review I have left on Tripadvisor, I have commented that the prohibition on taking cameras into a particular museum means that visitors are more likely to pay attention to the exhibits in their own right rather than as fodder for an Instagram feed. 
      From Lucknow, we went to my mother’s ancestral home in Fatehpur. We drove through the potholed roads of Uttar Pradesh, slowed even further by overladen agricultural traffic. We arrived in the evening, and all I could sense was that we entered a courtyard and then another. This was quite different to any home I had visited previously. Morning brought a much better sense of the place. The hallmark of the building was its twin towers, installed a couple of hundred years previously, with permission from the rulers of Awadh, since they were considered a mark of royalty and my maternal ancestor’s position as a tutor to the princely household earned him the favour to use them. These rose above the building and the surrounding town. Beneath them was the building’s mosque entered through several large wooden doors, several steps then led to a large courtyard at the other end of which was a narrow staircase leading to some apartments on the first floor. The men of the family had offices cum bedrooms on the ground floor of the courtyard, and their families slept in apartments on the first floor. Any tangible evidence of conjugal relations, such as a couples’ double bed was considered impolite. There were also apartments on the ground floor. To the right of the towers was the entrance to the building and beyond that the disused stables, a further courtyard and then the exit to the main street of the town.
      In Fatehpur, there were no books, or indeed television, but there was exploring the building, listening to stories, fishing and staring at a night sky whose lights I had never previously seen in such profusion. Frustratingly, the shot guns could only be seen and not touched, in fact, I wasn’t allowed to use the air gun. Even the fishing wasn’t with actual rods, but the sensation of the lightness of a short stick with a bait at the end being replaced with the sensation of something tugging at the end of a line remains vivid.
      Exploring the old building would be an experience for someone who had lived in a terraced house all his life. Playing cricket in its central square meant that we had room for both wickets and the ability to run between them, while back in London the garden lawn barely stretched a couple of metres and in our London suburb kids just didn’t play on the street. And then there was the dungeon. Like quite a bit of what we were to experience the name or prior description didn’t quite live up to schoolboy expectations. The Urdu word they all used was ‘mahal’ as in Taj Mahal, but you could hardly describe it as a palace. The dungeon itself was no more threatening than a basement room.  
      The family mahal stood in contrast to the Taj that we had visited on a side-trip while staying in Delhi with an uncle. The sense of serenity reflected off the colour and curves remains in my mind. The sound track no longer remains, perhaps the size of the place drowned out the chattering throngs. The image is now distilled from the range of different perspectives: the head-on view as captured by those photographers who pictured Princess Diana in the foreground, to my standing under the columns staring up and being up close to the marble.
      While the Taj was glorious enough to represent the nation and thus rose above its religious and ethnic antecedents, this was not the case with the family mahal. The condition of this modest building perfectly reflected the state of the community it housed: elegant decrepitude with only a memory of former glories. While the building’s statelier past was visible from the remnants of the structure, so the stories passed by each generation reminded subsequent ones of the lifestyle they had been denied because of opportunities missed and talents wasted. 
      Such was the problem they were facing that even acts of renovation seemed like destruction, where older styles of building work and decoration were replaced with more functional and cheaper modern ones. My youthful displeasure at the erasure of history would later be tempered by a more mature realisation of the practicalities of habitat when I had the chimney breasts and fireplaces of my Victorian house removed to create more space. 
      Occasionally the person who had hosted us in Lucknow would visit. He was a local politician and would arrive in a stately Ambassador car or even more excitingly a ‘jeep’. Not an eponymous one of course, but I still remember the fact that it had gun racks. Both that vehicle and the Ambassador were made in India. This was India before trade liberalisation. Not as familiar a place as the Pakistan we had travelled through to get here. Pakistan had the welcome familiarity of brands that I had grown up with; the ketchup was Heinz and the coke a recognisably friendly white swoosh on a red background. Billboard and television advertising was reassuring. Here unfamiliar names came across as peculiar. Why would a cola be called ‘Thums Up?’. 
      Such has been the irony of globalisation that a few weeks ago eating at Dishoom restaurant in London’s East End I saw the Thums Up logo once more. A symbol of rejecting western capitalism had itself become a brand, with a consumerist meaning, evoking a carbonated essence of India. 
      Like all children of Asian immigrants on visits to their parents’ country of origin, I was also overwhelmed with the extensivity and density of familial connections. There were first cousins, second cousins, and quite a lot more complicated combinations, for which there are no words in English. Added to this, a matriarchal aunt could also be a cousin. My wife came up with a novel way of explaining one such relationship to me. “If that aunt were Mary Queen of Scots, your mum would be Elizabeth I”. Indeed, an artefact of such complex and inter-related ties was the obvious existence of rivalries, jealousies, and squabbles spanning generations. In England, my younger brother and I had been protected from this aspect of extended family life. The protection came at a price: we didn’t know how to deal with it at all. At the age of 10 this did not matter, but on future visits, it would become more significant and certainly by the time my brother and I reached marriageable age. For the time being, it was just nice that as I wandered from apartment to apartment in the mahal, everyone I met was a relative and I was too young to understand any political dimension of that relationship. It would also be in subsequent visits to the mahal, when I was older, that I’d appreciate the tensions with the communities who lived outside the mahal.
      On my daily walks, I’d see hand powered sewing machines and food being prepared more laboriously than anything I had seen at home. The dirt floor did not afford the comfort of sitting cross legged and sitting on my haunches was not something my leg muscles were prepared for. Unlike the urban homes, I had come across in the sub-continent, the toilet here was a platform raised above the multi-coloured offerings beneath. So large was the place that any smells remained distant from any other rooms.
      The cold had not left us in Fatehpur. At night, they would light braziers which were wonderful for bringing around family members, sitting together on the Indian style wooden beds, sharing each other’s warmth, stories and gossip. 
       
       
       
       
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