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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Ideas about modern issues from an Islamic perspective.

Entries in this blog

Freewill, viruses & opportunities

Whether Covid-19 is a naturally occurring virus or whether as some claim (unconvincingly, so far) it is a bioweapon, in my opinion its spread is the result of free will [15]. If it is naturally occurring, then it was human actions that led to its migration from animals to humans. We know that some viruses can do this and we have had previous experience with ones (e.g. SARS) that have created far less havoc [1]. By the same measure this one could be seen to be a dry run for worse epidemics to com

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Values - Institute of Iranian Studies - case study

Introduction The institute is a Saudi attempt to exercise soft power. It presents 'research' designed to undermine the IRI. The people behind this organisation know the value of appearing to be independent and great care has been taken to present the image of a western 'thinktank'. Indeed you almost get the impression that the people behind an American think tank came up with this one. But as with any articificial exercise there are holes and I'll examine one of them. About us

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Government

Could vs. should

Jurassic Park Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park says "You were so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you never bothered to ask if you should." Are changing attitudes towards transgenderism a function of technology? Would it be a fair assessment of human history to say that whenever we have developed the capability to do something we have, and whether or not we should has not really stopped us? The current debates around transgenderism reflect this, I think. It's more than a c

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Ethics

Belief and proof

We need proof One of the challenges presented to people who believe in God by atheists is the lack of what is considered to be acceptable proof for His existence. But what happens when you are given proof? The case of CV19 I think our experience with covid over the past two years provides a really interesting case study in terms of how people respond to a phenomenon where you could argue that the type of evidence atheists are looking for is available in abundance and yet there are

Satan's slipstream or the good in evil

The slipstream Where you have two runners or cars, for example, the runner/car who is second benefits from the slipstream of the person in front. The slipstream referring to their meeting less air resistance due to the air being pushed to the side by the person/car in front. I still remember a Goldman Sachs report from around 2000 which predicted that the technology for streaming videos would initially be funded by the purveyors of porn - which is where the money was. Once online video

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Ethics

Private sufficiency and public luxury

In Shiachat threads many years ago the argument was presented that the sums spent e.g. on the Imam Raza ((عليه السلام).) shrine could be better spent on various social services for Iranians. My counter argument at the time was that visiting the shrines was and is for many ordinary Iranians their only escape from the mundane aspects of everyday life. In addition spending such sums on the social space meant that it could be consumed by all, rather than the few. The British journalist and

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Economics

Doing your own 'research'

Note: I'll be updating the initial entry with additional points over time, as discussions elsewhere on Shiachat help me to flesh out the original arguments.   Summary In this essay I discuss why the theory behind 'Do your own research' (DYOR) does not live up to reality and the negative consequences that this can have for those who follow it. What I will also do is to examine how the whole notion of informed decision making fits within a broader ideological framework and why

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Rationality

How unscrupulous people take advantage

Summary This post is about the reasons why there is so much imperative in the Qur'an on sellers not taking advantage of their customers. The point being elaborated here is that it can be easy for sellers to take advantage of their buyers. The Qur'an uses a specific context (weights and measures) but this notion can be extended to other areas of the transaction. We can lump together all sorts of decisions that we make everyday. These can be decisions about what products and services to

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Rationality

Arabs kept slaves too ...

[This blog post was originally posted some time ago, but I have revisited it to edit, reformat and so on. I will be doing this to other blog posts as well - it's not a glitch in the system if they come up in the recent timeline]   "Arabs kept slaves too", is a comment often made by the apologists for European slavers, it's usually followed by the statement that Europeans abolished slavery, whereas the Arabs did not, so Europeans are morally superior. This line of argument holds th

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Slavery

We are all epidemiologists now

and even if we are not perhaps we should try to be and if we can't are there other ways of understanding the world around us in order to make informed decisions that are necessary for survival? A hoax? I was inspired to think about this. by yet another post on ShiaChat asking about the numbers of deaths caused by Covid-19 compared to the numbers dying annually from other causes e.g. malaria or car accidents. The motivation behind the observation was that maybe the fuss around Covid-19

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Raising Maryam - Advice to niece

A niece living in India wrote a personal statement for British universities, in support of her application and wanted my feedback. Here it is:   Salaam. It’s very well written. It has very good references to extra curricular activities. The only thing it may be missing are references to academic achievements, such as essay competitions / prizes etc. but if you don’t have anything to say there - there’s not much you can do.  Structure-wise it starts in a very abstract way

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Hanification

The signs on the Paris metro are now also in Chinese, as are some train announcements. Since the French have a mixed reputation for speaking English I guess it means they have to try a bit harder when it comes to wooing the Chinese. And there are plenty of them. But this is the honeymoon period. This is when the Chinese are awe-struck by French style and glamour. It's hard to imagine that Imperial Russia was similarly besotted by France At the moment France exports its culture (wh

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Hell

The entrance to perdition Opens the heart to the previously imperceptible Recognition Of damnable action   The ephemeral expert's turntable Rhythms with hedonistic resonance Amid blissful ignorance  Of the posthumous consequence   The buried sinner hears the veiled reality Curated in the depths of memory Revealing the horrors  Of temptation's tortures   The awakening conscience Is eternity's retribution Burning 

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Raising Abbas - Stalag Luft III

Maryam's school is super laid back. This year Abbas started in Year 7 (equivalent to Middle school in the US?, @Hameedeh help), at the age of 11. They get a school planner and I found these pages. I've been told the school has a great atmosphere and the kids really love it, and perhaps the written bureaucracy is just to scare them, but whoever put it together is on a real power trip. I think. Kids are supposed to set SMART targets for themselves and then self-assess. I work with manage

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Raising Maryam - Exam boards

Next year, inshallah, Maryam takes her GCSE exams in the United Kingdom, those are taken at 16 years of age. Just a heads up for anyone else with kids/relatives of that age. I have been looking at the websites of the exam boards for her different subjects. Googling the name of the board, the subject and the year of the exam will usually get you to the right page. There are a lot of free resources they offer, e.g. subject specifications and examiner commentaries. The latter are very use

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Scientific theory vs. unscientific utility

I have previously remarked upon how, in some fields of human endeavour where the scientific approach is held to be the ideal, in reality human scientific and technological discoveries has often been the results of luck and even mistakes. There is a corollary in the field of the social sciences which also emphasise the value of the scientific approach to generate knowledge. In this domain the anomalies are various frameworks and models that are widely taught and even used, but which have no

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Tai Kwun

I had an afternoon off earlier in the year and spent an enjoyable few hours at the restored Police Station in Central, Hong Kong. It's now been transformed into a heritage museum and art gallery. It has to be said that the art of museum curatorship as a form of communication and dare I say propaganda is one that many people do not appreciate. One form that this takes is making the mundane interesting and engaging: Another aspect of making things more engaging is the introdu

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

A grand bargain between Israel & Iran?

The Trump administration gave up on JCPOA, partly because it did not like 'Iran's regional influence'. This is at the heart of the current dispute. Apart from Persoids who believe that giving up on Lebanon, Syria and Iraq will somehow make Iran safer, everyone else knows that Iran reining in its regional influence will win it a matter of months of respite before its enemies seek to push home the advantage for regime change. At the same time Israel is seeking to build up its own sphere

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Raising Maryam - Paris & the 5D

As I mentioned previously Maryam asked to take the 5D and the lenses with her on the school trip. It's professional equipment, albeit everyone in Hong Kong seems to have better. Here's some of what she came back with. Oh and all the equipment came back too.    

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Organic living: a modern false religion?

The case against artificial ingredients is well worn in terms of the possible damage to health. The health benefits of foods that are as natural as possible with limited human interference I.e. processing seems compelling. For a couple of decades and perhaps for a couple more going forwards organic foods have given people something to believe in. Organic represents good, wholesome and natural and the opposite - foods that have chemicals added to aid their growth and which have been through

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Whichever option you choose - you lose

Summary When you are in a weak position, all the choices you have are bad ones. Introduction I've always thought that since British Mandate the Palestinians have been in a no win position. If they accepted the offers the Israelis gave them there would have been an incentive for the Israelis to take more land (if the Pals don't mind yielding some they might not mind yielding more) and if the Pals had resisted that would also have given the Israelis a pretext to take more land (for

Haji 2003

Haji 2003 in Economics

Raising Maryam - Images a la sauvette

The photo-journalist Cartier-Bresson coined this phrase, with a book of the same name, whose English title was 'the decisive moment'. Capturing such moments can be fun and rewarding. I've been trying to encourage Maryam to see photographic picture taking as being an opportunistic exercise where good shots can be unexpected, unplanned and based purely on the recognition that there might be something there. We were in Regents Park yesterday and she was taking pictures of Abbas cycling on

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Simon says ...

Simon says   This is the new law This is the right law That was the old law It was the wrong law   Follow the new law It is the right law Ignore the old law That was the wrong law   The new law is the modern law The modern law is the best law The old law was a bad law Don’t follow the old law   We believed the old law We upheld the old law But now we have a new law You should follow the new law

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Hofstede's 6th dimension

Geert Hofstede is famous for his cultural dimensions theory. The idea is that culture affects the values to which members of a society subscribe. Originally the model had four dimensions within which values could be analysed: And then it becomes more interesting: https://www.communicaid.com/cross-cultural-training/blog/indulgence-vs-restraint-6th-dimension/ So what are indulgence / restraint? Maleki, A. and de Jong, M. (2014) ‘A Proposal for Clustering the Dimensions of

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Answering the W.I.M wimmin

In a previous blog post I identified threads that I considered problematic, since they had the (un)intended effect of causing friction with the Shiachat community. I think that friction emanates from people on both sides of the debate taking an emotional approach to the issues. While I cannot legislate for those people who deliberately want to diminish the faith, those people who want to take a pro-Islamic constructive approach could consider the following suggestions. In order to add

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

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