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In the Name of God بسم الله
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About this blog

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

Arabs kept slaves too ...

This is a comment often made by the apologists for European slavers. Their defence is that the Europeans simply entered into a pre-existing tradition of slaving that existed in Africa and indeed all they did was provide an outlet for people who had already been taken into slavery by their fellow Africans. I won't go into the obvious rebuttal that providing a demand for something is obviously going to increase its supply. The latter is the logic for making various goods illegal in consu

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

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 time yielding some they might not mind yielding more) and if the Pals had resisted that would also have given the Israelis a pre-text to take more land (for defensive purposes). In short whatever the Pals decided did not matter, the Israelis were in too domin

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

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

Bonded labour - where you didn't expect it?

An interesting insight into the American H1-B visa system and how it is similar to the notion of bonded labour. This post appeared in an article dealing with Trump's tweet dealing with his views on the H1-B visa programme. https://www.ft.com/content/3c477b66-15bd-11e9-a581-4ff78404524e

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

W.I.M. wimmin

W.I.M stands for 'woe is me". We get new threads on Shiachat started by new posters who typically relate some domestic issue where a woman has been badly treated by either the father or the husband and occasionally some other male. The story, since these posts are typically reasonably long, has a fair amount of detail and explanation and has clearly been written by someone with a reasonably good command of the English language. We are not talking about someone who has secretly grabbed

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

From the tangible to the virtual

The recent financial problems of the British HMV music record shops and the reasons for their specific problems reminded me of some broader issues. HMV's problems have arisen as they have failed to cope with a world that is moving from CDs and DVDs to streaming and Spotify. People are moving from tangible products to intangible downloads. You can't see and touch and experience in the latter in the same way, but they offer convenience, lower costs, greater portability and in a more pollution

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

God Hypothesis IV

https://www.ft.com/content/d67ffecc-02dc-11e9-9d01-cd4d49afbbe3 This is overdue in my opinion. The idealistic, almost naive notion that human exploration of space will be driven by purely scientific motivations cannot last. If as theists we believe that God has created the heavens for us to explore and done so in a manner that makes this possible on a stage by stage basis. The proximity of extra-terrestrial bodies has been fortuitously placed so that we can reach each one with the tech

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Gun control - why the US & Europe may both be right

The typical debate between Americans and Europeans runs along the following lines. Europeans criticise the easy availability of guns in America and Americans criticise Europeans for not enabling citizens to protect themselves. Europeans are talking from the perspective of living in societies where guns are not easily available and there is relatively little gun crime. There is a risk that if guns were more easily available, homicide levels would reach (the much higher) levels seen in t

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

You know the tip about eating off a smaller plate to lose weight...?

Turns out the person who came up with that one and a number of others was not always telling the truth: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/9/19/17879102/brian-wansink-cornell-food-brand-lab-retractions-jama   And the reason for his misdemeanour:   And then there is the wider issue about how researchers are motivated and rewarded:  

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

Brain drainers & brain drainees II

This post follows on from the previous one which dealt with the global issue of developing countries losing their trained manpower to richer countries. There is an interesting news piece that I have just come across which shows how one developing country turned the problem to its advantage. https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/nov/23/brazil-fears-it-cant-fill-abrupt-vacancies-after-cuban-doctors-withdraw Obviously the Cuban economic system has a variety of other defici

Haji 2003

Haji 2003

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