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Et tu, Ismail? Pt. 2


Islamic Salvation

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Some Glimpes of Ismail b. Ja`far in Twelver Sources

 

His Boldness towards his Father

Ismail was very daring in his interaction with the Imam. So much so that he could directly contradict his father to his face.

جعفر بن أحمد بن أيوب، عن أحمد بن الحسن الميثمي، عن أبي نجيح، عن الفيض بن المختار، وعنه، عن علي بن إسماعيل، عن أبي نجيح، عن الفيض، قال: قلت لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام: جعلت فداك، ما تقول في الأرض، أتقبلها من السلطان ثم أؤاجرها آخرين على أن ما أخرج الله منها من شئ، كان من ذلك النصف أو الثلث أو أقل من ذلك أو أكثر؟ قال: لا بأس، قال له إسماعيل ابنه: يا أبه لم تحفظ! قال: فقال: يا بني أوليس كذلك أعامل أكرتي؟ إن كثيرا ما أقول ألزمني فلا تفعل، فقام إسماعيل، فقلت: جعلت فداك، وما على إسماعيل ألا يلزمك إذا كنت أفضت إليه الأشياء من بعدك كما أفضت إليك بعد أبيك، قال: فقال: يا فيض إن إسماعيل ليس كأنا من أبي، قلت: جعلت فداك، فقد كنا لا نشك أن الرحال ينحط إليه من بعدك، وقد قلت فيه ما قلت، فإن كان ما تخاف وأسأل الله العافية، فإلي من؟ قال: فأمسك عني، فقبلت ركبتيه، وقلت: إرحم سيدي، فإنما هي النار، إني والله لو طمعت أن أموت قبلك لما باليت، ولكني أخاف البقاء بعدك، فقال لي: مكانك، ثم قام إلى ستر في البيت فرفعه ...

[al-Kashshi] Ja`far b. Ahmad b. Ayyub from Ahmad b. al-Hasan al-Maythami from Abi Nujayh from al-Faydh b. al-Mukhtar; and from him [Ja`far b. Ahmad b. Ayyub] from Ali b. Ismail from Abi Nujayh from al-Faydh who said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام  - may I be made your ransom, what do you say about a piece of land which I accept from the Sultan then I lease it out to others [to cultivate therein] - with the condition that what Allah causes to be produced from it of anything then half or one-third of it or less than that or more is mine? He said: there is no harm in it, Ismail his son said to him: O father you haven’t remembered correctly [you have got it wrong]! He said: O my son, is this not how I too deal with my cultivators? How many times have I said that you should accompany me [to learn things] but you refuse? So Ismail got up and left, I said: may I be made your ransom, and what harm is upon Ismail if he does not accompany you considering you will hand over to him the things [books] after you the way they were handed to you after your father? he said: O Faydh, Ismail is not [to me] the way I was to my father, I said: may I be made your ransom - we never doubted that the saddles would be laid [journeys would be undertaken] to him after you [i.e. he would be the Imam], but you have just said about him what you have! so if it occurs that which we fear and I ask Allah to preserve you - then to whom? He said: he kept silent, I kissed his knees and said: have mercy O master, for it is the fire [if I fail to recognize the next Imam], by Allah if I expected to die before you then I would not have cared, but I fear that I may remain after you, so he said to me: remain where you are, then he stood until he reached a door-curtain in the room and raised it …            

This shows how independent minded Ismail was. It should be noted, however, that the remaining part of the Hadith and the exaggerations in it make one suspect whether the Hadith is not one of those proof-texts carefully invented to support the Imama of al-Kadhim.

 

Was he involved in Political Intrigue?

Ismail was summoned by al-Mansur (the Abbasid Caliph) for an unidentified reason. The fact that he was accompanied by one Bassam who was executed implies it had something to do with rebelling against the temporal powers.

محمّد بن مسعود قال: حدثني محمد بن نصير قال: حدثنا محمّد بن عيسى، عن الحسين بن سعيد، عن عليّ ابن حديد قال: حدثني عنبسة بن مصعب العابد قال: كنت مع جعفر بن محمد صلوات الله عليهما بباب الخليفة أبي جعفر بالحيرة، حين أتي ب‍: بسّام و إسماعيل بن جعفر فادخلا على أبي جعفر، قال: فاُخرج بسّام مقتولا، و اُخرج إسماعيل بن جعفر، قال: فرفع جعفر رأسه إليه قال: أفعلتها يا فاسق! أبشر بالنار!

[al-Kashshi] Muhammad b. Masud who said: Muhammad b. Nusayr narrated to me saying: Muhammad b. Isa narrated to us from al-Husayn b. Sa`id from Ali b. Hadid who said: Anbasa b. Mus`ab al-Abid narrated to me saying: I was with Ja`far b. Muhammad صلوات الله عليهما at the door of the Caliph Abi Ja`far [al-Mansur] in al-Hira when Bassam and Ismail b. Ja`far were brought and made to enter in the presence of Abi Ja`far, he [Anbasa] said: so Bassam came out a dead man [sentenced to be killed], then Ismail b. Ja`far was brought out [unpunished], he [Anbasa] said: so Ja`far raised his head to him and said: have you done it you corrupt sinner! receive tidings of the fire!

To whom did the Imam direct these words?

It could very well be to Ismail . For getting himself mixed up with militants, even whilst the Imam’s official policy towards the rulers was queitism. Maybe Ismail is also being blamed for implicating Bassam and thereby freeing himself of suspicion and leaving unharmed. Some scholars have gone against this interpretation even if it might be the more literal one.

توهّم أنّ الخطّاب متوجّه إلى إسماعيل بن جعفر، والجواب: أنّ الخطّاب متوجّه إلى ابو جعفر (المنصور) بتنزيله منزلة الحاضر، كما يظهر بأدنى تأمّل،

al-Khoei: It is wrongly thought that that the speech was addressed to Ismail b. Ja`far, the answer is that: these words were directed at Abu Ja`far al-Mansur as though he were physically present [it is allowed in the language to address the non-present as though he were present], as is obvious with the least bit of thinking.

Despite this, I maintain that the possibility [which is also most in line with linguistics] should not be rejected out-rightly.   

It may be for this very reason that he was struck off the Diwan [register] that lists people who were to be given stipends.

محمد بن مسعود قال: حدثني أحمد بن جعفر بن أحمد قال: حدثني العمركي، عن محمد بن علي وغيره، عن ابن أبي عمير، عن مفضل بن مزيد أخي شعيب الكاتب قال: دخل علي أبي عبد الله عليه السلام، وقد أمرت أن أخرج لبني هاشم جوائز، فلم أعلم إلا وهو على رأسي وأنا مستخلي، فوثبت إليه فسألني عما أمر لهم، فناولته الكتاب، قال: ما أرى لإسماعيل ههنا شيئا، فقلت: هذا الذي خرج إلينا. ثم قلت له: جعلت فداك، قد ترى مكاني من هؤلاء القوم فقال لي: انظر ما أصبت فعد به على أصحابك، فإن الله جل وعلا يقول: إن الحسنات يذهبن السيئات

[al-Kashshi] Muhammad b. Masud who said: Ahmad b. Ja`far b. Ahmad narrated to me saying: al-Amrikai narrated to me from Muhammad b. Ali and other than him from Ibn Abi Umayr from Mufadhal b. Mazid the brother of Shuayb the secretary who said: Abi Abdillah عليه السلام entered upon me and I had been ordered to take out the stipends for the Bani Hashim. I did not notice until he was stood over me and I was all alone at the time [no one was with me], so I sprung up [in deference] to him [and in attention]. He asked me about what had been apportioned for them [of the stipends], so I handed over the document to him. He said: I do not see for Ismail anything here? I said: this is what was given to us [from above], then I said to him: may I be made your ransom, you have seen my position [junior official] with these people [Banu Abbas] [how can I escape the tyranny involved in their financial activities]? He said: look at what you get [of payment] and transfer it to your fellows [oppressed Shias] for Allah Majestic and Elevated says: “the good drives away the evil” (11:114).         

 

Ismail was his own man

Another potential piece in the puzzle that can shed light on Ismail’s character is a letter written by Ibn al-Siyaba to al-Sadiq.

أحمد بن منصور، عن أحمد بن الفضل الخزاعي، عن محمد بن زياد، عن علي بن عطية صاحب الطعام قال: كتب عبدالرحمن بن سيابة إلى أبي عبدالله عليه السلام: قد كنت احذرك اسماعيل:

جانيك من يجني عليك وقد * يعدي الصحاح مبارك الجرب

فكتب اليه أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: قول الله أصدق * (ولاتزر وازرة وزر اخرى) * والله ما علمت ولا أمرت ولارضيت

[al-Kashshi] Ahmad b. Mansur from Ahmad b. al-Fadhl al-Khuzai from Muhammad b. Ziyad from Ali b. Atiyya the seller of food who said: Abd al-Rahman b. Siyaba wrote to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام - I used to warn you about Ismail

Your criminal is the one who commits a crime against you

 But mangy camels may often infect the healthy ones

Abu Abdillah عليه السلام wrote back to him: the words of Allah are more truthful “and no bearer shall bear the burden of another” (35:18) by Allah - I did not know! nor did I command him to do it! nor was I pleased with it!

When an Arab hears the first part of the couplet his memory immediately furnishes the next incriminating line:

ولربّ مأخوذ بذنب عشيره * ونجا المقارف صاحب الذّنب

Many a man may be accused of the crime of his familial relation

While the one who really committed the crime gets away

The poem notes how a crime by someone close to you can rub off on you and get you caught up in the accusation. The Imam makes clear, however, that the words of Allah are more truthful than this poem [as we say صدق الله وكذب الشاعر]. No one will bear the burden of another and the Imam did not endorse Ismail’s action in any way.

Which act of Ismail is the Imam distancing himself from?

Sayyid al-Damad says in his Ta`liqa:

كتب ذلك ابن سيابة الى أبي عبد الله عليه‌ السلام حيث تجنى اسماعيل في أمر معلى ابن خنيس، على من هو بري‌ء من ذلك وتعرض له وتحرش به

Ibn Siyaba wrote that to Abi Abdillah عليه‌ السلام after Ismail had committed a crime in the matter of Mualla b. Khunays against the one who was innocent of that after confronting him in a surprise attack.

I highly doubt that it was in relation to that because what Ismail did there seems to have been sanctioned by the Imam.

 

The Mualla incident

عن ابن أبي نجران، عن حمّاد الناب، عن المسمعى قال: لما أخذ داود بن علي المعلّى بن خنيس حبسه، وأراد قتله، فقال له معلّى بن خنيس: أخرجني إلى الناس، فإنّ لي ديناً كثيراً ومالاً، حتى أشهد بذلك، فأخرجه إلى السوق فلما اجتمع الناس، قال: ياأيها الناس أنا معلّى بن خنيس فمن عرفني فقد عرفنى، اشهدوا أنّ ما تركت من مال، من عين، أو دين، أو أمة، أو عبد، أو دار، أو قليل، أو كثير، فهو لجعفر بن محمد عليه السلام، قال: فشدّ عليه صاحب شرطة داود فقتله. قال: فلما بلغ ذلك أبا عبد اللّه عليه السلام خرج يجرّ ذيله حتى دخل على داود بن على، وإسماعيل ابنه خلفه، فقال: ياداود قتلت مولاي وأخذت مالى. فقال: ما أنا قتلته ولا أخذت مالك. فقال: واللّه لادعون اللّه على من قتل مولاي وأخذ مالى. قال: ما قتلته ولكن قتله صاحب شرطتى. فقال: بإذنك أو بغير أذنك. قال: بغير إذني. فقال: ياإسماعيل شأنك به. قال: فخرج إسماعيل، والسيف معه حتى قتله في مجلسه

[al-Kashshi] Ibn Abi Najran from Hammad al-Nab from al-Misma`i who said: when Dawud b. Ali [the governor of Madina] arrested al-Mualla b. Khunays, imprisoned him, and wanted to kill him - Mualla b. Khunays said to him: take me out to the people first, for I have a lot of debts and wealth which I want to declare, so he took him out to the market, when the people had gathered he [Mualla] said: O people, I am Mualla b. Khunays, whoever knows me has known me, I bear witness that what I leave of wealth, or debt, or slave-girl, or house, or less or more, then it is is for Ja`far b. Muhammad عليه السلام, he [al-Misma`i] said: so Dawud’s head of security struck him and killed him. When the news reached Aba Abdillah عليه السلام he came out dragging his cloak [on the ground - in his hurry] until he entered upon Dawud b. Ali with his son Ismail behind him and said: Dawud you killed my Mawla [client] and usurped my property?! He said: I did not kill him nor have I taken your property. He said: By Allah I am going to pray to Allah against the one who killed my Mawla and took my property! He [Dawud] said: I did not kill him - it was the head of my guards, he [the Imam] said: by your permission or without? He [Dawud] said: without my permission, he [al-Sadiq] said: O Ismail have your way with him! he said: so Ismail came out with a sword and killed him in his seating place. 

 

Affection of the Imam after his Death

What comes across in these narrations is the fact that Ismail was a fallible and in some ways flawed individual. Despite this, it is undoubted that he was greatly loved by the Imam who cared deeply for him [as a father is wont to do].

عن أبي رضي الله عنه قال: حدثنا سعد بن عبدالله، عن أحمد بن محمد بن عيسى، عن الحسن بن سعيد، عن فضالة بن أيوب، والحسن بن علي بن فضال، عن يونس بن يعقوب، عن سعيد بن عبدالله الاعرج قال: قال أبوعبدالله عليه السلام: لما مات إسماعيل، أمرت به، وهو مسجى، أن يكشف عن وجهه، فقبلت جبهته، وذقنه، ونحره، ثم أمرت به، فغطي ثم قلت: إكشفوا عنه، فقبلت أيضا جبهته، وذقنه، ونحره، ثم أمرتهم، فغطوه، ثم أمرت به، فغسل، ثم دخلت عليه وقد كفن فقلت: أكشفوا عن وجهه، فقبلت جبهته، وذقنه، ونحره، وعوذته، ثم قلت: أدرجوه، فقلت بأي شئ عوذته؟ قال عليه السلام : بالقرآن

[Kamal al-Diin] From my father who said: Sa`d b. Abdallah narrated to us from Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Isa from al-Hasan b. Sa`id from Fadhala b. Ayyub and al-Hasan b. Ali b. Fadhal from Yunus b. Ya`qub from Sa`id b. Abdallah al-A`raj who said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: when Ismail died, and was covered with a sheet, I ordered that his face be exposed, then I kissed his forehead, his chin, and his throat, then I ordered that he be covered again, then I said: unveil him, so I kissed his forehead, and his chin and his throat, then I ordered that he be covered again, then I ordered that he be washed, then I entered upon him and he was already enshrouded, so I said: uncover his face, I kissed his forehead, his chin and his throat then I supplicated for him [protection against evil], then I said: wrap him up, I [Sa`id] said: with what thing did you supplicate for him? he عليه السلام said: with the Qur’an.  

This shows the real affection that the Imam had for him, but there was another secondary more important reason he went through these motions. It was was to prove to everyone the reality of his death against the claim that would emerge that he was in hiding.      

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      Everyday   ,   Every second,         Every situations,         Every difficulties,           Every achievements 
      Take all these a test and trials where your patience is tested, your faith is tested, your ability to control your desires and emotions are tested, family relations is tested etc.....
      Focus on passing these tests with patience, faith in God, doing religious obligations, praying to God, always seeking help from God, seeking forgiveness and thanking him in every situations we are in.  
      Remember God has something better waiting for you in the after world so try and somehow put a smile on your face every now and then...
         5 comments
      قال أبو عبد الله عليه السلام: رحم الله زرارة بن أعين لو لا زرارة و نظراؤه لاندرست أحاديث أبي عليه السلام
      Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said: May Allah have mercy on Zurara b. A`yan, if it was not for Zurara and his peers the narrations of my father عليه السلام would have perished
      سمعت أبا عبد اللّه عليه السلام يقول: لعن اللّه زرارة!
      I heard Aba Abdillah عليه السلام saying: may Allah curse Zurara!
       
      Did the Imam Curse Zurara?
      Zurara is such an important narrator in the Madhhab. No one has narrated more narrations than him. There are more than two thousand surviving Hadiths attributed to him in our books. No surprise then to find that we have a lot of reports of praise from the `Aimma confirming his esteemed status. A bit more difficult to explain away is the not insignificant number of narrations that portray him in a negative light. These have been latched onto by polemicists who believe that they can damage the Madhhab by weakening this man who transmitted such a lot of knowledge from the `Aimma that he became a cornerstone of our Fiqh. How do we defend him? There is a reliable text preserved by al-Kashshi in his book which I believe is useful in explaining this phenomenon preserving as it does a candid assessment by the Imam of the real situation.
      The words of the Imam are indented and a relevant commentary is provided directly below each section. The  text can be accessed in its entirety here https://sites.google.com/site/mujamalahadith/vol1/book-of-narrators/zurara-b-ayan [See No. 17/172]
       
      Abdallah b. Zurara said: Abu Abdillah عليه السلام said to me: convey my salutations of peace to your father and say to him …
      The letter that the Imam dictates to this son of Zurara is done in confidence and with the expectation that no one else will come to know of its contents. It seems to have been prompted by Zurara’s grief, conveyed directly to the Imam, for censuring him to fellow companions and others, such that word reached back to him. Zurara seeks to clarify what the Imam’s true opinion of him is.
       
      I only defame you as a way of defending you, for the masses and the enemy hasten to whomever we draw near and praise his station so as to cause harm to the one we love and bring close. They accuse such a one because of our love for him and his closeness and intimacy with us, and they consider causing him harm and even killing him as justified. On the other hand, they praise every one whom we fault even if his affair is not praiseworthy. Thus, I fault you because you have become notorious as a result of your association with us and your inclination towards us, which have caused you to become blamable in the eyes of the people and your works to be looked upon unfavourably, all this because of your love for us and your inclination towards us. So I wished to fault you so that they can praise your religious stand as a result of my denigrating and diminishing you, and this becomes a way of warding off their evil from you. 
      This narration is important because it is the lens through which all the negative narrations about Zurara should be seen. The Imam explains his rationale for publicly cursing Zurara i.e. the Imam is defending his companion through Taqiyya.  As he notes, the enemy wishes to bring down everyone they draw near, a fate which he does not wish for Zurara. Zurara was particularly at risk because of how many narrations he had from them and how closely he was associated to them.
       
      Allah Majestic and Mighty says: “as for the boat then it belonged to the poor working at sea so I wished to damage it because there was a king after them who seizes every good boat by force” (18:79) … No by Allah! he did not damage it except that it be saved from the king and is not ruined in his hands. It was a ‘good’ boat which had no question of being defective Allah be praised, so comprehend the parable, may Allah have mercy on you!
      The Imam likens his act of criticizing Zurara to Khidhr damaging the fisherman’s boat, both seem ostensibly cruel on the surface but they are ultimately done to secure the very person they seem to hurting.
       
      … this is a revelation from Allah [including the word] ‘good’ …
      The Qira’a of the Ahlulbayt includes the word صالحة in the verse which is not there in our existing copies. This can be seen as an interpretive addition which happens to be quite straightforward and does not go against conventional understanding. This is also how Ibn Mas`ud and Ubay b. Ka`b read the verse [See Tafsir al-Tabari].
       
      You are by Allah! the most beloved of people to me and the most beloved of the companions of my father in my estimation both in life and after death. Indeed you are the best boat in that tumultuous and stormy sea, and there is a tyrannical and usurping king after you, keeping watch for the crossing of every good boat returning from the sea of guidance so that he can take it for himself and seize it and its owners, so may the mercy of Allah be upon you in life and His mercy and pleasure be upon you after death.
      This is the true status of Zurara in the eyes of the Imam. It becomes very clear that Zurara is the principal companion of al-Baqir and al-Sadiq and the closest to them. This tallies with the Madhhab’s conception of his status where he is seen as the greatest of their companions barring Muhammad b. Muslim which is arguable.
       
      Let not your heart constrict in grief if Abu Basir comes to you with the opposite of that which you were instructed by my father and by me, for by Allah! we did not instruct you and him except with an instruction that is fitting to act upon both for us and for you, and for each [instruction, even if seemingly contradictory] we have diverse expressions and interpretations which all agree with the truth. And if we were allowed [to explain] you would come to know that the truth is in that which we have instructed you.
      The Imam acknowledges a second problem which Zurara seems to have raised which is the Ikhtilaf [differences] of instructions which are attributed to them. The Imam accepts that these may indeed go back to them but notes that they have a reason for every instruction they give even if the companions cannot fully comprehend the reasons behind them. However, the Imam is very clear that despite the seeming diverse answers there is a way to reconcile them and all agree with the truth. 
       
      The one who has divided you is your shepherd who has been given authority by Allah over His creation. He [the shepherd] is more aware of what is in the interest of his flock and what can corrupt it. If he wishes he divides between them to safe-guard them, then he unites them once more so that it is secure from destruction and the fear posed by its enemy, in such a time as Allah permits, bringing it thereby safety from His place of safety and relief from Him. Upon you is to submit and to refer back to us and to await our affair and your affair and our relief and your relief. 
      The significance of these words of the Imam cannot be overstated. It reveals that the `Aimma would purposely teach different things to different Ashab aiming to purposely divide them. Elsewhere it is explained that they saw Madhhabic uniformity among their followers especially in rituals as being a distinctive marker that would make them a target. What the companions have to understand is that answering differently to different people is the prerogative of the Imam. No one can question this practice. What the companions have to do is submit fully to whatever they receive from the `Aimma and know that it has an explanation behind it for which the time is not ripe. All will be finally revealed when the time comes.
       
      However [if you do not submit wholly then], if our Riser were to rise and our Speaker speak and he recommences teaching you the Qur’an, the Laws of religion, the rulings and inheritance shares the way Allah revealed them to Muhammad the ‘people of insight’ among you will repudiate it on that day a bitter repudiation, then you will not remain steadfast upon the religion of Allah and his path except under the threat of the sword over your necks!
      If the companions cannot submit now, when they have lived through a chain of living Imams, then it augurs badly for the reaction of the self-appointed ‘people of insight’ who will be the first to line up against the One al-Sadiq calls ‘our Riser’ and alternatively ‘our Speaker’. When he comes back after a long period of occultation and recommences teaching them the religion as it is supposed to be the opposition to him from the Shia themselves be deafening! Those scholars who have cherished their dusty books will still cling to them even though the Imam who is the living embodiment of the Sharia is himself telling them otherwise.
       
      The people after the prophet of Allah were left to embark by Allah the same example as those who came before you, so they changed, altered, distorted, and added to the religion of Allah and reduced from it, consequently there is not a thing which the people are upon today [following] except that it is distorted when compared to that which was revealed from Allah. Respond then my Allah have mercy on you away from what you are calling for to what you are being called to, until comes the one who will renew the religion anew.
      Why did it have to come to this? This is the unfortunate consequence of the Umma betraying the will of the prophet. It has become utterly divided. Not having the correct leaders has meant that the authentic message of Muhammad has been irredeemably altered. There is not a single act of worship or belief that has been left un-corrupted because every middling scholar can peddle his interpretation. The temporal rulers are also more than happy to take advantage of the confusion and extend patronage to scholars whose interpretations were power friendly. The Imams themselves cannot openly propagate the actual version without repercussions.
       
      To be continued ...
         0 comments
      In the shadowy conference room of the Athena Institute, a right-wing think tank in the heart of Washington, D.C., key policymakers and intellectuals gathered around a gleaming mahogany table. Dr. Helen Mercer, the chairwoman, wasted no time addressing the stark issue at hand.
      “The crisis is clear,” she announced. “Birth rates in the West are in freefall, primarily because many are choosing AI companions over human partners. Our data shows a troubling trend: these robots are not just partners, but replacements, diminishing the human connection essential for family growth.”
      Behind her, the projector screen displayed distressing graphs, but one statistic stood out: Muslim communities in Europe were not following this trend, their birth rates were stable and even rising.
      John Reynolds, a sociologist at the table, nodded in agreement. “Muslim communities are largely insulated from this trend, not out of disdain for technology, but due to religious and cultural frameworks that do not condone intimate relationships with robots. This prohibition supports human-only unions, which naturally supports their higher birth rates.”
      Dr. Susan Choi, the institute’s technology expert, proposed a potential solution. “What if our AI could promote values that reinforce human bonds over robotic relationships?” she suggested tentatively.
      Helen considered this, then highlighted the inherent contradiction. “That's a creative approach, Susan, but we face a fundamental disconnect. Expecting AI to promote human-human relationships contradicts their design as companions. It’s like asking a candle to promote darkness.”
      The room fell silent, digesting the irony. Michael Hart, a political strategist, was the first to break the silence. “And there's another layer—legally and ethically, can we justify manipulating AI in such a way? What are the implications of using technology to direct personal choices so intimately?”
      Dr. Liu, an ethicist, weighed in, her tone cautious. “We’re on precarious ground. It's one thing to guide, quite another to coerce. We need to ensure that our solutions respect individual autonomy and ethical standards.”
      Helen steered the discussion towards a broader horizon. “Let’s draw from these observations about Muslim communities. Their cultural and religious practices naturally sustain human relationships and birth rates. Instead of relying solely on AI, we should explore how to cultivate these values more widely in our societies.”
      She proposed an initiative to study and integrate these communal and family-oriented values into Western societies through education and public policy, without overstepping ethical boundaries.
      As the meeting concluded, there was a consensus to revisit the AI strategy, with a new focus on enhancing community bonds and human connections. The group agreed to meet again, armed with more research and a clearer ethical framework, aiming to weave technology with tradition in a way that supports, rather than supplants, the human experience.
         1 comment
      Summary
      Buying and selling in the market place may provide advantages to minority groups at the expense of the majority. A State that represents the majority may need to act in order to address the imbalance in a manner that may seem on the face of it to be discriminatory.
      The impact of buying and selling in the market place
      The problem with money and markets is that they strip exchanges between people of all social and cultural content. In market-based exchanges, you can buy/sell with complete strangers. This has its benefits and particularly for social/cultural/ethnic/ religious minorities within a society, the market provides an almost anonymous means of interacting with the majority.
      The impact of social networks
      In fact, the story can even become worse for the majority because the denser social links/networks between members of a minority may mean that they can exploit higher levels of trust between each other and thereby compete more effectively in the market-place.
      Over time, of course, this economic disadvantage may lead to significant differences between the wealth of the majority and minority communities.

      In the diagram below is your multiculti, fully assimilated, and integrated, fully equal nirvana. Everyone interacts with all others regardless of their colour or other distinguishing characteristics. There is one group (pink) who are the majority, and the others are minorities.

       
      The reality

      One group of people (coloured brown) realise that they come from the same village back home, they have a shared culture, heritage and so on, they start to spend more time together.
      Trust within minority groups
      These commonalities enable this specific minority to establish bonds of trust between themselves that are stronger than the ones that exist between people of different groups. So they decide to interact with each other more than they do with other groups.
      Role of religion
      The issue is even more acute when they share the same religion because then they are more likely to share the same values - which are even more important when it comes to building trust.
      Boundary spanners
      Accidentally, I drew the first picture in a way that helps illustrate another point. The minority group accrues another advantage, where it can become a 'boundary spanner' e.g. between two different societies (the red line). That advantage is less likely to be open to the majority groups in the two countries in which this minority lives.

      The economic impact
      There is an obvious economic angle to these social relations, since the bonds of trust help reduce the friction of doing business, in fact, trust is more valuable in some industries (the ones with more risk and potentially more rewards).
      Minorities outperforming majorities
      A social aspect to their interaction therefore has economic repercussions. Left unchecked a minority group will gain an advantage over others. Societies can persist with the multi-culti fantasy for years.
      Payback
      But at some point there will be a reckoning, there always is. Obvious trigger points are when the majority face economic dislocation and see how much better minority groups are doing. You can 'hope' that this time there won't be -  but that has not been the case over the previous millennia.
      Longer term implications
      Historically there are lots of examples of this all around the world and the end is never a happy one - with the majority usually seeking to address the problem via physical force. The challenge for societies is for them to offer minorities certain rights but at the same time put in place restrictions on the extent of their participation in the economic life of society so that they cannot dominate the majority.
      Islamic solutions
      In an Islamic society where distinctions between groups are not based on race, but rather of belief, this means that there has to be what seems like discrimination against non-Muslims, but which, is in fact, a sensible means of avoiding longer-term conflct between the majority and minority.
      An illustration of the problem in terms of resources
      The picture below illustrates the above idea. 
      The blue circles represent the majority in a society, each person gives an item of resource to the person immediately to their south and also one to their south-west. And they do so without regard to the 'colour' of the other person. Let's assume this is a very egalitarian society where the affiliations of individuals are completely ignored. The pink circles represent a minority and they behave in the same manner. However the yellow circles behave slightly differently, they give one item of resource without any discrimination to whoever is to their south, but instead of giving one item to the person to their southwest, they give instead to someone of their own tribe/religion/ethnicity/language group/cult or whatever other basis of commonality that they have established. Such an arrangement can be informal and communicated only to the group members - something which is helped by their being a minority in a society. Members of the yellow circle are able to identify each other due to their going to the same places of worship or gentlemen's clubs or 'lodge'. Such interaction may legitimately lead to higher levels of trust between members of the yellow group and their discriminatory behaviour could be argued to be inherently rational i.e. it makes sense from a business perspective.
      Economic performance of members of the yellow group may, as a result of this behaviour be better than that of other groups. It may seem to them that their accumulation is due to their greater intelligence, business acumen or another positive trait. There may well be elements of those present, but their discrimination in favour of their own group could certainly be an important factor.
      Such discrimination on their part can mean greater rewards for members of their own group and it may not be visible to outsiders, other than the realisation that this group of people are relatively better off than others.
      Is discrimination by the State a valid response?
      Any response by the majority to address this imbalance, e.g. by imposing restrictions on the economic or other activities of the yellow minority group is likely to attract charges of discrimination.
      Because such communications cannot be done discreetly, communicating with the whole of society requires broadcasting to everyone rather than taking the narrowcasting approach the minority group pursued when they decided to discriminate in favour of their own group. Such narrowcasting is possible because the minority group are able to communicate with each other discreetly and in a manner that excludes everyone else.
       

       
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