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Hisham b. al-Hakam - God is a body?

Islamic Salvation

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وأول من عرف في الإسلام أنه قال إن الله جسم هو هشام بن الحكم

The First person in Islam known to have said ‘Allah is a Body’ is Hisham b. al-Hakam (Ibn Taymiyya)

اليهود أكثرهم مشبّهة وكان بدء ظهور التّشبيه في الإسلام من الرّوافض مثل هشام بن الحكم

The Jews are mostly anthropomorphists. The beginning of anthropomorphism in Islam is via the Rawafidh such as Hisham b. al-Hakam (Fakhr al-Diin al-Razi)

 

Hisham Accused

Proto-Sunni heresiographical sources describe Hisham as an anthropomorphist who ‘likened God to his creatures’. Unfortunately, it becomes clear with the least bit of study that most of what has been attributed to him is embellished and driven by an agenda.

An example of this is a frequently circulated statement that Hisham supposedly said: 

وحكي عن هشام بن الحكم أن أحسن الأقدار: أن يكون سبعة أشبار بشبر نفسه

God is seven spans tall but according to His measures not ours.

Indeed, there was so much spurious material attributed to him, and he was made to hold so many disparate opinions, that the only way his detractors could explain the phenomenon was to claim that he was very inconsistent:

وذكر عن هشام انه قال في ربه في عام واحد خمسة أقاويل

It is remarked that in one and the same year he advocated five different standpoints about His God.

One of the earliest sources, the Kitab al-Maqalat of Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (d. 324), has the following to say when discussing the so-called Hishamiyya (followers of Hisham b. al-Hakam):

يزعمون أن معبودهم جسم وله نهاية وحد طويل عريض عميق طوله مثل عرضه وعرضه مثل عمقه لا يوفي بعضه على بعض ولم يعينوا طولاً غير الطويل وإنما قالوا: "طوله مثل عرضه" على المجاز دون التحقيق وزعموا أنه نور ساطع له قدر من الأقدار في مكان دون مكان كالسبيكة الصافية يتلألأ كاللؤلؤة المستديرة من جميع جوانبها ذو لون وطعم ورائحة ومجسة لونه هو طعمه وطعمه هو رائحته ورائحته هي مجسته وهو نفسه لون ولم يعينوا لوناً ولا طعماً هو غيره وزعموا أنه هو اللون وهو الطعم وأنه قد كان لا في مكان ثم حدث المكان بأن تحرك البارئ فحدث المكان بحركته فكان فيه وزعم أن المكان هو العرش

They claim that the one they worship is a finite ‘body’ with limits, having length, breadth and depth of equal size … They claim that He is a radiant light, similar to a pure ingot shining like a round pearl from all sides … That He was originally not in space but then produced space through his own motion and thus came to be in it (space), and that this space is the ‘throne’ … 

This is another example of a fabrication against Hisham because you would expect to find echoes of this in the early Imami sources if it were true. I could find only one report which can be said to corroborate the accusation. Furthermore, its chain is clearly unreliable with the primary narrator (Ali b. Abi Hamza) weakened by some as a liar.

احمد بن إدريس، عن محمد بن عبدالجبار، عن صفوان بن يحيى، عن علي بن أبي حمزة قال: قلت لابي عبدالله عليه السلام: سمعت هشام بن الحكم يروي عنكم أن الله جسم، صمدي نوري، معرفته ضرورة، يمن بها على من يشاء من خلقه، فقال عليه السلام: سبحان من لا يعلم أحد كيف هو إلا هو، ليس كمثله شئ وهو السميع البصير، لا يحد ولا يحس ولا يجس ولا تدركه الابصار ولا الحواس ولا يحيط به شئ ولا جسم ولا صورة ولا تخطيط ولا تحديد

Ahmad b. Idris – Muhammad b. Abd al-Jabbar – Safwan b. Yahya – Ali b. Abi Hamza who said: I said to Abi Abdillah عليه السلام: I heard Hisham b. al-Hakam narrating from you that ‘Allah is a solid body of light. (Acquiring) Knowledge of Him is necessary. He grants it (knowledge of Him) to the one He wishes from among his creatures’. He عليه السلام said: Glory be to the One whom no one knows how He is except Himself. There is nothing like Him and He is All-Hearing All-Seeing. He is not bounded. He is not sensed. He is not touched. Neither Vision nor senses can reach Him. Nothing encompasses Him. (He is) Not a body nor a form. Neither demarcation nor limitation (can apply to Him).  

If this particular characterization of Hisham’s views on God can be put aside, it is much harder to do the same with a more widely attested doctrine attributed to him and for which he became infamous. 

 

A Corporeal God?

Hisham stands accused of holding God to be a corporeal body (Jism). All the narrations below are weak in one way or another (in terms of chain), but when taken collectively, paint the picture that this accusation cannot be easily dismissed like the others.

علي بن محمد رفعه عن محمد بن الفرج الرخجي قال: كتبت إلى أبي الحسن عليه السلام أسأله عما قال هشام بن الحكم في الجسم وهشام بن سالم في الصورة فكتب: دع عنك حيرة الحيران واستعذ بالله من الشيطان، ليس القول ما قاله الهشامان

Ali b. Muhammad raised it to Muhammad b. al-Faraj al-Rakhji who said: I wrote to Abi al-Hasan عليه السلام asking him about what Hisham b. al-Hakam said regarding ‘the body’ and what Hisham b. Salim said regarding ‘the human form’. He wrote: Leave the confusion of the confused, seek refuge in Allah from the Shaytan, the (true) position is not what was said by the two Hishams.

محمد بن أبي عبدالله، عمن ذكره، عن علي بن العباس، عن أحمد بن محمد بن أبي نصر، عن محمد بن حكيم قال: وصفت لابي إبراهيم عليه السلام قول هشام بن سالم الجواليقي وحكيت له قول هشام بن الحكم إنه جسم فقال: إن الله تعالى لا يشبهه شئ، أي فحش أو خنى أعظم من قول من يصف خالق الاشياء بجسم أو صورة أو بخلقة أو بتحديد وأعضاء، تعالى الله عن ذلك علوا كبيرا

Muhammad b. Abdallah – the one he mentioned – Ali b. al-Abbas – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Abi Nasr – Muhammad b. Hukaym who said: I described for Abi Ibrahim عليه السلام the position of Hisham b. Salim al-Jawaliqi and quoted for him the position of Hisham b. al-Hakam that He is a body. He said: Nothing can be compared to Allah the Elevated. What can be a greater obscenity than the statement of one describing the Creator of things as a body, or a form, or having constituents, or by limitations or parts. Elevated is Allah from all that a great transcendence.

ابن المتوكل، عن علي، عن أبيه، عن الصقر بن دلف قال: سألت أبا الحسن علي بن محمد عليهما السلام عن التوحيد وقلت له: إني أقول بقول هشام بن الحكم، فغضب عليه السلام ثم قال: مالكم ولقول هشام؟ إنه ليس منا من زعم أن الله جسم، ونحن منه برآء في الدنيا والآخرة، يا ابن دلف إن الجسم محدث، والله محدثه و مجسمه

Ibn al-Mutawakkil – Ali – his father – al-Saqr b. Dalaf who said: I asked Aba al-Hasan Ali b. Muhammad عليهما السلام about Tawhid and said to him: I subscribe to the belief of Hisham b. al-Hakam. He became angry and said: What do you have to do with the belief of Hisham? He is not from us the one who claims that Allah is a body. We disassociate from such a one in this world and the hereafter. O the son of Dalaf - a body is accidental and Allah is its cause and the one who forms it.   

The common thread running through all these narrations is Hisham’s affirmation of the corporeality of God. In order to get a better understanding of Hisham’s actual position and motivations, one needs to piece together the disparate data and overcome the many layers of confusion in the sources. A beginning point has to be the context of Kalam in the second century.

 

Theoretical Framework

The view of God in Islam is formulated based on the foundation of the verse in the Qur’an which says:

لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ

There is nothing like Him (2:11)

A Kalam question that originated over the interpretation of this verse was whether God may be described as a shayʾ, meaning a ‘thing’ or ‘something’. The controversy arose when the early Murjiʾi, Jahm b. Safwan (d. 128) asserted that God was not a thing. This Jahm has been described by Western academics as “the first Muslim ‘theologian’ in the full and proper sense”. Documentation about him is scarce and not entirely reliable.

Jahm lived and taught in North-Eastern Iran, and it may well be that he never left the territory of Khurasan. It is claimed that Jahm is the first or among the first who introduced the method of reasoning to derive opinions from propositions (ra’y) in Islam. He stood accused of drawing on pagan Greek philosophy which he borrowed from Hellenistic philosophers (al-falasifa), Christian heretics, and Jews.

Jahm’s concept of God, in particular his distinction between God and ‘things’ (ashya’), has been described by scholars as neo-Platonic. This would indicate a link with Harran and the ideas of the Sabians who were living there.

It should be remembered that Umar b. Yazid, the uncle of Hisham b. al-Hakam, claimed that Hisham followed the Madhhab of the Jahmiyya before his conversion to the truth at the hands of the Imam al-Sadiq.

وقال الكشي: روي عن عمر بن يزيد: وكان ابن أخي هشام يذهب في الدين مذاهب الجهمية خبيثا فيهم

Thus, it is natural that he would be influenced by Jahm’s system of thought.

Most Muslim scholars understood the verse in the sense of ‘no thing at all is like him’ refusing any degree of ‘likeness to God’. They interpreted the Qurʾanic verse as meaning that God is a thing unlike all other (created) things.

Jahm’s explanation was different. His emphasis lay on the conclusion that the term ‘thing’ does not refer to God. That is to say, to be a thing is to share the property ‘likeness’, e.g. to be dead like another dead thing and unlike a living thing. The property ‘likeness’ then is an inseparable accident concomitant with ‘thing’.

God, according to the Jahmites, exists outside the realm of all things which share the property to be like and unlike other things, thus He cannot be referred to as ‘thing’ (He is a non-thing). The majority understood any denial of God being a shayʾ as implying His being nothing. Jahm b. Safwan, to be sure, did not mean to affirm that God was nothing. He recognised God as most real, the only reality, but the controversy persisted.

This question was authoritatively settled by Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as far as the school of Ahl al-Bayt are concerned). 

محمد بن يعقوب، عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن محمد بن عيسى، عن عبد الرحمن ابن أبي نجران قال: سألت أبا جعفر عليه السلام عن التوحيد فقلت: أتوهم شيئا؟ فقال: نعم، غير معقول ولا محدود، فما وقع وهمك عليه من شئ فهو خلافه، لا يشبهه شئ ولا تدركه الاوهام، كيف تدركه الاوهام وهو خلاف ما يعقل، وخلاف ما يتصور في الاوهام؟! إنما يتوهم شئ غير معقول ولا محدود

Muhammad b. Ya’qub – Ali b. Ibrahim – Muhammad b. Isa – Abd al-Rahman b. Abi Najran who said: I asked Aba Ja’far عليه السلام about Tawhid saying: do I think of him a thing? He said: Yes. (Something) neither cognisable nor delimited. Whatever your imagination falls upon is different than He, nothing resembles Him and imaginations cannot reach Him. How could imaginations reach Him when He is different from what can be cognised and different from what is represented in imagination? (He must) only be thought of as a thing that is neither cognisable nor delimited.

Hisham submissivley followed the Imam in thinking of God as a ‘thing’ but this meant that he had to then abide by the implications of such a decision seeing as though his former master Jahm also taught that each thing exists when it exists as an existent body (jism mawjud). The incorporeal is non-existent (ma`dum, ma laysa bi-mawjudin). For something to exist it had to be a ‘body’.

 

Tathbit not Ta’til or Tabtil

محمد بن مسعود، قال: حدثني علي بن محمد القمي، قال: حدثني أحمد ابن محمد بن خالد البرقي، عن أبي عبد الله محمد بن موسى بن عيسى من أهل همدان، قال: حدثني أشكيب بن عبدك الكيساني، قال: حدثني عبد الملك بن هشام الحناط، قال: قلت لأبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام: أسألك جعلني الله فداك؟ قال: سل يا جبلي عما ذا تسألني، فقلت: جعلت فداك، زعم هشام بن سالم أن الله عز وجل صورة وأن آدم خلق على مثل الرب، فنصف هذا ونصف هذا، وأوميت إلى جانبي وشعر رأسي، وزعم يونس مولى آل يقطين، وهشام بن الحكم أن الله شئ لا كالأشياء، وان الأشياء بائنة منه، وأنه بائن من الأشياء، وزعما أن إثبات الشئ أن يقال جسم فهو لا كالأجسام، شئ لا كالأشياء، ثابت موجود، غير مفقود ولا معدوم خارج من الحدين، حد الابطال وحد التشبيه، فبأي القولين أقول؟ قال: فقال عليه السلام: أراد هذا الاثبات، وهذا شبه ربه عالي بمخلوق، تعالى الله الذي ليس له شبه ولا مثل، ولا عدل ولا نظير، ولا هو بصفة المخلوقين، لا تقل بمثل ما قال هشام بن سالم، وقل بما قال مولى آل يقطين وصاحبه. قال: قلت: فنعطي الزكاة من خالف هشاما في التوحيد؟ فقال برأسه: لا

Muhammad b. Masud – Ali b. Muhammad al-Qummi – Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Khalid al-Barqi – Abi Abdillah Muhammad b. Musa b. Isa from among the people Hamdan – Ishkib b. Abdak al-Kaysani – Abd al-Malik b. Hisham al-Hannat who said: I said to Abi al-Hasan al-Ridha عليه السلام: Can I ask you - may I be made your ransom? He said: Ask O Jabali - what do you want to ask me about? I said: May I be made your ransom - Hisham b. Salim claims that Allah Mighty and Majestic has a form and that Adam was created in the likeness of the Lord. Half human and half otherwise - and I pointed to my sides and the hair of my head.

Yunus the client of the family of Yaqtin and Hisham b. al-Hakam claim that Allah is a thing unlike other things, and that the other things are distinct from Him and He is distinct from the things. And they claimed that to establish the existence of a thing is to consider it a body, but he is unlike any other body, a thing unlike any other thing. Self-subsisting, present. Not lost or non-existent. Free of the two extremes, the extreme of negation and the extreme of likening Him to his creation.

Which of these two positions should I take?

He عليه السلام said: This one (Hisham b. al-Hakam) desired Ithbat (to establish the existence of God) while the other one (Hisham b. Salim) likened His Lord the Elevated with creation.

Elevated is Allah who has no like, analogue, equal or match. He is not in the attribute of the created ones. Do not subscribe to what was said by Hisham b. Salim rather subscribe to what was said by the Client of the family of Yaqtin and his fellow (Hisham b. al-Hakam).    

I said: Do we give Zakat to the one who opposes Hisham (b. al-Hakam) in Tawhid? He said with his head: No. 

In the same Kitab al-Maqalat, we encounter another view attributed to Hisham which seems much more credible than the previous quote and backs up my interpretation.

The view of the anonymous ‘second group of the Rafidha’ below evidently belongs to the school of Hisham b. al-Hakam.

والفرقة الثانية من الرافضة: ... إنما يذهبون في قولهم أنه جسم إلى أنه موجود ولا يثبتون البارئ ذا أجزاء مؤتلفة وأبعاض متلاصقة

The second group from the Rafidha … when they refer to him as a body they wish to assert that he is Existent. They do not ascribe to the Creator parts which are combined or limbs adjoining one another.

Thus, Hisham’s aim was Tathbit to affirm the Existence of God and to escape the charge of Ta’til (denying the attributes of God) and Tabtil (invalidating the existence of God). He accepted that God was a thing. This in his system meant that He was a body. But what kind of Body?

 

To be continued ...



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      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. 
       
       
       
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         3
      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 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 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 Contemporania
         0
      and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?
      I think it most likely does, but I think the issue misses the point about the significance of that tree to our existence.
      There are lots of things happening in the universe that we cannot observe when they happen, but they are important for our understanding of natural history when we reach a point in our own development when we can observe their effects.
      So millions of years ago there were trees that were falling that we could not hear or observe, but we see their effects today when we dig and drill for hydrocarbons and we can reconstruct their ecosystem in such a manner that it provides us with a scientific understanding of why we are where we are today together with clues as to where we may be heading.
      At the level of the individual plant, then, we may never have been able to hear or see what happened to it. But the important aspect of its life, what it left behind has been useful for us.
      In the case of frozen mammoths, the evolution life and death of an entire species may have been of value to us in the form of the handful of specimens that have been observed. Had the millions of other mammoths not lived (whose sounds we'd obviously never hear) we would not have been able to acquire those specimens that serendipitously died in a manner that preserved them and learn more about them.
      The same point applies to the stars and the universe. Many of them have existed for billions of years, it seems, for the exclusive benefit of us being able to see them at this point in time, when their light could reach us.
       
    • By shadow_of_light in From Earth to Heaven
         0
      "Sardaar" by Ali Ashabi
       
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