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In the Name of God بسم الله
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Pyramids, aliens & God

Haji 2003



The theory that the pyramids were built or had their construction guided by extraterrestrials is challenged by the existence of mistakes in the construction of some of them.

But I think the Egyptians were privy to Divine Guidance, which in itself is interesting because the evidence of a Pharoah moving from polytheism to monotheism supports Qur'anic teaching as I understand it.


The bent pyramid at Dahshur

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 (see the picture I took a few years ago below). It's 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. Also supporting my contention is a landscape literally littered with smaller pyramids, these people were learning, developing and increasing the scale of their creations as they grew more confident.


Screenshot 2022-02-19 at 18.54.24.png



Once the construction technique was acquired, other pyramids were built on the same model. Then, Pharaoh Snefrou tried to make a pyramid with smooth faces, but it was a novelty such that it did not succeed at first blow. Its first pyramid was a step pyramid, the famous Meidum pyramid, famous because it was transformed without success into a pyramid with smooth faces. Once made, Snefrou tried to make a pyramid with smooth faces, it will be the famous rhomboid pyramid, on the necropolis of Dahshur. Its base was much larger. It rose normally, but alas the architects could only see that the mass of blocks needed to complete it would not ensure its stability. Rather than stopping it and remaking it, they changed its inclination and obtained a pyramid with two slopes: The base has a steep slope, the summit a smaller inclination. This pyramid, still has its limestone coating, is called "Pyramid."

As Snefrou stubbornly built a third pyramid, taking care to avoid the problems previously encountered, and it worked: The red pyramid is the first smooth-faced pyramid in history.



If not aliens then who?


My understanding of the Qur'anic references to Pharaoh is that they provide an example of a powerful leader, with immense resources, who was nevertheless brought down by divine intervention. The Pharaohs were representatives of a culture with a level of scientific, organisational, military and communications capability unknown at that time and for a long time yet to come.

Indeed the very existence of mistakes in their work and subsequent improvements demonstrates that they had the capability to learn. Nevertheless the fact that the Pharoah of the time of Moses was brought down by believers in Allah who were weaker in numbers and military strength, is a sign to subsequent rulers around the world about how weak their position can be.




وَقَالَ مُوسَى رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ آتَيْتَ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلأهُ زِينَةً وَأَمْوَالاً فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا رَبَّنَا لِيُضِلُّواْ عَن سَبِيلِكَ رَبَّنَا اطْمِسْ عَلَى أَمْوَالِهِمْ وَاشْدُدْ عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ فَلاَ يُؤْمِنُواْ حَتَّى يَرَوُاْ الْعَذَابَ الأَلِيمَ {88}

[10:88] And Musa said: Our Lord! surely Thou hast given to Firon and his chiefs finery and riches in this world's life, to this end, our Lord, that they lead (people) astray from Thy way: Our Lord! destroy their riches and harden their hearts so that they believe not until they see the painful punishment.



And importantly the Qur'an tells us that the evidence of such civilisations is there for us to observe in order for us to better understand the message that is being conveyed to us:




قَدْ خَلَتْ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ سُنَنٌ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذَّبِينَ {137}

[3:137] Indeed there have been examples before you; therefore travel in the earth and see what was the end of the rejecters.



A final thought

Were the ancient Egyptians privy to Divine guidance? I think there is evidence in the Qur'an that they may have been. Here are some references to Allah communicating with other cultures.




وَرُسُلاً قَدْ قَصَصْنَاهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَرُسُلاً لَّمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ وَكَلَّمَ اللّهُ مُوسَى تَكْلِيمًا {164}

[4:164] And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to you before and messengers we have not mentioned to you; and to Musa, Allah addressed His Word, speaking (to him):





وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلنَا إِلَى أُمَمٍ مِّن قَبْلِكَ فَأَخَذْنَاهُمْ بِالْبَأْسَاء وَالضَّرَّاء لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَضَرَّعُونَ {42}

[6:42] And certainly We sent (messengers) to nations before you then We seized them with distress and affliction in order that they might humble themselves.





كَدَأْبِ آلِ فِرْعَوْنَ وَالَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ كَذَّبُواْ بِآيَاتِنَا فَأَخَذَهُمُ اللّهُ بِذُنُوبِهِمْ وَاللّهُ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ {11}

[3:11] Like the striving of the people of Firon and those before them; they rejected Our communications, so Allah destroyed them on account of their faults; and Allah is severe in requiting (evil).


And indeed there is material in the historical record that at least one Pharoah (Akhenaten) tried to promulgate a faith that had similarities to monotheism. The initiative did not last very long and in the reign of the next Pharoah (Tutankhamun) the Egyptians reverted to polytheism. I use the phrase similarities to monotheism because although he removed references to the pantheon of deities that the Egyptians previously worshipped, his new religion nevertheless involved worship of the sun.

The following extract is from a book published within the last few years that addresses head on the issue of monotheism and Akhenaten's rule.


This chapter argues that Akhenaten’s religion was monotheistic, defined as the exclusive worship of one deity and the rejection of or the denial of the existence of others. This understanding is demonstrated by the iconoclasm directed against images and writings and titles of the former chief deity, Amun, and other deities. After the move to Amarna, a final change to the didactic name occurred in which all vestiges of other gods were removed, specifically, Ra-Harakhty and Shu. During the final decade of his reign, even traditional solar images were banished, and only the sun-disc and its rays, along with Aten’s name, remain in the iconography at Amarna. This combination of factors, it is argued, points to a monotheistic faith.

Hoffmeier, J.K., 2015. Akhenaten and the Origins of Monotheism. Oxford University Press.

Perhaps Akhenaten was amongst the many Prophets that we believe have been sent by God at different times and places to different cultures? I am speculating here, but perhaps the message was corrupted? Still, I would like to believe that the archaeological evidence of Akhenaten's rule supports the idea that Allah's message was not restricted to just the children of Abraham.


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  • Veteran Member

The Egyptian pyramids obviously aren't made by creatures like ourselves. There is no source of stone nearby. The stones are cut with amazing precision in an ancient time. The financial requirements to construct a pyramid are next to impossible even today.

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  • Forum Administrators

There is more evidence accumulating that they did have the methods for transporting stones e.g. the discovery recently of a ramp.


For me, the value of a human Egyptian civilisation is that it highlights how you can have a belief system that, for many centuries keeps coming up with amazing technology and artefacts.

And yet in the fullness of time, the significance of Egypt for later generations has been to provide the realisation that as far as their religion was concerned, other than providing modern day Egypt with a tourism industry, it was pretty much a waste of time.

As far as we are concerned today, there are and have been ideologies (such as capitalism and democracy) that may serve to motivate people to achieve great things in the short term and indeed much longer than that, but in the millennia to come they may be seen as anachronistic.

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  • Development Team
On 11/7/2018 at 5:46 PM, Haji 2003 said:

There is more evidence accumulating that they did have the methods for transporting stones e.g. the discovery recently of a ramp.


For me, the value of a human Egyptian civilisation is that it highlights how you can have a belief system that, for many centuries keeps coming up with amazing technology and artefacts.

And yet in the fullness of time, the significance of Egypt for later generations has been to provide the realisation that as far as their religion was concerned, other than providing modern day Egypt with a tourism industry, it was pretty much a waste of time.

As far as we are concerned today, there are and have been ideologies (such as capitalism and democracy) that may serve to motivate people to achieve great things in the short term and indeed much longer than that, but in the millennia to come they may be seen as anachronistic.

My question is where are the quarries? Surely, large copious amounts of limestone had to come from somewhere and I am not convinced they were transported by water (The stones were half a ton to a ton in weight.)

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  • Forum Administrators
On 11/18/2018 at 7:44 AM, realizm said:

I tend to believe in jinns' intervention in ancient works like pyramids, roman, temples etc...


It does go against my argument that God allowed these ancient civilisations to develop their own knowledge, science and socio-economic systems to provide us with an evidence base that would demonstrate that it is possible to have an advanced culture - without having a belief system embedded in an Abrahamic God.

These civilsations can last a long time, but ultimately they will fail.

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  • Veteran Member
1 hour ago, Haji 2003 said:


It does go against my argument that God allowed these ancient civilisations to develop their own knowledge, science and socio-economic systems to provide us with an evidence base that would demonstrate that it is possible to have an advanced culture - without having a belief system embedded in an Abrahamic God.

These civilsations can last a long time, but ultimately they will fail.


That would not discard the using of occult forces.

Btw what makes me believe that is the enigmatic part of their realisation, not their conception. Like multi-ton megalithic blocks that no one can explain how they were cut or carried. 

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  • Advanced Member

Jinns man jinns

they used to be our slaves 

we worked them raw

 One example of Jinns being used to create fantastic sites, Prophet Soloman(as) 

they have extradoniary strength but ultimately humans are masters over them...

those who practice occult behavior such as some Jews can still use Jinns for their works 

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  • Advanced Member
50 minutes ago, Ralvi said:

those who practice occult behavior such as some Jews can still use Jinns for their works

Salam Quran reffers that after prophet Solomon (as) they tried to learn magic from them also they started praying them & in most occasions they pray Satan & jinns & in return they receive  a little help from them but they don't use them  , it's only Ahlulbay (as) & people that have authority from them can use them as slaves not Jews.

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  • Advanced Member
2 hours ago, Ashvazdanghe said:

Salam Quran reffers that after prophet Solomon (as) they tried to learn magic from them also they started praying them & in most occasions they pray Satan & jinns & in return they receive  a little help from them but they don't use them  , it's only Ahlulbay (as) & people that have authority from them can use them as slaves not Jews.


Yeah this is the area I’m not very knowledgeable about haha 

my mother told me this and I thought wow it makes more sense than humans making pyramids! She didn’t give me much detail. She did the Asian thing and said a part of the story and then continued it years later lol leaving it to me to put it together and remember. It’s a head scratcher 

And I have little liking for the occult (just a little bit >.<) only in video games, you learn a lot actually. Like One game Shadow hearts(my fav rpg). It’s how I found out that prophet soloman is famous for controlling 72 ‘demons’ although we know they’re jinns

i just thought it was pretty neat

yeah I’m the type who believes somebody 100% they trust. So I trust everything my mother says lol

i agree they help us out but we do have some level of ‘ manipulation’ I guess? They’re weaker than us, not physically maybe more mentally 

I think not like modern day Jews, they’re still some Jews who will convert when the imam will come, those guys follow original Judaism and practice like we do. They’re prayers are like us and they have almost the same set of beliefs. They’re are some very good people of the book who follow the original word. I think

anyway, it’s interesting and I want to learn more 

Edited by Ralvi
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  • Forum Administrators

This blog post previously concluded with the following words (in the quotation box below).

I have taken them out since they fit better in another post and the ending following the last heading is more appropriate to the rest of the post. Also added is a picture of the bent pyramid.



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. That's just one example of the existence on this planet of resources whose value we are only beginning to understand as we reach a certain stage of development.



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  • Forum Administrators
On 11/25/2018 at 5:50 AM, Gaius I. Caesar said:

My question is where are the quarries? Surely, large copious amounts of limestone had to come from somewhere and I am not convinced they were transported by water (The stones were half a ton to a ton in weight.)

@Gaius I. Caesar a paper by Guy Demortier "Revisiting the construction of the Egyptian pyramids" in EuroPhysicsNews, available here:

http://www.europhysicsnews.org or http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/epn/2009303

Provides the following argument (elegant in my opinion):


In 1978, the French chemist Joseph Davidovits rejected the generally accepted technique of carving and hoisting stones. He proposed that the building method involved the moulding on site: blocks were made of a kind of concrete whose basic binding compound was natron: a sodium carbonate extracted very close to the site of Giza. 

This method addresses both issues to do with the availability if material, the manpower needed to do the work and a number of other issues that arise if you believe that stone was cut and then moved into position.

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  • Advanced Member

"The theory that the pyramids were built or had their construction guided by extraterrestrials is challenged by the existence of mistakes in the construction of some of them."

Allow me to play devil's advocate for a moment—proponents of ancient astronaut theory or Elon Musk or whoever could argue that possessing the knowledge to perform this or that action and bringing about its execution are two different things entirely—as a species we (homo sapiens sapiens) do not currently possess the intelligence needed to implement or actualize a geometric structure written in an instruction manual from a civilization presumably tens of thousands (or perhaps even a million) years ahead in advancement—even if said civilization spelled it out in babylike terms—it would take a period of time to grasp—wrap our minds around their engineering concepts and mathematical formulas etc.—a lot of trial-and-error and tinkering would be necessary even with our greatest scientific minds attempting to decipher, decode and substantiate the information—one could argue that the 'failed' step pyramids were a part of the learning process the Ancient Egyptians needed to go through before perfecting or achieving the final successful result. 

Edited by Eddie Mecca
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  • Advanced Member

Actually what's really interesting is a British engineering professor along with his Archeologist colleagues tried to build a 20 to 1 scale model of the great pyramid of giza with the same exact tolerances between the stones, same angles, same use of mathematical concept regarding base, radius, circumference of circle of four sides etc.

They used heavy equipment and machinery to make stones and place them.

Guess what....they completely failed.

They were dumbfounded at their 20 to 1 scale model, despite access to laser levelers and laser measuring devices supercomputer and yet still...failure.

They suddenly gained immense respect  for the builders.  What's more incredible such huge pyramids are mostly scattered along a certain belt around the earth in a very planned pattern. Additionally there are even bigger stones than pyramid blocks in other locations around the world, with some made of granite.

So I am not sure about aliens, but the technology beats modern building techniques and more durable than anything else made in the modern Era....makes you go hmmmmm.

Kind of like the secret of Damascus steel.

Edited by Hasani Samnani
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      It is reputable (due to its track record of smart investment) It claims to have done its due diligence on FTX It works within a regulatory environment where the government monitors But did Temasek really do due diligence in the way that it should have done? The following is from an FT video.
      The answer is likely that Temasek and Blackrock etc. did not do their due diligence in the way that they should have done.
      So what drove Temasek's behaviour and that of other reputable investors?
      Firms like Temasek did not invest after undertaking due diligence, they invested because they had a fear of missing out. There's also the issue that the sum invested by Temasek and Blackrock etc. was not significant in terms of the size of those organisations.
      The takeaway for the rest of us
      Most of us are not in a position to be investing millions in crypto or following Temasek's lead! Sow what takeaway do we have?
      If you are following the advice and behaviour of someone else - you need to understand the motivation for their actions.
      It's not enough to rely on their reputation (track-record) and their expertise.
      This applies to everything, whether it is advice from a doctor, lawyer or mar'je.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      I thought I’d put this together based on the discussion in laith’s spirituality thread.
      The issue of happiness arose because striving for spirituality can involve lifestyle changes and I think a barrier to that can be a feeling that such a lifestyle will diminish one’s enjoyment of life.
      Which leads us to wondering what it means to be happy and whether that can be changed.
      Looking around me I see all sorts of people doing very different things and many of them at least claim to be happy. There’s the uncle who is not rich in any financial sense, but who spends entire days in Pakistan playing golf. There’s the barrister cousin who’s forever preparing for a very important court case or my mum who’ll cook for a hundred ladies for a majlis at our home.
      In each instance, as I see it, these people have configured what it is that will make them happy and then gone about achieving it. In each instance what’s really smart is that they’ve configured happy in such a way that it is stretching but also actually achievable.
      Achievable in the sense that given the environment and circumstances that they have and about which we can often do little, they’ve taken charge of those things which they can control, defined what happiness means on the basis of these and constructed it in such a way that they can get it. Stretching is also important because without it there can be no sense of achievement.
      Most importantly, in each instance I can see that while they are happy there’ll be other people who can just as easily see that this is not the lifestyle that would make them happy. I would go mad if my daily routine involved taking a stick and repeatedly hitting into a small hole an even smaller ball. 
      Some of that definition of happiness depends on the meanings that we attach to things. I’ve explained what golf means to me. But for my uncle there’s clearly a sense of physical achievement, there’s the sportsman’s image he has of himself that’s reinforced and there are the meanings he associates with golf as an exclusive sport. For my mother the meanings are associated with the religious symbols, the wajib, the mustahab, the sawab and so on.
      In each instance there’s also the social kudos. My uncle gets to meet the ‘higher-ups’ in Pakistani society and the approval of this social network is obviously important. The same goes for my mum. I wind her up by saying that I don’t see much difference between what motivates her and the Hindu and Sikh women I come across who put in a lot of effort to cook the meals at their local temples to win the appreciation of their social circles. 
      In each instance happiness has been configured in such a way that there’s an easily accessible social network of people who will appreciate what the individual can do. My mum’s social network of Shia ladies has developed organically over decades. My uncle’s social network was acquired when he left the UK and moved to Pakistan, joined the local golf club and impressed them with his skill.
      Social networks are important because happiness is often co-created with the people around us. Those symbols and meanings often only really work when there is someone to share them with. Someone who can understand what they mean and what their significance is and with whom it’s possible to have a conversation about that shared interest and indeed to develop it.
      Of course you can have symbols that have meaning only for you and where there may be no one else to share them with, but then the inner satisfaction will have to suffice. Many years ago I met Yousuf Karsh and I have an autographed book of his photos, but that name means nothing to anyone else that I know, but the knowledge of having met him gives me an inner glow. Sometimes there may be no symbols at all and also no-one else to share them with, I know of fairly anonymous investors who make lots of money and they’re quite happy with the anonymity or alternatively there are academics who have a lot of professional recognition, but much less money.
      Yaani it’s L’Oreal and Wallahi you’re worth it
      SoSolidShia who has since left Shiachat, (or was he banned?) used to have that as part of his avatar and I always thought it was quite clever. But it does remind us of how the messages we see every day remind us that thinking of the self is justified and that there is a cause and effect relationship between spending money and being happy.
      Of course, there isn’t but many people are taken in by it. Is there a magic pill? If there is one the effects are only short-term before you need to spend again in order to get the next high.
      To take the example of another type of product, what was initially presented as an occasional treat because of its high calorific value or sugar content, is promoted in such a way that it becomes part of our regular consumption and happy is replaced by habit and the company behind it has a bigger share of our wallet, which was always the intention.
      When we buy happy then, it has to be on an irregular basis for it to keep delivering happiness.
      Can buying happiness ever really pay off? When its consumption isn’t easy, when it requires some prior effort or engagement I think it can.
      I remember spending hours sitting in theatres watching live performances of Shakespearean and other Jacobean plays. I am pretty sure there were more entertaining things to do for a sixteen-year-old. But it was very worthy. Certainly it wasn’t as much fun as the latest Hollywood blockbuster and obviously, it wasn’t as accessible. But it did make the study of English literature easier and yes, after a fashion it was actually enjoyable, especially when you knew the script and could decode the jokes. The prior study increased the enjoyment. Years later I can still remember some performances, but I can't remember any movies I watched at the time. So there's the added payoff of happy memories.
      Something else that occupied my teenage years and was immensely fun was wet processing photographic film and photos. It was an interesting combination of art and science. I think all the people who have hobbies can understand. The people whose entertainment is mainly passive, such as watching television, might not.
      The funny thing though is that the people with the hobbies may not necessarily be doing them to achieve happiness, it just happens as a by-product. In contrast, the people who switch on the television are chasing after happiness and yet when they find it, it’s likely to be more transient than for those people who just happened upon it.
      There are two types of people today, those who create content and those who consume it. I think the creators are happier than the consumers.
      And where there is an effort in achieving happy I think there is also the likelihood of satiety, the feeling of fulfillment and the need to do something else. In contrast, where the consumption of happiness is easy, where it is simply bought and passively consumed, the lack of satiety means that overconsumption is possible.  We see some people watching inordinate amounts of television, we see increasing levels of obesity and rising levels of debt as people eat and buy themselves happy.
      Happy about what?
      I remember playing with car racing sets as a kid. It was never a satisfactory experience. One car in the set would always be intrinsically faster than the other, you could predict who would win the race depending on what car they had.
      There was clearly a difference between what those, admittedly cheap, sets could deliver and what my expectations were. Expectations that are higher than what we can realistically receive will always end in disappointment. Happy people have their expectations met or exceeded. But setting expectations that are too low may lead to people serially taking advantage of you since you never complain.
      What’s the solution here?
      It’s a question of differentiating between what matters and what does not. And even, more importantly, it’s a matter of assessing whether the people we are dealing with can actually deliver what they promise.
      Too often we are willing to suspend disbelief, take people at their word and believe their promises. They patently cannot deliver, but we refuse to believe that, sometimes this is because of our own ignorance or greed. The possible gain seems so attractive that we fall for the lie. Conmen do this all the time. Often what is at stake is either money or love because in both areas we really find it difficult to behave rationally. The Nigerian 419 scam goes for people who believe that you can get large sums of money easily and men from various developing countries make promises of love to older, richer single white women in the West via the internet, which usually involves a trip to the local branch of western union. These are extreme examples, but it happens to a lesser extent for different products and services all the time.
      Then there’s the issue of differentiating between what matters and what does not. Life is too short, you cannot complain about everything. Indeed, it may well be the case that you took someone at their word, perhaps even knowing that they could not and would not deliver everything that they promised, but you knew deep down that this did not really matter, but you were confident that what you really were interested in would actually be delivered.
      In my opinion, this marks the difference between two types of people who go on the hajj. The knowledgeable ones know what constitutes for a good hajj, where you were guided correctly by the alim with you and where the requirements were fulfilled correctly. These people also know what questions to ask different hajj organisers in order to ensure that their expectations about the fulfilment of their obligations are met. They can hear the promises about the hotel, but they know deep down that whether or not these are fulfilled, does not really matter.
      On the other hand, there are people who may not really know what their religious obligations are. These are the people who lose focus and are the ones who are unhappy about not getting enough food at Mina, the waiting around and the quality of the hotel. Not only are they unhappy but they are unhappy about the wrong things and perhaps even happy at the wrong things as well!
      Reconfiguring happy then, is a matter of being clear what we should be happy about, ensuring that we get that and not worrying when other promises that people make are not delivered.
      The disappointment of loss
       Too often people set expectations about what it is that will make them happy that is either unachievable or costly in a variety of other ways. The trick perhaps is to focus on what we can directly achieve by ourselves with the minimum of resources. It’s being able to do what is costless better than before and deriving satisfaction from it. And the only costless activity, over which we have complete control, in my opinion, is prayer.
       At the same time, it’s not a matter of eschewing or rejecting what the world has to offer. Rather it’s the ability to be happy if you have the material goods but not disappointed if you don’t. It’s being able to walk away dispassionately in the face of material loss. I'll deal with the latter issue in this post.
      Equanimity in the face of loss takes practice.
      The practice comes from giving charity. Each time we do it, we cut our bonds from the material, so that when losses occur as a result of circumstances over which we have no control they affect us less and we do not suffer unhappiness.
      Psychologically humans hate incurring losses. It’s part of our DNA. Nobel prize winning research has shown this. We do all sorts of crazy things in order to avoid losses. Give someone the option of paying $1.30 for a gallon of gas and receiving a $0.10 rebate if they pay by cash or instead paying $1.20 by credit card and incurring a $0.20 surcharge and they’ll always go for the $1.30 option. The cash buyers will do it for obvious reasons and the people paying by credit card will do it as well because paying the $1.30 as a default option is far less psychologically painful than seeing a base price of $1.20 and then realising that choosing to pay by credit card will involve incurring an additional $0.20.
      There have been a number of other studies along similar lines, all demonstrating that we will often engage in irrational actions to avoid losses. I’ve previously linked to a lecture given by Robert Shiller at Princeton where he refers to people taking out (really bad value) insurance policies for individual flights in order not to incur a loss.
      Another often quoted example in this area is to do with how much value we attach to things we own. Experiments show that if people own something they’ll ascribe a higher value to it than other people who do not. 
      Giving to charity then or detaching ourselves from what we own, is difficult for humans. It is part of the human condition. And yet IIRC the Qur’an mentions charity every time it mentions prayer.
      I think it works in a number of different ways. I’ve outlined one and another that comes to mind is my view that the Qur’an is recognising that wherever someone has gains (on which charity can be paid), they will invariably at some point suffer a loss. When people who have had gains give some of them away as charity when the invariable losses do happen, they will, at least, have the comfort in knowing that while they had it, they spent it on assets for the akhira.
      Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
       A discussion about achievements in life or the lack of them in the Thoughts threads reminded me of this.
       We often think about what we could have done, would have done or should have done. This can become a maudlin exercise full of regrets and unhappy thoughts.
       Often such thinking can lead to issues about what we’ll do now to address this and I wonder whether the options discussed are always advisable.
       Just because we did not do a certain degree 15 years ago, does that mean we’ll be any better off or happier doing it now? The world when the decision was taken not to do the degree or when the opportunity was missed, was a different world to the one we are in now. The benefits of that degree may well have changed. The costs of doing it now may well be different to what they would have been in the past, so the value of the whole exercise may be different as well.
       In hankering after what could have been and in trying to get it back we could be losing focus on what else we could be achieving now in the time that we have left that may offer greater value.
       The whole process of looking backwards is one that assumes we are now older than we were before. As we get older the reduction in the time that we have left becomes more acute – the focus now really has to be on what really matters.
       So as we get older the very process of worrying about previously missed material gains and losses may actually compound the problem rather than make it better. The goals have to be different now.
       The benefit that age brings is that older people can compare the achievements and mistakes of people that they have known over a long period of time. Young people cannot do this. They can be told about it, but personal experience often has more resonance.
       Older people can see where their peers started, what they did in terms of materialistic and spiritual activities and observe where they have ended up. That longitudinal perspective is one whose benefit you don’t have if you are young.
        In the final calculation when you start attending the funerals of people you have known for a long-time, you realise how futile material achievements are, especially at the margins. If an individual has acquired enough material success to have been self-sustaining (including any family) surely any assessments of success and failure over the life led thus far need to be in terms of spiritual and moral mistakes and future rectifications?
      Thought of in this way, reflections about the past become an intensely productive, positive and indeed happy activity. Because whatever happened in the past that enabled us to arrive at a destination where there is a realisation (niyat) that rectification is necessary, surely that has been a positive result? 
      These are the only changes that I can think of which are not rendered irrelevant by changing circumstances in the same way as the ones I mentioned at the start of this post.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      Since the inception of Islam, there had been various sects competing for prominence; many had died out, and the two major ones were Twelver Shia and the Sunni fiqh.
      Then suddenly, from the start of the 19th century to the end of that century, we have the emergence of Ahmadiyya, the renewal of Ismailism and the creation of a new faith entirely, Baha ism. Go back a hundred years, and we can add Wahhabism to this list. I identify a common thread amongst all these new religions in this post.
      Four religions in a couple of hundred years ... and three Knights
      That's an unusually fertile period of spiritual spontaneity by any measure. Or is the explanation for such flowering of faith more mundane and perhaps guided by vested foreign interests or even stimulated by them? Because what marked that period, from the ones that preceded it was the growing recognition by countries from outside the middle eastern region that it was an important geographical location in itself and also for its proximity to the wealth of India. That latter point is important because there is little disagreement that British foreign policy towards the middle east paid due cognisance to the views and interests of the Government of India - of course, that is a pre-independence Government, so wholly controlled by Britain.
      Abdul Wahhab developed what is commonly referred to as an austere interpretation of Islam, one that denounces the rituals and beliefs that he felt had accreted over the centuries. There is a rich vein of (conspiracy) theories, easily found on the internet, that in his travel to Iraq in the early 18th century, he could have come across British agents (specifically a 'Mr Hempher'). Certainly, the British East India Company had been well established at that time, and a British consulate had been established in Iraq in 1802. Less widely commented on is the fact that the famous Danish/German explorer Carsten Niebuhr travelled to Arabia in 1761.
      But leaving conspiracy theories aside, it's possible to develop an argument about foreign involvement based on far less controversial ideas. Britain may not have been a midwife to Wahhabism, but I think people of all geo-political persuasions would agree that Britain was a helpful nanny.
      The person with whom the British did have extensive dealings was Ibn Saud, who had entered into a pact with Abdul Wahhab in 1744. British sources said he persistently approached Britain for support and was generally rebuffed. Saud was a political leader who continued to promote the Wahhabi philosophy after the death of its founder. Saud was no cleric. But he was shrewd enough to mould the ideology as the basis for providing a motivation for conquest and a glue that would hold his fighters together. British records show that he took responsibility for hiring and firing clerics based on his political agenda.
      My source for this and some other information about Wahhabism that is presented here is a PhD dissertation submitted to King's College London in 2002 by Hassan Syed Abedin, titled "Abdul Aziz Al-Saud and the great game in Arabia, 1896-1946".
      Ibn Saud (who would in due course be given the British title 'Knight Commander of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire') was ultimately successful in his goal of receiving support from Britain in 1914 when Britain needed to have someone distracting the Ottomans so that they could devote fewer resources to World War I taking place in Europe.
      Prior to that, it's argued that Ibn Saud had spent considerable efforts in achieving a status similar to the one held by Mubarak Al Sabah, the emir of Kuwait. This ideal status would have meant that Sauds and their territories would have been subjects of the Ottoman empire, but who would be given the protection of the British.
      This version of events does not look very good for Ibn Saud, presenting him as someone who is willing to do business with non-Muslims in order to undermine a Muslim ruler, and he'd serve a useful role in helping Britain with the following objective:
      Crewe private telegram to Hardinge, Viceroy of India, November 12,1914, cited in Busch Britain, India and the Arabs: 1914-1921, p. 62.
      Further, east we find the rise of the modern-day Nizari Ismailis, whose Aga Khan in the mid-19th century created a new role for himself in providing services to the British Empire (Aga Khan I would receive an annual British pension of £20,000 per year). Mihir Bose (a noted writer on the subject) says that the Aga Khan had to plead his case for some time before the British took him seriously since they wanted to be sure that they were backing a local ally who'd present them with better value than the alternatives. His grandson Aga Khan III would be bestowed the title of 'Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Star of India'. Their esoteric faith was totally at odds with the one promulgated by Wahhab, but regardless of that difference served a useful purpose.
      Regardless of the support he gave, the British were aware of the hypocrisy of his religious position:
      Sir Charles Napier to Governor-General of India, Earl of Ellenborough, 1843
      The period around the 1840s is interesting for the following reason, as the following letter makes clear:
      Purohit, T. (2012) The Aga Khan Case (religion and identity in colonial India). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
      The writer of the letter is Major Henry Rawlinson, the military officer who worked for the commission in Persia from 1834 to 1838 and subsequently served as a political agent in Qandahar. So the British were interested in there being dislocation in Iran at around this time because of a perceived threat to their interests in Afghanistan.
      This makes the genesis and development of the third religion covered here all the more interesting.
      In roughly the same period, the mid-nineteenth century, we also see the rise of the Bahai faith in Iran. Mirza Ali Mohammad was born in 1820 and was executed in 1850. A focus of his attention was economic inequality in Iran. There were clear political implications, as  noted by the middle eastern commentator Juan Cole:
      The socio-economic aspect of Bab's teachings are also explained here:
      Mansoor Moaddel (1986) The Shi'i Ulama and the State in Iran. Theory and Society, Vol. 15, No. 4 (Jul., 1986), pp. 519-556. This extract: p526.
      This socio-religio-poliitcal impact of a new faith did not go unnoticed by the colonial powers of the time and gained ground as a result of their support as a means of destabilising the Qajar dynasty. Like Ibn Saud, Abdul Baha, eldest son of the Baha'u'llah, would also be awarded the title of Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire, ostensibly for his work in alleviating famine.
      Shahvar, S. (2018) ‘Oppression of Religious Minority Groups in Times of Great Upheaval in Late Qajar Iran: The 1892 Persecution of Jews and Baha’is of Jewish Origin in Hamadan Based on Two Newly Discovered Letters’, The Jewish quarterly review. University of Pennsylvania Press, 108(2), pp. 225–251.
      Going further east, we find the third innovation in the Muslim religion towards the end of the 19th century and one that would lead to charges of being the creation of a new religion entirely. The Ahmadis would destabilise Muslims in the Indian sub-continent. Their support for the British in India is expressed in their texts:
      There is a reason for this approach; unlike the established religions of the Indian sub-continent, the leader of this new religion needed legitimacy. By acquiescing to the needs of the invaders, he sought to achieve that. For the established religions doing the same would have been challenging because they would have lost the legitimacy of their many existing followers; the new religion with far fewer followers had much less to lose in this respect but potentially a great deal more to gain. 
      I am not saying that the British went into the middle east with the prior notion of introducing new faiths. However, it is reasonable to say that in an environment where there were new powers in the region, for someone starting a new faith, the potential for a symbiotic relationship with these new arrivals was obvious. 
      For the invaders, these new religions provided a ready-made supportive constituency with which to challenge the established order, whether it be the Ottomans, the Qajars or the established religious order in India.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
      Putting 2 and 2 together
      I have some knowledge of what social entrepreneurship is and like most of you I have read the story of Prophet Nuh ((عليه السلام).) in the Qur'an and Bible. At this point, I would start googling like crazy to build up the argument, but I decided to take a short-cut and asked chatgpt the following question:
      Can Noah and his construction of the ark be considered a form of social entrepreneurship?
      Now there are aspects of social entrepreneurship that are important that chatgpt has missed out, and to be honest they are pretty crucial to the link between his story and the concept of social entrepreneurship and I'll add them later. So I asked chatGPT:
      How does social entrepreneurship differ from entrepreneurship?
      This is taking us in the right direction. Looking at each of the above bullets in turn: 
      Prophet Nuh ((عليه السلام).) was focusing on social change (saving people from sin) and obviously had an environmental goal in mind (overcoming the dangers posed by the flood).  Social entrepreneurs target marginalised groups and Prophet Nuh ((عليه السلام).) was going for people who were sinners. The new product he had created was the ark His metric for success was the number of people saved.  
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