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In the Name of God بسم الله
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W.I.M. wimmin

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Haji 2003

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W.I.M stands for 'woe is me".

We get new threads on Shiachat started by new posters who typically relate some domestic issue where a woman has been badly treated by either the father or the husband and occasionally some other male.

The story, since these posts are typically reasonably long, has a fair amount of detail and explanation and has clearly been written by someone with a reasonably good command of the English language. We are not talking about someone who has secretly grabbed access to the village computer in some remote part of a developing country.

Not unreasonably the post elicits uncritical sympathy from most Shiachatters. After all, if you saw Bambi's mother wounded in the forest would you not do all you could to support her and criticise the hunter in the process? 

Given the patriarchal nature of Muslim societies, the collateral damage is, of course, the implicit criticism of such societies, their institutions, cultural norms and so on. So for example, if someone has been taken advantage of through the use of mutah, then invariably there will be concerns directed at the practice and the people who engage in it.

And to my mind, that is the objective of these threads. 

The following are the reasons why I usually have grave reservations about their authenticity:

  1. The person writing them is articulate and educated. They know how to construct a narrative that works. This is not an easy skill to acquire. Their spelling and sentence construction are always good. This matters because such education does not exist in a vacuum. Anyone who is educated to this level has a knowledge of their environment and you'd expect the support systems where they could get help (if that is what they wanted).
  2. The poster typically writes about a situation where they were taken advantage of, sometimes as a result of their lack of knowledge e.g. the terms of mutah. Now that situation would be entirely reasonable if the person was writing about a situation pre-internet. However, if they are writing about any event within the last 5-10 years the question which arises is that any google search of various Islamic issues throws up results that include Shiachat discussions. We are therefore being led to believe that the first time this person heard of Shiachat is when the situation imploded and not beforehand.
  3. Allied to this point the question why someone would turn to anonymous, generally unqualified strangers for help when it would make more sense to approach organisations and institutions they were familiar with and which would both offer an independent and trustworthy point of view. If someone can find shiachat on google they can find such resources.
  4. There are often references to the poster's fragile state of mind, which in my opinion is simply there to head off any uncritical assessment. In developed countries the first person anyone would go to in a fragile state of mind would be there local G.P. (doctor) and they would refer the person to appropriate sources of help.
  5. Such stories are always about 'relationships'. The topic is sexy and everyone has an unqualified opinion. We don't get similar posts about any other aspect of human activity. We don't get anonymous new posters writing in detail about the challenges they face in terms of choosing between medicine or engineering, for example. 

The question then is what motivates such posters?

In my opinion, it is to attack Islamic and Shia institutions and practices, it is to sow discord amongst board members and certainly it is to provide ammunition for those board members who have an anti-Islamic agenda and who can use these stories as the basis for attacking people with a more orthodox mindset.

You may well ask what would qualify such threads as being genuine. 

I'd expect a genuine poster to leave out the 'gory' details. After all, that is for the benefit of feeding the bun fight that is supposed to follow. I would expect a genuine person to explain in very general terms the situation that they are facing and then to ask posters if they are familiar with any sources of support in a particular country or region (this assume that they can't find such resources themselves). At a push, I would say that a new poster could say that they wanted to speak to someone qualified and whether board members or moderators could point them in the right direction.

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On 1/11/2019 at 5:21 PM, ireallywannaknow said:

Hm, good points and food for thought. I should be more discerning with these stories... 

@ireallywannaknowThe irony, of course, is that the OPs story always demonstrates a lack of discernment or naivety on their part. This may be understandable but the way the story is constructed requires everyone reading it to also suspend disbelief.

We have plenty of threads challenging aspects of Islamic and Shia belief, but in such threads critical thinking is not allowed.

Edited by Haji 2003

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3 hours ago, Mohammed-Mehdi said:

I always had the idea and still have that there are hidden enemies. Some of them might be portraying themselves as friends for years but they are knowingly enemies. They can be volunteers and/or part of something bigger, I don't know. 

People sometimes wonder why there is conflict between Iraqis or amongst Pakistanis or within Iran.

These threads provide an excellent case study as to how a stranger can come within a community and set off internecine strife with one post. Now imagine what anti-Muslim forces can do at a national level.

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The cost of making these posts is nothing compared to the possible “benefits”, so I’m surprised there’s not more.

Especially text based ones with a much lower production budget than audio, images, or videos. 

Like Nigerian scam emails, if a million people ignore them, but one takes the bait, it’s all worth the return on investment exponentially.

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Another important factor is the “hit and run”, where an OP doesn’t respond beyond the initial post. If the member was sincere, there would be more back and forth, showing resolution and progress of the issue (through the Islamic suggestions of responders).

The key for these topics is to show there’s no solution, and that Muslims are helpless squabblers.

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19 hours ago, Reza said:

Another important factor is the “hit and run”,

@RezaGood point, this is one I should add to the numbered list.

[Edit] on reflection there is another very good reason why the OP rarely follows up with any meaningful response. The narrative we are provided with presents the OP as a passive recipient of others' evil actions, there is no sense of agency.

If the OP were to respond and thereby demonstrate their role as an active participant in their situation, firstly it would diminish their role as the passive recipient. Secondly, it would also require their acknowledgement that there had been mistakes undertaken on their part and again this would diminish the legitimacy of the charges that they were laying at the feet of the accused.

Edited by Haji 2003

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@Laayla, If it has been hidden, I had nothing to do with that decision.

This blog post may have referenced a couple of things that had similarities with that thread, but here I was making a more general point.

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@Haji 2003 Brother, while some of the points you made are valid I would still give the benefit of doubt to such posters.

As you must already know 4/5 years back I posted here as a 'W.I.M' so I think I am in a position to address some of your reservations.

Having a good command over English does not automatically mean someone has direct access to help. In some places such resources do not exist and in others, hard to believe but true, reaching out for help just doesn't cross the person's mind. How your mind works when you are in a situation is very different to how you think when you are looking at that situation from an outside perspective.

Lots of people come here and post in hope of finding an easy solution. Easy, as in discrete, minimum fuss and without involving the families. Understandably in cases like underage and virgin mutah the girl doesn't want her family to know and in marital problems people fear the amount of gossip and hence resort to places where they can be anonymous. 

Marital issues affect lives like no other. They leave long lasting, sometimes life long changes on almost every aspect of the person's life - physical , emotional, financial, social which is far more than a choice of degree or car would affect someone. 

So while lots of times topics are started to attack Shia practices there are times when a genuine person comes here in need of help. 

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2 hours ago, starlight said:

I would still give the benefit of doubt to such posters.

@starlight

It's an issue of assessing each thread on its merits.

2 hours ago, starlight said:

As you must already know 4/5 years back I posted here as a 'W.I.M'

I don't remember giving you both barrels, so it must have been ok, I think.

What I pointed out in my OP were some indicators of troll-like behaviour, it's when there is a preponderance of such indicators that the light switches from amber to red.

Certainly, giving such threads carte-blanche for public consumption is not on IMHO. If independent, discreet advice is what is needed then we have mechanisms for that.

Often it's because these people supposedly took everything they were told at face-value that they got into trouble in the first place, the last thing we should be doing is following their example.

Edited by Haji 2003

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Bismehe Ta3ala 

Assalam Alikum @Haji 2003

I don't know if you heard the news recently about a Saudi 18 year old girl seeking asylum in Canada.  She arrived in Toronto in a short skirt...

Freeland said Qunun commented about the cold and she responded that it gets warmer in Canada.

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/World/2019/Jan-12/473881-Saudi-teen-asylum-seeker-expected-in-Canada.ashx

I thought about opening a new thread about this topic, but I'm noticing there is a lot of sensitivities taking place within the mods and members.  Attacking in full force when anyone mentions where the person fell into sin from the very beginning, just to warn other people not to fall into the same mistakes or normalize the sins as something teenagers do.

Of course the issue at hand is not her type of clothing, but her impression of living a free life.  There is many points I want to address about this topic, but the “atmosphere" at ShiaChat feels like some voices are being restricted and prevented from sharing their viewpoints.  

Thank you for your time. @Abu HadiI tagged you Hajj to share my concern with you.

M3 Salamah, Fe Amin Allah 

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17 minutes ago, Laayla said:

There is many points I want to address about this topic, but the “atmosphere" at Sc feels like some voices are being restricted and prevented from sharing their viewpoints.  

@Laayla

That's previously been the case as well. There was a famous bun-fight about 10 years ago when a woman wrote about the oppression that she was facing and many Sis wrote in support of her.

The one Sis who pointed out the fact that the poster had admitted committing zina took a lot of flak and she is no longer here. 

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Bismehe Ta3ala 

Assalam Alikum 

Then I wonder, what is the goal of Sc?

Dare I say are we striving to be Shias of Amir al mo2mneen or Abu Sufyan?

We have non Shias who are reading and observing these types of topics, I can only imagine the type of confusion that would occur to read about Amir al Motaqeen and then see those who profess to love him, but do the total opposite of his teachings.

But then I guess the 3ql readers will know their are discrepancies and eventually know who is in the right.

God help us stay steadfast on His religion.

M3 Salamah, Fe Amin Allah 

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I like to give the benefit of the doubt even if I'm skeptical. The harm done by incorrectly assuming that a person is trolling seems far worse to me than the inconvenience of spending time helping someone who is playing us. 

Besides, I have enough faith in our beliefs and practices that I don't worry about criticism, even if disguised as a plea for help. There are always false assumptions, and once those are corrected, a person in need is helped or a troll gives up. 

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On 1/13/2019 at 12:58 PM, notme said:

The harm done by incorrectly assuming that a person is trolling seems far worse to me than the inconvenience of spending time helping someone who is playing us. 

This is the heart of the problem.

An effective solution does not require us to make any assumptions at all!

In the most recent example, you'll see from the answers that I gave the poster, I took everything that was said at face value. I gave a constructive answer that would have enabled the OP to address her problem in a practical way. 

On the other hand.

There are plenty of people on this forum who were more than willing to engage with 'the story', the details of which had NOTHING to do with an effective solution and EVERYTHING to do with maligning the religion and its institutions.

@Laayla as a Mod I will caution you not to take for granted the imaan of anyone on this forum and that includes all Mods and Admins. Assess everything you read on its merits.

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45 minutes ago, Laayla said:

We have non Shias who are reading and observing these types of topics

And in the context of the most recent thread the non-Shia reader would get the impression that mutah is a means of corrupting innocent Sunni girls. If that was the mission it was accomplished.

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^^^

Brother,

I'm not questioning anyones eman.  I have only that right on myself and no one else.

I'm assessing based on numerous past topics where the same members, when they find me responding come all at once to criticise, resorting to personal attacks, and the easiest tactic questioning my akhlaq.  

It's the same people, it's like a gang, but really I don't know their purpose or what goals they have in mind. 

I ask Allah swt protection from those who wish evil or malice to others.

I thank you brother @Haji 2003 for addressing these issues.  

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Hajj I never see you criticizing the harsh judgement hurled at posters who post these topics.  How is that not damaging to Islam and its institutions? I would argue it is even more damaging and I hardly ever see you call such things out.   To stretch so far as to come up with this theory is just bizarre as there are far easier ways to malign religion and its institutions rather than coming up with these posts.  I would take your concerns a lot more seriously if you were a bit more balanced in your approach.

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30 minutes ago, King said:

Hajj I never see you criticizing the harsh judgement hurled at posters who post these topics. 

If the people with these problems were to stick to the essential details - there would be very limited grounds for people to be harsh in their response. It's because they want to attack Muslims they dress up the story with details that then invite the attacks.

If some people were that concerned about such threads and the people behind them they would post a highly informed and factual answer and then ask the Mods to lock/hide the thread and/or convey the answer to the OP. Or the Mods/Admin who feel this way could do so themselves.

But let's face it, what people want is a bun fight and if it damages Islam so much the better.

38 minutes ago, King said:

there are far easier ways to malign religion and its institutions rather than coming up with these posts

The level of traction these posts get would challenge your assertion. They have a very low threshold for intellectual engagement and as a result attract a mass audience, in a manner that no theological discussion ever could.

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54 minutes ago, Maryaam said:

If one post can cause extreme turmoil, the problem is not with the poster but with the lack of cohesion within the community members.

I've taken part in forums where the agenda has simply been to save money and even there we've had heated battles about the pros and cons of using breadmakers. I've taken part on forums where the agenda has been to help people dealing with debt and there's been a perennial debate as to whether or not someone is serious about this if have a cable tv subscription.

The point is that in such situations the board members know what causes unnecessary strife and rather than have another debate about breadmakers, the threads are shut down. But the well-being of the community came before that of individual posters.

Edited by Haji 2003

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5 minutes ago, Haji 2003 said:

The point is that in such situations the board members know what causes unnecessary strife and rather than have another debate about breadmakers, the threads are shut down. But the well-being of the community came before that of individual posters.

You cannot continually rely on external reasons for disharmony - at some point, you need to acknowledge that you need to look from within.  

Edited by Maryaam

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      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 3wliya_maryam in deep poetry
         1
      When you go through a rough patch in your life
      And you feel that your heart is being stabbed with a knife
      Remember Hussein (as) and the tragedies he went through
      Would you ever endure that kind of pain too?
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      I have previously remarked upon how, in some fields of human endeavour where the scientific approach is held to be the ideal, in reality human scientific and technological discoveries has often been the results of luck and even mistakes.
      There is a corollary in the field of the social sciences which also emphasise the value of the scientific approach to generate knowledge. In this domain the anomalies are various frameworks and models that are widely taught and even used, but which have no basis in rigorous scientific research.
      The famous work by Abraham Maslow on motivation and his resulting 'hierarchy of needs' is very widely studied and used. He posits that human motivation at the fundamental level is driven by physiological needs, and once these are satisfied (he did qualify this in later works) people try and address safety needs and then, social needs and self-esteem and finally self-actualisation. 
      But Maslow did not come up with this through any research that would hold up to scientific scrutiny.
      Yet is is productively used by professionals in a variety of industries, managers, MBA students and others in universities. For example people use it to understand why consumers buy certain products.
      The same issue applies to Bloom's taxonomy in the field of learning and also Elmo's buying funnel in the area of marketing. The three laws of robotics have their basis in science fiction and in the area of web searching there is no scientific basis for the information-navigational-transactional categories that are used.
      The implication from this is that while ideas and knowledge may ideally be the result of the scientific approach I.e. hypothesising and then testing, there are many instances where this is not the case. In the area of the social sciences and management the value of some types of knowledge seems to rest on their 'face validity', do they make sense to the individuals who are presented with them and can those individuals make better sense of their external environment as a result of using these tools and if they can, that is good enough.
      The same principle could surely apply to various aspects of religion. There may be no scientific proof underpinning various religious ideas, but if they have face validity, if they help the individual make sense of their external environment and manage it, surely that is good enough?
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