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In the Name of God بسم الله

Zainuu

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For his sake, there are angels following one another, before him and behind him, who guard him by Allah's commandment, surely Allah doesn't change the condition of the people until they change their own condition; and when Allah intends evil to a people, there is no averting it, and besides him they have no protector.
—[Ar-R'ad verse 11]
This verse in the holy Qur'an states that Allah is the protector of human beings and he has commanded angels to protect us. No one else is protecting human beings. Even if someone says that I will protect you, I will defend you then he can only do so by the consent of Allah (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). So, no one has any authority to protect a person and the command belongs only to Allah. 
But it doesn't mean that everything what you do, Allah will protect you. It doesn't mean that a human being cannot do anything about his destiny and in his defence. Here this topic becomes complex. 
If Allah is protecting us through angels and he is our lord, the greatest, the mighty; that doesn't mean Allah is handling all our affairs and we are free to sleep in a corner, and all will be in place automatically by the command of Allah. Allah has given us two hands, two legs, a brain, a face and (the most important) a self (soul) that he has perfected for us. 
"Wa Nafsinw Wamaa Sawwahaa"
"And the soul and him who made it perfect"  [Surah Ash Shams 91:7]
Now, we have to make use of all this. Isn't it enough to live a good life or to identify the Truth? Isn't it enough to forbid evil and practice good?
True that Allah is our protector and Allah is our guide and no one is guided except the one guided by Allah. True that, all are poor and paupers except the one who is provided by Allah. As it is said by Maula Ali (عليه السلام) in his Munajaat: 
"Mawlaya Ya Mawlaya, Antal ghaniyu wa Anal Faqeer wa hal yarhamul faqeera illal ghani"
"My Lord, O my Lord, you are the rich and I am a pauper and who is merciful to a pauper except the rich."
So,  does that mean we should stop planning, stop working and just ask Allah and move ahead. Does that mean we should accept what our vibes say and make decisions instead of making decisions through logic and reason and far-sightedness? No. Why would Allah grant us with the gift of different elements of the body if we have to close them off and just go with the flow. 
Imam Ali (عليه السلام) says in Nahj ul Balagha:

"All the illnesses and defects are in the soul itself and the cure to all our problems is also present in our 'self' only."
Also, "The one who identifies his self (soul) has identified his lord." — Imam Ali (عليه السلام) 
So, all this talk that 'All is written and we can't do anything and that which has to happen will happen etc' are not completely true. To say rightly, these are fake spiritual talks. As, Imam Ali (عليه السلام) clearly says that All is clearly within us. What are we searching for? What else do we need? 

Now, arises the question of fate. If all what I said is true then what about fate? I am not a denier of fate. I agree that it exists. Existence of fate cannot be denied but it is not the ultimate reality. Our fate is in our own hands. 
We can change it through our actions, supplications, good and bad deeds. When Allah sees what we are doing and how we are living and behaving, Allah changes it accordingly. My statement is an opinion but it can be easily verified through Qur'an, Hadith and also the views of Arifeen.
Don't sit idle and don't think you are divine and you will hear a voice from unseen. Act according to your state and stay patient for the rewards. If you fail try again instead of saying that, "It is my fate. what can I do?" How do you know it is your fate!
Imam Ali (عليه السلام) says, "A wise man is the one who thinks before he speaks whereas a fool is the one who speaks before he thinks." So, this is simply foolish to say that you failed or lost because Allah has destined that for you. You get what you sow. A person's actions, his quest for something is itself a tool to change his fate and destiny. And that is what the verse I stated above says. Definitely, Allah is our protector but:  '...Allah doesn't change the condition of the people until they change their own condition....'  [Part of the verse stated in the start]. This clearly means that Allah is protecting us but Allah has made us incharge of our own affairs and it's only we who can change our own condition. Accepting the destiny is wise if we know our destiny. But who knows his destiny except Allah, The Great, The All Knowing. 
Instead of getting into this querrel of fate, human being should try to focus upon action. As Ayatullah Taqi Behjat (May Allah be pleased with him) says: "May God give us the tawfeeq to perform our duties, that we don't be deprived of [performing] actions, not from within ourselves, neither from outside of us." Performing actions doesn't mean denying fate or denying the authority of Allah. Rather, it means accepting the blessings and opportunities provided by Allah, exploring them and exhausting them in the best way possible. We should understand that when we pray, Allah wants that we would ask him about something huge which a person is really deprived off and feels it as his necessity. Rather than asking that which Allah has already provided. Besides asking from Allah we should pray that "May Allah give us the tawfeeq to see what Allah has already blessed us with." We should explore within ourselves. 

"You presume that you are a small entity, but within you presides an entire Universe."
The verse I started with is an excuse to explain this relationship between fate and action. Aim is not to discuss the correct interpretation of the verse itself but just a part of it. My aim is also not to do a detailed discussion on fate and action but rather to only address the confusion between the two things. Normally, we notice in our society that this discussion is quite prevalent. Like many big conflicts in the world, the conflict of fate and action also ends up into two extreme parties. One (which I might call a pretend-saint) that says Fate is everything and nothing is in our hands. Whereas other which denies every role of fate and destiny completely and declares actions to be the only basis of different events occurring in life. While both have their reasons, both are wrong. This conflict is important to be addressed because it has a psychological effect. Obviously, a person who thinks that all is written and he is powerless will do nothing. He will sit and keep on denying on the blessings Allah has bestowed him with. He will act like a hopeless lazy person who is deemed to deviate from his path. This notion even if small in quantity is an evil notion and will cause problems in ones life. 
On the other side, the people who deny Fate and destiny. Such people are in true denial of god. This idea that only actions are the player behind what happens in life is also problematic because it cannot answer the many mysteries of life. Who can you blame for a natural disaster? The Japenese people, the Iranians; who are considered to be the most intelligent among the mankind live in those regions of the world where a lot of natural disasters occur. If we say that Japenese suffer because they are infidels then it would be the most lamest answer to the question. What about Iranians? So, actions matter but fate has it's own part. It is their to prove that Allah is the absolute and above everything. It doesn't mean that actions will not bear any fruit. Every action taken will have a reward or punishment but who knows when?
So, let us harmonize this. Let us end the blind beliefs occurring in our society due to the notion that 'Fate is everything and all depends on fate'. As is stated in Surah Al Asr: 
"By the passage of time! Surely humanity is in grave loss, except those who have faith, do good, and urge each other to the truth, and urge each other to perseverance." [103]
So,  it is certainly important to act without thinking about the fate. Removing all these blind beliefs about fate will lead us to passivity. Though, it seems small but in our traditionalist society, this idiocity is a huge problem. It has even entered the mentality of the educated and literate people because naturally it has nothing to do with education. It is because of overthinking and wrong mindsets and understandings about fate and destiny. It is because of ignorance and being illiterate is not a bad thing but being ignorant is equal to infidelity. To clarify, I am not calling anyone infidel but rather calling ignorance as infidelity. 
Let us also tell the arrogant human beings that whatever they might do, the destiny finally belongs to Allah. As is said in the above stated verse, in the last: '...and when Allah intends evil to a people, there is no averting it, and besides him they have no protector.'

Fate is something that already exists like some fundamental basis of events, while action is something that we build upon our fate. If they are weak, they won't change our fate. If they are strong with a true devotion, they will change our destiny according to their nature. If it is an evil action, our destiny will become worse then what it was. If our action is good, our destiny will become better than what it was. 
"So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it."
[Surah Zalzala 99:7]
"And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it."
[Surah Zalzala 99:8]

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  • Latest Blog Entries

         6 comments
      [This post was initially published as 'A little conspiracy theory of mine' on Oct 25 2016. I've now retitled it and linked some of the text with the notion of the Great Replacement Theory.]
      Summary
      Britain, after the Second World War ostensibly recruited workers from various developing countries in order to fill skill shortages. However, around the same time, there was a concerted effort by Australia to recruit working-class Britons. A possible explanation to this anomalous situation is that there was a concerted policy by Britain and Australia to ensure that Australia remained white. This is one argument against the idea that inward migration into the West is somehow an attack on white people. The two examples of migration examined here represent the opposite.
      The Great Replacement Theory
      According to Prof Matthew Feldman there is a lite of versions of The Great Replacement Theory and a full-fat one and the latter holds that:
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/08/a-deadly-ideology-how-the-great-replacement-theory-went-mainstream
      In this post, I will argue that at least in terms of one example, this is indeed the case, but rather than representing some form of surrender on the part of the 'white race' as the far right claims the policy represents, it is actually the opposite.
      The Windrush Generation
      This is the narrative all Britons have been brought up with (the following is from the UK government's own website):
      http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/citizenship/brave_new_world/immigration.htm
      It sounds very multi-culti, liberal and nice. Britain needed labour, brown people needed jobs and everyone would get along swimmingly in post-war Britain. This was not illegal immigration, it was planned and made good economic sense.
      Here's some more justification from the British Library:
      http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item107671.html
      To help immigration into the UK, the British Nationality Act of 1948 gave rights to all people from the commonwealth to settle in the country. West Indian immigration to the UK from the 1940's to the 1960s was about 170,000. In Britain, there was an increase of about 80,000 people originating from the Indian sub-continent from 1951 to 1961.
      So if there was such a shortage of labour in postwar Britain, surely the British government would have been aghast at the prospect of Britons leaving the UK? And trying to put a stop to it?
      Apparently not.
      The Assisted Passage Scheme from Britain to Australia
      Australia's 'Assisted Passage Migration Scheme' started in 1945 and involved 1 million people migrating from Britain to Australia.
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7217889.stm
      The following paper adds some nuance to this:
      Yet despite the 'reluctance' we still get:
      Stephen Constantine (2003) British emigration to the empire- commonwealth since 1880: From overseas settlement to Diaspora?, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 31:2, 16-35, DOI: 10.1080/03086530310001705586
      From the same paper the following motivation, which refers to policies in the nineteenth century could perhaps explain the flow of people observed at the top of this post:
       
      Conclusion
      In sum, Britain was allowed to go a bit brown, because it was essential that Australia, Canada and other dominions remain essentially white. And this racist policy was maintained until the facts on the ground had been established. This point is one counter-arguments to the 'Great Replacement Theory' that has been espoused in some far-right circles in the West.
       
      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jun/08/a-deadly-ideology-how-the-great-replacement-theory-went-mainstream
       
      So we have two migration stories. And the funny thing is that the first story is covered in the press, and you'll also find the second story given a lot of attention.
       
      But the two are never mentioned together.
       
      It's when you put, what are otherwise very positive stories together, that something far nastier emerges. Something which is within plain sight but unacknowledged.
       
      https://contemporaniablog.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/poms-and-windrush/
         1 comment
      Summary
      For Muslims, the questions around Riba are focused at the level of the individual because we want to know what we can and cannot do. This post looks at the broader societal issue. The conclusion is that riba and the business of lending can increase economic inequality between different segments in society.
      Assuming an Islamic state has an overriding need to address economic inequality - it cannot accede to the provision of credit in a manner that we are used to in the West.
      What is interest?
      This may seem obvious. but it's worth exploring since the result can generate new insights.
      Interest is a price charged by a lender to compensate them for not having the use of the money that they are lending. Interest can also be compensation for the fact that the money they have lent will be worth less in the future than today because of inflation Interest can also reflect a premium charged by the lender in order to account for the fact that some borrowers will not pay them back. The interest charged to the individual borrowers can vary because they vary in terms of their risk to the lender. Less risky borrowers are charged less and riskier ones are charged more. The last point is not immediately obvious to everyone it is important however and we shall come back to it.
      Access to credit
      In a free market, there are all sorts of lenders (e.g. seeking different levels of return and willing to take different levels of risk) and all sorts of borrowers (e.g. those with good 'credit scores vs. those with poor ones). Those with a good credit record can borrow more and more cheaply than those with a poor record. This may be because those with a good record have a history of making repayments on time and so on. And this is where we have our first macroeconomic effect.
      People who are poor and find it difficult to buy food and pay rent will invariably find it hard to keep up with their debt payments and if they don't pay their creditors on time, they will have a bad credit record. As a result, either they will not have access to credit at all or if they do, they will have to pay a higher price for it (a higher level of interest). This sounds crazy, but it is true. Credit is one product where the poor will generally pay more than the rich and it is certainly a product where those who need it to survive (rather than buying luxury goods) may not have access to it at all.
      Therefore in a society where there is credit, there are two mechanisms by which social inequality is increased, lack of credit to the poor and expensive credit where it is available. There is a third mechanism by which inequality is increased. If rich people have access to credit and the poor do not, the rich may bid up the prices of assets so that they become even more unaffordable to the poor. A real-life example of this is the UK property market, at the time of writing this post. Many young people are 'priced out' of the UK housing market because people with access to credit (e.g. investors) have bid up the prices of property.
      Materialism and credit
      A further reason why inequality is increased is that people are encouraged (as consumers) to buy things today and pay for them tomorrow. Over the period they borrow money, they pay interest. The assumption here is that the 'joy' they get for the chance to consume something earlier than they otherwise would have done compensates for the reduced consumption that they will have in the future. They will have reduced consumption because in the future their income will be paying interest for their previous consumption. 
      There is an important principle here. Such an approach to materialism has the following implications. This is a single-period gain. Because the only way you can keep doing it is to keep building up your debts! And at some point in the future, either you go bankrupt or the lender loses their capital or taxpayers' money is used to bail out both you and the lender. A materialist culture, therefore, combined with a system that makes credit easily available, rewards those people who have capital for pandering to the materialistic needs of the consumers but not much else.
      No easy solutions
      It would, however be naive to believe that the solution should be that lenders make credit available to all and at e.g. similar rates of interest. As we saw above interest performs a number of functions and one of these is to compensate lenders for risk. If lenders are forced to lend to the poor and at interest rates lower than they would normally offer, this may lead to losses for them.
      There is another reason why there are no easy solutions. If someone has poor financial circumstances, then offering them more credit and associated interest payments could add to their problems rather than improve them. Credit unions, which do not seek to make a profit and are run for the benefit of their members offer a partial but not a complete solution.
      Involvement of the State
      If the market is unable to lend without increasing inequality then we must consider the role of the State, the criteria it uses to make loans and how it manages demand if interest is not a pricing mechanism that it wishes to use. This may seem radical and an intervention that is far too statist and dirigiste some might even describe it as socialist or even communist.
      To put the above into context it's worth considering the role of the State when it comes to regulation of finance. It is notable that Martin Wolff a columnist writing in the Financial Times (the UK financial industry's newspaper) says:
      https://www.ft.com/content/09bfbb8d-22f5-4c70-9d85-2df7ed5c516e
      He arrives at this conclusion via an analysis of financial crises and not via the lens of inequality that I have used.
      It's worth examining some of the points that Wolff makes, they are widely considered to be true:
      This is a perennial issue, high levels of regulation stymie the returns that the financial sector can make and there is subsequently a call from economic liberals to remove the 'shackles', a new problem then arises, bailouts are needed and accompanied by new regulation.
      the latter being justification for a bailout.
      So state intervention in the financial markets is not an anomaly in a wholly capitalistic system. At the moment such intervention is justified given the damage that a bank run would cause for the whole economy.
      It's not outrageous therefore that if the welfare of the poor is considered to be important, the availability of credit for them and the terms of such finance should be of concern to policy-makers. 
      Practicalities of intervention
      One way of arriving at a solution is to consider why people need loans in the first place.
      It is clear that sometimes people need to borrow money to increase their earning power. Loans for such purposes are obviously a 'good thing'. This is one end of a spectrum and the State should intervene to provide such loans at 0% interest, thus making them completely halal. However, an effect of such intervention could be to encourage training providers to raise prices, so where government is effectively subsidising a sector it may also need to intervene in terms of the prices it is willing to pay. The same applies to goods such as medical services. Buying a car. Now we are moving along the spectrum, is the car for enjoyment or for work? And if it is for work, how blingy or spartan is it? The latter could attract state funding, but the former is less likely to do so. For enjoyment, people should be educated to understand that there is no alternative to saving up. And what about those who have capital?
      My understanding is that having capital is not a problem in Islam. Lending it for interest is a problem. But that is not the only productive use that capitalists have for their capital. They can own shares in enterprises and receive dividends for their risk capital i.e. the profit or dividends they make depends on the risk that they take. Such risk-taking can be inherently more productive than lending capital for interest. It can be applied to the development of new technologies and industries - rather than pandering to the materialist interests of consumers or indeed increasing such materialistic interests.
         3 comments
      Summary
      Iran is often accused of sponsoring groups such as Hamas. But what form is any help likely to take? Some speculative answers in the absence of any tangible proof.
      Background
      A short period after the Iranian revolution in 1979, Saddam Hussain, the Iraqi President decided to invade the country. He was funded by the Saudis and Kuwaitis amongst others and supplied by various western countries. Iran was embargoed. So they had to develop their own capabilities both in terms of hardware and likely software (military tactics etc.).
      Later on Iran helped set up Hizbollah because the Shias of Lebanon were being trodden on by all the other communities of that country as well as the invading Israelis. Hezbollah proved to be instrumental in helping the Israelis leave.
      Fast forward many years and Iranian-backed militia defeated ISIS in Iraq, and Hezbollah helped do the same in Syria (worth noting that very useful experience was derided by some who felt they should stay within Lebanese borders). Throughout all of this, Iran and its allies have no doubt picked up quite a few experiences and ideas about what it takes to fight in urban settings.
      In contrast, all other Arab countries relied on foreign armies' training. How effective that has been can be seen from the experience of the Iraqi army vs ISIS and the Afghan army vs the Taliban.
      Since the Nakba the Palestinian resistance was never known for the sophistication of its urban guerrilla warfare.
      Hamas
      The current anti-Israeli insurgency seems to be based on a mixture of small arms, tunnels and tactics. Assuming that sophisticated arms can't be smuggled, I'd hazard that the most valuable support they have received has been 'soft'. Strategies and tactics and that sort of thing. Knowing how to work around informers, etc., would also likely be very useful.
      No doubt someone has also been advising them how small arms can be made in motorcycle workshops. The Omani forts of centuries past had various defence mechanisms. One of them was the liquid produced by pressed dates. Nourishment for peacetime but a weapon for sieges when it could be boiled and poured onto invaders' heads. The point is that dual-use technology has a rich heritage and is eminently useful for a Gazan economy under siege for years. 
      Again throwing resources at problems such as this needs a state actor.
      Conclusion
      In sum, the Muslim world likely now has its own West Point, albeit not located in a physical location and one that does not need powerpoint slides and manuals. But as I said at the very start all speculation on my part.
       
         1 comment
      Looks like I've been here a while ...
      Twenty years ago today! I think I joined up after returning from Hajj, I should have done it beforehand I guess. It's been fun in the main, but gotten quieter over the years. Still, it has also served as a diary and a place to keep thoughts and ideas. I can understand why some people leave after a while - it's often the same issues that keep cropping up. It helps to have as bad a memory as mine - so things seem newer than they really are.
      And what about the future? This site like the rest of the net was the result of some transformative changes in tech. I think we are about to go through another inflexion point with AI and things won't be quite the same again. Exciting and challenging times ahead and I think the possible source of new ethical and fiqhi questions, albeit variations on existing themes to some extent.
      If you are wondering what 'Stories for Sakina' is about - the posts on this blog also serve the dual purpose of being (my niece) Sakina's birthday cards.
      So, for this post, I thought I'd collect an eclectic mix of my posts over the last 20 years. Eclectic means they are a haphazard mix of different types of posts, witterings, jokes and attempts to be useful and even philosophical.
      Finally, some career advice
      I joined in 2004 and got made a Mod in 2008, and became an Admin sometime after 2020 I think. So for those of you at the start of your careers the takeaway is that you don't need to be good to get to the top, you just need to hang around.
       
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         2 comments
      Why has the West seen falling living standards?
      Variations on this question are commonly asked on social media. The common theme is that living standards in the West used to be so good but what happened?
      Popular answers to the following tweet include:
      But they didn't have internet and dad worked 50-60 hours a week Our rulers sent jobs overseas Women thought it would be a good idea to work Bigger government Inflation I think the real answers are pretty straightforward, looking at the above in turn.
      I agree that the way you measure living standards is important. There has been tremendous economic growth since then. This family likely could not watch their choice of television programming as easily as today.  Whether or not jobs were sent overseas, they would invariably end up there. The US was a first mover in terms of development, there would come a point where it would be cheaper to make things overseas. Also other countries began to figure out e.g. how to make cars better and more efficiently than the US. This is an interesting one. The issue is why/how could one wage-earner keep a family whereas now it takes two. I'll have to come back to this later. This is in response to more social problems - which themselves are a function of greater levels of personal freedom This is also a factor and one that's likely outside the control of government. in the 1950s the US was the world's largest volume car producer (safe to guess), since then other countries have taken over, so there is now more competition for those resources hence inflation. Same applies to gas/petrol In summary there was no agenda to do down the Caucasian populations of the US and Europe. The rest of the world simply caught up. It may have taken longer than it did, but if you spread the good news of Capitalism to Russia, China and India, its going to happen. Since communism dampened demand for consumer goods in those countries it dimmed inflationary pressures for the rest of us.
         
         0 comments
      [I co-wrote this with chatgpt4]
       
      In a softly lit, high-ceilinged room, a group of civil servants gathered around a large oval table. The air was thick with tension, a palpable sense of unease hovering over them. At the head of the table, Marianne, the committee chair, cleared her throat. "The reality is unavoidable," she began, her voice steady yet tinged with concern. "With the rise of artificial intelligence, we're facing unprecedented job losses across multiple industries."
      Heads nodded in agreement, eyes reflecting the gravity of the situation. A murmur of assent rippled through the room as each member pondered the implications. "But what do we do with our people?" asked Thomas, a veteran member known for his pragmatism. "How do we find meaningful work for them?"
      The question hung in the air like a heavy cloud, challenging the collective wisdom of the room. Suggestions were made - some practical, others far-fetched. "We can't simply create jobs for the sake of it," Marianne pointed out. "It needs to be meaningful, something that adds value to society."
      As the discussion deepened, a pattern began to emerge. They spoke of community, of human connection, of the things that machines could never replicate. Slowly, an idea took shape, gaining clarity and momentum. "What if," ventured Sarah, a younger member with a thoughtful expression, "we focus on our future generations? What if we turn our attention to raising and nurturing our children?"
      The room fell silent, each person considering the proposal. "Investing in our children," mused Marianne. "Teaching, mentoring, spending quality time with them - these are tasks no AI can fulfill. They require empathy, understanding, and a human touch."
      Excitement bubbled up as they explored the idea further. They spoke of parents having more time with their kids, of communities coming together to support each other, of a society where the nurturing of young minds and hearts became a central goal.
      "We can create programs, offer training for these new roles," suggested Thomas, his voice now imbued with hope. "We can redefine work in terms of contributing to the growth and development of our children."
      As the meeting drew to a close, there was a sense of resolution, a feeling that they had stumbled upon a solution that could truly make a difference. "We will face challenges," Marianne concluded, "but in focusing on our children, we invest in a future where humanity and compassion are at the forefront. This is what we do."
      The committee members left the room with a newfound purpose, ready to face the challenges ahead. They had found their answer in the most fundamental aspect of human existence - the nurturing and upbringing of the next generation. In a world dominated by artificial intelligence, they had rediscovered the irreplaceable value of human connection and care.
         0 comments
      https://thecontentedself.wordpress.com/2023/12/10/apolitical-intellectuals/
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