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In the Name of God بسم الله

Zainuu

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The first month of Islamic calendar (the most 'violent religion' in the eyes of some people) starts with love. Love for the master of martyrs. Love for mothers and motherhood of Karbala. Love for brothers and brotherhood in Karbala. Love for Namaz. Love for the greatest sacrifice for the sake of humanity ever done in the history of mankind. 


It doesn't start with fancy wishes, roses and hearts. It doesn't start with celebrations, singing songs, dancing in happiness. It doesn't start with tours and trips. Neither it starts with any form of celebration in Islamic context nor does it start with anything remotely related to celebration. It starts with the moon sighting and tears. It starts with the slaps on faces and beating of chests. It starts with thirst and imagination of thirst. It starts with unity and imagination of unity. It starts with a sign of muslims reaffirming to their faith and when one reaffirms to something, at that moment he or she follows that with true heart. So, this is the time when faith is at it's peak. It starts with sacrifice and eagerness for sacrifice. It starts with a new season of Islam where the spirits are going to change their levels. If they ignore this time, their faith will degrade. If they utilize these moments their faith will upgrade. The new year of muslims starts with a welcome note to the most crucial and magnificent reality which is truth/Haq. This welcome note is emotional but it's essence is a call to faith. It starts with the Adhaan of Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) to the call of help (Halmin Nasirin Yan Suruna) by Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). This is the peak of the beauty of Islam.


Muharram starts with the arrival of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) in the desert of Karbala, a hot place near the banks of Euphrates river or one of it's canals. Imam is met by the first group from the Army of Yazeed led by Hur. I would only emphasize on necessary history as each and every point of history is just out of scope. Hur and his men are badly thirsty. Not only they but even their horses. But as I said, Muharram starts with a welcome note. Here is the first welcome note of mercy, love and humanity. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام)  provides them with water (as much as they want to drink). This was a message, a welcome note towards mercy and guidance of Allah to the bewildered. 


Hur kept on noticing this. But as he was an employee of Yazid along with others, He did what he was asked by Ibn Ziyad. He stopped Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) from going to Kufa and removed their camps from the banks of Euphrates and didn't allow them any further access to water. He asked Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) about the objective of going to Kufa. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) replied that they don't want war and have come for the guidance of the Kufans who have called him. Again, this was the Jihad of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) — Love, mercy and guidance of people towards Allah and Islam — and resisting the tyrants and evil in this way. 


Hur — who caused all the initial trouble and because of whom the children of Husayn (عليه السلام) stayed away from water — found himself guilty. This was the real sword of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) that was struck on Hur and started to show it's impact since he met Imam and kept on growing until it became unbearable on the night before 10th of Muharram (Ashura). Here is a message. As, the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has said that the greatest jihad is jihad-un-Nafs (Jihad with the self). The real battle that Hur fought in Karbala was against his own self. He fought against his desires on the night of Ashura. His weapon was the voices of thirsty children in the camp of Husayn (عليه السلام). His weapon was the mercy Imam showed to him. But what was he confronting. Hur was confronting an employee of Yazid in his self. An employee that said that 'somehow Yazid is your Emir and you have to follow his order.' The cancer of neutrality penetrated in his self which said 'What do you have to do with politics. You have a family and friends. Think about them. Stay out of this hassle. You are a soldier of an Army and a commander. Do your duty. Yazid is a drunkard, who cares? Husayn is the son of Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) , but who cares?' All these fearful, short-visioned, selfish and self-centered arguments were surrounding Hur and making him stay on the side of Yazid.


This is a big lesson. Every soldier in the Army of Yazid was facing an enemy like this within their soul. Every human being on earth, more or less, faces this enemy. We might say a thousand words of truth, we might agree with everything right but our ill-self always confronts us with these arguments and stops us from understanding Haq. Hur had enough weapons. He successfully broke this siege and killed his enemy and with purity, humility, recognizing the truth with the eyes of heart went this time towards the rightful leader of the Ummah. He didn't go to Husayn to sympathise the children. He didn't go their to advice Husayn (عليه السلام). He didn't actually go to Husayn (عليه السلام). He travelled towards freedom. From a fake tyrant to the rightful leader. From a payed employee of Yazid to a self-seeking slave of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). From ignorance and arrogance to awareness and humbleness. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) accepted him and all people along with him. He himself became the 'leader of mujahids' in my eyes. It's better to call Hur (رضي الله عنه) Imam ul Mujahid (lesder of the Jihadis) because jihad was done by everyone in Karbala, but he provoked others too (atleast thirty people came to the camp of Imam Husayn from the other side). And he had a very less amount of time to decide on his fate. He certainly fought the most fierce battle against his nafs (self). 


Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) was calling and testing. He was testing his companions and calling his enemies. These calls happened in many ways. With speeches and with actions. One of the ways among all these (for me) was even the Adhaan recited by Hazrat Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) in the morning and everytime when it was the prayer time. Who matched the face of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)? Their were many good voices in Karbala. Many great scholarly people were their.  Each one of them was capable of reciting Adhan. Glittering beautiful faces as well as wonderful voices. So, why only Hazrat Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه)? Because the face of Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) was like Prophet Muhammed (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). They were so similar that Imam Husayn used to say, "When I want to see my grand father. I see Ali Akber." Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) made Ali Akber's presence a reminder for the enemies that they are not fighting Husayn (عليه السلام) but rather they are fighting the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself. Adhan of Ali Akber (رضي الله عنه) was a signal to remind the calls of Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) towards faith. This holds a lesson for us that faith should be above everything. Call of every wali/guide/Imam towards Islam is a call of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم)  himself. Imamat is not an inch separate from Prophethood. As said by Dr. Ali Shariati, "Islam without Justice and Imamat is an Islam without Islam". Each and every call to prayer had two indicators. One was the visual indicator. Other was the vocal indicator. Call by the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) towards Salaat. Call towards peace, justice and Islam: 'Hayya Ala Khairil Amal - Come towards the Good'. This was the mission of Husayn (عليه السلام) and the objective of Karbala.


As I acclaimed, the master of martyrs was testing his companions again and again. Checking their faith and strengthening it minute by minute. At more than one moment, Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) asked his companions to leave him. More than once he told them about their fate if they stay with him. More than once, he told the purpose of his journey. Such that each and everyone of them became clear about it. Answers to these statements from the companions were mind blowing. This is what Imam said :
"It is a fact that I am not aware of any companions more faithful and honest than my companions and any relatives more righteous and kind than my relatives. May Allah grant all of you a good reward. I think that the day of our fighting with this army has arrived. I permit all of you to go away. You are free to depart without any restriction and should take advantage of the darkness of night."
I won't go in detail. But he gave them the certificate of Jannah. He even endorsed their piety. He declared them as the best companions. He even told them how to escape. But except a very few, none of them moved. How can they even leave? How can they love life or death or even Jannah with a thought that they left their Imam to get slaughtered in the hands of beasts? Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) was testing them. He was trying to debug even a single confusion in their heart. He was trying to eliminate even the thought of Jannah from their mind so that they only think of sacrifice for Allah. What a spirit! What can we say! Ask yourself what Imam Husayn(عليه السلام) asked to his companions in Karbala each and every time.


Will you leave your Imam while difficulties have surrounded him? Will you leave him if he grants you Jannah? Will you leave him if he himself asks you to leave? What does wisdom say? Ask yourself. Are you so firm in faith that whatever might happen, you are standing behind your Imam (عليه السلام) and doing your duty? Ask yourself. Are you an employee of Allah, who is paid with happiness, security, health and wealth and promise of Jannah so that he can forget his divine duty if all his payments are delivered irrespective of his stances?  Or are you a slave of only Allah and follower of only his leaders and commanders appointed on you such that even if they themselves ask you to leave for your lives, you will not. What if, Allah is asking blood from you? Are you ready? Who can be more free in this world then the companions of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام)? Take a lesson here. Follow Islam irrespective of anything. We get into doubt: Our prayers are not accepted, our desires are not fulfilled, calamities keep on falling on us etc. Is this our vision of life? No. Our only mission and purpose of life is to obey Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى). Stay where he wants us to stay and refrain from something which Allah has asked us to refrain from. Allah will test you to see how much firm you are in following his commandments. 


We see warriors, with all capabilities to break the largest armies in a battle alone, shying and controlling themselves in Karbala. Sayyed ush Shuhada (Imam al Husayn (AS)) stopped Abbas at every step from battling with the enemy. He even brought Hazrat Zaynab (SA) at one point for the same purpose. I won't mention the reason why Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) stopped Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه). But how difficult it would be for a warrior like Abbas (رضي الله عنه) to control himself from attacking the enemy. How difficult it would be to obey the master of Martyrs (عليه السلام) and understand the fate at this moment. More difficult then understanding was accepting. Acceptance and understanding that made Abbas a Saqqa (water carrier) from an Alamdaar (flag-bearer). This was the time when Al Abbas (رضي الله عنه) became the symbol of patience. He changed his being and kept down his sword to obey his mawla and his brother. This proves how critical and crucial weapon is patience and endurance. How important it is to remain patient in order to sustain yourself on the path of Allah. The will of Allah can be for us or against us. We should put our heads down in front of Allah's will.  Ghazi Abbas (رضي الله عنه) teaches us how to contemplate on what Allah wants from us and then not only refraining from our own will but submitting to Allah's will in the best of ways. How he managed to take a broken spear on the battle ground while he had a sword with him? How he managed to only try to bring water to the camps and not breaking the other enemy fronts? How he managed to protect the water and gave his hands in doing so? What patience a person needs to refrain from drinking a drop of water even after his lips are dry and throat dying from thirst. This patience led Al Abbas (رضي الله عنه) to become the symbol of loyalty (Sarkaar-e-Wafa) in the history of mankind. Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه) was not even an infallible but still he made himself so strong that whatever his brother and leader demanded from him he delivered. Only one thing that remained was water. Which led Abbas to such a level of regret and emotion that he denied his body to be taken to the camps. If we can't learn patience, perseverence, submission and loyalty from Hazrat Abbas (رضي الله عنه). This history is useless and just as important as a novel.


Karbala startles us at every step. Their was even a child as young as 6 months. When Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) called for help, no one was their to answer except a 6 months old Ali al Asghar (رضي الله عنه). He fell on ground after this call. He was taken to ask for water by Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). Imam knew that he will be martyred. But another reality of Karbala is a father taking his own son to sacrifice for Allah and become an example in history. Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) never needed help so what was the reason of this call? It was nothing but a reminder to everyone. Imam (عليه السلام) warned humanity that 'don't let a time come upon your leader when no one will accompany or support him'. Imam was calling people to Islam, to guidance. But only a 6 months old could understand. It is a call that echoes in our ears every year to move towards Karbala and to move towards religion and guidance. Not only Ali al Asgher answered but his mother answered it. All the woman answered it. Bibi Umm Rabab (SA) became a symbol of motherhood in Karbala. This is how a mother should be. Woman should teach their children to become the pure and free servant of Allah because this is the greatest honor and they should be so strong and firm that if Allah asks them their dearest sons for sacrifice, they should deliver and content themselves with patience and thankfulness towards Allah. If mothers become like mothers of Karbala, every child will become a servant of Allah and fighter of Islam which would pave the way towards an ideal Islamic society. 


At the end, before his sorrowful martyrdom, Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) addressed the faithless and inhumane army of Yazid. He introduced himself not as a warrior but as a divinely appointed Imam, who has got the highest honors in the eyes of Allah. He was introducing himself like this in order to guide them so that they refrain from what they are about to do and understand the path of Allah. So that they understand that what all rewards they will recieve after this act will be nothing in comparison to what they will loose. Their was a lot of wisdom and beauty in each word but cursed were those who were blinded by the pleasures of this world. 


Imam said: "Even if you don't believe in religion, atleast be free in this world." Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) wanted people to become free from everything, even their soul and then choose according to reason because truth cannot be imposed. It is not necessary to deceive someone to follow the truth. If we remove all the veils of falsehood, evil and deception, the only thing left will be truth. Freedom is not to remove your hijab or even wear it to make people admire you. Freedom is not to pray because your parents will kick you or Allah will send you to hell. Choose religion not because you are born in such a family but because you are a human being and Allah has given you the right to think, contemplate and ask the best for yourself independent of anything. Choose anything in life on the basis of free will that only submits to Allah (the absolute). This is the perception Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) wanted us to work upon. Karbala if followed and read in a right way should change a person.  If it doesn't then the message is not delivered. It was a battle between free will and imposed will. Battle between freedom seeking revolutionaries and employees of evil. A battle between 'I stand with Husayn and condemn Yazid and I know what I'm doing' vs 'Husayn is good and Yazid is bad but we are employees of Yazid so do the duty.' It shows that evil is everything except truth and not even the companions of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) are immune from it. Even taking neutral grounds is a sign of ignorance and part of evil. 


This takes us to the Zaynabi revolution. The start of the new year. The pledge and commitment to change our 'self'. The pledge to fight the evil within us to a level that only Allah's manifestation remains. Azadaari (mourning for Imam Husayn (AS)) is resistance. It is not a mere custom in which some people come, cry, beat their chests and go away as if nothing happened. It is not a majlis that starts with lamentation and comes to end with gheebah (backbiting). It is not a show-off place where you show the standards of food you serve in the form of tabarruk. It is not a place to compete that who will gather the maximum audience and who will provide the best in tabarruk. Neither it is about how many slogans of 'Yaa Ali' will be raised or how many people will faint during Masaaib (sorrowful happenings in Karbala). Tears are natural and not man-made. Only that person can cry on Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) who has the maarefat (wisdom) of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). The people who do all that I said above except azadaari are making fun of Hazrat Zainab (عليه السلام) and her revolution. They are equivalent to those Kufans and Syrians who mocked and taunted the Ahl Haram when they were taken captive and dragged in the streets of Kufa and Damascus. Shame on such people and shame on the show-off they do in the name of Mourning. Shame on those who do politics in the name of azadari. Shame on those reciters and orators who do business in the name of Azadaari. This is the worst of insults that AhlulBayt (عليه السلام) have to bear. We sell our souls so cheap that we fight on some bits of food that we recieve after majlis. We are making a joke of ourselves and also a joke of our religion and our Imam. Azadaari is a custom of purity started by the Great Sister of Al Husayn (عليه السلام) and Imam Sajjad (عليه السلام) as a form of resistance to tyranny and cruelity. A person who is a true azadaar of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) and has percieved his revolutionary message will not sit down until he purifies himself and brings society towards Islam. He will not settle unless he becomes a pain in the gut for the tyrannic rulers. Who is the real mourner of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام)? The one who brought down the forts of oppressors and stood for the oppressed. As an example, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah is the true mourner. His army are the true mourners of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام). It is not possible that a mourner beats his chest, cries on Imam of the oppressed but remains quiet in supporting 'The Husayn' of this time. It is impossible for a mourner of Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) to curse Yazid while stay quiet on the crimes committed by 'The Yazid' of the time or be supportive of it. Azadaari is not a dead custom and Imam Husayn (عليه السلام) is not a dead hero. It is indeed a living revolution that flows in our body and pumps through our hearts in the form of martyrs of Karbala and becomes manifest when we stand for justice and haq in the present time. 
Our duty is to take the message of Husayn (عليه السلام) and implement it on our own lives. Our duty is to be kind, humble, firm, down-to-earth, tough in front of the world, soft in front of Allah. Our duty is to put up sacrifices in the path of Allah whenever needed. Our duty is to unite and set aside our differences. We should unite under the banner of Allah the great. This is what Azadaari teaches us. This is what Karbala teaches us. When only a few people who stood as one in front of the most powerful enemy of the time and defeated him, why can't we? When people celebrate new year, they take pledges. We have the most appealing history remembered just on the start of the year. We should also take a pledge.

Commit yourself: you will practice taqwa, pray on time, practice patience and base your life on knowledge and faith.

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      I felt the happiness instantly with the moment and later when I’d go home I would feel depressed and sad like I was missing something, I couldn’t sit alone I couldn’t stand home, my soul was always agitated and unsettled.
      I studied Christianity before but it was all science fiction. Studying Christianity made me even more lost and drove me to doubt the existence of God, which was worse; I would die just to know what can fill this empty space I always had. I asked myself is that it? We came here to eat sleep party have fun work make a family and die...
      One night when I hit rock bottom after I finished this self-discovery journey and I arrived nowhere, I started calling upon God (without even being sure that He existed and listening), I told him God if you were there if you existed please help me find my way, suddenly and out of nowhere there was someone whom I’ve met 4 years ago, he started coming up to my mind which was so weird because I had no interest what so ever to talk to him and see him(because he was a Muslim and I didn’t like Islam just like any other brainwashed Christian middle eastern person) so I contacted him, turns out he was a committed Shia who triggered my path into Islam, and in the same time I met a Christian man who was living in France and he converted the same month as I did, this was God telling me that I’m not alone, this was God giving me a kind of motif, I mean what are the odds?
      Whoever wants God, God will answer him, He will not leave him alone, but only few people really want God all they want is this world, they are blinded by it.
      When I found Islam, my ultimate destiny, and when I found God I felt so ecstatic and intense, I felt this deep power and enlightenment, It was entirely uplifting, deeply emotional and pleasurable, I felt a deep joy that finally my existence made sense, that God gave me a purpose to live for to strive for and to fight for, to reach the highest level of existence. He chose me out of all these people who are lost, I had met more than 2,000 people and he just gave me this special gift, showed me the door to his secrets, Our(Shias) status To God is special, this is why we should fight this world and fight ourselves and desires and never give up, to be worthy of this privilege that God gave us. When I personally realized this it was time for the hard work. When we understand the power laying behind us we would never have to fear anything ever again in our entire life. 
      I was so afraid to jump into this transition, my faith was weak and I had doubts at some moments. I had to give up my friends, my activities, habits, shut off my desires, change my morals, my rules, my lifestyle, my priorities, my social life, my behavior… I was shifting my core belief which is something very hard for a human to change. I was trapped and afraid at some point; I didn’t know how to do it. I was never home, I was never alone, I was lazy, I never respected my parents, I didn’t prioritize anything except my plans, I’d quite jobs because my work schedule didn’t match my entertaining plans...This is how much I was messed up and attached to the world.
      I seeked happiness and the more you feel happiness the more you want it, it’s like a drug, so you indulge more in dunya activities until you are completely lost. Happiness wasn’t created to feel here, happiness is for the next world, we should never waste time here getting attached to this world because we will do eventually whatever we want in the afterlife. We are born to pass this test and to return to our original home where Prophet Adam was created. It took me time to realize this.
      My friends were atheists, mushrikin, infidels, and almost all my activities were sinning, I quite them all and now I don’t befriend no one but the lovers of Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام). It was very hard and I suffered deeply at some point, washing away your sins purifying yourself from them is EXTREMELY hard, it’s like you’re pulling forward and the devil is pulling you back all the time. But God didn’t let me feel I’m alone, he rewarded me, gave me a steady job where I can be fully committed in, gave me this feeling of security and self-satisfaction, gave me Many privileges that I didn’t possess before. This entire process made me someone else; I became very mentally strong and different. Islam isn’t for sissies; Islam needs strengths, stability, mental toughness, brave hearted individuals who take sacrifices for God, who are ready to face the evil and the challenges of this world.
      The equation is simple, as much as you give God as much as He gives you in return. After I was guided I tested myself, tried doing some things that I did in the past to see if this was a phase in my life, but I felt disgusted ashamed weak and I became afraid of death. Now if I touch a man by mistake or if I eat something from a table that has alcohol on it without paying attention I would think about it for 3 days feeling guilty because I disappointed God. I do not fear punishment as much I fear to fail God, because I love Him, that is the true worshiping. Each time I do something to get closer to God I feel my soul elevating I feel that I’m gaining spiritual power and my perspective towards the world changes… Everyone told me it's just a phase but as each day is passing I'm falling more in love with this religion and with Ahlul Bayt(عليه السلام). I still have hard time committing to my religion as my parents don't know(or kinda in denial), so I practice everything in secrecy.
      To conclude I want to tell you something, brothers and sisters, this world is evil, you shouldn’t love it nor seek to have fun in it, you should hate it and never ever be dependent on something related to it, even though I know the truth behind my past life how it’s all evil empty and worthless, it still tempts me sometimes till this very day, the love of this world isn’t easy so don’t get yourself trapped because once you’re in it’s so difficult to get out. Don’t go to hell to enjoy life here; don’t sell your soul to the devil.
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         1
      Introduction
      The institute is a Saudi attempt to exercise soft power. It presents 'research' designed to undermine the IRI. The people behind this organisation know the value of appearing to be independent and great care has been taken to present the image of a western 'thinktank'. Indeed you almost get the impression that the people behind an American think tank came up with this one.
      But as with any articificial exercise there are holes and I'll examine one of them.
      About us
      Nowadays it's a requirement (in the interests of transparency) to have something titled 'about us', so visitors can know who it is that is running or even sponsoring an organisation. Below is an extract of their About Us page.

      https://rasanah-iiis.org/english/about-us/
      All this verbiage about vision, mission and values. It's straight out of Harvard Business School. Obviously I am using that as a surrogate to stand-in for contemporary western ideas about how you shape the scope and direction of an organisation. Whoever put this together either attended a western institution or was told to copy the relevant sections from another website. The key thing is the importance of 'emulation', the people running the site are in the taqlid of a foreign ideology and doing their best to ape it.
      But they fall down.
      Form vs. function
      The problem with copying someone else is that you pay attention to the form of something but not necessarily its content. You use the right headings, but not necessarily the right meanings. The words are in the right order but they don't mean very much. If you are running a grocery shop and you attended a two day seminar on management so that you could write a business plan this is not necessarily a problem.
      If you are running a thinktank, it is. You are in the business of creating and presenting ideas. If you can't get the basics right, you're in the wrong business.
      The problem in a nutshell - Values
      By the time they got to values they ran out of ideas. Quite funny really, in a pathetic kind of way. Values is where you write what your organisation stands for. Again if you are running a think tank you do obviously have values. To give you an example here is something from the American Enterprise Institute:
      https://www.aei.org/about/
      I have used them because just as I don't agree with the Saudi outfit that is the focus of this post, I also don't agree with the AEI, but they are at least transparent. And they set out their values clearly. They believe that free enterprise (as opposed to State control) is a good thing in and of itself. Their having declared this tells you in advance that studies they publish are likely to show free enterprise in a positive light.
      Values in a bit more detail
      The great thing about values is that the concept allows for the fact that people have different values. Going back to the AEI example, clearly other people around the world have different values, they believe that e.g. State control of all the means of production is a good thing and there are people somewhere along the middle of this continuum, who believe that some mixture of free enterprise and State control is to be preferred.
      When I talk with Chinese audiences I use the concept of filial piety as representing a set of values. What follows below is a set of statements (measuring filial piety) with which you can either strongly agree or disagree or be somewhere in the middle.
      In Asian societies, for example, you will tend to find that people will be more likely to strongly agree with many of these statements. In some western ones disagreement is more likely - because of their greater focus on personal independence.
      Are some values better or worse than others? Are some values right and other ones wrong?
      You may have a belief system that does indeed tell you what values are right or wrong, indeed adherence to some is more likely to send you to heaven or hell. For example I believe that Islam tends more towards filial piety than personal independence, at least in some measures of filial piety. I am not sure our religion advocates trying our best to achieve parents' unachieved goals, but I do think the imperative to always being polite to parents applies. 

      Terry Y. S. Lum1, Elsie C. W. Yan, Andy H. Y. Ho, Michelle H. Y. Shum1, Gloria H. Y. Wong1, Mandy M. Y. Lau1, and Junfang Wang (2015) Measuring Filial Piety in the 21st Century: Development, Factor Structure, and Reliability of the 10-Item Contemporary Filial Piety Scale. Journal of Applied Gerontology 13
       
      So why do I have a problem with the IIIS's values
      The values that they set out contrast vividly with those of the AEI. The AEI sets out those values that it believes will make the world a better place.
      The IIIS sets out the importance they attach to answering emails on time and doing whatever it is they do well.
      That's ridiculous and leaves us with one of three possibilities:
      The values section is for internal Saudi consumption They don't understand what a values section is about and simply copied and pasted the idea from somewhere else and made some amendments They're too embarrassed to state their values Lets look at each of the above in turn.
      It's for internal Saudi consumption
      Running a professional organisation as these values state is pretty much a sine qua non, something you'd take for granted. Actually on reflection, it's a sine qua non in cultures where doing things properly is the norm. In Saudi, given the general lack of professionalism, overall levels of incompetence and laziness, perhaps it is a mark of recognition that you do what you should be doing.
      So perhaps there is a rational explanation for what they have done - but it does not reflect well on Saudi, if this is the case.
      They don't understand what a values section is about
      If the people putting together the site knew they needed one, but could not get the sign off from those higher up as to what the values statement should be, they just defaulted to something inane - which defats the purpose of the exercise, especially for people claiming to run a think tank.
      They're too embarrassed to state their values
      We are still left with the unanswered question as to what the Institute stands for. If their values posit that Saudi influence in the region is a good thing they should say so. If they believe that Iran is a malign power and the world would be a better place if people knew this, they should say so. But are they embarrassed to state the obvious? Are they really trying to run with the fiction that theirs is a neutral and independent organisation?
       
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         0
      Summary
      When you are in a weak position, all the choices you have are bad ones.
      Introduction
      I've always thought that since British Mandate the Palestinians have been in a no win position. If they accepted the offers the Israelis gave them there would have been an incentive for the Israelis to take more land (if the Pals don't mind yielding some they might not mind yielding more) and if the Pals had resisted that would also have given the Israelis a pretext to take more land (for defensive purposes), the latter has proven to be the case.
      In short whatever the Pals decided did not matter, the Israelis' dominant position ensured that they could respond in a manner that was advantageous to them. The same applies to Native American Indians in the 18th and 19th centuries, whether their response to European settlers was to fight make treaties the outcome would always be the same, their lands would be taken. In both cases there was such an asymmetry between the two parties that there was nothing the colonised could do that would change the outcome.
      In the examples that follow I look at some contemporary examples that illustrate a different dynamic. In these instances non-Western powers have presented the West with situations where however the West responds will lead to an outcome for the West that it does not want.
      Huawei - China
      Turning now to a totally different situation, the following piece in the FT neatly summarises how I feel about the situation between the U.S. government and Huawei. In the 21st century, it is beginning to look as if the Chinese have the best cards. for example Huawei makes good and cost-effective telecoms infrastructure.
      Western countries may have security concerns, but if they ban Huawei, they could end up with a poorer solution. Other countries that have no such qualms could benefit from the cost advantages that Huawei equipment offers. But if Western countries accept Huawei they risk entrenching the advantages that the Chinese have, as well as the claimed security risks.
      Sanctions have been a preferred Western method of taking action against countries that have fallen out of favour. But this tool only works where you have something the other person wants, when the situation is reversed - you can end up damaging yourself.
      https://www.ft.com/content/8fc63610-88fe-11e9-b861-54ee436f9768
      SWIFT - Russia
      This example arose during the Russian invasion of Ukraine in late February 2022. The West wanted to sanction Russia by imposing economic sanctions including barring Russian entities from access to western financial systems. But this was not straightforward:
      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/feb/24/what-is-swift-international-payments-network-russia-sanction
      Sic transit gloria mundi (so passes worldly glory)
      In a previous FT story about the same subject I posted a comment that this situation is similar to the British attempts to stop Indian technological development by banning the Indians from making their own steam engines, at the start of the 20th century. The British may have delayed Indian development by some decades, but that's all they were able to do. Whether the British took no action to stop Indian technological development or whether they proactively tried to hinder it, ultimately they would lose. 
      There are now far too many Indians with every increasing levels of capability to stop the juggernaut.
      The status quo
      In mid-2022 following a visit to Taiwan by Senator Pelosi the FT noted this about the Chinese response to the visit:
      https://www.ft.com/content/5462a57a-bd13-4313-b26b-9645b48a70ee 
      In my opinion it was Pelosi who altered the status quo, this was the most high ranking visit in 25 years. Based on the theme of this blog post, given the dominant position of the Chinese, the American position should be to maintain the status quo. As soon as they seek to alter it, the Chinese have an excuse to try and establish a new status quo that is more favourable to them.
      Conclusion
      In the context of China, I think the U.S. government feels a threat to its economic/technological dominance. And the sanctions are its attempt to fight back. But whether the U.S. decides to fight or not, I think in the longer term that dominance will have to be compromised. Huawei and the Chinese are now too far along the technological path of development and they are far further ahead than the India of the early 20th century. 
      The U.S. is now in a similar technological position that the Palestinians have been in terms of geography. Whatever option the US chooses, it will ultimately 'lose'. Loss in this context is not necessarily ceding technological leadership to the Chinese, but it may well involve acknowledging their superiority in certain areas. Other countries like Russia also may be able to work their way around sanctions for example, so western attempts to control their behaviour will have limited success.
      In the context of Russia it seems that there is too much at stake economically for sanctions to be effective, the sanctioners stand to lose as much as the sanctioned.
       
    • By Haji 2003 in Contemporania
         14
      Summary
      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.
       

       
      https://www.wonders-of-the-world.net/Pyramids-of-Egypt/Evolution-of-the-pyramids-of-Egypt.php
       
      If not aliens then who?
      Humans.
      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.

       
       
      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:
       

       
      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.

       
       

       

       
      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.
      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.
       
      See Also
       
    • By Hameedeh in Think Positive
         17
      Two years ago I became a minimalist. I'm not talking about music, sculpture or painting, but minimalism in my life. I read about creating a minimalist home, but I did not buy the book:
      http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/
      So, I am thrifty and I buy very little. Whenever I am shopping and see a dozen things I want to own, I question myself. Do I have storage space for this? Is this really necessary? Will I really love it or is it just something that I never had before and always wanted to have one? Just wanting to possess something is not a good reason to buy it. Could I take a photo of it and just look at it, without spending my money? This must be a good reason to join Pinterest, to have all the things you want to look at, but never need to buy, store or move them. 
      As you have seen, my ShiaChat blog is minimalist by nature. I usually say very little, because if there is one thing that I know, it is that I recognize great writing when I see it, but I am not a good writer. I hope to become a better writer some day, and in the meantime, I invite you to my tumblr. Please, if you can, start at the last page which shows my first post (a prayer for the safety of 12th Imam AJ) and then scroll your way up, and over to previous pages in chronological order, the way my brain was working. 
      http://hameedeh.tumblr.com/page/3
      ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
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