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    • @AbdusSibtayn The counterpoint to this is the contact between medieval Europe and the Islamic world. According to this study, there is very little material evidence of European conversion on any scale during this timeframe, despite the long-running wars between Crusaders and Muslims. There is ample evidence of trade (and warfare), moreover, but little, if any, of conversion, which is all the more striking. Even if there were more conversions than indicated, there is little basis for supposing that they would reflect proper Islam, rather than a syncretistic and/or relatively “liberal” version, e.g., a newfangled version of Sufism. Case in point: Christianity only succeeded on a large scale by acceding to the cultural influences of the peoples that Europeans came to directly or indirectly dominate. As more black Africans “converted,” they adapted Christianity more to suit their needs than they altered their customs and behaviours to suit Christianity. “Africanised” denominations and sects resemble native shamanism more than they do their ancestral European strains. Christianity as practised among African slaves in the Americas also came to resemble culturally the rituals and beliefs of traditional African systems rather than those of the European Church(-es). An analogous trend can be noted among Muslims: as soon as Islam was transferred outside its Arab core, it increasingly bent to the needs of other ethnicities, rather than the ethnicities to the religion as was received. That is why Bosnian, Turkic, and Indonesian Islam looks so very different from that of the Arabian peninsula and its immediate environs, even in the pre-colonial (and hence pre-Wahhabi) era. Chechen and Minangkabau Islamic practices for centuries have born very little resemblance to the sharia of revivalist movements in the Middle East. In practice, ethnicity and lineage seem to determine religious forms more than vice versa. Even the case of Christianity illustrates my point. The Romans and the Germanic tribes only “converted” to the religion of Jesus after it had been mutilated to suit the cultural practices of pagan Europe. The rituals and symbols were stripped of their Judaic/Israelite forms, if not content, and refashioned in the mould of Hellenistic culture, to not speak of Germanic tribalism. Soon the religion of Jesus simply became a disguised form of solar-cult worship, in which the tradition of Israel was subordinated to that of the Gentiles, rather than vice versa. And the resultant form of Christianity has been ossified for millennia. Regarding free will vs. determinism: what about the scientific consensus that between ~60–75%—and quite possibly up to 80%—of man’s intelligence quotient (IQ) is hereditable? (Furthermore, note that the studies found a link between specific genes, or a range of genes, and IQ, suggesting that epigenetic influence plays a comparatively minor role.) If true, this would hold implications for morality, for moral reasoning is correlated with the ability to reason abstractly. For example, individuals who cannot think abstractly tend to have less self-awareness and a higher time-preference, that is, less focus on the future and more on the immediate present. Such individuals are less able to defer gratification, are more selfish, and are more impulsive. If one is born with a deficient IQ, then one’s capacity for maximising one’s faculties would be diminished, and this would have correspondingly negative bearing on morality. I was alluding more to the notion among some “Muslim” racists that the original, primal man had the same DNA as the “purest” lineage of the Arabs (presumably including the Prophetic line), and that only individuals with this proper genetic heritage had the moral capacity to practice Islam “properly” and attain Paradise. According to these racists, while individuals of “pure” lineage are capable of sinning, this supposedly does not imply that “impure” lineages are capable of attaining Paradise, even by their own efforts. (Note that I myself do not subscribe to this line of thought, but am merely describing some individuals’ point of view, which I have heard about elsewhere.) Regardless, my point still stands: why are humans “wired” to be a little ethnocentric, tribal, and racist? After all, such an attitude implies at least some hatred of the “Other,” which is deemed synonymous with “enemy” and “evil” on some level. A lot of people tend to lump in religion with race and ethnicity as well. For example, among Islamists the retort is often made, before any other, that critics of Islam are first and foremost “racist.” Islam is not a race, so why do some Muslims fixate on the racial aspect? If you’re going to be racist and equate proper religious practice with biological lineage, then why even bother with attempting to convert people? The racists themselves are inconsistent and illogical. So why is their mentality is so common?
    • I know we have 2 or 3 Jewish reverts/converts (i.e. Hebrew speakers) and numerous native Arabic speakers here...can anyone discern anything from the spoken Phoenician or Akkadian?
    • Oh wow, ok yea-that would be horrible!  Thanks for explaining that. Guess we will all just have to wait and see what happens.. JZK      
    • Shia Iraqi woman gives food away, viral video I wasn't able to post the normal way, it would make an error and say emoji not allowed 
    • I can construct a couple of examples without knowing any details, except that the database was probably not DB2. Suppose the Sysadmin(s) get PM working and manage to restore the DB and index(es) but it turns out that they were not backed up at the same time or for some other reason they are not in sync. So I go look at two of my PMs from ten years ago, but they are from someone I never talked to, but is still an active user on this site, and they contain very detailed information of a personal nature originally sent in the strictest confidence to someone else. Suppose it turns out that 20% of the user base has issues of one sort or another, including people who never sent or received a PM but who now has 1,024 in their inbox, all originally sent to different people. Can you imagine the chaos?    
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