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In the Name of God بسم الله


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Everything posted by BintAlHoda

  1. you might be able to get someone to send you the diryata al-noor software, it is easier than paging through books; or they are on the ahlul bayt library software too and you have the advatnage that you can search them (but maybe of course you really want BOOKS)
  2. definitely not me!! if you do recall, some of us were a little skeptical about this magazine being distributed in najaf....
  3. salaam everyone has preferences and there is nothing wrong with that. sometimes we are inspired to do certain things in life as part of the divine plan (for instance, to marry or not to marry someone) and we don't recognize it. however, you should keep in mind that if you choose to marry someone on the basis of 'being a revert', you could be marrying an idea instead of a person. but you have to live with the person, and the person may or may not conform to the idea. so you should look at the person rather than the background. also, needless to say, reverts come from a broad variety of cultural, ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds and are definitely not all the same, and might bring different cultural influences into the marriage. additionally, just because someone is a revert does not mean they are cultureless, it just means they may (or may not) have a different cultural identity or self-view than yours. culture is a very suble and subconscious thing and informs a lot more in life than the obvious customs like food, clothes, etc. there are plenty of reverts who have a sense of 'cultural superiority' and feel that their way of viewing things that they were brought up with is better than everyone else's (even if they don't always admit it). i had almost the same conversation with a guy who is on a quest to marry a 'revert lady'.
  4. Read at http://www.iviews.com/articles/articles.asp?ref=IV1002-4084&p=1 A Eurocentric Problem M. Shahid Alam The central organizing principle of Eurocentrism is the division of the world into unequal moieties: us and them, self and the other. He who knows himself and others Here will also see, That the East and West, like brothers, Parted ne'er shall be. Goethe [1] In no other major civilization do self-regard, self-congratulation and denigration of the 'Other' run as deep, nor have these tendencies infected as many aspects of their thinking, laws, and policy, as they have in Western Europe and its overseas extensions.[2] These tendencies reached their apogee during the nineteenth century, retreated briefly after World War II, but have been staging a come back since the end of the Cold War. For several decades now, critics have studied these Western tendencies under the rubric of Eurocentrism, a complex of ideas, attitudes, and policies, which treat Europe - when it is convenient - as a geographical, racial and cultural unity, but places Western Europe and its overseas extensions at the center of world history since 1000 CE.[3] Unlike the garden variety of ethnocentrism, Eurocentrism emerged as an ideological project - shaped by Europe's intellectual elites - in the service of Europe's growing expansionist drive, starting in the sixteenth century. It makes sweeping claims of European superiority in all spheres of civilization. In this worldview, only Europeans have created history over the past three thousand years, beginning with the ancient Greeks. In various accounts, this centrality is ascribed to race, culture, religion and geography. The central organizing principle of Eurocentrism is the division of the world into unequal moieties: us and them, self and the other. All those qualities that Western thinkers believe are emblems or sources of superiority are securely placed in the 'us' category; and their opposites are pinned on 'them.' The arrogance of this dichotomy is breathtaking. Once these dichotomies are in place, it becomes quite easy to 'explain' Europe's putative centrality in history. One set of superior characteristics - innate, unchanging, unique - account for the Western lead in all avenues of human endeavor, whether economic, technological, military, scientific or cultural. It is a tautological narrative of history par excellence. In order to 'explain' the history of European superiority, the Eurocentrics first had to manufacture the history of this superiority. They endowed 'Europe' with historical depth by appropriating Greece and Rome; this was accomplished by defining Europe as a geographical, racial and cultural unity. In addition, they denied the eastern origins of Greek civilization, and, for the same reason, they passed over the connections of early Christianity to Syria and North Africa. In order to obscure Western Europe's extensive debt to the Islamicate, they devalued the birth of new cultural formations in western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, flowing from contacts with the Arabs in Spain, Sicily and the Levant.[4] Instead, this history was moved forward several centuries to place it in northern Italy, whose cultural flowering - defined as a rebirth - was connected to the 'direct' recovery of Greek philosophy, sciences and literature. The Eurocentrics construct a European history that begins in Greece, migrates westward to Rome, and again to points in Western Europe. In tracing the origins of the Renaissance to Greece, the Eurocentrics show little embarrassment about the fifteen centuries during which the Greek sciences and philosophy - mostly forgotten in 'Europe' - were being cultivated in the Middle East. While they were fabricating a history of the rise of the West, the Eurocentrics were also engaged in denying that the rest of the world had any history. Yes, civilization began in the East but, after these early beginnings, the Asiatics have been immovably stuck in the past, forcing history to move westward in order to make progress. Europe's most radical thinker of the nineteenth century, Karl Marx, too bought into this myth about static Asiatic societies whose despotism deprived them of the engine of 'dialectical' change. Over the last few decades, this Eurocentric history has increasingly come under challenge from the 'peoples without history,' dissenting scholars in the West, and, most importantly, from new facts on the ground - the rise of national liberation movements, the dismantling of Western colonial empires, the socialist revolutions in China and Vietnam, the Iranian revolution, and, increasingly, the rise of several leading centers of economic dynamism in east and south Asia. Despite this challenge, Eurocentrism still controls the commanding heights in the think tanks, media, political discourse and popular prejudices of nearly all Western societies. The weight and momentum of Eurocentric tendencies, powered by the best Western minds over centuries, cannot be overthrown within a few decades. Ads by Google: Advertisements not controlled by IslamiCity Cartographic Violence Eurocentric distortions have not spared cartography, the 'science' of map-making. Europe is relatively small in relation to the great landmasses to the east and south, Asia and Africa. The Eurocentrics might have chosen to argue that Europe has maintained its centrality despite its smaller size, proof of its qualitative lead over the much larger landmasses of Asia and Africa. They chose otherwise. They could not pass up the opportunities that maps presented for appropriating the symbols of superiority in the realm of cartography. The powerful belong at the top. Eurocentrism demanded that cartography place Europe at the top of the world. This was easily accomplished by orienting the globe so that the North appeared at the top of the globe, or, in the case of maps, at the top of the page. It is always a source of some confusion for my students when I hang the map of the world upside down so that the North goes at the bottom. It is a bit unsettling to learn that there is no logic - nothing natural - about the North-at-the-top globes and maps. World maps were not everywhere drawn with the North-at-the top orientation. The Muslims in their heyday - when their empires stretched from Spain to Khurasan and India - were making world maps, which placed the South at the top, even though this placed Africa above the central Islimicate lands stretching from the Nile to the Oxus. In their case, perhaps, orientation of the maps did not matter as much, since they always came out at the center. In addition, Europeans gave currency to world maps that used Mercator's cylindrical projection. Was this choice accidental? Admittedly, the Mercator map was useful for mariners, since a line connecting two points on this map showed the true direction. But are we to believe that sea captains had an interest in - and the power as well - to impose maps useful to them on the rest of society? More credibly, the Mercator maps were chosen because they greatly exaggerated the size of Europe, making it as large as, or larger than, Africa. Incredibly, some Mercator maps published in the United States engage in cartographic violence. In order to center the United States on their maps, the publishers are quite happy to tear Asia right down the middle, pushing its two halves to the left and right edges of the map. It matters little that this sundering of Asia greatly diminishes the cartographic value of this truncated map of the world. This quite nicely illustrates the first casualty of Eurocentrism - its disregard for reality, and its willingness to engage in epistemological violence in order to place Europe at the center of the world. Inverting the Paradigm Growing up, I knew that ignorance was the chief support behind prejudice. Prejudices, whether religious or ethnic, diminished with education and scholarship. And that is how it should be, I thought. Prejudice is sustained by ignorance. Superior intellects, combined with wide learning, should have little difficulty in clearing the web of lies spun by the powerful. At the time, I little comprehended that superior intellects could also be bought and seduced by temptations of power, money and various forms of tribalism, especially if their culture had not prepared them to resist these blandishments. It took a few years of familiarity with the Western world to overcome my na•vetŽ about the relationship between tolerance and intellect. My encounters with Western classics and the Western media slowly confirmed me in my worry that groupthink in Western societies ran deeper than in Islamicate societies. My growing familiarity with the writings of Western Orientalists and, later, the greatest European thinkers of the West - Montesquieu, Kant, Hegel, the Mills, Marx, Weber - inverted the paradigm I had acquired in youth. The prejudices of Western societies had their source at the top - in the best Western intellects - not in popular prejudice. They were supported by reasoning, by learned historical narratives, by monumental efforts at myth-making. Indeed, the leading thinkers fed and supported the prejudice of the populace. I can still recall my disappointment when I bought Will and Ariel Durant's compendious eleven-volume set, The Story of Civilization, to discover that they had devoted only one of their eleven volumes to non-European civilizations. Tellingly, this volume carried the title, Our Oriental Heritage. In the Durants' Story, the Orientals make a brief early appearance on the stage of history, in the infancy of human civilization, but having launched the West on its brilliant civilizational trajectory, they graciously make an exit from the stage of world history. This was not an oddity, I later learned. It was nearly the norm, even with modern writers. Another book I read a few years later, Kenneth Clark's Civilization, nothwithstanding its title, is exclusively about the art, architecture, philosophy and sciences in Western Europe. Clark succeeds in talking about such things without scarcely a mention of how they might be connected to India, China, the Islamicate, Africa and the Americas. Despite my familiarity with Eurocentric biases in Western thought, I still cannot suppress my disappointment at new instances of racism in Western Europe's best and brightest thinkers. Immanuel Kant divides humans into four 'races,' set apart from each other by differences in "natural disposition." "The negroes of Africa," he writes, "have by nature no feeling above the trifling." In support, he recalls David Hume's challenge to show him a single 'Negro' with talents. On hearing of a 'Negro' carpenter who berated whites for complaining when their wives abused their liberties, Immanuel Kant remarked that there might be some truth in that observation. Then, spitefully, he added, "...in short, this fellow was quite black from head to foot, a clear proof that what he said was stupid." To Kant the hierarchy of races is clear. "Humanity," he asserts," is at its greatest perfection in the race of the whites. The yellow Indians are far below them and at the lowest point are a part of the American peoples."[5] Few of Europe's most eminent thinkers, especially during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, could escape the siren songs of Eurocentrism. Some Western thinkers even today cannot confront this ugliness. French philosopher and psychoanalyst, Octave Mannoni, " boldly claims, "European civilization and its best representatives are not...responsible for colonial racialism; that is the work of petty officials, small traders, and colonials who have toiled much without great success."[6] Spare the elites: blame the lumperproletariat! A leading light of nineteenth century Britain, James Mill, philosopher and historian, wrote a massive five-volume history of India, it appears, with the sole object of demonstrating how deficient the Indians are in governance, the sciences, philosophy, technology and the arts. In short, the Indians were barbaric and quite incapable of managing their own affairs except under enlightened British tutelage. His son, John Stuart Mill, remarked, "The greater part of the world has, properly speaking, no history, because the despotism of custom is complete. This is the case over the whole East (emphasis added)."[7] How different was the approach of another scientist and historian, Al-Biruni, an Afghan from the eleventh century, who - unlike James Mill - traveled through India for thirteen years, learned Sanskrit, translated Sanskrit works on mathematics, studied Indian society first hand, and invited Indian scholars to Ghazni, in preparation for his two-volume treatise on Indian civilization. His stated intention in his researches on India was to provide his Muslim audience with authentic accounts of its geography, religions, sciences, culture, arts and manners - and, thereby, elevate the quality of their discourse about the Indian peoples. He concluded his treatise with these remarks: "We think now that what we have related in this book will be sufficient for anyone who wants to converse with the Hindus, and to discuss with them questions of religion, science, or literature, on the very basis of their own civilization (emphasis added)."[8] Modernity: How Western? In the eighteenth century, when a small number of European thinkers were vigorously making the case for the supremacy of reason in human affairs, they knew - and were often happy to acknowledge - that they were following in the footsteps of Confucius who had preceded them by two millennia. By the end of the century, however, a stronger and more confident Europe had forgotten its debt to the Chinese or any source outside of Europe. Insistently, they began to claim that reason, science and democracy were exclusive to European. It was a strange claim from thinkers who claimed that knowledge should be based on observation and reason - it should be objective. In truth, it is hard to imagine how any society, including the most primitive, could have adapted to their ecology without following - at least intuitively - the scientific method. In practical matters, knowledge unsupported by experience would have proved fatal for societies that were exposed more frequently than ours to life-threatening conditions. Moreover, the Arab scientists were not only practicing the scientific method in their studies on optics, chemistry and astronomy, but in the early eleventh century, Ibn al-Haytham, known to the West as Alhazen, had offered a clear theoretical formulation of the scientific method. Roger Bacon, the putative founder of the scientific method had read parts of al-Haytham's major work, Kitab al-Manazir, in a Latin translation, and summarized it in his own book, Perspectiva. If democracy is equated with the counting of heads, even the United States - the self-declared bastion of democracy - was counting considerably fewer than half the heads until 1920, when women gained the right to vote. Blacks would not be counted until 1965. On the whole, the counting of heads has come to Europe after centuries of economic progress; it was not the foundation of their progress. Monarchic absolutism was stronger in nearly all of early modern Europe than it was in the Islamicate, whose rulers had only limited control over legislation and, in addition, faced institutionalized opposition from the class of legal scholars.[9] The nomadic tribes in Africa and Asia had their council of elders, were led by a meritocracy, and, while their egalitarianism often excluded women, it generally went farther than in the stratified societies of Europe. The Indians had local self-government in their panchayats. The Pashtoons had their parliament in the loya jirga. The early Arabs could withhold baya - an oath of loyalty - from an unacceptable new ruler. If democracy is defined by its substance, by tolerance - respect for differences of religion, color, ethnicity and phsyiognomy - most Enlightenment thinkers limited its application only to members of the white race. Tolerance has not been a particularly visible European virtue. In modern times, but especially since the Age of Enligtenment, Christian intolerance was replaced by a racial intolerance that translated quickly into schemes of genocide or support for slavery in the Americas, Africa and Oceania. The Ottomans, with their system of millets - which granted a great deal of autonomy to their non-Muslim religious communities - afforded far greater protections to all segments of their subjects. In imposing one set of laws pertaining to the affairs of the family - often of Christian inspiration - modern Western states cannot equal the tolerance of the Islamicate which allowed its non-Muslim communities to order their family affairs according to their own religious laws. Universally condemned by Western writers, the tax imposed by Muslim states on its non-Muslim population was often considered a privilege by the latter since it exempted them from military service. When Western powers forced the Ottomans to grant 'equality' to its Christian population, they rioted against this measure in several Ottoman cities. The rejection of priestly intermediation, starting in the fifteenth century, is commonly regarded as the first blow for modernity: allegedly, it freed the European to read the Bible in the vernacular and deal directly with his God. Islam had accomplished this, in a more radical fashion, in the early seventh century; and who is to say that Europeans were unaware of this Islamic precedent, or that there was no Islamic inspiration behind the Protestant movement.[10] Oddly, however, the rupture with Rome also freed Christianity to be nationalized, to be appropriated by the newly emerging states in Western Europe, who proceeded to establish a national church and doctrine, which then sanctioned religious wars, persecution and, no less, colonization and slavery of non-Europeans. In other words, the freedom of conscience in the early modern West was generally more circumscribed than in the Islamicate, where no Church existed to enforced religious dogma, and Muslims were free to live their lives according to the legal traditions of their choice. The inspiration for the central idea of orthodox economics - its vigorous opposition to state interventions - came primarily from the Chinese. In his time, Francois Quesnay, the leading light of the French pioneers of this policy - the Physiocrates - was known as the 'European Confucius.' The watch-word that summed up Physiocratic political economy, laissez faire, was a direct translation from the Chinese phrase wu wei. [11] Adam Smith, the putative Anglo-Saxon founder of classical economics, was a disciple of Quesnay. Few orthodox economists know that the language they speak - though not its intent - was invented by the ancient Chinese. Since machines defined modernity - for a growing numbers of Europeans starting in the eighteenth century - it may be worth recalling that many of the machines that led the Europeans into modernity - water mills, windmills, the compass, lateen sail, astrolabe, the armillary sphere, the inner mechanisms of the clock, seed drills, mechanized mowers and threshers, iron moldboard plow, printing press, pumps, the rudder, cannons and guns, and many others - had their origins outside Western Europe, in China or the Islamicate. [12] If they originated in Greece, they were refined and improved for many centuries in the Islamicate before they were passed on to western Europe. One of the arch proponents of Western imperialism, Rudyard Kipling, entrenched in his deeply parochial thinking, could not imagine that the East and West would ever meet. Pity, the news had not reached him that they had been meeting - with the West receiving most of the benefits of these encounters - since ancient times. References 1. Edgar A. Bowring, Poems of Goethe (John W. Parker & Son, 1853): 272 2. E. C. Eze, Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader (Blackwell, 1997); M. Shahid Alam, "Articulating Group Differences: A Variety of Autocentrisms,Ó" Science and Society (Summer 2003): 206-18. 3. For a review of this literature, see Andre Gunder Frank, "East and West," in: Arno Tausch and Peter Herrmann, eds., The West, Europe and the Muslim World ( Novinka, 2006). 4. As a noun, 'Islamicate' seeks to avoid the confusion that arises from using 'Islam' when speaking of the world of Muslims, as in Europe and Islam. As an adjective, Islamicate replaces Islamic; the former refers to activities or actions connected to Muslims, differentiating this from the latter which should be used only when referring to activities which flow from the normative principles of Islam. 5. Eze, Race and Enlightenment: 47, 55, 63. 6. Octave Mannoni, Prospero and Caliban: Psychology of Colonization (University of Michigan Press, 1990): 24. 7. John Stuart Mill, Liberty (NuVision, 1859): 60. 8. Alberuni, Alberuni's India, translated by Edward C. Sachau, and abridge and edited by Ainslie T. Embree (The Norton Library, 1971): 246. 9. Noah Feldman, The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State (Princeton University Press, 2008): 27-35. 10. Charles Lindholm, The Islamic Middle East: An Historical Anthropology (Blackwell, 1996):13. 11. Hobson, The Eastern Origins: 195-6. 12. Hobson, The Eastern Origins: ch. 9 M. Shahid Alam is professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is author of Israeli Exceptionalism: The Destabilizing Logic of Zionism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). You can reach him at alqalam02760 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  5. Salaam ShiaBen, You are probably right - she was probably discussing things out of her area of expertise and relying on what other experts say. Of course, 'experts' do tend to vary quite a bit especially when discussing such sensitive issues. And yes, it is very irresponsible for a university lecturer to do that. I think you should write to her what you wrote to us, and perhaps also request an opportunity to address the class if you feel the portrayal or facts she gave were erroneous. I recall doing that once during my BA years when the professor (who had hitherto had a reasonably tolerant view of Islam, given that he was an atheist) gave a horrible lecture on how Islam oppresses women, and some other Muslims and I got together and asked him if we could give a presentation on women in Islam in the next class session. I might not bring up the issue of the Armenian genocide, however, since it is a very sensitive and complicated issue. Of course it is your call especially if you are an expert on that area of history.
  6. http://www.guardian.co.uk/global/2010/jan/23/xinran-china-girls China's lost girls Xinran knew about the problem of female orphans in China, daughters abandoned in favour of sons in a country where only one child is allowed. But the fate of just one baby brought home the true heartache and horror Xinran already knew the plight that befell many girl babies in rural China: 'Girl babies don't count,' the older woman had told me. 'The officials don't give us any extra land when a girl is born, so girls will starve to death anyway.' I once lost a little girl who was like a daughter to me. It was the winter of 1990, and I was working as a journalist and radio presenter in Nanjing when I was sent to a hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan, to interview people who had been injured in a snowstorm. There, I came across a newborn girl. Her birth had been difficult, and her mother had haemorrhaged and died when she was only three days old. Although she had not even had a chance to put her daughter to her breast, she did give her the name Xue'r (Little Snow), after the great snowflakes that had floated down outside on the day she was born. On the baby's forehead was a dark pink birthmark – the nurses believed it had been etched into her skin by a tear the dying mother shed as she held her daughter in her arms. Her parents had been deeply in love and after his wife died, the husband, a surgeon, had taken large quantities of sleeping pills, slashed himself with a scalpel and lain down to die next to her in the mortuary. He left a simple farewell note: he could not leave his beloved wife alone in the Under­world. There was no mention of his daughter. Little Snow lay quietly in a cot in the empty children's ward and, looking at her, I felt tears come to my eyes. I picked her up and kissed her "teardrop mark", and she opened her bright eyes and seemed to look into mine. The nurse said that neither side of the family wanted her because she was a girl, so she would be sent to an orphanage. On my way home, Little Snow kept coming back into my mind. As soon as it was light the next morning, I made my way through the whirling snow to the hospital. The nurses there told me she would be taken to the orphanage that afternoon, when the weather had improved. I found the staff nurse and said I wanted to foster Little Snow. "You can't rush into something like this," she said. "Never mind all the procedures to be gone through – and I doubt they'd accept you – there'd be problems when she's due to start school. Besides, you already have a child; you wouldn't be allowed to adopt another under the one-child policy." "But – if I just foster her?" I begged. "It'll reduce the burden on the state." "How can we let you foster her? Only grand­parents have the right to foster, even uncles and aunts can't. The family planning authorities would worry about setting a precedent. The relatives of couples who have 'extra' babies might want to adopt them. We can't do it. We'd get into trouble." I went to see someone higher up in the hospital, an old friend. He made a wise suggestion: I should take her home now, while Little Snow was still down in the hospital records as their patient. In a couple of months it would be Chinese New Year, and policy might change or be relaxed. I already knew about the problem of orphaned girls in China. In 1989, I had started presenting a programme for women on Nanjing Radio and many of the women who phoned in were mothers who had been forced to abandon their babies. Female babies have been abandoned in farming cultures of the east since ancient times. In commu­nities that rely on primitive methods of farming, or on hunting, gathering and fishing, hard manual labour is necessary for survival, so a preference for boys is inevitable. But there is also, in China, the one-child policy, drawn up in 1979 by the then vice-premier Chen Muhua (the first woman premier in China's history), who convinced ­delegates that limiting couples to one child could slow the rapid rate of population growth. Then there are the ancient systems of land and food distribution, which, I discovered, still persist today. While doing a story in the Shandong province, I visited a peasant family. We had scarcely sat down in the kitchen when we heard a moan of pain from the bedroom next door. The village head's wife said politely, "Pay no attention. My daughter-in-law is in labour. We'll just eat our dinner." The cries from the inner room grew louder – and abruptly stopped. There was a low sob, then a man's gruff voice said accusingly: "Useless thing!" I thought I heard a movement in the slops pail behind me and automatically glanced towards it. To my horror, I saw a tiny foot poking out of the pail. It wasn't possible. The midwife must have dropped that tiny baby alive into the slop pail! I nearly threw myself at it, but two policemen who had accompanied me held my shoulders in a firm grip. "Don't move, you can't save it, it's too late." "But that's... murder... and you're the police!" I was aghast. The little foot was still now. The policemen held on to me for a few more minutes. "'Doing' a baby girl is not a big thing around here," an older woman said comfortingly, seeing how shocked I was. "That's a living child," I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail. "It's not a child," she interrupted. "It's a girl baby, and we can't keep it." "A girl baby isn't a child, and you can't keep it?" I repeated uncomprehendingly. "Around these parts, you can't get by without a son. You city folk get food from the government. We get our grain ration according to the number of people in the family. Girl babies don't count. The officials in charge don't give us any extra land when a girl is born, and there's so little arable land that the girls will starve to death anyway." This was 1989 and I did not know until then that a 2,000-year-old system for allocating land was still in use in Chinese villages near the end of the 20th century. I certainly had no idea that, because of it, so many baby girls had lost the right to life. As time went by, and I travelled around China, I found out that the old village custom of killing girl babies was extremely common in provinces such as Henan, Shandong, Shanxi and Northern Jiangsu. For many of the girls who did survive, another fate awaited. Two years later, the same young peasant couple came to the radio station to see me. "I had two more [children]," the woman told me, "but they were both girls, and my father-in-law gave them to foreigners." "Gave them to foreigners?" Until then, I had not heard of foreigners adopting Chinese children, as there had been no coverage in the Chinese media. "My parents-in-law said it was better to have them adopted by foreigners than to kill them," she said. Overseas adoption of Chinese children officially began in 1993, yet migrant workers in south China were talking about it as early as 1990. Millions of families had continued to believe it was their God-given duty to produce a male heir to carry on the family line; it was a sin not to. Once the one-child policy came into force, these people paid a heavy price. Whole families were ruined, homes destroyed and people died at the hands of village cadres who carried out family planning policies crudely and violently. It was illiterate peasant families who fought the local govern­ment most bitterly for the chance to have a boy. China is a vast country and there are areas where the policy has never been effectively implemented. In contrast, in its eastern urban areas, enforce­ment was and is draconian. Almost everyone lived in the state-planned economy until the start of the 1990s, so having more than one child meant losing your job, home (which was allocated by your employer), food and clothing rations, even your child's right to schooling and medical care. Despite all this, I really thought by some devious means I'd eventually be able to adopt Little Snow, find loopholes in a policy that grew stricter by the day. I was extremely naive in those days. As the weeks passed, Little Snow became like a daughter to me. My son Panpan was one and a half, and just learning to walk and talk. He used to muddle up the names Mama (Mum) and ­Meimei (little sister), and when Little Snow cried, hushed her the way I did with him, saying, "Mama, meimei, mama, meimei." With us, Little Snow got plenty of food and good care; she quickly grew plump and turned into a strong, active baby. Nearly three months passed and it was Chinese New Year. People came to wish us a happy New Year and all fell under the spell of my lively daughter's happy smiles. Then, straight after New Year, the head of the radio station came to see me for a private chat. He advised me to give up Little Snow. Not long after that, I was warned by personnel that if I did not act soon, the head might lose his job, and I mine, because I had disobeyed the one-child family planning policy. This was equivalent to taking a colleague's dinner bowl away from him, because it was the workplace that administered the almost military-style rationing system of those days. I had no choice but to give in, at least outwardly. I held off for as long as I could, on the pretext of getting together her medical records. I prayed for a miracle, hoping somehow Little Snow would be forgotten. But the family planning officers were intransigent. Less than two weeks later, the station head came to see me again and gave me a written warning that I'd be disciplined. My offence would remain on my records for the rest of my life. "Xinran," he said gloomily, "if they kick you out, we'll suffer the consequences, too. At the very least, I'll be demoted. I hope you'll spare a thought for those of us who will share the responsibility..." At this, I knew I had no choice. It was not only that my boss and friend would be dragged into it, and I would lose my job. It was that I'd no longer be able to provide for my children at the most basic level, and Little Snow would be branded an "illegal" for the rest of her life. That was not fair on her. Once my decision was made, sleep deserted me and I began to look drawn and miserable. Little Snow had come to depend on me for her happi­ness; she trusted me the way any child trusts its mother. The day before Little Snow was to leave, I put on the heating and made the flat cosy and warm. Then I tried on her every piece of clothing I had bought for her for the following summer, autumn, winter and spring. I held back the tears as I changed her from one garment to another, imagining how she would look when she was bigger. Then I worked till late at night packing her bags. The next day we went with Little Snow to the hospital. I told myself we could go and see her in the orphanage, but it was a long and agonising week before I managed to sneak away and see her, without daring to tell anyone. It took three hours of searching before I found the orphanage – a rudimentary shack. The door was battered and the room inside just a dozen square feet. To the right was a stove; in the corner, a few bowls, chop­sticks and kitchen utensils; tucked into the left-hand corner was a shelf made of wooden slats and shaped like wide desk drawers, which held the babies. The smallest had room to spare, but the heads and feet of the biggest touched the wall or the wooden edge. There were nine of them and almost all were dressed in Little Snow's clothes. I caught my breath, aghast. Was my Little Snow there, too? Suddenly I saw her. It had been only a week but she had grown thinner; her little face was wan and her lively expression was gone. She recognised me and held out her little arms as if in protest at being abandoned there. I was stricken. I picked her up and burst into tears, terrifying the other infants who set up accompanying wails. An old nurse came in and introduced herself as Mother Tang. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she said, "We can't do anything. The government has no money and we don't get support from anyone. It's hard enough just to keep the children alive." "What about officials from the local government, haven't they visited?" I asked. "They said they'd come, but didn't. They said this place is due for demolition, the orphanage will be moved and things should get better. But no one's been by since then." Mother Tang busied herself with pouring out the children's rice gruel. "Do the relatives come to see them?" I asked, getting out the milk powder I had brought with me. "That's wonderful!" she exclaimed. "These girls are so lucky to have Little Snow here… They're orphans – who's going to come and see them? The families can't get rid of them quick enough. If any­one does come, it's only to ask if we have any boys. Haven't you noticed every single one's a girl?" "What happened to them in the past?" "I don't know," she said, feeding one of the smallest babies. "This orphanage is temporary, an overflow annexe added on when the old one was full. We don't have the money to buy them food and clothes; they grow so fast, we can't keep up." That night, I got out every item of Panpan's clothing. I kept just two changes of clothes for him, then packed up all the bedding except one spare set. Next morning, I went back to the orphanage with two large bags. We laid the bedding out on the slats to make them warmer. Then I sent Mother Tang to buy milk products and hanging mobiles for the children. They needed bright colours and sounds to listen to. Back at the radio station, I looked out a big pile of address cards of friends and wrote to each of them, appealing for help. Two responded immediately, offering support. One was the head of a furniture factory, offering 10 cots and a playpen. The other was the director of a milk products factory, offering to deliver fresh milk free every day on condition that I mention their generosity on my daily programme. I felt comforted as I saw that dark, lifeless orphanage transformed into a brighter, more cheerful place. Six months passed and soon it would be Little Snow's first birthday. We decided to have a celebration of the western and Chinese New Years and birthdays for all the children. We would buy them new clothes, new toys, then hire a taxi and take them into town to show them the sights they had never seen before. We had it all planned when I was sent to do a story on child miners a day's drive away. I'd be gone two weeks. The day of my return, I took Panpan to see Little Snow. But the orphanage room held only the new cots – all empty. Mother Tang was not there and all I could make out from the assistant was that the children had been taken away. "Taken away where?" I was frantic, but she would not say any more. Over the next two weeks, I hunted desperately for Mother Tang, contacting any government depart­ments that might know what had happened. The upshot was this: four days after I left, Mother Tang had broken her leg and had to go to hospital. She had been told nothing about what had happened to the orphanage in her absence. A young woman fresh out of university had been sent as a temporary replacement, but two days later an official turned up to say the premises were to be demolished within a couple of weeks to make way for a national highway that had to be completed by spring. That's the way the Chinese did things – without any legal procedures and as fast as someone could give the order. The children were redistributed among other orphanages. "Was each child given a number before they went?" I asked the official claiming to be in charge. He looked at me in surprise. "What for?" "Are there files on each child?" He looked even more taken aback. "What files?" "Then how will they ever be able to trace their birth families in the future?" I burst out. He laughed at me: "You must be joking! No orphans ever find their mothers." When I went back to the orphanage, even the cots had been taken away. "Who's taken the cots?" I asked the assistant. "I don't know," she said, looking panic-stricken. In darkened corners of the empty room, a few bits of toys lay scattered on the floor. If only I had not gone off on that assignment. That's a regret I shall carry with me always. I never stopped making inquiries until finally, in 1996, I learned that all the orphans of Little Snow's age from that region had been adopted. I was told Little Snow was very likely adopted when the first group of Americans came to China, although it was also possible, but unlikely, that she had been adopted by a Chinese family. In the summer of 1997, I left for England, with the emotional baggage of 40 difficult years in China, all my material possessions stuffed into a single suitcase. I'd had to leave Panpan behind with my parents in Nanjing as I tried to establish myself in London, but two years after leaving China I held him in my arms again. As the years went by and I travelled around, I could not help searching for Little Snow. And looking at all these Chinese girls who had been adopted by families around the world, I had mixed feelings. Were they China's daughters? What did they know of China? Did their unknown Chinese mothers feel joy or sorrow, knowing their beloved daughters were happy in another mother's arms? In 2004, I set up a charity in the UK, the Mother's Bridge of Love (MBL), for Chinese children living all over the world, and for the disabled children who languish forgotten in Chinese orphanages. Since then, I have met many groups of Chinese girls and I can never help myself: Little Snow's features seem to be stamped on every one of their innocent, happy faces. In October 2007, I met a group of Chinese teenagers in San Francisco and again shed silent tears. Little Snow might have been among them, I thought. She would have been 17. I scrutinised each face, hoping to see the teardrop birthmark. I did not find it, but I did not lose hope because I knew my Little Snow would be just as pretty as they were, just as full of life. By the end of 2007, the number of Chinese orphans adopted worldwide had reached 120,000. These children had gone to 27 countries – and almost all were girls. I often think that of all those mothers who have lost their daughters, I am the luckiest because, through my work in the west, I have been able to see these girls growing up. I can tell those young women what their Chinese mothers really felt, and embrace them in a way their mothers will almost certainly never be able to do. This is an edited extract from Message From An Unknown Chinese Mother: Stories Of Loss And Love, by Xinran, to be published by Chatto & Windus on 4 February at £16.99. To order a copy for £15.99, with free UK p&p, go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop or call 0330 333 6846.
  7. Salaam

    Unfortunately I do not have the time to dedicate to this board anymore as I am very busy; however I wish everyone the best. Thanks for your comment :-)

  8. you can visit al-islam.org/laws and read this section you dont need to say anything, you can just have your intention in mind
  9. This article is basically a baseless attack on ulama (and marja's) and accuses them of permitting sayed ladies to marry non-sayeds for financial gain. And of course it does not take into account any historical factors or other factors in promoting its backwards jahiliyyah tribal ideas. It's ideas like this that keep people away from Shi'a Islam. If someone wants to have an intellectual discussion about the marjaiyyah that's one thing, but this article is just emotional insults and comments like 'When the Mahdi comes he will kill many "ulema"' (and of course, it doesn't occur to the author that he is probably #1 on the list of "ulama" to be executed). It is ironic that the authors would speak of 'what Shi'ism has become'...... indeed, the real problem is that, for some people, Shi'ism has become a way to promote a racist ideology of a chosen people akin to the 'children of the Gods' in some earlier mythologies. This article is trash, and I would personally never post it on the Internet because I would feel responsible for giving the teachings of the Imams a bad name.
  10. In any case, I was remiinded this evening of a couple ahadith which kind of relate to both of the discussions on this thread. And whcih are probably more beneficial than fighting. "Whoever loves a people will be resurrected wtih them", and "whoever loves an act will be resurrected with those who do that act" I think that says enough about the homosexual discussion And also, as for the other differences of thinking - whether it is me and Maryam, or me and Kadhim - neither I hold your outlook, nor do you hold mine. I do feel that one important part of maturity is looking beyond one's personal sphere and experience, no matter how painful, to see the bigger picture, rather than viewing the bigger picture in the context of our own personal experience. In any case, however, we will be resurrected and joined with those whose ideology and way of thinking we support, and that is probably more a beneficial recognition than arguing. And I am sure we follow whatever ideas we feel are best. Marbles - just a note on what you said, I have to admit I have been thinking about it for some time and from my limited knowledge of Europe, it does seem like Europe is a very white-European-centric place (as one might expect), and not a lot of people complain they are discriminated against b/c they are white. (It might be because they are Polish or something, but not necessarily because they are white as opposed to black or brown) In fact there is so much nationalism here against immigrants and against Islam, it's hard for me to see the other way - can you explain the racism and bigotry against whites (for the sake of their whiteness not other factors like socioeconomic status) for me? There seems to be a lot of talk about multiculturalism in some european countries but to me it doesnt seem like true multiculturalism (where people actually respect each other's different ways of thinking and living) but rather "Multiculturalism is great, as long as everything is done our way and under our cultural standards, and then the Hindus can have their temple and look everyone at the Hindu temple and how tolerant we are, and now it's Diwali so let's talk about Diwali just like we talk about all the other holidays that Indian people celebrate", etc, it still seems to me like boxing people into cultural categories rather than a sort of dynamic cultural sharing That's not necessarily a moral flaw - but the approach is still one which is absolutley based on white European cultures as dominant (and indeed was part of what baradar was saying that started this discussion). In any case, it's definitely not endangering any aspect of white european culture As for kaffarah, well some Europeans (like many peoples) did do some pretty bad stuff in the past few centuries and it is defnitely nothing to be proud of. One should look back with it and see that certan things were misguided and aknowledge that. I don't really personally connect with that so much because I don't have any sort of sense of connection to the continent or its history. (And so you are definitely reading this sense of kaffarah onto me) However the true kaffarah is the calamities that Allah swt brings on a people for violating HIs princples (such as justince) and in my opinion, certain social problems in Europe are kaffarah for that and other errors. (Of course you may not agree but that's what I think) Otherwise the only people I can think of that I've heard complain about white oppression are the BNP!!!
  11. You started it! If you dont want to fight with Bint you shouldnt start the talk! Are you referring to Americans? Yes this is fairly well documented that they used 'biological warfare' (infection through smallpox) And what does that have to do with this discussion? You are projecting your experiences onto what I (and the others) are saying. Right, enough of the 'mud filled ditch', 'dirty water' please
  12. Ok, so just out of curiousity, what do you consider 'self-hating' behaviour from ur white friends? From what I know of British and French culture, I've always felt that the sense of cultural superiority was alive and well, especially given the prejudice against 'others' (such as Muslism) and burqa-hatred, etc... but allahu a'lam, I've never been to France anyway. Well, speaking of 'assumptions', this is going to sound SO cliche..... but it's not your business to tell me how to be white! It's not your business to tell me if you think I am 'self-hating' or how I should feel or what perspectives I should have or how I should behave or whatever to be a proper white person in YOUR book. It's also not very nice of you to throw the 'self-hating' assumption on your friends over there.... you know you could always be misreading them and maybe they'd be annoyed like me to hear you say this Yallah I'm going to take my self-hating self away now..... Khoda Hafez!
  13. could you PLEASE stop making assumptions about my life and what i have experienced and not experienced? it's getting annoying. maybe someday i will write my autobiography if you are so interested. i was trying to give an example that marbles would understand, regarding the wahhabi on the bus no one here is promoting racism (at least, i'm not trying to do that) no one is promoting breaking up families either however, i'm trying to suggest we have a little perspective you have kind of blown up what he was saying into family-breaking and ALL WHITE PEOPLE OR EVIL. did he say any of that? and i'm a self-hating white because i'm just like, whatever and not making a mountain out of a molehill there is a virtue to growing a thicker skin and toughening up. there are times when it's just good to be a man (or a wo-man) about stuff. if we sit around and internalize everything everyone says, there won't be anything left of us. there will always be someone who has a problem with me and with you and with everyone else. yes, that's not the 'nice' politically correct generation X thing to say.... it's the old school way of looking at life.... but well there is some validity to it too - there needs to be a balance ok.... and i ain't british or french! you started it! i didnt engage you on this topic - you were the one who engaged me on it cheers
  14. Really? In what countries? (You don't know me as a human, neither my background nor my ideas, so I will forgive you for projecting your perceptions onto my internet-self)
  15. You may struggle to understand what I'm saying and try to phrase it in your own terms; you may continue to do so and inshallah you will eventually arrive at my point. In any case... like so many other things.... there isn't any polite way to say this, so I'm going to say it straightforwardly. You are either ( a ) trolling, or ( b ) genuinely ignorant of what you are discussing. It is possible that you have had limited experience in life, or are young, or at least have had limited experience with these issues we're discussing. So, assuming the best that you are in category ( b ), you should make some effort to get some background knowledge of what I am ineptly trying to say, and perhaps you will someday be better able to phrase it than myself. However, you have a subconscious attachment to certain ideas which you are expressing. I am not propagating racism towards anyone, however I am trying to get to the point that there are some bigger issues regarding racism than just feeling bad when a random person calls someone something that's not nice. To use an example 'closer to home', there is a difference between when I see a random Wahhabi on the bus and he says 'Oh you're such a kaffir', and I can just ignore him and go home and live my life, versus being not able to get a job or education in one's birthplace (say, Saudi) or getting bombed in your hometown. because you are Shia. Especially because - back to the beginning of this issue - I don't think Baradar was trying to insult white people by calling them "you $#&U(*$ albino's". And again - back to the beginning of this issue - I find it hard to believe that anyone can ignore the existence of 'cultural colonialism' in the Muslim world and yes that did stem from Europe, it's nothing personal towards Europeans, if it came from Japanese I'd call it as it is too. Really anyone who says that didn't happen should read our history of the past couple hundred years and Islamic thought in the past century. I do find it ironic that these two themes were interwoven here but I guess that is not a surprise, since the premise of this thread is: "Some Muslims copy modern Western ideals and accept them as truth over Islam, and hence think we should accept homosexuality. But we should be true to our Islamic ideals and not accept homosexuality, rather than adopting a foreign (aka non-Islamic) ideology over our own." Regards
  16. i have a major issue with the idea that christian converts have brought this practice into western shiism. the majority of shia in the west are not converts . furthermore, it is not as if this all started when people converted from christianity to shiism. i think the main reason is that shia do not have problems and discomfort with photographs like sunnis, and also there is a stronger visual tradition in iran which has had a strong influence on shii culture. we do like to see people who we feel represent ourselves and our ideals as well. as for whether we are 'living in a bubble'... well it really depends on who you talk to, some are, and some aren't... there are many representations of shia islam here. i do think the internet gives a very incomplete picture of the diversity as there is a sort of 'internet religious culture' that has evolved.
  17. it is generally agreed by most shia that the imams had some form of supernatural knoweldge (that is, knowledge not known to us but of the type known to them, the prophets, etc). they don't agree on how much knowledge this is but in general the idea is accepted. there is no need to prove this, as the reason for this belief is the reports of the imams and the reports of the companions of the imams - for instance, the imam telling the companion something that he had no normal way of knowing. (for instance, how much money the companion was carrying, or what he had done that morning at home in private, or what would happen in the future) these reports could be true or false; however there are a lot of them and they are the basis of this belief. no one asked my personal opinion (and i suspect no one cares), however i am of the opinion that they had/have strong knowledge of the past and future but maybe not every single future event, and that they had the spiritual ability to access knowledge which we could call 'unseen' but did not always make use of that. maybe some of these ahadith are excessive (ghulat) but that does not deny the basic idea that they had some knowledge that ordinary people don't this is due to their strong closeness with Allah (swt), and even us as human beings, if we purify our souls, we can acquire knowledge that we wouldn't otherwise have (although not nearly at the same level - but i am giving an example) obviously someone who doesn't believe in the imamate will dislike this idea. but it is part of our belief and there's no need to be defensive about it. we can agree to disagree.
  18. salaam it can be difficult to find a spouse in uni because the guys and girls are often at different maturity levels. sorry guys but i'm sure we both agree - both guys and girls usually prefer some age gap between a man and wife. you seem to know what you want - to be married. there are several ways to approach this. if your family can handle it for you, i think that's ideal because that avoids you having to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. however if they can't or won't, then you either need to meet someone on your own (which it sounds like you want to do) or else ask a third person for help (for instance, ask an older lady to help you find a husband, or join shiamatch). or you can do nothing and see if it happens on its own. anyway, you should be practical. if are choosing option number 2, it is your choice. it's not haraam to talk to guys, and if you want a guy at your school to meet you and propose to you, you do need to find a way for him to get to know you and appreciate you - that is, to speak to each other, but to keep it decent and respectable, and to avoid putting yourself in a situation you might later regret. you should be careful to avoid things that are haraam or dodgy - for instance, being alone together, intimate discussions, frequent telephone calls, inappropriate topics, etc.
  19. looks great! good luck with your business! i'm sure you'll have loads of customers
  20. why would it be disrespectful? imam ali was a great man, much greater than i could ever aspire to be, and i'd be honored to call myself his slave (except that i do not deserve that title). there's nothing wrong with that. of course we are all slaves of Allah, but since the prophet and imams all stood for the message of Allah and lived and died in its way, there is nothing wrong with serving them as well. may god grant us all the opportunity to be their servants
  21. I don't think it's really easier in a small village somewhere, human nature is human nature. Anyway I agree with what you are saying. I think if people are to marry young, however, they do need to enter it with a firm commitment that this is going to be a lifetime relationship, that it's not always going to be easy, there will be ups and downs, after about 5 or 10 years you might get bored of your spouse for a while and you need to just deal with that rather than divorce and find someone new to stay interested, etc. I'm not sure all of the youth today I see around me (where I am living now) have that sense of commitment, especially (sorry to say) some of the young men.
  22. a chador is convenient for prayer however i dont think people will wear chadors in heaven
  23. In any case, this trend to sexualize young children has been increasing strength for several years, so it is something we should take a conscious stand against and consciously avoid letting it into our homes through consumer products, media with these subtexts, wrong internet sites, music, etc. I am often shocked at the type of clothing that some Muslim parents (even muhajabat) buy for their young children especially girls. It doesn't really matter whose 'fault' it is beyond that. I am sure it doesn't express the majority viewpoint of how most people think things should be but it's just something that's happening. BTW, regarding the US of A, my humble opinion that the US of A is quite 'tame' and 'religiously moral' compared to European countries especially in what is viewable and not viewable in public. Don't know about New Zealand
  24. Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying. "Albino" is a catchphrase made up by one of our members to make a point (a point which I think was lost incidentally). It has absolutely no effect on real life. The n-word, however, has been historically associated with lynchings, slavery, etc. In other words, with actual real problems beyond a couple hurt feelings. So it is not appropriate for use. I'm not saying that no white people are ever oppressed. (That would be a rather racist and arrogant statement, now wouldn't it) There are plenty of oppressed whites. What about Ireland? Ireland got the short end of the stick. Rural poverty isn't that great. There are white women undergoing domestic violence. I met a white lady once whose live in boyfriend refused to permit her to wear clothes so that she wouldn't escape their house and he beat her to pieces every day and she didnt know what to do because she didnt have citizenship in the country she was living in and was dependent on him. She ran away naked because she didn't have clothes. There are other examples too. However, given the amount of 'white privilege' me and Kadhim share, this discussion is laughable. We aren't "oppressed albinos" sufferng at the hands of society or at the hands of the government or at the hands of anyone else for our race. If we are being oppressed in the majority white countries of our birthplace, it's not because we are white physically or white culturally - it's for other reasons. Yes the Muslim world has a lot of race issues but whites are still generally privileged inordinately in a lot of ways. Seriously, it's not all about hurt feelings - like I said, let's grow up a little.
  25. No probs, I don't live in the States anyway. I just happen to be from there. However, I was giving an example. Everyone has unpleasant experiences - we need to get beyond that and not be victims.
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