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In the Name of God بسم الله


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  1. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Hameedeh for a blog entry, Thinking Positive   
    Stress is always there and everyone has it. I know you are stressed out, because that is how life is. It is always like that. It seems so intense when you are going through something stressful. Later when you look back, you will marvel at how you survived. Stay strong. Allah is always with you.
    ♥ May your days be sunny, your nights restful, and your heart satisfied with the blessings that Allah has given you. Think Positive. ♥
  2. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to ireallywannaknow for a blog entry, Intro & First 3 Coloring Pages   
    Assalaamu alaikum
    One day I was in the store, and while my husband was taking his time picking a birthday card for someone, a nearby bookshelf piqued my interest. I glanced over it--mostly cheesy-looking teen romance novels. But there were also quite a lot of children's coloring books for sale. I thumbed through some of the coloring books. Disney princesses galore. And then the idea struck. Why don't I make a Muslim coloring book so that Muslim parents options aren't limited to scantily clad princesses and other non-Muslim characters when buying coloring books for their kids?
    So I began. 
    InshaAllah my goal is to have a completed book by the end of next summer (20-25 pages). In the meantime I am selling individual page downloads as I complete them. 
    I've created this blog so that I can have feedback, advice, suggestions, etc. And of course, shameless self-promotion  I haven't done any other promotion yet--I wanted to start here on Shiachat because it's more comfortable and I can get some advice. InshaAllah later when I have more pages, I can start branching off to more social media outlets. 

    Download here
  3. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to mostafaa for a blog entry, The Matrix is a System   
    If I told you that missionaries were going to your child's school everyday, preaching their religion and teaching that Islam is backwards and evil, you would be deeply concerned, right?
    Well, libertine missionaries have already infiltrated the schools, the universities, the textbooks, the TV shows, the labour unions, and the HR departments. Their ideology teaches your kids everyday:
    1. Naturalism: Everything that exists is material. All that is true must be observable to the five senses, repeatable in a lab setting, and published recently by a secular Western university. This sidelines ethics, metaphysics, and spirituality as unimportant, folkloric, superstitious, metaphorical, or simply mad. All non-naturalistic truths are just perspectives and opinions that are equally valid or invalid.
    2. Power and chance control the world. There is no Logos, no dialogue, and no supernatural force. Suffering is meaningless, and comes from individuals, institutions, and nature - it is not a trial, it is not a purification, it is not person-building, and it is not a supernatural punishment.
    3. Individualism: Everyone is in constant competition for their own material interests. Society is just an amalgamation of individuals with their own independent goals. Forget the "Umma", the "Church", or even familial or tribal associations. Economic prosperity is more important than family and community. If you decide to get married - if it suits your selfish interests - then "economic independence" must precede marriage, even though Allah encouraged early marriage and promised to give sustenance to couples and parents.
    4. History must only be observed through a socio-economic lens. Muhammad (s) was, at most, a "social reformer", military leader, and founder of a global religion. Anything more is just a personal belief and perspective beyond the scope of reason.
    5. Religion is a non-rational private conviction, practiced only at home and in a place of worship. It is completely separate from all public affairs, even though politics should never be separated from ethics, and ethics is related to religion. Most religion is mythology, and mythology is no different than storytelling.
    6. Your identity is whatever you individually feel. It is not negotiated with your surroundings, nor is it demarcated by anything physical. You can choose your name (first and last), your racial/ethnic/tribal affiliation, your sex, your gender, your style, and your mode of expression. "As long as you're not hurting anyone" (a very relative statement), anything goes.
    7. Your sexuality should be celebrated and expressed publicly, no matter how deviant it is from global norms. Thou shalt not judge anyone's sex life or lack thereof. Sexual identity permeates our politics, our associations, and our fashion, and is either just as important or more important than our religious identity.
    These 7 values are reinforced everyday, and have become the basis of our conscious and subconscious beliefs and actions. Not only is it difficult to transcend this matrix, but it is resilient to change and unyielding to resistance.
    So, how will our children maintain an Islamic worldview amidst all of this noise? If their schools, universities, and workplaces all operate under these 7 values, then wouldn't they simply see the way of their parents as old-fashioned and socially irrelevant? According to Pew, 77% of children who are raised Muslim in America still identify with Islam as adults. That means 23% leave Islam altogether. How much of that remaining 77% actually maintain an Islamic worldview; how many even practice their religion? What will our communities look like in a few generations?
    The answer to these looming problems must be in the formation of Islamic re-education. Not a simple reactionary return to dogma, but an intellectual re-evaluation of the problems of modernity and postmodernism, and an intelligent integration of Islamic education and spiritual rehabilitation.
  4. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Ibn al-Hussain for a blog entry, A ShiaChat Reunion?   
    As the school-term comes to an end, and there was some time that I could spare for my self, I've thought a lot about how my views on life, religion, man's relationship with God, and the world around me, have changed over the years. This is going to be a pretty random rant - but I guess that is what blogs are for .
    As of now, it has been 4 years since I moved to the seminary in Qom, and while there are many brothers and sisters here who spent many years on ShiaChat, many of them have either asked for their accounts to be deleted, with all of their posts, or have completely abandoned the forum all together or visit once in a while. I'm one of the handful of those who have not asked for my account to be deleted. All my posts from my early teenage years to now mid and late-20s are there. Personally, I never felt I had anything to hide - my posts are pretty much who I am. One can clearly see the early phase of an excited teenager learning a thing or two about the religion, with very deep-rooted presumptions about life, to a hyper kid getting accustomed to a some-what celebrity status, loved & hated by so many, to then entering university life and maturing up (some may disagree ), and eventually entering into the work-force, married, moving to a different country, kids etc. While browsing through my earliest posts back in 2004, I was really able to just reflect on not just how much I have changed, but even how much influence (positive or negative) people on this forum have had on me. Of course this was not happening in a vacuum. I was interacting with all sorts of people - albeit behind a screen. There are so many real names, user-names, and names that I don't even remember - all of them - that I can recall, and in hindsight, see how each and everyone of them played a role in the development of my ideas, the stances and decisions I made in life, the open-mindedness I developed, or even the doubts I may have developed over various issues, and the questions that would remain unanswered for months and years.
    This is very obvious for me even while I study in the seminary. The questions I may ask, the extent of tolerance I may show, the critiques I may mention, the willingness to really question some of our "famous" theological or historical views - some of these things make other students and at times even teachers really uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I believe this is in part due to what transpired on this forum and I am happy for it. This forum was like a large community center. It wasn't a community center for a specific ethnicity, or a culture, or converts or a specific gender. This forum for a large part was a community for those who either didn't have access to a real community where they lived, or were not satisfied with the communities that they belonged to. I believe it represented quite accurately the state of the Shi'a (primarily in the West) for a large part. It collectively represented the views that persisted and continue to persist amongst the Shi'a. Unfortunately, it is this portion of the Shi'a populous that often gets unnoticed outside of virtual reality. The inability of those leading us (for the most part) to really dissect and decipher the state of an average Shi'a's mindset, has really been one of the major issues for our communities in the West. The ignorance towards the epistemological framework that an average Shi'a growing in the West acquires through the education system or simply by living there, the delusional presumption that somehow a sub-culture contained within the 4-walls of a building will be able to preserve itself and overcome a dominant culture outside, the satisfaction of merely entertaining the audience with shallow lectures & speeches - while not addressing important and crucial matters: the cure for all of this seems to be have been missing in the last few decades, primarily due to ignorance towards it.
    On a rare encounter I may have with a lost-long SCer, Its interesting to see how many stayed religious as they were, or were irreligious and become religious, or remained irreligious, or how so many are now going through a faith crisis as they have grown and began questioning and pondering over life's crucial mysteries. 
    Reflecting back on what views I held and what views I hold now, nostalgia overtook me and I started browsing through old posts, old pictures, audio and video files that I still have saved from a decade ago (had a seriously good laugh over some audio files of @SO SOLID SHIA I still have with me). It is really weird how all of a sudden around 2012/2013 the forum just died. As if everyone switched off their plugs and disappeared. People definitely have to move on with their lives, no doubt about that. Of course there were some people who left much earlier, but this sudden silence is really absurd and that it wasn't replaced with a new batch of talented, and educated individuals is really hard to explain.
    Perhaps those members who are still lingering around from the early 2000s ( @Gypsy @DigitalUmmah @Darth Vader @Abbas. @Haji 2003 @Abu Hadi @Wise Muslim @Qa'im @notme) and are still in touch with those who have left, maybe they can work on a ShiaChat Reunion of some sort. Perhaps get in contact with old members and request them to make a moment's appearance and leave some remarks on what they are up to in life! What changes have taken place in your lives, in your views, in your lifestyle - if any? There were some members I had such a great time with, and it felt as if we would remain friends forever. It would be great to be able to reconnect with them.
    @Baatil Ka Kaatil  @Matami-Shah @Zain @Hasnain @Abdulhujjah @Peer @fyst @Syedmed @Nida_e_Zahra @hmMm @SpIzo @venusian @sana_abbas @fatimak @HR @asifnaqvi @Bollywood_Hero @phoenix @blessing @zanyrulez @wilayah @Hajar @Zuljenah @LaYdee_110 @fadak_166 @raat ki rani @Friend of All @queenjafri @Simba @Path2Felicity @3ashiqat-Al-Batoul @-Enlightened @karateka @A follower @hameedeh @lethaldefense @kaaju barfi @Friend of All @Ya Aba 3abdillah ...there are dozens of other members if I keep going.
  5. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to beardedbaker for a blog entry, Muslims,Politics & the ethics of remaining neutral   
    I will be attending a talk this weekend which will address the Muslim's role (if any) in politics. I'm assuming the talk will limit itself to British politics, but what I've written below applies to (secular) Muslim majority countries as well.
    There are three aspects to answering this question:
    Religiously, we need to asses the role of one's world view viz his/her interaction with society The intellectual foundations of political activity of Muslims living in the West/East What I call the 'Clash of the Paradigms', which deals with the religious movements' failure to provide practical solutions to society's needs. I will touch on the first aspect in this post, the rest will follow after I've attended the event.
    The Religious Aspect
    Society plays a direct role in the spiritual development of a believer, since there are a number of existential perfections¹ that are unattainable unless one cooperates and interacts with others. An individuals' worldview is key to correct behaviour that will ensure those spiritual stations are achieved.
    For the materialists, however, technological development and pursuing worldly pleasures is the only perfection, and his behaviour will reflect that accordingly. A religious person with a superficial faith in God, will have his eyes set on pleasures in the afterlife. He is motivated to adhere to religious laws, because he knows it's his key to enter paradise and avoid hell-fire².
    True perfection, however, lies in attaining nearness to God. This worldview encourages the believer to search out and attain behaviours that will bring him nearness, and avoid everything that might create a barrier and veil between him and his Lord. Therefore, correct religious knowledge is essential to correct behaviour, in turn ensuring correct faith. As a person progresses in this path, he will realise that higher levels of perfection will require bigger sacrifices and harder struggles. Only those with strong resolve, patience and a true yearning for that closeness to God will ensure he evolves spiritually³.
    The articles of faith ('aqeedah) are essential to shaping a person's world view and behaviours. A person who believes in the separation of religion and political activity, will not be motivated to pursue the establishment of social justice in this world. He has his eyes set on the afterlife, and will focus on the personal religious duties (to the minutest details) to ensure he avoids hell-fire. He will tell himself that it's the religious establishment's responsibility to sort out all his problems. Unfortunately, he would have most likely  inherited this worldview from said religious establishment (his parents would ensure this reactionary vision is ingrained in his mind).
    In order for us to contribute to society and interact at the socio-political levels, we will have to correct this superficial view of our faith, and move towards a deeper understanding of its concepts. The one-dimensional understanding of Islamic doctrines, where the emphasis is on juristic laws and personal religious duties (which have become rituals in most cases), is limiting us as individuals as well as communities in the diaspora. Ideologically, western concepts have taken over and dominated our thinking, where Islamic doctrines have failed to fill that gap, that yearning for a deeper understanding of the world. And once a person's worldview is confused with neo-liberal concepts, it becomes an uphill struggle to 1) change that worldview, and 2) for that person to live by an Islamic understanding of the world. 
    Even in Muslim majority countries, you will find this to be the dominant trend. Individual Muslims performing their obligatory religious duties, yet refrain from social contributions and cooperation, not due to any physical hindrances or lack of talents, but because their worldview is focused on 'material' gains in the afterlife!
    In short, if we are serious about a revival of the stagnant state we are in, and are keen to contribute positively at the socio-political level (in the UK or elsewhere), we need to correct our worldview first, move away from legends, falls concepts and outright fabrications, and truly believe that with sincerity we can change the world ('O ye who believe! If ye help Allah, He will help you and will make your foothold firm' -47:7). 
    Once we, as a collective, appreciate that this isn't utopian fantasy talk, that our purpose is to evolve in the 'arc of ascent' towards perfection, we'll start to realise that this is only achievable if we characterise ourselves with the divine Names. Once this mindset is widely accepted, and becomes part of the collective subconscious, the idea of social justice will manifest itself naturally and organically, as each individual will have become a physical manifestation of the divine Name 'The Just'.
    ¹ I have spoken about this in detail in my other blog here. 
    ² '..., and a group worshipped God out of desire for paradise, and that is the worship of tradesmen;...' - part of a narration by Imam Ali (as) in Nahjul Balaghah, Vol4, pg53 (Arabic edition) 
    ³ Some people are willing to dedicate some of their time, usually at a personal level, however refrain from spending their money when the need arises. That is because his docility is limited, which in turn is due to the low goal he has set himself. 
  6. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Old certainties   
    The election of Donald Trump has been attributed to a number of factors from straight out racism and sexism to economic dislocation and to the social and cultural change that has been taking place in the United States and which has not been welcomed in all quarters.
    The result of these perceived slights has been the election of someone who can at best be described as chauvinistic and at worst a reactionary conservative.
    What is noteworthy, however, is the extent to which this election is accepted as representing generally reasonable grievances. It is claimed that this is a cry for the silent majority to be listened to.
    All this may well be, but it should also be noted that there are peoples and cultures (sometimes Muslim ones) around the world who have suffered far greater hardship over the past several decades and whose cultures have faced far greater assault from without.
    Yet, when they try and reassert themselves they are critcised for being the authors of their own hardship and indeed the cultural sovereignty they aspire to is ridiculed on the basis for having been the cause of their failures to date.
    The very same criticisms could be levelled at Americans. They've passed the torch of economic leadership to other countries and as a result do not have the same opportunities that they once did. They should accept this and look within themselves, their beliefs, reward systems and work ethics.
    The United States has elected a candidate who seeks to reassert America's economic greatness, not by introspction and making America more competitive but by changing the rules of the game in terms of international trade deals. The same economic order that brough America so much prosperity in the past is now being changed because China and India have risen and the old rules no longer serve America as they used to.
    Similarly while the U.S. has been happy to export its culture overseas, when its white, Protestant, Anglo-Saxon culture becomes threatened by a brown Spanish speaking Catholic one, the challenge must be met.
    In the final calculation, there's one set of rules for the U.S. and another set for other countries and cultures.
  7. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Art and atrocities   
    One of the challenges of accepting a merciful God is the retort (of those who accept neither idea) about the existence of pain, suffering and death. 
    For the theist, however, and those inclined towards notions of scientificness pain and suffering don't negate the existence of God, but they do rationalise art.
    If we want to appreciate the latter we have to accept the former.
    Our appreciation of aesthetics is continuously evolving as we see the world in new and different ways and in turn that was facilitated historically by our happening upon new pigments and more new technologies.
    Our movement from a state of ignorance to knowledge of what could be seen and expressed and how innovatively this could be done was birthed by curiosity, stimulated by wonder and aroused excitement. It made being alive the experience contrasts with not being alive.
    But that process is premised upon there being an intellectual and aesthetic development. Where would the wonder, anticipation and discovery be if we were born with perfect knowledge and sense of beauty? There would be no journey; there would only be the destination.
    The experience of our personal journeys as we encounter new art forms and the benefits we gain vicariously from seeing how art developed for those who preceded us would all be lost. There would be no experience since there'd be no journeys for either ourselves or anyone else.
    But there is a cost to this facet of human existence. The journey from ignorance to knowledge invariably involves not just artistic errors but also those of ethics and morals. It involves not just improvements in aritstic execution, but also improvements in the ability to cure.
    While one journey elicits wonder and discovery, so the other generates pain and is sorrowful. The discovery of lapis lazuli and the impact that it had on art was all positive, but the discovery of the polio vaccine was coloured by the fact that many tens of thousands needed to suffer and die before it became available.
    In the latter instance, we'd rather arrive at the destination without the travails of the journey.
  8. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, The socialised costs of free-to-choose   
    In debt management circles the 'light bulb moment' is when someone hit with the problems of managing debt and related financial problems suddenly realises that the solution lies within them and their spendthrift lifestyle.
    Following 'the lightbulb moment', the individual chooses a lifestyle that does not involve so much consumption and thus improves their personal finances. But arriving at the lightbulb moment is a challenge.
    People have been brainwashed to believe that they must have xyz products and services and woe upon anyone who dares to suggest that these are luxuries and not necessities.
    We have, today, a prevailing ideology that other people should not be criticised for their lifestyle choices. People are said to be free to choose whatever it is that makes them happy and as long as it is 'legal' it is ok. Of course if enough people do something illegal it becomes possible to reclassify it as legal, but that is another story.
    We've therefore evolved into a society where the people who wish to take advantage of the emotional and rational frailty of others are given a free hand. The countervailing forces are stymied.
    In contemporary society a significant means by which people express their choices is via the market in terms of what they buy. In a politically correct world the only parties to the buying and selling are the customer driven by their internal desires and the seller driven by the need to make a profit.
    All too often the seller does their work with ruthless efficiency, and if they don't they go bust. And if the customer makes poor choices, political correctness again weighs in and it isn't acceptable to criticise them. Neither the people around them can do this and neither can government.
    The market itself sometimes imposes restrictions, bad behaviour can result in higher insurance premiums, and an inability to manage debt can result in fewer credit card issuers willing to do business - but the focus here is on protecting the sellers' businesses rather than the customers' welfare.
    In some extreme political circles the case is made, that people who are on e.g. foodstamps should not be allowed to buy alcohol, but this is often seen as unfairly restricting the freedom of the poor.  
    Occasionally the issue becomes overwhelming and government can't avoid taking its responsibilities and it does run campaigns against specific products such as tobacco, salt and now there is a proposed sugar tax in some countries. But that is rare. Certainly no government can recommend that people spend less, for fear of destroying the consumer economy.
    Another factor driving change has been the impact on public health finances of those people making poor lifestyle choices and in some areas of the UK, the health services are trying to restrict the amount of (free) healthcare given to people who are obese or who smoke.
    This approach is commonsense. People can either take the Islamic approach to controlling their nafs, or they can take the economic approach and suffer the financial consequences - but the end point will be the same.
    Perhaps the 'free-to-choose' ideology was just an artefact of a society that could afford this luxury and if times become more straitened, they'll also become more enlightened?
  9. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Game theory and salaam   
    Islamic etiquette holds that in any encounter the first person to say Salaam gets a multiple of the blessings that the person who is being addressed receives when he replies.
    This is interesting because since Salaam means peace, it's clear that the first person in the encounter who makes their intentions known to the other party is the one who is doing the most to promote co-operation - since it is they who are removing any doubt that the encounter will be peaceful.
    Robert Axelrod in his work on game theory (The Evolution of Co-operation) sets the following criteria as the ones which promote co-operation, 
    being clear,  retaliating and  being forgiving. Being the first to say salaam makes the individual's co-operative intentions clear and thus promotes co-operation on the part of the other party. 
    Islam also sets clear guidelines for retaliation should co-operation not be forthcoming, and the other party seeks to take advantage of those with peaceful intentions. The religion also sets the penalties for infringing on the rights of others - and thus makes clear to others that Muslims will not be the first to instigate aggression.
    Game theorists recognise that being clear about a willingness to retaliate actually promotes peace, because the other party knows that there will be a penalty to pay for aggression. 
    However, in Islam forgiveness is also considered important, since it gives the other side an opportunity to behave in a more co-operative manner in the future.
  10. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Abu Hadi for a blog entry, Going Astray Part 3   
    اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ
    KNOW [O men] that the life of this world is but a play and a passing delight, and an ephemeral amusement, and [the cause of] your boastful vying with one another, and [of your] greed for more and more riches and children. Its parable is that of [life-giving] rain: the herbage which it causes to grow delights the tillers of the soil; but then it withers, and you see it turn yellow; and in the end it crumbles into dust. But [the abiding truth of man’s condition will become fully apparent] in the life to come: [either] suffering severe,or God’s forgiveness and His goodly acceptance: for the life of this world is nothing but a passing self-delusion. -
    Holy Quran 57:20 
    Going Astray Part 3 - The Trap
    In the Holy Quran, as well as hadith from our Imams(a.s), we are taught that this world is nothing but a passing fancy, a very short term thing that we should not give too much importance to. And yet, we are placed in this world, and have to survive. Some of us are faced with great difficulties just to have a roof over our head and food on the table. We live in a world that is mostly chaotic, inconsistent, full of conflicts and tribulation. Enemies trying to destroy us, and so called 'friends' that are insincere and disloyal. Mixed in with this are beautiful passages of poetry, glittering objects that catch our eye, desires that we have that almost rip our hearts from our chest, profound words of wisdom that we hear or read, and a few individuals that we meet or know that seem to rise above all the noise and clamour, staying steady and consistent with decency, morality, and their own internal values. 
    We walk thru forests, look up at the tall trees, we trudge thru swaps, wade thru rivers, sink into desert sands, and we stammer, stare, sit and wait, cough and stammer, trip and fall, and roll down hills and into valleys, and then find ourselves stuck, our foot unable to move, wincing in pain. We look down and see blood gushing from above the ankle. We can feel the cold steel. Rush of heat up our spine. We look down and see the teeth of the trap digging into our flesh. Immobilized. We look up and down, right and left, back and forth. Twisting, writhing. Waiting for relief from the trap. 
    Imam Sadiq(a.s) says. 
    عن ابي عبدالله عليه السلام قال: راس كل خطيئة حب الدنيا
    “Attachment to World is the basis of all sins and transgressions.” Imam Sadiq(a.s)
    Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 3, p-7.
    Some people misunderstand this and related hadiths. He is not saying 'the dunya', this world, or anything in the world is the root of all evil and sins. You cannot point to an object like money, t.v., the Internet, or another human being like a leader, king, or tyrant, or even an activity like sex, or a desire like lust, or a profession, or anything else and say this is the root of all evil. Imam Sadiq(a.s) says 'Hub' or love of this is the root, not the thing itself. 
    We should examine the meaning of 'hub' or love in this context and also in the context of the verses of the Holy Quran regarding this world. 
    'Hub' in this context has to do with 
    1) The value and importance we assign to something
    2) What we are willing to do(or not do) in order to get or achieve it. 
    Let me give an example. 
    Two friends make a deal in their early teens that they are both going to become doctors. They are going to get good grades, then apply to college, do good in college, and hopefully apply to Medical School and graduate. They both do good in School, college, then apply to Med School and are both accepted. One of the friends comes from a wealthy family and the other comes from a poor family. The wealthy friend shows up for Medical School on the first day, after his parents paid a huge tuition bill, and wonders where his poor friend is. The poor friend, having no money to pay the huge tuition bill, starts thinking about what he is going to do. He knows that he is not going to fulfill his dream unless he gets some money. He decides he is going to rob a bank (cause that's where the money is..). He gets a gun, mask, all the robber stuff, makes a plan, and because he is smart the plan works perfectly, gets the money, pays his tuition, and shows up on the second day. 
    His rich friends asks, 'Where were you buddy..'. He answers, 'I had some things to take care of..'. 
    So there is no love of the dunya going on here, up until the point where the poor friend robs the bank (we are assuming he is muslim, and knows it is haram to steal and rob). Going to school, getting good grades, trying hard, becoming a doctor and making a good salary, there is nothing wrong with that as long as you can do all that and not violate the clear laws and ordinances that Allah(s.w.a) has revealed to you. Because when you start to 'love' your goals, plans, and ideas so much that you are willing to violate and do violate the clear rules and guidelines then that is the point where you 'love the dunya', and not before that. 
    Now some people will look at the poor friend and say, 'Well he is poor, so he had to do what he had to do..'. He had to 'take care of business'. From an Islamic perspective, this is wrong thinking. Being poor is not haram or a crime(although it is treated as such by modern society), it is a circumstance, and most of the time a temporary one. The fact of being poor says nothing, either positive or negative about someones character or religion. 
    It is the wrong thinking associated with poverty (that things are hopeless and the only way out is getting wealth by any means) and wrong thinking associated with wealth (because I am wealthy, therefore I am better than other people and have more rightst than they do) that is the trap, not the poverty or wealth itself. The trap is the wrong thinking, whether you are rich or poor, that there is something in this world that is worth risking disobeying Allah(s.w.a) in order to get it. If you know Allah(s.w.a), even on a very superficial level, and you know yourself, even on a superficial level, you will know that there is nothing in this world that is worth disobeying Allah(s.w.a) in order to get it, even if it is the world in it's entirety. Now you see the trap. Be careful not to step into it. 
  11. Like
    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, God Hypothesis III   
    Man's development has required educating ourselves about the properties of ever more challenging and powerful fuel sources. The earliest sources could be exploited at the level of the sold individual whereas modern ones  require transnational co-operation across many different fields of endeavour.
    That intellectual development has also required an increasing level of sophistication in terms of morals and ethics. We have had to develop appropriate safety rules and regulations, for example, in order to exploit them successfully. Coal mining in countries such as Britain helped power the industrial revolution, but the successful exploitation of coal could only be undertaken with the concomitant development of safety systems, to protect both the miners and the (coal) seams. And while coal mining disasters affected only local communities, in contrast, the nuclear leak at Chernobyl affected an entire continent.
    Now the life of the miner may have been cheap and the stronger motivation of mine owners may have been the economic desire to preserve the seam, but as we see time and again if we are not willing to be pulled towards what God would like us to do, He is merciful enough to push us in the right direction.
    The industry which epitomises danger in contemporary life is nuclear power. The production of energy via this means is an order of magnitude more dangerous than mining ever was.  Political leaders are aware that if the safety systems controlling nuclear power stations are not effective public opinion about them will change to an extent that will inhibit further development of this energy source.
    Similarly such developments also require greater levels of sophistication in terms of ethics, morality and ultimately laws - because their impact can be far more significant than the technologies that they replace.  The disaster that B.P. had on the Thunder Horse platform in the Gulf of Mexico may have been the result of various technical errors on the part of the rig's owners and/or operators, but the financial and environmental consequences were facilitated by appropriate legal frameworks. Technological development therefore has to be accompanied by developments in these softer, more qualitative areas of human endeavour.
    The contemporary mastery over not only nuclear technology but various other dangerous industries has required concomitant developments in safety systems. However, I'd hold that material safety is something which is relatively easy to attain since the consequences of  when it fails are tangible. As a result the route to safety can be either theistic or atheistic. It can be theistic because safety (the preservation of life) is an imperative that we can associate with those who are God fearing. It can be atheistic because the consequences are materialistic and the measurement of impact and effect is possible. So whether we arrive at safety via a theistic route or an atheistic one (for example motivated by the preservation of reputation) - the conclusion is one which we could reasonably assume God wanted us to achieve.
    However, ignoring the possible will of God, does not always lead to a satisfactory outcome. Indeed in marked contrast to what has been achieved in terms of saving lives by various industries adopting safety systems, we have in another area of human activity where wilfully ignoring God has meant the destruction of countless millions of humans. In that endeavour convenience, lifestyle and wealth have been placed ahead of human life and abortions can be undertaken on demand.
    The God hypothesis would suggest that ultimately we will recognise that this practice has to stop and it will come from either a theistic route or an atheistic one, but the conclusion will have to be a similar one. Why can this claim be confidently made? Because all historically barbaric practices have been stopped as man has evolved and become more sensitive to their inhumanity. 
    I would hazard that where the frameworks we develop overlap with a more scripturally based system the result will be more sound than one where reference to God is absent. Of course as a Shia, I would contend that a system based on Shia fiqh would be the most superior of all.
    The God hypothesis would therefore, predict, that a society such as ours that has deviated to such a significant degree from what we would consider to be an acceptable morality will likely face such significant problems, it will find it increasingly difficult to manage the greater challenges that technological advances will present us.
    The latter idea is one that is part of the God hypothesis, with greater power and capability will come greater moral challenges. If God intends to 'perfect' man, the challenges can only get harder and not easier. So I would contend that even renewable sources of energy (which are currently considered to be a get-out-of-jail-free card) are likely to present us, over time, with new moral challenges.
    On the route towards that perfection, either recognition of God's will has to be acknowledged via an atheistic route (as may have been the case with industrial safety) or a similar effect can be achieved via a theistic route - but the end point has to be similar. 
    Of course man has the choice of very many scriptures and they each vary in terms of their behavioural implications. I would contend that the ones which enable societies to make more sophisticated advances will be the ones that prevail over time.
    In this post I have contended that man has the choice of either reaching a goal via a theistic route or an atheistic one. If the end point is the same or similar it may be contended by those who are atheistically inclined that surely a route that is grounded on a more 'rational' basis is better than one which is not. I contend that the latter route may take longer (and thus be more costly) and also as a theist my belief system holds that intention can be very important indeed. So a motivation towards safety, for example, stimulated by the intention of pleasing God, is more likely to be rewarded in the next life is not this one as well.
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    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, The temptation of trust   
    Trust is generally considered a good thing. One basis for building trust is when someone behaves well, fulfills the promises that they have made and demonstrates to trustees that they are people capable of being trusted. In this way trust as an asset develops when someone or an entity such as an organisation develops a track record of trustworthy behaviour.
    Such trustworthy behaviour usually requires the person or organisation not to have abused the trust that others have placed in them, most often by taking a risk too far beyond their own capabilities (the incapable tradesman) or indeed having deliberately abused trust to take advantage (the conman).
    People who we think are trustworthy are therefore the ones in whom we'd be more likely to take risks and larger risks in the future because of their behaviour in the past has developed greater and greater levels of trust.
    The trustworthy organisation or person, therefore has an asset, in business terms, that enables them to distinguish themselves from others and in a business context draw an income stream from it. Commercial examples abound of firms that have developed rock-solid reputations for reliability (for example) or for fair dealing. In Britain, for example, the clothing retailer Marks and Spencer was renowned for making clothes that lasted a long time. People bought their relatively high-priced and not very fashionable clothes because they believed that they would last a long time (the promise). Fulfillment of the promise kept them coming back.
    So far so good. Since trustworthy behaviour has a pay-off this acts as an incentive for people to behave in a manner that is positive for society. This positive aspect is important because it is our reliance on trust that bridges the information gap between what we are looking for someone to give us and the information that reassures us that they definitely will. If there was no trust, complex society would grind to a halt. Just consider the sign above the checkout till of a mom and pop store, 'In God we trust, everyone else pays cash'. If trust did not exist we would not believe any promises.
    But such actions assume that the people who have acted postively in the past will see it in their long-term interests to act in a similar way in the future. What if their time horizons for a pay off become shorter? What if the reward that they want for their reputation increases?
    There comes a time when people and organisations find that 'over-exploiting' the trust that they have built up is too tempting. They take a risk too far, they become over-ambitious and they quickly destroy what has been built up over a long period of time.
    It's often possible to spot when this happens. Eager managers try and reinvent what they consider to be 'sleepy' organisations or inject entrepreneurial flair to a well-respected outfit, arrivistes who focus more on the money than the duller metrics of quality the organisation was previously focused on. Other situations include organisations making use of the goodwill (trust) that they have built up to expand into activities where their expertise will not be adequate and thus the trust that stakeholders placed in them will not be sustained. 
    Losing trust is therefore a feature of the human condition. I can think of no examples where fallible humans faced with having a deep well of trust have not sought to over exploit it and lose it as a result. 
    The temptation always proves to be too much.
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    jannahismygoal reacted to Haji 2003 for a blog entry, Unlimited pleasure   
    There are arguments given by atheists challenging religious beliefs, and resulting practices that science does not support and which atheists argue should be abandoned by believers.
    In this essay, I want to look at one example, where I think science is catching up with religion.
    The industrial farming of sugar by Europeans in the West Indies, starting from the eighteenth century, is a good example of improving the supply of something that was supposed to vastly improve the pleasure of significant numbers of people at little cost. Almost suddenly the population of Europe discovered how to sweeten their diet. It took many many decades to realise that, of course, there were health costs and the realisation that industrial production on this scale and such limited cost required unacceptable human sacrifices as well.
    The story for tobacco is a similar one.
    Relatively more recently we've cracked the problem of industrially producing foods that were hitherto a luxury, such as chicken. But at least in this instance, the knowledge that the welfare costs borne by the chicken are unacceptable has come much more quickly than was the case for the slaves producing sugar and tobacco. In the case of the chicken attempts to improve the situation have happened more quickly as well.
    We could list similar examples wherever man has acquired the technical knowledge that the hitherto expensive and difficult to manufacture could be made more cheaply in many instances this has come with a high cost to the human workers and animals involved in the production process.
    But what is also noteworthy is that in many instances there has also been an unacceptable cost to the consumers who had originally assumed that a source of cheap pleasure had been discovered. A high sugar diet kills, low tobacco consumption kills and meat produced with little regard for animal welfare is not healthy either.
    What are the implications for today? Just as improvements in shipping, various agricultural practices and refining processes allowed us to produce sugar, so various technical advances have allowed us to produce far higher and better 'quality' levels of entertainment for far lower cost than was previously ever the case. In a matter of 50 year years, television has gone from something that could only realistically be watched for a few hours a day to something that can deliver a variety of entertainment 24 hours a day, seven days a week for entire years. And we now realise the health costs of a sedentary lifestyle.
    But television also provides a good example of another risk that we are facing. The passive consumption of such entertainment nevertheless requires on the part of those being entertained some variety and on the part of those providing the entertainment there are advantages to reducing costs.
    Adding to this toxic mix is the realisation that although the original goals for entertainment may have been lofty, without a strict ethical and moral framework imposing restrictions the result is all too easily entertainment that appeals to the lowest common denominator and that is sex and we have the 21st century equivalent of sugar, which is pornography.
    There is a growing, but still limited, understanding of the effect of the consumption of porn, and in the case of children the science is still in its infancy. Also, the longer-term effects on entire societies are not well understood, because the experiments necessary to understand the impact are still being done, in real-time on actual societies.
    We are the guinea pigs because even people who do not consciously watch pornography are affected by people who do. The producer who makes a 'racy' drama for mass family audiences, could likely have had their ideas on what is acceptable shaped by their consumption of pornography. Gender relations, how men interact with women are all influenced by the communications to which they are exposed. The impact can therefore be in terms of how ubiquitous (pervasive) the impact is and also how insidious. Without stretching the point, the parallel with sugar is again interesting. Sugar consumption has become pervasive, we consume it even when we do not think we are, it is present in all manner of unlikely foods. Because, once marketers recognised our preference - including it in a wide range of offerings (in order to be customer focused) was the normal reaction of the market place.
    Like sugar, pornography held the promise of unlimited pleasure, at very low cost.
    Religious and moral objectors have appeared to have little science to back their reservations. If you combine the morality of the market with the assumption that anything adults (in this case the actors who perform) do out of their free will, for a fair wage, is acceptable, then there appear to be no restrictions at all as to what is done. Porn becomes a guilt-free pleasure.
    Initially, with what vestige of moral scruples remained, there were restrictions on supply and limitations on what children could watch. But in the case of children the advance of technology has meant that those restrictions have become difficult to enforce and regarding moral limits these have become more lax, as each passing generation has become more liberal in its tolerance of what is acceptable, having been conditioned by what they were exposed to.
    But just as our experience with sugar and tobacco and other products has shown us over the past few centuries, our being able to deliver pleasure at an industrial scale for low cost for the 'benefit' of large sections of society never ends well.
    At least with these offerings, the long-term costs paid by consumers were purely physical, with more recent products subject to industrialisation the costs are more likely to be psychological.
    An Islamic society that adheres to its principles would likely not have affected the growth trajectories of sugar and tobacco, other than perhaps slow down their initial establishment.
    The fair treatment of slaves would have imposed higher costs. However, in the case of pornography restrictions on what people are allowed to see of others should provide clear limits as to what can and cannot be consumed. Bear in mind that Islam does not have some vague restrictions on what people can and cannot see, the restrictions are explicit and formalised.
    This approach has a clear advantage when it comes to something like porn, whose non-religious definition has clearly changed over the years. What is now healthy family viewing was porn for previous generations. This is a product whose very consumption affects how we define it. Yet the Islamic injunction is very clear and is intended to hold for all time.
    This is a clear case of where science catches up with orthodox, traditional religious morality.
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    jannahismygoal reacted to Reza for a blog entry, Welcome!   
    Welcome to the revitalized Volcano Republic Blog! Feel free to hang around if you like. 
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