1/31/2006

Good Character


Good Character expresses itself in two fundamental virtues: humility (tawadu), and setting others before oneself (ithar). The true Muslim is necessarily humble, alert to the failings of his soul, convinced that every passer-by is his superior in faith.

But 'God's bondman only attains true humility when the lights of divine contemplation being to shine in his heart, at which time the soul's deceit and self-regard will melt away, and it will become soft, obedient to both God and man.' Thos who have attained the greatest proximity to God become the most modest and humble of His creatures. In their humility, they love to serve others, hoping for God's reward and for the delight of renunciation, recalling the Quranic text, They prefer others over themselves, though theirs be the greater need.

Goodness is to do good even to those who have mistreated you, said Sufyan al- Thawri. 'It is to do good to all, in the manner of the sun, the wind, and the rain' (Al Hasan Al-Basri). It extends even to animals: 'Should a man achieve all goodness, and yet mistreat a hen that he owns, he is not truly to be reckoned among those who do good.'
Al-Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul and on Breaking the Two Desires

Healing from the Heart

"The heart really is that entity for me. It's power, it's strength, it's energy, it's spirit." — Dr. Mehmet Oz

Dr. Mehmet Oz is one of the nation's leading heart surgeons at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Dr. Oz says, "In my mind there is no question that there is a tremendous spiritual element to the heart disease that we see endemic in this country."

Searching for the Soul"We don't know where the soul is in the body, but for heart surgeons, we often joke that it's inside the middle of the heart. There is actually a piece of tissue in the middle of the heart that touches all four chambers which when you grab with your fingers during a heart transplant, you say 'I've captured the soul.'"

Taking Science a Step Beyond"I never forget... the Spirit. Where are they going? Why are they here? Why does their heart beat? Why should it keep beating? Why should we bother saving their lives?"

"If I don't deal with those emotional issues often surrounding the lack of spirituality in the lives of these patients, I haven't done my job well."

Spiritual Empowerment & Opportunity"We can take advantage of massage. We can do yoga, which allows you to meditate on what your body is doing in the safety of a hospital. We can empower patients, give them responsibility and they can take that responsibility to make themselves better."

"[Illness] provides you the ability to grow, to evolve, to mature. If you treat illness as an obstacle which prevents you from enjoying the rest of your life, you're missing an incredible opportunity."

Dr. Mehmet Oz's book is called Healing from the Heart
==========================================
In Healing From The Heart, noted cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz presents a cutting edge vision of medicine for the 21st century—an outlook incorporating both ancient and ultra-modern approaches to healing.

Recounting his own journey of discovery as a physician, along with gripping accounts of his patients' recoveries, Dr. Oz reveals the crucial role of the spiritual heart—emotional well-being—in empowering us to maintain or regain our physical health.

He explains the value of complementary therapies such as hypnosis, guided imagery, massage, reflexology, aromatherapy, music therapy, prayer, yoga, and energy medicine, detailing studies and case histories of their use in combination with the latest surgical techniques. Healing From The Heart is a must-read for all who suffer from illness, particularly heart and surgery patients, and their loved ones.
(oprah.com)

How well do you know your body...

I've found that focusing my energy on weight loss isn’t as productive as aiming for a healthier lifestyle. To gain a better understanding of how my body works, I’ve been reading, "You - The Owners Manual by Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz," which is very reader friendly. Once, you understand how each system in your body operates, you better understand what kind of fuel is needed to make your body function more productively. Also, you begin to notice positive/negative trends in your indigenous diet helping you to track down the bad stuff and slowly eliminating it. (I’ve failed so far, heh)

Questions to ask yourself:
1. Check your diet: What do you eat everyday? Do you eat small portions of unhealthy stuff or large portions of healthy stuff? (I was eating a lot of fried foods and empty carbs which were making me feel lethargic)
2. What kind of oil/butter do you use?
3. How much water do you drink?
4. How many hours do you sleep?
5. Do you poop everyday? Check your poop! (heh, that’s a serious question, believe it or not)(search: "Everybody poops" on Oprah.com)

Top 10 Foods to Eliminate

1. Candy
2. Chips
3. Ice Cream
4. Frosted Snack Cakes
5. Fruit "Flavored" Drinks
6. Pizza Snacks
7. Toaster Pastries
8. Nachos
9. Soda Pop
10. Cookies

General advice:

-Water (not soft drinks)

- Avoid late meals - atleast three hours before bed. Also dont eat sugar-based products after 8:00 pm.

- Eat smaller portions (plate size 9 inches not the usual 11 inch)

- Foods to eat daily - 9 handfuls of fruit and vegetables; atleast 1 ounce of nuts; whole -grain breads and creals that contain fiber

- Foods to eat at least 3x a week - Fish (salmon, mahi mahi, tilapia, catfish, trout)

- Fiber is important: (vegetable form: artichokes, lima beans, soybeans. Fruit Form:grapefruit, blackberries and raspberries. Whole Grain: Oatmeal, etc..)

-Foods rich in magnesium like beets, raisins, dates and soybeans are important because they get your bowels moving!

- Vitamin D is a cancer-fighting agent . Non-fat milk, orange juice or supplements are great sources.

-incorporate tomatoes into your sauces, salads, and curries.

- Avoid Toxins (water washes/cleanses toxins out of your body)

- Avoid processed foods that contain trans and saturated fats

Insiders' Guide to Make You Younger and Healthier

Everybody Poops

Food Solutions

1/25/2006

Heart And Electricity - What causes the first heart beat?


(alert! - unsubstantiated conjecture ahead)
We know that a normal heart beat is initiated by a small pulse of electric current. But where does this pulse come from? What causes the very first stimuli responsible for initiating contraction?

In the heart there are cells specialized in producing electricity called Pacemaker Cells. They produce electricity by changing their electrical charge from positive to negative and back. The contractions which appear roughly the 22nd day of gestation are myogenic in nature, which means the contractions arise spontaneously within the muscular portion of the heart. While the nervous system can modify the heart rate, it doesn’t not initiate beats.

In sum, cells that comprise the muscular portion of the heart have an intrinsic ability to produce electrical charge. Question is, what causes certain cells to develop this ability as opposed to other cells?

I don't know where I'm going with this but not being able to understand the origin of this electric current paired with the importance Muslims give to the 'heart' (as opposed to the brain) should make someone want to write a science-fiction novel.

We live as long as this electric impulse is prensent, and we die in its absence. Yet we dont know where it comes from. hello. I see a story there.

Furthemore, I've been intrigued with the idea of electricity being able to travel vast distances in a very short duration of time. If you look up how satellite tv works, or how a phone call works, you'll see what i mean.

Can our origin be contained/connected in/to this electric impulse of our heart? If our spirit is paired with this electric impulse, can we too travel vast distances in a form of electric energy not yet fully understood by us?

Hmmm...I think, i want to read up on worm-holes now. Ironic, because I never liked Physics or Math as a student.

1/23/2006

If your intention is what it should be you'll get your reward anyway.

"We are a people committed to God. He doesnt need our deeds. Satan's blunder was not that he didnt want to bow to adam, his blunder was that he didnt want to bow to who Allah told him to bow to..." - Dr. Sherman Jackson

1/21/2006

Alchemy of the Heart


[...]
The Heart
Allah subhanahu wa t'ala says, "On that day nothing will benefit the human being, neither wealth nor children, only the one who brings Allah a sound heart." A sound heart is one that is free of defects and spiritual blemishes. Though the spiritual heart is centred in the physical heart, the heart being referred to here is the spiritual heart, not the physical heart. In ancient Chinese medicine, the heart houses what is known as "chen" which is "a spirit." The Chinese character for "thinking," "thought," "love," "virtue," and "intending to listen" all contain the ideogram for the heart. In fact, in every culture in the world, people use metaphors that deal with the heart; in English, we call people who are cruel, "hard-hearted people." There is also the idea of having "a cold heart" and "a warm heart." People who do not hide their emotions well "wear their hearts on their sleeves." When deeply affected, we say, "he affected me in my heart" or "in my core." In fact, the English word "core" means "inner most," and in Arabic, the equivalent "lub" comes from the Latin word, meaning "heart." Thus, the core of the human being is indeed the heart. The word "courage" also comes from the same root word as for "heart" because courage is centred in the heart. The most ancient Indo-European word for heart means "that which leaps." The heart leaps or beats in the breast of man. For example, people say, "my heart skipped a beat" in reaction to seeing somebody. Many such metaphors are used for the heart.

[...]

If we look at the world today, the tribulations, the trials, and every war that we have, we will see that every bit of human suffering is rooted in human hearts. The reason people are aggressive against other people is due to diseases of the heart: covetousness, the desire to conquer, the desire to exploit other people, and the desire to steal their natural resources are all from diseases of the heart. A sound heart cannot commit such acts. Every murderer, every rapist, every idolater, every foul person, every person showing an act of cruelty has a diseased heart because these actions emanate from diseased hearts. If the hearts were sound, none of these actions would be a reality. Therefore, if we wish to change our world, we cannot go about it by attempting to rectify the outward; rather, we change the world by rectifying the inward because it is the inward that precedes the outward.

In reality, everything that we see outside of us comes from the unseen world. The phenomenal world emerges from the unseen world, and all actions emerge from the unseen realm of our hearts. Thus, if we want to rectify our actions, we must first rectify our hearts. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the famous American preacher and civil rights activist, said that in order for people to condemn injustice, they have to follow four stages: the first stage is that they must ascertain that injustices are indeed being perpetrated. People must point out the injustices, and in his case, it was injustices against the African-American people in the United States. The second stage is to negotiate: people must go to the oppressors and demand justice. If the oppressors refuse, then Dr. King said that the third stage is self-purification. He said that we must ask ourselves, are we ourselves wrongdoers? Are we ourselves oppressors? The final stage is to take action once we have looked into ourselves.

[...]

Alchemy of the Heart: Shaykh Muhammad Maulud
Translated into English by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Part I
Part II

Short List of Fallacies


Avoiding the Question

Red Herring: Where someone introduces an irrelevant point into an
argument. He may think (or he may want us to think) it proves his side, but it really doesn’t.

Ad Hominem: Where someone attacks an opponent’s character, or his motives for believing something, instead of disproving his opponent’s argument.

Genetic Fallacy: Where someone condemns an argument because of where it began, how it began, or who began it.

Tu Quoque (You Too): Where someone dismisses your viewpoint on an issue because you are yourself inconsistent in that very thing.

Faulty Appeal to Authority: Where someone appeals to the authority of someone who has no special knowledge in the area they are discussing.

Appeal to the People: Where someone claims his viewpoint is correct just because many other people agree with it.

Making Assumptions

Circular Reasoning: Where someone attempts to prove his conclusion
by simply restating it. He says “P is true because Q is true, and Q is true because P is true.”

Equivocation: Where the meaning of a word is changed in the middle of an argument.

Loaded Question: Where someone asks one question which assumes the
answer to a second question.

Part-to-Whole: Where someone asserts that what is true of part of something must also be true of the whole thing together.

Whole-to-Part: Where someone asserts that what is true of something as a whole must also be true of each of its parts. Th is is the reverse of the part-to whole fallacy.

Either-Or: Where someone asserts that we must chose between two things, when in fact we have more alternatives.

Statistical Fallacies

Hasty Generalization: Where someone generalizes about a class or group based upon a small and poor sample.

Weak Analogy: Where someone claims that some items which have only a few minor similarities are practically the same in almost everything else.

Post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc: Where someone assumes that since A happened before B, A must have caused B.

Proof-by-lack-of-evidence: Where someone claims something is true
simply because nobody has yet given them any evidence to the contrary.

Propaganda

Appeal to Fear: Where someone moves you to fear the consequences of not doing what he wants.

Appeal to Pity: Where someone urges us to do something only because we pity him, or we pity something associated with him.

Bandwagon: Where someone pressures us to do something just because many other people like us are doing it.

Exigency: Where someone offers nothing more than a time limit as a reason for us to do what he wants.

Repetition: Where a message is repeated loudly and very often in the
hope that it will eventually be believed.

Transfer: Where an advertiser gets us to associate our good or bad feelings about one thing, to another unrelated thing.

Advertisement: “Why read those boring logic books like everybody else does? You know you’re better than that. You need more intellectual
stimulation. Read The Fallacy Detective. Be more logical than the rest.”

Appeal to Tradition: Where we are encouraged to buy a product or do
something because it is associated with something old.

Appeal to Hi-tech: Where someone urges us to buy something because it is the “latest thing” – but not necessarily because it is the best thing.

Learning to Think Logically
by Nathaniel Bluedorn and Hans Bluedorn

1/19/2006

How to sustain human dignity in a world that seems often to deny it?

Something I’ve been thinking about. I have all these realizations in my mind but when I try to translate them into words, I fail miserably. Perhaps, we’re not supposed to open our trap at all times. But then again, babbling is a pre-requisite to speech. Infants coo; toddlers babble, and one day, lo and behold, they say: BUY ME A CAR!

My husband pointed something out to me the other day, which I thought was amazing on his part. He's observed, that his lovely wife, tends to imitate the behavior of those around her. If someone is respectful, I’m respectful but if someone is mean I find ways to irritate. Sure, it’s ok to defend yourself but shouldn’t one be better than that? Shouldn’t one maintain her dignity instead of becoming an angry reactionary?

Dr. Sherman Jackson, in one of his lectures, gave the example of our Prophet (peace be upon him), how he never allowed the indignation of his oppressors to reduce him to their level. “We made some of you as a test, will you patiently persevere?” He stressed the need for Muslims to reach their higher selves, to maintain and sustain their dignity in these times of double -speak.

When you see life with its inherent higher purpose, instead through your ill-crafted lower self, you realize every agent in your life is placed there to refine your mettle. How am i helping another person by irritating them? am i irritating them because i want them to realize they're wrong or because they offend my values? Do i have any right to irritate another person?

Earlier I had listed my reasons for liking certain scholars, professors, and just average people. Dignity and tranquility were two ascpetcs of their persona. Now im wondering if dignity brings with it a certain something -patience, higher understanding, and connectedness with God - that makes people act a certain way?

Now imagine my shock at discovering the following verse recently even though I’ve been reading Quran translations since the early 1990’s:

“We have bestowed dignity on the progeny of Adam (laqad karramna bani Adama) ... and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of Our creation. (al-Isra’, 17:70)”

So We all our blessed by default, and not because mommy said so. (another idea confirmed)

Will continue to research this in my mind, meanwhile enjoy this excerpt from the first book i found on the subject:

===========================================
Excerpt from Book:

Chapter One
The Qur’anic View of Human Dignity


"The Qur’anic vision of human dignity is manifested in various ways and in different contexts. To begin with, we read the direct and unqualified affirmation of the dignity of man in the following Qur’anic text, where God Most High declares:

We have bestowed dignity on the progeny of Adam (laqad karramna bani Adama) ... and conferred on them special favours, above a great part of Our creation. (al-Isra’, 17:70)

The text here is self-evident and comprehensive in its recognition of dignity for all human beings without limitations or qualifications of any kind. Thus according to al-Alusi, ‘everyone and all members of the human race, including the pious and the sinner, are endowed with dignity, nobility and honour, which cannot be exclusively expounded and identified. Ibn ‘Abbas has commented, however, that God Most High has honoured mankind by endowing him with the faculty of reason.’

Dignity in other words is not earned by meritorious conduct; it is an expression of God’s favour and grace. Mustafa al-Siba’i and Hasan al-Ili have similarly remarked that dignity is a proven right of every human being regardless of colour, race or religion. Ahmad Yusri has drawn the conclusion that ‘dignity is established for every human being as of the moment of birth’. Sayyid Qutb has similarly stated that dignity is the natural right of every individual. The children of Adam have been honoured not for their personal attributes or status in society, but for the fact that they are human beings. ‘Dignity is therefore the absolute right of everyone.’ Zuhayli has similarly noted that ‘dignity is the natural right (haqq tabi’i) of every human being. Islam has upheld it as such and made it a principle of government and a criterion of interaction (al-mu’amalah) among people.’ It is not permissible to violate the personal dignity of anyone, regardless of whether the person is pious or of ill-repute, Muslim or non-Muslim. Even a criminal is entitled to dignified treatment. For punishment is meant to be for retribution and reform, not indignity and humiliation. Most of these commentators have made reference, in addition to the clear text of the Qur’an, to the hadith that records the incident where the Prophet saw a funeral procession passing by; upon seeing it, he rose in respect and remained standing until one of his Companions informed him that the deceased person was a Jew. This intervention provoked the Prophet’s disapproval as he posed the question, ‘Was he not a human being?’ The Prophet, in other words, did not consider the religious following of the deceased person to have any bearing on his inherent dignity, which called for unqualified respect. Muhammad al-Ghazali has quoted Ibn Hazm to the effect that a Christian woman, Umm al-Harith bint Abi Rabi’a, died and the Prophet’s Companions took part in her funeral procession. Al-Ghazali then concluded that ‘we would like to see that our relations with other communities are founded on this kind of latitude (al-samaha). This is because we believe that Islam commands us to have good and peaceful relations with those who are not aggressive toward us’. The Qur’anic declaration under review has also prompted Weeramantry to observe that the Qur’an makes dignity intrinsic to the personality of every individual so that ‘no regime, however powerful, could take it away from him’. This inherent human dignity also ‘provides the basis of modern doctrines of human rights’.

The Qur’anic declaration of dignity for the whole of the human race in the foregoing ayah has, in another place, been more specifically endorsed with reference to the Muslims. The dignified status (al-izza) of the believers is thus expounded alongside that of God Most High and His Messenger, Muhammad:

And honour (al-izza) belongs to God, to His Messenger and the believers ....
(al-Munafiqun, 63:8).

On a more general note, the Prophet declared in a hadith that ‘people are God’s children and those dearest to God are the ones who treat His children kindly’.

The Qur’an and Sunnah normally refer to people as God’s servants (‘ibad Allah), but here they are elevated to the status of God’s beloved children, which naturally conveys a more dignified status.

In the physical world, according to the worldview of Islam, there is no place on earth holier than the House of God, the Ka’ba. Yet the Prophet drew the following parallel to express the extent of the dignity of the believers. The Prophet, while facing the Ka’ba, said:

You are most pure and most dignified, but by the One in whose hands Muhammad’s life reposes, the sanctity and honour of a believer, his life and his property, is far greater than yours in the eyes of God.

These clear affirmations of the dignity of man are in turn endorsed in a variety of other contexts in the Qur’an and Sunnah, one of which is the basic unity in the creation of mankind, and its equality in the eyes of the Creator."

The Dignity of Man - Mohammad Hashim Kamali

1/17/2006

Muslims were not uptight and boring people....

...so what's happened to this lot? I remember sharing this story in a very uptight Muslim/Desi School. The laughter of the children was heartwarming; but the shock and disbelief on the face of the 'elders' was priceless.

=========================================================
An-Nuayman Ibn Amr

[...]
"During the caliphate of Uthman, a group of Sahabah were sitting in the Masjid. They saw Makhramah ibn Nawfal, an old man who was about one hundred and fifteen years old and obviously rather senile. He was related to the sister of Abdur-Rahman ibn Awl, who was a wife of an-Nuayman.

Makhramah was blind. He was so weak that he could hardly move from his place in the Masjid. He got up to urinate and might have done so in the Masjid. But the companions shouted at him to prevent him from doing so.. An-Nuayman got up and went to take him to another place, as he was instructed. What is this other place that an-Nuayman took him to? In fact he took him only a short distance away from where he was sitting at first and sat him down.

The place was still in the Masjid!

People shouted at Makhramah and made him get up again all in a frenzy. The poor old man was distressed and said: "Who has done this?" "An-Nuayman ibn Amr," he was told.

The old man swore and announced that he would bash an-Nuayman on the head with his stick if he should meet him.

An-Nuayman left and returned. He was up to some prank of his again. He saw Uthman ibn Allan, the Amir al-Muminim, performing Salat in the Masjid. Uthman was never distracted when he stood for Prayer. An-Nuayman also saw Makhramah. He went up to him an d in a changed voice said: "Do you want to get at an-Nuayman?"

The old man remembered what an-Nuayman had done. He remembered his vow and shouted: "Yes, where is he?" An-Nuayman took him by the hand and led him to the place where the Khalifah Uthman stood and said to him: "Here he is!"

The old man raised his staff and bashed the head of

Uthman. Blood flowed and the people shouted: "It's the Amir al-Muminin!"

The dragged Makhramah away and some people set out to get an-Nuayman but Uthman restrained them and asked them to leave him alone. In spite of the blows he had suffered, he was still able to laugh at the deeds of an-Nuayman.

==============================================
Once Abu Bakr and some companions went on a trading expedition to Busra. Various people on the trip were given fixed duties. Suwaybit ibn Harmalah was made responsible for food and provisions. An-Nuayman was one of the group and on the way he became hun gry and asked Suwaybit for some food. Suwaybit refused and an-Nuayman said to him:

"Do you know what I would yet do with you?" and went on to warn and threaten him but still Suwaybit refused. An-Nuayman then went to a group of Arabs in the suq and said to them: "Would you like to have a strong and sturdy slave whom I can sell to you." T hey said yes and an-Nuayman went on: "He has got a ready tongue and is very articulate. He would resist you and say: 'I am free.' But don't listento him"

The men paid the price of the slave - ten qala'is (pieces of gold) and an-Nuayman accepted it and appeared to complete the transaction with business-like efficiency. The buyers accompanied him to fetch theft purchase. Pointing to Suwaybit, he said: "This is the slave whom I sold to you."

The men took hold of Suwaybit and he shouted for dear life and freedom. "I am free. I am Suwaybit ibn Harmalah..."

But they paid no attention to him and dragged him off by the neck as they would have done with any slave.

All the while, an-Nuayman did not laugh or batter an eyelid. He remained completely calm and serious while Suwaybit continued to protest bitterly. Suwaybit's fellow travellers, realizing what was happening, rushed to fetch Abu Bakr, the leader of the car avan, who came running as fast as he could. He explained to the purchasers what had happened and so they released Suwaybit and had their money returned. Abu Bakr then laughed heartily and so did Suwaybit and an-Nuayman. Back in Madinah, when the episode was recounted to the Prophet and his companions, they all laughed even more.

Pleasant Folk

1/13/2006

Informing Ourselves To Death


By Neil Postman
-----------------------------------
The following speech was given at a meeting of the German Informatics Society (Gesellschaft fuer Informatik) on October 11, 1990 in Stuttgart, sponsored by IBM-Germany.
-----------------------------------
"The great English playwright and social philosopher George Bernard Shaw once remarked that all professions are conspiracies against the common folk. He meant that those who belong to elite trades -- physicians, lawyers, teachers, and scientists -- protect their special status by creating vocabularies that are incomprehensible to the general public. This process prevents outsiders from understanding what the profession is doing and why -- and protects the insiders from close examination and criticism. Professions, in other words, build forbidding walls of technical gobbledegook over which the prying and alien eye cannot see.

[...]

The invention of the printing press is an excellent example. Printing fostered the modern idea of individuality but it destroyed the medieval sense of community and social integration. Printing created prose but made poetry into an exotic and elitist form of expression. Printing made modern science possible but transformed religious sensibility into an exercise in superstition. Printing assisted in the growth of the nation-state but, in so doing, made patriotism into a sordid if not a murderous emotion.

Another way of saying this is that a new technology tends to favor some groups of people and harms other groups. School teachers, for example, will, in the long run, probably be made obsolete by television, as blacksmiths were made obsolete by the automobile, as balladeers were made obsolete by the printing press. Technological change, in other words, always results in winners and losers.

[...]

... The Benedictine monks who invented the mechanical clock in the 12th and 13th centuries believed that such a clock would provide a precise regularity to the seven periods of devotion they were required to observe during the course of the day. As a matter of fact, it did. But what the monks did not realize is that the clock is not merely a means of keeping track of the hours but also of synchronizing and controlling the actions of men. And so, by the middle of the 14th century, the clock had moved outside the walls of the monastery, and brought a new and precise regularity to the life of the workman and the merchant. The mechanical clock made possible the idea of regular production, regular working hours, and a standardized product. Without the clock, capitalism would have been quite impossible. And so, here is a great paradox: the clock was invented by men who wanted to devote themselves more rigorously to God; and it ended as the technology of greatest use to men who wished to devote themselves to the accumulation of money. Technology always has unforeseen consequences, and it is not always clear, at the beginning, who or what will win, and who or what will lose.

[...]
The point is that, in a world without spiritual or intellectual order, nothing is unbelievable; nothing is predictable, and therefore, nothing comes as a particular surprise.

[...]
The tie between information and action has been severed. Information is now a commodity that can be bought and sold, or used as a form of entertainment, or worn like a garment to enhance one's status. It comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don't know what to do with it.

And there are two reasons we do not know what to do with it. First, as I have said, we no longer have a coherent conception of ourselves, and our universe, and our relation to one another and our world. We no longer know, as the Middle Ages did, where we come from, and where we are going, or why. That is, we don't know what information is relevant, and what information is irrelevant to our lives. Second, we have directed all of our energies and intelligence to inventing machinery that does nothing but increase the supply of information. As a consequence, our defenses against information glut have broken down; our information immune system is inoperable. We don't know how to filter it out; we don't know how to reduce it; we don't know to use it. We suffer from a kind of cultural AIDS."
[...]
For the Complete Version, check out:

Informing Ourselves To Death

Success

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier, because you lived. This is to be a success.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Excerpt: The Growth And Development Of Islam In America

"Given this uncertainty about Muslim leadership in America, many have turned to academics to fill the gap, said Sherman Jackson, an associate professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan. This may be an unfortunate trend, argued Jackson, because academics must operate within the confines of the American university: their visions of Islam may be "overinfluenced" by secular constraints.

Jackson advocated instead for a focus on Islamic literacy. "The highest priority is to educate the Muslim population so they can more intelligently consume information about Islam. When a sheikh comes from the Middle East, American Muslims should not be overawed by his perspective," said Jackson.

Jackson called for American Muslims to "translate" instead of "transliterate" Islam into their own context. In particular, he pointed to the need for "home-grown ulema" who are intimately acquainted with the practical religious questions that American Muslims face daily.

But, Jackson continued, "Many of the problems confronting Muslims are not questions of law, but a question of cultural production. No amount of law will change what a veiled Muslim women experiences when she walks down the street. Instead you must change American culture, which means getting inside of it and directing it."

The Growth And Development Of Islam In America

Nasrudin/Joha, don't you just love him?

Nasrudin, ferrying a pedant across a river, said something ungrammatical to him.
'Have you never studied grammar? Asked the scholar.
'No.' Replied Nasrudin.
'Then half of your life has been wasted.' Retorted the dismissive pedant.

A few minutes later Nasrudin turned to the passenger.
'Have you ever learned to swim?'
'No.' Replied the pedant.
'Then I'm afraid all your life is wasted, for it appears that the boat is sinking...'

1/12/2006

Question

American Muslims form a line when buying, say, a bus ticket. Yet, you don't find any GI Jamilas suddenly jumping out to tell people how to form a straight line. It just happens. Amazing, isn't it?

I'm wondering, what causes certain American Muslims to suddenly feel the power of God to such an extent that they must dictate order to the rest of the society? Do they not feel ashamed in the way they oppress other people? Why is ‘common-decency’ a non-issue to most of these negatively- charged- anger-breathing –knuckleheads?

These people who hide in masjids and muslim schools are powerless on the streets, because on the streets they must adopt the dictates of common decency that the rest of the society follows. You'll hardly see a man who stops women at a masjid door (for whatever sick reason) acting in the same arrogant way when he's working in the public sector. There, he’s just an Average- Karim!

In most cultures, people who rule our masjids (and masjid doors) would be considered uneducated, ignorant, and uncultured. In Pakistan, for example, these people would be called Jahil, which means ignorant, & sometimes synonymously, illiterate as well.
That’s correct, illiterate, as opposed to learned sages who must oppress others in order to spread the light of Islam. You, just don’t see a man telling a woman where she belongs in the public domain. In fact, in Pakistan, I can have the man beat up who speaks to me in a disrespectful manner. All I have to do is belch a quick. “ Bachaao!” (Help!). A group of men will gather around me and beat the living day lights out of the man who was trying to approach me. (I think, this needs to be seriously appropriated into the American Muslim Culture). But, I digress.

Back in college, I remember this one guy, who decided he didn’t like pictures, so he took a marker and destroyed all the 'Discover Islam' posters that had a female face on it (strangely, he didnt destory the male visage). Not liking pictures is fine, not liking females is fine, but destroying public property is a crime. And that is not fine. We could’ve easily wasted months on theoretical discussions on whether picture – formation is haraam in Islam or not but we instead to focus on social –responsibility and the need for the community to uphold a certain level of common –decency. It worked!

But back to the main concern: How is it that people are getting away with this lack of common decency or professionalism in Muslim Institutions? Why aren’t we attacking this from the angle of social responsibility instead of wasting time with entertaining their mindless arguments?

1/11/2006

Why do humans feel the need to prostrate?



You can have a major impact on your youth by reducing the stress in your life with friendship, exercise, mediation, and group affiliation [check]. In fact, doing so will give back thirty of the thirty-two years that major life events can take away. Two of our favorite stress reducers are laughing and meditating. Laughing, which reduces anxiety, tension, and stress, can make you between 1.7 and 8 years younger.

With meditation, there’s a multiple payoff. Mediation helps maintain your brain cells and preserve memory-related functions, and the stress-reeducations component of mediation helps prevent such conditions as depression an anxiety disorder. To mediate, all you need is a quiet room [or a prayer mat?]. With your eyes partially closed, focus on your breathing and repeat the same word or phrase over and over again – like “um or” one.”

(You - The Owner's Manual by Dr. Roizen and Dr. Oz M.D, page 93)

=======================================================
Easy YogaA large international yoga organization, 3HO, has adopted the suj├╗d from Islamic prayer, calling it "Easy Yoga."

Islam and Yoga (Interesting paper)

1/08/2006

Enlightment

The world is full of half-enlightened masters. Overly clever, too "sensitive" to live in the real world, they surround themselves with selfish pleasures and bestow their grandiose teachings upon the unwary. Prematurely publicizing themselves, intent upon reaching some spiritual climax, they constantly sacrifice the truth and deviate from the Tao. What they really offer the world is their own confusion.

The true master understands that enlightenment is not the end, but the means. Realizing that virtue is her goal, she accepts the long and often arduous cultivation that is necessary to attain it. She doesn't scheme to become a leader, but quietly shoulders whatever responsibilities fall to her...

Hua Hu Ching

1/07/2006

Inspired by Mrs. MuDD...

There's something about forgiveness - seeking it, giving it, and receiving it that brings about peace to one's soul. All those who've passed on probably wish they had sought more forgiveness and had been more forgiving. Maybe that's why we need to seek forgiveness for those who can't seek forgiveness for themselves and be forgiving toward those who are occupied with the drunkness of their youth. Maybe someday, we too will find ourselves in the same predicament, wondering why we wasted our lives when we could've done so much more. Maybe that day our granddaughter, or perhaps a distant friend, will think of us and seek forgiveness for our soul. (i sure hope so!)

As a child, my grandmother often reminded me to include all the Prophets (peace be upon them) and their Companions (raa), all the Angels, all my dead realitives and their loved ones, and anyone who has ever felt righteousness in their heart, in my duas. "But if i gave all my duas away what will be left for me?," i asked my grandmother. "Everything and so much more...,"said my Nano!

They say when you pray for someone in need, angels in turn pray for you. (Sahih Muslim,narrated byAbudDarda ra: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: There is no believing servant who supplicates for his brother behind his back (in his absence) that the Angels do not say: The same be for you too


Lucifer made a vow that he’ll lead people astray until their last breath, So God told him, He will Forgive people until they breathe their last. (wow, take that)

Hadith Qudsi 34:O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great at it.

Hadith Qudsi 11:Spend (on charity), O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.

Hadith Qudsi 18:O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not. He will say: O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say: O Lord, how should I give You to drink whin You are the Lord of the worlds? He will say: My servant So-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would have surely found that with Me.

Volume 9, Book 93, Number 485:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr:

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said to the Prophet "O Allah's Apostle! Teach me an invocation with which I may invoke Allah in my prayers." The Prophet said, "Say: O Allah! I have wronged my soul very much (oppressed myself), and none forgives the sins but You; so please bestow Your Forgiveness upon me. No doubt, You are the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."

1875. (Bukhari) Shaddad ibn Aws stated that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "The best way to ask forgiveness is for a slave to say, 'O Allah, You are my Lord. There is no god but You. You created me and I am Your slave. I comply with Your covenant and Your promise as much as I can. I seek refuge with you from the evil of what I have done. I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me. Only You can forgive sins.' Anyone who says this during the day having confidence in it and dies on that day before evening will be among the people of the Garden. Anyone who says it during the night having confidence in it and dies before morning will be among the people of the Garden." [al-Bukhari]

372. (Bukahri) 'Umar was heard to say, "Anyone who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy. Anyone who does not forgive will not be forgiven. Anyone who does not turn in repentance will not be turned to nor will he be protected or guarded."


...The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man... (Bukhari)

1/04/2006

Dr. Sherman Jackson

Interesting pointers from the notes i took while listening to Islam and Muslims In america.

(any mistakes in transmission are mine)
==========================================================

"Muslims in America are an amalgamation of races, ethnicities, classes, and histories bound together by a common commitment to a set of basic religious and theological postulates, and an ongoing exchange in words and in deeds about what these religious and theological postulates mean in the context of their desire for a dignified and self-respecting existence as Muslims in America...

It is this conversation that really defines the lives of these people and their status as a Muslim Collectivity in America.

Historical reality of the first three centuries influenced the normative teachings of Islam

It’s not simply the Quran and the Sunnah that define the parameters of Islam. One must add dictates of the sacred history.

To reiterate, part of what’s going on in modern Islam is the continuation of the process of seeking to vindicate ones articulation of Islam through a conversation with the parameters of acceptable doctrine that emerged out of the period of sacred history.

Permanency in articulation -> cant ignore sacred history.

(classical period) Doctors of law had the most authoritative discourse and therefore had the authority to define the parameters of acceptable doctrine

1. they developed processes for accreditation (who was qualified to looked up as doctor of the law and had a degree standard) …only someone who went through a certain type of education and had certain type of accreditation was looked upon as a scholar
2. Developed a public reason: an interpretative methodology via which interpretation of scripture could be validated. Real authority was not in the fact that a scholar was expressing it but in the fact that he could vindicate it by reference to agreed upon normative interpretation of Islam. Moreover, any opinion based on this was considered valid, plausible.

[In classical period, Jurists were independent of the state. They told the state what the law was, and the state applied the law.]

This particular set up gave rise to a massive rise to a diversity of opinion. Diverse opinions that recognize each other as plausible.

Ibn al mundhir (sp?) in the 4th century (10th common era) published a book entitled “ The Book of Consensus” that contained all the issues on which the doctors of the law reached a unanimous consesnsue. Turned out to be 139 pages in large Saudi print.

Tabari (died 8 years before) published "The Book of Disagreement. That book came out to be 3,000 pages in manuscript.

During the period of sacred history, doctor of the law exercised monopoly on literacy. This helped them sustain their power and authority. Before the rise of the printing press only they had access to books.

Simultaneous marginalization of the interpretive authority of the traditional doctors of the law by the modern Muslim state.
Law in classical period, certainly in terms of determine substance of the law, was a sub-state activity. Doctors were independent of the law.
With modern states -- they take over the interpretation of the law. (Govt takes over the legal authority of the doctor.)

[Law systems:
1. Only laws recognized are those issued from the state
2. One law applies to everyone in the state]

At the same time, a vacuum is developed by the fact modernity witnesses the rise of mass literacy and mass access to books.

We have a very different reading public…

Interpretative free for all… results in global authority crisis in modern Islam

Who speaks for Islam?
One mistake is to assume that problems of modern Muslims are an uninterrupted continuation of the problems of the classical period.

Authority now is often confused with and replaced by authorship. If you want to be an authority all you have to do is write. Authority is not based on training or accreditation but simply because you can write. Authority is often confused with authorship.

In many instances, the true basis of the immigrant pretension to authority is not religious knowledge per se, rather their rooted-ness in history that is presumed to be Islamic because it is presented as being an uninterrupted continuation of history that emerges out of the era sacred history. (Looking at competing histories, who has the greatest claim)

..."

Multicultural ...

A transformative approach to reforming the curriculum fundamentally changes its structure to enable students to view concepts, issues, events and themes from the perspective of diverse ethnic and cultural groups. Within this approach, content about minority groups is brought from the margin to the center of the canon and curriculum, which no longer focuses on the mainstream or dominant culture. One of the goals of this approach is to help students understand that knowledge is socially constructed and how it reflects the experiences, values and beliefs of its creators. Transformative curriculum teaches students to think critically and allows them to formulate and justify their own interpretations of events or situations.

1/03/2006

Clarity

The men of old, wanting to clarify and diffuse throughout the empire that light which comes from looking into the heart and then acting, first set up good governments in their own states; wanting good governments in their states, they first established order in their own families, wanting order in their homes, they first disciplined themselves; desiring self-discipline they rectified their hearts; wanting to rectify their hearts, they rectified their tongues, and in desiring to rectify their tongues, they set out to extend their knowledge to the utmost.

Kon Fu Gi.