Innovation & Creativity in Islam
This article examines two fundamental concepts essential to the dynamic application of Islam: bid‘a (innovation) and ijtihad (critical thinking for solutions to new problems). Both concepts are meant to preserve continuity with Islam’s original sources while renewing the religion’s vitality as a dynamic faith. Correct understanding of bid‘a and ijtihad is an essential element of Islamic literacy, the basic understanding of Islam that all members of the Muslim community must have. Bid‘a serves as a regulatory mechanism for the elaboration of the religious law but is not meant to be an obstructive force, impeding new ideas and silencing open discourse. Bid‘a has different shades of meaning and is not always negative; it applies equally to innovations that are obligatory, recommended, or merely neutral. Ijtihad, on the other hand, is the creative dimension of Islamic law. The obligation to perform it falls on each Muslim community in the context of its particular time and place. Ijtihad is not solely an obligation of scholars; it also is incumbent on the Muslim rank and file, who are required to think critically about which scholars to follow.
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Islam & the Cultural Imperative
This article addresses the fundamental need for American Muslims - among the most promising, wealthiest and educated Muslim minorities in history - to consciously establish a new, unique cultural identity. To lay down roots and survive, Islam must reflect the good in America’s diverse races and ethnicities. Historically, Islamic jurists have upheld the Prophet’s legal precedent for respecting non-Arabs’ ethnic and cultural differences as long as they did not contravene his teaching. Islam’s spread and triumphant past reflects this glorious global culture. Like a crystal clear river, Islam and sacred law are pure but colorless, until they reflect the Chinese, African, & other bedrock over which they flow.
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Mercy, The Stamp of Creation
This paper examines the role of mercy in the Islamic tradition and eternal salvation, and its imprint on all affairs of the universe. Although Islam is often proclaimed as the ‘religion of peace,’ theologically, it is more accurate to refer to it as the ‘religion of mercy.’ God has designated mercy as his primary relation to the universe and sent his greatest prophet, Muhammad, as its emissary. Following this, Muslims are commanded to be vanguards of mercy to the world in fostering benefit and averting harm. Islam enjoins a healthy and spiritually alive heart and teaches a law of universal reciprocity by which God shows mercy to the merciful and withholds it from the unmerciful.
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One God, Many Names
This paper addresses the primordial origin of the divine names of God in order to establish the equivalency of the Biblical ‘God’ to Islam’s ‘Allah’ and the need for American Muslims to embrace both. While Muslims affirm that they worship the ‘God of Abraham,’ recently America’s religious right has denied this common ground. This point is aided by English-speaking Muslims’ avoidance of the word ‘God,’ due to an erroneous assumption that ‘Allah’ alone carries legitimacy.
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Innovation & Creativity in Islam
Posted by Ayesha at 8/25/2006
I'm amazed by how little we know as a human race. I'm amazed that we're as arrogant as we are despite the fact that we know so little. We still don't know where electrons go when they disappear and reappear, we still don't know if at our most basic level we're particles or waves, we still don't know who or what is the observer that determines the location of the particle? We still don't know how the first heart beat is initiated.
Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going?
Science, believe it or not, doesn't have the answers either. There are only theories. But that's not my point of interest. I'm more interested in the way we think and learn.
What makes us, a small carbon unit, to believe we're capable enough, that we're conscious enough to construct and understand the multi-layered realities of this vast and for the most part, unseen universe? (Dark Matter anyone?) We don't know who or what we are yet we claim to understand GOD -- the Ultimate Observer.
A crazy lady who claims to channel a 4,000 year old spirit actually said something very profound in the documentary "What the bleep do we know"? (A must see! You'll find the work of Dr. Emoto alongside theories of Quantum Mechanics and How to control your dumb self among other interesting models, which you might or might not agree on), when she said, "The height of arrogance is the height of control of those who create God in their own image!"
I don't know exactly what she was implying but I know what that means for me and my synaptic connections, mainly that, we come to understand what we deem reality through our measly and imperfect minds. Minds that are incapable of understanding Dark Matter yet arrogant enough to claim to understand God. We impart images of God through our arrogant and incomplete understanding making the lot that's actually seeking Him, sick to their stomach.
I don't know what the heck I really am, where I come from, or where im going, (that is, if im a spiritual being trying to be human, not a human being trying to be spiritual, as eloquently quoted by Sheikh Abdullah Adhami), then how can I claim to be the only one who understands the meaning of life and further dictate how everyone should live according to my feeble model of reality.
Perhaps reality is best designed through the minds of many rather than just one. Perhaps the suggestion of loving the Prophet (saw) (and enlightened beings) is so that we humble ourselves and realize that we're incapable of understanding the meaning of reality without Divine help and each other. The Prophet (saw) was endowed with an excellent character, an existence that perhaps understood God more than any of us losers. Enlightened beings too understand reality in a way unfamiliar to our learning models and thus it is crucial to tap into as many minds, as many ways of thinking one is capable of. That is, if one already understands how she learns to learn.
More on this later...
Meanwhile, munch on the following:
"The smallest units of matter are, in fact, not physical objects in the
ordinary sense of the word; they are forms, structures or in Plato's
sense, Ideas, which can be unambiguously spoken of only in the
language of mathematics."
"We have to remember that what we observe is not nature in itself but
nature exposed to our method of questioning."
"Observation plays a decisive role in the event and . . . the reality
varies, depending upon whether we observe it or not."
The Particle Adventure: An interactive tour of fundamental particles and forces
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
The Particle Adventure
Watch it free on Google. (Large file; some sexual content; viewer discreation is advised)
What the Bleep Do We Know?
Double Split Experiment - What is Matter?
Posted by Ayesha at 8/10/2006
There was an Eastern Doctor who believed in the healing power of words. In addition to his regular practice he devoted a lot of time praying and motivating his patients. He would sit for hours with those of his patients suffering from grave brain injuries.
One fine day another brilliant surgeon, an expert in his field, heard about this weird practice of the foreign doctor. He decided to confront his mumbo jumbo and to put him in his place for showing such blatant disrespect to the fine profession of medicine!
Sure enough the next day the surgeon found the Eastern Doctor with one of his patients, whispering sweet words of encouragement. He walked up to him and said,
“You know this will not help a bit. You are wasting your time!”
“How can you call yourself a doctor and believe that mere words can aid the condition of a patient”? The surgeon tried one more time.
“Basta**!” came the first response.
“What?!?” asked the surgeon in disbelief.
“A**hole!” came the second response.
“How dare you speak to me like that, I will kill you? Do you know who are speaking with, I will destroy you, you Son of a Beech!!!” screamed the surgeon.
“Stop right there.” said the Eastern Doctor calmly.
“HUH? What? How dare you tell me to …” panted still a very angry surgeon.
“I’ve only said two words to you and suddenly your heart rate has increased, your body is producing sweat, and you are out of breath. Surely, words must have some mysterious power?”
I can’t remember where I originally heard or read this story. Re-heard it last night from a friend. If you know the source let me know.
Posted by Ayesha at 8/03/2006