Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Humans and the Earth

Stephen Hawking, the famed scientist, recently came out with a statement that he doubted humans would survive for another thousand years on this planet due to our destructive ways (pollution, overpopulation, war, etc).  As I look around at all the waste and turmoil around me, I tend to agree.

Of course we Muslims are always on the lookout for the Last Day, however we should not let ourselves become complacent and think that we can be as wasteful as we want because the End Times will come soon anyway.  The Prophet once said that you can waste water doing wudu even if you are doing it in a river.  That seems like a strange idea, but when you do wudu carelessly and splash all over you tend to do it like that in other circumstances.  It is better to train one's self for economy in good times so that in times of hardship we are already prepared to conserve.

I would love to see colonization of the stars.  The Qur'an challenges us to go to the heavens!  I don't see our species being that smart though.  If you've ever known someone who is petty, corrupt, mean or just plain awful, then you realize that for everyone who makes progress, there will be ten hands to pull them down back into the mud.

A believer needs to learn to insulate him or herself from the dirty hands that seek to drag us back to the sad ways of the corrupt.  Becoming arrogant and insular is not a good tactic, though many go that route.  Knowledge is important, but if it is lacking in light, then it is mere words on a page.

Contemplation, as the Qur'an urges "while sitting, standing or lying down on our sides" can open pathways to insight.  I hope more people realize the benefits of wisdom-seeking and step away from the fires of extremism.  Those who cry for jihad all the time usually are the furthest from the spirit of Islam.  Calling for blood does not prove one's faith.  All it shows is that one has a predilection to violence.

Islam doesn't only contain jihad by the hand.  Does anyone even remember those other verses that call for us to forgive, overlook and bear things with patience.  Martin Luther King and Gandhi uses those tactics to great effect.  Where has 25 years of 'jihad' gotten us?  We're worse off than ever before.

Hawking was on to something in saying that we humans are our own worst enemies.  If Islam is the answer, as we say, shouldn't we be leading the way in teaching humanity that we are better than the evil, better than the violent and more sober than the reactionary?  Inshallah we can grow in wisdom and become the examples we need to be - for all of humanity on this fragile ball of life.  Ameen.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Musings on Current Events

The rioting in Baltimore made me think it was the new American Intifada.  I seriously feel that level heads need to get it together, because in a world on fire there are few safe places remaining for people to lead 'normal' lives.

Because the world is currently over-populated and resources are dwindling, I feel if there is a new disruption to world order, it will cause a lot of problems for billions of people.  Although Islam is currently looked down upon due to turmoil in the Middle East, at the end of the day, Islam is the only world religion that says all people were created equal.

Unfortunately it is difficult to get our story and teachings out, given the twin evils of extremists and shrill bigots, but the fact remains: Islam is the best game in town.  Even though mosques in multi-cultural societies have some amount of segregation by culture and race, it is not absolute, and Muslims won't bat an eye if a person of another race comes in to pray with them.

Shoulder to shoulder we stand, with no control nor concern about whom is standing next to him or her.  The metaphor is that we are all equal.  At Hajj, we are all equal.  Are Muslims perfect?   No, far from it, but our ideology -- when properly understood as our righteous forebears understood it -- is second fiddle to no one.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Islam and the Ruins of the Past

I keep reading about how ISIS is always destroying landmarks, ruins, old places and antiquities.  Except for a small few episodes here and there, for the bulk of Muslim history, previous generations of Muslims were largely content with coexisting with such ancient things. 

The Qur'an tells us to pass by the ruins and the traces of past civilizations and ponder over how they passed away.  The implication, of course, is that we too shall pass away, so we had better not be arrogant and not cling to tightly to a world we have to leave soon anyway.

If ISIS wants to destroy all the old ruins and artifacts, then how are we to obey the Qur'anic injunction to ponder over them?  They are blowing up buildings, artwork and all the rest.  The Qur'an does not require it, and the Prophet (p) did not order his followers to destroy the ruins of the past, and Arabia in his day held many such places.

It is not being 'pure' or 'closer to the truth' to go outside the normal bounds.  I pray that Muslims everywhere think more deeply about the meaning of Islam and how to practice it.  When people with Muslim names act irrationally and go to extremes, the wonderful world of mystery and suspense that the Qur'an offers us is diminished. 

Our faith is enriching by itself.  We don't need to play cowboy and make a big scene all the time.  I cannot understand why, with all the warnings about going to extremes we have in the Qur'an and hadith, that so many Muslims continue to do it.  Sure we must oppose evil and struggle for good, but that doesn't mean that we become the evil ourselves.

I counsel myself firstly and my brothers and sisters all over the world secondly - be sober minded in your faith.  Walk when others are running, as the Prophet said.  We must cling to our faith as a drowning man holds tight to a life preserver, even in those times when it seems others are trying to dunk our heads under water, even though they are supposed to be saving us.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Next Big Thing

I was talking with some students the other day and I happened to mention Facebook.  As a group they practically turned up their noses in disgust at the mere name.  "Mr.," one of them said, "no one uses Facebook anymore."

It got me to thinking.  Before Facebook there was MySpace, and I remember hearing the same about that website when Facebook took off.  So I asked the students what social media outlets were popular now, and they all responded with "Snapchat."

"What about Twitter?" I asked.  They all said they didn't use it.  So it seems that modes of communication are a generational thing.  Twitter and Facebook seem to be for the over 25 crowd, while SnapChat and a couple of others are the 'new' thing.

Later in the day I wondered about books.  Most bookstores all over the country have long since closed.  Barnes and Noble is the last major chain, and now they've branched out into coffee and toys in their stores.  People still buy books online, and there's also ebooks, but the audience seems to be dwindling. 

When bookstores dotted the landscape, it was easy for people to go inside, browse and find new things.  Now, unless you specifically look for something, it's hard to find anything new and fresh online.  We are all at the mercy of links, 'suggestions' carefully scripted for us and the like.

I also am cognizant of the fact that most people look for shorter reads now.  The days of the 300+ page book in the mainstream are over.  Most people I know under 20 only read small paragraphs here and there on websites.  Are books an older generational thing?  Many new ebooks are 'interactive' which means they embed songs, music, animations and the like in the text.

Are books of the future basically television lite?  I wonder what this means for our future generations of believers, because Islam is a text heavy religion.  Learning and knowledge are part and parcel of our program.  When I hear about how the different militant groups in the Middle East are 'using social media' to get recruits using videos, twitter feeds and chat rooms to make their points, I ponder over the lack of knowledge that seems to feed off itself.  Slogans are great, but if there is no substance behind the emotion, disaster is sure the follow.  Jazzing up the message with brutality and all that is a poor substance for introspection and deliberate mindfulness.

Friday, April 24, 2015


Assalamu alaykum,

I decided to open a blog in the hopes of commenting on issues of the day.  Inshallah, I also feel it may be a good way to remind myself of what is really important in this world - and in the next.  Ameen.