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Imran Khan's Economic Team Leader & Neo-Classical Economics

i'm so excited! i heard Imran Khan, Chairman of Justice Movement Pakistan, in an interview said they have an economic expert in their party, a professor in Cambridge University, who has critiqued neoclassical economic theory. Neoclassical economics or capitalism is anti-poor, it professes theories with sophisticated mathematical foundations which ultimately argue against welfare economics in which "people are means and ends of development", where growth and progress is not pursued with promotion of selfishness. I cannot explain neoclassical economics and its flaws, i'd recommend exploring this site by another Pakistani economist Dr Asad Zaman: Critiques of Economic Theory.

[update coming]

Commons Land Case: Western vs Islamic Perspective

Dr Asad Zaman in his lectures discussed privatization by comparing an Islamic and Western judgement on an historical issue of commons land. I'm going to describe it in my words:

In England there was commons' land, and as the word common modifies the land it means land for the common people. Common people depended on this land for their livelihood and shelter. They were mostly people with no luxuries or even modest income levels, who're only surviving on what they could find in the forests, lakes, etc., for themselves and/or for their cattle. Similarly, it provided them housing and stuff. They were poor people but the land made life liveable and gave a sense of security against economic upheavals and complete bankruptcy of basic necessities.

The rich people had their eyes on it for long. In 1066, after the Normans Conquest, things changed drastically. Rich and powerful lords approached for 'privatization' of the land, in a sense. All the poor people were banished from the commons land, which became not so common by then. Their houses were destroyed and what not. Survival became difficult, if not impossible. Previously, they could graze their sheep and drink its milk or eat fresh fish from flowing lakes or rivers and survive, but now the conditions became worse.

The same situation took place back in the times of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Their was a commons land under his rule on which poor people used to graze their cattle. Rich and powerful people approached him (PBUH) to allow their cattle to enter it for grazing. Prophet (PBUH) forbade their entrance and instructed them to find some other pasture or land for their big flocks, lest they might overgraze the rightful share of poor people's pasture.

The judgement given by Prophet (PBUH) is totally opposite to the one given by the kuffar and shows the basis of Islamic economics to be welfare of the people and especially the poor.

Tanzil.net - Quran Navigator

Tanzil.net is Quran navigator that i use on daily bases. It has over 100 translation texts. It has multiple Arabic typefonts, if you will. The main thing which other Quran projects - like Online Quran Project, etc - lack, despite their brilliance, is recitation along with translation text with Arabic, but also English translation. I hope they expand and include other voice translations. Moreover, i find it very user friendly in terms of finding ayahs, etc.

The project teams introduces Tanzil.net as following:

"Tanzil is a Quranic project launched in early 2007 to produce a highly verified Unicode Quran text to be used in Quranic websites and applications." [Italics mine.]

The fact that it can be incorporated into other apps and sites is very useful. The developer of the project is Mr Hamid Zarrabi-Zadeh, who also teaches computer science in Iran, may Allah preserve him and his team.

Tension b/w National & Islamic Identity

I'm talking about those Muslim countries which became national countries only recently and which had muslims residing there for centuries.


It is one of the tragedies that have befallen this ummah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that after their encounter with West and its subsequent disintegration Muslims have started to invoke same old jahili (ignorant) slogans of their nationalism - being Iranian, Pharaohic Egyptian, Ottoman Turkish, etc - as sort of replacement with their everlasting Islamic identity. So this is a new phenomenon. Seyyed Hossein Nasr in this talk talks about this tension in Iran where some modernist Iranians, most of them miles away from Iran living in San Fransisco, etc., are maligning Islam and are making these false claims that Islam was thrust upon them. He argues that how can 50k Arab Nomads convert millions of Iranians, and rest of people from China to Iraq. In fact, it is a disgrace, a slap on the face of the ancestors in these countries who although took some time to integrate completely with Islam, so no clash with their multiple identities. Talking of identities, Amartya Sen argues in his Identity and Violence, that people have multiple identities. Conflict arises when a person has an irreducible identity.


This invoking of slogans of days of ignorance is accompanied by the belief that Qur'an has nothing to offer to Muslims and their problems (better to be called diseases in Islamic context); hence we'll look towards West and progress. I do not see any other source of impetus for these attitudes in many Muslim countries than Western thought paradigm, channeled through its educational systems. Modernist people try their best to rip off any Islamic sentiment or idea that may be encompassing, or partially part of, movements, institutions, in Muslim countries, of past or present, to prove absence of Islam in the lives of people or duality in Islam between worldly and heavenly. They think they're "unreasonable folks" who can think independently but they're perhaps worst slaves of every notion or theory issuing from West, because they're destroying one identity they can possibly belong to.


(To be continued....)

Audacity of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf



Such is the brutality of militant, fundamentalist nationalism: It can destroy careers and defame people for respecting its man-made rituals that make no sense to those who think. Rituals that truly divide people on basis of descent or merely subscribing to the notion of a nation that has no link with the heaven nor any greater purpose than recognition among diversity of other nations. In the absence of a link with the Creator and Sustainer of the world, artificial notions of belonging and binding forces are conjured up to divide people into factions. Americans do tawaf (circling) of some their historic monuments just like Muslims do tawaf of Ka'aaba, built by Hazrat Ibraheem (a.s.). To them their flag is sacred, and desecrating their national anthem or such symbols is greater a sin than desecrating God's Prophets or God himself.

Islam instructs us not to vilify gods of polytheists. Under no condition is a Muslim allowed to burn American flags or vilify its artificial sacred symbols. However, no Muslim can be forced either to surrender and pay respect to such man-made idols. When NBA star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, out of no sudden urge or outrage, but through inner reflection modeled himself not to stand up during the national anthem, whole American nation struck back as if its idols have been destroyed or desecrated. He was instantly fired from NBA some indefinite period, until he agreed to stand-up and that 'he would be permitted to do so with hands cupped together and held prominently in front of his face; he would pray during the song'. What surprised Abdul-Rauf was the attention he got; he said he didn't even think of media noticing it. Because to him it wasn't a matter of enraging American nation, but to do what's in his mind.
"Abdul-Rauf tells me he isn't sure when or why he made the decision to join his team for the anthem, why he decided to come out of that tunnel early. He did not and does not, he says, see it as any special moment of defiance. He doesn't even mention the '93 Trade Center attack; in his mind's eye there's simply no connection. Nor does Abudul-Rauf view himself as a Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali and lost his heavyweight title when he refused to enter the draft for the Vietnam War. Nor does he invoke the historic moment from the 1968 Olympics when Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised fists for black power. As far as Abdul-Rauf is concerned, he was just him being him, true to his faith."

"It was slap in the face. Do what everyone else is doing." "It's honor." The list of humiliation, condemnation, vilification, insults, etc., is endless... He has a white trash can in which he keeps the stock of hate-letters from all over the USA, it was little space for more. Nonetheless, in this public opinion, many did respect his convictions and freedom of speech (that's inspiring):



Is this ritual not like blind following? Is it not from the worst kind of mental slavery? Deification of something that has no deity? The fault of Abdul-Rauf lied in his reasoning, reflection and committment to the truth.

Islam, Family & Muslim Feminists

The following excerpt is perhaps one the most authentic critiques on feminism from islamic point of view from Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr's book Ideals and Realities of Islam:

From the point of view of social structure, the teachings of the Shariah emphasize the role of the family as the unit of society - the family in the extended sense and not in its atomized, nuclear modem form. The greatest social achievement of the Prophet in Medina was precisely in breaking the existing tribal bonds and substituting religious ones which were connected on the one hand with the totality of the Muslim community and on the other hand with the family. The Muslim family is the miniature of the whole of Muslim society and its firm basis. In it, the man or father functions as the Imam in accordance with the patriarchal nature of Islam. The religious responsibility of the family rests upon his shoulders. In the family, the father upholds the tenets of the faith and his authority symbolizes that of God in the world. The man is in fact respected in the family precisely because of the sacerdotal function that he fulfils. The rebellion of Muslim women in certain quarters of Islamic society came when men themselves ceased to fulfil their religious function and lost their virile and patriarchal character. By becoming themselves effemi­nate, they caused the reaction of revolt among certain women who no longer felt the authority of religion upon themselves.
The traditional family is also the unit of stability of society and the four wives that a Muslim can marry, like the four-sided Ka’aba, symbolize this stability. Many have not understood why such a family structure is permitted in Islam and attack Islam for it as if polygamy belongs to Islam alone. Here and again Muslim modernism carries with it the prejudice of Christianity against polygamy to the extent that some have gone even so far as to call it immoral and prefer promiscuity to a social pattern which minimizes all illicit relations to the extent possible. The problem of the attitude of the Western observer is not as important as that segment of modernized Muslim society which itself cannot understand the teachings of the Shariah on this point simply because it uses as criteria categories borrowed from the modern West.
There is no doubt that in a small but significant segment of Muslim society today, there is a revolt of women against traditional Islamic society. In every civilisation a reaction always comes against an existing force or action. In Islam, the very patriarchal and masculine nature of the tradition makes the revolt of those women who have become aggressively modernised more violent and virulent than, let us say, in Hinduism, where the maternal element has always been strong. What many modernised Muslim women are doing in rebelling against the traditional Muslim family structure is to rebel against fourteen centuries of Islam itself although many may not be aware of the inner forces that drive them on. It is the patriarchal nature of Islam that makes the reaction of some modernised women today so vehement. Although very limited in number, they are, in fact, more than Muslim men, thirsting for all things Western. They seek to become modernised in their dress and habits with impetuosity, which would be difficult to understand unless one considers the deep psychological factors involved.
From the Islamic point of view, the question of the equality of men and women is meaningless. It is like discussing the equality of a rose and a jasmine. Each has its own perfume, colour, shape and beauty. Men and women are not the same. Each has particular features and characteristics. Women are not equal to men. But neither are men equal to women. Islam envisages their roles in society not as competing but as complimentary. Each has certain duties and functions in accordance with his or her nature and constitution.
Man possesses certain privileges such as social authority and mobility against which he has to perform many heavy duties. First of all, he bears all economic responsibility. It is his duty to support his family completely even if his wife is rich and despite the fact that she is economically independent. A woman in a traditional Islamic society does not have to worry about earning a living. There is always the larger family structure in which she can find a place and take refuge from social and economic pressures even if she has no husband or father. In the extended family system, a man often supports not only his wife and children but also his mother, sister, aunts, in-laws and sometimes even cousins and more distant relatives. Therefore in city life, the necessity of having to find a job at all costs and having to bear the economic pressure of life is lifted from the shoulders of women. As for the countryside, the family is itself the economic unit and the work is achieved by the larger family or tribal unit together.
Secondly, a woman does not have to find a husband for herself. Site does not have to display her charms and make the thousand and one plans through which she hopes to attract a future mate. The terrible anxiety of having to find a husband and of missing the opportunity if one does not try hard enough at the right moment is spared the Muslim woman. Being able to remain true to her nature, she can afford to sit at home and wait for her parents or guardian to choose a suitable match. This usually leads to a marriage which, being based on the sense of religious duty and enduring family and social bonds between the two sides, is more lasting arid ends much more rarely in divorce than the marriages which are based on the sentiments of the moment that often do not develop into more permanent relationships.
Thirdly the Muslim woman is spared direct military and political responsibility although in rare cases there have been women warriors. This point may appear as a deprivation to some but in the light of the real needs of feminine nature, it is easy to see that for most women, such duties weigh heavily upon them. Even in modern societies, which through the equalitarian process have tried to equate men and women as if there were no difference in the two sexes, Women are usually spared the military draft except in extreme circumstances.
In return for these privileges which the woman receives, she has also certain responsibilities of which the most important is to provide a home for her family and to bring up her children properly. In the home the woman rules as queen and a Muslim man is in a sense the guest of his wife at home. The home and the larger family structure in which she lives are for the Muslim woman her world. To be cut off from it would be like being cut off from the world or like dying. She finds the meaning of her existence in this extended family structure which is constructed so as to give her the maximum possibility of realizing her basic needs and fulfilling herself.
The Shariah therefore envisages the role of men and women according to their nature, which is complimentary. It gives the man the privilege of social and political authority and movement for which he has to pay by bearing heavy responsibilities, by protecting his family from all the forces and pressures of society, economic and otherwise. Although a master in the world at large and the head of his own family, the man acts in his home as one who recognize the rule of his wife, in this domain and respects it. Through mutual understanding and the realization of the responsibilities that God has placed on each other’s shoulders, the Muslim man and woman are able to fulfill their personalities and create a firm family unit which is the basic struc­ture of Muslim society.
Reference: Ideals and Realities of Islam,  George AIIen &; Unwin, London, 1966, pp. 110-113.


Found the piece at: http://www.islam101.com/women/jameelah.htm

Crossroads

My situation is very much like what this video had when he was finished with his 1st degree program in Music. He did a music degree because he failed at math and had always been a C grade student of math; highest grade he ever got till high school was B+. But he longed for doing electrical engineering (EE) and/or electronics. He had a romance for it. And, he is doing  his romance these days by pursuing EE degree at Temple University (which I've heard or mentioned a lot in religious books/texts). He just finished his 1st year there when he made this video and scored what GPA? Remember he scored ~2 GPA in high school. What's your guess, what he might have scored in 1st year of EE program? --------- 4.0 GPA! He studied calculus, physics, comp programming, discrete maths & what not! What brought that transformation in a C grade science student in just a more than 1 year... He answers that in the video.

I too failed at understanding electrical physics and calculus in 2nd year of my high school (or FSc). And i decided not to go for a science degree, but i've always wanted a romance with it. And, now i've the same resource available to him that helped enter and succeed in (at least the 1st year of) EE, i'm interested in industrial, communications, avionics and computer science. I must give it a shot...

Life these days

My life nowadays is dedicated to fragmentation, self-indulgence, boasting, overeating, pursuit of enjoyment of illusionary things... 

New Horizons I

* i've discovered one of purposes in my life: importance of belonging to family. The idea and ideal of having a family forever - extended family, to be precise. It includes a sense a belongingness; an aspiration to build a small community of life, and become something more in the process. Its no less than a life-long mission.

* You can be poor and still be happy, authentic and lead a life full of dignity - unless of course one judges oneself from the eyes of a materialistic world.

* We're either worldly or heavenly. Only the latter state offers true inclusion and integration of the worldly and what has to come next.

* Money is our servant, neither our master nor our end objective.

* I will try to finish everything I start.

* Our mind can never focus on two things at a time.

Anonymity: A Way of Life

One of the characteristics of this age is that people no more want to live a secluded and anonymous life. Social networking sites have dissolved this spirit completely even for those who lack the 'genius' to engage in relationship with others in the real world. If you read the Sufis of Anduslia by Shaykh Ibn e Arabi, r.a., you'd come across many stories of men and women who're very successful, because Allah noticed them, and disdained worldly pomp, caprice and self-projections.

i've been on holidays for a while and been cut off from distant friends after deactivating my Facebook account during ramadan. Some of my closest friends complained where had i been for so long?! Why am i leading a gumnaam (anonymous or secluded) life? May be i wanted them to say so, thanks to the whisperings of my carnal soul. I confess i had not been on a spiritual quest seeking the company of Allah that i've confined myself to the home, but such a lifestyle is very enjoyable to say the least... i've not really practised khalwa (seclusion) at all - i've spent lot of time on internet, watching videos and playing an online strategy game while ending up spending negligible time on reading books...

Nonetheless, like all others i want to have a certain way of life when i start earning inshaAllah. i wish to be economically independent. i like to be like one of my neighbors, a reporter - (about whose house i'd talk about in the next post inshaAllah) - who's living a seemingly comfortable yet a simple life with beautiful and intelligent kids... A life dedicated to travelling to gain knowledge for the sake of Allah and to quench the thirst of curiosity, may it never die. A life of seclusion with least mixing with people. A life of least activity and most reflection, study, chores, and routine cyclical daily activities that keep adding more and more spiritual light to my home and its dwellers in a mosque-like environment... A life not dedicated to competition with people in riches but in knowledge; not dedicated to piling gold and worldly things, but spreading excessive wealth to those in need... A life of labour and hardship yet peace and serenity in close proximity with natural things, like mud. A life of least acceleration yet tiresome...

Imperial Hubris

"We cannot leave wild beasts [Haqqani Network / Afghan freedom fighter] in the backyard of a the neighbour [Pakistan]."

- Hilary Clinton

How vile... Jon Stewart makes a fine point about US establishment that they're not really imperial colonists but imperial puppeteers: they don't like to rule people, but rule them through people who are like them. That's exactly what Britishers left as intermediaries or brown colonists amidst their independent colonies who carried forward their agenda to this day.

my biggest problem

i live in the world of fantasies not realities.

Now according to psychologists, fantasies that can't just happen are notthe same as positive high expectations. The latter fuel success; former failure.

But they don't know or don't mention that this is a symptom of spiritual illness. What's my cure?

Universality & Internal Diversity of Islamic Jurisprudence

Islamophobic politicians, intellectuals and all sort of people in Europe/West think that Islam needs to pass through the same phase Christianity did in medieval period with its enlightenment and reformation to really 'inhabit the West'. Well, it only proves, as an initial note, the reality revealed by Qur'an that these kuffar would never like Muslims until we become like them. Nonetheless, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad in his speech in islamabad talks about these 'absent-minded claims' as simply being products of lack of knowledge of Islam and their own history. Westerns, generally, have always tried to view islam and its ideals from the eyes of their philosophies and mindset, unfortunately modernized muslims are committing the same error. Shaykh Murad talks about a Dutch politician's onslaught on Islam in West who thinks that Islam must be reformed or marginalized:
Fortuyn’s error was to impose a Christian squint on Islam. As a practising Catholic, he imported assumptions about the nature of religious authority that ignore the multi-centred reality of Islam. On doctrine, we try to be united - but he is not interested in our doctrine. On fiqh, we are substantially diverse. Even in the medieval period, one of the great moral and methodological triumphs of the Muslim mind was the confidence that a variety of madhhabs could conflict formally, but could all be acceptable to God. In fact, we could propose as the key distinction between a great religion and a sect the ability of the former to accommodate and respect substantial diversity. Fortuyn, and other European politicians, seek to build a new Iron Curtain between Islam and Christendom, on the assumption that Islam is an ideology functionally akin to communism, or to the traditional churches of Europe.
A talk by Shaykh in islambad, 2002. 

To Bark or To Bite

i entered a home. No one was in the porch. i headed to the main door but the sight of the dog (i's familiar with) stopped me to think before leaping. A motorbike stood like destiny between the two - me and the ferocious German Sheppard dog. The dog turned on the other side, i though it was leaving. It only took a second to realize that it was trying to come over to get my calcium deprived bones. Terrain was such that if i tried to run towards the main door, i'd be in trouble. Hence, i turned back towards the gate. I didn't just turn my back - i ran like an athlete starts a 100m sprint in Olympics. Just before reaching the doorknob i looked back to be aware of the situation and to my vehshat (fear) the dog was madly jumping and running towards me. Those moments between my opening the knob, getting out and sighting the vicious dog were very . . . dreamlike exciting xD because i knew i'd make it...

Pitrus Bukhari, an Urdu writer and MA English, makes a point about this assertion that barking dogs don't bite: how do you know when they stop barking and start biting?

Fear of Enemy

i, compared to my father and elder brother, am a bit coward a person, always diffident when it comes to clashes. Not that i'm a peace loving, hit me on the other cheek guy as well. But, i fear an enemy or oppressor who overpowers me by large proportion, and do not find myself really willing to challenge openly that person or party with shuja or courage. Nonetheless, a single person can overcome many if he fears Allah. i read this translation of a verse of Qur'an that just opened my eyes. It also points to the fact that a  Muslim is never powerless!

13. Would you, perchance, fail to fight against people who have broken their solemn pledges, and have done all that they could to drive the Apostle away,[1207] and have been first to attack you? Do you hold them in awe? Nay, it is God alone of whom you ought to stand in awe,[1208] if you are [truly] believers!
Translation: Muhammad Asad. 

'Recreate, Don't watch people recreating'

People spend hours watching sports, even missing their prayers during live matches. This is totally absurd. Experience recreation, not watch people experiencing it. Playing outdoor games is a serious business. If you're playing football or cricket, there's much more than playing the game. You've to organize people, develop strategies, deal with emotions, conflicts, disagreements and what not. You've keep yourself fit. I've improved my diet playing daily. Major obvious benefit is the health bonus one gets.

But, for a Muslim, he has to purify his intentions even when it comes to recreation. We do not recreate for no good, but are conscious that its a useful activity for human life and can even uplift our eemaan if we follow the morals of Prophets, such as not cheating, not loosing one's control over his emotions, as we often witness huge conflicts resulting from games.

Comforting our Women

Those women who live in their houses and do domestic work, when as per Islamic fiqh they've no obligation to do so, are doing jihad in the way of Allah that is Equal to the jihad of men in the battlefield. SubhanAllah. And, how do cultural Muslims behave? They treat them like domesticated animals, in fact i've seen many taking more care of their dogs than their wives. This may sound like exaggeration, but by care i do not mean they beat them, or do not fulfill their health or other needs, but in terms of love, intimacy, and kindness. So this mistreatment of women is all cultural thing whereever it is. Yet, i deny that muslims have monoploy over domestic violence which is another subject; Shaykh Hamza Yusuf mentions that killings or violence against women in US alone is cause most by their boy friends or husbands, and they're not Muslims. Moreover, many convert women to Islam talk about a different kind of respect they receive in Muslim societies which is absent in west and that is of bashfulness in Muslim men, which we're losing thanks to the onslaught of westernized media that commoditizes women.

I'm insipred by Prophet Muhammad, s.a.w, hence i take honor in serving my mother and other women with tea or stuff like that. Muslim men have a very hard time understanding that women should be treated well if one wants to be a good, in fact, best Muslim. Its all in Prophetic sunnah and teachings. But, at the same time, in this age we see this tendency that men become slaves of their wives and supersede the instructions of their wives to that of their mother or father. It's happening all around us. It's a dark age we're living in. May Allah protect us from these evils... wa ma taufiqi illa billah

Reflections on my Faith Islam & how Muslims Encounter Faith Today

In the Name of Allah; I seek refuge in Allah from the evil of Satan

[Forgive v poor sentence structures & grammar.]

Like Imam Ghazzali (r.a.) i've immutable belief on 3 things:

- In the Existence of Allah (swt) - is there any doubt about Allah?
- The Day of Judgement
- Truth of the institution of Prophethood

With these beliefs, one may presume that there is no room for skepticism, not that kind which doubts one's own existence. But, that is not the case- one can still have doubts about one's religion with these beliefs. When we're born we become Muslims, Christians, Atheists, etc., if we were born in that particular family. But, its only with the dawn of consciousness, if you might call it, that we're sometimes forced to reexamine our acquired belief, perhaps due to external stimuli or even due to one's own disposition to question things. In this age, former is more true than the later. Nonetheless. Having watched videos/stories of so many converts to Islam - be them atheists, Christians, etc. - it was either of the two, while predominantly external stimuli played a greater role, thanks to 9/11, terrible news about Muslims, new Biblical scholarship that proves almost all the stances of Islam on Christianity such as tehreef or human interference in Bible, etc.

Muslims rarely venture into uncomfortable waters of examination and use of intellect, especially those who're not well trained in traditional Islam, because the students of Qur'an and Sunnah know the proofs, evidences, and narrations of the truth of Islam. Nonetheless, overall atmosphere is that of fear when it comes to talking to people of other belief and to those having no faith at all, except, perhaps, in the desires of their nafs. (I'm not proposing that their kufr is due to following their desires of soul, merely, but perhaps a historical process that led to 'the eclipse of soul and intellect', namely modernity or renaissance, which has very well defined features, that really closed their eyes to Divine Realities.)

This is not how our great scholars of the past behaved. Imam Abu Hanifa used to debate (in most beautiful manner) with atheists in the masjid saying to the effect, "Let's see what you've got." Imam Ghazzali wrote in his autobiography that he had (so deeply) analyzed the skeptics and atheists that they could not hide their real reasons for disbelief. This is very interesting.

It is high time we see/question things logically - because logic can even give us life through Islam or kill us with disbelief. It is only those confused people who're afraid of not talking to other. We've to start from understanding the hidden assumptions of this deen and that of disbelief. Our assumption is that there is an Unseen, and we believe in it, we believe in the ghaib. Why we believe in it and we humanity cannot risk not believing in it - this is the point from where the discussion may start. And, everything that is Islamic worldview is very logical and is very clear. Most of the rational people in US or West who came to Islam came to it because they could not bring an argument against islam that Qur'an or Muslims could not refute or at least provide an equally logical perspective on that.

In the end, i'd like to say that because of our heedlessness in acquiring both Islamic worldview and modern sciences, our own brothers and sisters are becoming mental victim of a Dajjalic civilization that is based on the idea and force of deception and deceiving people from seeing things the way they actually are. Biggest enemies of Islam are living within us, and they just like us, but it's logical fallacies they're really a victim of; a lack of clear understanding of world, matter and soul.

wa ma taufiqi illa billah

Writer's Block: Need ideas for new blog posts

I'm facing writer's block these days. I need cool ideas for short or medium range blog posts. Tags would be welcoming too...

Looking forward to your cool ideas in the comments section.

Musa & Ibraheem of Islam


Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: "Umer is like Musa (P) & Abu Bakr [Siddique] is like Ibraheem."

Nothing has Changed: New & Old Pharorahs

When i read Qur'an about the states and conversations of False people of past, i can see the same arguments and states in today's "modern jahiliyya" even if they sound very intellectual. Similarly, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in this part of his speech, Western Ailments & Islamic Medicine, has compared oppressors of past with today's oppressors.

Western Ailment & Islamic Medicine: Part 3.


(You may have to wait for that comparison to start which will last till end.)

Defend your Property

i used to wonder that if i die defending my property, home, family, etc., would i be martyr or what. Literally that. And, to my amazement, i've found the answer in an article of the murder of an Arab military office as a civilian in US by a couple of young looters outside a shopping store. Hamza Yusuf in that article mentions a hadith that if someone dies protecting his property, he's a martyr. SubhanAllah.


Moreover, when i wondered on how i got the answer, i forced to praise Allah for how he guides people and their curiosity gets fulfilled from unexpected places. This is not the first time this has happened with me....

M Asad's Trans. of Quran Online

I's looking for an online copy of M Asad's famous The Message of Qur'an; i had its hard copy, but its placed in a school founded by my father away from the city, in the midst of villages. i wish to get it back when i go there.  But alhamdulilah, i've found an awesome online resource: Online Quran Project. Its very accessible; you can click on the chapter button, and a small window shows all the chapters you can select from. There's also a button for going to the ayahs. What's more, it also has the commentary linked in. That's lot better than a PDF copy which has the benefit of being available offline.

Two Bogeys Unidentified

This pair of pigeons were found in the morning in the outer side of the window. This was their initial position. They seem very curious and purposely sitting here looking for something.


In this close-up shot of suspected dossiers, you can see what they're up to.


Due to the noise of camera shot the bogeys fled away taking a defensive position on the top hill for heavy artillery fire at ground troops.

Semantic Madness: Equal Hes & Shes

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf mentions in his talk on Women and Islam that he was attending a Philosophy class and the instructor said that to use pronouns as "he/she" combined so that both male and female pronouns occur at the same time. He asked, why do they need to do that? And, the instructor said not to invoke gender biased. Shaykh said, "What about genetic coding?" On being asked about it, he replied, "Male chromosome has both X & Y, representing male and female, but female has only her's. So is nature being biased here?" This is true for word he because it includes both sexes. He also mentioned that British have resisted this 'semantic madness', they don't wanna change their language - which as other languages is not biased.

Creating a Mosque-like Environment at Home

i don't question the possibility of the proposition in the title - i so want it to be true. Prophet said that offer some part of your prayers in the home so that you don't end up turning into a graveyard! Imagine the spiritual implications of the hadith: Its not amassing worldly objects in a home that can lighten the spirits of life, rather the remembrance of Allah and sanctification of space and time through canonical prayers...

Dr Martin Lings said that our homes should be like mosques. If you've any concrete ideas how we can do that, please post, although it doesn't need great intellect to know that...

Buy the best scent

Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) was frugal in other matters, but he used the best scent. Hence, ulema say that buying scent is not excessive spending, because when you use scent you're giving a sadaqa, which means you do it for others. It reminds us of paradise and needless to say has positive effect on souls.

'Restructuring (my) Time'

This post is inspired by this post by this bloggerJazakAllah for sharing the excerpt. 

****

i've 1 month of holidays left before college starts again... Here's my attempt to sturcture my timetable so that i don't act like cattle and keep doing whatever comes up in mind or as a whim of my nafs. I pray to Allah that he never leaves me and all of us for one instance to our nafs e Ammara. Aameen...

Planning to Succeed: An flexible timetable

- i's supposed to do a project with sir of transcribing certain audio recordings [totally classified], home-based. The equation goes as:

Daily workout = Full time project work (that means after i subtract all other variables) + prayers + domestic home work + 1 hour cricket game (i love bowl and lead team) + 6 hours sleep = 100% preoccupation.

Unfortunately, the project hasn't started yet because of a delay - not from my side.

- If that occurs: post-Fajr best because everybody asleep, and no domestic work

Plan B - :D


Let's suppose I never get to work on the project, Allah na karay. Then, the problem arises and proposed solution goes as following:

- Post Fajr: 6 - 8
        Khanacadmy.org mathematics lectures [anytime i get liesure time]
        Qur'an memorization
        Islamic lectures online (limited time offer - i listen too much, act upon too less)
- Domestic work till Zuhar
- Lunch
- Qailoola / domestic work
- Asr
- Game, game, game
- Maghrib
- Take deep breaths and restore hydration
- Domestic work help
- Earning gold in the night from 9-12 after Isha
- Deep sleep inshaAllah


Compensation for the Weak

Its a significant historical event that in this age we've all resources of all spiritual and religious traditions for us to compare, choose and comply to. Green Sufi mentions in his blog that just few decades ago we had only 5 copies of Sahih Bukhari in Dehli. Unfortunately, this age is literally opposite of almost all previous ages, seemingly, where you've all the Texts and resources available, which were rare back then; but you don't have people putting much into practice as they used to do before, says Shaykh Hamza Yusuf in his commentary on Vision of Islam by William Chittick, et al - click on this phrase to download/listen online all CDs of the lecture

New Interface of Blogger

I'd recommend prospective bloggers to choose blogger because of its really intuitive and smooth interface. Just because its another Google product! They've completely changed their old interface into a sleek, smooth and easy to access (at mental level) an interface...

Of Glad Tidings: Islamic Economics


For all those interested in Islamic Economics there’s an interesting academic development that is very significant - including for those many (Muslims) who’re absolutely cynical and doubtful not only about Islamic Economics, but all things Islamic and are ‘more at home with all things Western’, from its toiletries to ideologies.

Whenever I try to talk to people especially those Muslims who work(ed) in banks about the prohibition of interests and evils of interest based banking systems and also those are more inclined towards interest-free economy and had been caught up in this web due to unfortunate series of events, inquire: Why do not ulema (traditional, religious scholars) come up with an alternative plan? Firstly, it is appreciable, they are not sarcastic & cynical, and want a genuine interest free system; I sincerely pray to Allah to forgive their previous sins and open their heart’s eye and ‘inspire them with the Vision of Islam’. Secondly, their rhetorical objection shrouded in the question starting from the phrase, why don’t they/you… has seen light of the day putting a stop mark to their repetitive objections, as if they were free of all blames – none of us is free from blame except those strive in the way of Allah for no worldly gains.

I was listening to this lecture on broad, immutable principles of Islamic Economics by Dr Israr Ahmed (May Allah forgive his sins and increase his rank). In the end, an economist spoke very briefly before asking his question (which i‘ll mention in the end). Sort of a glad tiding for me actually: He said that recently [few years back] some Muslim economists who had gone to western universities to do their PhDs in Islamic economics had their theses approved. Their theses had been about the comparison between interest based economic systems versus Islamic interest-free system. Purely based on ‘economic reasoning’ their theses have proved the ‘superiority of interest free system of islam over Western interest based system’. Their supervisors were Christian economists and they’ve accepted the superiority of Islamic system at theoretical level. Many other Western economists have also started to accept same proposition, he added. However, the supervisors and economists say that they do not want to implement Islamic system because for them interest system is quite simple as compared to (apparently) ‘complicated profit sharing’ system of Islam. The scholar, who to my mind is perhaps Dr Asad Zaman [check out his personal website which features his articles and papers], lamented that we as Pakistanis have wasted decades of freedom in which we could’ve implemented the theoretical model of Islamic economics and could've easily shown the world that it’s not complicated and can be implemented in West too.

I’m in search of at least the abstract of the PhD theses. I will try contacting Dr Asad about it, if he ever replies =)

Professional Education: Who am I?

In October this year i'll enter in the last year of my college education in business, specifically operations management. What a waste of time had been these past 3 years! Absolute delusion. Its professors are as confused about the program as its students. It is not a very useful program: this is true for most of the university programs imported from West. Apart from core social sciences, most of the hot programs are delusions, whose etymology is as confused and useless as its practitioners. I don't wanna go into debate about it right now. i'm concerned with the fact that how do i define myself professionally. After a lot of introspection which stem from feelings of depression caused by the study of past 2 semesters, i've come to the conclusion that i must wake up and spend more than half a decade in a technical (and useful) program that has a greater impact factors in terms of value creation and huge capacity for research and innovation.

I admit i'm more at home with social sciences which are very important. Its all about ideas these days. Pakistan has the one of the strongest armies in the world, and one of weakest social science base that is authentically rooted in its own Tradition, i.e., Islamic world view. It has been able to re-engineer its F-16s for up-gradation; build local aircrafts and tanks, but its universities have failed to free themselves from the idols of Western ideologies which reappear with different names, yet having the soul of secular fundamentalism in it.

There are other plans that can save the day: joining civil service not for power or social glory. It's something that i dislike doing. Yet, i've been called to the task of performing jihad by an elder brother, a doctor, a civil servant and a mentor ('these' are 1 person). But, if you go into this hell with no technical background people will manipulate you. In that case, you're either CS or you're nothing, and they will exploit you. Perhaps that's why don't allow a doctor to be CS anymore - Allah knows best.

If that plan fails, and there are no parental obligations, i'll pursue the limitless fields of engineering which will form the power base for social science knowledge. Remember knowledge these days is tied with Power.

A Perennial Fact

Muslims who want to live as authentic Muslims - rooted in Traditional Islam, as not defined by RAND though - and do not want to betray their Tradition to the whims and shallow slagons of secular fundamentalism, must keep in mind the Qur'anic message to enhance their confidence: Non-Muslims would never, ever like you unless you become like them.

Think about it... Every time you leave a meeting for prayer, or do not listen to certain sounds, or do not do various unIslamic or unnatural things - hypocrites and disbelievers are going to frown. You're mocking them, they think. Well, they should realize that hubris and arrogance.

Unfortunately this is an age of one-eyed vision. People always take one thing and forget the other part. The statement above - i hate making disclaimers - in no way means we've to hide ourselves in a closet, or become rude to non-Muslims, because that's against sunnah or way of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Arab non-Muslims were rude to him; but he never returned their rudeness with rudeness. He used to give back something good and better to eliminate evil. That's our Tradition.

We're saying, "You follow your way; we follow ours." This doesn't mean you have to necessarily frown at us and be divided amongst ourselves. Our tradition teach us that are all people are children (in purely metaphorical sense) of Allah, and we've to be kind to them. We'd always praise and enjoin if a disbeliever or whoever does a good deed. This is how we operate. Is this way of life not worth living?

Islam 'and' Terrorism

A college friend - not secular or modernized at mental level - in perplex-ion (discernible from his looks) asked, "Why does Islam promote terrorism? OR, does it?" Fairly shocked by his first statement perhaps that made him to question his question. He was pointing to the atrocities of terrorist Muslims. I couldn't give a satisfactory answer to myself then. Its been few months when he asked. Now i wonder on the utter lack of luminosity and falsehood of the very question. Is there any doubt that Islam is the religion that's most civil when it comes to protecting and preserving life and environment even in Wars? When people talk about terrorism, i hope they only mean indiscriminate violence. Then by that standard if you compare European/US codes of violence ethics to Islamic, Islam would stand out as most chivalrous and just and peaceful and harmonious to life and environment. Couple of facts for the confused:

- Prophet Muhammad forbade the killing of women, children, elderly, farmers, monks, destruction of environment in war
- Homicide and suicide are two greatest sins in Islam
- Taking a life without Right (clearly defined rules which i will compile soon) is equal to killing whole of humanity - that's in Qur'an as well
- Prophet of Islam forbade use of fire to punish a human - Allah has the right to do that
- Prophet said that never desire to encounter your enemy; but you do so be steadfast and patient (or something to that effect)
- Everyone knows the level of benevolence and protection that has been shown to all kinds of minorities including Jews, who're the greatest enemies of Prophet of Islam, through centuries - would journalists ever mention that? When Pakistan came into being there were only few thousands Christians, now they're in millions (whether its good or bad that's another matter)

Now let's glance over the war ethics of great, humanistic Western world police and war mongers:

- Who invent word collateral damage and accepted it as a natural outcome of war between good (West) and evil (Non-West, these days Muslims)?
- Who use fire bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq?
- Who kill millions of Iraqis only by food sanctions?
- Who kill around 5 lac innocent civilians recently in Iraq - that's from Wikileaks?
- Who kill women and children in AFG and then in a press conference apologize over the 'loss of precious lives' and not even punish their soldiers?
- Who want to impose a mono-culture of secular fundamentalism on whole world - destroying not only natural habitat but local and primitive cultures?

The list will go on and on. Suffice to say if you really wanna know who is causing mischief on Earth and claiming that they're only doing good (Quran) read Confessions of an Economic Hitman. Its factual authenticity is far beyond doubt. IN fact on its official website, they've given parallel documented proofs confirming the statements of the author who had spent his life exploiting developing nations.

A response to objections on Quranic text's authenticity

Please watch this video in which they show a German researcher raising objections on the authenticity on the Quranic text that we read today with proper punctuation. There's a quote by someone in the end which takes no intellect to be seen as pure intellectual blindness, prejudice and lack of knowledge.


Brother Shakeeb replied to this video in detail on request. I am posting his response below:

"To be honest with you, I don't think myself to be capable of framing a scholarly response. So if you find any scholarly response, please feel free to share it with me too! But nevertheless, I do have a personal perspective on things which I will share with you. Fortunately, none of the claims made in the video are erudite enough to require detailed citations from classic text. Here it goes:

1) The genius who made this video and perhaps the researcher himself (based on how he is presented) is unaware of the fact that the books written on Uloom ul Quran by Muslim scholars already mention that the first generation of manuscripts used to be written without any dots, a'rabs and punctuations. The only thing startling here, if it must be put that way, is that his discovery (pun intended) corroborates the consistent account of Muslim historians about the development of Quranic print throughout.

2) Then he is concerned that it leads to 5 possible identities of the words. What he conveniently forgets here is the oral tradition of Quran which spread at a far greater scale in parallel with the written manuscript simply because it was an era preceding the invention of press. He seems to be under the delusion that just like our times when we simply lend over a book to someone to read, back in those days Quran also used to be handed over to people to read and figure. The fact, however, is that from the very beginning to-date there always has existed this very strong culture of having full-fledged schools and study circles for teaching Quran organized by scholars who had learned it directly from their previous generation until companions of the prophet. It is not without any reason why the second caliph Umar had sent one of his very close aides and foremost scholars of Quran Abdullah bin Masood to Kufah for institutionalizing the teaching of Quran there. Written text in the beginning could only mean to correct any lapses appearing in the memorized part and not to be used as the sole source of information on Quran. In fact, this trend has lasted even today in the sense that people rather than understanding Quran completely on their own prefer to study it at least with the help of a brief Tafseer (now that there is no more ambiguity in the rules of writing) if not directly from a teacher. This process of learning from people who learned it in their turn most likely from the close companions of the prophets ensured that the imagined possibility of five different words in one place never materialized at least to a sustainable level. Those guys who wrote the script knew about its shortcomings as well as us now and it is quite arrogant to completely ignore the aforesaid method of teaching the book and insinuate that their was no mechanism in place to guard against its weaknesses.

But for the sake of argument, let us assume that teaching Quran by the scholars in parallel with distributing the transcript was inadequate and the early generations were indeed confused into having five separate readings of Quranic verses on average (yes, not five different versions of the whole text!). As a consequence, there must have been diverse narrations of Quran at least found in geographically dislocate regions much larger in numbers than the diversity found in the narration of a particular incidence in Ahadeeth (although it is due to different reasons altogether.) And this diversity should have then remained in the versions of Quran compiled by the later generations as well. What we see here, however, is an astounding unanimity over the identity of the text accepted by Islamic scholarship as well as masses from Arabian peninsula itself to far eastern countries in the Africa to Spain in the west. Mind you, I am not denying mistakes made by lay people and possibly by individual experts which are not uncommon in our times too despite the availability of Quran in black and white. But do the community at large begin to take an individual's or even publisher's mistake for the confusion in the correct version of Quran? Or all these isolated aberrations die out in the process of mass-transmission from one generation to another?

If that is not enough, then consider two further scenarios. Just like there are various sects and schools of thoughts based on disagreements over the interpretation of Quran as well as the acceptance of different traditions of hadeeth, there must have been far major differences over the acceptance of various identities of the words in Quranic text itself. It should not take a genius to figure that a disagreement of this kind over the reading of Quran would lead to fissures in various strains of Islamic scholarship far greater in magnitude than what could ever arise due to differences in the interpretation of the text or Hadeeth literature. But where is it? If not, what does this imply? The next curious point is to remember that Quran used to serve as the fundamental basis of Islamic law from the very beginning of Islamic state in Medina until the pre-colonial era. Since we are asked to believe that in the early days there was a great deal of ambiguity in the reading of Quran, we should understand as a natural corollary an extreme chaos in the functioning of the legal system of Islamic state. To imagine what I mean, just think of Pakistan's penal code used in our courts with the same level of uncertainty in the identity of the words in addition to the interpretation which is quite natural. It is trivial to visualize the utter dysfunctional-ization of any legal infrastructure this will necessarily lead to. And so if it did happen to the practice of Islamic law, how did everything converge to just one word instead of five or even more? Again, why weren't there any disagreements? How did muslim historians manage to mention the lack of punctuations, dots and a'rabs in the early manuscripts which amusingly he is discovering in the twentieth century but wrote off the consequences? Again, why did it not lead to differences in juristic schools? Why? Why?!

As this guy is challenging a well established historical narrative, it is his responsibility to explain away existing realities by filling up all the gaping holes which appear as natural corollaries of his narrative as I pointed above. For starter, he should explain when five different identities of wrods were possible, how come only one survived? What made a society as huge as that to agree on one reading? How can an event as massive as the convergence to a single word fail to find seat in histories written by any sect in Islam whatsoever?

And nobody here can counter it by citing disagreements about the completeness of Quranic text as it is purportedly claimed by minor/major groups in shiite tradition. For one, even shia theologians both past and present almost completely, if not absolutely, abandoned this position. For another, it was about certain portions of Quran failing to find their place in the widely accepted manuscript. It was never a dispute about choosing one of the five possible words written in the text.

Before leaving, I should point out here the issue of seven "qira'at" of Quran which is a well discussed topic in the Islamic scholarship. Since he is claiming something unknown here, I believe his work does not relate to that either and hence we don't need to talk about it.

3) It yet again makes a disappointing case for a ground-breaking discovery that the newly-found text of Quran was overwritten on something else. Why is it so surprising? Why cannot the same parchment, leaves, bones or whatever form of paper in vogue at that time be reused for something else? Please, why is it so significantly surprising at all? As it can very well be a personal copy of a student, instructor or any common man for that matter, why can't it even include some personal notes scribbled in between? Why can't we get real for a while?

4) This last point takes the cream. The guy who made this video could not have been more ignorant of his own ignorance. He presumes that the differences in translations are somehow explainable by this so-called discovery. It is amusing how he digs out from oblivion an unknown researcher in Germany (?) but didn't bother to check out with someone familiar with Quran's translations to inquire about the apparent diversity. Ignoring all the general liguistic issues in translating a literary work from one language to another, Arabic language itself allows for multiple meanings (not identities) of the words placed in one sentence. On occasions, some of these meanings are all plausible simulataneously while at others only one or two can be valid given the overall context of the discourse. This leads to differences in understanding which sometimes find its way into the translations too. It has got nothing to do with any ambiguity about the identity of words themselves."

In the end, i just like to say what Quran says: they want to destroy the noor (light) of Allah with their breaths, uttering only falsehood...

Reflections on keeping beard

In Pakistan, and perhaps in India too, keeping or not keeping beard for muslims is a big issue. In previous times, if one didn't keep beard, people used to inquire as to why he didn't keep it. Today, the situation is the opposite. This is a very personal topic for all. For me, as few years of successfully keeping beard have passed, it is important to revisit this matter.

One way to measure the authenticity or truthfulness is to see if one group of people dislike/condemn a thing, and other group like it (as in the case of Mutta Imam Malik). Same is the case with beard. On the one side, you've people having schizophreniac, fundamentalist and paranoid-al reactions to it. They're most often modernists to dislike from their very core religious symbols and statues. And on the other side, you've people who think Islam is manifested in true colors in white, brownish, black or grey beard on men.

Both are extremes and do not follow the middle way. I kept beard - though i don't know telling about my reason to keep of would be of any use - because i read an answer by a Mufti which mentioned a hadith which clearly condemned not keeping beard. Alhamdulilah, i fulfilled this sunnah, which is an awesome weapon of protection from various fitnah in this age, amazingly. Its amazing because how a physical feature can stratify you from evil, and create repulsion in things evil from coming to you. Its amazing because in reality one assumes that battles are fought at the nafs level, against the cunning-ness of Devil. This is where the exaggerated reverence from beard dies out. It alone cannot do any good to a believer. It is just like another aspect of sunnah or obligation that one has to fulfill. I thought that since i have kept beard, i will not be prone any serious and dangerous sin. But i have remained fully exposed to hundred more fatal sins and diseases that beard protects one from, like hypocrisy, bad manners, not praying, etc.

In conclusion, i would like to glorify this feature on believer because it differentiates us from most non-believers, easily giving us an Islamic character, which in case of women happens to be hijaab. Also because, it forces us sometimes to reform our other matters to achieve harmony and completeness of Islamic character. As for fighting off more fatal diseases, one can take lot of help from spiritual shariah, or Sufism of our islaaf, and not the one favored by West (see small book, Sufism, by Hamid Algar). This guidance is needed by all to counter deceptively creative and subtle attacks of the Devil.

Soulless Education

"I fear most the new highly educated class of this country. They have high IQs, are very intelligent, very skilled and professional. They're eloquent as well. But. They lack basic human elements and qualities & courtesies such as humbleness, sacrifice, humility, etc. etc. They have become soulless."

This thought reminds me of the conversion story of former British PM's relative, who went to Palestine on a visit. During a cold night, she was trembling in cold because she didn't have blanket or stuff to sleep in. Then a Muslim lady, her destitute host, shared her own blanket, so that her guest could sleep well. This display of generosity changed her perceptions about Muslims, where she previously considered Muslims to be sort of demons of terror, and now she encountered angelic behavior from same people.

The lady might be very poor and be ill-educated (by educated i strictly mean getting modern school/college education), she might have least of IQ, or awareness about social sciences and what not. But, the quality of character, which impressed an educated lady, is also unmatched and operates at a different plane, of which modern education has no sense of.

In fact this moral education is no more a part of modern university education (at the least). "Julie Reuben, a professor at Harvard has written a book about how morality and character development were explicit goals of university education in the early twentieth century, but these goals were abandoned in favor of a purely technical education later on," writes Dr Asad Zaman who became a victim of the social sciences of West during his education at MIT. In the same article, he narrates how imitation of Western professionals and philosophies of life turned him into a soulless human:
At a personal level, I saw my fellow students attitudes towards others to be selfish andexploitative, instead of caring and compassionate. Having absorbed the implicit message that professional accomplishment was the goal of life, I was shocked to learn of the really pathetic personal lives of many of the professionals I had thought to emulate. The general philosophy that individual goals are valued above social ones leads to betrayal of wives and families, violation of commitments of all types, and pursuit of personal and career goals even at expense of society. The purely technical education offered by the West does not teach us anything about the crucial parameters which govern how meaningful our lives are. In several crucial dimensions, the lessons of Tableegh were diametrically opposed to those which I had absorbed in the course of my Western education. These lessons showed me that the teachings of Islam are as fresh and as revolutionary today as they were fourteen centuries ago; they do not stand in need of updates for modern times. It is impossible to convey these experience-based lessons in writing, so I will just describe one of them.

What you personify is what you should become

You might have seen a young Pakistani boy fly a fighter jet using his hand, or drawing aircraft sketches on his notebooks. He imitates a pilot. He is thrilled by the sound or image of a fighter jet. He has, what psychatrists call, personified himself as a fighter pilot. The level of association surpasses every boundary and attains the rank of janoon, or craze. Such men, as per experts of mind & body, do extraordinary thing. Only janooni people do that, who like a crazy science students "do not wish to go home (from their lab)." Who want to do that thing whole day 24/7.

The role of parents is not to come in their way, assuming the passion is not unIslamic or unethical. The role of school is to aid that passion by giving them opportunity to play such roles. It may be in form of an activity where the student can live that character. For instance, if a girl wants to be a teacher, she be given apron, a class and students to teach to. A student given all authorities of a principle, and is trained what to do on working day, and then given the task to run the school.

This way of learning is most effective. Its hands-on knowledge. When they grow up and actually come to perform these roles, they'd have confidence to do it inshaAllah.

Secondly.
We should ask our children to solve our daily problems. If the gate cannot be locked from inside, ask them for a solution. Encourage them. Even if you know solution, make them to think, so that they can become problem solvers.

(These were some of the thoughts I gained from the company of my mentor Dr. Agha, who's trained in psychiatry from Royal College of Psychiatry, UK.)

Deep Smart

SO i have also come across a deep smart, whose intuition power is very strong - but not for the first though.

We're travelling in a car from city A to city B. One of us got a call reporting that one suicide bomber has been caught in metropolitan city A in a bank. My father said that he can't be a (regular) suicide bomber. He must be using it loot the bank; he'd have shown it to people and thereby terrifying them, would have tried to get his hands on bank's cash.

MashaAllah, i quote DAWN newspaper, leading newspaper of Pakistan, which confirmed my father's intuition the next day:

"Robber held with fake bombs

LAHORE: May 28: In what appeared to be a Hollywood-style adventure, an alleged robber tried to loot cash from bank by displaying two fake bombs at Akbar Chowk in Township. The suspect was however captured by the bank's security guards and handed over to police."

Don't Sacrifice Quality for Short-term Profit Goals

Books on productivity would tell you that management's decision to pursue short-term profit goals by curbing quality would result is various kinds of losses, including, rework, defects, loss of customer goodwill, etc.

Well i tasted this thing on the first day of a small start-up - namely a juice cafe - in college. I brought a labor guy with me, trusting his experience working in homes as chef, etc. He after seeing how costly our drink was, as it used 4-6 different kinds of fruits and/or fruit juices (packaged/unpackaged) concluded on day # 1 that this business won't make a nickel. Hence, he started to use some water in it to dilute it, to reduce costs. This juice was never meant to use water. Nonetheless, i made a big mistake and let him do that, thinking what difference can this little amount of water can make.

During the day & afterward, the most crucial negative customer feedback we got was that there was too much water in it - perhaps he mistook water for fruits & juices! Some asking to add something else apart from water.

How disastrous! From next day onwards we didn't add single droplet of water apart from what was coming through fruit juice; except in 1 juice which has to have water in it.

I forgot a fundamental business lesson: all investments are not covered on day 1! Moreover, you saw how low commitment to quality resulted in loss of goodwill & defects. Its important to note that the excess of water is "critical-to-quality" (CTQ) in juices for customers. It wasn't something customer didn't care about.

Models that Measure Customer Demand

I ran with my friends a small juice cafe in university. Unlike many Pakistani businesses which think about customer demand and all of it after spending millions, we searched for ways to determine, in fact, accurately measure consumer demand, elasticity of demand (i.e., effect of price change on customer demand of our products), quantity consumers would like to consume, product choice, prices, etc. We did that by giving samples to our faculty who we were not our customers actually (sounds funny isn't it!). Our customers were (poor) BSc/BA students only, for whom cost is a major factor, for they come to this university (confirmed from university surveys).

So we used widely used survey thing, without carrying out any reliability and confidence test. What our survey proved was that people on campus are addicted to cheap (& nasty) food. Not many care about the quality which has caused yours truly food poisoning for couple of time. And, that not many would love to pay more than Rs. 50 as regular customers. Because juices were different and each juice had 4-6 fruit or fruit juice(s) as inputs, it justified high prices of Rs. 70-80 per 450 ml glass. I visited Dunkin Donuts in Lahore, and they sell smoothie at Rs. 150. What can you do about ingratitude ! :P (Nah, I'm joking.)

The survey prediction came true. Sales fell as we moved forward. We ran out of friends. Repeatedly, our customers told us, often instructing us, to cut down prices. Unfortunately, we couldn't continue with low prices due to excessive end-semester workload, and had to close the beloved cafe. It has disappointed many, and if i get permission next semester, I'd definitely do it, primarily for my own self, I'm sick of low quality items sold. This experience is shared by many, hence I believe I can create value. Again, I need to research again, and that's were Marketing Models of Consumer Demand, a research paper Chicago & Stanford professor kicks in. It does just the thing.

Here's the abstract of the paper, and you can download its pdf from here.

"Abstract:
Marketing researchers have used models of consumer demand to forecast future sales; to describe and test theories of consumer behavior; and to measure the response to marketing interventions. The basic framework typically starts from microfoundations of expected utility theory to obtain a statistical system that describes consumers’ choices over available options, and to thus characterize product demand. The basic model has been augmented significantly to account for quantity choice decisions; to accommodate purchases of several products on a single purchase occasion (multiple discreteness and multi-category purchases); and to allow for asymmetric switching between brands across different price tiers. These extensions have enabled researchers to bring the analysis to bear on several related marketing phenomena of interest.

This paper has three main objectives. The first objective is to articulate the main goals of demand analysis - forecasting, measurement and testing - and to highlight the desiderata associated with these goals. Our second objective is describe the main building blocks of individual-level demand models. We discuss approaches built on direct and indirect utility specifications of demand systems, and review extensions that have appeared in the marketing literature. The third objective is to explore interesting emerging directions in demand analysis including considering demand-side dynamics; combining purchase data with primary information; and using semiparametric and nonparametric approaches. We hope researchers new to this literature will take away a broader perspective on these models and see potential for new directions in future research."

Pradeep K. Chintagunta
University of Chicago

Harikesh Nair
Stanford University - Graduate School of Business

Intellectual Dishonesty

Assignments which are data-holic, by that i mean which require number crunching on an independent institution, in which we've not worked as students, can be challenging. In Pakistan, although ERP systems are rampant in use, small organizations may not be eccentric about recording data, and even those which do, are not often willing to share. Apart from all this, i've this tendency these days to make up data. Its worst thing to do.

First, because you're not fooling anyone but yourself. Over years, the habit may persist, and in real world wrong information mean loss of competitive advantage and loss. Second, its certainly a short-cut of which we as nation are fond of. Third, lack of rigor won't do any good to personal development, as Iqbal once remarked that philosophy not written with hardship and khoon-e-jigar (blood of liver, literal meaning :D) would always remain imperfect and wide off mark.

Why eSystems often fail: Change Management

Our professor talks about failure of implementation of technology to solve real-world business (including private/public sectors). It happens due to the gap between computer scientists/engineers and people who run processes/businesses/institutions. Yet another failure of such mass-level system: "Minister [of education] admits failure of e-system (for roll# slips)" (Dawn, Wed 9 March, p. 13).

Education ministry was supposed to give all roll # slips electronically; 17,000 roll # slips given manually. Maybe because they didn't do the ground work; without involving someone who understands every aspect of the business and understands what would be the benefits of the technology to the business.

People get over-excited by benefits of technology, but often fail to understand change management issues, both technical and behavioral. For instance, i worked on the pre-feasibility of online tuition center. Where you can lecture 40 students in a classroom, you can now teach thousands online through Skype for free. You can now have a computerized adaptive testing system in which computer adapts to the ability of students and give simpler questions to a struggling students, or more difficult to an expert one - helping each master at their own pace. We can create earning opportunity for so many talented teachers through 1-to-1, 1-to-many online tuition, textbook solutions, homework help - btw, this is not novel, its being done via Grockit.com & Cramster.com. Problem with these sites is that they don't offer local language education and require credit card payment. Fortunately students in Pakistan can now pay their bills via easyPaisa.

But there are many technical & behavioral challenges to it. 1st technical issue which can wipe out this business model on day 1 - load-shedding! 2nd, internet connections may not be very fast & reliable.

When you come to behavioral issues - these are really subtle. Some go to academies just for friends, some due of fear of teachers who force them, some may not adopt eTuition just because its not done in physical world, some would only go to an academy because their parents want them to. All of these have their own solution, fortunately! For instance, by creating a game-like, socially competitive learning environment - learning experience online can be very addictive when you can compete with students in quiz, practice session. Ever saw those badges on Khanacademy.org? It serves the purpose.

Work of Tableegh: How ignorant i've been

At the tender age of 16, my heart became hard and shut to the light of Tableegh movement. Since then i've never went out of home with them to "strive (your utmost) in the Cause of Allah", let alone strive in the way of Allah with my property, assets and life... I have been repellent to their simple message which can make one a true Muslim - belief in the kalimah and following the way of Prophet, and spreading his message to millions of people who are in need of the light of Islam... This so far nascent awakening has come from this talk given by a former devoted Christian who came to Islam after a long journey of searching for Allah.

Anything that can go wrong, will

And today it did again with bursts of cunning, demotivating laughter, but more with comedy. In our MIS course, we're required to make a story board - an artificial model or replica of our business model or project. Its great, because instead to boring people with story of imaginary things, systems and business processes - just show them its prototype of model ! It makes every clear, eliminates need for boring PowerPoint presentations.

1st mess. I worked on my business idea's - eTuition.com - consistently, although less, for more than a month. And, thanks for being not reading long and tedious manuals of Micrsoft's Publisher software, it didn't work on another computer. Actually, when you make a thing as a web file, you've to set it as 'global' or something, for the html to work on other computers... Instructor informed us about it; means he was sympathetic, i hope =)

2nd mess. i'm becoming more and more convinced that i'm a victim of Small and Medium scale memory loss problem... How could i forget to bring the Key Performance Indicators report ! However, just before the talk i realized what i've done with the group, i managed to download a month old version, which had no entries of data ! Even instructor did not seem about it... It also generated bursts of laughter... Bit embarrassing though :P Who cares though... The real thing is doing the thing in real world...

Point of working in groups

Professors tell us that in real world team players are demanded. Working alone and in a team is hugely different for psychological and social reasons. The fact that you can face criticisms on your thoughts can be disturbing especially if the members are not glued together already. The point really is to get us debate about grey areas, and come to agreement using some objective criteria.

Working in teams suppose in a business should be have clear "rules of engagement". What i mean is that although we're not enemies, but since we're often excited about the venture, we forget to deal with each other like strangers. Hence, when i and my 3 friends launched a small venture of juice cafe in our school, we made it very clear what our values were, although there used to disagreements, because not everything could be foreseen, especially when making critical decisions about business, like pricing, budget spending, etc. i want to emphasize on corporate structures of even a small firm. What happens in over family business is that things are not worked out, nobody decides how time would one person work, and what would be his job description. That can leave space for lots of commissions and conflicts for future...

US, Pak, Muslims, Slavery, History

Time for us to assert. Perhaps last year, I saw a short video clip of Israeli F-16s approaching to attack Iraq’s nuclear reactors. I don’t appreciate nukes, but certainly respect Iraq’s right to have it. My heart rends still now when I imagine those lethal birds flying so fearlessly over Muslim lands killing its masses, and now plundering its resources in the name of democracy.

This thought has to be linked with the history of contemporary Muslims, which we often tend to ignore. Muslims do not blame others for their short-coming. Not far ago, when Muslims were still free from the fetters of slavery, they became very arrogant. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf mentions those filthy letters sent by Muslim rulers to Westerners, degrading them as humans, not just non-Muslims. They showed arrogance. Allah does not like this. The situation is reversed. It’s the medicine for us – this slavery on whole Muslim world.

Nonetheless, with recent killing of Osama – I am indifferent to him – and the consequent in-camera briefing to parliament of Pakistan by top echelon of Army, especially its top intelligence agency’s chief, Gen. Shuja Pasha’s confessions, its all clear that even Army is fed up of US and admits of how wrong the relationships are. I do not have any hopes from this corporate army – but I’ve this children dream that one day our F-16s won’t fear facing deadly F-22 Raptors, and manageable F-18 Hornets and won’t pretend to be absent from the show. I just wish…