Mixed up lives

Mohamedarif Suleman (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

plural noun: bystanders
a person who is present at an event or incident but does not take part.
What is the Bystander Effect?
The bystander effect occurs when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley popularized the concept following the infamous 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in New York City. Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment while bystanders who observed the crime did not step in to assist or call the police. Latané and Darley attributed the bystander effect to the perceived diffusion of responsibility (onlookers are more likely to intervene if there are few or no other witnesses) and social influence (individuals in a group monitor the behavior of those around them to determine how to act). In Genovese’s case, each onlooker concluded from their neighbors’ inaction that their own personal help was not needed.
Hardly an uncommon sight when even the presence of so many people does not deter criminals from executing their actions based on the fluent knowledge of the above theory.  Of course, we sometimes label it as fear or cowardice or even gently writing it off as helplessness, bu this stark reality has not only grown in magnitude but has in fact assumed several other proportions that its presence is now visible even on other communication planes.
Crisis Relief, a Non Governmental Organisation campaigning against such ineptitude, is using phrases like “Liking Isn’t Helping. Be A Volunteer. Change A Life” while showing the visual a small baby in a baby bed with a leg cut off (perhaps as a result of war), and is surrounded by so many people gesturing the infamous thumbs up sign, showing empty support.
This, perhaps, reminds you of the many posts you have read on social media or whatsapp channels where someone’s misery draws so much attention and sympathy but no action is even considered.  This inactivity and in fact progressed indifference pervades the social media space in capacious proportions.
But afar from these new-found virtual lives that we all have now, where reckless talk and rumour feeds the anxiety of many a lost souls, the rebound can also be seen amongst families that pretend play grief sharing with each other.  Our community today is arguable on the skids of the economic ladder, and much of it is perhaps defined by the rising cases of business collapse, family splits, marital divorces, educational dropouts and so on, yet there is a profound manner of lassitude amongst wise and wealthy people in a family setup to come to the rescue of this ruin.  Dressed in abstract concern are usually words such as have faith, have patience, Allah will help, and so on – none of them false anyway.  In fact, by all acceptable beau ideal, these are just the right concoctions for relief from misery or distress.  However, such scenarios do in fact surmise more than just words and more words.
Such has been the witless absurdity in society that victims are being over educated about their straits, but rarely anyone is within distance pf being invoked in reality.  It is as though that by discharging the responsibility of comforting those in trouble breezes to a terminus, and that beyond a mouthful, there is little we can or want to do.  Everywhere you turn, there is prophetic advice available, some so audacious that all it does is enhance the tumult rather than diminish it.
To ask others to pray for us and to tell others we will pray for them cannot perchance be all that our roles are in our abridged lives.  For sure, there is more we can do to help others and to relieve them of their pain and pang.  To purge this responsibility and then to affirm love for Ameerul Mu’mineen (AS), is reasonably, a contradiction.  For the teachings of this great personality were to look unto the troubles of others and to help resolve them, to spread fairness for all and to insist on justice.
We were endowed this life to perform such deeds as would befit a true Muslim, but it now appears that the reminders we have received about the importance of du’a have unfortunately precipitated to a rather self serving dimension whereby not only are we asking others to keep praying for their well being, to some of us, our Aimma (AS) have been reduced to an untroublesome medium for acceptance of our haajat, rather than the complete and perfect symbols of the kind of lives we ought to be living.  This mixed up definition of Imaamat, erodes our belief systems in as much as it affects our roles in this life pursuing the fulfillment of the purpose of our creation.
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Human Sciences

By Abida Ali (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

All humans have free will and it is upon them to decide what they do now that shall represent them in the future. However, due to the improvement in scientific technology, science is able to establish laws of the human behavior. In contradiction to this statement, it is also said that because humans have a free will, science is unable to predict the human behavior. Is this true? How can it be possible that laws can be established but not be able to predict the human behavior?

Human sciences study the social, biological and cultural values of the human behavior. This clearly signifies that the scientific study of human behavior does not interpret what decisions a person will take, rather it gives an assumption on how a person may react to a particular action depending on their personal emotional behavior and cultural aspects.

It is upon each human being according to his/her principles to react the way they wish to and that is why they have a free will. Humans have been given the free will so that they can make their decisions which suits them best. Hence, human sciences study the different cultures and different emotions of human beings and it comes up with a conclusion. This conclusion is categorized in particular groups according to the cultural and social aspect. However, this conclusion doesn’t indicate 100% on how humans will respond to a certain action. It gives possible ways in which humans may respond to a specific action.

For example, in the Islamic culture, according to Islamic principles, the law states that “drinking alcohol intoxicates the mind and makes humans lose their consciousness, therefore, it is forbidden to drink alcohol under any circumstances.” In addition to that, it is also scientifically proven that drinking alcohol not only intoxicates a person’s mind but it also damages other parts of the body for example, the liver.

Being a Muslim, I, personally, will fully agree with my religious principles not only because I have to, but because I want to. The reason for that is because I have seen the consequences others have faced due to drinking alcohol. I have also studied what alcohol does to a person’s body and according to my intellectual sense, I feel that, it is logically proven that drinking, is harmful for the body in many ways. However, I have the freewill to follow my values or go against them. Let us say, a person with different opinions to mine approaches me and tells me that it doesn’t matter to drink a little, what harm will it cause? Based on a psychological study, drinking a little also can tempt someone to drink more. Thus, this shall form a habit of drinking daily until it reaches to a certain point where this habit becomes uncontrollable.

According to scientific studies, it will surely initiate the fact that due to Muslims’ belief, all Muslims will follow their Islamic principles and refuse to accept that drinking a little is okay. But what if I say no? What if I agree to what the other person says and I become influenced? Yes, I am a Muslim but I also have a freewill and I can choose to go against my principles. So, human sciences can undoubtedly establish their laws and give the most possible ways on how a person with certain values may respond, but it cannot predict or interpret what the person will respond.

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Our Community Mindset

By Sadiq Muraj (Birmingham, United Kingdom)

Our forefathers migrated from India to Africa as Merchants having brilliant Ideas to trade in the Virgin lands of Africa somewhere in 1880’s. Some of the settled in Zanzibar others in Mombasa & others in Merca (Somalia) where the ports were, so the spices & the other merchandises would be easier for them to bring to Africa from India by ship.

At that time they used to say:

(1) UTTAM KHETI (Best is Agriculture)

(2) MADHYAM VEPAAR (Medium is Business)

(3) NEECH NOKRI (Lowest is Employment).

In today’s Information Age:

(1) Agriculture is Manufacturing, Production Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship.

(2) Business is Buying & Selling either it’s a product or service, in Shops or Online.

(3) Employment is where the Employer is becoming Rich & the Employees are running on the Treadmill. At the end of the month after paying all the bills & all the necessary expenses the Employee is left with some peanuts or is in Debt.

When I started my Journey in Economic Upliftment Committee of KSIMC of Birmingham in 2012, I came with a dream that (2 years Plan) we will sort out all Jobs problems in our Community, (5 years Plan) anyone who wants to start his own business will be supported by us by sign posting (10 years Plan) Entrepreneurship. But things did not work out as planned due to the mess in the Job Market.

Now the question is as an Community in which Category we want to be in, One, Two or Three. And Why?

How is the Secondary question which we will discuss in our next article.

Most of us are Guajarati (Gujju Bhai), so whenever we go to purchase anything we always look for 3 qualities in it :

(1) SASTO (Cheap)

(2)SAARO (Good in quality)

(3) TAKAAW (Long-lasting)    Three in One

Times have changed and our Human Journey starting from Stone Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age … and now we are in the 21st Century, the Digital & Technology era or Robotic Era which is Known as INFORMATION AGE.

We have migrated from Africa to the West. Our lifestyle has changed, our foods have changed, our dressing styles have changed, our priorities have changed, our wants have come over our needs, we use luxuries as necessities, the plastic money has completely ruined our lives in buy now & pay later offers but our mindset is still the same.

Almost  70% of our Community members are in Jobs running the whole week to earn for the survival. Where the Job market is in mess and the Companies they are working for are also struggling to Survive. The companies are looking for someone who is Jack of all Trades, at the end of the day the Employees are burdened with lots of responsibilities and the result is Stress, Depression & Anxiety.

The Rich are getting richer because of having proper Financial Knowledge, the Middle Class are confused between the difference of an Asset and Liabilities, and the lower class think that their Liabilities are their Assets.

How are we going to survive & can we survive if we stop learning more after graduating from the University (Life-Long Learning Project). In this Information Age how important is Life Long Learning & how our money can work for us instead we working for our money ( Next Article)

Being a Bookworm & interested in Researching I have found out that the most successful Communities who are Economically & Financially Self-sufficient are the Jews Communities and the Khoja Ismaili Communities. Their main focus  is on Inter-Community Business. They buy from their own people on market price( they don’t demand any discount or top ups or free stuff) and the Wholesalers sell them in wholesale price so the buyer can resale it in retail price. Both parties are BRUTALLY HONEST with each other.  (I CALL IT THE BUSINESS OF TRUST)

In our Community we don’t have that Trust Factor. The buyer thinks that the seller will either over charge him or give him worst quality in the price of good quality. And sometimes the seller also takes the advantage of the customer in our own community. How can we build that trust ? If we ask someone from our community to buy from our own Community member, the first question asked is ” SU MAFAT MA DESE”.

In Community Business we all have to be REALLY HONEST to each other, so we can build a Sustainable and Self-Sufficient Community.

How important is Learning Financial Education in our Community which we are not taught at our schools in our Academic Subjects (Next Article).

For Businesses Investing in Assets is important but for Communities Investing in People is more important. (Next Article).


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The Need for a Religion


By Muhammed Siwji (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The people will see a time of patience in which someone adhering to his religion will be as if he were grasping a hot coal.”

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi? 2260

In such a time, where the progression of science seems to have reached to its peak, and when religion has been separated from life, or at least from secular studies, the question then arises, as a result of the whisperings of the Devil’s associates, and of the (very misleading appearance) of the differing opinions and stands of the Scientific and the Religious Worlds, that, “is there a need for religion?”, and, “if common sense can tell one what is right and wrong, why does one then need a religion to force him/her to do what he/she would then be doing just voluntarily?”

Coming to first what a religion is, according to the Wikipedia, religion refers to any cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, world views, texts, sanctified places, ethics, or organizations, that relate humanity to the supernatural or transcendental. It basically is the belief and worship of a superhuman controlling power.

So why then religion?

Religion sorts numerous issues if understood with pure rationality, but this article shall only address two of them, that are more than sufficient to prove the need for a religion.

First is the finite nature of human society’s knowledge, as in the base knowledge from which such scientific theories against religion are derived, and,

The second is the concept of absolute and relative morality, and this is also related to the first.

  1. The Finite Nature of the Knowledge Available at Mankind’s Disposal.

All scientific understandings, research, theories and everything that there is to science, comes as a result of the use of the following sources and means;

The 5 senses, and the intellect

However, it is broadly known that the 5 senses and the intellect are limited in their ability to obtain knowledge about any given matter, that they can be deceived to have a great deal of error in them, and that any knowledge obtained from any and all of these senses can be biased, after all, this is why we still have researches and experiments conducted over and over again, in different manners, and why we still obtain new discoveries in fields that we have already studied before.

Therefore, any information obtained from such a source is very questionable, and thus any conclusion derived from it.

2. The Concept of Relative and Absolute Morality

Relative morality is a system where by the morals and virtues are bound to change, and are dictated by the action and thinking of the society, thus it is a relative-sort of an insight, while absolute morality is a system whereby morals are static, and are dictated by a set of fixed laws provided by an Absolute Moral System (or a religion). The fixed laws in an absolute moral system are believed to be of a divine source that possesses the exact qualities needed to determine the exact essence of a deed, and whether it is suitable to be considered as a virtue, or a crime, or neither.

One may argue that common sense suffices to be able to judge the morality of a given matter. In simple matters like lying, oppression, justice, harmony and peace, this is true, however, in more complicated matters like divorces, homosexuality, and abortions, common sense does not suffice and one needs to refer to a moral system for guidance.

Relative morality firstly does not comply with logic, since the majority of the doers and believers of a certain fact do not qualify to justify the validity of that fact in question i.e. just because everyone is heading to a particular direction doesn’t mean that direction is the right direction to be heading to. Yes, this system may offer least resistance, and it may prove something to be relatively moral to do, while in its exact essence, it may be a vice.

Second, relative morality then does not comply with reason because our knowledge of a matter does not dictate what the reality of that matter exactly is. For instance, if we have not yet discovered that a substance is poisonous, that does not mean that the substance is then harmless to consume, since it will still act as poison regardless of the knowledge of the consumer. That is to say, that if our opinion about a matter varies, it varies not because of the variation of the matter itself, but it varies because our understanding of the matter has improved, or has been taken for a ride in the opposite direction.

Relative morality dictates morals based on the knowledge of the people, and this is a very risky source, since, as we identified above, humans have no fool proof source of obtaining knowledge on a particular matter, and thus any conclusion derived of such knowledge is entirely questionable.

Absolute morality, on the other hand, is static, depends not on the belief and thoughts of the majority, and is of a divine source believed to be infinitely knowledgeable, needless, wise, and eternal. Therefore, absolute morality has no room for error in the sense that the law maker has full knowledge of the matter, is not bound to any desire to manipulate the society, and is always present.

Having understood the above, one comes to the conclusion that there is need of an absolute moral system, that should be sourced from the divine intervention and guidance of a superhuman entity.

As a bonus, belief in a superhuman entity is scientifically proven to have positive effect on one’s psychology, as of the words of Kenneth Pargament, a professor of psychology and an expert on religion and health at Bowling Green State University in Ohio; a slew of research has tied being religious with better well-being and overall mental health; several studies have found that devout people have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as a better ability to cope with stress. Certain religious practices may even change the brain in a way that boosts mental health, such studies suggest.

Now this already settles the issue of the need of a religion (i.e. an absolute moral system, and divine intervention). This also settles the question of the need for a superhuman entity for the purpose of law making (the derivation of the absolute moral system).

This however does then raise the question that, “Yes we know we need a God, but does one really exist?”, that I aim to address and answer in my next article on this same site.

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Gender Roles


By Aliabbas Hameer (Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)

The role or behavior learned by a person as appropriate to their gender by the prevailing cultural norms, this is one of the most common type of stereotyping ­– some general phrases we commonly here are “Be a man” or “Get back to the kitchen”. Males are generally assigned to be heads of the family (earn a living), a built physique and be emotionless whereas, females are commonly referred take care of the house as well as never to dominate the males.

What externalities result to gender roles, how are they framed to take that shape/course? Ideally, gender roles are based on norms or standards created by society. Society nurtures a male role and associates it with strength, aggression and dominance, on the other hand feminine roles are associated with passivity, nurturing and subordination.

Gender roles over the years have been disputed due to the rapid growth of intellectuals which led to people becoming more open minded. However, a sub-sect of general roles in regards to sports has still not be treated. When we label sports according to genders, we are limiting people from trying wide range of sports and thus women have a small range of sports to select from and that is why they are less likely to pursue a sports career. A classic example of this scenario would be; if you see a man either cheerleading or play netball a stereotypical response to that would be questioning his manly hood or seeing a girl play football would be extravagantly amusing as we would feel she would get hurt. To conclude, the reason why women participation is very low is primarily due to tradition. Traditionally, females have been brought up or more of ‘required’ to raise children, remain passive, moral, wear alluring dresses which if they did not live by their ascribed qualities they would be deemed as a tomboy as they are supposed to act ‘ladylike’ as that’s how they have been nurtured.

With the introduction above, we realize that general roles is an effect and the cause is influencing the division, the clear distinction is that general roles take a form based on culture as peoples expectation about attributes, behaviors and relation are shaped by it, a critical perspective is how general identities and gender relations  as they are critical aspects of culture because they shape how life Is lived in the wider community, and lastly it does not function as an organizing principle for society because of the cultural meanings to being male or female, but simple the beliefs of people. There is  a very fine line when it comes to division of labor, the clear pattern that distinguishes ‘men’s work’ and ‘women’s work’, though they differ from time to time, and vary through societies, the principles are stagnant; women have less autonomy, fewer resources at their disposal and less influence over decision making processes. Despite the fact of biological differences this pattern of disparity based on gender is both a human rights and development issue, we undermine the impact of the outcome but this results in the shaping of our society.

A positive is cultures and societies are not in a static form due to vastness of its relativity, they keep on being changed and reshaped. A thought provoking question is culture is refined by how religion and traditions appeal, does that conclude that major religions do not believe in gender equality or emphasis in regards to empowerment? Christianity defines saints as exceptional holiness and the most prominent is Mary, she is considered as “Mother of God”. Hinduism illustrates a woman’s responsibility to devote her life to her husband but the aspect that is not referred to is that they chose that for themselves,  in history we realize the wives of the gods took great pride in their position and were highly respected for it, they did what they believed and so we should too.

Lastly, coming to the most controversial one ‘Islam’, where women coverts fear to be classified as second class citizens or as portrayed by the media, a religion that takes away her rights? In regard to Education, Nigeria and Yemen have been guilty of providing this service to Men over women, however Muhammad (peace be upon him) says “Education is compulsory for every Muslim”. Islam has been accused of not giving any legal rights to women, however in Chapter 4:7 “To the men a share of what the kinsman leave and to the women a share of what parents and kinsman leave” and another vital aspect is the right to work, the fine line is drawn in Chapter 4:32 “And to the men a share from what they have earned and to the women a share from what they have earned.” And lastly, the media is bombarding with the headlines showing that ’73% of Saudi wives are verbally abused’, some counter saying that this is an orthodox approach of dealing with a conflict, but going back to the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) this is what he said “The best of you are those who are best (in treatment) to their wives”, the Koran further emphasizes and says in Chapter 4:19 “O you who believe, you are forbidden to inherit women against their will. And you should not treat them with harshness. Live with them honorably. If you dislike them – it may be you dislike a being through which God brings you a lot of good.”

Here is what is amusing, if the major religions do not create gender inequalities and gender roles, who gives society the authority to do so?

To conclude, if we go back in time as short as a decade ago, general roles were very prominent in society and are still, but society is developing just like You and I, we see this in miniscule aspect like increase in the number of stay home fathers, increase in woman empowerment. We should not limit ourselves and not let lies within take it’s form, let us not let those who dwelled in the past dictate our present and decide our future. We are not meant to abandon heritage, we should preserve be but not it as they are gone and you live for a purpose/cause.

So, even if these social pressures and gender roles were implemented onto us from a young age, are we still willing to change our perspectives of the respective genders and ourselves, as our society develops and becomes more accepting to change?

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