My Logbook to Barzakh, Part 1

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A Debt of Gratitude

by Mohamedarif Suleman – Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

One of the things that we all seem to have forgotten about, nay, taken for granted, is that we have a debt. Now before you jump to conclusions, and start justifying how debt-free you are, take a second glance at the article title – it pretty much gives away the mystery out of this statement.

I have been fortunate to live though multiple phases in my life, whether economic, social or personal turbulence, I have been there, and this in itself has provided me with the unique opportunity to understand that variance in life and the correlations that life produces, are not just natural phenomena, but at times, also essential for our own self reformation. In making this statement, I am essentially expressing gratitude, am I not? For the lessons that life teaches us, are immense, but few of us take time to appreciate events that we regard as unfavourable, as having been those precise turn around moments in our lives, that took us toward one form of betterment or another.

The debt we owe our creator is nothing short of that – to be able to see the good in things and then be grateful for them – an extremely difficult thing to do, but one that remains a debt, regardless. And whereas I had always though I will postpone this thought for the twilight of my life, I am having second thoughts knowing well that one cannot be too sure after all about the span he has been granted, to be grateful for.

As the world economy nose dives by leaps and bounds, and as analysts and pundits forecast gloom, it is no longer extraordinary to see our friends and acquaintances engage in toxic discourses of Armageddon. Well, that would be a bit extreme, but the most common feature is the idea of migration. And whereas moving from one place to another is certainly a good thing, most of the times, it becomes very difficult to understand when very well settled individuals, with alpha lifestyles grumble thus. And as the poem becomes a lyric, then a rhyme and a song, you can probably see this as a predominant feature much like the weather stories of the United Kingdom.

‘Gratitude is a sign of the noble’, goes a proverb, and simply means that people who are grateful, or people who show gratitude by saying things like thank you, are good people that we can all admire. In other words, people who are happy with and are thankful for what they have, have good qualities; such as generosity, honesty, and others. And so it seems, that this admirable trait leads back to us and then goodness around us is sure to radiate. This is probably something we have all read in those monthly psychology magazines, but have perhaps failed to relate to ou daily routine lives.

Madhuleena Roy Chowdhury, in her article ‘The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief’, she remarks “We all want a happy life. A cushy job, a perfect family, financial stability, and a great social life! And in this indefinite pursuit of happiness that is mostly like a mirage, how often do we spare a minute to thank what we already have at this very moment? Gratitude is a powerful human emotion. By conveying and receiving simple ‘thank you’ messages, we can truly derive the pleasure that we seek everywhere else. Gratitude, derived from the Latin word ‘gratia’, means gratefulness or thankfulness. In its simplest form, gratitude refers to a ‘state of thankfulness’ or a ‘state of being grateful’.”

Jeffrey Tucker in his write up ‘Gratitude Is Essential for a Free Life’, makes this incredible point: “A friend of mine described what it was like for her to discover the meaning and implications of economic liberty in the world. Before, most of her formal education put down enterprise, business, corporations, and wealth creation, talking only about their downsides. The world was dark, with the monsters of exploitation, pollution, and inequality lurking around every corner. But learning economics changed all that. Suddenly she saw that the consumer products all around her are not given by nature; they were created through a process that involved an amazing human drama of risk and reward. Within the commercial sector we find an orderliness that no one designed but is inclusive of everyone who wants to participate. Commerce is expansive, exciting, creative, and benevolent, always working to uplift the human spirit. Business is glorious. It serves humanity. This is a huge difference in perspective, and discovering it can rock your world. What is the key change in perspective? It has something to do with how you see the world around you. All the blessings that surround us can be seen as either a given fact of reality that deserve a severe criticism, or as blessings that do not have to exist but nonetheless are available to us as gifts of the heroic exercise of the human spirit. To me, the key to the shift is gratitude, which comes from an awareness that all the awesomeness around us does not have to be. It comes to us for a particular reason: because people created, invented, invested, and made it happen for you and me. And let’s go one layer deeper. What kinds of institutions incentivize and coordinate all this activity? It’s not government, which has no resources of its own and creates nothing truly new. It comes from the institutions of the market economy: private property, and signaling systems like prices and interest rates.

Now let us ask ourselves, if we truly try to be grateful. Do we really practice that and then teach our children the magical words ‘thank you’, or do we usually take it as our right and privilege to be served and assisted by all and sundry. In many cultures, for example the Swahili culture, ‘ahsante‘ and ‘nakushukuru‘, form so much of a speech protocol, that it is easy to annoy or diorientate someone when he or she is not acknowledged for their role or performance. Now, of course, some days this is stretched too far than others, but in sum, the idea to pass here is that we cannot be invincible, indispensable and all powerful. Gratitude words breed humility and we should use them all so more often. And lest we forget, let us thak the Almighty as we bow down in prayer today and at the end when we can chant in unison, shukran lillah.

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Amazing Appeal of Good Morals

by Maulana Sayyid Zafar Hasan Amrohi in Akhlaq al-A’imma, Morals & Manners of the Holy Imams

The aim of sending the Holy Prophet (S) was to perfect morals. That is, the mission that did not reach the peak of perfection even after the arrival of 124,000 messengers, it was done in theory and practice to such a level of perfection that now there was no more any need of a new prophet or messenger. This required extraordinary capability. That too in the land of Arabs, which was the cradle of ill manners. As if, shameless traits had hammered the ?nal nail in the cof?n of humanity. This severe necessity could neither be ful?lled by wealth and money nor by a military system or by the edge of the sword. This needed another type of power.

The verse: “Certainly you are upon the best morals,” has revealed this secret and announced to the world that the aspect of Prophet’s behavior is such that it transformed the Arab society completely. It displayed such a miracle of human intercourse that the world was spellbound. What actually happened may be understood in the words of the Quran: People entered the fold of Islam in hordes.

The good moral behavior of the Prophet of Islam had the most important role in this magni?cent victory. Though Khadija’s wealth served a great deal in helping the poor and deprived ones among the Muslims and the awe of Abu Talib afforded some security but the thing that struck the hearts and minds of the polytheist and disbelieving Arabs was the good moral behavior of the Messenger of Islam. It was this that left an indelible mark on the hearts of ignorant Arabs and attracted the wild Arabs to the Prophet like a magnet pulls a needle.

At that time Prophethood was veiled due to hidden wisdom when the Prophet started secret propagation and obtained confessions of his truthfulness from those who were deadly enemies of good morals, becoming well known as “The Truthful” and “The Trustworthy” among the Arabs. The blood of human perfections had started running in this body known as Muhammad from the day it breathed its ?rst in the atmosphere of water and clay.

The teachings of Islamic morals to the people did not consist of mere oral admonitions, but it was accompanied by practical feats for every aspect. When those lacking any type of moral embellishments saw the ?awless character of the Holy Prophet (S) they realized the degraded and shameful position of their own humanity.

And on every occasion, their created nature was shook with a deep yearning. The moral teachings that the Prophet imparted were the nourishment of the face of Islam and the life of its body. When these teachings was recorded on the pages of history and reached the different corners of the earth, and when with the Muslim travelers those teachings reached the people of other nations they were awakened abruptly from their slumber like a slow horse is spurred by the crack of the whip. It was it was an opportunity for the religions to compare that they make Islamic morals the criterion of comparing their differences. Those who did this realized very soon what is the difference between genuine and arti?cial pearls.

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Islam is for every creation

Jameel Kermalli (United States)

SAY, ‘WHO IS THE LORD OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH?’ SAY, ‘ALLAH!’ SAY,  ‘HAVE YOU THEN TAKEN OTHERS BESIDES HIM FOR GUARDIANS, WHO HAVE NO CONTROL  OVER THEIR OWN BENEFIT OR HARM?’ SAY, ‘ARE THE BLIND ONE AND THE SEER  EQUAL? ARE DARKNESS AND LIGHT EQUAL?’ HAVE THEY SET UP FOR ALLAH PARTNERS   WHO HAVE CREATED LIKE HIS CREATION, SO THAT THE CREATIONS SEEMED CONFUSABLE  TO THEM? SAY, ‘ALLAH IS THE CREATOR OF ALL THINGS, AND HE IS THE ONE AND  THE ALL-PARAMOUNT.’

[110:1] When there comes the help of Allah and the victory,

 And you see men entering the religion of Allah in companies,

Then celebrate the praise of your Lord, and ask His forgiveness; surely He is

oft-returning (to mercy).P

]

BECAUSE ALLAH IS A PERFECT CREATOR.

BECAUSE EVEN NON-MUSLIMS FOLLOW ISLAMIC WAY OF LIFE.

BECAUSE NO-ONE CAN TOP THE INFALLIBLE A.S.

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Hujjatul Islam Muhammad Baig

If God sent a religion, how would people who do not know of the religion believe in it? What means did God put in the human beings by which they can decide right from wrong? Surely the religion was not revealed to the whole of humanity at once. It must have started from one point. How would others know of it and more so accept it and believe in it? What is that one faculty that is shared by all human beings by which a message can be analyzed and determined to be right?

The answer is quite simple; it is the human mind and the faculty of reasoning. It is the mind that helps us judge things and decides between right and wrong in every matter of our lives. The word of God, if it is to be transferred to other people who are foreign to it, must conform to the faculty of reasoning that God put in all of us. This is why in Islam faith in God is not the outcome of dogmas and doctrine but rather the product of reasoning and deep scrutiny of revelation. 

ONE CAN WRITE AN ENTIRE BOOK ON THIS. BUT THREE MAIN AREAS OF DISCUSSIONS.

  1. EVERY CREATION IS ISLAMIC. EVERYONE IS BORN A MUSLIM.
  2. PROPHET MUHAMMAD SAID THIS WHEN SEEN CRYING AND BURYING A NON-MUSLIM – I WISH I MADE AN INVITATION, TO THE DEAD PERSON, ABOUT ISLAM.
  3. IN THE MONTH OF RAJAB WE SAY TO ALLAH – O HE WHO GIVES TO ONE WHO ASKS HIM. O HE WHO GIVES TO ONE WHO DOES NOT ASK HIM AND DOES NOT KNOW HIM, OUT OF HIS AFFECTION AND MERCY…

IN DUA KUMAYL, WE SAY – O ALLAH! I BESEECH THEE BY THY MERCY WHICH ENCOMPASSES ALL THINGS, AND BY THY POWER BY WHICH THOU OVERCOMETH ALL THINGS, AND SUBMIT TO IT ALL THINGS AND HUMBLE BEFORE IT ALL THINGS AND BY THY MIGHT BY WHICH THOU HAST CONQUERED ALL THINGS, AND BY THY MAJESTY AGAINST WHICH NOTHING CAN STAND UP, AND BY THY GRANDEUR WHICH PREVAILS UPON ALL THINGS AND BY THY AUTHORITY WHICH IS EXERCISED OVER ALL THINGS, AND BY THY OWN SELF THAT SHALL ENDURE FOREVER AFTER ALL THINGS HAVE VANISHED, AND BY THY NAMES WHICH MANIFEST THY POWER OVER ALL THINGS, AND BY THY KNOWLEDGE WHICH PERVADES ALL THINGS, AND BY THE LIGHT OF THY COUNTENANCE WHICH ILLUMINATES EVERYTHING…

IN DUA ABU HAMZA THUMALI WE SAY TO ALLAH, AND YOU BESTOW YOUR MERCY ON WHOMEVER YOU WISH, WITH WHATEVER YOU WISH, AND HOWEVER YOU WISH, YOU ARE NEVER QUESTIONED ABOUT YOUR DOINGS, NEITHER IS THERE ANY STRUGGLE IN YOUR KINGDOM, NOR IS THERE ANY PARTNERSHIP IN YOUR COMMAND, OR CONFLICT IN YOUR JUDGMENT…

IN DUA KUMAYL WE SAY TO ALLAH, WHO IS THERE, WORTHY OF WORSHIP, BESIDES YOU? … (I) humble before Your lordship? …And these (Your displeasures) cannot be withstood by the heavens and the earth…

IN DUA ABU HAMZA THUMALI WE SAY TO ALLAH …I AM NOT FIGHTING YOU AGAINST YOUR LORDSHIP…I swear with Your exalted might, O’ Master that if You rebuked me, I would not depart from Your door, and I won’t cease to compliment You, since I have indeed come to grasp the knowledge of Your generosity and benevolence. And You are the doer of whatever You desire, You punish whomever You wish, with whatever You wish and however You wish, and You bestow Your mercy on whomever You wish, with whatever You wish, and however You wish, I swear with Your exalted might, O’ Master, that if You rebuked me, I would not depart from Your door and I won’t cease to compliment. YOU ARE NEVER QUESTIONED ABOUT YOUR DOINGS, NEITHER IS THERE ANY STRUGGLE IN YOUR KINGDOM, NOR IS THERE ANY PARTNERSHIP IN YOUR COMMAND OR CONFLICT IN YOUR JUDGMENT AND NO ONE CAN OPPOSE YOU IN YOUR DISPOSITION OF AFFAIRS AND NO ONE CAN OPPOSE YOU IN YOUR DISPOSITION OF AFFAIRS. TO YOU BELONGS ALL OF THE CREATION AND COMMAND…  and I take refuge through believing in Your unity, and through my certainty of knowledge about You, that indeed I have no other god or lord but You, only You; there is no partner for You.

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Science and Ethics

by Dr. Mehdi Golshani in ‘Values and Ethical Issues in Science and Technology: A Muslim Perspective’

Science attempts at a systematic study of nature by recourse to observation, experiment, and reasoning. Ethics, in the sense used here, concerns rules of conduct, the so-called moral values. The fundamental question that confronts us is whether these two spheres of human concern are independent of each other or are interrelated; and in the latter case, what is the nature of their relationship?

At the first glance, they seem to be independent. But one deals with “facts, while the other is deals with “oughts”. This is in fact, what Hume expounded and since then this notion bas been increasingly accepted by western philosophers and intellectuals. We agree that on the basis of logic alone one cannot derive normative statements from factual statements.

Nevertheless, we also believe that scientists cannot ignore ethical issues, and science and ethics are related both at the metaphysical and practical levels, as will be argued in the following section. Thus, the claim for moral neutrality in scientific research and its applications is simply an illusion.

  1. Science deals with a very important aspect of human life, but it cannot deal with the whole spectrum of human experience. To deal with this wider spectrum, one needs an enlarged view of science, a metaphysics, which includes both science and ethics, among other things, and which can handle all aspects of human experience in a unified manner. Usually, the values that shape people’ s interaction with nature are derived from religious world views. In the words of Lynn White: “What people do about their ecology depends on ‘What they think about themselves in relation to things around them. Human ecology is deeply conditioned by beliefs about our nature and destiny, that is, by religion.

At the practical level, science and ethics are interrelated for the following reasons:Science is a goal-directed enterprise. Thus, it must include some of those values that give direction to both its goals and the means of achieving them. For example, commitment to truth is a value which is essential to the enterprise of science. In the words of Karl Popper. “The fact that science cannot make any pronouncement about ethical principles has been misinterpreted as indicating that there are no such principles, while in fact, the search for truth presupposes ethics”. Furthermore, science is an important means for obtaining socially-valued goals like knowledge and power.

2. The scientific enterprise involves value-judgments. Here are a few important instances:

(a) Codes of conduct are involved in the practice of science which, inter alia, function as a quality control mechanism and ensure trust in science. These consist of honesty, openness, impartiality integrity, etc. There is a consensus in the scientifc community about the necessity of following these codes.

(b) Value-judgements also permeate scientific practice at the level of discovery, and may change a scientist’s line of research.

(c) Value-judgements play a very important role in the assessment and choice of theories. Since Scientific theories arc appraised on the basis of certain criteria which are value-laden, Thomas Kuhn counts the following as characteristics of a good scientific theory: predictive accuracy, internal and external consistency, broadness of scope, simplicity (that is, unifying power) and fruitfulness One could also add other criteria such as social utility and beauty. These criteria, as Kuhn and McMullin8 have emphasized, operates as values, “epistemic values” in McMullin’s terminology. As Kuhn put it: The criteria of choice function not as rules, which determine the choice, but as values which in?uence it. Two men deeply committed to the same values, may nevertheless, in particular situations, make different choices, as in fact, they do. Thus, for example, the disagreement between Einstein and Bohr about Quantum theory was rooted in the fact that they had different views about what a “good” theory is expected to accomplish.

(d) Value-judgement enter into decision-making concerning the applications of science and technology. Scientific discoveries and technological innovations often lead to important social, moral and political consequences. Thus, as a member of a society, a scientist should not ignore the consequences of his or her research or teaching. The destructive consequences of science and technology during the last century was the result of the separation of facts from values and the indifference of some scientists to the consequences of their scientific finding or technological innovations. The manufacturing of chemical/biological and nuclear weapons could be cited as an example. The progress of science during the last century has raised serious ethical issues about experiments involving human or animal subjects or public safety. To humanize applied science and technology, one needs to take into account ethical considerations, especially when one is dealing with the kind of research that affects humankind or the environment. This is because scientific and technological progress cannot, by itself, hold the societies intact; its accomplishment requires paying due attention to the moral dimension of the scientific activity.

3. Science has become increasingly interlocked with business, industry and political goals. This can lead to moral con?icts between proper scientific goals and business values or government priorities, which are oriented to political and economic interests.

4. Those who preach value-neutrality of science confuse the findings of science with its applications. Science is a double-edged sword, where it could be used to secure human welfare, or it could be used for destructive purposes. Something outside of science is needed to lead scientists to use their science for good causes.

5. To secure human welfare in all human activities, including scientific, a strong sense of responsibility on the part of the persons concerned is essential. Science cannot provide this. Moral responsibility comes from elsewhere, chie?y from religious belief.

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