Archive for January, 2011

Intro to Genocide

UN International Holocaust Remembrance Day- Jan. 27th 2011
The UN Resolution was created: “to mobilize civil society for Holocaust remembrance and education, in order to help to prevent future acts of genocide”

What is Genocide? Raphael Lemkin, the man who coined the term genocide from the root words genos (greek for family, tribe or race) and –cide (Latin for killing), wrote in 1944:

“While society sought protection against individual crimes, or rather crimes directed against individuals, there has been no serious endeavor hitherto to prevent and punish the murder and destruction of millions. Apparently, there was not even an adequate name for such a phenomenon. Referring to the Nazi butchery in the present war, Winston Churchill said in his broadcast of August, 1941, “We are in the presence of a crime without a name.”

Lemkin’s work led to the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Article 2 of the Convention defines genocide as
…any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

31

01 2011

Shades of Being a Muslim

One of the things that always irks me about the way Muslims are represented is that people tend to paint us with one brush. We’re not a homogenous group, which I always think is one of our great advantages. However, those differences don’t often come across. Much of the time, I think it is the fault of others not wanting to explore the shades of Muslim life. But I think we’re often ignorant of it ourselves or don’t want to admit that there may be Muslims out there who we don’t agree with.

I’ll take a simple example: In the 2000 elections, there was a push to promote Muslims as a singular voting bloc. There were campaigns to ensure that all Muslims voted for George W. Bush. Now, I won’t talk about how well that turned out, but I had issues with ensuring all Muslims voted for the same person or party.
Read the rest of this entry →

Share

27

01 2011

Imagination

I recently read an intriguing article focused on one central question –is our collective imagination declining?

Now, I know what you’re going to think –are you nuts?! I mean, considering that “there’s an app for that” is now the standard answer for any how-to-question a person might ask, and with every answer to every question available at our finger tips on our mobile devices at every turn, how can we possible be discussing the limits of the human mind?

But, in essence, that’s the problem. Everything is indeed at our fingertips. And, because everything is at our finger tips, do we have to imagine anything anymore? Do we get any credit for staring out the window in a day dream, imagining a world that doesn’t yet exist, daring to dream about testing the boundaries of human limits? Or, are we simply expected to ask a question, find an answer and move on?

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

22

01 2011

Separate But Equal?

Imagine an eager student anticipating a lecture by a prominent expert.  This student, equipped with a notebook and pen, arrives early to ensure a place in the front row.  Now imagine that the student is prohibited from entering the lecture hall; she needs to go to an adjacent, smaller room, where she will be able to watch the lecture from a grainy projection screen.

The disappointment, indignation and injustice felt by this enthusiastic student is exactly what I feel each time I go to the local mosque.  I wish I could refer to it as “my mosque”; but the possessive pronoun implies a sense of ownership I cannot claim.

The segregation by genders in mosques and Islamic centers holds no religious validity; it is a cultural tradition that was established by immigrants and is maintained by ignorance. If Islam is to flourish in America, the practice of a physical barrier between men and women must be eliminated.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

17

01 2011

Taqwa

Where do we lie on the taqwa meter?

Or do we even care? Are we simply surrounding ourselves with excuses to justify our actions instead of finding the truth behind what we do? Do we care about coming closer to Allah, or do we just enjoy sitting on the fence?

It’s interesting to see how much we are really getting out of the Friday khutbas and speeches we attend at our local masajid. Or maybe we just like the social aspect of it all.

The Holy Qur’an states that on the Day of Judgment a man and woman will be judged on the Day of Judgment based on their level of taqwa, or God-consciousness.

Taqwa does not really mean “fear of Allah,” as some popular definitions state. Instead it means being aware of God and all His Attributes. It means being aware that God is All-Knowing, All-Seeing.

The bottom line is it means having an awareness of God’s power and respecting that power.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share
Tags: ,

16

01 2011

Dunya: Is this a Love-Hate Relationship

[src] www.inquisitr.comOccasionally when you pass by a toy store, you might see a few kids longingly staring at the window display. They will let go of their mother’s hand and just stand there. They might even be so engrossed in the shine and color of a particular toy that no matter how much you call their name, they will not respond. The beauty of this is that no matter how stubborn that child is in letting go of their mother’s hand, after a while, the mother always comes back to take their child’s hand.

Many of us are like little children in that we have lost ourselves by staring at the glitters of the dunya. It’s been years we have let go of God’s hand, never realizing how lost we are; and yet He always comes back to get us …

This dunya is nothing but a toy that we keep occupying ourselves with. When its glitter ends, only then will we realize that all of this was a childish game.

“What is the life of this world but amusement and play? But verily, the Home in the Hereafter, that is life indeed, if they but knew. “ [1]

What is the dunya exactly and what part of it is reproached in Islam?
Read the rest of this entry →

Share

12

01 2011

Neurotheology: Bridging the Divide between Science and Faith

Personal accounts and anecdotes of spiritual experiences have become topics of fascination and interest for many years now. Many people describe such events as profound “experiences” or “feelings” that are immeasurable. Some argue these experiences are just concoctions or infatuations, while others contend that they are real depending on their personal or religious beliefs. Now, with the advent of state of the art technology, scientists are able to quantify spirituality.

Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist professor and author at the University of Pennsylvania, is currently conducting studies that track how the human brain processes religion and spirituality. It’s all part of new field called neurotheology, which explores the relationship between the brain and religious experience. According to a recent featured story, Newberg has developed a way to measure the differences of brain activity and imagery during a spiritual experience.  He scanned the brains of praying nuns, chanting Sikhs and meditating Buddhists.

“We evaluate what’s happening in people’s brains when they are in a deep spiritual practice like meditation or prayer,” Newberg says.

He and his team then compare that information with the same brains in a state of rest.

“This has really given us a remarkable window into what it means for people to be religious or spiritual or to do these kinds of practices.”

His most recent work, Principles of Neurotheology, tries to lay the groundwork for a new kind of scientific and theological dialogue. Read the rest of this entry →

Share

07

01 2011

Muhammad: A Revolutionary Prophet

A revolution is “the overthrow of an established government by those formerly under its authority” [1] It may also refer to a “great change in a condition”[2]. The American Revolution is dubbed as such because it broke off from the monarchical political system and established a brand new governmental foundation for the colonial states based on a new set of values garnered from the Enlightenment period of thinking. A revolutionary is an individual who is involved in that radical change.

The prophet of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdullah, was a revolutionary. The Prophet Muhammad brought forth a new basis for life in its major spheres— religious, social and political. As in any society there is overlap between these facets of life. In pre-Islamic Makkah the head tribe, the tribe known as Quraysh, gained much of its wealth from the tribes that would make pilgrimage to Makkah which was an important holy site for the polytheistic religions of the nomadic Arabs. The Arabs “worshipped spirits associated with natural features such as stones and trees”[3] as well as other sculpted idols. When the Prophet brought about the most important aspect of Islam, Tawhid (Uniqueness and Unity of God), this very basic (though foundational) principle immediately challenged the existing religious order because it disavowed and rebuked the worship of other tribal idols. Tawhid is illustrated in the 112th chapter of the Qur’an.

The Makkan elite “saw him as a revolutionary leader espousing an ideological message that threatened their social, economic, and political dominance.”[4] Eventually, Muhammad would enter Makkah and approach the Ka’ba to “purify it by smashing the polytheistic idols”[5] which represents a sort of capstone of the physical manifestation of his religious revolution in terms of its theological tenets.

Read the rest of this entry →

Share

05

01 2011