Archive for November, 2005

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Books on my mind…

November 28, 2005

I am working on a book review for Muslim Writers Society on Islam and Religious Pluralism by Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari. I think it’s a must read. It answered almost all of my questions on the ultimate fate of Muslims, non-Muslims, atheists, people of the book, etc.

Kernel of the Kernel by TabatabaiI’ve already started on another book. The Kernel of the Kernel: Concerning the Wayfaring and Spiritual Journey of the People of Intellect. This book, another must-have for any serious sufis or soon-to-be sufis, was compiled by ‘Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tihrani from the teachings and lectures of ‘Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabataba`i. It has an inspiring introduction by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who also attended these private sessions, along with Shahid Murtadha Mutahhari and Professor Henry Corbin. It takes one through the path of the secret tariqa that has been followed by the Shi’a ‘ulema of Iran for centuries.

No one can deliver such hikmah (wisdom) the way that ‘Allamah Tabataba`i does. Every sentence of knowledge that he imparts from his own words is accompanied by a perfectly matching verse from the Qur’an. And I do not mean to say that he shapes the Qur’an according to his words. Nay! Each verse flows so perfectly with the path of the wayfarer, that one is left with no doubt that this is path of the blessed Messenger Muhammad himself (may Allah bless him and grant he and his family peace). I have only finished the first chapter of this book, but I am already intoxicated.

“Of all the treasures that the earth can boast,
A brimming cup of wine I prize the most–
This is enough for me!”

— Hafiz

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Specialized Ijtihad

November 25, 2005

Here is an interesting recommendation from the late Ayatullah Murtadha Mutahhari that I feel is worth repeating:

“Here I have a recommendation which could be most useful for the advancement and development of our fiqh. It was previously put forward by the late Shaykh `Abd al­Karim al­Yazdi, and I am here only reiterating his proposal.

“He asked what it was that required people to follow only one person in taqlid in all matters. Would it not be better if specialised divisions were established in fiqh? That is to say, there would be groups who, after having completed the general study of fiqh and become experts in it, would specialise in one particular section, and then people would follow them in that particular section. For example, some would take as their specialisation `ibadat (the rites of Islam), and others mu`amilat (transactions), some siyasat (politics), and other ahkam (criminal law); this is exactly what has been done in medicine where specialised branches have been created, and doctors divided into groups for each speciality, some being heart specialists, some eye specialists, some ear, nose and throat specialists, and others specialists in other branches. If this were done, each person could study his own branch more thoroughly. I believe that there is a discussion of this matter in the book “al­Kalam Yajurru l­Kalam” by the Sayyid Ahmad al-Zanjani.

“This recommendation is a very good one, and I will add only that the need to divide fiqh up and to create specialised branches arose a hundred years ago, and in present circumstances the fuqaha of today will impede the forward development of fiqh and stunt its growth unless they heed this recommendation.”

From: Al-Serat: A Journal of Islamic Studies, “The Principle of Ijtihad in Islam” by Shahid Murtadha Mutahhari

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Iran's Defense of Reason

November 22, 2005

The Islamic Republic of Iran has released a well-written, well articulated document outlining their rights to use peaceful nuclear energy and their position on weapons of mass destruction.

I have republished it in full at Muslim Message.

Some of the most important points that I noticed include:

“The first is that Iran has vast oil and gas resources and therefore does not need nuclear energy. Although it is true that Iran is rich in oil and gas, these resources are finite and, given the pace of Iran’s economic development, they will be depleted within two to five decades. With a territory of 1,648,000 km2 and a population of about 70 million, projected to be more than 105 million in 2050, Iran has no choice but to seek access to more diversified and secure sources of energy.

“Iran’s quest for nuclear energy picked momentum following a study in 1974 carried out by the prestigious US-based Stanford Research Institute, which predicted Iran’s need for nuclear energy and recommended the building of nuclear plants capable of generating 20,000 megawatts of electricity before 1994. Now, 30 years later, Iran aims at reaching that level by 2020, which may save Iran 190 million barrels of crude oil or $10 billion per year in today’s prices.

“Over the past 250 years, Iran has not waged a single war of aggression against its neighbors, nor has it initiated any hostilities.

“There is also a fundamental ideological objection to weapons of mass destruction, including a religious decree issued by the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran prohibiting the development, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons.

“The Agency’s thorough inspections of Iran have repeatedly confirmed Iran’s assertion that no amount of inspection and scrutiny will ever show the slightest diversion into military activity. The Director-General confirmed in Paragraph 52 of his November 2003 report that “to date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme.

“At the same time, the EU3 recognized “that this suspension is a voluntary confidence building measure and not a legal obligation” as well as “Iran’s rights under the NPT exercised in conformity with its obligations under the Treaty, without discrimination.”

Iran systematically responded to every acusation and suspiscion. They’ve presented themselves as level-headed, eloquent, respectful, willing to comprimise, and peaceful whereas the US has presented itself as brash, unreasonable, prejudiced and prone to violence.

This round definitely goes to Iran.

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The stuff people are made of…

November 22, 2005

RIF is tomorrow. I just got the books, and I wanted to setup this afternoon. I had purchased cheap blue table cloths to cover the tables (you know to make it look nicer), but I forgot them at home. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow morning to setup. I have the whole first period to do it, though.

Apparently, our students watched some type of autopsy presentation today. A girl told me that she held an eyeball. Not my idea of fun.

In other news, I am curious to know of there will be RPMs for KDE (http://www.kde.org) 3.5 for SuSE (http://www.suse.com) ppc. I have yet to see any. I know 10.1 is not near release, and I’d hate to have to upgrade the whole OS everytime I want to get the latest KDE (http://www.kde.org). Of course I could compile from source…ugh.

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Football Crazy Town

November 19, 2005

Peyton Manning Indianapolis ColtsAs you might know, we live in Indianapolis, and the Colts are currently 9-0. Things are really starting to heat up in this city. They play Cincinnati this weekend. It is, perhaps the first of several serious playoff contenders that they will play in the second half of the season.

You know, I almost want them to lose a game just so people will stop talking about the possibility of them going undefeated. It would serve them better to concentrate on getting home-field advantage for the playoffs and then getting to the Superbowl. Really, once the playoffs start, your record in the regular season no longer matters. Enough with all the records, stats, and standings. Just bring home a trophy, for once. Uh, go Colts. 🙂

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Excited about Mactel

November 17, 2005

I admit that I am very excited about the new Intel-based Macs that Apple plans to release next year. There is talk that the newest iBook will be released as early as January 2006 WITH the new Intel architecture.

So, you might ask, am I excited because I want to run OS X on my mega-PC desktop? No, absolutely not. That desktop will run Linux (http://www.linux.org) until it dies. However, I love the functionality of Apple portables (iBook, Powerbook, etc.) Linux (http://www.linux.org) already runs very well on PowerPC architecture. And there are already quite a few distros that ship PPC versions (Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntulinux.org/), Debian (http://www.debian.org), Gentoo, SuSE (http://www.suse.com), Mandriva, etc.)

What I see as exciting is the possibility of running SuSE (http://www.suse.com) or Kubuntu on an iBook with realtime binary compatibility. That adds tremendously to the amount of software available and the speed at which software can be installed (minimizing the amount of software that must be compiled for PPC). Also, with losers like Macromedia refusing to make PowerPC versions of Flash, Linux (http://www.linux.org) Mac users will finally be able to see wonderful flash web sites. (OK, that is a blessing and a curse).

At any rate, it’s nothing but good news for the
GNU/Linux (http://www.linux.org) users. Forget what people say about Mactel being bad for Linux (http://www.linux.org). After all, we’re not trying to wipe Apple off the map. We just want everyone to play fair. As far as I’m concerned, with the new Mactel factor, the playing field just leveled. The only potential loser here is Microsoft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft).

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The Fallujah Massacre, One Year Later

November 12, 2005

One year ago this month, the US and its allies began the brutal campaign against Fallujah, Iraq, where men, women, and children were viciously executed and slaughtered.

“The city was placed ‘under a strict night-time shoot-to-kill curfew’ with ‘anyone spotted in the soldiers’ night vision sights … shot’ (Times, 12 Nov 04); male refugees were prevented from leaving the combat zone; a health centre was bombed killing 60 patients and support staff; and refugees from the city claimed that ‘a large number of people, including children, were killed by American snipers’ and that the US had used cluster bombs and phosphorus weapons in the offensive. ” – Remember Fallujah

One year later, the over 200,000 people who were displaced from their homes and livelihood are still waiting for a ray of hope and relief. May Allah make it easy for them and punish the enemies who perepetrated such injustice against them.