Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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The iPad hype and why books are safe

April 9, 2010

There has been much talk about the cybersphere with the release of Apple’s new iPad.  Some of that talk has reflected the views of people who believe the days of print materials are numbered.  And please don’t mistakenly assume that because I am a librarian, I would shed tears over such a loss.

From the perspective of historical preservation, appreciation of literature, and a general love of books, I would certainly miss holding a book in my hand — the smell and texture of the pages, the feeling of turning each one with my fingers, and the weight of the object in my hand.

Nevertheless, I recognize that a change must come.  Printing anything on paper is destroying our environment, the only earth we have. Something must replace the traditional book, but the real question here is whether e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle or over-glorified e-book readers like the new iPad are the answer to this dilemma.  I think not.

There are two main problems with this theory.  The first is cost.  While there may be future devices that are inexpensive and easily distributable, these devices are not.  As much as Apple fanboys would have you believe that everyone and their mama is going out to buy an iPad, that simply is not the case.  If people have to pay more or even as much for a reading device as they do for mobile service or cable television, people will simply stop reading.

The second problem is format.  Digital media is currently laced with poison (i.e. DRM).  It is a hassle that you cannot share your e-books with others as easily as you would shared a print book.  It is ridiculous that libraries cannot do this, and until they can, e-books will always be second-rate.  The format problem is also reflected in the devices themselves.  No matter how thin they get, they are not going to replace the look and feel of a real book.

I believe the real solution is something like I saw on Caprica: a page that looks and feels like paper but is electronic.  We have the ability to synthesize almost anything these days.  I am lactose intolerant but can eat soy cheese and hardly notice the difference.  Paper can be synthesized and so can book covers that are stronger and more resilient than the current offerings.  Imagine hold a book that looks and feels just like a real book, but you can press a button when you are finished reading and turn it into the book’s sequel.

I am not writing this because of nostalgia or my love of books but just based on my observation of library patrons and people in general.  I believe that until we reach the point where the benefits of e-books outweigh the inconveniences and high cost, print books are safe.

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Islamic reformation?

May 22, 2009

I have been hearing more Muslims everyday talking about “reforming” Islam.  I have read article after article (that means two articles), claiming that Islam is in the beginning, middle, or end of a reformation.  Really?  Reza Aslan, author of No god but God reportedly said this:

I believe we are living in the time of the Islamic reformation. In fact, I think we are living in the twilight of that reformation.

For me, the word reform is defined by its inevitability. This process cannot be stopped; it can be slowed down for a time but reform is inevitable. It’s an historic reformation taking place within Islam — it’s adapting itself to the realities of the world around it.

I think we’ll see the same process we saw in the Christian reformation from doctrinal absolutism to doctrinal relativism; toward a truly indigenous Islamic enlightenment.

And it’s up to us as Muslims in the US to give voice to that for our brothers and sisters who don’t have the voice or the same ability to speak out as we do.

Reza, I love you as my brother in Islam, but I think you missed the mark.  I want to write a refutation right here and now, but I think this will need some time, research, and consideration.  Look for an article in the coming weeks.

Nevertheless, I will leave this for everyone, especially Muslims, to ponder:

reform (\ri-ˈform)
transitive verb
1 a: to put or change into an improved form or conditionb: to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses

2: to put an end to (an evil) by enforcing or introducing a better method or course of action

From Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

I am no linguist but “reform” seems to refer to “fixing” something that is fundamentally flawed.  And “doctrinal absolutism” is something that is alien to Islam, aside from the most extreme fringes. More on this later.

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Golden Scrolls Book 3

October 14, 2007

I’ve started on the third book of The Golden Scrolls series.  I know you’re probably thinking, “What happened to the second?”  Well, it’s done, but I’ve vowed not to publish it until I get a big publisher for the series, insha`Allah.  So, in the meantime, I’ll keep writing until the series is finished.  The second book is called Sword of Kelterya, and I’m not going to reveal the title of the third.  Taubah knows, but no one else does.

Oh yeah, and Eid Mubarak to you all.

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Sunan An-Nabi

October 7, 2007

I’ve purchased a new book from the Academy for Learning Islam.

It’s called, Sunan An-Nabi: A Collection of Narrations on the Conduct and Customs of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him and his family peace).

The original work was written by the venerable ‘Allamah Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Taba’taba’i (may Allah make his grave fragrant) and was translated by Tahir Ridha Jaffer.

Here is an excerpt from the back cover:

Outsiders have understood his political genius, his power of oratory, and his great statesmanship, but few have understood how he could be the religious and spiritual guide of humanity and how his life could be emulated by those who aspire proximity to the Almighty Creator.  From the Muslim point of view, the Prophet is the symbol of perfection of both the human person and human society.  He is the prototype of the human individual and the human collectivity and as such, he bears certain characteristics in the eyes of the Muslims which can only be discovered by studying the accounts of conduct and behavior – as seen in this monumental work, Sunan an-Nabi.

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Got Harry Potter? Pay It Forward

July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsIf you happen to be one of those who will read the new Harry Potter book as soon as it comes out (and then never again — I mean, who reads fiction books twice?), please don’t let it collect dust on your shelf.

Donate it to a library like mine, which won’t have money to order copies until December. Also, there will be plenty of less fortunate kids who won’t be able to buy it right away but who would love to have it. Visit a local community center or place of worship (unless they’ll burn you at the stake for carrying a book about wizards — don’t blame me for that!).

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Son of Karbala

April 28, 2007

Cover of Son of KarbalaI just started reading, Son of Karbala: The Spiritual Journey of an Iraqi Muslim by the brilliant Shaykh Fadhlalla Haeri. I’ve long admired this shaykh, and it is no surprise to me that he has experienced such an intriguing life, growing up in the shadow of Imam Husayn’s shrine and then encountering education, trials, and realizations in the western world. I’ve only read a chapter so far, but I’m loving it. But then again, I love most biographies that tell of someone’s struggle to become a better person. I’ll post a more detailed review when I’m finished, inshaAllah.

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Paper Jewels

March 31, 2007

There are two new stories available online which are based on the Golden Scrolls by Tavis J. Hampton. Paper Jewels is a collection of short stories told by the wise Storyteller. You can read the first two stories by following the links below. Both stories should feel very familiar to some of you.

The Story of Babak, the Lost Dervish

The Gazelle and the Wild Hyenas

I encourage comments and suggestions.