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ISLAM IS A PEACEFUL RELIGION

Assalaamu Aleikum (May Peace Be Upon You).

In the light of recent events and the rise of Islamophobia due to Terrorist Organisations and their illegitimate activities, the World has witnessed huge consequences. Atrocities have been carried out in the number of thousands across the whole of Middle East, Europe, United States of America and Africa. The victims of any terror attack are not confined to those who are directly and physically affected by it, the victims of such attacks are also those who feel insecure, victimised and fearful as a result of that attack being justified as a sacrifice for Allah. To be on the record, Muslims are the people who feel the anger that their God and their religion are forcefully and illegitimately invoked as a justification for such henious crimes without any legitimacy in either the Qur’an or the Hadith. Moreover, as a Muslim I sense a profound sense of fear as the clouds of ‘Islamic Extremist’ is descended via all media channels in the aftermath of any attack which is perpetrated by someone purporting to act in the name of Islam.p6.jpg

On a factual point of view (which is by the way very much demanded in classifying Islam as peaceful or otherwise). CNN being a reputed and accepted news agency has a good article listing the numbers of various “Islamic” terrorist organizations (there’s a whole other discussion on how the question is wrong since Islam doesn’t teach unwarranted violence). The article estimates around 106,000 individuals are members or identify with these organizations. That’s a pretty high number, but let’s do some high-level number crunching so we can get a better idea of how big that is. A recent Pew Research Study places the number of Muslims worldwide to be around 1.6 billion (or 23% of the world’s population). So doing some basic math, we get that about .006625% of the Muslim population are “extremist”. Assuming 0.006625% of the whole Muslim population contributing almost 1/4th of the whole population of the world are actually “extremists” and carry out activities which have absolutely no shred of position in the correct context and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an. Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 8.26.13 PM.png

However, Islam in the present world condition is being smeared by quoting unfinished verses of the Qur’an by many anti-Islamic pseudo intellectuals around the globe, some of these are people I’m acquainted with through school or Facebook. I follow a religion in which 113 out of 114 chapters of the Qur’an begins by introducing Allah as a God of Mercy and Compassion. I do not follow a religion which introduces my God to me as a God of War or a Greek God of Wrath or a God of Hate and Injustice. Yes there are verses related to warfare and violence, Islam is not a passive religion, my argument is not to classify Islam as a pacifistic faith. Islam allows military action and violence in certain limits and context and I accept that a minority of Muslims (previously concluded as 0.6625%) do take it out of that context: But is it religious? To justify this I’d I’d like to quote a verse of the Qur’an “Any Muslim who kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed the whole of Humanity” [Qur’an: 5:32]. But the anti-Islamic pseudo intellectuals make it appear that it is absolutely religion. These self proclaimed “researchers of Islam” are neither experts, scholars or historians of Islam, they’re not even terrorism or security experts. Despite this fact these people smearing the image of Islam and sweeping their not so well backed opinions.fatiha.jpeg

According to Prof. Robert Pape of the University of Chicago and one of America’s leading terrorism expert who unlike the pseudo anti-Islamic intellectuals studied every single case of suicide terrorism between 1980 and 2005 of 315 cases in total. he concluded , “There is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism or any of the world’s religion. Rather what all the suicide bombings have in common is a specific secular and a strategic goal to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory (nations) that the terrorist forces consider to be their homeland.”

The hilarious irony is that the anti-Islamic intellectuals and these terrorist organisations like the ISIS or Al Qaeda actually have one thing in common, which is that they both believe that Islam is a war-promoting, violent religion. Both these parties agree on that. Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and Osama Bin Laden (if alive) would be nodding along to everything the pseudo-intellectuals argue upon. Suicide bombing in reference to Dr. Tahir ul Qadri who’s well renowned Islamic scholar in Pakistan issued a 600 page fatwa denouncing suicide bombing as anything but Islamic.

The pseudo intellectuals who believe in facts and strive to deliver it claim Prophet Muhammad as a person with psychological disorders who in turn is  labelled as the greatest lawgiver by the US Supreme Court (although all laws are of Allah, The Sovereign). Perhaps there’s no use justifying anything.SC.png

A revelation which said about the Big Bang Theory;  The earth is spherical in shape; The moon which has a reflected light; The water cycle; The human body is made of water; embryological behaviour 1400 years ago. I believe my Qur’an is perfect!

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To Seek to Live is a Rebellion

Image Credit: https://jamesriver.online/series/rebel-with-a-cause/

The human situation has been the topic of study for millennia. It is indeed perplexing and at the very least thought-provoking. Death is an inevitable part of the human experience. From its very origins, we are destined to die. And we aren’t comfortable about it. Of course, one could argue that we don’t die and are waiting in our graves for the much due Judgment Day. This assertion, at least in material terms cannot be proven. On the contrary, one could also argue that the ideas of the afterlife and heaven/hell are purely social constructions aimed to provide solace to individuals from the idea of death.

Death is a permanent aberration to the status quo – life. Evolutionary mechanism teaches us that for millions of years, we have been developing defence mechanisms to fight death. Such defence mechanisms made us into a capable species until fighting death – or living- was not such a big concern anymore. People started living in communities, agriculture flourished, food became widely available, and social contracts were agreed upon where the nasty, brutish humans decided not to kill each other to mutually survive. We have come a long way since then. Life expectancy is at all-time high (let’s forget about the coronavirus), knowledge is widely available, shopping is easy, and we are constantly making advances in the field of ethics. Apart from people dying in accidents, it is reasonably expected of them to live until their hair turns grey and skin becomes saggy. Long story short: it is the easiest time to be alive. Of course, one should not forget that this ease has become a catalyst for (health-wise) negative behaviour. Activities such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, unprotected pre-marital sexual intercourse are practiced to a large extent.

Society’s move towards individualism has of course provided personal freedoms. Such freedoms in a sense are also fundamental and to argue against these fundamental freedoms is not just contrarian, but is radical. I’m not here to argue against the availability of such freedoms. The fact is that such freedoms enable us to behave in a self-destructive manner.

In writing this piece, I intend to argue that the norm of seeking to live may be undergoing a paradigm shift. In clearer words, my position is that seeking death is now the norm. How do people seek death? And more importantly, why?

Seeking death- our wish?

Seeking death or in Freudian psychoanalytical terms: death drive (or Thanatos) is a well-known phenomenon. This drive toward death and destruction is often expressed through behaviours such as aggression, repetition compulsion, and self-destructiveness. It is the opposite of Freudian Eros- the tendency towards survival, reproduction, and pleasure. You may think that this is an absurd idea. Why would individuals seek death? The more pertinent question here is as to why would individuals adopt behaviours that are self-destructive and endanger their lives? In psychoanalytical theory, childhood trauma via sexual and physical abuse, as well as disrupted parental care, have been linked with self-destructive behaviour. This is a reasonable explanation. Moreover, hedonistic and life-endangering behaviours do come with a thrill. The thrill is signified by the risk that these behaviours carry. To escape safely without consequence makes such behaviours addictive, and in the long-run seemingly harmless. Take a smoker for example. Smoking is known to be injurious to health. It could kill you, and if it doesn’t, it sure will damage your body in one way or another. Smoking is linked with almost all lifestyle-based ailments. In “thrill” terms it gives you a sustained thrill for years at the end. A smoker’s life can be excellently summed by a Travis Scott lyric: “They say my day’s numbered but I keep waking up”.

Image credits: https://www.verywellmind.com/life-and-death-instincts-2795847

Smokers are harassed every day. They are reminded that they are damaging their lungs, that they will age faster, they are told that there are only a minority of places where they can smoke, and most importantly, they are reminded by the product packaging itself that they are at risk of cancer. But the smoker rebels, he lights up another one and keeps waking up after every night. Zizek tells a funny joke on the topic. One day he met an African American man who was raised in the South of the US. The man said to Zizek that he encountered a lot of harassment growing up because of the colour of his skin. But he admitted that as a smoker he was more harassed by society. Zizek mentions that the ultimate hedonist is the smoker. He indulges himself in a forbidden pleasure while at risk of literally killing himself. Of course, the point of mentioning all this is not to glorify smoking in any way and I should clarify that I’m not a smoker.

Seeking death is not limited to smoking. Smoking rates are very low as compared to those in the ’90s and God forbid, those in the ’60s. Alcohol is another way as to how we seek death. Research has found that no amount of drinking can be scientifically be held safe. Marijuana, the champion drug of the legalise clan, and often touted as healthy, also contains carcinogenic chemicals. Sugar is another devil. Linked with diabetes and heart conditions, our obsession with Coca-Cola is another way how we seek death, albeit in a non-obvious manner. One could argue successfully that our consumption of unhealthy materials is not due to our free will. Rather, socialisation, advertisements, product placements, and effective marketing makes it obvious that we should indulge. The bottom line is that we do indulge where, if we want to live longer, we shouldn’t.

But why live? This existential question haunts us after the breakthroughs made by Fredrich Nietzsche in his philosophy. I’m not going to delve into specifics because our dear Freddy is a controversial figure. Here, Jordan Peterson would argue that you don’t just live for yourself. You live for the people around you, those connected with you. Peterson would implore you to climb up the dominance hierarchy, start a family, maintain friends, and have a fulfilling career. These are the things that can be materially assessed to bring happiness. Peterson would also claim that this way of living is way better than wallowing in the lack of meaning of life. You could ask, “But isn’t life worth living?” and I would agree with you. Although, I’m not sure everyone would agree on this. Okay, so we have (subjectively) established that life is worth living.

Here, is it pertinent to mention that in my humble observations, seeking death is most certainly the norm now. This is the paradigm shift that I mentioned earlier. This phenomenon is established by the forces and relations of production. For instance, whole foods are reasonably out of the equation for urban living. You go processed or you go hungry. Additionally. the Superstructure through media celebrates the use of alcohol, drugs, and unprotected premarital sexual intercourse. This is the status quo. Seeking death is the zeitgeist of our era. As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, “We are the middle children of history. We have no Great War. No Great Depression”. As a result, these people start a fight club, risk their lives to find meaning in life. In the same way, partaking in risky behaviour in a way becomes a sick obligation of sorts. In such a scenario, you either go with the zeitgeist or you rebel.

Image credits: https://me.me/i/scoopwhoop-c-com-were-the-middle-children-of-the-history-man-f05c97760f824725a20900430894a2d0

The Real Rebel

I previously made the case that the smoker was a rebel. Although if we consider seeking death as a societal norm then smoking is a subset of a larger set of destructive behaviours linked to seeking death. Real rebelliousness, I argue is to seek to live. I say “seek to live” and not just “live” because healthy choices only represent our will to live and not life itself. One may make the healthiest life choices and still end up crushed by a truck on the road. So, despite all precautions, life itself is not a guarantee but in taking those precautions, one can seek to live. I posit that the one who seeks to live is the ultimate rebel. In saying no to unhealthy, or self-destructive lifestyle choices, one exercises sheer will-power. In doing so, one not only goes against his desires but also goes against societal expectations. He labours through, holding fast to his will every day in an environment where making healthy life-choices seems to be offensive to other people. He might even be accused of sacrilege because he offends the customs of the indulgers and imbibers abound.

Belief in God, in my opinion, does not prevent hedonistic behaviour. As Zizek famously said, “If there is a God, everything is permitted”. This means that the existence of a God and by extension of a divine plan provides that whatever is meant to happen will happen. Quite ironically, it seems more like we write our destiny and not the other way around. In other words, if a God exists, you can indulge in self-destructive behaviour because your death is predetermined and nothing can go against that. For instance, if you choose to make healthy lifestyle choices, you will die at the exact time determined by God. Conversely, if there is no God then everything is prohibited. This means that we are responsible for our own lives and to a little extent for our death. There is no God to have our backs. In such a scenario, we shoulder a great deal of responsibility.

In such a scenario, it logically entails that the rebel chooses a convenient way (and time) of death. He lives for himself and others. He comforts people in their hard days, he is reliable, he is independent, and he is a great parent. This rebel brings order even though he is despised and envied upon. This is how the rebel finds meaning in life. This rebel personifies Nietzsche’s quote, “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering”.

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The ideology behind smartphone use

Smartphone use is pure ideology. It is the manifestation of the exploitation of an aspect of the most primitive nature of human beings: curiosity. Curiosity is essential because it drives people  to make discoveries, invent useful things out of raw, unprocessed material. A smartphone coupled with a stable and fast internet connection represents the ultimate exploitation. This exploitation is firstly unending, and secondly unfair. It is unending because data is cheap and the internet material to access is unlimited. It is unfair because it does not necessarily take the consent of an individual who starts using it. Let me explain, when an individual sits down with their phone, they usually have an end-goal in mind. “Oh, how tall can Cristiano Ronaldo jump” or “Oh, why do some people cannot grow beards”. However useless these questions may seem; they stem out of curiosity deeply rooted in our consciousness. Okay, let’s say some people cannot grow beards because they have low testosterone levels. The next obvious question is, “well why do some people have low testosterone levels”. Ahaa, so it has got to do with genetics. Hmm, genetics, Hugh Jackman has good genetics. Oh, he’s Australian. What happened to the aboriginal Australian people? And you keep on digging rabbit hole. 2 hours later, you’re watching a video of Donald Trump boasting about his border walls.

What just manifested is something all of have gone through. You could say it is anecdotal evidence but I really don’t care about that right now. We’re talking about YouTube binging for God’s sake. So yeah, back to the topic. The essence of the example lays in a very foundational ideological question. Why do we do what we do (on our phones)? The answer to me is capitalism! The idea that profits are basis of human progress and it is essential for a business to use tactics which help in keeping the cash rolling (pardon my simplicity here). And I agree with that logic, If I were in tech, I would be carrying the Atlas Shrugged all the time quoting Hank Rearden here and there. I agree with the capitalistic logic and I at some point would like to own a business and employ tactics which may not take the best interest of the customer in question.

But who’s the customer in the relationship that you and I have with our mobile devices (and by extension, all of Silicon Valley, Bangalore, and Shenzhen). It is, of course you and I and the very reason the capitalists sitting in California are so rich is because of their product’s design which at its foundational level is addicting in nature. It exploits as I said earlier: our curiosity. On a side note, it’s essential to mention that these capitalists aren’t people but companies, because companies are people too (albeit, only legal in nature). Good on them for thinking of this wonderful idea and making a large proportion of the world population addicted to a device meant for their pockets. This I say without a hint of irony because as I said earlier, I agree with the capitalistic logic. But hey, I’m the one at loss here and that makes me rethink this deal that I have made with these limited liability legal personality people. This deal is bad because I’m the exploited instead of the exploiter.

For the theists, this life is precious because it is meant for worship and the reverence of the Almighty Creator. For the atheists, this life is the only one and consciousness is lost after death. So anyway, life is precious, and reducibly, time is precious. Smartphones end up taking away just that. They are an impediment to individual progress, big or small, intellectual or physical. So, if time is all we have, why throw it by being exploited without consent by dead legal personality people. They are dead, literally so they don’t have any conception of morality.

This is not a self-help BS post made by a zoomer who just watched the Social Dilemma. To be honest, I haven’t watched it because I know exactly what they’ll be saying (thanks to the works of Cal Newport). And anyway, I hate Netflix and its audacity to teach people about the harms of technology while at the same time being a company who feeds off making people getting addicted to the very thing. But isn’t hate a strong word? I’m very very liberal with the use of hate because I don’t have any paucity of hate-resource (not really, I just don’t understand why it’s a taboo word in the first place). 

Anyway, at this point I’m thinking as to who am I to tell people what to do with their time and rightfully so, I’m no-one. The only reason I wrote this in the first place was to have some self-restraint myself. And in order to clear my own head so as to understand the relationship I have with my phone. It’s much clearer now and at least I shall feel like a hypocrite if I catch myself Googling why Donald Trump is so orange. This reminds me of something I wrote in my journal 3 years ago. We’re all hypocrites, only some of us are recovering.

Hope to write more, needed to clear my head.

If you made it till here, let me assure you, you’re wasting your time right now.

Faiz, fzmd07@gmail.com