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  1. I like to respond with my poetry that the writings invoke. Hope that’s okay. Much love


    Forgive from your heart
    Let It heal your life
    Nothing can hold you
    Like a fair bit of strife

    The hardest to get through
    Are the things that We do
    Known only by us
    Yet they can still puss

    They fester and grow
    And live on all the while
    With each new day.
    It gets harder to smile

    Your greatness is here now
    Lets show them all how
    When love is involved
    Much can be solved

    The love that you are
    Lays buried deep inside
    Just waiting for the hate to subside

    Loved ones cannot help you
    Only you can mend
    All the hurt and despair that you still defend

    Your spirit is calling
    For you to be free
    Forgiveness is golden
    And I’m sure you’ll agree
    There is nothing nicer
    That you’d like to be

    So forgive and move on now
    And then you will see
    All the good things that life brings
    Known to more than just me

  2. I was taught that the proper way to apologize was to say sorry for the exact thing that caused hurt and to ask for forgiveness from the person

    1. Good balance. But be careful with the forgiveness part. Forgiveness is only truly possible when we have understanding about why it happened, because understanding makes acceptance easier, which then makes forgiveness more sustainable. Otherwise we forgive because we hope to let go, but the impact still carries with us.

  3. I was always taught to apologize by saying β€œI’m sorry I hurt you, and I want to ask you to forgive me”. It has worked for me.

  4. that sounds to me not an aplogoy but like abuse… The key being – how it makes us feel? If it feels as rubbing the joy out of our insides, it’s opposite from being good and acceptable to us, the recepient. It’s meant to hurt, not heal or be good for us, whatever the words are.

    1. Hence the focus on determining the authenticity of the apology so that we don’t become easily manipulated by someone who is avoiding accountability for the harm or offence that they caused.

  5. soooooooo um are you an extrovert then or you’re saying introvert in a different way like the definition isn’t true? If your saying your an extrovert……………………………………….. I hate you. period.

    1. Lol… I’m saying the definition of identity that they’ve created about introverts is nonsense! Put a so-called introvert in company that they connect with, and see how quickly they appear to be extroverts. These labels are rubbish. The labels undermine our humanness.

  6. Accept for what it is !! thank you for this . I definitely will read it over and over to remind myself . I definitely needed this message . THANK you ✨✊🏾

    1. I’m so glad to hear that it resonated with you in a positive way. Forgiveness is such a sensitive issue to deal with for so many people. I pray you find peace, and that it’s everlasting when you do.

  7. Very true – this post reminds me a little of the quotation ‘Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die’. Not perfectly related, but we have to acknowledge how, ultimately, the only person under our own control is ourselves. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Absolutely…sadly though, we associate shame with getting things wrong, which is why so many are averse to owning their contribution towards the struggles that they encounter in life.

  8. A fantastic sentiment and brilliantly worded… that’s why blogging provides such a valuable opportunity, so we can comfortably express parts of our lives even when it may never be heard

    1. Part of the problem with the mainstream views on mental health is that they assume that the body, including the brain, defines its own purpose independent of our consciousness. If we challenge that logic, we’ll find that the body has no purpose independent of that consciousness, and is therefore a vessel of expression, and not a diseased or healthy vessel on its own.

  9. So agreed, there is no civil in humanity anymore soon it will end up like a purge. And I too do not get the toilet paper thing. And now there is something called the coronavirus challenge where people are licking toilet seats etc.

    1. You’re kidding me, right? Is the ignorance really at that level? Licking toilet seats? That’s a bad idea on a good day! Ugh… Eeewww…

  10. I used to read your blog back in the day and just stumbled across it again. I notice you’re referring to yourself as a single father here – did you and “TMIHijabi” separate? I was wondering what happened to her.

  11. Once more you hit the nail on it’s head. No frills just straight talk. Thank you

  12. Wonderful insight – I hope individual’s struggling with this come across your article.

    I agree with many of what you mentioned, and there are some instances where you opened up my mind into seeing other reasons why its beneficial. I often find myself de-cluttering – and people say that I have obsessive compulsive disorder because of it, I’m definitely going to be showing them this article!

    1. People that resort to labels like OCD actually reveal their lethargy and lack of conviction more than anything else. As long as you are purposeful in de-cluttering, it’s most certainly a virtue and not a disorder. πŸ™‚

  13. Wow brother ….Truly a blessed and inspirational man….for the Ummah, Humanity, and beyond.
    May the Creator of the worlds guide, protect, and preserve you…and the likes of you. πŸ‘ŒπŸ‘βœŒοΈοΈβ˜οΈοΈ

  14. If you have received along your long life so much love from so many – even knowing (too late..) you didn’t deserve it you will never feel alone or worried of what other people think about you. You don’t ‘peform’. You live just the way you like – as far as other sad people let you to have peace – and you awake each morning grateful for life even though knowing that a lot of stupid and awful news would come to your knowledge.

    1. If I understand you correctly, a group setting of people that share mutual respect and common appreciation for each other’s contributions while focusing on their responsibilities to the group rather than their dues from the group is an idealism I wish was achievable, at least in my life. That has been elusive thus far. I’ve always believed that if we were to live a long and painful life, and in the end, in our last few moments, we experienced the absolute serenity and completeness of everything we sought to experience or achieve in our lifetime, the entirety of the pain and struggles of our lives would be easily forgotten. It would still feel like a complete and beautiful life, because the intensity of the struggles before that point would directly inform the intensity of gratitude and peace we would feel when experiencing it.

  15. After all your texts are rather long and eleborated… Difficult to say in ‘two words’ what you need to say in fifty so that your thoughs are understood by the reader!

  16. Funny how I try not to use the words, Infinity, forever and destiny too much but it seems like humanity can use a little faith. Instead I’ll try explaining those words in a lifetime.

    1. I think we all have such inclinations. We feel passionately about some things to the point of wanting to exhaust all efforts possible in our quest to ensure that it is being understood by our audience. That’s when it’s easy for others to see our passion as pretentiousness while we struggle to understand why they’re not getting it. Meanwhile, their assumption about our motives created a mental block which leaves us trying to convince them believing that they don’t understand without realising that they’re actually not interested. Awkward. I think.

  17. I haven’t read Part Two yet but I really appreciate your attempt to explore relationship between adulthood health and childhood health. I also understand that the link is so complex, so undisclosed, and so unassumed that any initial conversation about it is almost impossible to be adequate. I’m sharing a piece where I attempted to talk about the emotional health relationship between parent and child. You’ll notice that it is Part Four in a series. Lol, hopefully this gives you comfort as you continue to try to technically conceptualize something you intuitively understand.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Dr Dye. I read the post you linked to your comment and generally agree with your views. The key differentiator in approach (for me) is the emphasis placed on understanding the symptoms rather than getting to grips with the root cause. Root cause in this case is not necessarily associated with what started the behavioural patterns, but rather what sustains the negative cycle. I believe that at some point the origination only remains relevant if we afford it relevancy. Acceptance that it was out of our control allows us to focus on what we can do to break the cycle, rather than expending life in trying to understand why it all happened, which is an answer that will often escape us, despite our best efforts to uncover the truth.

      I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Part II. πŸ™‚

      1. Yes, there is a definite difference which, based on our line of work, might be required. I didn’t share the link to juxtapose how we are tackling the problem. Instead, I offered it to show, that like you, wrapping my mind around the issue was more than a one-post notion! πŸ™‚

      2. Thanks for that clarification. I assumed as much, but thought it important to highlight the different points of departure because it does lead to very different response advice or intervention strategies. Both have merit, but I guess, for me, it depends on the capacity for the recipient to grab the bull by the horns versus needing to understand how the bull got there before deciding to take action. Hope that makes sense. πŸ™‚

        P.S. I incorporated your correction into this comment. πŸ™‚

  18. Zaid, thank you for your words, so true. I have seen many such examples and become absolutely sure that, in the changing world, one of the best experiencies which parents can demonstrate to their children is dealing with uncertainty, complexity, and change. I mean, dealing with the power of their own creativity that can encourage their children.

    1. Thank you, Svetlana. It seems that it’s easier for most to avoid exploiting that power because of the accountability of follow through that goes with it. It’s easier to just go with the flow. We need more fully formed adults in this world. πŸ™‚

  19. I always appreciate your blogs with their gut twisting honesty and their ability to make me ask and answer the tough questions about myself and society. Your quality of writing sets a standard to be reckoned with.

  20. I think I understand what you’re saying- to me that’s what Islamic psychology would be like. taking a fresh approach in applying the Quran and Sunnah by basically opening up its deepness and bringing it to eye level and connecting it to the simplest or most typical themes of day to day life. and then defying the hoaxes and common misconceptions that we all tie ourselves to without second thoughts. Okay maybe I spoke too much…but one last thing about this entry- I didn’t see you mention the love of God or the faith in God in relation to this issue πŸ™‚

    1. You’re touching on an important point that I always find myself contemplating. I believe that any claim to a divinely inspired religion must ensure that following the dictates of said religion must lead to a balanced life. Not a life of excess or self-imposed hardship. My personal experience of Islam has confirmed that the principles align with this objective. We lose this balance when we resort to extreme interpretations of rituals and practices which contradicts the Sunnah where it tells us that this way of life was not intended to impose a hardship on us. What we fail to recognise, often, is that when we avoid what we think are unreasonable demands by Islam, we actually end up indulging in other forms of material excess that causes us sleepless nights or ill health. So the important point for me is to always try to determine how the wisdom of Islam plays out practically in a life that is not necessarily guided by Islam but is guided by a need for balance or harmony. I think that such a pursuit automatically leads us back to Islam, and therefore, to Allah. Anyone that contemplates the enormity and magnificence of the creation cannot but be left in awe of the Creator. There is nothing, even in our own lives and in this material world, that comes into existence without a cause. It therefore defies logic to believe that this universe as we observe it is a result of a fluke, because even if that were true, it will never answer what came before that fluke to allow for anything to exist before it could interact by fluke.

      Sorry, this is turning out to be a post in the comment thread, but I hope that answers your point that you raised. πŸ™‚

  21. this was well written ! ” because the only time we can claim to truly love them is when we want for them what we want for ourselves” similar to the prophet’s hadeeth.. it’s amazing how the Rasul (SAW) totally nailed what love is.. and this piece seems to explain that hadith to a deeper yet more open level πŸ™‚ and with that in mind, one can really see how it so so directly tied to one’s own Iman overall, and furthering on to the discovery of serene humility.

    1. Absolutely, alhamdulillah. It’s difficult not to find inspiration in the absolutely distilled wisdom found in the Sunnah or in the simplicity of principles in the Qur’an. If only we’d stop viewing it all in such a ritualistic way, we’d be able to derive so much more benefit from it.

  22. Reading your blog reveals you to be…there’s no nice way to put this…a bit sex obsessed. What is your preoccupation with women’s bodies? Where does it come from? Were you taught to think like this? Who is responsible for your obsession? Why is a man deigning to pass opinion on women’s dress? I honestly think most serious issues in the Muslim community worldwide can be solved. Intolerance toward “apostates” and other tendencies to criminalizing free speech and thought, misogyny, homophobia (which is just another type of misogyny) the relentless sexual harassment of women in Muslim societies, the battering of women and children being winked at – all could be solved if Muslim men could stop thinking with your penises and used your bloody brains.

    CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. Only women should comment on women’s dress. CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. Men should know their place. Which is beneath women, frankly. CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE sit down and shut up. If you hear a Muslim sister talking, LISTEN. AND THEN DON’T COMMENT. Because believe me, she doesn’t care what you think. CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE.

    And find a psychiatrist. Seriously. Anyone who thinks all day about women’s hair does not have a healthy relationship with women, with his own body, with his own sexuality. You reduce women to physical beings. You applaud a garment (the niqab) that is as sexually degrading as walking around naked and just as reductive in terms of making a woman a sexual object and nothing else. And if you don’t understand why the niqab is as sexual and degrading as walking around naked, then you seriously have some critical thinking to do. No really – THINK. And once again CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE. Stop talking. And listen.

    No really. You have pissed off this woman. I am shaking with rage. SHUT UP.

    1. I’m happy to hear that you were moved to rage by what you read on my blog. However, I suspect you came across some trigger words and didn’t bother to pay attention to the context within which it was expressed. If anything, I am very vocal about men trying to impose their views on women when it comes to issues relating specifically to how a woman experiences Islam, or life. Let alone dress code.
      Also, I probably have over 1500 posts on my blog, many of which were simply imported from my Tumblr account. So there is a good chance that you came across something that actually expressed the views you’re accusing me of, while not noticing that those views were in fact another blogger’s that I reblogged in order to comment on it.
      Either way, there is a greater issue that needs to be addressed here.
      Firstly, it’s rich for you to want to dish advice without offering any insights of your own. You become just as guilty as every sexist male or female out there that thinks it’s OK to rage at someone without first trying to engage or understand their perspective, let alone trying to meaningfully and sincerely point out specifically what it is that they said that you found so offensive, and why.
      Secondly, the fact that you are capable of rage is a good thing. It means that you have yet to become complacent like so many other religionists on the internet these days. Everyone is happy to regurgitate someone else’s (read blindly followed scholars) opinion on religious matters while rarely taking time to reflect on their own behaviour or representation of the very way of life they profess to defend.
      Thirdly, I have no reason to obsess over women in the way you suggest I do. So it would be delightful for me if you were able to draw my attention to the posts you claim indicate such an unhealthy or vulgar obsession that I supposedly have with the opposite sex. I’ve never sexualised either the hijab or the niqab. The attributes of sensuality that may have been apportioned to this dress code is something I’ve always spoken against. So I suspect that you were probably just having a bad day, stumbled across my blog, read something entirely out of context, and decided that a venting session was called for. All of which is perfectly understandable, but not necessarily justifiable.
      I’m more than happy to be called out on something that I said that may be wrong, but I won’t allow others to simply use my blog as a soap box just to misdirect their anger that is probably sourced in the people around them. Engage meaningfully, or not at all.


      1. I apologize. You did catch me during a bad day and while I laugh at “trigger” warnings you are correct that something in the blog set me off.

        Muslim women put up with a great deal of degradation, judgment, unhappiness, criticism…and little else. To be surrounded by that from morning to night, so relentlessly, is something no man could ever understand. And sometimes I want to scream and shout and rage and hit out – and you were simply here.

        And I’m sorry.

      2. I appreciate you taking the time to come back to clarify. We all have days of misguided passion, some we can recover from, and others not. Fortunately this falls into the former. πŸ™‚ I agree that there are communities that subject women to degrading practices or norms, but I also know that there are communities that do the same to men. We can exchange war stories via email if you wish. I try to take my lead from the consistent principle in the Sunnah that encourages us towards moderation. So the moment I find anyone leaning too strongly in one direction, I feel compelled to prompt them in the opposite direction until we are able to engage on things more meaningfully without the disruption that excess brings.

        Apology accepted, and I hope that Insha-Allah your experiences as a Muslim woman only improves with time. Aameen.

  23. The title of your piece is perhaps from the quote from a prominent actor, “Dying is easy, it’s humor that’s difficult”. I have spent a good deal of my long lifetime (I am 90) attempting many things and rarely if ever succeeding in any of my efforts to my own satisfaction or to any worthwhile commercial accomplishment. My only bulwark against a totally bleak outlook is to accept myself as a live creature which is a rare situation in a universe in which life itself seems almost totally absent.

    Current human civilization openly is vigorously determined to make the planet uninhabitable and its prime values based on the fantasy of money and personal dominance which is spreading huge miseries and vigorous agendas of murdering millions of innocent people to no sensible purpose whatsoever is not particularly encouraging.

    Nevertheless a relatively healthy existence personally and a fascination with many of the pleasures of observing the intricacies of merely being alive and other creatures than human interacting in a fiercely complex planet suffice in my final years to make the adventure worthwhile. Perhaps that is enough.

    1. I like that quote, but haven’t heard it before. Thank you for sharing it. I tend to agree with you. Sometimes just being aware of life beyond your own is an achievement of its own. Add to that our appreciation for what we observe and I think by default, we live more in those quiet moments than many do in a lifetime. The world is gone mad, and we’re all competing to see whose insanity will prevail. Sounds like you’re comfortable with where you’re at in life, and that’s really admirable. Too many grow old believing they’ve been cheated rather than seeing the world for what it is, and choosing not to have a part in what they would otherwise despise, if it weren’t for the promise of fame and fortune.

    1. To be honest, I’m struggling to get to writing the book. Each time I try to prioritise it, life happens (not necessarily in a good way). So I eventually decided to give myself a visible target date in the hope that it would help to spur me on. The book is sub-titled ‘A Synopsis of the Human Condition’ and hopes to unpack the reasons that drive us to behave the way we do. Essentially a summary of my observations of life, and people, and how I navigate my way through the human psyche. Hopefully it will be a worthwhile read. Time will tell. πŸ™‚

  24. If the person who is dishonest feels remorse maybe we’ll feel bad for holding it against them, but a lit of times that isn’t how they feel. They lie and are proud at times to have done so

    1. I agree. I’ve found that most times, when they appear proud, it’s usually because they need to maintain an image that they believe others have of them, which implies that they lack self-worth. Unfortunately a deficit in self-worth is most often disguised by our need to tear down the worth of others, because subconsciously we know that if we can’t rise above something, then we must at least destroy it so that we appear superior by default in its absence. Remorse is becoming rare because we have so many social networks of distraction to convince us that we’re right to be proud without apology.

  25. Beautifully written πŸ™‚ I’ve just experienced a devastating break up because my partner had these same turmoils. Emotions can be difficult to understand. Thank you for sharing this

    1. And thank you for sharing that πŸ™‚ it’s always difficult to separate being sensitive to their turmoil while not making it your own. But sometimes it’s important for our sanity to do that.

  26. Indeed. I never knew there was sooo many out there with the same complexity and way of thinking as my own troubled mind. The abundance of love and support really restores my light and faith. My fears of being too difficult to ever understand, too irrational, has been lifted so happy

    1. It’s the burden of awareness. Once you realise something, you can’t un-realise it. Some build on those realisations, while others find distractions to pretend it never happened. I pray that you’re the former. The world is full of the latter.

      1. Always building, always seeking to know more, always thirsty for more knowledge. As scary as it may be at times. I am so grateful. I wouldnt want it any other way. I was tainted for so long , trying to drown everything out. It takes a lot of wisdom to rise above ….

      2. Wisdom, courage, and a desire to want to be better than you were before. Never stop living curiously. We have enough complacency in this world already. πŸ™‚

      1. That’s always great to hear. The world feels that little bit less lonely when we know someone out there relates to our struggles for meaning. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks…I really like your theme…if only I had more time to choose a suitable image for my posts I would probably want a theme similar to yours. πŸ™‚

  27. “Quite unexpectedly, I found myself reminded once again that this world is built for respite, not justice.”

    Lovely entry. I also nod to the notions of over-contemplation. It seems that balance is shrouded these days!

  28. you have just made yourself a new fan! Love the conversationalist approach that you have and that is after reading one blog entry.I am a newbie to this so i am taking a look around at what is out there, i would say competition, but there is a lane for everyone and their own unique style that the bring to the table.Looking forward to reading more posts and the highly anticipated book.

    1. You’re too kind, but thank you. Seems I’m going to need all the nagging I can get to get this book done. By the way, I never thought of my approach as being conversationalist, but now that you mentioned it, it resonates with me. Again, thank you. πŸ™‚

  29. It sounds like you’re heading towards enlightenment, many people start off exactly where you are now, and it is not an easy journey. It starts with mindfulness. Success comes with a newfound perspective, I hope you find it. ✌

    1. I didn’t respond at the time of publishing your comment because there was something in the back of my mind that I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I think it has to do with enlightenment. I think it’s similar to humility and happiness in that it can never be fully attained, nor can it be specifically pursued. It’s an outcome that is most likely observed and experienced, but becomes elusive the moment we lay claim to it.

      1. You’re exactly right, I see how my comment could imply that one just attains it and then has it and that’s that. But it’s definitely not like that. It’s a constant effort to better yourself and listen to yourself, we are after all, forever changing. Glad you pointed that out! 😊

  30. Zaid, I would really like to include your post in something that I am writing for a Blogging course. I will not use your post without permission since this is for an assignment, as opposed to s simple reposting. Please let me know it this is acceptable to you. I will enjoy reading your blog regardless of your answer πŸ™‚

    1. Sure, no problem. I trust you’ll include relevant credits. Only payment I expect is for you to share with me any feedback you may receive about it. πŸ™‚

  31. I remember taking that test years ago in the Navy. I thought it was rather easy to manipulate, and I was right. Be who you are, not the person that someone wants to fit into a category. That only gives them the alleged knowledge of how to control you.

    1. Agree completely. These assessments are good for personal insights only, and then also it must be tested against the knowledge you have of yourself. If you need an assessment to figure out someone else, then you’re not paying attention. πŸ™‚

      1. I find that attempts to cubbyhole individuals are one of the most sinister things we have to deal with.

  32. this story broke my heart, indeed sad. Life is too short as they say. That’s why we should value every single moment with our love. πŸ™

    1. I forgot about this post. Your comment and the reminder knocked the wind out of me. I agree. Idealism and futuristic goals often rob us of the present moment.

  33. Hello I have found for myself in the awkwardness I hold that moment tender and remind myself that I am loved and rather or not someone else gives me validation or not I know that I truly am OKAY no matter what! I’ve been on a journey of healing so I can’t say I’ve arrived but I’m not where I used to be. This is a wonderful self examination! I honor this! Michelle

    1. Hi Michelle, thank you so much for sharing that. I’m inclined to believe that the journey never ends, but it’s the best journey you could ever undertake. If only more people had the courage to undertake it. Like someone once said, don’t try to be better than others, just try to be better than the person you were yesterday. All the best, Zaid.

  34. Very well said,.. society has lost sight of the true meaning of family and community, of how we should be appreciative of what we have, rather than obsessed with what we perceive it is we lack. We are more than the sum total of our material possessions, achievements and qualifications. They fade away, as do we. It is rather the imprint of the actions we leave behind in the hearts of others that carries our legacy once we are gone.

  35. I agree with you regarding the current generation. They are capable of so much more and it is scary because there is so much lack of control. This post, as all your post, slices through to the core of the human mind.

    1. I agree, they are capable of so much more. But if we put it into context, they’re dealing with a level of societal disruption never seen before, which means that they also lack the role models that can guide them through it. Hence the greater opportunities that exist for those that do grasp the opportunities while being mindful of the impact of their actions and decisions. I think the ones entering the education system now are the ones to watch. They will be the leaders to break the cycle of insanity we see around us right now. And as always, thank you for your feedback. It’s always appreciated. πŸ™‚

  36. This is the kind of read that leaves me feeling annoyed and miffed – till I realize that that’s because it questions deep seated assumptions that I have held unquestioningly. What’s not obvious in your post is that you actually effectively undefined the traditional concept of home – that, while being unsettling, is so exciting. It renews hope that all is not lost and that mindfulness to the present moment is, yet again, so very important.

    1. The more I think of it, the more I’m convinced that mindfulness, more than ever, will be the holy grail of the current generations. Those that are able to harness it while grasping the myriad of technologies and opportunities available to them, will be frighteningly powerful and influential.

  37. Reblogged this on Brown Song Bird and commented:
    “Beauty that is ignored because we’re always too busy with important things, like living up to expectations, or maintaining specific appearances.”

  38. I am tempted to redefine ‘humility’ – but that’s another topic for another day.

    If happiness is elusive in your context, then according to the above parameters, what’s the inclination – to readjust your expectations or stand ground?

    1. Definitely adjust expectations. Expectations imply entitlement. If that entitlement is not a right but in fact an option relative to someone else’s commitment to fulfill it, then holding on to it would be foolish. So I switch from expecting them to contribute, to hoping that they will at some point, but abandoning any inclination to wait for that moment to arrive. In other words, I acknowledge what is lacking and move on.

  39. ‘More often than not, humility is a result of insecurity, shame, modesty, shyness, embarrassment, etc.’ – why not simply a recognition of our insignificance in the big picture juxtaposed against the gravity of still mattering to at least the final reality.

    So – are you happy? πŸ˜‰

    1. Do we still matter to the final reality, or is that reality inevitable regardless of our contribution towards it? Recognition of our insignificance, in my mind, is a result of determining our perceived worth relative to our desired worth to those around us, or within the setting that we wish to influence. The reasons for measuring that outcome varies from one to another because it is also an outcome of our confidence in our skills, ability to influence, ability to garner respect, etc. So I think that even that is not a good indicator, which leads me to believe that true judgement of humility is not possible in this world, be it through reflection or through observation of the self or others. For me, that suggests that humility is something we may appreciate in others relative to how we experience them, but is not an attribute that can be accurately ascribed to their person, simply because that underlying motivation for the actions or behavior that we perceive as being humble cannot be objectively observed or measured.

      Am I happy? Probably not. I stopped pursuing that state for a long time now. Instead, I just seek to get to a point of momentary contentment. The absence of issues. A comfortable balance between what I contribute versus what I can reasonably expect from others. However, even that is elusive.

  40. So what happens to ‘defining moments’ piece – I wonder if you still feel the same way…

    1. Interesting point…I think this builds on Defining Moments in that it considers the whole, as opposed to the specific moments that may have caused me to alter the course I was on in my life. I’ve always felt as if my journey was far from over, and that my learning has only just begun. I think when I wrote Defining Moments, I was only contemplating parts of that journey that stood out for me up to that point, but it wasn’t an attempt to define me in totality. This trip seems to have solidified that thinking in bringing to the fore the realisation that it’s never truly over as long as I have breath left in me. Which, by implication, suggests that it’s always just begun. Not so? πŸ™‚

      1. Which begs the question whether ‘defining’ self is even a valid concept. Whether individuals realize it or not, the self is ever evolving – so it truly is never at a static point of being entirely defined (and by that constrained).

      2. Absolutely agree. And for that reason I think both Defining Moments and this last post are both accurate. Individual moments can, and often should, be defined in order to grasp the gravity of the experience. But to allow it to define anything beyond that moment or experience would be to undermine the value of the moments, and life, that follow.

  41. Once again your ‘no holds barred’ honesty is refreshing, even as it makes me flinch. Facing your true self, and laying excuses by the wayside can be tough, but necessary. I see my shortcomings in your post, and I own them. Thank you for sharing the plight of human nature.

  42. A well written and thought provoking post. For ten years my hero has been my grandson. Before that, I never thought of anyone as a hero. I am, however, one of the many with memories buried so deep that I only have the conscious effects, to tell me they exist.

    1. That’s really interesting. I’ve always heard of people recognising or choosing heroes that have preceded them in life, but rarely has anyone identified a hero for themselves to be someone younger than them. He must be an amazing guy. πŸ™‚ But I think it also provides insight into what we define as aspirational goals, and how we see those goals personified in the people around us. Inspiration is drawn from the most unsuspecting places at times.

      1. That’s true. He went through so much to be here, and is going through a lot. He has Autism, and he is amazing.

      2. Inspiration comes from places we least expect the moment we stop our fixation on public icons and stereotypes. Sounds amazing. πŸ™‚

    1. We all do. πŸ™‚ It’s that innate need to sacrifice in the hope that others will sacrifice for us. And then we realize that they’re not going to, and we end up feeling used. Nasty cycle.

  43. Sometimes the truth is so painful that it is blocked by a protective mind that doesn’t realize it’s doing more harm than good. (So starts a blog I’m dragging on writing.) Your honesty is an eye-opener, and reminds me that I should swallow my fear and just put it out there. Thanks for sharing this look into the workings of our fragile mind.

  44. True, we tend to have greater faith in fear than our own soul’s courage, yet I cannot agree that our loyalty to self is not separate from our fearful self, as you stated. Once the soul is “brought forward” into our consciousness, consulted often, our loyalty to ourselves becomes a solid foundation in our being, supportive and uncomplicated. This does not preclude loyalty to others, it simply minimizes the emotional turbulence within, which creates guilt. As I am loyal to myself, my courage and honesty – my authenticity – expands and encompasses fear until it no longer troubles.

    1. I think we have a fundamental difference of approach in how we view the soul versus consciousness, versus the ‘fearful self’. I believe they’re all dimensions of the same consciousness, or soul. The soul is the seat of intelligence, and the body is merely the vehicle of expression. Fears, needs, desires, wants, consciousness, all emanate from the soul. Separating them introduces a disconnect that may prompt us to believe that the one is independent or separate from the other, which will result in choices needing to be made regarding which should be allowed to be more dominant, or even which should be nurtured, and therefore having to determine the level of influence we allow from each sphere. That again implies more than a single consciousness that is not necessarily in harmony with the rest of our being.

      So if I take it back to the original view that I presented above, that is the soul being the seat of intelligence (i.e. conscious choice and reason) and the body being the vehicle of expression, it then suggests that we need to determine what comes first, the fear, the need, the want, the desire, or are our actions prompted through an other force or source of motivation. I believe that it’s all central, with needs being the root as hardwired in our consciousness (so to speak) and fears resulting from our perception of whether or not we are able to satisfy those needs. It’s obviously a lot more complex than just that, but simplistically, that is how I believe it all comes together, and therefore don’t see the ‘fearful self’ as being separate from any other part of our consciousness.

      Perhaps we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. πŸ™‚ But thanks for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate it, and I look forward to hearing more of your views on other thoughts that I share on my blog.

      1. I honestly think we’re closer in this than it appears, but until something changes that appearance, we’ll agree to disagree. ☺ I truly like the way you think and articulate your thoughts.

    1. Thank you. So true. We’re a distracted species. It’s the price we pay for having the power of choice and reason with a healthy dose of base desires. πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you. Very true, but everything with moderation right? Otherwise we may lose sight of the principles we subscribe to while considering our own needs first .

      1. As long as those principles were chosen, loyalty to self first is an automatic response, and non-conflictive. It’s the fearful self who sees self-loyalty as going against those principles, in my experience.

      2. Thanks for raising an interesting point. I agree that loyalty to self is often an automatic response, entirely dependent on how you’ve been conditioned up to that point. But I disagree that it is non-conflictive. Our fearful self is not separate from our loyal self. They’re both in response to fear. When we believe that we are capable or competent enough to prevail, the fear subsides and the loyalty makes us bolder. But the inverse is what is often more pervasive, hence our tendency to be driven by fear more than conviction.

  45. When you learn how to be human, let me know your secret. I am not sure if we ever really figure it out. However, it seems that the sharing of the experience of figuring it out sort of helps. At least, that seems to be the case with me.

    1. This came up in a recent conversation as well. I think that life becomes a little less lonely when we find that out struggles resonate with others. Although I’ve found that it is not always easy to draw comfort from that.

      1. I think both of us know that we all find our own way. But, the process of writing and talking is what resonates. It may not solve anything but it works and temporary pain reliever.

      2. The irony is that we will find our way even if we don’t want to. There is no option but for that to be the outcome. Even if we sit back and wait for someone to show us, that will be us finding our way. That is how it will be found. But most deny/reject this reality. We’re a strange bunch. Sometimes I think this world is simply divided into two groups. Those who accept, and those who deny reality. The ones that deny it are usually the aggressors, sometimes passively so, but most times actively.

  46. This is a well written piece. Sometimes; there is not a destination. Perhaps, it is the process. If we were to stop, learn, and let live; I suspect that we would have more serenity. Good stuff.

    1. Totally agree. We’re often so focused on the destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. I also believe that the journey is in fact life itself. Everything else is a distraction.

      1. Most everything is a distraction. We really deal with a lot of nonsense. It is about the journey. Unfortunately, most lose sight of that. Particularly, in a society that is evolved into an atmoshere of immediate gratification.

      2. True. Just one thing I don’t entirely agree with, and it may just be choice of words, but I disagree that we arrived at this point of immediate gratification as an evolution but instead, I believe that it is a choice we make in the absence of having relationships of substance in our lives. The lacking in the sphere of significance drives us towards instant gratification because it serves as a quick fix for the void of human contact. The irony is that our resignation to instant gratification feeds the very cycle we suffer from. But since everyone is doing it, it must be OK, right? πŸ™‚

        Unfortunately not. Like I always say, we must not mistaken pervasive ignorance for collective wisdom. πŸ™‚

  47. just beginning to enjoy. Thank you for sharing. I myself am a goddess loved fool. once young and so uncertin… what would I become, oh no…a hobo, a profit . I knew not.. Then they pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed …so hard they pushed…untill I flew. Now an elder n dawdyy all that I kno, is I choose to be a friend to the earth and a servant to my godess or surley maybe, both to both and when my day doth come, lie me deep in the earth so it may feast upon my sweetness, So hence I came, I may agin go.

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I read through your post, and the follow up comment that you added, and I must admit that I have a fundamental difference of opinion regarding your perspective, and that of your husband’s as quoted by you. And for that reason I think drawing parallels between what I wrote in this post and your experiences is erroneous. I may be idealistic in this, but I oppose the belief that we should live our lives with the intention of fulfilling another’s expectations of us. That breeds hypocrisy and bitterness if the gratitude or acknowledgement is insufficient when compared to the effort we put in to that.

      Heroes should not be formed out of a need to be loved. It has to be more selfless than that, even though I do accept that no deed is truly selfless. But at the least, the primary motivation for being a certain way should not lie in acceptance from others, but rather in conviction for our own beliefs and our subscription to a higher calling or purpose.

      I’ll probably expand on this in a future post, but the entire basis of your argument raises many questions. Thank you for sharing. I really mean it.

  48. being alone for some is a time to ponder and be pensive, recharge, reevaluate themselves and their life choices, recharge. Obviously too much of anything isn’t good, but being alone is not always bad.

    1. I agree. I think the context within which I am referring to personal space wasn’t clearly explained in my post. Having alone time, to me, is important. Time to just shut off and reflect. Personal space on the other hand I see as those times when we deliberately recede from everyone around us with the objective of doing something specifically alone, for the purpose of shutting everyone else out. I see it as a defensive response to an unpleasant surrounding. I’ve found that moments of reflection can be had even when in a crowd. So when we find people insisting on personal space, it’s because they’re growing tired of their ‘space’ being contaminated by issues or clutter imposed on them by others. And at other times, that need for space is because they feel a need to vent or exhale about something or in a way that they would rather not have others witness for various reasons, including fear of ridicule, fear of appearing weak, etc. It’s those kinds of personal spaces that I think reflect an imbalance that needs to be corrected.

  49. Seemingly unrelated but reading your post reminded me of a strong, and probably uncalled for, admonishment I directed at my mom recently “that to be obsessed with the images of dying children and annihilation of a nation at some deep level is her way of assuaging the guilt of helplessness” – analogous to the cover of faith.

    1. Sounds like that admonishment was your way of assuaging your guilt as well, because I can relate. But I also think that many of us may be following the publication of those images closely because we’re afraid that if we stop, we may just become as desensitized as those that have surrendered to their helplessness and now live without any concern for what is happening because it’s someone else’s problem. I find it amazing how the simple fundamentals that underpin the problems in these conflicts lead to such complicated lives for those witnessing it.

  50. Aoa,

    On the point about the start of ‘asr, both positions are valid although the later stary time one is the preferred opinion. A hanafi scholar inforned me that the minor opinuon could be acted upon due to a need such as work, etc.

    On the general issue of juristic difference, isn’t it the accepred understanding that since there cannot be contradictory truths, that one scholar is correct and the other incorrect BUT the one who is incorrect is valid as long as he judges sincerely, with knowledge and a dound methodology.

    One God knows which of the two is correct

    Wassalam, hanif

    1. Wa Alaykumussalaam Hanif,

      I really appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts on this. My concern is the emphasis we place on a ‘preferred’ opinion versus a ‘weaker’ opinion. In these discussions I am constantly reminded of the incident when two companions returned from a journey and the one spoke to Rasulullah (SAW) about the fact that the two of them had read salaah differently. The one had shortened his salaah as allowed in the Sunnah, while the other had read his full salaah. Rasulullah (SAW) replied by simply confirming that both were correct.

      I struggle to understand why we feel a need to be so prescriptive of the Sunnah that it takes us to the point of divisions in our communities and even families. Even the Hanafi scholars these days are being divided up by who reigns from Deoband and who doesn’t. So now we’re developing schools within schools! It does not bode well for the Ummah.

      I honestly believe that if we applied as much effort in regulating community matters as much as we emphasise personal matters, we’ll enjoy much more success in achieving harmony. But unfortunately we’ve lost sight of what a true Muslim community even looks like, or how it should operate, because we’re so fixated on the need to define the individual behaviours of men and women, and over emphasise the issues of hijab and shortened pants, that we automatically assume that that is what dictates the balance and harmony in a community.

      The concern I have with the second point you’ve made is that differences of opinion will always abound. Unless something is definitively outside the bounds of Shari’ah, why do the Ulema also not practice the advice of leaving alone that which is doubtful? Why do they insist on defining a specific opinion on something that is obviously open to latitude in practice and interpretation? The Qur’an teaches us that any omissions were out of mercy and not in error, so if something was left unclarified, it stands to reason that the mercy in that is that we are allowed to practice latitude in our implementation thereof.

      No madhabs or sects needed.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I generally don’t publish comments with links, but I’ll make an exception in this case. I read your article as well, and it has some interesting points worth noting. Thanks for sharing.

  51. I am not sure whether you “are in love with yourself” but the fact that you are so assured that your ramblings must have “some truth” is enough clarity of self to carry you well through your life – I admire that – and connect to it.

    1. I’m too cynical to love myself. πŸ™‚ Believing that there must be some truth in my ramblings is all that keeps me hopeful that my ramblings are not just adding to the noise in the ether. If nothing else, maybe it will serve as a distraction to the NSA? I dunno…but seriously though, I always enjoy and appreciate your feedback, so it’s good to know that you take some value from it.

  52. Have been following your blogs on Tumblr – you seem inspired to share an avalanche of thoughts of late πŸ™‚ … it’s good to see you so active in thought and writing.

    1. How dare you follow me on Tumblr without making yourself known to me! πŸ™‚ Seriously, would love to know which blog is yours. Problem is, I’ve only been able to muster up random thoughts and no meaningful posts recently. πŸ™

      1. Welcome to my world! No sooner do I have a speck of random thought…and feel strongly enough to jot it down…does the entirety of it fade on me…leaving me wondering whether it’s worth writing it down. I once read somewhere something to the effect of “writing is my way of being lonely”…I wonder how much of what one writes comes out of a deep desire to add value (and not add noise to the ether as you put it) versus just finding a companionship in being able to express oneself – if only that companionship be with self! πŸ™‚

        I don’t blog on tumblr – not yet – am not convinced that I have anything to say really.

        But I enjoy your insights…and the rawness of expression that smacks of truth and humor.

      2. I’m sure you have much to share…and you’re the first person to pick up on my odd sense of humour, or at least make mention of it. So it’s not completely lost then. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks for the comment. It’s reassuring to note that I’m not the only one that sees a problem with the way the events in Egypt are being presented, and worse still, how many Egyptians are defending this skewed presentation of it as well.

  53. Lol – do you really want me to believe that you actually buy into the commercial crap of father’s day and mother’s day and valentine’s day…tsk tsk

    1. Absolutely not! I loathe the concept let alone the commercialism. However, being surrounded by people that feel very strongly about ‘celebrating’ these days, it just dampens my mood because they refuse to see the glaring problem of the approach. πŸ™‚ Same goes for birthdays, and I guess that’s one of the many reasons why I consider myself to be cynically jaded, even though I’m really not!

  54. It almost seems to be that all your struggles has almost been a blessing in disguise – for you have made it so – to have gained deep insight and an incredible zest for life (sane or insane!). It’s hard to believe that you are far removed from academia – but then again, it’s often people like you who define the literary world from outside it.

    I pray you have continued perseverance and bring insights … for those who pause, your ramblings are slightly more than that πŸ˜‰

    1. Thank you…you’re far too kind. Although I’ve made that ‘decision’ to write my book, I still debate whether or not it’s a worthwhile endeavour in my head. I still wonder if I really have something to offer the potential reader/s, or is it really just going to be a misguided self-indulgence that amounts to very little? Each time I share my thoughts about these doubts I automatically assume that it’s coming across as me fishing for affirmation, when it really isn’t. I guess I have yet to determine what would be my points of reference to determine if what I have to share is any different or significant compared to what is out there already.

      1. What is “significance” to you? As in – in your experience and expectations – what do you define as significant? Maybe that’s the starting point…

      2. I guess that is part of the problem. My take on what is significant in life is often very different compared to those around me, which is probably why I question the relevance of what I write about. Most people seem comfortable living obliviously, while I grow restless with the same. To answer your question more directly, I think being able to share something new, even if it be a new perspective on an old concept, would be significant enough for me to want to share it. I’m always wondering if I may just be regurgitating someone else’s thoughts that have been better expressed even though I may not be aware of it because I’m really not an avid reader of any sort. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a book and actually read more than 20 pages before putting it down hoping to get back to it at some point.

        Perhaps my cynicism on a day like ‘father’s day’ is not a good mindset within which to contemplate these things. πŸ™

  55. This from a self-proclaimed cynic?! πŸ˜‰

    Excellent distinction between weak and puny – although difficult to always draw that line, specially when our vision and mind is often cluttered with distractions.

    Amen (@ last line of your excerpt)!

      1. lol – btw, not sure why it came up as Anonymous when I commented last as Penelope…ah well…

        I am curious – what do you think of your contradictions? It can’t always be comfortable or peaceful…

      2. I was wondering why would anyone want to be anonymous on this blog of mine. πŸ™‚

        To be honest, I’m not really as contradictory as I claim to be, except of course my blog name relative to what I’m really about. I’m not really cynical either, rather just frustrated and often disillusioned about how people miss the point so badly. That in itself creates many of those uncomfortable and restless moments that you alluded to in your comment. In fact, I had one of those just a few minutes ago, but I’ll restrain myself from going on a rant about it.

  56. Nostalgic for my home in both Africa and Asia … where I could feel the earth.

  57. Lol – you have a talent for reading in between the lines!

    It’s not the accolade I covet – it is the ease with which PhD will allow me to cruise through a career in a world full of people who are deluded enough to put weight on academic pursuits albeit experience or insight. I am sure you know where I am coming from…

    Thank you for your vote of confidence – I concur (modesty is not my forte!) πŸ˜‰

    Btw – if and when your daughters read your letter, I hope (and know) they (will) sense the depth of passion and integrity it stems from.

    1. Thank you…I have to agree with you, at least in part. Navigating your way through the ridiculous standards set in the corporate world becomes much easier if you have those accolades. I learnt that the hard way, but yet I persist in my obstinacy. Perhaps one day I’ll get an honorary degree of sorts and then I’ll be ‘accepted’ as a fellow intellectual as well. 😐

      1. Or not! Something tells me you take pride in not wanting “recognition” – you are far too comfortable in your own skin to lose your obstinacy!

  58. What’s funny is that you just described a-conflict vs c-conflict (and I can sense you cringing at stereotyping your expression! sorry!) – I teach my students to focus on c-conflict and focus away from the personal conflicts. I hear those who can’t – teach – so thus I teach what I don’t practice! πŸ˜› A few weeks ago, I made an observation about someone very close – that she didn’t distance herself – she merely withdraws. My question to you is – do you disengage as in truly distance yourself – or do you simply withdraw, in that it still matters but your behavior and all external mannerisms display detachment. I am just curious.

    1. I thought I was the one that was doing the psycho-analysis around here? You’re upsetting the order of things! πŸ™

      I think it was a bit of both. Previously, when I made a choice to disengage, I would genuinely disengage. I would be convinced that my reason to do so was sound, and I was able to completely switch off any interest in the matter or person from that point forward. More recently, and specifically with regards to the incident I alluded to in my post, I’m leaning more towards appearing disengaged, rather than genuinely feeling that way. I’m not quite sure what to make of it yet. Overall I think it’s a positive development for me to be able to maintain a professional relationship despite the personal dimension being strained/soured. That wasn’t something I did before. I was always an extremist in that way because if the personal side of the relationship soured, that would bring into question the sincerity and integrity of every other interaction.

      When I started responding to this comment of yours, I was inclined to believe that perhaps my level of self-confidence is waning, hence me finding it difficult to be so resolute now. However, I think it’s more a case of my confidence in my professional abilities having increased which makes me able to rely on my ability to navigate the politics and sensitivities in a professional relationship more skilfully without relying on a personal rapport to support it.

      I’m curious now. What do you teach and to what audience?

      1. Organization Behavior and Principles of Management – to undergrad (BA) students…I rely upon part-time teaching to keep sane, otherwise I fear the 10 hour routine days of the corporate world will deaden me! At any rate, the business world is a far cry from my passion of Philosophy/Theology. I was in a PhD program but withdrew for personal reasons…three years later, I am wondering whether PhD is worthwhile – or do I want to devote myself to my own ways of pursuing knowledge, regardless of not acquiring the professional tag.

        As per your response – it might well be that your confidence in your professional abilities account for your shift in reliance off personal relationships (at least at work) – but it could just be that you have gotten better at handling duality…not sure that’s a virtue – a skill it definitely is! πŸ˜‰

      2. I shall ignore that subtle suggestion that this newly acquired skill of mine is in fact a vice. Which it probably is. πŸ™‚ I guess my other philosophy of treating arrogant people with arrogance is kind of comforting when I have to adopt that (in)sincere faΓ§ade in order to maintain a working relationship with people that I would otherwise despise.

        I don’t have much admiration for academic pursuits (as I’m sure you noticed already), although I do admire the tenacity and perseverance of people that do apply themselves in that way. I just think that some degrees can be a real waste of time. The topic you teach is what I am very passionate about, albeit from a more practical standpoint, given that my perspectives and ‘education’ has been acquired through hands-on experience as I worked my way up the corporate ladder. You strike me as someone that would easily be able to further your pursuit of knowledge in any area that you’re passionate about without a need to do so formally. So I guess it really does depend on how much you’re coveting the acronym, huh? πŸ˜‰

  59. I am still waiting to hear more about the so-called balance you have been able to strike between principles and strategy. Not sure whether that is ever truly possible – or if possible, desirable. Although, in all honesty, I myself have come up with compensating skills to lead an apparently functional life – but I often wonder what good is a life full of sanity – if insanity is the true calling? πŸ™‚

    And who’s to say that insanity in all its glory is not just as generous, just as responsible, just as conscientious…look at yourself – it looks pretty darn good to me!

    1. You didn’t just call me insane, did you? That’s a privilege I reserve for myself, thank you very much! πŸ™‚

      And you noticed my unfinished thought process. πŸ™ That balance is still very difficult for me to articulate at this point. I used to be very resolute when I made decisions in the past, especially when it came to consciously wanting to disengage. The moment I made the decision, I would be completely detached and uninterested, and almost nothing could shake that resolve. Of course that was because I believed that I was acting out of principle. I made a similar decision recently to disengage from a somewhat toxic professional relationship at the office, and I’ve found that I keep engaging despite my decision to disengage, which is weird. However, now that I think of it, what I did manage to do more effectively this time (so far anyway) is that I managed to disengage from the personal side of the relationship despite having invested heavily in that, and now I continue to engage professionally only. But even in that there are strange nuances that I’m still trying to understand, and I promise to share my thoughts as soon as I’m able to put my finger on it. πŸ™‚

  60. I thank God for the best friend I had in my dad for 17 beautiful years. Because that is 17 more years than my dad had with his dad.

    For the stories that come from a sincere and often raw place, I think the value they offer lies in the companionship that readers find in it. Write.

    It will be good – for all of us.

    1. You’re fortunate, and I envy you (in a good way, of course!). My father also didn’t have much of a relationship with his father. Such voids sometimes inspire us, and sometimes it makes us bitter. I hope the net result of my life will be the former, rather than the latter. Thank you for the encouragement, I’m definitely taking all this feedback very seriously and will hopefully decide on a way forward soon.

      1. lol – it’s wierd how much you sounded like what my dad used to say “experiences can make us bitter or better”…we choose πŸ™‚

      2. We choose, indeed. If ever there was a fact of life that I wish would become a universally accepted truth, that would be it. We choose to become better, bitter, or brittle. πŸ™‚

        Kinda weird though to know that I’m sounding like someone’s father, given that I’m almost a father in training myself. πŸ™‚

  61. Who cares what becomes of your story, it sounds like you want or need to tell it. I “liked” your post as you told it well and held my interest. Luckily I got all you did not, in a dad but he died when I was 21. I think you should begin to tell if it is not too hard.

    1. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your father at such a young age. We need their guidance and wisdom until much later in life before we’re comfortable to take over the reins. Thank you for the feedback. I really appreciate it, especially given how much I’ve been preoccupied with thoughts of writing that book recently. Perhaps it’s time to rummage through the archives of this blog and start collating all the posts that can be strung together to form the outline of the story that I need to tell. Time will tell.

  62. I was reading somewhere that when you want to choose for yourself, choose the strictest fiqhi opinion….but when it comes to judging others, choose the least strict opinion! I agree with Cynically Jaded that there can be more than one interpretation of the ShariΓ‘h. Islam is a universal religion, and hence, open to different possibilities πŸ™‚

    1. Jazaakallahu khair for your contribution. I like the thought about how to judge others, although I must admit that a little while ago I decided to make it as easy as possible for me to be a Muslim. I found that with so many extreme opinions on what is the minimum required to earn Allah’s pleasure, coupled with the struggles of being a Muslim in a non-Muslim country, it made things unnecessarily burdensome. That’s when I realised that Allah has made things easy for us, but we make it difficult for ourselves. Unless something is clearly defined as haraam, or has been specifically abrogated, I follow the most lenient opinion as a starting point. Alhamdulillah, after that if I find I am able to exert myself beyond the minimum requirement, then that is an added mercy and blessing, but starting out trying to practice everything at an advanced level is just too risky because it makes it that much easier for our nafs to kick in and to withdraw from trying because we feel like we’ll never be able to do ‘it’ right…i.e. whatever it is that we’re trying to implement in our lives. Moderation in the current climate is not as easy to achieve as it sounds.

  63. I don’t know if this speaks to you & your complaints or not, but I find that a lot of people think they are calling for unity when they are really calling for conformity. That is, they claim to want unity, but in fact they want everyone to ‘unite’ around their personal/specific/particular idea of what this unity will entail, while retaining the ability to pick at everyone who fails to conform to this vision. A true unity and solidarity requires infinite humility, and an understanding of the limits of one’s own understanding. Sadly, this usually eludes humans trying to unite around anything – a religion, a cause, a political movement, and especially over time…

    1. I agree with you completely. What you described is very much in line with the prevalent trends where many call for a specific interpretation of Islam to be the only acceptable one. That to me is more representative of a cult rather than a way of life. The sectarians, despite all their good intentions, have created these cult-ish tendencies in their groups of followers which is why we have so many divisions now. The irony is that this rigid approach and caustic tone that many of us use in the name of preserving the beauty of Islam and re-establishing the sunnah is very often in direct contrast to the example we claim to be following,

      1. Amen/Ameen. I sometimes think that- because of the nature of this problem- the way to push back against it is not through lecturing/attempts to re-educate (which still involves telling another person how to believe/practice/etc.), but to be or to strive toward that example and to cultivate spaces where that unity and humility are practiced.

        You know, I’ve had this thought rattling around in my head, and I hope you won’t see it as presumptuous, as it’s just a sort of musing that has meaning for me right now, and is not fully unpacked or articulated by any means. But anyway- looking amongst my friends, I sometimes wonder if the tradition that women can worship in mosques but are not obliged to/that it is not necessarily preferable, is in some ways protective of the safe spaces cultivated among women. I’m not talking about being protected from men as such, but not having their regular experience of prayer and worship and cultivation of religious/spiritual growth constantly mediated by the authoritative voices of men who often dominate these spaces.

        I don’t necessarily feel qualified to even carry this idea, but I think about how, in the (Western/protestant, as I’ve observed it) church, there isn’t really a space to push back except within the church, that being active and devout for a woman demands participation in the hierarchy of the church, and I suspect that has made it difficult for women to cultivate their own strength. Obviously there are always private spaces where women are able to say things amongst themselves that defy the local religious authorities, but it seems to me that there is something special about centering practice in prayer that is an expression of unity and yet occurs very often outside of the official religious space/community, which can often become as much a place for casting out as welcoming in. Aaaand I started off this thought discussing women, but I think this is a powerful source of strength to any Muslim who is made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome or in any way less-something in their local religious community. I’m not in any way trying to dismiss or deny the alienation such a person can feel, but if I compare to Christianity- a lot of Christians will not recognize you as a Christian at all if you don’t go to church, or even if you don’t go to *their* church. A lot of Christians talk about searching and struggling to find a church home and while this struggle has led many people to start new churches and worship communities, there are people who do not have the time/strength/energy/networks to do this. Not finding a church home has led many people to leave the faith altogether because so much practice revolves around the church and belonging and participating in a church.

        I can already think of a lot of flaws and elisions in this post/thought, but I’ve gone on for too long & hope you will accept it as an unfinished/undeveloped thought & therefore not judge it too harshly.

      2. I’m hardly an authority on this, so please don’t be concerned about how I judge your perspectives or unfinished thoughts. πŸ™‚ The points you raise are interesting and does provide an alternate perspective to the ‘traditional’ view that assumes that the separation is simply out of modesty or control and nothing else. The example of the church is also an interesting point because in many ways, this sectarian agenda that exists in the Ummah is very much driving us towards establishing similar hierarchies and silos in Muslim communities whereas such hierarchies are definitely foreign to Islam.

        Many people forget that there were very few recognised female scholars during the early years of Islam. Yet today, given the access to information and educational facilities, we have a large number of well versed and competent female scholars, so the need for women to have to go to the mosque to seek guidance from the Imam himself is not as pressing as it may have been previously. The point I’m trying to make is that women who establish their personal spaces, or even communal spaces to facilitate greater collaboration between women on matters pertaining to (but certainly not limited to) women in Islam and everything else for that matter, are more empowering to women than any segregated structures we can establish in the mosques or Islamic centres. Balancing this ‘power’ of male dominance in our homes and our communities starts with a greater autonomy amongst women who are informed and competent, rather than being dependent on male sources for their guidance (so to speak).

        But back to the points you raised, I agree with you. When we stop this insanity of trying to equate segregation with power or influence coupled with a desire (and often an understandable need) of women to establish their significance in society, we end up establishing courses with good intention that only adds to the contention and divisions that we have amongst Muslims. I believe that women should stop looking for affirmation from men, and instead realise that their roles are of an equitable nature, in line with the equity reflected in the rights and responsibilities of each gender in Islam. What I mean is, women should not need to seek acceptance from men to confirm their significance in society, because Islam has already established their significance. And by pushing a specifically feminism agenda, in my mind, it’s not very different to blacks pushing an affirmative action agenda to respond to white racism. Prejudice is prejudice, regardless of what the motivation for it is.

        I suspect that many may take exception to these views of mine.

  64. Your journey – with all its chaos and confusion – appears raw, exciting, and unpredictable. And in that – and because I can relate to so much of it – I wish you continued insights and joy πŸ˜‰

  65. “That burden is the anguish you feel when you’re embarking on something really important, or at least want to, and there’s a room full of no one that you’re able to use as a sounding board. No one that you feel comfortable enough to share that passion with because you know that your reality is very different from theirs. Your frame of reference is different from theirs. Your self-imposed limitations, your fears, your desires, your perspective, is all different. So seeking sanity in their reflections is a futile exercise.”

    I feel that anguish all day everyday. Thanks for putting it into words for me. Everyone most important to me, my immediate family, this is what and how they are to me.

  66. I think that’s one of the major pitfalls of social media – how much more honest was Facebook before we could comment and like and like comments? Before it was about sharing with people, now it’s about seeing how popular you are. I think we just have to keep ourselves centered and remember we do not do things for other people, we do them for ourselves.

    1. True, I agree with you. But in many ways, like leaders, don’t you think that it’s a reflection of the superficial nature of society? I mean, the quality of our leaders are a reflection of the values that society embodies, and similarly, social media is merely providing an outlet for soliciting that kind of attention which is just easier to do, but still pursued in our ‘offline’ lives. Everything drives us towards popularity contests, that’s why even the appearance of modesty is now a competition in its own right. But I guess the more important issue is, why do we pursue such affirmation to begin with? Is it lacking from the ones around us? Are we more prone to seeking a no-strings-attached type of affirmation because there’s no demand for reciprocation? Is our self-worth so fragile these days because of the unrealistic expectations that we place on each other? I don’t know…just contemplating it gives me a headache and makes me want to write something clever that will get lots of notes/likes. πŸ™‚

      1. Urgh no… There’s no like option on here for me to affirm your self worth by liking your comment on my comment. Gosh darn it! :p

        On a serious note, perhaps our attention seeking behaviour is due to a seemingly all pervasive low self esteem. Every one nowadays seems to be suffering from some sort of depression or feeling of low self worth. What the root is, I don’t know. The media maybe? Or the government. When in doubt, blame the government.

        Or maybe we do it to ourselves by coming on these sites on the first place, unconsciously hoping to find some kind of justification for our thoughts and ideas. Hoping that someone, somewhere thinks the same as us and we’re not the only one. And when you get that first like or that first like/reblog its like the first hit of a drug. “Oh my word, someone liked my post! Someone has read my thoughts and found them worthy!”

        I’m rambling now. Apologies.

      2. Hehehe…but the effort for a full blown comment is so much more affirming! πŸ˜‰

        Our attention seeking behaviour, I believe, is definitely a result of a lacking life experience at home, which obviously results in self esteem issues. The rate of increase in dysfunctional homes/families seems to mirror the rate of increase in the excessive diagnosis of people with mental illnesses, let alone societal degradation. The media, as always, will play on our fears and milk us on our aspirations. That’s what sells papers, and that’s what makes corporations rich.

        But you’re right, it is like a drug, and sometimes it’s nearly impossible to break away from that attention seeking cycle where you find people that abandon any principles that they may have held dear, and effectively give in to the dictates of their audience from fear of losing favour with them.

        Ironically though, I get the feeling that overall the social networking fix has possibly been more good than bad. The poor parenting was there before the advent of social networking, so it’s not fair to say that parents are losing their influence on children because of it. But it has given bad parents a reason to pacify their guilt by believing that their kids just don’t have time for them any more because of this social networking disease, and those kids at least have an outlet that often does lead to a healthier self-esteem, if not at least a support structure that the family unit was incapable of providing.

  67. Not cryptic at all – in fact, you have lent me much needed clarity. Thank you so much for taking the time and writing so patiently – it cannot be easy to be so conscientious in your responses – and you do it so well so often.

    1. You’re too kind. I always enjoy it when someone gives me reason to rationalise my thoughts, perspectives, or beliefs. It’s like an opportunity to find a grounding.

  68. Insightful – and darn difficult to digest! While I agree with you wholeheartedly, being at crossroads myself, I know that I have neither the clarity not the courage to really even want to determine what’s my biggest enemy – letting go or holding on. Without sharing details (of course), have you ever been in a personal dilemma of having choices that are each so powerful that it leaves you wondering whether it would have been better not to have a choice at all?

    1. There were many times when I felt like I didn’t have a choice, and as a result I slipped into a victim-like state only to regret it later when I realised how many choices I had in the first place. Sometimes I found myself feeling sorry for myself, and so I allowed myself to be abused by others around me because I convinced myself that I simply didn’t deserve better. But when the intensity of that moment passed, sometimes months or years later, I would wish that I had been more assertive about my self-worth in that situation. That’s when I realised that my desire for acknowledgement or significance by people that I respected or loved drove me to base my perceptions of myself on their responses to me. Little did I realise that their awesomeness was exactly what I projected on them, and not necessarily what they truly deserved. Another issue I grappled with for a long time was my inability to separate my belief in their potential from the reality of what they chose for themselves.

      Sorry, this must all sound quite cryptic, but like you suggested, it was a lot to absorb and process. I guess in summary I could say that my belief in others is what led to my downfall and my anguish on most occasions, and the relief arrived when I accepted that under the circumstances I had made the best decision I could have made given my level of awareness, the knowledge I had of the true nature of those involved, and the circumstances that I found myself in. Hence my realisation that I was holding on to the expectation and need for that affirmation that I didn’t get, rather than letting go of it realising that it was insignificant to begin with. So to answer your question more directly, in hind sight, I have never been in a situation where the gravity of the choices were that onerous. The problem is that while immersed in the emotions and the burden of the issue at hand, we lose perspective and assume that the outcomes are our responsibility, when in fact, making a principled decision for the right reasons is all that we’re responsible for, with the other party being responsible for how they choose to accept/reject/react to our contribution to resolve it.

  69. LOL – touche! I actually relate intellectual laziness (in the context above) to moral atrophy … leading to a complete breakdown of anything and everything that holds any intrinsic value…because at some point, the few that have any compunction left will have their efforts frustrated and give up.

    1. Hear ye! Hear ye! And after attending the IT Leaders Africa summit this week, this experience with the consultants was once again relived. The quality of leaders or strategists that are able to inspire or influence in this space in South Africa is so disheartening that I’m almost tempted to step up and volunteer to be a speaker at the next conference. Yikes!

  70. No, please don;t apologise, you’re embarrassing me.

    We are given the solution to living life, there are gazillion ways to achieve that solution. No one path is THE path to achieve truth. Those are extreme views of anyone who believes that aside from the Arab dressing everything else is not acceptable (as par your example and goes same for any “view” as well). Islam spread from Arab, with BASIC guidelines, not detailed and step by step procedure to lead a life. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been the element of “freedom of choice” and “freedom of will” that Allah (swt) so graciously bestowed us with. How can anyone dare to say that…? Islam spread through different means, either be it the splitting of the moon or be it the trade routes through Arabia to China — how can anyone expect an Indian or a Chinese person to embrace Arabian culture, cultures so rich of colour and as ancient as an Arabian heritage… be it the King of India or a merchant of China — we as an Ummah were and are so diverse, that to expect such extremism is tyranny.

    Islam is monolithic, its the solution to our problems and there are many ways to put Islam into practice and there are ultimate paths to reach God. Some find God in mother nature, some in their sins, while some find Him in His blessings, and some find Him in their offspring (which is His blessing). Human is flawed, and we’ve given meaning to everything, you’re right in your perception. Problem also lies in education (and not just the religious education). Problem lies in lack open minded and understand knowledgeable teachers, and lack of good teacher-student relationship. That relationship starts at home, I mean look at our Mosques, our elders cant agree on basic things and are not setting good examples for us — the hope of future, the ummah of future — how will we bring change?

    And I apologise for my rant, I am not very knowledgeable not an intellect so forgive me if I offended you. You should check this guy out on Tumblr, he’s like you. He thinks A LOT! and is always looking for people for a good conversation and discussions on his posts:

    1. No need to be embarrassed. I’m honestly the furthest thing from an academic. Just a layman sharing my perspectives. Perhaps you should share you interpretation of the term ‘monolithic’ within the context of this discussion, because it seems we may be using it in different contexts. And thanks for that recommendation. I’ll definitely check out that blog soon, Insha-Allah.

      1. Forgive me, for ending this discussion. I am not equipped with knowledge and art to get my message across. But thank you for entertaining my point of view.

      2. Please, no apologies needed. I really appreciate and enjoy the engagement. So I look forward to hearing your thoughts on future posts as well, iA. πŸ™‚

  71. Reblogged this on I speak for myself and commented:
    These are the conversations we as an ummah need to be having. Where do these rulings come from? Are they from the Qur’an and Sunnah? If they’re not, do they speak to the principles outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah? If not, why are we following them?

    1. Unfortunately we’re a distracted Ummah, caught between trying to re-establish the Sunnah, and maintaining the ways of our forefathers. We’ve grown to respect a culture that has been presented as the authentic source and example of Islam even though it has been blatantly contaminated with cultural biases the world over. If we hope to break this cycle, we’ll have to find the courage to question our forefathers in light of what we learn from the authentic sources of the ahadith, and of course, the Qur’an.

  72. mashallah, well said.

    I was listening to a lecture recently and the scholar said clearly that Shari’ah never rules on the exception – it rules on the norm. So to create fatawa that state a woman must cover her fast and men and women must be strictly separated because of the minority of deviants (the exception) is the very kind of bid’ah (innovation) we are supposed to be avoiding!

    Yet let’s argue over whether or not using prayer beads (tasbih) is bid’ah. Yeah, that’s an argument that is worth our time and energy. *rolls eyes*

    1. What do you mean by Islam not being a monolithic religion as we believe it to be? What you are discussing is core corruption of our people, our Ummah, today. Very well said and analysed but saying that Islam is not monolithic is wrong….no? I mean there’s a line between culture and religion, a very thin one, that we tend to merge together often — but a difference nonetheless still exists. Whats the solution to this problem? If we can get like minded families together in a community, a change can be brought. Solution starts at home, and then we can set examples for others….ahhhh if only our elders would listen to us…

      but yea, I don’t agree with your intro, but loved your article!

      1. What I mean is that Islam is not constrained to a single interpretation of everything that is considered to be within the confines of Islamic thought, practice, or rituals in the way it is purported to be by so many. We have a prevalence of groups that have emerged through their alignment with the specific teachings or perspectives of specific scholars, where these groups now each insist that their specific ‘implementation’ of Islam is the correct one, even though in most cases the scholars that they claim to follow never intended their perspectives to be viewed that way.

        We’re further pushed, as a result of this, to assume that there can only be a single form of Islam in practice. I realise that this statement is also problematic because it’s made within the context of how Islam is currently viewed (i.e. largely ritual and less principle) and therefore can easily be used to suggest that I am now contradicting myself.

        However, in order to clarify this possible contradiction, I need to offer my perception of what Islam should be viewed as, rather than what is commonly assumed to be Islam. Hence my statement about how we believe Islam to be monolithic. So if I were to offer someone a definition of what Islam is about relative to my understanding of the principles and practices taught to us through the Qur’an and Sunnah combined, I would say that Islam is in fact a set of principles and guidelines that offers us the most harmonious alignment between our inherent nature and what we need to lead a wholesome life, both individually and communally. That’s obviously an over simplification, but it’s intended to include the laws that govern communal living and the rights that we have over each other, as well as the rituals that are prescribed in line with the principles that they serve.

        Regarding your point about culture versus Islam, this is unfortunately an area that is approached too rigidly by most. There is a hadith that teaches us that if the culture does not violate the principles of Islam, then there is no fault on us in practising that cultural aspect of our heritage. It’s only when culture conflicts with the principles of Islam that we have a problem where culture has to be set aside in favour of the Islamic principles. E.g. if we have a specific cultural dress code that provides us with sufficient modesty in line with Islamic injunctions on how we should cover ourselves, there is no need to give up those clothes in favour of the traditional Arab way of dressing. This is just one example where many would like us to believe that anything other than the actual dress code of the Prophet (SAW) and his companions is acceptable and everything else is forbidden because it implies we’re imitating the disbelievers, and are therefore deviant, if not kafir by doing so. That’s the monolithic interpretation of Islam that I’m referring to.

        Apologies for the length of this response, but I didn’t want to brush over this at the risk of being misunderstood.

  73. I am curious – what do you make of Musa’s (RA) encounter with Khidr in Sura Kahf (ship, boy, and wall) in context of predetermination and fate?

    1. Very interesting question. I think it’s also a manifestation of the same universal laws that I referred to. Whether Allah ordained it at that specific moment in time, or whether it was part of the bigger plan from the start is probably knowledge that rests with Allah only. If we consider the way each scenario played out, none of it violated the natural laws that we know of. Those things that do violate the natural laws are often considered miracles, which is a very different debate altogether. But to answer your question, I think it was simply a demonstration of the very same cause and effect that governs our lives throughout history including the present day, with the added benefit of proving to us that assumptions are never sufficient to determine the worth of someone’s actions.

      What I mean is, if we had to judge the actions of Khidr without knowing the background to the story, nor the true outcomes, we could easily judge him to be unjust, crazy, or even a spiteful person. So the number of lessons that can be extracted from that story just seems to grow the more I think about it. It demonstrates the value of tough love, of wisdom, of not assuming the obvious is all there is to a story, of trust, of patience, etc. I’m starting to ramble. Sorry. πŸ™‚ One last thought on this is that the laws of predetermination and fate governs (more than anything else) our choices/responses to the situations or opportunities that present themselves. Those responses of ours results in situations/opportunities presenting themselves to others. How it all plays out on a grand scale is what we often write off as fate or destiny, when in fact it really is just a combination of choices across the human race that is resulting in the events that we experience. I hope that makes sense. 😐

      1. Makes perfect sense. Although to say that ” the laws of predetermination and fate governs (more than anything else) our choices/responses to the situations or opportunities that present themselves” implies that our available choices are, in of themselves, predetermined and finite…which then begs the question of free will. I read your posting on free will…in my mind, I am still trying to connect the dots between predetermination, free will within God’s Will, and eschatology.

      2. The available choices/opportunities/options are finite. However, we have the ability of reason, logic, intelligence, and free will (to name a few) to choose between the available choices. The one we then choose out of the available choices is what determines the outcome for us, but it won’t change the potential outcomes of each of the other choices that were available. So the free will is limited to our capabilities, knowledge, and available options to us under the specific circumstance that we find ourselves in. However, just because we can’t control external factors, like the weather or how someone else chooses to act, doesn’t mean we don’t have free will, it just means that we have limitations to the free will that we have. In short, we can choose how we wish to respond or act, but the result of our choice is predetermined based on a law that is established. The more we know about that law (i.e. experience/knowledge) the more likely we are to choose options that are beneficial, rather than making ill-informed choices that leads to problems.

  74. I have come to identify restlessness within myself as a state of being – far more permanent than any emotion (other than cognizance of God, compassion for mankind, and contempt for society) that I choose to remember. I lack the clarity that you project in knowing root causes for yours – for myself, I struggle with the nuances of trying to find a measure of peace in spite of (or maybe because of) my disconnect with popular belief (or rather ways that people live out their beliefs in compartmentalized confines of their lives), my utter frustration with everyday injustices that we are a silent majority to (and by that equally culpable), and absence of courage in my own self to pursue what is right and good and simple. I cannot throw a stone.

    So much of it is that we are caught in the cycle that you describe in your other post – we, as a larger society have such a monochronic view of time. Time, perhaps, is our creation – a way for us to make linear sense of a life that is anything but. So to keep pace with something that we have convinced ourselves is critical, we structure our lives around that concept – right time to pursue formal education, right time to get married, right time to have children, right time to be conforming…you catch my drift. In the end, we have little time left for musings, for wonder, for clarity and coherence, for individuality, for action. And little energy.

    I know – ramblings – ah well…

    1. I agree with much of what you’re saying. But I find that too often people mistake secondary emotions for primary ones. Like restlessness, anger, and even happiness. Being restless is a good sign, for me anyway. It means I have yet to become complacent. Another state often confused with contentment. So the crux of it for me is that I need to avoid becoming complacently comfortable while assuming that I’m in fact contentedly accomplished. I suspect that that may just have prompted a vision of one or more individuals in your life that fit that description? πŸ™‚

      1. Touche! Have you heard the parable of the boiling frog? This happy little frog is placed is a pot of water that is slowly set to boil…as the water gets warmer, the frog feels uncomfortable but adjusts…and so that keeps happening till it reaches boiling point and the frog, unconsciously, has boiled away. You say complacency – comfortable rut, decay under delusion, plagues of the corporate world…name it as you will.

        Emotions, perhaps, are usually secondary. And for me, that would be secondary to purpose – I want not just a purposeful life but a life lead on purpose. Enjoy your day!

      2. Interesting parable. I agree about being lead by purpose, but sometimes the search for purpose is in itself a distraction. πŸ™‚ Thanks for engaging.

  75. You know, once in a rare while, we happen upon thoughts that we can relate to – cruising the ever-blurring lines of where our own thoughts blend into a complete stranger’s…I only just came across your blog today…and while I am still perusing just the tip of the iceberg, I am already glad that your hiatus didn’t remain for long and that you are actively writing again, for what it’s worth.

      1. Right off the bat – “ramblings of a madman” just caught my attention – I maintain my own series labeled ‘muddled musings”…

  76. The soul still doesn’t help: unless you’re in charge of what it makes you think, or what its nature is, it still doesn’t let you be in charge of your choices. Of course outside influences affect us, where are you getting the impression that I’ve denied that?
    We do have conscious thought, how are you getting the idea that I’ve denied that, when the existence of conscious thought is the basic principle of my argument? We can deliberate because we still have thoughts: that doesn’t mean we’re in control of those thoughts and where they come from.
    I wouldn’t hold you accountable for your actions, as the easy answer: hence the problem with retribution. I would, though, point out that you’ve been a proven danger to society, and so it is clearly better to keep you away from the society you’ve harmed. As for other details why, look up rehabilitation, and the mental treatment that already occurs in some prisons etc.
    There seems to be some misunderstanding of what I’m saying: I’m not insisting that conscious thought doesn’t exist, or that we’re not affected by outside influences. That’s untrue, but in any case utterly irrelevant: again, it comes down to the same one question. Where does conscious thought come from? Does it come from something that’c controlled or uncontrolled? That’s a true dichotomy (if it’s a mixture of the two, then it would still count as uncontrolled). I’m saying everything has to be ultimately uncontrolled: which is a simple logical deduction, and defeats any notion of free will. You’re saying it’s controlled: and I’m asking for an example of what we can control without consciously controlling. Even such things as a soul don’t answer this, as how would we control what thoughts they give rise to?

    1. By opting not to respond to this comment for over 5 years, I’ve demonstrated controlled will. Conscious thought, according to yours and many others’ arguments, is supposed to be nothing more than a chemical reaction which is influenced by causal interference of our surroundings. If that be true, no one can be held accountable, or restrained for their actions because everyone is therefore culpable. Again, we confuse the vessel of expression with the seat of intelligence. The soul controls the vessel (i.e. the body), but since we have yet to harness and effectively measure the activities and nature of the soul, we choose to discount its existence and assume that the body is what controls itself. That’s like saying that the puppeteer pulls its own strings. It simply does not add up. Think about it within the context of wireless transmissions. Anyone that lived prior to its discovery will threaten to burn you at the stake for witchcraft if you were to show them the amazing achievements of wireless technologies without them having been part of the growth curve of that technology. There is mounting evidence that there is an energy that exists beyond the demise of the physical being of a person, but of course, we can’t refer to it as a soul because science hasn’t given us permission to do so yet. πŸ™‚

  77. I’d be frustrated with Steph for leaving so many long-winded comments, but I know he was completely helpless in the matter, as he believes free will does not exist. /sarcasm

  78. What an odd position to take.

    As you repeatedly failed to realize is that not all ideas garner or deserve respect. You seem to think that in a civil debate one should respect all positions no matter how absurd they are.

    More importantly you expected us to entertain your ( representative) views on paedophilia, where you tried to make of our disgust as our “western” mindset, where the correct thing to do would have been to simply condemn it. Our disgust was(is) not a western or atheistic or cultural or an ant-religious one, but a humane one. The ferver with which you defended paedophilia is so absurd, I am hoping that even you realized the extent of this.

    The rest was addressed by Shaun

    1. Not sure what is odd about my position, but nonetheless it is obvious that we simply don’t get each other. Incidentally Shaun was the only one that identified that the issue relating to that debate about supposed paedophilia was a problem with language usage, and not as you would like to believe it to be. I clearly stated that paedophilia is abhorrent. So once again, my comments and views are being maligned because it doesn’t fit in with the atheistic world view. And again, your comment confirms what I stated so many times before, and that is that atheists are just as guilty of the intolerance and extremism that they accuse theists of.

      1. Please dont make quote from your original words, as I still have it. You did not condem paedophilia, you simply tried to justify it, and your words here indicates that you either still don’t know the difference, or is simply dishonest about it, or even worse, you honestly believe that paedophilia is simply a matter of context

      2. Unfortunately, once again, you’re wrong. I was asked directly by Charles (I think) what my views were on paedophilia at which point I confirmed exactly what I said below. Fortunately your opinion of me doesn’t sway me at all.

    2. Plus,(I keep on repeating myself) it has nothing to do with an “atheistic” world view, or any other, whether I am a atheist or a christian or a jew or hindu or an eastern mysticist, or a pagan or ANY other denomination of any belief system, makes no difference. It is inhumane. FULLSTOP. You keep on adding the, but yes…..or one has to……etc (and don’t even get me started on the consent)

      I do not wish to rekindle the debate here, but few have left me with the level of disgust that our debate on paedophilia did, and trying to blame it on language or perspective or context or anything else is simply absurd. You are a mildly intelligent and educated individual and language is not a barrier, especially in the clear terms that we expressed ourselves.

      I suddenly get the idea that your blog here is some attempt at redemption, I might be wrong

      1. Correct. You’re wrong. I don’t need any attempt at redemption because I have nothing that I feel guilty about, or that I feel I need to atone for within this context. You and too many others in that group refuse to consider context, or to have well informed opinions based on actual research rather than trying force your view on others regardless of the facts being presented in return. The level of disgust that you felt is a reflection of your intolerance and your inability to consider an alternate viewpoint and has nothing to do with my confirmed position against paedophilia.

        Anyway, I too do not wish to rekindle that debate, but unlike you and many others in that group that petitioned for my removal from the group when they had no meaningful response to the points that I raised, I am still, and probably always will be willing to engage with you or anyone else that puts forward a sincere and informed opinion about any conversation-worthy point. Whether or not you take up that offer remains to be seen. Take care.

  79. I wrote this not intending to post it here, but I think it is decent to reply to this as directly as I can. Some of the wording then is a bit harsh, but, then again, so is some of the wording in the authors post.

    It would seem that he has misunderstood quite a lot – but then, who’s fault is that really? So perhaps one problem is in a failure of explaining the ‘atheist position’ better?

    That we are like religious extremists is silly, and an abuse of language. I am quite stern in my views, I think religion is a perversion, and even evil, but I am not soon going to kill someone because of this perspective. While I am happy to – and find it necessary to – condemn certain things in words, writing and public interactions with others, I won’t be violent about it (and I know of no atheist that would be). The opposite is true when it comes to religious extremism.

    There is the sticking point about ‘atheist dogma’ – and while the truth is that atheism is both the original position of all human beings, and also need be nothing more than an absence of belief in God – we must admit that we, who happen to be atheist, do have certain ‘dogmas’ (if that word must be used).

    There is nothing amiss, I think, in admitting to having certain moral/political beliefs, or in having certain beliefs about the nature of the world based on evidence and reason. Only a few of these things are properly dogmatic (I am, perhaps, dogmatic about the use of reason), but that isn’t really the point – none of these ‘beliefs’ we have are dogmatic in that sense – we can be swayed, generally, by better reasons and more substantial evidence. Religious people often fail in this and do hold beliefs dogmatically – this is a distinction between us.

    As to questions on ‘infinite regression’. It can be admitted that, if such ‘causal arguments’ work then they establish the existence of a thing that might be totally unlike what religions would have us think. Causal arguments are not arguments for religion. But I don’t think they are conclusive, and I go further to say I don’t think they even make sense. Not everyone shares this view, but this is one way to meet the problem head on – as opposed to evading it as he accused us of. There is no infinite regression problem, and I think a proper analysis of those arguments can show this to be true. If this is false, and perhaps it is, then whatever else may be concluded, religious belief is not one of them (not in any sense at all).

    He is right to say that religious belief is based on faith, but wrong to assume that it is therefore acceptable. Faith, typically, is not accepted – and when there is no clear answer to a question most sensible people reserve their judgment on the matter. Religious debates should, I think, boil down to a question of whether or not faith is a good source of knowledge. Clearly the answer is no.

    As to authority. If something cannot be shown to be an authority then it cannot be said to be an authority. Hence, if he cannot show that his holy book is authoritative (he couldn’t), then there is no reason for either him or us to believe it to be so. That he continues to see it as authoritative shows that he does not understand what that word means. Him and I disagreed about this, but he took that to be the basis of all other understanding without realizing that a good edifice of knowledge can be derived simply by thinking reasonably about things and following the evidence. We have no reason to respect such a bad foundation of knowledge – it is rather shameful actually.

    I also think that its not clear, and on stronger days I think even false, to say that it cannot be proved that God does not exist. Many arguments, philosophically and scientifically, have whittled away at the concept of God for a long time until now it is a shell of its former self. The God about which we should still reserve judgment is so alien to religious belief that only a very pointless and empty religion can cling onto ‘God’. To continue to believe in the God of religion does require not only a suspension of critical thought, but in fact an active denial of reason and of what has become fact.

    I would agree with him that we are engaged in a zero-sum game. Either the forces of faith will win out and our understanding of the world, of ourselves and of how we should behave toward one another shall be informed by nothing more than subjective interpretations of ancient books. Or the forces of reason will win out, and our discourse about the world, ourselves and our behavior will be informed by the powers of science and modern thought. It will, of course, be unstable (we cannot offer the absolute), but that is really for the better anyway.

    But (although I could go on) it is these things which we have failed to impress upon him, and we should reflect upon that and work toward better strategies of explanation.

    1. It’s always amusing to see that any disagreement is attributed to my supposed misunderstanding of what is being said. It’s not just about explaining the atheist position better because that in itself smacks of arrogance. Arrogance in the sense that it is supposed to be a foregone conclusion that atheists are right and everyone else is wrong and if everyone else doesn’t agree with the atheists, then they don’t understand or atheists didn’t explain themselves well enough, but never will we consider that perhaps the atheists have an incomplete argument?

      The comparison with religious extremists is entirely relevant and not an abuse of language, unless you wish to deliberately ignore the juvenile and intolerant attitude of most in the FB group that I referred to. If anything, your constant lumping of me with religious extremists is an abuse of language, and a further abuse of logic and reason when I have presented numerous sources that confirm that the extremists are very definitely the minority and not the majority or main stream view of religion.

      You keep making this statement that the original position of human beings is that of atheism, yet have provided not a single shred of hard evidence to back up this claim. This is yet another unprovable theory of atheists that is supposedly supported by the scientific community and should therefore be taken as authoritative without question or doubt.

      Which brings me to your claims about me not understanding the concept of authoritative source. That is a gross misrepresentation of the facts. I opened many discussions, and even confirmed in previous posts on this blog that the issue of not having a single common authoritative source between atheists and theists is what will always prevent us from finding middle ground because atheists insist that their scientific theories are authoritative, which it’s not, while theists insist that their religious scriptures are authoritative, which for obvious reasons cannot be accepted by atheists. So perhaps you’re misunderstanding my position regarding authoritative sources rather than me not understanding what it’s all about to begin with.

      Again, a spurious claim about my supposed inability to demonstrate my ‘holy book’ as authoritative. If you and others were not so blinded by your prejudices founded in your distaste for Christianity, you would possibly have noticed many challenges I presented to the group that requested them to point out scientific inaccuracies in my ‘holy book’. But not inaccuracies based on your theories, but inaccuracies based on established facts proven with hard evidence. That challenge was taken up by one or two members of the group who both failed dismally because of their insistence on quoting verses out of context. So the only shameful thing in all this is that you would be so disingenuous about the debates that I engaged in with you with sincerity and (what I thought to be ) mutual respect. Clearly I was mistaken.

      Again you go on to state your opinions about god as if it is established fact, yet accuse theists of hanging on to faith when reason is all that is called for. If atheists have been so successful at disproving god’s existence, then why are they incapable of answering the questions of creation or origin? Or is it more convenient to suggest that (again in your opinion) the two are unrelated?

      It seems that atheists are in denial about the fact that in the absence of absolute proof, or at least conclusive answers to the greater questions about creation, its origins and its purpose, they also rely on faith in their theories to be the truth that they hope will one day be proven to be true. Until then, they continue to disguise their theories as scientific accuracies because apparently if scientists say so (regardless of the absence of hard evidence) then it must be so.

      Thank you for your comment. It simply reaffirms my decision to disengage from that group, although admittedly, it is disappointing to note these views from you specifically, since you were one of the ‘very few’ that I often referred to as being capable of maintaining the focus on the issues being debated rather than turning it into a mud slinging match where opinions are presented as fact, and logic and reason only applies if in favour of the atheistic position.

  80. Conscious thought is a crucial question: I’ve demonstrated why we aren’t in control of anything. Any thought that we’re consciously aware of would constitute: but there is no way we’re in control of those. Our actions are ruled by events outside of our control: that much is a necessary conclusion.
    Even things where there seem to be multiple options do not prove free will: that presupposes that it exists. It’s entirely ruled over by things other than conscious thought, as I’ve shown: we are not in control of the thoughts that make the decision. Past experiences, nature… Throw in randomness if you want. It doesn’t change the only fact I need to defend, and which you’re not responding to: we’re not in control of our actions, ever. It’s more than just a few situations: can you give a single example of a time where we would consciously be behind an action, rather than have seeming control ruled over by things outside of our control?
    How do those unanswered questions affect the non-existence of free will? they’re only unanswered because we’ve lived in a society that presupposes free will. Still, there are still answers. Morality still exists: but retribution becomes wrong, though imprisonment (for the safety of others) is still needed. Purpose becomes all the more clear. I have no idea why you’re saying collaboration wouldn’t exist without free will though.

    1. There are many inconsistencies in your argument, yet you’re accusing me of not demonstrating my point? Firstly, you have not demonstrated why we are not in control of anything but simply presented your opinion to that effect. I provided several examples of situations that defy your assumption that free will does not exist, yet you’re now accusing me of ‘presupposing that it exists’. Are you not also presupposing that it doesn’t exist?

      Randomness doesn’t exist. So that’s another contradiction. For something to be truly random, it would imply that the laws of cause and effect are inconsistent. Therefore, a sequence of events may only appear random because of our inability to determine the pattern in it, most probably due to the number of variables that have to be computed to arrive at a recognition of the sequence.

      You claim that we’re never in control of our actions, yet you condone the imprisonment of others, while also stating that retribution is wrong and morality exists? Purpose? How can you have purpose if all you’re doing is playing out an infinite string of instinctive responses that you have no control over? Why would purpose or morality even matter? Why would anything matter if we’re not in control of our actions, and by extension, we cannot be held accountable for our actions either. Because according to your logic, we’re victims of situations that present themselves to us, we cannot control our thoughts and therefore cannot control our responses, and therefore it would be unjustifiable to incarcerate someone for the good of society, let alone the fact that such incarceration will require deliberation, and wilful action on the part of those that are upholding this code of morality that apparently is irrelevant because we can’t control who we are and what we do, let alone what we think or how we act.

      I’m sorry, but your position has far too many gaping holes to hold any water.

      1. Those weren’t examples of where free will is somehow in place: they’re examples of a decision being made, but that does not mean that the decision-making process was under our control. That’s all I’ve ever said: conscious thought is not under our control, and I have justified that claim. If you’re going to make the statement that the conscious mind is the origin of conscious thought, then do so: otherwise our actions are ruled by events out of our control, unquestionably. It’s as simple as that. Giving an example of a decision does not mean that we’re in control of our thoughts when we make that decision, as I’ve said.
        I never involved randomness save as an example. It’s far from a contradiction: you’re not responding to the only point I need to hold.
        Plain retribution is wrong: actions that benefit others (a person who is capable of harming others should be kept away from the others) are not. Our purpose would be to live our lives as we must. And where are you getting that we’re incapable of deliberative action? Clearly, we are, and that still makes sense even without free will: our thoughts are based on events around us, and those events will cause wilful action to occur. And why would morality be irrelevant? That’s a whole other topic: it exists separate of our actions, and is one of our influences, and we should still try to follow it. We have grounds for compassion with those that don’t: but also need to care about everyone else they could harm.
        Ultimately, this is all irrelevant. you’re presenting grounds for why my view might not be one you’d like to hold: that is so very far from pointing out a hole in it. Just respond to the following statement:
        The conscious mind cannot be the origin of conscious thought (as, if it were, we must ask as to the origin of the thought that inspired that thought). This means our actions are not under our control.
        If you’re going to give an example, don’t make it one where ‘conscious thought occurs’ is somehow the refutation, when it’s, if anything, a point that reinforces my statement.

      2. This is fast becoming a circular debate. As a theist, I believe we have a soul. So to answer your question more directly, that would be the origin of conscious thought. The reason I keep stating that your position is flawed is because it goes against the logic that outside influences can impose our actions on us. How do we live our lives as we must, if according to your definition of free will being non-existent, our lives are just a result of what’s happening around us?

        How can we be deliberate without having conscious thought or free will? My ability to choose to act, or to simply remain inactive when faced with the exact same circumstance is proof enough for me that we have free will. Ground Hog Day, the movie, appears to demonstrate this point quite clearly. While the concept of the movie is fiction, it clearly demonstrates how many different outcomes are possible from the exact same circumstance simply by choosing different courses of action. But it seems you’re suggesting that those choices are merely outside influences shaping our will? But again, you’re not explaining why I am able to choose between two mutually beneficial outcomes? You’re not explaining why I am able to choose something that is counter-intuitive? You’re not explaining why morality is relevant if we’re not in control of our actions?

        If I accept your position and assume that I am not in control of my actions, then how can you hold me accountable for what I do? I could then argue that the universe made me do it. Why then would I have to be incarcerated for an act that someone else deems unfit for society, when it was the universe that made me do it? Who gave others that right to incarcerate me when all I was doing was exercising my humanness and following my instinctive nature, that according to you, I have no control over. That’s why I keep saying that your position is flawed because none of these scenarios reflect real life as we know and live it. And there simply can be no purpose to life if my life is not mine to control or decide or influence, all three of which requires free will (albeit limited to my responses) in order to be fulfilled.

  81. Your free will is limited to what you can control: and you can’t control your thoughts. That’s all I’ve shown. Each individual thought, each transition between them… It’s out of your control, because the conscious mind cannot be the origin of conscious thought.
    To understand the mechanism, it’s identical to the one you propose: only we lose control of where the thoughts come from. That’s all. We don’t choose between things: that’s an illusion. That’s the definition of having no free will.

    1. You’re assuming that free will implies control of thoughts and not of action? As I explained to someone else recently, as Muslims, we believe we have limited free will. The problem with the atheist’s view about this subject is that they insist on viewing it as an absolute without any option for there being a middle ground. By taking such an extremist view, it fails to address the numerous examples I’ve posed in this and other posts regarding our ability to choose. If everything we did was simply a matter of course based on individual learnings and experiences, that would again imply that we would not be able to make a conscious or intelligent choice between two equally beneficial options. It also would not explain why someone would commit suicide, since as you know, self-preservation is hard-wired into our nature. If it wasn’t, I’d be able to suffocate myself to death by holding my breath. I can’t. So getting back to the issue at hand. Free will is not absolute, nor is it an illusion. I, and so many billions of others including you, make conscious, deliberate, measured, considered, informed decisions that often appear counter-intuitive, and often even goes against the choices that many others with similar life experiences and prior learning opportunities would have taken. Again, the atheist’s view of free will cannot explain this. Our view of limited free will does. We cannot change how situations are presented to us, unless we’re party to the situation being created, and even then, we would only be able to influence it, but not always decisively determine the outcome. But we can very definitely choose how we’re going to respond to said situation within the confines of the limited options at our disposal. That is free will.

      1. You claim to be in control of something without being consciously in control of it? That’s what free will over actions rather than thought implies. That relies presumably on a person’s nature: but that’s thrust upon you, so defeats the basic view of free will as being able to control your own actions.
        You’re not giving counter-examples, that’s the problem: you’re giving cases where an illusion of free will could just as easily be present as free will itself, and asserting that it’s not an illusion, against all the evidence that it is.
        I don’t think it’s intentional, but you’re using a straw man argument: making the claim that, to use your example of suicide, I’m saying our decisions are ruled over only by inbuilt factors: such as self-preservation. I’m not.
        If we’re to be behind an action, then we must be consciously responsible for it. We’re still the sum of our experiences, of our lives: and our genes. Our soul also, if you believe in one: but it is absurd to think conscious thought is behind conscious thought. That’s all I’m saying: please respond to that statement. The examples you give are irrelevant to it, as they only show conscious thought exists: they don’t show that we’re in control of it.

      2. Debates relating to free will and conscious thought are not necessarily one and the same. Conscious thought informs free will, but conscious thought, as I understand your perspective of it, is simply our way of defining those thoughts that we guide or pursue deliberately, whereas other thoughts that are fleeting, are not considered to be conscious thought. So a daydream will not be conscious thought, nor will it inform or directly influence free will. I did provide an explanation of what I see free will to be, and confirmed that I don’t see it as an absolute because there are obvious areas where we can control things, and other areas where we can’t. Free will within this context, as I’ve stated, is limited to us choosing our responses. You also did not respond to my example of being able to choose between multiple mutually beneficial outcomes? If my actions are merely the sum of the experiences of my life, and my genes, then what informs my choices where more than one outcome is possible from the given variables? Or are you suggesting that the weightings from past experiences et al is what results in that choice? What complicates this view of yours even further is that in the absence of free will, how can we hold anyone morally accountable? In which case I would then question why morality should exist within the atheistic philosophy at all? Which would then also question purpose of life/existence? Which would then question any collaborative action. In fact, based on your definition of free will that apparently doesn’t exist, how then would you explain collaboration? There are just too many unanswered questions if we’re to assume that free will does not exist.