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DOBRO DOŠLI U SARAJEVO bosanska kahvana kod braće Kreševljaković

01.10.2014.

Carl Sagan on Science and Spirituality by Maria Popova

Carl Sagan on Science and Spirituality

by

“The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

The friction between science and religion stretches from Galileo’s famous letter to today’s leading thinkers. And yet we’re seeing that, for all its capacity for ignorance, religion might have some valuable lessons for secular thought and the two need not be regarded as opposites.

In 1996, mere months before his death, the great Carl Sagancosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic — explored the relationship between the scientific and the spiritual in The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library). He writes:

Plainly there is no way back. Like it or not, we are stuck with science. We had better make the best of it. When we finally come to terms with it and fully recognize its beauty and its power, we will find, in spiritual as well as in practical matters, that we have made a bargain strongly in our favor.

But superstition and pseudoscience keep getting in the way, distracting us, providing easy answers, dodging skeptical scrutiny, casually pressing our awe buttons and cheapening the experience, making us routine and comfortable practitioners as well as victims of credulity.

And yet science, Sagan argues, isn’t diametrically opposed to spirituality. He echoes Ptolemy’s timeless awe at the cosmos and reflects on what Richard Dawkins has called the magic of reality, noting the intense spiritual elevation that science is capable of producing:

In its encounter with Nature, science invariably elicits a sense of reverence and awe. The very act of understanding is a celebration of joining, merging, even if on a very modest scale, with the magnificence of the Cosmos. And the cumulative worldwide build-up of knowledge over time converts science into something only a little short of a trans-national, trans-generational meta-mind.

“Spirit” comes from the Latin word “to breathe.” What we breathe is air, which is certainly matter, however thin. Despite usage to the contrary, there is no necessary implication in the word “spiritual” that we are talking of anything other than matter (including the matter of which the brain is made), or anything outside the realm of science. On occasion, I will feel free to use the word. Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or of acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.

Reminding us once again of his timeless wisdom on the vital balance between skepticism and openness and the importance of evidence, Sagan goes on to juxtapose the accuracy of science with the unfounded prophecies of religion:

Not every branch of science can foretell the future — paleontology can’t — but many can and with stunning accuracy. If you want to know when the next eclipse of the Sun will be, you might try magicians or mystics, but you’ll do much better with scientists. They will tell you where on Earth to stand, when you have to be there, and whether it will be a partial eclipse, a total eclipse, or an annular eclipse. They can routinely predict a solar eclipse, to the minute, a millennium in advance. You can go to the witch doctor to lift the spell that causes your pernicious anaemia, or you can take vitamin Bl2. If you want to save your child from polio, you can pray or you can inoculate. If you’re interested in the sex of your unborn child, you can consult plumb-bob danglers all you want (left-right, a boy; forward-back, a girl – or maybe it’s the other way around), but they’ll be right, on average, only one time in two. If you want real accuracy (here, 99 per cent accuracy), try amniocentesis and sonograms. Try science.

Think of how many religions attempt to validate themselves with prophecy. Think of how many people rely on these prophecies, however vague, however unfulfilled, to support or prop up their beliefs. Yet has there ever been a religion with the prophetic accuracy and reliability of science? There isn’t a religion on the planet that doesn’t long for a comparable ability — precise, and repeatedly demonstrated before committed skeptics — to foretell future events. No other human institution comes close.

Nearly two decades after The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan’s son, Dorion, made a similar and similarly eloquent case for why science and philosophy need each other. Complement it with this meditation on science vs. scripture and the difference between curiosity and wonder.

30.09.2014.

Izborno selo: KLADANJ AKO JE VEROVATI PREDIZBORNIM OBEĆANJIMA

30.09.2014.

The Power of Peace in Islam

The Power of Peace in Islam

Published on Saturday, 07 November 2009 21:37The very word ‘Islam’ (from the Arabic silm) connotes peace. According to a tradition of the Prophet, ‘Peace is Islam’ (Al-Bukhari). This means that peace is one of the prerequisites of Islam. Similarly, a Hadith states: A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands people are safe.

One of the attributes of God described in the Quran is ‘As-Salam’, which means peace and security.’ That is to say that God’s Being itself is a manifestation of peace. Indeed, God is Peace (Al-Bukhari). In the Quran divine guidance is likened to the paths of peace. (5:16) Similarly, God's desired religion is called 'paths of peace' (5:16). Paradise, the ultimate destination of God's true devotees, is called the 'home of peace' (6:127). It is also said that, the people of Paradise will wish peace to one another, indicating that the social culture of the people of Paradise will be based on peace.

The Quran, avers that, ‘reconciliation is best’ (4:128), and judging by the consequences, the way of peace is far better than that of confrontation. By the law of Nature, God has decreed that success will be met with only on a reconciliatory path, and not on a confrontational or a violent course of action.



Whenever the Prophet had an option between two courses of action, he always chose the easier (non-confrontational) one. (Bukhari)

This means that, violent activism should not be indulged in if peaceful activism is an option. For, non-violent activism is the easier course as compared to violence. Peaceful activism or Non-violent activism, which should not be confused with passivity, is the perfect solution to problems in all spheres.

Whenever any problem arises between two groups, be it individual or social, one way to deal with it is to opt for the way of violence and confrontation. Another method is to make every attempt, by scrupulously avoiding the path of clash and confrontation, to solve the problem by peaceful means. There are many forms which peaceful means may take; it is, in fact, the exact nature of the problem which tells us which of the peaceful means is to be employed on which occasion.

Islam teaches us non-violence. The Qur'an tells us that God does not love disorder (2:205). This verse also clearly states what is meant by disorder. According to the Qur'an, disorder is that course of action, which results in disturbance in the social system incurring loss in terms of life and property (2:205).

We may put it differently and say that certainly God loves non-violence. He does not want people to indulge in such violence in human society as would result in death and destruction.

The entire spirit of the Qur'an is in tune with this concept. For instance, the Qur'an attaches the greatest of importance to patience. Patience is the only Islamic act, which is promised reward beyond measure (39:10). Patience, in fact, is another name for peaceful activism, while impatience is another name for violent activism. Patience, in essence, is exactly what is called non-violence in modern times. Patient activism means non-violent activism.

This point has been clearly made in the Traditions. According to one Tradition, the Prophet of Islam observed: God grants to non-violence what he does not grant to violence. (Sunan abi Dawood 4/255)

In this tradition the word 'rifq' (gentleness) has been used as compared to 'unf' (violence). These words denote exactly what is called violence (unf) and non-violence (la unf) in modern times. It bespeaks the eternal superiority of non-violence over violence.

God grants to non-violence what he does not grant to violence. This is no simple statement. It tells us of a very profound reality. It tells us of an eternal law of nature. By the very law of nature itself, all bad things are connected with violence, while all good things are connected with non-violence. Violent activities breed hatred in society, while peaceful activities breed love in society. Violence is a source of destruction, while non-violence is a source of construction. Hostility flourishes in an atmosphere of violence, while amity flourishes in an atmosphere of non-violence. The way of violence gives rise to negative values, while the way of non-violence gives rise to positive values. The way of violence embroils people in problems, while the way of non-violence shows people the way to exploit opportunities. To put it briefly, if violence is death, non-violence, as compared to violence, is life.

Both the Qur'an and Hadith speak of jihad as a very superior act. What is jihad? Jihad means 'struggle.' This word is used for non-violent activism as compared to violent activism. One clear proof of this is provided by the verse of the Qur'an which says:

"Do not yield to the unbelievers, but struggle with them by means of it (the Qur'an) most strenuously." (25:52).

The Qur'an is no gun or weapon of war. It is a book of ideology. In such a situation asking people to struggle by means of the Qur'an signifies to strive by means of ideology. That is to say, to work hard to conquer people's hearts and minds by the superior ideology of Islam.

In the light of this Qur'anic explanation, it would be true to say that jihad, in fact, is another name for peaceful activism or non-violent activism, that is to say, if qital is violent activism, jihad is non-violent activism.

The greatest problem facing Islam in present times, to my way of thinking, is that Muslims have consigned the sunnah of non-violence to oblivion. In more recent times, when Muslims faced such problems as that of Palestine, the fall of the Mughal empire, and the Turkish caliphate, they fell prey to negative reaction on such a large scale that they completely forgot that the policy of Islam was that of non-¬violence and not of violence. It is as a result of this deviation from the teachings of Islam that even after a I00-year long bloody war, there has been no positive outcome. The outcome has, in fact, been the reverse. They have lost to an indescribable and unimaginable extent what still remained to them after losing their empires.

According to Imam Malik, this ummah will be reformed in its last phase just as was done in its first phase. That is to say, that just as the issues of the first phase of Muslims were settled by the non-violent method, so will the issues of latter day Muslims be settled likewise. If a violent course of action did not yield any benefit in the past, neither will it do so in future. The circumstances of present day Muslims resemble those that prevailed at the time of Hudaybiya. Today once again the unbelievers are guilty of bigotry (48:26).

The solution to this problem in the first phase lay in the Muslims' refusal to display bigotry by not falling prey to the psychology of reaction but rather adhering strictly to the path of taqwa (righteousness) since that would entitle them to divine succour and a clear victory (48:26).

The Quraysh, who enjoyed the position of leadership in Arabia, were bent on waging war at the time of the Hudaybiya treaty. The Kabah was in their possession. They had expelled the Prophet and his companions from their own homeland. They had taken possession of Muslims' homes and properties. They ceaselessly engaged in antagonistic activities against Islam.

Given this state of affairs, the Muslims had two options before them. One, to wage war with their opponents in the name of putting an end to persecution and securing their rights. This option would certainly have resulted in further loss in terms of lives and resources. The second option was to exercise patience on the question of political and material loss for the time being and to exploit the opportunities that still existed. The Prophet of Islam and his companions chose the second option. The result was splendid: within just a few years the history of the whole country underwent a revolution and the whole of Arabia was Islamized, what the Quran calls a ‘clear victory’. (48:1)

There is great guidance for us in this sunnah of the Prophet. Careful study shows that in present times we are faced with the same state of affairs as prevailed at the time of Hudaybiya in the first phase of the Islamic revolution. Here the Prophet’s sunnah shows us the way to follow this prophetic policy in today’s circumstances and be held deserving by God of a ‘clear victory’ once again.

The incident of Hudaybiya is not simply a chapter of past history. It is a living historical example. It tells believers in every age as to which course in controversial situations is a sure guarantee of success. This involves refraining from making a controversial matter into one of prestige, rather trying to seek a solution in the spirit of taqwa (God¬-fearing spirit). The Hudaybiya principle is not jut a sunnah in the simple sense of the word. Rather it is an eternal law of nature. If this law were to be put into practice not only by Muslims but also by non-Muslim nations, they would reap the same benefits in their respective fields.

One example of this is provided by modern Japan. By the time of the Second World War Japan was of the view that it could fulfill its national goals by means of military action. But it suffered a severe defeat in this war. Its economy was destroyed. After the war, a new thinking surfaced amongst the Japanese. Removing themselves from the field of war and confrontation they centered all their efforts on the fields of education, commerce and industry. The result of this change was that an annihilated Japan could stand up once again and become an international economic power.

Peaceful activism is the sunnah of the Prophet of Islam. He practiced it throughout his life.

taken from: http://www.cpsglobal.org/content/power-peace-islam

30.09.2014.

Kaligrafija: ALLAHU AKBAR

Tree Landscape and Allahu Akbar Calligraphy

© License: Free for personal use only. | Uploaded by: Azzaam Farhat

Tree Landscape and Allahu Akbar Calligraphy

Allah is Great Glory to Allah and Praised be He by the count of His creations, by any count that would please Him, by the weight of His throne, by the ink needed to write down all of His words.

الله أكبر سبحان الله وبحمده عدد خلقه ورضا نفسه وزنة عرشه ومداد كلماته

29.09.2014.

THE OTTOMAN AID TO IRELAND DURING THE GREAT IRISH FAMINE - 1845

THE OTTOMAN AID TO IRELAND DURING THE GREAT IRISH FAMINE - 1845
(The Letter of Gratitude to Ottoman Sultan from Ireland)

In 1845, the onset of the Great Irish Famine resulted in over a million deaths. Ottoman Sultan Caliph Abdulmajid I declared his intention to send 10,000 sterling to Irish farmers but the Queen of England requested that the Sultan send only 1,000 sterling, because she had sent only 2,000 sterling herself. The Sultan sent the 1,000 sterling but also secretly sent 3 ships full of food. The English courts tried to block the ships, but the food arrived in Drogheda harbor and was left there by Ottoman Sailors.

In 1845 , because of a the famine in Ireland the population went down from eight million to six million as a result of deaths and mass immigration to America. When the Ottoman Sultan Abdulmajid who was struggling with his own economic problems at the time being due to the big draught that year, heard from his Irish Doctor that his whole family had died in Ireland and so he decided to help the suffering folks in Ireland. Ireland was 4000 miles away from Turkey, which was also in a political turmoil, but his conscious told him to send 10.000 Sterling. However, the Queen of England who only helped the Irish with $ 2.000 Sterling or only with one fifth what the Sultan was ready to give, intervened and limited the Ottoman help to only 1.000 Sterling. Sultan Abdulmejid , knowing that this little will not be of to much help to the people of Ireland decided to send three ships, full of food in addition to 1.000 Sterling to Ireland. Once again Queen Victoria prevented the Turkish ships to enter the harbors of Cork City and Belfast, but they finally succeeded to dock secretly at the small port of Drogheda and deliver the food.

The Letter of Gratitude to Ottoman Sultan from the Noblemen, Gentlemen and Inhabitants of Ireland

“We the noblemen, gentlemen and inhabitants of Ireland want to express our thank and gratitude for the Ottoman Sultan's munificent assistance due to the disaster of dearth. It is unavoidable for us to appeal the assistance of other countries in order to be saved from the enduring threat of death and famine. The Ottoman Sultan's munificent response to this aid call displays an example to European States. Numbers were relieved and saved from perishing through this timely act. We express our gratitude on their behalf and hope that the Ottoman Sultan and his dominions will be saved from the afflictions which have befallen us.”

Ottoman efforts to provide food and lessen the pains of the Irish people, despite political obstacles and the long distance, certainly deserves to be appreciated. It is a case study that should be analyzed carefully, not only as historical evidence for the friendship between two nations, but also as a perfect example that differences of race, religion, or language should not prevent humanitarian aid.

28.09.2014.

Gilad Atzmon On Muhammad and Friends ( Nation of Islam TV)

27.09.2014.

Electronic Intifada: Artists respond to Gaza slaughter in Amman exhibition

Artists respond to Gaza slaughter in Amman exhibition

A group of photographers, artists and designers organized in the wake of Israel’s 51-day assault this summer to put together the Art for Gaza exhibition on display at the House of Art Gallery in Amman through 4 October.

The work featured in the show responds to the war in Gaza and all proceeds generated from the exhibition will go to Gaza via the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Some of the works featured in Art for Gaza are shown below, followed a statement from the respective artist.

With thanks to Amer Sweidan and the artists for furnishing images and statements.

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Amer Sweidan, “A State of Devolution,” photography

“A State of Devolution” reflects elements of external destruction internally, highlighting its catastrophic nature. As means of survival to their current circumstances, humans readjust to their broken state. With Agence France Presse photographer Mohammed Abed’s documentation of the recent war on Gaza, Amer Sweidan merges the human element with scenes of destruction to convey a sense of de-evolution.

While the war is reportedly over, it took around two weeks to receive the photos from Abed, as electricity outages remain a daily occurrence in Gaza.

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Basma Hamdallah, “Patterns of Existence,” illustration

A series of positive/negative patterns derived from Palestinian embroidery. A key visual element in the Palestinian brand and visual identity. In this series, the basic elements of embroidery were deconstructed, mirroring the current situation and then reconstructed in a different form creating a new pattern in existence.

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Tasneem Al-Omari, “Don’t be afraid of death,” illustration

Oh you nature child … don’t be afraid of death …

Oh Gaza what is your secret? You are in pain and live in agony, still you prevailed, and all our eyes are watching you … And we are all picturing your child within … All colors become obsolete in war … Gaza’s colors are flourishing again …

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Bashar Alaeddin, “The Kufiyyeh,” photography

Bashar’s project is about the transcendence of the Palestinian kufiyyeh from an object to a symbol.

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Laila Demashqieh, “Diamonds in The Rough,” mixed media

The children of Gaza are imprisoned in a perpetual state of war, growing up with their hopes and dreams gradually dying with their loved ones. And yet they still manage to break through the madness, harnessing what remains of their innocence and growing wings with which they fly to worlds beyond.

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Sardine, “V for Palestine,” illustration

I read the book, saw the film and fell in love with V. One night I had this vision of him wearing an Arab hatta. This was long before the so-called Arab Spring.

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Nadia Bseiso, “Just another day in Baqa’a camp,” photography

On an old woman’s shoulders lies a house with a heavy metal sheet posing as a roof, declared cancerous. Rain leaks on grandchildren more precious than children, and an unpaid electricity bill. When a mother sends her seven-year-old girl to school in the morning and her eleven-year-old brother in the afternoon, as one pair of shoes, is shared by two. While a teenager waits impatiently to take off his cast to go back to training, an old woman pleads the world outside for a little compassion, and a hot tempered boxer continues his dream for an olympic medal.

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Nour Taher, “Children of War,” painting

The series is about the psychological state of the children of war. They serve as a representation of innocence, loss and disturbance.

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Shadi Eideh, “The Last Gown,” photography

A series is about to the fallen child victims of Gaza. Each photo in the series is a tribute to a victim, through the last outfit they were remembered by, or even died in. Hopefully, by looking at the empty dress, we can’t but wonder about the life and innocence that was lost.

27.09.2014.

kALIGRAFIJA: SURA AL NAS

Surat Al Nas in Thuluth Calligraphy

Listed in Quran Arabic Calligraphy Gallery

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Surat Al Nas in Thuluth Calligraphy

Surat Al Nas in Thuluth Calligraphy

“Say, “I seek refuge in the Lord of mankind,The Sovereign of mankind,The God of mankind,From the evil of the retreating whisperer,Who whispers [evil] into the breasts of mankind ,From among the jinn and mankind.”(Surat An-Nas)

“قل أعوذ برب الناس ملك الناس اله الناس من شر الوسواس الخناس الذي يوسوس في صدور الناس من الجنة والناس
27.09.2014.

PEACE IN ISLAM

“It is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are contradictory to each other. The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously unfounded that prima facie it stands rejected. The fact that violence is not sustainable in the present world is sufficient indication that violence as a principle is quite alien to the scheme of things in Islam. Islam claims to be an eternal religion and, as such, could never afford to uphold any principle, which could not stand up to the test of time. Any attempt to bracket violence with Islam amounts, therefore, to casting doubt upon the very eternity of the Islamic religion. Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms, much like ‘pacifist’ terrorism. And the truth of the matter is that, all the teachings of Islam are based directly or indirectly on the principle of peace.”

God calls to the Home of Peace.” (The Quran, 10:25)

The very word ‘Islam’ (from the Arabic silm) connotes peace. According to a tradition of the Prophet, ‘Peace is Islam’ (Al-Bukhari). This means that peace is one of the prerequisites of Islam. Similarly, a Hadith states: A Muslim is one from whose tongue and hands people are safe. One of the attributes of God described in the Quran is ‘As-Salam’, which means peace and security.’ That is to say that God’s Being itself is a manifestation of peace. Indeed, God is Peace (Al-Bukhari). In the Quran divine guidance is likened to the paths of peace. (5:16)

According to Islam, Paradise is the ideal human abode, and is thus called the ‘Home of Peace.’ It is also said that, the people of Paradise will wish peace to one another, indicating that the social culture of the people of Paradise will be based on peace. The Quran, avers that, ‘reconciliation is best’ (4:128), and judging by the consequences, the way of peace is far better than that of confrontation. By the law of Nature, God has decreed that success will be met with only on a reconciliatory path, and not on a confrontational or a violent course of action.

Whenever the Prophet had an option between two courses of action, he always chose the easier (non-confrontational) one. (Bukhari)

This means that, violent activism should not be indulged in if peaceful activism is an option. For, peace is the easier course as compared to violence.

For instance, trying to change the status quo in the very first stage of a movement is a hard option, while launching one’s activities in the available sphere without doing so is an easier option.

Going to war in confrontational situations is a hard option while following a conciliatory course in dealing with one’s rival is easier. Countering aggression with aggression is a hard option, while countering aggression with patience and forbearance is an easier option. An agitational course of action is harder than employing quiet strategy. Adopting a radical method of reformation is harder than that of following a gradual method. Taking emotional, extreme steps without a thought for their consequences creates difficulties. While a well-considered method, keeping an eye on the consequences, gives much better results. The policy of confrontation with a ruler is a harder option, while initiating one’s action; by sidestepping the ruler in the sphere of education and learning is an easier option. These instances show us the easier and harder options, as demonstrated by the Hadith.

The truth is that peace in Islam is the ‘rule’, while war is the ‘exception’. This is borne out by all the teachings of Islam and the practical life of the Prophet of Islam.

The Example of the Prophet Muhammad

The Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation in 610 A.D. in Makkah. God ordained that he carry out the mission of Tawheed (or oneness of God).

The house of the Kabah, which was built as the house of monotheism by the Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael (peace be upon them), later on became a centre of polytheism with 360 idols in it. The first revelation might well have demanded the purification of the Kabah, which would have given rise to a serious problem. But the first revelation made in the Quran was:

Purify your vestments (74:4).

This means to purify one’s moral character. If, in the first stage the Prophet had been commanded to purify the Kabah while Makkah was still under the domination of the idolaters, this would have surely precipitated clash and confrontation. Therefore, according to the command of the first revelation, the Prophet continued to perform his prayers peacefully in the Kabah for a period of 13 years, even though it housed several hundred idols.

Similarly, the Prophet and his companions circumambulated the Kabah on the occasion of Umrah al-Hudaybiyya in 629, while the Kabah still housed 360 idols.

The Prophet Muhammad proceeded thus in order to avoid war and confrontation with the idolaters, and so that the atmosphere of peace should be maintained. The entire life of the Prophet is a practical demonstration of this peace-loving policy. At the time of migration from Makkah, the idolaters were all set to wage war, but the Prophet avoided this by quietly leaving his homeland for Madinah.

The mission of Islam is based on monotheism, its goal being to make people realize the existence of the one and only God and to strive to bring about a revolution in their hearts and minds of individuals in order that they may love God as is His due. And the greatest concern of man should be to fear and worship his Creator (2:165).

Such a mission cannot afford wars and violent confrontations. When a state of war and violence prevails, the normal atmosphere is vitiated and such circumstances as would foster intellectual movements and spiritual reformation cannot be effectively created. It cannot be denied that peaceful circumstances produce a propitious environment for Islam, while violent circumstances inevitably result in antagonism towards Islam.

War: A State Action

In Islam, war is not the prerogative of the individual but of an established government. Only an established government can declare war. In other words, individuals can pray on their own, but they cannot wage wars of their own accord. Only when a war is declared by the ruling government, can the public join in and support it, and not before that. Islam does not sanction individual actions on this issue. Therefore no Non Governmental Organization or NGO can declare a war.

As a general principle, the Quran tells us that, even where an external attack is feared, the common man should not act independently, but should take the matter to the ruler, and then under his guidance take proper counter measures. (4:83).

The Hadith also states that ‘the ruler is a shield, fighting is done under him, and security is attained through him.’

This clearly shows that the decision to do battle and its planning are the tasks of an established government. The common man can play his role as need be under government orders, and not independently.

This Islamic principle shows that there is no room for non-state warfare, which is what we generally call guerilla war. A guerilla war is fought by individual organizations, not by the State. As far as the state is concerned, if it wants to wage a defensive war against any country it has first—in obedience to the Quran—to issue a proper declaration. Only then can it wage a lawful war (8:58). In Islam, there is only ‘declared’ war. Therefore, in accordance with this principle, no proxy war in Islam can be lawful.

Most Islamic actions are governed by certain conditions. The waging of war is also thus subject to certain principles, one being that, even when a defensive war has been declared by the State, it will be aimed only at the combatants. Targeting non-combatants will be unlawful. The Quran enjoins us not to do battle with those who are not at war. Such people have to be dealt with kindly and equitably. But you are free to do battle with those who are fighting against you. (60:8-9)

If, for instance, a Muslim state is at war with a particular nation, and this war is in conformance with Islamic principles, it should still not permit any destructive activities against non-combatants (civilians), as was done on September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. Similarly in Islamic war, Muslims are not permitted to commit suicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy. Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurling oneself upon the civilian settlements of even those with whom one is at war, for the purpose of destroying the enemy, and in the process killing oneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic. This can in no way be termed ‘Shahadah’ (martyrdom). According to Islam we can become martyrs, but we cannot court a martyr’s death deliberately.

The Difference between Enemy and Aggressor

Under the scheme of the divine trial of human beings, God has granted man freedom. Due to this freedom, enmities may develop between people (20:123), which sometimes lead them to war. But Islam makes a clear difference between enmity and war.

Believers do not have the right to wage wars against their enemies. What the believers have to do as regards their enemies is far from waging war. Their duty is to peacefully convey to them the message of Islam. The Quran gives a clear injunction on this subject:

“And good and evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good. And he who is your enemy will become your dearest friend.” (41:33-34)

That is to say, Islam believes in turning one’s enemy into a friend through peaceful means, instead of declaring him an enemy and then waging war against him.

Islam does give permission to do battle. But such permission is given only in the case of an attack by opponents in spite of the policy of avoidance being followed by the Muslims, thus creating a situation where self-defense is required. The Quran has this to say: “Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been wronged” (22:38). At another place the Quran gives a valid reason for fighting: “They were the first to attack you” (9:13).

This shows that according to the teachings of Islam, war is to be waged not against the enemy but against the aggressor. If Muslims hold someone to be their enemy, that does not give them the right to attack him. The one and only right given to them is to convey the peaceful message of Islam. Islam permits defensive fighting against violent aggression, but only when all efforts at avoidance and reconciliation have failed. The practical example of the Prophet Muhammad provides an incontrovertible proof of the value of this policy.

The Power of Peace

According to a Hadith, “God grants to gentleness what He does not grant to harshness.” That is to say, peaceful activism is distinctly superior to violent activism. There is nothing mysterious about the point made in this Hadith. It is a simple and a well-known fact of life that in a situation of war and violence, feelings of hatred and enmity flare up between the two sides and, in the process, the existing resources are destroyed. People from both sides get killed and the entire society turns into a jungle of negative feelings. It is quite obvious that in such an atmosphere no constructive and consolidated work can be done. There is nothing to be achieved in war and violence, save death and destruction.

On the contrary, an atmosphere of peace enables normal relations to be established between people. It makes it possible for feelings of love and friendship to prevail. In a favourable atmosphere constructive activities flourish and the existing resources can be used for development or other creative activities. A positive bent of mind will prevail which will help develop academic and intellectual advancement.

The greatest ill effect of war is that it limits human endeavour, whereas the greatest benefit of peace is that to the ultimate extent it opens up opportunities for improvement. War invariably results in further loss, while peace invariably results in further gain. That is why Islam teaches us to avoid war and confrontation at all costs and commands us to establish peace to the greatest possible degree.

Clarification of a Fallacy

There are certain verses in the Quran, which convey injunctions similar to the following:

‘Kill them wherever you find them.’ (2:191)

Referring to such verses, there are some who attempt to give the impression that Islam is a religion of war and violence. This is totally untrue. Such verses relate in a restricted sense, to those who have unilaterally attacked the Muslims. The above verse does not convey the general command of Islam.

The truth of the matter is that the Quran was not revealed in the complete form in which it exists today. It was revealed from time to time, according to the circumstances, over a time span of 23 years. If this is divided into years of war and peace, the period of peace amounts to 20 years, while that of war amounts only to 3 years. The revelations during these 20 peaceful years were the peaceful teachings of Islam as are conveyed in the verses regarding the realization of God, worship, morality, justice, etc.

This division of commands into different categories is a natural one and is found in all religious books. For instance, the Gita, the holy book of the Hindus, pertains to wisdom and moral values. Yet along with this is the exhortation of Krishna to Arjun, encouraging him to fight. (3:30) This does not mean that believers in the Gita should wage wars all the time. Gandhiji, after all, derived his philosophy of non-violence from the same Gita. The exhortation to wage war in the Gita applies only to exceptional cases where circumstances leave no choice. But for general day-to-day existence it gives the same peaceful commands as derived from it by Mahatma Gandhi.

Similarly, Jesus Christ said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on Earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew, Chapter 10)

It would not be right to conclude that the religion preached by Christ was one of war and violence, for such utterances relate purely to particular occasions. So far as general life is concerned, Christ taught peaceful values, such as the building up of a good character, loving each other, helping the poor and needy, etc.

The same is true of the Quran. When the Prophet of Islam emigrated from Mecca to Medina, the idolatrous tribes were aggressive towards him. But the Prophet always averted their attacks by the exercise of patience and the strategy of avoidance. However on certain occasions no other options existed, save that of retaliation. Therefore, he had do battle on certain occasions. It was these circumstances, which occasioned those revelations relating to war. These commands, being specific to certain circumstances, had no general application. They were not meant to be valid for all time to come. That is why; the permanent status of the Prophet has been termed a ‘mercy for all mankind.’ (21:107)

Islam is a religion of peace in the fullest sense of the word. The Qur’an calls its way ‘the paths of peace’ (5:16). It describes reconciliation as the best policy (4:128), and states that God abhors any disturbance of the peace (2:205). We can say that:

“It is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are contradictory to each other. The concept of Islamic violence is so obviously unfounded that prima facie it stands rejected. The fact that violence is not sustainable in the present world is sufficient indication that violence as a principle is quite alien to the scheme of things in Islam. Islam claims to be an eternal religion and, as such, could never afford to uphold any principle, which could not stand up to the test of time. Any attempt to bracket violence with Islam amounts, therefore, to casting doubt upon the very eternity of the Islamic religion. Islamic terrorism is a contradiction in terms, much like ‘pacifist’ terrorism. And the truth of the matter is that, all the teachings of Islam are based directly or indirectly on the principle of peace.”

taken from:  http://www.cpsglobal.org/content/peace-quran
26.09.2014.

The Secret to Learning Anything: Albert Einstein’s Advice to His Son by Maria Popova

The Secret to Learning Anything: Albert Einstein’s Advice to His Son

by

“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

With Father’s Day around the corner, here comes a fine addition to history’s greatest letters of fatherly advice from none other than Albert Einstein — brilliant physicist, proponent of peace, debater of science and spirituality, champion of kindness — who was no stranger to dispensing epistolary empowerment to young minds.

In 1915, aged thirty-six, Einstein was living in wartorn Berlin, while his estranged wife, Mileva, and their two sons, Hans Albert Einstein and Eduard “Tete” Einstein, lived in comparatively safe Vienna. On November 4 of that year, having just completed the two-page masterpiece that would catapult him into international celebrity and historical glory, his theory of general relativity, Einstein sent 11-year-old Hans Albert the following letter, found in Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children (public library) — the same wonderful anthology that gave us some of history’s greatest motherly advice, Benjamin Rush’s wisdom on travel and life, and Sherwood Anderson’s counsel on the creative life. Einstein, who takes palpable pride in his intellectual accomplishments, speaks to the rhythms of creative absorption as the fuel for the internal engine of learning:

My dear Albert,

Yesterday I received your dear letter and was very happy with it. I was already afraid you wouldn’t write to me at all any more. You told me when I was in Zurich, that it is awkward for you when I come to Zurich. Therefore I think it is better if we get together in a different place, where nobody will interfere with our comfort. I will in any case urge that each year we spend a whole month together, so that you see that you have a father who is fond of you and who loves you. You can also learn many good and beautiful things from me, something another cannot as easily offer you. What I have achieved through such a lot of strenuous work shall not only be there for strangers but especially for my own boys. These days I have completed one of the most beautiful works of my life, when you are bigger, I will tell you about it.

I am very pleased that you find joy with the piano. This and carpentry are in my opinion for your age the best pursuits, better even than school. Because those are things which fit a young person such as you very well. Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal. . . .

Be with Tete kissed by your

Papa.

Regards to Mama.

.

Complement with more timeless advice from famous dads, including Ted Hughes, Charles Dickens, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, John Steinbeck, and much more wisdom found in Posterity.


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