Monday, December 31, 2012

Hatred of Wisdom: modern East & West

Deep down our society has become perverted due to the historical process called colonization. It's a spiritual problem. Colonial education stripped away elements of sacredness from the very business of instruction and education. In Mirror and the Lamp, economic historian Atiyab Sultan with illuminating and ground breaking research from earliest and contemporary scholarly sources showd how Britishers in the name of reform actually deformed everything.

Our society has developed a materialistic mindset. A pursuit of knowledge for personal ilmi consumption that is not related to something "practical", (say the professional degree) is frowned upon as a toxic waste that will rust one's mind, especially if it serves no monetary purposes. Our muslim forefathers, a philosopher and a polymath scholar told us, would sell everything for ilm, and not sell their knowledge for money. (Surely stipends were given to teachers, scholars and their those who reflected on deen.) Their love for knowledge was unearthly - starting with the First Principles of Prophecy which influenced all other fields like a canopy over earth. I too want to drink from that cup. For Iqbal, taking the sip from modern west is a big no-no (perhaps because their 'intellect is atrophied'); for the method in the recipe of Hashmi (pbuh) is unique and superior. As Frithoj Schuon puts it: West thinks too much and thinks wrongly; East is sleeping over treasures and doesn't think much.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pursuit of Satisfaction: Your recipe?

Click for better sighting

Click for larger image, or you'll miss the fun
For some time recently, I've been perplexed by self-projections and how one should judge himself. Should one judge himself from his professional, social or academic achievements, and/or the quantitative influence of his work - or something more abstract? All of this sounded little egoistic afterwards, as soon as i tried to reduce the anxiety by little introspection from a spiritual point of view. But. Even this spiritual understanding of my desires and ambitions didn't solve the conundrum. I got the answer from Iqbal's persian poem.

(English trans by me from Urdu)

Laazt e sair ast maqsood e safar.
Gar nigah bar aashiyan dari mapar.

Purpose of journey is to get the pleasure of it.
If you aim at your destination/home, don't fly.

Zindagi juz lazzat e parwaz neest
Ashiyan ba fitrat e Oo saaz neest

Life is nothing but to taste flight.
Ashiyana (home) is not nourishing for his nature

Whats your recipe?

Counting Probabilities in Movies: Impossible

My tiny brain cannot comprehend the delusions perpetrated by movies. I was perplexed and doubtful - but never sure - of these delusions.

Have the screen play writers ever wondered what they are producing? How would people perceive the writers?

They do mention here and there the odds a hero is up against. But. Take into (some level of) free will of so many people and things surrounding the heroes. That hardly seems to count. Occasionally, one or two things won't go according to the plan and that's it. That's just not enough to even remotely satisfy or honor randomness at work in the world of chaos in which the plots are set.

Do they have anything else but "escapism" as an excuse for fooling themselves and their audience? Probably not. Maybe that's the point that even if the possibility of doing a feat is 1 in a million times - it's doable. However, the process of getting there is brutally by passed in the name of Greece's self-delusional fantasies..

We mistake high definition graphics and few moments of breathtaking actions as a recipe for stretching beyond the limits. Not even a chance. Censorship is required by those with deep introspection into these matters.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wealth of the Poor

How about maximizing GDP?

In England there was commons land. Common people depended on this land for their livelihood and shelter. They were poor people who didn't even have modest incomes, who only survived on what they could find in the forests, lakes, etc., for themselves and/or for their cattle. Similarly, it provided them housing and shelter. The land,as a public good, made life liveable and gave a sense of security against economic upheavals and lack of basic goods - things too inevitable in today's civilized market economies in war-ridden scenarios.

The rich people had their eyes on it, maybe for long. In 1066, after the Norman's Conquest, things changed drastically. Rich and powerful lords invoked the god of greed and free markets, and approached the king for its 'privatization'. "Your lordship, your pro-poor policies are making these people sluggish and dormant. Inefficiency reigns. Producivity suffers. And the idol of progress is angry upon us. End protectionism. End this injustice that blocks pur way to [indefinite] Progress." And they told many other stories their PhD economists wrote. King nodded in yes. He had to give in for the sake of (indefinite) progress. Let the game begin.

All the poor people were banished from the commons land, which became not so common by then. And was sold to the fittest, ie the wealthy, the powerful. Can't make any compromise on competition, ye see. Their houses (read: fragile huts) were destroyed, and the rest was just part of the package which was to be theirs no more. Survival became difficult, if not impossible. Previously, they could graze their sheep and drink its milk or eat fresh fish from flowing lakes or rivers and survive, but now the conditions became worse. You can imagine that. Where did the desperate souls go? Fuel industrial revolution for insanely meagre pays, in insanely inhuman conditions? Well that's what scholars are betting their guesses on.

During the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), there was commons land on which poor people used to graze their cattle and perhaps drink water from. Rich and powerful people approached him (PBUH) to allow their cattle to enter it for grazing; to end this economic corruption of Inefficiency and low Producivity; to let free markets reign.

Holy Prophet's Judgement: "rich are forbidden from their entrance into commons land and are instructed to find some other pasture or land for their big flocks, lest they overgraze the rightful share of poor people's pasture."

The judgement given by Prophet (PBUH) is totally opposite to the one given by anti-poor forces and shows the basis of Islamic economics to be welfare of the people and especially the poor.

Adapted from a lecture by economist Dr Asad Zaman,

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Success & Humiliation

One Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission told the following tale to a group of young Pakistani researchers going abroad:

“A man planned to work for an insurance company. He heard about another man in the profession who was very, very successful.
He visited him to seek his advice and left. After 15 days, he came back to him, and said: “I can’t do it.”
The successful one asked, “Why can’t you do it?” The first person replied, “There is too much humiliation in it. People don’t listen to me, they quarrel, they push; they are too humiliating.”
The successful one replied: “I’ve been doing this thing for the last 15 years. People often didn’t listen to me. Sometimes they pushed me. Some even slapped me on my cheeks. But nobody ever humiliated me!”

The moral?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Book these days: Black Swan

Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Although the primary subject of the book - distillation of a life-long personal, academic and professional inquiry - may sound technical being related to finance and econometrics, the book interests all. Its not just that the application of the subject is universal, it's also that the cross-disciplinary approach and wealth of examples makes it a much more interesting book. Too enjoyable for escapists and hedonists. Psychology and philosophy have this aspect being accessible and relate-able to many, if not all, as their interests revolve around humans and their various problems, theoretical and practical.

It's 1970s. Lebanon (or the old Levant) enjoyed centuires of societal harmony despite as a hub of diverse cultures, ethnicity, religions, and sects of all sorts; as a meeting place of East and West, although more European than Eastern. (Fact that Europe exlcuded it from itself just gives a clue about their "openness" and the yearning to be in there by those relegated to East points to their "authenticity" and "independence".) Any prediction of a sudden, unnoticable, rare and catastrophic breakdown and dissolution of this harmony was beyond "imagination." It was not to be.

It was to be. Sudden. Unpredictable by conventional thinking, which was based on empirical data of centuries that only predicted more cohesion and unity in diversity than a bloody, long civil war between Muslims and Christians. The prime minister, relative of Taleb, had as reliable a clue about the situation as PM's car driver.

This is what Taleb calls a Black Swan. "All swans are white," was a belief paraded as a scientific truth by many who did not get dose of humility in school. It only took sighting of 1 black swan in Australia (perhaps) to demolish this "fact." Hence the idiom: as rare as a Black Swan.

The book is a decent dose for those who're too cocky about their expert-ness, especially of financial and mathematical models. At another level, it is also a critique of those obsessed with trying to fit things into neat and clean forms, types and categories, ignoring nuances and not-so-apparent distinguishing elements. At another level, it also questions our temptations to "explain things away" and find causes and motives to every fact or happening as immature babbling of an untrained mind.

Author belongs to the large pool of profane minded thinkers, intellectuals and writers, i must add. They are skeptic about everything else, but not about their value-judgments and exclusivist  mechanistic view of the world and creation, and their rejection of transcendence and fate. They believe in accidents as if accident is god or gods? They don't explain that. They're not skeptic about dogmas of modernity, and very unequivocal about their rejection of any "chance" of transcendence.

Overall, interesting book to read before sleeping.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chenab College Jhang: Love's Labour

(A very old piece. Just sharing to honour my early teenage alma mater.)

Junior bloc, up till 5th grade. Spent 1 year here. Nervous days of a new comer...

Senior Boys' Wing: The Castle, the Heart, the Magnificence of the school. Where kings, lions, and even monkeys mutate

A somewhat amorous view of senior girl's wing :D

I spend some of the finest years of my early teenage life (age 10-14) years studying in this auspicious and graceful place, Chenab College Jhang (often term as thana CCJ by its notorious inhabitants), some 20 kms outside Jhang city. For many years, I have not visited it, not only my teen age's, but my life's love. I revere it to the extent that it has kept visiting me in my dreams always showing how greatly it's progressing, touching new heights to this very day. And when I hears reports about its glory, its present, I find the visions of elevation it shows me as true. 'Departing' is a gloomy verb, at least for me. Waves of feeling of sadness overcrowd my heart when I think of it, dream of it, because I am away from it. Not a day came when i'd be nervous or unhappy - even during exam days ! - to enter it and live the experience in an exceptionally beautiful and harmonious interplay of academics, freshness, discipline and nature. May the enchantment never end. Maybe it's just that CCJ wants me to keep loving it like i did as a student, unaware of politics within administration or other ugly things (if any). Maybe I want to reunite with it. It is not just a building, or a stately place with wondrous gardens and greenery. It is not a job-shop either where pupils are manufactured and sold to retailers or wholesalers. It is a ground for those with heart, a ground where minds nurture, where nature of man comes face to face with itself. May it achieve high ideals of man's khilafa. Aameen.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth". -Rumi

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,  

It's been quite a while since I've written anything on this blog. Studies, assignments and friends; The usual excuses for not having enough time for writing. That's very strange as reading and writing is the only thing I really enjoy doing but I end up doing things which I have to do, not what I want to do.

Like Mirza Ghalib says,

'The steed of life is galloping on, who knows where it stops.
Our hands don't control the reins, our feet are not stirrupped fast'

From our daily lives to our eductional system, everything is controlled. We are not masters of our own destinies, our own lives. Let us take our eductional system into consideration; What are we receiving in our schools, colleges and universities?

Knowledge or information? Are we getting educated or just becoming 'informed'?

My generation knows what is gravity and who discovered it. They know that Facebook is a social networking site and was made by Mark Zuckerberg. They have information about everything. But do they have the knowledge? Are they educated?

No. They aren't. The current system of eduction is just preparing the students to be good, skilled slaves for the cooperations. That's all. There are no Einsteins, Newtons or Ibn-e-Sinas in my generation. There aren't any thinkers like Rumi, Iqbal or Socrates either.

This not a post about how stupid we are. Nor am I pessimist. I'm just stating that we are not utilizing our time properly. We are not thinking out of the box. We are not asking those big, unanswered questions anymore. Where did we come from? Where will we go? Why are we here?

In this era of information when you can access to anything in seconds, we have stopped wondering. And that's sad. Not good at all.

As Rumi said:

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

Every other person you meet knows everything about everything. Remember when Moses thought he had aqquired the knowledge about everything? He met Khizer and realized that he was wrong.

I got a distintion in my Ordinary level Islamiyat paper but I don't even know the i of Islamiyat. How can these examinations judge our knowledge?

Who set these standards for us? Why did we limit ourselves? Why do we crawl through life when you were born with wings?

All around me are familiar faces 
Worn out places, worn out faces 
Bright and early for the daily races 
Going nowhere, going nowhere

                                                             -Mad World By Tears for Fears (1982)

I love this song. It inspires me, urges me to question the rules, the norms of the society. I do not want to join the crowd and be a slave of the cooperations. I want to wander around the world and seek. Seek the undiscovered.

Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth. -Rumi

We need to start wondering once again. Stop reading those stories about how the apple fell on Newton's head. We need to go out and wander. Maybe there's an apple waiting to fall on our head too. Maybe there are more secrets, more mysteries to be solved. Don't cage yourself.

'The page is finished, but the praise is incomplete, 
One requires a boat to negotiate this boundless deep'.

There's so much I want to write. But I'm afraid I'd be too incoherent for people to understand. And I don't want that to happen. I want you to read, enjoy and leave comments on this post. Because I'm just an errant soul, a young man. I do everything for reward. Wish I could be like Ghalib;

I do not hanker after praise, nor seek reward,
If my verses make no sense, I do not care a jot.

Yours shamelessly,

Monday, December 17, 2012

What you personify is what you should become

You might have seen a young Pakistani boy fly a fighter jet using his hand, or drawing aircraft sketches on his notebooks. He imitates a pilot. He is thrilled by the sound or image of a fighter jet. He has, what psychatrists call, personified himself as a fighter pilot. The level of association surpasses every boundary and attains the rank of janoon, or craze. Such men, as per experts of mind & body, can only performed extraordinary things in their respective fields; who like crazy scientists "do not wish to go home from their work." Who want to do that thing whole day, 24/7, in one way or another.

The role of parents is not to come in their way, assuming the passion is not unIslamic or unethical. The role of school is to aid that passion by giving them opportunity to play such roles. It may be in form of an activity where the student can live that character. For instance, if a girl wants to be a teacher, she be given apron, a class and students to teach to. A student given all authorities of a principle, and is trained what to do on working day, and then given the task to run the school.

This way of learning is most effective. Its hands-on knowledge. When they grow up and actually come to perform these roles, they'd have confidence to do it inshaAllah.

We should ask our children to solve our daily problems. If the gate cannot be locked from inside, ask them for a solution. Encourage them. Even if you know solution, make them to think, so that they can become problem solvers.

(These were some of the thoughts I gained from the company of my mentor Dr. Agha, who's trained in psychiatry from Royal College of Psychiatry, UK.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Post-Colonial Muslim Mind & Qur’an

When Islamic ummah encountered modernity in 19th-20th century, it 'fragmented into disunited pieces', with profound and far-reaching consequences for their relation with Islam as a world-view, affecting all aspects of traditional Islamic societies, from education to politics, from governance to family systems. According to Burhan Ahmed Farooqi [1], this created two classes of mind-sets with distinct world-views: a Traditional Islamic mindset that traced its roots to divine revelation of Islam; and, a modernized mindset, trained in modern educational systems, which felt more at home with all things with Western. Modernized Muslims ascended to the ranks of power and rule Muslims masses with aspirations to westernize their countries in totality. Traditional Islam, and its political elite, lost its sway with the replacement of Shariah Law with Roman or English or French law; although cultural aspects of Muslim societies continued to survive, albeit with constant losing battles with the monoculture of West.

Leadership was transferred to modernized-Muslims who were completely hopeless of Quran as a source of minhaaj, a way of solving problems both at individual and societal levels [2]. With their utter hopelessness in Qur’anic worldview, modernized Muslims looked up to knowledge produced by human capacity as a way of solving all of their problems. The root cause of this hopelessness may be explained as a result of trauma that Muslims went through after their political subjugation at the hands of West that resulted in disbelief in the power of their own Tradition. During this process, Muslims developed deep sense of inferiority complex, which according to many scholars is the root problem of Muslims which stops them from realizing potential of being a Muslim and final revelation from Allah.

What led to this state of affairs? Syed Abu Hassan Nadvi (r.a.) argues [3] that following were main reasons that led to Westernization of many Muslim countries, especially India, Egypt and Turkey:

Western educational system which indoctrinated in a more subtle way superiority of Western civilization as a poison that led to death of authentic worldview of Islam

Orientalism modernized Muslim scholars relied a lot upon research and analysis done by Orientalists to understand Islam and its history – those eyeglasses were also contaminated that blurred the vision of Muslims

Decline of Muslim Intellectuality Muslims, largely, failed to respond proactively to the change in their surroundings and could not respond to challenge of modernity.

We can understand that these factors are pertinent and relevant today, since these at work creating more hopelessness in Muslims from Qur’an, as being a way of solving our problems. We only need to reverse this process through a (maybe unending) intellectual struggle, and to take Qur’an as a minhaaj to solve our individual and societal diseases and challenges of modernity.
[1] See, Minhaaj-ul-Quran, by Dr. Burhan Ahmed Farooqi
[2] Ibid
[3] Nadvi, Syed Abu Hassan. Muslim Mumalik mein Islamiat aur Maghribiat ki Kashmakash (1980) – "The struggle between Islamization and Westernization in Muslim Countries." Karachi: Majlis-e-Nashriyate Islam

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Miracles: To be or not to be?

Why should miracles be important to prove, or to serve as an evidence for the truthfulness of a Prophet?

Miracles did take place in the time of Last Prophet, as per sound narrations and consensus of ulema. Miracles did take place in the times of Prophet Moses and Isa. It's very curious to know how the magicians/illusionists of Firoun's responded to Prophet Moses' miracle that was granted to him by Allah: they accepted Prophet Moses as Messenger of Allah and recongized his miracle to out of this world! That was nothing short of an experimental testimony.

However, i was puzzled by this thought of Imam Ghazzali in his autobiography: if a person was come to me and say 2+1 = 10 and he tries to prove the truth of his statement by turning a stick into a snake - i should never lose certitude in my knowledge that 2 + 1 = 3 and not 10; and, should not believe his "magic," "miracle" to have any relation with something that i already know of with certitude (whether its true or not).

Hence, can a rational person [not rationalist per se] demand miracle(s)? If he demands so, and if the miracle is performed, he should believe in the performer or his assertions.

The miracle we (also) need to believe in today is that of "... Islamic view of a universe created by God, where the trees and the stars worship their Creator, and the sun and the moon follow exquisitely designed laws." And the only time when veils were removed from the people, as public, was the time of Prophets, when trees and stone would talk to Prophet. It was a sensory, observable experience and experiment against the mechanistic, godless/godforsaken universe.

What is interesting is the psychology of the person who demands miracles, but upon witnessing those refuses to be a believer. We should also know that the nations which self-abdicated themselves, like that of Saleh, requested miracles of their choice. When those miracles were performed, they didn't accept Islam. This is true for the modern scientists as well. Dr Asad Zaman in his brief essay Big Bang writes:

"Sometimes, the evidence is so strong that it breaks through the barriers of unbelief. For example, one of the discoverers of the genetic basis of human life, Crick was quoted as saying, ‘An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.” Very unwillingly, against his atheistic beliefs, Crick gave testimony to what the Quran (Surah Al-Waqi’ah 57-58) asserts as challenge: In the creation of man and the seed from which man is created are signs which cannot be denied by those who reflect. Just like many nations mentioned in the Quran, Crick continued to deny God even after witnessing the miracles of creation."
Apart from the so-called supernatural miracles, the evidences regarding the coming of the last Prophet is of utmost importance. Please read the chapter on Bahira the Monk in Martin Lings Muhammad. 

For me, miracles are an important testimony and evidence. It happens today with the righteous ones. Moreover, it is hard evidence for a very strong alternative view of physical world. It is anti-dote to a mechanistic view of things, which 'cuts the hand of God his creation'. However, with the very miracle of life, my own being and the tree that grows out of the earth naturally, is enough a proof for me. One should also know that Dajjal will use real life CG effects to show miracles to people and claim to be Divine.

Disclaimer: Allah knows best. These thoughts are still very pre-mature and at least some parts are doubtful to me too.

Guest Post: NF Paracha - A Square All-Rounder

(I was looking for this blog for long! Without further ado...! In praise of Hazrat Nadeem F Paracha prophet of absurdity, slang and no-bodiness...) 

NF Paracha - A Square All-Rounder

By: Syed Aal-e-Imran
Source : 

Nadeem Farooq Paracha is one of the most widely respected intellectual giants of the country. Throughout his life, he has dedicated himself to contribute towards the betterment of the society on issues of critical importance. 

During the 1990s, when The News ran its ‘Vibes’ section in its weekend supplement, NFP, as he is affectionately known, made priceless contribution by highlighting some of the most critical issues relevant to the masses some of which are as follows: 

1. Top Ten Songs of All-Time in Pakistani Pop Music (revisited and updated at least thrice with Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar by Strings always coming out on top)

2. Top Ten Albums of All-Time in Pakistani Pop Music (again, revisited and updated a number of times Vital Signs Vol. 2 featuring Junaid Junaid Pakistan was always up there)

3. Precursors of Psychedelic Rock 

4. The Earth, Wind, Fire and Water in Rock Music 

5. The fact that Pepsi destroyed Vital Signs and other bands 

6. Perils of Bubblegum Pop 

7. Musicians and why they had no right to have sponsorships 

8. Dinosaur Acts 

9. Aatish Raj and how to sit and mindlessly roll a coke bottle on guitar strings and record it noise and release it as music 

10. Several literary masterpieces that should have been acted out – they were proper dramas with heroes such as ‘Junaid Junaid Pakistan’ 

Thereafter, he disappeared till a millennium went away and another came our way. 

He then resurfaced and started writing for Dawn and has increasingly become more focused on politics. Such has been his dedication that he exposes Jamaat-e-Islami, Maududi and at times, Tableeghi Jamaat as well, everytime he writes. Imran Khan too always gets the limelight he deserves. There are occasional references to Junaid Jamshed as well – very few people remember that in 1995, in his Vibes column, NFP had written an exposition of Junaid for supporting Imran Khan. Junaid had written that ‘Imran Khan remains the only Pakistani who promised his nation something and then actually delivered it’. 

NFP is an expert on Jihadi outfits as well and has actually read Amir Mir’s book himself. Similarly, his very statement that ‘the 2008 Mumbai attacks’ that were ‘undertaken by Pakistani Jihadis’ is the final word – Pakistanis never budge to American or Indian Pressure. You have to believe him when he implies that ‘The Dawah’ and Taliban have the same agenda. He is also correct when he clarifies the retro-Maududi’ist and Tablighi notions of ‘Islamic Society’ which have no difference. Very few have had better grips of Syed Qutb and Maududi that he has. Not many realize, for example, the death of Mustafa Akkad was actually an admission of failure from the proponent of Maududified Qutubi ideologies. 

NFP’s expertise is not limited to politics, music – he is the ultimate (read square) all-rounder and can write and talk endlessly on any issue till kingdom come. He knows more about cricket and its management than Imran Khan and others ever did. It is extremely saddening to realize that Pakistani cricket team was 
humiliated in the 2007 World Cup which was lost because Tableeghi Jamaat exists as testified by NFP. P. J. Mir also said that and Bob Woolmer would have done the same had he been alive. It is unfortunate that two important members of the team, Shoaib Akhtar and Muhammad Asif, could not deliver at the time because they could not get the NFP recipe for getting things right. Because he is an expert on cricket, you have to believe him that Waqar was appointed captain in 1999 even if he only played two tests and two one-dayers that year. That is because Khalid Hassan said so too. Munir Hussain, that old sadist, was entirely wrong when he mentioned in his World Cup 1992 account that Khalid Hassan spread lies about the Pakistan Team. His eyes lied. Nadeem’s pen didn’t. 

If we were to follow Nadeem Farooq Paracha’s thought, the world would be diarrhea-free, conspiracy-theory-free. Everyone would be applying Aafia Beauty and Bleach Cream all the time made from the flesh of that terrorist criminal, the Amazon-like Dr. Aafia Siddiqui who can easily tackle half a dozen American Marines on her own and snatch a gun from them. Everyone would ensure that Farhat Hashmi is bashed every time anything is discussed. In fact, every discussion should start with an exposition of Farhat Hashmi.

Nadeem Farooq Paracha can read between the lines. He knows that these silly SMSs, despite the fact that they are at times actually contain fabricated Hadiths, are actually aiming to make people respect Hadiths. So he has done a great service to humanity byexposing this grand conspiracy. In fact, it is not a conspiracy but a fact because Nadeem Farooq Paracha doesn’t believe in conspiracies and because he doesn’t believe in conspiracies, they do not exist.

We love Nadeem Farooq Paracha for his humble, honest, well-informed, anarchic, Marxist, non-fascist and any-other-prefix-that-he-loves opinions and his highly ethically, completely-in-line-with-journalistic ethics, his ethically and humble ethical personality.

What would we have done without him? Our limited knowledge is nothing compared to the encyclopedia that Nadeem Farooq Paracha is. Hence, we do not know if he believes in Paradise. But if he did, he would be the first to enter it.

Experiencing Higher Realms through Books

I too have felt that when you read and reflect on certain books, especially of religious, philosophical and metaphysical nature and even about science, astronomy or social sciences, you feel yourself to be in a different world. The mind seems to have escaped from the worldly surroundings and transferred into a much more beautiful and pure world... Its an amazing feeling that is a fruit of piety, personally speaking. For if i'm not in a good spiritual state, my heart would block the soul from "passing out"

Summation of Modern Man's Efforts

i think to a significant extent (with all research and critiques in my head) the sum-total of modern man's efforts seems to be all about satisfying his "polymorphous perversity," i.e., total pursuit of pleasure; where suppression of it occurs only as a mean to get to something more pleasurable. More sophisticated form is egoism. The real disappointing part is his instance on being called civilized, whereas as per their own modern prophets this is the animal part, the most stupid part of human being, the id. God knows best...

Umer Toor.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some reflections on Social Sciences in Pakistan

(This post is only in regard to Pakistan.)

Social sciences (SS) include as you know from pure philosophy, literature to techno-economics. I've not given any time trying to understand what differentiates it from physical sciences, after all psychology today take great pains to present itself as scientific, i can't pass a judgement over it having no working knowledge of it even.

The concern of this post is not to reflect on the definition of it, of which all of us considerable intuitive understanding. The concern is concerning the lack of concern about it in Pakistan. And given the fact that nobody reads this blog (except few special nobles), i face a dead end: i've to talk to myself. Talk to Pakistan's faux-liberal-elitists in academia and newspapers and they'd lament over Pakistanis not getting themselves trained in Western social sciences. Its not that concern i'm concerned about here, rather what Dr Asad Zaman, primarily a math-stats-economist from Ivy Leagues, argued in his paper Improving Social Sciences in Pakistan that in a post-positivist world Muslims have a great opportunity to offer world a perspective in nearly all major SS fields from economics to education. The reason for this is that we've not committed and invested in building SS based on rationalism and logical positivism, and that our religious tradition is still intact which is the fountain of all sciences concerning humanity, man, society, law and afterlife.

i just reiterated his position without adding anything to it, simply because this viewpoint is least heard in academic circles, and certainly doesn't resonate well with those trained in Western thought who cannot see anything beyond it. The second-hand commitment to falsehood of slaves can be more enduring than those of the leaders. This is exactly why Muslims have to be at the fore-fronts of all supposedly "secular/profane" fields of knowledge. (It's only the perspective and the methodology perhaps that makes it profane. For more clarification i should read S Hossein Nasr's Need for a Sacred Sciences, and chapter, "Profane and Sacred Science," in ReneGguenon's Crisis of the Modern World, download PDF)

On low perceptions about SS in Pakistan. Those who don't see anything more worthy than fruits of modern technology deny the importance of less or non-productive fields of knowledge like philosophy, literature, etc. They do not know that they themselves are the very product of some world-view and a combination (perhaps) of various SS ideas, ideologies, etc., of which they've no khabar (news). This is not to deny what Hamza Yusuf said that these modern universities are teaching many programs that are just fluff and cut from the cheapest cloth. This is a misery too. Nonetheless, one should not comment on something one has not understood, let alone mastered. I cannot express how often times i've been shook by power of SS world-view or even, an idea or a set of  ideas that shape and carve whole societies in a given direction, when adaptation of a different world-view or set of ideas could have driven them somewhere else. Where are you going? We must invoke this Qur'anic verse every time we do something, or even think.

And as for the greatest myth that hard social sciences (as opposed to some time-pass programs, if any) require less exertion and utilization of brain cells and hardship of soul: it's just plain wrong! Give them a 100 page scholarly book and see how they sweat...

What i need to be doing is to articulate in laymen terms the importance of major fields of SS of which i've little acquaintance...

And Allah knows best.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Punjabi Winter

(Lahore Canal. Source.)

This year, winter has invaded plains of Punjab like a real guerrilla force: conserving during the day, letting sun reign whilst at its cyclical twilight; and, attacking with fury at night, knocking out anyone who dares takes his head out of burdensome blankets. But now, just today, it unleashed its true colors. It destroyed its own mist, and washed all tinges of prejudice, confusion and murkiness from the face of the city through constant raining complemented with winds that makes the purification process much more intense and rigorous.

On a routine day. Weather is romantic and at the same time less troubling at afternoon. While the greenery hasn't left the corridors of trees, the breeze magnifies their beauty, whispering people to come out and enjoy the few gardens and parks Lahorites and others are blessed with.

It seems that the winter sends open invitation to everyone to come and walk with it, as if to warm it and reduce its own harshness, as if to hug it... inviting people to let loose their consumption of tea and coffee; again, to relish in the warm glory of preceding summer, teaching us continuity and the importance of complementing with the 'other'...

Throughout the year, i anticipate the lonely walks i'll walk during the cold of the day and at the night, with few around... It is a kind of spiritual retreat after so much meddling with humans in summer nights...

How advanced Eastern way of Life is

In Pakistan, by grace of Allah, population of villages is still much greater than of cities, although with much less basic necessities, health-care being top priority. This or few other deficiencies don't have to be part and parcel of villages at all. Nonetheless, overall village life and even of semi-Urbanite, non-cosmopolitan city-dwellers in Pakistan is liberating.

People like me, younger age with cell phones and internet, are becoming slaves of technology day by day, but we're still much more advanced in our human relations, in living a meaningful life devoid of avoidance & superficiality, and in being at ease with nature. Something Westerners - those who're baby-sit by TV and other visual and auditory devices - are very backward at. This is the point Nicholas Taleb makes, "The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free." In the end, it's all about freedom to be Archetypal, Primordial Human Being, true to our nature forged in the image of God.

The realization of this backwardness is not limited to outward observers - i.e., Asians or Africans or those few in West who still adore nature and its rawness. First, the movie Mr Lorax debunked the sterility of anti-nature and artificial living style of Western capitalism. Now, a high school in America is doing something about it: taking students on a 3 month term in a country-side region with no cell-phones, no Facebook and little internet. Please watch the video to feel how precious and advanced Eastern way of life really is.

(I blog at: Umer Toor Blog 2.)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Sabotaging a Multipurpose Remedy

Unfortunately, many players of political arena in Pakistan carry the contagious germs of greed, dishonesty, bias and incompetence, hence are unable to play wise when it comes to safeguarding national interests. Such is the dirty politics that becomes an effective tool in the hands of anti-national “manipulative strategists” who love to keep corrupting the fate of developmental projects of the highest national value.
Recent passage of four resolutions by the Sindh provincial assembly denouncing the latest LHC verdict on the stalled KB dam project is thought provoking.
It’s also extremely disappointing that some political leaders are using tough tone uttering threats on the life of Pakistan, they say, “Choose between KB dam and Pakistan.” That’s nonsense, indeed.

Most disturbing is the fact that a number of  "visionless pigeons" (parliamentarians) ride the band-wagon to support the ill-designers; thus remain conveniently blindfolded only waiting for their own turn to be eaten by the silent killer cat. Maybe, these pigeons are naive, yet there is criminal negligence on their part for endangering the whole country.
Converting the non issue into political issue on the basis of assumptions or fabricated pretexts is perhaps part of the game plan.
Nevertheless, this kind of attitude is an open invitation for potential disaster in totality. And, keeping the proposed project in Limbo isn’t in the best national interests; however, it may only satisfy the bloody plotters.
The fact is Pakistan’s ‘lop-sided economy’ faces yet another severe blow to the proposed dam - only to keep it buried in filing cabinet indefinitely. And the irony is Pakistan doesn’t hesitate when blaming India for building dams.
Sadly, the stakeholders (State/non State) are hell bent to resist the construction of KBD. Politicizing a purely technical/administrative matter shows a clear lack of political will on the part of current/former rulers. It’s crystal clear that avoidance of timely solution is not people friendly.
Consequently, the relevant bodies responsible for the development and regulation of water resources in the country e.g. the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) and the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) and the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA) continue to be distracted; hence a severe loss to the greater national interest.
As reported by various print and electronic media, Kalabagh Dam project is designed to have a live storage capacity of 6.1 million acre feet (MAF), taking care of the capacity loss in reservoirs, it would also make substantial contribution to firming up the irrigation supplies for the projects. This has been originally agreed by the provinces under Water Apportionment Accord (WAA) of 1991. Adding a large amount of cheap hydropower to the National Grid through its 2400 MW (Ultimate 3600 MW) installed power is also included. Also, there would be storage capacity for surplus water in the flood season and it would facilitate the controlled utilization during the “low flow” season. This water would thus be used for agricultural crops from start to the end as needed.
In other words, the irrigation oriented operation of the project will give the highest overall economic return. Furthermore, the dam would eliminate the problem of load shedding forever and will reduce the frequency and severity of flooding. According to NEPRA, current demand is 23,000 MWs while the supply remains at 14,000 MWs, therefore, more hydel and thermal power plants are needed to solve the crisis.
As per WAPDA, the KB dam is designed to:
1- Generate large amounts of low cost hydro electric power near major load centers, and supply the existing grid for meeting the growing power demand of agriculture, industrial and domestic consumers. In addition, it will increase the energy output of the existing Tarbela scheme by permitting the conjunctive operation of the two reservoirs.
2- Provide additional storage on the Indus River, and thus reduce the exiting system shortfalls in irrigation requirements.
3- Provide additional regulation on the river Indus, and thus provide better system control and management for supplying assured, adequate and timely irrigation water for crops.
4- Compensate for the storage loss due to the silting up of exiting reservoirs till such time that their substitutes, (presently planned) are actually available.
5- Eliminate and control the flood peaks in the River Indus so as to minimize flood hazards downstream.
6- Increase Pakistan’s capability to manage its water distribution and power generation systems through the conjunctive operation of Tarbela and KBD reservoirs.
The former Chairman WAPDA Shams ul Mulk says that Kalabagh Dam would benefit every province and that opposition to it is orchestrated by hidden foreign hands. He also says that Kalabagh Dam is not only beneficial to Punjab alone but it will be more helpful in erasing poverty from Khyber Pakhtun Khawa as it would irrigate 800000 acres of cultivable land - located 100-150 feet above the Indus river level. He said this land could only be brought under cultivation if the river level is raised that is only possible if Kalabagh Dam is built.
Some reliable sources suggest: Pakistan’s economy has been facing an annual loss of Rs132 billion due to inordinate delay in execution of Kalabagh Dam (KBD) project.
As the existing dams have already lost 5.3 MAF due to sedimentation, and this loss would be 6.6 MAF by 2016. Therefore, KBD must be built by 2018 to compensate for the loss in storage capacity. Thus, stopping the proposed project would be a grave blunder against the people of Pakistan.
*****The good news is the World Bank is willing to finance the KB dam.

The LHC has simply ordered the Federal government to implement 1991 decision of Council of Common Interest (CCI). In fact, when all the four Chief Ministers agreed in September 1991 to construct the Kalabagh Dam, the CCI prepared documentation for the projects in May 1998.

Moreover, the feasibility of the project was also agreed to by all four provinces in 2004, yet the Sindh assembly is only interested in re-igniting the settled issue of KBD project and has managed to divert the attention of general public away from the terrible law and order situation. But, there is no second opinion on the sincerity of the seasoned politicians and technocrats for national matters

Truth is dams are needed for proper management of river waters to improve economic viability and preserve ecosystem. Completing the KBD Project without delay is in the best interest of the country, as it would ensure affordable electricity for agricultural, industrial and domestic sectors. A fair share of irrigation water to all provinces, effective flood control system and production of cheaper electricity are possible with an unbreakable unity among the people as just Pakistanis with no other label.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I am waiting....

hmm…and now I am waiting…waiting for us to meet…

When someone whose near you…a friend (might be) leave you without any hint that WHY s/he is leaving….time transfer you from a state of shock to a state of solitude.

You get rid or try to avoid other relationships and suddenly you become like a monk…you like to live alone…you require no one to listen to you…you need no extra pair of shoes…you seldom visit relatives…the only gesture on your plain face is solitude.

You maintain discipline. You live like a ‘Dervaish’ of some heathen worldly order.

But it’s easy for a real dervaish because he has his belief. And solitude without a belief is a curse.

Solitude has its own adventures.

Solitude is very strange too…and sometimes as filled with dangers and surprises as a forest.

I know all its ways…solitude has its secrets.

Solitude is as full of secrets as the jungle…


The boredom against which you mount a hopeless struggle by means of an ordered life.

You live a perfectly ordered existence; you have a title and a rank....and a way of life that is painfully exact.

And comes the sudden moments of revolt…one day you run away from it all with a weapon in your hand...or not – which may be even more dangerous.

You run out into the world...wild-eyed...and your old friends and comrades get out of your way.

You go to a city...everything around you turns to look for fights everywhere and you find them. I said....that is by no means the worst of it.

May be you are struck down as you run like a mangy...rabid dog.

May be you run full-tilt into a wall...against all life’s obstacles....and break every bone in your body.

What’s even worse is if you take this upsurge of feeling...which has accumulated in your heart over so many lonely years...and you push it back inside…because…you are waiting.

So I am waiting….waiting for us to meet….

I will tell you what I went through, alone in this forest of solitude while you were out in the world achieving worldly fame...hmmmm....

And let me remind you that I never ever went amok….I never run neither killed anyone.

What I do instead?

I prepare myself for the moment…we will meet….I have been preparing myself for a duel.

I bring all my affairs into order in case I die in the duel.

And I practices professional duellist do.

And what weapon do I practice with?

With my words… that I will not allow solitude and time to cloud my sight and weaken my heart and my soul.

There is one duel in life....fought without guns or any kind of arms…and that one duel is very important in our life and that one duel is worth preparing for with all your life’s solitude.