Review of “From the Ruins of Empire” by Pankaj Mishra

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My first thought after reading this book was to be mad at myself for not having read this earlier. As someone who follows world politics very closely, especially the regions whose history is covered in this book (which can broadly be described as “Asia”), knowing the history of this region is essential. There’s no way to understand what’s happening in the world today without understanding “how we got here” – and that’s this book’s #1 contribution and why I think it’s a must-read.

The book starts out with Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, which is often given as the moment when modernity arrived to the Muslim world. It then talks about India & China, before pivoting to Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani and giving a detailed picture of his life and evolution. Continue reading “Review of “From the Ruins of Empire” by Pankaj Mishra”

Review of “The Anarchy” by William Dalrymple

The Anarchy front cover

Book Summary

The book starts its narrative when the British East India Company was founded around 1600 CE. It also talks about what India was like in this time, describing the later parts of Mughal rule. It then focuses on Bengal, talking about how the British established themselves there and slowly spread their influence. The battles of Plassey and Buxar are discussed in detail, as well as the social and political changes that followed them, such as the great famine.

Continue reading “Review of “The Anarchy” by William Dalrymple”

Review of Dr. Jonathan Brown’s Book on Slavery and Islam

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Dr. Jonathan Brown recently wrote a book about slavery and how it relates to Islam. In this post, I’ll give an overview of what the book is about, some general thoughts on the book, as well as my take on the topic as a whole.

Slavery and Islam focuses on two broad areas. The first is analyzing how Islamic law and classical Islamic civilization dealt with slavery, and the second is discussing the moral dimension of slavery and the questions it raises. At times these threads are interwoven and at times they are separate, but I’ll deal with these two areas one at a time.

Continue reading “Review of Dr. Jonathan Brown’s Book on Slavery and Islam”

[For Men] Thoughts, Desires, and Male-Female Interactions

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Bismillah.

There’s a widespread problem among men that needs addressing. This problem exists among women too, but since I’m a man I’ll speak to my fellow brothers. I don’t expect to solve the problem but if even a handful of people make some improvement after reading it, I’ll consider that a success.

The problem is that a lot of men harbor sexual thoughts and fantasies about women who they’re not married to. These are often people they know and interact with, such as their colleagues and coworkers, or are from the internet such as Instagram and Facebook, and so on. Celebrities and pornography can also be considered an extension of this problem.

In this post I will first argue that harboring these sexual thoughts is bad in and of itself, and shouldn’t be seen as something that only becomes bad if they’re “acted” upon, e.g. by masturbating to them, or not lowering one’s gaze, or engaging in physical contact. Then I will give 3 good ways to help fix this problem, and 2 bad ways to try to fix this problem.

Continue reading “[For Men] Thoughts, Desires, and Male-Female Interactions”

The Importance of Memorization

Ramadan Mubarak to everyone! May Allah make this a month full of peace, barakah and good deeds.

I recently wrote this article for Traversing Tradition on the importance of memorization. Make sure to read, share and leave feedback. In Sha Allah I’ll continue posting on my personal blog after Ramadan.

Traversing Tradition

One time, Imam Ghazali (rahimahullah) was traveling when he was robbed by highway bandits. He asked them to leave his books and notes, saying that they would be of no use to the robbers and that they contained knowledge he had spent a lot of effort in obtaining. One of the robbers replied, “How can you claim that you obtained their knowledge when we took it away from you and left you devoid of knowledge?” Regardless, he returned the books and because of this experience, Imam Ghazali spent years committing everything he had learned to memory [1]. Considering some Islamic scholars memorized all the books they had in their collection, it’s clear that memorization is an important part of knowledge.

Memorization and Knowledge

Memorization does not equate to acquiring knowledge by itself. However, Muslims have always valued memorization as part of and prerequisite to knowledge. This starts with the Quran…

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How To Learn Arabic As A Non-Arab Muslim

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful, and peace and blessings on the most honorable Messenger.

This post is about Arabic learning among Muslims who aren’t native speakers of the language, along with some personal reflections and experiences with Arabic, with tips and techniques added along the way. I hope you share this post with anyone you know who has been trying to learn Arabic, and leave your own thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Note that I’m skipping justifying the need for us to learn Arabic. This post is already too long, so I’d direct you to this khutbah by Dr. Sohaib Saeed which does a good job with that.

Continue reading “How To Learn Arabic As A Non-Arab Muslim”

A Brand New Path

Excellent article by Diverging Thoughts, do check it out! And very relevant to the current American/Western Muslim discourse. DT is an intelligent, articulate young man and definitely worth following.

Also a quick update on the evolution post series: I’m currently working on part 5, which will probably be the final part, but it won’t be out till after Ramadan In Sha Allah.

Human Origins Part 4: Some Evidence for a Unique Human Origin

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

So far (in parts one, two and three), I have analyzed the evidence brought forward to support human-chimp common ancestry. Taking a bird’s eye view of the situation, it’s apparent that the idea of common descent with chimps is essentially a hypothesis and not a proven fact. If you’re trying to answer the question of human origins, and restrict what you look at to purely materialistic explanations (i.e. that we originated from within this universe itself), then it may be the best hypothesis out there, and this is why many scientists have accepted it.

That being said, the evidence brought forward in its favor can have other explanations. Here’s a quick summary of this evidence, as mentioned in the past 2 articles, with the other explanation after the colon:

  • Human-chimp similarities: we were created for a common environment and our bodies need to carry out similar functions
  • Non-functional similarities: these are actually functional, and the above argument applies
  • The fossil record: no evidence for an ape-to-human transition
  • Population genetics: based on unprovable assumptions
  • Evolutionary psychology: anecdotes, speculation and bad science
  • Neanderthals etc: they’re either races of humans, or similarities are due to function

In the next section, I will point out specific empirical evidence which is better explained by humans having a unique origin, than by humans being descended from another species.

Continue reading “Human Origins Part 4: Some Evidence for a Unique Human Origin”

Human Origins Part 3: The Fossil Record, and Other Lines of Evidence

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Check out part 1 here if you haven’t already, which was an intro to this series of posts, and part 2 which is about human-chimp similarities. In this post, I’ll discuss the fossil record, population genetics, evolutionary psychology, and human-neanderthal mating.

Continue reading “Human Origins Part 3: The Fossil Record, and Other Lines of Evidence”

Human Origins Part 2: Human-Chimp Similarities

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

Check out part 1 here if you haven’t already, which was an intro to this series of posts. In this article, I’ll dive into the evidence that is brought forward to support human-chimp common ancestry, starting with the alleged similarities that exist between us and them.

Continue reading “Human Origins Part 2: Human-Chimp Similarities”