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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Bitcoin and Technological Progress

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Salaam all,

I recently wrote this post about Bitcoin, the blockchain and cryptocurrencies for Traversing Tradition. I explain what the technology is, the idea and justification behind it, and some of the issues it comes with. I also talk about how we often get taken in by hype related to technological progress, which arguably applies to other things such as AI and Internet of Things as well.

Anyway, read, share and leave your feedback!

Traversing Tradition

The rise of cryptocurrencies in 2017 brought attention to the technology powering them, called “blockchains” or “the blockchain.” This article will assess why this technology became popular and what kinds of problems it both solves and creates.

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is best explained through analogy. Think of the website of a newspaper like The New York Times. The contents of the site are stored on servers in a centralized location. Imagine if instead of that, everyone had a full copy of the site stored on his computer with no central server. Every article, comment, and image was there. If a reporter wanted to submit a new article, he would have to get the approval of the rest of the journalists (perhaps in some automated way).

Let’s say one journalist contacts another and submits his post. The other journalist would verify this post using a mathematical technique known as

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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.

Diverging Thoughts

INCREASINGLY, the premier voice of Muslims in the West is being filled by an unlikely group– sportsmen. It seems I cannot open my social media feed anymore without seeing a post celebrating a Muslim athlete’s success in their chosen field. Whether it’s Khabib Nurmagomedov celebrating a win by performing the prostration of gratitude (sajdat shukr), or Ousmane Dembele using his World Cup earnings to fund a masjid in Mauritania in the name of his mother; my heart swells with pride at the sight of my brothers’ success, both in this life and the life hereafter. But while these stories are frequently held up by liberals as examples of successful multiculturalism, they more often display its failures and contradictions, and the inherent tension present in being a practicing Muslim in the West. Take the example of Mesut Ozil, the Turco-German footballer who made headlines this summer after he quit…

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Artificial Intelligence and What It Means To Be Human

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Salaam,

I recently wrote this post about AI over on Traversing Tradition. Please check it out, share, and leave any questions or feedback in the comments!

Traversing Tradition

You’ve probably seen the videos. A robot walking or crawling around, sensing its environment and figuring out how to do human-like tasks, such as opening doors. They’ve even learned how to do back flips now. The videos go viral on social media every few months, along with terrified reactions about how “the robot overlords are coming,” “we might as well submit now,” and so on.

Back-flipping bots aside, it makes sense to learn more about robots, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI). The website “Wait But Why” has an in-depth article on this topic [1], which discusses how AI is catching up to humans and in fact will eventually overtake us. Others have commented on the concept of the “singularity,” which is where AI will reach a point where it can self-improve, creating explosive increases of intelligence [2].

This has naturally created concern. Elon Musk says AI represents a fundamental risk…

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A Brief Historical Introduction of the Demise of Islamism in Algeria: Part One

Reblogging this… A very interesting and informative post about colonial and post-colonial Algeria. The author is a young Algerian-American Muslim woman and she’s worth following, Ma Sha Allah.

Bint Balad al-Unnâb

Algerian society has increasingly reorganized itself since the beginning of the 20th century to better fit the Western model, despite its consistent “anti colonial”, isolationist rhetoric. This phenomenon can be traced back to the emergence of the Young Algerians, a term used as early as 1911 which describes a small group of upper bourgeoise young Muslims of French upbringing and culture. It was the Young Algerians who made up the authority of Algerians who, instead of joining the armed resistance movement predominantly made up of rural, impoverished Algerians, sought to seek their rights as French citizens equal to their pieds noirs counterparts. As intellectuals and educated members of Algerian society, these upper class Muslims sought change within French Algeria’s framework by advocating for political rights and equality, and denounced the violent means their fellow Algerian guerrilla combatants adopted in the middle of the 20th century to uproot the French entirely…

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Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts

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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

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

This blog post is adapted from my notes taken from Dr. Jonathan A. C. Brown’s lecture on the topic of historical criticism and how it’s been applied to Islamic primary texts, especially the hadith collections. Watch the lecture here: part 1part 2part 3. Note that it’s about 3 hours long including the Q&A, so be warned. It’s definitely worth a watch though, from beginning to end.

The lecture was given around the time that the UK government-sponsored documentary Islam: The Untold Story by charlatan historian Tom Holland was in the news. Basically, the documentary tries to tell a speculative revisionist story of the origins of Islam. Dr. Brown’s lecture is not a direct response to the documentary, but it contextualizes some of the assumptions being made in this documentary and other revisionist pieces that are claiming to examine Islam from a “critical” lens. Anyway, I’ll end the introduction here and start the portion based on my notes. Note that the section “My Thoughts” at the end of this post is not based on the lecture; those opinions are strictly mine.

Continue reading “Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts”

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s Book Recommendations

Good list of books related to Islam for beginners as well as intermediate & advanced learners.

Splendid Pearls

RECOMMENDED READING LIST OF PROFESSOR TIMOTHY J WINTER
[compiled 6 April, 2009]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Timothy Winter
Sheikh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies
University of Cambridge

Timothy John Winter (born 1960), aka Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, is a British Muslim thinker, professor, and translator. Winter has written about the interaction between Islam and secular issues spanning a wide range of disciplines. He has held a number of lectureships and administrative posts in British academia having to do with theology, the intellectual history of Islamic civilization, and international academic cooperation…[Read More]

Beginners:

  1. Abdel, Haleem M. A., trans. The Qurʼan (New York: Oxford UP, 2005).
  2. Du Pasquier, Roger. Unveiling Islam (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1990).
  3. Emre, Yunus. The City of the Heart: Yunus Emre’s Verses of Wisdom and Love. trans. Süha Faiz (Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element, 1992).
  4. al-Haddad, Abdullah. The Book of Assistance (London: Quilliam Press, 1989).
  5. Hammad, Ahmad Zaki. Lasting Prayers of the…

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