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Friday, May 30, 2008

Theocracy and Democracy:the Government and the Masses.


Theocracy and democracy are two distinct forms of governments which can be found in present day countries. Theocracy has a more religious aspect to it where as democracy has a more rational angle. Taking into account important historical incidents such as the Iranian Revolution one can further investigate into the matter. The advantages and disadvantages of both forms of governments exist. It is important to weigh these in an unbiased manner so as to arrive on a conclusion. It is evident that democracy is more widely found and accepted and that most developed nations of the world have a democratic government, however, this does not imply that it is free from sins or that it is superior to a theocratic government. All pros and cons have to be analysed before one draws a conclusion.


Theocracy and democracy are two completely different kinds of governments which are found in present day countries. Theocracy is a state where the country and its people are ruled by a group of people who are believed to be guided by the almighty. Thus it implies that in a theoretical state the ruling body is chosen on religious basis. Democracy is however a completely different scenario. In a democratic state the governing body is chosen by a system of elections.


Theocracy has always been plagued by a number of sins. In Islamic countries where theocracy is prevalent, it is observed that a number of negative norms have developed. Here the rights to women have been curtailed to a large extent. According to Zalman (2004) in Islamic countries such as Afghanistan the right to women are either narrowed down using religion as an excuse or not mentioned at all. They are deprived of basic rights such as education and welfare. They are considered lower than men and often subject to a lot of domestic abuses and violence. Beauchamp (2006) stated that “Theocrats, Christian or Islamic, view the world through the same condemnatory prism-and see sinners who must be punished.” There are very few positives about such a regime. It is observed in some instances that there is a high level of morality and social welfare. This is because the people tend to become very religious and pious.


In the year 1979, the Shah’s rule ended and Iran became a theocratic state. This was the result of a mass revolution against the existing regime. Iran was previously ruled by a dictator but after the revolution the power shifted into the hands of a group of mollahs. They were religious priests who were believed to have been guided by Allah. This was indeed a surprise as Iran’s government was considered to be one of the most stable governments in the Middle East. The new theocratic government proved to be worse than the existing dictatorship. The state was infested with sins like violence and bloodshed and the people perceived religion as the sole motive of existence. As a result of which a number of social as well as economic changes came about which showed unfavorable characteristics.


Government officials in numerous democratic countries have been found guilty of unjust atrocities. They have been caught red handed accepting or demanding bribe, passing bills or laws which are against common welfare and other such incidents. In democratic countries like India and Bangladesh the scenario is even worse. Here the common people are threatened by hired thugs and miscreants to vote for particular political parties. Things such as booth capturing and violence do not allow the elections to proceed in a smooth way. Often because of such incidents there is an unjust outcome to the elections. At the time of elections, representatives spend huge amounts of money on publicity and social propaganda; this money could well be used for more constructive purposes. They also make false and misleading promises to the masses and cheat them to attain their votes.


Unlike in a theocratic country, the people in a democratic country are free to express their views and are free to do as per their choice. This allows opportunity for growth and innovations and people in such countries have fewer burdens as compared to people of theocratic countries. Laws and norms are rationally devised and do not have a religious angle to it. There are free markets for goods and services which encourages trade and commerce. The state is secular and does not discriminate on the basis of religion, caste, sex or creed. There is a sense of equality and there is equal opportunity.



However it is not so difficult to conclude that with the examples of theocratic countries such as Iran, theocracy as compared to democracy is not a very progressive form of government. It tends to curtail basic human rights and can be misleading in the name of religion. It has its advantages as well but they are few and there is no real positive effect. In the end one can conclude that the argument is not that which of the two is best but which of the two is least worst.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

How to Save a Coin From Your Shopping

Money is hard to come by, majority of people in the third world survive on less than a dollar per day. Poor living standards and lack of jobs has seen a good number of professionals moving away from their countries in search of greener pasture overseas. It is however appropriate for individuals to learn a few tricks on how to safely utilize their hard earned money.

Just as the saying goes “you wont have problem with your dollar if you can save the coin”. Unplanned shopping may just drain one out of a long time savings.

Several financial institutions have come up with credit and debit cards to help their clients use money which they may not have at the moment. Depending on the banking institution, credit card attracts an interest rate. According to experts the cards are convenient and helps one when broke but it is advisable to avoid it when shopping “it may lure one to do unnecessary shopping” studies indicate that people tend to spend more money when shopping on credit than on cash.

When doing a monthly, weekly or annual shopping, one should draw a budget stating with the most urgently needed items, “ any extra money left should be channeled to other luxurious activities” it is proper to keep receipts from the supermarket for future reference.

In order to save more money from shopping, always draw a list before stepping into the market, avoid temptations and buy only what had earlier been planned for. In most supermarkets, temptations to indulge in impulse buying is high, “some goods like chocolate, sweet, pen and batteries are strategically placed at the pay counter to lure unsuspecting customers'. It is advisable to do comparison in various shops to check out on the prices.

Knowing what various shops offer enable one to identify where to get a particular product at an affordable rate, like in the stock market, shoppers should buy goods needed in bulk when the prices are low, 'to household items like furniture and electronics buying when there is an offer or auction helps in saving a coin”

Large stores order for their stock in bulk, they therefore get discount from their suppliers, such stores are known for offering goods at a reduced price, “it is important to know some of the employees in a supermarket at a personal level, “they may provide an information on goods which are available on offer”. Always avoid widely advertised goods they may have hidden side effects.

The Tale of Love and Madness Article

A long time ago, before the world was created, virtues and vices floated around and were bored, not knowing what to do.

One day, all the vices and virtues had a meeting and declared that they were more bored than ever. Suddenly, Ingenious had the idea to play "hide and seek".

All of them liked the idea and immediately Madness shouted:

"I want to count, I want to count!" And since nobody was crazy enough to want to seek Madness, all the others agreed. Madness leaned against a tree and started to count: "One, two, three..."

As Madness counted, the vices and virtues went hiding. Tenderness: on the horn of the moon, Treason, in a pile of garbage. Fondness curled up between the clouds and Passion, to the center of the earth. Lie said that it would hide under a stone, but hid at the bottom of the lake, whilst Avarice entered a sack that he ended up breaking. And Madness continued to count: "... seventy nine, eighty, eighty one..."

By this time, all the vices and virtues were already hidden – except Love. For undecided as Love is, he could not decide where to hide. And this should not surprise us, because we all know how difficult it is to hide Love.

Madness: "...ninety five, ninety six, ninety seven..." Just when Madness got to one hundred, Love jumped into a rose bush where he hid. And Madness turned around and shouted: "I'm coming, I'm coming!"

As Madness turned around, Laziness was the first to be found, du to his lack of energy to hide. Then he spotted Tenderness in the horn of the moon, Lie at the bottom of the lake and Passion at the centre of the earth. One by one, Madness found them all - except Love. Madness was getting desperate, unable to find Love. Enviousof Love, Envy whispered to Madness: "You only need to find Love, and Love is hiding in the rose bush."

Madness grabbed a wooden pitch fork and stabbed wildly at the rose bush. Madness stabbed and stabbed until a heartbreaking cry made him stop. Love appeared from the rose bush, covering his face with his hands. Between his fingers ran two trickles of blood from his eyes.

Madness, so anxious to find Love, had stabbed out Love's eyes with a pitch fork. "What have I done! What have I done!" Madness shouted.

"I have left you blind! How can I repair it?"

And Love answered: "You cannot repair my eyes. But if you want to do something for me, you can be my guide."

And so it came about that from that day on, Love is blind and is always accompanied by Madness.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Myth of Islamic Scholarship

Muslims developed the concept of institutions where everyone, regardless of race, colour or religion can had the opportunity to learn everything (universal knowledge), which are called Universities today. The square-hat came from previous Muslims who had the culture of placing the Koran on the head of graduates to take oaths that they would be good and responsible citizens. The first two Universities of the world were built in Egypt and Morocco; obviously neither country existed at the time.

The university concept was derived from the Koran, which guides and encourages the seeking of universal knowledge and empirical thinking, and this in return gave birth to the renaissance and the modernization of Europe as we see it today. It is intriguing that after centuries of intellectual efforts from previous Muslims dedicated to learning various sciences, today we a approaching people with relatively narrow scholarship. The Koran in contrast suggests that if someone has questions about a field, for example cloning or quantum mechanics, they should consult the people who are qualified in that particular field. Now somebody with knowledge could be a Jew, a Christian or anyone, say a Martian if there is one. There is a problem when universal knowledge is narrowly defined as Islamic Scholarship. We can have a Muslim scientist or science scholar who is an atheist; it does not make a difference because knowledge can be verified. The so called Islamic Scholarship is a misconception because Islam cannot be mastered; it can only be expended through a collective psyche of all human interaction and learning within the Universe, regardless of their backgrounds. The myth of Islamic Scholar has failed the Muslims for last 100 years and is still evident. One of the characteristics of Islamic Scholars is that they have set a monopoly on Universal knowledge and general intelligence. Knowledge gained, for example through an institution can be acquired by anybody. I do believe that if a Christian is graduated from an Institution in Saudi Arabia, he will not be called a Muslim Scholar owing to the fact that Knowledge is not attached to a narrow creed. To understand Islam one needs to understand the Universe and everything within it, which is an infinite search in conjunction with the changing of times and situation of human existence and experience. If a scientific or philosophical outcome is a fact here, it remains accepted and remains a fact else ware. The fact is the Universities developed by the Muslims were not religious institutions in the narrow sense and hence there is no such thing as Islamic Scholars. The myth of Islamic scholarship has had negative effect on the Muslim psyche tremendously. Mainly the Muslims have been driven backwards after bridging the Greeks concepts to the renaissance through learning and developing Universities. Islam is a way of life; it is universal and entails universal knowledge from all walks of life, not from exclusive scholars. This myth is not new as intellectuals such as Ibn Rushed argued that Islam allows competent scholars to interpret the Koran, and philosophers are better qualified in this regard than theologian by virtue of their understanding of truths of science and philosophy. Hence we have to redefine Islamic scholarship with the spirit of modern philosophy to generate a more cohesive-peaceful society.

Islamic Clothing According to Qura'an

Why do Muslims dress in distinctive, modest clothing? Muslim women are often asked: "Why do you wear that scarf?" "Aren't you hot?" "Do the different colors mean anything?" "Why do some women cover their face, but not others?" "Do men have a dress code as well?" Most Muslims understand your polite curiosity, and would be happy to explain. But if you've ever been too embarrassed to ask the questions directly, you've come to the right place.

Q: Why do you dress the way you do?

A: First and foremost, because Almighty God (Allah) commands us to do so. In the Qur'an, Allah tells the believers to "lower their gaze and be modest." Specifically, it says: "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their chests and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers..." (Qur'an 24:30-31) Of course, Muslims believe that God has full Wisdom and knows what is best for us, so we strive to follow His guidance in every aspect of our lives. Muslims have also discovered other advantages to dressing modestly, including: being known for who you really are; not being judged by your beauty or lack thereof; being able to conduct business in an atmosphere of respect; being readily known as a Muslim; liberation; comfort.

Q: Aren't you hot?

A: In many ways, covering the body protects it from the heat of direct sunlight. In loose, flowing clothing, the air around the body flows freely and cools more readily. The choice of fabric covering the body is more important than the square inches/centimeters exposed or covered. On severely hot days, we might be uncomfortable as is everyone else. During those times, we find comfort knowing that we are following the commands of Allah, and "the fire of hell is hotter.

Q: Do the different colors mean anything?

A: Muslims are to dress in modest clothing, without attracting attention to oneself. For this reason, many Muslims choose earth-tone colors such as green, blue, gray, as well as the usual black and white. Beyond this, there are no specific meanings behind the choice of color. Some colors are more common in certain parts of the world, based on local tradition.

Q: Why are there differences in the specific styles of dress?

A: While Islam outlines a code of modesty, it does not command a certain style, color, or fabric. The range of clothing you find among Muslims is a sign of the great diversity among the Muslim community.

Q: Do men have a dress code as well?

A: Absolutely. Both men and women are commanded in the Qur'an to "lower their gaze and be modest." It is generally understood that men are not to expose the area of their body from the navel to the knee. However, many Muslim men would feel shy to expose a bare chest or bare legs in public. As with women, men are not to wear clothing that is tight or see-through. Indeed, in many Muslim societies the traditional clothing for men includes long, flowing robes, or long tunics that fully cover the body.

Human rights in contemporary Islamic thought: Toward a cross-cultural discourse ethic

Human Rights in Contemporary Islamic Thought is an experiment in comparative religious ethics. I analyze the writings of Sayyid Qutb, Abul A''la Maududi, and Abdolkarim Soroush to show how a range of Islamic thought contributes to the cross-cultural dialogue necessary for the progression of universal human rights. The chapters of the dissertation, arranged thematically, offer a comparative understanding of the issues at stake. The first two chapters provide histories of the last century, focusing upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and colonialism in Muslim countries.

The inclusive process of drafting the Declaration sets an auspicious precedent for the incorporation of Islamic voices in human rights. Documented participation in creating the UDHR by representatives of countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia helps to ensure the acceptance of human rights in Muslim countries.

The effectiveness of cross-cultural dialogue becomes especially apparent in the writings of Qutb and Maududi, who despite their criticisms of the UN and wariness of cultural imperialism, readily accept the validity of rights language. Following these histories are three chapters that focus on the views of Qutb, Maududi, and Soroush concerning “democracy,” “toleration,” and “freedom of conscience.” These discussions reveal not only their beliefs about these aspects of human rights, but also their relevant epistemologies and attitudes towards the West.

The final substantive chapter examines the possibility of dialogue between Islamic thinkers and human rights theorists, including Michael Ignatieff, Jack Donnelly, and Henry Shue. Non-foundational human rights models, espoused by Ignatieff, or models based upon Western paradigms, as recommended by Donnelly, are likely to alienate Islamic thinkers in cross-cultural discourses.

Shue''s observation of correlative duties as complementary to rights, however, presents a potentially useful framework for engaging Islamic scholars in the human rights debate. Fears of the threat to human rights posed by religious difference need to be balanced by the ways in which religions, including Islam, have contributed to the acceptance and implementation of human rights. By acknowledging the complexity of Islamic thought and finding common ground, a universal human rights ethic becomes possible.


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