Have We Gone Crazy?
“This day have those who reject faith given up all hope of your religion: yet fear them not but fear Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your (Deen).” TMQ 5:3
Muslims have celebrated for centuries from the time of the Prophet (saw) through today that Allah (swt) blessed us by revealing a complete way of life (Deen) that if we sincerely practice will bring us the best of both, this life (dunya) and the next one (al-Akhiirah). Yet Muslims who live in the United States often enter the end-of-year celebrations in the Western world facing difficult choices in a divided environment.
Many Muslims wonder whether it is wise or even permitted to participate in non-Islamic celebrations. Some Muslims say “certain Western gatherings are worse than others”, such as invitations to Mother’s Day and birthday gatherings being highly questionable and best avoided, but invitations to events like Halloween is clearly forbidden in celebration of Shaytaan-related themes and actions.
Unfortunately, even so-called “neutral” holidays like Thanksgiving have anti-Islamic origins (e.g., genocide of Native Americans that enabled so-called “Pilgrims” and other Western settlers to be here) that cannot be ignored especially by Muslims who claim to stand for justice and righteousness. No matter how old or cherished these U.S. traditions are to our non-Muslim acquaintances, we cannot just join in because “we found our fathers doing this.”
In addition, Muslim parents who either don’t understand or cannot withstand the onslaught of Western Capitalist culture often feel embarrassed or apologetic for refusing to let their children join the “joy” of Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s invitations and celebrations from their non-Muslim neighbors, friends, and co-workers. Thus, some Muslim parents succumb to these social pressures and let their children join these non-Islamic activities either hoping no long-term harm occurs to their children’s identities or (even worse) seeing no problem with Muslim children engaged in secular celebrations.
Muslims who either willingly or desperately (due to no immediate relocation options) continue to live in non-Muslim countries are always accountable to Allah (swt) for their actions regardless of where we live on this earth. In addition, Muslims must protect their personal practices and, equally important, offer an alternative to these secular Western celebrations that corrupt human personalities, consume valuable resources, and poison popular culture. Continue reading Celebrating Our Destruction →
“Who is better in speech than one who calls (men) to Allah works righteousness and says “I am of those who bow in Islam”
On December 5th, 2013, the modern world witnessed the death of Nelson “Madiba” Mandela, a famous advocate for social justice in South Africa and a symbolic figure for racial equality around the world. Although the Western world mourned the death through touching tributes and emotional eulogies, the Muslim world should have mourned the lost opportunity of introducing this beautiful Deen of Islam to a legendary figure who like every other human being would have benefitted from it and possibly helped others by it.
The historic struggle against man-made systems such as the South African apartheid system are understandable human reactions to oppression of race-based classification and discrimination. As a result, this struggle led by the African National Congress did indeed involve people from all across the various sectors of South African society, including some prominent Muslim participants such as Ahmed Mohamed Kathrada (imprisoned like Mandela at Robben Island) as well as various Muslim ministers who have served in the post-apartheid multi-racial government. Unfortunately, this long and valiant struggle against race-based discrimination took a small step forward without finally making the full leap to true justice under Islam.
Rather than following the crowds crying about Mandela’s passing, Muslims must challenge ourselves to be leaders by remembering our Islamic beliefs as the criteria for judging this situation and all other human events. First and foremost, we Muslims today must ask ourselves whether we lost our opportunity to gain the Pleasure of Allah (swt) by guiding a non-Muslim to Islam, despite his secular worldly status. We must remember that Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
“By Allah, if Allah were to guide one man through you it would be better for you than the best type of camels” (Bukhari & Muslim).
Were those Muslims with Mandela and those among the crowds that greeted him around the world including the Muslim countries concerned more with admiring his acknowledged accomplishments or offering him an even higher station in the Hereafter? Just think of all the famous and prominent non-Muslims throughout the history of Islam, beginning with the Companions (raa) such as Khadijah, Abu Bakr, Umar, and Hamzah (raa), followed later by Makkan leaders such as Abu Sufyaan, Hind, Amr ibn al-Aas, and Khalid who were all extremely well respected in their pre-Islamic positions in society but were still approached as people in need of da’wa by the Prophet (saw). Continue reading Missing Mandela – A Lost Opportunity? →
“But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and, do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land, indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.”
In the Capitalist economic system, the production and manufacturing goods and services, the status of global markets, employment rates, income levels and government size and spending are used to gage the measurement of a nation’s wealth. All of these factors contributes to what is known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and is the measuring apparatus for economic prosperity and mistakenly the social progress of a nation.
The pioneers of this system envisioned a world in which Man would take control of their destinies, embrace the ideology of “survival of the fittest”, and exploit earth’s resources, maximizing profits and creating a polarized class system that would keep the masses struggling in conflict as long as the system exist. However, this system continues its decline not because of GDP indicators nor the patchwork that has to be done to keep it going, such as stimuli and bailouts, because we live under a system created by man. This is the basis of the capitalist system and this is the doctrine implemented by capitalist governments.
Adam Smith said it best in his magisterial work, “The Wealth of Nations”, he argued that governments have an essential role to play in enforcing contracts and promoting institutions to promote the quintessential Canadian virtues of “peace, order and good government.” While others may disagree, in the real world, where the assumptions of the Fundamental Theorems of Welfare Economics do not hold, contract enforcement and institutions exist to ensure that the governments are there to promote the capitalist agenda and that the “invisible hand” of the market needs the visible hand of government to establish and enforce the rules of the game.
It is by design and governmental policy that countries marked by large inequalities in wealth, tend to be dominated by a few firms controlled by a lucky few. Where monopoly power is exercised, is it any wonder that poverty and inequality become deeply entrenched? Consider the case of financial markets and lending to the poor. High borrowing charges undoubtedly reflect the high-expected rate of default on loans. If you are just barely making do, any unexpected expense or shortfall of income will force you to choose between feeding your family or servicing your loan. It really is not a choice. The problem is that because lenders cannot differentiate ex ante between those who are likely to pay their loans and those who will default, ex post, they have to assume that all borrowers are potential defaulters. All borrowers suffer because of the information asymmetry. This is an intrinsic form of capitalist policy, the lifeline that cannot be ignored. In simpler terms, it is the mechanism of a riba-based system that keeps the conditions as such.
Continue reading The Cost of Capitalism: The Price of Islam →
Saudi Organizations Desecrate Holy Quran
State organizations in Saudi Arabia have desecrated the Holy Qur’an by discarding over fifty copies in Taif city’s street sewerage canals. According to a Saudi official in the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the incident was reported by a local student, who saw the holy books on his way home in Al-Salama district of Taif.
The service company that specializes in opening drainage inlets was then called, and dozens of copies of the Quran were retrieved. A photo that shows desecrated books has now gone viral on the internet and social media websites.
This is not the first time the Holy Quran has been desecrated in Saudi Arabia. Earlier this year, the move by prison officials in Al-Haer province to insult the Holy Book led to protests in different parts of the Kingdom.
The desecration of the holy Quran in a country, which is the birthplace of Islam, has raised eyebrows in the Muslim world.
Nearly 1000 Killed in November in Iraq’s Violence
At least 948 people have been killed in violent attacks across Iraq in the month of November.
According to figures released by the country’s ministries of health and defense earlier this week, the death toll included 852 civilians, 53 police officers and 43 soldiers. Another 1,349 people were also injured in the attacks.
The figures indicate that November was one of the deadliest months of 2013, with civilians accounting for about 90 percent of the fatalities. The United Nations warned of growing execution style killings in Iraq, raising the fears of a return of the death squads in the country that killed thousands of people following the US-led invasion in 2003.
In one of the incidents, authorities discovered the bodies of 18 kidnapped men dumped in farmland near the town of Tarmiyah, just north of the capital Baghdad. Continue reading World News →
Two Million Americans Will Lose Jobless Benefits
A new report warns that more than two million Americans will lose their federal unemployment benefits, if Congress fails to extend the jobless-aid program. Another 1 million Americans, who exhaust their state benefits, will not be eligible for the federal program in the first quarter of 2014, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group.
The report estimates that 1.3 million jobless workers will lose their benefits immediately at the start of 2014. Another 850,000 workers will exhaust their regular unemployment insurance in March.
In 2008, Congress temporarily expanded the unemployment-benefit program in response to the financial crisis and recession. The federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation program is slated to expire on December 31.
There are 4.1 million workers in the US who have been out of a job for at least six months. About one-third of them rely on their unemployment benefits. In addition, lawmakers showed little interest in preventing a $5 billion reduction to food stamp benefits last week. The cut affected nearly 48 million recipients, many of them jobless.
US lawmaker: Have Poor Students Sweep Floors to Pay for Lunch
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wants kids to learn early in life that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. To make sure they absorb that lesson, he’s proposing that low-income children do some manual labor in exchange for their subsidized meals. Kingston came out against free lunches, saying that children should have to pay at least a nominal amount or do some work like sweeping cafeteria floors.
“But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria — and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people — getting the myth out of their head that there is such a thing as a free lunch,” he said.
Kingston’s plan could create significant embarrassment for low-income children, who would be sweeping cafeteria floors while their wealthier peers did normal kid activities. And while the low-income children would supposedly be learning the lesson of hard work, their wealthier peers would simply be getting a free lunch from their parents. Continue reading National News →
Warnings of Stock Market Bubble
Robert Shiller, an American Nobel Prize-winning economist says he is worried about sharp rises in equity and property prices, especially the boom in the US stock market. “I am most worried about the boom in the US stock market. Also because our economy is still weak and vulnerable,” Shiller said.
According to Reuters, Shiller told Sunday’s Der Spiegel magazine that “I am not yet sounding the alarm. But in many countries stock exchanges are at a high level and prices have risen sharply in some property markets… that could end badly.”
In the past several weeks, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which is a leading indicator of the US stock market, has been shooting up to record highs. A growing number of experts are warning that there are signs of a potential bubble in the US stock market ahead.
According to USA Today “Wall Street pros say a bubble is forming in the U.S. stock market. They blame the Fed’s unprecedented stimulus, including its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases for artificially inflating stock prices. There is concern that if the Fed does not dial back its asset purchases soon, stocks could shoot higher and become even more delinked from business fundamentals.”
An American economist, Paul Robin Krugman, has said in a recent article that the US economy is not recovering from the financial crisis of 2007-2008 but that it has entered a “permanent slump”.
“Again, the evidence suggests that we have become an economy whose normal state is one of mild depression, whose brief episodes of prosperity occur only thanks to bubbles and unsustainable borrowing,” Krugman says.
TThe US Government shutdown and the impending debt default are rooted in a simple fact – America is living beyond its means. What is more, it is not the first time that there has been a shutdown of all government non-essential activities (it last happened in 1995) or the first time debt was close to exceeding the limit (this last occurred as recently as July 2011). Soon after that, the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded the credit rating of US government bonds for the first time in the country’s history.
The failure to agree on next year’s government spending budget (the deadline expired 30 September 2013) has resulted in an estimated 800,000 non-essential government employees being sent home without pay, while museums, parks and tourist attractions were closed. The main sticking point in the budget is ‘Obamacare’, the Democrats’ plans for subsidised healthcare for an estimated 40 million people which the Republicans are not buying into. America, not being able to meet its financial commitments is also at the core of the debt ceiling crisis. The ceiling is a limit set by Congress on the amount that the government can borrow for public spending and was set at $16.4 trillion in 2011 but later extended to $16.7 trillion (which somehow defeats the purpose of an ultimate upper limit). This crisis is looming as by current estimates the $16.7 trillion limit is due to be reached on 17 October 2013 based on planned government spending.
Most commentators blame America’s fractured politics for the dilemma. The budget and raising of the debt ceiling both need to be passed by Congress, which is controlled by the Republicans while Democrats dominate the Senate. This, however, does not address the root cause of these financial woes. Why does America face such a debt crisis in the first place? The answer lies in the often used phrase, “its the economics, stupid!” To be more precise, it is capitalism and its insatiable appetite for debt in order to satisfy ever increasing conspicuous consumption. The US is drowning in a sea of debt which the global financial crisis has brought to the forefront. The US generated over $15 trillion in wealth in 2012, however the national debt, which is money the central and federal governments owe to the US public and the world through the bonds they have sold, which stands at $16.7 trillion. The US citizenry have a huge appetite for imports and real estate; as a result, consumer debt stands at $15.8 trillion. US companies also have debts in excess of to $18 trillion. This makes the US indebted to a net debt amount in excess of $60 trillion. Continue reading The U.S. Government Shutdown in Perspective →
August 2013 marked the sixth year anniversary of the global economic crisis. On the anniversary, European Union officials announced the end of the recession in Europe and produced data indicating that the economy was growing again. Similarly, the US also produced data showing its economy had grown over 1% in 2013. Chinese officials also announced that in the year ending July 2013 their economy grew over 7%. The US, China and EU account for over 50% of the global economy and their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is being used to show that the global economic crisis, which has dominated the world for the last six years, is now finally over. Despite the publishing of these figures, there are four issues that question the narrative that the global economic crisis is over.
Firstly, the US administration has attempted to stimulate the nation’s $16 trillion economy through stimulus plans in the hope that economic growth would return. This approach led to growth which was never sustainable, because stimulus spending is a temporary measure that cannot be fuel for sustained economic growth. Despite growing in 2013, the basic economic facts reveal 12 million Americans remain unemployed, Detroit filed for bankruptcy in July 2013 along with 36 other American localities that were already officially bankrupt. The growth the US officially reported was really due to the US government changing the way it measured the economy. It changed how it measured growth and for the first time included intellectual property such as music production and drug patents.
The effect of this added $560 billion to the economy was a change of 3.6%. The US economy is still struggling to grow, as its citizens have cut back on their spending, thus reports that the recession has ended are artificial and exaggerated.
Secondly, the data released by European Union officials does not represent the full picture in the region. The data that was released was only an initial estimate and did not include all of Europe, leaving out struggling countries such as Ireland and Greece. What was released were merely estimates collected by Europe’s data agency, Eurostat – that relies on data provided by national statistical offices, which collect data differently and rely heavily on surveys in their initial growth estimates. These estimates are typically revised numerous times. The German statistical office notes that revisions can be made up until four years after the initial estimate as additional data is taken into account. Considering the statistical flaws, it is premature to say that the situation in Europe has improved. Continue reading The Global Economic Crisis: Six Years On →