The Notion of Obsolescence


The year 1974 saw West Germany winning the world cup and it was the week that I first had the opportunity to hold in my hands a true 35 mm SLR (Single Lens Reflex) camera sporting an F1.4 Pentax Lens – the Pentax Spotmatic that my brother owns – once I discovered photography the fire was lit within, but it took almost a decade before I acquired a professional camera of my own the Pentax Super A with an F1.4 Lens – sadly after using it for almost 10 years and learning what it takes to take great pictures it was stolen. I replaced it with a Nikon F70 – which never performed the way the Pentax did – the Asahi Pentax Lenses of the time were just unique in the world of optics.

We humans have a bond with our tools that transcends the idea of the tool as merely a means. Given this, it is rooted in a skeptical attitude toward the claim that increased technology is always the best means to an end. It involves a thoughtful stance in relation to technology, rejecting what is superfluous to the achievement of a given aim while acknowledging the emotional weight of our relationship with our tools. This is far from being primitive or regressive. It is progressive at its core.

Mechanical film cameras today might seem an anachronism, sort of a technological dodo bird. But the reality, I would submit, stands this assumption on its head. In a very profound sense, it is the opposite. The best mechanical film cameras can be considered the ultimate refinement of a simplified technology, never to be obsolete.

Today the main reason for obsolescence is that supporting technologies may no longer be available to produce or repair a product. Digital technology is extremely susceptible to obsolescence of this type. Camera manufacturers now deliberately introduce technological obsolescence as a product strategy, with the objective of generating long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases.

I recently loaded up my Nikon F70 with a Kodak Tri-X 400TX film. Amazingly it still works, it gave me the same results it did when it was new; the problem is that digital camera technology has moved on to such a degree that it simply is not feasible to use it anymore when much better technology exists. All digitized products are inherently susceptible to obsolescence in this manner; digital cameras routinely become obsolete in favor of newer, faster, better units.

Digital cameras also become functionally obsolete when they do not function in the manner they did when they were created and I suspect are intentionally designed to use faster wearing components, what is called planned obsolescence. The intention is not always cynical; rather, it’s a practical recognition of the regular exponential advance that can be expected of computerized products (See Moore’s Law). Why build a unit to last 10 years when it will be functionally obsolete in 2 years? Such products, which naturally wear out or break down, become obsolete because the cost of repairs or replacement parts is higher than the cost of a new, more technologically advanced item – this is true with all electronic devices including my laptop and my cell phone.

Mechanical cameras – are not subject to either technological or functional obsolescence. The technology of analog photography is simple: a light tight box capable of housing film; optics that concentrate light; a shutter that opens and closes at repeatable, regulated intervals; and an optical aperture that controls the amount of light passing through the lens.

If mechanical devices can be considered obsolete, it is usually an obsolescence of style and not of function. When a product is no longer desirable because it has gone out of the popular fashion, its style is obsolete. It may still be perfectly functional, but it is no longer desirable because style trends have moved on.

The Importance of the Process

Photography is about looking and seeing. It involves deliberation and judgment. It is about having the concentration, focus, required to look closely. Most of us who grew up on film are still ‘contemplative’ and ‘conscientious’ when also using digital cameras because its been bred into our relationship with photography. For us, digital hasn’t made a difference in that respect. But it certainly has for those coming of age photographically in the digital era.

The point is this: digital isn’t going away, obviously. But there will always be a place for film photography. Photography shouldn’t be seen as a zero sum equation, where the advent of a newer technology completely displaces mature technologies. Digital has given photographers another option, but film use will always remain an option for those who prefer its methods and results.

The Image Is Everything


Taken with Yashica SLR F1.7 ————— 1977 Portsmouth. England

There is a disturbing trend propagated by the technical potentials of digital capture. Digital photography has produced an obsession with sharpness and resolution which is causing us to overlook our connection to the image. It is so prevalent today as to be a universal photographic fetish. The perfection of digital is a false standard. Imperfection is beautiful, and a misplaced emphasis on sharpness can make an image lifeless and boring. I love the emotion of motion blur, and grain in film, it gives us something organic that connects us to the images we see.

Perhaps someday we will acknowledge that a blind faith in technology can itself be regressive. There is tactile pleasure in the use of a mechanical instrument that is missing in something computerized. At the risk of devolving into the metaphysical, maybe it’s a fuller experience of the real rooted in sense of physical solidity and cause and effect.

There is also an elegance to simple things that complicated things lack. It’s the pleasure of riding a bicycle on a Spring day instead of taking the car. Thank you for reading and just to remind myself my birthday is on 26th June and if you feel generous and you would like to give than I would love to get hold of  one of the latest and greatest compact digital camera – Sony RXM 100 III or  Canon G7X.

Manifestation of Lailatul Juma

On 26th March 2015 I was invited to speak at JCC-Toronto, Canada. I chose the subject of LiqauAllah meaning connecting with God. I explored the options of how one can achieve this connection to God using Thursday night as an effective channel.

Moral Characteristic Of The Prophet – A Quranic Perspective

_Quran__by_ShoOoShaThere are a number of ways to understand the best qualities of human beings in Islam. One way is to study how God has described the prophets in the Quran, since they are the people who are chosen by God as His messengers and are the best ones to be chosen by human beings as their guide and role models.

Here is an attempt of mine to present a Quranic perspective of the characteristics of the last messenger of God – Prophet Muhammad (SAW).


So if they argue with you, say, ‘I have submitted my will to Allah, and [so has] he who follows me.’ And say to those who were given the Book and the uninstructed ones, ‘Do you submit?’ If they submit, they will certainly be guided; but if they turn away, then your duty is only to communicate; and Allah sees best the servants (3:20)

He has no partner, and this [creed] I have been commanded [to follow], and I am the first of those who submit [to Allah].’ (6:163)


It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them; and had you been harsh and hardhearted, surely they would have scattered from around you. So excuse them, and plead for forgiveness for them, and consult them in the affairs, and once you are resolved, put your trust in Allah. Indeed Allah loves those who trust in Him. (3:159)


There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous  to him is your distress; he has deep concern for you, and is most kind and merciful to the faithful. (9:128)


There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has deep concern for you, and is most kind and merciful to the faithful. (9:128)


Say, ‘O mankind! I am the Apostle of Allah to you all, [of Him] to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god except Him. He gives life and brings death.’ So have faith in Allah and His Apostle, the uninstructed prophet, who has faith in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you may be guided. (7:158)


When Our manifest signs are recited to them, those who do not expect to encounter Us say, ‘Bring a Qur’ān other than this, or alter it.’ Say, ‘I may not alter it of my own accord. I follow only what is revealed to me. Indeed should I disobey my Lord, I fear the punishment of a tremendous day.’ (10:15)

Say: “I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the punishment of an awesome Day.” (39:13)


Say, ‘O people! if you are in doubt about my religion, then [know that] I do not worship those whom you worship besides Allah. Rather I worship only Allah, who causes you to die, and I have been commanded to be among the faithful, (10:104)

Say, ‘[Only] Allah do I worship, putting my exclusive faith in Him. (39:14)


Whatever We relate to you of the accounts of the apostles are those by which We strengthen your heart, and there has come to you in this [sūrah] the truth and an advice and admonition for the faithful. (11:120)

The faithless say, ‘Why has not the Qur’ān been sent down to him all at once?’ So it is, that We may strengthen your heart with it, and We have recited it [to you] in a measured tone. (25:32)


Thus have We sent you to a nation before which many nations have passed away, that you may recite to them what We have revealed to you. Yet they defy the All-beneficent. Say, ‘He is my Lord; there is no god except Him; in Him I have put my trust, and to Him will be my return.’ (13:30)

Whatever thing you may differ about, its judgement is with Allah. That is Allah, my Lord. In Him I have put my trust, and to Him I turn penitently. (42:10)


We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations. (21:107)


[saying,] ‘Give over the servants of Allah to me; indeed I am a trusted apostle [sent] to you. (44:18)


Muḥammad, the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the faithless and merciful amongst themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in worship], seeking Allah’s grace and [His] pleasure. Their mark is [visible] on their faces, from the effect of prostration. Such is their description in the Torah and their description in the Evangel. Like a tillage that sends out its shoots and builds them up, and they grow stout and settle on their stalks, impressing the sowers, so that He may enrage the faithless by them. Allah has promised those of them who have faith and do righteous deeds forgiveness and a great reward. (48:29)


Muḥammad, the Apostle of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the faithless and merciful amongst themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in worship], seeking Allah’s grace and [His] pleasure. Their mark is [visible] on their faces, from the effect of prostration. Such is their description in the Torah and their description in the Evangel. Like a tillage that sends out its shoots and builds them up, and they grow stout and settle on their stalks, impressing the sowers, so that He may enrage the faithless by them. Allah has promised those of them who have faith and do righteous deeds forgiveness and a great reward. (48:29)

Indeed your Lord knows that you stand vigil nearly two thirds of the night —or [at times] a half or a third of it— along with a group of those who are with you. (73:20)


Nūn. By the Pen and what they write: you are not, by your Lord’s blessing, crazy, and yours indeed will be an everlasting reward, and indeed you possess a great character. (68:1-4)


In the Apostle of Allah there is certainly for you a good exemplar, for those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day, and remember Allah greatly. (33:21)

A True Story – Alfred Dunhill

ADA church in London had rules that it would not employ anyone, without formal high school education. The old pastor was benign and not a stickler of rules. He allowed Alfred Dunhill (who lacked formal education) as the caretaker to clean the pews, sweep the floor and keep the podium spick and span.

Dunhill had put off taking his high school examination till it became too late. Once the old pastor retired, he was replaced by a younger person who followed the rule book. As he came to know about the caretaker’s education, he issued a notice to him that either he should get a high school certificate in six months or he should resign.

Dunhill knew that you could not teach an old dog new tricks and that he had no option but to resign. He started out his afternoon stroll in deep thought and got into Bond Street. Suddenly, he felt an urge to smoke. He could not find a single tobacco shop on the entire street. He walked further down into a side street where he could purchase his cigarette. He came back to the busy Bond Street and he realized that a small cigarette shop in the street would be a sound business proposition.

He resigned at the church and started a small shop on Bond Street which prospered way beyond his expectations. He noticed that many of his customers were coming from the other side of the street. He started another shop on that side of Bond Street. The two shops multiplied to four and then sixteen.

In three years, Alfred Dunhill Co. became a leading tobacconist in England and he started machine-rolling cigarettes and introduced his own brand of Dunhill cigarettes. In five years, he was a millionaire many over. To ensure a consistent supply of tobacco, he entered into an annual purchase agreement with a couple of American tobacco farmers and went across to America to meet them. It was a big boost for the American tobacco farmers and the contract signing ceremony was converted into a media circus, with a Senator and Governor participating.

When the contracts were actually signed, Dunhill affixed his thumb impression because he had not learnt to sign his name. The Governor was impressed and said, “Well Sir! This is awesome. Even without a formal education you have achieved so much. Just imagine what would you have done if you had a formal education!”

Dunhill’s characteristic often repeated reply was, “If I knew how to read and write, I would still be sweeping the church!”

Al-Khisal – Prophetic Traditions Part 1

khisalAl Khisal – (literay traits of character) of Sheikh Saduq is one of the most valuable early sources of narations from the last prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his household. Muhmmad B. Babawiya Al Qummi commonly known as Sheikh Saduq was an outstanding jurist and a prominent scholar of narations of the prophet and was given the title of “Imad Al Din” by Sheikh Tusi.

In Al-Khisal, Shaykh Saduq has prepared a collection of traditions in an interesting way. The main themes of the traditions are ethics, manners and good characteristics. All the traditions are presented with a complete record of transmission. Furthermore, they are divided into different groups according to numbers e.g. all the traditions related to the number one are gathered in one part then traditions related to number two and so on. It starts with one and ends with one million.

Al-Khisal seems to be the first work on record to be compiled in this unique style. Moreover, Al-Khisal is a great encyclopedia on Islamic knowledge and many authoritative works on Shi‘ite traditions such as Bihar Al-Anwar have cited it as a reference. I plan to share with you some extract of the prophetic traditions and we will start with characteristics related to number one 1 :

Abandoning the present to attain the promised – Blessed be the one who abandons a current tangible desire to attain an unseen promised reward.

A believer’s honor is in one practice and his glory is in one characteristic – It is reported from Prophet Muhammad (S) that Gabriel went to him and said: O Muhammad! Live for as long as you want. You will finally die. Love whatever you want. You will finally be separated from it. Do whatever you want. You will finally be rewarded for it. Know that a man’s honour is in staying up at night and his dignity is in his independence from people.

A characteristic that constitutes half of the religion – Being good-tempered constitutes half of the religion.

A characteristic that is the best thing given to a Muslim – God’s Prophet was asked: “What is the best thing given to a Muslim?” He replied: “A good temper”.

Prophet Noah lived 950 Years can you outlive him ?

Painting-of-Noah-and-the-Ark-After-the-Flood-ShutterstockAccording to the Quran, prophet Noah lived for 950  years which is astonishing considering that today the average life span is around 78 years. There is no doubt that our life is completely under the control of our creator the almighty God who from the outset of our creation has pre-determined and ordained the length of our life that we will enjoy in this world.

We have a sense of belief that science determines and fashions our life, but the truth is that science is simply on a discovery path that is constantly struggling to identify and align with the miracles of God. A recent experiment on fruit flies by UCLA biologists activated just one gene, AMPK, which extended their lifespan by nearly a third, by helping them to get rid of “cellular garbage” causing old age diseases such as Parkinson’s. It is interesting to observe hat human beings have the same gene!

Those flies with the gene activated in their intestines lived just over eight weeks, instead of the usual six, and, almost as crucially, remained healthier for longer into their lifespans. Projected onto the current US life expectancy of 78, this would correspond to an average lifetime of 101 years  – if you ask me, this is a great achievement in our ability to understand God and his creation better.

The impressive results were achieved by activating a process called autophagy, which is stimulated by AMPK.

Autophagy – which translates from Greek as ‘eating oneself’ – allows cells to isolate and discard old, dysfunctional fragments, known as cellular garbage, which can damage healthy cells. Many of the old-age diseases are widely thought to result from decreased rates of autophagy, which eventually build up millions of unhealthy cells in the body.

While humans have the AMPK gene, in most people, it is ‘turned off’! The wider conclusions drawn by the team are not just about the single gene AMPK, but demonstrate the key role of autophagy in longevity.

Intriguingly, while the benefits of genetic AMPK treatment appear to be years away, there is already a drug on the market that stimulates existing AMPK genes, which are activated when cells reach a low energy level, as a sort of repair mechanism.

Metformin was synthesized as long ago as 1922, and has been widely used to fight diabetes since the late 1950s, and can now be bought cheaply as a generic. Despite considerable side effects, in recent years it has been touted in multiple studies as decreasing the incidence of cancer and heart disease, and is already used by some as an anti-aging drug, though it cannot be prescribed as such.

We need to remind ourselves that the efficacy of drugs only happens because God wills it to be and the research scientist can only find and discover because God wills them to be.

Attaining Perfection


On Thursday August 28th I was asked to speak at the Khoja Shia Ithna Asheri Centre located at Bathurst, Toronto. Canada and I chose to speak on the subject of “Attaining Perfection”.

The greatest aim of Divine Messengers was to emphasize the importance of refinement, purification, and training of human selves to attain perfection.

The prophets lectured human beings about the self-building program, acted as helper and knowledgeable guides in identifying the ugliness in their moral conducts, and showed them the ways and means for self-control against their selfish whims, individualism and passions.

Although a human being is not more than a single reality, but is the possessor of different dimensions within his single existence –the existence which starts from the insignificant dusty material lacking any sort of sense and feelings and ultimately terminates into a precious celestial jewel.

The prophets continuously strived for awakening the upright human nature so that they could learn about their jewel of existence and could discover their dependence and link with God-Almighty; thus spending everything in their possession for attaining the position of nearness and pleasure of the Lord of the worlds to the extent that their eating, drinking, sleeping, seeing, speaking, working, living, and dying become sacred and ethical.

Truly, when men become God’s servant and do not cherish for any other goal except his pleasure everything become ethics, worship and virtue and Abbas (AS) the brother of Imam Husayn demonstrated this ability to attain perfection in the battle of “Kerbala” that took place in Iraq in the year 61 AH corresponding to 10th October 680 CE. To learn more you can watch my presentation which is about thirty minutes long..