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.

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..


The Art Of Living

theantOne Sunday morning, a wealthy man sat in his balcony enjoying sunshine and his coffee when a little ant caught his eye which was going from one side to the other side of the balcony carrying a big leaf several times more than its size. The man watched it for more than an hour. He saw that the ant faced many impediments during its journey, paused, took a diversion and then continued towards destination.

At one point the tiny creature came across a crack in the floor. It paused for a little while, analyzed and then laid the huge leaf over the crack, walked over the leaf, picked the leaf on the other side then continued its journey.

The man was captivated by the cleverness of the ant, one of Nature’s tiniest creatures. The incident left the man in awe and forced him to contemplate over the miracle of Creation. In front of his eyes there was this tiny creature, lacking in size yet equipped with a brain to analyse, contemplate, reason, explore, discover and overcome. Along with all these capabilities, the man also noticed that this tiny creature shared some human shortcomings.

The man saw about an hour later the creature had reached its destination – a tiny hole in the floor which was entrance to its underground dwelling. And it was at this point that the ant’s shortcoming that it shared with the man was revealed. How could the ant carry into the tiny hole the large leaf that it had managed to carefully bring to the destination? It simply couldn’t!

So the tiny creature, after all the painstaking and hard work and exercising great skills, overcoming all the difficulties along the way, just left behind the large leaf and went home empty-handed.

The ant had not thought about the end before it began its challenging journey and in the end the large leaf was nothing more than a burden to it. The creature had no option, but to leave it behind to reach its destination. The man learned a great lesson that day.

Isn’t that the truth about our lives?

We worry about our family, we worry about our job, we worry about how to earn more money, we worry about where we should live – 5 bedroom or 6 bedroom house, what kind of vehicle to buy – a Mercedes or BMW, what kind of dresses to wear, all sorts of things, only to abandon all these things when we reach our destination – The Grave. We don’t realize in our life’s journey that these are just burdens that we are carrying with utmost care and fear of losing them, only to find that at the end we can’t take them with us.

UN Visits Al Sistani

sistaniUN (2)

Secretary-General’s remarks to press in Najaf, Iraq Najaf, 24 July 2014

Assalam Alaikum.

Ramadan Kareem.

I am extremely honored to have met His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Al-Sistani today for the first time.

He is a man of the deepest wisdom and tolerance.  He is an inspiration and a role model for his many followers in Iraq and beyond.

We reviewed the current crisis in Iraq and the necessary humanitarian response. I expressed the United Nations’ gratitude for His Eminence’s support for all efforts to protect civilians in the current conflict.

We discussed in detail the multiple reports of grave human rights violations against civilians, places of worship, religious leaders and atrocities in the areas controlled by the Islamic State.

The Security Council of the United Nations and the rest of the international community have spoken out against these acts, loud and clear.  Here in Najaf, I once again, as Secretary-General of the United Nations, strongly condemn these violations of fundamental universal human rights.

His Eminence underscored that the fight against the Islamic State and other armed groups should be exclusively conducted by the Iraqi Security Forces and only within the framework of the Constitution. We also discussed the ongoing political process of government formation.

The parliament has now elected a new speaker, Dr. Salim al-Jubouri, a few days ago. I am pleased to hear that Dr. Fouad Massoum has been elected as President of this great country. I sincerely hope that under his leadership, an inclusive government should be formed without delay and within constitutionally mandated timelines. I had the honour of meeting him before we came here and I extend, on behalf of the United Nations, my most sincere and heartfelt congratulations for his election as President of Iraq. We will continue to work closely for peace, development and human rights of Iraq.

A new government that is truly inclusive will strengthen the unity of the country, fight effectively against terrorism and ISIS, as well as uproot the seeds of sectarianism and division.

I expressed to His Eminence how deeply moved I was by his consistent calls for all sides to refrain from sectarian or ethnic rhetoric.

I strongly welcome his crucially important appeal for all citizens to exercise the highest degree of restraint, to work on strengthening the bonds between each other and avoid any kind of behaviour that may affect the unity of Iraq.

His Eminence and I agreed that political leaders must refrain from radical statements and accusations.

In this time of crisis, when we see the shocking treatment of minorities by the Islamic State, His Eminence continues to preach peace, love and unity among all elements of Iraqi society.

I encourage all religious authorities to follow that example and stand up for tolerance, mutual respect and non-violence.

Such calls would help silence the voices of those who wish to advance their own violent and divisive agendas.  Such appeals would contribute to the unity of the country.

Once again, I was deeply impressed by my time with His Eminence.  You can continue to count on my full support along with the United Nations as the people of Najaf and all of Iraq work to build a tolerant, peaceful and prosperous country for all its people.




Politics, Money and Grand Ayatollah

390px-Ali_SistaniThe 81-year-old spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is one of the most influential figures in Iraq, revered by its Shiite majority as well as by Shiites around the world. In the years after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and fall of Saddam Hussein, he was strong enough to shape the new Iraq, forcing American leaders and Iraqi politicians to revise parts of their transition plans he objected to.

Although the Grand Ayatollah avoids directly announcing his stance towards democracy. However, one can surmise that he at least believes that the people should be a source of political legitimacy. The tone of his fatwas and statements dealing with elections and related issues uncovers a methodological tendency rather than mere pragmatic tactics to help Shi’ite Islamists winning. It seems that Ayatollah Sistani went further than many other Shiite Ulama in this regard as he frequently emphasized that parliament whether being a constitutional assembly or not must be directly elected by the people underscoring the issue of representativeness. In short, he has demonstrated that not only does he accepts but also adopts democracy. At the same time, he has ensured that the religious authority has the right to dictate a democracy’s outcomes should this process produce something the marji’ believes threatens the Islamic social identity or the well being of society.

Al-Sistani, who was treated in London for heart problems in 2004, remains healthy and alert, according to visitors who saw him recently. But his advanced age has fueled speculation about his succession in Najaf and It seems that the winds of change are picking up speed and Tehran seem to have long-term plans in Najaf – more to the chagrin of Iraqis –  Here is an insightful article from foreign affairs – unedited for your reading:


The Struggle to Succeed Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani

A Letter From Najaf

MAY 23, 2012

Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is rarely seen. The most revered spiritual leader for the world’s 170 million Shiite Muslims, he hardly ever speaks in public. Some 90 miles south of Baghdad, in Najaf, the seat of Shiite religious power, people say that in the last few years the 82-year-old Sistani has grown frail and relies increasingly on one of his sons to carry out his duties. “He’s a weak old man; soon he might have to go to London for more treatment,” a local student of religious politics says. (Like most who were interviewed for this report, the student wished to remain anonymous.)

As Sistani ages, a struggle to succeed him has begun, putting the spiritual leadership of one of the world’s foremost faiths in play. But with neighboring Iran moving to install its preferred candidate in the position, the secular political foundations of Iraq’s fledgling democracy are at risk. Consequently, what amounts to a spiritual showdown could pose a challenge to Washington’s hope for postwar Iraq to serve as a Western-allied, moderate, secular state in the heart of the Middle East.

Shia doctrine requires that an incumbent die before jockeying can begin in a succession process that is as opaque as it is informal. But Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the 64-year-old cleric who is widely seen as Tehran’s preferred choice, has jumped the gun by sending an advance party to open an office in Najaf. This cohort works from a dust-coated building, painted in banded tones of white and salmon, just a couple of blocks from Sistani’s office and home. On a recent visit, a scattering of shoes and sandals at the entrance suggested a gathering within, but a man who came to the door makes it clear: “We apologize, but we can’t meet any journalists.”

Without so much as setting foot in Najaf, Shahroudi is rolling out a sophisticated and expensive campaign — reputedly bankrolled by Tehran. Key to Shahroudi’s strategy has been luring Sistani and his followers into a costly bidding war for clerical loyalty. Clerics and seminarians are being offered an assortment of stipends, housing, and health services in the hope that they can be swayed.

A Najafi by birth, Shahroudi has lived much of his adult life in Iran. Under the patronage of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, he rose to the top tiers of Iran’s religious and political establishment. And in recent months Shahroudi has had several meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, most recently in Tehran in April. According to sources close to the religious and political leadership in Baghdad, Shahroudi has already informed some key Iraqi officials that he is positioning himself to take the spiritual helm of Shia Islam.

“Without Khamenei’s support, he could not dream of doing this,” a diplomat from the region who is based in Baghdad, and who spoke on condition of anonymity, says. Because of Shahroudi’s stature in Iran, the diplomat says, he will always be seen as Tehran’s candidate: “It is [Iranian] money and authority that’ll make him Grand Ayatollah.”

Shahroudi’s challenge sets in conflict two opposing views of politics in Shiism. Iraqi Shiites have long held to the so-called quietist school of thought, a doctrine known more expansively as irshad wa tawjeeh, which translates as “guidance and direction” and is rooted in a sixteenth-century deal with the Persian monarchy by which the clerics of the day opted to remain above the political fray. Sistani’s interventions in the early days of the U.S. occupation of Iraq were arguably a glaring exception to quietest thinking, but the ayatollah’s singular objective at the time was to bend the will of the Americans in shaping a political process from which he and the clergy would ultimately step back. Now, Iraqis have had nearly a decade to judge contemporary application of Najaf’s quietist theory.

In Iran, however, the 1979 revolution gave holy men full control of the political process. Although more than three messy decades of Islamic rule have stripped the varnish from wilayat al-faqih, “guardianship of the Islamic jurists,” the revolutionary Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s constitutionally enshrined theory that God’s authority is vested in the supreme leader and senior religious scholars, Tehran continues to insist that politics be guided by faith.

So in Baghdad today, this Iranian-backed intervention by Shahroudi appears to be a bid by Tehran to walk Iraq away from the pure mechanics of non-clerical democracy. “If we have a grand ayatollah who is against democracy, we have a problem,” Sami al-Askari, one of Maliki’s advisers, says. “We can’t have someone who supports wilayat al-faqih. We want a moderate who will support the diversity of our nation.” But even if he wanted to, it is unclear how much Maliki could do to halt the Iranian push in Najaf.

People who have met Shahroudi describe him more as a high-energy chief executive than the dour ayatollah that might be expected of a man in black. “Intelligent, pleasant, looks you in the eye; well-dressed, elegant, soft-spoken … takes good care of his beard,” a self-described friend of his says in private conversation. “He is loyal to his boss, non-confrontational, and serves his superior well.”

Shahroudi’s rise among Tehran’s elite ranks stems from his loyalty to the ruling clergy in Iran. In 1989, Khomeini died without a successor, and greatness was thrust upon Shahroudi when Ali Khamenei emerged as the unlikely contender to replace the father of the revolution. The Iranian constitution requires that the leader be a marja, or senior ayatollah, but Khamenei had not studied sufficiently to earn the necessary qualification. “Shahroudi was given the task of teaching Khamenei to make him into a grand ayatollah. He worked hard for one year before declaring Khamenei to be qualified,” Maliki’s adviser Askari says, describing a scholarly venture that ordinarily takes a decade or more. “And for this service Shahroudi was awarded an appointment as head of the Iranian judicial system.”

As an Iraqi abroad, Shahroudi carved a remarkable and, by some accounts, heavy-handed arc through the Iranian labyrinth. Cited in some quarters as a doctrinaire believer in Khomeini’s wilayat al-faqih, Shahroudi was willing to crack down on the regime’s opponents — reportedly challenging opposition members of parliament, punishing students, and shuttering as many as 200 newspapers in 1999. Some reports suggest otherwise. The Washington Post notes  an order that he issued in 2002, which was interpreted as an attempt to impose a moratorium on stoning as a punishment. And in the wake of the disputed presidential elections in 2009, reports surfaced that Shahroudi ordered a judicial investigation into complaints that political prisoners were being abused.

One Arab diplomat argues that on the Shia political spectrum, Shahroudi cuts a figure closer to that of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr, the revered Iraqi scholar and the uncle and father-in-law of the radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. The older Sadr, who grew close to Khomeini during the latter’s exile in Najaf in the 1970s, argued that if the political process were geared toward changing the people, they in turn would change the national leadership. Khomeini insisted on the reverse — change the ruler and he would change the people.

But were he to try, Shahroudi would have a hard time distancing himself from Tehran. He is a member of the powerful 12-man Guardian Council, selected by Khamenei to interpret the Iranian constitution and, among other things, vet all candidates for public office. Last year, the supreme leader again revealed his confidence in Shahroudi, naming him to head a team that mediates disputes between the president and the parliament.

What makes the Shahroudi challenge serious is the absence of a standout local candidate in Najaf. Together with Sistani, three other grand ayatollahs comprise the Hawza, a leadership collective in which Sistani is first among equals. Two of the three are unlikely succession nominees because they were born beyond the Shia heartlands. Mohammad Ishaq Fayyad, 82, is Afghan and Bashir Hussein al-Najafi, 70, is Pakistani. That leaves Mohammed Said al-Hakim, a 76-year-old Najaf native, as the only contender of any prominence, and he doesn’t size up.

“Go to Najaf,” the Maliki adviser Askari advised. “And the establishment will throw out names, but there is no clear successor.” The establishment does exactly that. As Fadhil al-Milani, one of Najaf’s more junior ayatollahs who is these days is based in London, says of the three who sit by Sistani: “We have prominent [ayatollahs] in Najaf who [would continue the Sistani] tradition — to compare others to them is unacceptable.”

As many as 100 junior ayatollahs will have a role in selecting the next spiritual leader. Loosely the equivalent of the Christian rank of bishops, they command a following among the faithful that translates into lobbying power. Despite efforts by the religious establishment to dress up the succession as a contemplative, spiritual selection during which the possible nominees bide their time, waiting passively to be informed of an outcome, in fact it will edge toward the grubbiness of civilian politicking.

“Money talks loudly, because if a potential successor doesn’t have money to distribute and to pay salaries for some thousands of clergy around the Shia world, he’ll not be the successor,” a practiced observer of the process warns. “Who knows if [any of the Najaf contenders] has the right kind of money, but we know that Shahroudi does — he has the cash, the PR, and the support of Iran. If I were Shahroudi, I’d give all the clergy and students a regular salary — he’s doing that. I’d bring all the Arabic-speaking clergy from Qom and Tehran to teach at Najaf — he’s done that.”

And any effort to have Baghdad block Shahroudi’s candidacy will be further constrained by the remarkable 2010 deal that kept Maliki in power despite his not winning a conclusive majority in the parliamentary elections. The kingmaker in that arrangement was Sadr, a radical Shiite who leans toward Iran. According to senior officials in Baghdad, Shahroudi is now grooming Sadr to become an ayatollah, a role that made him a key figure in bringing the young cleric to the table.

Since the 2003 invasion, the United States and its coalition allies have invested almost 5,000 soldiers’ lives, hundreds of billions of dollars, and a fair slice of international prestige in order to shape Iraq as a bulwark against neighboring Tehran’s rigid religious rule and ambition for power in the region.

For all the movement, these are still the early days of Shahroudi’s rise, so his succession gambit’s impact on day-to-day politics in Iraq remains to be seen. But as an agent of influence for Tehran in Najaf, were his campaign to succeed, he would be a powerful advocate for clerical intervention. And any shift toward an Iranian-style theocracy would leave Washington facing yet another “How did that happen?” moment in Iraq.




Debunking Darwin Theory Of Evolution PART 1

Darwin_evolutionDarwin’s Theory of Evolution is the widely held notion that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor: the birds the fishes and the flowers — are all related. Darwin’s general theory presumes the development of life from non-life and stresses a purely naturalistic (undirected) “descent with modification”. That is, complex creatures evolve from more simplistic ancestors naturally over time. In a nutshell, as random genetic mutations occur within an organism’s genetic code, the beneficial mutations are preserved because they aid survival — a process known as “natural selection.” These beneficial mutations are passed on to the next generation. Over time, beneficial mutations accumulate and the result is an entirely different organism (not just a variation of the original, but an entirely different creature).

There are only two possibilities to the origin of all forms of life. There is the Darwinist view that life was a random, chance occurrence, and that divergent evolution then led to the appearance of all life forms, and that the theists are deluded, or the second alternative view that God created the universe and everything in it, including all forms of life, and that all his creation down to the cells and even further to the atoms and electrons, are absolute perfect as the Quran tell us that  “Or were they created out of nothing, or are they the creators?” (Chapter 52 -Verse 35).

Believing in the second view would necessitate to accept that evolution is a fraud perpetrated on the people by the institutions that control science and education, who will fabricate and manipulate evidence without hesitation, to prolong the life of their theory.

evolutionists_talkThe Great Deception: Evolution is a dangerous, deceptive theory, supported by the establishment, and pushed by all the institutions to break our connection with a creator. It is the bedrock of the materialist philosophy which denies God and any accountability for one’s actions. Natural selection assumes that only a few individuals in each generation will survive, since resources are limited and organisms will produce more offspring than their environment can support. All must therefore use whatever means are at their disposal to survive, and the strongest who have adapted best will survive and evolve, whereas the weak and poorly adapted will die off and become extinct. This cleansing of the weak is necessary to purify the gene pool and prepare it for the next evolutionary step – This is the same theory that Hitler based in his race to building a “superior race”.

puzzled_scientistsWhere is the Evidence? : Today there is no concrete evidence for the theory of evolution. Circumstantial evidence is always presented which can easily be accounted for by the alternative explanation, especially when the evolution tinted glasses used to examine the raw data have been removed. The essence of evolution can be summed up in 4 points, where evidence should exist in abundance:

  1. Spontaneous generation (or Abiogenesis) – the chance appearance of the first life form, a unicellular bacteria.
  2. Successive mutations in DNA code can lead to increased information.
  3. All complex systems and species evolved via this mutation method over millions of years, through the mechanism of natural selection.
  4. Ample evidence of transitional fossils must exist, as these species evolved over millions of years and would have been in transition for longer than they would have been stable species.

If any of these four points could be comprehensively refuted, then the house of cards which is Neo-Darwinian evolution can be brought down. At this point however, it is worth asking about the nature of the evidence available and the methods used by scientists to come by this evidence and formulate conclusions.

In Part 2, we will examine the nature of evidence and the methods used by scientist.




Meet Lucy

Meet Lucy, a 3.2 million-year-old hominid. Discovered in 1974, she walked on 2 legs. I have not seen the entire program which has been aired on PBS – but the trailer makes it enticing to watch the program – although this concept of evolution that we descended from apes is nothing short of nonsense.


Did you say math is boring ?

The folks at Pixar are widely known as some of the world’s best storytellers and animators. They are perhaps less recognized as some of the most innovative math whizzes around. Pixar Research Lead Tony DeRose delves into the math behind the animations, explaining how arithmetic, trigonometry and geometry help bring Woody and the rest of your favorite characters to life.

It’s not exactly shocking that computer animation would involve a great deal of math, but it’s so cool to see exactly how they apply it. Don’t ever say math isn’t worth it. Remember: you wouldn’t have your precious Frozen without it.

Skip The Line

AirFrance-KLM, have developed an electronic luggage tag that will let users skip the lines. Rather than waiting, customers will be able to use the eTag to digitally tag their luggage at home via smartphone, then drop it off at a designated area in the airport. Also available: the eTrack system, a tiny gizmo you stuff in your bag, and then tracks your luggage in case it gets lost. (Which it will, always, every time.) I had developed a similar system back in 2004 but getting around IATA was formidable challenge.

Will this one day be used as a way for airlines to squeeze pennies out of customers? My lack of legroom has led to cynicism – Yawn!.

Are you smarter than a fifth grader ?

Crows are smarter than great apes and about on par with a 5-year-old child. We know they (and similar birds) can already complete complicated tasks, like putting a stick through a tube to finagle out food. But in this BBC video, the crow, after thinking it over briefly, easily completes a multi-step puzzle – just blew me away!

The Revealer

Baghi_tombOn 26th April 2014, I was invited at Al Mahdi Centre, London, Ontario to speak on the birthday of the fifth Shia Imam Muhammd Al Baqir.

I focused on how to integrate the quran in our daily life. The Quran being the words of God, have hidden manifestation and the Imams shared some of the secrets of the hidden manifestations especially starting with the period of Imam Muhammad Baqir who analyzed the knowledge and made manifests its secret and ultimately he acquired the title Al-Uloom “The Revealer”.

Muhammad al-Baqir was born on the 1st of the month of Rajab, 57th Hijra, in the city of Medina. He was the first Imam whose lineage ascended and reached the Islamic prophet Muhammad both from the paternal and maternal sides.

His life history can be divided into two parts:

  • The period before his Imamate, led in Medina, that is nearly 35 years and was the peaceful part of his life
  • The Period of Imamate, which stretched up to 20 years and is counted as the duration of his propagation and dissemination of Islamic knowledge and wisdom.

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir’s son, Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq, was his student and benefited from his knowledge. He founded the precursor of Shī‘ah jurisprudence. Many historians like Yakubi asserts that the Imam split open knowledge, that He scrutinized it and examined the depths of it so that it can be spread to all people truly and correctly. In his life of respectable and scholarly retirement at Madina, the Imam was frequently called upon to explain particular teachings in regard to Imamat.

A synopsis of his teaching in the Ma’athirul-Baqir is given in Cannon Sell’s Ithna Ashariya, an interesting part of which may well be quoted, as it shows the emphasis at this early period on the intellectual and spiritual character of the Imamat.

While in Medinah Imam Muhammed al-Baqir continued with the progress of the schools of theology opened up on his advice and with the support of the companions of Ahlu-ll-Bayṫ. It is noted by many historians that until the death of The 5th Imam there were 25000 students in these schools learning Fiqh, Theology and Islamic science. It was at this time that 400 books of Hadith were compiled by the students of these school under the guidance of Imam Muhammed al-Baqir.

One of his famous sayings was

I admonish you regarding five things; if you are wronged, do not commit wrong doing to others, if you are betrayed, do not betray anyone, if you are called a liar, do not be furious, if you are praised, do not be jubilant, if you are criticized do not fret and think of what is said in criticism, if you find in yourself what is criticized about you, then you are falling down in the eyes of God; when you are furious about the truth, it is much greater calamity then your falling down in the eyes of the people. And if you are opposite of what is said (in criticism) about you, then it is a merit you acquired without having to tire yourself in obtaining it.

Do You Need A Helper ?

Here, in a video from BBC Earth, Sir David Attenborough is hanging out with an amazing tool-using orangutan, paddling a canoe (the orangutan is paddling, that is) and washing some socks (again, the orangutan, not David)

Disaster On K2


Anyone who is intrigued by mountain climbing and why people are willing to risk their lives to scale the highest peaks on the earth, will be intrigued by “The Summit.” – A documentary/Movie.

In some ways it’s not that different from the documentary “Touching the void” based on the best seller of the same title – a page turner that chronicled the disaster of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates, two Brits in their mid-20s who were determined to scale the forbidding west face of a mountain named Siula Grande, in the Peruvian Andes.

K2 is the second highest mountain in the world after Everest at 28,251 feet, and is located on the border between Pakistan and China, on a northwestern extension of the Himalayan range.  For every four mountaineers who attempt to climb K2 one dies in the attempt.

On an August day in 2008, an amazing clear day, 22 climbers ascended the summit of K2 but 48 hours later, half were dead or missing.  This is their story and it is riveting.

Although I do not foresee myself ever climbing such a mountain that ignores oxygen and is freezing on the best of days, I am fascinated by those who do. I am interested in the ways people act toward each other in horrific and chaotic conditions over which they lose any control they might have had – that they must have known were a possibility.

The adventuresome, ambitious, and competitive spirit that drives climbers is phenomenal, but movies about their accomplishments and disasters that strike, make voyeurs of us all. One thing is for sure, the loved ones of anyone who dies on such a mountains, mourn their loss even as they claim to understand the climber’s passion.

This documentary has been created from incredible footage taken by the climbers. It is directed by Nick Ryan and written by Mark Monroe who is the award winning screenwriter for such documentaries as “The Cove”, which won an Oscar, and “Chasing Ice.

what I took away after watching the documentary are some key points of what it takes to be a great leader:

Vision and Quick Victories – Never loose sight of the ultimate goal and focus energy on short term objectives

Symbolism and personal example – Set a personal example with visible and memorable symbols and behaviour

Core Team Values – Miminimize status differences and insist on courtesy and respect

Tenacious creativity – Never give up as there is always another move.

Remembering Prince Of Persia

Prince of Persia was surely one of the most ubiquitous game titles of the early eighty’s. I remember being mesmerized at the smooth-moving, cartoon-like animation, and wondering whether I would ever manage to get past level one.

Hanged around long enough randomly pressing keys and I eventually worked out how not to get spiked, sliced or fall to my doom. And that was enough Persian excitement for one inconsequential afternoon on my trusty PC.

Looking back at the past I cannot fail to discover that the title had been put together with great care and attention to detail. Rather than just quick reactions, developer Jordan Mechner had created a more cerebral platformer, with puzzles, secret passages and alternative routes to explore, alongside some satisfying sword fighting.


Prince of Persia’s ground-breaking animation was based around a technique pioneered by Max Fleischer during the first few decades of the 20th Century. His “rotoscoping” machine would project live-action footage onto frosted glass so that it could be traced over and thus transferred into animation.

For Mechner, this meant filming his brother running, leaping and, occasionally, climbing all over a handy bus-shelter, then painstakingly selecting suitable frames to create workable animation for the main character.

Such complex character control was essentially unheard of at the time, and was as much a revelation as the accompanying animation. It’s certainly held with fond regard in gaming circles, as this well-crafted tribute video shows – enjoy:

The Silent Majority Syndrome

The Quran commands us to speak and act justly even if it be against your community, your parents, or even yourself. The verse is:

O you who believe! Be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah’s sake, though it may be against your own selves or parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your ) low desires, lest you deviate; and if you swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do. (Quran 4:135)

The verse is clear but extremely difficult to live by. As parents we tend to protect our children for their mistakes, instead of letting them face the music and we give in to our “low desires” rather than striving for and sticking to higher ideals of living that we have been destined for.

Check this video that does not air my political views, but simply shares my awe in how the speaker is not afraid to speak up for what he believes is right in spite of the seemingly overwhelming opposition. Furthermore this video is also an epitome of the Silent Majority syndrome that is common in our communities. Observe how vociferous the minority of the audience gets when what they hear is not to their liking; but as soon as the speaker responds at 1:14 the crowd explodes in applause. The same thing happens towards the end, the crowd responds in an overwhelmingly positive manner. The question is, why was the crowd silent till that time? Why did they wait for the Norman Finklestein to air his frank views on the Holocaust rather then offer their support?

I guess it is so much more comfortable to be a bystander and only show your support when everyone else is doing so. Do you carry the silent majority syndrome ? – watch the video and decide for yourself.



The CIA has been doing an extensive research on how to build a secure grid. Here is an incredible short film directed by Dennis Lu and inspired by the CIA research – it is only 15 mins long but worth a watch.

Dare To Be Different

On Saturday April 12th 2014, I was invited by Al Mahdi Islamic Centre of London, Ontario to join them as a guest panelist about social media awareness and the challenges the children and youth face today. The program was very interactive and engaging with various views and it went on to analyze the recent statistics on alcoholism, dating, drug abuse, depression and suicide. It also looked at the various ways where we could share ideas on how we can prepare the Muslim youth to face and overcome these challenges. The panel was moderated by Dr Munsif Bhimani and the other panelists were Shahin Pardhan, Hussein Pirani and Mohamed Hammoud.

I spent time discussing the “Identity Crisis” that faces the youths of today and I did bring in a focus from an Islamic point view, although I must admit that my expertise really lies in the Quran rather than the “Sharia”. I sifted through the various “Fatawas” of the “Marajees” including Sistani, Shirazi, Gulpaygani, Araki, Bahjati etc. and I tried to make sense and semblance of it and shared those rules verbatim leaving the audience to take upon themselves to reach out to the various “marajees” to ascertain and obtain clarity where required.

Most of the problems facing today’s youth are not restricted to any one ethnic or religious group, but affect young people generally. Most discussions on youth have focussed on issues such as drug abuse, crime, violence, sexuality and hijab. In addition to these, today’s youth are afflicted by new challenges.

These include:

  1. An Identity Crisis: Who am I?
  2. Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem: I am worthless
  3. A sense of hopelessness: Where am I going?
  4. Confusion and ambiguity concerning moral issues: What is right and wrong?
  5. The negative impact of the electronic media: Entertainment?
  6. Competitiveness in education: the uneven playing field: Excellence by whom? Not Me.

Muslim Youth
The Quran and life of the Prophet give numerous examples of outstanding youth. Islam praised the efforts of the youth in reviving religion through calling to the worship of God and fighting against disbelief as a form of backwardness and corruption.

Indeed the image of Abraham peace be upon him in the Quran is one of extreme inspiration, enlightenment and uniqueness. It is the image of a young man rebelling against his people’s decadent traditions, a young man defying the dominant values of his society even in the form of a tyrant king who claims divinity. His son Ismail inherited these qualities of sincerity in worshipping Allah and sacrifice of everything for His sake, as clear in the story of the sacrifice when his father consulted him upon seeing in his dream that he is to sacrifice him, and he answered with determination and certainty to obey Allah’s command “Oh my father, do as you are commanded, you will find me, if Allah so wills of the steadfast”.

Again, facing the despotism of Pharaoh, those who dared to declare their faith were a group of youth who defied Pharaoh and joined Moses “And none believed in Moses except some children of his people because of fear of Pharaoh and his chiefs, lest they should persecute them” (Quran, 9:83)

The mission of Muhammad peace be upon him was also one for the youth as the eldest of those who first believed in the prophet was Ali Ibn Abi Talib who was only ten years old, and most of his followers were youth who had not reached the age of twenty.
Indeed the Prophet peace be upon him said, speaking of the social classification of his followers, that he was supported by the young and poor, and rejected by the old and rich, for the latter are always powers of conservatism while the young and poor are usually forces of change and revival.

The Ideal Youth
One may define the ideal youth as a balanced individual exhibiting a highly spiritual life informed by absolute moral values and whose behaviour demonstrates qualities such as righteousness, honesty, humility and conscientiousness in everything he/she does. In this regard the Qur’an has reminded us more than once that “A man receives but only that for which he strives; that his endeavors will be judged, and only then will he receive his recompense in full.” (Quran, 53:39-41)

Traditional Society
Historically, the older generation has managed to transmit their beliefs, values, traditions, customs, worldviews and institutions to the younger members of their societies. This was achieved largely because of the impact of agencies of socialization, such as the family, religion and the schools. Today the impact of these institutions has been challenged and undermined by new forces, particularly the internet and social media.

Dominant Culture
Is God’s help sought at all times or do we conveniently call on God on special occasions as a mere formality? In my view, we are witnessing an erosion of traditional systems and institutions. As such the family and religion now have a minimal impact on the average youngster. The values emphasized today include individualism, Godlessness, materialism, secularism and rationalism.

It is the youth who are encountering the most serious challenge to his/her faith under the impact of godless culture of modernity. Best minds in our society are not socialized by religious institutions. The emphasis is on competitiveness, academic success, career goals, income and social mobility. Little or no attention is given to preparing tomorrows leadership. There is no emphasis placed on critical thinking, problem solving. One only needs to look at the current leadership (Executive and Religious) at various Khoja institutions around the world and will not fail to observe that we are preparing followers, imitator’s conformists, and not leaders, innovators or problem solvers.

The youth is being asked to give up certain family and social values that were an integral part of their identity, and adopt in its place a sense of self-alienation, and become a self-estranged imitator of everything “modern”.

We need to pay close attention to the effects of secularism: confining the role of religion to the private domain of the individual and creating a dichotomy between “religious” and “worldly,” between “private” and “public.” It denies religion and its mediating institutions any public function and influence in shaping matters of public policy.

Technology: Internet and Social Media
We are witnessing a phenomenal advancement in technology over the last three decades, and the youths are experiencing remarkable social and cultural change. This drastic change has generated psychological and social dislocations among many youths. Moreover, technology has influenced the way we think about life in general and interpersonal human relations in particular.

Certainly, religion should influence all aspects of our life. It regulates our relationship to God and fellow human beings. When religion is made insignificant and is reduced to one among many other forms of cultural expressions, then meaningful existence and interpersonal relationships that are cultivated by its presence are threatened. In its place personal greed and intensified forms of individuation breed self-centered and “first me” individualism. If these tendencies are not kept in check by concern for the well-being of others, as taught by religion, it could lead to a self-serving, ego-centered individual. YouTube in particular has gone beyond its mandate to assist the family and the school in providing visual aid and education to the young. It has taken upon itself to appeal to the destructive and disintegrative instincts, to provoke greed, unlimited self-gratification, and absence of moral restraint in its young audience.

There is a need for Muslims to join other religiously minded groups in the agitation for more responsible Internet programming and more media coverage of the human condition without the celebration of outrage and obscenities.

Religious groups must create alternate avenues for recreation and social interaction. There should be avenues where spiritual and social activities combine to make the average child a whole human being whose life is directed to God. Adults should ensure that he or she benefits and makes full use of the cultural resources of his or her society. This is a delicate task, and much research and brainstorming need to take place before we arrive at solutions.

Education System
There is need for re-structuring of the education system, so as to minimize competition and rivalry and thereby reduce feelings of marginalisation and exclusion among low achievers. Also, there is need for reform of the curriculum so as to include universally desirable values that are necessary for producing well rounded, balanced and useful citizens.

Our present educational system has trivialized religious devotion and relativized moral commitment. Therefore, the youth of today does not have the moral guidance to be able to pursue the right course when faced with a moral dilemma.

The parents, consequently, have to assume an active role in the moral development of their children. They need to become fully involved at every stage in the child’s mental growth until he/she attains maturity. This involvement includes learning to communicate with the younger generation through their books and reading materials. Also, there is need for constructive entertainment and personal involvement in the selection of the types of entertainment (whether at home or outside). This is very critical and almost inevitable since there is enormous pressure on the children from outside their home to participate in undesirable activities.

According to the Wall Street Journal, on the average American parents spend less than fifteen minutes a week in serious discussion with their children. American fathers spend an average of seventeen seconds per day of intimate contact with their children. In Canada, the figures may not be significantly better. Let us ponder about the undesirable effects of this trend of parental non-involvement and the absence of suitable alternatives.

Finally, let us recognize that we have a serious challenge on our hands: to ensure that today’s children (tomorrow’s adults) would experience a better world than we are living in today. We should all work towards this objective and not wait for a crisis to occur and then react, let us be prepared.

Crying out on a Friday

On Friday 9th August 2013, I was honored to receive a request by the Jafari Community Center in Toronto, Canada to recite Dua Nudba before the Eid-Ul-Fitr Prayers completing the fasting of the month of Ramadan. Al-Nubda which literally translates to the “calling out” is a dua that I first encountered at the age of 15 when I heard my late father Mohamed Dharsi who customary used to recite this dua since time in memorial in Zanzibar and then later in Dar Es Salaam.

It has taken me considerably long to get the MP3 and Video uploaded as the files that I received from JCC left much to be desired. I had to work around the files with their limitations and use the best of the software audio technology provided by Sony Vegas and I believe the quality is now acceptable. If you want the MP3 audio file only just leave me a note.

Dua Nudba is an important and authentic Dua. Some of the greatest scholars from the Shia school of thought such as Allamah Muhammad Baqir Majlisi (r.a.) has quoted this Dua in ‘Zaad-ul-Maad’ from ImamJafar-e-Sadiq (a.s.) and it is for the Imam of the time – hence the animation video introduction that I added is supported by the beautiful rendition of the latmiya calling Imam Al Asr.

Muhammad bin Ali bin Abi Khura has quoted this dua from the book of Muhammad bin Husain bin Sufyan Bazoofari, from Imam-e-Asr. Apart from this, the great Shia scholar Sayed Raziuddin bin Tawoos has mentioned it in his book, “Iqbal” on page no.295 to 299. Muhammad bin Jafar Mashadi Haeri has recorded it in book Al-Mazaan (Dua no.107). Qutb Rawandi in Al-Mazaar also records it and so does Allamah Majlisi in ‘Zaad-ul-Maad’ and ‘Beeharul Anwaar’. Shaykh Abbas Qummi too has narrated it in his book, ‘Mafatihul Janan’.

This Dua is to be recited on the two Eids and every Friday. The dua is fairly lengthy but some of the key take away is how the magnificent personality of Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) is introduced in this Dua:

(1)  “Where is the Last Proof of Allah?” The one who is a link of the chain of guidance of the purified progeny of the Prophet (s.a.w.) without whose presence this system cannot remain. The word ‘Baqiyatullah’ is used here. It is from the verse of the Holy Quran “What remains with Allah is better for you if you are believers.” (Surah Hud, Verse 86)

(2)  “Where is the One who will exterminate the followers of injustice?”  The point to be noted here is that Imam Al Asr (a.s.) will not tolerate any kind of injustice. Whether it is the injustice against one’s own self i.e. sin or it is against the rights of someone else as one of the major responsibility of Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) as the last representative of Allah is to establish the scales of justice and equity.

(3)  “Where is that venerated personality who is awaited to correct all kinds of weaknesses and vices? “ Unlike the other sects of Islam, it is the Shias of today who are distancing themselves from (religious) knowledge. Personal opinions are given the garb of religious authenticity. Personal view points are expressed as the elements of Islamic doctrine and we accept all these without testing their authenticity and credibility. The learned scholars are stunned, the Maraaje stupefied – Not knowing what to do – A believer is being degraded and we are amused by it.

Seeing all these bad deeds of us all, a believer man or woman fervently prays to Allah, “O Lord! where is Your last representative whom you have given the good news. And waiting for whom is prescribed as the best form of worship. Send him among us urgently so that he can correct the weaknesses and the wrong ways of humanity and the religion from the society. These shortcomings and vices which are the causes of the sorry state of the believers.

(4)  “Where is the one who is the abode of hope, one who will put an end to the oppression and injustice?” The word used in the metaphor means that in which hope is reposed. When the people of the world would be disappointed by each and every kind of government they will have only one last hope. This hope is the hope in the institution of Imamat or in the meritorious personality of Imam-e-Asr (A.S.).

(5)  “Where is the treasure (of Allah), one who will rejuvenate the obligatory commands and the recommended one?” Yes, Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) is that treasure whom Allah has held back so that when the obligatory commands and the recommended actions are diseased by the germs of doubts, objections and misunderstandings, Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) will reappear and enable it, to have a purified life. After this, the Islamic commands, optional and obligatory, would be carried out in the correct form and with sincerity. The belief would be so much purified that no one would dare to ignore any religious command, either obligatory or recommended.

(6)  “Where is the One who is chosen to impart a new life to the Islamic world and to rejuvenate the Sharia law of Mustafa (s.a.w.)?” His reappearance will imbibe a new life in the Islamic world. The sharia would be followed correctly. There would be neither discord nor any disagreement. The following verse would be fully acted upon: “And Hold fast by the Covenant of Allah altogether and be not divided.” (Surah Ale Imran, Verse 102)

(7)  “Where is the one, who, it is hoped, will revive the Quran and its laws?” True, when Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) would explain the ambiguous verses in the light of the unambiguous or the clear ones. At this time people of the world would become aware as to who are the ones “firmly rooted in knowledge”. Who is the repository of all the knowledge of all the “land” and the “seas”? At this time the world would listen to the commentary of the manifest book by the manifested light. The divine mufassir (exegist of the Quran) would be listened to with attention and whole heartedly believed upon.

(8)  “Where is the One who will enliven the Islamic sciences and the teachers of religious education?” In the last part of the time, the religious scholars and the Islamic knowledge are looked down on. The influence of wealth and self and power is stronger. In such a corrupted atmosphere the successor of Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.) would expound the meaning of the tradition, “I am the city of knowledge and Ali is its gate.”

(9)  ‘Where is the One who would destroy oppression and tyranny of the oppressors?” “Where is the One who will raise the edifices of polytheism and hypocrisy to the ground?” Today the monotheistic world is attacked by all sorts of doubts and misunderstandings. Polytheism and hypocrisy are on the look out to revile Islam and obliterate its name from the world, so that the people would begin to detest its name. But according to the divine promise all the evil designs of the satans will be useless. The promise is as follows: “He is the One who sent His Prophet with guidance and the true religion, that He may make it overcome the religions, all of them, though the polytheist may be averse.” (Surah Saff, Verse 9)

(10) “Where is the countenance of Allah through which the friends attend towards him?” Every member of Holy Ahle Bait (a.s.) is a mirror of divine qualities (Face of Allah). It means the countenance of Allah. Obviously Allah does not possess a ‘face’ but it only means that whoever wants to turn towards Allah and wishes to have an intermediary to Allah can do so only through the Proof of Allah [Imam-e-Asr (A.S.)]. Since the Imam is in occultation to have belief in him and to attend to him becomes all the more meritorious.

The following tradition of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) also supports this argument: “O Ali! In the last period there will be a people, most amazing in belief and the greatest in faith. They shall be those who will not have seen the Prophet of Allah and the Proof of Allah (Imam-e-Asr (A.S.)) will be hidden from them. The foundation of their belief shall be upon only certain writings.”

(11) “Where is the Master of the Day of victory and the One who will spread the flag of guidance?” At this point the reciter of this Dua expresses a state of melancholy that for how long does he have to bear the degradations which he has to suffer during the occupation? And when will these insults come to an end and the standard of truth raised upon the world?

(12) “Where is the unites of the companions of virtue and divine pleasure?” “Where is the Avenger of the blood of prophets and the children of the Prophets?” “Where is the seeker of revenge for the blood of the martyred ones of Karbala?” Undoubtedly, Imam (a.s.) must be weeping in sadness when he reaches this sentence. The tragedy of Karbala was the culmination of atrocities by the accursed Yazeed. The like of which is not to be found in the history of mankind. We all weep when these incidents are related to us by the fallible speakers. But the infallible Imam (a.s.) himself witnesses the carnage with his tear-filled eyes and he is constantly praying to Allah for us. When a common person is compelled to express pity upon the deplorable condition of the present Islam and Muslims then how much aggrieved will be that Imam who is aware of all the happenings, whether apparent or not?

In this brief article I have attemped to discuss some of the sentences of Dua Nudba which speak exclusively about Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) After pondering over these we can derive a number of  conclusions. Foremost being that if we wish to hasten the reappearance of Imam-e-Asr (A.S.) then we must recite the Dua every Friday. We should recite this dua as if our beloved is away from us and we are restless due to his separation. In fact the purity of intention and constancy is necessary.

Let us then resolve that we shall pray night and day for the reappearance of Imam-e-Asr (A.S.).

Jafar al-Sadiq’s [a] contribution to the sciences

On Saturday 18th January 2014, the  muslims world in specific the followers of the Shia school of thought will celebrate the birthday of Jafar Al Sadiq (AS) – the sixth imam of the twelvers.

Below are extracts from the book  Maghze Mutafakkir Jehan Shi’a” – “The Great Muslim Scientist and Philosopher – Imam Ja’far Ibn Muhammad As-Sadiq (a.s.)”

The book itself is an extract of the  translation from a French thesis published by The Research Committee of Strasbourg, France, about the contributions made by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) to science, philosophy, literature and irfan (gnosticism).

Although the article is a long – but it certainly worth a read – Enjoy.

Birth and Early Childhood
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was born in Medina on the 17 of Rabi ul-Awwal in the year of 82 Hijra. His father was the 5th Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) and his mother was Umm Farwa. It is said that Ja’far as-Sadiq was born circumcised.

Contrary to the Western belief, the Shi’as firmly believe that Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq had Ilm-e-Ladunni or ‘God given Knowledge’. The Shi’as believe that a man’s subconscious mind is quite different from his conscious mind. It is the treasure house of knowledge of mankind and of the world. Modern science lends support to this theory.

Biological studies have gradually proved that every group of cells in the human body knows whatever is knowable from the beginning of the world till today. The Shi’as contend that when someone is chosen as a Prophet or as an Imam, the curtain which hangs between the conscious and subconscious mind, is lifted and he can make use of the knowledge which is stored in his subconscious mind.

Saviour of Shi’ism
When Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq was still in his infancy some people following the example of the Christians spread the belief that the Holy Prophet, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib and the Imams had two natures – the nature of man and the nature of God. They were partly human and partly divine. This belief posed a great danger to their sect. The Imam fought against this thought and saved Shi’ism from disintegration. He realised that it would create differences, split the people into factions, weaken the Shi’a movement and finally destroy it totally.

The Imam knew the history of the Christians. He knew the origin of the Orthodox and Catholic churches and the main cause of differences among Christians and their division into so many sects. In reply to those who propagated that idea, he said that all of them were human beings and had no essence or elements of God in them. But they were God’s most favoured servants and were chosen by Him to lead and guide mankind. He announced that anyone who believed or confessed that they had an essence of God in them will be believing in many gods and would not remain a muwahid (monotheist). They would become a mushrik (polytheist).

Another great danger threatening Islam was Monasticism which the Muslims wanted to adopt from the Christians. The Imam fought against that tendency and saved Muslims from a great catastrophe.

In the first half of the 2nd century Hijra, many Muslim sects were inclined to borrow Monasticism from the Christians and introduce it in Islam. They believed that one should give up worldly life and spend his time in seclusion and prayers. The leaders of those sects had arranged some solitary places where they and their followers could go and spend their lives in prayers. Some of them said that in Islam there was nothing better than Salaat (ritual prayer), while others said that fasting was better than prayers and if someone had withdrawn from the world he should fast everyday throughout his life and think of nothing but Allah. Shi’as also, like others, were also attracted to Monasticism. This philosophy appealed to those who did not want to work and earn their own living.

At the beginning of the 2nd century Hijra Muslims were attracted not only to Monasticism, but they also wanted to follow another Christian practice which was Baptism.

The Imam opposed Baptism among Muslims just as he had opposed Monasticism. He told the Muslims : “We have customs which were practised by non-Muslims before Islam, but the Prophet of Allah approved them and thus they became part of Muslim customs and traditions. Although the Holy Quran has praised and exalted Christ and him mother Mary, it is not permissible for us to follow Christian customs and traditions.”

Another Christian practice, which was being followed by the Muslims, was celibacy. Considering it as a means of purification of the soul many Muslims did not marry. Addressing the Muslims, the Imam said : “ Do not follow the example of Christians. Celibacy is against the Commandments of Allah and tradition of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (s).

Not only it hurts a man intellectually and spiritually, it endangers the Muslim nation as a whole. It would reduce the number of Muslims. If celibacy was useful, the Holy Prophet of Allah would not have married at all. Since our Prophet himself married, it is the duty of every Muslim to follow his example and get married so that he may save himself from intellectual and spiritual degeneration and also help increase the Muslim population.”

Revelations of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
Imam Muhammad al-Baqir and Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) knew that the Muslim world would be flooded with books of the philosophers of Greece and Alexandria and that the Muslims would blindly accept everything they had written as the Gospel truth. Thus, many of the false and fallacious theories would catch their imagination, corrupt their minds, and keep them under total darkness for centuries, which is actually what had happened in the past. For example the theory of Ptolemy that the earth is the centre of the universe and the sun, the planet and the stars rotate around it was generally accepted by the Muslims as true.
The two Imams explained to their students who were to spread their teachings among the Muslims the theories of those philosophers, pointed out their mistakes and presented their own correct theories. Similarly they taught them physics, chemistry, geography etc prior to the translation of these subjects from Indian ,Greek and Persian into Arabic. Because they were Imams (representatives of Allah on Earth) they had the knowledge of the theories of Greek philosophers and others.

The momentous intellectual awakening of Muslims witnessed in the second century of the Hijra was not due to Hellenic or other foreign influences, as some Western historians have recorded. It was this result of the untiring and ceaseless efforts made by the members of the Prophet’s family to bring about that golden age of knowledge.

Among all the Abbasid caliphs, only al-Mamun was interested in knowledge. The rest were only interested in accumulation on wealth, worldly pleasures and satisfaction of carnal desires. A halo of glory and grandeur has been placed round the head of Harun by the historians and story tellers. He was nothing but a tyrant and a despot.

The Abbasid caliph al-Mansur was well aware of the popularity of the Living Imam – Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.). It is reported on the authority of Mufazzal bin Umar that al-Mansur wanted to kill the Imam. He called him many times with this intent, but when he saw him, he was filled with fear and could not carry out his vicious plan. Instead, he placed the Imam under house arrest for long periods of time. He eventually poisoned him secretly.

This was the end of the Medina Academy which was founded by the Imam. To destroy the influence of the Imam in the field of Religion, al-Mansur and his successors encouraged sectarianism. Many new schools of Islamic Jurisprudence appeared in that period and were fully supported by them. Since the leaders of these new sects had the backing of the government, their ideologies spread and the number of their adherents increased.

On the other hand those who followed the teachings of the Imam were systematically persecuted by the Abbasid caliphs. However, as al-Mansur could not still find in the Muslim world anyone who could rival the Imam in physics, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics and other sciences, he spent large sums of money and imported books from different countries on scientific subjects. They were translated in to Arabic, and taught in schools and colleges.

Gradually the names of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Ptolemy became a household name and their scientific and philosophical theories captured the imagination and dominated the thoughts of the Muslims for centuries. That scheme proved so successful that in the course of time, Muslims totally forgot about the scientific achievements of the Imam and the important discoveries made by him.

As a result the world lost more than a thousand years of knowledge as the science introduced by the Imam was only discovered by common man in the 19th century onwards. And the credit of this discovery also went to the person who discovered it recently. Little does the world know that they were all made known by the Imam 14 hundred years ago. Learned scholars from Europe started studying Islamic literature from the beginning of the 17th century.

Rotation of the Earth round the Sun
At the age of 11, the Imam refuted the theory that the sun, moon and the planets rotated around the earth. He said that the sun, during its course round the earth, passes through the 12 constellations in one year and remains in each constellation for 30 days, so why does it then disappear from sight during the night. It should remain visible in each constellation for 30 days.

Ptolemy theory said that the sun has two movements. One of its movements is that it crosses the sign of the zodiac and goes round the earth in one year and the other movement is that it goes round the earth in one night and one day, as a result of which we see it rise in the east and set in the west.

Aristotle was a great thinker and philosopher. His books, Arganan and Physics, are the most precious literary treasures of mankind, but his theory that the earth is stationary and the sun and stars rotate around it, delayed the progress of the science of Astronomy and kept mankind in the darkness of ignorance for 1800 years.

The Imam remarked that those two movements were not compatible. When the sun had to pass through the sign of the zodiac in one year and stay in each constellation for 30 days how could it change its course and go round the earth in 24 hours?
He also announced that the earth rotated around its own axis. The great scholar Poincare who lived in the 20th century made fun of this theory. When such a scholar could refuse to believe this, how could people in the 1st and 2nd century of the Hijra believe in the theory of the Imam. The rotation of the earth on its own axis could be proved by observation only. When astronauts landed on the surface of the moon, and directed their telescope towards the earth they observed that it was rotating slowly on its axis.

Some people might say that it was only by guesswork that Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said that the earth rotates on its own axis. Sometimes it happens that guesswork proves to be correct. But the question arises as to why no one else had guessed that for such a long time. This proves that he knew the laws of astro-physics which enabled him to make that discovery. If he had not known those laws, it would have been impossible for him to discover the rotation of the earth on its axis. This discovery could not have been accidental. One must know the cause to know its effect.

Tragically, for reasons stated above, the real credit of discovery of the movement of the earth round the sun was given to Copernicus who was an astronomer and mathematician, in the 15th Century. The theory of the earth rotation around its own axis went to Galileo who discovered the telescope.

Theory of the Four Elements
At the age of 12 he rejected the theory of Four Elements of Aristotle and proved that it is wrong. He remarked: “I wonder how a man like Aristotle could say that in the world there are only four elements – Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. The Earth is not an element. It contains many elements. Each metal, which is in the earth, is an element.

For 1,000 years this theory was never refuted, and remained the corner stone of physics. Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq proved that Water, Air, and Fire were also not elements, but a mixture of elements. This he said 1,100 years before the European scientists discovered that air was not an element and had separated its constituents. To derive the fact that Air is not an element, but a mixture of elements, was impossible to conclude in the Imam’s age and time. He said that there are many elements in the air and that all of them are essential for breathing.

It was only in the 18th century, which was considered the golden age of science, after Lavoisier separated oxygen from the air and demonstrated the important role it plays in breathing and combustion that they accepted that it is not an element. However, even then they were of the opinion that other elements do not play a part in breathing. In the middle of the 19th century scientists changed their views about the part played by other elements in breathing.

By that time it was also proved that although oxygen purifies blood, it also burns combustible materials, which come in contact with it. If living beings breath pure oxygen for a long time, their breathing organs would be oxidised. Oxygen does not damage them because it is mixed with other gases. Therefore, they concluded that the presence of other gases which are in very minute quantities in the air is also essential for breathing.

Moreover, oxygen being the heaviest of all other gases in the air would have settled at the bottom and covered the surface of the earth up to a certain depth. As a result, breathing organs of all animals would have been burnt and animal life would have become extinct. Moreover it would have cut off the supply of carbon dioxide, which plants need so badly, and made it impossible for them to grow on the surface of the earth. Presence of other gases in the air does not let oxygen settle down to the bottom and destroy animal and plant life.

At last, after more than 1000 years, the theory of Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) that presence of all gases in the air is essential for breathing was proved to be correct. He was the first person to discover that oxygen produces acidity. Time did not allow him to make known to the world further such revelations, but he was indeed proved the pioneer and leader in the scientific study of oxygen.

Origin of the Universe
The Imam’s another wonderful theory is about the ‘Origin of the Universe’. When modern scientists read this theory they confirm that it totally agrees with the modern theory, which has not yet become a law of physics. However, it has the unique distinction that it was enunciated 12 centuries ago. The theory read as follows :

“ The universe was born out of a tiny particle, which had two opposite poles. That particle produced an atom. In this way matter came into being. Then the matter diversified. This diversification was caused by the density or rarity of the atoms.”
The most significant point in this theory is the description of two opposite poles. The importance of this point was realised when the presence of two opposite poles was proved by modern science. Today it is an undisputed fact in atomic science and electronics.

Another of his interesting theory was that the universe is not always in one and the same condition. In one periods it expands and in another it contracts. This phenomenon was considered for centuries as inconceivable and the theory remained quite incomprehensible to the leading astronomers. After the 18th century more and more powerful telescopes were built and astronomers could see beyond our solar system. It was in 1960 that it was observed and confirmed by astronomers that distances between our galaxy and the neighbouring galaxies are increasing. These observations have provided sufficient proof that the universe is in a state of expansion. We do not know when this expansion started. The discovery of black holes has proved his other statement that the universe sometimes contracts was also proved true. Hence the Imam’s theory was proved to be correct.

The Imam also stated that everything in the universe including inanimate objects, is always in motion although we may not see it. There is nothing without motion. This theory, which was unacceptable in his time, is a scientific fact today. It is impossible to imagine, explain and describe an object in the universe, which is without motion. Motion is the essence of being. If there is no motion these is no existence. It is perpetual motion which creators life. In other words perpetual motion itself is life. If the motion stops, life would cease to exist. It is by the Will of Allah that eternal motion never stops and the life cycle continues. This eternal movement will continue till the Dooms-Day.

Jaber, his pupil once asked the Imam “How does the movement of the stars keep them from falling?”
The Imam replied : “Put a stone in a sling and swing it round your head. The stone will stay in the sling so long as you are rotating it. But as soon as you stop the rotation, the stone will fall down on the ground. In the same way the perpetual motion of stars keeps them from falling down.

Contribution in Physics
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) made many discoveries in physics which no one had even dreamt of before him and no one could think of after him. One of the laws worked out by him is about opacity and transparency of materials. He said that materials which are solid and absorbent are opaque, and materials which are solid and repellent are more or less transparent. When he was asked about the thing which is absorbed by an opaque material, he replied “Heat”

Today this theory is one of the Laws of Physics. How wonderful it is that in the 2nd century A.H., he could enunciate such a new and unique theory.

Contribution in Literature
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) defined ‘literature’ as no one had ever denied during the past twelve centuries. He said : “Literature is the garment which one puts on what he says or writes so that it may appear more attractive.” He further said that it is possible that literature may have no knowledge, but there is no knowledge without literature. Every kind of knowledge contains literature, but every kind of literature does not necessarily contain knowledge. These are indeed concise and comprehensive definitions of the relationship between knowledge and literature.

The Imam was indeed the pioneer to start the literary age. If he had not taken the first step and given encouragement to scientists and men of letters, there would have been no literary awakening and no Renaissance of knowledge.
Composition of the Human Body :

The Imam said that while all human beings were made from the earth, which was a known fact, he also said that whatever is in the earth is also in the human body, but all elements are not in the same proportion. Four elements are in very large quantity, eight elements in small quantities and eight elements in minute quantities. This theory was proved to be correct as late as the 18th century with the dissection of the human body.

Results of these analysis show that the ratio of the major elements in human bodies is the same throughout the world as Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) had said. The four elements which are in large quantities in the human body are: Oxygen, Carbon, Hydrogen and Nitrogen. The eight elements which are in small quantities are : Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Phosphorus, Sulphur, Iron, and Chlorine. The other eight elements which are in very minute quantities are : Molybdenum, Cobalt, Manganese, Copper, Zinc, Fluorine, Silicon and Iodine.

Discovery of Hydrogen :
According to the Western world, the greatest miracle of the Imam was his revelation of the presence of oxygen in the air. The western world admit now that the Imam discovered this twelve and a half centuries ago. Imam Baqir had said about the presence of hydrogen in water and that water can be turned into fire, as hydrogen was a highly inflammable gas.

The discovery of these two gases depended upon their separation from air and water. Separation of hydrogen from water was more difficult that separation of oxygen from air. Pure oxygen is available in the air, but pure hydrogen is not available anywhere. Hence hydrogen could not be obtained till sufficient power was developed and water was hydrolysed.

The world amazes as to how both our Imams could reveal the presence of hydrogen in air which was a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas and does not exist freely in nature. They could not have identified this gas and found out its properties without separating it from water through the process of hydrolysis, which was impossible without a strong current of electricity.

The first person who was able to separate hydrogen from water in modern times was the English scientist Henry Cavendish, who died in 1810. After many years of research he was able to hydrolyse water and obtain hydrogen gas. He was also able to confirm that hydrogen gas was highly inflammable as a result of a freakish accident that he had while doing his experiments, which resulted in his house catching fire. It was eventually Lavoisier, the French chemist, who gave the name of hydrogen to this gas.

The Imams knew such secrets but revealed only to the extend that would be useful to the world, hence the secret of how hydrogen could be separated from water without the use of electricity was never made known to common man. It has been proved that this discovery by Man has not done any good to mankind. On the contrary, it has led to the production of the hydrogen bomb, which is threatening to annihilate the human race. It was better that this instrument of death, destruction and devastation was not invented and manufactured at all so that mankind would be saved from the impending catastrophe.

Theory of Light
Another great contribution to science of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was his Theory of Light. He said that light reflected by different objects comes to us, but only a part of the rays enter our eyes. That is the reason why we do not see distant objects clearly.

If all the rays of light which come from them entered our eyes, objects would appear near to us. If we make a device through which all the rays of light coming from the camels grazing at a distance of 3000 zirah (one zirah is 40 inches) entered our eyes we would see them grazing at a distance of only 60 zirah ie. All these objects would look 50 times nearer to us.
This theory spread far and wide through his students and reached Europe too.

It was this theory, which helped Lippershey of Flanders to make his first binoculars in 1608. Galileo made use of this binoculars and invented his telescope in 1610. If the Imam had not formulated this theory of light, binoculars and telescopes would not have been invented and made and Galileo could not have confirmed through visual observations the theories of Copernicus and Kelper that all planets including the earth rotate round the sun.

When Galileo was asked why his telescope made heavenly bodies look so near that they could see the mountains of the moon, he repeated the words of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq and said : “This telescope collects all the rays of light coming from the heavenly bodies. When all the rays of light coming from the heavenly bodies are concentrated, the objects which are at a distance of 3,000 feet away appear to us as if they were at a distance of only 60 feet.”

Before the time of the Imam, it was believed that light from our eyes falls upon different objects so that they could be seen. He was the first to have said that “ the rays of the light from different objects come to our eyes and enable us to see them. The rays of light from our eyes do not go out and fall on other objects, otherwise we would be able to see them in the darkness also.”

The Imam also put forward a very interesting theory about the speed of light. He has said that light is a kind of motion which is very fast. This is in harmony to the modern theory of light.

The Imam had once said during the course of his lectures that a powerful beam of light could move heavy objects. The light which Moses saw at Mount Sinai was of that kind. It could have moved the mountain if God had so desired. It can be said that by making this statement, he laid the foundation of the theory of the laser.

Theory of transfer of Disease by Rays
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said that patients suffering from certain diseases emit special types of rays. If these rays fall upon a healthy person, they are apt to make him sick.

This theory was not acceptable to physicians and biologists. They were of the opinion that microbes and viruses were the main cause of many diseases, which were spread by insects, air, water, food and direct and indirect contact with patients.

No one before the Imam, had ever said that diseases were also transferred from one person to the other by means of rays, emitted from patients suffering from certain diseases. This idea was rather ridiculed by the learned people till it was proved to be correct by scientific studies.

Theory of Matter and Anti-Matter
One of the unique theories of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) is that everything except Allah has its opposites, but this does not result in a conflict, otherwise the whole universe would be destroyed. This is the theory of matter and anti-matter. The difference between matter and anti-matter is that in matter the electrons are negatively charged and protons are positively charged. But in anti-matter, the electrons are positively charged and protons are negatively charged. Scientists have concluded that if one kilogram of matter collides with one kilogram of anti-matter, so much energy will be released that the whole world will be destroyed.

Professor Alfven is of the opinion that there is no other source in the universe, which can generate so much energy as quasars, except explosion of matter with anti-matter. Just as uranium was used for exploding an atomic bomb, helium would be used for exploding matter with anti-matter. Russian scientists have already obtained anti-matter of helium.

Theory of the Light of the Stars
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said that among the clusters of stars which we see at night, some are so bright that our sun, in comparison, is quite insignificant. Because of man’s limited knowledge, many people during the Imam’s time and centuries after him, considered this theory to be illogical, irrational and unacceptable. They could not believe that these small specks of light which are called stars, can have more light than the light of our big bright sun.

About twelve and a half centuries later, it was proved that what he said was quite correct. It has been discovered that there are stars in the universe, which are billions of times brighter than the sun. They are called quasars. The light of quasars is about quadrillion times (ten thousand billion times) the light of our sun. Some of them are at a distance of about 9000 million light years from the earth. The first such quasar was discovered in 1927.

Another important theory was that there are many worlds other than our own, that we cannot even count them. Their number is only in the knowledge of Allah (swt). Just as we have living beings on this planet, there are living beings on many other planets in the universe where conditions are suitable.

Our telescopes are even today not powerful enough to enable us to see what is beyond the quasars. Therefore we do not know how vast the universe is. It can only be surmised that in the universe there would be millions and millions of worlds, which have existed for billions of years and shall continue to do so for billions of years to come.

We must therefore accept as Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said, that, no one except Allah (swt) knows the number of large and small worlds.

Pollution of Environment
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said that we should not pollute our environment otherwise it would become impossible to live on this planet. Definitely he had our times in mind when he made those remarks. Pollution was not a problem in his time. There was not a single factory in existence and metals were smelted in small furnaces by burning wood. This was not a theory but a scientific fact which cannot be refuted. It is estimated that if air pollution increases at the present rate for 50 years more, 50% of plankton will die and the quantity of oxygen in the air would be reduced by the same proportion.

The rich nation of Japan ignored the advice of Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) and polluted its environment and suffered the consequences. After World War II, in which Japan was defeated, the average yearly income of a Japanese worker was only US$ 30. Today it is US$500. In the production of ships, radios, TVs, tape-recorders, computers, rayon cloth etc, it has given birth to numerous diseases which were never known to have been existed. A new and dangerous disease has appeared recently in Japan.

This disease is called Eta Eta because the patients cry Eta Eta in pain. The first symptom of the disease is severe and unbearable pain in the bones. After sometime, the bones become so brittle that they break into pieces like glass. The cause of this disease is accumulation of large quantities of cadmium in the body by drinking water and eating agricultural products which have been contaminated by that element. Another new disease has appeared on Kyushu in Japan. Those who suffer form it lose their eyesight and the tissues of their bodies wither away. As a result, they cannot move their limbs. If they are not treated properly they gradually die. The cause of the disease is accumulation of mercury in the body through polluted water and food.

From the time of Hippocrates, the famous Greek physician, till today about 40,000 kinds of disease have been diagnosed, their symptoms recorded and treatment prescribed, but the diseases, which have appeared in Japan due to the pollution of their environment are unknown to the science of medicine.

Science and Philosophy
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was not only a religious leader, but a scientist, a philosopher and a man of letters. He used to teach theology, philosopher, science and literature. He was the first scholar in the world to have separated science and philosophy. No one before him paid any attention to the important point that they are two different subjects. He remarked, while pointing out the difference between the two which shocked many philosophers. They can be divided in two parts.

The first part read as follows : “Science and philosophy are two different subjects. Science gives us definite and exact results even if they are small and insignificant. But philosophy serves no practical purpose and gives no useful results.”

The second part read as follows : “However, it is beyond the scope of science to discover the ultimate truth; but it is within the domain of philosophy to do that.”

As the Imam was a religious leader he already knew the truth through religion and did not want to find it through philosophy. However, it was his firm conviction that philosophy would solve many problems. He was therefore more interested in philosophy than in science because it helped to recognise the Creator.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was not a physician by profession, but he introduced and formulated methods of diagnosis and treatment in the field of medicine. Western scholars find it hard to believe how he could have introduced certain diagnosis in that age and time.

Good Advice for Mothers
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has advised mothers that they should put their new born babies to sleep on their left side.

For centuries this advice was considered by many as meaningless and absurd since no one could see any use in putting babies to sleep on the left side of mothers. Some people even went to the extent of remarking that it was dangerous to carry out his instructions. Mothers may take a turn while sleeping and crush the baby to death. No one in the East or West took that advice seriously. Even during the Renaissance period, when scholars in Europe studied every theory critically, no one tried to find out whether it had a scientific basis.

In 1865, Ezra Cornell founded the Cornell University in NYK. In this university he set up under the department of medicine, an institute for the Research on New Born and Suckling Babies. A research scholar of this institute who travelled to different parts of the world, observed that mothers in every country carried their babies in the left arms.

Doctors in this institute observed that babies who are put to sleep on the left side of their mothers sleep more soundly and peacefully but those who are put on the right side, wake up every now and then and cry. It was reported that for the first few days after their birth, babies would have no rest at all, if they are not on the left side of their mothers.

After the invention of holography, holographic pictures of unborn babies were taken which revealed that the mother’s heartbeat reached the ears of the baby in the womb. Experiments were made of different mammals to find out the reaction of the foetus. All experiments showed that whenever the heart of the mother stopped beating, the foetus became restless and agitated, because it feeds on the blood, which comes to it with each and every heartbeat.

These experiments proved that unborn babies are not only used to hearing their mother’s heartbeat, but their very existence depends upon them. Heartbeats mean to them a constant supply of food. Stoppage of heartbeats signals starvation and death. They depend so much upon the heartbeat that even after they are born, they become restless, if they do not hear it. A new-born knows its mother’s heartbeat quite well and that is why it sleeps comfortably and peacefully, when it is on the left side of the mother and can hear the heartbeats clearly.

If the Cornell University had not been established and the research work on babies was not done, no one would ever have realised the scientific importance of the advice of the Imam that mothers should put their babies to sleep on their left side.
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) was ahead of his time by 1,100 years. Indeed he had access to Ilm Ladunni (divine knowledge).

The Magic of 40


Fish Eye View of Karbala

As we come together, we join hands in commemorating the 40th Of Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed who was martyred on the plains of Karbala in the year 680 AD..

This year, twenty million people are expected to visit the shrine of Hussain (AS), located in Karbala, Iraq. People from every inch of the globe make their way to pay their respects to Hussain (AS) on the annual 40th day after the date of his death. This year, it is to be commemorated on Monday 23rd December. Last year an estimated 15 Million people did the Ziyarat (Visitation) of Hussain in Kerbala – what an incredible sight; I can only imagine what a sight it shall be this year. After all, it is expected that there will be 20 million people, in the same place, at the same time, on the same day, all commemorating the same event. Even more incredible, this is the only event recorded anywhere in the world where 20 Million Plus assemble at a grave to commemorate this event in unity and in peace.

So why is the Ziyarat of Hussain (AS) the grandson of the prophet so important during the 40 days of mourning?

Translated from Arabic, Ziyarat means visitation. That is, it is the act of speaking with and visiting significant spiritual leaders of Islam: the prophet and his family. There are 180 million shias who don’t get the opportunity to be able to perform the physical Ziyarat. Does that mean that the 180 million shias are unable to speak and send their salutations to those that brought and taught an eloquent religion? According to a hadith (a saying) of the twelve leaders that shias believe in, performing the Ziyarat of Hussain from a distance, remains just as significant as doing so in Karbala. Provided the individual performs the Ziarat with the understanding of the Imam’s status and in doing so, seeks to emulate him, the significance is the same.

Prophet Mohammed (SAW) is recorded to have said that, “The earth mourns the death of a believer for forty mornings.” It would seem that the deceased should be mourned for at least forty days. Indeed, only recently have we discovered that by continuing a behavior for forty days, we make it a habit. Clearly, the prophet’s principle of mourning the deceased for forty consecutive days was designed carefully to inculcate the habit of remembering those that have passed away.

40 days is pretty specific though. Moreover, it’s found in plenty of religions regardless of whether the ritual concerns birth, death, or even spiritual cleansing. So why forty days?

In his book 40 Days to Personal Revolution: A Breakthrough Program to Radically Change Your Body and Awaken the Sacred Within Your Soul, Baron Baptiste explains the significance of forty days:

“Why forty days? Because the number 40 holds tremendous spiritual significance in the realm of transformation. Jesus wandered in the desert for forty days in order to experience purification and come to a greater understanding of himself and his mission. Moses and his people traveled through the desert for forty years before arriving at their home in the holy land. Noah preserved the sacredness of life by sailing his ark for forty days and forty nights. According to the Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish mystical text, “It takes forty days to ingrain any new way of being into our system….”

It can’t be a surprise then that twenty million Shia’s will descend into the holy city, Karbala in the next few days, each one, eager and ready to perform the Ziyarat. It is a significant end to the forty day period in which the Shias hope and pray for self-transformation. A transformation that will allow them to follow the path of Hussain (AS), upholding his message of justice while propagating truth and the important role that sacrifice plays in doing so.

Indellible Impression

As we go through our life, there are certain things that we read, hear and see that has a profound effect on our inner self. I recently came across that kind of video – this video called “Ashura”, recorded in Tehran, Iran this year. The directorial and production work done by the director, producer and the editor is amazing – they manage to capture the gist of the Azadari in an unprecedented way and the wordings that have been translated and sung by Ali AbdolMaleki, tug on our somber heartstrings to the entire prose of Abbas (AS). Definitely a must watch.

The Mysterious Jinn Of Zanzibar

The general perception of the people in Zanzibar, is that there are plenty of Jinns roaming around freely on this island surrounded by coastal waters. In the west, when individuals encounter apparition they believe they have seen a ghost. In reality, there are no such things as ghosts and I for one, certainly do not believe in them. However, I do believe in the concept of Jinns as they are the creation of God in a different dimension altogether. The Qur’an – the holy book of Muslims, has an entire chapter dedicated to the subject of Jinns titled, “The Jinn” – Chapter 72

So as was customary in Zanzibar, on Sunday mornings after we had our breakfast, Mohamed Amiralibhi, Sherali Gulambass and myself would meet together and proceed to take our bikes and go out for a long ride, sometimes lasting 1 hour and sometimes almost 3. We would start our adventure at Juni Mosque and work our way towards Mnazi Moja, Kuppas, Mao Zedong Stadium and then make our way back. As usual, we would chit chat as we peddled away, the serene blue sky above us and calms winds traveling beside. We had just crossed V.I. Lenin Hospital and on our way towards Kilima Migu, I was looking on my left hand side, talking to Mohamed and Sherali, when suddenly, (as some people would like to call it), I disappeared!

To this day, I can still hear the ringing of  Sherali and Mohamed frantically shouting out my name in my head and then Sherali saying, “Kachukuliwa na jinni!” – “He has been taken by the Jinn!” Instead, there I was, lying in a deep trench, about 6 feet deep that was dug out holding high voltage cables on the right hand side of the road and as I stared up into the sky, I comically wondered, “How on earth am I going to get the bike up 6 feet?” looking up, I shouted back, “Mnawazimu nyiyi!” – “Are you guys crazy, I have not been taken by the Jinn, get me out of here!” They came to the edge of the trench, peering over and as they comprehended the look on my face, they could not stop laughing … “We thought you have been taken by the Jinn!”, exclaimed my friends.

Well there was definitely no Jinn, just a particular odd turn of events on a Sunday morning – not that I have not encountered one in my life so far  – come to think of it, yes I did, but that is another story, saved for another day.

The Writer Automation – Switzerland

When I first read the  “The difference engine”,  I was breath taken. Charles Babbage had an incredible story.  His vision of a computer coupled with the politics of Britain and the struggle to get the first mechanical computer built that was unwieldy. The basic architecture was similar to a modern computer. The data and program memory were separated, operation was instruction-based and the control unit could make conditional jumps. The machine had a separate I/O unit: INTEL INSIDE.

I recently came across this short documentary produced by the BBC UK, about a 240 year old automated doll that can write. It is a clockwork creation by Pierre Jaquet-Droz, a Swiss watchmaker. Definitely a must watch.

Do It Today, Not Tomorrow

In our everyday lives we have the sense that time flows inexorably from the past into the future; water flows downhill; mountains erode; we are born, we grow old, and then die; we anticipate the future but remain to have a sense of nostalgia. Time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, newly wed and embarking on my new journey ahead of me with my beautiful partner. Yet in a way, it seems like ages ago and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I experienced them all here, on planet Earth and not in a utopian world. I have glimpses of how life was years ago and of all my hopes and dreams that came neatly packaged with it.

But, here it is… the “back nine” of my life and as it catches me by surprise, I ask myself, “How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth disappear to?

I remember it well, seeing  older people walking past me through the maze of streets in Zanzibar,  through the years and thinking that those older people were  years away from me and that “I was only on the first hole” and the “back  nine” was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it  would be like.

But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting grey. They move slower and the youthful person I once saw, has become old. Some are in better shapes and some worse  than me but,  I see the great change, unlike the ones that I remember who were  young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we  are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we would be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is no longer a treat… it’s mandatory!  Because if I don’t with my own free will… I will just fall asleep where I sit, just like late uncle Mamadi, you would be talking to him about serious issues of the world and in a blink of an eye, he would be snoring loudly – we would all laugh and chuckle away, not realizing that one day we might be like him – he is gone and may God keep him in the company of the chosen ones.

And so as I enter into  this new season of my life, unprepared for all the aches and pains and  the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had  done but never did, at least I know, that though I’m on the “back  nine” (not knowing how long this will last), this I know, that when  it’s over on this earth, it is over. A new adventure will begin! Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done and things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy that I did.  It’s all in a lifetime.

So, if you’re not on the “back nine” yet, let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don’t put things off for too long! Life goes by quickly. So do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether you’re on the “back nine” or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life, so live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in the years past.

“Life” is a gift to you from God. The way you live your life is your gift to those who enter it and you have the responsibility to make it a fantastic one.


  • Your kids are becoming you…but your grandchildren are perfect!
  • Going out is good… Coming home is better!
  • You forget names…. But it’s OK because other people forgot they even knew you.
  • The things you used to care to do, you no longer care to do, but you really do care that you don’t care to do them anymore.
  • You sleep better on a lounge chair with the TV blaring than in bed. It’s called “pre-sleep”.
  • You miss the days when everything worked with just an “ON” and “OFF” switch.
  • You tend to use more 4 letter words … “what?”…”when?” …”  ???
  • Everybody whispers.
  • But OLD is good in some things: Old Songs, Old movies, and best of all, Old friends. So stay well, “OLD FRIEND!”
  • It’s not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.

Today is the oldest you have ever been, yet the youngest you’ll ever be, so enjoy this day while it lasts.

“Work for a Better Life as if you live forever and work for better end as if you die tomorrow” – Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib

How to become a succesful Editor

My grand father Gulamhussein Walli Dharsi was born in Zanzibar in the year 1887  and he died in Zanzibar in the year 1961 on 23rd Ramdhan. He was one of the seven siblings. My grand father married a lady by the name of Fatma Dhedar. Unfortunately, she passed away when my father was very young. It must be tragic to grow up without a mother. My grandfather out of his infinite wisdom decided against remarrying lest the children suffer under a “matri maa”  step-mother and so he brought them up on his own.

My grandfather decided he wanted to be a Doctor and go to India to study, however his father encouraged him to join the business which he did.  In 1923, upon return from Ziyarat to Iraqi his father breathed his last. My grand father commonly known as Mulla Gullamhusein or Janab Salsabil remained in business with his brothers up to the year 1930. He developed a personal library which consisted of about two thousand books at the time of his death. He was a permanent subscriber of the monthly magazines: ‘Islah’ (Khajwah), ‘Shia’ (Khajwah), ‘Al-Waez’ (Lucknow) and ‘Muslim Review’ (Lucknow). Using the pen name of ‘Salsabil’, he wrote important articles on various topics in Gujarati and English and got them published in the magazines: ‘Rah-e-Najat’, ‘Noor-e-Iman’, ‘Chaud-vhin-Sadi’ and ‘Muslim Review’. He devoted his entire life in studying Islam and disseminating the message of Islam.

In  the year 1942 he started a monthly publication on religious topics under the name of ‘Salsabil’. Haji Mohamed Jivraj (Mahrumbha) was appointed the editor. Most of the articles appearing in this publication were written by Mulla GulamHusein. The readership of the magazine was vast and traversed the entire world. The subscription to the magazine helped him to keep afloat. He also was the editor of the weekly newspaper “Zanzibar Samachar” from 1938 till the time of his death. He had deep affinity towards Azadari and showed keen interest in developing Islamic courses and propagation of Islam. He developed contacts and friendship with the leading literary and religious figures of the time which included: Allamah Kantoori, Haji Gulam Ali Ismail (Haji Naji),and Muayyan-ul-Islam ValiMohamed Moamin . He authored and published the following notable books in Gujarati:

1.Biography of Allamah Kantoori
2.History of the Mausoleums of Kerbala
3.Islam and the Caliphs of Islamic Government
4.The Outstanding Memoirs of Ahl-ul-Bayt
6.Biography of Imam Jaffer Sadiq (a.s.)
7.The Famous Prophets of the World

With his death in 1961 on 23rd Ramadhan , the publication SALSABIL ceased to exist and it was a turning chapter for my father.