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1 Pound Fish

This Song fucking sucks. It’s a bad attempt to capitalize on the recent success of people from different countries making silly music and music videos Western folk find funny. It’s fucking awful.

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford had an unsavoury interaction with a Toronto Star Reporter yesterday evening.  The reporter is claiming that he was nowhere near the Mayor’s property.  If he wasn’t “close” to the property, how did the Mayor’s neighbour see the Reporter?  How could the reporter hear Mayor Ford asking him to drop his phone as the Reporter is claiming Rob Ford did? And how could Mayor Ford hear the reporter responding to him?  It’s true that the reporter may not have been on the Mayor’s property, however even doing a story on the small piece of land behind the house and the fact that the Mayor wants to build a fence on it seems suspect in terms of being newsworthy.   There seems to be a lot of scrutiny on this Mayor.  Granted, he is one entertaining and constant human sound byte, who is sure to provide the public with a weekly gaffe of some kind; however, why are some in the city so scrutinizing of him?   My best guess is that it gets people reading the newspaper and listening to the radio. Toronto knew what they would get when they elected Rob Ford, now deal with it and make the best of it.

Most religions claim that an all powerful, all knowing, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc. entity is responsible for ordering and structuring everything.  For the purposes of this essay, I will focus on Monotheistic religions, i.e. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.  One of the aims of of this essay is to examine only one question that I would very much like someone more informed and intelligent than myself to answer to my logical satisfaction.  How do people justify their understanding of their God as limitless, while at the same time worshipping their God in the context of numerous limitations and constraints to their God’s existence and power?  These limitations and constraints will be discussed in detail in this essay.

I will include some information here on the concept of abstraction as it provides the basis for my argument.  Those familiar with Ancient Greek Philosophy will recognize this as a bastardized and crude version of Plato’s Theory of Forms (I like the outline of the Theory provided in Phaedo better than the one he gives in The Republic!).  If you asked 10 people to draw a table, you would probably have 10 different drawings of tables.  They would share some attributes, i.e. all of the drawings might have four legs.  However, the drawings might vary in terms of other attributes.  For example, some may draw a round table, and some may draw a rectangular table.  Some may draw a coffee table, and some may draw a picnic table.  Everyone will have a different idea of what a table is.  There is perfect table “form”  from which all renderings of a table are derived from.  This form is not physical, but is an ideal, perfect concept of a table.  All things have a perfect form, however we cannot explain this abstraction in physical terms in a finite way.  For example, someone could not simply say that the perfect form of a table is a flat surface with four legs.  Some tables have one leg.  some tables may not have a smooth surface.  Therefore, it’s simply not possible to describe any perfect form in a finite manner.  According to Plato, only a select few were privy to and understood the nature of the forms.   For further information on this topic, one can examine his allegory of the Cave for a representation of this theory.

My assertion as presented in this essay, is that no living human can have perfect knowledge of the forms Plato described.  I am proposing that these forms are the best way to describe divinity and perfection.  I’m not the first to do this, as there have been many Neo-Platonists, i.e. Plotinus who have professed these beliefs. Religious perspectives are purely allegorical.  Now, this does not mean that certain religious values are right or wrong.  The point of this essay is not to point out that religious dogma is wrong.  It is however, a point of this essay to outline how and why it is problematic, and illogical to believe that we as humans can have a perfect understanding of the world around us, let alone correct and holy conduct.  To say that we have a perfect understanding of anything divine, whether it be God, or proper conduct is to place ourselves in the same class as that which we claim to be divine.  In simpler terms, if we claim to share the same knowledge with God, then we are associating ourselves with God.  This may not be problematic for some sects of Christianity, however it is certainly a problem in Islam as a central tenet of Islamic Faith is to consider God to have no associates.  If God’s laws are perfect, then how can imperfect agents (us) administer them?  It is not logically possible for human to implement perfect laws.  In fact to claim that God wants something a certain way  is to claim to know what God wants; which arrogantly implies that humans are able to know the thoughts of a divine creator.  It will be explained later on in this essay why it is illogical for those believing in the Monotheistic tradition to believe that a Divine Creator “thinks”.

The second aim of this essay is to point out the arrogance of individuals within these religious contexts and point out how this arrogance and lack of humility within faith in general has been a significant factor in the suffering of people throughout history.  Divinity expressed in the context of limits and constraints is essentially a contradiction based on the Monotheistic conception of the Divine.  The failure of the Monotheistic tradition to realize this contradiction has resulted in the emergence of different forms of Monotheism, and different sects and schisms between these various sects.  This has of course involved much conflict and bloodshed within the contexts of all of these religions.  At this juncture in history, it is Islam and the Muslim diaspora that has chosen to be the one out of the big three to be the most identifiable with arrogance, resulting in its marginalization and decline.

I guess at this point, I need to mention other examples of this religious arrogance throughout the course of history (so that I am not accused of “Islamophobia”).  How about the Christian violence of the crusades where people where murdered indiscriminately, regardless of their religion during the siege of Jerusalem?  There were definite Christian religious connotations involved in the Holocaust as well.  Let’s throw in a Jewish example so that we can call it Even Steven.  How about the current actions of the Israeli army in the West Bank and the rise of Jewish  fundamentalism that is currently occurring in Israel right now in 2012?  The commonality here is that all of these groups believed or currently believe that they are engaging in correct and appropriate conduct as desired by their Divine Creator.

Hopefully I’ve established that this essay is not meant to be an attack on Islamist ideology exclusively.  It is an attack on religious arrogance as a whole.  It is not my fault that Islamic arrogance is the most pervasive of the main three Monotheistic religions in today’s world.  In the Monotheistic world, certainly the cries of Muslim extremists saying “God wants things this way” are being heard more loudly and clearly than the same cries from Jewish and Christian extremists.   This essay will hopefully also serve to point out why insinuating that God can “want” something is illogical and insulting to God.

The most relevant component of divinity is that what is divine is transcendent and limitless.  God can do all things.  To say that God can be controlled or bound by any force is not possible according to Monotheists.  God is what places the boundaries and parameters on and around everything.  Let us consider now how this attribute is contravened on a constant basis.  To begin with, God is often referred to as having a male gender.  God is referred to as “He” in religious scriptures.  To imply that God has a gender is to impose a limitation on God.  Namely, that God is limited to gender constraints.  Gender is of course based on physical attributes.  If God is male, then he has both x and y chromosomes.  To imply that God has any physical attributes is to impose some form of appearance  restriction on God.  And of course these physical attributes must exist in some kind of space; thereby indicating another constraint.  If God is not subject to limits, then God cannot be physically limited by a gender or any physical shape or attribute.

Want cannot exist without time and space.  Wanting as a concept involves gaining possession of something that one does not have currently.  The key word here is currently.  Currently implies the relevance of time in terms of a constraint.  Therefore it is illogical and insulting to one’s God to imply that God wants something.  To imply that something is God’s will is to imply once again that God is governed by time.

Someone may argue that God “chooses” to be constrained.  However, as with the argument describing the impossibility of God “wanting or willing” something, making a choice involves time.  Time is required to make a choice.  For example, if one is choosing an item from a menu, or deciding what their favourite colour is, they haven’t made that decision at that point.  Even if a choice or decision is made in  a split second, it is still constrained by time.  Therefore, to imply that God makes choices is also illogical, if in fact God is not constrained by time and space.

A transcendent God, who does not fall under any limitations cannot be understood satisfactorily and conclusively even as a result of divine scriptures such as the Quran, Bible, or Old Testament.  The only way to to understand God is to admit a lack of understanding and maintain a steadfast humility on the subject.  Religious and moral conflict around the world is rooted in human arrogance.  This arrogance pertains specifically in humans doing their best to make assertions of how a force so powerful that it is beyond human comprehension could work.   To even refer to God as a force is illogical since force is also governed by rules and limitations (F = MA).

Even with paradigms such as Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, E = M x C(squared), making the case that time is relative, it cannot be refuted that time exists, and that time places limits on the world around us.  One may want to make the argument that based on equations such as the Theory of Relativity, that it is clear that God has ways of manipulating time and space variables.  However, this argument is greatly flawed as it begs the following question/paradox:  How can God manipulate time, if it actually takes time to manipulate something?  Proponents of Fatalism may point out that there is no need for God to manipulate anything as it is all part of a master plan, however a fatalistic approach is also placing a limitation on God in terms of him not being able to make changes to the plan.  If the Fatalist retorted to this train of dialectic by making the case that God could make changes to the plan if God wanted to do so, then I would point out to the Fatalist that concepts such as change, control, etc. are logically inconsistent with a divine and limitless God as they are of course contingent upon time and space.

A devout Muslim, Jew, or Christian may say:  “You just have to have faith”.  While I respect this thought because it is along what I believe are the correct religious/moral Monotheistic lines, faith in itself is also contingent upon space and time.  Faith is an integral part of religion; however the time and space problem I’ve mentioned in this essay points out another paradox of religion.  Let me outline this paradox in greater detail here.  Faith is concrete, and governed by time and space.  Certainly, one could argue that faith is abstract, and has nothing to do with anything material, however, they would be wrong.  It can be conceded that nobody can measure faith in units, i.e. there are 50 units of faith associated with Tom, and only 20 units of faith associated with Roy, therefore Tom has more faith than Roy.  Faith is not measured this way in the Monotheistic tradition, and according to the same line of thought, only the divine creator can judge who is more faithful.

A sentient entity of any kind is required to have faith, or believe in something, i.e. humans can have faith in God, baby birds can have faith that their Mother will return to the nest with food for them, etc.  And of course, this faith, and these beliefs are constrained by time and space.  Time is required for people to have the faith, and space is required for the entity to have the faith in.  Therefore, faith is also rooted in and governed by time and space, as sentient entities themselves are governed by time and space.   This case can be made as sentience is precluded by concepts such as the sentient being having thoughts, and making actions; all of which are constrained by time and other limitations.   Faith is at the heart of Monotheistic tradition.  Herein lies the paradox:  How can something that is unequivocally and irrefutably limited (Faith) be used to adequately explain Divinity (God), which according to the Monotheistic tradition is limitless.  The answer is simply that we cannot explain it, and to believe that a human can explain it is illogical, as human are limited beings, and “explaining” is also bound by time and space.

What should then be made of the various religious scriptures that have been bestowed to humankind over the centuries in the Monotheistic traditions?  There are clearly compelling events that have occurred and shaped human history and beliefs.  These are documented in written form in both religious texts, historical records, and the archaeological record.  The answer lies in the message contained clearly within the Monotheistic traditions themselves, and their various incarnations.  This answer is simple.  We as a species, and as highly limited and flawed entities cannot adequately explain anything Divine.   This answer is that religious traditions, customs, rituals, and laws are our best approximate guesses when it comes to understanding the the Divinty, God, etc.  Religious rules and doctrines are the only way for humankind to achieve the closest possible thing that is achievable in our realm to the understanding of Divinity.  Tragically we will get it all wrong, as we have been since time immemorial.

There have been great thinkers over the course of History within various traditions.  The Early, Greeks, i.e. Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, etc, the Epicureans, Siddhartha Guatama, Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Descartes, Kant, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc.  One thing that these people had in common was the entertainment of thought and discussion, and a basal humility with respect to the values they preached.  Socrates understood that the  thing he could be most sure of was his own ignorance.

To conclude, the only way to explain Divinity and God is to understand, accept, and be accountable for our own ignorance.  If someone were to ask me after reading this essay: If Jews, Christians, and Muslims are all wrong, how do you explain God and Divinity.  My reply would simply be that nobody has explained it concretely thus far, therefore we need to accept that there are some questions that we will never know the answers to.   We must carry on with our best approximate guesses, and be humble in the process.

I have to apologize to Gotye.  It’s really not his fault that people like his music.  Just like it wasn’t Milli Vanili’s fault either, or the Spice Girls’ fault.  People are just dumb.  I probably like music that other people think sucks, i.e. Rush.  I guess music is kind of subjective, and liking certain music is based on a subjective experience.  There is of course a such thing as a stupid opinion.  And people who are of the opinion that Gotye’s music is good in any way have at least one stupid opinion.  People have had dumb opinions throughout our history, i.e. Communism is “good”, vanilla is the best ice cream flavour, etc.   Just like it’s not vanilla’s fault that people like it, it’s not Gotye’s fault that people like his crappy music.  When people pull this type of shit, it makes me think scary thoughts of ruling the World as a Dictator.

In the last two days, there’s been a story from out West in Canada, I believe it may have been Saskatchewan.  It involves someone being offended at a Christian prayer being recited before a meeting.  The meeting was a public affair I believe, so it would have been organized on the Taxpayer’s dime (I believe).  So anyway, there is an individual who is demanding that the Mayor of the Municipality in which this whole thing went down wants an apology from the Mayor because he’s offended by the prayer being recited because he is an Atheist.  He’s claiming that he will take the Municipality or the Mayor, or someone to a Human Rights Tribunal if he does not receive this apology.

So this is fucked up on a number of levels.  Fundamentally, I agree with this guy in terms of it being illogical to have prayer recited in a public place if there is a distinction between Church and State.  However, we are not living in a Country where there is such a hardened distinction.  As a Commonwealth nation, Canada owes allegiance to the Queen of England.  Their is a religious element to this Monarchy, i.e. “God save the Queen” etc.  The Christian tradition is linked to our Governance as a Nation.  So to my Atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Rastafarian, etc. friends who feel that this is guy is right; I’d agree with you if we lived in a Country where Church and State were not linked.

Whether or not you are for or against the Monarchy, the reality of today’s Canada is that we live in a Country that espouses a Christian Identity.  This is indisputable.  The Queen is on our money, and our laws must be passed through her representative chamber (The Senate).  So, as it stands right now; it is logically acceptable for Christian prayer to be a component of public meetings as it is a key component of the Monarchy which rules us.  If Canadians move to get rid of the presence of the Monarchy, then certainly it could become logical that a separation of Church and State could occur.

I (as a Muslim) am ready to accept Christian prayer in public meetings because my parents immigrated from a so-called Islamic country (Pakistan) which is of course a joke of a country with some of the worst corruption, crime, and social problems in the world (not to mention REAL Human Rights problems).  In moving to a country that is linked to Christianity, my family was able to secure a better life.  For this reason, I find it reprehensible when people attack the link between Church and State.  Therefore, having Christian prayer before a public meeting  is just fine by me.  Of course, I am just one out of 35 million Canadians.  If the rest of us decide the Monarchy needs to go, then maybe it will become illogical to have Christian prayer before a public meeting.  Until then, it may be offensive to some people, but to those people I say: take action, write to your MP, start a Twitter account, etc.  Do something to dissolve the link between Church and State.  Then you’ll have a leg to stand on.

To equate a prayer being read before a public meeting to a human rights issue is of course laughable.  It’s frustrating to hear that taxpayer money is being spent to potentially examine shit like this.  I challenge a Canadian human rights judge to give me an accurate description or definition of what rights are (without doing a Google search first).  Canadian Soldiers did not die in Europe during World War 2 so that people could be awarded large sums of money for being offended. 6 million people were killed during the Holocaust, and this guy feels that being offended can potentially constitute a human rights violation.  Worse than this is the fact that there is a mechanism in Canadian Society that may allow for this claim to be processed seriously (Human Rights Tribunals) Canadians certainly aren’t fighting right now so that Afghans won’t be offended.  For shame.

I am outraged about the latest reports coming from the media regarding Conservative Cabinet Minister Bev Oda and her loose ways with her wallet full of Canadian Taxpayer money. I am further outraged at the fact that I haven’t heard a response from the Prime Minister on this. After all, this is exactly the type of activity that is contraindicated by Conservative ideology.

This Lady needs to not be a Minister, or a Member of Parliament at all. Someone who respects Taxpayer’s money doesn’t need to stay in a hotel overlooking the Thames, and also knows that $16 is a fucked up price for a glass of orange juice. If there was Grey Goose in the O.J. it would be more understandable that the fucking thing costs $16 (kidding).

To the voters in her riding: It’s not Oda’s fault she engaged in this behaviour, it’s your fault. Keep electing this leech into office, and she’ll keep sticking her fist up our asses. She paid the money back, but that doesn’t negate our Taxpayer assholes being stretched the way she stretched them.  If she stays elected, then I’m sorry to say that the voters in her riding should know that I don’t appreciate their active role in the Bev Oda vs. the Taxpayer gangbang.

To pay the money back, and call it even steven is absurd. This is not simply a matter of recouping funds; but a matter of misconduct that is unacceptable. Bill Clinton banged that broad in his office at zero expense to the taxpayer; but this joke of a Parliamentarian directly spends our money. Clinton is impeached, and Oda is simply told to pay the money back. Thanks for doing us a solid and returning what you owe to us! Last time I checked, when you borrow money, there’s interest attached to it. We want our fucking interest! Something to the tune of prime plus 90% should be adequate.

To the Prime Minister:  How can you accept this conduct?  Oda has violated Taxpayer trust, and made a mockery of Canadian values (Not just Conservative values).    I work for a not for profit agency, publicly funded agency.  We have strict policies and guidelines for expenses when working out of town .  These range from policies on lodging to monetary limits on how much is spent on meals.  I drive a Hyundai accent, and have done so for the last seven years.  I claim my mileage honestly, and I try to plan my expenses efficiently, as do my Colleagues. If the rest of us take an active role in protecting Taxpayer money, then our Leaders must do the same.

This new Gotye song is garbage.   Nothing against Gotye, but the only reason people like songs like the Gotye one is because they are sort of new, or haven’t been heard in a while.  From an objective perspective, this song blows.  It’s terrible.  Every time it comes on the radio in the car, I can’t change the station fast enough.  This song makes me want to drive off of a cliff.  Who the fuck likes xylophone music anyway?

Having a loud voice and being a bully serves you well.  I can say this as an avid watcher of T.V.  The Bill O’Reileys and Ann Coulters (I don’t care if I spelled their names wrong), or the Michael Moores of this world sure get a lot of airtime.  Now in all fairness, I’m sure these people have done all kinds of wonderful things in their life to be where they are; and to have their opinions count for something amongst the general populace whether we agree with them or not.

People like to feel like they know stuff.  They like to feel and think that their opinion counts for something.  Of course, the thoughts and and feelings of the masses does count for something.  I am not one of those individuals who believes that North American elections are rigged, or that there is fraud to level that there is in some of the more democratically green countries of the world.  There is monkey business to some extent, however I still believe that the voters in Canada and the United States control who gets into office, and therefore who makes policy.

The diluted and simple theories and opinions expressed by those we see on television (The blowhards I mentioned earlier) and the total sum of all of the information needed to make key decisions with respect to things like public policy, laws, etc. are two different sets of information.  The information discussed and presented by common media outlets is not as detailed and complex as the total sum of information needed to make important decisions that involve large sums of money, national security, public safety, etc.  The common person however (myself included) finds it easier to understand a less detailed synopsis of information.  From this limited information, most of us are able to choose a side, take a position, support a specific law, and ultimately select a candidate and vote for them.

Although I am not a fan of using analogies, I have thought of one that could be applicable to help with my argument:  Imagine that you are baking a cake for the very first time and have never done so before.  You are completely ignorant as to how to bake a cake successfully, but know what a good cake looks and tastes like.   Now imagine the recipe you are using to bake that cake is missing a key ingredient, i.e. the flour.  If you bake the cake without the flour, your cake will likely not turn out very well.

The information transmitted through the mainstream media is the cake recipe without the flour.  It has less ingredients, and is easier to follow.  There is a pervasive sense of opposition on issues as presented by the mainstream media.  Most people are  so-called either “left-wing” or “right-wing”.  Most media outlets, i.e. FOX News, or the CBC in Canada are admittedly “left-wing” or “right-wing”.  Those who do not take a position firmly on either side are stigmatized with labels such as the “mushy middle”.  While it is important to take a position on an issue and make a decision on issues (or else decisions that need to be made wouldn’t get made!), it is important to consider a detailed, wide, and varied depth of information; and to be decisive based on this information.

There are methods of gathering information and making informed choices and decisions.  If television, radio, and newspapers will only discuss the most basic of arguments, and present a left or right wing based approach to the issues then it is up to the common man to use the modern technology and mediums (i.e. the internet, social networking, etc.) available to us today to consider as much information as possible in order to make the best possible decisions we can.  We need to make the most informed decisions we can because the votes we cast to elect officials and form policies are important as they impact our lives and the lives of others both directly and indirectly.

Let’s consider an example.  Let’s examine the legalization of gay marriage debate that is currently a topic of discussion in North America. A Conservative will tell you in a televised debate in a loud and obnoxious voice that gay marriage should not be allowed because marriage is traditionally defined as a union between a man and a woman, and that’s what the Bible says, and that allowing two people of the same gender to marry begins a slippery slope to all kinds of deviant behaviour being accepted.  A Liberal will tell you that gay marriage should be allowed because all human beings should have equal rights regardless of gender, and that not allowing gay marriage is discriminatory.  After the Conservative and Liberal are finished shouting over one another, we consider the information and attempt to either make a decision or confirm our position based on the information that we have just received.  Is the amount of information either side presents enough for one to make an informed decision?  I say that it is not.

In the domain of Science, truth and the correctness of information are confirmed through data, and empirical proof.  On issues such as gay marriage, why are the statistics related to sexual deviancy, crime, benefits to legalization, etc.  not usually discussed in detail in the mainstream media?  Analysis of empirical information would give us a more concrete set of criteria on which to make a decision.  It might give us the flour we need to bake our cake.  If this information is not discussed in the mainstream media, we have the tools to seek this information at our disposal in the form of the internet, and social networking.  If the mainstream media doesn’t want to present this information, then we need to seek it out to make good decisions, because (as I mentioned previously) the votes we cast and the subsequent decisions that are made impact ourselves and others in the global community.

If  mainstream media outlets want to exclusively present information from certain individuals that is limited to 1 + 1 = 2 type arguments when the information we need to consider is more analogous to Calculus problems,; then reading the newspaper, listening to talk radio, and watching the news may actually be making us progressively stupid and leading us in the wrong direction.  If the media is only presenting the diluted information pool I’ve discussed in this piece, then the collective mainstream media is a message to all of us.  That message very clearly is: You are Dumb!

I believe firmly that the best way to deal with and correct a problem is by asking myself questions such as “what am I doing wrong here?”, or “what can I do to make things better?”.  It’s challenging to change the behaviour of others, but many people believe (falsely in my opinion) that it’s more difficult to change one’s own behaviour.   There are numerous cliches people use to describe this, i.e. “old habits die hard”, or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.  Ultimately, it takes ones own self from undergoing a change in their own behaviour before they will illicit change in someone else’s behaviour.  For example, if my Neighbour is playing loud music, and I want him to stop this behaviour, I can’t just expect him to stop playing his music loudly; I must at the very least change my behaviour by ceasing to sit there and accept the loud music.  Before he will stop playing the loud music, I will need to either knock on his door and ask him to stop playing the music loudly, or call the Police, or whatever.  Furthermore, I need to pick the correct behaviour for myself, i.e. should I call the Police?  Or should I ask him to stop?  Basically, I have to do something before he will stop playing his music loudly.  The same is true for any situation people find themselves in.

Aristotle wrote of virtuous people being able to do the correct thing out of habit.  Virtuous and correct behaviour becomes so habitual that one does not even realize or acknowledge that they are doing the “right thing”.  In Islam, we could equate this to the concept of  “Ihsan”.  From what I have deduced, Virtue as promoted by Aristotle, and “Ihsan” as discussed in the Islamic context are very similar if not the same thing.  And wrongly, almost all Muslims have abandoned the concept of “Ihsan”; which is one of the main reasons for the terrible state in which Islam finds itself today.  I’m not going to spend time outlining virtue and Ihsan any further as anyone reading this can do independently.  Part of what I want to happen is for people to begin exploring these concepts on their own.  I don’t have a  Professor grading this essay, so I feel empowered in not providing a detailed explanation on this premise.

Why do many Muslims not focus on their own individual “Ihsan”?  Why must many Muslims focus on the decrees of others?  Namely,  bearded blowhards who preach from their Minbars in Mosques all over the world.  I will leave the discussion of “Da’wah” or the offering of Islamic guidance from Muslim to Muslim for another essay, as this topic is a detailed and challenging one to think about in itself.  There are several studies conducted by think-tanks within the United States and other “Non-Muslim” nations on a frequent basis involving the study of Muslim perspectives.   I accept that these studies are considered biased by many Muslims, although I will wait for the proof of the bias to be given to me (for an eternity I’m sure).  You will disagree more than likely with my Thesis in this essay based (most likely) on the following sentence:  I consider the studies in question as factual and valid research.

I will focus on Pakistan in this essay in an attempt to make my point.  If not clear at this point, my main thesis is that the terrible state of Islam in the world today; and the prejudice, discrimination, and marginalization of Muslims is the fault of the Muslim Ummah at large, and not the fault of any third party, i.e. “The West”, or the United States.  Let me preface the heart of this piece by saying that these ideas (save for the references to Aristotle’s brand of “virtue ethics”, taken from his piece “Nichomachean Ethics”) is not an original one.  Several contemporary Authors and personalities far more informed, experienced and intelligent than myself have made similar points.  My aim is to simply support their points and see if more logic can be derived from writing, analyzing, and discussing these sorts of issues.  The only originality in this piece is the incorporation, discussion, and comparison of virtue and Ishan.

Many of the studies and polls I mentioned earlier that have been conducted in Pakistan have asked questions concerning things such as justifying the killing of non-Muslims and support for Terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc.  The interesting and most important attribute of these polls and studies is the fact that they have focused not on the poor, tribal elements of Pakistan; but instead on the educated middle to upper class echelon of Pakistani society.  Overwhelmingly, Pakistanis have indicated Anti-Western sentiment, support for the killing of Non-Muslims, and support for Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.  Let’s not forget the frequent demonstrations where Pakistanis are burning flags, etc. and protesting American intervention in their nation.  Furthermore, they see the West (more specifically the United States) as being the cause and reason for their misfortunes.  So for all of the Muslims in the world that comfortably like to assert that anti-Western sentiment and hatred are reflective of a small minority of Muslims, I say: Please wake up from your dreamland.  The fact is, that the majority of Muslims harbour these sorts of beliefs and feelings.

Pakistan is a Democracy (although we cannot deny that corruption and fraud that is rife within Pakistan’s democratic system).  In theory, and based on how Democracy works, Pakistan elects its leaders to make decisions.  Again, in theory, these decisions reflect the will of the people.  It is a proven fact, and one only needs to hear and watch statements made by officials (former and current) within the Pakistani Military and ISI to understand that Pakistan supports a two-sided agenda.  It is in Pakistan’s best interest to feign support for the West, and at the same time condone and actively support Islamist agendas within its own borders and within it’s neighbour (Afghanistan). The reason for this agenda is the Pakistani Government’s need to make nice with Islamists in case Afghanistan is once again overrun by the Taliban.  Pakistan would not want to have a hostile neighbour should this happen; therefore supporting terrorist activities and Islamist groups like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda is logically in Pakistan’s best interests.

If Pakistan is a democracy, and the majority of Pakistanis are “moderate”, and peace-loving people, where are they at the ballot boxes when an election occurs? And where are they to protest the Islamization of their Country by Clerics and Mullahs?  Furthermore, if “Ihsan” and virtue are cornerstones of the Islamic faith, why are Pakistanis (and most the majority of the world’s Muslims) guided mostly by the decree of these Clerics and Mullahs as opposed to their own logic, reason, and study of “Deen” (Arabic for “Faith”)?  I haven’t mentioned the words “Ijtihad” or “Aql”once in this essay, but will mention them now.  “Itjihad” describes an individual’s use of logic and reason to make a decision, independent of guidance from a third party.  “Aql” is translated as intellect.  As an Islamic republic, Pakistan is a nation of sheep that are being herded by the Ideological Governments, Judiciaries, and spy agencies that they are putting in power.  There is no logic, reason, or thought to be found.  Once again, with the current understanding of most of the different sects and ideologies within Islam involving a follow-the-leader mentality, there is little emphasis on the use of Itjihad.  People, groups, etc. are either branded “Islamic” or “Not Islamic”.  If it’s not deemed Islamic by the leadership, then it is not right and needs to be eliminated.  Once again, we as Muslims don’t make these decisions, Mullahs and Clerics make those decisions for all of us; ignoring important concepts such as “Aql” and “Itjihad”.

The ugly truth is that the majority of Pakistanis support exactly the type of society and value system that is at odds with Western society.  Through the eradication of independent thought, reasoning, and the elimination of “Ihsan” and “Itjihad” as core concepts of the Islamic faith, Pakistan has turned into essentially a failed state.  The West is blamed for the deterioration of Pakistan as opposed to its own inaction and ignorance of its populace.  As a Democracy, Pakistan has chosen to let itself turn into what it is today.  As a microcosm of Islam in general, Pakistan has focused on how it has and is being wronged as opposed to how it can make itself great.  There has been a focus on how the behaviour of other entities has created the situation in Pakistan; not how their failure to take proper action since independence has contributed to its current status.  The same attitude plagues the entire Ummah.  Pakistan is just one example.  It is one of the most populous Muslim nations and so I am inferring that it is representative of the Muslim world in general.  The more that Muslims focus on others and how “The Great Satan” (The United States) has wronged them, the further Islam and the status of Muslims in the World will suffer.

If Muslims took action in terms of the use of Itjihad and Aql to discuss possibilities to end their plight and further their cause, they may be able to make progress and avoid further marginalization in the Global community.  This can only happen if the majority of Muslims start seeing possibilities other than playing the blame game with the West.  Certainly, Muslims are up against a lot of adversity these days.  However, the Ummah needs to explore options other than the endorsement and/or implementation of violent Jihad as their only options in terms of behaviour.  If Muslims do not talk, debate, and discuss the possibilities of how to take action to end their plight, then the Ummah will continue to suffer.  “Ihsan”, “Iman”, “Aql”, and “Itjihad” are all terms that deserve equal representation with the word “Jihad” in the Friday sermons of Imams in Mosques around the world.  The Ummah needs to demand better in terms of its leadership, and our failure to do so has exacerbated the plight of Muslims.  If the key terms and processes I’ve discussed in this essay are ignored (“Ihsan” etc.), then Muslims around the World will continue to slip deeper into obscurity.  Pakistan is a reflection of this truth.

Over the last several years, there’s been a lot of fun made of people giving their children fucked up names.  Most of the attention has been directed towards the Black community in this respect.  Now, I’m not opposed to judging someone who is Black for naming their daughter Shanonaqua, or naming their son Ja’Quarius; however why do we focus almost exclusively on the Black community on this topic?  While we’ve been making the Black community the butt of many a youtube video, we’ve let all of the other ethnicities covertly build up their repertoire of name game fucked-up-ness.

Now, if you’re offended by these comments (like anyone is ever going to read this), too fucking bad.  Maybe you should put more thought into important things like naming your child, as opposed the amount of thought you’re putting into being offended.  T.V. and Movies have no doubt been helping people get dumb ideas for names over the last couple of decades.  God have mercy on the many Phoebes and Chandlers that that abomination of a show “Friends” has produced over the years.  My wife was watching some stupid show a while ago about this lady that works as a Maternity Concierge (look it up asshole, I’m not explaining it).  Anywho, this couple hired her to help them “brand” their baby.  Part of this branding was helping to select a name.  I think they went with the name “Bode” in the end.  Now, I believe the name is supposed to be pronounced “Bo-dee”.   The other other contenders for names were also equally fucked up, although I can’t recall what they were. No disrespect to this Concierge lady.  She’s simply providing a service to hapless idiots whom our Government should be preventing from having children in the first place.

If a name sounds like a last name, it should stay a last name.  For example, “Carter” should be a last name only.  Why you ask?  Because it’s a fucking last name!  “Neveah” (pronounced Na-vay-uh) is not a name; it’s actually probably some form of mythical character from a fantasy novel or movie.  “Destiny” is not a name, it’s what fatalists think is going to happen.  Some names are simply far too common.  Fair enough, if you didn’t know the name was that common, you didn’t know and it’s not your fault parents.  However, if you are still naming your sons Aiden, or Jacob, or Ethan; or naming your daughters Madison you really should have read the memo that was sent to you telling you that there are going to be seven other kids in your child’s class with that name.

Creative spellings of names are also something that make me laugh and cringe at the same time.  Let’s take “Destiny” for example.  Spelling it “Destaknee” does not make any difference other than it makes it even harder for “Destiny” to fulfill her destiny of becoming an Exotic Dancer (No disrespect to Exotic Dancers).  If that Coldplay (worst band ever) guy would have named his daughter “Appull” instead of “Apple”, it would be worse than spelling it like the fruit.

Finally, being of South Asian, Muslim descent myself; I’m beginning to see children from my own ethnicity having names made up for them by their parents.  I won’t name names in this regard as I am a Coward, and don’t really feel like having to take any heat from my own community (on this matter anyway).  I assure you, some of these names are just as bad as “Tyquanda” or “Bode”.  Why do we pass the most judgement on the Black community in terms of fucked up names?  I say it’s because there is an inherent and enshrined racism in North American culture towards Blacks.  If you ask me, it’s pretty fucked up that someone who named their kid “Bode” could potentially be thinking that someone who named their kid “Shawntrell” picked a fucked up name.