Posted by: Fouad | November 6, 2009

Sand Drawing

This might be the most amazing and moving video I’ve ever seen. Sit back, turn up the volume slightly and relax. Think, Nazi invasion of Ukraine.

Posted by: Fouad | October 28, 2009

Astrophysics in the Qur’an

I recently watched a program on Discovery Channel about the life of stars and how they die. To summarize the program’s theories; a dying star will either become a super nova, black hole, white dwarf, black dwarf, neutron star or a red giant–depending on how massive the star was. The show then discussed what we predict will happen to the Sun.

HeliocentricityAccording to the scientists at Discovery and universities across the country, the Sun will become a red giant when it dies. This is because of it’s particular mass. When the Sun becomes a red giant, it will grow so large that it will engulf Mercury and Venus and will come close to–but won’t actually–engulf the Earth as well. Ultimately, the Sun will cease growing when it’s surface is only miles above the Earth’s. Turns out, this will happen in a couple million years. By then, there probably won’t be anyone alive because the Earth would have stopped spinning. This is because we recently discovered that due to minute friction and drag effects in space, the Earth’s spin will slowly cease. Sucks, doesn’t it?

We know from Islam and the Qur’an that on the day of judgment, the Sun will rise from the west and it will be so close to the Earth that it will fill the sky. We also know that by then, everyone would have been dead. All these findings were independently predicted by both Discovery Channel and the Qur’an. By becoming a red giant as the Discovery Channel says, the Sun will indeed be so close to the Earth that it will fill the sky. But how does this explain the Sun rising from the west? Well let’s try to visualize it:

  • First, I would like to define two words, spin and orbit. Spin is the Earth’s rotation around it’s axis (i.e. north pole) and orbit is the Earth’s trajectory around the Sun.
  • Looking down on our planet from the north pole, we see the Earth spins counter-clockwise. That’s why the Sun rises from the east. A man standing in New Jersey would see the Sun for the first time in several hours when his side of the Earth turns to face the Sun.
  • From our viewpoint above the north pole, we also see that the Earth orbits the Sun in a counter-clockwise direction. If the Earth were to stop spinning, then a person standing in New Jersey would see the Sun for the first time in six months rising from the west. This will occur when the Earth has orbited along its trajectory far enough to expose the man in New Jersey to the sun. During the other six months, there was no sunlight because New Jersey would be on the side of the Earth opposite the Sun.

Let me restate that I learned this from Discovery Channel, a liberal network that prides itself on secular science and discovery. Yet here they are stating something that has been predicted in the Qur’an 1500 years ago.

While I paused to say SubhanAllah, I also took a moment to think that as Muslims we could have proven this a long time ago. There it was, a thesis statement in the Qur’an staring us right in the face, we could have taken it upon ourselves to verify these predictions. In doing so, we would have not only advanced science and human knowledge but also called the world’s attention to the truths in our beloved book… But this is a discussion for another post.

Posted by: Fouad | October 18, 2009

Before the Law

Before the Law stands a doorkeeper. To this doorkeeper comes a man from the country who asks to be admitted to the Law. But the doorkeeper says that he can’t let the man in just now. The man thinks this over and then asks if he will  be allowed to enter later. “It’s possible,” answers the doorkeeper, “but not just now.” Since the door to the Law stands open as usual and the doorkeeper steps aside, the man bends down to look through the doorway into the interior. Seeing this, the doorkeeper laughs and says: “if you find it so compelling, then try to enter despite my prohibition. But bear in mind that I am powerful. And I am only the lowest doorkeeper. In hall after hall, keepers stand at every door. The mere sight of the third one is more than even I can bear.” These are difficulties which the man from the country has not expected; the Law, he thinks, should be always available to everyone. but when he looks more closely at the doorkeeper, in his furred robe, with his large pointed nose and his long, thin, black Tartar bear, he decides that it would be better to wait until he receives permission to enter. The doorkeeper gives him a stool and allows him to sit down beside the door. There he sits for days and years. He makes many attempts to be let in, and wearies the doorkeeper with his pleas. The doorkeeper often questions him casually about his home and many other matters, but the questions are asked with indifference, the way important men might ask them, and always conclude with the statement the man can’t be admitted at this time. The man, who has equipped himself with many things for his journey, spends all that he has, regardless of value, in order to bribe the doorkeeper. The doorkeeper accepts it all, though saying each time as he does so, “I’m taking this only so that you won’t feel that you haven’t tried everything.” During these long years the man watches the doorkeeper almost continuously. He forgets about the other doorkeepers, and imagines that this first one is the sole obstacle barring his way to the Law. In the early years he loudly bewails his misfortune; later, as he grows old, he merely grumbles to himself. He becomes childish, and since during his long study of the doorkeeper he has gotten to know even the fleas in the fur collar, he begs these fleas to help him change the doorkeeper’s mind. At last his eyesight grows dim and he cannot tell whether it is really growing darker or whether his eyes are simply deceiving him. Yet in the darkness he can now perceive that radiance that streams inextinguishable from the door of the Law. Now his life is nearing its end. Before he dies, all his experiences during this long time coalesce in his mind into a single question, one which he has never yet asked the doorkeeper. He beckons to the doorkeeper, for he can no longer raise his stiffening body. The doorkeeper has to bend low to hear him, since the difference in size between them has increased very much to the man’s disadvantage. “What do you want to know now?” asks the doorkeeper, “you are insatiable.” “Surely everyone strives to reach the Law,” says the man, “why then is it that in all these years no one has come seeking admittance but me?” The doorkeeper realizes that the man has reached his end and that his hearing is failing so he yells in his ear: “No one but you could have been admitted here, since this entrance was meant for you alone. Now I am going to shut it.”

-Franz Kafka

Posted by: Fouad | October 6, 2009

The Evolution of Hajj

We’ve come a long way since the Prophet (PBUH) first performed Hajj. Back then, when a Muslim wanted to make pilgrimage, they probably had to accompany a caravan and make the long and perilous trek to Mecca. Once there, the act of performing Hajj required them to walk quite a bit in the desert. A journey that likely took weeks if not months to complete.

Today, we simply hop on a plane, then a bus and arrive in Mecca. After being shuttled around to each stop on our Holy itinerary, we simply pack up and go home. Because of this physical ease, there have been many arguments raised over the controversial use of modern technology to assist in pilgrimage. Hajj is supposed to be a trying ordeal. As such, adversity is almost necessary so that we may emerge different people. But if all we’ve done is take a long bus ride intermittent with strolls in the desert, why should we receive the same reward as those before us?

But maybe we haven’t made Hajj much simpler. Anyone who’s made the trip can attest that it’s anything but easy and definitely not pleasant. Traveling from a Western country, most Europeans and Americans have to layover in Cairo or another Arab airport for hours. Flights into Saudi Arabia are backed up worse than Thanksgiving weekend into Chicago O’Hare. Upon landing in Jeddah, you’re lucky if you’ve found a bus after waiting 20 hours. Then there’s a long drive into the actual city of Mecca, along which you’re stuck in traffic and stopped at checkpoints. Suffice it to say, by the time you’re in your hotel, you’ve been traveling for three or four days straight. Once there, you still have to deal with the crowds and the traffic that make New York and Cairo seem like the countryside.

hajj_mekkah_kabah_muslim_islam_by_ademmmWhat we’ve done is effectively replaced walking in the desert under the open sky with untold hours of congestion as we attempt to perform Hajj while navigating our way through hoards of people, be it by foot or automotive transport. Instead of making Tawaf around the Kaaba or throwing Jamarat with a few thousand other Muslims, we now have to rub shoulders, arms, legs and bump heads with millions of pilgrims in a frantic effort to circle the Kaaba or visit the Jamarat at a distance hundreds of feet further away than our predecessors. All the while gasping for breath and fighting the stale humidity of our neighbor’s perspiration.

When a few million foreigners descend upon a city created for only several thousand, the result is a pilgrimage wrought with difficulties unique to this era. Along with the advances of civilization we’ve seen massive growth in the Muslim population worldwide, resulting in record crowds in Mecca. This attendance seems to balance out the convenience created through the use of technology. The result is a Hajj that is still a massive ordeal. Maybe, this is Allah’s way of balancing technology with population, or could it be vice versa?

Posted by: Fouad | October 1, 2009

Historical Accuracies

I often wonder how accurate our discoveries of the past are. We believe Stonehenge was a burial ground where rituals may have also taken place. This is because we found human and animal remains in the earth near the henge. But the only thing scientists can do to determine the purpose of an ancient site is look at artifacts found nearby in an attempt to formulate a history. But what if the evidence we’ve located has no significant meaning, or at least not what we suspected.

I had this thought as I was removing staples from a packet of paper and realized that the staple remover looked somewhat sinister. The thing has four spikes and could cause substantial harm to anyone stupid enough to put their fingers inside it. But it’s obviously designed this way for its function – to remove staples. So what if a thousand years from now, the foundation of my office was discovered and in it they unearthed this staple remover? They may determine that this place used to be a torture chamber and that the steel device with four spikes on a hinge was a torture device used to pierce and shear skin from a person’s finger. They might even conclude that the residents of New Jersey were a barbaric people, evident in their affinity for pollution.

Historical Accuracy

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