Saturday, December 31, 2011

Conversation with Douglas

Assalamu 'Alaikum,
Conversation with Douglas
Dear Douglas,
                     Thank you for a thought provoking piece. I concur with the sentiments of your thoughts and go further to say it should be a year of reflection and understanding of the situation humans find themselves in. Our problem began many centuries ago when the West begun the sacking of religion from life and creating the new dogma called Secularism. Shame on us for never taking the time to reflect on what happened, its consequences and how to remedy the situation. All the knowledge borne of that era treated religion as a nuisance, a drug and an irrelevance to life. None considered the difference between religion and the practitioners of religion. Many failed to see, and threw out the baby with the bath water. And double shame for the Muslims who embraced the slumber and floated blissfully lost with the rest of mankind. The word of God so religiously brought by the love of a Prophet which prises the secrets of the universe piece by piece, layer by layer was rarely valued or referred to, to solve the problems of mankind. The words of men became more valuable than the word of God. Can the word of man match the following findings by the word of God? :

Earth's crust has been slowly moving for billions of years. Not only mountains are still slowly moving but also whole continents. Muslims say that this is what Allah says:
[Quran 27.88]
You see the mountains and think they are firmly fixed: but they are moving away just like the clouds are moving away: (such is) the artistry of Allah, Who disposes of all things in perfect order: For He knows all what you do. 
(Surah An Naml 27:88)

Cloud Seeding
During cloud formation, water can become super cooled, that is, it can get below freezing point but remain not frozen! This stage is so unstable that we can add some catalyst molecules to trigger rain. Historically humans used silver iodide, frozen carbon dioxide and some salts to trigger rain. This is known as cloud seeding.

However nature uses different material to seed the clouds. Nature uses both sea salt and land dust to trigger rain: Wind at the surface of the seas causes waves to roll. Those waves release aerosols into the air carrying the sea salt. The wind carries both the sea salt and the land dust to the clouds. The sea salt and land dust cause the supercooled water to coalesce and trigger precipitation.
[Quran 15:22]
And We send the seeding winds, then cause the rain to descend from the sky, therewith providing you with water, though you are not the guardians of its stores. (Surah Al Hijr 15:22)

Atmospheric Pressure
Atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude; The higher the altitude the more difficult breathing becomes. Muslims say that this is what Allah says. The Quran says that as we ascend to the sky it becomes more difficult for us to breath:
[Quran 6.125]
Those whom Allah wants to guide, He opens their chests to Islam; And those whom He wants to leave astray, He makes their chests tight and constricted, as if they are ascending to the sky: Such is the penalty of Allah on those who refuse to believe(Surah Al An’Aam 6:125)

Dear Douglas,

                       Much is not right in the world we live in today. Much of human systems are based on knowledge which was faulty to say the least. We believe the invisible hand will deliver economic bounties to the world; sure it does, but not many questions the injustice of distribution, which is the price for adopting such systems. We don’t feel for those who suffer from such economic injustice for we do not feel the hunger pangs they do. We have a system for appointing leaders that delivers the ultimate decision to the super wealthy; for only the super wealthy can ensure the funds required in the process of appointing a leader. Then we wonder why our supreme leader executes the views of a minority group. It is bad enough if such decisions are confined to economic matters, but it is a tragedy when it involves the laying down of lives by innocent citizens for a cause far remote from their daily fare. We also have a funny money system which again ultimately favours the rich and punishes the poor. In your nation you have a privately owned central bank who gets paid interest every time your government needs currency to be introduced to the economy. In ours the government owns the central bank but that does not stop the wanton creation of currency that steals away the purchasing power of the citizens. Have Muslims checked the validity of such systems against what is said in the word of God? Today is when the word of men is regarded with higher esteem than the word of God.

In my view it has first to be the year of reflection and understanding of the situation humans find themselves in before we can reach the year of dignity.
I remain,
Your friend,

Dear Zahid.

“We want the good life.” So replied my Egyptian colleague, when I asked why demonstrations continue in Cairo.

His answer is ambitious, if imprecise, and it sends me back to an essay that was required reading 25 years ago in graduate school: “Equality and Efficiency: The Big Trade-Off” by Arthur Okun, the late American economist. This piece has fallen out of common circulation, in part because the logic seems stilted in a global economy where we’re no longer arguing capitalism versus communism. Yet it’s well worth studying.

Okun argues that fulfillment of the human right to survival is within the grasp of any affluent nation. To that end, he says, policy-makers should focus on balancing efficiency (greater output) with equality (smaller disparity). Faulty calibration leads to transgressions on citizen rights, with unpredictable, potentially unfortunate outcomes.

Time magazine’s choice of Person of the Year, the Protestor, suggests we have lost touch with “The Big Trade-Off” during our fast-paced era of globalization. Whether in New York or Damascus, the Protestor is revolting against busted calibration. Asia has largely stayed outside this dynamic, yet I can’t help but wonder if weaker Chinese growth will lead to greater unrest there, as well.

The ogre in this drama is leverage. At least within the major economies, our recent engagement with debt seems, in essence, a dangerous attempt to circumvent the equation of equality and efficiency. Islamic finance concedes this point and bans the use of interest, which is among the reasons this once-marginal discipline shows continued rapid growth. As the world deleverages, it can probably learn a few things from the burgeoning Shariah-compliant banking system.

So how to get us back on track? I’ll be ambitious, if imprecise, in my prescription: employment.

International Labor Organization research reminds us of our failures here. Comparative data on youth unemployment in the Middle East explains a root cause of the Arab Spring. The ILO’s annual review published in October, World of Work Report 2011: Making Markets Work for Jobs, argues that policies stimulating jobs growth would boost recovery prospects, while addressing the root causes of the global financial crisis.

The jobs crisis seems to be the common denominator of our global economy. Large swaths of unemployed workers—skilled and unskilled, young and old, rural and urban—need to recover both their financial wherewithal and their self-respect by earning their own welfare. It’s key to what Okun calls the fulfillment of the right to survival. And that sort of dignity matters in just about every culture.

May the year ahead be one of greater dignity in your corner of the world.

Best wishes, Doug.

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