Friday, 9 January 2015

Part 2: A Muslim's View on the Charlie Hebdo attack on the French magazine in France and Freedom of Speech and Expression

Muslims don't really give a care about offensive material,the furthest virtually any muslim would go if they got offended is complain about it for an hour and then move on like any other normal person.

Those terrorists are not stupid they had a plan, they never cared about charlie hebdo or the cartoons like the media makes it out, it was just a convenient way to create tension between Muslims and the west and hence radicalise and recruit some poor misguided Muslims into going to the Mid East and fighting with terrorist organisations such as AlQaeda and ISIS. Those 2 recruiters get thousands in 'commission' for every person they send there from the very well funded terrorist organisations there.

This was all a business plan to them and part of a bigger picture rather than being hot heads who got 'offended'. I think the media is falling right into their trap because they have hyped and advertised their organisation so much now that it has made it more accessible for gullible people who want to join such causes to know where to go. The two terrorists' Leaders are probably sat safely in their mansions watching it all unfold and recruiting more people by promising them lots of money and protection, as we speak.

Being a Muslim and being surrounded by practicing and non practicing Muslims, I've have never heard anyone even complain about 'offensive material' - it's just a idiotic loud minority that make us seem bad!

Thursday, 8 January 2015

A Muslim's View on the Charlie Hebdo attack on the French magazine in France and Freedom of Speech and Expression

This is defferent to what I usually post, but I would like to put forth my opinion on what's happening in France at the moment. 

First and foremost, as Muslims we entirely condemn such violence even though we may disagree with the offensive content published by the magazine, which is in no way a justified reaction. Islam is a religion of mercy that encourages us to tolerate and overlook, and does infact promote free thinking and questioning

When the media insinuate that the attack ‘struck’ freedom of speech and expression, the underlying hypocrisy is not being considered. It seems that only when Muslims are involved that this topic arises. 

In 2013, the French government outright banned the burqa, where was freedom of expression then? Another example is when the French president who currently keeps emphasising freedom of expression, himself supported the banning of the comedian Dieudonne M’bala because he was too controversial and was categorized as anti-semite. Where was his right for “freedom of speech even if it may cause offence” then?! Another example, a few months back the French government banned pro-palastine protests, while allowing pro-israeli protests. Clearly you can see the double standards? 

Freedom of speech seems to only be a big deal when it runs against the government’s interests or what they consider acceptable… Hence, all this emphasis on freedom of speech falls apart and you can see what could be refered to as censorship being applied. This is why I feel Muslims are victimized. 

Why is it that when Muslims are offended we are told to get over it but when another community is offended, as per the Jewish people and the pro-israeli people, the French government outright supports banning it – can you see the double standards?  As a Muslim, I’m content with freedom of speech but clearly there is no consistency or fairness, and it seems like the media loves villainizing the whole religion.  If other religions can be protected from offence why are Muslims not?!  

This is in no way justifying what the terrorists did, this is not what Islam teaches. Infact if you look it up, investigations about the suspects, Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi,  showed they had never even been inside their mosque, and went out drinking and clubbing which is not what a practicing Muslim does. 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Medlink Students Review (www.medlinkstudents.com)- Studying medicine in Romania

This is unrelated but I think it's necessary. When I first found this company on TheStudentRoom I was sceptical and thought it was a scam because I couldn't find any reviews anywhere, so I'd like to give people a perspective on my experience.

It has been my dream for as long as I remember to be a doctor, however my A-level grades were not competitive enough for studying medicine in my home country (the UK). I was crushed so I began searching online for alternatives and found a company called "Medlink Students" which got me very curious, and I was hopeful again that I could achieve my dream job. 

I contacted them and told them my grades; CCC, which seemed to reach the minimum requirement. I then filled up the application form and perfected my personal statement. I got a reply one day after and they were very helpful. They gave me some advice on how to make my personal statement more appealing and suggested some improvements. Once everything was perfect, I was asked if I had spoken to one of the students currently going through this program and I said no, so they said they'll get someone to call me. I spoke to a  British second year medical student called Jack, who described the Romanian university and the course, student life, and the city and ofcourse I had to ask about the night life! Everything sounded amazing and I was so excited. So I agreed to enter the next stage of the process.

All this was free of charge until now, which is when they asked me for a fee of £1500 that would cover the university's application fee, translation, accommodation, a tour around the city & uni, and academic mentoring in my first year. I discussed it with my parents who were sceptical at first so we arranged to meet someone at the bank who said that if it was a registered company, my money was protected and then they checked the Companies House UK gov website and confirmed that it was listed. So we decided to send the payment and I was feeling both scared and excited. 

Thankfully it all worked out and I've now been in Craiova, Romania for 2 years. It has been the most challenging and life changing experience I've ever had. I love the city and the people here. During the first 2 weeks of being here, I felt overwhelmed, but the Medlink student (Jack) helped me settle in and and integrate. They gave me personal and academic advice when I needed it. I'm still in contact with my advisor, who helped me when I first came here, we study together sometimes. He introduced me to many other international students who went through this process already, which helped me meet more people and make friends more easily.

The course has been great and I'm enjoying it so much, it's taught in English, but I've started learning Romanian - it's a fairly easy language and  has helped me make loads of friends - even though most people here speak English anyway! Overall, I loved it and I've had an amazing experience, it's made me a stronger person and gave me the opportunity to study what I love. I would recommend it.

I'm not paid to say any of this and I have no association with the company ,I'm just happy that this opportunity was available to me and would like more people to know about the opportunity of studying medicine in Romania via a trusted company. If you have any questions, fire up!

link: http://www.medlinkstudents.com/

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Evolution and Islam: The story of Adam and Eve and The Ape

Hello, I have noticed a lot of Muslims are intimidated by the topic of Evolution due to ignorance. I understand the feeling because I used to get nervous when someone would bring it up to challenge my beloved religion. However, after studying it at university, I love to talk about it and it makes me feel great that finally my doubts have been removed because the puzzle finally fits together.

Here's a short synopsis of my opinion on how Evolution fits perfectly with Islamic beliefs.

If Homo-Erectus, Homo-Neanderthals and Denisovans (species that are similar to us; modern humans) were the result of over 4.5 billion years of Evolution, it doesn't mean homo-sapiens (modern humans) had anything to do with that.
Adam and Eve were put on earth while other 'Homo' species were still evolving. Adam and Eve's descendants reproduced with other Homo species which were alive at the time. Since those Homo species have a common ancestor with apes, this explains the link between us and apes.

Don't worry if you're lost, I'll explain this below.

This applies to all the Homo species (that we know of so far) that existed at the same time as Homo-sapiens. Below is a (slightly edited to accommodate the above "hypothesis") family tree of the four groups of early humans living in Eurasia 50,000 years ago and the gene flow between the groups due to interbreeding. [Source]


1.5-2.1% of our genes can be dated back to Neanderthals, from when they interbred with homo-sapiens (Adam and Eve's descendants). Denisovans also passed on 6% of their genes to Homo-sapiens. Hence, since Neanderthals and Denisovans are genetically cousins to apes, they passed on those genes to the modern humans; Homo-sapiens. This explains why the modern humans' genes are similar to apes. It is hypothesised that there could be potentially more Homo species that interbred with the modern humans, but scientists have yet to find out more about them!

To sum it all up in one sentence, our genes are related to apes, because our early ancestors interbred or 'mixed their genes' with species who already had a common ancestor with apes.


Thursday, 13 December 2012

Evolution and Islam - They go hand in hand

Assalam alikom,


First of all, please bear in mind that Islam encourages healthy debate and difference of opinion on various subjects. So please refrain from insulting me or calling me a kafir (disbeliever) for having a different opinion to yours.


I do not understand how a lot of people can fully disregard the theory of evolution without even having proper knowledge of it. There is a clear link between all organisms. I think it's foolish to ignore all the evidence in front of our eyes.

Read on and I will show you how Islam and Evolution are compatible.
_______________________

Introduction

Allah tells us to learn and observe how the world works through empirical means:
"Travel through the land and observe how He began creation." (Qur'an 29:20)
Ibn Al-Qayyem, a Qur'an commentator and a Scientist, analyses this verse:

"The universe with all that it contains of signs, indications and evidence, God created none of it as deception, nor constituted anything in its midst frivolously."

If the world around us were such that its observation and study led to falsehood and error in matters of religious relevance, then the messenger of God; Muhammad (PBUH), would warn us against seeking such empirical knowledge and he would definitely not have indicated it as means for believers to strengthen their faiths.
______________________

I will begin by saying that Evolution does NOT state that humans evolved from apes. This is a common misconception held by many people. The theory states that apes and humans have a common ancestor in the tree of life. Humans are on a completely separate branch.

From what I have read, Islam is neutral to Evolution. The scriptures neither condemn it, nor condone it. So we must rely on scientific knowledge to educate ourselves; the Qur'an instructs us to do so.

What do we know already?

The Qur'an describes Adam as the forefather of humankind. Adam & Eve were created directly by Allah and directly put on Earth. Hence, they are described in the Qur'an as "special", which could signify that they were more advanced in physiology, psychology and anatomy.

Evolution

The mutation of a gene that will benefit a species will cause that species to increase in number, and pass on its 'beneficial' genes - this is natural selection, and over millions of years this is the process of Evolution. The concept of a species changing to adapt to its environment is perfectly logical and does not contradict with Islamic belief.

The Death of Weak Individuals

In his book, Harun Yahya, seems to have a problem with extinction and thinks this process is 'immoral', but it's a natural process in life; Allah says:
"We have decreed Death to be your common lot... from changing your forms and creating you (again) in (forms) that you know not." (Qur'an 56:60-1) 
Since when does nature justify people's actions? Harun Yahya's views in this regard are ridiculous, death is very normal. It is natural for weak animals/people to die and for a stronger species to thrive as much as it is natural for a volcano to erupt, where is the problem? (I'm still studying this verse, however all I see in the tafsir (commentary) books is that it means transformation in the after life for a group of people, or it could be hinting at evolution? I'm open to suggestions/corrections). Evolution is not immoral! I respect Harun Yahya's work, but I don't agree with his anti-Evolution arguments.

Taxonomy 

This is the process of classifying species into groups. Genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used to classify living things. In this "classification tree." As a species begins to have similar characteristics to another species, they are grouped into the same category.

We are Homo-Sapiens

Homo is the Genus that includes modern human beings (Homo-Sapiens) and other species that were genetically related to them. (If you don't understand then just wikipedia it, but it's not essential information here).

It is perfectly acceptable for Muslims to believe that the theory of evolution applies to other various species of the Genus Homo, but not necessarily to Homo-Sapiens. This does not contradict the belief of the direct creation of the Homo-Sapiens Adam & Eve, by Allah.

Species in this category include Homo-Erectus, and Homo-Neanderthalis etc. These species were less advanced than Homo-Sapiens. For example, they were less intelligent and less creative, they couldn't talk like we can, they were not able to cope in a variety of climates like we can, etc. So these Homo genus became extinct. Therefore, it is acceptable for a Muslim to agree that the other Homo Species (pay attention this says, species not sapiens) are the ones that evolved, and had common ancestors to apes. However, we, the Homo-Sapiens, are the ones who were created by "the hands of Allah," and we are still here.

Did All the Homo Species Mingle Together?

The figure below is a hypothetical tree of evolution of the Hominid species which I drew in paint to give a general idea of what I'm explaining, this is based on Islamic beliefs.

As you can see, Adam & Eve are not linked to the tree, that's because they were directly created by Allah and put on Earth in the midst of other creatures that were already present on Earth, so Adam and Eve didn't evolve. The unnamed branches are other less well-known homo species (pay attention this says, species not sapiens). We do not know when Adam and Eve were put on Earth, but we do know that animals, plants and other living things had been there before them, according to the Qur'an. So we can assume that evolution had taken its course through the millions of years before Adam and Eve were put on Earth. Therefore, Evolution resulted in the creation of more complex and intelligent species (Homo species) that lived on earth before and during Adam and Eve's existence.
This also raises the question; did Adam's children marry each other, or did they reproduce with other HOMO species that were already present on Earth? 

There are quite a few assumptions that we can make using scientific evidence that can still comply with Islamic scriptures. Here are some possibilities:



As you can see there's quite a variation here, many theories exist on whether Homo-Neaderthalis evolved from Homo-Sapiens or not (figure A). Or whether Homo-Neaderthalis existed at the same time as Homo-Sapeins (firgure B). Or whether Homo-Erectus and Homo-Neaderthalis and Homo-Sapiens all existed at the same time (firgure C), the theories are endless... Nevertheless, all the other Genus Homo died out after the arrival of Homo-Sapiens.

This is pure speculation and there is no empirical evidence to directly prove this happened, however it does provide an alternative to how evolution and the Islamic idea of creation could be related.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Review of mmBooks.co.uk

I know this it is not usual for me to post reviews, but I think this is important. I was searching for Arabic textbooks that are based on the Edexcel A-level (or GCE) Arabic course, and I stumbled upon this great website. At first I was sceptical and I Googled it in the hope of finding some reviews and to see if it was a scam but there were none. It was my only option so I went ahead and sent them the money (via PayPal) in exchange for one of their AS-level Arabic textbooks.

A few days later, I received the book. So I'm giving this website a thumbs up!

Additionally, you might be interested to know that I had a tiny problem with them, at first the book took more that five days to arrive so I emailed them suggesting that the book might have gotten lost in the post, the author swiftly agreed to send me another book. Two days later, I received the book (turns out it wasn't lost, it was just taking it's time in the post!). And if you're wondering, yes I did eventually return the second book that was sent to me, when it arrived, and apologised for my impatience!

Update: Now that I'm doing my A-levels (year 13) I needed the second book for the course - the A2 Arabic textbook. So instead of paying for it myself, I asked my school language department to buy it for me, and they agreed! So if you're in the same boat, try doing the same, I've now got a spare £13 that I can spend on something else.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Requesting that a food franchise begin selling halal meat

This template email can be customized and sent to any desired food franchise that does not sell halal meat. The words in bold must be changed as necessary. I have included below a few emails/links so you can contact your preferred food franchise. 

Dear [Food Franchise’s name],  I'm a regular customer and I think you are the best fast food franchise in the UK. I am particularly impressed at the professional standards that you hold, and I love the delicious food that you make! I'd like to enquire whether you have any interest in introducing halal food options in the UK. With the growing number of Muslims in this country, I think it would be a perfect opportunity to attract more customers, as you will be able to appeal to a larger audience. As a Muslim, I would love to hear about any plans that you may have regarding the introduction of halal food. I look forward to hearing from you, [YOUR NAME]

I contacted several companies and these are the replies that I received.

From Domino's Pizza:

Dear [Name], Thank you for your email – we understand the emotion around halal meat and I appreciate you taking the time to give us your comments.
Can I reassure you that it is only our chicken that is halal slaughtered and that it is all stunned to a level that ensures the chicken is rendered unconscious and insensitive to pain when it is slaughtered. It is a tenet of our Company that we will not allow un stunned slaughter anywhere in our food chain and we regularly audit our suppliers. Our chicken wings are not from chickens that have been halal slaughtered. We don't make any secret of our chicken being halal and we do state it on our food guide, where you can find all the details with regard to our food. You can see it for yourself at http://www.takeafreshlook.co.uk/standards.htm. Very little of our product is ordered and purchased in our stores, so we provide all our food details – nutrition, allergen and so on – online. I hope this answers all your questions and we have noted your comments.
 
Leah Day - Customer Service Co-Ordinator at Domino's Pizza
There is a difference of opinion on this method, but it seems that this is the closest Muslims will get to eating halal meat with such franchises, as stated in the UK Organic Standards that animals must be stunned before slaughter. I am happy with this method for the time being. Hopefully we will be able to practice proper slaughter soon.

From Burger King:

Dear [Name],
Thank you for contacting us at BURGER KING and for your wonderful praise. We aim for the highest standards in food quality and service, and it is a great pleasure to hear that you have experienced exactly this in our restaurants. We regret that we are not currently providing halal meat. As a global brand we greatly respect all religions and convictions, and we would like to cater for all of our customers' needs if possible. This is why we would like to apologise to you for any inconvenience or disappointment caused to you. Naturally, we have sent a copy of your email on to our Marketing Department for future consideration.Thank you again for all your friendly comments and suggestions.
Kind Regards, Katrina BURGER KING Customer Relations
It appears Burger King have no plans of adding halal meat to their menus, but hopefully with a mass campaign of emails they will realise that it would benefit them financially to add a halal option within their restaurants
.
From Pizza Hut:

Dear [Name] 
,
Thank you for your email regarding your enquiry regarding products sold inour stores.
 
As all of our restaurants sell pork products, we’re not allowed, by law, tolabel our products as halal. We source our chicken from the same leadinginternational suppliers as many supermarkets and restaurant companies inthe UK.  
Some of these suppliers provide, as standard, meat slaughtered inaccordance with halal guidelines, all of which is stunned before slaughter.This meat is sold throughout the UK, not just at Pizza Hut. We account fora tiny proportion of all the meat sold in the UK, and chicken is on just 4out of our 19 toppings. 
Your feedback has however been passed onto the Marketing Team.
Kind Regards,
Herbie Bulley, Pizza Hut Customer Service Team
From these emails, I hope to at least make a difference or plant an idea, hopefully planting the seed in there will cause it gradually grow, and the idea will develop into a real plan! 
So, again, please email these companies asking them to consider selling halal meat, hopefully as more people do so, they will realise that there is demand in the market for halal meat, and will start catering towards Islamic diets.


The following is a list of contact addresses for each franchise that I emailed: