Except from Carl Sagan’s, “The Demon-Haunted World”, “Science and Hope”.
“For me, there are four main reasons for a concerted effort to convey science-in radio, TV, movies, newspapers, books, computer programs, theme parks, and classrooms – to every citizen. In all uses of science, it is insufficient – indeed it is dangerous – to produce only a small, highly competent, well-rewarded priesthood of professionals. Instead, some fundamental understanding of the finding and methods of science must be available on the broadest scale.
- Despite plentiful opportunities for misuse, science can be the golden road out of poverty and backwardness for emerging nations. It makes national economies and the global civilization run. Many nations understand this. It is why so many graduate students in science and engineering at American universities – still the best in the world – are from other countries. The corollary, one that the United States sometimes fails to grasp, is that abandoning science is the road back into poverty and backwardness.
- Science alerts us to the perils introduced by our world-altering technologies, especially to the global environment on which our lives depend. Science provides an essential early warning system.
- Science teaches us about the deepest issues of origins, natures, and fates – of our species, of life, of our planet, of the Universe. For the first time in human history we are able to secure a real understanding of some of these matters. Every culture on Earth has addressed such issues and valued their importance. All of us feel goosebumps when we approach these grand questions. In the long run, the greatest gift of science may be in teaching us, in ways no other human endeavor has been able, something about our cosmic context, about where, when, and who we are.
- The values of science and the values of democracy are concordant, in many case indistinguishable. Science and democracy began – in their civilized incarnations – in the same time and place, Greece in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C. Science confers power on anyone who takes the trouble to learn it (although too many have been systematically prevented from doing so). Science thrives on, indeed require the free exchange of ideas; its values are antithetical to secrecy. Science holds to no special vantage points or privileged positions. Both science and democracy encourage unconventional opinions and vigorous debate. Both demand adequate reason, coherent argument, rigorous standards of evidence and honesty. Science is a way to call the bluff of those who only pretend to knowledge. It is a bulwark against mysticism, against superstition, against religion misapplied to where it has no business being. If we’re true to its values, it can tell us when we’re being lied to. It provides a mid-course correction to our mistakes. The more widespread its language, rules and methods, the better chance we have of preserving what Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues had in mind. But democracy can also be subverted more thoroughly through the products of science than any pre-industrial demagogue ever dreamed.
Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires vigilance, dedication, and courage. But if we don’t practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the serious problems that face us – and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, a world of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who saunters along.”
By Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Following a studio appearance on an episode of BBC Big Questions, Maajid Nawaz, Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, reposted a cartoon via his Twitter account that (allegedly) depicts the prophets Jesus and Muhammad, peace be upon them, saying ‘Hey’ and ‘How ya doin’. Important to note, Maajid didn’t actually draw the cartoon, but merely reposted it, along with the comment that he wasn’t offended.
After his tweet, an online offensive was launched against Maajid Nawaz, petitioning Nick Clegg to remove him from his prospective candidacy. This was followed by a counter petition calling for the Liberal Democrats and anyone who believes in our innate rights and freedoms, to rally behind him.
The offensive against Maajid Nawaz, even included death threats, which is as criminal and incredibly shocking, as it is blatantly ridiculous that someone should have their life threatened, over what in truth amounts to nothing! Did Maajid Nawaz draw any cartoons? No! He commented on a picture, saying nothing more than he wasn’t offended by it! Even if Maajid had drawn a cartoon, which he didn’t, issuing death threats is most certainly not the way to protest against that…
The matter of drawing or painting pictures of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is not even clear cut within Islam. While it’s certainly true that some Muslims strongly oppose making pictures, there are many paintings that date back centuries, produced by Muslims more religious than those making such a fuss about this today.
The fact that Maajid Nawaz didn’t even draw a thing, but merely reposted an image drawn by someone else and said, “As a Muslim, I’m not offended” makes this all the more absurd. I’m not offended either and more to the point, really don’t see what Maajid has supposedly done wrong here, either within British politics, or the religion of Islam.
What’s funny, is that like most of the other pictures some people keep jumping up and down about; the depictions don’t even look like what one would imagine either prophet to have looked. If there’s no resemblance, then clearly we are not talking about an actual image of Jesus or Muhammad, peace be upon them, even if that’s what some people think it depicts. So, how therefore can we really be offended by it?
While I can understand the offence caused by previous cartoons featuring a bomb turban, these images are really tame; some Muslim friends on Facebook, even referred to them as ‘cuddly’.
Muslims have always varied in how they interpret many aspects of Islam and until very recently, this was accepted by most. Although many Muslims today assume it to be haram to depict Prophet Muhammad in works of art, in actual fact there are many historic depictions of the Prophet in Islamic art. In response to this reality, small minded critics hit back with lines like, “Every picture maker is in the Fire. A soul will be placed in every picture made by him and it will punish him in the Hell-fire.” (Bukhari and Muslim).
But does that mean, everyone who owns a passport (even a Saudi one) or helps to produce it, is destined for the fires of Hell? Such people lack even the most basic understanding of Islamic jurisprudence. For any point found only in a hadith, not the Holy Quran, we must first consider it’s authenticity, context and degree of importance before jumping to any hasty conclusions.
Due to the history of the community in which Prophet Muhammad lived, there was understandably a profound concern about 3D sculptures that could be used as idols. The hadith is referring to that, not 2D pictures. Which certainly makes more sense in terms of the overall message of Islam, starting with the Kalima Shahada, “La ilaha il Allah…” (No gods beside God). Even 3D sculpture is not haram, if produced as a tool for learning or as a piece of art. The issue was always predominantly with the worship of statues, not the statues themselves. Cartoons as we understand them now, didn’t even exist back then, so how could any hadith be referring to them?
Seeing as these fanatical puritans like to make reference to history, it’s important to realise that people of their mentality were mostly mocked and ignored by Muslims in the past – not listened to and obeyed!
If Islam had been a religion of such petty small mindedness over the centuries, our religion today would not have over 5 madhabs (schools of thought) along with countless Sufi tariqats and other groups, or left us with such a diverse wealth of heritage in all fields of Human endeavour. These facts alone, are proof of Islam’s long tradition of broad mindedness, tolerance and understanding.
Jumping to conclusions, making 5 minute fatwas and takfiring (excommunicating) people is most certainly not the Sunnah (example) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who always advised people to consider the consequences of their intended actions before they act.
“And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint none but persons of the greatest good fortune.”
~ Holy Qur’an 41:35 (A. Yusuf Ali)
Self-restraint and thinking before we act, are powerful weapons that will enable us to overcome our weaknesses and go on to make our dreams a reality. Needless to say, lacking in these qualities will result in the exact opposite.
Maajid Nawaz, like many Muslims who refuse to tow the wahabi islamist party line, is one of the latest to have his life threatened. Hang on, what does Islam say about threatening to murder people, especially brothers and sisters of the same faith?
“…if anyone slays a human being – unless it be [in punishment] for murder or for spreading corruption on earth – it shall be as though he had slain all mankind; whereas, if anyone saves a life, it shall be as though he had saved the lives of all mankind…”
~ Holy Qur’an 5:32 (M. Asad)
Among the same people who most passionately (and rightly) highlight the killing of Muslims in Palestine, Syria, Myanmar and elsewhere, are often found those fanatics who swiftly issue death threats to anyone with whom they merely have a disagreement. Do they really think this is what Allah SWT wants of them? Have they not read the many verses of the Holy Quran discussing hypocrisy? Is this not blatantly hypocritical?
I’ve been counselled by well meaning friends who advised me to stay out of this one. However, I have a duty to put the record straight. Many of Maajid Nawaz’s critics, especially the more fanatical ones, are themselves acting well outside of Islamic teachings. Were I not to say anything, I’d be a willing accomplice in the further distortion of the teachings of our Human Family’s second largest religion. Were I to stand back, I would truly be disrespecting Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and his legacy, the Deen of Islam.
Today, too many Muslims claim to be ready to die for the Prophet, peace be upon him, but who is prepared to live like him? Something to consider…
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is reported in hadith to have prophesied the emergence of someone he referred to as the “dajjal”.
The meaning of the word ‘dajjal’ comes from the Arabic expression “dajjala al-ba’eer (he smeared the camel)”, referring to a practice where dishonest traders used to cover a sick camel with tar to give the impression it was healthy.
Dajjal is derived from the root ‘dajala’, which means ‘to mix’, it refers to deliberate confusion, vagueness and ambiguity. Hence, dajjal is one who speaks in vagaries, who is full of lies and deceives many people…
Food for thought in our present times? What do you think?
Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
“One has to admit, Maajid Nawaz makes some most poignant points here… We are not living in yesterday’s world, nor should any right-minded person desire the bigotry often prevalent in the past. In a society where bigotry rules, everyone suffers in one way or another.”
~ Paul Salahuddin Armstrong
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Defend the Internet from the greedy banksters, crooked politicians, charlatan pastor-mullahs and other freaks who desire to destroy it!
“Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: The greatest jihad is to speak the word of truth to a tyrant.”
~ Mishkat, Book of Rulership and Judgment, ch. 1, sec. 2
Google is calling for a massive internet uprising in the wake of censorship bills that will ruin internet freedom forever! They have dedicated the page www.google.com/takeaction to raising awareness concerning this madness; it is very important that we continue to keep our Human Family’s link to one another open, to flourish freely.
“A free and open world depends on a free and open Internet. Governments alone, working behind closed doors, should not direct its future. The billions of people around the globe who use the Internet should have a voice.”
Should the proposed changes go ahead, the internet will quite simply cease to be, as whatever would be left would no longer be the internet! Not only would this impact on our liberties, but it would harm our economies through reduced networking opportunities, damage the cause for representative government and destroy our Human Family’s hopes of a brighter, more peaceful world tomorrow, less restricted by national borders and the unnecessary conflict between nations.
On behalf of the future, we ask those of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.
We the People of the Internet have no elected government, nor are we likely to have one; therefore we address those who would tyrannise us with no greater authority than that with which Liberty always speaks. We declare the global social space we are building to be naturally independent of the tyrannies you seek to impose on us.
Governments and corporations have no moral right to rule us, nor do they have the means to stop us!
Together we can and will move forward to bring into being a brighter tomorrow, but in order to do that, we all need to work together and defend the right to freely communicate without interference from greedy banksters, crooked politicians and charlatan pastor-mullahs who would stand in the way of our collective vision.
Sheikh Salahuddin Abu Sophia