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Monday, March 10, 2014

The oppression of ethnocentrism

                       Mosque

Here in Quebec, the recently legislated charter of values (Bill 60) has become all the rage; the bill itself promises several amendments to the internationally praised Charter of Rights and Freedoms, proposing drastic limitations to the presence of religious symbols (specifically kippas, hijabs and turbans) in public offices i.e. schools and hospitals. What is obviously a political ploy to polarise the population and garner votes for an upcoming election has arguably succeeded; with all eyes on the charter, Quebec’s abysmal and unsustainable economy remains relatively unscathed (an economy which, ironically, depends on symbol-carrying immigrants). This proposed legislation, however, is relatively harmless; significantly more distressful, on the other hand, is the profuse amount of ethnocentrism which is allowed, indeed even encouraged, to proliferate in this socio-political climate. Despite its name, ethnocentrism alludes to an innate human tendency that surpasses ethnicity: the imposition of one’s worldview unto others. A good example is that of ‘equality’, which carries countless of definitions across space and time; what is understood and considered equal in one location, may not be the same in another. To fully appreciate ethnocentrism’s potential for oppression, we must first make sense of our selves.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Free will in modern psychology


                   Chess 1
 
“I am the Lord thy God; thou shalt have no other gods before me;” this is the unspoken implication of the critically acclaimed Decalogue I by Krzysztof KieĊ›lowski, a brilliant exposition of the first of the Ten Commandments. The protagonist is a loving father, a highly-educated professor, and an unwavering naturalist; one who believes that everything in the universe is governed by natural law, a form of determinism in which everything that ever happens is the result of a preceding cause in a long chain of cause-and-effects, leaving no room for God. Besides professing his philosophies at the university, he loves spending time with his son, cunningly raising him as one of his students despite his young age. The story begins when the child encounters a dead dog on his way home. “What is death?” the child questions. The father’s response is as cold as it is unforgiving: “one’s vital organs cease to function as the heart stops pumping blood.” Perhaps the most lucid allegory of deterministic naturalism in the entire movie, the father’s explanation paves the way for the incredible finale, bringing to light its fallacy. I won’t spoil the ending – you should watch it yourself – but take note as to how natural determinism, arguably the leading philosophical framework in the Western world, directly conflicts with the first order decreed by God (i.e. setting natural law above God). This movie sets the foundation for a discussion on free will and determinism in modern psychology and Islam. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Human Capacity for Change

An article that attempts to take a novel, psychological approach at examining the developmental benefit of Ramadan, which affords us an immense opportunity for personal change. Omar ibn al-Khattab and Malcolm X are used as role models, and a personal example (video games) is taken from my life to make it approachable. It can be found on:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Anxiety - an existential purpose

                               Stepping Stones

A recent study found that 16.6% global population suffered from some form of anxiety or another. At first sight, the statistic seems enormous. Still, I'm here to argue that it's definitely much bigger. Indeed, there is a great fallacy in ascribing a certain portion of the population with a label that is, in its essence, human; verses from the Quran highlight how truly intimate man’s relationship is with anxiety (e.g. 70:19). Thus, this article serves as a discussion of anxiety and its counterpart, guilt, as fundamentally human features, in stark opposition to the common belief that they’re simply pathologies to be overcome. However, as theoretical reflections often appear overly intellectualizing, my reflections will be accompanied by a deeply personal testament of existential anxiety and guilt, as there is rarely a clearer method to appreciate an idea than to relate to oneself.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The significance of choice

                  Railroad tracks

In John Gardner's Grendel, Grendel journeys to an old priest seeking a few words of life's wisdoms. The priest summarizes his thoughts in four words which, although few in number, succinctly reveals the bedrock of human despair.

Things fade; alternatives exclude.

The first proposition formulates the most basic reality of existence – everything eventually comes to an end. Let's however focus on the more subtle wisdom contained within the second part of this aphorism: 'alternatives exclude.' The priest here is stating that man's very capacity to choose carries with it an existential reality; every decision we make is shadowed by the countless of alternatives we're forfeiting in its stead. This dilemma is often salient in major life decisions, such as our career path, or the choice of spouse. However, the wisdom contained in 'alternatives exclude' is much more profound, and indeed it applies to even the simplest of decisions we make every day. Thus, it's important to note that we'll find anxious individuals on a broad continuum of indecisiveness – from marriage to what to eat for dinner.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The significance of emotions in Islam

This week's post discusses the significance of emotions in Islam - an oft-neglected component of our psychological configuration. It can be found on:
http://www.suhaibwebb.com/personaldvlpt/character/the-significance-of-emotions-in-islam/

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Self-serving scholarly attachment: the blind side of scholar preference

                  The Holy Qur'an & A Magnifying Glass

The purpose of this article is to briefly touch upon the rampant belittlement of scholars in our community. Relevant to this discussion, I contend that any classification of scholars in overly generalized “good vs. bad” categories is ultimately self-serving as a function of one’s personal attitudes and worldview. As such, scholarly attachments may often carry significance towards our psychological, and ultimately, emotional make-up. But I’m getting ahead of myself.