Thursday, 25 August 2011

Muslims And Irrational Thinking

I received an interesting mail from a friend about the irrational spendings of Nigerian Muslims in the name of religion. This is something that has been bothering me for long because I see people in my immediate environment doing so. The problem is you get accused of being too westernized for stating the obvious. Finally Muslim clerics are also beginning to call against our outrageous annual spending on Umrah (voluntary pilgrimage). I reproduce the content of the mail below.

Dr. Ahmad Gumi on Umrah
Dr. Ahmad Gummi made the following brief comment in an internet forum regarding our misplaced obsession with Umrah and I feel compelled to bring it to the notice of my readers:
In as much as there is a general excitement among the rich Muslims to go on Umra during the fasting period, we need to note that the extra virtue of Umrah in Ramadan is contestable among the scholars because the hadith in question was narrated to apply to specific people at a specific time (Ibn Kathir). Also, the practical sunnah of the Prophet and the salaf did not promote it.
However, the ibadat whose extra virtues are not contestable are:
1. Feeding the poor (remember that Somalians are dying of hunger).

2. Treating the sick (remember that treatable communicable diseases are the number one killer diseases in Africa

3. Promoting education (remember that the number one malady of the Ummah is ignorance)
Calling to Islam (remember that the image of true Islam needs to be corrected)

4. Solving these issues requires money and spending generously on them is BETTER and more VIRTUOUS than to spend on umra in Ramadan or the voluntary hajj.



Despite the incessant calls for spending on the above issues in place of Umrah, Nigerian Muslim elites continue to undertake the Umrah annually. Just some few hours ago, the BBC announced that British citizens have raised $68million (N11 billion) for victims of famine in Somalia, coming second only to the US which raised a slightly higher amount. How much has the Muslim World raised, apart from the anticipated donation from Saudi Arabia? How can we Muslims claim a better moral pedestal than the West?

Where are the Muslim charity groups, including the Red Crescent? We only hear about Oxfam and other charities from the very West that al-Shabab is preventing from reaching the affected areas.

If it were only for our dismal effort, the affected populations in Somalia, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya and now Uganda would be wiped out. There is an ever ready alibi for our inaction: "It is God who caused the draught and the deaths. If he did not wish it, it would not have happened." Of what benefit would it be to God if He sees infants dying? There is something missing in us. The earlier we start looking for it the better. Can we ever wake up and believe in our capacity to improve on our condition without resorting to blaming God?

I have long ago reached the conclusion that the problem is in our brains. Consider this arithmetic:

If the umrah going Muslims among Nigerians would agree to spend the cost of their umrah on education, many schools would have been built across the country. Not less than N2billion is spent annually, which is enough to build 10 hospitals or 200 primary schools annually. That is 200 hospitals or 2,000 schools – modern or Qur’anic – across the nation in just ten years! In our weird thinking, we feel spending these colossal amounts in quest for a reward on an act of worship whose virtue is even contestable among the scholars is better than using them to solve our social problems. Mhm.

Unless the Muslim World subscribes to rational thinking, it must abandon any hope of solving its problems of poverty, ignorance, disease and backwardness. However, it is not that we are incapable of rational thinking, we are afraid of it.

May God reward Dr. Ahmad Gummi for his nasiha.

  I think Muslims all over the world have a responsibility of being fair to themselves before crying of unfair treatment from others.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Introvert vs Extrovert

The first time I knew the meaning of the words introvert and extrovert, I was in primary school. Interestingly the teacher used me as an example of an introvert and one of my classmates as an extrovert. The unspoken conclusion of the teacher which I took from his explanations is that there are more advantages in being an extrovert than in being an introvert. He suggested that extroverts are go getters and are not afraid of meeting people. Based on that class, I have occasionally tried to stir up the extrovert in me until I realized that the teacher was wrong. I have managed to overcome all the introvert weaknesses he has stated without changing who I am. So, recently I came across an article, Top Ten Myths About Introverts and I realized that what my teacher thought were weaknesses of introverts were actually peculiarities and can be used as advantages.  I believe the article has concisely driven home the points about the many misconceptions about introverts and I think those points deserve to be reproduced here

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.
This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.
Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.
Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.
Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.
Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.
Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.
On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.
Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.
Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.
Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.
Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.
Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.
Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.
Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.
Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.
Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.
Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.
Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.
Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ. 

I particularly liked where the author said “You cannot escape us, and to change us would lead to your demise.”