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Total number of comments: 15 (since 2013-11-28 16:45:12)

BenE

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  • The Presidential Debate that did not really Happen
    • The most intelligent remark all evening was made by after the debate by a woman for whom party (Republican) is more important than anything else. She admitted not liking Trump and then said words to the effect that "Trump may be a jackass but he's the jackass leading our mule team."

      That is the problem--millions are discounting how dangerous Trump is for the country and the world but they support the party come what may or they are entertained by Trump and are as ill-informed as Trump. They do not even know that they are being sold the largest bottle of snake oil ever put on the American political market.

      Trump is the closest thing to the anti-Christ that we have and yet, surprisingly, many self-identified Christians are planning to vote for him.

      He is a malignant narcissist, and many Americans have been sucked into his brain-dead cult.

  • Donald Trump's "sharia law" Bogeyman is more Islamophobia
    • The word "shari'ah" literally means "the path to a watering place". Without water, we quickly die. The "watering place" for Muslims is the fount of God's wisdom, knowledge and bidding as revealed to us primarily in the Qur'an (divine revelation) and the life and words of the Prophet Muhammad (sunnah).

      God commands us to do to good and to eschew evil and to be just in all our actions in regard to ourselves and others.
      "Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and charity to kith and kin; He forbids all shameful deeds, injustice and rebellion...." (Qur'an 16:90)

      Judges are expected to implement the principles of divine justice on the basis of three axioms:
      (1) The larger interest of society takes precedence over the interest of any single individual;
      (2) Although "relieving hardship" and "promoting benefit" are both among the prime objectives of shari'ah, the former has precedence over the latter;
      (3) A bigger loss cannot be inflicted to relieve a smaller loss or a bigger benefit cannot be sacrificed for a smaller one. Conversely, a smaller harm can be inflicted to avoid a bigger harm or a smaller benefit can be sacrificed fora larger benefit.

      There are also a number of secondary sources of shari'ah, including:
      Consensus of opinions ( al-ijma') : the interpretation of the entire Muslim community with respect to a matter;
      Analogical deduction (al-quiyas): the use of human faculties to determine the proper course of action for things not explicity mentioned in the Qur'an or Sunnah;
      Known practices and customs ('urf and 'adat): Customary or secular laws are valid so long as there is no conflict with the Qur'an or the Sunnah.

      Furthermore, Muslims are expected to obey the civil and criminal laws of the place where the live even if that place is not under Muslim rule. When a person feels compelled to practice civil disobedience, he must nevertheless accept the decision based of the practices and customs of the place as to fines or imprisonment.

      When Muslims talk about shari'ah implementation in the West, they are either talking about some distant time when local laws evolve to be in full conformity with the Qur'an and the Sunnah or they are seeking the adoption of civil laws that will make it possible for them, for example, to conclude civil contracts that are based on shari'ah and that if contested, will be judged according to Islamic legal principles. This no different than Catholic Canon Law courts or Jewish beth din that settle civil disputes (where both parties consent) by a mechanism of binding arbitration. Such arbitration panels are already widespread in secular commercial activities and stipulated as an ultimate dispute settlement mechanism in contracts.

      Generally, Muslims are not calling for the implementation of amputations and beheadings. First of all, those punishments, whichare limited as to scope, are the maximum penalties allowed in the Qur'an. In practice, the judge can impose a lesser sentence where justice would be better served by mercy instead of strict, absolute justice. A man who steals in extremis to feed his family does not deserve amputation if the society has systemic inequalities that prevent all from providing for their basic needs.

      Shari'ah is a philosophical or juridical construct that is also found in the Jewish Torah and the Christian Gospel, as summarized by Prophet Jesus when he was asked which of the some 600 laws were the greatest. Jesus is reported to have said:

      "Hear O children of Israel, the Lord is our God and God is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. This is the first and great commandment and the second is similar: you shall love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law (Torah) and Prophetic Books (nevi'im)."

      That is the gist of shari'ah: obeying God in everything we do, left undone, say or left unsaid and in treating all others with justice and mercy, as we would like to be treated.

      Allahu 'alam (But God knows best.)

  • Saudi Bigot-in-Chief Declares Iranian Shiites "Not Muslim"
    • It seems to be a permanent part of human nature to categorize groups as either us or them and to exclude unity.

      Some Evangelical Protestant groups still do not recognize Roman Catholics as "real" Christians go so far as to identify the RC Church with the allegorical "whore of Babylon" in the Bible.

  • French Court lifts Municipal Burkini Ban; & Why should you care what other people wear?
    • The simple truth is that modern French society is classist, elitist, and racist. Over the door of thousands of government buildings is emblazoned the motto "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" (freedom, equality, brotherhood). The truth is that the "Republican principle of laïcité (secularism), which is supposed to make the State neutral in its laws and administration, has been perverted into a State religion that would compel all people to be its votaries, except when they are closeted in their homes. When police officers surround a woman on the beach and force her to remove her burkini, which is no more offensive than the wet suit worn by surfers or the traditional habit worn by some nuns when they wade in the surf, where is the freedom, equality and fraternity?

      The current Constitution includes the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) and therefore says:

      "La France est une République indivisible, laïque, démocratique et sociale. Elle assure l'égalité devant la loi de tous les citoyens sans distinction d'origine, de race ou de religion. Elle respecte toutes les croyances." (France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic. It guarantees equality before the Law for all its citizens, with no distinction on account of origin, race or religion. It respect all [religious ] beliefs.)

      That is the hypocrisy of modern France. The principles are clear and enshrined in law, but they are flouted and scorned by both the people and the government.

      As La Bruyère wrote long ago: "Le voile de la modestie couvre le mérite, et le masque de l'hypocrisie cache la malignité." (The veil of modesty cloaks merit, and the mask of hypocrisy hides malice.)

  • The Great Mexican Wall Deception
    • Generally, before World War I, visas and passports were NOT required for entry to most Western European nations. In the U.S., there was no federal immigration law until 1790. Before that time, the states controlled entry. All the 1790 law did was set a residence requirement of 2 years before naturalization. The first significant U.S. law was not adopted until 1819. Properly managed, there is no real reason to patrol borders, except to intercept contraband, sex slaves, etc. Otherwise, if a person enters and then leads his or her life in a peaceful and lawful manner, he or she should be left alone and allowed to be naturalized after a reasonable time.

  • Juan Cole, "The Idea of Peace in the Qur’an" (Kluge Center Blog)
    • The division of the world into "houses" or regions was a latter-day invention promoted by Ibn Tamiyyah, among others. This geo-political division of the world is not founded on any specific teaching in the Qur'an or the ahadith. In some elaborations there is a house of justice (dar al-'adl) and a house of entente (dar as-soulh) and others. The dar as-soulh was a region that was not at war with the Muslim state and was not considered to be an enemy. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made treaties with several non-Muslim countries, which were not invaded and their people were under no coercion to convert to Islam.

      There is a great danger in applying to Islam a dualistic or manichean construct that requires everything "good" to be Islamic and everything else to be evil and worthy of destruction. I call this the "cowboy conception" of Islam. Us vs Them. Totally good vs totally evil. Good guys vs bad guys. Black vs White. A universe in which there is no gray. The U.S. justice system is perfectly good; Shari'ah law is absolutely evil (although the two systems share many aspects).

    • Indeed, shalom/salaam mean the same thing. The larger meaning is about God's will that we live in harmony with him, with our neighbours and with ourselves. Essentially, this concept was expressed by Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) when he was asked which of the Jewish commandments (there were over 600) is the greatest. He said, "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord is our God, the Lord is one." And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these and on these two depend all the Law (Torah) and the Prophets (nevi'im, prophetical scripture).

  • Are Cruz And Kasich smart enough to stop Trump?
    • After winning 5 northeast states on 26 April, Tromp can say "Alea iacta est" because he has reached the point of no return. If he wins his Rubicon (California), he will be the GOP Convention nominee on the first ballot.

  • US Ally Saudi Arabia Sentences Atheist Tweep to 10 Years & 2,000 Lashes
    • Abdelkarim Evans 03/02/2016 at 1:59 pm

      In the Qur'an (2:256), Allah says "لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ" which can be translated as "Let there be no compulsion in religion...."

      In explaining this verse, Sayyid Qutb writes, "Islam looks at religious faith as a matter of conviction, once the basic facts are provided and explained. Faith is never a matter of coercion or compulsion. To achieve this conviction, Islam addresses the human being in totality. It addresses the human mind and intellect, human common sense, emotions and feelings, the innermost human nature, and the whole human conscious being. (...) Freedom of belief is the most basic right that identifies man as a human being. To deny anyone this right is to deny him or her humanity. Freedom of belief also implies the freedom to express and propagate one’s belief without fear of threat or persecution; otherwise, that freedom is hollow and meaningless."

      The greatly revered Qur'anic commentator Ibn Kathir wrote, "There is no compulsion in religion, meaning, do not force anyone to become Muslim, for Islam is plain and clear, and its proofs and evidence are plain and clear. Therefore, there is no need to force anyone to embrace Islam. Rather, whomever Allah directs to Islam, opens his heart for it and enlightens his mind, will embrace Islam with certainty. For whomever Allah blinds the heart and seals the hearing and sight, there will be no benefit from being forced to embrace Islam."

      The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, warned us about whose zeal leads to excesses when he said:

      "Beware of extremism in religion because that was the only thing that destroyed those before you."

      اللهُ اَعْلَم (Allah knows best)

  • Canada offers world example in integrating Syrian refugees
    • The Canadian objective of receiving 26,000 refugees will be met by the end of February 2016. As of Feb. 2, 16,000 have already been received. The U.S. plan is to receive only 10,000 by the END of 2016 although the U.S. population is more than TEN times that of Canada.

      Unlike Denmark, we will not seize their assets and unlike several European countries, we will not force them out when the Syrian war is over.

  • Egyptian Constitution: Army Strengthened, Religious Parties Banned, Freedom of Belief, Speech Enshrined
    • The constitutions of many countries sound good on paper but are not, in fact, followed by governments. I am still convinced that the Egyptian people who were too impatient to wait elections to replace Morsi and who made a pact with the Devil (the Army) to illegally overthrow him, will live (at least most of them!) to regret their lack of patience and steadfastness to whom they had given their bay'ah (oath of allegiance) through free elections.
      اللهُ مَعَ الصَّابِرينَ
      Surely, Allah is with those who are patient (steadfast). Qur'an 2:249

  • Fourth of July Comes a Day Early to Cairo after Fundamentalist President is Removed (video)
    • Okay people, it's perspective time.

      In the 2012 Egyptian election, Morsi won with only 51.7% of the popular vote and a voter turnout of 43%. In the U.S. in 2012, Obama won with an even smaller margin of 50.4% of the popular vote and a turnout of 57%.

      I hope no one in the U.S. would approve of Republican supporters organizing mass demonstrations against Obama and accepting a military coup d'état to remove him from office.

      The whole point of fixed terms followed by general elections is to maintain order and stability but still give the people a way to remove a leader who cannot deliver the goods. It seems a significant number of Egyptians prefer mob rule followed by military dictatorship instead of genuine democratic institutions.

    • In the midst of a worldwide economic recession, the impatient youth of Egypt could give only one year to the man they democratically elected for a full term. They demonstrated and gave give the army the pretext it needed to take power.

      There is no doubt that Morsi was not the ideal president but a regime based on a coup d'état by the army does not bode well for the people of Egypt. By the way, this is the same army that held power and was reviled repeatedly by the same demonstrators during the year immediately following Mubarak's fall and preceding Morsi's election.

      The people and leaders of virtue gave their bay'ah (oath of allegiance) to Morsi to be their leader, and now they have betrayed him by interrupting his term of office.

      The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used very strong words to insist on the necessity of supporting the legitimate leader so long as that leader's actions are not contrary to Allah's law:

      “Whoever gives his oath of allegiance to a leader and gives him his hand and his heart, let him obey him as much as he can. If another one comes and disputes with him (for leadership), kill the second one.” (Narrated by Muslim, 1844)

      In this case, there was no pretender; the people simply betrayed the leader to whom they had sworn allegiance and let the army take over.

      The demonstrators and the army (not the Muslim Brotherhood government) are the real extremists and they may have sealed their own fate by their intemperate actions this week.

  • Looking for PETN, Scanning Grandma at the Airport, and the Future of Air Travel
    • Only some kinds of profiling are illegal (and not very effective): those based on extremely broad categories, such as colour, religion, nationality, etc. People are not suspect just because they are Muslim or Arab or brown-skinned. They are suspect when their behaviour, current and past, indicates a cause for concern. The shoe bomber was a Briton of European descent. He was more or less unknown to the authorities when he returned from an extended trip to the Middle East. However, his profile was suspect. In Paris, instead of changing planes to go home in England, this man who had no checked or carry on luggage wanted to buy a one-way ticket to Florida for cash. He was hardly the typical traveler in Paris who was headed for a vacation in Miami. (In fact, any Frenchman with self-respect would NOT take a vacation in Florida. Better places are closer and much cheaper.) In any case, REAL, INTELLIGENT examination of the shoe bomber's profile would have raised all the right flags. In fact, it DID raise flags at the Air France counter, where he was REFUSED a ticket. The people at the American Airlines counter, however, saw nothing strange about him and sold him a one-way ticket--no questions asked. Fortunately for those on his AA plane, he was unable to set off his bomb.

    • The MAIN problem with scanning and groping passengers is that it is relatively ineffective compared to other, less invasive approaches. Most recent incidents were possible because of failures BEFORE the person or bomb got on the plane. Look at some examples:

      Twenty years ago an Air India plane left Canada and exploded over the Atlantic killing all on board. Before the plane took off the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was called to inspect baggage taken off the plane because of a bag with no accompanying passenger. Because of the weather the RCMP bomb specialist and sniffer do were delayed. Instead of waiting, the airport authorities let the plane leave with all its baggage.

      Today the 9/11 hijackers would fail because the cabin door is now permanently locked and the pilots are armed. Not much point in continuing to go after anything metal except high powered weapons or perhaps machetes.

      The shoe bomber, who had recently been in the Middle East and had a British passport but had NO luggage tried to buy a one-way ticket to Florida with cash in Paris. The clerk at the Air France counter refused. The bomber crossed the terminal to the American Airlines counter and was immediately sold a ticket. His "bomb" was a dud.

      The underwear bomber's device was a dud too. But he got on board because the U.S. government ignored the information received from the young man's own father, who reported that the fellow was unstable and that the U.S. should cancel his visa so that he could not board the plane. Airport security also shares the blame because he was headed for a winter destination (Detroit) but had NO warm weather clothing.

      If there were any terrorists who wanted to cause havoc, they could pick hundreds of "soft" targets. They have no reason to limit themselves to airpoints. If they exist and if airport security really does make air travel safer, we would see attacks on hotels, factories, trains, cruise ships, subways, etc., etc.

      The actual threat is so small statistically speaking that all of us are much more likely to die from a lightning hit or win the Mega Lottery than we are to die in a terrorist attack.

      Those who run and work in security agencies (TSA, DHS, FBI, CIA, NSA, and all police departments) usually have a need to control others. The myth of imminent terrorist attack gives them a pretext to create paranoia, fear and hysteria among the public, who then willingly accept every form of abuse and indignity.

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