Ask A Question

On 12/15/2014, the Editor of the Month asked the following 4 questions.

I agree with Marwan Majzoob that it is important discussion and in order
to make discussion more fruitful, I hope we avoid personal jabs. In order
to keep discussion focused, I have posed few questions. I would appreciate
the response.

1-Question for Marwan Majzoob; What do you think why the Renaissance was
limited to Western hemisphere and bypassed not just Muslim lands but much
of the rest of the world also?

2- Question for Babar Mustafa (A) Let us assume ruthless force is the
answer to enforce separation of State and Church. What are the chances of
getting another Ataturk in rest of Muslim lands, when history tells us
that most of the time selfish dictators grab power for personal interests
and it nourishes further extremism? (B) What is wrong with following the
example of Tunisia, Indonesia etc who have found their own unique way to
separate  state and religion and move forward?

3-Qusetion for Zaki Sabih; What do you think USA will accomplish in its
fight with ISIS and what is the right course in ISIS and Syria problem.

4- Question for-Aziz Amin- Do you think Secularism and separation of State
and Church will be the answer to Muslim’s current plight.

All participants, especially Noor Salik, Mirza Ashraf,Wequar Azeem,  Shoeb
Amin, Suhail Rizvi, Nasik, Aijaz, Mumtaz, Mian Aslam  can jump in and take
a shot at any question. Please avoid personal jabs. Thanks

Subsequently, the thread was closed by the editors.
These questions are important questions.
Will it be possible that these questions are posted  in ASK A QUESTION category?


8 thoughts on “Ask A Question

  1. Editor of the Month has done a great job first by asking these four questions.

    All questions are important and complex.
    Though each question is addressed to one particular TF USA affiliate, but it is the collective responsibility of all TF USA affiliates to address these questions individually and collectively.

    At the end of the four questions, the editor of the month judiciously and tactfully wrote:
    All participants, especially Noor Salik, Mirza Ashraf, Wequar Azeem, Shoeb
    Amin, Suhail Rizvi, Nasik, Aijaz, Mumtaz, Mian Aslam can jump in and take
    a shot at any question.

    Question #1

    Why the Renaissance was
    limited to Western hemisphere and bypassed not just Muslim lands but much
    of the rest of the world also?

    It is a complex question.
    All TF USA affiliates, just try to answer this question.

    I will attempt to answer this question to the best of my ability then you should critically analyze my answer.

    There is a concept of "reasonable time".
    Reasonable time is always linked to a particular situation.
    In this situation 'reasonable time' should be weeks not months.

    Marwan Majzoob.

    • December 30th, 2014.

      To answer the question, Editor of the Month asked me, I am finding it intellectually challenging.
      [Renaissance only in Western Europe/Hemisphere]
      I will do the best I can.
      Attempts to answer these 4 questions will tell the intellectual calibre of TF USA affiliates.

      Editor of the Month has listed 9 names – starting with Noor Salik and ending with Mian Aslam. These 9 guys cannot escape or run away.

      I have read the comments of not all but some of these guys esp. Mian Aslam and Wequar Azeem. I didn’t hear from them for some time – may be some intellectual hibernation is going on.

      I am confident they will come back.
      I will write my own answer, but I would also expect their (Wequar Azeem & Mian Aslam) deliberations about Renaissance in Western Europe.
      The other 7 can also say whatever they want to say. It is not easy to answer this question.
      Just start writing and see how far you can go.
      Renaissance only in Western Europe is an astute observation.
      Why not India?
      Why not China?
      Why not Africa?
      Why not America?
      Why not Middle East?
      Middle East is a land of Monotheistic Prophets.
      It is a land of dogma – not the land of rational and analytical thinking.

      I shouldn’t say too much. Let other say something.

      I have to work on my response.
      Editor of the month has given me a challenging assignment.
      I liked it.
      The question helped me to confront my intellectual limitations.

      Marwan Majzoob.

  2. (Editor’s Note; Interpretation of the question by Marwan Majzoob is correct.)
    Comment by Babar Mustafa
    The question of Renaissance in Europe only (western hemisphere) is indeed very interesting and I had looked up but was waiting for Marwan Sahib to have a go first since editors had asked him directly. Timeline is important, 15th century. There are a couple of reasons discussed on the Internet that I found making sense to me. One is the realization of life “here and now” instead of afterlife, after the black death/bubonic plague that Europe suffered. Second is Europe getting lucky to have artists, philosophers like Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Dante and Machiavelli rising in that part at that time.
    I will talk about the concept of Renaissance (re-birth) being different in our world than the Europe later but first why the relevance of devastation of plague;

    Europe not only experienced inquisition which highlighted the dark side of Christianity but then black death exposed the hollowness of religious answers when the clergy started blaming all kind of human weaknesses and temptations for the wrath of God in the shape of the plague. Sinners were accused and held responsible and punished by death but when clergy also fell victim to the plague, people saw it clearly that how hollow were the answers that their religion could come up with. Plague was finally traced to the rats and stopped. To appreciate this life one has to become realistic and come out of bogus concepts that hold life here and now as just a phase before “real” and eternal life began.

    I also believe that the strides humanity has made is due to very few great men/women who really made the difference otherwise we would be still primitive. When we will have the likes of Renaissance artists, humanists and naturalists we will experience the joy of this life and appreciate how precious this life is and might stop worrying about hell-fire of hereafter (or the 72 virgins waiting somewhere six feet under the ground). The story that science tells of this life, will make us appreciate this life greatly.

    I was taken to task when I gave an example of wild fire re-invigorating earth but I still hold my view that a great devastation only enables the change of mind-set. The rest of the world did not experience the dark side of religions in the form of witch hunting or hollowness of accusations that sinners brought on the plague. We are almost there, we are witnessing the dark side of our religion and we will do ourselves a favor if we checked this downward spiral even now. This brings me to what I said earlier about the concept of Renaissance in our part of the world (because I think what editors really were asking was not Renaissance in China or Africa, Latin America but in our part of the world – Middle East, Asia). I came across “Muslim Renaissance – The task ahead” by Dr. Israr
    and by re-birth he wanted us to go back to khilafat !! Totally wrong concept, we don’t want to be born-again zealots. We want to be rid of our misconceptions, we need to tell our next generations that the glory days weren’t that glorious after-all, we want to analyze our past truthfully and make course corrections, not u-turns. we need to discard the orthodox minds who never tire of telling lies – about the past and about the hereafter! This it it guys, this life, embrace it, enjoy it, make it worth living and leave here and now better than how we found it.


    Note: I had answered the question asked directly to me but that got lost in wild-fire.

  3. Question: What do you think USA will accomplish in its fight with ISIS and what is the right course in ISIS and Syria problem?

    Thank you for giving me this opportunity. Here is my short answer.

    American precondition of getting rid of Prime Minister Maliki was fulfilled, and President Obama pledged in his speech on Sept 24, 2014 at the UN General Assembly to work with a broad coalition to “dismantle this network of death.” Iraq never asked for American soldiers on the ground but only air power. Already, American air power has weakened ISIS and Iraqis have recaptured many areas, but Iraqis need more sustained air power working together with brave Kurd and Iraqi forces to completely dismantle and destroy this terrorist group.

    A report (Foreign Fighters in Syria, A TSG report by Richard Barrett, published June 2014) gives the number of foreign fighters in Syria from all over the world including UK and USA at about 12,000. Many of them are newly converted religious extremists and were allowed into Syria through Turkey. Why? I believe that the UN charter prohibits member states to interfere in the internal affairs of another state. I believe that all struggles for democracy and civil rights should be indigenous, peaceful and nonviolent. We do not encourage armed and violent struggle, rebellion, uprising or revolt. We believe in the methods used by Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. A civil war and outside interference in Syria can destroy all of Syria and millions of people will be killed or displaced. Already many cities and neighborhood have been destroyed, 3 million have fled to neighboring countries and 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.

    I think that our government’s policy in Iraq will bring positive image for America. The Iraqi people will be grateful to USA for defending their territorial integrity. However, in Syria arming the rebels will create more instability and anti-American feelings. Look what happened in Libya. Two years after ousting Qaddafi, Libya is still without a real central government. There is anarchy, battle between rival militia is still going on, and people are suffering. Anarchy is worse than dictatorship.
    Zaki Sabih

  4. Mr. Majzoob has been pleading for a while to answer some of the 4 Q’s that were posed by the Editor in December. One of the Q. was re. Renaissance. Babar sahib researched the internet and found some answers. Of course sometimes one finds answers that serves their world view of things. It may be true that people took more interest in things in this life but it was not to an outright rejection of the after life. Religion was still an integral part of the Renaissance. The plague leading to Renaissance in and of itself argument does not seem very sound to me; the plague was not restricted to Europe but no Renaissance sprouted elsewhere. I would still grant that the plague and the untightening of the hold of religion on everyday life may have contributed to the Renaissance, since the reasons had to be multifactorial.

    But a big factor has to be the fact that so many giants of Arts and Sciences were born within that time period. But even more importantly I think there had to be a critical mass of sane and enlightened and intelligent people along with political and religious leaders who accepted and embraced those artists and those scientists and the changes they brought. Some years ago these very artists & scientists would have been sentenced to death even in Europe.

    If we accept the above premises, we can answer why the Renaissance did not take hold elsewhere.

    • January 11th, 2015

      Editor of the Month for December, 2014 asked four questions to four different people, but he also mentioned 9 names inviting them to take a shot on any question.

      Question#1 about Renaissance was for me.
      I have been struggling to answer this question.
      But I am finding it very difficult to answer the queation.

      It would be far easier, if the question would be “what is Renaissance? ”
      Google the question and get few books from personal or public library, write the answer.

      The question is – why the Rennaisance happened where and when it happened?

      To answer this question is not that easy, at least for me. But I am working on it.
      Within a reasonable time I will submit my answer for TF USA affiliates review.
      For me TF USA is like intellectual paradise.
      It looks to me that TF USA does not have any specific agenda to push through.

      It provides unbiased environment where thinkers can say whatever they want.

      ASK A QUESTION, and BRIEF THOUGHTS are powerful and intellectually empowering categories where individuals can ask any question and express their point of views for intellectual feed back.

      It is really great if one is interested in sharing and enjoying ideas of any sort.

      Coming back to question about Renaissance posed by Editor of the Month for December, 2014.

      So far Babar Mustafa and Shoeb Amin has commented or attempted to answer this question.
      Both comments are intellectually enlightening from different petspectives.

      Because this thread has been established, so we can easily track down how many people are interested in this type of activity.

      No answer for this question will satisfy everybody. But the purpose of this activity is that I should be able to say what I want to say.

      TF USA affiliates will not let me go if they disagree with me.

      Let me go back to work on my incomplete answer.
      I was intrigued by Shoeb Amin’s comment.
      What he wrote, his comment is just above.

      Marwan Majzoob.

    • January 12th, 2015.

      Yesterday, I wrote a brief comment based on Shoeb Amin’s comment which is still awaiting editorial moderation to appear on TF USA website.

      I will visit Babar Mustafa’s comment in due course. But I have to work on my own answer as well.

      To answer this question about Renaissance, there are three steps/stages.

      (1) I have to gather valid and verified facts about Renaissance.

      (2) After understanding the facts I have to analyze the situation.

      (3 ) After analysis, I have to put in writing my inferences/deductions.

      First it requires time, second it requires analytical skills, third it requires writing power.
      As an average educated person, I am deficient in all three categories.

      I am about 30 to 40 % done. The moment I will cross or touch 50% threshold, I will share with you my incomplete answer.

      Let me take up the easy part, criticizing and analyzing other people.
      I reread Shoeb Amin’s comment/answer.
      It is composed of two lengthy and one short paragraph.
      Shoeb Amin started with reference to Babar Mustafa.
      Then he mentioned about plague and loosening of the grip of dogma in the area where Renaissance was establishing and deepening it’s roots. He also mentioned that Renaissance was a multifactoral phenomenon.

      Let me step back here and ask you to write the critical analysis of Shoeb Amin’s comment/answer.

      You should have realized by now after reading Shoeb Amin and Babar Mustafa comments about Renaissance that it is an important and complex topic.

      I would suggest to you that you can ask your children/grandchildren, if they are grown up enough to participate in this discussion.

      Renaissance has changed the world.
      The genie of human intellectual freedom will never be put back into the bottle.

      The effects of Renaissance are known to everybody, we are looking for the causes of Renaissance.
      Let us hear from you, your children or your grand children.
      Renaissance is such a topic that every child who is educated or being educated in North America or in Western Europe has to write some paper about Renaissance.

      Please ask them to share their already work done with TF USA affiliates. If it is not already done, they can write afresh.

      Marwan Majzoob.

  5. Shoeb Sahib, at least we are conveying a message to Marwan Sahib that his assignment is not forgotten. Now he has a starting point to jump in.
    Having found this speculation on Internet that Renaissance might have been the after effect of this plague (Black Death) I wasn’t very sure of this idea first but having thought about it, gradually it started looking quite likely that there must have been some connection.
    I had read a book long time ago on Black Death by Norman F. Cantor, “In The Wake of The Plague” and now that you have written somewhat doubting this I had to look it up again and when I read on the cover that this author had written another book “The Civilization of The Middle Ages” I was encouraged to check it out again. I found him reflecting on this connection as follows:

    ” Can we say something more firmly about the connection between the Black Death and the Italian fifteenth-century Renaissance — its humanistic learning, its more accessible literature, its more naturalistic depiction of the human face and body in painting and sculpture?
    The Black Death hit many of the great cities of northern Italy very hard. Giovanni Boccaccio’s “Decameron” uses the realistic flight of the Florentine rich and beautiful to the — they hoped —- safer countryside and the glitterati’s diversion there by telling and listening to sexually charged stories as a framing device for his volume of romantic and sarcastic tales.
    Since the Decameron is considered one of the launch pads of the Renaissance, and since the historian William Bowsky in the 1960s discovered in the archives of nearby Siena an affluent merchant whose five children died in the plague, the question has arisen: Did biomedical trauma then somehow triggered the Italian Renaissance?
    Perhaps it had some impact on consciousness, but the trend developed in the fifteenth century of Renaissance culture was in the direction not of more soul searching but of a more earthly and secular experience. Perhaps the Black Death weakened faith in traditional medieval Catholic spirituality and set off a quest for a deeper naturalistic understanding of human psychology and behavior and the expression of a more personal sensibility.
    This possible tangential result of biomedical devastation scarcely diminishes what we know to have been the main driving force in Italian Renaissance culture — a very rich and politically powerful high bourgeoisie trying to establish its own identity relative to aristocratic and ecclesiastical sensibility by recalling and identifying with the frame of mind, taste and behavioral patterns of the ruling class of ancient Rome portrayed in its abundant literature and surviving art.
    Somewhere in the common unconscious there may have sounded the tocsin that the Black Death was the symbolic psychological decline of the old world of the European Middle Ages. It was time to get on with the new and modern, given added legitimacy by renewed classicism. But like all of cultural history, this is just an ephemeral and unprovable observation.”

    The above quote is rather hard for me to fully comprehend but I hope some one will elaborate further.


    P.S. May be reading The Decameron will help!!

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