BOOK REVIEW Name: Conflicts of Fitness.Islam, America and Evolutionary Psychology

BOOK REVIEW
Name: Conflicts of Fitness.Islam, America and Evolutionary Psychology
Author: A.S. Amin
ISBN-13 # 978-1483442846
Publisher: Lulu, lulu.com
Available from Lulu and Amazon; Price $11.99
Disclaimer: I have a slight conflict of interest in reviewing the book “Conflicts of Fitness”; May be a little more than slight. The author is my son.
If you are looking for a book that takes a very clinical – sometimes too clinical – and a Darwinian look at things like love, courtship, marriage, divorce, pornography, feminism, polygyny, women’s role in Islam and even hip hop lyrics, you need to read this book.
The title is not very catchy nor indicative of the book’s contents; the subtitle clarifies it a bit but it’s the introduction that clarifies the “fitness” in the title; it refers to “reproductive fitness.”
 The book starts with a defense of Islam’s allowance of polygyny – a risky venture, especially nowadays – on the basis of maximizing a society’s reproductive fitness. It has you assume some unreal assumptions about mating possibilities in an imaginary village that most readers may find too far fetched. But the basic scientific arguments regarding polygyny that the author makes cannot easily be dismissed as nonsense or medieval; the author infers that it  just happens to be one of the traditions that like any other traditions like monogamy, “serial monogamy”, polyandry has its plusses and minuses.
The book then goes on to explain other aspects of Islam that are usually criticized in the non Muslim world – like veiling, early marriage, women’s reduced access to divorce, women’s subordination etc. – on the basis of reproductive fitness and “reproductive climate”. Again, very few would like those practices in Islam – the author even looks at these issues from the angle ” Is it Islam or is it Muslims”  and seems to infer that it is more Muslims than Islam – but the scientific arguments offered for those practices’ defense cannot easily be denied.
The author then compares the cultural differences between the Muslim world and the West, again from the point of view of reproductive fitness. He describes the advantages and disadvantages of each system taking examples of feminism, late marriages, no marriages, serial monogamy, cultural and generation gaps and uses a lot of hip hop lyrics to explain the West’s method of achieving reproductive fitness. Some readers may find some concepts repeated too many times but given the novelty of the author’s hypotheses and the possible difficulty to grasp them by a person without a scientific background , the repetition may be justified.
If your knowledge of philosophy is limited to Aristotle, Aquinas and Kant etc.,  you’ll become  familiar with more contemporary “philosophers” like Jay-Z, 50 cent and Tupac Shakur after reading this book. The author has used many of their lyrics to explain his points and you’ll become familiar with words like “wifey”, “humpin'” etc.
All in all it is an easy and informative read, a fairly short book that can be finished in one sitting; but it’s possible you may want to read it a second time, as I did.
Shoeb Amin

What’s so great about Christianity? Book Review by Dr. Shoeb Amin

BOOK REVIEW by Dr. Shoeb Amin

 

Title: What’s so great about Christianity?

Author: Dinesh D’Souza

Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

ISBN-13: 978-1-4143-2601-6

I just finished reading this book recently; it is one of those books I’ll have to read a second time. It is so full of important facts and novel perspectives on many of the issues about religious and atheistic beliefs, it is hard to digest and remember it all after one reading – at least it was for me.

A word about the author: Dinesh D’Souza is an Indian American, a Conservative who worked as a policy adviser for Ronald Reagan, and is affiliated with American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution and is considered a Christian apologist. Most of us have heard some unsavory things about him including a charge for illegal political contributions to which he pleaded guilty. But don’t let the above introduction turn you off of this book.

A word about the title: Even though it is about defending Christianity, you could use some of the same arguments the author makes in the book to defend any religion. So again don’t let the title turn you off. of the book.

I’ve read a couple of books that deal with the same issues; this was much easy to read, based more on logic and science and less on esoteric concepts and metaphysics . This is evident in chapters like “Christianity and Reason: The Theological Roots of Science; From Logos to Cosmos: Christianity and the Invention of Invention; Paley (referring to William Paley who propounded the “watchmaker” argument) Was Right: Evolution and the Argument from Design. In this last chapter he actually describes evolution as more correct than the biblical account; and there are many other examples where he favors the scientific explanation over religious dogma, which I found refreshing, coming from somebody with his credentials.

I’ll just let some of the reviews listed in the book do the talking. Michael Shermer, publisher of “Skeptic” magazine writes: “But he is a first-rate scholar whom I feel absolutely compelled to read…..  and although non-Christians and non-theists may disagree with some of his arguments, we ignore him at our peril. D’Souza takes the debate to a new level. Read it”. Dallas Willard, author of “the Divine Conspiracy” writes: “Pastors, teachers, believers, and the sincerely perplexed will find this book indispensable”. I might add atheists to that list too.

My opinion: Read it!

 

Shoeb Amin

 

Mother, Son, Schizophrenia

BY THE NEW YORKER

 ( Shared by Nasik Elahi)

There is a lot of suffering in this house,” the Indian photographer Sohrab Hura writes in a note printed at the beginning of his photo journal “Life Is Elsewhere.” In 1999, when Hura was seventeen years old, his mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and in the following years the house they shared was overtaken by her illness. In the book, which Hura self-published last month, he describes her screaming obscenities, obsessively changing the locks on the door, beating him with a stick, and at times disbelieving that he was her son. “Our initial years were spent hiding from the world,” he writes. “Hers out of paranoia and mine out of embarrassment and anger towards who she had become.”

From the anguish of this situation, Hura—who last year became the second Indian photographer ever to become a nominee member of Magnum Photos—created a loving and assiduously candid photographic portrait of his mother. Produced between 2005 and 2011, his images show her isolated and claustrophobic existence: a nightgown she was wearing when forcibly hospitalized dangles alone in the frame; wrinkles ripple darkly across the sheets of an empty bed. But the house is also a space of tentative safety and tranquility. In a photo from 2008, Elsa, his mother’s dog and primary companion, stares at the camera from the halo of a cone collar; behind her, on the bed, Hura’s mother sleeps peacefully.

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/mother-son-schizophrenia?mbid=social_twitter

 

‘Discpntent And Its Civilizations’ By Mohsin Hamid

Worth reading book review by Jake Lamar.

Whatever Pakistan’s faults, the war on terror only further rent its fragile social fabric. In “Osama bin Laden’s Death,” Hamid writes: “Crowds are justifiably celebrating bin Laden’s death in downtown Manhattan, where a decade ago al-Qaeda terrorists infamously massacred nearly three thousand people. But since the subsequent US invasion of Afghanistan, terrorists have killed many times that number of people in Pakistan. Tens of thousands have died in terror and counterterror violence, slain by bombs, bullets, cannons, and drones. America’s 9/11 has given way to Pakistan’s 24/7/365.”

One could say, with no snark intended, that back in the year 2000, twenty-nine-year-old Mohsin Hamid was the ultimate bourgeois bohemian. He had just published a well-received first novel. He lived on lovely Cornelia Street, in a corner of the West Village once inhabited by artists and writers but, by the dawn of the twenty-first century, affordable mainly to investment bankers and management consultants. As it happened, this debut novelist was also a management consultant. And in a deal of sugar-shock sweetness, his employer, McKinsey & Company—famous for overworking its bright young climbers—allowed this graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law three months off per year to write fiction. This guy, as Frank Sinatra might have crooned, had the world on a string, the string around his finger.

But even back then, before the twin towers came tumbling down, Hamid felt the sting of Islamophobia in New York City. In “International Relations,” one of the many superb pieces in his first collection of essays, Discontent and Its Civilizations, Hamid describes how he was made to squirm every time he went to the Italian consulate in Manhattan to receive official clearance to visit his then-girlfriend in her European homeland. Hamid’s passport “runs suspiciously backward, the right-hand cover its front, and above the curved swords of its Urdu lettering . . . reads, ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan.’ Words to make a visa officer tremble.”

For Hamid, life in the Big Apple would turn sour fast. As he writes in another essay: “The 9/11 attacks placed great strain on the hyphen bridging that identity called Muslim-American. As a man not known for frequenting mosques, and not possessing a US passport, I should not have felt it. But I did, deeply. It seemed two halves of myself were suddenly at war.” He arranged to have McKinsey transfer him, indefinitely, to London. All was well there, at least for a while: “Like many Bush-era self-exiles from the United States, I found that London combined much of what first attracted me to New York with a freedom America seemed to have lost in the paranoid years after 9/11.” In London, Hamid met the love of his life: “She and I had been born on the same street in Lahore.” He quit McKinsey. He published his mesmerizing second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which became an internationally acclaimed best seller. Marching with a million other people in Hyde Park to protest the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Hamid thought: “I am one of them. I am a Londoner.”

http://bookforum.com/inprint/021_05/14162

Posted By F.Sheikh