Shared by Tahir Mahmood

An article from NYT

ISTANBUL — On June 29, Turkey’s 12th Gay Pride Parade was held on Istanbul’s crowded Istiklal Avenue. Thousands marched joyfully carrying rainbow flags until the police began dispersing them with water cannons. The authorities, as has become their custom since the Gezi Park protests of June 2013, once again decided not to allow a demonstration by secular Turks who don’t fit into their vision of the ideal citizen.

More worrying news came a week later when posters were put up in Ankara with a chilling instruction: “If you see those carrying out the People of Lot’s dirty work, kill the doer and the done!” The “People of Lot” was a religious reference to gays, and the instruction to kill them on sight was attributed to the Prophet Muhammad. The group that put the posters up, the so-called Islamic Defense Youth, defended its message by asserting: “What? Are you offended by the words of our prophet?!”

All of this suggests that both Turkey and the Muslim world need to engage in some soul-searching when it comes to tolerance for their gay compatriots.

Of course this intolerance is not exclusive to either Turks or Muslims. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, Turkey scores slightly better on measures of gay rights when compared with some nearby Christian-majority nations such as Russia, Armenia and Ukraine. Indeed, Turkey’s secular laws don’t penalize sexual orientation, and some out-of-the-closet L.G.B.T. icons have long been popular as artists, singers or fashion designers. Among them are two of the most popular Turkish entertainers of the past half-century: The late Zeki Muren was flamboyantly gay and the singer Bulent Ersoy is famously transsexual. Their eccentricity has apparently added to their popularity.

But beyond the entertainment industry, the traditional mainstream Islamic view on homosexuality produces intolerance in Turkey toward gays and creates starker problems in Muslim nations that apply Shariah. In Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan or Afghanistan, homosexuality is a serious offense that can bring imprisonment, corporal punishment or even the death penalty. Meanwhile, Islamic State militants implement the most extreme interpretation of Shariah by throwing gays from rooftops.

The hostility of many Muslims toward homosexuality has little basis in the Quran.



Shared by Mirza Ashraf

Abstract: We are living in an era of Scientific Enlightenment in which an incredibly instantaneous technological development is changing everything in our life. At this point, past decades of scientific and digital era have produced great comforts of life and easy access to knowledge. Today, there is an alarming call, “The Robots are coming! Artificial Intelligence is coming!” No doubt, science produces greater knowledge, enhances our understanding of the natural world and the universe, but the important point is, does it help enhance our wisdom which is more important than knowledge? We know that without wisdom human beings do not know how to use ethically scientific developed instruments for the benefit of mankind. Thus the crucial questions before us are: Can science help us to become wiser? Can artificial intelligence create or help us receive or discover wisdom? Can future super-computer be equipped with a wisdom chip to propound spontaneously and wisely as an incomputable and unpredictable situation demands? Scientists working on artificial intelligence are discovering to equip the digital computers with a brain performing as good as human brain. It seems possible scientists may discover a way or a process of uploading human mind with all that exists in an individual’s brain, such as, memory, perception, emotion, experience, wisdom and consciousness, as an artificial neural network or mind-transfer from a biological brain to a computational device. Some scientists believe that theoretically it would be possible that a person’s brain can be scanned, mapped, and its activities transferred to a computer hard drive. If this process becomes practicable, computers would be able to respond in the same way as the original human brain. But a technological prospect of wisdom is not is still utopian, as human brain is not a digital computer but a highly sophisticated neural network. Its neural networks are collections of hundred billions of neurons that constantly rewire and reinforce themselves after accomplishing a new task. The biological brain’s neural network requires no programming which is parallel with a hundred billion neurons firing instantly to accomplish a single task to learn and to create something new. A digital computer has a fixed architecture having a devised operating system based on input, output, and processor. Thus the crucial questions before us are: Can artificial intelligence create or help us receive or discover wisdom? Can future super-computer be equipped with a wisdom chip to propound spontaneously and wisely as an incomputable and unpredictable situation demands? …….

To read full article, Please visit: https://independent.academia.edu/MirzaAshraf



Shared by Syed Ehtisham
Late last week, economic journalist Paul Mason, whose Channel 4 blog has been one of the best English-language sources for making sense of the ongoing Greek crisis, published an excerpt from his forthcoming book in The Guardian. It announces that the end of capitalism has begun and that (spoiler) it doesn’t look how we thought it might. The 20th century old/new leftist dream of some crisis-sparked proletarian revolt, he argues, has been battered by neoliberalism and, now, is being replaced by a steady trickle of viable, largely technology-fuelled alternatives to the current economy. “Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques,” Mason writes. “It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviors.”
He contends that advances in information technology have “reduced the need for work, blurred the edges of work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages.” Stemming from the Wages for Housework campaign of the 1970s, feminist movements and scholars have for years highlighted the loose connection between work and pay, along with the blurry line between labor and leisure at home and in the workplace. And, as Doug Henwood rightly pointed out, there’s nothing inherent to technological innovation that means less work, especially for the market’s worst-off; in the last several years, the American economy has actually become more productive (that is, labor intensive) relative to GDP. To date, automation hasn’t so much reduced the need for jobs as it has expanded capitalism’s capacity to create more terrible ones.
Clearly, though, the economy is changing. For Mason, there are a few other factors driving this transition: an influx of abundant information at odds with capitalism’s drive to hoard scarce resources; the rise of “spontaneous production … that no longer respond[s] to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy,” like Wikipedia; and, finally, the growth of alternative economic practices in the face of crisis — food co-ops, time banks, parallel currencies and other measures falling broadly under the umbrella of “free time, networked activity and free stuff.”
As austerity wears at its seams in southern Europe, all of the above are disrupting what Mason calls a “fifth long upswing for capitalism,” differentiated from the previous four by a lack of pressure from the workforce to herald in higher wages, new technology and more consumption. Increasingly, networks are replacing hierarchies and we’re all learning to share more, in cyber and real-space. In their beautiful abundance, these social and actual technologies chafe at ownership; influenced by technology, in turn, there is a new engine of change replacing the industrial worker: “the educated and connected human being.” Information technology and the networked social forms accompanying it are non-capitalist beasts just waiting to be let out of their stables to race toward a post-capitalist future.


Shared by Nasik Elahi

Neo-Orientalist Islamophobia Is Maligning the Reputation of the Prophet Muhammad Like Never Before

Posted: Updated:

LAHORE, Pakistan — Beyond the legacy of colonialism, the often frosty relations between Islam and the West have come to be defined largely by post-Sept. 11 ideas and events. Several narratives such as “the clash of civilizations,” the “war of ideas,” the “war on terror,” the Crusades and Islamofascism have thus been used in vogue in reference to this relationship.

In the West’s cultural delirium, the military, economic and political mindsets involving the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and covert and not-so-covert intrusions into Pakistan, the most prominent target is the life, personality and character of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Islamophobic literature of the current decade, for which the Internet is a fertile breeding ground, has the omnipresence of former “Muslims” (e.g. Ayaan Hirsi Ali ,Wafa Sultan and Walid Shoebat) and others with pseudonyms (such as Ibn Warraqor Ali Sina) who have attempted to present neo-Orientalism in a theological garb — as opposed to Orientalism as a way of depicting people of the East in a condescending manner (“the other,” “the savages”). Moreover, the instantaneity with which the text, graphics and audiovisual bits are transmitted today has added new dimensions to this intensified diatribe. Portrayal of the prophetic life these days is a pointed vilification manifested in its focus on pedophilia, slavery, polygamy and “holy” war. In the past, the dominating Orientalist approach used philology, history and comparative religion to describe the life of the Prophet Muhammad.

The hate, rage, calumny and prejudices against Islam in the West do not distinguish between the Quran, the prophet and Muslims at large. Both neo-Orientalism andIslamophobia, though recognizing the archetypal status of the prophet, target one and all in their relentless assaults upon Islamic dignity and integrity. It may be argued that such an ideological blitzkrieg often culminates in the invasion and occupation of Muslim lands.

In the West’s cultural delirium, the military, economic and political mindsets involving the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and covert and not-so-covert intrusions into Pakistan, the most prominent target is the life, personality and character of the Prophet Muhammad.

In 2011 in Gainesville, Florida, an American evangelical pastor supervised the burning of a copy of the Quran in a church after finding it “guilty” of crimes. It is not an isolated incident. There is a pattern to it. The story of the desecration of the Quranat Guantanamo Bay prison was well documented: it was reportedly flushed down the toilet to rattle Muslim detainees (The story was later retracted by Newsweek, but similar incidents have occurred). The same year, American jailers splashed a copy of the Quran with urine, kicked and stepped on it and soaked it with water. A German businessman printed the name of the Quran on toilet paper and offered the rolls for sale. Incidents such as the use of Quranic verses as a tattoo on the lower dorsal side of female body, their imprinting on leather used for women’s shoes and garments printed with these verses worn by half-naked female models in fashion shows are not entirely uncommon. The Dutch MP Geert Wilders issued on the Internet a poor collage entitled Fitna, and compared the Quran with Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” And joining the Islam-bashing bandwagon was none other than Pope Benedict XVIwith an affront to the prophet and highly derogatory remarks about Islam.

These incidents are only a tiny fraction of the events and materials that continue to target Islam, its prophet and Muslims in the most denigrate and despicable manner. The language and the graphics employed to create this avalanche of bigotry is, to say the least, unthinkable by any civilized person in any time and age, save for thehorrific expulsion of Jews and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula after the Christian Reconquista.

The verbal and visual onslaught, especially experienced by Muslims who frequent the Internet, hardly ever gets reported in mass media. The magnitude of this hate can be gauged by entering a simple keyword on Google. Early this week, use of a single search term — Islamophobia — yielded some 2,000,000 results; over 2,000 for bookson the subject and nearly 1,000,000 images out of the keywords “Islamophobia images.”

I am awestruck to witness what is depicted in the name of the Holy Grail of freedom of expression. Invoking the maximum reach of modern technology to broadcast hate,no other faith has been maligned like Islam. No prophet has been subjected to such atrocities as the prophet of Islam. No other group of believers has been made to suffer such deep and lasting emotional scars inflicted by this “freedom.” However, risingMuslim anti-Semitism, something that has been largely non-existent in the long peaceful history of Jewish-Muslim relations — a la convivencia — is a cause of serious concern because it opens up a new gate of hate.

We would be amiss to believe that these statements were made in a “politically correct” context and had transitory value. Nay, they have come to define the way the West looks at Islam, its prophet and Muslims. We do not need to dig any deeper to understand the influence of these opinions in academia as well as the public square. Not to mention reformulation of old state policies or introduction of new controls.