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Dr. Safdar Dushan Tappeh
Once in a while the news are filled about a group of radical, extremist Muslims who slaughter people and commit the most unthinkable crimes under the name of Islam. ISIS is a recent example. If you ask such people that why they are committing such obvious wrong deeds and still consider it the command of the God, they would answer that they are trusting a Muslim scholar and that they receive the commands of the God through him. Based on this trust they consider the scholar’s commands equivalent to the God’s commands and blindly follow the scholar’s instructions to make the God happy. But does not this method sound too similar to shirk, the exact opposite of Islam’s primary message, which is not following anybody except the God? How did this happen? How did that origin with the most clear message came to this obvious contradictory point?
In the “Belief vs. Trust” article, we show that in the current understanding of Islam believing in God is interpreted as trusting a religious package preached by the local religious scholars. After analyzing the roots of such interpretation, the article shows that key element that legitimizes the incorporation of trusting scholars into religious practice is considering Hadith as a pillar of Islam. The current Islam which is mixed with Hadith has become so complicated that leaves an ordinary Muslim with no solution but seeking the advice of some Hadith experts (or scholars) about “what Islam says”.
Then in the “Islam without Hadith” article, we list the pros and cons of existence of Hadith in the current Islamic practice, and show that by eliminating Hadith not only we do not lose any of the core Islamic values but also we are given the chance to rediscover the Simple Islam, the religion which guides us to nothing but reasonable, beautiful deeds. In Simple Islam, which is free from the complexities of Hadith, there is no space for religious scholars to instruct their blind followers to such unbelievable crimes.
I don’t know about you but I am sick to death of hearing of every Tom, Dick or Harriet blaming society for the failures of its people; most seem to have the impression that ‘society’ is the group of men and women who make up the government when in fact it is all of us who reside in these beautiful and free group of countries we call the United Kingdom, we are all part of society whether we feel like it or not.
First there was the white ‘disadvantaged’ living on council estates around the country, many living on state benefits, who said ‘society had failed them’ as the reason that they turned to drugs and crime, then there were the ethnic minorities who said ‘society failed them’ for the reason for their failures and now we have some religious leaders singing from the same song sheet! Society has not failed you! If anything, you have failed society.
I am only talking about a small minority of our population here as I’m sure many of you are aware that most people of all colours and religious backgrounds thrive in our society, this is what has made Britain great.
I am not a religious person, though I do believe in good and evil, and any religion, be it Catholicism, Islam or any of the many others that says a man must kill another because they do not share your beliefs, then it does not belong in any civilised society, religion should be about love for one another and not hate, if there is a ‘god’ then surely it is for him (or her) to punish or judge and not man, we do not have the right to judge a person because of who they are, or what they believe in so long as they are not hurting anyone else. We are after all equal!
And it is up to us ‘old’ people to teach our young from an early age, that at times life is tough but together we can build a better place for ALL men, women and children to live in peace regardless of our religious beliefs (or lack of them).
So enough of this ‘society had failed me’ crap the only one who has failed you is YOU! We are all in control of our own destiny, and if you feel let down, you need to pick yourself up, dust off your feelings, and try again, failure is not an option!
Peace to all!
You thoughts and comments are greatly appreciated
Pope Francis meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin during a private audience at the Vatican, on Nov. 25, 2013. © AFP PHOTO POOL / CLAUDIO PERI
Thomas L. Friedman, OP-ED COLUMNIST
Reading the papers these days I find that the two world leaders who stir the most passion in me are Pope Francis and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
One is everything you’d want in a leader, the other everything you wouldn’t want. One holds sway over 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the other over nine time zones. One keeps surprising us with his capacity for empathy, the other by how much he has become a first-class jerk and thug. But neither can be ignored and both have an outsized influence on the world today.
First, the pope. At a time when so many leaders around the world are looking to promote their political fortunes by exploiting grievances and fault lines, we have a pope asking his flock to do something hard, something outside their comfort zone, pushing them to be more inclusive of gays and divorced people.
Yes, Francis was rebuffed by conservative bishops at a recent Vatican synod when he asked them to embrace the notion that “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community,” adding, “are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”
But, as an editorial in this paper noted: “The very fact that Francis ordered church leaders to address these challenges seems a landmark in Vatican history.” The pope asked that rejected language be published for all to see, while also cautioning against “hostile inflexibility — that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God.”
“Hostile inflexibility?” Whose leadership does that describe? Look at Putin’s recent behavior: His military was indirectly involved in downing a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine and his K.G.B. has not only been trying to take a bite out of Ukraine but is nibbling on Estonia, Georgia and Moldova, all under the guise of protecting “Russian speakers.”
I opposed NATO expansion because I believed that there are few global problems that we can solve without the help of Russia. By expanding NATO at the end of the Cold War, when Russia was weak, we helped to cultivate a politics there that would one day be very receptive to Putin’s message that the West is ganging up on Russia. But, that said, the message is a lie. The West has no intention of bringing Ukraine into NATO. And please raise your hand if you think the European Union plans to invade Russia.
Yet Putin just exploits these fears for two reasons. First, he has a huge chip on his shoulder — no, excuse me; he has a whole lumberyard there — of resentment that Russia is no longer the global power it once was. But rather than make Russia great again by tapping its creative people — empowering them with education, the rule of law and consensual politics to realize their full potential — he has opted for the shortcut of tapping his oil and gas wells and seizing power from his people.
And instead of creating a Russia that is an example to its neighbors, he relies on the brute force that his oil and gas can still buy him. While he rails against NATO, he is really afraid of European Union expansion — that Ukrainians would rather embrace the E.U. market and democracy rules than their historical ties to Russia because they know that through the E.U. they can realize potentials that would never be possible with Russia.
By seizing Crimea and stoking up nationalism, Putin was not protecting Russia from NATO. He was protecting himself from the viruses of E.U. accountability and transparency, which, if they took hold in Ukraine, could spread to Moscow, undermining his kleptocracy.
Normally, I wouldn’t care, but when the world is dividing between zones of order and disorder, and the world of order needs to be collaborating to stem and reverse disorder, the fact that Putin is stoking disorder on Russia’s borders, and not collaborating to promote order in the Middle East, is a real problem. What’s more worrying is that the country he threatens most is Russia. If things go bad there — and its economy is already sagging under Western sanctions — the world of disorder will get a lot bigger.
That is why Putin’s leadership matters, and so does the pope’s. I’m focused on Putin because I think he is making the world a worse place for bad reasons, when he could make a difference in Europe and the Middle East with just an ounce more decency and collaboration. America, too, has plenty to learn from the pope’s humility, but say what you will, we’re still focused on trying to strengthen the global commons, whether by protecting people from jihadists in Iraq or fighting Ebola in Africa. We could do more. Putin needs to do a lot more.
“The best leaders don’t set timid and selfish goals that are easy to meet but instead set bold and inclusive goals that are hard to achieve,” remarked Timothy Shriver, the chairman of the Special Olympics, who has just written a book on leadership, “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most.” “We’re all looking for ways to make sense of a world without a center, but we’ll only find that in people who lead with authentic humility and reckless generosity.”
by ANDREA RODRIGUEZ and MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN.
Tourists sit in a classic American car in Old Havana, Cuba, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. Tourism is one of Cuba’s top four generators of income, along with nickel mining, medical services and remittances from relatives living abroad. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
HAVANA (AP) — Cuba’s state-run tourism industry is increasingly doing business with the country’s new class of private entrepreneurs, trying to improve quality of food and lodging while maintaining a grip on the sector’s biggest sources of foreign exchange.
One of the country’s highest tourism officials provided new details on the initiative in an interview with The Associated Press, saying two dozen restaurants for tourists have been converted into worker-owned cooperatives since January. Jose Manuel Bisbe, president of state tour operator Havanatur, also said his firm was sending tourists to hundreds of private bed-and-breakfasts instead of government hotels.
“The state must free itself from activities that aren’t decisive for the economy and that experience is showing function better privately,” he told the AP on Thursday. He said that some tourism-related businesses like bus transport and large-scale hotels would remain in state hands.
Tourism is one of Cuba’s top four generators of income, along with nickel mining, medical services and remittances from relatives living abroad.
State-run restaurants for tourists and for Cubans have long suffered from complaints about poor quality and widespread pilferage by employees who resell food and supplies on the black market or take them for personal use. Hundreds of private restaurants have sprung up around the country since the launch of a limited economic liberalization four years ago and generally offer food and customer service far superior to those in government venues.
Cuba sees cooperatives as a middle ground between the communist model of state ownership and the private enterprise that has been making inroads into industries like restaurants and personal services under the reform meant to spur badly needed growth.
State news agency Prensa Latina has reported that Cuba has 11,000 restaurants, most for Cubans, and 1,260 private establishments known as “paladares,” which cater mostly to visitors and foreigners living in Cuba.
Official statistics are sparse in Cuba and Bisbe declined to provide further details of the private enterprise initiative, including how many restaurants were run wholly or partly by the state tourism sector. The Ministry of Commerce also runs a large number of restaurants.
State news agency Cubadebate reported this week that 200 homeowners in the lush Vinales valley had signed deals with state tour operators to provide lodging for tourists.
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By Adam Williams.
The Brighton i360, by architecture firm Marks Barfield.
Popular English tourist spot Brighton will soon gain a new landmark to join its famous pier. The same team responsible for the London Eye ferris wheel has started work on a large-scale observation tower dubbed the Brighton i360. The observation tower will feature a large glass pod that offers panoramic views of up to 30 miles away (48.2 km) on a clear sunny day.
The pod will have enough room for up to 200 visitors to stand side-by-side and there will be a small bar and entertainment system on board.
Designed by architecture firm Marks Barfield, the Brighton i360 comprises two primary sections: a large tower, and a pod shaped a bit like a futuristic glass doughnut. Over the course of a 20 minute journey, the pod will ascend the tower to reach a height of 138 m (452 ft). According to Marks Barfield, the pod climbs the tower using the same basic mechanism that’s used in a standard cable car.
There will be enough room for up to 200 visitors to stand side-by-side inside the pod, and a small bar and entertainment system is on board. A large restaurant, retail spaces, an exhibition space, and conference spaces are planned for ground level.
The Brighton i360 can be considered the successor to the London Eye and features the same team that created that popular tourist attraction.
Some sustainable technology is also slated for Brighton i360. Interior spaces will be cooled using natural ventilation, and the toilets will use harvested rainwater and efficient “low-flow” wash basins. The pod sports double-glazed windows and all electricity required for operating the observation tower will come from renewable sources.
The Brighton i360 is scheduled to open in 2016 and the organizers hope to attract at least 700,000 visitors per year, which – according to the Brighton i360 team’s figures – could generate around £25 million (around US$42 million) for Brighton per year.
The Brighton i360 comprises two primary parts: a large tower, and a glass doughnut-shaped pod.Over the course of a 20 minute journey, the pod will climb from ground level to a height of height of 138 m (452ft).
Source: Brighton i360
The Brighton i360, by architecture firm Marks Barfield.