Science, Technology, Society & Modernization

Category Archives:Science, Technology, Society & Modernization

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Islam, Muslims and Mental Toughness

 Many people today are facing a lot of challenges:

  • Some have lost their jobs or their source of income.
  • Others are being overworked and underpaid.
  • Some are struggling with their physical or mental health.
  • Some are facing difficulties in their relationships
  • Others have lost loved ones, close friends and family

The youths today have additional struggles to content with

  • climate change and a sustainable future
  • technology competing for our jobs
  • the spiraling costs of living
  • and increasing scarcity of resources
  • There’s the social issues of how groups identify or relate by race, religion and gender.
  • And of course, in the midst of all this, we are seeing international conflicts and competition like Russia-Ukraine, Palestine-Israel, and the rising BRICS alliances.

All the while the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and everyone feels like they are in the matrix, and want to escape this life of economic slavery and poverty.

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Where do we start if we want to fix our situation? First thing we recognize is that success is about attitude, its 90% attitude 10% physical. And attitude takes you a great part of the way towards achieving your goals and objectives.

To that end today we are seeing online a range of different individuals and characters who are speaking to that issue and exhibiting traits or characteristics that persons are gravitating towards. We are seeing a lot of content feature from persons like Andrew Tate, Jordan Peterson, David Goggins, characters like Thomas Shelby and even political figures in the international arena.

Content on these and others show huge viewership online and massive interest in what they have to say, people are searching for a way out of this matrix and the shackles of economic slavery.

The messages we hear are around the need for resilience, keeping the faith setting a goal and striving towards that goal, as the means to success. Content repeatedly resound on perseverance, patience, endurance, staying humble and staying committed, staying focused…

A lot of what we are hearing by way of solution are elements of mental toughness –

and by that we mean the ability to face challenging environments and stay focused, and continue to perform.

People who have mental toughness are able to survive and function in different situations,

  • provide for dependents, and
  • create an enabling or safe environment.

That person can achieve goals,

  • is better able to source and organise resources,
  • overcome setbacks or failure,
  • stay healthy physically and mentally,
  • control their emotions and behaviors, and
  • and generally maintain a level of order in a volatile environment – faster changes with deeper impacts.

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Where does Islam fit in all of this?

It is expected that every single practicing believer is mentally strong. Every single one. Male and female. If you are following Islam you don’t have a choice. Mental toughness is inevitable. You cannot escape it.

We are told in the Quran that we will face trials in life:

We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops… but give glad tidings to the patient (patiently persevere) (Quran 2:155)

We are told also in the Hadith in Tirmidhi

Those whose religious commitment is strong, will be tested more severely, and the trials to the Prophets were strongest

You probably heard of this in the saying the strongest soldiers get the hardest fight. And we have many examples of this in the lives of the Prophets of Islam.

  • Some were tempted (e.g. Yusuf by the Governor’s Wife).
  • Some were ignored by their family and community (e.g. Nuh and his family; Hud and the people of Ad).
  • Some were betrayed by their companions (e.g. Isa)
  • Some were persecuted and driven out of their communities and their societies (e.g. Prophet Muhammad at Hijra),
  • And some were tested repeatedly (e.g. Ibrahim as a child, or when ordered to sacrifice Ishmael; Prophet Muhammad on the death of his sons).

In the same way Almighty Allah tells us we will be tested, He also gives us a number of assurances, a social contract, if you will, in writing, in the Quran. And these help us to frame our psychology and thoughts in facing difficulties:

We are told in the Quran for example we will not be given more than we can bear (2:286)

And we are told in a Hadith: When Allah wants to give you more, He tries you (Bukhari)

“Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate some of his sins on account of his patience.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

In fact, we are told in the Quran “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (Qur’an 94: 5–6).

We are taught to build a direct relationship with God – we don’t need any intermediary, a priest or a pundit or even an imam. The Quran (33.3) tells us:

And put your trust in Allah; and sufficient is Allah as a disposer of affairs.

We are taught to ask Allah for anything we need or desire, even if it is a broken shoe lace.

Let each one of you ask his Lord for all his needs, until he asks for the straps of his shoe when it is broken.

Allah tells us when we put our trust in Him, He will provide for us from sources we never expect, and He will never let us down. (65.3)

And [We] will provide sustenance from sources he never imagined.

There are many ways Islam helps us to achieve success in this life, and build the mental toughness and resilience to not only survive but to thrive.

1 is salaat.

Pray 5 times a day. Winter or summer. Rain or shine. Tired or energized. Once it is binding on you, you have to do it. And we hear in the call to prayer Hay yaa allal falah Come to success…

Salaat brings discipline. It brings commitment to duty. It brings reliance on Almighty Allah, and helps us to persevere in our struggles. If we are struggling with a problem and 5 times a day we turn to Him and pray for a resolution, for ease, do you think He will let us down? Ignore us? No!

We are told in the Quran (2:186)

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

Another institution that helps build mental toughness is fasting in Ramadan.

Abstain from all food and drink and sexual relations from break of dawn to sunset, everyday for the month.

What happens when we fast?

Fasting helps us to build willpower. By obeying the command of Allah, we are putting ourselves through a difficult process whether we want to or not. I’m sure there are days when we just do not want to fast. Why cant we skip a day and make up for it afterwards. But we are told to fast for the month. Through fasting we learn that we do what we need to, and not what we feel to.

Fasting helps us to establish discipline in our time management and our lives. We have to wake up for suhoor to start the fast, we have to hasten to break the fast, observe the times for salaat (or else all our fasting might be in vain), all these help us to establish discipline and adhere to a schedule.

Fasting helps us to adjust and refine our attitude. Avoid backbiting. Slander. Cursing. Succumbing to temper – we have to show patience, and not allow provocations to overcome us and spoil our fast. And knowing that it gives us extra blessings is one thing, knowing that if we do not guard our conduct the fast might be spoilt, we learn to be patient in those trying situations we face.

Fasting teaches us perseverance. From the start of fasting, we know the time that it ends – at sunset. The duration may be 9 hours, it may be 14 hours, or even 20 hours. Whatever it is, we have to endure the period. And it gets difficult during the day – especially at the times we are accustomed to having a meal. But we have to endure, and we are given the reward for it – we are told in a hadith one of the 2 happiest times for a believer is when he has broken the fast.

Fasting teaches us contentment and helps us to identify with those less privileged, and be more humble. Some persons are accustomed to having elaborate feasts, or living in the lap of luxury. In Ramadan they too have to endure the humbling process of abstaining from food and drink and sexual relations. They too know what it feels like to be hungry, and there is nothing that can be done about it. A simple thing as a sip of water is a luxury when you are thirsty. We learn how to function when we are going without. And it makes us more sympathetic to those less fortunate, and more inclined to help them. And when fasting is completed, we can better appreciate whatever we were blessed to have, and enjoy it.

When we follow the tenets of Islam,  

  • Physically our bodies undergo transformation, from the diet to habits, and time schedules.
  • Mentally we build endurance, patience and perseverance, and adjust our attitudes to our lives, to others, and to Allah.
  • Spiritually we become more devoted and humble, and more aware of what is and is not in our control.

By doing these, we become stronger. And by obeying the commands of Allah, we are in fact helping ourselves to become better, stronger and more resilient versions of ourselves that we were before we started. We are stronger for it, and set the stage for us to do more. Be more, and reach further in life.

May Almighty Allah allow us to obey his commands, and embrace them, and benefit from them, and grow through them, and be better able to cope with the changing conditions of life that we may experience, and through these grow closer to our Lord.

Faheem Mohammed is a Director at MAI Institute (Markaz al Ihsaan), and is an Entrepreneur, Business Consultant and Educator by profession. To contact him you can email

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Science, Scientific Progress and The Religion of Islam In Today’s World

It is common these days to hear the sentiment science is progress and religion is backward. You believe in religion? You believe in fairy tales. You have been brainwashed. Clearly you are incapable of independent thought or critical analysis.

Its important as Muslims to know where this came from, where it stands today, and what the general Muslim position is, understanding that even in the Muslim viewpoint there would be some debate and variance in the positions held.

Where it came from

So, where did this come from? It is the late 1950s & early 60s, the world war is over, Europe is flattened, UK is divesting its colonies by giving them Independence – cutting them loose, in part to focus on rebuilding and in part under the terms of the Marshall Plan, as conditions to get funding for that reconstruction.

There is an ongoing ideological war between the Capitalist West and the Communist Europe, across many fronts – nuclear, military, geopolitical, economic and social. This of course is the time for the Cuban Revolution, with Fidel and Che declaring a socialist state. The Cold War period is at its peak, the nuclear arms race is underway, American technology in air and sea helped western forces repel the North Korean attack on South Korea. And communist Russia seems to be winning on the technology front. It not only launches the Sputnik 1 in 1957 – the 1st earth-orbiting satellite, and Sputnik 2 a month later carrying the dog Laika into space, but also Luna 2 in 1959 – the 1st man made object to reach the moon, and in 1961 the first human, Yuri Gagarin, to reach into space on board the Vostok 1.

These are disturbing developments, since scientific and technological superiority of the Communist Russia can shift the balance of power in the west. Not to mention the ideological impressions on the minds of the global citizen – we saw it in the shift in focus in things like the toys kids played with and the themes of focus in fiction – a shift from The Wild West – cowboys and Indians – to sci-fi and aliens. If you saw Toy Story, you would see Woody and Buzz Lightyear side-by-side as one example of this.

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None of this was helpful to the capitalist/democratic west, so there was need to win this war. To this end we saw the formation not only of NASA in the late 50s but of the NIST – national institute for science and technology. What do we need to win the space race? We need more engineers and technologists – STEM, basically, and to do that we have to re-engineer the education system – syllabus, scholarships, the works. It is at this point we saw the secular movement and the separation of church and the state – in order to control the curriculum, we need the church-dominated schools to yield. So if we are funding the school, we want to inform the content to help the country achieve its goals.

It was of course from all of this we saw the grandeur of Rocket Science – aeronautical engineering – and the formative years of computer sciences in the modern context. This of course gave a voice to the agnostic and the critical skeptics – establishing a solid foundation for atheism as we know it today. So you stop teaching about God, focus on natural laws and principles, and seek justification from selections of specific authors, and the result is what we have – a materialist godless society replete with moral relativism.

Now to be clear, the problem to Muslims was not the developments in science itself, as was the objection with some other religions[1]. In fact, Islam propelled development in science, as we will see later on, but the problem was rather the removal of the religious ethic that contained development within a self-regulating ethic of morality – was is directed to the greater good.

Where are we now? But this brings us back to the sentiment science is progress and religion is backward. And that was how we got here.

[1] In The Meadows of Gold, al-Mas‘udi wrote his famous condemnation of revelation over reason: The sciences were financially supported, honoured everywhere, universally pursued; they were like tall edifices supported by strong foundations. Then the Christian religion appeared in Byzantium and the centres of learning were eliminated, their vestiges effaced and the edifice of Greek learning was obliterated. Everything the ancient Greeks had brought to light vanished, and the discoveries of the ancients were altered beyond recognition.

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Crime, Poverty, Social Issues and The Muslim Mindset

We have seen the world heave under the covid restrictions, and following that, we are experiencing even more pressures from inflation and supply chain disruption. Society seems to be in upheaval, with increases in crime, poverty, more persons getting ill, less staff and more work, and more complex demands on the work that persons do.

To speak with us about this is Br. Faheem Mohammed, Director of the MAI Institute, University Faculty and Researcher. Br. Faheem Assalaamu alaikum and welcome to the program.


Q1 In the face of all that we are seeing in the community and in society, how do we make sense of all that is happening today?

Well, what we are seeing today is the symptoms at different levels, across different facets of society.

Socially crime is spiking because people need money – price increases in food, fuel and pharmacy, and school supplies etc. mean that people have to find a way, and unfortunately some choose to do that at the expense of others.

The stress of course raises the demands for narcotics, which means more money spending there, and increases in gang warfare and people fighting for turf and distribution blocks.

None of this is new. Its maybe more amplified, but its been the case for decades.

Economically, the economy is not doing well, and you might find some companies are either relocating to or focusing on countries like Guyana with cheaper resources and better opportunities, or simply cannot compete with maybe online channels with more developed AI technology, or simply better funded larger competition.

These of course all have political and legal implications – ease of doing business, for e.g., or the political strategy to drive economic performance of certain sectors.

At the core, what we are sure about is this is a rough patch, and whether its natural or man-made, we are at this part of the cycle and its unpleasant because of the difficulties and behaviours it leads to.

Q2 What does that mean for us as Muslims today?

Well, with everything happening over the past 3 years, I don’t think any Muslim would be surprised, to be honest. We are told in the Quran that we will face trials in this life – in Quran 29:2: Ahasiban nasu, an yut raqoo, an ya kuloo ‘a manna wa hoom, la yuf ta nun

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test?

And again in Chapter 2:155: Wa la nablu wanna kum be shay inm minal kowfee wal jew’e wa nak sinm minal amwaali wal anfosee, was samaratee

We will certainly test you with a touch of fear and famine and loss of property, life, and crops.

We understand that life happens in cycles – sometimes good, sometimes bad, and it’s a similar concept in economics, with the cycles of the economy from expansion and peak to contraction and trough, or in social change as the rise and fall of civilizations as presented by scholars like Ibn Khaldun.

In fact, we are told in the Quran “For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease. Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (Qur’an 94: 5–6)

So whichever frame you look at it through, these are tough times and its something that is not permanent, so we have to ride it through.

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Q 3: How do we as Muslims approach that?

Well, as Muslims, it’s a bit easier to treat with, to be honest. In the same way Almighty Allah tells us we will be tried, He also gives us a number of assurances, a social contract, if you will, in writing, in the Quran. And these help us to frame our psychology and thoughts in facing difficulties:

  • We are told in the Quran for example we will not be given more than we can bear (2:286)
  • And we are told in a Hadith: When Allah wants to give you more, He tries you (Bukhari)
  • In another Hadith we are told: Those whose religious commitment is strong, will be tested more severely, and the trials to the Prophets were strongest (Al-Tirmidhi)
  • But as for a human, whenever his Sustainer tries him by His generosity and by letting him enjoy a life of ease, he says, “My Sustainer has been generous towards me”; whereas, whenever He tries him by tightening his means of livelihood, he says, “My Sustainer has disgraced me!” But nay. (Quran 89:15-17)
  • “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Q 4: Is there something specific that we can do to address the challenges?

            Generally we are guided in Islam to focus on a few key things:

  1. In times of difficulty, we need to be patient and contented

Allah is with those who are patient in adversity (Quran 2:153)

“O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” (2:153)

We are consoled it might happen to make us stronger. Allah tells us in the  Holy Quran “…it may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.” (Qur’an, 2:216)

  • Related to that, we have to make the first move to improve our lot

God does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves (Qur’an 13:11)

Let one of you ask his Lord for his needs, all of them, even for a shoestring when his breaks. (Al-Tirmidhi)

Call upon your Lord with humility and in private. Verily, He does not love transgressors. (Quran 7:55)

  • In times of abundance and ease, we need to be humble and generous.

And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth.  Verily, God likes not each arrogant boaster. (Quran 31:18)

And the slaves of God are those who walk on the earth in humility and calmness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness. (Quran 25:63)

And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves. (Quran 6:42)

Remember your Lord in yourselves with humility and in private without announcing it in the mornings and evenings, and do not be among the heedless. (Quran 7:205)

And the servants of (Allah) Most Gracious are those who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, “Peace!” (Quran 25:63)

If ye are grateful, I will add more (favours) unto you” (Quran 14:7)

[6:141] “Eat from their fruits, and give the due alms on the day of harvest” 

“O son of Adam, spend (in charity), and I’ll spend on you!” Hadith Qudsi

Honorable words and forgiveness are better than charity followed by injury (Quran 2:263)

  • And at all times, we are commanded as Muslims to have faith in Allah.

“Whoever puts his trust in Allah; He will be enough for Him.” (Quran 65:3)

“And for those who fear Allah, He (ever) prepares a way out. And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine” (65:2-3).

“And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him. For Allah will surely accomplish his purpose. Verily, for all things has Allah appointed a due proportion” (Quran 65:3)

“Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest” Quran (13:28)

“If anyone continually asks forgiveness from Allah, Allah will appoint for him a way out of every distress, and a relief from every anxiety, and will provide for him from where he did not reckon.” (Hadith)

“Whoever Allah wants good for him, He puts them to the test. He puts them through difficulties; like a diamond or gold that has to be burnt after which anything bad from it is removed so that what you have is pure diamond or pure gold.” (Hadith)

Q5 When your children are hungry or you have sacrificed whatever you could, this seems like something easy to say but difficult to practice…

Yes, it’s a question of faith – of building your relationship with Allah, building your concept of Him, and your relationship with Him by understanding what He asks of you and what He promises in return.

Q6 Let me interrupt you there, what really does that entail?

            Well, its not really as complicated as some make it out to be. You need to know:

  1. The principles of authentic Sunni Islam. And I say authentic because there are some extremist groups that claim to be Sunni, but their practices are anything but Sunni. In fact, globally, mainstream Muslims more and more are speaking out against those fanatical extremists who have misrepresented Islam for the past decades.
  2. But anyway, an understanding of the principles of authentic Sunni Islam, the practices and bahavioural requirements or guidelines of Islam – beyond the 5 pillars, but going into how to act with parents, children, neighbours, in the workplace, etc., and thirdly
  3. It is helpful to know the culture and history of Islam and Muslims, beyond the Seerah, which everyone has  access to and hears. But there is soo much similarity of Mulims today and the time of Andalus, or with the invasion of the Monguls, or the clashes of Muslim society with colonial powers in the industrialization era, for example – a lot that we can learn from and understand to guide how we deal with issues we face today.

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Q7 I recall you were mentioning some aspect of this in introducing the Islamiyat Program…

            Yes, that mindset was… (interrupted)

Q8 I had interrupted you to speak about building the faith in Allah. I was asking about how to build faith…

Yes. I was saying building faith in Allah is one thing. And some would say that is enough, but that requires a certain understanding. For those not there, I would add building that faith requires a certain independent mindset on one part. You think that you are alone in this world as a slave to Allah, and He will look after your affairs. With that mindset, you find that you don’t rely on anyone – your boss, social worker, your in-laws or others; you depend only on Allah and He will show you the way; and He will never let you down. He tells us that in the Quran:

I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me (Qur’an 2:186)

Indeed Allah provides to whom He wills with no limit! (Quran 3:37)

and on another part, what proves helpful is immersing yourself in a community of like-minded persons who would cheer each other on, not try to fight them down or take what they can. But, even if you are alone and everyone is against you. We are told in a Hadith Qudsi

Whoever comes to Me walking, I will come to him running. Whoever meets Me with enough sins to fill the earth, not associating any partners with Me, I will meet him with as much forgiveness. (Muslim)

Q6 That might be a difficult thing to achieve

Well, yes and no. It depends on the life that you live and the circles that you immerse yourself in. We see that camaraderie and reminders of faith in the MAI classrooms, for e.g., more than we might in the mosque, or the family circle. In fact, that is something Maulana Waffie emphasized from day 1 – we are a family striving to do good. So its there, you have to find out where it is, and then make the move to get into that environment. Its probably not going to come to you.

Patience and contentment when facing difficulties… faith in Allah only, and being part of a community that supports your development, as key ingredients to help us through what is no doubt a difficult time in our country’s history.

We remind you we are accepting registrants for our Islamiyat program starting September 10th, find out more or register at MAI, and we look forward to having you there. We hope you enjoyed this feature, and hope to see you on the next one, where we unpack and explore current issues from a Muslim perspective. This is Muslim Matters brought to you by the MAI Institute; I am Ahmed Rahamut, see you next time.

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The Triumph of Evil? Moral Identity and Involvement in the Muslim Community

By Faheem Mohammed

History will no doubt look back at this period of human development with a sense of awe and bewilderment. There is a lot going on. Soo much transition and turmoil abound, in fact, that not only is it hard to keep track of changes, but harder still to synthesize these into a coherent response.

We are witnessing the global transformation of societies through the diffusion of technology and its disruption of life as we know it – in our interaction, commerce, entertainment, exposure to the sheer volume of information of varying pedigree, and of course the impacts of all of these on our values, beliefs and behaviors.

We have seen the sudden and severe worldwide effects of the Covid pandemic that seemed to be the culmination of a steady progression of epidemics that rapidly appeared, evolved and diffused globally in the past decades. SARS, Ebola, Swine Flu, Avian, MERS, Zika have all taken their toll in wreaking havoc on populations, transport, travel and mobility, economic and physical welfare, only to be outdone multiple times over by Covid and its responses globally. Many of the social and economic effects we are only beginning to understand, and would take a long time to unravel.

Economically, we are faced with the dual reality of mass unemployment across sections of society alongside the significant concentration of wealth into the hands of a select few – technology entrepreneurs, innovators, inventors and investors leading the pack. Talk of a global minimum wage abound, as do efforts and advocacy against both the jobless growth that technology drives and the socio-economic systems that perpetuate such inequalities.

Political focus and military shifts away from the Muslim world towards Russia and former Soviet states are a welcome respite, even if temporary, and would give time for the dust to settle. At least we hope so. We see, in the attempts by MBS to transition Arabia into a modern (secular) society, he introduce events of morally questionable nature in the Najd region, even as his actions affect Islam – only recently we have seen some extremist groups being ostracized from its borders, and the dominant theological influences shift from hardline extremism to a more moderate interpretation of Islam. We have also seen a change in the way Hajj is being conducted – with a much more open system being rolled out to accommodate higher volumes of pilgrims.

In our sphere, the society seems to demonstrate trends that are most concerning when we consider the future of society and the wellbeing of our children. The ever-increasing materialistic propensity and hedonistic self-gratification paradigm have given us some truly bizarre manifestations under the banner of freedom and rights, be it for GLB, transgender, cancel culture or just blind liberalism. What you identify as (be creative here), what are your preferred pronouns (in English, please), and what brand of lab-grown foods you prefer (authentic inorganic, of course), are not normal existentialist dilemmas to have in the context of the annals of history, and many would argue neither should they be. Of course, distractions abound courtesy the perceived product obsolescence a la brand loyalty, the calming effects of outdoor environmentalist activism (and a stellar yoga sequence, to top it off), alongside the next TikTok fad.

Even in the Muslim community globally, we see the rise of the British-influenced and derivative fringe sects, who have meticulously studied the means of dividing the community (based on minor differences), all to build a following and access more and more resources. Yet in the face of all of these aforementioned, the mainstream, moderate Sunni Muslim community has endured, and even progressed in some spheres of society.

What does the future hold for our children? Would they be victims to this strange, incoherent, materialistic-albeit-resource-deficient world? Is there another path that can help our children grow into functional human beings, and not mindless -detergent-consuming sheep?

The answer would have to come from a source that is not infected by the strains and influences of what brought us to this point. The move towards enlightenment is questioning the future relevance of capitalism and socialism, even as there emerges varying strains of non-material cultures. With these come an array of attempts to reconfigure the rights and responsibilities of individuals and society, along with the balance of access to and allocation of resources for the betterment of society.

For us Muslims, this is an easy solution to identify. In Islam, we have a revealed code that not only guides us in these matters, but which has been proven time and again to work in ways that benefit all sections of society. Islam gives us a system that has not only endured the evolution of society throughout the passage of time, but has contributed to the foundation of those advances we enjoy in modern society – from optics to healthcare to algorithms. The Islamic Golden Age was a sterling example of science and religion working towards the development of human life and the attainment of harmony across physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.

The Islamic way of life stands as a self-regulating, knowledge-driven, justice-based moral approach to life and livelihood that proves even more relevant to today’s operating context than ever before. Anchoring ourselves and our families to the principles, practices and culture of Islam gives us an avenue to stay focused on what really matters in life, and keep it real (even if that reality is virtual). And isn’t that what we want for ourselves and the future generations?

What is required to keep the evils at bay is – as Edmund Burke reminds us – good men to do something. There is a critical need for those who are competent to get involved in building the community in its welfare, its knowledge, and its unification, so that we become one body, and that body becomes one force, and that force is directed to upholding good and avoiding evil.

In this season of Ramadan and its afterglow, as we struggle to direct our Nafs and build our willpower, even as we strengthen our relationship with our Lord, it may be useful for us to reflect on what we see the needs of the community are, how these needs align with our potential contributions, and the best way to channel our strengths, our time, resources and efforts towards addressing those needs.

This is, after all, an obligation binding on every one of us individually, and an obligation for which we will have to account on the Day of Judgement.

May Almighty Allah be pleased with our accounts, and may He reward us richly for them (Ameen Ya Rabb).

Islam, Science and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Two decades into the 21st century, and throughout most of the world the influence of technology is on the rise. AI, Cryptocurrency and the Metaverse seem to be the future of our interactions, our commerce, our employment and our entertainment… the list is not exhaustive. Of course, through these, we hope to be able to salvage if not remedy our climate and environment, our integrity in governance, trade and justice, and opportunities for the economic well-being for all in our societies.

What is clear at the moment is that the developments in science leave little room for religious doctrine. The certainty of the material world gives us hard data that can inform root causes, symptoms and solutions, which itself can be critiqued and disproved as we research and understand more. This is a far cry from the blind belief – without evidence – in metaphysical constructs that everyday religion purports. The evidence points to aliens, after all, and if there really was a God, how could He allow all this strife and discrimination in society?

What is not well-known is that not only is the foundation of many of today’s scientific developments and technologies were established by Muslim scholars centuries ago, but its development was driven to support religious compliance. In fact, the Quran instructs us, “Only a party from each group should march forth, leaving the rest to gain religious knowledge then enlighten their people when they return…” (Quran 9:122). In compliance with the Quran injunctions, a group stayed in the lands through which they travelled, and established schools through which to learn local language and culture. This led to several important contributions to science. On one part, there emerged dedicated researchers. On another, as Muslims travelled to other civilizations throughout the world, their learnings were all translated into Arabic, copies of which were sent back to centers of learning in Madinah, Baghdad or Egypt. This resulted in a compilation of world knowledge at the time – which fed further progress.

As Islam expanded beyond the borders of the Arabian peninsula in every direction – east towards Asia, north into Europe, west and south into Africa, they faced a problem. A Muslim is required to pray 5 times per day, facing the Kaaba in Makkah, regardless of where in the world he/she is. As the Muslims moved into foreign territory, they needed to geo-locate the Kaaba so that they can fulfill their prayer obligations. Hence the need to develop on existing and available knowledge of astronomy. That had embedded its own problem. We can’t track what we cannot see. Enter ibn Haytham with his developments – first in the scientific method, then in optics, and further in astronomy, to propel increased and ongoing accuracy in ensuring proper worship is established.

In similar ways, many of the discoveries bore its own problems, and required its own supporting body of knowledge. A frequently studied example is that of Muhammad Al-Khawarizmi (of the Darul Hikma in Baghdad in 820 AD), the man who developed not only the concept of algorithms, but relatedly in his work is credited with the invention of Algebra (hisab al-jabr wal muqtabala or calculations of completion and reduction). Or Jabir Ibn Hayyan Al-Azdi in his pioneering works in chemistry and modern pharmacy. Or Ibn Khaldun in the formalization of Sociology and History… the Islamic Golden Era was characterized by revolutionary scientific developments that positively impacted human quality of life.

That era yielded to the emergence of the industrialized west, and in that transition was lost a unifying religious ethic that steered the direction of development. Quality of life for the population was reduced over time to quality of life for the owners of capital, the manipulation of natural resources for profit, and the rise of the materialist, then secular paradigms. Today, we see development for its own sake, and the absence of a central guiding ethic. In fact, very unlike Islamic paradigm, it seems as if religion is seen as the preceding stage to a progressive scientific society. Beliefs in myths and legends, superstitions are all explained by physiological labels that we don’t understand well but are aggressively researching. To not accept this is to be holding back progress. But religion and science are not zero-sum, and both can co-exist and even synergize to unlock human progress far beyond what we might think possible.

Which brings us to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, an age where different new technologies are “fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.” We don’t exactly know the extent of change in our everyday lives that technology will usher. We know much of the transformation would be gradual (although occurring in faster cycles) across different areas, amplifying the need for continuous learning of developments that matter to us, and result in lifestyles that are driven by commitment to causes, alongside loyalty to our favorite brands.

Ultimately, the post-modern society that unfolds bears the potential to bring quality of life more closely aligned with Islamic values and belief systems. A knowledge-driven society powered by critical-thinking, self-regulating actors, focused on the naturally occurring renewable or bio-friendly resources even as we strive as a society to balance what is more equitable with equity and rewards – echoes hauntingly of the Islamic Golden Era and the civilization of that time. A focus on justice as the happy medium between equity and equality would find significant calibration already defined in an Islamic way of life.

But there is a difference. Past iterations had a unifying, central ethic that was ultimately the responsibility of the Caliph – himself accountable for his every action to an All-Knowing, and thankfully All-Merciful God on a Day of Judgement. Today’s fragmentation of ethical perspectives, however, and the perpetuation of relativist morality can steer developments into very different directions – maybe beyond just this planet.

The future is poised to look very different from the present, and maybe unrecognizable from the past. Whatever the resulting lifestyles and ethical codes that emerge to regulate our action and our interaction, as Muslims we are reminded in the Quran of a reward for “Those who believe, and do good, and establish regular prayer, and regular charity…” (Quran 2:277). And this conduct would transcend any industrial revolution.

The Rise of Islamophobia

and the Muslim Response

As part of its series of seminars commemorating the 20th Anniversary of the MAI Institute, the public is invited to participate in the seminar on The Rise of Islamophobia and the Muslim Response.

This seminar would feature Maulanas and other scholars of the MAI institute faculty team, and would address this global issue that affects Muslims worldwide.

Join us on Saturday, February 15th at 4 pm, at the MAI Campus, Hermitage Village, and be part of the conversation and the way forward.