Archive | February 21, 2011

Reflection on Islamic Work Ethics II

Reflection on Islamic Work Ethics II

 

By Hwaa Irfan

Based on Islamic Work Ethics from Traditional Islam in the Modern World by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

 

Pertaining to the verse: {O you who have attained to faith! Be faithful to your covenants [‘uqud]} (Al Maidah 5: 1)

“These covenants or ‘uqud, according to traditional Islamic commentators, include the whole of man’s relations to God, himself and the world… According to Raghib [one of the traditional commentators], the covenants referred to in this verse, ‘are of three kinds: the covenants between God and man, [i.e. man’s obligation towards God], between man and his soul, and between the individual and his fellow men’ – thus embracing the entire area of man’s moral and social responsibilities…

The basis of all work ethics in Islam is to be found in the inescapable moral character of all human action and the responsibility which a human being bears for his or her actions, not only before the employer or employee, but also in relation to the work itself, which must be executed with the utmost perfection of which the ‘actor’ or worker is capable…

The unitary perspective of Islam, which refuses to distinguish between the sacred  and the profane, goes even further in refusing to distinguish between religious act and secular ones, or between prayer and work.”

When we spilt who we are in one sphere of our lives, and differentiate from another sphere in our lives we set up contradictions within ourselves.  If as a person of faith, whatever that faith might be, separates their faith from secular works, what happens is that one becomes removed from the work, and with that removal a pattern of dissatisfaction which one becomes lost at defining the real reason why for that dissatisfaction. This dissatisfaction begins to permeate all spheres of our lives including human relations, and our relationship with ourselves. It might be that we project certain aspects of ourselves within the sphere of work in order to facilitate the work at hand, but when it comes to completing a task whether private or public, personal or impersonal, it should be done with the same diligence as washing up the dishes at home, and the part one plays in the end product at work.

There are times when we appreciate this level of perfection although we might not relate it to ourselves. It is probably the main reason why handcrafted pieces of furniture, rugs etc, continue to thrive until this day despite the level of sophistication in modern mass production, because the art of perfection from the heart is imprinted in the very thing that has been created, and if we can afford it, we are willing to pay for it. Yet the buck seems to stop there.

If we can transfer this creative art of perfection to one aspect of our lives, we might find a bridge to our inner potential, and happiness. Once we can transfer this to one aspect of our lives, then we are more able to let it flow to other aspects of our lives instead of looking without for that perfection, or to look to the world for a perfection that is rooted in appearances and not rooted in the soul of all things including our own souls.

By taking on this level of responsibility with ourselves through our work, our end product or our role in the end product gains credibility and value, and a level of trust that in leaps and bounds will make one a member of a non-disposable society that disposes of people as much as it disposes of things, God Willing….

 

Related Topics:

Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!

The House of Three Rooms

Prosperity and Abundance Now!

The Echo of Life

Egypt’s Creative Talent: Vanishing Within Education?

Live to Work or Work to Live!

How Not to Master a Skill!

The Importance of the Creative Principle in Life

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

Preparing for Life!

The Land of Truth

Coping With Negative Emotions

Letter to the Self # 15: Beyond the Limited Self

China Rare Earth Minerals: Possession, Excess and the State

China Rare Earth Minerals: Possession, Excess and the State

By Hwaa Irfan

It is not China’s fault that it has the foresight to see to its development in terms that have brought the rest of the world to its knees. In fact, it should be commended that one does not follow others to the edge of the precipice. Yet, it is for this reason that any move that China makes is considered wrong or illegal, or even worse compromising the economic stability of the rest of the world. If children were to behave in this manner they would be called bullies, or if the person was determined as being psychologically ill, that person would be categorized as suffering from an inferiority complex! And so it is that the major world economics nibble at anything that China does.

While the major world economies side step adulthood, the current snipe is at China’s foresight in developing rare earth minerals. When trade is approached from the point of self interest only, a great opportunity is missed in nurturing an equilibrium based on trust, mutual respect, and the greater good as well as the communities affected by the sources of the items traded. When it comes to rare earth minerals the nervousness besides the fact that it is China that currently controls these resources is the reality that these natural resources are:

  • Concentrated in only a few countries
  • Used in the production of products pertaining to high technology
  • There are no known alternatives
  • Because they are rare they are considered “strategic”

Because of a lack of mutual respect and the understanding that the world’s resources are for the benefit of all there is a lack of vision, well basically childish resentment due to a dependence on such countries who transform these raw materials into finished products, yet when those raw materials come from certain countries like Africa everybody is up for grabs without a notion that they and not the source country is benefiting. At the same time what the demanding countries would do when the world runs out of these raw materials? These strategic and rare earth raw materials are:

Antimony used for: antifriction alloys, medicines, small arms, buckshots, tracer ammunition

Chromium used for: jet engines, gas turbines, cookware and cutlery, magnetic tape (audio tapes), blast furnaces, cement kilns

Cobalt use for: surgical/cutting tools, metal work and the mining industry, prosthetics, steel-belt radial tires

Copper used for piping, electronic applications, in the construction industry

Gallium used for alloys, fuel cells

Germanium used for electronic devices like transistors, fibreoptics, solar electronic applications

Indium used for LCD displays, and thin film solar displays, diodes

Lithium used for hybrid car batteries

Manganese used for disposable dry cells and batteries, stainless steel, aluminum alloys

Molybdenum used for ultra-high strength steels

Nickel used for stainless steel, magnets, coinage, rechargeable batteries, special alloys

Platinum

Palladium used for jewelry, lab equipment, resistance thermometers, dentistry, catalytic converters, computers, mobile phones, fuel cells, etc

Rhenium use for jet engines, lead free high octane gasoline etc

Tantalum used for high power resistors, tools for metalwork, alloys for jet engines, chemical processing equipment, nuclear reactors, missile parts etc

Titanium used for strong light weight alloys for aerospace, military, industrial processes, agri-foods, sporting goods etc

Vanadium used for high speed surgical instruments

When one looks again, the end products are products that are used to maintain the unsustainable status quo, to maintain production of goods for the increased economic power of the state, for the state, and not the general well-being of the peoples.

Rare earth raw materials are 17 chemically similar metal oxides that possess a unique chemical magnetism which are present in the earth in minute amounts relatively speaking. In a March 2010 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD entitled: Export Restrictions on Strategic Raw Materials and Their Impact on Trade and Global Supply (TAD/TC/WP(2009)27/FINAL) explored the predicament. The raw materials in question are used in the developed world one the basis of the following argument which does not follow through into practice:

  • Boost energy efficiency and apparently to reduce greenhouse emissions of currently used systems, which are by nature inefficient and unsustainable

 

  • To produce hydrogen-fueled electric-hybrid cars, which to date is not in common usage and once again speaks of their inefficiency and unsustainability

The current problem that certain countries have with China is the restrictions they place on the export of these raw materials. One reason given is:

  • Environmental or to protect nature

If this is the case, then it should be commended, extraction and export should be minimized, and the source providing countries should be respectfully compensated

  • In order to maintain supply

…which is understandable especially if deposits of the raw materials are limited, but it also has the knock on effect of creating the competitive atmosphere of pricing, which is in keeping with the capitalist secular world of economic trade. 99.7% of production of rare earth minerals is in the hands of three countries according to the OECD report. China is the main end producer (i.e. not the source) of  antimony, tungsten, indium, silicon, gallium, and germanium, in the case of South Africa its platinum, and tantalum in the case of Australia. Countries with the largest reserve of certain strategic and rare earth metals and minerals are in the main, not the top producers and they are:

China is the main producer of the rare earth mineral molybdenum, and increased the export tax on the basis of cost of extraction, residues affecting the environment, and preservation of the natural resources. If this is true, and the cost of the residue is the cost of cleaning up from the environment from which it is extracted from unlike Enron, and Chevron in the case of oil in Ecuador, then all is fair, and nobody could expect them to do it for less. Or for less than it cost them to extract it. But in the case of residues, i.e. dumping, according to the OECD the Chinese do in fact dump the residue and do not clean up their act.

When it comes to fair trading practices, in Islam nothing should be hidden. As we know once there is one acceptable practice of corruption, the corruption passes on and becomes a defect in the whole system. If the report of the OECD is unbiased and accurate, then in order for China to get the respect it deserves, it should clean up its act at all levels, and this should apply to all countries. This attitude to the riches of the earth has been taken on by the food, banking and pharmaceutical industries that make its wealth on the basic human right to eat in order to live! This would not be happening if there were any real serious application towards the realization that we cannot continue living in excess of things we do not really need to make a better life. This competitive OCD, when applied to the individual is seriously disliked, and a ruler of this nature is ostracized and removed as evident in the Middle East currently. Everything including the people becomes perceptions of acquisition, control, and demand, in order to perpetuate what is quite clearly dysfunctional. In the case of the U.S. the voters changed because the government budget was no longer tolerable by the tax payers whose main concern is employment and so Bush was removed from office by the electoral process, but when governments whole sale continue to behave in this manner at no concern as to what it is doing to the population (who are then only perceived in terms of modes of production for the state), it is only the people that can say enough is enough.  This is the nemesis that China faces at the moment, but it is a nemesis that is waiting at the doors of most states not just China where the organs of the state becomes more important than the people. To tell people that they can have it all, be their own gods when the state has made itself the  god of the people, and then to control everything about their lives to only withdraw it only proves that the concept of statehood has blown out of all proportion.

Sources:

Korineck, J. and Kim, J. “Export Restrictions on Strategic Raw Materials and Their Impact on Trade and Global Supply (TAD/TC/WP(2009)27/FINAL)”. OECD Trade Policy Working Papers, No. 95. http://www.oecd.org/trade

Related Topics:

The International Elite vs. Communal Democracy of Ivory Coast
The 12-yr-old Who Rocked the Earth Summit
GM Food Legislation to Be Introduced in South Africa
Anti-Austerity and Living on the EdgeConsumer Protest Even in the Festive Season“I Believe Only in the Power of the People”The Land of TruthEarth Grab: No to a Biomass EconomyPricing Us Out of FoodDe-Stress Kit for Changing TimesDiscovering Lost ValuesBrazil Signing Away Our Amazonian Legacy
Anti-Austerity and Living on the Edge
Finding a Global Balance

Pyramids in Europe!

Pyramids in Europe!

From Alexandra, of Forbidden Knowledge

Interview with Dr. Semir Osmanagich, the discoverer of what may be the most important archaeological find of the decade, which includes an underground tunnel labyrinth complex that extends for at least ten miles…


In April 2005 Dr. Osmanagich made the surprising discovery of the first pyramids to be found on the European Continent. In his own words:

“We have spent over 340,000 hours in archaeological excavation, sample testing and radiocarbon dating…The site also includes a tomb complex and a huge underground labyrinth.

“This discovery is history-changing for several reasons:

1. These are the first pyramids discovered in Europe

2. The site includes the biggest pyramidal structure in the world: The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun with its height of over 220 meters is much higher than the Great Pyramid of the Egypt (147 meters).

3. The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun has the most precise orientation towards the cosmic north of any pyramid.

4. The Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun is completely covered by rectangular concrete blocks. Properties of the concrete, such as extreme hardness and low water absorption, are, according to the scientific institutions in Bosnia, Italy and France, much superior to the modern concrete materials.

5. The pyramids are covered by soil which is, according to the state Institute for Agro-pedology, over 12,000 years old. This finding confirms the Bosnian pyramids are the oldest pyramids on the planet.

6. Below the Bosnian Valley of the Pyramids is the most-extensive underground tunnel and chamber network which runs for more than ten miles.

7. Ceramic sculptures have been discovered in underground labyrinth with a mass of up to 20,000 pounds which makes them the largest sofar found from the ancient world…

A team of physicists detected an energy beam coming through the top of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun. The radius of the beam is 4.5 meters with a frequency of 28kHz.  The beam is continuous and its strength grows as it moves up and away from the top of the pyramid. This phenomenon contradicts our known physical laws and technology. This is the first proof of non-Hertzian technology on the Planet.

“Further electromagnetic detection in 2011 confirmed that levels of negative radiation through the Hartman, Curry and Schneider grids are equal to zero in the tunnels. There was no technical radiation

(from power lines and/or technology) found in the tunnels and no cosmic radioactivity. The ceramic sculptures are positioned over the underground water flows and the negative energy is transformed to positive.  All of these experiments point to the underground labyrinth as one of the *most secure underground constructions in the world and this makes it an ideal place for body rejuvenation and regeneration.”

Pyramid mania has descended upon Bosnia. Over 400,000 people have visited the sites since October 2005, when Osmanagich announced his discovery…Foreigners by the thousands have come to see what all the fuss is about, drawn by reports by the BBC, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and ABC’s Nightline (which reported that thermal imaging had “apparently” revealed the presence of man-made, concrete blocks beneath the valley).

Osmanagich has also received official backing. His Pyramid of the Sun Foundation in Sarajevo hasgarnered hundreds of thousands of dollars in public donations and thousands more from state-owned companies. After Malaysia’s former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, toured Visoko in July 2006, more contributions poured in. Christian Schwarz-Schilling, the former high representative for the international community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, visited the site in July 2007, then declared that “I was surprised with what I saw before my eyes, and the fact that such structures exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Five years ago, almost no one had ever heard of [Osmanagich]. Born in Zenica, about 20 miles north of Visoko, he earned a master’s degree in international economics and politics at the University of Sarajevo. (Years later, he obtained a doctorate in the sociology of history). He left Bosnia before its civil war, emigrating to Houston in 1993…

In a country still recovering from the 1992-95 genocidal war, in which some 100,000 people were killed and 2.2 million were driven from their homes (the majority of them Bosnian Muslims), Osmanagich’s claims have found a surprisingly receptive audience. Even Bosnian officials–including a prime minister and two presidents–have embraced them, along with the Sarajevo-based news media and hundreds of thousands of ordinary Bosnians, drawn to the promise of a glorious past and a more prosperous future for their battered country. Sceptics, who say the pyramid claims are examples of pseudo-archaeology pressed into the service of nationalism, have been shouted down and called anti-Bosnian.