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How Art Can Heal Mental Illness*

How Art Can Heal Mental Illness*

 By Go Paolo

Merriam-Webster defines art as “the use of skill and creative imagination in creating aesthetic objects such as paintings, music, and sculptures.”

But that is a superficial definition. Art goes beyond definitions but is what enriches life and touches each of us as individuals.  The rapid growths of technology and secularism have not deterred the importance of art but have made it more valuable as more people face stress and mental illness and are in need of the healing power of art:

How art helps heal mental illness:

A comprehensive study was done to prove the many benefits of the various forms of art on patients. Art forms such as music, visual arts, dance, and creative writing were used and produced encouraging results.

Reduces anxiety and stress

Music is one of the most powerful and moving art forms that even the great nihilist himself, Friedrich Nietzsche recognized its value. Listening to music was found not only to reduce stress but also anxiety. Noticeable improvements were made to patients’ well-being and relaxation and reductions in tension, cortisol levels, and heart rate. Making art also has similar effects as another

Making art also has similar effects as another study highlighted. This wasn’t limited to individuals who were excellent artists and the majority of the subjects admitted to having little experience when it came to any form of art. It harkens back to what Aristotle said that art isn’t about the outward appearance but the inward experience. Art is human expression and it’s now medically proven (to a degree) that it has health benefits.

Helps you focus on positive life experiences

Another study was conducted this time on the effects of visual art and it showed how patients; pain tolerance and threshold both increased when exposed to visual stimuli (and music). The study was inspired to help patients deal with the intimidating surroundings of a hospital.

Creating and being exposed to art helps generate positive thoughts. The American Journal of Public Health’s study described the impact of visual art on its patients as “filling occupational voids and distracting thoughts of illness” and “improving flow and spontaneity, expression of grief, positive identity, and social networks.” A study from the University of North Carolina adds to this point emphasizing the healing power of positive emotions and how it forms and strengthens personal relationships and gives individuals more motivation to live.

Helps the body heal and stay healthy

A healthy body leads to a healthy mind – particularly your gut. Eating healthy, sleeping well, and doing physical exercises or yoga all contribute to a healthy bod. But you can also add experiencing magnificent visual imagery through art and nature to this list. A study from the University of California, Berkeley links this experience to boosting the immune system thus lowering chances of diabetes, heart attacks, and other illnesses, which may include mental illnesses.

Dr. Dacher Keitner of the university said, “the beauty promotes healthier levels of cytokines suggests the things people do to experience these emotions – walking in nature, losing oneself to music, beholding art – all have direct inlfuence upon health and life expectancy.”

Source*

Related Topics:

The Shift – The Age of Heart*

Singing Together Brings Heartbeats into Harmony*

Australia’s Aboriginal Artist’s Message Resonates in Palestine*

Mexican Martial Art Based on Traditional Mayan Culture*

Caribbean Cave Art Illuminates Encounters with Europeans*

Spirit Science ~ Milk, Dairy and Health*

Tribal Parenting – How to Heal Our Children*

The Healing Power of Fasting*

Healing the Psychic Split Which Causes War*

Healing your Creativity after Trauma*

Sufism Healing the Soul in Gaza*

Healing with Water: An Indigenous Approach*

The Radical Work of Healing: Fania and Assata (Angela Davis) on a New Kind of Civil Rights Activism*

An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma*

How I Healed My Failing Liver Naturally*

The Healing Frequency, and the Frequency of Disharmony

A Sufi, a Sikh and Their Message of Love — A Journey from Lahore to Amritsar*

A Sufi, a Sikh and Their Message of Love — A Journey from Lahore to Amritsar*

By Taimur Shamil

Sufi music and architecture has always fascinated me. Consequently, I have taken it upon myself to explore the tribal areas of North Pakistan and the remote areas of Sindh to learn as much as I can about the Sufi culture.

During recent travels, I happened upon the shrine of renowned Sufi saint Hazrat Mian Mir of the Qadariyyah Sufi order in Lahore.

Pigeons are attracted to the serenity of shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

The mosque area attached with the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

The shrine is situated in what T.S Eliot calls, “streets that follow like a tedious argument”.

The saint’s life history, however, contains clear messages of peace. His times were soon to be followed by cultural degradation and “insidious intents”.

Surrounded by a populated area, the shrine is home to many poor people to whom it provides free shelter, and food on Thursdays.

“Thursday evening is considered to be a Mubarak day for Sufis,” explained Ghulam Fareed, a Qawwal vocalist.

Him, along with other Qawwals, have been regular visitors at this shrine. He sings here because he feels the act gives him a sense of belonging.

“This shrine has given us an identity.”

Devotees at the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

Singing qawwalis here also helps them make a living. After interacting with a few Qawwals, I realised that it’s not just mere appreciation and money; these Qawwals spoke with a sense of purpose as well.

To them, Sufi singing is a way to spread the message of unity and harmony, and they take immense pride in it.

Here, every Thursday, Qawwals sing in the courtyard of the shrine, while men and women clap and sway to the rhythm. Some men dance in ecstasy, some sing along, while others pay their tributes to the saint by bowing in front of his grave.

The air is filled with the mixed scent of roses and locally-made incense. Salvers of sweets and other food items are distributed among the crowd, both inside and outside of the shrine.

There are certain food items that are specific to the Sufi shrines in Lahore and can be found around Mian Mir; for instance, Qatlaammay (desi pizza) and Doodh Badam (milk with nuts).

Vendors selling food. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

On the outskirts of the shrine, vendors swarm the place. They sell dahi baray, chaat, sharbat and samosas to the visitors.

One of the samosa vendors, Akbar Shakir feels he doesn’t belong in the posh areas of Lahore, only here in the street next to the shrine.

“Quality is not ensured at these rairrhis but is it ensured at the hotels?” questioned Aleem Khan, a visitor to the darbar.

“After seeing what’s going on in expensive food chains that people dine in, I think we are better off over here,” he added, pointing to the samosa carts close by.

A woman lighting up a chiraagh — a ritual mostly seen at Sufi shrines in the sub-continent. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

Women constitute a huge number of devotees here.

“I was sick for the last two years,” said Sakeena, 32.

“I went to many doctors and hakeems but no one knew what my problem was. I took medicines but nothing worked. Then one day, my mother asked me to go to the shrine and pray for myself. I am much better since then. I believe that Awlia (friends of God) have the power to make things work for you,” she added thoughtfully.

Women at the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

People reciting the Qur’an inside the shrine. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

Historically, I learned, Mughal royals and nobility would frequent the Shrine of Mian Mir religiously.

According to local and British historians, Dara Shikoh had given orders to build the mausoleum of Mian Mir Shikoh. He was a Mughal prince with Sufi and mystical inclinations. He strongly believed in social harmony and a peaceful co-existence.

Shikoh authored several books on Sufism, and wrote a treatise on Bhagavad Gita (a sacred book on Hinduism). His book Sakinatul Aulia is dedicated to the life and works of Mian Mir.

Shikoh’s intellectual pursuits made him strive for a heterogeneous culture and harmony in the subcontinent — an important ingredient that was much needed in the 17th century as much as it is required now.

Students of history, who are proponents of a pluralistic society, mourn the execution of this philosopher prince who was killed by his puritan brother Aurangzeb Alamgir. Many modern-day historians are of the view that Shikoh was the bearer of the legacy of King Akbar whose stance was Sulh-e-Kul (Peace with all) — a stance that Sufis, too, have taken.

On my most recent visit to the shrine, I met many Sikh yatris who had come to pay homage to this great saint. Many of them were from Pakistan, while some had come from India. Mostly Sikh Yatris come here during the birthday celebration of Guru Nanak.

What makes the Sikhs visit the Shrine of Mian Mir? I was curious to know. I met a group of Sikhs and asked them.

Mian Mir’s grave covered with flowers while people recite the Quran. —Photo by Abdullah Khan

 

“To us, Mian Mir Sahab is as divine as the saints of Sikhism,” replied Diljeet, who came to visit the shrine from Ferozepur, India.

Sufis and Gurus, and their message, transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. “They are the beacons of light,” added Gursavek, another devotee.

The Golden Temple. —Photo by Fatema Imani

 

Mian Mir was an icon of unity, tolerance and love during and after the Mughal era. According to Sufi as well as Sikh traditions, Mian Mir laid the foundation of, what is now known as, the Golden Temple Amritsar, also known as Harminder Sahib.

Mian Mir is said to have travelled from Lahore to Amritsar on the invitation of Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru of Sikhs, who asked Mian Mir for his blessings.

The story goes that Mian Mir was revered by Guru Arjun Dev. Both were divine figures of their respective religions, had mutual respect for each other and also had a similar notion: respect for humanity.

The goal of human life, according to Sufis, is to realise the divinity within; irrespective of cast, creed and religion. Harminder Sahib, in this sense, is more of a cultural hub for the people of Punjab; it is a place where self-actualisation is promoted. It is also marked as a Gurdawar — literally meaning Lord’s door or the door of the Guru.

On these grounds. Mian Mir laid the foundation of a worship place of a nascent religion.

It is noteworthy that Garanth Sahab, the holy book of the Sikh faith, includes the kalaam (poetry/works) of renowned Sufis like Baba Fareed of the Chishtiyyah Sufi order.

And hence, aptly, the kalaam of popular Sikh poet Ravidas jee resounds at the Shrine of Mian Mir in Lahore today as a reminder of humanity and tolerance, echoed by this shrine’s existence.

In today’s era of chaos and war, such places of religious and ethnic harmony always manage to leave the heart at peace, if only for a little while.

Source*

Related Topics:

My Experience as a non-Muslim going Undercover with Britain’s Sufi Muslims*

Sufism Healing the Soul in Gaza*

The Love of Spring Equinox, Nowruz and the First Male Convert, Sufi Style*

The Symbols of the Whirling Dervishes of the Mevlevi Order*

China Increases DNA Testing of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang Region*

Prophet Muhammed (SAW) on Ramadhan

Living in the Moment and Our Duty to Serve Creation

pThe Centre of Consciousness is One’s Heart*

How North Carolina is Recuperating Post-Hurricane Matthew*

How North Carolina is Recuperating Post-Hurricane Matthew*

By Yessenia Funes

Cassandra Rush, Anyah Carpenter, and Rosa Rush walk through floodwaters in their neighbourhood on October 15, 2016, in Lumberton, North Carolina. The town still needs $7 million for clean up. Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images

 

The Trump administration rejected 99 percent of the aid the state of North Carolina requested for costs it accrued relating to Hurricane Matthew, Governor Roy Cooper announced Wednesday (May 10).

The hurricane hit the Southeast October 7 and left several states, but North Carolina in particular, suffering. Thirty-four people died in the U.S. In Haiti, where the storm struck hardest, at least 546 people died—but potentially it was as high as 877, as Reuters initially reported. It fluctuated between a Category 3 and Category 4 storm, which means its wind speeds were hovering between 111 and 156 miles per hour.

Now, more than seven months later, the governor is left with “shock and disappointment,” as expressed in his letter to the administration, by President Donald Trump’s decision not to give further aid. The money was supposed to help rebuild public housing, homes, businesses and further needed recovery.

“North Carolina is steadily recovering, but too many people still can’t go back to their homes or return to offices, schools, farms or places of worship due to water damage, debris, mildew and road closures.”

Colorlines breaks down what the situation currently looks like in North Carolina—by the numbers.

$929,403,389
How much the state requested from Congress

$6,100,000
How much money from the federal government the state received

$198,000,000+
How much the state has already received in federal assistance

$92,600,000
Funds needed just to cover farmers’ losses not covered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture like livestock, farm equipment and feed

$15,200,000
Funds needed to repair public housing

$7,000,000
Amount needed to clean up the town of Lumberton, which has a large Black and Native American presence

3,962
Number of properties that flooded and need funding for buyout, elevation and reconstruction

140
Number of families still living in hotels

82,000
Number of households registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help

Source*

Related Topics:

The Devastating Facts About Hurricane Matthew in Haiti Versus The Media’s Poetic Truth*

Hurricane Matthew and the Clinton Foundation Theft from Haiti*

And Then the Floods Came

Louisiana Mayor Plans Lawsuit against State, Federal Government for the Man-Made Flood*

I’m From Louisiana. Here’s the Flooding Story the Media Should Cover

Koch Brothers Made a Fortune from Hurricane Katrina Victims*

Chevron and Exxon: The Criminals Behind Katrina*

Katrina: A Reason to be Angry*

U.K.’s Poverty, Food and Flood Victims*

How one Man Cooks for 170,000 Flood Victims*

Honduras Resists U.N. Pressure to Legalize Abortion*

Honduras Resists U.N. Pressure to Legalize Abortion*

Pro-Life protest in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

 

Last week, Honduran lawmakers resisted significant pressure from the United Nations, the European Union, and pro-abortion nongovernmental organizations to legalize abortion.

A proposal seeking to legalize abortion in cases of rape, fetal disability, and risks to life of the mother was initiated by foreign independent advisors from Spain contracted by the Honduran government to help lawmakers revise the nation’s Penal Code. The proposal came as the Honduran National Congress undertakes the first major comprehensive revision of the Penal Code since 1983.

In response, thousands of pro-life Hondurans took to the streets of Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital, to protest the proposed change to the country’s abortion law.

“Honduras faced brutal pressure from the international community to depenalize abortion,” says Martha Lorena Alvarado of Provida Honduras.

“Pro-lifers, the young people, religious people both Catholic and Evangelical responded immediately, the outpouring of support was tremendous,” Alvarado says,

“we reacted as a pro-life country and as a result our nation’s laws continue to defend the life of the unborn child from the moment of conception.”

Honduras is an overwhelmingly pro-life country. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 71% of Hondurans believe that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. Currently, Honduran law protects all unborn life at any moment during pregnancy without exceptions.

“Let’s save the family” – Pro-Lifers in Tegucigalpa, Honduras protest a proposal in the National Congress to legalize abortion.

 

Lawmakers in the National Congress decisively rejected the abortion proposal. In the legislative assembly, 77 lawmakers voted in favor of article 169 of the new Penal Code which retains the nation’s abortion law without loosening any of the restrictions currently in place. Five lawmakers voted against the measure while eight members abstained. Lawmakers further rebuffed efforts to legalize the morning-after pill.

“It was a complete defeat for them,” according to Alvarado.

Pro-abortion activists, however, had perceived the occasion as an opportunity to push for the legalization of abortion. In an attempt to win over public opinion, pro-abortion allies rushed to finance numerous television and radio advertisements that aired across the country in the days leading up to last week’s vote.

Pro-abortion NGOs including U.K.-based Amnesty International, and the U.S.-based Center for Reproductive Rights also weighed in in the hopes of swaying lawmakers.

“By criminalizing abortion, the Honduran Penal Code is incompatible with human rights standards and must be modified without delay,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, the Americas Director for Amnesty International said on the organization’s website.

A number of parliamentarians from Spain, Sweden, Finland, Slovenia, and Belgium in the EU’s European Parliament also sent a letter to leaders in the Honduran National Congress last week, strongly urging lawmakers to legalize abortion to accord with purported international human rights standards.

A group of United Nations human rights experts also condemned Honduras for its laws in defense of life, threatening the Central American nation with failing to heed recent recommendations handed down by U.N. treaty bodies:

“We sincerely hope that the Honduran Congress will seize this key opportunity to comply with its obligations to eliminating discrimination against women in its legislation…we regret that the criminalisation of abortion is maintained in the bill as a serious offence despite recommendations from the U.N.’s Universal Periodic Review and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women as well as the Committee against Torture.”

Honduras, as state party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and its optional protocol, is bound by the provisions of these UN treaties. However, neither of these treaties mention abortion, let alone any purported human right standard to legalize abortion.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee against Torture (CAT) are charged with monitoring the implementation of these treaties respectively.

CEDAW concluding observations from periodic review last fall had condemned Honduras for its pro-life laws, urging Honduras to come into compliance with

“circumstances under which abortion must be decriminalized, namely, at least in cases of rape or incest, threats to the life and/or health of the woman, and severe foetal impairment.”

CEDAW based its recommendation on a statement on reproductive health at the committee’s 57th Session. Recommendations issued by treaty bodies, like CEDAW, however, are non-binding on state parties.

Despite claims that failing to legalize abortion is contrary to international human rights standards, no U.N. treaty compels any country to legalize abortion. On the contrary, the Program of Action of the U.N. International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, a landmark non-binding international agreement on population and development assistance, asserts that the decision of whether or not to legalize abortion should lie solely in the legislative processes in sovereign states.

Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights expresses the international consensus that all people have the right to life, liberty, and security of person.

“It is reprehensible that U.N. human rights experts have turned human rights on its head, using the stature of their office to attack, rather than to defend, the universal right to life for the most defenseless among us,” says Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher,

“we need to continue to work to cut public funding from all entities, groups and individuals who engage in this kind of cultural imperialism.”

Source*

Related Topics:

Abortions Banned in Russian City for 1 Day in memory of Biblical ‘massacre of innocents’*

Canada’s Bishops blast Trudeau: $650M Global Abortion Fund as ‘cultural imperialism,’ ‘exploits women’*

African Woman Schools U.N. Delegate on Why Pushing Abortion is ‘neo-colonialism’*

VIDEO: Bioethics, Eugenics and the “after-birth abortion” of newborns

European Parliament Abortion Campaign Seeks to Indoctrinate Children*

Abortion Survivor to Congress – ‘I was Born Alive after Being Burned in My Mother’s Womb’*

New U.S. Law Lets Families Sue Doctors to Prevent Dismemberment Abortions*

Trump to end Obama Funding of Foreign Abortions by Sunday, Claims Report*

‘This baby won’t stop breathing!’: Abortionist Strangled Baby Born Alive While Nurses Stood and Watched*

Poland Debates Banning Abortion After Live Baby Cries Itself to Death*

U.N. Rules That Abortion is a Human Right*

 

The Shift – The Age of Heart*

The ShiftThe Age of Heart*

By Lance Schuttler

Recently, The Mind Unleashed interviewed Carl Johan Calleman, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Mayan calendar, to discuss with him the significance of a new cycle that begins on May 24th, 2017.

What is your background on the Mayan calendar, for those that don’t know your work? 

My background is in the hard sciences and my PhD is in physical biology and I have lectured at some of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the world. Nonetheless, in 1993 the calling became very strong and I decided to devote myself full time to elucidating the true meaning of the Mayan calendar system in such a way that it became understandable for modern people. I have written six books based on the framework of the Mayan calendar, which have been translated to a total of fourteen languages. I have also worked with Mayan elders to help them bring their message out to the world.

Carl Johan Calleman, Ph.D.

 

What was the significance of October 28th, 2011? 

October 28, was a day when all the nine waves influencing our biology and especially mind shifted and created a new interference pattern (see image below). The importance of this shift had been predicted in the Tortuguero Monument no 6, which said that Bolon Yokte Kuh, the Mayan god of the nine levels, would appear in his full regalia.

Translated to more modern language this means that for the first time in the history of the universe (including humanity) all waves (the full regalia) were activated and running in parallel. Before March 9, 2011 the Ninth Wave creating unity consciousness had not been activated and it was only after this shift point that all waves became accessible for us to create resonance with. (The ancient Maya talked about such a wave as the Plumed Serpent, an energy bringing civilization). Each wave creates a different kind of filter for the human mind (see below) and so depending on what wave we are in resonance we will perceive the world differently.

We will then in turn project this mind and create an external reality consistent with the perceptions of our mind. If we download a mind of duality we will project this onto the world and create conflicts, but if we download a mind of unity we will create a world of peace. What the Maya calendar ultimately describes and the reason it is prophetic are the time lines of these shifting frames of mind. The Mayan calendar system is quite complex and a very fascinating subject that I encourage people to study. Nonetheless, from the perspective of creating the future of humanity it is really enough to follow the Ninth Wave and be able to discern its effects on our individual lives.

What was the significance of December 21st, 2012? 

None at all. It was a miscalculation by the archaeologists that some new age researchers who had not looked into the matter deeply came to embrace. It was very unfortunate that the Mayan calendar was popularized as some significant that would take place in a singular day. This is not how the Mayan calendar works. Instead it describes shifting waves with wavelengths of different lengths sometimes bringing change over very long time periods.

What makes May 24th, 2017 so special? 

In principle, it is not more special than any other beginnings of a 36 wave period of the Ninth Wave. (see http://www.xzone.com.au/9thwave.php). May 24, is the first day of the 64th DAY in the Ninth Wave. However, it may be regarded as the beginning of a sustained effort to facilitate for people to create resonance with the Ninth Wave. This event will be followed by events on June 29, August 4, and so on. It is not to be looked upon as a singular event. Yet, it can be argued that the chaos in the world has come to a point where it becomes a necessity to create resonance on a larger collective scale with the wave that generates unity consciousness. 

  1. Did the “Age of Heart” begin at the beginning of the 9th wave or is it beginning on May 24th?

Our universe, and we ourselves are created by the combined effects of Nine Waves of creation. Hence, there is no change that takes place across the board at any particular shift points in time. The effects on our heart depends on what waves we have created resonance with and this comes don to what kind of intentions we have. Most people today still resonate with the 6th 7th and 8th wave, none of which creates a fully open heart. However, a minority of people have started to develop a resonance with the ninth wave and over time as they are guided by this they will gain a new perception of reality beyond separation. No event on any single date will change humanity to the Age of Heart, but the sustained intention to manifest the destiny of humanity through resonance with the Ninth Wave will create such a Golden Age. 

  1. The San Bushmen of the Kalahari are in direct contact with you and other leaders in the Mayan calendar community, like Sean Caulfield, and are creating a ceremony to initiate this new cycle for humanity. Can you tell us a bit about these people as well as ceremony that will be taking place? 

The San are representatives of what arguably is the oldest existing culture of our planet who have suffered severe persecution over the last hundred years. They live in the Kalahari Desert (the southern part of Africa) and may be looked upon as a shamanic collective, which through there trance dance enter the spirit world where they communicate with God and all the animal spirits. It may be the only culture on our planet that still looks upon such a state of consciousness as the default, that which is real. On the particular day May 24, when a new wave period in the ninth wave begins, they will create such a dance. The event has been called Ignite the One Heart Fire, pointing towards the unity that is the destiny of humanity. [You can read more here about the event that has been posted on Facebook.]

  1. For people who aren’t able to attend the event in person (in Cape Town, South Africa) what might people do to participate on their own that day?

The important thing is that people through their own experiences become aware of the existence of the Ninth Wave and for this to happen they will need to follow the ninth wave for a number of wave periods to see how its ups and down affect their lives. The Bushmen are setting a tone, but others can organize events or simply light a candle to mark that it is the beginning of a new DAY in the Ninth Wave. This is not a day that people should expect everything to change automatically. It is more of a commitment to participate in the transformative process brought by the Ninth Wave over years to come. [The Bushmen have also invited and asked all indigenous groups to participate in this ceremony in ways each group sees fit. Please spread the word accordingly. Again, the event where more information is posted is on Facebook here at this link. ]

  1. You’ve just stated that there are other events planned as the cycles continue to converge. Where can people find out more information about these dates?

For the shift days in the Ninth Wave I recommend http://www.xzone com.au/9thwave.php

Carl Calleman’s new book is called The 9 Waves of Creation: Quantum Physics, Holographic Evolution and the Destiny of Humanity and his website is calleman.com

Source*

Related Topics:

Panic Grips Self-Inflicted U.S. NSA Shuts-down as Russia as all Clinton Phone-calls*

Inuit Elders Tell NASA the Earth’s Axis has Shifted*

The Sun’s Polar Shift has Begun

Sun’s Magnetic Field = Shift in Human Behavior*

Freaky Weather, Climate Change, Pole Shift, or Signs of a New Era!?

A Universal Shift in Reality!

Electro-Smog and the Shift of Ages

Is the Sun and Earth Synchronizing?*

New Solar Phenomenon Rich in Helium-3*

Earth Shift and Shift of the Ages

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

Practical Steps to Empowering Ourselves against Moral Fatigue*

By Fatima Muhammad

When the Panama papers broke, social justice activists rejoiced. They thought there would be a huge, sustained reaction, a real movement. Surely, people would be so outraged, that they would stand up for their rights! But they were wrong. There was little outcry. Instead, there was sarcasm, resignation, weariness, and cynicism. “Corrupt leaders are corrupt. So what?”, sums up the reaction.

Global violence and bloodshed triggers similar exercises in shoulder shrugging, and the reason is the same – we’ve given up. People feel they can’t make a real difference because they can’t physically stop the violence, or because, other than the occasional donation, they can’t stem the flow of misery coming out through the wounds on humanity. We feel powerless. We’ve accepted the script, and we’re fatigued. Clickbait that makes us chuckle is easier on our minds than being obliged to think about how we’re slowly losing our freedom, our rights to privacy, our natural resources, and our expectations of safety for people in other parts of the world.

This fatigue has more malignant an impact on our morality than the sum total of all the evils being brought to bear on us. It’s a kind of moral obesity – it makes you want to sit on the sofa and stuff your brain with junk food rather than roll your sleeves up and take the world on. Even worse – it makes you exhausted to the point that it becomes difficult to fight temptation. Here are some ways to tackle that fatigue, and keep our sense of outrage alive and pure…

  1. Don’t give up on people – give up on corrupt social structures

“People are corrupt.” “Don’t trust anyone.” “People from that background are always like that.” These are loser concepts.

Sure, always operate with caution, but know where the blame lies – at the doorstep of unusual circumstances. In extreme situations, ordinary people wind up dehumanising both themselves and others. To combat this, we should celebrate humanity on every level. It has become so easy to objectify and strip agency from real human beings.

Labels do no favours, instead they distract from the real issues. This is what people in power have always done: they demonise immigrants; people of other faiths; people of different skin colours, they know better than we do this kind of thinking is critical to keeping the power imbalance alive and well.

Rather than resigning ourselves to that way of thinking, we should be true revolutionaries and embrace everyone’s potential for goodness – and be properly outraged at injustice… not accept it as inevitable.

  1. It wasn’t always this way. It can get better again, but only if we see the value in ourselves and stop dismissing the things we do as “small.”

No era in history has been perfect, but matters have never deteriorated on a global level to the extent it has today.

Most crucial to having a vibrant, energetic resistance is to realise evil is temporary. Allah (SWT) says in Surah Bani Isra’il, verse 81,

surely falsehood is a vanishing (thing).”

We usually attribute this to the advent of the Mahdi, or to the Day of Judgement, but what we fail to realise is that in this verse Allah has given us a clue to the nature of evil – its time runs out eventually. Prod it with the truth, and it’ll curl up and die.

We can never embody the full power of Haq that is present in the Mahdi, but even our attempts to live the Truth in our daily lives on “minor” levels, will obliterate injustice on all levels. When Haq or Truth is brought out into the battlefield, injustice cannot remain.

This can’t happen if we don’t value ourselves and our moral decisions. If we truly value ourselves as individuals, as humans, as people who trust in a higher power, we must be convinced that every good action we do, no matter how small, will have that ripple effect.

  1. Understand the value of dismantling systems

When we campaign for women’s rights or the rights of minorities, it’s usually with the focus to grant them the same rights as everyone else. This overlooks a glaring problem – becoming just as good a prop as everyone else in the real problem – an inherently broken system. A system that will always find someone or the other to oppress.

Instead of realising that giving vulnerable groups a place at the table is only the first step towards true equality, we think that it’s the entirety of the struggle. We don’t explain to ourselves and to others how that table is just a bad table to be at in the long run. A table that will invite you to sit at it if you make enough noise, but then expects you to engage in the same oppressions as were inflicted upon you.

Inevitably when let down even after being part of the same structures we aspired to, we are afflicted with disappointment and weariness. It makes it feel as though injustice is inevitable.

It isn’t. We just need to build a better table.

  1. Don’t contribute towards glamourising power

We all remember those halcyon days when our only exposure to Trump was via “The Apprentice.” The show had a lot of followers and fans, and was in a similar vein to “American Idol” and other shows that were enamoured of the Simon Cowell habit of degrading and bullying others.

Today wherever you see glamour, it’s most often built on the backs of someone, somewhere being oppressed. Keep empowering those people and that mindset, and watch how quickly orange faced angry toddlers fill up the White House.

Part of our complacency in being oppressed is because we know we will always be, in some way, complicit in aiding those systems. Why? Because we can’t see ourselves distancing our hearts from ostentatious power. It’s the physical worldly companion of what we often hear will happen on the Day of Judgement – everyone will be raised with the people they love. This isn’t just a metaphysical scare tactic by some invisible man in the sky, it’s a permanent reminder that we sink or swim with the people we invest in emotionally. The more we adore those who oppress on one level or another, the less we will be moved to call out their injustices. On the contrary, seeing through this facade will keep us alert and less liable to give up on resistance.

  1. Don’t encourage fear

Society will always reward people who bow to fear. They lead trouble-free lives. Even within our communities, when we see domestic problems, we sometimes see people giving advice to submit to the situation rather than rock the boat. This mentality tries to teach us that if you submit to oppression you will be rewarded in other ways. The irony is, having absorbed this belief, victims often find justifications to become oppressors themselves later in life.

To such minds primed to accept and glorify hurtful behaviour at a household level, it is only to be expected that the higher up the ladder you go, the greater the scale of oppression. Resisting tyranny not only seems laughable – but even wrong. This leads to more complacency.

  1. Keep educating and being educated

Fatigue is only inevitable when the knowledge of problems isn’t translated into actionable solutions. The Prophet has a brilliant saying extremely relevant to social justice:

Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then [he must change it ] with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith.”

We have so many platforms today where we can talk out about injustice. There are so many specialised areas with an assortment of related issues that impact all of us, yet unless those from our community who are knowledgeable in those areas create a platform, or write or speak about those issues, we won’t even know. People who are educated in areas like technology, medicine, education, journalism and meteorology are more aware of critical issues in that particular realm that will impact the rest of world. They should blog, write, bring those issues to us in terms we can understand.

When we see injustice, when the “truth becomes alone and sad,” we’re encouraged to remember Imam Hussain ibn Ali. This isn’t simply an act of reverence, it’s a refresher on how if, in the climate of our own time, we see social injustice, then no matter how bad things get we are expected to have a response – and that it will ultimately have an impact.

We must remember resignation to the sadder facts of life is antithetical to real change. When we give up on the idea of a better world, evil digs its roots in deeper.

Source*

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Unity on U.S. Hands Off Syria Coalition*

 

 

 

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

Muslim Minds Remain as Colonised as Ever*

By Sheikh Walead Mosaad

As I sat in the main hall at an Islamic conference hosted by a large national organization I had difficulty making out what the speaker was saying.  Perhaps it was the alternating purple and red strobe lights, or maybe the replaying video of a mosque from Shiraz or Isfahan projected on an enormous screen situated some twenty feet behind the speaker.  It felt similar to what I felt when I toured the Dolmabache palace in Istanbul this past summer, a 19th century European style place of residence for the last Ottoman sultans, replete with lion sculptures adorning manicured gardens, and English chandeliers towering over French style ballrooms within its halls. And not so dissimilar from a mosque I sometimes attend that has placed in its foyer a collection box for mosque improvement, zakat, and one labelled “Imam fund”, presumably to go towards the salary of the yet to be hired full time imam.

While all three experiences appear dissimilar, the common thread between all was a sense of alienation.

Offensiveness and tastelessness rather than entreaty and allure.  Dispiritedness rather than restoration.  Ugliness rather than beauty.

Beautiful, endearing, and appealing

Islam – and everything connected to it, even by the most remote of connections – should be beautiful, endearing, and appealing to both body and soul.  The Prophet Muhammad was the embodiment of such beauty, both outwardly and inwardly, from the softness of the palm of his hand, to the mercy shown to his adversaries, but it is as if the community has in some fashion detached itself from this profound and penetrating truth.  The means and mode should be as beautiful as the ends.  Or as one of my teachers remarked: the means are the ends.  Utilitarianism is anathema to the pristine Prophetic teachings.  Noble ends cannot be achieved except through noble means.

Sultan Ahmet Mosque

 

Muslims created civilizations that projected this beauty, from the acoustic balance and perfection in the Sultan Ahmet mosque, to the melodies of the Andalusian muwashshaḥ (form of poetic litany). No aspect of human endeavour was left to a worldview alien to Prophetic inspired paradigms.  Yet, here we are.

Oversimplification of tradition

Our inability to retain and transmit the aural imperatives of the Prophetic teachings, that is, what is the purely human element of the Islamic tradition, has no doubt contributed to such a lack of refinement.  The sacred texts themselves, as well as the corpus of scholarly literature, including all of the Islamic disciplines such as tafsīr, fiqh, theology, and so forth, are widely available and are no further than a keystroke. In earlier periods, a costly commission of the warrāq (manuscript copyist) would have been necessary to obtain a manuscript of Saḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, or the Risāla of Imam al-Shāfi‘ī.  Yet, despite the unprecedented ease by which the texts can be obtained, shallow and vacuous representations of the Islamic intellectual tradition persist.   The oversimplification of this tradition, as enforced by some via their unwritten endorsement, has led to a paralyzing lack of appreciation for the sophistication of the Islamic teachings.  Many are the dilettantes who troll social media querying those with whom they disagree for the all-powerful dalīl (textual evidence) that will sanction a particular devotional practice or point of view, not knowing that the understanding of textual evidence is not so simple as citing a single Qur’ānic verse or ḥadīth, but requires trained experts to properly invoke and interpret.

Loss and humiliation

Hence, one is forced to conclude that the transmitters of these texts – the ‘ulamā’ – are the lone variable that must account for the shortcomings.  The dismantling of the institutions and systems by which scholars were trained during the colonial era no doubt played a large part in contributing to this situation, but the colonization of the Muslim mind perhaps reveals the greater story.  In the reaction to this colonization, or perhaps as a direct result of it, Islam became an ideology, where the main objective became the capturing of power, whether political, or otherwise, in order to reinstate Islam at the top of the intellectual, social, and cultural pyramid. The formation and proliferation of the “Islamic group” often in direct opposition to state power, attests to this new reality.  These groups were often at odds with one another, but they shared a common genealogy predicated on the notion of solicitation of power and influence as a means to reform a community that had lost its way, evidenced by the ease in which colonial powers had humiliated them, and the perceived ease by which they had installed puppet despots to preside over them.

Amidst this changing landscape and redefining of Islamic polity, the state of the Muslims prior to colonization was often cited as the culprit, and more specifically the state of Islamic understanding and practice in these pre-modern communities.  The community had slipped into decadence and forgotten the pristine teaching and practice of the Prophetic and early period.  Terminologies, pedagogies, and devotional practices that had developed since the early period were dismissed as reprehensible innovations that summoned God’s wrath and led us to this pitiful state.  As such, Islam had to be cleansed from these innovations and purged of all its egregious representations.  An accompanying demonization of the “other” also ensued, as their corrupting influences were also to blame.

Yet, here we are, nearly a century removed from physical colonisations, but the Muslim mind is as colonised as ever, burdened and embossed by the quest for validation and a seat at the table of influence.  But how successful are we if the price for such a seat is if all we are is a mirror reflection of those sitting to the left or right of us? I agree with the reformists that Muslims are in need of a return to its apodictic foundations. However, this return cannot be the recreation of an epoch firmly planted in the past, but rather the resurrection of timeless foundational imperatives that have been abandoned in favour of pragmatism and expediency, retaining only a simulated outer shell.  The Muslim mind must return to the Prophetic model in the manner that it observes and interprets the book of creation, to discern its signs, and abide by its prompts and commands, to see the divine attributes manifested in all that is, was, and ever will be.  Our epistemological system must be revived: verification and criticism in dealing with the khabar, the report of another one was not witness too, rather than seamless dissemination if the right identity dynamics are invoked.

Our theological system must be revived: acceptance of the divine decree, without despair, and the recognition of the direct correspondence between that which our hands sow and divine correction.  Our system of jurisprudence must be revived, recognizing the sophistication of the four schools, and the still relevant juristic tools that guide the qualified jurist to address the complex societal issues of contemporary life.  And perhaps most importantly, our ethical system must be revived, as it is our principal contribution to the world.  Ethics, morals, and just interactions with all our relationships are that which distinguishes us from our fellow brothers and sisters in humanity.  The Islamic tradition has a vibrant and time tested system for human development, i.e. for each human being to reach his or her full human potential, as this is manifested in their understanding of reality, their ability to follow the divine commands and avoid the divine prohibitions, and their morals and ethical behaviours.  A revivification of the foundational principles and their application and contextualization for our tumultuous times is what is desperately needed, but such a project cannot be carried out by self-proclaimed “mujtahids” and “reformists” who advocate simple realignment of Islam with tempestuous and ever-changing Western norms, or advocate literalist and vacuous interpretations of the sacred texts to justify sectarian agendas.  It can only be carried out by true Muhammadan heirs, who resoluteness is tempered by their mercy and desire for well-being for all of God’s creatures.  Perhaps many Muslims are not ready to hear their message just yet, but that does not change the pertinence and urgency of its significance.

Source*

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