Nov 22, 2018

Is Rejoicing over the Death of Extremists Okay?

Image from the front page of New York Times
For the past few days, many young Afghans have been rejoicing over the the death of some religious scholars (ulama) who died in a powerful blast in a venue near Kabul international airport. The incident happened in a wedding hall where the celebration of Muhammad's birthday was staged. It is estimated that the blast killed 55 and injured around 100 individuals. I am not sure if these ulama were the same people who gathered a while ago in Kabul to mull over whether the suicide bombing is mentioned or justified in the Qur'an. I wrote a short blog post about it. These religious scholars see themselves as authorities of religious texts and traditions who can have ultimate monopoly over people's beliefs . So far it has never occurred to them to think if one day they might be the target of their extreme and fanatic thoughts as well. As the Biblical phrase goes, as you sow, so shall you reap. This is due to their way of thinking, which is close to that of the Taliban and ISIS. It seems that they couldn't get away from a karma that was dictated by their actions.

Now, the question we need to ask ourselves is whether it is justifiable to rejoice on the death of these religious scholars who might have been wicked people. It is a difficult question which puts us in an ethical dilemma with our core values. I personally don't see these people useful but that doesn't mean they deserve death. They might not be very useful, but it is unfair to assume their presence in the society baleful. They are not physicians to prevent and cure disease, they are not engineers to build roads and buildings; they are rather experts in one thing: how to contaminate the minds of people through Islamic teachings. But still that is neither convincing nor reasonable for us to conclude that it is fine to celebrate the death of a wicked. One thing we can do instead of celebrating their death is to reflect on their actions and responsibilities.

For the past 17 years, every time a suicide attack ripped through a crowd of civilians, killing dozens and leaving hundreds wounded, these religious scholars failed to condemn the attacks. Their silence would meant they are tacitly approving the suicide attacks. Until now, they have been spectators, they may have not felt the pain and suffering of others, but now they should. Though this does not mean we should be happy over their death despite their evil-mindedness. Wishing their demise or rejoicing over their death itself indicates a malevolent nature. Ultimately it shows our weakness and our willingness to submit to bigotry and hatred, which is nothing different from what fanatic Islamists do. But there is a better a way to defeat them and that's not through lowering ourselves to their standard. We can defeat these evil-minded and religious bigots by reasoning and challenging their stone age beliefs and by teaching them modern values.

Nov 9, 2018

Absurd Death

The guy writes in his will that after his death his body should be taken back to his homeland and be buried at so-and-so graveyard next to so-and-so whom he loved so much. Assuming that someone would pay for the cost of his body to be transported to his homeland, he leaves a huge burden on his family, friends, and relatives.

This is the most ridiculous thing that one could do in the modern world. If you would love to be buried in your homeland, then why did't you go there and die there. It can cost thousands of dollars to transport a dead body from North America to Kabul.

There is no honor in death, and life itself is inevitably absurd. There is no metaphysical pride for it either. The greatest weakness is to imagine a relationship with a mythical creature and a mysterious world, which could be anything depends on dogmatic thinking.

This man, whom I know, suffered throughout his life, he was a historian, a writer, and spent most of his life in refugee camps in Pakistan, Iran, and he was recently located in Canada. He was familiar with suffering and pain more than anyone else, but how could he not realize this burden on his family and friends?

Sep 15, 2018

Ashraf Ghani Expresses Sympathy for the Taliban's Loss

What else would you expect from Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani to be besides the Taliban sympathizer? How can Trump and his administration trust the Afghan leader as a partner in fighting against terrorists in Afghanistan?
These are hard questions to answer, but one thing is clear that the current Afghanistan president is an unwilling partner for fighting against terrorism.

In a recent interview with Vice News, Ashraf Ghani openly expressed his sympathy for the Taliban. He said: "It is not just that my heart breaks for our security forces who are true heroes, but also for Taliban." The answer was to a question related to the Taliban's recent attacks on Ghazni city in southeastern region of Afghanistan, which resulted to the destruction of the city as well as high casualties among civilians and government security forces. 

It is not surprising that Ashraf Ghani openly speaks of his feelings about the terrorists who kill civilians every day, it is shocking when the US government and allies that have troops in Afghanistan do not react.

Sep 14, 2018

Consequences of Confusing Signs


Mistranslation can sometimes be catastrophic, but other time can be amusing. This store, which is in Gaithersburg, Maryland, has a funny and confusing banner. In caps, it says "Engine House Hobbies," but the second line says "A Releasing Your Creativity Application." What does it mean? It may need a professional translator to explain what the last line means. I am not sure if the owner is an English speaker. I speculated that it was translated from one of foreign languages. 

On August 10, Katherine and Joe who became dear friends to me this summer took me to the Montgomery Country Agricultural Fare. On our way to the fare, we were in the car when we passed by this store. Everyone of us read it's sign but no one got it. For a second, I doubted my intelligence, so I hesitantly asked Katherine and Joe if they understood the sign. They both said, they read it at least three times, but still confused. We laughed but confusingly, because we didn't understand what it means and start brainstorming some hypothetical meanings.

Today, I went through some photos to delete from my phone when I saw this photo and I thought wait a minute, I have to blog about it . I just googled the place and founded it on Google map. You can also try locating the address on the map, but you don't have to. Here is a direct link to street view of the shop on google map. If you find the meaning behind this sign, please don't hesitate to share your findings at the comment section.

Sep 13, 2018

Muslim Scholars Say Suicide Bombing Not Found in the Qur'an

This is not a joke! This is real. It happened a couple of weeks ago. Some highly qualified and top Afghan ulema (religious Muslim scholars), representing top Islamic seminaries like al-Azhar in Egypt, congregated in Kabul for several days to find out whether it is justifiable to declare suicide bombing haram (forbidden). After several days of arduous studies, miraculously, these ulama found out that God in his Qur'an does not mention anything about suicide. Therefore, still unsure, but they took courage to announce that though they wanted to see where the Qur'an adjudicates suicide bombing, unfortunately they could not find it. The news was published on several news websites including Deutsche Welle, also here.
It is bewildering and to some degree it illustrates a comedy of stupidity of human nature. Who is to blame? It is unfathomable how Islam has mutated humans into one the most evil and cruel creatures imaginable on earth.

Sep 6, 2018

Kisisi's Pidgin Language Is Not Unique

I recently began to read Perry Gilmore’s book, Kisisi (Our Language): The Story of Colin and Sadiki. It is a kind of autoethnography as well as linguistic case study and a memoir. In the prologue she tells the story of his son Colin and his playmate Sadiki, a Samburu boy in Kenya and how their unique and prosperous relationship led them to create their own private language, which was called a Swahili pidgin. She says that her book is an ethnographic exploration of young children’s ability and creativity in creating a language of their own.
by Perry Gilmore

In chapter three (I skipped the first two chapters, which I might return later) Gilmore discusses the role of play in her son Colin and Sadiki’s creative ways of communication. On page 37 she claims that the “play served as a space and a resource for the inventive verbal activities that generated their shared language." Gilmore goes into details how Colin and Sadiki created a lexicon for scatological artifacts, which to some degree influenced by sound play and onomatopoeia. She quotes Sutton-Smith who has suggested that play and fantasy are ground of generating new ideas that can even be used for later purposes. In the case of Colin and Sadiki, the entertainment aspect of their lives led them to linguistic invention in which the two could easily communicate.

This is interesting, but I personally didn’t find this English-Swahili-based creole something impressive or unique in a way that the author illustrates. In fact, this kind of creole is pretty common in developing countries, especially in societies with material deprivation. Further, this could happen anywhere in the world where the average household consists of at least five or six people. In such environment, rivalry among siblings are common and this is where children becomes creative. In order to compete with their siblings – even with their parents – over resources and positions, they devise new languages for communication.

I personally remember when I was very young, my brothers and I invented a language that was only apprehensible for us in the household. We were bitten a couple of times by older siblings and even by our parents for not talking the language that was spoken in the house. We were accused of speaking in the language of djinn and told us that the we would bring curse or spell hex on others.

Inventing creole was not unique to us, it was actually pretty common among children in our my village. When we were forced to quit speaking our pidgin language, we came up with a new idea. In our clique we decided to speak our native language Hazaragi (a subdialect of Farsi) backward. We became so fluent that we did not see the need to switch back to normal, but when necessary.

So, the quesiton is why children of third world countries are able to create languages of their own and children in the modern world, let’s say the Western world, are not able to be that creative?
Well, the answer is very straightforward. As I mentioned earlier, the family size matters. We were eight siblings and had nothing to do at the house except fighting all the time, but never stayed inside. We left the house at the crack of dawn and returned when it was really dark. During the day no one needed us or came after us. We used to spent most of our time playing, climbing on trees, finding foods in the nature, sometimes even stealing fruits from trees of farmers. We were out with other children in the playgrounds, on the farm and in the mountains, we were experiencing our ultimate freedom. There was no adult watching us and telling us what to do and what not to do. We had nothing but to come up with something new and language was one of them. In order to be unique and keep our schemes secret, we invented language. No one was interested in our speech and when we grew up, we gave up once and for all. It is I personally still can speak my native language backward. I tried with my sister, she was surprised.

Anyway, Gilmore’s book is interesting, especially for people who may think Colin and Sadiki’s case were unique. In fact, in the Western context, it is unique, particularly where children spent most of their time either with their parents or technological tools, and they are given very little time to spend with their peers.
I might come back to this book later.