ANNAM&M's

Liberty. Justice. Islam.

Gotham Season 3 Finale

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SPOILERS (that goes without saying)

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way… let’s dig in to all the glory of this final, extra long episode. The finale included two major things fans have been waiting to see since the show first debuted, albeit it was rushed at the end for some “looking forward to next season” thrill:

  1. Bruce is finally proto-Batman
  2. Selina is finally proto-Catwoman

I really think baby Bruce’s acting could be better, and he is still a little too scrawny for someone who is supposed to be a teenage Bruce Wayne training to be a hero some day. Nevertheless, the show managed to tie-in his almost super-human training under the conditioning of the evil sensai with Bruce’s new-found sense of purpose once he is relieved of the spell placed on him. Why does Bruce finally transform? In a final confrontation with Selina — these two are so toxic together, even as kids; their relationship is just a series of missed high-fives — she makes him realize that he doesn’t even know who he is meant to be in this world. He has just been living his lush life withgotham-batman-1000857 Alfred this whole time and his purpose has only ever been to find the killers of and get justice for his parents. After the death of all the members of the Court, he gets revenge (as opposed to justice, by the way) and he no longer has any purpose at all. In a scene mirroring the night of Bruce’s parents’ death, a mysterious ninja figure knocks out a would-be killer in an alley. Who is the mysterious ninja figure that managed to get up to the roof in time for his closeup? Why, it is none other than Batm… young Bruce Wayne himself!

Selina, on the other hand, is so done with Bruce and done with emotions. Keeping emotions in check has helped her so far in surviving. Now that she has mentally let go of Bruce’s whiny antics, she wants to use her mastery of dropping emotional baggage and thieving to do more than just “survive”, as she tells a hardly-grieving and also-done-with-emotional-baggage Tabitha. She doesn’t know where this journey will take her, but knows she’ll need a weapon, and eyeing Tabitha’s whip, Selina gives it a whirl. Guess who just so happens to be gifted in whipping things? Future Catwoman, that’s who! Not gonna lie, I shrieked with excitement when I saw her finally hold the iconic whip. How this show will make her into a cat person tho? Apart from the strange scene a couple episodes back, where Selina falls to a coma in an alley after being pushed out the window by Bruce’s clone and is licked by tons of alley cats, I can’t really say. gotham-selena-whipIt strange enough how Ivy accidentally grew and got her powers. Since she’s clearly headed on a new journey of theft and other crime, its possible that Gotham will take the route of Selina having a particular interest in stealing jewelry that resemble cats. The dominatrix origin story doesn’t fit well with the current character’s story so far and the MPAA rating for the show is TV-14 anyway.

A major loose end that was finally secured was Lee and Gordon’s love story. It was really sweet that Gordon’s love for her was so strong that he was able to stay strong enough for the both of them even under the spell of the Tetch virus. He only ever took it in the first place to save his other love, the city of Gotham, staying alert in order to get to the Tetch virus bomb. Note, he didn’t take it to save his own life, it was only the news of the bomb going off sooner than expected that motivated him to risk his life with the virus. When maxresdefaultLee comes to, she probably realized this, hence her epiphany in that gut-wrenching, but ultimately bittersweet, letter to her heart’s true love. Although the two did not get to be together in the end, at the very least, they both got the closure they so badly needed. Lee finally sees Gordon is not a monster, and Gordon can rest easy knowing Lee no longer sees him that way. And they can love each other from afar.

A surprise reveal no one expected was the real name of Butch on his medical record as he his knocked out from a gunshot wound to the head: Cyrus Gold. AKA Solomon Grundy. So we definitely haven’t seen the last of him even though he is probably dead (not confirmed in the episode). It is very likely that Dr. Hugo Strange will have something to do with his come back as the infamous zombie villain. I think Fish Mooney’s death might prompt Penguin to pursue Strange in reexamining the formula and methods that first revived Strange’s former test subject, also a mother-like figure to Penguin. In doing so, he could use Butch and the now dead Barbara, with just one of them truly reanimating, namely Butch.

Oh, did you think I forgot to mention Ra’s? I was half expecting to see Liam Neeson’s when I heard Ra’s al Ghul was in this episode, but this was the least of my disappointments. The fact that the character pronounces his name “raje” with a soft, bourgeois, French “j” sound completely threw me off. His name is pronounced “raaz” or “raas”! The only redeeming factor in all of this is that the actor wasn’t a random white guy with a beard and accent, it was an actual Arab. Oh and the lazarus pit. Oh and how Ra’s becomes a shadowy figure when Bruce snaps out of his conditioning, which gives reference to the League of Assassin’s other name, League of Shadows. court-of-owlsAlso, the connection of the Court of Owls story line with the League of Assassins leaves so much story to explore from the comics. Now that everyone in the Court is supposedly dead, maybe we are going to see The Talon as a super-villain assassin on the show for the purpose of vengeance and also to test Bruce’s might to serve Ra’s al Gul’s own purpose.

WHAT A FINALE. I don’t know how the writers of this show managed to fit so much into this double episode thriller. So excited for Season 4. What else do you guys think we’ll see next season?

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Trump Born From Obama’s Womb

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Trump is the perfect scapegoat to whitewash everything Obama’s presidency accomplished. The places banned in his immigration ban are all places US intervened in/bombed during his presidency*. The places not banned are all the ones Obama and Bush and those before them have done business in for decades.

bannedTrump’s presidency is pretty fascist as it stands: he has his own intelligence, a tight-knit, closed-door cabinet, a prominent xenophobe prepared to be pushed on to the NSC. But Bush, and Obama even more so, also had shadow governments that few cared to report on except for people like Jeremy Schahill, whose documentary, “Dirty Wars,” I really recommend you all watch.

When Obama became President, FB and twitter was still new, people hardly reported or mobilized over all the people he deported. Also, remember, Obama was the one who, year after year, signed the NDAA with the provisions making it legal to indefinitely detain American citizens without trial. Like GTMO except for US citizens. There were people (like me and my friends) who protested, wrote to representatives, lobbied, and did actions in public spaces to wake people up and make them aware of the unconstitutional double standards in the justice system which I witnessed with my own eyes in court room hearing after courtroom hearing during Obama’s presidency. But few  listened. Now that Trump is riding the wave of Islamophobia to the applause of his supporters, people are finally waking up, which is awesome, but Trump didn’t get there on his own. He simply made bare the ugliness of our government for all to see.

If you’ve ever studied the presidency formally, you will know that that seat’s power has been changed from one president to the next, what Obama did was set a precedence that expanded that seat’s power like no other president has done in a very very long time, and Trump just so happened to be the next guy to take it.

Is Trump a fascist pig? Yes. But the difference between him and Presidents past is that he is doing it out in the open, with less class, a hideous face, a documented background of sexual assault and crooked business dealings, social media, and the support of racists and ignorant folks who have been pumped up for 15 years from the Islamophobic industry. Nothing like a Trump presidency gets created in a vacuum.

*Sources for places in the immigration ban that few people know were affected by US foreign relations during Obama’s presidency:
Yemen
Somalia
Sudan

Meta Moment: The Flash ft. Harry Potter

As some fans of the TV show “The Flash” may know, this season’s newest character is Julius, played by Tom Felton. Felton is famous for his role as Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies.

In this week’s episode, The Present, the show starts off with Julius (Malfoy) discovering something relevant to the plot, a stone in an excavation site in India called the  Burmastrum (sp?) also known by its other name–wait for it–the Philosopher’s stone.

*squeals like a little girl*

Hearing Tom Felton talk about the Philosopher’s stone is pretty meta. The HP fan in me was super thrilled by this “present” in the episode–pun intended. Still doing backflips in my head. Here’s a clip if you missed it:

Review: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

It goes without saying that there will be spoilers in this article.

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In short, I was both thrilled and disappointed with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Parts of the play, and maybe because it was written as a play, it read like a really long fan fiction as opposed to a Rowling masterpiece. Some of our favorite people make a cameo in a very cliche manner, so much so that the characters seem like caricatures of their former selves from the original books. The story itself had really good potential, but then the plot weakens after the middle. I felt like the story should have lingered a little longer in the darker timeline.

It is clear that JK doesn’t want to write anymore books for us, because there is no time for character development as we speed off into year 4 for Albus and Scorpius at Hogwarts. For an author of 7 memorable books, I think the playwritten form is a cop out from writing a fleshed out novel (or three). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading play writing, so it is not as though I am speaking as someone who had trouble with the format. I just think that the story could have easily made for a fantastic trilogy.

Some specific aspects of the story had major plot holes. I mean Bellatrix had a kid with Voldermort? Come on. Voldermort having intimate relations is beyond unthinkable–its uncharacteristic. Voldermort is not capable of love, so how can he have a child? Of course there are horrifying ways to force someone to sew their seed inside you that don’t require mutual love, and there are also possibly some magical spells that could help you have a kid (more on why that might not actually be possible later). Even if Bellatrix might have been the only woman worthy of carrying his progeny due to her loyalty and power as a witch, I doubt he felt he needed a successor since he had so many horcruxes as a life insurance policy. The whole Voldermort-had-a-kid plot twist just made me wanna gag to be honest. Yet it humanizes him, and in a way, that is necessary to understand how weak he really was even tho he wanted to be all powerful and immortal, and seemed as much in our heads.

The time traveling in Cursed Child would have made for an okay plot element had I not binge-watched so many episodes of Family guy where Stewie did this multiple times. It just became clear that when the writers on the show ran out of ideas, they had Stewie build a time machine. Not sure if this is the reason that Rowling and Co. also do this. Been watching the new season of The Flash as well and the whole Flashpoint/alternate timeline craziness (it makes sense to use this as a plot element here because of his powers) generally has me thinking I’m over time travel. Except in Dr. Strange. I think Dr. Strange uses a cooler, more inventive use of time than merely time travel and the butterfly effect–off topic! In all honesty, the whole time-turner plot in Prisoner of Azkaban did blow my 12 yr old mind, but I feel like this plot element in Cursed Child is another a caricature of its former badass self in its over use, which lends to the whole fan-fic feel I mentioned earlier.

Despite all the bashing I’ve done, I actually really enjoyed every minute of the book! Surprised? I know. Just missed reading those stories every summer so much. The nostalgia was more than I could handle. I devoured that book as soon as I had time to sit down and read it. Took a bit longer than most readers, finished it in about 8 hours.Through the story, I kept wondering who the cursed child from the title was: Albus, Scorpius, or Delphi. In the beginning I kept thinking it was Albus because he’s practically a Squib. Then with the time-turner reveal, I thought maybe the rumors about Scorpius are true after all and he is the cursed one. Towards the end it is clear that it must be Delphi. I like that the reader is left wondering until pretty much the very end.

My favorite character was definitely Draco’s son, reminded me of Ron and Hermoine in that he was both full of humor AND nerdy–its no wonder that his character is love with their daughter, Rose. I think the most gut wrenching part of the story was when they altered the timeline so that Rose was never born. Hating Albus’s attitude throughout the majority of the story also reminded me of how much I hated Harry in Order of the Phoenix. That rebel-without-a-cause-angst-because-my-life-is-worse-than-you-can-ever-imagine-and-you-can-never-know-what-its-like-to-be-me Harry. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. ❤

Did you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Have you always been a fan of the books? Tell me what you thought!

Review: The Walking Dead S7 E2 – The Well (and Pomegranates)

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Last Sunday’s episode hella made up for the sub-par, unbearably gruesome season premiere. What made it so unbearable, apart from fan-fave deaths, was likely the lack of  control we all felt vicariously through Rick and the gang (mental note: that could be a great band name). The most recent episode gave us back a sense of control with a subtle theme to tie it all up in a nice and neat package. That theme? Contradiction. More on that later in this article.

Warning: SPOILERS, obviously.

Enter King Ezekiel. From all the leaders we’ve seen so far, he is definitely going to be in the hall of fan-faves, along side another newbie, Jerry. From the salt and pepper dreads, to Shiva, to his Shakespearean accent, and the “knights” he has riding on horses decapitating zombies–ermergerd! Unless you absolutely loathe medieval cosplay with a passion, what’s not to like? And hey, he’s also an additional boss ass POC character on the show’s roster.

Now, most fans that have been following this show from the beginning (*raises hand*) were likely attracted to it not just for the great story or the zombies, but the varied philosophies that different people hold on to in a post-apocalyptic world and how those philosophies pan out. More on that in a future article. King Ezekiel’s philosophy is simple: “Drink from the well, replenish the well.” Interestingly enough, while watching this episode on my laptop, I happened upon an ad for this season of TWD where you can hear Negan talking about rules, saying something to the effect of “You work, and then you take,”juxtaposed with images of a military/factory line kind of setup on what looks to be one of Negan’s camps (I can’t seem to find the clip of the ad anywhere on Youtube or the official TWD website for proof of this, and even after watching this episode three times, that same ad never came up again).

The philosophies are incredibly similar, but they are definitely saying two different things–the are equal, but opposite–and they foreshadow what else we might be seeing on this show. I mean, just think about the titles of this episode and the next: ‘The Well’ and ‘The Cell’, respectively. On the one hand you have a thriving society ruled by a beneficent leader. His #1 rule is not even strictly enforced (as evident of how he treated Carol thieving in his garden with no intention of coming back, or replenishing what she took), showing us how merciful he is as a leader. The well is a great metaphor for a society that will perpetually provide in a self-sustaining way. Ezekiel’s motto also implies that fulfilling one’s needs come first, and then the repayment. There is a sense of humanity in this philosophy. On the other hand, Negan’s motto is pretty explicit that you must work for your needs to be fulfilled, nothing is free, nothing is given. The cell is a metaphor for a society of captives under authoritarian rule where everyone must stay in line, and rules are strictly enforced, punishments are swiftly dealt. It will be interesting to see Negans backstory and how it plays into his leadership philosophy, how this makes his society so vastly different from Ezekiel’s.

In addition to the contending philosophies of some major character on this show, my personal favorite thing about TWD is how there is always a theme to tie in all parts of each show. Almost nothing is superfluous, every word and action has a purpose in the grand scheme of things. King Ezekiel asks Carol to have some fruit, then specifically points out the pomegranate. Carol turns down the king’s offer saying it is too much trouble to get to the fruit itself, and the King remarks that indeed the fruit is sweet, but it is surrounded by a bitter peel, a contradiction. Any other fruit could have been used to symbolize the same idea of a contradiction, but here the pomegranate is specifically used. If you think about what a pomegranate looks like on the inside, with the intricate web of bitterness surrounding each colony of seeds, it becomes obvious that this fruit, and the idea of contradiction, is being used a tool to describe the very society the King has founded. His colony is a fantasy world compared to the dangers that lay outside his kingdom. It is a contradiction in the post-zombie-apocalypse.

What is also a contradiction, is that even thought Carol is in the safety of this glorious society, she is itching to go back out into danger because for her, that is the real world. She’s been in danger for so long, that there is no other life for her apart from one where she must always be fleeing, always ready to fight–by the way, she has come a long way from the docile creature who let herself get beaten up by her husband (S1). Morgan is dealing with his own spiritual contradictions. As someone who professes and practices strict pacifism, he just killed a man to save his friend’s life and it is eating him inside. When the King asks him to take a student under his wing, to teach him skills with a less fatal weapon, Morgan is clearly so hesitant to teach the art that saved him from his insanity/trigger happy days. He feels like a hypocrite. But he also knows he did what he had to or else he risked a friend being killed instead. During his talk with his protege, he realizes that he can’t just strictly go by the book, that he needs to make his own path.

Another contradiction in this episode is Ezekiel’s political secret. Like a noble politician, he is not proud of the secret. Although the kingdom is a place of all things good, the King must do malicious things to keep it that way. From what we see in the episode so far, and what we saw last season with Jesus’ colony, it seems that Negan’s men are coercing the King into providing livestock in return for not killing his people/taking over his village perhaps? The catch, Ezekiel and his men are cheating by fattening up the pigs on walker guts. It is so disgusting, and unlike the King and everything good he represents. Even if the pigs are going to a foul group of people, it is a contradiction of his character, and there is no way this isn’t going to come back to him.

Lastly, during the end of the show, Ezekiel asks Carol that if she’s going to leave, she should “go, but don’t go”. I know this probably confused the crap out of everyone, because that is not only a contradiction, but it is physically impossible unless he’s expecting her to be be a quantum particle in Schrödinger’s theory. At the very end, his statement becomes a little clearer. Even tho Carol leaves the boundary of the kingdom, she is still in his inner most circle, because she’s the only person (as far as we know) who he has revealed his true identity to and that is a very personal thing. Even Morgan, who is in King’s inner circle with regards to his political secret, does not know the King’s true identity. So we definitely see how, even though she gets to leave the fantasy world of the kingdom, she doesn’t have to leave his heart. She gets to go, but not go. For all intents and purposes, I think this is a platonic relationship.

Speaking of inner circles. I think keeping Morgan and Carol close to him will be important to the plot of the show, and the character development we know has to happen between these two. Morgan is not going anywhere any time soon. In the beginning of the episode we see him make a notch in a mailbox post and life up the handle as if he is going to need to find his way back as soon as Carol is healed and be off to find their group. But at the end of the episode when he drops off Carol to the same house just outside the perimeter of the kingdom, he sets the handle of the mailbox now, as if to say ‘I guess I’m staying’. Last season, after Morgan’s encounter with his savior in “Here’s not Here,” he vowed to pacifism and he and Carol (who wants to kill anything in her way) go head to head with their ideals driving them to hurt each other on an emotional level. Maybe Ezekiel will tie together the need for both Carol and Morgan and show them both that neither can live without either ideal.

Clearly this episode spelled a lot for what is to come and I loved every second of it. About the only thing I disliked about the episode was probably how quickly the facade of the great King was torn from us. Yes, we were all dying to know his origin story, but the whole real life Black king in a post-Apocalyptic fantasy society could have dragged on a little longer in my opinion. There was a clear allusion of forbidden fruit/fall from grace in this scene taken from the Abrahamic faiths. Carol is ready to escape but it is grabbing the fruit from the tree that triggers the King to reveal himself to be just a humble zookeeper.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Thanks for reading. I would love to hear from any other fans out there. If you like my articles, please hit the like button and subscribe to my page for more content!

Stranger Things: Analysis, Reaction, and Theories

The short of it: Two huge thumbs up. So many questions and possible theories, but in a good way, definitely not like LOST where there were too many loose ends that were never tied.

Now, for the in-depth discussion:

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I could hardly fall asleep after binge-watching these episodes. The 80’s theme is very attractive and nostalgic, which goes without saying, and I think too many people have commented on that for me to mention it again, but whatever. It wasn’t the 80’s theme, though, that kept me itching to get to the next episode as soon as one ended. Netflix just happened to hit a sweet spot in their formula for an addictive show.

Unlike another show I had been watching routinely with my husband just before this came along (Person of Interest), this show actually has a complex story to tell. And maybe they did the smart thing by keeping the season short, at just 8 episodes. The pre-title portion of the show is sometimes fairly long so that by the time the title does show up, you’re surprised at how much there is still left to tell in that episode, and consequently cannot wait for the title to pass so you can find out what happens after every pre-title cliffhanger.

The show definitely has that itch to find out what’s next because, by episode two, you are totally invested in the lives of these people. Haven’t had that feeling in a while–not since I binge-watched Breaking Bad. Most shows use a very basic technique of creating conflict in order to entice the viewer to pay attention and want more. A really good story is not necessarily a per-requisite for this basic technique, however, so writers end up using cliche tropes and cliche lines to fill in the spaces. Stranger Things actually has a story to tell. That story is a horrifying paranormal mystery.

By the end of the season, all the guesswork of how 11’s flashbacks are connected come to an end as the show gives us a better picture of the events that took place before 11 came into town. We find out where Will is, and all the main characters are finally, to our relief, on the same page as well. But as one mystery after another comes to a close, several new questions are born. In the same way that perhaps new “demagorgons” will be born?!?!

Speaking of which, wassup with that egg huh? The egg that Joyce and Hopper found in “the upside down” looks hatched already, and maybe like in the original Godzilla from ’97, there are more eggs, and the demagorgon was a female monster capable of self-fertilization. There is a theory that the egg isn’t even the same species as the demagorgon because in many scenes we see the creature hunched over something similar looking, trying to pick at it/break it/eat it. What does the demagorgon eat anyway? Humans? Animals? Other creatures in the upside-down? What does the demagorgon do with the humans it captures?

Also, where did this demagorgon creature come from. Was it a by-product of Brenner’s experiments, an earlier test subject-turned-monster locked in some portal, or just an alien creature in its own world until El unlocked it, as it seems from El’s flashbacks? In the first flashbacks to Brenner’s experiments, it seems like they detected some alien presence (how did they know about it in the first place?) found the goo, brought it back to the lab and let it grow until they could send someone inside. But El says she opened the gate, according to her flashback when she made contact w the creature. We dont know if they find the goo before or after El’s contact. Is the goo itself the portal? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but they are there. Unanswerable until season 2.

There are some things we may never know until the Duffer brothers let us know, but we can definitely theorize some things using context clues. Like what did the demagorgon do with Barb? I dont think she was eaten by the demagorgon. But she was definitely dead. It seemed as if the creature planted something inside both Barb and Will. Will still coughed up parts of that thing that was plugged inside him. I think it was a prototype of the same thing that crawled out of Barb, after it hatched maybe? The demagorgon may have used human bodies as a cocoon or placenta for its babies and sucked all the energy from the bodies in order to incubate its babies after they are born. Hopper and Joyce got the slithering umbilical cord-like thing out of Will in time so it didn’t drain him enough to kill him. The thing that came out of Barb’s mouth was probably a newborn demagorgon after it completely used up Barb’s organic energy, killing her.

Another interesting thing to note is when Hopper and Joyce are about to go get Will, they are told to wear suits because the environment is toxic, to which Joyce replies “but Will is in there..” like oh my God, my baby has been living in a toxic environment for days?! Nancy, Will, and Hopper, all get to the upside down at one point without any protection and come back from it alive. All of them are changed. Hopper has some weird connection with El after her disappearance (did she fuse with the demagorgon or kill it?). Will is coughing up inter dimensional slugs. And Nancy is clearly hiding something.

Is Hopper still a good guy? It seems like he’s working for the secret government agency now. As I read these theories and questions outloud, my husband says, WE JUST. DON’T. KNOW!

SO MANY QUESTIONS, such few answers. But hey, that’s what a second season is for. AHH I cannot wait!

Recent artwork

 

If you want a piece, you can shop on etsy:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/hennafiedart?ref=hdr_shop_menu

photo 1

Brief Critique of a Show

Young and Hungry. Its about a quirky, pretty, young food blogger and a whole host of other sassy characters with sassy one and two liners sprinkled through out the show. Watched the first episode and it was a total turn off with the body-shaming jokes on the black woman. Not funny. At all. AT ALL.

A gay Asian guy doing the body shaming doesn’t make it cute, doesn’t make it okay. Totally appalled. And the whole time, I’m even wondering, where is she fat? She’s top heavy in the right place. That is it. How must this make an actually overweight person fat in all the wrong places feel when they watch it? This show was deff trying too hard.

Two huge thumbs down.

 

Tech v Islam: Part I

A person who goes in search of knowledge, he is in the path of Allah, and he remains so until he returns – Tirmidhi

Islam gave early Muslims the motivation to seek knowledge, and not just in the Islamic sciences, but in all areas of the world. Because of this motivation, Muslims made strides in science and technology that signaled the dawn of the modern era. Now, more than 14 centuries later, we’ve entered a new age of innovation, and whether you feel it or not, technology is changing at a furiously rapid pace.

vrtestA fraction of that change happens right in front of our eyes: PC users get mandatory updates on shut down; the apps on your phone keep getting updates that require the latest software, making your phone obsolete after a year or two; gaming looks and feels more and more like social media, and big name video games are practically unplayable without downloading regular updates. Microsoft is even giving away its latest operating system for free, encouraging everyone to move on to this ‘brave new world’ of technology. This continuous stream of live updating–on gadgets and software that I like to call the “indefinite betas”–is a sign of how fast innovations in tech are making a turnaround in our time.

The laws around regulating this technology is always trying to catch up and changes at a snail-like pace in comparison. Take a look at drones, for instance. The modern drone has been around since at least the Cold War era. The US Government created new military and police/surveillance drones and increased its stock of drones by forty-fold in the wake of 9/11, using them in ways that have resulted in the death of hundreds of innocent victims who were not the targets of these international amazon-bezos_2751884bdrone strikes. But Amazon also uses drones to make deliveries, law enforcement uses them for surveillance, while kids of all ages play with drones in their neighborhoods–albeit, sometimes using them to take pictures or make videos of others without permission. That being said, the discussion around the regulation of drones has only really started to gain momentum in the past five years or so. The DISCUSSION. As of Christmas of 2015, only a few months ago, did it become mandatory to register all recreational drones. We’re all still waiting for international human rights lawmakers to enact some sort of legislation defining when it is and isn’t okay to use lethal force via drone.

Part of the reason regulation is so slow is the lack of vision. The potential uses for any technology, good or bad, cannot be foretold, and once seen, it cannot be known if and how they will catch on with other users. Another reason is the dilemma of getting groups of people to agree on what the laws around regulating any technology would look like.

AstrolabeIt is no different for scholars of Islam.
After taking a live weekend course with Mishkah University on Contemporary Fiqh two years ago, I was first struck by how oddly non-contemporary the topics were. Life insurance, health insurance, and warranties. Zakaat on a salaried income. DNA and paternity testing. All of them were important issues, yes, relevant even. Especially to the average Muslim. I gained an appreciation for differences of opinion in fiqh, especially when it comes to issues that were never heard of in the time of the prophet Muhammad (SAW). However, the class didn’t cover what I or others would consider contemporary for the current decade. This is not by any means a criticism on the part of the instructors, the institution, or Islamic scholarship, but a testament to the pace at which the law moves, even (and especially) in the Islamic tradition.

When I used to be on Twitter and The Walking Dead came on, a group of two or three people I followed–including a popular Imam–would live tweet a comical, yet intriguing, thought experiment on Shariah compliancy in a post-Zombie Apocalyptic world. They posed questions along the lines of, would your wudu still be intact after a zombie bite or would you have to make ghusl? Can you combine prayers if you’re running from a zombie horde? As silly as these questions are, when you think about it, thought exercises like these might be a great solution to figuring out how to handle fiqh dilemmas in an era of increased technological growth.

There are Muslims out there wondering if you should respond to the adhaan on an app or alarm. Does cash-back on your credit card count as interest. If you can read Quran on your tablet even if you don’t have wudoo or even if you are menstruating. Is Facebook haram. Can you use an AI love doll for pleasure if you have a hard time finding a bride. If you commit a sin in a video game like stealing, fornication, drinking alcohol, eating pork, are you really sinning, etc. A lot of the questions mentioned above are answered on websites run by respected traditional institutions, websites like askimam.org. Some of the answers to these questions are pretty clear, but others have the Ulema divided, even among those with the most traditional background in scholarship. For example, most scholar will tell you that Facebook should be avoided at all costs due to the haram relationships that are forged and the use of images of faces, even if the intention to have one is as innocent as giving dawah or keeping family ties. Some from the newer generation of Ulema have said Facebook is as benign as being part of an online village, themselves having an account for various purposes, but especially to act as an extension of their community leadership, making themselves (and their knowledge) more accessible.

So while Islam has the tools to answer questions about the pressing issues that come with the growing pace of post-modern technology, it will be interesting to see what the responses to these questions will look like as we become more plugged in and interconnected.

#TBT

I know its not Thursday, but I was deleting unread emails (went down from 1000+ to 140) to clear my inbox and I found a comment I wrote on Facebook two years ago (and thought it was so great I should save it in case I ever lose my tenacity) in response to a young woman (born into Islam) who claimed she could no longer find solace in Islam because she felt it was more important to defend the human rights of other human beings (specifically referring to homosexual people) which Islam supposedly didn’t do. I think this was my final response in a back and forth.


 

Bismillah

Nadia, I don’t think any of the people you are sharing this discourse with could possibly accept the implied claims you are making about their faith, that its tenents go against human rights. Imam Abu Hanifa was among many “medieval scholars” who wrote lengthily and fought against the system, and died in prison in order to stand by basic principles of human rights. None of us debating you believe in a God that is less Compassionate than you could be to another human being. Allah is the Most Compassionate and we cannot even begin to fathom His Mercy and Compassion.

That being said, though I could never claim to understand your particular struggle, I totally respect and understand your need to reconcile faith with the acceptance of all people. But I’m curious as to what informs your perception of the call for human dignity, acceptance, and human rights? In no way am I patronizing you when I ask that.

I am sincerely curious.

I ask because have heard almost the exact rhetoric come from many human rights “activists”–white men and women as well as men and women of color, here and abroad–who promote the international human rights and gender rights agenda, but have little room or tolerance for Islam particularly, religion in general, or the sanctity and preservation of culture in their perspective. The way I see it, this is not only a form of violence, but blatant hypocrisy. Not all aspects of culturally accepted forms of religious understanding or practice of social norms are harmful to people, so when the human rights agenda is perpetuated in a way that is divorced from those social norms and religious beliefs, the process gradually coerces people of any particular region to become distant in their relationship with God–native populations themselves ignorantly blaming religion wholesale (the way this article has) for the conditions they were in before international human rights saved the day.

The violence of uprooting native religion and cultural norms aside, the same machinery that is perpetuating the man-made/”universally-acknowledged” so-called human rights agenda full speed and strength is the very same one that becomes weak int he knees when superpowers (and those supported by superpowers) commit egregious human rights violations domestically and abroad, violating treaties. For crying out loud, the US has basically been committing genocide against Muslims for the past 12 years. Malala couldn’t go to school because of the big bad Taliban and we all had crocodile tears for her, but US drones are killing so many girls like her and they just become another unreported piece of collateral damage.

Point being, our understanding of human rights comes from the One Who Created all of human kind, who gave us clear instructions on how to live. The brothers have discussed a lot. All I am going to do is leave you with these two ayaat of the Quraan.

“And when it is said unto them: Make not mischief in the earth, they say: We are peacemakers (reformers) only. Unquestionably, it is they who are the corrupters, but they perceive [it] not.” – Quran 2:11-12

“It is He who has sent down to you, [O Muhammad], the Book; in it are verses [that are] precise – they are the foundation of the Book – and others ambiguous. As for those in whose hearts is deviation [from truth], they will follow that of it which is ambiguous, seeking discord and seeking an interpretation [suitable to them]…” – Quran 3:7

I pray Allah gives you contentment and peace in your heart and mind….

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