President Gordon B. Hinckley provides a good example of what truly good and effective humanitarianism is. This he does through the policies and programs he promoted within the Church. Read the rest of this entry »
President Gordon B. Hinckley will have his funeral at 11 A.M. Mountain Standard Time on Saturday, February 2, 2008. He will be laid to rest the same day.
The funeral will be broadcast live throughout the world via the Church’s sattelite broadcasting system.
I would like to say a few words about today’s technology. Only a short time after President Hinckley passed away, Sobek in the West e-mailed me in the Midwest about it. Latter-day Saints throughout the world soon found out through e-mails and text messages and phone calls. I found out before the Church even put it on their website.
When the Church posted President Hinckley’s funeral information yesterday afternoon, I got two e-mails early this morning from local Church leaders informing me of it. I was one in a long list of people, active members and less active members, who were e-mailed.
It amazes me just how fast information spreads these days.
President Hinckley was at the forefront of the Church embracing technology and using technology. While people may talk about President Hinckley’s temple initiative, the Perpetual Education Fund, inspiring the youth, flying all over the world, and having irresistible humor and wit, perhaps one of his most lasting effects will be the Church’s far-reaching use of modern technology. In this he was a pioneer, bringing the Church out of obscurity while listening to the Holy Spirit, using the many technological blessings God has blessed us with. It was certainly in this spirit, indeed, that Elder M. Russell Ballard challenged the Church to engage the world in preaching and teaching the Gospel, and educating the world about the Church, via the new media, especially blogs.
The posts on jihad will begin to appear on Monday, February 4. I had a lot to write, so it will take a few days for all of them to appear. Which is better: better to read it in portions rather than in one large treatise-sized post. How they are divided, what each installment will contain, and what will appear when, will be posted on Monday before the first post.
Gordon Bitner Hinckley officially became the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which some call the “Mormon Church”) on March 12, 1995. He became the acting president when his predecessor, Howard W. Hunter, passed away on March 3. In the presidencies of a number of presidents, Gordon B. Hinckley acted as acting president numerous times before the post went to him. It may be interesting to note that he acted as acting president when the president was unable to do so due to poor health. Even though he lived to be older than any president while in the position, no one had to act as acting president for him. He served with great vigor until his death on January 27, 2008.
Although he was quite advanced in years (he was 97) and his passage through the eternal veil was expected at some time, this still comes as a shock to us Latter-day Saints. We all feel a profound sense of sorrow and loss, as well as joy, at this monumentous occassion.
We have joy because we believe that after all these years of valiant and ceaseless effort in serving the Lord, President Hinckley is now with Him, and also with his beloved wife, who passed away in 2004 (after about 67 years of being married).
We have sorrow because we will miss him.
Under President Hinckley, the Church embraced technology as a way to reach the world, to keep connected, and to facilitate better resources for all to use. President Hinckley ushered in an era of outreach and openness which was unprecedented. Before, the Church was content remaining isolated (one reason not many people know about or understand Latter-day Saints); under President Hinckley (indeed, long before he became the president of the Church), it reached out to the world.
But perhaps more importantly, President Hinckley loved the people of the world and, as such, was tireless in his exhortations for us to more fully embrace and follow Christian values and virtues, to become better people. He did not fear to admonish us, and he never hesitated to show his love for us.
His gentle yet ever-present and often impromptu humor is also something none of us will forget; it will indeed be something we will sorely miss.
I joined the Church in 1998, three years after President Hinckley became president of the Church. He is all I have known as president of the Church. I have come to love and appreciate him deeply, and to share the reverence and respect the rest of the Church has for him. This respect is well-deserved and well-earned.
I could go on and on as to why I think he was such a good person for the Church, how he had a major impact, how he was good for the world, how he contributed to uplifting the downtrodden and fallen.
Many non-Latter-day Saints have remarked how not only is he a good man, but he inspires and exhorts others to be better people.
I feel like I have lost a grandfather, a grandfather I knew and loved. No one can replace him as such, but the world will move on. The best way we can continue to honor him is by implementing his words and exhortations, and to turn our attention to Him whom he preached all his life: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only Savior and Redeemer of Humanity.
GORDON BITNER HINCKLEY
Born on June 23, 1910, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Passed away on January 27, 2008, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
We have lost a very dear, beloved, righteous, and grandfatherly leader.
There will be no post today. Instead, I am working on a two-part thing dealing with jihad. Deo volente, I’ll post it on Monday and Tuesday. The first part will deal with the reality of jihad and the oft-touted “spiritual warfare” element, and the second part will deal with jihad and the authoritative (textual) sources thereof.
While I should have been working on a post on jihad, I was toying around with the extended names of the Shiite imams. Most Arab names include the name of the father (the formula “bin” or “ibn” followed by the father’s name) but some include the names of more ancestors. For no reason whatsoever, here are the extended names of the Twelver and Ismaili imams.
The current Twelver Imam is Abu-l-Qāsim Muhammad al-Mahdī bin al-Hassan al-’Askarī, twelfth in the line (hence “Twelver Shiites”). He is the so-called “Hidden Imam”. The current Nizari Qasim-Shahi Ismaili Imam is His Highness Shāh Karīm al-Hussaynī Āgā (or Āghā) Khān IV, forty-ninth in the line. (In actuality, Arab naming conventions are not used among the Ismailis.) Read the rest of this entry »
I welcome our (potential? future?) alien overlords: The MoxArgon Group under Remulak MoxArgon, Ruler of the Known Universe. These alien watchers, currently writing from Canada, observe and comment on our puny human affairs. They’re quite amusing but always right on.
Major Stephen Coughlin, employed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was recently fired under pressure from Islamists, most alarmingly the ring-leading Islamist (Hisham Islam) working in the Department of Defense. They opposed his exposé of the rôle of Islamic law (shari’ah) in jihad. Declaiming him to be an extremist and whatnot, endangering the military’s efforts to build bridges with the Muslim community.
(I learned about this from Lady Vorzheva’s blog Spanish Pundit in her post “Terrorismo islámico (III): continuación del caso Stephen Coughlin, el experto anti-terrorista despedido del Pentágono por “islamófobo”” which means “Islamic Terrorism (III): continuation of the case [of] Stephen Coughlin, the anti-terrorism expert fired by the Pentagon for “Islamophobia””. I was a little but surprised I had not heard of this before.) Read the rest of this entry »
“Islamophobia” refers to what some people believe to be bigotry and intolerance towards Islam due to fear, hatred, and ignorance of Islam. It is often used against those who speak or write against aspects of Islam, such as Islamism, or who otherwise do not respect Islam as Muslims want them to.
Literally, “Islamophobia” means “fear of Islam” but is used like “homophobia” to refer to what they see as an ignorant, bigoted hatred for Islam. (This is somewhat interesting as many of the people who accuse others of Islamophobia could themselves be accused of homophobia.) Read the rest of this entry »
One of the central elements of the paradigms of Muslims is that Islam is perfect and, thus, may not be critiqued.
Infidels may not critique Islam for a number of reasons. One is that because they are non-Muslims, they cannot possibly understand Islam or even various aspects of it with which they might not agree. Furthermore, as non-Muslims, they do not understand the sacrosanct nature of Islam, being revealed as it is by Allah. Infidels have no understanding or impulse to reverence, it is believed. Besides, only Muslims can understand Islam, so infidels should not stick their noses in areas they do not belong. Any critique of Islam by infidels is irrelevant if not dangerous in that Muslims may be led astray. Read the rest of this entry »
I need to do something other than work at the office and stay at home. (I could blog…but I need something that gets me out of home.) Something distracting, useful, and productive. There are therapeutic reasons too: I’m quite frustrated with a number of issues, which only increases the longer I am home. Not good. Plus I need to have my world include elements other than work, home, and blog.
The reason I want to ask for advice is because I need to be very careful. Whereas I would rather find something with my church or another Christian organization, so as to fellowship with other Christians, doing so would involve deceiving and lying to my parents (as they would strongly and vehemently oppose any such involvement with Christians or non-Muslims for that matter). After all they’ve been through with a certain of their children constantly lying and deceiving, I do not want to do the same. Plus, I don’t think God would particularly like the fact I’m lying for His sake. So, nothing religious. (If I started hanging out with Muslims, my father will be concerned I might turn radical; my mother would be concerned I am not hanging out with the right Muslims (the right Muslims being South Asian Hanafi Barelvi secularist Muslims: one of the my cousins got into religion and has become somewhat of a bother, so even the right Muslims may not cut it).)
I joined the Freemasons, but both my parents dislike them (my father because he thinks they’re a waste of time and just want my money; my mother because she thinks they’re a Christian group).
A book club? Diabetes club? Volunteer somewhere (hospital? politician? library?)?
What have you been involved with that you would recommend?
When many people think about Christianity, they are aware of the fact that Christendom is quite divided. There are significant divisions even within the major forms of Christian. These people are also aware that there continue to be major disputes regarding doxa (belief) and praxis (practice). The same exists for Judaism: also quite divided with lingering debates and disputes. People are also aware that issues being disputed can become quite heated. In other words, there are true and genuine divisions within the various factions and interpretations of Christianity and Judaism.
When it comes to Islam, though, the picture changes. Most people are aware that Islam is divided into three major divisions (Sunni, Shiite, and Sufi, even though Sufism is not a separate division but more of a spiritual or mystical movement). Most people believe this is it, other than the much-touted efforts of fringe elements to hijack Islam and kill their opponents. But the same “inter-denominational” divisiveness that plagues Christianity and Judaism (and, indeed, practically every religion and religious movement) also persists in Islam and has since the death of Muhammad. (There were divisions and debates within Shiites and within Sunnis back then too.) Read the rest of this entry »
No post today. Sorry. Maybe later in the day.
In the comments for a couple of posts, Bob posed some questions regarding the issue of Benazir and security. I will answer them now.
I previously posted the following comment. Do you have any insight into this aspect of her lack of security?
Sorry for not answering your questions, Bob. Here we go! Read the rest of this entry »
Sorry I had hoped I lined up enough posts to go through the middle of the week. My bad.
Today’s post is on the insidious nature of Islamist propaganda and lobbying. Whereas the usual modi operandi of the East (namely, using theology, appearance of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, guns, bombs, and other forms of force, violence, and intimidation) cannot work in the West, Islamists and their sympathizers (neither of whom necessary have to be Muslims) use the more sophistocated and effective means available here, namly lobbying and propaganda.
I think the case of Mark Deli Siljander, former representative of Michigan’s 4th district in the US House of Representatives, which case Ace blogged about in “BREAKING: Former *Congressman* & Delegate To The UN Indicted For Terrorist Fundraising”, demonstrates this quite clearly. Read the rest of this entry »
An event and issue that continues to generate considerable amount of debate is the assassination of General Zia-ul-Haq, the military dictator before Musharraf. (There was a interregnum, if you will, of politicians between Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf.)
One day, all of a sudden, Zia’s plane blew up. To this day, there has been no conclusive finding as to who was responsible. Of course, the various people who would have wanted him dead makes pinpointing the culprit extremely difficult. Was it the Americans (and, if so, which entity therein)? The Soviets? The Indians? The Israelis? Other Communists? Afghans? How did they do it?
Although Zia-ul-Haq was instrumental in allowing the Americans to fund and supply the mujahidin in Afghanistan, who were fighting the Soviets, Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization of Pakistan posed a considerable risk to the greater stability of the region, not to mention how unwieldy he (and his Islamized nation) was getting. It would have made sense to off Zia-ul-Haq before he became more of a liability than an asset. (The example of Saddam Hussein demonstrates how this can become so, although the Americans then had no idea of such a scenario: if they did it and this was why, it was simple foresight.)
Zia-ul-Haq’s vital support for the mujahidin was crucial in letting the mujahidin drive out the Soviets, thus inflicting on the previously invincible Soviets and crushing blow, one which may be credited to contributing greatly to the unraveling of the Soviet Union and fall of the Soviet Communist empire. They would have had good reasons to want Zia-ul-Haq dead; taking out America’s ambassador to Pakistan at the same time would have also served their purposes. (But then was it military intelligence or the KGB that orchestrated the explosion?)
Zia-ul-Haq was a threat to India not only because he was an Islamist and Islamizing general (both of which contribute to a very unfriendly attitude to the secular or Hindu state) but also because of his efforts behind the scenes to secure the technology to built a nuke. (Although the groundwork was laid by Zia-ul-Haq’s civilian predecessor, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, whom Zia executed, Zia was very instrumental in the nuke plan’s success and development. He saw it as “the Islamic bomb”, which many other Islamist and/or Muslim allies identified with and which led to their secret assistance to Pakistan’s nuke plan.) Perhaps they thought taking him out might stall the nuke plan, if not derail it, or would put a stop to the Islamization which was souring relations between Pakistan and India even more. Similar reasons and issues could determine why the Israelis would want to take Zia out.
Perhaps Afghan nationalists were upset with the constant encroachment of Pakistani or Pakistan-funded entities upon the sovereignty of Afghanistan, and they wanted no more of it and so sought to take out Zia. Perhaps Afghan Communists, smarting from the Soviets’ defeat and unable to do anything, sought to exact revenge by assassinating Zia.
No one knows.
Obviously, there is a whole plethora of theories (more often than not conspiracy theories) regarding who did it and why. And so such a state of affairs, which now exists to some extent with Benazir’s assassination, is nothing new to Pakistanis. (Indeed, such a state of affairs is not new regarding assassinations: consider the many theories and opinions regarding the culprits the motives thereof for the assassination attempts on Kennedy, John Paul II, Liaquat Ali Khan of Pakistan, and King Birendra of Nepal.) Whereas some assassination attempts, such as those on Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin are clear-cut with regard to culprits and motives (Hindu nationalists, Sikhs, Tamil nationalists, star-struck idiot, and Israeli far-right nationalist, respectively), others are not.
But in Pakistan, violence is simply a part of life, political or otherwise.
One element of the whole issue regarding Benazir and her assassination which confuses and puzzles many, and remains unclear, pertains to the issue of security. Various groups and/or people say various things, and each one has his/her reasons to say what he/she is saying.
Some say that Benazir or her supporters asked for more and/or better security from the government but the government refused to provide it. Some say that the government offered better and/or more security to Benazir but she rejected the government’s offers. Some say that the government failed to do what Benazir asked, namely the firing of specific officials in government, officials whom Benazir accused of being Islamists out to get her. Some say that Benazir took risks she should have known not to.
Now, if we recall a previous post wherein I detailed how the Pakistani government is, in fact, not unitary, it becomes clear that fulfilling Benazir’s demand that certain officials be fired would not have been possible, especially when such people are key players in the military and ISI. Doing so would have precipitated a coup against him. As it is, he had little actual control over the Islamist elements within the Pakistani military and government. Recall, also, that the public had developed a very negative view of Musharraf’s anti-terrorist and anti-Islamist activities: obeying Benazir would have been cast as Musharraf’s ploy to eliminate the Islamists or, as it would be portrayed, those patriotic Pakistanis serving in the military and intelligence forces for the glory of Allah. It is, really, ridiculous to assume Musharraf could have or would have dismissed such powerful members of the Pakistani military and government simply because Benazir said so.
Now, another issue also comes into play: Benazir was a politician and a civilian. She had no office in government. As a former prime minister and prominent politician, the government had some obligation to provide for her security. But the government was not obligated to provide for her the total amount of security as provided to Musharraf, for example. As it is, the security provided to Musharraf is provided by the military and was provided because he was Chief of Army Staff. Why should the Pakistani military provide for Benazir’s security? furthermore, as a politician and civilian not in office, Benazir could offer advice to the Pakistani government but certainly had no right whatsoever to dictate to the Pakistani government what it should do.
Furthermore, the videos of the assassination attempt show that the the tragic event that led to her death was her rising from the sun roof. If she had not taken that risk, perhaps she might be alive. So comments that Benazir took risks that exposed her to danger and that may have led to the success of the assassination attempt should not swept away.
Indeed, I was struck when I read an interview between Benazir and some international reporter after the first major assassination attempt on Benazir, which attempt took place as soon as she returned to Pakistan. The reporter challenged Benazir for taking such risks, as she knew quite well what acts of violence could be conducted against her, thus endangering herself and her followers. Benazir’s answer was not very inspiring, and it seemed she had been cornered. She went on about the people knowing the risks, the risks being worth it, the people accepting the risks, and so on. But the core of the question remain unanswered: how can she not be held responsible for such irresponsible and risky behavior?
Some have suggested she returned to Pakistan to become a martyr. I don’t know if this is true, but I do know the Benazir that left Pakistan was a different Benazir from the one who returned. She had a mission, an agenda, to save Pakistan from the extremists, whose ire she had earned. That anger killed her, in the end, in what would have been an inevitable event. That is, the Islamists would have kept trying until they succeeded or Benazir succeeded in flushing them out of Pakistan. (The latter being practically impossible as a large number of Pakistanis sympathize and support the Islamists.)
The fog of confusion, contradictory statements, and misinformation does not make it possible to see this situation clearly. Yet the debates will rage on as this issue may determine who was at fault. Benazir’s people want to blame the government (particularly Musharraf); Islamists want to blame a whole host of people (from Musharraf to America or those pesky Zionist Jews); the government wants to blame Islamists and Benazir. No one wants to take the blame. And so, in fact, reality is asked to abdicate as various agendas fight for the throne of moral superiority.
One of the significant problems with understanding Islam has to do with entire debate of what is Islam.
Okay, so one wants to understand these Muslims. Which form of Islam should one study? Sunni Islam? Then what about Shiite Islam (which is quite different from Sunni Islam)? What about the different schools of jurisprudence within Sunni Islam? What about the various movements therein: the modernist movement, the Salafi movement (which includes the Wahhabi and Deobandi groups), the Ahmadi movements (whom most Muslims declare to be non-Muslim), the various militant movements? What about local forms of Islam that mix elements of the old religion with Islam? What about Sufis, both the ones popular in the West (considered heterodox and heteroprax by most Muslims) and those popular amongst Muslims (but would seem to Westerners to be intolerant and too inflexible)? Read the rest of this entry »