Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Advice to Saudi and Other Foreign Students Studying Abroad: Part II Fouad Alfarhan's Advice and Typology: The Fool, The Fearful, and The Hero


Fouad Alfarhan graciously agreed to post here, in English, his earlier Arabic post, which deals with the essence of the 3 types of Saudi scholarship student as he frames them, how to become a heroic one, the importance and desirability of that, and the impact for Saudi of the return of the hero type. He did the initial translation of parts from his Arabic post, I "translated" the rest, and together we edited it to meet the quality of his original. This post complements Advice to Saudi and Other Foreign Students Studying Abroad--Part I Chiara's 10 Recommendations and 10 Tips.

Introduction

It is not my habit to wear a turban and mentor like a preacher. This role does not suit me. I am well aware of my limitations as a human being, and that all are imperfect. As we say, in the end everything turns to dust. I also do not like to play this role because I am afraid to give the impression of becoming - God forbid - like those whom we are accustomed to have inhabiting our skin day and night; and who exercise the roles of direction, guidance, and thinking on our behalf, usurping our minds--without bothering to try to plant the seeds of thought and in-depth analysis--and our independence.

‫ For today only, I will try to play this role in order to provide a number of recommendations to my brothers and sisters holding Saudi scholarships abroad; and on whom we rely on their return to make a truly effective contribution in building this nation.

The 3 Types of Scholarship Student

The Fool

This Saudi student is being cool, is not taking life in the West seriously. S/he treats the student years in the West as a tourist would-- trying their best to have as much fun as possible, without being serious in studies or in life generally. S/he chooses a specific major because friends say it's a good one, and might lead to a good, well-paying job in that field, NOT because s/he loves it and feels close to that field. S/he rarely visits the library or does serious reading. S/he spends more time on Facebook/ Twitter/ Youtube and online generally, than on studies, reading, and researching. S/he does not show up for classes, doesn't do home-work or assignments independently, or on time; has low grades--just doesn't care about anything. S/he's busy following Saudi news, affairs, and longstanding cultural wars between religious scholars and newspapers columnists, and following them more closely than need be. This Fool is a lost cause, and a lost hope for us Saudis. This person will come back the exact same person as before the scholarship studies, except for the fun, but still lacking real knowledge or exposure to the true positive aspects of Western society. My point here is, yes, you can have a lot of fun, but still take life and school sufficiently seriously.

The Fearful

This person was either very religious before embarking on scholarship studies, and held very negative views and fears about Western society; or, the person was crushed by the initial "Culture Shock", and felt extremely home-sick. S/he's too afraid to mingle and open up to experiencing the new host society. So, s/he just isolates her/himself, and only mingles with other Saudis/Arabs/Muslims, seeking a buffer from this "lost" society and its people. S/he's counting the days to graduation, and to go back to the home country and people. The Fearful person is also a lost cause for us Saudis, because s/he didn't really try to open up to the new host society, and gain all the needed positives from it. My point here is, you can be a proud religious person, but still gain exposure to Western society, mingle with its people, make a positive impact there, and also receive all the positives from it. You'll not lose your identity or belief, if it's strong and you have enough confidence.

The Hero

The Hero may or may not be particularly religious. S/he does really well in school, takes it seriously, and most importantly gets very much involved in the new host society. S/he returns a different person than the one who left; made a difference in the host society; and was changed because of all the positive things s/he saw, experienced, and lived in that society. S/he'll find life here in Saudi more difficult on return because people don't like it when people change. Still, this is the kind of person who will make a difference in our life here, and will lead the Change.

Saudi students celebrate Eid Al Fitr on the campus of Purdue University

11 Ways to Return a Hero

1) Absorb the positives and return resilient enough to apply them for positive change in Saudi
Changing one's ideas, views about what is right, and ways of dealing with others is never easy. It is human nature to hate and fear change. A person may be comfortable with self, and others may be comfortable with the person who hasn't changed, saying "God has willed that so and so return to us successful, but before straying from the right path." If you do change, which is almost inevitable, people may wonder about you. However, it is desirable to incorporate into your personality positive aspects of the skills and ideas you learn abroad, and do so thoroughly enough to be able to resist the attempts of others to have you return to your "old self", the one with whom they are most comfortable.

2) Mingle, engage, and interact with the host society to learn most about it and understand it best
Look around you! Is everyone around you an Arab, a Muslim, a brother/sister, a compatriot? If so, your situation is not good. You are not Socrates or Ibn Rushd to sit aside, not get involved in the community, and think that by observation alone you'll be able to know the positives in that society and claim them. You must get involved yourself in order to grasp the positive aspects. It is pure nonsense to believe one could do so based on theory only.

3) Join mainstream university clubs not just the MSA and other like-minded ones
While I did join the MSA, it is not sufficient to do so, because most of your friends there will be Saudis, Arabs, or other Muslims, whom you meet constantly anyway at the mosque or in residence. There are many university clubs and associations: academic, scientific, cultural, and recreational. You can join more than one club at a time--you have lots of free time, as you well know. Joining these clubs is a great opportunity to get to know the host culture and society, and know its members well.

4) Join civil society or civics minded groups in your city
In order to enrich your knowledge, and gain positive experiences faster, it's good to learn about civil societies in your Western city. There are definitely specialized associations in your field of study: computer, economics, politics, environment, urbanization, media, human rights, etc. Western communities could not exist without such free associations which are the strength of every free and independent community. By joining them, you will expand your awareness and greatly increase your experience in a way you c‫ annot imagine now; and certainly, you will be a significant addition to those associations.

It is true that there is no civil society in Arabia now; but there is no doubt that it is coming, because it is the only solution--there is no other solution. Building a civil society, where independence is the right of all members of society, is the natural development of any society which seeks to progress. It is largely up to us, the thousands of young men and women who, thanks to scholarships, have lived closely for several years in a civil society, and are the most likely to be ready to be the nucleus of our civil social institutions, those coming in the future of Saudi Arabia.

5) Participate as a non-voter in elections
It is true that you do not hold the nationality of the country in which you are studying, and thus you are not entitled to vote in elections. However, you can introduce yourself to the campaign workers of a candidate for upcoming elections whose ideas you feel are acceptable to you. Tell them that you can help in promoting a promising candidate to the Arab and Muslim community. They will welcome you warmly, and you will become a member of the team. The experience of working in parliamentary and presidential elections is a unique one; and, a wonderful, inspiring help in the development of your cultural knowledge of politics and civil rights. It is also true that today here in Saudi we have only municipal council elections-which have been postponed-but what may be the situation several years from now?

6) Write articles for the university and local papers
If you are a skilled writer, you can send articles and comments to the university or local papers. As there is freedom of the press in the West, if your articles and comments are good there is a reasonable expectation that they will be published.

Saudi scholarship students, in South Korea, reading The Korea Times

7) Choose a mosque free of chronic internal strife
Are there problems in your mosque of Salafists vs the Muslim Brotherhood vs Sufis? Are there sensitivities among Saudis/Gulf Arabs, and others, or with African Americans, etc? Are there problems with a place for women to pray, or with mixing at dinners, or at weekly or monthly meetings? Are there problems about the start dates of Ramadan and the Eids? My advice is not to be biased, and not to fall yourself into these chronic problems among Muslims, which have not yet been resolved, and will not be resolved in the near future. Select a mosque in which to find calm and rest only. Listen to local directions, and break your fast with those around you. Forget Saudi Arabian timings.

8) Visit a church
Are you knowledgeable about your culture and your religion? Visit a church and ask for an interview with the cleric. Tell him or her that you wish, at some time, to have the opportunity to speak to the parishioners about Islam. Unfortunately, the image of Islam has suffered a terrible distortion in the West because of the violence and murder associated with extremism, and because of the extreme right-wing media as well. You can help to correct this image by speaking with a group, however small, in one of the churches, and trying to correct this negative image.

9) Work on campus, and off, if your visa allows
I worked in a restaurant, even as a barman. Universities in the West often provide on-campus employment opportunities for foreign students. Try to work on campus, no matter what the job, even if you don't need the money. If your legal status allows you to work off campus, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Interaction with others in a work setting is a wonderful and priceless human experience.

10) Be honest
Do you have unpaid bills? Do you have a bad credit rating? Are your credit card payments overdue? Have you avoided paying your rent? Be honest in your financial dealings, and correct honestly any past financial misdeeds, or rue the day if you don't.

11) Avoid fruitless, crazy, pseudo-intellectual debates
Stop all the forums, groups, and sites full of nonsense about Saudi intellectual and social wars. These wars have nothing to do with you. It is enough that others continue to engage in them. Please, don't you get involved in these delusional battles too.

Update with recommendations from a fellow blogger: learn about local history, visit museums, and monuments; have the old guy at the coffee shop tell you about earlier times; visit Arab restaurants as a last resort; inform your doctor you are an Arab to strengthen the physician-patient relationship; remember to congratulate friends on special occasions and events; get to know the families of your friends.

Newly arrived Saudi scholarship students preparing an iftar,
for University dignitaries, faculty, and students,
University of Sydney, Australia, Ramadan 2005 (article).

Advantages Gained by Engagement with the Host Community

Your interaction with the host community, in a genuine and positive way, will have a number of benefits for our Saudi society:

Civil Society
A civil society is the basis of any advanced society; one that takes it beyond daily routines. Without a civil society, a society is only a group of individuals who live to eat and drink, while waiting for the Angel of Death to come and take them to the Afterlife, in the hope that God in Heaven awaits them there. They forget their duty to God and life here on earth.

Intellectual Pluralism
Intellectual pluralism is the essence of any healthy normal society. Those who come from a totalitarian society, which tries to force its members to believe in a single way of life and a single discourse, find pluralism impossible to conceptualize. Learn for yourself the strengths of pluralism; watch the groups, parties, and currents rising from the richness and diversity of the community; and note the improvements generated by this internal competition. It is this, in the end, which makes developed nations, the ones to which we send our young people in order that they may draw from their knowledge of those nations to our social benefit.

Women's Roles and Rights
Women are living organisms who can carry out roles beyond baby-making and cooking. While you will find humiliation of women in places such as discotheques, and in other forms of semi-nudity, you'll find women are active members in all aspects of society. Hopefully you will become more convinced of an expanded role for women in our society, one which we badly need.

Freedom
There is nothing like it. You'll find yourself a free individual in a society that does not tie down your energies and your personal opinions. When you come back and live here in Saudi for a while, you will understand very well what freedom means, that which we once had, then lost! Probably this experience will increase the value of freedom for you personally, and for the society in which you must live!

Transparency, equality, justice, democracy, fighting corruption
All are very much a part of your host society. It is true that, contrary to these values and mores, there are some stories, appearances, and attitudes that may be monitored, but what surveillance there may be is most often the exception, rather than the norm. Transparency is necessary to combat corruption, and to fight for equality, justice, and democracy, for the progress of society. These are all important in order for us to reach the level of those nations where we send students so that they may draw upon the knowledge of those progressive societies.

Saudi and American students hip-hop dancing, 2007,
from an interesting article in InsideHigherEd,  
on how host universities can support Saudi students academically and socially

The 3 Choices for Scholarship Students

So, Dear Friend, you've 3 choices:

- Either you'll come back as a Fool: you might finish your program, with low grades; you didn't really learn a lot from Western society because you were acting like you were on a long tourist trip. You'll be the same person as you were before you left, and your friends and family will still like you easily on return because you didn't change!

- Or, you will come back Fearful: as one who could not overcome the culture shock. You didn't have as much fun as the Fool, and you might have done well academically, but you never got involved in the new host society. So, you didn't really learn much from it. People here will still like you--unfortunately.

- Or, you can come back as a Hero: you finished school in the specialty and major you love. You got very involved in the new host society. You learned a lot from it. You made real friends from all around the world; and, you left a very good impression on them as a Saudi. At the same time, you gained a lot from them, and from everyday life in your host society.

Saudi students, Leeds, UK

Thank you to Fouad for sharing his post here, and for his help with rendering it into English. If you read Arabic, please do read the Arabic original, and the comments there

What are your impressions of Fouad's typology?
Do they apply more universally, as well as to Saudi scholarship students, in your experience?
What are the implications for Saudi scholarship students who do return changed (sometimes in ways they didn't recognize themselves)?
How can they maintain the gains of the Hero after their return, while not suffering unduly?
How much is gained/ wasted for Saudi society by having the Fearful graduates return with technical skills only?
How does the structure of the Saudi scholarship contribute or not to the perpetuation of the Fool's behaviour?
Any additions to, or comments on Fouad's advice?
Any other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

Related posts:

14 comments:

marahm said...

Fouad's typology seems a bit exaggerated, and he does not make room for a student who might pass from one type to another. Nevertheless, we've all known people who fall into each of these categories, whether students or not.

His advice, however, should be administered to all Arab Muslims who find themselves in the West for an extended period of time. The same advice can be adapted for Westerners going to the East for an extended period.

In fact, the basic message here-- of non-judgmental, open-minded involvement-- seems to be a good recipe for anyone who finds her/himself in an environment that challenges their core beliefs.

Unfortunately, the Hero who offers so much upon return to her/his home culture is the one who may have to work the hardest to maintain a sense of belonging, which will surely have expanded to include a sense of belonging to the second culture in which he/she had spent so much time and effort.

If cultivating the Hero archetype is difficult, maintaining it will be even more difficult upon return home. Perhaps one's work upon returning home will prove even more valuable, and more important, than one's work in the foreign environment.

The integration of the Hero archetype will then have reached completion.

Shafiq said...

I got really excited when I read the words Leeds UK, but then I saw the picture linked to the Leeds Met website. Leeds Met?! Come on! That's not a proper university :p

I do agree with Marahm though that the typology seems a bit exaggerated. But then again, the author will have had more experience with Saudi students and knows what they get up to better than I do.

Although I agree that students should join other societies, I do also believe it is essential they join the MSA (or its British equivalent ISoc). They'll be an important anchor point between your home culture and the culture of the host country. They'll also be able to give you essential info about your host country, cultural nuances and advice on how best to conduct yourself in certain situations. There are a couple of warnings to attach to that - there is a deep suspicion amongst many Muslims and non-Muslims alike, of Salafis. Don't try to force or even introduce your ideas to the community, because in all likelihood, they'll be angrily rebuffed. Whether Islamic societies and mosques are run by Salafis/MB/Liberals will depend entirely on the university. If there's a general attitude of inclusiveness, then by all means get involved further but if a certain faction dominates, then its best not to involve yourself too much.

Visiting the church is an interesting one - something I'd definitely recommend for the sake of broadening one's mind, though it's something I'd recommend to everyone, not just foreign students. But obviously, do your research before hand - there will be some churches in the US who really won't want an Arab to come in and talk to them about Islam. Churches in England are generally great, with priests and parishioners being very friendly and welcoming (think Reverend McGee from Little Mosque on the Prairie)

Regarding freedom, I've seen lots of Arab students run totally amock when first tasting freedom. There is no reason why one shouldn't enjoy the freedoms that come with studying at a western university (including the freedom to drink alcohol and break other Islamic taboos), but my advice would be 'Don't do something you're going to regret in 10 years time'.

Transparency, equality, justice, democracy, fighting corruption
This is one I've struggled with during my time at University. When you have students who come from countries with authoritarian regimes and leave three years later, without understanding the benefits of living in a liberal, transparent, democracy, then something is wrong. Either democracy isn't as good as we make it out to be OR we as hosts are failing to show the benefits.

ellen557 said...

I quite liked this post :) I would agree with the fool classification (and have seen many) but agree with the others ^ that the other two could contain more things or be stretched into more categories.
I think they apply to everyone, really. Not just Saudis or Muslims, I see these types of people at my university all the time regardless of religion/culture.

I think in terms of the Saudi scholarship, it does support a Fool's behaviour to an extent. I know people who have failed English consistently for about 3 years - so they were given 3 years worth of scholarship money and then only after that were they threatened with it stopping. But then sometimes that's good, to give them a lot of chances. Hmm.

Wendy said...

What are your impressions of Fouad's typology?

Of course not everyone will fit each category perfectly but I think he's pretty much on the mark with his descriptions.

Do they apply more universally, as well as to Saudi scholarship students, in your experience?

I think they would apply to countries with very different cultures, not universally.

What are the implications for Saudi scholarship students who do return changed (sometimes in ways they didn't recognize themselves)?

I can't answer that in the broad sense but with a couple of Saudi men I know I feel the experience broadened their mind and outlook on life and made them in many ways more mature. I also saw in them sadness with many aspects of Saudi society and ... their desire to spend more time out of the country in western societies.

How can they maintain the gains of the Hero after their return, while not suffering unduly?

Can't answer that one.
How much is gained/ wasted for Saudi society by having the Fearful graduates return with technical skills only?

Saudi at least gains skilled citizens and perhaps in many ways Saudi may also be happy with a citizen who has returned unchanged and has no desire to rock the Saudi boat.

How does the structure of the Saudi scholarship contribute or not to the perpetuation of the Fool's behaviour?
I don't know.

Any additions to, or comments on Fouad's advice?

I was initially happy about his suggestion that the Saudi student attend a church but was disappointed when he said the Saudi should ask to speak about Islam to the congregation. Can you see a Christian attending a mosque and talking about Christianity??? LOL!!!

Any other comments, thoughts, impressions, experiences?

I think he missed the boat by not talking about how to deal with the 'in your face' sexuality the Saudi will encounter. For men it's probably like being a kid in a candy store and for an innocent woman it could be pregnancy or worse along with the mental anguish that they would face if they had little or no exposure to western culture until this point.

Chiara said...

Thank you all for your comments. I also had some email discussions.

Some general comments first.

I suggested the word "typology" and the names of the 3 as it seemed to me Fouad was making a deliberately sharp demarcation among them as a heuristic/pedagogical device.

I certainly know students who fit one category and hold to it throughout their studies. I know others who have features of each depending on the specific sphere of their life. Some do start in one and shift to another (or regret not shifting, and not shifting earlier). The more religious or more traditional can find themselves in any of the categories, though perhaps differently than the less so.

As we all know when procrastinating, there is more than one way to waste time, being a fool, reading interesting texts instead of the ones assigned, going off on a tangent, trying to write an essay on Medieval literature while only skimming the text, yawn... OOPS LOL :)

I am referring here to students from any ethnic or religious background, whether born in the West or not. Some of the "fearful" I have met are Italian Canadian girls living at home, and the first in their families to go to uni, ditto Greek and Portuguese. Also South Asian men and women, in similar circumstances. They are often naturally shy, and because they are living off campus don't have the incentive or opportunity to get involved as easily.

...cont'd..

Chiara said...

...cont'd...

In terms of some of the advice, I agree that joining or at least attending some MSA functions is a good idea (especially iftars during Ramadan!) and I think Fouad was including that, just saying don't make it your only club.

Getting involved in student politics on campus is open to any student, and a good way to learn about elections etc. Here I am referring to university level student council elections, not the "sometimes violent, and sometimes just requiring police monitoring" oppositional and fractional groups on campus, including those who harass profs, haunt lectures, disrupt public seminars, be they from any activist group: GLBTQ, religious (most often Abrahamic extremists), or political (far right, far left).

Serving as the year rep for your department's or faculty's committees of profs and students is an excellent lesson in what I call "personalities and politics" or PiPi for short, or P squared in my doodles to my self as I listen to and watch it in action.

Regarding the idea of speaking at a church about Islam, I understood this to mean at a special event, announced to the congregation, and held in one of the Church seminar rooms, and as part presentation and part discussion. Those congregants, or parishioners interested would have the opportunity to attend, and not be obliged. No preaching from the pulpit, just as no khutbah from Pope.

I would recommend the same for approaching a synagogue--usually a Reform one, maybe Conservative, less likely Orthodox, and taking a shared Abrahamic faith approach, emphasizing a common trunk of beliefs, with clarifying where each religion branches off. I have many Jewish friends, and know the events at their synagogues well enough to know that this would be welcomed as a special event.

2 friends of different faiths might approach this together. More than one Muslim student's best friend on campus is a non-Muslim, including a Jew. Also a Muslim man and woman, might do this togethere, to show how they respect one another as friends, and to mitigate the stereotypes against each making listeners more open to both. This could also be done as part of panels on other topics on campus.

As for the students who attain only technical skills, I do think this is still an asset for Saudi. In the process they probably gain some insight in to how professional codes of ethics and conduct occur in the West, and how professional societies are run. This may help them to expand on the same in Saudi.

I would hope that the typical medical specialist trainee would absorb by necessity (in order to pass the program and the exams here, as required by the Saudi government) ideas about the physician-patient relationship, researcher-subject relationship, and medical ethics that would enhance those of Islamic medical ethics. It is hard to spend 7 years "living in a hospital" and be immune, though even some Canadians are! :)

Susanne said...

I enjoyed the article and comments! Thanks for sharing these great tips.

Majed said...

The english version even though, more correct, yet totally contradict the philosophy of solitude and isolation that is imputed to Suqrates and Averroes in the Arabic version.
Either, Mr.Fouad Alfarhan thinks being odd in a comunity means isolation and solitude. Only that one is not odd unless he is in a group to compre it with, or either he is confused and was corrected by Chiara ,because both the philosophers were very deeply involved and open to their societies as to asses the points of weakness and criticize it in order to stimulate improvement and change.
Regarding the types of of students, I think at least one type is missing the Settler type, those who had settled from the previous batches and those who try to settle in the host country out of every new batch, each (settler) has his own reasons for trying to do so.
As for the fool type I dont think the term was appropriate, he is not fool who gets a scholarship only because he takes the opportunity to enjoy life when he gets it no we can not call him fool, rather we can call him reckless, because he neglected or gave less attention to his main objective.
I wonder isn`t the so celebrated hero type is the least dependable because he Mingles, engages, and interacts the most with the host society which makes him more at risk of dissipation and melting in the reaction.
I suppose the fearful (religious) type usually fairs well if they really are religious because they often consider themself as representatives and samples of their society and faith abroad and they usually try to make change not only get changed.
isn`t strange from someone who has not seen any worship places other the mosques in his entire life to have enough balls to meditate the idea of preaching at a church,I think were I in his place, just thinking about that would have given me the creeps, the notion would have been more acceptible if came of someone from UAE or Qater for example.
It is very abominable to hear a muslim inviting and okaying a religious and social hypocrisy by telling his brothers and sisters that it is just fine to indulge in drinking and sex and to breach other Islamic taboos as a way of enjoying freedom and absence of supervision, supposedly that muslims abstain from commiting sins only due to strict supervision and lack of choice and not for fear and obedience of Allah, of course they can do all that , provided that they make sure they will not repent it in 10 years to come, wow!!!!! I wish someone gives me that kind of guarenty, but is there any guarenty that they would not die while doing it or istantly afterwards.
I remember when once i gave a male friend from Lybia a messenger ID of a girl friend also from lybia after asking her permision, but to my surprise I could not overcome the feeling of guilt ensued and I suffered many sleepless nights over that, out of fear that they might do something wrong due to my help and will have to answer to God ,I only felt some relief after having them swear to release my neck in fron of Allah in case they did anything wrong which they thankfully did, yet there is something in my heart about it and took an oath not to something like that again.

Shafiq said...

I misread the paragraph about visiting a church. I would suggest just having a generic discussion about religion, comparing/contrasting our beliefs etc., rather than solely 'informing' them about Islam. In my experience, being interested in what other people's beliefs are always leaves a good impression - they're likely to get annoyed if you talk a lot about Islam and then not listed to what they have to say about their beliefs.

One other thing, which is slightly related, most Europeans (more so in Britain) are not religious. They might label themselves as Christians, but in reality, they're Agnostic, Ignostic, Deist or sometimes just don't care. Many of these people (who make up the majority) see religion as a corruptive force and want very little to do with it. It's something that people from abroad and Muslims in the UK, take a long time to get their heads around.

Chiara,
I think I would have naturally drifted into the fearful category, had I not made a concerted attempt to take myself out of my comfort zone. It's difficult. With me, because I live at home an hours journey away (and most of my friends live on campus), attending events are pretty difficult - not made any easier by ridiculous curfews :)

Majed,
lol. I'm assuming that some of your comment was directed at me (please correct me if I'm wrong). I personally, believe in individual freedoms to a large extent. I wouldn't recommend people breaking their religious laws but I won't condemn it either, nor will I ever support attempts to institutionally criminalise breaking religious laws.

Some people follow religious laws simply because of the law of the land. Others do it out of a genuine conviction. I do not think it's hypocritical at all for the former to break religious laws when given the freedom to, and I also know the latter follow religious laws regardless. I'd rather have 10 genuine Muslims who do so because they genuinely believe in it and want to follow the laws, than have 1000 Muslims who only follow the laws because they have to.

I don't care whether they repent or not. I just caution them to think about whether in the future when they're more mature, they would regret their actions. I'm warning them to honestly think about the consequences of their actions (instead of rushing to do something stupid) and if people don't see any consequences, then proceed.

Majed said...

Shafiq

(There is no reason why one shouldn't enjoy the freedoms that come with studying at a western university (including the freedom to drink alcohol and break other Islamic taboos), but my advice would be 'Don't do something you're going to regret in 10 yea rs time')

You said the above, if there is no reason then why to regret??? it simply means you believe it is wrong. Its being wrong is enough reason not to do it isn`t it ?.
people follow a lot of things just because they are compelled to by laws, why you think most people observe traffic signals, speed limits and do not steal and commit other crimes, simply because it is the law of the land and there is punishments, that is why they do not violate rules and laws, not because they are good citizens, I dont think you would like living in a land where only 10 committed and mindful people out of 1000 do not commit crimes and break laws, just think about all that could happen during a simple blackout (brief freedom period) in London.

I believe in freedom too and do not say that we should go around hunting peoples ` mistakes ,we all make mistakes and personal religious mistakes though effect the comunity yet they concern and are directed to the perpetrators themselves in the first place and they are responsible to God for it, a God who is merciful and forgives.
But my point was to show you only that as a muslim brother you should not belittle and mitigate the enormity and hideosity of sins.
doing wrong is something but belittling it is totally something else, and it is rather enough to carry onto our shoulders the burden of our own sins than sharing others burden along, like the case when someone doing something just because Shafiq thought there is no reason not to do it.
I am not good at drawing my thoughts properly in english like you do, but I hope the general idea is conveyed.

Shafiq said...

Majed,

Regret and repent are two very different concepts. Regret usually happens when you've had time to think about your actions and their consequences - my point was 'think about your actions and their consequences before engaging in those actions'. If they will regret such actions, then they shouldn't carry them out, but if they won't then there's no problem.

Traffic laws and other similar ones exist because not abiding by them, had a negative impact on other people. If you decide to drink alcohol (within reasonable limits) then your actions do not negatively affect anyone else, and thus should not be subject to laws forbidding them. The same with laws forbidding/obligating certain pieces of clothing.

I understand where you're coming from in your last paragraph. I just feel it hypocritical for someone to not drink alcohol simply because it's the law, rather than because they want to not drink alcohol. You can't force someone to be a good Muslim - all you can do is provide direction and if they decide not to follow it, then that's their problem not mine.

Majed said...

Shafiq,

sometimes the best answer is just to keep quiet.

yet. If not trying to explain it to me philosophically. regret = sadness associated with some wrong done or some disappointment and repent = To feel remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed to do; be contrite.
Yes quite a different concepts.

About alchol and sex outside marriage (within reasonable limits)of course and their effects on families and society in large ummmm !!!??? someone like you could have said better than that, and I gues I was clear on people right to freedom.
But anyhow you won the argument.
and no, you understood wrong i dont come from there, I proudly come from Hindustan where everthing allowed.

Chiara said...

Thank you all for the further comments and re-comments. I will return with more personalized replies. Just now I wanted to address the translation issue that Majed raised.

Majed's comment prompted me to review the translation, and I have as a result edited the post text to be more faithful to Fouad's original.

Fouad alludes to Socrates and Ibn Rushd for their capacities of observation as philosophers, without comment on the tenets of their philosophy. My apologies for any confusion, and my thanks to Majed for raising the issue.

I have also taken the opportunity to add the translation of Fouad's introduction as it was originally included in his post. I hope this clarifies the spirit with which he proffered this advice, and I apologize for my original oversight.

Thanks again to all for your comments and re-comments. I am always happy to make a post more accurate! :)

Anonymous said...

Majed.

Chiara,
I will explain it the way it sounded to me was like someone saying( you are not a rose to stink which implies that roses stink).

I often feel like I purposefully and premeditately try to embarrass people, but, it is not like that at all. I try to comment very considerately but at times,well, may be most often I miss the main point and get drifted and draw others on my way.

To all those felt any offense or got hurt with any of my comments, I appologize and ask forgiveness.

Chiara, your response and reaction was just as high as your academic qualifications, since many people of your size cant even imagine someone questioning the legitimcy and accuracy of their brainchilds and whoever does should be prepared for endless battles in aimless war,just to prove that even though i am knocked down yet my leg is still raise up.

I salute you and figuratively bow down in admiration.

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