Monday 31 May 2010

A sense of morbid anxiety

Peanuts in service terms
The other day, I was out with a friend to the Ghanaian restaurant in The Hague called Swingin’ Safari and it was quite an experience we would never want to repeat.
For the first time ever, we found that the service could be appalling and that was not just for us but to others too, it appeared the waitresses felt they were doing us favours by taking our orders and messing the orders with without apologising for their mistakes and more.
When it came to the bill, the brazen effrontery of it all was evident when one of them demanded a tip with the statement everyone gives tips when they pay.
I am probably generous to fault when it comes to tips but these people deserved nothing, weaknesses in the system were exposed very much compared the brigandage of the African Kitchen restaurant that we had long deserted in Amsterdam for a 50-mile journey to The Hague.
A present market space
These exotic places are watering holes for ethnically diverse groups from Africa and West Africa in particular, so it was with a sense of mirth that I picked up a leaflet advertising Multicultural funeral insurance – Yes, it would have translated to that.
Even after life there are ways I suppose we want our bodies to be treated and somehow it is best that matter is taken care of before someone else is landed with unexpected responsibilities, but in most cases, these events are unexpected.
The bill for a friend’s burial came to just under 3,000 Euros and that did not include the reception afterwards – a place for a memorial basically does not come cheap.
A background feeling
It is hard enough having medically-induced vivid dreams that cast one as the gatekeeper to the afterlife, but I have tried as much as possible until today not to observe closely the advertisement hoardings that hang on the pillars of the Amsterdam Central Station.
Some company is trying to persuade us all to prepare for our funerals, they are drumming up business in ways that made it look like one were preparing for holidays.
Do not forget your travel insurance it seemed to say, the travel insurance to the great beyond and suddenly you have a sense of morbid anxiety, hopefully not accompanied with a last laugh for untimely foreboding.

Saturday 29 May 2010

The UK: My thoughts are with David Laws

One revelation and a story
I have just read with sadness the resignation of David Laws the coalition Secretary to the Treasury on the matter of claiming expenses for accommodation on the premises of his partner.
The unfortunate consequence is that Mr. Laws has inadvertently been outed as gay in a long-term relationship with the man purported to have been his landlord.
There are many angles of looking at this story but the one that most draws my sympathy is that Mr. Laws who is just a month older than I am had settled into the convenience of being in the closet as a single man in public office without any of his close relations knowing of this secret affair – however, it is all now exposed and ones thoughts are prayers are with all concerned.
An ambiguous rule of life
Obviously the commons rules about claiming accommodation expenses require that claimants do not do so when with partners, relations or business associates.
Technically, if Mr. Laws had not declared his residence in plush Kensington to the West of London people might have said there are a quid pro quo scenario developing leaving a Member of Parliament open to influence, his claiming expenses however has lead to this rather human tragedy of sorts from which I do hope he does recover well.
The nation has lost a smart and possibly very able minister to scandals and the plural is deliberate – the scandal that prevents people from being confident of acceptance as gay if they should so choose to declare that fact, the scandal of claiming expenses whilst living with one’s partner even though there is no legal or common law basic for same-sex relationships in the UK except where a civil partnership has been entered into and the scandal of newspapers that have no compunction in exposing anything that would help sell their copy.
The Daily Telegraph has averred that it had no intention of outing Mr. Laws but there is no way that story would have made any news without that consequence as part of its sensational import and interest.
Politicians are not saints
I do not believe that our politicians should be subject to the kinds of moral standards we should expect of the clergy, they are not saints, they are people like you and I who have offered to serve our country in whatever capacity they have been elected and selected to serve.
This would obviously not encourage capable and competent but seemingly flawed people to enter politics for the fear of being mauled by the rabid dogs of the press pretending to be cuddly kittens.
It reminds me of the resignation of Lord John Browne from the chairmanship of BP when in trying to conceal the matter of his sexuality he perjured himself and was vilified for perjury despite the more personal issue at stake.
Acceptance is not a given, even in the West
There is no doubt that even though the middle-classes in the general sense might have the liberality of accepting and tolerating homosexuality, those with influence and in authority, politics or even international sports are not that at ease with revealing who they truly are – it leaves them prone to blackmail and possibly ignominy – the saddest case of those consequences of declaring ones sexuality can only have one looking at how that revelation lead to Justin Fashanu’s suicide in an abandoned garage in East London.
The fear of rejection looms large, more so the threat of homophobia which has not been eradicated even from Western societies and the misfortune that might accompany being disowned by loved and trusted ones – it is not an easy life and our humanity is the poorer for how difference stops people from being the best they could ever be by first being truly themselves.
Other references

Malawi: Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga are pardoned, but ...

A welcome pardon
I welcome the pardoning [1] of Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, who were given 14-year jail terms after being convicted of gross indecency and unnatural acts in Malawi by President Bingu wa Mutharika.
This was announced during the visit of the Secretary-General Ban ki Moon of the United Nations who probably had this matter on the table for discussion along with other UN matters that he might have discussed with the President.
The President said, “These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws, however, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions.
Of culture, religion and laws
One might say that just because a majority follows a particular culture it could not be incumbent on the majority to impose with menace and aggression that culture on others who might not be so persuaded – on that point, the case against the young men was unfair.
We have to come to a point where the use of religion to abridge, abort or proscribe the beliefs or adherences of others must be frowned upon and condemned in the sternest terms, again, I am forced to drag up the ruling that presents that argument in the starkest possible words.
Lord Justice Laws said only a few weeks ago and that is the standard by which every society, community and people would be subjected to as our global village becomes smaller and every activity in the social realm receives global scrutiny.
The state’s thinking
We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.
The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.
In Malawi, it would appear that the state has thought for itself to have had the law that lead to that judgment imposed on the young men, but one does wonder if certain of our laws now pass the muster of respecting the rights of minorities, the different, the uncommon, the alternative and where they appear to do so, if respect also includes protection from menace meted out by people who have strong views against the liberal stance of living and letting live.
A guarantee of safety too?
This is the new chapter in the young men’s lives; having tasted with great opprobrium the almost martyrdom to a cause and a type of life or lifestyle we pretend does not exist in our midst, their release without conditions hopefully would not mean their release into the hands of the lynch mob.
The President’s humanitarian action would only be fully commendable if these young men can live in Malawi as free Malawians able to pursue their dreams and visions without sanction, discrimination or ill-will.
It is a big ask from a very conservative – and I use that word with reluctance – society, because in the true sense what passes for conservatism these days is really intolerance, bigotry, hatred and persecution of the right to free expression of self and the pursuit of happiness.
No prying on any life or lifestyle
I would that societies, cultures, countries or governments do not have to suffer the duress of global pressure to adopt a more liberal stance to accommodating minorities and difference, more so, the repeal of laws that deny the right to existence of minorities no matter the strength of feeling against such minorities has to be the best and correct direction for humanity and civilisation.
There is a public place for scrutiny and there is a private place for activities that have no victims where adults who have consented to entertain mature, meaningful, fulfilling and honourable lives – no state, no public, no religion, no culture, no tradition, no law or view should have the inalienable right to encroach on that private space for the sake of assuaging the sensibilities of the disgusted – Not in Malawi, not in Africa and not anywhere else where humanity has expression of life and purpose.
Other references

Please! No repeats or sequels for this dream

Seeding my dreams
I was warned one of the side effects would be vivid dreams, so I tried to fill my head with unsolved problems hoping to unravel the conundrums by utilising the excessive brain-power seeking thoughts to manipulate in sleep.
My thinking was like idle computers could be employed in parallel processing of complex algorithms, maybe dreams could be seeded with ideas and situation we do not seem to consciously resolve fast enough or well enough.
Too vivid for my memory
However, the dream I had on the Wednesday night onto Thursday morning is one I would not want a repeat of, neither would I want a sequel of it.
The vividness of the dream however stays with me from at type of remote addressing for systems where the links to the parts I wanted to address had decayed to becoming the gatekeeper of the portal to the afterlife.
The way that portal operated was what was intriguing, I was not afraid of the dead or the zombies that seemed to want to control me, I felt ready to deal with that and I ended up mastering that situation where normally people fell into a stupor of subservience.
Water and mercury
The portal however was like a concrete slab on which you stood and it flipped open in 2 ways to reveal a pool of water or a pool of mercury. When I finally got to discard the zombie, the portal flipped for the watery section indicating a good afterlife for that subject.
Apparently, the mercury pool represented the absence of life or ability, I caught a glimpse of the glistening pool as the portal flipped and even though I felt I might fall in either pool, there was a sense of balance that overtook me ensuring the portal slammed shut without taking in unready visitors.
I woke soon afterwards wondering what that was all about and this is just 6 days into my new pills to compound the long stretches of sleeplessness with sleeping pills? I think not, vivid dreams are had enough, but if you cannot wake up quick from them, that could be your final undoing.
If only we really could survive without any sleep, sometimes.

Thought Picnic: Disowned in life and loved in death

Ipswich was hardly a wish
A few years ago a serial killer was nabbed in a town I once lived in, Ipswich, well, I usually say I died in Ipswich for 2 years – a big town, quite parochial, very provincial and I could not say I was welcomed with open arms when I was there between 1995 and 1997.
When I returned for 6 months in 1999/2000, I thought I had matured enough to handle the idiosyncrasies that defined the capital of sleepy Suffolk but that really presaged my decision to leave the United Kingdom for good – on May the 20th, that was 10 years ago – I got bored of living in the United Kingdom, I had done all that I thought I needed to do.
On the advice of an occupational psychotherapist, I was to try something completely different like change my career, change my residence, change something that resets my comfort zone – moving to the Netherlands was it.
A convenient narrative
Anyway, only yesterday, there was the arraignment of another alleged serial killer but this time up North in England, Bradford in fact, where he gave his name as the Crossbow Cannibal drawing gasps from the public gallery and garnering every news headline possible for the day.
However, my concern is about the narrative that follows the discovery of these serial murders, in all cases the victims were women, whose complicated lives included prostitution for all sorts of reasons.
Whilst I will not say that people engage in prostitution as a matter of choice, I find that a template has been provided for these stories, the women are supposed to be social misfits, on drugs and needing to feed a drug habit, so never in control of their life situations.
They by fate meet a malevolent patron who butchers them and dumps their bodies somewhere. It is a sad tale and a very heart-rending situation that is not exacerbated by the activities that follow the discoveries of the deaths.
Suddenly they have family
In both cases, what throws me is that these women suddenly have family after death, a good deal of them come out clamouring for justice, blaming the authorities and hardly reviewing their responsibilities – it is a damning note on the sense of family and community that we all sometimes pretend to espouse.
Here are women who in life were outcasts, disowned and literally abandoned by omission, commission or some situation not too evident that at death suddenly are loving daughters, mothers and beautiful friends to be remembered as victims who no more bring embarrassment to their survivors – it is all too convenient.
There is a need for great reflection on this, death should not be the path to redemption, the presence of life most offer hope and long before the dangerous and heinous overtakes events – I am in two minds as to whether the families of the brutally murdered do really deserve condolences, sympathies or a stern talking to.

Wednesday 26 May 2010

The solution is not the pill

She’s the teaspoonful of sugar
Beyond having medication prescribed by my doctor, I have a treatment advisor, someone who helps you navigate the maze of dealing with multiple drugs and how those could affect your quality of life – physiological, mental, social and everything else.
Whilst the specialist could give me the general view of expected side effects, she told me how best to handle the situation and wanted to be informed if I had any adverse effects. Basically, like the old school song – The teaspoonful of sugar that makes the medicine go down.
We agreed last week that I would go on the new pills on Friday night and since it was a long weekend, Monday being Pentecost, it was the sensible thing to do – the more socially embarrassing part of the pills I was giving up was diarrhoea bordering on incontinence – it is over now, the detail I cannot yet cover as to how it really bothered me.
Where is my slumber?
So, after the fourth day of taking the new pill, I called the treatment advisor, the only serious side-effect I noted was I was not sleeping – my eyes were closed but I was too aware through the night as if I was awake.
Something about being on medication seems to leave you in the most vulnerable position to be persuaded to take a few more – I do need medication for the core elements of preventing a relapse but I would not resort to ones that offer me a prop for continued existence.
Not if I could help it
Immediately, she suggested I go on sleeping pills – No, I do not want drug-induced sleep – we need to find a way of managing this regime of medication to align with my body-clock or tiredness.
I did strongly resist taking that advice the more she tried to persuade me of it being the best course of action to take – in the end, we decided, I will take the new pill at midnight, close to when I retire at night – I am somewhat a nocturnal person, I am more active towards the end of the day, we’ll review the situation on Thursday.
If it means I take the pill at some seriously odd hour to get my sleep and avoid the feeling of being stoned, we would find that time but sleeping pills are just completely out of the question.
Surely, not everything should have the first resort of pill-controlled sense of wellbeing and in this case, I pray it is neither the first nor the last resort – it should never be part of the solution.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Applying to a correction institution

Irretrievable errors
I do not want to be worried but I am getting concerned – my blogs I can review for years; proofreading, correcting and adjusting as I find errors, emails are a completely different matter.
In the last few weeks, I have had the sad situation of reviewing some emails I sent out only to be mortified beyond words – spelling errors, contexts wrong, even the mobile phone number in my signature has been wrong for weeks – Unbelievable.
This is quite unlike me, I have tried to introduce compensatory measures to deal with certain aspects of my communication – years ago, I found if I had to transcribe numbers I seemed to mess them up, so I broke the groups of numbers down, wrote them down in batches and then reviewed them twice before I was sure I had done that right.
Review, edit, correct
In some of my blogs, I have decided the best proofreading is to read the blog back out loud to myself and that seems to show up issues with construction and writing that I can correct.
What is of concern is that I do know what I am thinking and I cannot understand why what I am thinking does not seem to end up at my fingertips and on screen.
How allocations in my head became applocations on an email does give one a spot of bother. I am usually able to spot irregular patterns or improper constructions on review but it seems this requires a cooling period between writing and review to see things with different eyes.
I would suppose blogs can wait, emails however are written on spur of the moment and sent by which time your reputation is either made or lost with redemption almost beyond grasp.
I wonder if this is a matter of losing concentration because I usually have a good penchant for attention to detail and normally think I could be meticulous to a fault – but if faults belie my presumed meticulousness – we have a problem in need of an urgent solution.
What to do?

Monday 24 May 2010

Comments on Nigeria: Islam strongly discourages polygamy

Pointed in that direction
My blog on Nigeria: Islam strongly discourages polygamy seems to have gathered a bit of reading and reference along with comments from people who felt I probably should not be researching those areas.
The fact is I would never have been digging in those religious tomes if the learned leaders of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) Kaduna State chapter had not categorically provided chapter and verse of what they claim supports their demand that the Senator decline invitations from the civil authorities on the accusation of marrying a child or even worse child trafficking.
My blog as I wrote it was not to be authoritative but enable a discourse that brought more scrutiny to what was accepted in relation to what was said or inferred to with regards to the verses quoted – it would be unfortunate if anyone suddenly finds offence where intelligent debate is the better means of learning and understanding the points that matter.
Facts of the 21st Century
Most importantly, the human race has changed in interaction, knowledge and enlightenment since the 7th Century of the times of the Prophet, the 1st Century of Christ and the few Millennia before that of Abrahamic Judaism – the 21st Century offers no carte blanche microcosm of civilisation that excludes us from the scrutiny of modernity if we live in these times but derive our verbatim societal standards from the times of yore.
All localities now suffer global intrusion of varying impact with the greatest import being the right to life, the right to free expression and the protection of the rights of the minorities – where those rights are impinged upon, regardless of allegiance the greater clamour of civilisation, civility, humanity and gradual liberalism that that affected all religions would demand that people be put first and not sacrificed on the altar of tenet, creed, tradition, culture, custom, belief or religion – all these came after humanity, not before.
We have to think for ourselves
This is where we all stand in the 21st Century according to a ruling giving by Lord Justice Laws a few weeks ago.
We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.
The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself.
In essence, it is egregious for any religion to feel that its remit extends beyond that of its firm adherents and those adherents should not have that imposed on them by heredity but by individual choice because our societies now offer the scope and latitude for those decisions to fall to individuals rather than a hierarchy of unaccountable clerics – in the broadest sense – who are answerable to no man, no state, no constituted authority or earthly realm.
Comments to my blog
At first Portnoy wanted permission to translate my blog into Chinese for his audience to read my views which I promptly granted because this had become a matter for discussion.
I found your post via Global Voices and I really like the way you deal with this issue. I should translate this post into Chinese for more people to know what Qur’an really said. Do you mind?
Then Abdulkadir patronisingly addressed me with this
Akin my friend you need to understand Arabic language and sayings, action of Mohammad (peace be upon him) very well before you can understand Qur'anic verses. Please not say what you not know ask Muslims about their religion and make honest research.
To which I replied
The Qur'anic verses are clear about what they say, if you want them to mean something else that is another matter.
If you do have good objective teaching on these matters, publish them for serious scrutiny - that is the way learned people convey their knowledge in the modern world.
Subjective or objective
After that Auwal said
It is very impressive to see that a non Muslim is taking his time to study what Islam actually says. Unfortunately you are being objective with your interpretation, just like the rulers you are taking a jab at.
[I suppose he meant I was being subjective, because the rulers in my view were not being objective – fair point.]
The verse is referring to securing a good future for orphans. It doesn’t restrict the idea of polygamy to just marrying a widow. Because it goes on to say that if you fear that you may be unjust, then stick to one wife.  Simply because you are obliged to fulfil the rights of each wife, which is definitely not easy.
[Which was my point, I said polygamy was strongly discouraged because of difficulties with satisfying all the parties of the polygamy – I was highlighting the fact that human frailty was clearly identified as the issue – it would appear no one wants to accept that fact because they feel means and provision are the ready substitute for loving equally – sadly.]
Sunnahs and today
Abdulkadir then came back with this long comment
Muslims follow the both Qur'an and the Sunnah;  that’s (the sayings, actions, and approvals of Mohammad PBUH).
[Obviously, it is important to distinguish between the norms and mores of the 7th Century compared with what can be the accepted in the 21st Century – certain customs, traditions and habits of the 7th Century as practised then cannot find expression today.]
(1). In Sahih Bukhari :: Book 7 :: Volume 62 :: Hadith 64 [I think he meant Sahih Bukhari Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64 Book 62 referring to the Nikaah ] Under Wedlock, Marriage (Nikaah), it been narrated from Aisha saying “that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).”
(2). In Sahih Muslim :: Book 8 : Hadith 3309 Under The Book of Marriage (Kitab Al-Nikah),
 It’s been narrated from 'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house at the age of nine. She further said: We went to Medina and I had an attack of fever for a month, and my hair had come down to the earlobes. Umm Ruman (my mother) came to me and I was at that time on a swing along with my playmates.
She called me loudly and I went to her and I did not know what she had wanted of me. She took hold of my hand and took me to the door, and I was saying: Ha, ha (as if I was gasping), until the agitation of my heart was over. She took me to a house, where had gathered the women of the Ansar. They all blessed me and wished me good luck and said: May you have share in good.
She (my mother) entrusted me to them. They washed my head and embellished me and nothing frightened me. Allah's Messenger (, may peace be upon him) came there in the morning, and I was entrusted to him.
[Without contention what was perfectly permissible in the times of the Prophet as betrothal at 6 and marriage at 9 in the 7th Century cannot be justified in these times for medical, cultural and legal reasons in the 21st Century – this is not aspersion on the acts of the leaders of religion, in much earlier times in Judaism Jacob the son of Isaac married two sisters something that is not considered acceptable in these times for medical, cultural and legal reasons too.]
Messages to obey?
[I am not sure if this last part constitutes a threat of sorts, because what we all should realise is that different people at different times in different places have had different messengers and messages that presage their religious allegiances – egregious and arrogance would not begin to explain the situation if any one religion begins to seek preponderance over all humanity – I would refer all readers back to the beginning of my blog and the statements of Lord Justice Laws .]
[If religions that predate accept that fact that there were differences between people, tribes, beliefs and systems whilst accommodating a sense of public secularly in those times – these modern times would more so deal unfavourably with belief system that impose themselves on others are not persuaded of the message they bring. Let me categorically state, I am not a Muslim and this is no time for crusades, jihads or lawlessness.]
Also in Chapter 4 Verse 80 Of The Holy Qur'an States. He who obeys the Messenger, has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then We have not sent you as a watcher over them.
Meaning: Allah states that whoever obeys His servant and Messenger, Muhammad , obeys Allah; and whoever disobeys him, disobeys Allah. Verily, whatever the Messenger utters is not of his own desire, but a revelation inspired to him.
Leaders and rulers
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah; and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah. Whoever obeys the Amir (leader, ruler), obeys me; and whoever disobeys the Amir, disobeys me.) This Hadith was recorded in the Two Sahihs. Allah's statement.
I am at a loss as to what this last part relates to with regards to the discourse but if Amir means leader and ruler we do have leaders and rulers in Nigeria who are custodians of our laws and constitution – where a legally constituted authority demands the attendance of any Nigerian citizen, I would suppose regardless of religion and adherence they are answerable to that authority.
I am still saddened that every comment has not addressed the material issue that in the 21st Century a 13-year old girl has been given in marriage to a 49 year old who is bringing Islam into disrepute in these times and can brazenly defend his actions without sanction. That is a blight on our humanity and it is unfortunate.

Sunday 23 May 2010

That stoned feeling

Tired enough to feel nothing
The news pills had their debut on Friday night. We had a late working day; in fact, I had to leave before all was finished because I was beginning to wilt – it was difficult to think straight.
That was just about 21:30 hours and as I got home I was so exhausted and almost out of it, so at 22:30 hours after affirming to myself that the pills will do me good, work as prescribed for my well-being and that I suffer no ulterior side-effects I popped the 1st pill and went to bed.
Well, not bed per se, I was at my computer operating machinery – my keyboard – for another 90 minutes before I finally made that 30-centimetre journey to my bed to seek sleep.
I had been informed I would have the feeling of being stoned; I cannot say I felt anything too different apart from some thoughts that appeared to be going out of line which were drawn back into focus but it was a bit of a roller-coaster ride.
Thoughts management
Each thought had to be assessed on the logic of its existence, why I was having the thought and if it was relevant to what situation I was in then – if not, discard and process the next thinking – in one or two cases there were exaggerations of claustrophobia or lines both of which had to be tempered with a sense of proportion – I am not hemmed in and no, a door does not have to be that high.
I slept well and woke up feeling fine, my neighbours were informed of the night and there was the plan to take in some sun but before I made the outing I was back in bed sleeping – it was not till late afternoon that I found myself able to go shopping at the Absolutely British shop in Amstelveen, I agonised about the right metro stop having forgotten my phone but convinced myself eventually that I would get off at the right place, but on returning home, it was bedtime again.
In the meantime, I had already done some productive work on my computer, building a few virtual machines for a number of experiments – I do wonder when I got that done during the sleepless times.
No sureties for sureness
My second night was a bit different, I might have really felt stoned, there was a feeling of delirium and sense of not being in complete control and for me that meant you stayed in bed not walked around the house.
Did I just hear someone ring my bell? Well, at that time, maybe not – but that has happened before, that is before I was ever on these new pills – I rationalised, but not before I went to check to be sure.
To be sure – that seems to be the feeling, whether I am sure of that thought, that action, the feeling, that whatever expression it might be – sure, I am sure of that, if it computes – what a wonder our brains are.
On some majesty’s secret service
Vivid dreams?  I had one, a city-wide black-out, a candle light where I was ensconced until it was raided by North Korean agents who eventually found me but before they had the time to torture me for information I did not have a smart agent got me out of harm’s way.
In our embassy (Do not know which country I was a citizen of), we saw 3 double-agents, well-armed, debriefing a prized asset under implied duress and ready to do harm – we however had access to the central air-conditioning system controls with the security clearance to quarantine areas for oxygen replacement therapy resulting in the delivery of condolences to the agents who had once been exposed to a particular chemical which the asset had never been exposed to.
The smart agent had been on rescue missions like this before if we could access his “Red” files including one where the rogue got chewed up by water closet in a toilet cubicle without neighbouring occupants noticing what was going on – all recorded for the files.
I needed to wake up from all this stuff – I eventually did – what a trip that was.

Friday 21 May 2010

Nigeria: Islam strongly discourages polygamy

On the trail to Imam-ship
It is a shame that a religious organisation failed to take the opportunity [1] to deal with a situation with objectivity, fairness and a sense of proportion.
Now, I find myself flipping through the pages of their own religious tome and ready to debunk accepted assertions which have been interpreted to suit the whims of men rather than the seeming divine purpose for which the verses were offered as inspiration.
On the matter of the Senator who took for a wife a 13-year old girl, I first argued that despite the moral outrage it garnered there were enough loopholes in the Nigerian constitution, the Marriage Act and the non-adoption of the Child Rights Act to allow for the marriage to be legal and not be subject to the Criminal Code.
A man’s lust over religious law
However, when the Senator decided to hide under the cloak of religion and the protection of Sharia Law, it brought on the fact that Sharia Law or any religious law was incompatible with civil society and took away from the state the ability to think for itself whilst it impacted unduly on the expressed freedom of the people.
In what that Senator said, there was scope for him to be sanctioned by any of the religious authorities of his faith for creating a situation that could bring the religion into disrepute (Something football associations would do without flinching to participants of the game) and for comparing himself to the Prophet Mohammed in trying to justify his now in modern times reprehensible action.
Unfortunately, the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) Kaduna State chapter has advised the Senator not to honour invitations by the authorities to defend his marriage to a juvenile and put up the defence of a verse in the Qur’an that had me digging for truth.
Not what the Qur’an says
Apparently, as they say, “Islam encourages men to marry women of their choice as mentioned in Qur’an 4 verse 2 without any emphasis on age limit.
Forgive me if I am petulant as to ask if a woman is a direct substitute for female, such that I can call a female baby a woman or a girl a woman – I sure would not call a female of 13 a woman, just as I would not call a male of 13 a man. Generally, that would be a girl or a boy, but we have been asked to stretch the limits of credulity.
The Qur’an 4 verse 2 [2] finds me bereft of the connection between the interpretation and what the verse says.
Here, I have Arabic and 4 different English translations of the verse and all pertain to the care of orphans
وَآتُواْ الْيَتَامَى أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَتَبَدَّلُواْ الْخَبِيثَ بِالطَّيِّبِ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُواْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ إِلَى أَمْوَالِكُمْ إِنَّهُ كَانَ حُوباً كَبِيراً
Shakir 4:2
And give to the orphans their property, and do not substitute worthless (things) for (their) good (ones), and do not devour their property (as an addition) to your own property; this is surely a great crime.

yusufali 4:2
To orphans restore their property (When they reach their age), nor substitute (your) worthless things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by mixing it up) with your own. For this is indeed a great sin.

Pickthal 4:2
Give unto orphans their wealth. Exchange not the good for the bad (in your management thereof) nor absorb their wealth into your own wealth. Lo! that would be a great sin.

Al-Hilali 4:2
And give unto orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin.
But if the learned members of the Supreme Council of Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) Kaduna State chapter are now saying by reason of the use of acquisitive words as property and substance a woman is of such material value – that would be unfortunate.
Polygamy is marrying the widowed mothers
The oft touted justification for polygamy comes in the next verse and it bears no similarity to the activities of those with many wives.
Still continuing on the subject of orphans it says [3]
[4:3] If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers - you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
A detailed commentary on that verse [4] asserts historical sources to say that the Prophet Mohammed only married the aged widows of friends who had many children to help offer a fatherly setting for the upbringing of the children, the other marriages were to establish specific ties or political alliances.
And now, the same verses [5] in Arabic and 4 English translations
وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تُقْسِطُواْ فِي الْيَتَامَى فَانكِحُواْ مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاء مَثْنَى وَثُلاَثَ وَرُبَاعَ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُواْ فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ذَلِكَ أَدْنَى أَلاَّ تَعُولُواْ
Shakir 4:3
And if you fear that you cannot act equitably towards orphans, then marry such women as seem good to you, two and three and four; but if you fear that you will not do justice (between them), then (marry) only one or what your right hands possess; this is more proper, that you may not deviate from the right course.

yusufali 4:3
If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.

Pickthal 4:3
And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice.

Al-Hilali 4:3
And if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly with the orphan-girls, then marry (other) women of your choice, two or three, or four but if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one or (the captives and the slaves) that your right hands possess. That is nearer to prevent you from doing injustice.
Still, one wife is best
The greater admonition is to avoid having more than one wife than to revel in polygamous abandon and at least this is for the care of orphans which by inference appears to mean those who have just lost their fathers as opposed to those who have lost all parents.
Marrying more than one wife is a costly venture but the subject of orphans continues on to verse 6 and it is clear that the orphans are children, they are immature, they cannot inherit their substance until a particular age and are definitely not to be taken as wives.
It would appear the juxtaposition of orphans, women and marriage really only pertains to polygamy in the marriage to widowed mothers and nothing else. Even I never expected the Qu’ran to be that prescriptive and then to find that it has been misused to satisfy the proclivities of sexually perverse men – unbelievable.
You can never be a successful polygamist
The whole of Sura (Chapter) 4 Al-Nesaa, appears to deal with the subject of women, orphans, marriage and matters of the family and down at verse 129, it says without equivocation, you can never be a successful polygamist no matter how much you try and it is better you do not create the situation where you fall foul of God’s law. But no, satisfying the lust first before the law has always been the way of man.
وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُواْ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ بَيْنَ النِّسَاء وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ فَلاَ تَمِيلُواْ كُلَّ الْمَيْلِ فَتَذَرُوهَا كَالْمُعَلَّقَةِ وَإِن تُصْلِحُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ غَفُوراً رَّحِيماً
Shakir 4:129
And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

yusufali 4:129
Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women, even if it is your ardent desire: But turn not away (from a woman) altogether, so as to leave her (as it were) hanging (in the air). If ye come to a friendly understanding, and practise self-restraint, Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

Pickthal 4:129
Ye will not be able to deal equally between (your) wives, however much ye wish (to do so). But turn not altogether away (from one), leaving her as in suspense. If ye do good and keep from evil, lo! Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.

Al-Hilali 4:129
You will never be able to do perfect justice between wives even if it is your ardent desire, so do not incline too much to one of them (by giving her more of your time and provision) so as to leave the other hanging (i.e. neither divorced nor married). And if you do justice, and do all that is right and fear Allâh by keeping away from all that is wrong, then Allâh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
Sadly, it is the men, the leaders and representatives of the religion that are bringing their holy faiths into disrepute by their actions and where they should speak up for the truth they have succumbed to sentiment and deplorable conduct that finds no backing from the holy tomes they take their teaching from.
Surely, for such hypocrisy that can be no better reward than eternal damnation.