Dr. Asad Zaman‎ > ‎

Guide to my websites

For a QUICK START: See collection of short posts on diverse topics on my LinkedIn Author Page
My main website is: http://asadzaman.net.  
An Index to Collections of Works in Different Subject Areas: AZPROJECTS
The links highlighted in GREEN below are short and popular expositions of my research.
A 5-minute video guide, with links to topics with Islamic Orientation: 5-Minute-Guide


YouTube Video





YODA: You must UNLEARN what you have learned

 

The greatest obstacles to my learning and understanding the world we live in were created by the WRONG knowledge that I had absorbed. Learning is easy when it is a fresh start on a blank slate. However, unlearning deep beliefs acquired by struggle and sacrifice, is extremely difficult and painful. A lot of the material on this website challenges and contradicts deeply cherished beliefs which are currently widespread.

 

Giving up an idea that we have come to believe in, is difficult and painful. It is difficult because we use ideas to organize our thoughts. To give up an idea means to change the way we are used to looking at the world. USUALLY this is simply impossible because our actions are aligned with our thoughts. To change our ways of thinking, we must change our ways of acting. Islamic teachings work on CHANGING OUR ACTIONS FIRST, and then allowing these changes ways of acting to change the ways of thinking. THIS is the effective way to create an internal transformation. This website works on changing ways of thinking, but it will not work, it will not be effective, unless actions are changed to correspond to new ways of thinking about the world. 

Articles which would be useful vary according to the audience. Here I list four possible stances which you might have:

  1. Committed Muslim: You will have little difficulty with understanding what is being said. HOWEVER, a lot of ideas will be new and unfamiliar, because the environment contains a HUGE amount of messages and teachings which are directly contrary to Islamic teachings. We have all ingested these poisons. So the first step is to cleanse our minds and hearts of all the wrong ideas that we have come to believe in.. A good place to start exploring this website is GUIDE TO ISLAMIC ECONOMICS.
  2. Starting to Have Doubts about Faith:  Given the extremely secular and atheistic, anti-religious propaganda that saturates the media, it is natural to have doubts about religion. Clearing up these doubts is no easy matter, because there are a thousand lines of attack on faith, and one has to provide a thousand different counter-narratives. Ultimately, the only solution is to turn to god, and ask him for guidance. This is difficult to do, because we face many temptations -- the world (and many pleasures forbidden by Islam) look very attractive, and tempting. Thus we do not really want to eliminate these doubts. Here are a few articles on Islamic Themes which might help; however, the best thing is to look for friends who are committed to Islam, and spend time in their company. 
  3. Rejected Islam -- it is incompatible with Science, Reason, and Modern ways of thinking.  There are several different causes which work together to create this problem. I dont expect to find people in this category reading this website, but those who are, may be looking for an antidote to the poisons of modernity. The Bertrand Russell quote in the five minute GUIDE Video illustrates the biggest problem with this position -- it leads to UNYIELDING DESPAIR. Causes for rejecting Islam, and remedies for them are listed as follows:
    1. Temptations: Islam forbids many types of worldly pleasures. Rejection allows us to enjoy the world. The remedy for this problem is to understand the roots for permanent and long lasting happiness. The search for temporary pleasure, a quick fix, leads to damage and hurt, and pain and sadness in the long run. See my article on The Pursuit of Wealth, for some articles which show that pursuit of what SEEMS to be pleasurable may not lead to the results that we hope for. All that glitters is not gold, and things which appear attractive on the surface may have an extremely unpleasant internal aspect. 
    2. Theory of Evolution: Islam conflicts with what appear to be well established scientific theories, so it cannot be right. A short answer is that scientific theories can never be proven; the arguments of philospher of science, Karl Popper, show this convincingly. However, it is difficult for people to understand this answer, which is presented in great detail in my paper on the Deification of Science and Its Disastrous Consequences. An answer which is easier to understand and hence recommended is to look at the process by which Europeans lost their faith in religion. We lose faith because we are extremely impressed with the rise of science and expansion of knowledge in the west, and we wish to emulate them. Religion is a superstition which creates obstacles to the acquisition of knowledge. This dominant narrative is wrong, and learning the correct story provides some help in countering this problem. See European Transition to Secular Thought for more details. 
    3. Western Education: Western education is based on a theory of knowledge which was created by the philosophy of Logical Positivism. This philosophy says that human knowledge can only be concerned with observables. We cannot have any knowledge about things which are unobservable. This automatically places religon, after-life and many other articles of religious faith outside the bounds of human knowledge. For a detailed discussion of western theories of knowledge, see my article on Logical Positivism and Islamic Economics. For shorter articles, which are easier to read, see newspaper article on the nature of human knowledge
  4. Other Religions -- Non-Muslims who come from other faith communities. I dont have specific recommendations yet, but a lot of material is of shared and common interest with other faith communities.
  5. Secular Atheists from non-Muslim background. I dont expect to see this category of people here, but my articles which are invitations to Islam may be of interest to such people. 


For newcomers, the best introduction to my writing is provided in my Newspaper articles, which are short and meant for general audiences. These are highlighted in green, as being especially appropriate starting points. These newspaper articles are linked below, organized according to various themes which underpin my writings. Within pages containing the newspaper articles, I have provided references and links to more in-depth treatments, including my own writings on these topics.  


THE NATURE OF HUMAN KNOWLEDGE:  

The meaning of knowledge was re-defined in the context of European dis-enchantment with Christianity. It came to be widely believed that the only valid type of knowledge is scientific knowledge, and that religion is merely superstition. This error was compounded by mistakes leading to the emergence of logical positivism as the dominant philosophy of knowledge in the twentieth century. Even though logical positivism has a spectacular collapse, and has been decisively rejected among philosophers, its underlying principles continue to be widely believed. 

Newspaper article: The Nature of Human Knowledge.  

An explanation of Logical Positivism and Islamic Economics  

How economic theories reflect interests of power, rather than being objective and scientific [as claimed]

Essential parts of human knowledge are not "scientific": Deification of Science & its Disastrous Consequences

History of how Europeans rejected Christianity -- different from the popular version, widely believed.


ALTERNATIVES TO EUROCENTRIC HISTORY:


Eurocentric history puts Europe at the center of human history, and paints a picture which suggests that the only important history occurred in Europe, in isolation from the rest of mankind. This narrative has been challenged by many historians in many different ways. To acquire genuine understanding of the world we live in, it is essential to acquire a more global perspective on the forces that have shaped human history, in the form of interactions of cultures, philosophies, as well as geography and technological innovations. This is a huge requirements, but then, the goal (of getting a broad understanding of human history) is also hugely ambitious. Some initial sketches, as well as some more detailed essays are listed below.

1. The Dark Side of the Enlightenment Project : The European Enlightenment project rejected all traditional forms of human knowledge, and placed their faith ONLY in what could be understood by observations and logic. This rejection of a huge stock of accumulated human wisdom has had many harmful consequences which are not widely realized. 

    published in Turkish Daily News, Monday, Nov 26, 2007

    published in the Jakarta Post on Wednesday, Oct 15,2008 -- with a lively discussion attached. 

    published in The News, (Pakistan) on Monday, May 12, 2008  


2. Failures of Modernization Theories   Modernization is the name for efforts to turn all societies in the world into copies of Europe, based on Enlightenment ideals. Societies which refused to move in this direction were considered "backwards". This methodology for modernization has turned out to be flawed in many ways.    

    published in Pakistaniaat: A Journal for Pakistan Studies Vol 1, No 2. 2009

    11/11/2008: Jakarta Post with title: From the Rubble of Modernization: Choosing our own pathways to progress

    published Friday, Nov. 30, 2007: Turkish Daily News

    Thursday June 5, 2008: The News: 

3. European Transition to Secular Thought: It is widely believed -- since Eurocentric histories have propagated this view -- that Europeans shook off chains of superstition and ignorance, and learned how to use rational thought and empirical experience as the gold standard for all knowledge. This is the process which led to modern secular societies in Europe. This history is fundamentally wrong and at variance with the facts. It is essential to learn the true story of why and how European lost their faith in Christianity, and the historical consequences of this monumental event. 

    published in The News  (Pakistan) on Friday, Oct 24, 2008, with title: Not Just Europe

 A much more extensive and in depth treatment of some of this history is given in: Transition to Secular Thought in Europe: Lessons for Muslims.


Against Orientalism -- or -- Macaulay's Children

TThe Urgent and Important problem that is created by this understanding of history is that the process of conquest and colonization created a superiority complex in the West, and a corresponding inferiority complex in the East. Psychotherapy is needed by both parties. Many of my writings are devoted to providing an antidote to the inferiority complex. This is a necessary first step in arriving at a correct understanding of the world we live in. See my article Development: Myths and Truths for an exposition of twelve widely believed myths which are the result of an inferiority complex in the East. For a shorter and more accessible newspaper article on the same theme, see The Ways of the Eagles. The page linked here provides many more articles related to this theme. One book which provide essential background for understanding this issue is Orientalism by Edward Said. This is briefly reviewed below:

Edward Said: All of European literature and philosophy, especially regarding the East (Orient), is deeply influenced by the gross and brute fact of European colonization of the East.    EXPLANATION: Imperialism is the name for extremely cruel, ruthless and racist policies which suppressed and destroyed native cultures and economies throughout the world, and replaced with economies designed to fit as subordinates into a world capitalist system.This system required some ideological and philsophical justification which has permeated European writings on the East. Central to this is the idea of European superiority and Eastern inferiority, plus some Social Darwinist philosophy, which justified European exploitation of the rest of the world.