Friday, May 27, 2011

The importance of Youth in Islam

The current world is full of crisis and one can not but comtemplate the current situation and search for potential solutions. Looking at world around us, we notice how young people are changing their lives and changing the life of others. Revolutions in the Middle East started with ambitious young men and women who decided to stand up for freedom and dignity. Many youth in the west come up with innovative solutions that are changing the whole civilization. You can look at the google guys and the facebook guy and in addition to others.

What motivated me to speak about the issue of youth today is not only this but also the authentic hadeeth of our prophet (SA) In a Hadith, the Messenger of Allah لا تزول قدم عبد يوم القيامة حتى يسأل عن أربع ..... ـــ ذكر منها ــــ وعن شبابه فيما أبلاه ..) Out of these four questions, one question asked will be regarding how one spent his time as a youth.

In another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : " سبعة يظلهم الله في ظله يوم لا ظل إلا ظله ، إمام عادل وشاب نشأ في عبادة الله ، ورجل قلبه معلق بالمساجد ، ورجلان تحابا في الله اجتمعا عليه وتفرقا عليه ، ورجل دعته امرأة ذات منصب وجمال فقال إني أخاف الله . ورجل تصدق بصدقة فأخفاها حتى لا تعلم شماله ما تنفق يمينه ، ورجل ذكر الله خالياً ففاضت عيناه " متفق عليه
It is stated in Bukhari that on the Day of Judgement there will be no shade except for Allah's shade. And from amongst these groups, one group will be those youth who spent their youth in the worship of Allah.

The prophet (SA) allcoates so much importance to this period because the period of youth is a time when a person goes through many changes and experiences; he undergoes and partake many new things which he has never experienced before. The youth begins to feel as though he has control over the whole world, and that he can do whatever he wishes. His desires are increasing day by day becoming attached to the opposite sex, he enjoys lustfully gazing and flirting with them..

This age period is a golden opportunity for the muslim and muslimah and a lot of us do not recognize its importance until it is gone. Unfortunately, lost days do not come back again.
The prophet (SA) was always looking forward for the energetic youth who are the pioneers of change and constructive move.
The prophet (SA) was always talking about the youth who are the source of energy and the leaders of civilization and the builders of the state.
The prophet (SA) was raising brave young men who deffend the religion, sacrifice for Islam and spend their richest hours in the path of Allah.

For all of these reasons, Islam needed capable men who are on the path of Ibrahim (SA). Ibrahim was a nation by himself (إن إبراهيم كان أمة). As a teenager he stand up against all his tribe and told them that they are worshipping idols that can not speak or eat.

{51} وَلَقَدْ آتَيْنَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ رُشْدَهُ مِنْ قَبْلُ وَكُنَّا بِهِ عَالِمِينَ  {52} إِذْ قَالَ لِأَبِيهِ وَقَوْمِهِ مَا هَذِهِ التَّمَاثِيلُ الَّتِي أَنْتُمْ لَهَا عَاكِفُونَ {53} قَالُوا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءَنَا لَهَا عَابِدِينَ {54} قَالَ لَقَدْ كُنْتُمْ أَنْتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُمْ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ {55} قَالُوا أَجِئْتَنَا بِالْحَقِّ أَمْ أَنْتَ مِنَ اللَّاعِبِينَ {56} قَالَ بَل رَبُّكُمْ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ الَّذِي فَطَرَهُنَّ وَأَنَا عَلَى ذَلِكُمْ مِنَ الشَّاهِدِينَ {57} وَتَاللَّهِ لَأَكِيدَنَّ أَصْنَامَكُمْ بَعْدَ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا مُدْبِرِينَ {58} فَجَعَلَهُمْ جُذَاذًا إِلَّا كَبِيرًا لَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ إِلَيْهِ يَرْجِعُونَ {59} قَالُوا مَنْ فَعَلَ هَذَا بِآلِهَتِنَا إِنَّهُ لَمِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ {60} قَالُوا سَمِعْنَا فَتًى يَذْكُرُهُمْ يُقَالُ لَهُ إِبْرَاهِيمُ
{61} قَالُوا فَأْتُوا بِهِ عَلَى أَعْيُنِ النَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَشْهَدُونَ {62} قَالُوا أَأَنْتَ فَعَلْتَ هَذَا بِآلِهَتِنَا يَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ {63} قَالَ بَلْ فَعَلَهُ كَبِيرُهُمْ هَذَا فَاسْأَلُوهُمْ إِنْ كَانُوا يَنْطِقُونَ {64} فَرَجَعُوا إِلَى أَنْفُسِهِمْ فَقَالُوا إِنَّكُمْ أَنْتُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
{65} ثُمَّ نُكِسُوا عَلَى رُءُوسِهِمْ لَقَدْ عَلِمْتَ مَا هَؤُلَاءِ يَنْطِقُونَ {66} قَالَ أَفَتَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ مَا لَا يَنْفَعُكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَضُرُّكُمْ {67} أُفٍّ لَكُمْ وَلِمَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ {68} قَالُوا حَرِّقُوهُ وَانْصُرُوا آلِهَتَكُمْ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ فَاعِلِينَ {69} قُلْنَا يَا نَارُ كُونِي بَرْدًا وَسَلَامًا عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ

We bestowed aforetime on Ibrahim his rectitude of conduct, and well were We acquainted with him. Behold! he said to his father and his people, "What are these images, to which ye are (so assiduously) devoted?" They said, "We found our fathers worshipping them." He said, "Indeed ye have been in manifest error - ye and your fathers." They said, "Have you brought us the Truth, or are you one of those who jest?" "And by Allah, I have a plan for your idols - after ye go away and turn your backs".. So he broke them to pieces (all) but the biggest of them, that they might turn (and address themselves) to it. They said, "Who has done this to our gods? He must indeed be some man of impiety!" They said, "We heard a youth talk of them: he is called Ibrahim." They said, "Then bring him before the eyes of the people, that they may bear witness." They said, "Art thou the one that did this with our gods, O Ibrahim?" So they turned to themselves and said, "Surely ye are the ones in the wrong!" Then were they confounded with shame: (they said) "Thou knowest full well that these (idols) do not speak!" (Ibrahim) said, "Do ye then worship, besides Allah, things that can neither be of any good to you nor do you harm? "Fie upon you, and upon the things that ye worship besides Allah! Have ye no sense?"... They said, "Burn him and protect your gods, if ye do (anything at all)!" We said, "O Fire! be thou cool. and (a means of) safety for Ibrahim!"

This is how Allah tried Ibrahim and he succeed and changed the history of humanity. This simple young man was the father of all the messengers. He has a strong vision and a keen inclination to look for guidance.

We need such youth who have extremely high ambition and who refuse anything but the fore front. Leaders are born to change and trained to be consistent.

Our ummah needs youth whose hearts are attached to Allah, who follow our beloved prophet footsteps and who seek the best of knowledge they can in order to acquire all potential strengths that our ummah needs.

However, the major question is how to acquire this power? There are several steps in fact to build the real islamic personality. I will mention few of the first substantial steps:

First of all. My dear brothers and sisters. We have to go back to Allah and repent from all our previous mistake and sins. There is no sinless human. However, Allah loves those who repent after every sin they commit. There is no way for success without repentance.
This is the time now. Go back to Allah and prepare yourself for the achivements.  عسَى رَبُّكُمْ أَن يُكَفِّرَ عَنكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ وَيُدْخِلَكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ.... الآية " .

Second, we have to follow the steps of our beloved prophet (SA). Where is his love in our hearts? Are we able to identify his love out of all the lust we have in our hearts? Should not we love him the most? Isn’t he the one who has lead us to all goods and warned us against all evils? Isn’t he the granted blessings for us and the eternal guidance?  
We should admit that we are forgetting a lot of his traditions and we are not learning all what he wanted us to learn.
يا مدعي حب طه لا تخالفه ...... الخُلفُ يحرم في دين المحبينا
أراك تأخذ شيئاً من شريعته ...... وتترك البعض تدويناً وتهوينا
خذها جميعاً تجد خيراً تفز به ..... أو فاطّرحها وخذ رجس الشياطينا
In order to learn, we have to read. We are the ummah of Iqra. This religion stared with a command to read by the illeterate prohphet (SA). This knowledge is the best source of power in this ear of knowledge based power and knowledge based economy.

Third, we have to read the biographies of the great men of Islam to learn from their experiences and how they used their youth and limited years to reach those high degrees. They have spent their lives in the path of Allah who has granted them their hours and days. They have taken care of their times to read the Quran, learh the hadeeth, attend the knowledge circles and follow the pious men.
I can name thousands of bright engraved names even millions. However, we need the legacy and not the numbers. Ali bin Abi Taleb (RA) was the youngest to convert to Islam yet he became one of the most prominent leaders of this nation. Mo3az bin Jabal is the most knowledgeable of this nation in halal and haram. He will lead all the scholars on the day of judgement and he was the first ambassador of Isalm. Yet he died at 32 years old only? Al-Imam Al-Safi3i was able to memorize the whole Quran at his seventh year only. He started making the fatwa at his late teen years.  Where are we from those great ancestors? Those are the ones who have built the pride of this Umman.

Fourth, we have to remmeber the bounties of Allah. He is the one who has granted us the time, the health and the energy. He has granted us the mind and the intellect. He is the one who has given us from his unlimited resources. At this period of our age we can do a lot. Our memory is at the peak and our patience is very high. Now iti s the time of making the nawafil and the extra worshipping. Now is the time of getting up at night to ask Allah forgiveness and show our gratitude for our Lord. Now it is the time of training our souls to give without worrying about the future. In the years to come, we might not be able to fast other than Ramadan. We might be able to stand up to pray or to make soujoud. In the years to come, we might have the patience to read a book or learn something new. This is the time to excel in worshipping and hastening in the path of goods.
If you do not do it now, then when?
Fifth, be aware of the devil games and how he uses our lusts to drive us away of the paradise path. At this period, our lusts are at the max and we have to pay extra efforts to lower our gaze and protect our soul from committing the sins. A young man can be a role model for others by abstaining from all wicked deeds. A young woman can be a great guidance for all others to follow by respecting the order of Allah so she can be the best within her environment.

Last but not least, Use your spare time or previous time to help your brothers and sisters all across the world. Give them your time, your money, your dou3a2 and your commitment. A sincere simple prayer at the last third of the night is much stronger than anything we can give. Our brothers are suffering in several areas around the world. Now we have added Syria and Libya to the classical list of unfortunate countries. They are suffering the oppression and the injustices and they need the freedom that we enjoy. Please try your best to help them and feel with them. At least, let us make a sincere intention to help them when we can.

My dear brothers and sisters. Please realize your value and recognize the importance of your contribution for the future of the Ummah. You should know that your parents and your nation are waiting for you. Do not let them down.

May Allah guide and protect us all on the day of judgement when nothing can help except a sound heart.

Guidelines for an Effective Basis of Unity

This document is intended as a support for a critical conversation about the effective qualities and uses of a Basis of Unity.  These points could be used as a handout or reproduced on flip charts of slides.

Qualities of an Effective Basis of Unity
•    Practical / strategic
•    Express key aspects of group / work
•    Short, clean, accessible language
•    Compliment vision / mission
•    Dynamic – updated every 1-2 years
•    Understood and supported by all engaged members

Qualities of a Less-Effective Basis of Unity•    Conceptual / moralistic
•    Express compromise of personal identities / politics
•    Long, wordy, academic
•    Stand alone
•    Static or Too dynamic

Effective Uses of a Basis of Unity•    Guide development and evolution
•    Guide complex / controversial decisions
•    Build alliances , coalitions, partnerships, etc….
•    Assist in the resolution of some conflicts

Less Effective Uses of a Basis of Unity•    Main content for outreach, merchandise, etc…
•    Used commonly for fundraising
•    Used as a strategic plan
•    Used to open every meeting
•    Used to resolve all conflicts (for example a conflict about whether the window in the office should be open or closed should not be resolved by using the basis of unity!)

A Collection of Tools / Approaches to Preventing and Resolving Conflicts in Community Groups

Vision, Mission, Principles, or Basis of Unity:  Clearly defining the purpose and common ground for your work is a huge step towards preventing and resolving conflict.  This can help to increase clarity and understanding and can also serve as an important reference point and grounding point to put a conflict in perspective.

Procedural Documents:  Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures can help to minimize procedural injustices –contributing to conflict prevention - and can help break-down conflict into manageable parts when it arises.

Safer Space Guidelines:  Clearly defining a list of the qualities and behaviours that will keep your space safe as well as a list of qualities and behaviours that are considered unsafe is a critical tool for conflict prevention.

Self Check:  Developing and encouraging a culture and practice of critical self-reflection one of the most fundamental tools for preventing conflict.  Literally pausing for a few seconds and checking yourself before reacting to something can prevent a majority of conflicts from ever occurring.

Daily Direct:  This refers to the importance of constantly encouraging a culture of direct communication in your work.  If you hear somebody triangulating –talking to one person about their issues with another person – try talking to them to see if they have any options for taking those issues directly to the source and cutting across the triangle.

Buddy Check:  If your buddy pulls you aside and explains a conflict situation that they are upset about, then you need to think carefully and critically about your role.  Focus on listening to and acknowledging their experience, while at the same time critically engaging with them about the process of how the conflict is unfolding and options for how it could be resolved.

Iceberg Check: In group meeting and work situations we frequently have the sense that the tip of a much larger emotional issue has entered into the group space and is not being recognized.  Developing the practice of recognizing these iceberg issues and proactively dealing with them either in the group or one on one is an effective way of bringing a latent conflict to the surface or keeping conflict from escalating.

Calling People In: This is an approach in contrast to the practice of ‘calling people out’ in which oppressive or inappropriate behaviour is called out in a group setting and often in an accusatory manner.  ‘Calling people in’  involves holding that critical awareness until a moment when you can invite the person with the behaviour into a careful conversation in a one-on-one setting.

Conflict Point People: Try identifying people in your work that are respected and trusted by your group as ‘conflict point people. ‘ People in this role invite others to approach them about conflict at any time and make a commitment to support the person and resolve the conflict.

Non-Escalation Agreement / Guidelines: This involves proactively developing a set of guidelines or points of agreement that can help to diffuse or de-escalate a conflict.  This agreement can help to contain a conflict in a way that minimizes the potential of trauma for the individuals and groups involved.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Organizational Rhythms: A Sonification Perspective

Organizational Rhythms: A Sonification Perspective

Bilal Abdul Kader, Catalin Ratiu and Paul Shrivastava

Abstract: The current paradigms of management are primarily rational, logical, and scientific, focused on highly cognitive approaches to managing organizations. These paradigms ignore the role of emotional engagement, its role in decision-making, and need for engaging passion. To achieve environmental sustainability, organizations will need emotional and passionate connection to nature. This can be accomplished thru the arts (and particularly music). The arts offer a very useful and necessary complement to traditional scientific methods used by organizations.
In this project we seek to understand organizations from natural & aesthetic perspectives. It is based on the assumption that just like many other entities in nature, such as, people, bio organisms, and ecosystems, organizations also have natural “rhythms”, To uncover rhythmic patterns of organizations, we undertook two exploratory studies using acoustic sonification. As a first step we converted stock price data for publicly traded companies into audible acoustic frequencies — an increasingly used method in life and social sciences. In the first study, we focus on organizational rhythms of publicly traded corporations. We use stock market data (price variations, volatility, etc.) as expressions of financial rhythms, because the financial dynamics are good proxies for a corporation’s heartbeat. In the second study, we used a focus group setting to investigate emotional reactions to sonified stock market data, and to test pattern recognition among an eclectic group of musically trained individuals.

In this presentation we will report on these studies. We will offer a continuous stream of audio — an ambient music-like presentation — which tracks ongoing stock market data. The pattern may well present itself like a drone, a cacophony, or it may be symphonic (Schaffer, 1993). The semiotic of the current stock market is akin to an abstract (non-representational) painting; it cannot make sense to the representational eye because the intellect refuses to engage in patterns other than what is expected or anticipated. In our multimedia presentation we invite the audience to listen to these sounds and be the interpretive guides who can point the way into a non-representational aesthetic.

Bio: Dr. Paul Shrivastava, is the David O’Brien Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the John Molson School of Business, Concordia University, Montreal. He also serves as Senior Advisor on sustainability at Bucknell University and the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong, India, and he serves on the Board of Trustees of DeSales University, Allentown, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Shrivastava received his Ph. D. from the University of Pittsburgh. He was tenured Associate Professor of Management at the Stern School of Business, New York University. He has published 15 books and over 100 articles in professional and scholarly journals. He served on the editorial boards of leading management education journals including the Academy of Management Review, the Strategic Management Journal, Organization, Risk Management, and Business Strategy and the Environment. He won a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and studied Japanese management while based at Kyoto University. He founded the Organization and Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, and on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour.

Dr. Shrivastava has 30 years experience in management education, entrepreneurship, and as a consultant to major multinational companies. In 1976 he was part of the management team that launched Hindustan Computers Ltd., one of India’s largest computer companies. In 1985 he founded the non-profit Industrial Crisis Institute, Inc. to mediate the industrial crisis between Union Carbide Corporation and the Government of India, and published the Industrial Crisis Quarterly. In 1998 he founded, and was President and CEO of eSocrates, Inc., a knowledge management and online training/education software company. He has served as consultant to AT & T, Baker Hughes, FMC Corp, Johnson and Johnson, Ketchum Communications, Scott Paper, Wartsila, Oy, and MEC RASTOR, and Elea-Olivetti. He designs and presents strategic summits and training workshops for upper management focused on corporate and competitive strategy, sustainable management, and crisis management.

Catalin is a PhD Candidate in strategic management and a full time lecturer at the John Molson School of Business. In his research, he explores the development of valuable capabilities that allow organizations to operate and develop sustainably. Cata’s research has been published in peer reviewed journals, books, conference proceedings, and the business press. Cata has been associated with DOCSE since the Fall of 2009, primarily for work linking sustainability, management, and acoustics.

Bilal Abdul Kader, a PhD candidate at JMSB, has got his MBA in 2006. His main research interests are: asset pricing, corporate cash management, micro-finance, and sustainability in finance. He has taught and assisted in various undergraduate courses in the department of Finance and MIS. He is committed to integrate active learning experience into his classroom in order to empower and engage students using recent methods, technologies, and activities. Bilal has accomplished several consulting assignments for start-ups in Canada and Lebanon.

Monday, May 02, 2011

3 hours of censorship in Canada (No Free Speech until 10 pm EST)

Can you immagine this in Canada? Weird right?

Until a few minutes ago, this site was home to a conversation about the role of social media in Canadian elections. It was set up to aggregate the tweets (messages posted to Twitter) that include the hashtag #tweettheresults. That's how people across Canada and around the world have been tagging their reflections on Section 329 of Canada's Elections Act, which severely restricts the transmission of voting results until all polling stations have closed. We hoped that this site would provoke a conversation about Section 329, and raise the profile of the issue across Canada. We think it's done that, both on the social web and in the mainstream media.
But that conversation became illegal at 7 pm EST this evening. Rather than face a potential fine or protracted legal battle, we have taken this site offline for 3 hours. When free speech returns to Canada at 10 pm EST, the site will be back online and you will be able to read all the tweets that have accumulated in the interim.
If you tweet about this situation, please use the hashtag #tweettheresults so it will appear here.
To follow the conversation while this Canadian site is offline, you can still view all the latest tweets by searching for #tweettheresults on Twitter.
We never imagined a day when Canadians would have to use a foreign website to participate in a conversation about our own country. We never imagined that we, Canadian citizens, would potentially face legal penalties for our role in supporting an online conversation. We hope that all Canadians who have exercised their voice at the polls today will reclaim those voices online by asking the next government to bring our Elections Act into the 21st century.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

NDP taking over West-Mount / Ville Marie

It seems all BQ in Ville Marie (5200 in 2006 and 2800) are shifting their votes to NDP. In addition, Liberals have lost at least 30% in this riding for the NDP. Conservatives have lost also about 3500 votes for the NDP.
Interesting news indeed to see Joanne Corbeil moving from West Island to Ville-Marie.

A real human disaster in Daraa right now

I have been visiting Daraa (my home town) recently as I used to do before.
I was in one of the demonstrations that tens of people were killed by the security agencies and their snipers. I saw criminals in official military uniforms not real pol...icemen as it should be.
I went there yesterday taking with me: bread, water, and candles. Unfortunately, I passed through 5 roadblocks, soldiers on the 6th took half of the bread and water and all candles. Even though, I didn't reach Daraa as I planned before, because some locals advised me not to do so since it was very dangerous and there has been a lot of random shootings. 20km was the nearest point to the city that anyone ever can reach.
So, I had to throw away most of the bread and water I started with.

The whole city was isolated from the outside world because authorities have already cut all electircity, cell phones, land phone lines, and internet since Sunday 24-April.
Not only that, but authorities also stopped all the supplies of food, wheat, medicine, and water; not only in Daraa city but in all the province, even villages and towns just outside Damascus on the Damascus-Daraa highway.
They also went to the point of shooting at the water containers on the tops of buildings (where people save their needs of water). Can you imagine a family of 4 or 5 people including children and infants without drinking water for several days?

I was told by some locals that security agencies forcefully opened and stole the stores and pharmacies in Daraa.
but, I had no confirmation from a different source about those specific operations. because no one can communicate with the city at all.

There is a real human disaster in Daraa right now, and I have only pointed out some major facts. The situation on the ground is tragic. Lives are being lost by the minute and the situation is very urgent and much worse than what the international media is telling.

Daraa's people need an urgent action by the international community; Any help from you to deliver the word and the facts there is greatly appreciated.

Dr. B.  (Montreal)