Rise and Fall of Civilizations

Introduction: Having lost many battles to the West over the past few centuries has led to a deep inferiority complex, which is one of the central sources of the current difficulties of the Islamic Civilization.  Re-building our shattered self-confidence requires co-ordinated steps on many fronts. One of the most important steps is to re-learn history — Our education indoctrinates us into a Eurocentric view of the world, according to which all the great accomplishments were only achieved by Europeans while the rest of world has always consisted of barbarians and savages. It is essential to counter this extremely biased picture, by highlighting the accomplishments of other civilizations.  A work of fundamental importance in this direction is Syed Abul Hassan Ali Nadwi’s book on What the World Lost Due to the Decline of Islamic Civilization. Some other essays of mine on this same theme are available from: Eurocentric History. The following essay explains that all civilizations rise and fall in cycles, and the recent episode of the rise of Europe is now near its end — The European Civilization shows all the signs of decay and degeneration, and the time is ripe for the emergence of another world leader.

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Building New Foundations for Economics

[bit.do/azbnf] In a joint paper with Mehmet Karacuka, I have carried out a survey of the huge amount of solid empirical evidence against the utility maximization hypothesis that is at the core of all microeconomics currently being taught today in Economics textbooks at universities all over the world. This paper is obviously important, because if what it says is true, the entire field of microeconomics needs to be re-constructed from scratch. Nonetheless, it was summarily rejected by a large number of top journals, before being eventually published by Jack Reardon as: ” The Empirical Evidence Against Neoclassical Utility Theory: A Review of the Literature,”  in International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, Vol. 3, No. 4, 2012, pp. 366-414.   Speaking metaphorically, my paper documents the solid evidence that the earth is a round sphere in world where educational institutions teach the widely held belief that the earth is flat. After the Global Financial Crisis, when the glaring defects of modern macroeconomics became obvious to all,  economists retreated to the position that while macro theory may be in a bad shape, at least Microeconomics is solidly grounded.  Our survey of the empirical evidence against microeconomics blows this claim out of the water. As a result, nothing is left of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, and of economics as whole. This supports my earlier claim that a Radical Paradigm Shift is required to make progress — patching up existing theories cannot work.

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Overcoming Shock-and-Awe of Western Science

[bit.do/azosw] For a long time, I have been calling for a revolution in Economics, where we reject the entire discipline of modern economics from the foundations, and replace it with a new discipline based purely on Islamic Foundations. See my paper on Re-Defining Islamic Economics for how we can come to a radical new understanding of how to think about economics based on Islamic Principles. The response from typical Islamic Economists is usually quite negative. They think that my approach is based on a misunderstanding of Islam, which leads to a hatred of Western ideas, and an emotional rejection in conflict with the reasoned and moderate approach of Islam. In fact, my rejection is based on a deep analysis of the central message of Economics, which is that rational human behavior involves maximization of lifetime pleasure obtained from consumption of goods and services. This fundamental pillar of economics is wrong, and must be replaced in order to create the foundations for a new Economics for the 21st Century.

The reason that many Muslims are shocked and horrified by the call to reject all of modern economics is that they are in shock-and-awe of Western achievements in the Physical Sciences (see Crisis in Islamic Economics). In my paper on “Origins of Western Social Sciences“, I have argued that deep understanding of the external world reflected in Physical Sciences does not lead to deep understanding of the human psyche and human societies, which is required for building social science. Rejecting Western Social Science, which is based on man without soul, does not require us to reject Western technological accomplishments.  All that is requires is to overcome the Deep-Seated Inferiority Complex that we have acquired due to centuries of Western domination and hegemony.  Continue reading

Completing the Circle: From GD ’29 to GFC ’07

This post explains the contents of Lecture 8, part II in Advanced Micro I : The lecture explains how the Great Depression of 1929 was caused by (1) excessive money creation by banks, and led to (2) excessive unemployment. Recognition of these problems led to strict regulation of banks to prevent the first and Keynesian economic theory emerged to fix the second problem. Together, these two measures led to rising prosperity for the masses — the 90% — and a dramatic decline in the wealth share of the top 1%. This led to a counter-revolution by the rich and wealthy, as the result of patient and persistent planning, described in  Alkire & Ritchie: Winning Ideas. Both of these measures were scrapped in the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, as financial de-regulation took place, and Keynesian economics was replaced by Chicago School Economics. As a result, the Global Financial Crisis of 2007 occurred, for basically the same underlying reasons as the Great Depression of 1929.  The 22m Video Lecture linked below:

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Islamic Knowledge: Still Revolutionary after 1440 Years!

Introductory Remarks:

[bit.do/aznww] The most important kind of knowledge is that which teaches us how to achieve the potential for excellence which exists within each human being. This knowledge provides us with a deep and meaningful purpose for our lives. Having a grand purpose makes it possible to act meaningfully, in ways designed to achieve the purpose. If someone does not know what the purpose of life is, than his life would be wasted in doing meaningless activities which do not succeed in achieving the purpose. Western education is designed to teach you how to be useful in producing wealth for others, how to be a cog in the capitalist machine, but it is not designed to teach you to develop your unique potentials as an individual — these would make you unfit for use as an exchangeable part in a machine. The first part of this article described my educational experiences at MIT, while the second part describes the Islamic approach to knowledge.

Bait-and-Switch is a well known dirty trick for generating sales of inferior goods. You advertise that you are selling a high-quality product, which is in very high demand, at an amazingly low price (but quantities are limited, so hurry). When the customers arrive, you say that “sorry, we have run out, BUT we have something just as good as what you wanted, at an even better price”.  You have an inferior good, an old model which is obsolete and not supported, but you talk it up as being the next best thing, and the customer often ends up buying this defective product.

My MIT experience:  My arrival at MIT at the tender age of 16 was an exciting experience. In the dormitory halls, we met the brightest students from all over the world, and discussed all kinds of topics. We were all eager to learn, and would use our new found liberty from home rules to stay up all night discussing everything under the sun. One of these nights, we addressed the mother of all questions, the meaning of life.  Once a meaning/purpose of life is clear, then all our actions could be focused on achieving this purpose. On the other hand, if we have no clarity on meaning, then we would just act at random on whims, and lead meaningless lives. At the end of a long night’s discussion, we were all agreed that this was a question of central importance, and also none of us had a clue as to the answer. Since we were in one of the great institutions of learning, we decided that we should ask one of our teachers. Casting around for a suitable choice, we agreed to go to our history teacher — he was the only one who ever talked about the bigger issues of life. All other teachers dealt with purely technical matters and subjects having no relation to our living experience. So, with great expectations, a group of three students went to meet him, to ask him about the meaning of life. He gave us an answer which satisfied us at the time; it was only much later that I realized that it was a classic bait-and-switch.

The Tactical Answer: Our history professor told us that we have learned that in order to be able to answer the big questions, we must first learn to answer the small questions that you are being taught.  This seemed very sensible to us at the time. We can’t learn to run before learning to walk. It was, however a DEADLY half-truth. Half-truths are much more deadly than blatant lies, because they are much easier to believe. It is certainly true that we need knowledge and experience to learn the deeper truths of life. However, what our professor did NOT tell us was that they did not have ANY answers to the big questions anywhere in the entire curriculum for any of the degrees that anyone could get. The good that we were all looking for was not in their shops, but if he had told us the truth, we might have lost interest in our studies. So we continued to study, in the hope that all this knowledge would eventually lead us to wisdom about life itself. It was only much later that I came to the realization that our professor had deceived us: by learning mathematics, chemistry, physics, economics, and history, we CANNOT learn how live a good life, how to find meaning and purpose, discover the potential capabilities within us and nurture and enhance them. These are the valuable treasures which the message of the Quran contains, which cannot be found in the books of the West.

The Islamic concept of KNOWLEDGE

is radically different from the Western concept of knowledge. Whereas West teaches us about the outside world, Islam deals with the inside world of human experience — which is what our lives are all about. One of important books in the Islamic Heritage is the one by Imam Al-Nawawi listed below. I was honored to be asked to write a forward to this classic of Islamic literature. The first few paragraphs of the forward are given below, and the whole forward can be read or downloaded via the link provided. This issue — understanding the difference between what Islam calls knowledge, and what the West calls knowledge, is of central importance for the Muslims today. Several of my earlier posts deal with it:

  • Is Islamic Knowledge Relevant for Modern Business? How doing business according to Islamic principles would radically change the way we do business.
  • An Islamic Approach to Knowledge: Talk at IBA on this theme.
  • Countering European Myths About Knowledge:  Europeans have the misconception that knowledge originated in Europe when in fact it was transmitted to them from the Islamic Civilization. In addition, the most important part of this knowledge did not actually get absorbed in Europe — only the least important part, dealing with the knowledge of the external world, or science, was partially transmitted.

EXCERPT FROM THE FORWARD,

with LINKs to the full article  Forward to Translation of Imam Al Nawawi: Ādāb al-ăĀlim waĂl-Mutaăallim wa Ādāb al-Muftī waĂl-Mustaftī The Etiquettes Of The Scholar And The Learner, And The Muftī And The Questioner

FOREWORD

 All praise and glory belongs to Allāh taʿālā alone, Creator of the Heavens and Earth and all in between, and much more that we do not know anything about.

When, in search of guidance, our Prophet Muḥammad—ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wassalam—retired to the cave of Hirāʾ, Allāh taʿālā sent him the angel Jibrāʾīl with the words of the first Waḥy, “Read, in the name of thy Lord who created.” Here Allāh subḥānahu wa taʿālā is introducing Himself to the best of the best among His Creations. And how did He choose to introduce Himself? His qualities and characteristics are such that the oceans turned to ink would not suffice to describe them.  Among all of these infinite qualities, Allāh taʿālā chose to introduce Himself as the Creator of Man, the One who gave Man knowledge of that which he did not know.  The Waḥy itself begins with the command to Read, and shows the extreme importance of knowledge, and of the transmission of knowledge by the means of writing and by the heart to heart transmission which took place between the angel Jibrāʾīl and our prophet Muḥammad—ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wassalam.

What was the impact of this knowledge which was given to the Muḥammad—ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wassalam—and imparted by him to his followers, the Companions? This knowledge brought them out from the darkness of Jāhiliyyah into the Nūr of Īmān. There was a dramatic transformation, an internal revolution, within the lives of the Companions. From the savagery of the Jāhilliyah they changed to those who were praised by Allāh because they fed others while being themselves hungry. This internal revolution was accompanied by an external revolution. The Muslims spread over the world with a burning message from God, which charged them to become the best of the communities, and to spread good, and to prohibit evil. This was the first time in the history of mankind that swords were used to free mankind from oppression, on behalf of the masses, and not for conquest, looting and luxury.

The dramatic transformation created by the teachings of Islām in the lives of the Muslims changed the tides of history. For a powerful description, see the book, Mā Dhā Khasir al-ʿĀlam bi Inḥiṭāṭ al-Muslimīn by Syed Abuʾl-Ḥasan ʿAlī al-Nadwī. Not only did oppression, darkness, and injustice of all kinds dominate the pre-Islamic world, but these were considered natural and socially acceptable. The radical message of Islām brought concepts which were unknown to the world at the time. The revolutionary effect of the teachings of Islām was foreshadowed in a prophecy which is still contained in the Bible: “I still have much to tell you, but you cannot yet bear to hear it. However, when the Spirit of Truth (Prophet Muḥammad) comes, He will guide you into all truth.” Among the many truths which the world could not bear to hear, central to Islam, is the equality of all human beings before God, of the responsibility of the strong to protect the weak, and of the rightful share of the poor in the excess wealth of the rich.

Our Prophet who was sent as a Mercy towards all the Worlds was the founder of a civilization built around the core values of concern, compassion and service for all of the creation of God. “All creatures are (like) a family of God, and He loves the most those who are kindest to His family.” The Islamic civilization was based on the ideals of generosity, cooperation, good will towards all human beings, kindness towards animals, and care for the environment as a gift of God to humankind. In contrast with dominant ideas about religion at the time, excellence in conduct was declared to be the highest form of worship: “He who cares for widows and the poor is like those who fight in the way of Allāh or those who spend their days fasting and their nights praying.” The motivation for good deeds was not to be fame, glory, popularity or wealth, but an internalized love of Allāh: “And they feed, for the love of Allāh, the poor, the orphan, and the captive …” The prophet Muḥammad—ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wassalam—was comforted in the Holy Qurʾān and told “not to kill himself with sorrow” because of his concern and compassion for all mankind. This excellence in conduct is to be emulated by all Muslims: “The believer loves and is loved by others.”

The dramatic achievements of the Islamic civilization over more than a thousand years cannot be encapsulated in several libraries, let alone a brief forward. Unique features of this civilization remain unreplicated and are ideals sorely and urgently needed by the world today. As just one example, brotherhood and equality are vigorously asserted in both Ḥadīth and Qurʾān; for example, in the last Sermon, our Prophet declared that:

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white except by piety and good action.

The transmission of these radical ideas from the advanced civilization of Andalus, Islamic Spain, to the primitive Europe of the time transformed their Dark Ages into the European Enlightenment. Among many recent writings, the books, The Enlightenment Qurʾān, Is Science Western in Origin? and The Theft of History, document both the transmission and the concealment of the Islamic origins, of the revolutionary body of knowledge from the Muslims to Europe. The slogans of Rousseau “Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality” which inspired the French Revolution and ushered in the modern age are directly borrowed from the teachings of Islam, and are strongly in conflict with the previous history of Europe based on aristocracy. Because these Islamic teachings are powerfully aligned with human nature (fiṭrah), they have carved out a place in Western thought. Recent resurgence and rising popularity of racism, the “Black Lives Matter” movement in USA, and anti-immigrant sentiments in Europe, show that these ideas have not yet been fully assimilated.

Today, after a long and complex historical process which cannot be detailed here, darkness has again fallen upon the world, and the spirit of the pre-Islamic Jāhilliyah dominates.  === [[ end of excerpt from forward. Essay goes on to explain how Islamic knowledge is just as revolutionary today as it was 1400 years ago. Complete forward is available for reading and download below]]

Once more, unto the IMF?

[[bit.do/azimf]] Published in Business Recorder, 31st July 2018. Article explains why it is a very bad idea to go to the IMF. See also, Nadeem-ul-Haque’s article with the same theme, but different details. See also, Arshad Zaman: Weighing the IMF Option

So here we are again, at the doors of the IMF, begging for a bailout. Is this inevitable, part of an eternal cycle of boom and bust, written in our destiny? Some economists believe so, and argue that we should be permanently on an IMF program. It is well known to all, and openly stated by the IMF, that we purchase stability by accepting a slump or a recession in our growth. In contrast, Keynes, who discovered the solution to this problem, said that “The right remedy for the trade cycle is not to be found in abolishing booms and thus keeping us permanently in a semi-slump; but in abolishing slumps and thus keeping us permanently in a quasi-boom.”

In order to apply the Keynesian prescription, we must understand the Keynesian diagnosis, which has been suppressed, and hidden from view, since it has the power to liberate the masses from the tyranny of the wealthy who run the world today. Paul Davidson has recently provided an easily accessible description of “The Keynes Solution: The Path to Global Economic Prosperity”. We will try to summarize some his key insights in this brief article. The general public is in a better position to understand the Keynes solution compared to professional economists. This is because economic theory incorporates certain fundamentally flawed methodologies which make it very difficult to understand real world economics.

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A Deep Seated Inferiority Complex

Published in The Nation, 3rd Aug 2018.  Post is slightly modified, expanded, and has links to documentation of claims not available in the newspaper.[[shortlink: bit.do/azic]]

EnglishOnBengaliWOman

A recent TV show clip — interview of journalist Hassan Nisar on Geo-program Mere Mutabiq — reminded me of how strongly we have been brainwashed into believing in the superiority of white man. Hassan Nisar had a long list of items which prove that the White man is infinitely superior to the brown man, and that we are a thousand times worse than the “civilized” races. To pick a couple of items at random, he thought that the White Men are always honest, and they would be deeply insulted if they were accused of lying. Similarly, he thought that selling fraudulent medicines, and making excessive profits were faults that only Brown people like us have. It is not just that the Whites do not do such things, they cannot even conceive that civilized people could commit such heinous crimes.

Apparently, Hassan Nisar learned about Western civilization only from movies which glorify it, and is completely ignorant of the realities of the modern Western cultures. As far as lying is concerned, KellyAnne Conway had to create the notion of “Alternative Facts” to defend lies told by President Trump. In June 2018, the Washington Post reported that Trump had made 3,251 false or misleading claims in his first 497 days in office! Hassan seems to be unaware US and UK created a campaign to deceive their own public into supporting the war against Iraq, in order to cover up the true motives for the war, which was the control of oil, and the huge profits received by the military-industrial complex due to the war. He does not know about the recent case where more than half of a Havard class was caught cheating.  The article “America has a cheating crisis” shows that this is not an isolated incident, but a national crisis. Hassan Nisar’s starry-eyed idolization of the the West would  by rudely shattered by the Newsweek article: The Truth Is We Are All Raging Liars. The article states that even though Americans like to think they are honest, the truth is that: “We are a culture of liars, to put it bluntly, with deceit so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we hardly even notice we’re engaging in it.”

Similarly, the glorified idealization that there is no concept of selling fake and harmful drugs in the civilized West has no match to reality. Recently, GlaxoSmithKline, the British drug giant, has agreed to pay $750 million to settle criminal and civil complaints that the company for years knowingly sold contaminated baby ointment and an ineffective antidepressant (what we call Number 2 drugs). This is just one among a large number of similar abuses, where Pharmaceutical industry has knowingly put dangerous drugs on the market, concealing research regarding harmful effects. In a recent case filed in North Carolina, Attorney General Stein said that “As millions of Americans were becoming addicted to and dying from prescription painkillers, it appears Insys and its sales representatives [were] pushing its incredibly potent opioid on North Carolina patients just to make more money. This is unconscionable, it’s unacceptable and it’s illegal.”

Contrary to the idea that “making excessive profits” at public expense is only what uncivilized Brown people do, the Pharmaceutical Industry makes huge profits by charging enormously inflated prices for essential medicines. For just one recent  example, Turing Pharmaceuticals raised the price of Daraprim tablets from $13.50 to $750 per tablet in just one day. For more cases like this, see 6 Insane Examples of Drug Price Increases at health.com. An article entitled “Pharmaceutical Industry Is Biggest Defrauder of the Federal Government” shows that over the past decades, the Pharmaceutical industry has paid about $20 billion in fines for selling drugs with false advertisements of their supposed benefits. Unethical practices by the Pharmaceutical industry are detailed in hundreds of books and articles. One of the most prominent cases was when Senator Tauzin herded the “Medicare Prescription Drug Bill” through Congress using dirty tactics, including pressurizing and bribing opponents into changing votes. This amazing bill allows the Pharmaceutical Industry to name their prices; the government is not allowed to negotiate the price, and cannot import exactly equivalent drugs from across the border in Canada! It has been calculated that this bill amounted to a $80 billion gift to the Pharmaceutical Industry. Two weeks after getting the bill passed, Senator Tauzin resigned from the Congress to take a $2 million job with the grateful Pharmaceutical Industry as their lobbyist in Congress.This Medicare Bill was so outrageous that Obama made a campaign promise to get it repealed, but could not succeed against the powerful pharmaceutical lobby.

Perhaps the blinders on Hassan Nisar’s eyes would be removed by looking at the treatment being given to asylum seekers at the borders of the USA today. Thousands of little children have been separated from their parents and put into cages, with no mercy being shown to screaming children and crying parents – a “zero-tolerance” policy according to Trump. This is the civilization so admired by him?

It must be clarified that I do not support the idea that the East is superior to the West, or vice versa; there are good and bad people everywhere. My essay is just to dispel Hassan Nisar’s idea that only Angels live in the West, while we are all degenerate and immoral in the East. This misconception arises from centuries of colonization which has left deep psychological scars. Our traditional educational systems, which provided free education to all, were deliberately destroyed by the British, fearful of resistance to their rule from an educated public. These were replaced by an education designed to create admiration and respect for the West, together with contempt and hatred for our own heritage and ancestors. This educational system continues to this day, and creates exactly the same effects. This conquest of knowledge was a key to the ability of a handful of British to rule a huge country. In the era of the British rule, boot-licking of the British was the only way to rise in the ranks of the Government. Especially after the events of 1857, those people who admired the British and betrayed their own people got awards and honors, while those who were honest and sincere were stripped of their properties and imprisoned in British Jails. While the British are long gone, the Brown Baboo’s who have replaced them faithfully imitate and admire their past colonial masters, and proudly wear and display their chains of slavery.  They continue to believe and propagate the canard that “Hum to Zaleel Qaum Hain”, that everyone in Pakistan is corrupt, and long list of complaints about how bad we are as a nation, while in the West everyone is perfect.

In my own experience as a teacher, this inferiority complex is the FIRST barrier to educating students to achieve excellence. Coming in with the belief that we are an inferior people, it is hard for students to believe in themselves, and in the possibility that we can make great achievements. The inspirational message of Iqbal provides an excellent antidote to this poisonous inferiority complex. In order to create the desired change, we need to awaken our youth to their enormous potential, their ability to soar like the Eagles. As a sample of what is needed, I would recommend my lecture entitled “The Ways of the Eagles,” which is available at http://bit.do/azwoe

POSTSCRIPT: I have never seen such an extreme display of inferiority as expressed by Hassan Nisar — full of such pure admiration for the Angel-like Westerners who cannot conceive of doing anything bad – they are truthful, honest, just, and the paragon of all virtues, while we in the East are all devils, full of all bad qualities. It reminded me of sayings of some of our leaders under British rule, who said that we were like animals in comparison with the British. I am attaching the video clip below for reference and for the record:

 
If above link to video does not work, the following are alternative links to same video:

Video: Hassan Nisar displays DEEP inferiority complex .