Vol. 13    Issue 14   01 - 31 March 2019
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New Zealand: Combating Islamophobia and Healing the Wounds

Minaret Research Network

New Zealand is an island country in the Pacific Ocean, with a population of less than 5 million. The Maoris are the country’s indigenous inhabitants. New Zealand became a British colony in 1840, following which a large number of Britishers and other Europeans migrated and settled in the country. New Zealand gained independence in 1947. The majority of New Zealanders (74.4%) are of European descent while the Maoris constitute 14.9% of the population. The rest are migrants from dozens of countries from around the world.   Read more

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The Rights of God and the Rights of Humans: An Islamic Perspective on Human Rights

Professor A. R. MOMIN

In recent times, human rights have been in the focus of a great deal of worldwide discussion and debate. The contemporary discourse on human rights is embedded in the Western doctrine of liberalism, which holds that the individual is the basic source and locus of identity. Consequently, the focus is on the rights of the individual. This discourse glosses over the fact that the individual cannot be disembedded from his social milieu and that individuals as well as groups and communities are bearers of rights. The dominant discourse on human rights glosses over the fact that rights and responsibilities are inextricably linked and that rights cannot be considered in isolation from responsibilities. Another problem is that this discourse focuses exclusively on society and human relationships and has little or nothing to say about human responsibilities towards the environment or animals.   Read more

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Review Essay

Contemplation and Meditation in Islamic Perspective

Professor A. R. MOMIN

Contemplation: An Islamic Psychospiritual Study. By Malik Badri. 136pp. International Institute of Islamic Thought, Herndon, USA, 2010

Humans are differentiated from animals on account of certain distinctive or species-specific biological, neurophysiological, social, cultural and psychological features and characteristics. Certain areas of the human brain such as speech, control of hands, foresight and planning are highly complex and developed. Man’s capacity for symbolic communication or speech is located in the left hemisphere of the brain, in two connected areas: one area is close to the hearing centre, and the other lies forward and higher, in the frontal lobes. The human brain is wired to learn language. Only man can oppose his thumb precisely to the forefinger, which is a unique human ability. This ability has greatly facilitated writing, tool making and the development of arts and crafts. The organization of experience is very far-sighted in man, which is located in the frontal lobes and the prefrontal lobes. The frontal lobes enable us to think of actions in the future and wait for a reward. The ability to plan actions for which the reward is a long way off is a central gift that the human brain has and to which there is no match in animal brains. Self-awareness and self-reflection are among the most distinctive characteristics of man, which differentiate humans from all species of animals. Some species of animals may possess a rudimentary awareness of themselves, but man’s self-consciousness has an altogether different character, is highly differentiated and has no parallel in animals. Self-consciousness enables man to transcend the physical environment of which he is a part. It makes possible the creation of a richly textured world of symbols, meaning and ideals, which overrides man’s biological needs. Man has been endowed with a capacity for reason, imagination and moral choice, which sets him apart from the rest of nature. In 2014 scientists identified an area of the human brain, unique to Homo sapiens, which is located in the Ventrolateral Frontal Cortex. This area is involved in some of the highest forms of cognition, language and conscience.   Read more

Marriage and Family in Islam

Minaret Research Network

Islam disapproves of celibacy and views marriage as a religious and moral obligation and a social necessity. It is a means to emotional fulfillment and sexual gratification, legitimate procreation, inter-familial alliance and community solidarity. In Islamic view, marriage represents an enduring, permanent arrangement rather than a temporary kind of relationship. Islam considers marriage a public matter and a not a secret affair between the bride and the groom. In his celebrated work, Ihya Ulum al-Din, Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali has dwelt at considerable length on the purposes and functions of marriage. According to him, marriage fulfills five main functions: (i) procreation, which ensures the survival of the human race (ii) a legitimate outlet for the regulation and gratification of the sexual drive (iii) companionship between the spouses (iv) relief from household chores (v) the control and taming of one’s lower self – which is a repository of evil and base sentiments and urges – through love, affection and care for the wife and children.   Read more

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Monogamy and Polygamy in Islamic Perspective

Professor A. R. MOMIN

Monogamy refers to the marriage of a man with one woman at a time while polygamy involves a man or woman having more than one spouse. Monogamy is the legal norm in Europe, North America, India, Australia and New Zealand. In India, the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 stipulates that a Hindu man can have only one wife at a time. Polygamy is divided into polygyny, in which a man has more than one wife, and polyandry, in which a woman has more than one husband. Sometimes the terms polygyny and polygamy are used to describe the marriage of a man with more than one woman at a time. Polygyny has been widely prevalent across large parts of the world since ancient times. Many Jewish prophets had multiple wives. According to the Old Testament, David had 300 wives and Solomon had 700. In his sample of 565 societies from around the world, George P. Murdock found that 193 of them practiced some kind of polygyny as a preferred form of marriage. Polygyny was prevalent in Hindu society since ancient times and was outlawed with the passing of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. Polygynous marriages continue to be widespread across large parts of Africa and Asia. More than 40 countries, all of them in Africa and Asia, officially recognize polygynous marriages. In many African societies, where women work on farms, having many wives is seen as an economic asset as well as a matter of prestige. A distinction is made between sororal polygyny, in which the wives are sisters, and non-sororal polygyny, in which the wives are not biologically related.   Read more

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