The Critical Mind

Sorry falks, this post is long, but it was spontaneous, I couldn’t help it, and had to post it in two parts.

Many Muslims come visit my blog, thinking that I’m a lost soul that needs “refinement!”, or someone who “magnifies the bad” because she (me) does not understand “True Islam”. Some even feel sorry for me; my past tragedies are to blame for the permanent damage in my “head!”. But some are so damn arrogant to believe that for no apparent reasons, I’m as stubborn as a mule when it comes to my beliefs.

You see, they don’t understand that I have a skeptical mind, a mind that is critical to everything.

My daughter is studying psychology online with a Canadian University. In one of her main textbook’s introductory pages, under “To the Student ”, I saw a note from the administration that read:
“Critical thinking applications
Each personal application is always followed by a two-page Critical Thinking Application that teaches and models basic critical thinking skills… Like the personal applications they are part of the text’s basic content and should be read unless you are told otherwise by your instructor. Although the “facts” of psychology will gradually change after you take this course …the critical thinking molded in these sections should prove valuable for many years to come.”

How true. Pay attention to the bold and the italic words.

This is the method of education we need in our schools, at least starting in high schools. This type of education creates true science and scientists. It gives an analytical tool to express one’s own opinion, instead of taking other’s imposed thoughts for granted. Memorization and repetition methods, that we inherited from our ancestor’s Islamic civilization only created zombies (pun intended). But this method of education creates true skeptics. Skeptics who are always in search of evidence. And who forever seek knowledge. And who are the most believers when they find their evidences and reach their own logic, their own truths.

But unfortunately; a critical mind is critical to everything, every little aspect of life; religion included. One can’t have a hurricane overflowing everything, but casting off the taboo zone. It’s like a fountain, once it opens, it can never stop, and it may overflow and demolish all old beliefs, but it creates a peace of mind.
Critical thinking method created science, invented machines, prolonged the average age of man, critical thinking method is the way of the civilized West, the West that proved that earth is not flat, and that the sun did not change course as a result of the prayers of man, as far as we know.

The best of what our method of education did was producing university doctors, with spotlight certificates, displayed on glossy walls that says “PHDers”, but don’t ask in what? They teach generation after generation how to be herded. But unable to give a decent speech in their own field, in front of an audience. Let alone give a free speech.

Memorization is important, especially when the student starts an introductory course into a subject. It gives the student a wealth of terminology necessary for communication. But it should not be the bases on which to build a whole educational system. We should not encourage our children to memorize “the ideal solutions” in one of those printed “solutions” handbooks to insure that they get the highest grades; this is cheating. This is stealing someone else thoughts and style, and not expressing their own ideas, their own perception of the right solution, or the right answer to a question. We should let them express the solution in their own natural way, through critical thinking tools. The critical mind has the ability to see that solution from different perspectives, and wider range.

Few days ago I noticed my son writing some math equations down on a piece of paper, when he finished he said; “ now I’m done with my cheat page.” When he saw my eyes wide open, he exclaimed, “don’t worry mom, it’s legal.” Apparently the teacher asked them to write down some of the equations they could not memorize, and students were allowed to peek on that page whenever they wanted while taking the quiz. More or less like open book exams. How convenient! LOL
Memorizing equations to my son’s teacher apparently was not the bases on which the students were graded, but rather, which equations to use and how to manipulate and use those equations to reach the correct answers.

But, how could we encourage our children’s critical thinking capabilities when we do not want them to be “critical” in the first place?

To be continued

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إلي مرزوق الغانم مع التحيه

اولا اسمح لي آن اقدم لك تقديري و شكري علي موقفكم الباسل في الدفاع عن السيده نوريه الصبيح. فكلمتكم بالمجلس كان بمثابه البلسم علي الجرح. و بصراحه لم اتوقع ذلك منكم بعد سكوتكم الطويل. و لكن كما يقال: سكت دهرا و نطق دررا. و كذلك اسمح لي ان اعتذر عن آخطائي الكثيره باللغه العربيه، فآنا لم اتعود الكتابه بها علي الرغم من جمالها و غناها، و لكني احاول قدر الامكان و ذلك لتصل كلمتي للكويتيين اولا ثم اليكم، فانا علي يقين انها و لابد ان تصل اليكم. و كذلك اسمح لي ان اكون صريحه معك، فآنا انسانه لم اتعود المجاملات، و قدراتي السياسيه و الدبلوماسيه محدوده، كما اني اؤمن بآن اقرب سبيل للتواصل بين نقطتين هو الخط المستقيم

سيدي

انت رجل كريم و من عائله كريمه كان لها دور كبير في صنع التاريخ في هذا البلد الصغير بحجمه و الكبير بطموحات ابنائه. كما انك لازلت شابا و لابد انك تعايشت مع الشباب من جيلك و لمست مشاكلهم، و هذا بحد ذاته نقطه تنحسب لك انت في موقع صنع القرار. اما ما اردت ان اوصله لك فهو ينحصر بالاتي

لابد و انك تعرف ان الشخص يعرف و يقدر من الشعب بمواقفه، و خصوصا عندما يكون في موقع القرار. فالشعب قد ينسي الكثير من الانجازات العظيمه، و لكنه لا ينسي و قد لا يغفر الهفوات و خصوصا اذا كانت هذه الهفوات ترسم مستقبل الاجيال، و ما موقف الاستاذ الكبير احمد الربعي عندما كان وزيرا للتربيه و دوره في فصل الجنسين في قاعات الجامعه عنكم ببعيد. فعلي الرغم من اننا كشعب غفرنا له ذلك بسبب انجازاته الاخري، الا اننا لازلنا نتذكر ان الفصل حدث في عهده و هذا جرح لا يمكننا الالتئام منه. و علي العكس من ذلك؛ فهناك من لا تتوقع منه ان ينجز شيئا لسبب او لاخر و تتفاجآ به يغير من الصوره التي رسمها في الاذهان بانجازاته. فانا لم اتوقع منك هذا الدفاع عن الحق في المجلس و خصوصا ان بداياتك للوصول الي المجلس كان عليها علامات استفهام كثيره، و كانت لي تجربه شخصيه معك و انت تعلم ذلك

و لكن ذلك كله غير مهم الان، فلايهم الان كيف وصلت الي المجلس و ما يغفر لك انك كنت حديث العهد به. و لكن المهم هو ما انجزته و انت في المجلس، فهو الشئ الذي يحسب لك او عليك و سيظل الشعب يتذكر ذلك. و الشعب اليوم في امس الحاجه الي رجل او امرآه مواقف، يترك بصمته للاجيال القادمه ببناء هذا الوطن و ليس بهدمه. و تآكد اننا سنكون من اوائل من يؤازرك و يعاونك و يآخذ بيدك للوصول مستقبلا الي مواقع صنع القرار. فنحن بامس الحاجه للدماء الجديده لتضخ الحياه في هذا البلد الذي يكاد ان يحتضر. و لكن الرجاء و كل الرجاء ان يكون الدفاع عن الحق هو مبدآ لديكم و ليس مسآله وقتيه لاعتبارات اخري. و هذا ما ستبينه لنا الايام المقبله

و كذلك الرجاء ان تتقبل مني هذه النصيحه كاختكم الكبري، فمثلي الكثيرين من اصابهم الاحباط لدرجه اليآس من الحياه الديموقراطيه في هذا البلد الذي كان رائدا بين اقرانه في هذا المجال. و ذلك بسبب طيش البعض الذي اضحي من بعد وصوله الي المجلس وبال علينا و علي حياتنا الديموقراطيه . و انا اعلم ان الوصول الي المجلس ليس غايه بحد ذاتها، و لكنها مسؤليه عظمي، و لكن لا اشك في لحظه انكم علي قدر هذه المسئوليه ببدايات سليمه. فالرجاء و كل الرجاء ان لا يكون موقفكم هذا هو الاخير، بل بدايات لعصر الشباب الذهبي و الذي نعول عليه لانتشالنا من سنوات النكسه و الجذام في الحياه الديمقراطيه

و دمتم بكل حب و تقدير

Freedom; That Sin

They say I want to be me
They say I want to be shamelessly free
As if freedom is a nude diva
Atop the Grand Mosque
Masturbating
Perpetuating
Intimidating
And humiliating
The palace of justice
And its arrogantly tilted scale
With chauvinistic pride

You see
They don’t understand
They just don’t understand what is freedom
To the enslaved
Caved and
Deprived
Of all senses.
Like a zombie treading
To no apparent location
No love
No care
Not even remorse
In fact, nothing
But counting days
Endless long days
To, perhaps, see the day

Wishful thinking!
May be
But better be fooled than believe
Otherwise

Freedom is a fantasy
A reverie and
A that long
Simmering
Eros plagued
Eve
Waiting to come
To release
Abundantly
Back to her senses
Her humanity
Her femininity

If you agree
Then you must be that fool that
Stole my shadow
And reached the endless abyss
Of total darkness, nothingness
And lost forever her,
I repeat, her
Form
To no definition
Nor dimension
But a thread of hope
For you must be that inferior woman
Ruled by
Pious testicles

But if you think otherwise
Then tell me;
What’s wrong with being free?
Or better yet
What’s right
Otherwise?

Booklice of Islam

When I first arrived from the States, my daughter saddened me with the news that booklice (bookworms) invaded my old fiction collections. The covers of the books looked nice and healthy, but the pages were half consumed.
It’s not as if I wanted to read those books one day. In fact, some of my old collections even surprised me. But, like any collectables, each brings with it a certain period of one’s life, as if a chronology of knowledge evolution, spanned on a time frame and organized to define one’s own perception of life. An epoch (a bit exaggeration!) spent in best sellers and fiction, an epoch in health; body exercise, massage, yoga, nutrition, metaphysics, self-hypnosis, NLP, fit for life as well as herbal and domestic medicine and Healing Through Quran. The macrobiotic diet, history, religion, philosophy, artisans and needle-works, cooking and kitchen etiquette, astrology, astronomy, and most of the sacred books, side by side with an epoch of love stories where the ends were always happy and poetic. Another epoch with Arsène Lupin!*… I’m not kidding.
When I think of how I got into the reading habit I usually think of my father (a bookworm). Yet seeing those half eaten books brought my mother’s figure before my eyes.
My mother never had a proper education; I hardly saw her reading anything but Quran and some prayer’s books (ad3iya). Yet, she never ceased to encourage my thirst for knowledge. She found joy in taking me to bookshops or book exhibitions. She followed me around protectively and stood by me proudly while I chose my books. She never knew “What!” I was reading, nor cared how much the growing piles of books at the counter would cost her.
I remember in the beginning of my adolescent years she introducing me to an Arabic magazine titled Tabeebak which means “Your Doctor” (don’t know if it still exists). She had subscribed to that magazine through a friend and as a result I got it periodically. Now this is what I call the “Tabeebac” epoch since reading that magazine became an addiction to me. In addition to health related articles, that magazine used to have a complete section at the back for health related problems, where readers sought specialist’s advice. It was divided by subjects, and sex was the subject that interested me the most, although such a big dose of sex was a tad extra for my years.
Nevertheless, it improved my Arabic, my sex education, and it protected me against awkward times. My mother probably wanted to create a physician out of me, but unknowingly, she well educated me in things that most probably she didn’t know.
And I guess I was wrong, I owe what I am today to both of my parents, learned or illiterate. It takes two to tango.
Our collection of books (readings) can tell a lot about us, to us, and losing any part is painful. Those seemingly healthy bright colored covers are deceiving; they’re camouflaging a disaster. How that resembled Islam and Muslims today!
Muslims today are so diverse in their definition of “True Islam”. Each individual formed his own perception of Islam and contented himself with his “True Islam”. And today, the diversity of “True Islam(s)” ranges between the perception of a by-product Muslim; most know nothing about their faiths (of which some are mistakenly called moderates), and a perception of the extreme radicalism calling for Jihad. This group(s) have a duty to raise Islam as the greatest nation on earth and apply the laws of God (which one, and according to whom!), they have a duty to save humanity before the inevitable doomsday. Each individual or a group of individuals have become the worms, eating Islam from their favorite angle until it became a mere healthy looking cover. and lost forever it’s “True face”
Today, hardly anything bind Muslims except their religious prejudice. Muslims have become their own worst enemies. Fighting each other to annihilation. Diversity cannot always be tolerated, especially when faith is its main building structure.

Our real enemy is faith(s).

* I hope I spelled that right.