HUMANITY: OUR UNIQUE DIMENSIONS

Earthquake Predıctıons

FREEDOM OF RELIGION

NOVEMBER • DECEMBER 2011

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ISSUE 84

A MAGAZINE OF SCIENTIFIC AND SPIRITUAL THOUGHT

CANADA: $5.95 • TURKEY: 6.00 TL • UK: £4.00 • USA: $5.50 • AUD: $7.00 • NIGERIA: NGN 750

They are now breathing with vigor, “Our day will soon come,” they murmur. Counting the moments for the happy future, They are sending hope into our souls!

ESTABLISHING A CULTURE OF COEXISTENCE AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING
November / December 2011

International Conference, Abuja, Nigeria

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TABLE OF CONTENTS /////
ARTS & CULTURE

10 14 17 21 22 27 38 44 46 51 55 32 60

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Psychology

Delay of Gratification and Spirituality
Zekeriya Ozsoy

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ISSUE
NOVEMBER • DECEMBER 2011

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Perspectives

In Wonderland
Beste Nigar

Philosophy

An Occasionalist Picture of the Universe
Nazif Muhtaroglu

Poem

In the Gardens of Love You Bloomed
Sevim Hancioglu

Psychology

Different Approaches to Interpersonal Conflict
Osman Senkaya

Religion

Forgiveness: a Prophetic Example
Fatih Harpci

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Lead Article

A Moment For Reflection

Humanity: Our Unique Dimensions
M. Fethullah Gülen

Lost
Mirkena Ozer

Religion

The Freedom of Religion, the Concept of War and Gulen
Ahmet Kurucan

Dialogue

Talking Tolerance
Gertrud Mueller Nelson

Poem

My Sadness
Barbara Koerth

Media

Misinformation in the Age of Globalization
Kaan Kerem

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Emerald Hills of the Heart Rida (Resignation) - 2 Q&A Two Assurances and Two Fears

6 30 36 41 52 58 64

Biology

The Unsolved Mystery: Symmetric Growth
Hamza Aydin

Geology

Earthquake Predictions
Meryem Saygili

Environment

Hidden Danger in the Waters
Bahadir Can Gumussulu

Mathematics

The Idea of Infinite
Ali Sebetci

Science

Quantum Worlds
Halil I. Demir

See-Think-BelievE It’s Me Peter, Your Blood
Irfan Yilmaz

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Science Square 1. Immune System at Training in the Gut 2. Cancer Meets Memory 3. Designing Perfect Plastic 4. The Key to Long Life?

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SCIENCE

EDITORIAL /////
CULTURE Of COEXISTENCE f
he Fountain is co-sponsoring an international conference in Abuja, Nigeria, November 18-19. The theme is “Establishing a Culture of Coexistence and Mutual Understanding: Exploring Fethullah Gülen’s Thought and Action.” The conference will feature academics from fifteen different countries. We remember Africa today with recent famines and drought, especially in Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, worst in the last sixty years. If one is not watching only wild life documentaries, Africa is one large portion of the old world, home for diverse cultures, a continent rich with natural resources, and this last one has been the major reason why it has become a large battlefield for many centuries. Nigeria is the most populous country of Africa (seventh in the world), with over 250 ethnicities, over 500 different languages spoken (one of the countries with highest linguistic diversity). Nevertheless, Nigeria has also been the stage for tribal warfare and strife, and bitter incidents of some recent bloodshed still linger in our memories. In this respect, the theme of the conference fits perfectly well in this country, where there are seventeen schools, a university, and a recently established dialogue foundation inspired by Fethullah Gülen. What other forms of engagement can we offer other than education and dialogue for peaceful engagement? What can be a more lucrative investment for a peaceful future than the one made in education and dialogue? With awareness of this need and commitment to serving all humanity, regardless of race, color, religion, or nationality, growing numbers of volunteers of education and dialogue are establishing schools, hospitals, dialogue centers, and relief organizations all over the world. Humble but selfless efforts of these volunteers who are inspired from thinkers like Fethullah Gülen are now yielding fruits of dialogue in more than 130 countries where children of warring nations are educated side by side, members of different religions enjoy the same meal, and pray for a peaceful future. The current issue of The Fountain offers essays reflecting this culture of coexistence. The lead article expounds on the unique qualities of being human, reminding us the “know thyself” principle of Socrates, for “the one who has perceived the secrets of his or her own self has also known God.” “Different Approaches to Interpersonal Conflict” stresses on how vital it is to be familiar with “conflict-related behavioral tendencies” for it “might help in the development of strategies for interpersonal, intercultural conflict resolution or prevention.” Also in this issue Dr. Kurucan explains Islam’s stance for issues like freedom of practicing and teaching one’s religion, and in what conditions Islam allows war, if it does, in cases of violation of this right.

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he human is unique. We are self-conscious and can exercise self-control. Ironically, too many neglect this unique ability. How many individuals can we count who develop a habit of frequent self-criticism? How many do we know who examine themselves yet again each and every day: weaknesses and strengths, internal chasms and power centers, losses and gains? How many do we know who take the time to reflect on the state of their soul in a down-to-earth manner? The unique capacity of humanity is this self-examination, which is akin to the way a conscientious, qualified, and sensible physician would treat a patient. How many do we know who engage regularly in this self-examination, not because of a temporary admiration or idle curiosity, and not in the sense of degrading oneself by poking into one’s vices, but for the sake of exploring one’s self and increasing discernment? “Know thyself.” This lofty saying of Socrates is well-known at centers of learning throughout the world, including many Sufi schools where it was reinterpreted with a mystical dimension: the one who has perceived the secrets of his or her own self has also known God. How many can we count who appreciatively interpreted and lived up to this saying? I do not think we can count many. Yet those who are insufficiently self-aware or who have narrow horizons also cannot know about other people or things, perhaps with the exception of some surface and inconsistent knowledge. Covering the entire earth from one end to the other with an eye of reflection—the awesome rise of the
The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011

HUMANITY: OUR UNIQUE DIMENSIONS
“I am a lowly creature” you say O man Only if you knew…” M. Akif
LEAD ARTICLE M. Fethullah Gülen

mountains, rivers cascading for infinity, lights and depths of the sky more magical than the most enchanting harmony that offer a new parade every night, eternal colors glittering from behind all these lace curtains—these can find their true meanings and values only if they can be processed through the prism of the knowledge of the divine inherently found in the human. Otherwise, all existence, each component of which is a combination of materialized speech and meaningful words interwoven in the Hidden Tablet, would not only become meaningless, but turn into chaos. Since the first day humans appeared on earth, we have studied ourselves: sometimes superficially and at other times profoundly, sometimes crudely and at other times subtly, sometimes from a bird’s eye view and at other times microscopically. The human is incomparable: material and soulful, physical and spiritual, emotional and rational. Yet what a bundle of contradictory and often opposing attributes! as sweet as honey, yet disgusting as slime; vast and open to eternity, yet constrained

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The uniqueness of humanity is that we are implanted with seeds of spirituality and carnality. How we express ourselves—what color we reflect—depends on whether we are directed to an eternal prophetic goal, or not; whether we mine and appreciate the human ore in our soul, or not

and narrowed with stupidity; welcoming with humility, yet rejecting with pride and arrogance; transparent and secure, yet mischievous and treacherous; altruistic, selfless, and supportive, yet selfish and ego-centered; peaceful, fair, and merciful, yet wild, aggressive, and cruel; sincere, direct, and speaking from the heart, yet fake, hypocritical, and flattering; prudent, ingenious, and with a solid perspective, yet short-sighted, foolish, and clownish. Whatever attributes we may feature, they are all human! These differences and contrarieties do not reflect our true essence, nor do they relate to so-called inner instincts, instinctual protection, or some natural inclination to reproduction—as some used to suppose. It also is by no means right to relate these to the existentialist approach of being whatever one wants to be, as if humanity were infinitely malleable. No. It is true that the human is specially created to become almost anything across a wide-ranging spectrum. Human nature changes from darkness to light, with infinite colors in between; it is a unique potential of humanity to rise infinitely to the highest of all and to fall to the horrendous lowest of the low. The uniqueness of humanity is that we are implanted with seeds of spirituality and carnality. How we express ourselves—what color we reflect—depends on whether we are directed to an eternal prophetic goal, or not; whether we mine and appreciate the human ore in our soul, or not; whether we claim our potential power, or not; whether we dive deeply into the heart to disclose its spiritual depths, or not; whether we decide correctly when to exercise our human willpower, or not; whether we discern the secrets behind the conscious, or not; whether we turn our emotions to the beyond, or not; and whether we become aware of how the mechanism of conscience operates, or not. Seekers of a life in the vast ocean of their souls and in the depths of their hearts, who always remain centered on their conscience, will rise to a level “higher than angels.” Of course they may stumble at times. Of course they can be hampered by the thorns found in one corner of their nature. Conversely, captives who live in the shackles of their body, corporeality, and social conventions are submerged deeper as if in a whirlpool and dragged down to a level “lower than a beast.” For them, the human is a “thinking animal” which is a victim of this life that is programmed according to a digestion-circulation-excretion system. Humanity is in this view no different than a reservoir of libido that is never satisfied and yet grows sickened in its own excess. Of course, the body, corporeality, and society do have significant roles to play in our lives, but humanity also is equipped with a potential much superior to any of these. Indeed, that potential has the capacity to overcome anything in this world. Humans possess an inner dynamism to overcome both themselves and all the worlds. If we can turn our inherent powers and possibilities to the true source of all powers and possibilities, then we can surpass transient qualities; we can enrich all the decaying and crumbling pieces of existence with priceless meaning and nature, and make them qualified for eternity. Today we can harness thunderbolts and put them in humanity’s service. We can observe the minutest particles in the atomic world and the planets millions of years away. We can cover unfathomable distances with our feelings, thoughts, imagination, discoveries, and inventions. Nevertheless, we fail to realize our true uniqueness when we fall into savagery, selfishness, lawlessness, ambition, indifference, self-indulgence, and lethargy. Despite our transcendent capacity, we are facing this curse because of a false interpretation of ourselves.
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BIOLOGY Hamza Aydin
is a Freelance Writer with a PhD in biology

Even though we understand how our arms and legs develop, the question of how the coordination and control of the development of symmetric organs is maintained has still to be answered.

The impeccable genetic programs of different growth plaques on the two sides of the body leads to the formation of the arms and legs, as if they have been molded in a factory.

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The physical properties of our bodies are mostly determined during the embryonic stage. The development of this main structure continues until we are 16–18 years of age without losing its symmetry. It is amazing, for instance that our ears have a

similar shape and size, thus symmetrical, just as our arms are the same length, with perhaps only a slight difference (0.2%). The buds of the upper extremities (arms and hands) start developing during the 26th or 27th day of embryonic life, while the lower extremities (legs and feet) start during the 28th or 29th day. The developmental processes of the buds of the upper extremities and lower extremities are independent from one another. No signalization which causes the extremity buds to develop in a synchronized manner has yet been discovered during research. Symmetric growth is observable in many organs, including the fingers on our left and right hands. Even though we understand how our arms and legs develop, the

The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011

question of how the coordination and control of the development of symmetric organs is maintained has still to be answered. The miracle of life appears in the form of a baby which develops from a fertilized ovule (zygote) following millions of other events. This series of events, which is almost always the same for every fetus, can be grouped as reproduction, differentiation, and development. The zygote completes its development in the womb; postnatal growth can continue until 20 years of age. Even though every event during the baby’s development seems to take place with chaotic reactions, harmony

and order are there for us to discover. One of these astonishing events is the perfectly symmetric growth of the fetus/baby. Most organs in the human body appear in pairs and are symmetric. Babies are born with 300 bones; however, some bones later fuse with other bones, leaving only 208 bones in the adult human. It is still a mystery how long bones such as the humerus, radius, ulna, femur, and tibia are able to grow on both sides of the human body in a symmetrical manner.

Mechanisms that control growth in organs
In vertebrates, both internal developmental programs and the external factors which stimulate or inhibit growth play a role in the ultimate size of an organ. But the relative effects of these two mech-

anisms can vary significantly in different organs. When pieces of spleen from an embryo that is at a later stage of growth are transplanted to a newly developing embryo, each new piece grows, but not to the size of the original spleen. The total weight of all the transplanted spleen pieces is equal to a normal spleen’s weight. When the spleen reaches a certain weight, growth inhibiting factors are secreted, which stimulate negative feedback mechanisms that limit growth. When a spleen reaches a certain size, the density of the inhibiting factors increases simultaneously, halting growth. Growth in the liver is controlled by extracellular factors (various substances in the blood, hormones, vitamins, minerals, etc.). When a section is cut off of
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the liver, the section continues growing and developing until it reaches the size of the original liver. The thymus has a growth process that is executed by a cellular genetic program. When sections of a thymus taken from the embryonic period are injected into developing mouse embryos, every section grows until it reaches the ultimate size. More evidence of cellular growth programs was acquired via an experiment that was carried out with the salamander genus Ambystoma. When the leg bud of the larger species was injected into the smaller species, it would at first grow slowly, but then it would reach the normal size of its own species (the larger species).

Distinguishing growth and symmetry from one another
Both the arms and legs have long bones. A long bone consists of two parts (diaphysis and epiphysis). The diaphysis is the middle (core) part of the long bone. It consists of hard bone tissue, and is like a tube. The hyaline cartilage-covered joint forms the epiphysis of the long bone. In a growing bone, there is a growth plate (epiphysis plaque) made of hyaline cartilage; this is located between the diaphysis and the epiphysis. The epiphysis plaque causes the bone to grow longer; when growth is complete, the epiphysis plaque ossifies (becomes bone). In other words, growth stops. There are some clues that show the existence of positive feedback mechanisms which control the symmetric and balanced development of the arms and legs while the fetus is still growing. The arms and legs grow due to the development and growth of the plaques located at opposite ends of the long bone. The ultimate size of the arms and legs are proportional to the size of the finger bones (phalanx) and the metacarpus. According to current knowledge, growth in our arms and legs is only controlled by internal growth programs and the
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The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011

active growth of the plaques. We do not yet know the mechanism through which how much the bone must grow and symmetrically with the organ (the other arm or leg) on the other side of the body. But even if this is discovered in the future, we will continue to appreciate the perfect and miraculous aspect of this phenomenon. In addition, in growth-plaque transplant experiments, the development of the transplanted growth plaque is dependent only on the age and size of the donor. Growth plaques cause the bone to grow, but the plaques themselves remain the same size for years. The cartilage cells they produce (chondrocytes) exchange places with the bone cells (osteocytes) in harmony and without destroying the length of the bone. Cells from different areas of the growth plaque act differently. Stem cells are found on the upper section, near the epiphysis. Immediately above them is an area where cells reproduce very quickly. At the bottom of the epiphysis, the cartilage cells grow up to 4 to 10 times larger than their normal size (hypertrophy). Cell reproduction here is mostly due to hypertrophic chondrocytes. The chondrocytes die and break up, then change places with the bone tissue. The dynamic process of these events in the growth plaque repels it from the bone area, and as a result, the bone grows longer.

Sustained symmetry despite cell sequence and speed of reproduction
The rapid growth rate in the legs and arms during the embryonic period continues to increase until the child is three years of age. This growth rate slows down until the individual reaches adolescence. During the fastest growth period, which is from adolescence to the early 20s, the growth rate rapidly increases. For example, most people who grow between 30 and 37.5 cm during the first two years of life can grow between another 7.5

and 10 cm every year during adolescence. At the onset of adolescence, rapid growth due to a sudden change in the volume of cells is observed. After adolescence a sudden falling off in the speed of growth can be observed due to the effect of hormones on the growth plaques in the spine and other long bones. The growth plaque now fuses with the neighboring cells and growth stops. However, the fusing of the growth plaque is the result of the cessation of growth, not the cause. After growth stops, the growth plaques begin to disappear. When the reproduction potential of the cartilage cells in the growth plaque has been exhausted, the growth plaque begins to disappear. Growth plaques in different bones can trigger growth at various rates; these rates can differ as much as seven times. In fact, growth plaques on different ends of a bone can have different growth rates, provided that this rate is consistent with the genetic program. The number of cells on the growth line is 40 times more than in other areas. The number of cells produced here can exceed 10,000 cells per day. For symmetric growth between the arms and legs to be sustained, the number of cells in the growth plaque must be the same or very close. Experiments carried out on rats show that eight cartilage cells leave the growth plaque to exchange places with cells above them every day. It can be said that the growth of the bone is caused by the increase of cells in the growth plaque (which sustains its size). The growth rate caused by the growth plaque can be calculated by multiplying the growth plaque’s cell production rate by the average length of all of its cells. Different growth plaques provide different growth rates. This difference can be caused by the difference in the size of the growth plaques, the difference in cell production rates, and/or

Epiphysis Joint cartilage New cartilage cells are produced in this area Growth plate Cartilage tissue passes to this side of the growth plate for bone formation Bone tissue Bone tissue replaces the old cartilage tissue cells Growth plate

Bone formation is completed

Diaphysis

the difference in the hypertrophy (growth) rate of every cell. The upper growth plaque in the tibia of mice generates 16,400 cells every day; the average life span of these cells is around 30 hours. Can such harmonious, symmetric, and equivalent growth in the arms and legs—despite the large number and variety of cells—be the work of pure coincidence, mindless nature, or unconscious molecules?

Do hormones play a role?
The main molecular players that organize longitudinal growth in bones during childhood are the growth hormone, the thyroid hormone, and corticoids. The sex hormones (androgens and estrogens) are programmed to influence growth during adolescence. Estrogen is the main determiner of characteristics related to increased height and an increase in bone quality, as well as adolescent-related physiology. These hormones are in charge of coordinating growth throughout the body. It is for this reason for women, after the menopause, the production in estrogen decreases and osteoporosis and brittle bones can occur. According to the current view, cartilage cells have a certain genetic reproduction potential, and when this potential finishes, growth stops. The growth rate during the embryonic period is 20 times higher than that of mid-childhood. The growth rate drops greatly during mid-childhood. If we exclude the noticeable

increase during adolescence, the cells responsible for growth have begun to age. The bones on opposite sides of the body stay about the same size, despite all of these changes in growth rates. Circulating hormones and neuroendocrinal factors are believed to play important roles in maintaining symmetric growth. But there is no conclusive evidence to support this belief. Even though one can think of factors such as pressure, tension, and sports as helping control harmonious and symmetric growth of bones, no proof has been attained from controlled experiments. As a person ages, a gradual decrease in growth can be observed. Even if a growth plaque is placed into another organism, be it young or old, the growth rate of the bone does not change. This shows that symmetric growth in long bones is controlled by a program that is operated by internal factors, which is also compatible with the genetic program. When chemical-based medication is given to postpone growth, after the medication has been eliminated, the growth plaques grow faster for a short period to compensate for the lost time. These findings show that timing and the location and circumstances of the cell are critical parameters for reproduction. If the cartilage stem cells in the growth plaque have a certain reproduction potential, then it is clear that cartilage cell reproduction stops when growth comes to an end. If growth inhibiting

factors slowly accumulate in the growth plaque, this might cause a deceleration of growth over time. Another possibility is some sort of “meter” in the unconscious and mindless stem cells, which keeps track of the number of cell divisions and thus controls aging. The estrogen in our body has a duty of closing down the growth plaques and speeding up the aging of cells. However, we should not forget that estrogen plays the special role of closing down all of the growth plaques at the same time. Estrogen is one of the visible causes of fertility, growth and development, and resilience. Estrogen also represents femininity and fertility at all levels. When the signals from unconscious cells in the growth plaques and the quite sophisticated interactions among all the factors that influence growth, all of which require an all-encompassing knowledge to be executed, are taken into account, the impeccable genetic programs of different growth plaques on the two sides of the body that leads to the formation of the arms and legs, as if they have been molded in a factory, is absolutely amazing for anyone who reflects upon it.

References
Wolpert L. (2010).”Unsolved Mystery: Arms and the Man: The Problem of Symmetric Growth.” PLoS Biology. 2010 Vol. 8(9). pp 1-3 Extremity Development during the Embryonic Period (www.visembryo.com)
November / December 2011 The Fountain Magazine

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PSYCHOLOGY Zekeriya Ozsoy
is a PhD candidate in Educational Psychology

Empirical evidence demonstrates that delay of gratification is related to higher intelligence, ability to resist temptation, greater social responsibility, and commitment to tasks.

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The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011

Delay of gratification reveals an essential principle of happiness in this world and the next

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e are living in a world in which everything changes very quickly; throughout the world immediacy rules. Industrial companies want to produce more goods in a shorter time and aim to deliver their goods as rapidly as possible; young people want to get richer faster and people choose the fastest way to get where they are going. With everything happening as soon as possible, impatience has now become a part of popular culture. Just take a look at those slogans and popular sayings: “Just do it!”, “Get it now!”, “Immediate satisfaction!” or “Buy now!” Despite all these external incentives that prioritize immediacy, humans have a personality and character that is relatively stable despite environmental influences. Psychologists have attempted to discover which predictors can provide information for the future, indicating some possible ways to improve the quality of our lives. People with different personality traits respond differently to immediacyprovoking incentives. A critical trait that should be given particular attention is the ability to delay gratification. Delay of gratification is an interesting concept because it is connected with many other widely-accepted ideas in psychology. Sigmund Freud (1949/1989), for example, conceptualized human personality as being under the influence of the id, which

represents human needs and desires, and the superego, which resembles the social restrictions that influence the id. The ego represents the mechanism that manages the two in order to maintain psychological health. Due to the relative consistency of personality traits, we are able to predict human characteristics and behavior even from an early age. The ability to delay gratification indicates a special potential for deciding what is good for oneself in the short and long term; something that is fundamental for self-management. We have empirical evidence which demonstrates that delay of gratification is related to higher intelligence, ability to resist temptation, greater social responsibility, and commitment to tasks (see Mischel, Shoda & Rodriguez, 1989). Contemporary social problems such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, impulsive and aggressive behaviors, and behavioral disorders underline the pivotal role of the ability to delay gratification for a healthy, balanced, and successful life. While resisting and delaying temptations is considered to be a symptom of “ego strength” and “impulse control,” the failure to do so is regarded as a factor that underlies psychopathology (Mowrer & Ullman, 1945). In a study with forty-two sixth graders, researchers asked children to complete a task (shooting a ray-gun) in a game; this task served as a measure of temptation allowing the observers to

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assess how the children adhered to the rules of the game and how they cheated. They designed the game in such a way that unless the child cheated and violated the rules of the game he/she would fail. In this sense, the game created a double approach-avoidance conflict as the children were eager to win (approach) and had to comply with the rules (avoidance). After promising several rewards (marksmen, sharpshooter, and expert badge) according to their performance in the game, the supervisor left the room so that children can behave in a natural way. It was expected that children who are more highly motivated would break the rules to obtain gratification and those who were less able to delay gratification would be less resistant to temptation. There were 17 items connected to measuring the delay of gratification, each requiring choosing a smaller/ less valuable reward immediately or a larger/more valuable item later. For example, they were asked to choose either “a small notebook now or a larger notebook in one

As with many other psychological concepts, the delay of gratification also has a strong association with religion. God asks people to restrain themselves from temporary and prohibited acts in this life in exchange for an unending life where pure bliss is to be attained.

week.” The results were remarkable: The cheaters were more likely to be unable to delay gratification, asking for the rewards immediately rather than those who were patient enough to wait for a better reward. Those who were able to delay gratification (and therefore selected a better reward at a later time) waited longer to begin cheating than their friends who asked the rewards immediately. Also, those who were more successful in the game tended to delay the reward to get a better reward later than those who were less successful. Following the progress of these students, Shoda, Mischel and Peake (1990) collected their SAT scores, as an indication of their academic and cognitive competency, and parental ratings of those children who differed in their response to gratification more than ten years ago. The researchers found that adolescents with higher SAT scores were more likely to wait longer for the gratification. Moreover, they were better able to cope with frustration and stress in adolescence. This result has been supported by finds in more recent studies as well (Ayduk, 1999). The ability to delay gratification is much more than a personal trait. Mischel (1961) investigated the relationship between social responsibility and delay of gratification. This makes a great deal of sense, as people who are able to put others’ welfare before their own interests can behave altruistically and be socially responsible. As expected, children who choose the delayed reward were more socially responsible than those who preferred the immediate reward. Likewise the proportion of children preferring the delayed reward was higher in the nondelinquent group than the delinquent group. In a recent study, Wulfert et al (2002) investigated the possibil-

ity of using delay of gratification as an indicator of self-regulation in adolescents. The adolescents who were invited to participate in the study were offered either a smaller but immediate fee or a larger fee for one week’s participation. Two groups of students were compared in terms of use of cigarettes, alcohol and marijuana use, as well as self-perception and academic achievement. The results were interesting: those adolescents who selected the immediate reward, and thus failing to delay gratification, reported a higher use of cigarettes, alcohol, and marijuana. They also had a lower self-concept and were less successful at school. As with many other psychological concepts, delay of gratification also has a strong association with the religion and the basic principles of religion. For example, in all three monotheistic religions, an afterlife is promised to every human being. Those who avoid the seductive features of life are promised a heaven, which is described with all its attractions being beyond anything that can be compared to this life. God asks people to restrain themselves from temporary and prohibited acts in this life in exchange for an unending life where pure bliss is to be attained, like children who have been promised better candy or larger and better toys if they are patient. Thus, people who are patient and able to delay their gratification will be more responsive to religious limitations and directions. Worldly benefits represent the immediate rewards, while delayed responses can be connected to the benefits in the afterlife; in this way, everyone makes some choice between the two. So, it is possible to argue that the ability to delay gratification is a very good predictor for religiosity. Different religions underline the importance of delay of gratification. We see a clear connection

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between delay of gratification and intelligence or cognitive competence in several verses of Qur’an: “And the present, worldly life is nothing but a play and pastime, and better is the abode of the Hereafter for those who keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety. Will you not, then, reason and understand?” (6:32), “However, certainly the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and keep from disobedience to God in reverence for Him and piety” (12:57), and “Those who are patient (persevering in adversity, worshipping God, and refraining from sins) will surely be given their reward without measure” (39:10). In the Bible, later happiness is encouraged and patience is appreciated: “Those who shed tears as they plant will shout for joy when they reap the harvest” (Psalm, 126); or “Know that suffering produces endurance, and endurance, character, and character, hope” (Romans, 5). It is also important to note that religions are not only concerned with the afterlife. They regulate our lives at all times, and direct people to behave in a particular manner. Thus, religious principles increase the quality of life. The contribution of delay of gratification to the quality of life is something that we should be aware of.

A religious education in school or family provided in the early years of life can educate individuals in how to delay their desires and gratification toward their goals in the long-run, allowing them to have a balanced and healthy life. Religious teaching involves patience and resistance against extravagant worldly comfort, suggesting sacrifice and dedication in this world to earn a better life after death. With such discipline, people will also be able to manage their own life more effectively, because even long-term benefits in the worldly life can be gained if one expends time, effort, and energy. The importance of delay of gratification seems to become more obvious given the scandals in the lives of eminent people who are successful in arts, sciences, sports, or politics; such people have failed to delay some of their desires and instant gratification. From another perspective, although they had financial and social freedom, they lost their inner freedom as they became passive responders to their instincts and desires. After centuries of physical slavery, which benefitted some classes to the detriment of another, the modern world has created a new form of slavery which pits the human mind and

reason against their instinct. In this system, amusement parks, substance addiction, adultery, violence and a number sources of satisfaction have been given great value; people have simply became dependent and demand gratification. This sort of enslavement is no less dangerous than the traditional slavery; the modern “slaves” seem to be content with their status and demand even more. Under these circumstances, people tended to spend less time thinking, reasoning, feeling, and understanding themselves, their environment, and other people. Delay of gratification allows modern people to manage their time, goals, tasks, and responsibilities, all of which are keys to success. People who resist their desires have real freedom and are able to shape their own lives. It actually makes people control themselves, and become the rulers of their lives. From this point of view, delay of gratification—as a psychological personality attribute as well as a means of religious instruction—reveals an essential principle of happiness in this world and in the next world.

References
Ayduk, O. N. (1999). Impact of Self-Control Strategies on the Link Between Rejection Sensitivity and Hostility: Risk Negotiation Through Strategic Control, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, New York. Freud, S. & Strachey, J. (1949/1989). An outline of psychoanalysis. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company. Mischel, W., Shoda, Y., & Rodriguez, M. L. (1989). Delay of gratification in children. Science, 244, 933-938. Mischel, W. (1961). Delay of gratification, need for achievement and acquiescence in another culture. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62, 543-552. Shoda, Y., Mischel, W., & Peake, P. K. (1990). Predicting adolescent cognitive and social competence from preschool delay of gratification: Identifying diagnostic conditions. Developmental Psychology, 26, 978-986. Wulfert, E., Block, J. A., Santa Ana, E., Rodriguez, M. L., Colsman, M. (2002). Delay of gratification: Impulsive choices and problem behaviors in early and late adolescence. Journal of Personality, 70, 533-552.
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In Wonderland
PERSPECTIvES Beste Nigar

I attended an exhibition associated with a popular movie. I was amazed at the power of human imagination.
It was 3 o’clock in the morning. The rain outside beat on the windows and the loud thunder ripped through the night. A loud knock on the door startled the boy. All alone in the mansion, he was not really expecting anyone this late. But the stranger insistently knocked on the door. The boy got up hesitantly and grabbed the doorknob with shaking hands… Flash forward. He woke up with a scream, drenched in a pool of sweat. “Thank God, it was all a dream.”

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I turned off the TV, feeling a mix of boredom and hunger gnawing hunger at the pit of my stomach. I headed down to the kitchen to grab a bite.

T

d

he world is full of wonders. We are amazed at how fish swim or how birds fly; by imitating their systems, we attempt to swim or fly. One of our most precious attributes is curiosity. Once I attended an exhibition associated with a popular movie. I was amazed at the power of human imagination and the dreams it can conjure, turning them into reality. The props and costumes used in this movie were displayed lavishly for the curious eyes of the fans and the flash of the cameras. We, as human beings, were being entertained with the products of the human imagination. Even the flow of events that happened at the exhibition, the flashing cameras, the décor and costumes, which seemed so important at that time, were all a design of the human imagination; they were not real. As the actors and actresses took on the personalities of their characters, they not only assumed the role of a movie character, but also became a player in a man-made dream world. We followed the entertainment with curiosity and interest. The characters, the story, the costumes, the light, and sound: all this captivated our attention. As the glow of the entertainment slowly faded off, I began to feel that this popular movie and even the exhibition itself existed within another movie… a more real movie in which we all played our roles. My favorite pieces in the exhibition were the “magically alive” animated portraits. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the people in the portraits applauding us, as if we had accomplished some feat. I liked the idea of animated portraits and photos. A picture is ultimately just a 2D image, but an animated image encompasses a third dimension: time. A movie’s ability to capture the charm of time is what appeals to us and captivates our attention. Early in the morning, I glanced out my window and noticed the autumn leaves falling from the tree in my back yard. About two or three weeks ago they were all green, but now the scene had completely changed. Tinted with different shades of orange, yellow, red and purple, the leaves ruffled on their branches with the whoosh of the light breeze. I imagined that my window was an animated picture inside my home. There was someone insistently striking His brush against my easel, coloring this picture day by day, moment by moment, and giving it motion for me, making me feel the changes He brought about. Filled with these wondrous thoughts, words
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fell out of my mouth: “He is truly a magnificent artist.” At the moment, I recalled what the lead character in a movie had said as he looked, bewildered at the harmony of colors in the sky during sunset: “God must have been an artist.” In order to make an animated picture or create a video sequence, the consecutive pictures or “frames” of a scene must be joined together. If the difference between the capture times of two consecutive frames is too long, the video will not run smoothly, stuttering like an old silent film, with intermittent flickers. Modern day movies use a larger number of frames per unit of time. The greater the number of frames, the smoother the images will appear. When I focused my attention on this outside “movie,” a movie in which I was an actress along with the rest of humanity, I couldn’t help but wonder what the number of frames was. Since we are living in a “perfect” movie, the movie of our world that we see through our eyes everyday must have an infinite number of frames. I contently followed the descent of a snowflake onto my hand. It made me admit once again that we’re part of a great cinematography and screenplay. The producer is not only an artist who covertly paints the pictures with His gentle brush strokes, but is also someone who strings an infinite number of picture frames with great skill and attention to detail, creating the perfect animation of “life.” Imagine the animation of a falling bird feather; one would need to perform an enormous number of calculations between the sequences of frames. It would be necessary to run many computers in parallel to be able to process such animation in real time. Then I used this same information and applied it to the scene of the falling snowflake. Contemplating the details of each moment within that scenario and considering
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each moment to be a single frame helps you appreciate the complicated task of stringing these frames together in real time. When you see a man inscribing circles with a light source you actually see a circle of a light. In fact, you perceive it as a circle because of the speed and the continuity of the motion. Life is analogous to that imaginary circle; it exists because of the continuity of the artist’s efforts. Yes, life as a “perfect” movie is similar to the continuity of this circle of light, because the artist’s magnificent skills continuously color and illuminate each picture frame, stringing them together in a perfect fashion. Wait, wait, it doesn’t end here. I close my eyes; it is easy for me to see things that happened years ago in all their details. The time I dropped my ice cream on my favorite shirt when I was five, the gift that my brother gave me on my thirteenth birthday, the day I graduated from college… like a movie, I can watch all these whenever I like. This illustrates another issue in video processing, storing the videos, in other words, the frames, in an efficient

The producer is not only an artist who covertly paints the pictures with His gentle brush strokes, but is also someone who strings an infinite number of picture frames with great skill and attention to detail, creating the perfect animation of “life.”

way so that they can be accessed promptly when needed. I already have a good technique to store the story of my life in my memories. Moreover, in order to remember any sequence, all I need to do is just remember a small detail of the time, an event, or a memento. This is the fastest content-based image retrieval system I have ever seen! No moment of life is wasted and all is saved somewhere, providing relief for the human heart, which is helplessly attracted to eternity. Any art necessitates an exhibition and an audience. Then there must be a place and a time in which the whole movie will be watched again by the audience. My brain not only stores my memories as videos, but also creates videos as I dream. These are mostly movies in the making; because I can do everything in my dreams, they do not need to be logical. I heard the phrase “Dream Theater” and I smiled. What else can one call a dream other than a grand theater full of surprises? Moreover, although the length of time that a dream takes up is not that long, it still contains a sizeable story that takes up days of real life. It’s one rabbit warren inside another. As the rain hits the Boston ground, I look outside my window at my moving picture. Through this open window, I also hear the pitter-patter of the falling rain. The smell of wet soil seeps into my room. I shut my eyes and I can repaint the entire picture, using nothing but sounds and smell. What kind of magic is this? I cannot stop myself as I think about Him, the Producer of the real movie of my very existence. After all, I know that He loves me. No matter how busy I am watching man-made movies inside the real movie, I feel the presence of the true artist always with me and the imprint of His ever-lasting art in every moment of my life.

Our inability to perceive the distinct frames in movies raises the question as to whether the universe is perceived in the same incomplete way.

PHILOSOPHY Nazif Muhtaroglu
is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Kentucky

W

hen we watch a movie, we think that we see a continuous movement of an object. For instance, a car seems to be moving for a certain time. In other words, there is just one car which is moving. The reality is completely different. In fact, we are confronting a series of images or frames, separated from each other by thin black strips. When we watch a movie, we receive 24 frames per second. But due to the quick movement of images, we are not be able to distinguish different frames in this discon-

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tinuous flow and perceive them continuously, as if there is just a car moving over time rather than many different pictures rapidly succeeding each other. Our inability to perceive the distinct frames in movies raises the question as to whether the universe is perceived in the same incomplete way. Do the objects in the universe have their own independent existence and causal powers or are they constantly sustained and created? There is a story about Moses, peace be upon him. Even though we do not know whether or not it is true, it has a lesson to teach. According to the story, Moses wonders about God and requests Gabriel to arrange a meeting with God for him. Gabriel comes with a message that God will disclose Himself to Moses at midnight, but that Moses must wait for Him with two glasses of water in his hands. Moses prepares his glasses and begins to wait for God. As midnight approaches, Moses briefly falls to sleep. The glasses suddenly fall on the ground and the resulting sound wakes him from his sleep. Then Gabriel comes with the following message of God: “I am always with you and with all beings, if I cease to apply my power just for a moment, everything will crash and the order will disappear as your glasses fall down.” There are different views of God’s relation to the universe, ranging from atheism to occasionalism (defined below), but can we really justify the belief that God constantly sustains the universe, as the story suggests? The idea that God’s creative activity is continuous in the universe is known as “continuous creation.” However, there are different versions of this doctrine. St. Augustine believed that the universe is constantly sustained by divine power, but he does not rule out the possibility that each being also has its own power to produce something
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by the help of divine power. This version of continuous creation resulted in St. Aquinas’s view of “concurrentism,” which states that a certain event is produced together by divine power and the power of finite beings. Another version of the doctrine of continuous creation is called “occasionalism,” which denies the ascription of any causal power to finite beings. According to occasionalism, everything is created only by God at each moment and no finite being has a role in the creation. This doctrine was formulated first by the Ash’arite tradition in Islamic theology, was echoed among the Cartesians, the philosophers who followed Descartes, and famously articulated by Malebranche. This article aims to show that occasionalism is a plausible explanation of the universe.

Occasionalism in Islamic philosophy and theology
Named after Imam Ash’ari (936 AD), a famous scholar on Islamic theology, the Ash’arite tradition was the first school to embrace occasionalism consistently. In Ash’arite cosmology, the universe can be analyzed in terms of two main categories: those of substance and those of accident. An accident can be simply regarded as a property and a substance is the thing to which properties are attributed. Substances are usually identified with indivisible particles (atom). Atoms are homogeneous, and the diversity in nature appears as a result of the heterogeneity of accidents inhered in these substance-atoms. Accidents are considered to be perishable by their nature. No accident can endure but perishes in the second-instant of its coming to be if God does not recreate it in its substance.1 This is the crucial point in support of occasionalism. Accidents cannot exist by themselves and the atoms which need accidents to exist

cannot exist by themselves either. All atoms and accidents need the power of God in order to exist and subsist over time. In Ash’arite metaphysics, it is not the case that God can create anything. Some things do not fall under the extension of divine power. It is absurd that substances can exist without accidents and there is no rationality in saying that God can create a substance without accident. Logically contradictory cases are also excluded from the scope of divine power. In other words, to say that God can create round squares or logically contradictory cases is a category mistake like saying that number 2 is green. Numbers are not the things to which the color predicates apply. In other words, color-predicates have a certain range or extension of applicability which excludes numbers. On the other hand, the properties of “being odd” or “being even” apply to numbers, but not to material objects. Saying that this chair is even is another category mistake. So each predicate has a certain extension to which this predicate legitimately applies. Things or expressions which are not in the scope (extension) of a certain predicate lead to a category mistake if they are associated with this predicate. So the sentence “God cannot do something” includes a category mistake if that thing in question is a contradiction for instance, because contradictions are not within the scope of divine power. In brief, the general features of the Ash’arite cosmology present a discontinuous universe, which depends on God’s creative power to exist and subsist at each moment. Furthermore, it does not consider certain cases such as absurdities to be possible with respect to creation. Al-Kindi supports the Ash’arite picture of the universe by indicating the impossibility of a real causal link between natural objects. He points out that anything which is

being affected or being acted upon cannot be a true agent. The true agent acts upon what is affected without itself being affected by any kind of effect. Everything in this universe is acted upon and affected by something else. So God is the only true agent. The rest are only metaphorically causes which do not have real causal powers.2 Later, al-Ghazali focused on the apparent causal relations between events and argues that the causal relation between any two events can be justified neither logically nor by experience. Let’s consider his following example where fire and a piece of cotton are found together and the cotton is burned. A piece of cotton and fire cannot have a logically necessary relation between themselves because we can think of one event without the other, which does not lead to any contradiction. Observation cannot justify that burning of the cotton is a necessarily causal effect of fire because we can observe only that fire and the burning of cotton appeared together, but not that fire caused the burning.3 This occasionalist metaphysics does not deny that human beings are free in their choices and will be responsible for what they do. The Ash’arites suggest the following formula with respect to human acts: human beings acquire their acts, while God creates these acts. Al-Maturidi later clarifies the nature of the acquisition of their act by human beings by considering human choice as the ground for this acquisition. The thesis that God is the only causal agent in the universe provoked discussion as to whether or not human choice is created by human beings. If human choice is created by human beings, then occasionalism is rejected because, in that case, humans will have causal power together with God. If God creates human choices, then human beings cannot be held responsible for their choices simply because

they are not their choices. Sadrus Sharia and later Taftazani offer an ingenious solution to this problem by denying that human choice falls under the scope of divine power. In their view, human choice is a relational and relative matter that appears between the inclination and the action. For instance, assume that I have a desire to drink water. I choose to drink it and then take a glass of water and perform the action. My choice is a relational matter between my desire to drink water and the act of drinking it. Relations are not things that have definite existence. Think of rightness and leftness. My pen is on the right side of my tea cup from a certain perspective and is on the left side from another perspective. Even though my pen and my tea cup have definite existence, the relations of rightness and leftness which appear between them do not have. These relations are relative matters and because of that they are not genuine objects to which divine power is applicable. In other words, human choice as a relational matter is not under the scope of divine power as round squares are not. As a result, it would be a category mistake to say that God could or could not create human choices. Let’s see how occasionalism is articulated in the West.

Malebranche’s occasionalism and the Cartesian tradition
Malebranche (d. 1715) is a follower of Descartes. He accepts the basic principles of the Cartesian philosophy and inherits the problems remained from Descartes. What is the exact nature of causality? How is the mind related to the body? These are some of the important questions the Cartesian philosophers tried to answer. Malebranche’s occasionalism is a reply to such problems as well as a result of his theological concerns. As far as his theological motivation is concerned, Malebranche
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concluded that a belief in secondary causality, namely ascribing causal power to beings other than God, leads to paganism. For Malebranche, if we are under the control of a power belonging to a natural being, then we should serve it because of the following principle of St. Augustine: whatever truly acts upon us, it is above us, and inferior things serve the superior things. As a result, he denies any causal efficacy in the created realm.4 Malebranche calls his doctrine “occasionalism” because God creates events, not arbitrarily but in a regular manner, where certain natural events are “occasions” for God’s creation of certain effects. What people ordinarily call “causes or natural powers” are in fact “occasional causes” in the sense that they are depicting the uniformity of God’s operation in the world and providing us with an ordered system of created nature. If we use alGhazali’s example, we can say that the existence of fire near a piece of cotton is the occasional cause for God’s burning of that cotton. Because of the emphasis on occasional causes, occasionalists do not rule out scientific activity—on the contrary, they encourage it. In their view, scientists are looking for the secret and hidden occasional causes and try to understand how God operates on earth. God is the only true cause having genuine causal power. According to Malebranche’s analysis of true causation, there must be a necessary link between a true cause and its effect. A necessary link holds only between the will of an infinitely perfect being and some effect. This is the reason why only God can be regarded as a true cause. In other words, any event or effect needs an absolute power to become existent. It is impossible for finite beings to cause anything at all. That is to say, the two types of finite beings of the Cartesian metaphysics, namely bodies and minds are causally inefficacious.
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Malebranche accepts Descartes’s characterization of bodies and minds. Bodies are essentially extended substances, minds are thinking substances. Bodies are by definition impotent because the idea of extension does not include the idea of power; there is no power belonging to the essence of bodies. Malebranche believed that observation or sense experience leads us to imagine a causal link between two interacting bodies such as when a billiard ball hits another one. He holds that reason corrects sensation and shows us the truth about the inefficacy of the balls in question by reflecting upon the concept of extension which excludes the concept of power or causal efficacy. Minds also are causally impotent. However, people have free will by which they are responsible for their acts. Malebranche abstains from ascribing causal power to the human will by saying “I do not know if that can be called power.” However, he does not offer a detailed account like that of Taftazani regarding the question as how people can be free without having causal powers of their own. Nevertheless, his occasionalism offers a good solution to the mind-body problem which bothered Descartes and many Cartesians. This problem is quite complicated because mind and body are postulated as two completely distinct substances having nothing in common. How then are they interacting, for instance, when we feel pain whenever we cut our hand or when we move a chair should we desire to do that? Malebranche resolves this problem by claiming that every state in mind and body is created by God in accordance with each other. It is God who creates the desire to drink water and again God who moves our arms without any intervention between mind and body and creates the action of drinking water. Simply speaking, the human’s role in this picture is choosing to actualize

or ignore the intentions they have in their minds. Malebranche comes closer to the Ash’arites in his approach to the matter of absurdities. Contradictions and similar absurdities are not subject to divine power and will. This contention of Malebranche diverts him from Descartes’s path because Descartes allows that God could have changed logico-mathematical laws. Malebranche rejects this view and excludes logicomathematical contradictions from the scope of divine power.

Conclusion
For many people, the idea that the universe is constantly created and controlled only by divine power is difficult to grasp. Many tend to believe in a more naturalistic explanation of the universe, where everything has its own power and role in the whole system. Nevertheless, it is easy to see how we sometimes can be mislead if we remember of our inability to perceive movie frames. The picture of the reality is more complicated than its appearance. There are very good reasons to adopt an occasionalistic explanation of the universe. It is interesting to see that this explanation is advocated by both Muslim and Christian philosophers. We see many parallel lines between Malebanche and the Muslim philosophers on this issue. There are sufficiently strong arguments both from East and West showing that occasionalism is well justified, and has satisfying implications in terms of human responsibility and scientific activity.

Notes
Majid Fakhry. 1958. Islamic Occasionalism, pp. 38-48. 2. al-Kindi, “The One True and Complete Agent and the Incomplete Metaphorical ‘Agent,’” p. 22, in Classical Arabic Philosophy, ed. by McGinnis and Reisman, 2007. 3. Al-Ghazali. 2002. The Incoherence of the Philosophers, 17th Discussion. Translated by Michael E. Marmura. 4. N. Malebranche, Philosophical Selections, ed. by S. Nadler, pp. 90-110. 1.

POEM
Our sympathies to the Hancioglu family for their loss… The fountain

Sevim Hancioglu

IN THe GArdeNs of Love YoU bLooMed
In the gardens of Love you bloomed Adoring to be free from this confined prison No longer will be imprisoned in stiff matter In the light, peace and rejoice you laid down Emerging into the embrace of the Divine Love Merging into the Eternal realm of being Fulfilling your longing to Heaven Letting your free spirit travel with delight in the gardens of heaven For you no limits to bear For you no measure of distress and grief Only the immeasurable grace embraces in the gardens of heaven In the gardens of Love you bloomed Embittering my lusciousness of the transient life No longer will be deceived in the splendor of the fading pleasures In the light, peace and rejoice you will itinerate Attaining the heavenly blessings of the All-Munificent While my appeal, groaning and prayers Reaching to the All-Answering (of prayers) and Meeting (of needs) For easing my teardrops, dearest son For appeasing my longing to you Reuniting with you so as an inhale / in a glimpse in the gardens of heaven
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PSYCHOLOGY Osman Senkaya
has an MA in Nonprofit Leadership

dIffereNT APProACHes To INTerPersoNAL CoNfLICT

A

“…set things right (adjust all matters of difference) among yourselves to allow no discord…” 1

Incompatibility of personal values and needs may be quite difficult to resolve and may lead to some unease, particularly when the reactions are highly emotional.

pproximately three decades ago, the Camp David Accord was signed between Egypt and Israel. Israel’s position was to retain the Egyptian land it had claimed in order to protect itself. Egypt’s position was that Israel must completely withdraw from Egyptian land. The positions both parties brought to the table were much too rigid to find any common ground. Israel’s interest was that its borders be protected from hostile neighbors. Egypt’s interest was that Egyptian land belonged to Egypt. The negotiated settlement was a 10-mile demilitarized zone on Israel’s border with Egypt—protecting Israel but owned by Egypt, with Egyptian flags flying.2 Obviously, conflict is not limited to international disputes only, and may well take place at various sublevels. Organizations may have different positions or interests on any given issue that would yield to different perspectives. Even at a grassroots level, like between friends or within a family, viewpoints possessed by individuals may not

The suitability of a conflict management strategy depends on both personal style and situational demands.
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The collaborating approach seeks to address the concerns of both parties entirely by finding mutually satisfactory solutions to the conflict.

be similar in nature at all times. Each and every entity, ranging from nations to individuals, may have a unique perception of events, therefore their explanations and opinions may differ significantly. People who are frequently involved in conflicts are generally labeled as “troublemakers” or “bad apples,” however a discomfort may simply arise due to personal differences, deficiency of information, misunderstanding, or incompatibility of priorities, rather than personal defects. Another reason for tension might be resource scarcity: As a tradition suggests, Mawlana Jalaladdin Rumi, the famous scholar and renowned poet of the 13th century, and one of his disciples were passing by two dogs that were cheerfully playing with one another. His student comments: “Look what good friends they are.” Rumi replies: “Throw a bone in-between and observe.” Deviations may surface from time to time, since differences of beliefs/interests are inevitable and legitimate. Our values are shaped by means of various parameters such as family background, level of education, span of experience, etc. Also, personal characteristics and culture affect tolerance for disagreement and personal needs. As a response to the conflict, altruistic-nurturing individuals tend to press for harmony by accommodating the demands of the other party; assertive-directive personalities tend to challenge the opposition by using the forcing approach; and analyzing-autonomizing personalities attempt to resolve the problem rationally (see Figure 1). Therefore, it is natural that individuals’ interpretations of events and expectations about relationships would vary considerably. However, incompatibility of these personal values and needs may be quite difficult to resolve and may lead to some unease, particularly when the reactions are highly emotional.3 “Like a fly’s wing covering the eye conceals a mountain, so too, due to the veil of hatred, man conceals virtues as great as a mountain due to one evil like a fly’s wing.”4 Disagreements can be viewed as embarrassing, distressing, chaotic, and as a deviance from the group identity, and people generally prefer to avoid them. On the contrary, they may be viewed as valuable when they provide an opportunity for growth.5 “In case of positive difference, each party strives to promote and diffuse its own belief; it does not seek to tear down and destroy that of the other, but rather improve and reform it,” Nursi writes, while commenting on the hadith: “Difference among my people is an instance of Divine Mercy,”6 and rejects that difference must be approached in a negative and hostile fashion. He further adds, “if the confrontation of views and opinions takes place in the name of justice and for the sake of truth, it helps the truth become apparent in its full measure, manifesting all of its aspects.”7 Even though many of us intellectually understand this value of conflict, we feel uncomfortable
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when confronted by it due to a lack of understanding of its nature, thus how to handle it effectively.3 Many religious and philosophical teachings suggest avoiding it whenever possible, since an intense conflict saps one’s energy, demoralizes oneself, and harms social harmony due to its stressful nature: “…do not dispute with one another, or else you lose courage and your strength depart…”8

finding ways out
While handling a conflict, law is concerned with the situation and the rules. Dispute resolution, on the other hand, attempts to maximize the benefit to both parties by applying not only situation and rules, but also morality, justice, and accountability.9 “The main processes of conflict resolution are reconciliation, facilitation, mediation, negotiation, arbitration, and problem solving [mutual action plan formulation, implementation, and follow-up].”10 So, how do we respond when we come across a distressing situation? Choosing an appropriate strategy, based on a thoughtful assessment of the circumstances, is crucial for effective conflict management. Our responses to interpersonal confrontations generally fall into five major groups: forcing, accommodating, avoiding, compromising, and collaborating, which reflect a range of cooperativeness and assertiveness. The cooperative aspect reflects the importance of the relationship and a cooperative response prioritizes the needs of the interacting person, whereas the assertive dimension reflects the importance of the issue and an assertive response focuses on the needs of the focal person (see Figure 2).3 Postures in each style, rationales behind them, and their likely outcomes are summarized in Figure 1 respectively. Now we’ll elaborate on each style briefly: 1. “I’m the boss, so we’ll do it my way”: Generally preferred when issues come prior to the feelings, the forcing response is an attempt to satisfy one’s

own needs at the expense of the other individual’s, by using formal authority or simply by ignoring the claims of the other party. This approach is depicted as assertive-uncooperative in Figure 2, demonstrating that the issue is far more important than the relationship. Such use of authority entails a lack of tolerance or self-confidence and may breed resentment when used repeatedly. However, when there is a superior-subordinate setting and when there is a sense of urgency, this approach may be suitable.3 Imagine the following situation, in which Bob is in a meeting with his assistant, Tom: Tom: I think we should spend some more time on investigating some alternatives. I am just not comfortable with approving your proposal without verifying the details about it. Bob: Tom, I don’t think there is enough time to discuss all the details with you. We are just moving on with my decision. 2. “Okay, however you wish”: Implemented to maintain harmony, the accommodating approach satisfies the other party’s concerns while neglecting one’s own. As seen in Figure 2, this is an unassertive-cooperative stance contrary to forcing approach. The figure also suggests that this can be appropriate when the importance of maintaining a good relationship outweighs all other considerations, or when the issues are not vital to your interests and the problem must be resolved quickly3: John and Benjamin are two twins that share the same bicycle. Hence, minor tensions arise on riding the bike first, once they come home from school in the afternoon. John loves his brother very much and generally gives in quickly because he is afraid of hurting his brother’s feelings. “Well, at the end of the day, it is not worth it,” he thinks, “riding first or last isn’t that important.”

Figure 1. Comparison of Five Conflict-Management Approaches3

Approach Forcing Avoiding Compromising Accommodating Collaborating
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Personalities Assertive Directive Altruistic Nurturing Altruistic Nurturing Altruistic Nurturing Analyzing Autonomizing

Objective Get your way done Avoid having to deal with conflict Reach an agreement quickly Not to upset the other party Solve the issue(s) together logically

Decisive factor Importance of the issue Harmony, lack of experience Adequate time for negotiation value of the relationship Objective analysis

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3. “Let’s think about it sometime later”: The avoiding response (unassertive-uncooperative) neglects the interests of both parties by sidestepping the conflict or postponing a solution. This is often the result of ill-preparedness to cope with the stress associated with confrontations. Or, it might reflect recognition that a relationship is not strong enough to absorb an intense conflict. The repeated use of this approach causes considerable frustration, because issues never seem to get resolved [and] really tough problems are avoided: 3 The workers in a factory were seeking better payment and discussing a three-week strike as an option, unless the company offered a minimum net increase of 5% in their salaries for the following year. Unaware of the rumors however, the management later announced that it was planning to provide an enhancement in terms of benefits rather than solely monetary means. Without further due, the labor union issued a statement that accused the company of being unfair in its policies, and called for a cease of work. The company responded by declaring that the economic conditions were pressing hard and they would be unable to consider any increment in wages without hurting their no-layoff policy. After the news that the company’s shares had lost a significant value, at the fourth day of their action, the workers decided to accept the company’s offer on freezing the crisis and starting negotiation talks after 8 months, because they wouldn’t risk losing the factory, thus their jobs, in such hard times of recession. Although the model outlined in Figure 2 tends to conceptualize the avoidance style as the least desirable option that yields a lose-lose outcome and as reflective of low concern for both self and other, it may be utilized for win-win outcomes in some cultures in order to preserve reputation and the respect of other people, and keep harmony as well.11 4. “Let’s find the middle ground”: As in the Camp David case above, a compromise is an

attempt to obtain partial satisfaction for both parties who make sacrifices to obtain a common gain. While this approach has considerable practical appeal, its arbitrary use may create a climate of pragmatism that encourages game playing, such as asking for twice as much as truly needed. In cases of moderately important issues that lack a simple solution, or when both parties have strong interest in different aspects of the problem, this approach may be used if there is adequate time for negotiations.3 5. “This is my point, what is yours?” The collaborating approach seeks to address the concerns of both parties entirely by finding mutually satisfactory solutions to the conflict. Figure 2 hints that the relationship and the issue are both important per se, and an assertive-cooperative style is pursued in this case. Although not appropriate for all situations, it is the most beneficial approach for the involved parties and will maintain an ongoing supportive relationship between peers. The following situation would be an example: Johnny and Ken share an apartment. For the past week, Ken’s friend stays over every night. This affects Johnny’s sleeping, and he doesn’t do well on a test one morning. Johnny first asks Ken if they can talk about the issue without challenging him on it, and summarizes the problem clearly, without being offensive or attacking. (Generally, the one who initiates the conversation has responsibility to guide the situation to a good solution.) - Okay, I’m sorry, Johnny. If his visits are really bothering you, I can try to be flexible. - Thanks for understanding. I feel like it has been especially hard for my 8 a.m. class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. - Well, Johnny, maybe I can ask my friend to not come over the night before your classes. - That’s great, Ken, and I can end my video games by midnight on Wednesdays and play somewhere else on Friday nights.

Posture “I” know what is right and needed We’ll address it sometime later Let’s find the middle ground However you wish This is my point, what is yours?

Rationale Issues come prior to the feelings Disagreements only create tension Prolonged conflicts may/do harm Maintain harmony Both positions are equally important

Likely Outcomes Resentment, humiliation Frustration due to unresolved issues Pragmatism rather than effectiveness Other may take advantage of you Resolution, satisfaction
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Figure 2. Five Conflict-Management Approaches14 Notice that Ken takes the lead and makes the first step, and Johnny is quick to acknowledge the gesture and to offer something in return, even if he does not consider it as part of the issue. By working together they both benefit. A collaborative conflict resolution process will not eliminate tension in a relationship immediately, but over time, eliminating the source of tension, and overcoming difficulties can result in growth.12 Each approach presented here may have some negative side effects, yet each has its place. The suitability of a conflict management strategy depends on both personal style and situational demands. Clarifying earlier messages or providing additional information generally resolves the factual disputes rooted in misinformation, yet each individual has a preferred strategy consistent with the value he places on conflict and his dominant personality characteristics.3 A closer study of these personal styles in a given society will give an idea on how its members would respond to conflicting situations in general. This will be very valuable information since we are in an age of enormous intercultural mixing due to growing global interconnectedness of societies and economies. Already substantial within the same cultures, the possibility for conflict between the members of different cultures is even more probable. “It is then vital to better understand the ways in which people prefer to handle interpersonal conflicts and how the preference varies depending on culture and other variables. Such knowledge of conflict-related behavioral tendencies might help in the development of strategies for interpersonal, intercultural conflict resolution or prevention.”11 “Realistic, proper and effective commu26
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nication, based on mutual understanding and goodwill, would solve many disputes, not only between individuals but also groups or nations.”13 As stated by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression, and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

Notes
1. Qur’an, 8:1.
2. International Federation of University Women. “Workshop on Conflict Resolution: Facilitator’s Guide.” http://www. ifuw.org/training/pdf/conflict-facilitator-2001.pdf Whetten, David A. & Kim S. Cameron. Developing Management Skills. 3rd ed. New York: HarperCollins College Publishers, 1995: 418-447. Nursi, Said. Flashes, 13th Flash, 13th indication–Third point Abu-Nimer, 29-30; Kim, 63. el-Aclûnî, Keşfü’l-Hafâ, 1:64; el-Münâvî, Feyzü’l-Kadîr, 1: 210-212. Nursi, Said. Letters, 22nd Letter, 5th aspect. Qur’an 8:46. Abdalla, Amr. “Principles of Islamic Interpersonal Conflict Intervention: A Search within Islam and Western Literature.” Journal of Law & Religion 15, no. 1 (2000): 151-184. Abu-Nimer, Mohammed. “Conflict Resolution in an Islamic Context: Some Conceptual Questions.” Peace and Change 21, no. 1 (1996): 22-40. Kim, Min-Sun. Non-Western Perspectives on Human Communication: Implications for Theory and Practice. Thousand Oaks, Cal.: Sage Publications, 2002. Study Guides and Strategies. “Case Study: Conflict Resolution.” http://www.studygs.net/conflex.htm Najafbagy, Reza. “Problems of Effective Cross-Cultural Communication and Conflict Resolution.” Palestine-Israel Journal 15, no. 3 (2008): 146-150. Ruble, Thomas L. & Kenneth W. Thomas. “Support for a twodimensional model of conflict behavior.” Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 16 (1976): 145.

3.

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.

10.

11.

12. 13.

14.

The example of the Prophet presents us with many paradigms that we can adapt to our current circumstances.

RELIGION Fatih Harpci
is a PhD candidate in religious studies at Temple University, Philadelphia.

T

he compelling conditions of our time offer human society two paths to choose from. We will either continue past enmities and stereotypes, or we will learn how to live in peaceful coexistence. It is a world of global connectedness, and in order to make peace sustainable, we need to develop new paradigms of peaceful engagement. The example of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, presents us with many such paradigms that we can adapt to our current circumstances. Like all of his predecessors did before him, the Prophet showed utmost mercy and forgiveness to everyone, so much so that even his staunch enemies sought refuge under his wings of compassion.

The Prophet treated everyone amicably by taking into consideration the potential positions they would likely to hold in the near future. Because he knew that every individual had a respectable essence, he thought the most appropriate action was to awaken this divine kernel.
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After he began to call his people to belief, the Prophet had to face all kinds of torment during his peaceful mission for thirteen years in Mecca. After numerous grievous incidents, he had to leave his town and reluctantly immigrated to Medina. From most people’s point of view, the Meccans were absolutely to be declared as “the enemy”—or “the other.” However, the Prophet did not behave inimical to anyone. He always treated people humanely, no matter what lethal traps they set for him. He never failed to extend his tender hand with a candid clemency and compassion. Even during many inexorable combats, he always prayed to his Lord, chiefly for those who smashed his helmet off, broke his tooth, and left his face covered with blood in battles like Badr and Uhud. Not only did he hinder his followers from bearing any oppugnant attitude against their merciless foes, he also blocked maledictions and imprecations to any adversary, even those who, for instance on the day of Uhud, had ripped the bodies of nearly 70 beloved ones into pieces beyond recognition with an incredible brutality. Although his opponents were bloodthirsty and yearning for war, his sword was never besmeared by red hot blood; he never killed anyone. He did not represent anything other than loving compassion in the world. He never broke off his previous social connections. He did not approach anyone with a bias. He always held the door open in order to mildly flatter their vanities. He never hurt anyone’s pride deliberately. While his sworn enemies took the gloves off for any opportunity to assassinate him, he treated everyone amicably by taking into consideration the potential positions they would likely to hold in the near future. Because he knew that every individual had a respectable essence, he thought the most appropriate
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action was to awaken this divine kernel. He took action in this direction, though horrid provocations did not cease, and he did that with a worthy perseverance.

Glad tidings
The Prophet dealt with every one of his opponents with utmost care, and he took very strategic measures not to destroy them but to conquer their hearts. Giving the glad tidings of a coming peace, the following verse was revealed right after the Battle of the Trench: (When you obey God in His commands and prohibitions,) it may be that God will bring about love and friendship between you and those of them with whom you are in enmity.

The Prophet’s immense forgiveness is an example for us today as to how we should engage with past atrocities. It is a message of self-reformation that teaches us that we can subdue feelings of revenge and hatred and build a society in compassion and love.

God is All-Powerful, and God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate. (60:7) Peace was so close, just at their threshold. Having received this good news, the Prophet initiated immediate action by demanding to marry the daughter of Abu Sufyan, who was then the political leader of the Meccans. Establishing bonds of kinship with him would be a plausible step in order to eradicate hostility. Umm Habiba, Abu Sufyan’s daughter, was among the group of Muslims who had fled the Meccan torture and sought refuge in Ethiopia. However, her husband died there, and she was left alone with her child without any protection. By marrying her, the Prophet would not only save this devoted Muslim woman from despair and honor her, but would also form a connection with Abu Sufyan that would not be possible by any other way. This marriage was realized soon, and afterwards everything changed dramatically. Abu Sufyan, who was one of the staunch enemies of the Prophet until that day, could easily enter the Prophet’s home to visit Umm Habiba, his daughter. Now, Abu Sufyan could learn more about Islam through his daughter Umm Habiba. He began to realize soon that Muslims were not as he had believed. In a short period of time, the difference in Abu Sufyan’s attitude became more and more obvious. He turned out to be more moderate, more cautious, and more candid in reciprocal dialogue attempts. Prominent figures of Mecca, Khalid ibn al-Walid, Safwan ibn-i Umayya, Suhayl ibn Amr and Ikrima ibn al-Jahl were exerting pressure on Abu Sufyan to take drastic actions against believers. Despite all of their intolerable pressure, Abu Sufyan resisted their aggressiveness, having realized that they were the ones who were unfair, not those on the Prophet’s side.

Making peace
Even in the most critical conditions he did not give up. Despite all the provocations of evil-doers and his own fellow tribesmen’s objections, he made agreements with his crucial adversaries and fulfilled peaceful commitments with them. The radical change of Abu Sufyan was an explicit hope for others. The Prophet tried his best to take advantage of every single opportunity to get in touch with any of them. After his immigration to Medina, the economic and social conditions of Mecca had gradually deteriorated. The Meccans were suffering from drought, famine, hunger, and misery. For sure, he could not have remained indifferent to this heart-rending situation. He sent them food and other needed aid; he literally inundated them with an immense benevolent contribution on the back of hundreds of camels. But, unfortunately the Meccans rejected all of it. Then he sent all the aid directly to Abu Sufyan. Afterwards Abu Sufyan distributed everything to the poor and needy Meccans. The Prophet those days gave weight to free commerce and trading with other communities,particularly with Meccans. He knew that business trading was an excellent opportunity to get in touch with others. Thus they could have found so many new ways to maintain peaceful relations. Regrettably, all the peaceful attempts made by God’s Holy Messenger were either repelled or responded to with brutal violence by the Meccans. They once attacked a Muslim tribe in the pitch dark of midnight and slaughtered 23 civilians in a village near Medina. By committing this crime, the Meccans also violated the Hudaybiya peace treaty. Following this brutal attack, the Messenger of God sent envoys

to Mecca, offering them various options to solve the problem peacefully, rather than an immediate retaliation: he asked them to pay the blood money and cut their relations with other warring tribes that participated in this crime. Failing to obey these conditions would mean the Hudaybiya treaty was violated as well as a declaration of war. But the Meccans refused every amicable offer. The only option left for the Prophet was to march to Mecca. Realizing that they would not be able to resist, some of the eminent Meccans fled in confusion to distant towns of the Arab Sahara. God’s Messenger sent someone in pursuit of every missing Meccan. Umm Haqim, Ikrima’s wife, who had fled all the way to Yemen, went after him. She dared all dangers on the way to find her husband, another relentless enemy of the Prophet and the son of Abu Jahl, and to introduce him to the Prophet’s mercy. Umayr ibn Wahb, once a hitman hired by Safwan ibn Umayya to kill the Prophet, went after Safwan twice, reaching him in Jeddah en route to Ethiopia, and convinced to him to return to Mecca. Suhayl ibn Amr was brought back by Abdullah, his own son whom he tortured for years. He wrote letter after letter to Wahshi, who had murdered Hamza, the Prophet’s uncle, and invited Hind, who had hired Wahshi for this murder, to come in peace and that she was forgiven. The Prophet called them back home promising to forgive all their past assaults and guaranteed their protection. Mecca became a land of peace and serenity, thanks to his efforts and merciful invitation. The Prophet’s immense forgiveness is an example for us today as to how we should engage with past atrocities. It is a message of selfreformation that teaches us that we can subdue feelings of revenge and hatred and build a society in compassion and love.
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Earthquake studies seek to reduce the risk of death and damage

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Earthquake Predictions
GEOLOGY Meryem Saygili

uman beings and many other living things inhabit Earth’s outer crust. The crust is a brittle shell broken into major tectonic plates. These major plates are so large that they include continents as well as parts of the floor of the surrounding oceans. One important scientific observation for these major plates is their continuous movement. These gigantic plates move due to the convection currents induced from the heat dissipation from the interior parts of the Earth. Experts predict that every year these plates move approximately 1 to 10 centimeters. This continuous motion plays a significant role in the existence of life on Earth. It sustains the global carbon cycle from Earth’s interior to the atmosphere. However, there is an undesired consequence of this beneficial system, especially for those of us living near plate boundaries—earthquakes! And as we have seen recently in Japan and in Turkey, earthquakes and a possible ensuing tsunami can cause great damage and casualties. The theory of plate tectonics explains what happens at plate boundaries. According to this theory, there are three primary plate boundary conditions; divergent, convergent, and transform boundaries (Figure 1). Divergent plate boundaries are characterized by ocean ridges and sea floor spreading; volcanoes are the most obvious setting. Here, a new crust is generated because the plates pull away from each other. Convergent plate boundaries are characterized by trenches and island arcs. In this setting, the crust is consumed in the Earth’s interior as one of the plates dives under another. In the case of transform plate boundaries, the crust is neither produced nor destroyed, as plates horizontally slide past each other. Significant earthquakes can occur under all of these boundary conditions. We typically associate Japan with earthquakes because we know that it is a very earthquake prone island. The state of Alaska in the United States is also earthquake prone. The total number of earthquakes in Alaska per year is greater than the total number of earthquakes in the rest of the United States. The examples of Japan and Alaska reveal that more earthquakes occur at locations close to the plate boundaries.

Figure 1: Illustration for main types of plate boundaries (Cross section by José F. Vigil from This Dynamic Planet -- a wall map produced jointly by the U.S. Geological Survey, the Smithsonian Institution, and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

On a global scale, Japan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Chile, and western United States, are located along the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” where about 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 80% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur (Figure 2). The magnitude of an earthquake is a representation of the total amount of energy released by the event. Typically, it is measured using the recorded ground oscillations from a seismogram. However, the interpretation of the magnitude is not straightforward because the magnitude scale is logarithmic. For instance, a magnitude 7.0 earthquake produces approximately 10
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times more ground motion and releases about 32 times more energy compared to a magnitude 6.0 earthquake. According to the statistics published by the US Geological Survey, every year on average 134 earthquakes with magnitudes 6.0 to 6.9 occur worldwide, 17 earthquakes with magnitudes 7.0 to 7.9, and at least one large earthquake with a magnitude greater than 8 (Figure 3). Further, the number of earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater has remained fairly constant but the number of moderate earthquakes (i.e., 6.0 or less) appears to be increasing. According to experts at the US Geo-

logical Survey, a partial explanation may lie in the fact that there is a tremendous increase in the number of seismograph stations in the world over the last twenty year. Thus, the actual number of earthquakes has not increased, but our ability to detect them. In scientific terms, this is referred to as reporting bias. When it comes to myths about earthquake activity related to weather and time, scientists rejects any connection. Earthquakes occur whether it is warm or windy, early in the morning or late at night. In the United States, earthquakes are one of the most significant natural hazard for around 75

(a)
Figure 2: Pacific ring of fire a zone of frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions

million Americans living in 39 states, including the state of California where the majority of the state’s population lives within 32 km of active faults. Historically, the region has been very active (Figure 4). To help predict earthquakes in California, a multidisciplinary group of scientists and engineers from various disciplines established a team entitled Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities (WGCEP). The team had a very ambitious objective—to develop a comprehensive earthquake rupture forecast model for the state of California using the best available science. The details of the sophisticated model are beyond the scope of this essay, but the recently released report (USGS Open File Report 2007-1437) is available for public access. In her essay entitled, “The big one is evitable. Catastrophe is not,” Cathleen Decker, an editor of the Los Angeles Times, refers to the future predictions presented in the report as a “Chilling look into the future”. Based on historical evidence and scientific data, it is almost certain (with a 99% chance) that there will be at least one earthquake with magnitude 6.7 or greater in the state of California within the next thirty years. The likelihood of a more significant earthquake (magnitude 7.5 or greater) within the next thirty years in California is 46%. In the Greater Bay Area specifically (area includes large cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland), the probability of at least one earthquake with magnitude 6.7 or greater within the next thirty years is about 67%. The current state of science considerably reduces the risk of death and damage by making resources available to individuals, teachers, policy makers, and engineers, but unfortunately, science at this time can neither prevent nor predict the exact time when an earthquake will occur. Casualties, financial losses, and mental trauma are sometimes inevitable for earthquake victims. Social and emotional suffering are often not limited to actual victims, but to everyone who has access to the news. Unlike financial and material losses, the psychological consequences of an earthquake exposure are long lasting. To address these consequences, earthquake preparedness should include mental and social aspects of the disaster as well.

(b)

(c)
Figure 3: Earthquake facts and statistics (a) 1980 – 1989, (b) for 1900 – 1999, and (b) for 2000 - 2009 (Retrieved from USGS National Earthquake Information Center )

Figure 4: Epicenters of historic earthquakes greater than magnitude 5 recorded in the state of California since the 19th century

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F
eMerALd HILLs of THe HeArT
One can have no greater reward or higher rank than God’s being pleased with him or her, which is only attainable by personal resignation to what He has decreed.
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RIDA (RESIgNATION) -2
(Continued from the previous issue)

or ordinary people, resignation means not objecting to what God has willed for them. For those with a deeper spiritual knowledge of God, resignation means welcoming their individual destinies. For those who live a life of profound spirituality, resignation means that, without paying attention to their own considerations, they are always attentive to what He wants them to do and how He wants them to be. The verses: O soul at rest, return to your Lord, well pleasing and pleased. Enter among My servants, and enter My Paradise (89:27-30) encompass all degrees of resignation, and contain responses to the desires of those resigned to the Divine Will and Destiny. As seen in these same verses, attaining the station of resignation and pleasing God and being pleased with Him depend upon one’s turning to God Almighty. This means complete devotion to, reliance upon, and surrender to Him and committing all affairs to Him. One who has attained this station longs for reunion with God, dies with a heart at rest, and is included among the righteous in Paradise. From another perspective, ordinary people show their resignation by ordering their lives according to God’s commandments in willing submission to His Lordship and administrative authority. This is expressed in the verses: Say: Shall I seek another than God for Lord, when He is Lord of all things? (6:165), and: Say: Shall I choose for a protecting friend other than God, the

Originator of the heavens and the earth, Who feeds and Himself is not fed? (6:14). Such a degree of resignation is essential to whoever aspires to true belief in God’s Unity and true love of God. Every believer must consciously submit himself or herself to God’s guidance; associate no partners with Him in belief and in ordering one’s life; love Him alone as the Lord, Deity, and Ruler of humanity and the universe; and love others who are worthy to be loved only in His name and in accordance with the limits He has established. The second degree of resignation that of those with a certain degree of knowledge of God is manifested in their welcoming God’s decrees and ordinances without objection. It is also seen in the control they have acquired over their hearts, a control so strong that their hearts do not swerve even for one moment. Such resignation is regarded as the relation between God and those hearts furnished with knowledge of Him. The third degree of resignation is attained by those purified, saintly scholars who are pleased with what pleases God. One who has been rewarded with such resignation feels no personal anger, joy, or grief. Such a person, no longer feeling, thinking, or desiring for himself or herself, experiences the pleasure of annihilation in the Lord, for only His Will and choices remain. The first degree of resignation, obligatory upon every believer, is the beginning of the way leading to nearness to God, for it is related to free will and a requirement of belief in His Unity. The second degree must be acquired, both because it is the continuation of the first and the basis of the third degree, and because it leads one to consider nearness to God.

The third degree, a Divine gift rather than a station attainable by free will and individual effort, is neither obligatory nor necessary. However, it is commendable to desire it whole-heartedly. This degree encompasses the first two, for aspiring after (full) resignation and living so as to attain it is an essential principle of a believer’s life. However, its full attainment is a gift bestowed in return for this aspiration. In other words, the first two degrees relate to God’s Names and Attributes, which can be attained by journeying in their shadow or their guidance, while the third is connected with the reward, enlightenment, or radiance given in return for them. The verse: Their reward is with their Lord; Gardens of Eden, beneath which rivers flow; where

they will dwell forever. God is well pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him. That is for him who fears his Lord reverently (98:8) points to all of these degrees. This same truth was expressed by our master, upon him be peace and blessings, who said: “One who is well pleased with God as Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, as Messenger has tasted the pleasure of faith.” I hope that the following considerations will direct the feelings and thoughts of those who desire to attain resignation, help them to overcome the difficulties encountered on this path, and to control and resist their worldly and carnal impulses. * Human beings are only role players in the Divine drama played out
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Resignation is based on the most important essential of religion: reliance upon God. Its essential quality can be perceived by means of certainty about God’s existence and Unity. It is embedded in love of God, and causes one to gain eternal happiness.

even their most positive works into nothing between the millstones of ingratitude. Showing such displeasure, an all-too-common attitude on the part of many, is one of Satan’s most effective ways of invading one’s soul. * A believer may join the inhabitants of the heavens by welcoming God’s treatment, which is an honor bestowed by God. One who is pleased with God is following the right guidance, while one who is not pleased follows nothing more than personal fancies. Resignation to God’s judgments or decrees means preferring His wishes to our own. It hardly needs saying what the opposite attitude implies. * Resignation is like an orchard whose trees yield the fruits of worship and devotion; sins and offenses are the results of being deprived of it. Resignation prevents personal conflicts with God in the believer’s inner world, and means respecting the principle expressed in the supplication of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings: “It is pure justice in whatever way You judge about me.”3 The first sin was committed when Satan did not resign himself to what God had decreed for him. * One can have no greater reward or higher rank than God’s being pleased with him or her, which is only attainable by personal resignation to what He has decreed. This is also the greatest reward that one can receive in Paradise: God has promised the believers, men and women, Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of Eden. But God’s good pleasure [His being pleased with them] is greater still. That is the supreme triumph (9:72). * Resignation is based on the most important essential of religion: reliance upon God. Its essential quality can be perceived by means of certainty about God’s existence

on the stage of this world. Therefore, they have no right or authority to interfere with the quality or form of their assigned part. Whatever happens to an individual has been predetermined by God, Who considered his or her free will, actions, and thoughts in this world. Only God can change this.1 * If one really loves God, whatever comes from Him must be welcomed. It is very difficult to perceive the wisdom and good or God’s purpose in some events. Sometimes what is good for us is hidden in bad happenings: It may be that you dislike a thing although it is good for you, and love a thing although it is bad for you. God knows, but you know not (2:216). * A believer is one who has fully submitted to God. Thus, such an individual cannot be displeased with God’s actions and operations. A believer has a good opinion of everybody else, so how can he or she be suspicious of God? The Qur’an forbids us to suspect other people (48:12); how much worse it would be if we suspected God and His acts! Since all things and events were preordained and created by God, and since whatever He creates is either good in itself or on account of its result, a believer should keep his or her heart at rest and always be optimistic. * If our obligations or responsibilities, as well as the misfortunes and difficulties we endure or seek to
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overcome, have an essential place in our training and education to prepare us for the eternal life of happiness in the Hereafter, then we should fulfill them or endure them willingly. An individual’s resignation to or being pleased with whatever comes from Him means that He is also pleased with that particular individual. Being displeased with the acts and manifestations of Divine Lordship causes distress, grief, and restlessness, while living as resigned to God’s decrees gives relief and exhilaration, even though one has to suffer great difficulties. In short, the continuous pursuit of resignation is an invitation to Divine succor. * Resignation to Destiny and the manifestations of God, the Truth, is a very important means of obtaining happiness. Prophet Muhammad, the truthful and confirmed one, upon him be peace and blessings, illuminates this: “It is fortunate for man to show resignation to what God decrees, while it is unfortunate for him to feel indignation against what God decrees.”2 Being resigned to God’s decrees and operations fills one’s heart with breezes from the Divine Realm, while displeasure with them fills it with whims and suspicions coming from Satan. Those who resign themselves to His decrees make their lives into an “embroidery” of golden threads of thankfulness, while those who are displeased with them grind

and Unity. It is embedded in love of God, and causes one to gain eternal happiness. It is rooted in loyalty to God and truthfulness, and denotes actual thankfulness. Resignation is such a magical lift that those who obtain it will reach their destination quickly. Love and sincerity, as well as penitence and contrition, are flowers growing in the climate of resignation. It is useless to search for such virtues or qualities in hearts that are not set on resignation and obtaining God’s pleasure. * However numerous those rewards given in return for acting and speaking to attain God’s pleasure may be, they can be counted and are therefore limited. The rewards given for such actions as resignation, which is done with the heart, are proportional to the heart’s depth and so cannot be estimated. As the greatest rank in God’s sight, resignation or God’s pleasure is a final target that has been sought by the greatest members of humanity, from the glory of creation, upon him be peace and blessings, to all other Prophets, saints, and purified scholars who have passed the final test through sincerity, certainty, reliance, surrender, and confidence. They have surmounted many difficulties and obstacles, and bore many unendurable sufferings and pains. The following verses seek to describe the sighs of such people: The suffering You cause is more pleasing than having fortune, And Your vengeance is lovelier to me than my own soul. I am in love with both His torment and His favor; How strange it is that I am in love with things opposite to each other. By God, if I go from this thorn of affliction to the garden of delight, I will be one who, like a nightingale, always groans or sighs. How strange it is that when a nightingale starts to sing, It sings melodies of both the thorn and the rose. (from Mathnawi) The following verses of Nasimi are also beautiful: I am a suffering lover, O dear One, I will not abandon You; Even if You cut through my chest with a dagger, I will not abandon You. Even if they cut me into two from head to foot like Zachariah, Put your saw on my head, O Carpenter, I will not abandon You. Even if they burn me into ashes and blow away my ashes, They will hear my ashes sigh: O Veiler (of sins), I will not abandon You. The rank or station of resignation, of being pleased with God and obtaining His pleasure includes all other ranks. The melodies sung in it are: Whatever You do to me or however You treat me, it is good. O God! Guide us to what You will love and be pleased with, and bestow peace and blessings upon our Master and the Master of the Messengers.

Notes
1. Editor’s note: God’s “predetermination,” which we call Destiny, is almost identical with His Knowledge. As God is not confined by time, He can see one’s past, present, and future at the same time. He therefore “knows” what one will do “before” he or she does it. God’s knowing beforehand how someone will act does not compel the person to act that way; rather, it shows that one’s free will is included in what God has “predetermined” for him or her. Al-Tirmidhi, “Qadar,” 15; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 1:168. Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 1:391, 452.

As far as one’s personal life is concerned, It is good to show patience in the face of misfortune and endure what comes from God with resignation. However, it is heartless to leave other people alone with their sufferings.

2. 3.

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ENvIRONMENT Bahadir Can Gumussulu
has a PhD in biology

Everything— from the size of raindrops to the height of trees, the speed of wind and the food chain produced in the ocean—is controlled within a magnificent balance. However, due to the unlimited demands of humans, the earth’s ecosystem is subjected to immense changes and is gradually being destroyed.

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More than forty types of algae produce various toxins. Some of these toxins damage the human liver, some attack the nervous system (particularly the brain), some can cause allergic skin reactions, and some can even induce cancer.

Some of the main reasons for this destruction are the fertilizers used in agriculture which contain excessive chemicals, insecticides, and detergents used in the home. These substances are carried into streams, lakes, and the oceans by rainfall, wastewater, and through irrigation, causing pollution. The deterioration in the ecological chain caused by this pollution affects the ecosystem, and thus the human health. Phytoplankton, the productive organisms which are at the base of the food chain in aquatic ecosystems, are microscopic organisms that produce organic nutrients (sugar, protein etc.) through the process of photosynthesis. During the production stage of these nutrients, phytoplankton absorbs the contaminative and toxic elements. As the larger creatures (invertebrates and vertebrates such as fish) feed on phytoplankton, they, in turn, absorb the toxins accumulated in the phytoplankton. The phosphate and nitrogen compounds found in the waste material that are released into the environment go through some biological processes and are transformed into nourishing salts for the phytoplankton. When there is an increase in temperature, these salts may cause some of the phytoplankton to grow and reproduce excessively. The toxic materials released by some, and the use of excessive oxygen, are harmful to other organisms. Another example of pollution is related with algae. When the number of microbial plants called algae reaches one million per cubic decimeter (1 million/dm3) of water, the consumption of oxygen required in order to mineralize, and break-down the organic materials found in the water increases, and therefore a compound of toxins which pollute the water, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S), are released. This pollution can cause the death of fish and other organisms which live in the water. As a result of the reduction in water quality, an increase in the type of algae called cyanobacteria occurs and the biotoxins that they produce threatens human health. More than forty types of algae produce various toxins. Some of these toxins damage the human liver, some attack the nervous system (particularly the brain), some can cause allergic skin reactions,

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Harmful algal blooms threaten human health...

and some can even induce cancer. The release of domestic, industrial, and agricultural waste and the high percentage of nutrients (such as nitrogen and phosphor compounds) into the aquatic ecosystem can cause an excessive increase of algae in the waters. This algal bloom in fresh water is referred to as eutrophication. In oceans, it is referred to as red tide because the water appears to be a reddish color. Both present a significant environmental problem. In low doses humans are exposed to these toxins by the consumption of drinking water. In Brazil in 1988, almost 2000 people developed gastroenteritis over a forty day period due to the consumption of drinking water contaminated by these toxins, and eighty-eight of them died. In South Australia, as early as 1878, many sheep, horses, dogs and other animals died as a result of drinking water from Lake Alexandrina, which was covered by scum caused by an algal bloom called Nodularia spumigena. Mussels, a delicacy eaten and enjoyed by many, accumulate large amounts of toxins because they feed on phytoplankton. One

study found that in fresh water mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis) that fed on cyanobacteria, almost 10.7μg toxins per gram of bodyweight was accumulated. This is also the case in marine mussels. It has been determined that these toxins in gradually increased concentrations are passed onto organisms higher on the food chain by consumption. Accordingly, we should always consider the potential risk factors before consuming shellfish. Biotoxins are released into the water after being broken down by algae. Thus, when an algal bloom reaches high levels, there is an increase in the density of toxins in the water. As these toxins dissolve in the water, purifying the contaminated water requires not only expensive, but also advanced technology methods. Unfortunately, it is impossible to remove this waste in many of the existing refining plants. The toxin concentration in drinking and utility water should be reduced in regions where drinking water is obtained from lakes by mixing it with uncontaminated water, particularly during the spring when the algal bloom occurs. Thus, reducing the amount

of biotoxins in the water to a level that will cause minimal harm to aquatic organisms should help to reduce the risks to humans. Many types of waste released into the environment cause damage, which adversely affect humans. Polluting the environment may be easy, but purifying the environment of this pollution is a very difficult task. Indeed, humans were not created to act irresponsibly and destroy the universe in which they are mere guests. On the contrary, the human is a delicate guest with sublime duties. Protecting the natural resources provided for our needs and utilizing these resources in the most productive manner, without disturbing the balance of nature, is a duty of every human on earth.

References
Pouria S. de Andrade A. 1988. “Fatal microcystin intoxication in haemodialysis unit in Caruaru, Brazil.” Lancet 352:21-26. Carmichael W.W., Azevedo S.M.F.O. 2001. “Human fatalities from cyanobacteria: Chemical and biological evidence for cyanotoxins.” Environ. Health Perspect 109: 663-668. Codd G.A., Bell S.G., Kaya K., Ward C.J., Beattie K.A., Metcalf J.S. 1999. “Cyanobacterial toxins, exposure routes and human health.” Eur. J. Phycol. 34:405-415.
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A MOMENT FOR REFLECTION Mirkena Ozer
is pursuing a MA in women studies at the University of Georgia, Atlanta

As it often happens, if you look into all possible hiding places in a household, you are bound to find unexpected things. But what are the chances that you will find pictures of a brother you never knew!

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I

was only a girl of nine years when I first witnessed Mom’s nightmare. My dad had gone out of town, so I was happily sharing her bed. I woke up to Mom’s restlessness. I was scared. Sweat drops on her forehead, anguish in her voice and… She stirred in her sleep asking frantically, “The boy? The boy! Where is the boy?”

“Mom! Mom, wake up!” I cried shaking her by her shoulders, determined to stop her dreaming before something terrible happened to the boy. Mom sat up robotically, opened her eyes, and as the contours of her room sat in place under the moonlight, she took a deep breath and urged me back to sleep. Alas, I spent the rest of the night

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“I am not talking about Leonard,” she interrupted and then paused in pain. Seeing my shock, Mom, with great difficulty, told the story of her last child. While listening to her, I realized that a house cannot hold enough hiding places for the secrets of the past.

wondering who the lost boy was. Was it my brother, the only son in our family? Did the dream mean that something bad would happen to him? Although my curiosity almost killed me like the proverbial cat, I dared not ask Mom about the dream which continued visiting her in the following months. For one thing, dreams good or bad were never told in our family. Mom believed that if you put a dream into words, if you articulated it even in a whisper, you pronounced an undeniable invitation for the dream to become true. “Dreams,” Mom often said, “should be left alone. Dreams are tricky. Everything you see in them stand for something else in the real world. Rats stand for money, money for gossip, crack and holes in houses for deaths in the household.” So I kept my peace and never talked with anyone about the matter. One day, long after that night, I was looking for a dear necklace of mine which I couldn’t find, having hidden it too well for my own good. As it often happens, if you look into all possible hiding places in a household, you are bound to find unexpected things—

like your sister’s secret diary in the wardrobe or your brother’s savings under the mattress. But what are the chances that you will find pictures of a brother you never knew! At first, I couldn’t make sense of those two pictures. One was a photo of a baby in his crib with eyes half open and the other was a shot of the same baby with Mom, in her younger years, leaning over the crib as if to place a kiss on the baby’s face. Mom’s face seemed so sad that I wanted to tear up the photo right there. I went to my older sister instead and asked her, “Who is this baby?” My sister snatched the photos from me and reproachfully said, “Why can’t just you leave anything alone?” She immediately headed toward mom’s bedroom, apparently knowing the hiding place. Then she stopped midway and replied without turning around, “He is our brother. He died from a fever when he was ten months old. And don’t ask Mom about him. After all these years, she still cries when she speaks of him.” A tender feeling of longing, gripped my heart. “What was his name?” I asked. “Leonard,” she replied. “He would have been fifteen-years-old now, had he lived.” I wanted to take another look at the photos and stroke with my fingers the little face of my brother, but I dreaded my sister’s anger. She went into Mom’s bedroom and closed the door shut. On the days that followed, I started fantasizing about what it would have been like for me to have another brother, four years older. I imagined us going to school together, his arm on my shoulder, me proud of my protective brother, daring the bullies to come even closer. I imagined covering up for him

when he came home late and he telling me first, before anyone else, about the girl whom he loved. I smiled as tears welled up in my eyes when I thought of those happy moments that never came to pass. It was then that I willed myself to believe death couldn’t be the end of all things. A sweet hope invaded my heart that one day I would see him, hug him, and catch up on missed happiness. I wanted so much to share this hope with Mom so that she could accept her loss, so that her nightmares would stop tormenting her, so that those two photos would come out of hiding and join the light in the family album. But I never had the courage to confront her grief. I had understood by then that no matter how many living children a mother has, her heart will always mourn the death of a child. One afternoon, five years later, I overheard my aunt talking in low tones to Mom. “He would have been twenty years old today,” she said while she stroked Mom’s hand in sympathy. “It’s kismet!” Mom said, taking a deep breath. “It’s the destiny.” Her voice quavered, but she did not cry. “It wasn’t meant to be.” After this, the photos came out of hiding and took their place on my mom’s dresser. Yet, Mom’s nightmares did not vanish. They continued to torture her. One thing remained a mystery to me. Why did Mom never ask, “Where is my boy?” It was always the boy? And during all these years, why hadn’t she uttered his name in her dream even once? Every time I heard her search in the darkness of the night for the nameless boy, I wanted to whisper into her subconscious before waking her up, “Mom, you have to let things go. It wasn’t your fault. It wasn’t meant to be.” But I never did.
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*** Tonight, Mom is having another of her nightmares, but I won’t wake her up as I have before. I watch her turn in her sleep, hoping that her dream, left undisturbed this time, will relieve her from the burden of her conscience. Tonight, I know Mom is looking for some other boy. One she doesn’t dare to own. We were talking this afternoon about how life had changed for her and Dad after each of us, their children had married and left home. Mom didn’t enjoy her empty nest as much as one would expect. “People always remarked that my five children were too much for any normal person to handle, but look at us now,” she said, taking in the tidy and spotless living room. “The house is quite, empty, just me and your Dad and… the memories. It would have been nice to have another child for our senior years, someone who would tie us to life with bittersweet worries.” A wave of sadness covered her face, a feeling of regret I couldn’t quite grasp. Did she remember Leonard? But he still wouldn’t have been the child of my parents’ senior years. What else? “It wasn’t meant to be,” I said
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insinuating on his death. “Destiny.” Mom’s eyes watered and her voice trembled. “Sometimes you pick your destiny.” “But what could you do? The doctors couldn’t reduce his fever and…” “I am not talking about Leonard,” she interrupted and then paused in pain. Seeing my shock, Mom, with great difficulty, told the story of her last child. While listening to her, I realized that a house cannot hold enough hiding places for the secrets of the past. “When you were nine years old, I discovered I was pregnant again,” Mom continued. “Everybody was so against the idea of me giving birth to that baby. Your father worried about our already strained finances. My doctor warned me about the difficulties of a labor at forty-one. Your eldest sister, who was newly engaged at that time, complained of how ashamed she would feel to tell her fiancé’s family that her mother was pregnant when it was her own time to have children. My friends told me that women my age often gave birth to children with disabilities. I felt so helpless and scared, so alone.” She let out a sigh.

Gathering her strength, she continued. “People push you to take one definitive step and leave you to bear the burden alone afterwards. It was hard for me. I regretted it the moment it was done.” Mom sniffed and closed her eyes, struggling for a deep breath. “As I was about to leave the hospital, the nurse told me the baby was a boy. It was then that I remembered Leonard, my son whom I had lost in infancy. I know, it sounds crazy, but at that moment I felt as if the soul of Leonard had made a second attempt to come to this world, to my arms, and I had brutally rejected him.” Mom couldn’t continue any longer. Her chest was heaving for air. I took her hand and stroked it lovingly. Who of us hasn’t done things that we terribly regret? Don’t the tears of remorse expiate the past? Shouldn’t we forgive ourselves as we are asked to forgive others? Mom listened, nodded, but she did not speak a word. She excused herself and went to her room. Tonight as I lay in the dark by her side, I pray Mom will find the boy in her dream, present her tears to him, and find peace in reconciliation.

MATHEMATICS Ali Sebetci
is a Professor of Computational Chemical Physics, Zirve University Gaziantep, Turkey.

E
Although we speak casually of infinity and the infinite in our daily lives, the notion of infinite is perplexing and complex, worthy of much more attention and precision.

ven in its modern mathematical sense, infinity keeps its popularity as a topic dealt in many academic discussions, difficulties, and misunderstandings. Throughout the history, it has been the source of many controversies as in paradoxes of Zeno of Elea (about 490 BC-about 430 BC), the Hilbert’s (1862-1943) paradox of the grand hotel, and the philosophical and mathematical discussions on the Leibniz’s (1646-1716) method of infinitesimal calculus. Zeno of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher of southern Italy and a member of the Eleatic School founded by Parmenides. He argued that an object in motion can never

pass from one position to another, because between the two there is always an “infinity” of other positions, however close, that must be successively traversed in the course of the motion, and this “infinity” can never be exhausted. David Hilbert is a German mathematician who postulated a hypothetical hotel with “countably infinitely” many rooms, all of which are occupied. Since the hotel has “infinitely” many rooms, we can move the guest occupying room 1 to room 2, the guest occupying room 2 to room 3, and so on, and fit a newcomer into room 1. By repeating this procedure, it may be argued that it is possible to make room for any finite
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number of new guests, although every room of this hotel initially contains a guest. The following two quotations from two contemporary authors may provide more substance about the nature of the problem: On the other hand, involvement with the infinite brings with it a huge range of difficulties. In particular, there are the many puzzles and paradoxes that have been outlined in the pages of this book. Moreover, there are the many quite fundamental problems that arise for such apparently simple notions as counting, adding, maximizing, and so forth. Because we are so firmly wedded to limit notions—“best,” “first,” “greatest,” “maximum,” and so forth—that do not sit easily with the infinite, it is very hard to see how we can make our peace with the infinite.1 The infinite has always been a slippery concept. Even the commonly accepted mathematical view, developed by Georg Cantor, may not have truly placed infinity on a rigorous foundation.2 In the present article, we attempt to summarize Rene Guenon’s (1886-1951) alternative way of thinking on the idea of infinite from the perspective of the traditional metaphysical science. Much more detailed presentation of his perspective can be found in his (1886-1951) valuable study The Metaphysical Principles of the Infinitesimal Calculus3 from which we will extensively quote here. Guenon considered mathematics as providing a particularly proper symbolism for the expression of metaphysical truths to the extent that they are expressible. However, he states that “in order for this to be so it is above all necessary that these sciences be rid of the various errors and confusions that have been introduced by the false views of the moderns.”4
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To follow Guenon’s paradigm it is necessary to start with the metaphysical notion of the universal— All which comprehends all possibilities, the non-manifested as well as the manifested Universe, that is, the cosmos. The universal All leaves outside itself only the impossible that is a pure nothing. A determination is to define a certain domain of possibilities in relation to all the rest which is expressed by Spinoza (1632-1677) as omnis determinatio negatio est (all determination is a negation). The first of all determinations is Being itself. “Number is only a mode of quantity, and quantity itself only a category or special mode of being, not coextensive with it, or more precisely still, quantity is only a condition proper to one certain state of existence in the totality of universal existence.”5 Number, space, and time are all determined conditions. The Infinite, understood in its true, metaphysical sense, has no limits since its opposite, finite is synonymous with limited. Therefore, according to Guenon, … one cannot correctly apply this term to anything other than that which has absolutely no limits, that is to say the universal All. Furthermore, there can obviously be only one Infinite, for two supposedly distinct infinities would limit and therefore inevitably exclude one another.6 He further states, “The Infinite, in its true sense, can have neither opposite nor complementarity.”7 The scholastic distinction between “the infinite in a certain respect” and “the absolute infinite” cannot be accepted. If a thing is not limited in a certain sense or in a certain respect than one can legitimately conclude that it is limited in no way at all, and since a determined thing does not include every possibility, as such it can only be finite. Given any number, one can form the next by adding a unit gives the sequence of numbers to us.

Therefore, we cannot actually reach its limits. However, the impossibility of reaching the limits of certain things in the manifested Universe should not cause the illusion that these determined things have no limits at all. In order to replace the false notion of “determined infinite,” Guenon introduces, the idea of the indefinite, which is precisely the idea of a development of possibilities the limits of which we cannot actually reach; and this is why we (Guenon) regard this distinction between the Infinite and the indefinite as fundamental to all questions in which the so-called mathematical infinite appears.8 According to Descartes (15961650), the indefinite is that of which we do not perceive the limits, and which in reality could be infinite. On the contrary, Guenon affirms that [T]he indefinite cannot be infinite because it always implies a certain determination, whether it is a question of extension, duration, divisibility, or some other possibility; in a word, whatever the indefinite may be, and according to whatever aspect it is considered, it is still of the finite and can only be of the finite.9 The idea of an “infinite number” understood as “the greatest of all numbers,” or “the number of all numbers” is contradictory. The impossibility of an “infinite number” can be established by various arguments: [T]o every whole number (integer) there corresponds another number equal to its double, such that one can make the two sequences correspond term by term, with the result that the number of terms must be the same in both; but there are obviously twice as many whole numbers as there are even, since

even numbers alternate by twos in the sequence of whole numbers; one thus ends up with a manifested contradiction.10 Guenon insists that number, despite its indefinitude, is by no means applicable to all that exists and the multitude of all numbers cannot constitute a number, which, moreover, is finally only an application of the incontestable truth that what limits a certain order of possibilities must necessarily be beyond and outside that which it limits.11 On the other hand, the idea of multitude, contrary to that of number, is applicable to all that exists which allows one to speak of the multitude of divine attributes for example, or again of the multitude of angels, that is, of beings belonging to states that are not subject to quantity, where, consequently, there can be no question of number. Number itself can also be regarded as a species of multitude, but on the added condition that it be a “multitude measured by the unit” according to the expression of Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274).12 The term “indefinite” consists of something unfinished. The “nonmeasured” is that which has not yet been defined, which is only incompletely realized within manifestation. The multitude of all numbers is “innumerable” or “non-measured,” which is not to say they are infinite, but merely that they are indefinite. Guenon calls whole number as true number or pure number. He accepts that the numbers other than whole numbers can be considered as the extensions or generalizations of the idea of number. However, he adds that these extensions are also distortions. According to Guenon, numerical quantity has a discontinuous char-

acter, whereas spatial or temporal magnitudes, for example, are continuous quantities. “Between these two modes of quantity is a difference of nature such that a correspondence between the two cannot be perfectly established.”13 He distinguishes the arithmetical unit from the “units of measurement,” which are magnitudes of another sort than number, notably geometric magnitudes. He defines a continuous quantity as an extension—however small it might be—that will always remain indefinitely divisible. Guenon is against atomism, which necessarily implies the discontinuity of all things. He argues extension cannot be composed of indivisible elements, for these elements would have to be extensionless to be truly indivisible, and a sum of elements with no extension can no more constitute an extension than a sum of zeros can constitute a number, that is why points are not the elements or parts of a line; the true linear elements are always distances between points, which latter are only their extremities. Points multiplied by any quantity at all can never produce length, since, rigorously speaking, they are null with respect to length; the true elements of a magnitude must always be of the same nature as the magnitude, although incomparably less: this leaves no room for indivisibles.14 Further, The point, which, being indivisible, is by that very fact without extension, that is, spatially null, but which, as we (Guenon) have explained elsewhere, is nonetheless the very principle of all extension.15 For Guenon, Zeno of Elea’s arguments are against atomism and indeed, they prove that without

continuity there would be no possible motion. It is this very conception of motion that is in error, for it amounts in short to regarding the continuous as if it were composed of points, or of final, indivisible elements, like the notion according to which bodies are composed of atoms; and this would amount to saying that in reality there is no continuity, for whether it is a question of points or atoms, these final elements can only be discontinuous.16 And, “The possibility of motion presupposes the union, or rather the combination, of both temporal and spatial continuity.”17 We consider Guenon as an important and prominent example of thinkers who tried to remind people of the traditional metaphysical ideas. This metaphysical perspective does not share the modern tendency to attribute more importance to the practical applications of science than to science itself. This perspective attempts to link science back to principles of a higher order so that a particular science can be used as a support for elevating oneself to a higher knowledge.

Notes
1. Graham Oppy, Philosophical Perspectives on Infinity, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p.295. A. W. Moore, A Brief History of Infinity, Scientific American, 272, 112, 1995. Rene Guenon, The Metaphysical Principles of Infinitesimal Calculus, Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, USA 2003. Ibid, p. 130. Ibid, p. 17. Ibid, p. 7. Ibid, p. 86. Ibid, p. 11. Ibid, p. 12. Ibid, p. 16. Ibid, p. 18. Ibid, p. 21. Ibid, p. 26. Ibid, p. 50. Ibid, p. 87. Ibid, p. 121. Ibid, p. 122.

2.

3.

4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

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RELIGION

Ahmet Kurucan

has a PhD in Islamic Studies.

THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION, THE CONCEPT OF WAR AND GÜLEN

“Notice that no war can be fought in order to communicate one’s faith. A war can be fought when faith is prevented from teaching its message ‘in peaceful ways.’”

S

cholars have put forward varying ideas on the legitimacy of war in Islam. While there is consensus on the prevention of atrocity and self-defense, there are disputes on issues like preclusion from the freedom of teaching religion, violation of a peace agreement, assassination of envoys, etc. In this article, we would like to shed light on an issue that is particularly associated with the freedom of teaching religion. This particular kind of freedom is presented as one of the causes of war in the book Muhammad: The Messenger of God by Fethullah Gülen, and with a bit more detail in the Turkish edition of the same book.1 If one approaches the problem from a partial analysis, rather than a holistic one, then one can easily come to the conclusion that “war can be waged to teach one’s religion.” In the aforementioned book, Gülen literally says the following: “War can be waged to protect and ensure one’s freedom to teach about truth (in the way one believes in) if such freedoms are being violated.” Viewing the issue from this aspect, it is not correct to reach a conclusion that Gülen, thus Islam, does not recognize freedom of religion and conscience. Those who reach such a conclusion means are disregarding Islamic verses and the literature on the traditions of the Prophet that pertain to the freedom of religion and conscience, as well as the important interpretations made by Gülen in this issue. There are also some circles who never tire of spouting their biased discourse, manifested by slogans such as, “Islam is the religion of the sword,” “Islam is an oppressive and coercive religion,” or “either Islam or death.” In contrast, it is very clear in the sentences that follow the above quote, as if Gülen had sensed such possible misunderstandings: “Notice that no war can be fought in order to communicate one’s faith. A war can be fought when faith is prevented from teaching its message ‘in peaceful ways.’” In my opinion, restriction of the communication of any religion is a violation of a birthright and rights agreed upon in international human

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rights declarations. In other words, the prohibition in question, if one indeed exists, is a sheer atrocity that has been imposed on people living in a particular social system. Living in the West, where such debates have occurred, I have two alternatives: either to investigate the written and oral literature of Fethullah Gülen in order to examine the accuracy of this approach, or to ask him directly. I preferred to take the easier way and directly asked him my question: Here I give you his reply: “It is possible to categorize all the battles the Prophet fought, when analyzed thoroughly with their basic characteristics, within the concept of defense. If there is an attack by an enemy, or if there is evidence acquired by a very reliable intelligence that there is going to be an attack, then war will be necessary. The Qur’anic evidence that supports this is Baqara 2:191: ‘fight against them, if they fight you.’2 “While emphasizing the fact that the Prophet only fought defensive battles, there is no need to claim “there is no war in Islam by any means,” evoking some kind of an inferiority complex. On the other hand, Islam does not give the right to any nation to clamp on another nation for no reason, or just for the sake of her national sovereignty. This critical balance was maintained in the eras of the Prophet and the Four Rightly-Guided Caliphs. But it is not possible to state that the same sensitivity has been preserved by some Islamic states after the Abbasids until today—the Ottomans included. Several wars were waged for the sake of gains, or to extend territory. They treated their enemies with justice during and after the war; but this is a different issue.”

The issue is crystal clear: war is the very last thing to do, when other solutions are exhausted, in order to eliminate an injustice that restricts the freedom of communication and guidance for teaching one’s religion. Thus, from where does this confusion stem? There are two reasons for this. The first is the inability to delineate the Prophet’s actions as the Messenger of God—which bind all Muslims until the Day of Judgment—from some of his actions as a statesman, which were basically formed in keeping with the policies of the day according to the prevalent context. The second reason is that some concepts that pertain to war are predicated in their religious rather than political connotations, arising from the fact that war is a sphere where religion and politics intermingle; in other words, the “literalist” approach is adopted. These two reasons, in the final analysis, give rise to misinterpretation of some of the concepts in a far distant meaning than what they were originally constructed for. Take the concept of “fi sabilillah,” as an example. This concept, which is repeated many times in the Holy Qur’an and the sayings of the Prophet, literally means “in the way of God.” However, the role that this concept plays in the field of religion differs from that which it plays in politics in the Arabic language. “Fi sabilillah” in the field of religion covers all the good deeds aiming to acquire merit, whereas it signifies to ensure the rule of law in the field of politics. In conclusion, fundamental rights and freedoms are not issues that are open to question. All people are free to choose their religion. No state should be able to revoke this right from her citizens. The ordinances of the Qur’an and the Sunnah which pertain to this issue are clear enough. Regulations and applications that inhibit these freedoms should not be allowed.

A war can only be declared in keeping with the will of the legitimate political authority. The fact that people prefer to believe in a religion other than Islam is not considered to be a cause of war.

Restrictions may be exercised by the authority of a legitimate state only if an encroachment of the rights of other people is in question, particularly in the fields of public security, common order, public decency, and health. As regards the case of war, a war can only be declared in keeping with the will of the legitimate political authority. The fact that people prefer to believe in a religion other than Islam is not considered to be a cause of war. On the other hand, if a state does not allow its citizens the freedom to choose their religion, whichever religion that may be, this is oppression. To prevent this kind of atrocity is a legitimate cause of war if all possible means of peaceful settlement have been tried and failed.

Note
1. Insanligin Iftihar Tablosu: Sonsuz Nur, Vol 2, 2010, p. 194. 2. Another remark by Gülen, made at another time, confirms this: “Take a close look at his battles at Badr, Uhud, and the Trench. All of them took place in the vicinity of Medina, while the enemy, the polytheists of Mecca, were living 500 kilometers away. What could the Muslims do? Should they welcome the enemy forces, who had come to the front line and inside the town, trying to kill them? The Battle of Khaybar, on the other hand, was fought because previously signed treaties were violated, and these treaties stipulated violation as a cause for war.
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An obviously poor man has taken charge of the garden plot next to mine in our neighborhood community garden. Part of me fears him.

TALkINg TOLERANCE
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DIALOGUE Gertrud Mueller Nelson
is an author, artist and retired teacher.

We learned to define ourselves in a certain way, convinced that we have chosen the better part and have left “the other,” the misguided, the sinful, the messy, and unenlightened behind.

T

olerance is a curious word. It indicates an ability to bear up with a certain amount of variation or difference. 1Tolerance, we think, is a virtue to be attained. In dialogue, we see it as our ability to be free of bigotry. It says we can “endure” difference. How generous of us. How condescending, actually! It implies that I can bear up under the difference which is exemplified in the other: I won’t criticize you openly or make comments, but deep down, I know you to be “different” and myself to be virtuous and probably superior. I may catch myself, when speaking of someone I actually do not like, saying politely: “Well, she’s different.” With that comment, I am off the hook. I refrain from telling you I reject this person. But “different” here may support a polite tolerance, yet it harbors an inner rejection. So can we count tolerance a virtue? Perhaps developing tolerance is a stepping stone to something deeper? It might be the beginning of wisdom and exemplify a necessary patience with what feels painful, uncomfortable, unfamiliar, possibly frightening, in fact “foreign” to us. “Unfamiliar,” literally means: Not of my family. I am ill at ease with this because I do not know it. It is not part of my family, my tribe, my beliefs, my language, my religion, my race. In the spirit of tolerance, I might begin to open myself to tasting, hearing, learning something about that which is not “ours.” It is a beginning, but it still holds fast to the comfort of

what it knows and only tolerates what it cannot fully accept. Still, we have all had the expansive experience of traveling outside our zones of comfort and making a new relationship. We have launched a friendship with someone who seems unlike us. An obviously poor man has taken charge of the garden plot next to mine in our neighborhood community garden. Perhaps he is homeless? He rattles up to the garden on a dilapidated bicycle. His clothes are worn and he has a scruffy look. His nails are dirty and

that might be because he has been working his plot. I sense a certain unease in myself as we scratch the soil in our plots. Part of me fears him. That might be because I feel guilty about the growing number of homeless who make camps under the overpasses in my neighborhood. I can let my mind race with objections: They might bring disease. They certainly clutter the surroundings with litter. What if, in their need, they take what they want from yards and sheds? And the police told us recently they found a cache of machetes, sticks

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Dempsey is his name. He does indeed live at the homeless shelter downtown and bikes up hill here to work his plot. He has lost the place he once lived. There is a story hiding in him.

and knives in the park behind us. Oh, I can build dungeons in the sky as fast as anyone. But to be honest, deep down, I would dread being homeless myself and in this economy… my mind races. How much of this is all our responsibility? Other members of the community garden, I notice, walk well out of his way. Sometimes they whisper to one another making comments about their discomfort. But this is, after all, a Community garden! What does that really mean. If you sign up and pay the nominal fee to tend a plot and use the garden tools, this man has a right to be here. So the gardeners put up a front of tolerance. “We shall see. We’ll give him a chance.” Tolerance invites us to stand before the unfamiliar and allow— but it still has no relationship to the ability to be empathic. Empathy is a vulnerable frame of being. It is to feel with what is “other” or different.2 Tolerance does not yet stand in the shoes of the other, knowing exactly what it feels like to be that person, living into a sense of that person’s culture, situation, history, biology, with those talents, bearing those wounds or offering those gifts. Empathy would be the greater quality to embrace and cultivate in ourselves if we want to conduct real dialogue. Empathy is a quality that comes with maturity, practice, humility, a vulnerable openness and, of course, prayer. There is nothing guarded, “tolerant” or superior about it.
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“Hey!” Two of us greet the man one morning as we hoe our plants. What’s your name? What have you just planted there? I make a point of walking over there and taking responsibility for my own feelings, I try to make contact with the fellow devoid of my prejudices. I am not an extroverted, chatty person to begin with, so it takes a concerted effort on my part to walk over there, discuss our gardens, and share our experiences. Dempsey is his name. He does indeed live at the homeless shelter downtown and bikes up hill here to work his plot. He has lost the place he once lived. There is a story hiding in him. Turns out he knows quite a bit about the soil and gardening. He introduces me to his beloved collards. I show him my chard and spinach. Eventually we share some of our produce and though I do not take a shine to his collards, no matter how I try, I feel somehow honored by his generosity. He has a plan. Even a vision. If he can grow enough produce, he will bring it to the kitchens at his shelter. As a kid, he had gardens which he and his mom tended. When everything in a row turns ripe and ready at once, it is quite an armful and he would like to make a contribution to his shelter. He has more plans. There is some land at the back of the shelter that, if he can convince them, he would like to turn into gardens that the homeless can help cultivate. Right now it is just a dumping ground for old bottles and litter.

“Of course, we’d need to contain the kitchen waste for compost first to get some soil. Gardening is more about making good soil than about growing plants!” Before long, I am hearing amazing things from Dempsey. What if I had avoided him in my fear, guilt, and prejudice? I think about my feelings against his reality. When we were young and growing up, we all made choices: We chose this over that, we chose right over wrong. We chose right over left and light over dark. We learned not to talk to strangers or to walk in certain neighborhoods. All the world is split in halves and with our choices we made judgments to match. We learned to define ourselves in a certain way, convinced that we have chosen the better part and have left “the other,” the misguided, the sinful, the messy, and unenlightened behind. This is how we formed our identity. With this we were approved of by our families and accepted by our tribe. It was, perhaps, a necessary developmental process. In time, we may become so comfortable in this identity that it takes wisdom and maturity to discover that the world isn’t so black and white as we would like to define it. Our “black and white mentality” is often acted out literally. Here in America, we have suffered and visited great suffering on people of color deeming white to be more worthy than black. Getting stuck at this stage of development has literally given advantage, education and wealth to whites and this on the backs of those we first imported as slaves to our country and then continued to enslave in our intolerance, injustice and rejection. Everywhere in the world, we have seen these simplistic conflicts bloom and fester causing injustice, war, and dreadful human misery. Tolerance, then, might be the first step to healing an unjust

society but then, it has to develop further, into a true virtue. Empathy—that true virtue—allows us to viscerally feel with the other and learn a third way which stands over and above the simplicity of a merely “black and white” mentality. Perhaps fundamental rights and wrongs may well be necessary to growing up and learning to become someone. But fundamentalism is essentially an unripe process in becoming whole, holy, and healthy. It is a spiritual and psychological immaturity. Becoming whole, empathic with “the other” and more than merely “tolerant” of the other requires that we make friends with the deepest part of our own inner selves first. The dark aspects of our own unconscious, which lie under our conscious choices and awareness, are alive and well and sometimes pop out in actions, prejudices, paranoia, and selfish behaviors that actually shock us, surprising ourselves! Where did THAT come from? The impromptu snub? That slip-of-the-tongue? Getting to know what you’d rather repress in yourself takes that washing, even symbolic washing, which takes off the accretions of only “looking good.” To reach into our depth we ask for the graces of God and the courage to know ourselves. Dempsey proves to be a gifted gardener. Unlike many of us cityslickers who find the idea of gardening a nice, romantic concept, Dempsey knows how to lean into his work and stick with it. He puts a hand to our compost pile and gives me information on the chem-

istry of compost. He LOVES the compost. And I begin to be enamored with the beauty of this transforming pile of brush and leaves as they become mulch and then good, black earth. It takes time. It takes patience. The vegetable scraps and brush, the kitchen scraps that we reject and find, in fact, revolting as they mold and decompose, become, in time, something so rich and beautiful that I hold a palm full in my hand and run it through my fingers. Dempsey laughs at me. He knows that I have come around. I encourage him to share his knowledge at our garden meetings. Dempsey becomes a valuable member of the garden. And he becomes a friend. Like the compost, I dig deep into my own unconscious and all that I have deemed objectionable, I take into my awareness. I get to know myself a little more. I get to appreciate what I otherwise throw out and bury out of sight—out of my consciousness—and I find it necessary as the very “ground of my being.” It is a spiritual, a holy exercise. Also the parts of society that I might only tolerate, I take into my awareness and with prayer and God’s grace, I watch the rejected become a valuable source and a piece of God’s holy plan and puzzle. Richard Rohr, OFM put it this way: With prayer we change sides from the inside—from a power position to the position of vulnerability and solidarity, which gradually changes everything. Because now we are allowing ourselves to change and grow!

Once we are freed from our paranoia, from the narcissism that thinks we are the center of the world, or from our belief that thinks our rights and dignity have to be defended before other people’s rights and dignity, only then can we finally live and act with any justice or truth. Once these blockages are taken away from us—and that is what prayer does—then we just have to be offered a few guiding statements on social justice or other thorny issues—and we tend to get it for ourselves. We start being drawn by love…3 For it is common practice in the human condition to take everything we fear, hate, deny about ourselves and “throw it in the waste bin.” We have, unwittingly, put “the other” in that same place of rejection and waste. On the other hand, we also project everything we admire onto “the hero” as well. The adolescent makes heroes of the athlete, the rock star, the film star, the super model and decorates her bedroom with their posters. Meanwhile, the adults lean on their gurus, their preachers, their wise men, their favorite politicians and hope to vote in their hero as president and savior-of-the-nation. Our heroes, just like our shadow figures about whom we are passionate, are really aspects of ourselves which we are invited to come to know. These are abilities, virtues, talents, beauties, braveries, and wisdoms that we have not yet met in our own deepest selves but have “found” by projecting them on our heroes. What national leader can be the savior that delivers us from debt, from our enemies, from hunger? Over and over and at every election, we project on “the man who would be king,” and within months, because he is merely human, the populace has become disenchanted if not duped! Samuel, in Hebrew Scripture, warns of turning away from God
November / December 2011 The Fountain Magazine

Dempsey laughs at me. He knows that I have come around. I encourage him to share his knowledge at our garden meetings. Dempsey becomes a valuable member of the garden. And he becomes a friend.

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in favor of a king (1 Samuel 8). Israel wanted a leader like the other nations. But Samuel issues a final warning (1 Samuel 12:14) “If God’s people will remain faithful to God’s Commandments” and keep God as their ruler. When our loves and our hates are visceral and passionate, we must take these deep emotions as invitations to examine our SELVES first. By truly “knowing ourselves” deeply, we are able to develop empathy—knowing “the other.” Then we learn to accept the dark and light aspect of our deepest self.4 We learn to embrace everyone. Our tolerance becomes empathy, even love! Rumi’s teaching often showed that love and empathy is the very path to spiritual growth and insight. Broadly tolerant of every person and all faiths he says: Whoever you may be, come Even though you may be An infidel, a pagan, or a fire-worshipper, come Our brotherhood is not one of despair Even though you have broken Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come. Life is certain to dish up for us, family members, neighbors, people, situations, religions, countries—myriad experiences that are really invitations to rattle us out of our cozy dualistic and judgmental lives. May we grow surely and bravely from being merely tolerant into fully human beings who are steeped in empathy. Every dualist split that rends us apart personally and tears us one from the other would be healed. The same God reigns over and above us all. The same God guides us. The same God loves us all. The same God is the very ground of our being. Tolerance is only a start on the path to love and empathy.

Each individual is equipped with sublime emotions, has a natural disposition toward virtue, and is fascinated with eternity. Even the most wretched-looking person has a rainbowlike atmosphere in his or her spirit comprised of the thought of eternity, love of beauty, and virtuous feeling. If people can develop these most basic, inherent elements of their being, they can rise to the highest ranks of humanity and attain eternity. ***

Notes
1. Tolerance: A fair and objective attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc. differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry. A fair and objective attitude toward opinions and practices which differ from one’s own; a liberal, un-dogmatic viewpoint… the act or capacity of enduring… (italics mine). The Random House Dictionary of English Language 2. Empathy: The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. The Random House Dictionary of English Language 3. Adapted from Rohr, Richard. 2011. A Lever and A Place to Stand: The Contemplative Stance, The Active Prayer, Hidden Springs, p. 92. 4. Throughout the collected works of the famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung, he encourages us to engage what he termed our “shadow”—that part of ourselves, positive or negative, which we refuse to own as a hidden aspect of ourselves and would rather project on our heroes and our enemies. He makes this awareness a necessary requirement to any kind of psychological inner work or healing.

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POEM
Barbara Koerth is a freelance writer and has written published poetry and continues to do so. She lives in the Houston area with her husband and children. She is currently studying Psychology.

Barbara Koerth

MY sAdNess
It is as though my world is a blur I can’t seem to make things make sense Nothing makes sense It’s like a snow globe Shaken and stirred In comparison to the flakes Everything is disarray My mind is a mess I toss and I turn I can’t sleep I can’t eat It has been 3 days now I feel lost I feel alone There are people around There are people home Tears fall from my blue eyes I can’t make them stop They fall with a pin drop I can’t recall when I last laughed I hurt inside I want it all to go away The pain The fear The tears I look in the mirror What do I see A shell of me I see a little glimpse Of who I once was I see sadness I don’t see the real me Time to get ready Can’t let the world see Hide my sadness Hide it with makeup And false smiles Be the pretty girl The one everyone adores Not the one you don’t share Only some see her This charade never ends My love never dies My tears I will hide I must go outside The world is waiting

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W
SCIENCE Halil I. Demir
is a postdoctoral scholar in informatics

e live in a world in which our perceptions are based on our physical senses and the knowledge we gain through them. Our senses can react only to a limited number of inputs. For example, the human eyes cannot see through objects, but it is possible to produce images from the inside of a body with high-frequency sound waves. Actually, similar senses are seen in nature, as in echolocation, as used by bats, whales, and dolphins. Why is this sense not innate in humans? Are there senses that we have but not aware of yet, such as telepathy? Let’s explore the world of telepathy with a great mystery, the concept of entanglement in quantum physics. Quantum entanglement is an interesting phenomenon. Two or more quantum particles can be linked together in a special way; this makes them behave like one entity. A change in one of the constituent particles can instantly be observed in the other, independent of the distance between the particles. This phenomenon was called “entanglement” by the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger. The basics of quantum entanglement [1] and

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Intriguing features of the quantum world can promise new ways of communication, including telepathy. Recent developments in quantum physics, observing entanglement in atoms and biological systems, mysterious communication between DNA strands, and telepathic connection between humans are all pieces of an unsolved puzzle. When we think about how we perceive this world with our known physical senses, and how it might be with other unknown perspectives, we can then wonder what percentage of things in our universe we have not been able to see or know.

quantum computers [2] are discussed in recent articles in The Fountain magazine. Some physicists [3, 4, 5] explain this phenomenon by suggesting that the two entangled particles are actually a single particle that can be observed from two different locations in the universe at the same time point, as if they have been created to appear as a pair. At the quantum level, the definitions of space and time become obscure. An atom can be in two distant locations at the same time, but this may not be the case for a paper clip. What about dozens or thousands of atoms? Where is the line between atoms and a paper clip? Entanglement has already been experimented on atoms [6] and observed in biological systems at room temperatures. A recent study [7] found the first evidence of biological organisms showing strange quantum behaviors. Researchers from UC Berkeley believe that they have observed quantum entanglement occurring in photosynthesis. The possibility of using these molecules for quantum information processing at room temperature may open the doors for photosynthetic quantum computers. This finding could lead to solar cells that are more efficient than today’s photovoltaic cells. Quantum entanglement has many areas of application, including secure encryption [8], ultra-fast quantum computers [9], ghost imaging [10], teleportation [11], and perhaps the most interesting one, telepathy [12]. Telepathy is described as the transfer of thought or feeling from one person to another without using known channels of communication. Fredric W. H. Myers, founder of the Society for Psychical Research, coined the term, telepathy, in 1882 to replace the earlier expression thought-transference. Telepathy is one of the main branches of parapsychological research, and has been studied to try to detect, understand, and utilize phenomena [13]. It is often accepted that there is a connection between telepathy and other paranormal phenomena, such as precognition, clairvoyance and empathy. The existence of telepathy has been confirmed through many scientific experiments [12]. However there is no accepted mechanism that explains how telepathy works. It remains controversial and is not widely accepted by scientists. It is always appealing to perceive a phenomenon as happening from nothing or without a cause, as often happens in movies or dreams. But is this realistic? There are many mechanisms, structures, and reactions we can observe in nature which cannot be understood with our current knowledge. One can quickly make a list of things that cannot be explained by science today. It is believed that there is a cause and effect relation, and a reasonable explanation for everything in this universe. Some will push this further to offer an incredible prize for an opposite claim. The JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation) has offered a one-milliondollar prize [14] to the person who can show (under proper experimental conditions) evidence of any paranormal or supernatural event. They will remove telepathy from the list of supernatural events if it can be achieved during a controlled experiment. Some researchers claim that there is a connection between quantum theory and telepathy. One theory is that the human mind has abilities that influence and receive “quantum fluctuations” from other minds. Another theory explains this instantaneous communication with quantum entanglement. Gao Shen, at the Institute of Quantum Physics in Beijing, China, has conducted experiments [12] to understand this connection by monitoring synchronous EEG patterns between two hypothetically “entangled” minds. There are many natural events in our daily life that might seem like telepathy. You might hear something from one of your friends or relatives,
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for example, that they can perceive a phenomenon like an injury or illness to a close person from a distance. Many people claim that they have this kind of experience, especially twins with one another, or mothers and children. Are all these people in close relationships—twins, couples, siblings, parent and child—also sharing quantum entangled particles? Humans are not the only subjects that show telepathic properties. It has reported [15] that intact double-stranded DNA has an ability to recognize similarities in other DNA strands. This recognition occurs between sequences of several hundred nucleotides without physical contact or the presence of proteins. The way they identify one another and combine chemically is not fully understood. This behavior can be observed in water that contains no proteins or other material that could interfere with the reaction. There needs to be some sort of communication, attraction or guidance between individual DNA strands to explain this behavior. Do these DNA strands communicate through entangled particles? Could this telepathic behavior of DNA be the explanation of the power of extra sensory perception between people close to each other? Are we all entangled with one another with invisible bonds, existing since the time of Adam and Eve? Is it all because of the genetic inheritance in our DNA? Do our actions affect others, even if we have no direct connection or relation to them? Maybe all the living things and our lives in this universe are a part of a single mechanism, guided and connected in a special way we cannot understand with our current scientific knowledge. Einstein pointed [16] out the illusion of separateness: “A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings
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and publishers dedicated to the advancement of technologies in the merging realm of science and religion.

References
1. S. Candaroglu, “Quantum Entanglement: Illusion or Reality?”. Fountain, Issue 61 January – February, 2008. O. D. Ikramoglu, “Quantum-Inspired World of Computers: Science or Fiction?”. Fountain, Issue 74, March – April, 2010. M. A. Nielsen and I. L. Chuang, Quantum Information and Quantum Computing (Cambridge U. Press, 2000). Ryszard Horodecki, Paweł Horodecki, Michał Horodecki, Karol Horodecki, Rev. Mod. Phys. 81, 865–942 (2009). M. Genovese, Cosmology and entanglement, Adv. Sci. Lett. 2, 303-309 (2009). S. Olmschenk, D.N. Matsukevich, P. Maunz, D. Hayes, L. M. Duan, C. Monroe, “Quantum Teleportation Between Distant Matter Qubits”. Science, 323, 5913, 486–489, 2009. M. Sarovar, A. Ishizaki, G. R. Fleming, K. B. Whaley, “Quantum entanglement in photosynthetic light harvesting complexes”. arXiv:0905.3787v1 [quant-ph], 2009. H. K. Lo, and N. Lutkenhaus, “Quantum Cryptography: from Theory to Practice”. arXiv:quantph/0702202, 2007. D. P. DiVincenzo, “Quantum Computation”. Science, 270, 5234, 255–261. doi:10.1126/science.270.5234.255, 1995. M. D’Angelo, Y.H. Kim, S.P. Kulik, Y. Shih, “Identifying entanglement using quantum ghost interference and imaging”, Physical review letters, 2004. D. Bouwmeester, J.W. Pan, K. Mattle, M. Eibl, H. Weinfurter, A. Zeilinger, “Experimental Quantum Teleportation”. Nature, 390, 6660, 575-579, 1997. S. Gao, “A Primary Quantum Model of Telepathy”. 2003. [Preprint] Wikipedia, Telepathy, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telepathy. James Randi Educational Foundation, “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge”, Available online http:// www.randi.org/research/index.html G. S. Baldwin, N. J. Brooks, R. E. Robson, A. Wynveen, A. Goldar, S. Leikin, J. M. Seddon, and A. A. Kornyshev, “DNA Double Helices Recognize Mutual Sequence Homology in a Protein Free Environment”. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 112, 4, 1060-1064, 2008. Elise’s collection of favorite quotes, http://elise.com/quotes/ Mergeous, Online article and project development service, http://www.mergeous.com/

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as someone separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” All these intriguing features of the quantum world can promise new ways of communication, including telepathy. Recent developments in quantum physics, observing entanglement in atoms and biological systems, mysterious communication between DNA strands, and telepathic connection between humans are all pieces of an unsolved puzzle. When we think about how we perceive this world with our known physical senses, and how it might be with other unknown perspectives, we can then wonder what percentage of things in our universe we have not been able to see or know. There is a long way to go before understanding the universe with our limited perspectives and physical senses. Acknowledgment: This article was produced in MERGEOUS [17], an online article and project development service for authors

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E E TH ! WAR GER BE EN ESS M

Globalization
MEDIA Kaan Kerem
has a PhD in political science

MIsINforMATIoN IN THe AGe of

C

howdury Osman, a taxi driver in New York City, made himself a hero in February 2007 when he returned a black bag carrying 31 diamond rings to a passenger who left it in Mr. Osman’s taxi’s trunk.1 He was all over the news across the United States. Mr. Osman was a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh. Interestingly, over twenty national and local newspapers that I reviewed that day referred him as a Bangladeshi, and not as a Muslim. It then occurred to me - what if this man instead stole his customer’s diamond rings and this became news, too? Would the media refer him as just a Bangladeshi or also a Muslim as they did when a Moroccan-Dutch killed Dutch filmmaker Vincent van Gogh or a Pakistani-American killed a Jewish woman and wounded many at the Seattle Jewish Federation? Why do the Western media highlight the religion of a Muslim when he/she commits an evil act but ignore it when he/she commits a noble one?
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Almost every society eventually creates an “other” that serves as such for certain political, economic, or social purposes. And in most cases, the identification of this “other” rests on a simplistic “us versus them” dichotomy: we are “good” people, and they are “bad” people. Because this simple dichotomy is more mythical than real, the maintenance of this myth requires a continuous pumping of misinformation into the public realm. Misinformation is not necessarily incorrect information; it is also purposeful manipulation of reality. Each society foregrounds the good acts of its own people and backgrounds their bad acts while foregrounding the bad acts of “others” and backgrounding their good acts. Thus, we all accomplish giving our own communities a delusional sense of moral and cultural superiority over others, which eventually turns the material conflicts between us and others into moral conflicts between good and evil. The common “good Westerners–bad Muslims” dichotomy in the West results in manipulation of the information provided to the people in the West about both Muslims and Westerners themselves. This is why in the Western media, evil acts of Muslim people are almost always associated with Islam while noble acts of Muslim people such as Mr. Osman are either ignored or associated with their nationality rather than their religion. In the same vein, evil acts of Western people such as those who gassed the nursery of a Muslim mosque in Ohio while about 300 people were praying inside in September 2008 are largely ignored by the mainstream Western media, for it goes against the “good Westerners” image.2 A striking example that is used in the West as evidence to the evilness of Muslims is the degree of support for terrorism among Muslims. Authors from Sam Har56
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ris to Robert Spencer have sought refuge in Muslim support for terrorism when they wanted to denounce Islam. It is an unfortunate truth that many Muslims justify killing innocent people in certain circumstances. According to the respectable PEW institution’s surveys, 10 to 50 percent of people in Muslim societies (with an average of 20-25%) often times or sometimes justify suicide bombing of civilian targets to defend Islam.3 Such findings are construed as evidence to both the belligerent nature of the religion of Islam and the evilness of the Muslim mind. Yet another truth that goes uncovered in the Western media is the fact that there is comparable support for terrorism among Western people as well. According to a 2007 survey by World Public Opinion, for example, 24% of Americans find “bombing and other types of attacks intentionally aimed at civilians” often times or sometimes justified.4 But such surveys never find a place in the mainstream American media because they go against the common “good American–bad Muslim” dichotomy.5 The problem of misinformation is not unique to the West. It is equally problematic in Muslim societies. Most Muslims have known the United States and Americans through the lenses of Vietnam, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the like. But few of them are aware of such programs like Peace Corps or Volunteers for Prosperity because such good American acts go against the mythical “bad Americans–good Muslims” dichotomy in the Muslim world. Similarly, most Muslims have memorized many non-Muslim names for their brutal acts against Muslims, but very few Muslims are familiar with Muslim names who are held responsible for the crimes against humanity. Whereas the former figures confirm the mythical “good Muslims–bad non-Muslims”

image, the latter contradicts it. Therefore, the former examples have been highlighted in the Muslim media and the latter has been ignored. On the forefront of this universal misinformation campaign are two institutions: the media and governments. The media loves sensational, flashy news because such news pumps up their ratings. Consequently, the media capitalize on overstated evilness of some other people and the existential threat they pose to “our” society.6 In the same vein, our governments love the existence of “external threats to our national security,” mythical or real, because it allows them to divert public attention from failed domestic policies to international politics

As we diversify our sources of information and befriend people from other societies, it will hopefully help us re-appreciate the essential commonality between all of us: humanity.

and also to implement certain political and military agenda that they could not have carried out without a foreign threat. Hermann Goering, a fighter pilot in the Nazi German Air Force, noted during Nuremberg Trials, “It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. That is easy. All you have to tell them is that they are being attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”7 Thus, it is no wonder that we find government officials at the forefront of fear-mongering. Whether it is “the Great Satan” in Iran or “Islamofacists” in the United States, overstated external enemies serve well for governments. John Mueller, a professor of political science from Ohio State University, estimated that “the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000—about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor.”8 Yet whereas no sane American is obsessed with the adversity of a meteor falling on his/ her head, many have been made to obsessively think, fear, and guard themselves against a terrorist attack by some evil others. Most of us have been misinformed about other societies to some extent. We are all, therefore, in need of a therapy of knowledge refinement. But how do we do that? Personally, I think there are two effective ways/channels of refining our adulterated knowledge and acquiring authentic information about other societies. First, we need to diversify our sources of information by reading multiple and multi-national news papers or portals. As people in the West need to read the likes of

Al-Ahram, Al-Jazeera, or Today’s Zaman, Muslim people should also read the New York Times, Die Welt, or Haaretz. Second, we need to diversify our pool of friends and include in it as many people from “other” societies as possible. Nothing is more powerful than a concrete counter-example when it comes to destroying a myth. As we diversify our sources of information and befriend people from other societies, we will realize that “we” are not as “good” as we are told we are, and “they” are not as “bad” as we are told they are, which will hopefully help us reappreciate the essential commonality between all of us: humanity. Hopefully, we will then also realize that the major struggle is not between “good” us versus “bad” them but rather between the good people and the bad ones among us all.

Notes
1 See, for example, CBS network’s coverage of the story: “NYC Cabbie Returns Bag of Diamond Rings,” available online at http://www. cbsnews.com/stories/2007/02/07/ap/ national/mainD8N4TUGO0.shtml “Muslim Children Gassed at Dayton Mosque After “Obsession” DVD hits Ohio,” www.huffingtonpost.com, available online at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/muslim-children-gassed-at_b_130076. html Pew Global Attitudes Project, May 2006. WorldPublicOpinion.org, January 2007. Available online at: http:// www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/ pdf/jan07/Iran_Jan07_rpt.pdf For an exception, see Kenneth Ballen “The Myth of Muslim Support for Terror,” Christian Science Monitor, Feb 23, 2007. See, for example, BBC’s report “War coverage lifts News Corp,” Aug 13, 2003. Available online at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/3148015.stm Quoted in, Ismael Hossein-Zadeh, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006, p. 75. John Mueller, “The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy,” Foreign Affairs, Summer 2006, Vol 12(2), p. 8.

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IT’s Me PeTer,

YoUr bLood

SEE-THINK-BELIEvE Irfan Yilmaz
Professor of biology in Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir.

P
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eter, normally you only see me when you have a cut on your skin and do not care much about me. I am a living tissue such as your bones, muscles, and nerves. My basic difference from other connective tissues is that I am dispersed in the intermediary fluid, blood plasma. If I weren’t riding the plasma, I would not be able to reach the remotest cells of your body and help meet their needs. My constituents are a crowded group made up of two types of basic cells and cell parts. White blood cells (leukocytes) are fewer in number and their duty is to fight against germs. How this process works is to be expounded by the immune system under a separate title. The red blood cells are my main building blocks and they are born by the dividing of the main cells in the bone marrow. After passing through a few phases, they lose their nucleus and are filled instead with hemoglobin, a
The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011

magnificent substance containing iron. Hemoglobin’s most vital function is its binding oxygen and then carbon dioxide after releasing it. Hemoglobin reaches everywhere, traveling with the blood stream. When it comes to the lungs, hemoglobin dumps the carbon dioxide and replaces is with oxygen. Then it supplies this oxygen to the cells and removes the carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning organic compounds. So its short life passes with the same ceaseless cycle to continue your life. Hemoglobin molecules’ longevity is approximately 120 days. They contain no cell elements like ribosome, mitochondria, and nucleus and therefore cannot repair themselves. They simply die when they get old. Sad? Not at all! Red blood cells fulfill the duty they were created for and leave the stage for new ones. They are broken down in the liver and bone marrow and the iron they contain is absorbed. A certain part is transformed into bilirubin, giving bile its yellow color. As you see, nothing is truly wasted. The red blood cells in circulation number around 25 trillion, and this number does not vary greatly, as the dying ones are constantly replaced. Their measuring gives doctors an idea about possible diseases. The amount depends on various factors’ reciprocal balance. A hormone (erythropoietin) secreted by the kidneys increases the rate of production of red blood cells, in response to falling levels of oxygen in the tissues. If you lose blood due to an accident or medical operation, the stem cells in the bone marrow receive an emergency alert to produce more red blood cells. On the other hand, if you get a blood transfer, stem cells are ordered to stop producing, due to the excess of red blood cells. You see, even such basic knowledge about bodily systems fills the learner with wonder.

Deficiency of red blood cells, scientifically known as anemia, should not be ignored. It results in pallor and weariness; you feel like sleeping more. In order to avoid this condition, your body needs different things such as group B vitamins (B6, B11, B12), vitamin C, amino acids, and iron. Since it is hard to pinpoint the deficient substance, doctors generally prescribe iron-rich multivitamin supplements. Red blood cells divide into four types, which determine the blood groups A, B, 0, and AB. In addition to the blood group, another feature known as Rh (rhesus) factor is important to know particularly before a blood transfer. Transferring the wrong type of blood may result in death. Platelets, which are scaleshaped cells and circulate with me are not independent; they are pieces which came off bigger cells. In a cubic millimeter of blood, 250 to 350 thousand of these little scales are found and their duty is of vital importance. If it weren’t for these pieces, the slightest cut could cause death because your bleeding would not stop. Clotting is a great blessing. It usually blocks the surface of a wound within five minutes, stopping the flow of blood and saving your life. Clotting is realized through particular molecules in these minute scales as a result of a complex chain of reactions using enzymes, vitamins, and salts. Every step of this chain of reactions is another stitch to fix the wound. Other blood cells pile up and stick together behind this net and they dry up. If such clotting occurred inside the blood vessels, it would make a disastrous effect by blocking the bloodstream. I also have enzymes to break down little amounts of such clotting. As you see, everything is splendidly organized. Peter! A blood test reveals very critical medical data. As I visit

every organ, I exchange certain substances with them. Therefore, detection of an unusual substance in me can be an early warning for a disease. Nowadays, it even helps an early diagnosis of cancer. It is not so easy for me to explain the wisdom behind all of my duties and capabilities. But to give you an idea, there are specialized departments for studying just me at medical faculties and research institutions throughout the world.
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Question: It is narrated in a
Prophetic saying that God said the following: “I will not give my servant two fears or two assurances at the same time.” Many of us live in comfortable and luxurious conditions, so what will our situation be in light of this saying?
ear” and “hope” are two great blessings that God has given us or will do so in the future. Using these two blessings in a measured way as a vehicle to reach God is another blessing, indeed a greater blessing. This question carries an implied assumption that there exists an association between one’s sense of security and a life of comfort and possibly luxury while fear is connected with leading a life in poverty and destitution. At first glance, this may readily provide a partial explanation, but it would be wrong to assume that this is an exhaustive commentary. Another way to understand this hadith could be as follows: “I will not give my servant two assurances at the same time.” If a person is living carefree and in indulgence in the world, is not concerned about the next life, and has no worries about the destruction of his soul and spiritual life, and if that person has no fear of
The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011

TWO ASSURANCES AND TWO FEARS

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
if not for Your Compassion and Mercy, I cannot enter Heaven. If not for the Beloved, the Mercy of the World, I would not have found my way and would have remained in depravity.” If he can always exist in this fear and frequently take himself to account, control himself, and take the opportunity to renew himself, in the next world—God willing—there will be no fear for him. However, there is an indispensible truth in the way this question is phrased, and it is not far from the meaning expressed in the hadith. If a person acts without concern and fear as if he came to this world only to live, and if he never feels any anxiety, then that person should be concerned about himself. In fact, even if this does not happen often, he should worry about living only in comfort and languor and feel shame for it. The following example clarifies the matter a little more: As related in sound narrations, Umar b. Abdulaziz would sometimes repeat the verse, “When the chains are around their necks, and fetters (around their legs). They will be dragged,” (40:71) and would fall on the floor. In addition, he would read this verse many times and pass out: “You consumed in your worldly life your (share of) pure, wholesome things, and enjoyed them fully (without considering the due of the Hereafter, and so have taken in the world the reward of all your good deeds). So this Day, you are recompensed with the punishment of abasement because of your scornful arrogance on the earth against all right, and because of your transgressing (the bounds set by God)” (46:29). Yes, it is very normal for a be-

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the losing his subtle qualities, no fear of the death of his feelings and the extinction of his spiritual faculties and thus lives without fear, that person cannot be without fear in the next world. If a person lives with fear in this world—fear in the sense mentioned above—and is always anxious both in his words and actions, saying, “O my Lord! If it were not for Your benevolence, I could not protect my faith; if not for Your grace, I could not protect my subtle points; if not for Your generosity, I could not survive;

You consumed in your worldly life your (share of) pure, wholesome things, and enjoyed them fully (without considering the due of the Hereafter, and so have taken in the world the reward of all your good deeds)

liever with a sound heart to have such a concern, and actually this fear is the result of profound contemplations. But God may have also given this world in terms of substantial health to a person as He gave to Abdurrahman ibn Awf and Uthman ibn Affan, two giant believers. In that case, believers should make use of their wealth for the sake of lofty purposes and serve humanity for the sake of God. It is not necessary to give away possessions entirely; it is better to give in measured terms to those who are in need. A part of the assets should be retained so that they can be invested and wealth multiplied; thus, in the end one can donate a greater amount. Let it suffice that our intentions are pure, that we know this wealth is a trust from God and that we are ready to give it away when our Lord wants it. This should be a benchmark against which we frequently check the level of our hearts. Can we comfortably say, deep within our consciences, that we are ready to give every time we hear the command and suggestions by Our Lord? Can we say, “Yes, O My Lord, I am ready to give!”? If we can do this, in other words, if the state of our heart is not attached to the possessions we have, then an increase in wealth can bear no negative impact upon us, and our property will not be the cause of any worry concerning the Hereafter, if God so wills. On the other hand, if a person insists on living heedlessly, having no belief or spiritual quest, simply, yet unwisely seeking to please the neverpleased carnal self—may God forbid—such a person will be bogged down in the swamp, headfirst. Let these two points not be confused.
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Immune system at traınıng ın the gut

Original Article: Lathrop, S.K. et al., Nature 478, 250 (2011).

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Microbes, in particular bacteria, are associated with many diseases, being the deadliest pathogens along with viruses. But, this doesn’t mean that all bacteria are harmful. Indeed, most bacterial colonies that reside in our gut have mutualistic relationship with humans. Our intestines carry approximately ten times more bacteria than the total number of cells in human body. This vast number of bacteria residing in our intestines are not only harmless, but they are also beneficial for us in many ways, by digesting food to supply energy for the body, by outcompeting the disease-causing bacteria in the intestines, and by producing vitamins and hormones. This study brings a new dimension to our understanding of the interactions between the host immune system with the gut microflora. The main components of immune system are the T cells that can recognize the pathogens. Each T cell recognizes one particular pathogen and distinguishes self-cells from the pathogens. In the thymus, T cells that recognize self-molecules are either eliminated or transformed into a special category of T-cells called regulatory T cells (Tregs), whose job is to maintain tolerance towards self-antigens. Lathrop and colleagues demonstrated for the first time that naïve T cells are developed into Tregs in the gut upon encounter of commensal gut bacteria. What is striking is that these Tregs responded to the bacterial antigens, unlike the thymus originated Tregs that were generated by self-antigen recognition. These data suggest that gut bacteria train host’s immune system to be silent against themselves and act only against invading pathogens. Mechanisms involved in distinguishing harmful vs. beneficial bacteria by the immune system may provide new ways of tackling with bacterial diseases.

Cancer meets memory

Original Article: Odajima, J. et al., Developmental Cell 21, 655 (2011).

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The recent discovery in the field of neuroscience reminded everybody the phrase “context is everything”. A study conducted by the scientists of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School addressed somewhat contradictive observation that why human brain has high levels of cyclin E protein, a well-known culprit in many cancers. Cyclin E protein plays an important role in cell cycle where it helps to regulate the timing and the frequency of cell division in normally growing cells. However, overexpression of cyclin E has been associated with uncontrolled cell growth in various cancer types. It is surprising that the human brain, which has a group of non-dividing cells, also express cyclin E at high levels. The study showed that when cyclin E deficient mice were analyzed, there was a serious defect in the formation of nerve connections as well as the formation of memory. “It is overexpressed in many different cancers, but it also is expressed in high levels in the human brain. We have found that cyclin E is needed for memory formation and is a very important player,” said senior author Peter Sicinski, PhD, a cancer biologist at Dana-Farber. The study showed that cyclin E achieves its functions in the brain by binding to Cdk5 enzyme whose activity is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. “There is good evidence that hyperactivity of Cdk5 contributes to Alzheimer’s disease and inhibiting this enzyme can ameliorate symptoms in animals,” said Sicinski. “Manipulating cyclin E levels might be another way to accomplish this,” he added.

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Original Article: Read, D.J. et al., Science 333, 1871 (2011).

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Plastic is used everywhere in our daily lives. Up until now, production of different types of plastic was done by trial and error. Only a small fraction of these trials give rise to a usable product. After ten years of hard work, scientists have now developed a computer program that can predict properties of plastic without actually manufacturing it. The program has two parts. The first part can predict how a specific polymer will flow based on the connections between the macromolecules that make up the polymer. The second part predicts the shape of these macromolecules when they are made at a chemical level. Using this code, one can effectively construct a recipe book for plastic. This will make it possible to design plastic that can better handle a specific job. It will also be possible to make plastic out of renewable materials instead of oil based materials which will be easy to recycle.

The key to long lıfe?

Original Article: Kim, E.B. et al., Nature (published online before print, 2011).

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Who would want to live a long life at the cost of looking ugly? One type of rodent species, naked mole rat, seems to have said “YES” to this intricate question. While an average rodent, a house mice or a rat living on streets, can live up to 4 years, naked mole rats can live up to 30 years. Mole rats are hairless, buck-toothed and almost blind rodents that are only found in dry sections of the Horn of Africa. They live in underground colonies with a social structure similar to ant colonies. There is a queen rat that chooses to mate with only few males, and rest of the colony takes the big responsibility of maintaining and protecting the colony. Scientists have always been puzzled with the extraordinary life span of these exotic animals and they finally generated the complete gene map of these intriguing animals. A quick look of the genomic map revealed that many genes associated with vision, circadian rhythms, perception of pain and perception of bitter tastes seem to be completely turned-off. Perhaps, these specific modifications allow animals to tolerate harsh living conditions and help them to adapt a lifestyle which lacks so-called the luxuries and expectations of a normal animal. Scientists believe that comprehensive analyses of naked mole’s genetic map might shed light on fundamental cellular mechanisms that are disrupted in aging and aging-related diseases. 65

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Even if one extends genuinely and the other one pretends, They are still proximate to the expected ends. Maybe hearts will thus open up, And the few-centuries’ obstinacy will stop.

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The Fountain Magazine November / December 2011