Friday, November 17, 2006

Sheikh Ziaullah Khan Talk

On Wednesday, 15th November, I went to an Islamic Talk by Sheikh Ziaullah Khan (of Canada) at The University of Birmingham. I have already attended two talks of his in the past - one of which was last year and the other was in 2003. The way in which he combines his sense of humour with his discussion of Islam deserves immense respect. He talks in a very light manner yet is able to deliver some very hard-hitting arguments.

Some very good points were made at the talk which was pretty much based on any random topic. Sadly though I can only remember a few of the issues that were discussed. One of the issues was that very few people make notes at Islamic Lectures (only about 4 people were on that day - no, I wasn't one of them). It is a shame because they listen to the speech for an hour or so and really appreciate the worth of the comments, but forget most things within a few hours. Brother Ziaullah joked that when he asked members of the Islamic Society about the subject of his last talk, in response they just about recalled him mentioning the odour of shoes in the mosque. Obviously this was not the theme of his last talk but it was probably one of the comments he might have made regarding the importance of hygiene.

Fortunately, I've been able to recall a few of the issues (mainly because I shared them with friends soon after) that were talked about and will mention them briefly, as well as adding my thoughts to them.

Name Calling

The Sheikh said that we sometimes call people by a name which sticks with them for the rest of their life. This has caused me to think about the issue a little further. Nowadays, it has become natural to make comments about other people, whether they are regarding physical appearance, intellectual ability, job status, family life, etc. Sometimes things are said in a lighthearted manner and both parties end up laughing, and everything seems perfectly normal. However, the person being offended may have kept his distress within himself for some reason. For example, say there is a group of friends engaged in general chat and one of them makes a comment that another has a very big nose. The nature of the environment is such that everybody will laugh and the matter will not be taken too seriously. However, when the person who has been joked about is alone and most probably at a time when he feels low in confidence he will think about the comment. Returning to the point that the Sheikh made, we sometimes call people by a name and it stays with them forever. Just imagine what goes through the mind of that person when he looks in the mirror every morning and remembers those 'lighthearted' comments.

We should be a little more careful when we talk about people especially when others are around us. Something you might say could stay with someone for the rest of their life. Just think that could be you or someone from your family.

Technology

If you are reading this or even if you aren't, it is likely that you are using technology as part of your everyday life, whether it is your mobile phone, computer, or television. Brother Ziaullah stated that many companies are promoting technology arguing that it will make life better and easier. Of course we all know that technology is a great thing but let us not forget that there are always two sides to the coin. For example, technology will improve the life of a computer programmer, a student, a businessman, and a doctor, and several companies will benefit from its application. However, brother Ziaullah made the point that technology will not improve life for everybody - consider those who lose their jobs just because a computer can do better than them.

Personally, I feel that technology is the way forward and I am grateful that we have so much technology available right now. But sometimes when I think about the fact that I can spend hours sitting infront of a flickering computer screen it kind of seems depressing. I mean how can we do so much stuff that is based on technology - watching TV, text messaging, playing computer games, chatting online, checking e-mails, etc. Most of us cannot really imagine living without all these things, which is kind of disturbing if you think about it. Now I'm not saying pack your bags and go to the nearest village but at least save yourself from being run by technology. Then again, I suppose it is not the technology that is good or bad but it is how we use it.

Companies

The Sheikh stated that an insurance company will always make it seem as if they will go out of their way to help the customer. We are familiar with so many different companies telling us that they are customer focused or that cusomter satisfaction means everything to them. But the truth is far from what they make it out to be. Many firms don't care about people, they just want to make big profits (which is obviously a good thing, but how far should they go?). The Sheikh then went on to mention the Nike story (you know the one where a Pakistani/Indian child works all day to make a football and gets paid 20 rupees and that ball sells in the USA or UK for £35 or $70 approx.). They simply don't care as long as they make their money.

So many people came to the UK as immigrants, why? They came because they were given more opportunities and would become wealthier. But why did their companies want them? Because they were cheap labour, it was cheaper to get people from India/Pakistan and make them work for you than to pay British Nationals. Today, due to immigration laws becoming stricter, companies can no longer do this. So, what do they do? They set up their own places in India so that they can get people working for them and pay them much less than the national mimimum wage here in the UK. This was not discussed by the Sheikh, but it is another example that demonstrates how far a company will go to make profit (ignoring unemployed people in the UK and going to India to setup call centres).

The talk by Sheikh Ziaullah Khan was very general and mentioned a lot of different things, and I have only discussed one or two of the points he briefly made and expanded them with my own opinions. The talk will be made available (in audio) on the Birmingham University Islamic Society web site in the future (within the next ten years).

Another talk by the Sheikh can be downloaded from the following page:
http://buisoc.co.uk/media/media.html#audio
Scroll down to:
12th Nov 2003 - Grand Iftaar
Imam Ziaullah Khan - Role Models, Who Are They?

and download the Main Talk.

The following link contains videos of a few lectures by Sheikh Ziaullah Khan:
Sheikh Ziaullah Khan Talks On Video