As Muslims will be celebrating Eid-ul-Adha this coming Friday on the 31st of July 2020, I would like to wish all my readers Eid Mubarak. May all of you have a blessed Eid and may Allah accept our sacrifices and good deeds in these first 10 days of Dzulhijjah.
Alhamdulillah, Muslims all over the world are in joy over the return of Hagia Sophia as a mosque again this month. It must be an early Eid-ul-Adha gift for all of us, Alhamdulillah. Erdogan has earned our admiration once again. May Allah bless him and Turkey for many more years to come.
I had been to Turkey in 2014, guys. It was my post-housemanship gift to myself, even though I was already one year into being an MO at that time. A pretty delayed gift but guys, money don’t grow on trees, as much as I wish they do. I had already gifted myself with a gold bracelet immediately post-housemanship so the trip to Turkey had to be postponed until I could gather enough money to indulge myself. (I have mentioned before that I really value gold, books and travel and prefer to spend money on those rather than anything else. Gold is like savings, only more glittery. Haha. So when you buy gold, your money is not lost. And books and travel broaden your mind, so they are not exactly a waste of money because you will benefit so much more for the amount of money that you spend. So it is like an investment for your mind and the return of such investment is HUGE. So for every turning point of my life either post-SPM, post-Med school, post-housemanship or post-MRCPSych exam and even for birthdays…I gifted myself with gold or travel. Whereas books are gifts that I give myself every month, anyway. This year, I was supposed to go to Saudi Arabia for my umrah, as another post-MRCPsych gift to myself. Unfortunately due to the Covid-19 Pandemic I had to cancel that plan).
I love Turkey. I had such a great time there. I even wrote a blog post about it. The link is H.E.R.E if you are interested. In that post, I just blogged about how much I loved travelling via packaged tour compared to backpacking, and I also posted various pictures of the places I went to in Turkey. I highly recommend you to visit Turkey whenever you have a chance. And of course a visit to Hagia Sophia is a MUST if you are visiting Turkey.
The controversy of Hagia Sophia & The Double Standard In International Reaction
As you probably know, Hagia Sophia has a rich history of being claimed by many factions including Christianity, Muslims and secular liberals out there who believe that Hagia Sophia should remain as a museum.
For those who don’t know much about Hagia Sophia, I will give a very brief recap on the history of Hagia Sophia below:
- It was built in 537 as a cathedral of the imperial capital of Constantinople and was the largest church of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
- 29th of May 1453 – Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih had succeeded in conquering Constantinople after a long siege. Hagia Sophia was purchased by Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih The Conqueror, using his own personal capital (not the state funds) and he then had placed a waqf status on Hagia Sophia to become a mosque.
- Hagia Sophia remained a mosque from 1453 until 1931 when it was closed to the public for 4 years
- In 1935, Ataturk the secular founder of the Republic of Turkey decided to open Hagia Sophia as a museum, violating the waqf status of Hagia Sophia.
- From 1935 until 10 July 2020, Hagia Sophia was a very popular museum and became one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- On the 10th of July 2020, the Council of State had cancelled the decision made in 1935 to transform Hagia Sophia into a museum and had decreed that Hagia Sophia can only be used as a mosque and NOT for any other purpose.
- On the 24th of July (Today! The day this blog is written, guys hahha), the first Friday Prayer in Hagia Sophia since its reinstatement as a mosque will be held.
Now, the international reaction to this controversial reinstatement of Hagia Sophia as a mosque is expected but interesting, nonetheless. And you know me, I like to blog about current issues, (be it political, religious, philosophical or medical) or I blog about books that I had read. The issue of Hagia Sophia is a combination of political, religious and philosophical issues that I just love to ponder and ruminate about. Haha. So below is my personal opinion on the controversial reinstatement of Hagia Sophia.
You guys, my dear readers, are free to disagree, of course.
Firstly, on what basis do the non-citizens of Turkey have any say on the matter of Hagia Sophia’s reinstatement as a mosque?
- Is it because they want it to remain as a museum? – in which case, the Muslims won’t be happy because Hagia Sophia was a waqf property. If you don’t know about what waqf property means, I will be explaining about it down below. But basically waqf means that the property is put in trust (in Conventional English law, waqf resembles Trust Law)
- Is it because they want it to be converted to a Church instead of a Mosque? – in this case, the Muslims AND the secular liberals won’t be happy either.
So you see, in general, when we are making our decisions and choices in life, other people’s happiness should not be the basis upon which we make our decision. Because you can never please everyone. So whatever outcome it could possibly turn out to be in the case of Hagia Sophia, it will always be controversial to some people somewhere.
When Ataturk had converted the mosque into a museum in 1935, people were not happy too but he did it anyway because he was in power back then. Now that it is Erdogan who is in power, he reinstated Hagia Sophia as a mosque through the process of the law in Turkey. He conducted himself better than Ataturk did! He followed the law!
But the decision remains controversial. Is it because they feel like the building was originally a church and therefore if any conversion is to be done, it should be converted back to a church?
Gosh! How naïve can they be! There were a lot of mosques in Spain that had been converted to churches even though they were originally a mosque. It was the fact of Imperialism at that time… that conquerors would turn the buildings of the conquered lands into whatever they liked when they gained power in that land. That was how things were done during the era of Imperialism. (Whether Imperialism is wrong or right is another philosophical debate at another time. But bear in mind, that all empires back then practice Imperialism, be it the Roman empire or the Persian empire or the Byzantine empire or the Islamic empire or the British Empire etc etc… and the rules of those times applied back then, get it? Nowadays, Liberalism is the trendy thing and most people feel intelligent when they promote it and practice it! But back then Imperialism was the trendy thing and intelligent people in those days would fight and win wars if they were intelligent people! Being a great military strategist and having great military leadership was a very valuable type of intelligence back then! All historians will judge the past according to the standard of the past! If you cannot accept this historical fact, then there is no use explaining further to you. Until NOW in this modern age, where do the royal princes go after their basic education? Yup,military training! Prince William, Prince Harry and our own royalty would have had some form of military training as part of their education as royals. Think about that for a moment.)
Is it logical for Muslims now to dictate to the current modern day Spain that “because a lot of Churches in Cordoba were originally mosques in the medieval times, you should change them back into mosques now in 2020?!” This kind of reasoning doesn’t make sense! So if that is the basis of you wanting Hagia Sophia to be turned into a church, then your stand is not consistent with what has been going on in other countries like Spain. For example, in 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the Great Mosque of Cordoba (Mezquita de Córdoba) was converted into a Catholic cathedral. There are many other examples of how the buildings of the conquered land will fall into the hands of the conqueror and in those days of Imperialism, this was a valid practice!
So my question is, who was the last owner of Hagia Sophia before Ataturk turned it into a museum? Hagia Sophia was PURCHASED by Sultan Muhammad Al-fatih, remember that! It wasn’t simply an act of a conqueror on the lands of the conquered!
Of course the liberals would say “So fine! Don’t turn Hagia Sophia into a church. Let it remain a museum since that is what it has been since 1935. That decision was made by Ataturk and the Council of Ministers at that time!”
You CANNOT say that “the Council of Ministers or Ataturk were the last owner of Hagia Sophia like Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih was”. Ataturk or the Council of Minister did not CONQUER Turkey…they were Turkish citizens themselves who happened to gain power as secularists. They made an illegal decision when they turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum because Hagia Sophia was a waqf property after it was purchased by Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih. Hagia Sophia is STILL a waqf property. So, they had made an illegal decision back then!
Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih had purchased (I repeat, PURCHASED!) this complex and then gave it away as a waqf! The proof and document of purchase is still there in the Hagia Sophea museum! The waqf status is a LEGAL status of Hagia Sophia which should not have been violated by Ataturk in the first place. If I had purchased a land and built a mosque on it and then I placed a waqf status on it, it means that I intended for that property (which was originally MINE to begin with) to be used as a mosque forever and I will not reclaim that property ever again until the day I die and none of my descendants can lay claim on that property after I have passed away. With the waqf status, the property has become public property but will only be used for THAT purpose that I had intended. That’s what waqf means. Sultan Muhammad Al-Fatih purchased the Hagia Sophia using his own personal funds and then waqf it for the purpose of worship. Only another conqueror could ignore the waqf status if he succeeded in conquering the land. (Sultan Muhammad Al Fatih had purchased the land even though he already conquered the land. So he had double claim on Hagia Sophia!) Ataturk did NOT conquer the land by war; he was a Turkish citizen himself who happened to make an illegal decision when he was in power!
For a bit of an easier analogy for better understanding, this waqf is a bit like a will (wasiat). Let’s say you intended for 1/3rd of your money to go to charity and suddenly someone else in the future used that portion of your money for their own personal gain or for other purposes other than charity… that is obviously wrong! But that was what Ataturk did in violation of the law at that time as well as the law in the current time!
So, the Erdogan’s government was only reversing and cancelling the wrong decision that Ataturk did! (A bit like the PH government reversing the decision made by the BN government. Or vice versa, now that the government has changed once again. It was as simple as that!)
Below is the document summarizing the reasoning behind the ruling to reinstate Hagia Sophia into a mosque again.
And even if you don’t care about the waqf status of Hagia Sophia and have no interest in legal matters of trust law, at the end of the day, who are we to dictate to Turkey on what they should or should not do in their own country? This is Turkey’s internal affairs and sovereign rights to do what the people had elected them to do! The Turkey government is elected by the majority of the people in that country. For Erdogan’s party to win, it means that the majority of the people in Turkey have Islamic leanings rather than secular leanings. And if the secularists in Turkey are not happy… hey, sorry but democracy wins here, ok! If you are not happy, you can propagate for your secular views in the society until the majority of the Turkey people become secular again… so that you can elect another secular government during your country’s general election. And then you can lobby for that secular government to violate the waqf status of Hagia Sophia all over again. Good luck with that. But until then, know that in this life, you don’t always get what you want and people don’t always agree with you (and in this case it is the majority of people in Turkey that don’t agree with you. Majority! Get it?). When you want to fight for any cause, you bide your time, strategize and persevere. And other people too will bide their time, strategize and persevere. The religious Muslims in Turkey had persevered since 1931 until now to change the secularism ideology of Turkey’s people… and Alhamdulillah finally they win and now the majority of people in Turkey are Islamic rather than secular. So if you lose, don’t be a sore loser! Persevere for your cause if you really feel you are right… but don’t expect other people to stop THEIR causes just because you feel your cause is better. May the most righteous cause win in the end!
Meet The Brilliant White Lesbian
Talking about propagation of causes, I especially love the video below showing how a brilliant ‘white lesbian’ is using the satire of gender identity to elucidate his point.
It was hilarious and I had to tip my hat to this ‘white lesbian’! Bravo! He is an example of a great propagator. This video was viralled in Facebook but it can also be found in You Tube. You should watch it and you will know why the ideology of trans people are so weak and their arguments are so easily dismantled. Enjoy the video, guys!
Books of The Month
I was able to read 3 books this month: 2 fictions (thrillers, of course) and 1 non-fiction.
The first fiction I read was The Secret Runners of New York by Matthew Reilly. This is about a teenager and her twin brother who had just moved to a new elite school in their new neighbourhood. The peculiar thing about this new school is that their new students kept on disappearing mysteriously. Where did they disappear to, you wondered? Well… the correct question is When did they disappear to? Yup… this book involves time travel, guys! Haha. It was a fun read but it was not as good as other Matthew Reilly’s books that I had read before (I especially love the Jack West Junior series! A new one is scheduled to come out in October, guys! I just CANNOT wait!)
How many stars do I give this book? Well, I have come up with my own rating scale for evaluating fiction. I call it Afiza’s Fiction Rating Scale (hahha…I know, I am ridiculous coming out with my own scale. But guys, I like being objective. I did not use any specific rating scales in doing my previous book reviews. But I feel like since I am going to be reviewing books regularly Insya Allah, I should be more objective in my evaluation.)
The parameters in AFRS (Afiza’s Fiction Rating Scale hahaha. Bear with me, guys!) are:
- Plot: originality, plot development, conflict, plot resolution and ending.
- Characters and Characterization
- Interesting Information
- Subjective enjoyment
I give this book half a star for the plot (1/4 for originality, 1/4 for plot development), half a star for characters and characterization, half a star for language, ¼ star for new information learned and 3/4 star for subjective enjoyment. Altogether, The Secret Runners of New York deserved 2.5 stars. Yup… pretty average in my opinion. Compared to his previous stand alone novel like The Tournament, this is not good enough for me. In The Tournament, I was amazed by how Matthew Reilly could weave a very good plot revolving around a teenage future Queen Elizabeth I (in the year 1546) and her wise tutor Roger Ascham. The duo travelled to Constantinople to participate in a chess tournament organized by Sultan Suleiman, The Magnificent. The mystery and the thriller were centred around the events that happened during the chess tournament. It was one of his best books ever. If you haven’t read Matthew Reilly before, you MUST start with The Tournament, guys! And of course I highly recommend for you to read his Jack West Jr. Series. It is like…National Treasure in a book! (National Treasure is a movie starring Nicholas Cage. Watch it in Netflix, guys! I watched this movie so many times because I just love it! I just love this kind of plot involving treasure hunting, deciphering clue after clue to get to the next clue and the race against time and your enemy in order to get to the treasure. This is why I just love Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.)
The second fiction that I read was Brother Odd by Dean Koontz. I don’t want to waste my time (or your time) reviewing this book in any great length. I give it 0.75 star only. It was boring, boring, boring! The only reason I was able to finish reading it was because I have started on it and the OCPD portion of myself couldn’t bear not to complete the reading of a book that I have started (these OCPD traits can be so troublesome, guys!) That 0.75 star is broken down to: 1/4 for originality of plot, 1/4 for characters, 1/4 for subjective enjoyment and zero star for language and interesting information. I used to really love Dean Koontz. Perhaps, I have outgrown my admiration for this kind of plot. I don’t know. I still have a few more of his books in my to-be-read pile. I hope they will prove to be more interesting than this one.
The non-fiction that I would like to write in greater length is Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind authored by Yuval Noah Harari. This book is my birthday gift from my friends Isma, Tahira, and Hafilah. When I received this book, I was like “Oh my God, you guys knew me so well! This is EXACTLY the book that I have always wanted!”
They just rolled their eyes, “Sudahlah, Afiza!” Oops, they were not amused. Hahha. Because the truth is, I gave them a list of 6 books that I wanted to buy for myself, and I asked them to surprise me with whichever one in the list they would buy me. Hahaha. So of course, this book was exactly what I’d wanted.
This book is precisely what the title says it is; a brief history of humankind. Well, I appreciate how difficult it is to cover such a huge topic in a 466-pages book. This book claims to cover briefly and superficially the history of humankind from the onset of the Big Bang to this current day of scientific revolution. That is a HUGE amount of history, and therefore it is expected that depth of analysis will be compromised to make way for breadth of coverage.
Harari divided human history into four parts: The Cognitive Revolution, The Agricultural Revolution, The Unification of Humankind and The Scientific Revolution. I do find the first two parts very interesting and engaging. I had a lot of ah-ha moments while reading the first few chapters. For example, this book explains quite coherently why human beings (physically weaker that we are compared to dinosaurs/ tigers/ lions) can rule over other animals. It is because of our ability to use sophisticated languages to communicate with each other that we are superior to other animals. Because of our sophisticated language system, we can have efficient intra-species communication to plan for our survival. For example, a green monkey can warn another monkey “Careful! A lion!” by making a certain sound and then make another sound to mean “Careful! An eagle”. Their languages are just the making of sounds to convey the briefest of message. But the communication stops there.
Whereas with human beings, our language is amazingly supple. We can connect various number of sounds into an INFINITE number of sentences. Instead of simply saying “Careful! A lion!” a human being can tell her friends that (the following is an excerpt from the novel) “this morning, near the bend in the river, she saw a lion tracking a herd of bison. She can then describe the exact location, including the different paths leading to the area. With this information, the members of her band can put their heads together and discuss whether they should approach the river, chase away the lion and hunt the bison.”
See the difference?
Human beings as a species, even though we are physically weaker, can communicate in such great details that we can devise infinite numbers of plans for our collective survival. (I have said it before in one of my other book reviews that human beings are social creatures. Because our sociability is a matter of survival. Even introverts are sociable to a certain extent; only less sociable than the extroverts. We all need social interaction; but the amount of interaction that we need (or want) may differ between individuals.)
It is because of our sophisticated language system that we are intellectual creatures with ideas and ideologies and abstract thinking rather than only instincts. Other interesting topics that I have come across in other books but is also pretty well explained in this book is the concept of ‘imagined realities’ and ‘myths’ and ‘social constructs’. For example, the banking system is a social construct and a type of imagined reality and a collective myth . Is there any real truth to the idea that a piece of paper hold values? But because it is a universally accepted social construct, it works! It works because we collectively believe that this piece of paper has values! Collective belief is THAT powerful.
What makes murder wrong? If you don’t believe in any supreme God, any law, any order… who TOLD you that murder is wrong? Why can’t a murderer simply shrug off his shoulder and say “Hey, this is survival of the fittest! This is natural selection at work! It is scientific! If you are not fit enough to guard your self or your property, then I can kill you and steal from you. Why is it wrong? Who told you it is wrong? Animals kill each other all the time for food, territory and mates! Human beings are animals too, aren’t we?”
So, in order for a society of human beings to survive efficiently against other species, they must have a collective belief system to create order in the society. Because if they are disordered for not having a collective belief system (aka imagined realities/myths/ social construct/ religion/ folk lore/ laws/ culture) they will behave in a way that would jeopardize their species (killing each other/ stealing from each other and weakening their own species by internal conflicts). For example, the law of any country is a collective belief system. There is NO REAL TRUTH to it. For example, there is no real truth that red lights mean you have to stop your car and green lights mean you are good to go. People create that law to bring order in the road and if one day you want to change the law and say “indigo light means go and brown light means stop”, you can do so ONLY if a significant number of people share your ideas/ your myths.
Another example; if you were to travel far into the Amazon jungle and came across a cannibalistic tribe, it would be pointless to tell them not to kill you by saying “it is against the law or it is morally wrong” if they decided that they want you for their food. They don’t believe in YOUR law or your morality. Their strength of belief in cannibalism is just like your belief in liberalism. Why should YOUR law matter to them when you are in THEIR place? So you see…there is no real truth to our laws. Laws change according to places! Therefore, the law is a form of collective myth designed to bring order into the society of that particular place.
Like I said, if you don’t believe in God, why should murder or robbery be wrong? Isn’t survival of the fittest is the basis of evolution, according to Darwin? Well, as it is, it is only wrong because it is the law of most countries. But the law can change according to the place you are in. Other places (China, for example) don’t believe that individual human rights trump the rights of the community (so people in Asian countries can adopt the wearing of masks so easily during Covid-19 pandemic but in the US, the simple act of wearing a mask is such a difficult thing to be enforced as it can be construed as a violation of their individual human rights. See? Liberalism is not always practical and can actually be detrimental to the community of human species when you practice it blindly. So in a way, liberalism is also a kind of faith, isn’t it? Blind practice of ANYTHING is bad! Just like any other kind of religion, liberalism is the LENS in which these people use to see issues and things!). Some people don’t believe in feminism, but feminists would attack anyone who question their (sometimes illogical and occasionally unfair) stand, making it sound as though they are in the side of absolute truth! Again… some of them are practicing it blindly just like a religion. When most Muslims, Christians and Jews don’t believe in LGBTQ rights, the LGBTQ people would get so emotional and would proceed with labelling us as transphobic/homophobic without really listening to the scientific and biological arguments that have been put forth (watch the video of the ‘white lesbian’ again and you can see how weak the arguments of the trans people really are. Again they fight for something blindly just like followers of a cult!).
See… this is why I have repeatedly written in my blog: The only way you can win your cause is if you can change the law of your country and create or maintain a law that favours your cause. Human beings as a group can never agree on which one is the right religion or the right myth or the supreme truth! The only OBJECTIVE measure of truth in ANY country is the law of that country. Because the law of that country is the only collective myth that the people of that country have no choice but to follow. And the law of any democratic country will follow the culture of the majority (because democracy, guys!) In Malaysia, that majority culture is Islam. So if you have issues with the Muslims’ stand against LGBTQ, you can either move to another country or try to change the law. Don’t make me vomit blood by claiming that everyone should follow YOUR myth/belief/cult just because you have the mistaken conviction that your myth is more correct than the others! If you think my belief is a myth, what makes you think yours is more valid than mine to be upheld in this country?!
If you don’t believe in God or in The One Creator, no law and no belief system is more supreme than the other! Even cannibalism can claim that it is a valid and scientific belief system involving the principle of survival of the fittest. Claiming that your opinion and your liberalism and your LGBTQ rights are the absolute truth displays your lack of critical thinking and your lack of knowledge about basic philosophy. (Seriously, everyone needs basic philosophical knowledge lest they think that they will appear intelligent simply because they support LGBTQ rights! And lest they think religious people are not as bright for not supporting liberalism! Seriously annoying! Don’t they know that religious people sometimes just cannot be bothered to debate them because we know how emotional you guys are and how you love to play victims all the time. “Look at me! I am discriminated. I am not free to love anyone I want yadda yadda yadda. Oh what scientific facts? How about my freedom to do whatever I want and believe whatever I want? I am a female deep inside even though my biological appearance is otherwise!” Hahha. But well… that will have to change now. We cannot be passive and silent anymore. We have to debate with them openly now because they are too loud and demanding and we have to do our own propagation now!)
So, the only thing left for all of us to do whenever we end up in any particular place is to be objective and to follow the law of that place, okay? In Islam, Muslims are told to follow the law of the land, wherever they are. This is called Fiqh Al-Aqalliyyat (Jurisprudence of Muslim Minorities). See? Islam is a very logical and practical religion. Even when Muslims believe that the only true law is the one given by The One Creator, our religion also told us to follow the law of the land, or else we should migrate to other places. Even the Bible asked the Christians to follow the law of the land because that is the most logical thing to do! We must follow the same order in that particular place for the society in that place to function well! If we don’t want to follow the law of the land we have to migrate to another place whose law we can follow. (Another option is to remain in the land and propagate for your causes until you attain the support of the majority. But if this is the route that you want to take, be prepared to fight like an adult and do not expect people to simply allow you to propagate your myth without you having to face counter-propagation. Debate with each other point by point instead of labelling others as transphobic, bigoted, intolerant etc etc when you don’t have scientific facts on your side.)
And this is why I didn’t stay in Australia after I finished my medical school. And this is also why despite three offers by three recruitment centres in the UK (for me to work as a psychiatrist there after passing my MRCPsych) I did not choose to work in the UK. Because I know UK and Australia have laws that are pro-LGBTQ and their culture are not compatible with my belief system. You see…in life, choices are given to you. Once you have made a choice to stay in any particular place, you follow the law! Okay? I will never be tired of talking about this because there are so many Malaysians who feel like being liberal is equal to being intelligent. Some of them are fellow doctors who are supposed to be scientific and critical of minds! Just because the religious people of this country (not just Muslims, but Christians, Hindus and Buddhist too are against LGBTQ) have been mild-mannered and keeping silent all these while, doesn’t mean we will continue to do so. If you keep on propagating for the wrong thing, you will eventually receive the backlash. That is one of the reasons PH has gone down within 2 years of governing this country. You wanted to FORCE your myth on the Muslims majority people of this country just because you think the liberal-minded DAP faction will back you up? Bad move! When it matters enough, we can bring down the government. Muslims WILL unite when you attack the values of our religion. PAS and UMNO are now able to collaborate in one coalition… which was something that was so difficult to happen before. Perhaps you think just because PH has a lot more liberal people in the party you can try acah-acah us propagating for LGBTQ movement? Wrong move! Every action has a reaction! Remember that. Do not provoke the values of the majority because it will backfire on your own political survival. Do you only believe in democracy when it suits you… hmmm? As a politician, he/she must understand that the culture and the belief system of the majority matter! And the law matters!
But I digress haha. Back to talking about the book now!
So the language development and therefore the ability to have collective belief system (to enforce order!) are among the many interesting topics in the first few chapters of Cognitive Revolution in this book. You will LOVE this part if you are into philosophy.
The Agricultural Revolution part is pretty interesting too. It was basically about how our nomadic ancestors finally became home dwellers due to the Agricultural Revolution. We used to be more geographically free to travel with our caravans and set up tents in any place we wanted. But due to the Agricultural Revolution, we have become settlers rather than travellers. With the advent of the agricultural revolution, we gained stability of living but we lost our flexibility in the process.
Unfortunately, towards the middle to the end of the book, I felt like Harari might have gotten a bit bored with the writing of this book. His reasoning became a bit sloppy. He took a lot of arguable statements as facts and built his subsequent premises based on that. I found that a bit disappointing. Still overall, I found his writing style very engaging. Insya Allah, I will buy more of his books in the future (such as Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.)
For evaluating non-fiction, again I have come up with ANFRS (Afiza’s Non-Fiction Rating Scale) to help me judge the quality of a non-fiction book.
The parameters in ANFRS are:
- Content: Information/ uniqueness of topic/ depth of analysis / Soundness of Argument
- Clarity of thoughts
- Language/ writing style
- Subjective Enjoyment
- Credibility of Author
For this book, I give 0.75 star for content, 0.75 star for clarity of thoughts, one star for language and writing style, one star for subjective enjoyment and 0.5 star for credibility of author (He is a historian. Not a scientist. Not a philosopher. While he is credible enough to write about the historical part of the book, he is not that credible to write or analyze the scientific part. And his philosophical ideas are not always sound. Some of his arguments show a lack of in-depth analysis of his scientific and philosophical premises.) Altogether, I give this book 4 solid stars! So really guys, this is a very good book! Please buy and read it! Like me, you might not agree with some of his views and biases, but since when do we only read on things we agree on? We must challenge our thoughts and belief system by reading others’ belief system. That is the only way you can know the strength of your own faith and whether or not your belief system can stand the test of critical analysis. And that is one of the ways we can develop our own system in evaluating any new idea that is presented to us. Read, think, challenge the contents of what you read, write about it! That is one of the most efficient way to synthesize our worldview regarding the life of this world.
Until next time, my dear readers. Much love and may Allah bless all of us with the guidance of the truth and with the strength to speak up for the truth that we found.
And Happy Eid-ul-Adha once again. May Allah accept all our good deeds and reward us with paradise in the hereafter. Amin.