Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Islamic reformation?

Could we be on the brink of a major change in Islam?

I certainly hope so, as I believe that a major overhaul is long overdue

We shall have to watch this space

Turkey is preparing to publish a document that represents a revolutionary reinterpretation of Islam - and a controversial and radical modernisation of the religion.

The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.

The Hadith is a collection of thousands of sayings reputed to come from the Prophet Muhammad.

As such, it is the principal guide for Muslims in interpreting the Koran and the source of the vast majority of Islamic law, or Sharia.

This is kind of akin to the Christian Reformation. Not exactly the same, but... it's changing the theological foundations of [the] religion
Fadi Hakura,
Turkey expert, Chatham House

But the Turkish state has come to see the Hadith as having an often negative influence on a society it is in a hurry to modernise, and believes it responsible for obscuring the original values of Islam.

It says that a significant number of the sayings were never uttered by Muhammad, and even some that were need now to be reinterpreted.


Commentators say the very theology of Islam is being reinterpreted in order to effect a radical renewal of the religion.

Its supporters say the spirit of logic and reason inherent in Islam at its foundation 1,400 years ago are being rediscovered. Some believe it could represent the beginning of a reformation in the religion.

Some messages ban women from travelling without their husband's permission... But this isn't a religious ban. It came about because it simply wasn't safe for a woman to travel alone
Prof Mehmet Gormez,
Hadith expert,
Department of Religious Affairs

Turkish officials have been reticent about the revision of the Hadith until now, aware of the controversy it is likely to cause among traditionalist Muslims, but they have spoken to the BBC about the project, and their ambitious aims for it.

The forensic examination of the Hadiths has taken place in Ankara University's School of Theology.

An adviser to the project, Felix Koerner, says some of the sayings - also known individually as "hadiths" - can be shown to have been invented hundreds of years after the Prophet Muhammad died, to serve the purposes of contemporary society.

"Unfortunately you can even justify through alleged hadiths, the Muslim - or pseudo-Muslim - practice of female genital mutilation," he says.

"You can find messages which say 'that is what the Prophet ordered us to do'. But you can show historically how they came into being, as influences from other cultures, that were then projected onto Islamic tradition."

The argument is that Islamic tradition has been gradually hijacked by various - often conservative - cultures, seeking to use the religion for various forms of social control.

Leaders of the Hadith project say successive generations have embellished the text, attributing their political aims to the Prophet Muhammad himself.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Following the leader

Please go here for instructions to celebrate Wales's rugby triumphs

Hat tip. Nick

A Welsh Born Icon: Something Good '08

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Some more reasons to be cheerful

If Wales being at the top of the table,
3/3, and with an ever increasing chance of a Triple Crown,
a Championship,and a Grand Slam, aren't enough reasons to be cheerful,
here are some more courtesy of Ian Dury

ummer, Buddy Holly, the working folly
Good golly Miss Molly and boats
Hammersmith Palais, the Bolshoi Ballet
Jump back in the alley and nanny goats

18-wheeler Scammels, Domenecker camels (?)
All other mammals plus equal votes
Seeing Piccadilly, Fanny Smith (?)and Willy
Being rather silly, and porridge oats

A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You're welcome, we can spare it - yellow socks
Too short to be haughty, too nutty to be naughty
Going on 40 - no electric shocks

The juice of the carrot, the smile of the parrot
A little drop of claret - anything that rocks
Elvis and Scotty, days when I ain't spotty,
Sitting on the potty - curing smallpox

Health service glasses
Gigolos and brasses
round or skinny bottoms

Take your mum to paris
lighting up a chalice (?)
wee willy harris

Bantu Stephen Biko, listening to Rico
Harpo, Groucho, Chico

Cheddar cheese and pickle, the Vincent motorsickle
Slap and tickle
Woody Allen, Dali, Dimitri and Pasquale
balabalabala and Volare

Something nice to study, phoning up a buddy
Being in my nuddy
Saying hokey-dokey, singalonga Smokey
Coming out of chokey

John Coltrane's soprano, Adi Celentano (?)
Bonar Colleano

Reasons to be cheerful part 3

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Thanks, England!

RBS 6 Nations 2008 Standings

1Up (2)Wales3300103426
2Down (1)France220053274
3No change (3)Ireland320171504
4No change (4)England210142452
5No change (5)Italy300338860
6No change (6)Scotland300334910

Stephen Wiltshire draws Rome from memory


Monday, February 18, 2008

Thomas Henry Huxley

I've just been reading the Wiki about TH Huxley, "Darwin's Bulldog", and his early life makes a fascinating read:-

Huxley, born in Ealing, then a village in Middlesex, was the second youngest of eight children of George Huxley and Rachel Withers. Like some other British scientists of the nineteenth century such as Alfred Russel Wallace, Huxley was brought up in a literate middle-class family. The elder Huxley was a mathematics teacher at Ealing School until it closed,[2] putting the family into financial difficulties. As a result, Thomas left school at 10, after only two years of formal schooling.

Despite this unenviable start, Huxley was determined to educate himself. He became one of the great autodidacts of the nineteenth century. At first he read Thomas Carlyle, James Hutton's Geology, Hamilton's Logic. In his teens he taught himself German, eventually becoming fluent and used by Charles Darwin as a translator of scientific material in German. He learnt Latin, and enough Greek to read Aristotle in the original.

Later on, as a young adult, he made himself an expert first on invertebrates, and later on vertebrates, all self-taught. He was skilled in drawing, and did many of the illustrations for his publications on marine invertebrates. In his later debates and writing on science and religion his grasp of theology was better than most of his clerical opponents. So, a boy who left school at ten became one of the most knowledgeable men in Britain.[3][4]

He was apprenticed for short periods to several medical practitioners: at 13 to his brother-in-law John Cooke in Coventry, who passed him on to Thomas Chandler, notable for his experiments using mesmerism for medical purposes. Chandler's practice was in London's Rotherhithe amidst the squalor endured by the Dickensian poor. Here Thomas would have seen poverty, crime and rampant disease at its worst.[5] Next, another brother-in-law took him on: John Salt, his eldest sister's husband. Now 16, Huxley entered Sydenham College (behind University College Hospital), a cut-price anatomy school whose founder Marshall Hall discovered the reflex arc. All this time Huxley continued his program of reading, which more than made up for his lack of formal schooling.

A year later, buoyed by excellent results and a silver medal prize in the Apothecaries' yearly competition, Huxley was admitted to study at Charing Cross Hospital, where he obtained a small scholarship. At Charing Cross, he was taught by the remarkable Scot, Thomas Wharton Jones, who had been Robert Knox's assistant when Knox bought cadavers from Burke and Hare:

Burke’s the butcher, Hare’s the thief,
Knox, the boy who buys the beef!

The young Wharton Jones, who acted as go-between, was exonerated of crime, but thought it best to leave Scotland. He was a fine teacher, up-to-date in physiology and also an ophthalmic surgeon. In 1845, under Wharton Jones' guidance, Huxley published his first scientific paper demonstrating the existence of a hitherto unrecognized layer in the inner sheath of hairs, a layer that has been known since as Huxley's layer. No doubt remembering this, and of course knowing his merit, later in life Huxley organised a pension for his old tutor.

At twenty he passed his First M.B. examination at the University of London, winning the gold medal for anatomy and physiology. However, he did not present himself for the final (2nd M.B.) exams and consequently did not qualify with a university degree. His apprenticeships and exam results formed a sufficient basis for his application to the Royal Navy.[6][7]

Aged 20, Huxley was too young to apply to the Royal College of Surgeons for a licence to practice, yet he was 'deep in debt'.[8] So, at a friend's suggestion, he applied for an appointment in the Royal Navy. He had references on character and certificates showing the time spent on his apprenticeship and on requirements such as dissection and pharmacy. Sir William Burnett, the Physician General of the Navy, interviewed him and arranged for the College of Surgeons to test his competence (by means of a viva voce).

HMS Rattlesnakeby the ship's artist Oswald Brierly
HMS Rattlesnake

by the ship's artist Oswald Brierly

Finally Huxley was made Assistant Surgeon ('surgeon's mate') to HMS Rattlesnake, about to start for a voyage of discovery and surveying to New Guinea and Australia. Rattlesnake left England on December 3, 1846 and, once they had arrived in the southern hemisphere, Huxley devoted his time to the study of marine invertebrates.[9] He began to send details of his discoveries back to England, where publication was arranged by Edward Forbes FRS (who had also been a pupil of Knox).

What a life!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

All the World is a stage?

http://www.ebuyer.com/product/127846 £49,99?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Daler Mehndi - Tunak Tunak Tun

Sunday, February 03, 2008


Six Nations table
02 February 2008 18:22
Team P W D L F A PTS
1 Wales 1 1 0 0 26 19 2
2 Ireland 1 1 0 0 16 11 2
3 France 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
4 Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
5 Italy 1 0 0 1 11 16 0
6 England 1 0 0 1 19 26 0

Saturday, February 02, 2008

19 - 26

Woolworths withdraws 'Lolita' bed

From the Beeb:-

Particularly relevant as my plump for El Grupo this round is one & the same.

Dominique Swain played the young girl in the film, Lolita
A film adaptation of the novel also met with controversy
Bedroom furniture for young girls with the brand name Lolita has been withdrawn by Woolworths following complaints from parents.

A parenting website said it was in "unbelievably bad taste" to give the bed the same name as a novel about a sexually precocious young girl.

Woolworths said the £395 Lolita Midsleeper Combi was withdrawn when the matter was brought to its attention.

Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 novel became famous for its controversial subject.

The story of a stepfather's sexual obsession with a 12-year-old girl has been adapted for film twice: first by Stanley Kubrick in 1962 and later in 1997 when Jeremy Irons played the lead part of Humbert Humbert.

It has become a name that is synonymous with sexual precocity and the fact that it is tied to a girl's bed - it literally couldn't be worse taste
Catherine Hanly, parenting website editor

Catherine Hanly, editor of parenting website raisingkids.co.uk, was among the parents to complain about the furniture advertised on the Woolworths website.

She said a Woolworths press officer had told her staff running the website "had no idea" of the word's connotations.

"I expect a company like Woolworths to actually know what it means and the connotations and stuff," she told BBC Radio Five Live Breakfast.

"It has become a name that is synonymous with sexual precocity and the fact that it is tied to a girl's bed - it literally couldn't be worse taste."

A Woolworths spokeswoman said: "Now this has been brought to our attention, the product has been removed from sale with immediate effect.

She said the suppliers, who advertise the product on the Woolworths' website, would be asked how the branding came about.

Playboy bunny

It is not the first time retailers have been criticised for using branding with sexual connotations on goods marketed for children.

In 2005, WH Smiths came under fire for selling youngsters stationery bearing the Playboy bunny - a symbol of the pornography empire.

Prior to that Bhs decided to withdraw its Little Miss Naughty range of padded bras and knickers for pre-teen girls.

Argos, however, defended its range of underwear for girls as young as nine including G-strings and padded bras as products in demand among children.

Friday, February 01, 2008

New Wales Flag version II

For use this weekend, when the Ospreys play England