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tearose
02-26-2013, 08:20 PM
As-salamu 3laikum,
I want to ask if anyone can give advice in sha Allah abouthow to get through studying at a university in a Western country. Especially,but not only, from brothers and sisters who have studied in one of thesecountries. What do you do if the teachers talk about haram things, or kufr, orshirk, or things that you’re not sure exactly what they mean by it, but itdoesn’t seem right from an Islamic perspective. What if you have to study thesematerials involving these things? I’m not asking for opinions as such, as Ialready asked an imam. I just need some advice on how to deal with it in apractical, day-to-day sense.
Sometimes we have the opportunity to debate with teachersand classmates, other times you’re expected to work on things withoutcommenting on their content. To give you some back ground on my particularsituation, I’m studying languages and translation, so we have to look atvarious texts, but sometimes only from the linguistic point of view withoutcommenting on the content.
To give you a few examples:
1) To give us an example of the difference between a summaryand another type of account, the teacher handed us out an example text to readat home. It was about someone on a holiday/experience imagining things fromGreek mythology. I didn’t keep it; I threw it away. Now I wonder whether Ishould tell the teacher that I could not use the text, as otherwise, she mightthink I approve of it and that seems wrong to me – aren’t we supposed to pointout things that are wrong?
What if we have to work on a text like that in class? ShouldI leave the classroom and come back when they moved on to something else? I wastold by an imam it is ok as long as you have your own belief in your heart –but personally I find it very upsetting so it’s hard for me to stay.
2)Another class is all about using technology fortranslation – online translators, voice-recognition software etc. All was goingwell until the teacher started talking about how can we make the computerunderstand language. That seemed wrong to me, like people who think they cancreate artificial intelligence or something. But maybe it was just a manner ofspeaking, like when something is taking a while to load, some people say, as ajoke, the computer is thinking. Should I ask her to clarify what she meant orshould I give her the benefit of the doubt?
Any advice would be appreciated, as I am supposed to make afinal decision on which classes to take soon in sha Allah, and I feel a bit overwhelmed. jazakum Allahu khair
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Qurratul Ayn
02-27-2013, 09:18 PM
:wasalamex

*Hug* Calm down!!!

It's OK. You over-thinking, over-reacting!!! Take a step back and a deep breath

Originally Posted by tearose
I’m studying languages and translation,
Cool

Just take it all one day at a time, don't dwell upon this irrational thinking. You're educating yourself and as long as you're educating yourself on Islaam too, then it should be fine! But If you have strong feelings about these courses, as you seem to have then why don't you change it to an Islaamic course?

Originally Posted by tearose
1) To give us an example of the difference between a summaryand another type of account, the teacher handed us out an example text to readat home. It was about someone on a holiday/experience imagining things fromGreek mythology. I didn’t keep it; I threw it away. Now I wonder whether Ishould tell the teacher that I could not use the text, as otherwise, she mightthink I approve of it and that seems wrong to me – aren’t we supposed to pointout things that are wrong?
What if we have to work on a text like that in class? ShouldI leave the classroom and come back when they moved on to something else? I wastold by an imam it is ok as long as you have your own belief in your heart –but personally I find it very upsetting so it’s hard for me to stay.
The most important part.

Originally Posted by tearose
2)Another class is all about using technology fortranslation – online translators, voice-recognition software etc. All was goingwell until the teacher started talking about how can we make the computerunderstand language. That seemed wrong to me, like people who think they cancreate artificial intelligence or something. But maybe it was just a manner ofspeaking, like when something is taking a while to load, some people say, as ajoke, the computer is thinking. Should I ask her to clarify what she meant orshould I give her the benefit of the doubt?
Clarify. It'll give you a piece of mind too.

Ma Salamaa
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Tyrion
02-27-2013, 11:48 PM
You need to seriously tone it down. You're being ridiculous... Learning about other things is a good thing. Don't restrict yourself to only learning Islam, or the "Islamic" version of things. Just because something isn't Islam, or doesn't initially seem to sound exactly like Islamic ideas you've heard, doesn't mean it will contradict Islam and somehow make you less Muslim.

Originally Posted by tearose
1) To give us an example of the difference between a summaryand another type of account, the teacher handed us out an example text to readat home. It was about someone on a holiday/experience imagining things fromGreek mythology. I didn’t keep it; I threw it away. Now I wonder whether Ishould tell the teacher that I could not use the text, as otherwise, she mightthink I approve of it and that seems wrong to me – aren’t we supposed to pointout things that are wrong?
What if we have to work on a text like that in class? ShouldI leave the classroom and come back when they moved on to something else? I wastold by an imam it is ok as long as you have your own belief in your heart –but personally I find it very upsetting so it’s hard for me to stay.
This is silly. There is nothing wrong with learning about this stuff... It's not like by reading it, you're somehow admitting that you believe it to be true. Not even the faculty teaching it to you believes it to be true. You don't seem to understand the point of studying texts at an academic level... I'd advise you to get another copy from your teacher and finish your assignment.


Originally Posted by tearose
2)Another class is all about using technology fortranslation – online translators, voice-recognition software etc. All was goingwell until the teacher started talking about how can we make the computerunderstand language. That seemed wrong to me, like people who think they cancreate artificial intelligence or something. But maybe it was just a manner ofspeaking, like when something is taking a while to load, some people say, as ajoke, the computer is thinking. Should I ask her to clarify what she meant orshould I give her the benefit of the doubt?
People DO create artificial intelligence. The extent of that "intelligence" is up to debate though, but you seem to be having a knee jerk reaction to this without even knowing much about the field. In this case though, "understanding" language may or may not mean at a human level, but so what if it did? Instead of rejecting what you don't understand, learn about it, even (especially?) if it makes you uncomfortable. People today are studying the mind and artificial intelligence, and there are some theories that equate minds with computers. Don't just reject it outright, learn about it. You don't have to believe it, but that doesn't change the fact that this how others in certain fields are thinking about it.

You seem to be restricting yourself too much. If you keep thinking this way, you run the risk of being so ridiculously sheltered and ignorant to other viewpoints that you will never learn to really think. If you're so scared of learning, I don't think you should waste your time at a university.
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tearose
02-28-2013, 11:05 AM
Originally Posted by Qurratul Ayn
Just take it all one day at a time, don't dwell upon this irrational thinking. You're educating yourself and as long as you're educating yourself on Islaam too, then it should be fine! But If you have strong feelings about these courses, as you seem to have then why don't you change it to an Islaamic course?
As-salamu 3laikum wa ra7matullahi wa barakatuhu,
jazaki Allahu khair for your kind words. I know I do have a tendency to over-analyse things, but I hope I'm not being too irrational - I just wasn't sure about what is the difference between someone doing or promoting something haram, and someone just talking about it or mentioning it in the academic context. I'm not sure what you mean about changing to an Islamic course - it is a European university, so although they have some classes on Islam,I don't think they are usually talking about it from the Islamic perspective if you know what I mean, so I don't think it is a good way to learn about Islam. I can't change my course because I am in third year and it's too late to change, but if I give up my studies it could be seriously difficult financially, so I don't think that's an option for me. I have heard that there are local masjids offering classes for sisters but I would have to do that alongside my degree - the degree is more for financial/practical reasons than anything else.
Thanks again for your advice sis
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tearose
02-28-2013, 11:30 AM
Originally Posted by Tyrion
I'd advise you to get another copy from your teacher and finish your assignment.
As-salamu 3laikum,
It wasn't an assignment, it was just a handout to look over at home as a further explanation of what we had already done. I agree with you that it is unlikely the teacher subscribes to the ideas mentioned in the text, but it seemed to me as if the author of the text was speaking in a positive way about those polytheistic beliefs and that's why I felt uncomfortable working with it. The imam I spoke to told me that I should debate with teachers where possible, so I was trying to get advice about whether that would be a suitable occasion to do so, or if I should only do so if they seem to support the ideas rather than discussing them neutrally.

As regards the artificial intelligence issue, you're right, I don't know much about it, that's why I'm here asking for advice for those who know more about it than I do. I'm not having a knee-jerk reaction, I'm just being cautious and trying to get an Islamic perspective from those who have some experience of these issues, insha Allah.

Is there any particular reason why your response is so hostile and judgemental? I appreciate that you took the time to read and respond, and actually you hit on the key point, which is the difference between discussing an idea or using it academically compared to promoting or actually doing those things, however, I don't see how my post calls for such a negative reaction. I'm only trying to figure how that difference affects how we should behave in such situations.

I don't see what's so wrong with being cautious and seeking advice and clarification of doubts. I clearly stated that I wanted others' advice and that I had consulted an imam about this. It should therefore be clear to you that I am not blindly insisting on my intial reaction.
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Re.TiReD
02-28-2013, 07:02 PM
Assalamu 'alaykum

When I was in college I was a bit of an outspoken idiot. One of my religious studies teachers was an atheist and I remember kicking up a big fuss and asking how an atheist could possibly be teaching religion!!?? It was probably the fact that she'd make underhand comments about some topics when she was teaching Islam but I soon realised that I was being silly.

As long as you're firm in what you believe I don't see any harm in learning about something you don't agree with, I probably wouldn't learn about another religion if I had the choice but if I really had to then why not, some people are fantastic in the comparative religion section just because they know enough about other beliefs. You're not as impressionable as a 5-year old anymore Alhamdulillah so as long as you can distinguish between the rights and wrongs of what you're being taught then it's aaalll good.

Also, I understand why you'd get upset, if you ever have the chance to explain something from an Islamic point of view than you can use the chance for a bit of da'wah =D

Salaam.
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tearose
03-02-2013, 12:12 PM
Originally Posted by Re.TiReD
if you ever have the chance to explain something from an Islamic point of view than you can use the chance for a bit of da'wah
wa 3laikum as-salam,

Thanks for the advice sister. The only thing about that is that I'm still not very knowledgeable and when I try to give da'wah sometimes I express myself really badly - I'm still working on that. Maybe this experience will help me to become better at it in sha Allah. To be honest I was worried about whether listening to such things in uni is compatible with enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, and doing something to change evil actions. But it seems as if most people so far don't consider saying things in an academic context to fall under that category. I guess I'm just confused.
jazaki Allahu khair
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Abdul Fattah
03-07-2013, 08:07 PM
Aselam aleykum
There's nothing wrong with learning. Even if it's about stuff that's haram. It could even help you get a better perspective, and understand why it is haram even better. And what's wrong with learning about greek mythology, or even reading a fantasy story? There's nothing haram about fictional literature. As for the Computerprogramming, there's nothing wrong with trying to create artificial intelligence either. Why do you assume this is haram? Do you think it is shirk to believe in that posibility? Why? Are humans not able to manufacter machinery and object? Sure we cannot "create" in the sense that Allah creates, but we can make stuff. It's just that in english we take the word creation can have different meanings.
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tearose
03-09-2013, 11:43 AM
wa 3laikum as-salam,

Originally Posted by Abdul Fattah
Are humans not able to manufacter machinery and object? Sure we cannot "create" in the sense that Allah creates, but we can make stuff. It's just that in english we take the word creation can have different meanings.
Well, I suppose it might be helpful to define the different meanings of 'creation' and 'intelligence'. Manufacturing technology in general is different from somebody believing that they can create 'life', which seems to be how some people understand 'intelligence'. There is obviously a great difference between the two. What I am trying to figure out is how 'electronic brains' and computers that 'understand' fit into that. Even though the course so far is actually showing how difficult it is to put together a system or a machine which is equipped to carry out the tasks they want it to do, people here have almost no barriers when it comes to how they talk about things. If my teacher was a knowledgeable Muslim I would feel more comfortable that he or she would put it into the right perspective. That's why I wanted to get some Muslims' perspectives on this issue so I would know how to approach it in the class. Just because learning about the technology might be beneficial, doesn't mean I have to unthinkingly adopt the terminology they use.

Thanks for your input.
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