Friday, July 10, 2009

Drug Use and Addiction in War

We’re all familiar with the ‘War on Drugs’ but what about drugs in war? Drug use in wartime is a topic rarely covered by mainstream media but each war has a distinct underlying drug culture attached to it. What’s interesting is that no army in recent history has ever successfully been able to curb drug use among their ranks. Of course not all military forces discourage the use of drugs. From the Napoleonic wars to Iraq and Afghanistan, drug use in the military doesn’t appear to be going away.
Note: There are many other examples of drugs in other conflicts, like amphetamine-pumped child soldiers in Sierra Leone, but this list covers mainly global conflicts.
Napoleonic Wars
French & British
The harsh discipline that came with serving during the Napoleonic wars was counterbalanced by the regular consumption of alcohol. Alcohol became very important for maintaining morale and discipline in the army. Army officials knew that if they attempted to regulate alcohol use they would be met with insurmountable resistance. Alcohol was the only way soldiers could escape. Many soldiers would spend their entire month’s wages on alcohol.
Officers had standing orders to avoid drunken privates since they would often attack their superiors. These orders lasted until the end of the war.
Source: British Military Spectacle: From the Napoleonic Wars through the Crimea by Scott Myerly
World War I
Part of a daily ration for the average British soldier included a half-gill of rum which is the equivalent of a eighth of a pint. Additional rations of rum were occasionally served prior to soldiers ‘going over’ (The term used for exiting the trench to advance on the enemy.) The amount given was at the discretion of the standing general.
German soldiers had a worse diet in terms of food but a much more varied diet when it came to alcohol. German soldiers had a daily ration that included a pint of beer, half a pint of wine and a quarter pint of spirits.
World War II
Drug use in World War II is easily the most institutionalized in recorded history. This was especially true for German military. The drug of choice for the German army was a methamphetamine designed to keep soldiers alert and functional for several hours/days. 35 million tablets of methamphetamine were shipped to the army and air force between just April and July 1940 alone. These methamphetamines were later banned in 1941 under the Opium Law but despite the ban a shipment of over 10 million tablets was sent to soldiers later that year.
Germans & Americans
The use of alcohol was also encouraged by the military. Alcohol became a crutch for many of the men serving at the time. This prevalent and habitual use of alcohol led to many otherwise preventable deaths and injuries. Production of bootlegged alcohol became a serious issue as many producers didn’t know the difference between consumable alcohol and methyl alcohol. Men who consumed spirits made with methyl alcohol became blind or succumbed to fatal alcohol poisoning. [Source]
Vietnam War
The drug of choice of American soldiers during the Vietnam War was marijuana. For a majority of the war, marijuana use was largely ignored by army officials. In 1968 a major government initiative forced the army the crack down on marijuana use. By this point the use of the drug had become far too prevalent for the army to effectively combat. Army arrests had reached 1000 per week at its height and treatment centers were inundated.
The army began a massive anti-marijuana propaganda campaign to try and curb its use among soldiers. Officials claimed it would cause harmful long-term psychological effects.
The main concern was that the use of marijuana was affecting missions. What many politicians and anti-marijuana lobbyists didn’t realize is that there was internal policing of marijuana use by the soldiers themselves. Marijuana did not affect military operations because it was only used in non-combat situations. The soldiers knew their lives were on the line and if men in their unit were using marijuana in combat situation it would compromise their safety.
Iraq II & Afghanistan
The statistics provided by the US military regarding the drug and alcohol abuse by soldiers is universally viewed as a gross misrepresentation of the actual problem that the military faces. Substance abuse is steadily on the rise and soldiers are returning home with life-altering drug addictions.
As it stands, there is a blanket ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy in the army and there are vastly differing opinions concerning drug use from one level of authority to the next. Medics are generally known to be the ‘dealers’ and as a soldier they’re your best bet if you’re looking to get drugs of any kind.

AED PLUS Automated External Defibrillator Can Help Save a Life During Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA

Sadly, roughly every two minutes Sudden Cardiac Arrest claims the life of an individual, making it a leading cause of death in the United States. Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA, occurs when the heart ceases to function abruptly and in most cases without any warning. The most devastating statistic is that approximately 95 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching a hospital or any type of medical attention.

Fortunately, the AED PLUS Automated External Defibrillator was designed to be used when an individual suffers from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Every second matters when it comes to saving a person’s life making the defibrillator a tremendous tool to have when waiting for ambulance or further medical attention to arrive. This medical device guarantees that accurate care is given to the person in need by providing a step by step guide on how to perform CPR and exactly when to use the defibrillator to restore a normal rhythm to the heart. The AED PLUS is the only automated external defibrillator designed to help the rescuer achieve the correct rate and depth of chest compressions during CPR because it can actually see when the rescuer is doing CPR to better assist them. This defibrillator was designed to be easy to use; the simple labeling on the pads assures users can provide the most help with minimal effort or medical knowledge.
Studies show that three-fourths of SCA victims show signs of a previous heart attack. Have you or a loved one suffered from a previous heart attack? Protect yourself and loved ones, feel safe knowing that you have a safety net in case of an emergency. For more information on purchasing your AED PLUS Automated External Defibrillator, visit

10 Things We're Dying to Know About Chrome OS

This morning the blogosphere is abuzz with the late-breaking news about Google's new Chrome OS, a combination of the Chrome browser and windowing system running on top of a Linux kernel.
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But more important than what's being announced is what hasn't been said. People already have a lot of questions about the Chrome OS and the answers may ultimately determine how well it succeeds as a true competitor to both Microsoft and Apple, as is being widely speculated. We'll explore some of those questions in this post.
In typical Google fashion, the Chrome OS announcement is filled with glorious tidbits of information that add up to paint an overall picture of what's ahead. They've told us the OS will run on standard x86 and ARM chips, that they're working OEMs to bring it to several netbooks by next year, that the code will be open-sourced later this year, that it will run any web applications, and that, yeah, it overlaps a little with Android.
However, what we don't know about the Chrome OS could fill a room.
What We Don't Know About Chrome OS
What will happen when you go offline?
If the Chrome OS is all about running web apps in a browser, that begs the question - what will happen when there's no internet connection available? Of course, Google apps like Gmail can run offline using Gears, but Gears isn't everywhere yet. Another likely possibility is that Chrome OS will support the upcoming standard HTML5, which also offers offline capabilities. However, not all web applications will support that least not immediately. That just leaves the "windowing system" running on the Linux kernel. Will it, like any other Linux OS, allow us to install software applications? That seems less likely since Chrome OS is all about the move away from the desktop to the web. The only real solution to the offline conundrum would be to bundle in a cellular data service with the netbook so you have always-on connectivity.
No More Desktop Software Apps: But What About Photo Uploads? Creating a PDF? Editing a Video?
Ultimately, this argument boils down to the "Photoshop" question. Anytime we talk about moving the OS to the cloud, someone inevitably says: "but you can't run Photoshop in the cloud!" That's true, but none of us run Photoshop on our netbooks, either. Still, Chrome OS on a netbook is only step one - desktop and laptop computers are sure to come next. But how will Chrome OS handle the tasks that netbooks can't? Photo software, including Google's own Picasa can't work in a browser least, not today. It still requires the intermediate step of importing photos from camera to PC then uploading from PC to web. Will this workflow still be possible thanks to Chrome OS's windowing system and Linux kernel? Then there are the more complex tasks that also require an OS: video editing, using Adobe software, using Microsoft Office. Of course, we know Google's response to that last one, but there's still a good-sized userbase out there who prefers Office to Docs - will they be willing to give it up and move to the cloud at last?
How Much Will Chrome OS Cost?
A lot of people are wondering if Chrome OS will be free, an idea likely brought about by the fact that everything that Google offers consumers has also been free. Free webmail, free Google Docs, free tools (IM, Calendar, Photos, etc.), free Chrome browser. But will the OS itself be free? Will it be ad-supported? If it's not free, then how much of a difference in price points will there have to be between a Chrome OS netbook and a Windows 7 netbook for consumers to switch to this new, unknown entity?
Will It Run Third-Party Applications?
If we had to bet, we'd bet yes on this one, but there just aren't enough details on this yet. Although Google is open-sourcing the code for Chrome OS later this year, we don't know if that means they're going to let anyone and everyone build apps for it. Maybe they will go the Apple route and lock down the OS the way Apple locks down the iPhone and allow us to install "approved" Chrome OS apps only. A lockdown ensures that everything will "just work" - a phrasing Google even uses in their blog post about it...and a methodology that has proven very successful for Apple. (It's easy for things to work when you control it with a heavy hand). But locking down an OS seems so very anti-open source and so un-Googlely. Will we end up having to "jailbreak" Chrome OS one day?
Can I Use My Old Printer?
Although less of a concern to those of us on the cutting edge who are always buying the latest gadgets and electronics, the hardware compatibility issue is still an unknown entity. Of course, thanks to its Linux kernel, the OS will include a bunch of drivers...but which ones? Since Google hasn't adopted a version of Linux that's already out there, we don't know how extensive the driver support will be. And, as everyone knows, getting manufacturers to build drivers for your OS, (nevermind getting them to provide you with ones that work properly!) is one of the hardest parts of having a successful OS.
Will Chrome OS Run Firefox?
Ha! As if! It's highly unlikely that Google would want to support competitive browsers on an OS built to run Chrome. But wait...this leads to a grey area when it comes to antitrust issues like those Microsoft currently faces in the EU. Over there, European officials are demanding that Microsoft not bundle IE with Windows, claiming that doing so is anti-competitive. But what about when the browser becomes the OS (in a sense)? Will Google now be forced to support alternatives? They might. Chrome isn't a prerequisite for a web OS: Firefox's latest version also supports HTML5, so it could just as easily run web apps both online and off.
Does this mean Google and Apple will No Longer be Friends?
As noted on VentureBeat, Google and Apple currently share an alliance of sorts. Their boards share two directors, Google chief executive, Eric Schmidt, and former Genentech chief executive, Arthur Levinson. How can this relationship last now that Google is clearly gunning for the OS market? Although people like to pit Google versus Microsoft, it's really Google versus Microsoft and Apple. Apple has a nice, healthy chunk of the consumer OS pie - the very slice that a Google OS is aiming for, especially considering its launch is on a netbook. However, Apple has clearly shown no interest - at least so far - in doing netbooks, preferring to focus their efforts on high-end computers and portable mini computers in the form of iPods and iPhones. But Google is already competing with Apple on the phone front, too, thanks to Android, and on the browser front, thanks to Chrome. Will an OS move be the last straw in the two companies' friendship?
Linux on the Netbook Hasn't Sold - Will a Google Brand Sell it Now?
We originally believed, as many open source advocates did, that the rise of the netbook would lead to uptake in consumer use of the Linux OS. However, that did not turn out to be the case. Instead, Windows XP is the dominant netbook OS and Microsoft's next OS, Windows 7, will launch netbook-ready. What was the problem with Linux on the netbook? According to major netbook manufacturer MSI Wind, the problem was Linux itself - MSI's Director of U.S. Sales Andy Tung said this of consumers: "They start playing around with Linux and start realizing that it's not what they are used to. They don't want to spend time to learn it so they bring it back to the store. The return rate is at least four times higher for Linux netbooks than Windows XP netbooks." Will branding a Linux OS "Google" and telling consumers to just load up the browser lead to simplicity, as Google hopes, or just more confusion?
Will Chrome OS Turn into an Enterprise Play?
Although Chrome OS will launch on the netbook, how far does Google plan to take their new technology? To the consumer desktop? To the small business? To the enterprise? Google has already shown how competitive they are when it comes to fighting Microsoft Office, will they do the same in fighting Microsoft's foothold as the business desktop OS of choice? If so, they may have a tougher battle ahead of them than they think. It may be one thing to get the IT guys to ditch Office software for a simplified cloud version, but ditch their OS? Not so much. The Windows desktop OS is designed to work with the rest of the Windows stack, including everything from Exchange Server to SharePoint and many others. In a client-server setting, IT admins create server-based policies that control everything about the corporate OS including browser settings, backup policies, logon restrictions, file access, permissions, updates, and so much more. What can you control when the OS is the web? Not much. And that could be a big problem.
Does "open source" mean Google expects the community to maintain the code?
In the open source world, the development and maintenance of code is crowd-sourced to a community of developers. By open-sourcing the Chrome OS code, is Google saying that they're not steering the OS ship? If so, that would be a very different way to do business than how Microsoft and Apple currently work. And it's somewhat an iffy one. While it's one thing to buy a Linux OS labeled as such, all consumers will see when buying Chrome OS is the big label reading "Google." They will have expectations that the company is running the show, not an amorphous community of open-sourcers. What will happen when something goes wrong? There's no "Apple Genius Bar" to take the computer to and no "Microsoft Support" hotline to call. (Or will there be?) Selling an OS is only step one. Supporting it is just as crucial. What level of responsibility does Google plan for that


The Next Hacking Frontier: Your Brain?

Wired Science News for Your Neurons
The Next Hacking Frontier: Your Brain?
By Hadley Leggett
July 9, 2009
12:59 pm
Categories: Biotech, Brains and Behavior, Ethics
Hackers who commandeer your computer are bad enough. Now scientists worry that someday, they’ll try to take over your brain.
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In the past year, researchers have developed technology that makes it possible to use thoughts to operate a computer, maneuver a wheelchair or even use Twitter — all without lifting a finger. But as neural devices become more complicated — and go wireless — some scientists say the risks of “brain hacking” should be taken seriously.
“Neural devices are innovating at an extremely rapid rate and hold tremendous promise for the future,” said computer security expert Tadayoshi Kohno of the University of Washington. “But if we don’t start paying attention to security, we’re worried that we might find ourselves in five or 10 years saying we’ve made a big mistake.”
Hackers tap into personal computers all the time — but what would happen if they focused their nefarious energy on neural devices, such as the deep-brain stimulators currently used to treat Parkinson’s and depression, or electrode systems for controlling prosthetic limbs? According to Kohno and his colleagues, who published their concerns July 1 in Neurosurgical Focus, most current devices carry few security risks. But as neural engineering becomes more complex and more widespread, the potential for security breaches will mushroom.
For example, the next generation of implantable devices to control prosthetic limbs will likely include wireless controls that allow physicians to remotely adjust settings on the machine. If neural engineers don’t build in security features such as encryption and access control, an attacker could hijack the device and take over the robotic limb.
“It’s very hard to design complex systems that don’t have bugs,” Kohno said. “As these medical devices start to become more and more complicated, it gets easier and easier for people to overlook a bug that could become a very serious risk. It might border on science fiction today, but so did going to the moon 50 years ago.”
Some might question why anyone would want to hack into someone else’s brain, but the researchers say there’s a precedent for using computers to cause neurological harm. In November 2007 and March 2008, malicious programmers vandalized epilepsy support websites by putting up flashing animations, which caused seizures in some photo-sensitive patients.
“It happened on two separate occasions,” said computer science graduate student Tamara Denning, a co-author on the paper. “It’s evidence that people will be malicious and try to compromise peoples’ health using computers, especially if neural devices become more widespread.”
In some cases, patients might even want to hack into their own neural device. Unlike devices to control prosthetic limbs, which still use wires, many deep brain stimulators already rely on wireless signals. Hacking into these devices could enable patients to “self-prescribe” elevated moods or pain relief by increasing the activity of the brain’s reward centers.
Despite the risks, Kohno said, most new devices aren’t created with security in mind. Neural engineers carefully consider the safety and reliability of new equipment, and neuroethicists focus on whether a new device fits ethical guidelines. But until now, few groups have considered how neural devices might be hijacked to perform unintended actions. This is the first time an academic paper has addressed the topic of “neurosecurity,” a term the group coined to describe their field.
“The security and privacy issues somehow seem to slip by,” Kohno said. “I would not be surprised if most people working in this space have never thought about security.”
Kevin Otto, a bioengineer who studies brain-machine interfaces at Purdue Universty, said he was initially skeptical of the research. “When I first picked up the paper, I don’t know if I agreed that it was an issue. But the paper gives a very compelling argument that this is important, and that this is the time to have neural engineers collaborate with security developers.”
It’s never too early to start thinking about security issues, said neural engineer Justin Williams of the University of Wisconsin, who was not involved in the research. But he stressed that the kinds of devices available today are not susceptible to attack, and that fear of future risks shouldn’t impede progress in the field. “These kinds of security issues have to proceed in lockstep with the technology,” Williams said.
History provides plenty of examples of why it’s important to think about security before it becomes a problem, Kohno said. Perhaps the best example is the internet, which was originally conceived as a research project and didn’t take security into account.
“Because the internet was not originally designed with security in mind,” the researchers wrote, “it is incredibly challenging — if not impossible — to retrofit the existing internet infrastructure to meet all of today’s security goals.” Kohno and his colleagues hope to avoid such problems in the neural device world, by getting the community to discuss potential security problems before they become a reality.
“The first thing is to ask ourselves is, ‘Could there be a security and privacy problem?’” Kohno said. “Asking ‘Is there a problem?’ gets you 90 percent there, and that’s the most important thing.”
Via Mind Hacks

By Hadley Leggett

Augmented ID: Augmented Reality Facial Recognition for Mobile

As mobile phones continue to develop, the improvements to geolocation features, video capabilities, and processor speed combined with APIs from various web services are helping to make augmented reality the next big thing in mobile applications. On open platforms like Android, we've already seen amazing developments, including things like Layar, an augmented reality app that describes the world around you, and TwittARound, an app which shows you nearby tweets. But one of the items on our Augmented Reality wishlist - AU facial recognition - isn't something we've seen come about just yet. It almost seems too futuristic to be real. And it is. Swedish software and design company The Astonishing Tribe is developing an AU concept called Augmented ID that "sees" people and tells you who they are.
How Augmented ID Works
AugmentedID uses facial recognition and tracking technology from a company called Polar Rose, a photo tagging startup. A few months ago, Polar Rose made the news when they released a tool that lets you tag your friends on flickr and then alert them that they were tagged via Facebook Connect integration. Although hyped as "facial recognition for flickr," the technology isn't a part of the photo-sharing site at all (although if Flickr was smart, they'd soon find a way to make that happen). Instead, Polar Rose, at its very core, is simply a facial recognition algorithm which pulls in photos from flickr to its site for tagging. It can also be integrated into any web site you own via a javascript widget. Apparently, it can now be integrated into mobile devices, too.
Polar Rose performs facial recognition by matching 3D models of faces, one of the three methodologies for performing this task. This technique captures the shape of the face and other distinctive features like the contour of the eyes, the nose, and the chin. The advantage of using this technique is that it's not affected by low lighting scenarios - a useful feature when used in real-world mobile interfaces like that of Augmented ID.
Current Limitations and Future Possibilities
Unfortunately, in order for Augmented ID to know a person's face to begin with, it appears you first have to set up an Augmented ID account. Once that's done, you can maintain different profiles for your public persona versus your private one, switching between them as desired. Each profile has associated with it your contact information, web links, and information about your social networking profiles. Another Augmented ID user could then aim their phone at you and Augmented ID would recognize who you were and show them the appropriate profile - which is actually the video stream of you in real life with the various links sort of hovering around your head.
This isn't exactly the ideal mobile facial recognition solution just yet since it requires both participants to use Augmented ID in order for it to work. But it is one step closer than anything else we've seen before. In a perfect world, however, anyone could use the app to identify anyone else - regardless of whether or not that person had created an Augmented ID profile.
Of course, implementing that type of feature would be difficult, but not impossible. Given the numerous public photos on the web, an app could, in theory, use its facial recognition technology to compare the 3D model of the face in the live video feed to those out there on the web as opposed to ones in its own database. A good place to start this matching process would be Facebook. Despite the millions upon millions of photos on that social networking site, facial recognition already exists there courtesy of the new app Photo Finder. Perhaps the two companies could even work together so the mobile app could query against the photos Photo Finder has already turned into 3D models for matching purposes. (Is that technically possible? If that's your area of expertise, let us know).
That's getting a little ahead of what Augmented ID actually does, but possibilities like this are exciting.
But For Now...
At the moment, Augmented ID is more of a mobile "concept" than it is a working application ready for download. Still, it's only a matter of time before technology like this is adopted and put into use in the real world. In fact, that's why TAT developed it in the first place. The Swedish company designs and builds products and services that "enhance the user experience of portable devices." They work with OEMs including SonyEricsson, Motorola, S60, Samsung, Vodafone, and Orange as well as partners like Texas Instruments, Freescale, Teleca, Macnica Networks, Montavista, Nvidia, and Symbian. In other words, you may one day see this technology come built into your mobile device. But we'd settle for the Augmented ID mobile app -wouldn't you?
Image credit: engadget
Written by Sarah Perez

Hohm: Microsoft Gets Into the Energy Business

A few days ago, a group of enterprising bloggers discovered that Microsoft had just trademarked the name 'Hohm.' Today, we can finally reveal what Hohm is really about. At its core, Hohm is Microsoft's answer to Google's PowerMeter and similar services. Hohm is dedicated to giving consumer's information about potential energy savings, while at the same time connecting those consumers whose energy providers already use smart meter technology with real-time information about their own energy consumption at home.
It's also noteworthy that Hohm was developed on top of Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform.

Like most similar projects, Microsoft's Hohm will hook into the data streams from utilities once they bring their smart grids online Correction: Hohm can bring in data even from utilities that don't support smart meters yet, as long as the utility provider provides a data stream of some form to Microsoft, even if it is not real-time. For now, Microsoft is only rolling out support for 4 utilities (Puget Sound Energy, Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Seattle City Light, and Xcel Energy), but it's only a matter of time before more utilities will roll out similar projects and smart meters, and as Microsoft's Troy Batterberry, the product unit manager for Hohm, told us in an interview last week, Microsoft plans to make a long-term investment here and support data streams from utilities that offers them. Batterberry also mentioned that Microsoft plans to announce a number of additional partners in the next few months.
Models, Predictions, Education
Besides bringing in real-time information from smart meters, though, Hohm also provides users with interesting data about their own energy consumption even when their utilities are not online yet. All a user has to do is answer some basic questions and Hohm will provide an estimate of a household's energy consumption. For a full assessment, Hohm can ask over 200 questions and the more answers a user provides, the better the estimate will be. In the back-end, Microsoft is constantly tweaking these models based on the real-life data it receives from users whose utilities already allow data to be downloaded to Hohm. Microsoft's Troy Batterberry also told us that these models are already quite reliable, but will only get better as more users enter their data and as Microsoft gets to compare its models with more real-time data from its partners.
Batterberry also stressed that Microsoft wants to make Hohm useful for users right now, not just those whose utilities use smart meters. To educate these users, Hohm also features a large section with resources and tips for saving energy.
Good Now - But Will Get Better Once Real-Time Data is Available for More Users
A simple model, of course, wouldn't be very interesting if users can't experiment with different settings like switching out their standard light bulbs for energy-saving ones, for example. Hohm does a nice job here, but in the end, the real advantage of using Hohm or similar systems will only be unlocked once users can get real-time (or almost real-time) access to their energy data. Once that happens, the "Prius-effect" can then set in, where users change their behavior based on the real-time feedback about their car's (or, in this case, their house's) real-time energy consumption

Air France pilots accuse safety bodies over Brazil crash

Air France pilots have accused air safety bodies of failing to prevent the Bralizilian tragedy which killed 228 people by ignoring warnings about faulty speed probes.

Speculation has grown over the speed sensors which fed inconsistent readings to the cockpit just before the Airbus A330 plunged into the Atlantic on June 1, with investigators saying they were a "factor", if not the cause of the crash.
The Union of Air France Pilots (SPAF) wrote to France's DGAC aviation authority and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), accusing both of ignoring a string of incidents involving defective airspeed, or pitot probes.

"For years the crews of A330/340 aircraft have been reporting cases of loss or variation of airspeed data in severe weather conditions," Gerard Arnoux, the head of SPAF, said in the letter.
"Appropriate measures" from either agency would have "helped prevent the sequence of events that led to the loss of control of the aircraft," which crashed en route from Rio to Paris killing all on board, he charged.
Arnoux said it was the "responsibility" of both agencies to "force the manufacturer Airbus to make the necessary changes" to the defective sensors.
The DGAC aviation authority declined to respond to the charges. The EASA was not immediately reachable for comment.
The SPAF letter mentioned a presentation made to the EASA in September 2007 as proof the agency was aware Airbus pitot probes had suffered "a significant number of operating incidents linked to icing over or heavy rain."
Air France decided on June 12 to upgrade all pitot probes on its long-haul fleet after protests from pilots, but neither the DGAC nor the EASA have asked Airbus or airlines to replace the sensors.
Conflicting airspeed data can cause the autopilot to shut down and in extreme cases lead the plane to stall or fly dangerously fast, causing a high-altitude break-up.
The French bureau leading the investigation into the AF447 crash, the Office of Investigations and Analysis for Civil Aviation (BEA), said in a report last week that the airliner's defective speed sensors were a "factor but not the cause" of the accident.
The BEA also said that the plane did not break up in mid-air, explaining that it hit the water belly-first while moving at strong "vertical" speed.


As summer progresses, crops of rice paddy art are beginning to emerge in Japan. The crop art — created by strategically arranging and growing different colors of rice plants — can be seen in farming communities across the country. The largest and finest work is grown in the Aomori prefecture village of Inakadate, which has earned a reputation for its agricultural artistry. This year the enormous pictures of Napoleon and a Sengoku-period warrior, both on horseback, are visible in a pair of fields adjacent to the town hall there


The $99 iPhone 3G is the real master stroke? Defining success…

Although many expected Apple to release a cost-down version of its trendsetting handset, it was still a pleasant surprise when the company made the rumors come true. The only thing left to do now is wait for company to announce just how successful the move has been, right?
Rich Jaroslovsky of Bloomberg has written a glowing piece, oft waxing poetic about Apple’s genius ability to turn the smartphone segment upside down (again and again).
“Well, those geniuses at Apple Inc. have done it again, unveiling a product that should turn the wireless phone market on its head,” says Jaroslovsky. “Ah, but I’m not talking about the 3GS. The real revolution is the year-old iPhone 3G, whose price has been slashed to $99 with upgraded software that addresses some of its biggest shortcomings.”
As correctly noted by Jaroslovsky, even though the iPhone 3G is last year’s handset, “The simple fact is, at that price there’s nothing available that comes close to matching the 3G—not from Apple’s network partner AT&T Inc, and not from any other carrier or manufacturer.”
Defining success…
As you might expect, this fan boy tends to agree, but the real question as the day Apple will report second quarter results approaches, “How many did they sell?”
We all know that Cupertino claims to have sold 1 million or so of its new iPhone 3GS handsets. However, at what unit volume does the $99 iPhone 3G become genius? 250K, 500K or do you think they’ve managed a 1:1 to ratio, selling one cheap legacy handset for every new one?
I’m thinking Apple will tell us, perhaps not directly, that they moved between 250K and 500K iPhone 3G units in the first eight countries where it’s now available. Will this be enough and will sales hold long term?
Yes, that’s plenty, at least for now. Thereupon, I still believe that Apple will choose to offer a free + contract phone, perhaps Mac + free phone, and that it could come as soon as this Fall in order to spur holiday sales.
That is, the critical measure of the iPhone 3G’s success won’t be units sold, but in how many competitors it helps Apple slay

Mobile Spy 3.0 knows where they’ve been

Are you the suspicious type? The kind that simply has to know what your employees, children and wife have been up to? Then here’s the one tool capable of saying what your iPhone 3GS toting friends and loved ones are up.
Retina-X Studios has announced the availability of Mobile Spy version 3.0 for iPhone, the only spyware compatible with the iPhone 3GS allowing the user to silently track and record GPS, SMS and calls via a secure online control panel.
“The popular 3GS device can now be monitored with ease. With reports of over one million 3GS devices sold in the first three days of launch, the device is very new and popular,” says James Johns, CEO, Retina-X Studios CEO. “Some users have a need to monitor activities of their child or employees. This is only possible with Mobile Spy.”
See also:— Mobile Spy 3.0 screencaps, SMS log and GPS tracker.— MacScan: Is there spyware on my Mac?
And, not just the iPhone…
Because Mobile Spy runs in total stealth mode and no mentions of the program are shown on the iPhone 3GS, the person using the iPhone won’t know that all of his SMS text messages, information about each call and actual GPS positions is being recorded and transmitted to Mobile Spy’s online control panel.
Mobile Spy runs on all iPhone models and smartphones running the Windows Mobile or Symbian OS operating system, including Windows Mobile 2003, 2003 SE, 5.0 and 6.0 and Symbian OS 9.x which are available from most major mobile carriers.
The only fly in the ointment that I imagine is how much this background process will hit battery life. That is, if the handset’s user is as paranoid as the person tracking and eves dropping, then all bets are off…
What’s your take?

The Buzz on Bees: Tracking the Pollinators

Pollinators are in trouble. Colony collapse disorder (CCD), a widespread and still unexplained phenomenon in which adult bees from honey bee colonies suddenly disappear, entered the language in 2006. Hundreds of thousands of bats have died from white-nose syndrome (WNS), another poorly understood malady that appeared a few years ago. A 2006 National Academy of Sciences report concluded that pollinator populations are moving demonstrably downward. Pollinator decline has been attributed to loss of habitat, monoculture agriculture, pesticides, pollution, and disease.

There are other pollinators, of course, including moths, butterflies, beetles, and hummingbirds. One-third of our food depends on pollinators. But pollinators are also "keystone species," because entire ecosystems depend on them. Problems for pollinators spell big trouble for us.
It was with thoughts like these that I set out on the July 4th weekend. While friends were heading to the beach or the country, I stayed behind in my Brooklyn neighborhood to go beewatching. I am participating in the Great Pollinator Project, a citizen science program in New York City that is collaborating with a national program based in San Francisco called the Great Sunflower Project. Both programs entail planting seeds to grow bee-friendly flowers. But in New York City, you can watch and report on bee visits to any of 12 flowers, including sunflowers, milkweed, dandelions, smooth asters, and purple coneflowers.
As I live in a co-op apartment, I walked a few blocks to a neighbor's garden, which was full of coneflowers that were, I am happy to say, abuzz with bumble bees. I carefully filled out my data collection sheet, with time, number of bee visits and flowers, and weather conditions and submitted it online. These reports will help scientists learn more about how bees are doing in urban areas. (Bees can thrive even in the middle of big cities; there are, for instance, more than 60 bee species in Central Park.)
This sort of project is scientifically useful and, well, fun. There is something serene and Zen-like about standing in a garden, inhaling the perfume of flowers, listening to the zzzz of insects, and mindfully focusing on a flower. It's also kid-friendly. There are myriad opportunities to learn more about nature and the amazing lives of social insects. For more information on pollinators, the Care2 group Help the Honey Bees! is an amazing resource of background information.

posted by: Peter Kobel

Threat Level Privacy, Crime and Security Online Lazy Hacker and Little Worm Set Off Cyberwar Frenzy

Talk of cyberwar is in the air after more than two dozen high-level websites in the United States and South Korea were hit by denial-of-service attacks this week. But cooler heads are pointing to a pilfered five-year-old worm as the source of the traffic, under control of an unsophisticated hacker who apparently did little to bolster his borrowed code against detection.
Nonetheless, the attacks have launched a thousand headlines (or thereabouts) and helped to throw kindling on some long-standing international political flames — with one sworn enemy blaming another for the aggression.
Welcome to the New World Order of cybersecurity.
As reported by numerous media outlets this week, websites belonging to the White House, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, National Security Agency, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Defense and the State Department, as well as sites for the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were hit by denial-of-service attacks over the July 4th holiday weekend. The Washington Post website was also reportedly affected by the attacks, launched by a botnet of more than 50,000 computers in several countries (mostly China, South Korea and Japan, according to Whois records) controlled by the hacker.
Then on Tuesday, at least 11 sites in South Korea, including sites for the Ministry of Defense and the presidential Blue House, were also targeted, leading the Associated Press to publish a story prominently quoting anonymous South Korean intelligence officials blaming the attacks on North Korea.
Security experts who examined code used in the attack say it appears to have been delivered to machines through the MyDoom worm, a piece of malware first discovered in January 2004 and appearing in numerous variants since. The Mytob virus might have been used, as well.
Both programs infect PCs running various versions of the Windows operating system. MyDoom was delivered through an infected e-mail attachment as well as through the Kazaa file-sharing network when it first came out. Once a user clicked on the attachment, the worm rooted through the victim’s e-mail contact list and mailed itself to everyone on the list. The initial malware in 2004 was programmed to launch a denial-of-service attack against a site for the SCO Group, which had filed an intellectual property suit against IBM over its alleged use of Linux code. The attack was programmed to launch February 1, 2004 and end February 12, sending a request to the website every millisecond. MyDoom was considered the fastest-spreading worm at the time.
In the recent attack, experts say the malware used no sophisticated techniques to evade detection by anti-virus software and doesn’t appear to have been written by someone experienced in coding malware. The author’s use of a pre-written worm to deliver the code also suggests the attacker probably wasn’t thinking of a long-term attack.
“The fact that it’s using older threats isn’t a terribly stealthy attack,” says Dean Turner, director of Symantec’s Global Intelligence Network. “And the fact that it’s re-using code could indicate that somebody put it together in a hurry or that, as with most DDoS attacks, their purpose is mostly nuisance. It didn’t require a degree in rocket science to pull that stuff together.”
Although he acknowledges that, given the length of time this attack has continued, it’s “pretty significant.”
Joe Stewart, director of malware research at SecureWorks says the code he examined, which was written in Visual C++, was compiled on July 3, two days before the first attacks. Although Stewart says analysis of the attack is still in its early stages, he concurs that the attacker’s motivation was fairly routine.
“Usually you see a DDoS attack against one or two sites and it will be for one of two reasons — they have some beef with those sites or they’re trying to extort money from those sites,” he says. “To just attack a wide array of government sites like this, especially high-profile, just suggests that maybe the entire point is just to get attention to make some headlines rather than to actually do any kind of damage.”
Denial-of-service attacks are one of the least sophisticated kinds of attacks a hacker can launch and have been around for nearly as long as e-commerce. But their strength and reach has increased since the advent of botnets — where hackers take control of thousands of machines by getting users to inadvertently click on files containing malware that allows them to remotely control the machines. The hackers then use the machines to launch attacks on websites. The only reason this one seems to have caught the public eye is because so many government sites were targeted at once.
“The breadth of the attack is unusual,” Stewart says.
The malware is designed to contact various servers to obtain new lists of targets. The first list had only five targets — all U.S. government sites. A second list used by the malware on July 6 had 21 targets, all U.S. government and commercial sector sites, including e-commerce and media sites. A list on the 7th switched out some of the U.S. sites for ones in South Korea. The total number of sites known to be targeted so far is 39, Stewart says, although the list could be augmented as the days pass.
Not all the sites were crippled by the attack. Most of the U.S. sites recovered quickly, but a site for the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Transportation and Secret Service continued to have problems for a day or more.
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the U.S. Computer Emergency Response Team, said in a statement that as of last night, all federal websites were back up and running. Spokeswoman Amy Kudwa also said that US-CERT had issued a notice to federal departments and agencies advising them of steps to take to help mitigate against such attacks.
“We see attacks on federal networks every single day, and measures in place have minimized the impact to federal websites,” she said. “US-CERT will continue to work with its federal partners and the private sector to address this activity.”
(Image: Independence Day, courtesy 20th Century Fox

Chinese Spying Claimed in Purchases of NSA Crypto Gear

A Chinese national was indicted this week for conspiring to violate U.S. export law, following a nearly three-year investigation into his alleged efforts to acquire sensitive military and NSA-encryption gear from eBay and other internet sources.
Chi Tong Kuok, of Macau, told Defense Department and Customs investigators that he had been “acting at the direction of officials for the People’s Republic of China,” according to a government affidavit in the case. “Kuak indicated he and PRC officials sought the items to figure out ways to listen to or monitor U.S. government and military communications.”
Kuok was arrested at the Atlanta International Airport last month en route from Paris to Panama, where he allegedly planned to meet an undercover federal agent he believed was going to provide him with military radios. He was transferred to California, where he was indicted (.pdf) Tuesday for money laundering, conspiracy, smuggling and one count of attempting to export a defense article without a license.
The U.S. began investigating Kuok in December 2006, when, using the first of many aliases, the man allegedly e-mailed a contact in the defense industry in search of software for a VDC-300 airborne data controller, used for secure satellite communications from American military aircraft.
The contact referred Kuok to an undercover agent in San Diego, who began negotiating with Kuok over a shopping list of military technology that eventually grew to at least 43 different items, ranging from a GPS receiver with anti-spoofing defenses, to the NSA-developed AN/CYZ-10 crypto key management device.
Kuok repeatedly expressed fears that he might be dealing with an NSA, CIA or FBI agent, but continued to negotiate with the undercover officer, even cautioning him to avoid referencing the items by model number in e-mail, because “your country has this system to analyze” e-mail for keywords.
Last March, the government says, a genuine U.S. source sold Kuok two export-restricted PRC-148 handheld digital military radios for $8,000, shipping them to Kuok’s address in Macau, and accepting payment over Western Union.
Using a Yahoo e-mail address and a different name, Kuok also allegedly contacted an Arizona company this year that had posted on eBay a KG-175 TACLANE — an NSA designed encryption device used to communicate with classified military computer networks, such as the Defense Department’s SIPRNet.
It’s legal to own the equipment, which can’t access anything without the proper crypto key, but export is tightly restricted. The Arizona company initially refused to ship the NSA gear to Macau, but at the government’s request, later allowed another undercover agent to negotiate a deal with Kuok while posing as a company official.
“In subsequent e-mails, Kuok indicated he was interested in buying the KG-175 if it came with a particular key,” reads an affidavit by John Helsing of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, who does not elaborate. Kuok allegedly sent the undercover agent $1,700 by Western Union for the crypto device, and then forwarded a list of additional items he wanted. “I am also thinking about if you are FBI or something like that,” Kuok allegedly wrote in an e-mail.
Despite his misgivings, Kuok sent the agent another $10,000 for more PRC-148 radios. “When you send the radios, remove all label and write it as vintage walkie talkie, thank you,” he allegedly instructed.
The undercover agent and Kuok agreed to meet in Panama to complete the delivery. Unfortunately for Kuok, his plane stopped in Atlanta, where he was arrested and held without bail. Investigators reviewed Kuak’s eBay and PayPal accounts and determined he had successfully purchased other export-controlled items online, begining in 2005.
On Wednesday, the government obtained search warrants for two USB flash drives, a laptop computer and several cell phones Kuok had in his carry-on bag, as well as for a cell phone SIM card in his possession.
“Huok claimed in his post-arrest interview that his PRC ‘handlers(s)’ gave him a SIM card and instructed him to place it in his phone once he landed in Panama,” wrote Helsing in his affidavit

Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (part 2 of 4): Old Testament Prophecies of Muhammad

Deuteronomy 18:18 “I (God) will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee (Moses), and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.”
Many Christians believe this prophecy foretold by Moses to be in regards to Jesus. Indeed Jesus was foretold in the Old Testament, but as will be clear, this prophecy does not befit him, but rather is more deserving of Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him. Moses foretold the following:
1. The Prophet Will Be Like Moses
Areas of Comparison
normal birth
miraculous, virgin birth
normal birth
prophet only
said to be Son of God
prophet only
father & mother
mother only
father & mother
Family Life
married with children
never married
married with children
Acceptance by own people
Jews accepted him
Jews rejected him[1]
Arabs accepted him
Political Authority
Moses had it (Num 15:36)
Jesus refused it[2]
Muhammad had it
Victory Over Opponents
Pharaoh drowned
said to be crucified
Meccans defeated
natural death
claimed to be crucified
natural death
buried in grave
empty tomb
buried in grave
not divine
divine to Christians
not divine
Began Mission at age
Resurrection on Earth
not resurrected
resurrection claimed
not resurrected

2. The Awaited Prophet will be from the Brethren of the Jews
The verse in discussion is explicit in saying that the prophet will come amongst the Brethren of the Jews. Abraham had two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. The Jews are the descendants of Isaac’s son, Jacob. The Arabs are the children of Ishmael. Thus, the Arabs are the brethren of the Jewish nation.[3] The Bible affirms:
‘And he (Ishmael) shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.’ (Genesis 16:12)
‘And he (Ishmael) died in the presence of all his brethren.’ (Genesis 25:18)
The children of Isaac are the brethren of the Ishmaelites. Likewise, Muhammad is from among the brethren of the Israelites, because he was a descendant of Ishmael the son of Abraham.

3. God Will Put His Words in the Mouth of the Awaited Prophet
The Quran says of Muhammad:
“Neither does he speak out of his own desire: that [which he conveys to you] is but [a divine] inspiration with which he is being inspired.” (Quran 53:3-4)
This is quite similar to the verse in Geneses 18:15:
“I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him” (Geneses 18:18)
The Prophet Muhammad came with a message to the whole world, and from them, the Jews. All, including the Jews, must accept his prophethood, and this is supported by the following words:
“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

4. A Warning to Rejecters
The prophecy continues:
Deuteronomy 18:19 “And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require [it] of him.” (in some translations: “I will be the Revenger”).
Interestingly, Muslims begin every chapter of the Quran in the name of God by saying:
Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem
“‘In the Name of God, the Most-Merciful, the Dispenser of Grace.”
The following is the account of some scholars who believed this prophecy to fit Muhammad.
The First Witness
Abdul-Ahad Dawud, the former Rev. David Benjamin Keldani, BD, a Roman Catholic priest of the Uniate-Chaldean sect (read his biography here). After accepting Islam, he wrote the book, ‘Muhammad in the Bible.’ He writes about this prophecy:
“If these words do not apply to Muhammad, they still remain unfulfilled. Jesus himself never claimed to be the prophet alluded to. Even his disciples were of the same opinion: they looked to the second coming of Jesus for the fulfillment of the prophecy (Acts 3: 17-24). So far it is undisputed that the first coming of Jesus was not the advent of the Prophet like unto thee and his second advent can hardly fulfill the words. Jesus, as is believed by his Church, will appear as a Judge and not as a law-giver; but the promised one has to come with a “fiery law” in his right hand.”[4]
The Second Witness
Muhammad Asad was born Leopold Weiss in July 1900 in the city of Lvov (German Lemberg), now in Poland, then part of the Austrian Empire. He was the descendant of a long line of rabbis, a line broken by his father, who became a barrister. Asad himself received a thorough religious education that would qualify him to keep alive the family’s rabbinical tradition. He had become proficient in Hebrew at an early age and was also familiar with Aramaic. He had studied the Old Testament in the original as well as the text and commentaries of the Talmud, the Mishna and Gemara, and he had delved into the intricacies of Biblical exegesis, the Targum.[5]
Commenting on the verse of the Quran:
“and do not overlay the truth with falsehood, and do not knowingly suppress the truth” (Quran 2:42)
Muhammad Asad writes:
“By ‘overlaying the truth with falsehood’ is meant the corrupting of the biblical text, of which the Quran frequently accuses the Jews (and which has since been established by objective textual criticism), while the ‘suppression of the truth’ refers to their disregard or deliberately false interpretation of the words of Moses in the biblical passage, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken’ (Deuteronomy 18:15), and the words attributed to God himself, ‘I will raise them up a prophet from among thy brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth’ (Deuteronomy 18:18). The ‘brethren’ of the children of Israel are obviously the Arabs, and particularly the musta’ribah (‘Arabianized’) group among them, which traces its descent to Ishmael and Abraham: and since it is this group that the Arabian Prophet’s own tribe, the Quraish, belonged, the above biblical passages must be taken as referring to his advent.”[6]
[1] “He (Jesus) came unto his own, but his own received him not” (John 1:11)
[2] Jhn 18:36.
[3] ‘Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 1-7.
[4] p. 156
[5] ‘Berlin to Makkah: Muhammad Asad’s Journey into Islam’ by Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab in the January/February 2002 issue of Saudi Aramco Magazine.
[6] Muhammad Asad, ‘The Message of The Quran’ (Gibraltar: Dar al-Andalus, 1984), p. 10-11

Bible Prophecies of Muhammad (part 1 of 4): Witnesses of Scholars

The Bible is the sacred scripture of Judaism and Christianity. The Christian Bible consists of the Old Testament and the New Testament, with the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Old Testament being slightly larger because of their acceptance of certain books not accepted as scripture by Protestants. The Jewish Bible includes only the books known to Christians as the Old Testament. Furthermore, the arrangements of the Jewish and Christian canons differ considerably.[1] Prophet Muhammad has been prophesized in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.
Jesus and the Apostles are believed to have spoken Aramaic. Aramaic continued in wide use until about AD 650, when it was supplanted by Arabic.[2] The present day Bible is not, however, based on the Aramaic manuscripts, but on Greek and Latin versions.
Quoting the Bible prophecies does not entail that Muslims accept the present day Bible in its entirety as God’s revelation. For the Islamic belief on previous scriptures, please click here.
It is not a pre-condition of acceptance that a prophet be foretold by an earlier prophet. Moses was a prophet to Pharaoh even though he was not prophesized by anyone before him. Abraham was God’s prophet to Nimrod, yet no one prophesized his coming. Noah, Lot, and others were true prophets of God, yet they were not foretold. The evidence of a prophet’s truth is not limited to old prophecies, but it includes the actual message brought by him, miracles and more.
Discussing prophecies is a delicate matter. It requires sifting through Bible versions and translations, recently discovered manuscripts and searching out Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic words and investigating them. The task becomes especially difficult when: “prior to the printing press (15th century), all copies of Bibles show textual variations.”[3] This is not an easy subject for lay people. For this reason, the best testimony comes from ancient and modern experts in the area who acknowledged the prophecies.
We have records of early Jews and Christians, both monks and rabbis, who witnessed that Muhammad was the fulfillment of specific Bible prophecies. The following are some examples of these people.
The Awaited Prophet
Pre-Islam Jews and Christians of Arabia were awaiting a prophet. Before the appearance of Muhammad, Arabia was home to Jews, Christians, and pagan Arabs who, on occasion, went to war with each other. The Jews and Christians would say: “The time has come for the unlettered prophet to appear who will revive the religion of Abraham. We will join his ranks and wage fierce war against you.” When Muhammad actually appeared, some of them believed in him, and some refused. This is why God revealed:
“And when there came to them a Book [Quran] from God confirming that which was with them – although before they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieved – but [then] when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it; so the curse of God will be upon the disbelievers.” (Quran 2:89)
The first witness was Buhaira, the Christian monk, who recognized Muhammad’s prophethood when he was still young and told his uncle:
“…a great fortune lies before your nephew, so take him home quickly.”[4]

The second witness was Waraqah bin Nawfal, a Christian scholar who died soon after a solitary meeting with Muhammad. Waraqah attested Muhammad was the Prophet of his time and received revelation exactly like Moses and Jesus.[5]
The Jews of Medina were anxiously awaiting the arrival of a prophet. The third and fourth witnesses were their two famous Jewish rabbis, Abdullah bin Salam and Mukhayriq.[6]
The sixth and seventh witnesses were also Yemeni Jewish rabbis, Wahb ibn Munabbih, and Ka’b al-Ahbar (d. 656 CE). Ka’b found long passages of praise and the description of the Prophet prophesized by Moses in the Bible.[7]
The Quran states:
“Is it not a sign to them that the learned men of the Children of Israel knew it (as true)?” (Quran 26:197)
[1] “Bible.” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. (
[2] “Aramaic language.” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. (
[3] “biblical literature.” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. (
[4] ‘Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 29. ‘Sirat Rasul Allah’ by Ibn Ishaq translated by A. Guillame, p. 79-81. ‘The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 46 by Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah of Azhar University.
[5] ‘Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources’ by Martin Lings, p. 35.
[6] ‘The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 47 by Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah of Azhar University.
[7] ‘The Quran And The Gospels: A Comparative Study,’ p. 47-48 by Dr. Muhammad Abu Laylah of Azhar University.

Why Islam?

Let’s talk frankly. Almost never do non-Muslims study Islam until they have first exhausted the religions of their exposure. Only after they have grown dissatisfied with the religions familiar to them, meaning Judaism, Christianity and all the fashionable “-isms”—Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism (and, as my young daughter once added, “tourism”)—do they consider Islam.
Perhaps other religions do not answer the big questions of life, such as “Who made us?” and “Why are we here?” Perhaps other religions do not reconcile the injustices of life with a fair and just Creator. Perhaps we find hypocrisy in the clergy, untenable tenets of faith in the canon, or corruption in the scripture. Whatever the reason, we perceive shortcomings in the religions of our exposure, and look elsewhere. And the ultimate “elsewhere” is Islam.
Now, Muslims would not like to hear me say that Islam is the “ultimate elsewhere.” But it is. Despite the fact that Muslims comprise one-fourth to one-fifth of the world’s population, non-Muslim media smears Islam with such horrible slanders that few non-Muslims view the religion in a positive light. Hence, it is normally the last religion seekers investigate.
Another problem is that by the time non-Muslims examine Islam, other religions have typically heightened their skepticism: If every “God-given” scripture we have ever seen is corrupt, how can the Islamic scripture be different? If charlatans have manipulated religions to suit their desires, how can we imagine the same not to have happened with Islam?
The answer can be given in a few lines, but takes books to explain. The short answer is this: There is a God. He is fair and just, and He wants us to achieve the reward of paradise. However, God has placed us in this worldly life as a test, to weed out the worthy from the unworthy. And we will be lost if left to our own devices. Why? Because we don’t know what He wants from us. We can’t navigate the twists and turns of this life without His guidance, and hence, He has given us guidance in the form of revelation.
Sure, previous religions have been corrupted, and that is one of the reasons why we have a chain of revelation. Ask yourself: wouldn’t God send another revelation if the preceding scriptures were impure? If preceding scriptures were corrupted, humans would need another revelation, to keep upon the straight path of His design.
So we should expect preceding scriptures to be corrupted, and we should expect the final revelation to be pure and unadulterated,for we cannot imagine a loving God leaving us astray. What we can imagine is God giving us a scripture, and men corrupting it; God giving us another scripture, and men corrupting it again … and again, and again. Until God sends a final revelation He promises to preserve until the end of time.
Muslims consider this final revelation to be the Holy Quran. You consider it … worth looking into. So let us return to the title of this article: Why Islam? Why should we believe that Islam is the religion of truth, the religion that possesses the pure and final revelation?
“Oh, just trust me.”
Now, how many times have you heard that line? A famous comedian used to joke that people of different cities cuss one another out in different ways. In Chicago, they cuss a person out this way, in Los Angeles they cuss a person out that way, but in New York they just say, “Trust me.”
So don’t trust me—trust our Creator. Read the Quran, read books and study good websites. But whatever you do, get started, take it seriously, and pray for our Creator to guide you.
Your life may not depend on it, but your soul most definitely does.

Copyright © 2007 Dr. Laurence B. Brown; used by permission.
Dr. Brown is the author of The Eighth Scroll, described by North Carolina State Senator Larry Shaw as, "Indiana Jones meets The Da Vinci Code. The Eighth Scroll is a breath-holding, white-knuckled, can't-put-down thriller that challenges Western views of humanity, history and religion. Bar none, the best book in its class!" Dr. Brown is also the author of three scholastic books of comparative religion, MisGod'ed, God'ed, and Bearing True Witness (Dar-us-Salam). His books and articles can be found on his websites, and, and are available for purchase through

The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others.
If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.
With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.
Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:
“Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?” (Saheeh Muslim)
When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance. The person’s record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother’s womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.
The Holy Quran and Hadeeth (prophetic sayings) both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:
“...The only religion in the sight of God is Islam...” (Quran 3:19)
In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire).” (Quran 3:85)
In another saying, Muhammad, the Prophet of God, said:
“Whoever testifies that there in none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Prophet, and that Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His word[1] which He bestowed in Mary and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise (Heaven) is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet of God, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, also reported:
“Indeed God has forbidden to reside eternally in Hell the person who says: “I testify that none has the right to worship except Allah (God),’ seeking thereby the Face of God.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
The Declaration of the Testimony (Shahada)
To convert to Islam and become a Muslim a person needs to pronounce the below testimony with conviction and understanding its meaning:
I testify “La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.”
The translation of which is:
“I testify that there is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and that Muhammad is a Messenger (Prophet) of God.”
To hear it click here or click on “Live Help” above for assistance by chat.
When someone pronounces the testimony with conviction, then he/she has become a Muslim. It can be done alone, but it is much better to be done with an adviser through the “Live Help” at top, so we may help you in pronouncing it right and to provide you with important resources for new Muslims.
The first part of the testimony consists of the most important truth that God revealed to mankind: that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God. God states in the Holy Quran:
“We did not send the Messenger before you without revealing to him: ‘none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me.’” (Quran 21:25)
This conveys that all forms of worship, whether it be praying, fasting, invoking, seeking refuge in, and offering an animal as sacrifice, must be directed to God and to God alone. Directing any form of worship to other than God (whether it be an angel, a messenger, Jesus, Muhammad, a saint, an idol, the sun, the moon, a tree) is seen as a contradiction to the fundamental message of Islam, and it is an unforgivable sin unless it is repented from before one dies. All forms of worship must be directed to God only.
Worship means the performance of deeds and sayings that please God, things which He commanded or encouraged to be performed, either by direct textual proof or by analogy. Thus, worship is not restricted to the implementation of the five pillars of Islam, but also includes every aspect of life. Providing food for one’s family, and saying something pleasant to cheer a person up are also considered acts of worship, if such is done with the intention of pleasing God. This means that, to be accepted, all acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the Sake of God alone.
The second part of the testimony means that Prophet Muhammad is the servant and chosen messenger of God. This implies that one obeys and follows the commands of the Prophet. One must believe in what he has said, practice his teachings and avoid what he has forbidden. One must therefore worship God only according to his teaching alone, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by God.
One must try to mold their lives and character and emulate the Prophet, as he was a living example for humans to follow. God says:
“And indeed you are upon a high standard of moral character.” (Quran 68:4)
God also said:
“And in deed you have a good and upright example in the Messenger of God, for those who hope in the meeting of God and the Hereafter, and mentions God much.” (Quran 33:21)
He was sent in order to practically implement the Quran, in his saying, deeds, legislation as well as all other facets of life. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, when asked about the character of the Prophet, replied:
“His character was that of the Quran.” (As-Suyooti)
To truly adhere to the second part of the Shahada is to follow his example in all walks of life. God says:
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love God, then follow me.’” (Quran 3:31)
It also means that Muhammad is the Final Prophet and Messenger of God, and that no (true) Prophet can come after him.
“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of God and the last (end) of the Prophets and God is Ever All-Aware of everything.” (Quran 33:40)
All who claim to be prophets or receive revelation after Muhammad are imposters, and to acknowledge them would be tantamount to disbelief.
We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can.
[1] God created him through His statement, “Be!”

أيها المسلمون: احذروا حالقة الدين "التباغض، والتشاحن، والتهاجر.."

الحمد لله الذي شرع لأتباعه السلام، والمصافحة عند اللقاء وأمر بالتوادد، والتحابب بين أخوة العقيدة، واتباع الرسول المجتبى، والحبيب المصطفى صلوات ربي وسلامه عليه.
ونهى وحذَّر عن الهجر، والقطيعة، والجفاء، والحقد، والعداوة، والتباغض، والشحناء، وشرفنا بالانتساب إلى ملة وشرعة المبعوث ليتمم مكارم الأخلاق، وصالح الخصال القائل: "إنما بعثت لأتمم مكارم الأخلاق" 1. الحاكم لمن أطاعه بدخول الجنة: "من أطاعني دخل الجنة، ومن عصاني فقد أبى" الحديث 2.
ولهذا فإن حسن الخلق في الإسلام شأنه عظيم، وسوء الخلق خطره كبير، ووخيم، الأمر الذي جعل رسولنا صلى الله عليه وسلم يعده عدلاً لتقوى الله عز وجل، وسبباً رئيساً لدخول الجنة، وجعل سوء الخلق المتمثل في بذاءة اللسان، وسيء الكلام عدلاً للفاحشة والقاذورات، وسبباً رئيساً كذلك لدخول النار، وذلك عندما سئل عن أكثر ما يدخل الناس الجنة والنار، فبين أنَّ أكثر ما يدخل الناس الجنة "تقوى الله وحسن الخلق"، وأكثر ما يدخل الناس النار فقال: "الفم والفرْج" الحديث 3.
يدل على مكانة حسن الخلق في الإسلام، وصْفُ الرب سبحانه وتعالى لرسوله وثناؤه عليه بقوله: "وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ" 4، ووصفه إياه كذلك بصفتين من صفاته العلا: "بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ" 5.
وعدَّ عز وجل حسن الخلق وكريم الطبع سبباً ريئساً –بعد توفيق الله عز وجل- لاجتماع قلوب الأعراب الغلاظ الجفاة حوله، وعدم انفضاضهم عنه "وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لاَنفَضُّواْ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ" 6.
فما حقيقة حسن الخلق، المضاهي، والمخالف، والمغاير لسوء الخلق، فبضدها تتميز الأشياء؟!.
للعلماء رحمهم الله تعريفات جمة متقاربة في ذلك أحسنها وأشملها ما قاله الإمام القزويني رحمه الله في (مختصر شُعَب الإيمان) 7: (ومعنى حسن الخلق: سلامة النفس نحو الرفق الأحمد من الأفعال، وقد يكون ذلك في ذات الله تعالى، وقد يكون فيما بين الناس:
أمَّا ما يتعلق بذات الله عز وجل: فهو أن يكون العبد منشرح الصدر بأوامر الله تعالى ونواهيه، يفعل ما فرض عليه طيب النفس به، سلساً نحوه، وينتهي عمَّا حرم عليه، راضياً به غير متضجر منه، ويرغب في نوافل الخير، ويترك كثيراً من المباح لوجهه تعالى وتقدس، إذا رأى أنَّ تركه أقرب للعبوديةمن فعله، مستبشراً لذلك، غير ضجر منه، ولا متعسر به.
أمَّا في المعاملات بين الناس: فهو أن يكون سمحاً لحقوقه لا يطالب غيره بها، ويوفي ما يجب لغيره عليه منها، فإن مرض ولم يُعد، أو قدم من سفر فلم يُزر، أو سَلَّم فلم يرد عليه، أو ضاف 8 فلم يُكرم، أو شفع فلم يجب، أو أحسن فلم يُشكر، أو دخل على قوم فلم يُمكن، أو تكلم فلم يُنصت له، أو استأذن على صديق فلم يؤذن له، أو خطب فلم يزوج، أو استمهل الدين فلم يُمهل، أو استنقص منه فلم يُنقص، وما أشبه ذلك، ولم يغضب، ولم يعاقب، ولم يتنكر من حاله حال، ويستشعر في نفسه أنَّه قد حُفِيَ وأُوحش، وأنَّه لا يقابل ذلك إذا وجد السبيل إليه بمثله، بل يُضمر أنَّه لا يعتد بشيء من ذلك، ويقابل كلاً منه بما هو أحسن وأفضل وأقرب منه إلى البر والتقوى، وأشبه بما يُحمد ويُرضى، ثم يكون في إيفاء ما يكون عليه، كهو في حفظ ما يكون له، فإذا مرض أخوه المسلم عاده، وإن جاء في شفاعة شفَّعه، وإن استمهله في قضاء دين أمهله، وإن احتاج منه إلى معونة أعانه، وإن استسمحه في بيع سمح له، ولا ينظر إلى أنَّ الذي يعامله كيف كانت معاملته إياه فيما خلا، وكيف يعامل الناس، إنَّما يتخذ الأحسن إماماً لنفسه فينحو نحوه ولا يخالفه).
مما خُصَّ به نبينا صلى الله عليه وسلم عن إخوانه السابقين له من الرسل والأنبياء، أنَّ معجزاته لا تزال تتْرى بعد وفاته تصديقاً لختمه للرسل والشرائع السابقات من ذلك بجانب معجزته الكبرى الخالدة القرآن الكريم:
1. تحقق كل ما تنبأ به من الأخبار –أي معجزاته الخبرية-.
2. كرامات أولياء هذه الأمة التي هي امتداد لمعجزاته، لأنها ثمرة لاتباعه والاقتداء به، ولهذا فإنَّ أكبر كرامة في الدنيا هي الاستقامة على أمر الدين.
من تلك المعجزات الخبرية التي تحققت أصدق تحقق، ما رواه عنه الزبير بن العوام رضي الله عنه أنَّه قال: (دَبَّ إليكم داء الأمم: الحسد والبغضاء، هي الحالقة، لا أقول تحلق الشَّعر، ولكن تحلق الدين، والذي نفسي بيده لا تدخلوا الجنة حتى تؤمنوا، ولاتؤمنوا حتى تحابوا، أولا أدلكم على شيء إذا فعلتموه تحاببتم، أفشو السلام بينكم) 9.
لقد دب هذا الداء العضال، والمرض البطال في الأمة بل استفحل فيها، وعم جميع شرائحها، حيث لم يسلم منه عالم ولاجاهل، ولاقريب ولابعيد، فحل التنافر، والتدابر، والتباغض، والتشاحن، والتهاجر محل المحبة والألفة، والتوادد، والصلة.
وضن كثير من المتباغضين، والمتخاصمين، والمتشاحنين بالسلام على بعضهم البعض، وإنْ مضى على ذلك التخاصم، والتشاحن، والتباغض حين من الزمان، مستنكفين، ومستكبرين، ونافرين عن عامل أساسي في تحقيق الإيمان، ونشر المحبة بين إخوان العقيدة، وعن سبب من أسباب دخول الجنان: (لا تدخلوا الجنة حتى تؤمنوا ولا تؤمنوا حتى تحابوا، أولا أدلكم على شيء إذا فعلتموه تحاببتم، أفشوا السلام بينكم)، فكانوا من أبخل البخلاء بحكم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وهو الذي يبخل بالسلام على إخوانه المسلمين غير المبتدعين ولا الفاسقين المجاهرين بذلك.
علماً بأنَّ السلام من أوجب حقوق المسلم على إخوانه المسلمين، ومن الغريب أنْ يُؤدى هذا الحق للأباعد ويحرم منه الأقارب، ويبذل للمبتدعة والفسقة ويحرم منه الصالحون الأخيار.
لتفشي هذا الداء في مجتمعات المسلمين وجب التنبيه والتحذير منه، وبيان حكمه، والإشارة إلى خطره، وكيفية الخروج منه، مع التمثيل لبعض سلوك السلف الصالح في هذا الشأن، و ما يترتب على عقوبة التخاصم، والتدابر، والتهاجر في الدنيا والآخرة.
فأقول بعد هذا التمهيد في إيجاز:
تعريف التدابر، والتشاحن، والتهاجر 10
التدابر: هو الاعراض عن المسلم بأن يلقاه فيعرض عنه بوجهه، قال مالك: ولا أحسب التدابر إلاَّ الإعراض عن المسلم، يدبر عنه بوجهه.
والتشاحن: هو تغيير القلوب المؤدي إلى أحد ذينك –أي التهاجر والتدابر-.
والتهاجر: أن تهجر أخا مسلماً فوق ثلاثة أيام لغير غرض شرعي.
حكم التدابر والتشاحن والهجر
من كبائر الذنوب سيما بين الأقارب والعلماء، ولو لمدة ساعة إذا التقى فيها المتشاحنان المتهاجران.
قال القاضي عياض رحمه الله: (ولا خلاف أنَّ صلة الرحم واجبة في الجملة، وقطيعتهامعصية كبرى، والأحاديث تشهد بذلك، ولكن الصلة درجات بعضها أرفع من بعض، وأدناه ترك المهاجرة وصلتها بالكلام والسلام) 11.
قال ابن حجر الهيتمي في (الزواجر عن اقتراف الكبائر) 12، بعد عده التهاجر والتدابر والتشاحن من الكبائر: (عد هذه الثلاثة هو صريح ما في هذه الأحاديث الصحيحة من الوعيد الشديد، ألا ترى إلى قوله في أول الأحاديث وما بعده: "لم يدخلا الجنة جميعاً أبداً"، وقوله: "فهو في النار"، وقوله: "كسفك دمه"، وقوله: "خارجاً عن الاسلام حتى يرجع"، وقوله: "فمات دخل النار"، وغير ذلك مما مر).
الأدلة على ذلك كثيرة جد منها
من القرآن
(1) قوله تعالى: "الَّذِينَ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَ اللهِ مِن بَعْدِ مِيثَاقِهِ وَيَقْطَعُونَ مَا أَمَرَ اللهُ بِهِ أَن يُوصَلَ وَيُفْسِدُونَ فِي الأَرْضِ أُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْخَاسِرُونَ" 13.
(2) وقوله تعالى: "فَهَلْ عَسَيْتُمْ إِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ أَن تُفْسِدُوا فِي الأرْضِ وَتُقَطِّعُوا أَرْحَامَكُمْ * أُوْلَئِكَ الَّذِينَ لَعَنَهُمُ اللهُ فَأَصَمَّهُمْ وَأَعْمَى أَبْصَارَهُمْ" 14.
من السنة
(1) عن أبي أيوب الأنصاري رضي الله عنه أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "لا يحل لرجل أنَّ يهجر أخاه فوق ثلاثة أيام يلتقيان فيعرض هذا ويعرض هذا، وخيرهما الذي يبدأ بالسلام" 15.
(2) وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لا يحل لمسلم أن يهجر أخاه فوق ثلاث، فمن هجر فوق ثلاث فمات، دخل النار" 16.
(3) وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "لا تتهجَّروا 17، ولاتدابروا، ولا تحسسوا، ولا يبع بعضكم على بيع بعض، وكونوا عباد الله إخواناً" 18.
(4) وعن عائشة رضي الله عنها أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "لا يكون المسلم أنْ يهجر مسلماً فوق ثلاثة، إذا لقيه سلم عليه مرارٍ، كل ذلك لا يرد عليه، فقد باء بإثمه" 19.
(5) عن هشام بن عامر بن أمية الأنصاري رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لا يحل لمسلم أنْ يهجر مسلماً فوْق ثلاثِ ليالٍ، فإنهما ناكبان عن الحق ما داما على صرامهما، وأولهما فيئاً يكون سبقه بالفيء كفارة له، فإن سلم فلم يقبل ورد عليه سلامه ردت عليه الملائكة ، ورد على الآخر الشيطان، فإن ماتا على صرامهما لم يدخلا الجنة أبداً" 20.
(6) وفي رواية لابن أبي شيبة في مصنفه: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لا يحل أن يصطرما فوق ثلاث، فإن اصطرما فوق ثلاث لم يجتمعا في الجنة أبداً، وأيهما يبدأ صاحبه كُفِّرت ذنوبه، وإن هو سلَّم فلم يرد عليه ولم يقبل سلامه ردَّ عليه الملك، وردَّ على ذلك الشيطان".
(7) وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "إنَّ أعمال بني آدم تعرض كل خميس ليلة الجمعة، فلا يقبل عمل قاطع رحم" 22.
(8) وفي رواية الأدب المفرد للبخاري رحمه الله: (أنَّ أبا هريرة رضي الله عنه جاء عشية الخميس ليلة الجمعة فقال: أحَرِّج –أي أوقع في الضيق، والاثم، والحرج- على كل قاطع رحم لما قام من عندنا فلم يقم أحد، حتى قالها ثلاثاً. فأتى فتى عمة له قد صرمها 24 منذ سنتين، فدخل عليها، فقالت له: يا ابن أخي ما جاء بك؟، قال: سمعت ابا هريرة يقول كذا وكذا، قالت: ارجع إليه فسله لِمَ قال ذلك؟، قال: سمعت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: وذكر الحديث).
(9) عن عبد الله بن عمر رضي الله عنهما قال: (جاء رجل إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقال: يا رسول الله، إنَّ لي قرابة أصلهم فيقطعوني، وأحسن إليهم ويسيئون إليَّ، وأحلم عليهم ويجهلون عليَّ، فقال: "لئن كنت كما قلت فكأنما تسفهم المَلَّ –الرماد الحار- ولا يزال معك من الله ظهير عليهم ما دمت على ذلك") 25.
(10) عن عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت: قال رسول اله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "الرحم معلقة بالعرش تقول: من وصلني وصله الله، ومن قطعني قطعه الله" 26.
(11) وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "ليس شيء أطيع الله فيه أعجل ثواباً من صلة الرحم، وليس شيء أعجل عقاباً من البغي وقطيعة الرحم، واليمين الفاجرة تدع الديار بلا قع" 27.
(12) وعن جبير بن مطعم رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "لا يدخل الجنة قاطع، قال ابن أبي عمر: قال سفيان: يعني قاطع رحم" 28.
(13) وعن أبي بكرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "ما من ذنب أجدر أنْ يعجل الله لصاحبه العقوبة في الدنيا مع ما يدخره له في الآخرة من البغي وقطيعة الرحم" 29.
(14) وعن عبادة بن الصامت رضي الله عنه أنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "ما على الأرض مسلم يدعو الله بدعوة إلاَّ آتاه الله إياها، أوصرف عنه من السوء مثلها، ما لم يدع بإثم أو قطيعة رحم"، فقال رجل من القوم: إذاً نكثر، قال: "الله أكثر" 30.
(15) وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "تفتح أبواب الجنة يوم الاثنين ويوم الخميس، فيغفر لكل عبد لا يشرك بالله شيئاً إلاَّ رجل كان بينه وبين أخيه شحناء، فيقال: انظروا هذين حتى يصطلحا" 31.
(16) وعن عبد الله بن عمرو رضي الله عنهما قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: "ليس الواصل بالمكافئ، ولكن الواصل الذي إذا قطعت رحمه وصلها" 32.
(17) وعن أبي خراش السُّلَمِي رضي الله عنه أنه سمع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: "من هجر أخاه سنة فهو كسفك دمه" 33.
(18) وعن جابر رضي الله عنهما أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "تعرض الأعمال يوم الاثنين والخميس: فمن مستغفر فيغفر له، ومن تائب فيتاب عليه، ويرد أهل الضغائن 34 حتى يتوبوا" 35.
(19) وعنه صلى الله عليه وسلم:" إنَّ الشيطان قد يئس أنْ يعبده المصلون في جزيرة العرب، ولكن في التحريش بهم" 36.
أي بالإغراء، وتغيير القلوب، والتقاطع، والتدابر.
متى يجوز أو يجب الهجر، ولمن؟
هذا النهي والوعيد في هجر المسلم العدل، المستور الحال، أمَّا المبتدع والفاسق المجاهران بالبدعة والفسق، والداعيان لذلك، يهجران ويمقتان ولا كرامة، وكذلك يجوز الهجر من أجل التأديب إن تيقن من جدواه.
قال ابن حجر الهيتمي: (ويستثنى من تحريم الهجر..... مسائل ذكرها الأئمة، وحاصلها أنه متى عاد إلى صلاح دين الهاجر والمهجور جاز، وإلاَّ فلا) 37.
قال ابن مفلح رحمه الله: (فأما هجر المسلم العدل في اعتقاده وأفعاله، فقال ابن عقيل: يكره، وكلام الأصحاب خلافه 38، ولهذا قال الشيخ تقي الدين 39 رحمه الله: اقتصاره في الهجرة على الكراهة ليس بجيد، بل من الكبائر على نص أحمد. الكبيرة ما فيه حد في الدنيا أو وعيد في الآخرة، وقد صح قوله عليه السلام: "فمن هجر فوق ثلاث فمات دخل النار"، وظاهر كلام الأكثر هنا: أنه لا فرق بين ثلاثة أيام أو أكثر.
إلى أن قال: يسن هجر من جهر بالمعاصي الفعلية، والقولية، والاعتقادية. قال أحمد في رواية حنبل: إذا علم أنه مقيم على معصية، وهو يعلم بذلك لم يأثم إن هو جفاه حتى يرجع، وإلاَّ كيف يتبين للرجل ما هو عليه إن لم يكن مُنْكِراً، ولا جفوة من صديق؟.
ونقل المروزي –عن الامام أحمد- يكون في سقف البيت الذهب بجانب 40 صاحبه؟ يجفي صاحبه. وقد اشتهرت الرواية عنه في هجره من أجاب في المحنة 41 إلى أن مات.
وقيل: يجب 42 إن ارتدع به، وإلاَّ كان مستحباً. وقيل يجب هجره مطلقاً إلاَّ من السلام بعد ثلاثة أيام.
وقيل: ترك السلام على من جهر بالمعاصي حتى يتوب منها فرض كفاية، ويكره لبقية الناس تركه، وظاهر ما نقل عن أحمد، ترك الكلام والسلام مطلقاً.
إلى أن قال:
قال القاضي: و روى الخلال عن ابن مسعود –رضي الله عنه- أنه رأى رجلاً يضحك في جنازة، فقال: أتضحك مع الجنازة؟ لا أكلمك أبداً.
وقال محمد بن كعب القرظي: لا تجالسوا أصحاب القدر ولا تماروهم، وقال سعيد بن جبير لأيوب: لا تجالس طلق بن حبيب فإنه مرجئ.
وقال ابن تميم: وهجران أهل البدع –كافرهم وفاسقهم- والمتظاهرين بالمعاصي، وترك السلام عليهم فرض كفاية، ومكروه لسائر الناس. وقيل لا يسلم أحد على فاسق معلن ولا مبتدع معلن داعية، ولا يهجر مسلماً مستوراً غيرهما من السلام فوق ثلاثة أيام) 43.
وقال البيجاني رحمه الله: ( ولحرمة المسلم على المسلم، وحق كل على أخيه، نهاهم الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم عن الهجر والجفاء، وإعراض بعضهم عن بعض، ووقت لجواز ذلك عند حاجة تدعو إليه ثلاث ليال فقط، إلاَّ إذا كان من تهجره فاسقاً أو مبتدعاً، واقتضى الهجر إصلاح دينه بتوبته، ورجوعه عما كان عليه، أو التحذير منه، والتنفيرعنه، وجعله عند الناس كالمجذوم، ومن به مرض معدي، ليبتعدوا عنه وليتقوا شره.
وما تسلم الجرباء بقرب سليمة إليها ولكن السليمة تُجرب
وهجر ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما ولداً له حتى مات لظن ابن عمر أنَّه ردَّ حديث رسول الله، وحين تخلف كعب بن مالك، وهلال بن أمية، ومرارة بن الربيع عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم في غزوة تبوك، وهم قادرون على الخروج معه والجهاد في سبيل الله: هجرهم بعدما رجع إلى المدينة نحو خمسين ليلة، وكان ذلك بعدما ضاقت عليهم الأرض بما رحبت، وتركهم القريب والبعيد من المسلمين حتى أهلهم وزوجاتهم.
وتلك سنة نبوية أريد بها التنفير عن السيئين، وهجرالأمة للمجرمين، حتى يكفوا عن جرائمهم، ويتوبوا إلى الله عن سيئاتهم) 44 .
يستثنى من هجر العدول المستورين من يأتي:
أولاً: هجر القريب لقريبه، والصاحب لصاحبه إذا قصر في حقه، وهذا لا ينبغي أن تتجاوز مدة الهجر فيه الثلاثة أيام، فقد رخص الهجر في هذه المدة مراعاة لطبيعة النفوس البشرية.
ثانياً: هجر التأديب للزوجة والأبناء والأقرباء: وهذا ليس له مدة محدودة، لكن لابد من مراعاة المصلحة منه، فإن غلب على الظن أنه يجدي ويؤثر جاز، وإلاَّ لا يفعل والله أعلم.
ثالثاً: هجر المبتدع والفاسق المجاهرين بذلك الداعيين، وهذا حكمه الوجوب لمن قدر عليه، ويُراعى في هجر المبتدع والفاسق المصلحة والمفسدة، وإلاَّ يمكن أنْ يُهجرا إلى الموت.
بم يزول هجر المسلم المستور الحال؟
لأهل العلم أقوال في ذلك يزول الهجر ويخرج من القطيعة ب:
(1) السلام.
(2) بالسلام والكلام.
(3) إن يعودا إلى حالتهما قبل الهجر والقطيعة.
قال ابن مفلح رحمه الله تحت فصل: (في زوال الهجر بالسلام): (والهجر المحرم يزول بالسلام، ذكره في (الرعاية 45) و(المستوعب 46)، وزاد: ولا ينبغي له أن يترك كلامه بعد السلام عليه، ثم قال في (المستوعب): والهجران الجائز هجر ذوي البدع أو مجاهر بالكبائر.
إلى أن قال: وروى أبو حفص عن أبي هريرة مرفوعاً: (السلام يقطع الهجران) 47، وذكر النووي رحمه الله: أن مذهب مالك والشافعي ومن وافقهما: يزول الهجر المحرم بالسلام).
وقال أحمد وابن القاسم المالكي: إن كان يؤذيه لم يقطع السلام هجرته، انتهى كلامه.
وقال الأثرم: وسمعت أبا عبد الله يسأل عن السلام يقطع الهجران؟، فقال: قد يسلم عليه، وقد صد عنه، ثم قال أبو عبد الله: النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: "يلتقيان فيصد هذا ويصد هذا"، فإذا كان قد عوده أن يكلمه أو أن يصافحه 48، ثم قال في قصة كعب بن مالك حين خاف عليهم، ولم يدر ما يقول فيهم: "لا تكلموهم"، قيل لأبي عبد الله: عمر قال في (صبيغ): لا تجالسوه، قال: المجالسة الآن غير الكلام، قلت لأبي عبد الله: كان لي جار يشرب المسكر، أسلم عليه؟ فسكت، وقد قال في بعض هذا الكلام: لا تسلم عليه ولا تجالسه.
قال القاضي 49: في (الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر): ظاهر كلام أحمد أنه لا يخرج من الهجرة بمجرد السلام، بل يعود إلى حاله مع المهجور قبل الهجرة. وذكر رواية الأثرم، وقول أحمد في رواية محمد بن حبيب، وقد سئل عن الرجل لا يكلم: أيجزيه السلام من الصرم؟ قال: أتخوف من أجل أنهما يصد أحدهما عن صاحبه، وقد كانا متآنسين يلقى أحدهما صاحبه بالبشر، إلاَّ أن يتخوف منه نفاقاً. قال: وإنما لم يجعله أحمد خارجاً من الهجرة بمجرد السلام، حتى يعود إلى عادته معه في الاجتماع والمؤانسة، لأن الهجرة لا تزول إلاَّ بعوده إلى عادته معه، انتهى كلام القاضي) 50.
الذي يظهر أنَّ السلام وحده لا يزيل الهجرة، لأنه قد يكون من باب أداء الواجب إلاَّ إذا اقترن بالكلام، والأولى عودة المتهاجرين إلى حالهما الأولى، والله أعلم.
إذا كان هذا الوعيد في هجر المسلم لأخيه المسلم في الظاهر فكيف بالهجر الباطني؟، لا شك أنَّه أشد حرمة، واغلظ عقوبة منه.
التشاحن، والتباغض، والتهاجر تتأكد حرمة كل منها، ويعظم جرمها في حالين
أولاً: إذا كان بين العلماء والدعاة بعضهم مع بعض، وذلك لعلمهم بخطورته، وإحاطتهم بالتحذير منه، ولتعدي ضرره على الأتباع.
ثانياً: إذا كان بين الأقارب وذوي الأرحام، وذلك لأن ذوي الأرحام بعضهم أولى ببعض، هذا بجانب ما ينضاف إليه من قطيعة الرحم التي يجب أن توصل .
قال البيجاني: (ويؤسفنا 51 والله ما نراه اليوم منذ أزمنة بعيدة، بين علماء الدين وحملة الشريعة من الهجر، والنفرة، وهم يعلمون إثم ذلك، وما يجره على الأتباع من الويل والشرور، فقد جعلوا تلاميذهم ومن يأتم بهم فرقاً وأحزاباً، وصيروهم أعداءً يلعن بعضهم بعضاً، ويحكم هذا بكفر هذا، ويضلل الجاهل منهم العالم، ولا ينظر إليهم إلاَّ شزراً "وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ فَهَدَى اللهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لِمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ وَاللهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيم" 52.
وهم يعرفون النتيجة الحتمية لاختلاف الخاصة، وتعصب العامة، وهم يحذرون الناس من الذي وقعوا فيه، والعيب أن تأمر ولا تأتمر، أو تنهي ولا تنتهي، ولاعذر ولا مبرر للعلماء في اختلافهم على أنفسهم، وتلاعبهم بعقول من يعتقد فيهم الخير، ويحسن بهم الظن، إلاَّ طغيان المادة على أنفسهم، والحسد الذي يأكل قلوبهم، ويحملهم على الحط من قدر فلان، ونسبة كل عيب إليه، وهم يعلمون طهره وجلالة قدره) 53.
مخاطر التشاحن والتهاجر والتدابر في الدنيا والآخرة
لا شك أنَّ مخاطر هذا السلوك اللئيم، والخلق غير الكريم كثيرة جداً، منها ماهو كائن في هذه الحياة الدنيا، هذا بجانب ما يدخر له من الحرمان والعذاب المهين في الدار الآخرة.
من تلك المخاطر ما يأتي:
(1) لا ترفع أعمال المتخاصمين حين ترفع أعمال الخلائق أجمعين.
(2) يعجل مقت الله في هذه الحياة الدنيا، ويمحق الأرزاق، ويرفع البركات.
(3) مؤذن بخراب الديار.
(4) يمنع من دخول الجنة مع أول الداخلين، إنْ كان المتشاحنون من أهل التوحيد.
نماذج ينبغي أنْ تُحتذى في المبادرة إلى الصلح والخروج من القطيعة
أود أن أختم هذا البحث بمبادرتين خيرتين من صحابيين جليلين هما:
(1) عبد الله بن الزبير مع خالته عائشة رضي الله عنهما.
(2) والحسن بن علي مع أخيه الحسين رضي الله عنهما.
عن عوف بن مالك بن الطفيل بن الحارث –وهو ابن أخي عائشة زوج النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم لأمها-: (أنَّ عبد الله بن الزبير قال في بيع أو عطاء أعطته عائشة: والله لتنتهين عائشة، أو لأحجرن عليها، فقالت: أهو قال هذا؟ قالوا: نعم، قالت: هو لله عليَّ نذر أنْ لا أكلم ابن الزبير أبداً.
فاستشفع ابن الزبير إليها حين طالت الهجرة، فقالت: لا، والله لا أشفع فيه أبداً، ولا أتحنث إلى نذري. فلما طال ذلك على ابن الزبير كلَّم المِسْوَر بن مخرمة، وعبد الرحمن بن الأسود بن عبد يغوث -وهما من بني زهرة-، وقال لهما: أنشدكما بالله لَمَا أدخلتماني على عائشة، فإنها لا يحل لها أن تنذر قطيعتي. فأقبل المِسْور وعبد الرحمن مشتملين بأرديتهما حتى استأذنا على عائشة فقالا: السلام عليك ورحمة الله وبركاته، أندخل؟ قالت: نعم، ولا تعلم أنَّ معهما ابن الزبير، قالا: كلنا؟، قالت: نعم، فلما دخلوا، دخل ابن الزبير الحجاب، فاعتنق عائشة، وطفق يناشدها ويبكي، وطفق المِسْور وعبد الرحمن يناشدانها إلاَّ ما كلمته وقبلت منه، ويقولان: إنَّ النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم نهى عمَّا قد علمت من الهجرة، فإنه لا يحل لمسلم أن يهجر أخاه فوق ثلاث ليال، فلما أكثروا على عائشة من التذكرة والتحريج طفقت تذكرهما وتبكي وتقول: إني نذرت والنذر شديد، فلم يزالا بها حتى كلمت ابن الزبير، واعتقت في نذرها أربعين رقبة. وكانت تذكر نذرها بعد ذلك فتبكي حتى تبل دموعها خمارها) 54.
وعن أبي الحسن المدائني قال: (جرى بين الحسن بن عليّ وأخيه الحسين كلام تهاجرا بسببه، فلما أتى على الحسن ثلاثة أيام من هجر أخيه، أقبل على الحسين وهو جالس، فأكب على رأسه فقبله. فلما جلس الحسن، قال له الحسين: إنَّ الذي منعني من ابتدائك والقيام إليك أنك أحق بالفضل مني، فكرهت أن أنازعك ما أنت أحق به) 55.
قلت: هجر عائشة لابن أختها، ابن الزبير كان من باب التأديب.
ختمت بهذين الأثرين لعله يكون فيهما موعظة، وقدوة للمتشاحنين، المتخاصمين، المتهاجرين، فيبادروا بالصلح، ويساروا إلى المصافاة والمعافاة.
اللهم ألف بين قلوبنا، واهدنا سبل السلام، وجنبنا المشاحنة، والمقاطعة، والخصام، وصلي الله وسلم على خير الأنام، وعلى آله وصحبه والتابعين لهم الكرام.
وكتبه الأمين الحاج محمد أحمد رئيس الرابطة الشرعية للعلماء والدعاة بالسودان