The Sun will rise in the West.

                                                       Image from NASA

The Qur’an tells us that Allah the Almighty created the sun which is a sign that indicates the Power and the Mercy of Allah. Allah says in Surah 24 Al-Nur (The light): Allah alternates the night and the day. Indeed, in that is a lesson for those who have vision.1

The Qur’an has disclosed information about many scientific aspects including the planetary motions of sun, earth and moon. It has been reported that between the eighth and twelfth centuries AD, when development in science was restricted in the Christian world, a large number of studies and discoveries were made at Islamic universities. It was said that the Calif’s library at Cordoba contained 400,000 volumes and Greek, Indian and Persian sciences were taught.2 The scientific considerations that appear in the Qur’an are highly accurate in nature and in line with today’s modern science.

Accordingly, in Islam, whether everything in this universe is observable or not, it is under the writ and guidance of Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala (SWT)), which translates as “Glory to Him, the Exalted” As the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him (PBUH)), said literally or philosophically… that Sun goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west).3

When the Earth’s magnetic poles shift, North to South, it is said that the East would be the West and thus the sun would rise in the West. The process of the pole shift is called a geomagnetic reversal or a change in a planet’s magnetic field such that the positions of magnetic north and magnetic south are interchanged (not to be confused with geographic north and geographic south). The Earth’s magnetic field has alternated between periods ( These periods are called chrons) of normal polarity in which the predominant direction of the field was the same as the present direction, and reverse polarity, in which it was the opposite. In recent years, hypotheses have advanced toward linking reversals to mass extinctions. The end of superchrons have caused vigorous convection leading to widespread volcanism, and the subsequent airborne ash caused long periods of darkness, leading to extinctions. As the Earth’s magnetic field would also be much weaker during such reversals, high-energy particles trapped in the Van Allen radiation belt could be liberated and able to bombard the Earth, which would be exposed to radiation infiltration without the existing strong magnetic field to protect it. Detailed calculations confirm that if the Earth’s dipole field disappeared entirely (leaving the quadrupole and higher components), most of the atmosphere would become accessible to high-energy particles, and cosmic ray collisions would produce secondary radiation in the atmosphere of beryllium-10 or chlorine-36. This would be fatal to life on earth, and potentially it would destroy most life forms in what could be considered the final hours.4 Scientists therefore claim that the geomagnetic reversals could be cataclysmic leading to the extinction of life. In simple language this could be explained through the prediction of the rising sun in the West, as described in Islam. It has been suggested that the flipping of the Earth’s poles together with a drop in the solar activity 42,000 years ago could have generated an apocalyptic environment that may have caused the extinction of the megafauna and the end of Neanderthals. 5

The Earth’s magnetic field acts as a protective shield against damaging cosmic radiation, but when the poles switch, as has occurred many times in the past, the protective shield weakens dramatically and leaves the planet exposed to high energy particles.

One temporary flip of the poles, known as the Laschamps excursion, happened 42,000 years ago and lasted for about 1,000 years. Previous work found little evidence that the event had a profound impact on the planet, possibly because the focus had not been on the period during which the poles were actually shifting. Now scientists say the flip, together with a period of low solar activity, could have been behind a vast array of climatic and environmental phenomena with dramatic ramifications. According to Prof Chris Turney of the University of New South Wales and co-author of a study, “it probably would have seemed like the end of days”.6

1Qur’an Surah 24 an Nur 44

2Dr Maurice Bucaille. 1986. The Bible the Qur’an and Science. Seghers Publishers p125.

3 When writing the name of God (Allah), Muslims often follow it with the abbreviation “SWT,”

4 S. Cassim. 1998. (BSc from London School of Economics and Political Science) https://www.quora.com/According-to-Islam-the-sun-will-rise-in-the-west-in-the-final-hours-Is-there-any-scientific-explanation-to-support-this Retrieved 30th March 2021.

5 The Guardian January 2021 End of Neanderthals linked to flip of Earth’s magnetic poles… https://www.theguardian.com/science/2021/feb/18/end-of-neanderthals-linked-to-flip-of-earths-magnetic-poles-study-suggests Retrieved 30th March 2021.

6Ibid.

Caring for pets and protecting the environment.

This is Sheba. She is a four year old rescue cat. She is not allowed outside to kill the wildlife. Is she not the most beautiful creature? She is loved and cared for with thought and consideration for the environment. All life deserves care and respect.

Islamic Art.

Islamic art: We look at it, we admire it, but how much do we know about it and why should we bother?

Not only is Islamic art beautiful, it tells us about the past and the future. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today and it is predicted to become the only religion. Islam is rigid, disciplined and aimed at survival.  That said, as things stand we, as a people,  are undisciplined and destroying everything around us.  We no longer have prophets to save us. Even the Torah notes the importance of Muhammad as the last prophet. Many people make judgements about Islam based on false information.   Sometimes what is  promulgated as Islam is really just political and fundamentalist.  The true Islam is in the Quran.

Crime and punishment.

Art by Yiskhah

There is a discussion of crime and punishmentin the Talmud that reminds me of the modern notion of deterrents. Do they work? The evidence suggests they do not work. From the position of psychotherapy deterrents fail to work because what drives us to action is not always a matter of conscious awareness. We are by and large, not rational human beings, we tend more towards the emotions and the chemicals that thrive on drama and challenge, the same chemicals that make us creative individuals and keep us alive. We live in a punitive society and when we read the old laws we can see why. “An eye for an eye” appears to be a suitable form of natural justice, but it does not take account of the power relations that sit beneath almost all forms of harmful activity. As Freud pointed out, we are taught to love our neighbour, but who truly loves their neighbour when they throw rubbish into your yard or they keep you up all night with heavy metal music? Love becomes a false premise! I spent several years working in criminal justice in the belief that regardless of the crime, every human being has a right to dignity and fair treatment. Retribution in any form does not resolve the underlying features that create societal problems that are grounded largely in inequality and a lack of opportunity to thrive. All crime and retribution is, in my view, a form of neurosis because it takes place in the context of fear. There are some people who commit offences regardless of their social disposition because they are fully embedded into a competitive capitalist system and need to survive emotionally as well as physically.  The system itself generates immense fear in the minds of those who must live in it. Society creates its own criminals, but rather than address the aetiology of the offence we punish the perpetrators because it provides a feeling of being in control. However, the reverse is true. When we demand rights, we do not consider the number of new laws we need to enforce them. The more laws we have the more incentive to break them. The very nature of this duality insists that when one side of the duality gains more power the other must rise to match it. As for the crime of rape. Studies have shown that when perpetrators are forced to confront their victim to explain why they committed the rape, the discussion is far more effective for behavioural change than locking someone up in detention. This is a hard process for the victim, but it also opens the pathways for healing because it is only when we confront our worst fears that we can be truly healed.

Are we alone?

Sun roof paining by Yishkah.

I recently finished reading a book called We’ve Never Been Alone by Paul Von Ward who is a Christian minister. He  is not like any Christian minister I have met before. He writes about what he calls Advanced Beings (ABs).

Von Ward reviews the sacred texts, myths and old legends as well as contemporary data to suggest that all knowledges, historical, archaeological, scientific and more, have been brought to us from extraterrestrial visitors from other planets.  This sounds very fanciful, but it is a highly scholarly work of some 400 pages and therefore not easy to dismiss.
Von Ward states that governments, religious leaders and scientists know about the ABs, but they have chosen to ignore it. He states that there is a covert struggle for the control of human consciousness and this is why the knowledge has not been made public.
I do see such a struggle taking place for the capture of consciousness.  I have spent many years studying consciousness and its various levels of insight and manipulation.   To this end, Von Ward states that we still have contact with the Advanced Beings, but no one will admit to it,  because it would significantly cause a change in human consciousness. One Advanced Being, Von Ward identifies is God.  This contact happens, states Von Ward, through Divine Revelation as in the visions of prophets. What Von Ward is really saying is the Prophets (and other ABs arrived from another dimension, universe or planet and they came in large numbers to teach us via Divine Revelation.
With regard to Islam Von Ward writes, “modern Egyptian society almost totally consists of an Islamic culture unrelated to that of ancient Egypt.  Rather, it can be traced to a metaphysical encounter in the year 610 CE between a human from a Kuraish tribe and an AB”.  There is no mention of how the writer traces this encounter. Von Ward goes on to say: “From Mecca Mohammed reported that the Angel Gabrial appeared to him in several visions and instructed him to propagate a new religion. By 630 CE a group of believers had organised themselves and they took over the City of Mecca giving birth to Islam.  The writer tells us that after this, any future prophets were imprisoned  as imposters and knowledge of Advanced Beings was blocked out, (this from a Christian Minister)? Wow!
Von Ward states the aforementioned events across the globe caused a split between the natural and supernatural and this in turn resulted in a split in human consciousness, which today moves between neurosis and psychosis.
I agree with the social and psychological diagnosis, there is a split between the natural and supernatural and of course this impacts the human psyche on many levels.  As far as we know, no such split takes place in other animals, in this dichotomy of mind, we humans are unique.
Now I will get to my point.
What I find interesting about Islam, is the teachings are not Platonic, but are grounded in Aristotle and his naturalism, this takes place while Christianity embraces supernaturalism and the esoteric as does Judaism in the Kabbalah.  I am not opposed to some forms of supernaturalism. The human mind cannot perceive everything.
Aristotelian naturalism is the metaethical theory most often associated with contemporary virtue ethics. In this view, moral goodness is a form of natural goodness, which is a sort of species-relative goodness that applies in the evaluation of living organisms.   Nature, according to Aristotle, is an inner principle of change and being at rest (Physics 2.1, 192b20–23). This means that when an entity moves or is at rest according to its nature this may serve as an explanation of the event.
  How does the Quran bode with Aristotle’s explanation of a natural event?  For example the Big Bang has a natural scientific explanation, not an esoteric one. It rests on certain principles. In contrast, for Christianity the science of evolution, otherwise universal expansion, is considered as blasphemy against God’s Creation. There is no identifiable natural principle here, only the esoteric.
Mohammed was said to be illiterate, but today we know that there are different states of mind (different levels of cognition) where different forms of learning take place.  Take for instance the person with autism, or indeed any person on the lower areas of the accepted cognitive spectrum.  Today, we have some of the highest levels of autism that the world has ever scientifically calculated. Yet, how we understand this depends on our own perception of what autism is and is not. As a general view the autistic brain is one that thinks differently.
Might we see a correlation between the rise in Islam and its appeal to minds that think differently?   In this sense autism is not a disability, but a different ability. This may also be relative to evolution.
 Let me qualify this further, by saying, different thinking may not be caused by a difference in brain capacity, there may be many other reasons for difference, including spirituality.
With this view in mind, I would like to believe that spirituality is part of our evolution, not something to be abandoned or attributed to visiting Advanced Beings.
Do I believe in Von Ward’s proposal?  I do not know, I am keeping an open mind.
There is great joy and peace to be found in spirituality, whether taught by ABs or whether it came naturally. Prayer, worship and trust are more likely to be a natural phenomena built into the human disposition and maybe lost over time or in difficult circumstances.    To be able to share feelings with others is a great gift.
Many are turning away from the old religions and finding new ones.
Islam is in a state of revival. Before the Iranian Revolution hardly anyone in the western world knew anything about Islam.  Today, it is the fastest growing religion next to atheism. Can this be attributed to ABs?  Do we all share part of an AB legacy?  Who knows?

Saving the Animals.

Drawing by Yishkah.

We should love animals because we too are animals.  Living on Land for Wildlife has provided me with some important lessons about nature and the creatures that inhabit it. Animals might share our landscape, sometimes courtesy of fashion or, hopefully in loving kindness, but wild animals are entitled to their own domain and it is gradually being taken away from them.    We are losing a precious part of our worldly existence, the pleasure of seeing animals in their own environment.     In removing animal habitat, we change the landscape and invite plagues and feral species and we turn passive animals into dangerous predatory creatures.  Some years ago, I lived up in the forested mountains of a small town called Warburton.  It is a picturesque town, which is today a mecca for tourists. When I lived there it was a timber town and the ancient forests of mountain ash, streams and water falls were being decimated by the forestry industry.  One could say, okay, we need timber, our cities were built on forest timber, but this harvesting of timber that I speak of, was being shredded for woodchip and exported abroad. So much timber was taken that it sat on the docks for weeks before there were enough vessels to transport it.  Harvesting the timber in gluttonous amounts was not the only problem, it was being harvested from a water catchment area, which provided the fresh water for the City of Melbourne.  Battles over this harvesting ensued for years and they are still ongoing. Watching the logging trucks steaming through the town was difficult enough, but when the forest coup was cleared what was left in debris was set alight and burned to ashes.  This was the most painful experience of all because every small animal emerged out of its burrow frightened and confused and one had to stand helpless and watch as these creatures tried to find an escape from the smoke and flames.  There were snakes, wombats, possums, birds and more, often burned alive.   We love our pets, we fight to save them, but how much do we love and fight to save our wildlife?  It takes a mass population to hold influence over the multinational industries that destroy our lands.  Those who do protest are up against some of the most powerful corporations in the world. We are called the “greenies”, we march in protest, campaign outside public buildings, climb tall bridges to hang protest banners and the rest. We are beaten up, spat upon, kicked, hit and abused, but still we protest. I got too old to protest.  I have been protesting since the 1960s. Now I just pray and thank G-d for giving me my own small plot of land so I can have a sanctuary for some of the wildlife.  I feel truly blessed and not a day goes by when I do not feel as though I am in my own piece of Paradise and those animals, often thought to be dangerous, live with me in harmony on my land.

A cow with a needle in it?

The Corona virus has been difficult, but in Australia it has not been nearly as bad as elsewhere. Added to this, I have tended to place the cause of pandemics into the environment in which they take place. What are we doing to this beautiful planet? I am trying to glean some insight of this problem from the daily readings of the Talmud. “Yes”, I am an environmentalist, sad and angry at the treatment of G-d’s magnificent world. Let me pose a proposition gleaned from an image in the Talmud of the cow pierced by a needle.
The world is made of of living organisms from the largest to the smallest. When we cut down the trees in the forest we can see the harm, the animals lose their habitat, their food supply is diminished, they get killed on the roads while searching out a new home. When we poison the rivers we see the dead fish by they wayside. They look back at us with open mouths, wide eyes and watery gills. When we look at a polluted pond, what do we see? Foam and poisons line the perimeters, perhaps a green algae floats on the top of the water, but we do not see what is underneath, the tiny microbes that make up a healthy ecosystem.
Water acts as a sink for a number micro organisms that are harmful to humans. When the pond dries up or the environment changes many of these organisms escape. They get into the air or into our food. Sometimes they get carried on the backs of animals or birds. However they are transported these are the organisms that make people sick. What do we do in response to this dilemma? We search for a medicine, a vaccine, but when do we clean up the pond or the environment….NEVER.
I  saw the cow and the needle piercing its stomach in my sleep. I live adjacent to a diary farm, one of the cruelest industries on the planet. At birth the calves are ripped from the mothers. Their cries can be heard some distance away. the females are kept the males are killed. Their tails are cut off, because they get in the way of milking and the animal is left without a weapon against flies and insects, of which there are many in Australia. The animal is milked until every last drop is squeezed from the udder, leaving it red and often bloodied and congealed.
The needle in the cow reminded me of factory farming, not just of cows but all creatures whose role it is to satisfy the appetite of we humans. As we try to decipher the rules of what is pure and impure in the Talmud, might there not be room for considering the plight of the unvoiced creatures whose lives never extend beyond servitude.
We are taught that slaughter must be carried out humanely, but why slaughter at all, when clearly the cow as food makes no economic sense in a world where so many people go hungry for the sake of a hamburger and a life of rank gluttony and obesity in the west.

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Animals in Jewish history.

I live on Land for Wildlife, just one acre near the south east coast of Australia. Many creatures live here from snakes and lizards to possums and some of the most beautiful birds in the country. It is rolling hills, very green in winter and dry in summer. There is a woodland and a wetlands. The garden is full of trees and beautiful wild flowers with the occasional rose because I can’t live without my roses. It was while walking through the woodlands on the property that I began thinking about the animals in Jewish history. There are many, too many for one painting. Nevertheless, I and decided to gather a few creatures together on a canvas 60 x 80 cm .The work is in oils. It is a reminder to be kind to all creatures.