Artificial Intelligence and What It Means To Be Human

Salaam,

I recently wrote this post about AI over on Traversing Tradition. Please check it out, share, and leave any questions or feedback in the comments!

Traversing Tradition

You’ve probably seen the videos. A robot walking or crawling around, sensing its environment and figuring out how to do human-like tasks, such as opening doors. They’ve even learned how to do back flips now. The videos go viral on social media every few months, along with terrified reactions about how “the robot overlords are coming,” “we might as well submit now,” and so on.

Back-flipping bots aside, it makes sense to learn more about robots, automation, and artificial intelligence (AI). The website “Wait But Why” has an in-depth article on this topic [1], which discusses how AI is catching up to humans and in fact will eventually overtake us. Others have commented on the concept of the “singularity,” which is where AI will reach a point where it can self-improve, creating explosive increases of intelligence [2].

This has naturally created concern. Elon Musk says AI represents a fundamental risk…

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A Brief Historical Introduction of the Demise of Islamism in Algeria: Part One

Reblogging this… A very interesting and informative post about colonial and post-colonial Algeria. The author is a young Algerian-American Muslim woman and she’s worth following, Ma Sha Allah.

Bint Balad al-Unnâb

Algerian society has increasingly reorganized itself since the beginning of the 20th century to better fit the Western model, despite its consistent “anti colonial”, isolationist rhetoric. This phenomenon can be traced back to the emergence of the Young Algerians, a term used as early as 1911 which describes a small group of upper bourgeoise young Muslims of French upbringing and culture. It was the Young Algerians who made up the authority of Algerians who, instead of joining the armed resistance movement predominantly made up of rural, impoverished Algerians, sought to seek their rights as French citizens equal to their pieds noirs counterparts. As intellectuals and educated members of Algerian society, these upper class Muslims sought change within French Algeria’s framework by advocating for political rights and equality, and denounced the violent means their fellow Algerian guerrilla combatants adopted in the middle of the 20th century to uproot the French entirely…

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Dr. Jonathan Brown on Historical Criticism of Islamic Primary Texts

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم، وصلوات الله وسلامه على أشرف المرسلين

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This blog post is adapted from my notes taken from Dr. Jonathan A. C. Brown’s lecture on the topic of historical criticism and how it’s been applied to Islamic primary texts, especially the hadith collections. Watch the lecture here: part 1part 2part 3. Note that it’s about 3 hours long including the Q&A, so be warned. It’s definitely worth a watch though, from beginning to end.

The lecture was given around the time that the UK government-sponsored documentary Islam: The Untold Story by charlatan historian Tom Holland was in the news. Basically, the documentary tries to tell a speculative revisionist story of the origins of Islam. Dr. Brown’s lecture is not a direct response to the documentary, but it contextualizes some of the assumptions being made in this documentary and other revisionist pieces that are claiming to examine Islam from a “critical” lens. Anyway, I’ll end the introduction here and start the portion based on my notes. Note that the section “My Thoughts” at the end of this post is not based on the lecture; those opinions are strictly mine.

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Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s Book Recommendations

Good list of books related to Islam for beginners as well as intermediate & advanced learners.

Splendid Pearls

RECOMMENDED READING LIST OF PROFESSOR TIMOTHY J WINTER
[compiled 6 April, 2009]

Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Timothy Winter
Sheikh Zayed Lecturer in Islamic Studies
University of Cambridge

Timothy John Winter (born 1960), aka Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, is a British Muslim thinker, professor, and translator. Winter has written about the interaction between Islam and secular issues spanning a wide range of disciplines. He has held a number of lectureships and administrative posts in British academia having to do with theology, the intellectual history of Islamic civilization, and international academic cooperation…[Read More]

Beginners:

  1. Abdel, Haleem M. A., trans. The Qurʼan (New York: Oxford UP, 2005).
  2. Du Pasquier, Roger. Unveiling Islam (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 1990).
  3. Emre, Yunus. The City of the Heart: Yunus Emre’s Verses of Wisdom and Love. trans. Süha Faiz (Shaftesbury, Dorset: Element, 1992).
  4. al-Haddad, Abdullah. The Book of Assistance (London: Quilliam Press, 1989).
  5. Hammad, Ahmad Zaki. Lasting Prayers of the…

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My First Time with Salman Rushdie

This is an old but good post (from April 2010) by Sana Saeed. She describes what happened when she attended a lecture by Salman Rushdie at her university. I could definitely relate to her feelings about Rushdie before the lecture, and was pleasantly surprised at how the lecture unfolded. For some reason I wasn’t surprised at what he said in the Q&A though.

The Cool Table

Amongst the most memorable names to cross my ears as a child, growing up in a South Asian Muslim household, was that of (sir) Salman Rushdie. There was always an air of frustration, anger and utter hatred that seemed to accompany it’s mere mention by those of my kin. I was unaware, as a child, precisely what all the fuss was about. What I ended up gathering from the various snippets of conversations and outbursts was that he was a writer who had written some sort of novel in which the Prophet Muhammad, alongside Islam in general, was portrayed in a most vile sense. The grouping of words of those around me – including the words of those on television who would discuss him – was enough to create an authoritative perspective on the issue that I slowly, with a naive mind, took on as my own.

Regardless of what…

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The Noble American

Mohamed Ghilan

BasmalaSlide1The following is a translation of an August 22, 2014 article written by Majed Abdul Hadi for Al Arabi Al Jadeed (The New Arab) about the barbaric murder of American journalist James Foley. Majed Abdul Hadi is a Palestinian journalist and writer living in Qatar and working for Al Jazeera. I decided to translate this instead of write a piece of my own, because I feel it is important for people in the West to see this reaction coming from Arab Muslims. Abdul Hadi’s reaction is not unique by any stretch. But I chose his article because it read like a eulogy, as well as a lament over the current state of affairs in the region, which James Foley paid with his life and precious blood as he tried to be a voice for the voiceless.

The Noble American

He neither shook, nor his voice quivered, nor did he stumble on…

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Lifting the Veil of Harris & Hirsi Ali

Mohamed Ghilan

basmala_01maxresdefaultNew atheist/ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been one of the people of interest to be discussed as of late. After much outcry, she lost an honorary degree that Brandeis University had intended to award her. They cite in their statement that Hirsi Ali’s “past statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s core values.” That was their politically correct way of saying they did not realize the extent her Islamophobia and bigotry had gone to when they initially wanted to award her that degree.

At the time there was a bit of social media lashing out that came from some figures, particularly among the new atheist crowd. Somehow it was turned into a freedom of speech issue, which it was most definitely not. For others it was a bogus Islamophobia issue – enter Sam Harris.

In spite of the increasing awareness of something wrong taking place in how Islam and Muslims are being viewed by…

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