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The Connectivity Issue

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Quote of the Month

 


 

My inability to write since the last two months is accredited to my Cambridge AS level examinations, which, by the Grace of Allah, ended early this month. It feels good to resume writing, but what matters more to me was that the saying of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), in which he tells us to take benefit of free-time before preoccupation (Hakim), became crystal clear to me. For me, examination seasons mean periods of increased phone calls from friends, who want to clarify one or another of their queries. In one of the phone calls that I received before the Mathematics paper, I told my friend to realise that the question which he was asking me, required that he connected some previously acquired concepts with the one actually being assessed here in order to proceed.

 

Having talked about making connections, my mind then drifted to the closing ceremony of the 4th All-Pakistan Mathematics Olympiad, organised by Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering and Technology. The Chief Guest, Dr. Asghar Qadir (Professor, Department of Physics at National University of Sciences and Technology—NUST Islamabad), addressed us participants. In a poignant speech pertaining to our society’s general inability to connect all our learning back to recognising and servicing our Rabb , he said, “During our course of education, we, for our own convenience, split education into many parts—arithmetic, biology, chemistry, Islamic studies, history, geography etcetera. But somehow, as we grow up acquiring education in this amorphous form, we forget how to connect all these pieces of the same jigsaw, and continue leading shapeless lives. The education, which was supposed to take us closer to our Lord, ends up moving us further away from Him.” He later elaborated that this behaviour, lamentably, applied not just to education, but also to other spheres of our lives. He then recited a part from a melancholic ghazal which he had written, in a melody which was purposefully, equally moving. The crux of his poetic verses was the loss of the sense of emotional attachment from our worship and many other actions. For most of us including me, the address was more or less like a large, well-designed mirror, in which we could see the whole of our internal and spiritual selves closely reflected.

 

For me, it was more than that. I had finally found an analogy for the need of connecting all our actions with our Ultimate Vision of pleasing our Rabb.

 

When I began thinking more in this regard, realities started dawning upon me. In what was a period of remarkable self-discovery for me, I experienced an absurd mix of feelings of gloom and glee, mystery and melancholy simultaneously. The frivolity of many actions that I previously considered worthwhile dawned upon me, and so did the usefulness of some apparently trivial behaviours. Indeed my pursuit of my Ultimate Vision was getting affected due to the quagmire of daily chores—the realisation necessitating a feeling of remorse, and thankfully, compelling me to do something about it.

 

Alongside this self-discovery however, was another discovery that I made regarding general human behaviours of our fateful time. We are an enthusiasm-driven people, which is apparently very good. The pursuit of our goals begins with a lot of vigour and zeal yet soon we revert to being languid again. On the flipside is another equally grave possibility: we become so ambitious in the pursuit of our sub-visions that in the process, the main driving force, which should have been the Ultimate Vision, is lost. Most students, for example, say that the main reason why they are acquiring education is to please Allah, but soon, without actually embracing what is actually going on in their minds, the paradigms change and the ambitions are channelized in the wrong direction. The goal, for a schoolboy, soon becomes achievement of academic accolades, and at higher levels, getting a good job or setting up a profitable business.

 

The actual problem lies in the absence of a self-promising nature in our personalities towards our Ultimate Visions.

 

The question here is why we let go our Ultimate Visions and why we lack a self-promising nature towards them. It is not that since beginning of the pursuance of the sub-visions have our Ultimate Visions been relinquished. The problem, rather, is in our faulty sense of prioritisation. In what has a killing effect on not just our Azm but also our visions, we tend to put many such deeds on hold which would take us closer to our ultimate goals faster. Instead, we generally tend to focus more on those actions which would, nevertheless, take us closer to our goals, but at a much slower pace. In short, less important things are preferred over the more important ones, as we will see in an example shortly.

 

A Muslim’s Ultimate Vision is attaining the pleasure of Allah. Knowing the fact that Islam dissociates no faction of life from it, a particular Muslim tends to channel his efforts towards making money in a Halal way. But he becomes so busy and engrossed in the process that the five obligatory daily prayers are treated with negligence. If we look closely at this ironic anecdote, we will notice that this man is in a state of loss. Instead of focusing more on prayers and improving their quality—something which would take him closer to Allah’s pleasure faster—his focus on Halal acquisition of provisions would, on the contrary, take him away from his Ultimate Vision rather than taking him closer to it. Over time, he might become materially very stable, but as a good Muslim—the vision with which he began—he might not be even close to what he had envisioned in the beginning: what is more probable is that the balance might have shifted towards the negative side.

 

If we look at ourselves, this person is a symbol of us all—or at least most of us. This is all what the connectivity issue is about: faulty prioritisations, leading one away from their ulterior goals. It is immensely important that we set up check-posts along the roads of our sub-visions: check-posts that do not allow our sub-visions to eat up our Ultimate Visions, that ensure that our sub-visions remain subservient to our Ultimate Visions. Once these check-posts are set up, we can very well hope that the spirit is not lost from our prayers and our determination is on an ever-increase. Always.

 


Areeb Nafey Uddin Siddiqui is a Timelenders family member and is currently an A level student at Generation’s School, Karachi. He has attended the Strategic Visions, Strategic Time Management and Visions Retreat (Malaysia) workshops. He is simultaneously a poet, satirical writer, and also addresses serious issues like organizational and personal skills. He writes in both, English and Urdu. He has also conducted the Strategic Time Management training in his school for the domestic staff. Currently, he is doing an extensive internship with Timelenders.


 

 

 

The World is Flat is a riveting roller coaster ride through the explosive metamorphosis of human intelligence that has shaped the world as we know it now; a fast-shrinking, power hungry, global village of nations diseased with technology and racing to cram themselves with continually upgraded razor-edged scientific proficiency in their scramble to reach the top. This brings us to the basic premise of the book; the idea of ‘top’ is actually symbolic because in reality, Friedman argues, the world is now flat. Reaching the top means attaining success by beating all the technological and scientific odds of the twenty-first century.

 

The twenty-first century is unlike any other time period as it witnessed the razing of walls between countries, from the physical Berlin Wall to the walls of information due to the Internet or the walls of trade through free trade agreements. The abolishment of these walls has turned the world into a leveled playing field open for faster and more cutthroat competition. Since the keyword for success today is technological advancement, the success of any nation lies in its knowledge of industry and machines and how they can be used to collaborate and converge domestically and internationally. Through interviews and anecdotes Friedman closely examines nations that have grasped this principle and are hence shooting to the top as opposed to the ones still stuck in a rut by using as less as a five-year-old technology.

 

Throughout the book, Friedman elaborates his basic premise with examples of the rising success of countries like China and India versus the frustration of American workers in the US who feel they are losing out to new concepts such as outsourcing, insourcing, and supply chaining. Not only the growth of entire nations, Friedman warns, but that of every individual in this new flat world will become entirely stagnant if he or she fails to keep up with this current supreme impetus of technology.

 

The book contains statistics from top companies and interviews of their CEO’s and other top managers on what makes a company a leader in its field. There are also interviews of embassy officials in countries producing engineers en masse illustrating how these mass-produced scientific minds permeate countries like the USA whereby brushing aside domestic workers and making technology more sophisticated by the minute. Phones, computers, and even search engines grow obsolete by the minute. This growth is not just in scientific but in every single field. Even a tech-savvy boutique owner in Karachi can expand her business all over the world today as opposed to someone who does not own a computer nor is familiar with the myriad of ways business can be done in the this Internet age. In other words, whoever does not keep pace with this speed of advancement in the twenty-first century only has his self to blame when he is out of the game.

 

Discussing solutions on avoiding getting ‘left behind’, Friedman talks about the importance of self-learning, learning to learn, and creating the right environment for children to achieve the level of motivation that will help them achieve success. Referring to adults, as he asserts continually throughout the book, he says they need to learn to understand that they can no longer do things the ‘old way’ and the ‘way it was done’. They have to learn to change and adapt. They cannot afford to put up walls when it comes to adapting to change.

 

The World is Flat also happens to be a disturbing forewarning that where the technological burst in the twenty-first century has created immense prospects for personal success, it has also opened doors for rogue groups. Since the walls have come down, the routes and roads for terrorist groups to move across borders have become easier to navigate. But again, the only thing that will strengthen nations in obliterating such negative elements is their access to latest information, scientific capability, and cutting-edge technology.

 

Friedman believes that for any nation, achieving success in this flat world calls for certain sacrifices and hard-core action to create economic boom. The catalysis for such success has to be very clearly defined through well-articulated long and short-term visions of the leaders of the country. Unless companies, individuals, and countries evolve into becoming more creative, innovative, educated, and tech-savvy, they will ‘fall through the cracks’. There are too many statistics, interviews, anecdotes, examples, and economic comparisons littered through the pages to cite in a short book review.

 

In short, The World is Flat is significantly more critical for anyone to read than any other conventional ‘history’ of the world. The book defines the world today; profoundly more divergent, more complex, more confounding, and more intimidating than perhaps any other period in human history. We are surrounded by machines that rule us and technology that governs our minds 24/7. We need to understand how we fit into this muddle of wires, circuits, chips, and processors as a person, as a family, as a community, and as a nation. The world is Flat lends a necessary and required coherence to this ‘organized chaos’ as no other book I have recently read. Again, a must read for every member of the family.

 


Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer/editor settled in the San Francisco Bay Area, USA. Her published credits as writer and web content developer include well over 2,000 articles in both American and Pakistani publications. Her notable work is the translation of Harun Yahya's epic Atlas of Creation-Vol 1 and Evolution Deceit. Sister Irum will be writing the Book Review for Envision every month. She offers editing, content and ebook creation, and book translation and representation through her company Wordlenders. 


 

    


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