Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Islam & Entertainment such as Music




Somehow, music has a controversial name in religions, especially in Islam. It's associated with uncomplicated fun not focused on Divine worship, and some consider that waste of energy. Or it's associated with social, sexual and alcoholic abuse. Sometimes this is true. But, does Islam truly forbid music?

The Qur'an mentions prophet Dawud as singer of praise with the birds. Dawud is King David in the Bible; the Biblical book of Psalms is named after him. He is supposed to be their writer, and he is the Bible's best known musician. Dawud, King David, received a divine scripture and prophetic wisdom, which is mentioned in the Qur'an:


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YUSUFALI: And it is your Lord that knoweth best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms.

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YUSUFALI: To Solomon We inspired the (right) understanding of the matter: to each (of them) We gave Judgment and Knowledge; it was Our power that made the hills and the birds celebrate Our praises, with David: it was We Who did (all these things).
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YUSUFALI: We bestowed Grace aforetime on David from ourselves: "O ye Mountains! Sing ye back the Praises of Allah with him! and ye birds (also)! And We made the iron soft for him;-

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YUSUFALI: Have patience at what they say, and remember our servant David, the man of strength: for he ever turned (to Allah).

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YUSUFALI: It was We that made the hills declare, in unison with him, Our Praises, at eventide and at break of day,

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YUSUFALI: And the birds gathered (in assemblies): all with him did turn (to Allah).


Music is very well part of human knowledge and as such appropriate for religious worship, too. Somehow, however, it lost most of its place in Islam. Also hadiths do not forbid music; there are enough stories of people singing in the prophet's presence, and he didn't say anything against it. The bottom two hadiths are transmitted by Sahih Muslim, the other ones by Sahih Bukhari:

Volume 2, Book 15, Number 70:
Narrated Aisha: Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Buath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, the Khazraj and the Aus, before Islam). The Prophet (p.b.u.h) lay down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly saying, "Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet (p.b.u.h) ?" Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) turned his face towards him and said, "Leave them." When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signalled to those girls to go out and they left. It was the day of 'Id, and the Black people were playing with shields and spears; so either I requested the Prophet (p.b.u.h) or he asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then the Prophet (p.b.u.h) made me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, "Carry on! O Bani Arfida," till I got tired. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) asked me, "Are you satisfied (Is that sufficient for you)?" I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave.

Volume 2, Book 15, Number 72:
Narrated Aisha: Abu Bakr came to my house while two small Ansari girls were singing beside me the stories of the Ansar concerning the Day of Buath. And they were not singers. Abu Bakr said protestingly, "Musical instruments of Satan in the house of Allah's Apostle !" It happened on the 'Id day and Allah's Apostle said, "O Abu Bakr! There is an 'Id for every nation and this is our 'Id."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 155:
Narrated 'Aisha: Allah's Apostle came to my house while two girls were singing beside me the songs of Bu'ath (a story about the war between the two tribes of the Ansar, i.e. Khazraj and Aus, before Islam.) The Prophet reclined on the bed and turned his face to the other side. Abu Bakr came and scolded me and said protestingly, "Instrument of Satan in the presence of Allah's Apostle?" Allah's Apostle turned his face towards him and said, "Leave them." When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I waved the two girls to go away and they left. It was the day of 'Id when negroes used to play with leather shields and spears. Either I requested Allah's Apostle or he himself asked me whether I would like to see the display. I replied in the affirmative. Then he let me stand behind him and my cheek was touching his cheek and he was saying, "Carry on, O Bani Arfida (i.e. negroes)!" When I got tired, he asked me if that was enough. I replied in the affirmative and he told me to leave 

Volume 5, Book 59, Number 336:
Narrated Ar-Rubai bint Muauwidh: The Prophet came to me after consuming his marriage with me and sat down on my bed as you (the sub-narrator) are sitting now, and small girls were beating the tambourine and singing in lamentation of my father who had been killed on the day of the battle of Badr. Then one of the girls said, "There is a Prophet amongst us who knows what will happen tomorrow." The Prophet said (to her)," Do not say this, but go on saying what you have spoken before." 

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 229:
Narrated Anas: The Prophet was on a journey and a slave named Anjasha was chanting (singing) for the camels to let them go fast (while driving). The Prophet said, "O Anjasha, drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels!" Abu Qilaba said, "By the glass vessels' he meant the women (riding the camels)."  

Book 023, Number 4879:
'Ali b. Abu Talib reported; There fell to my lot along with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) an old she-camel from the spoils of Badr. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) granted me another camel. I made them kneel down one day at the door of an Ansari, and I wanted to carry on them Idhkhir (a kind of grass) in order to sell that. There was with me a goldsmith of the tribe of Qainuqa'. I saught to give a wedding feast (on the occasion of marriage with) Fatima with the help of that (the price accrued from the sale of this grass). And Hamza b. 'Abd al-Muttalib was busy in drinking in that house in the company of a singing girl who was singing to him. She said: Hamza, get up for slaughtering the fat she-camels. Hamza attacked them with the sword and cut off their humps and ripped their haunches, and then took out their livers. I said to Ibn Shihab: Did he take out anything from the hump? He said: He cut off the humps altogether. Ibn Shihab reported 'Ali having said: I saw this (horrible) sight and it shocked me, and I came to Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) and there was Zaid b, Haritha with him and communicated to him this news. He came in the company of Zaid and I also went along with him and he went to Hamza and he expressed anger with him. Hamza raised his eyes and said: Are you (not) but the servants of my father? Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) turned back on his heels (on hearing this) until he went away from them. 

Book 030, Number 5743:
Anas reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) had in one of his journeys his black slave who was called Anjasha along with him. He goaded by singing the songs of camel-driver. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Anjasha, drive slowly as you are driving (the mounts who are carrying) glass vessels 

In the forlast hadith, number 4879, another topic is introduced: Alcohol. Alcohol is known to be forbidden for Muslims, however, in the Qur'an it is also granted some good qualities. Drinking isn't a sin that makes one leave Islam, yet, performing prayer when intoxicated, isn't allowed. A believer who drinks or trades alcoholic drinks, will be deprived of alcohol in the hereafter. Alcohol is the reward in Paradise for those believers, who abstained from it during their lifetime. Islam sees alcohol as an issue that believers need to abandon, yet, it's known, that many won't. It's an undesirable, complicating part of life for Muslims--yet, perhaps, no unforgivable sin. However, Muslims shouldn't gamble on their future.


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YUSUFALI: They ask thee concerning wine and gambling. Say: "In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." They ask thee how much they are to spend; Say: "What is beyond your needs." Thus doth Allah Make clear to you His Signs: In order that ye may consider-


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YUSUFALI: If ye (but) eschew the most heinous of the things which ye are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of you all the evil in you, and admit you to a gate of great honour.


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YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Approach not prayers with a mind befogged (intoxicated), until ye can understand all that ye say,- nor in a state of ceremonial impurity (Except when travelling on the road), until after washing your whole body. If ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, and ye find no water, then take for yourselves clean sand or earth, and rub therewith your faces and hands. For Allah doth blot out sins and forgive again and again.


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YUSUFALI: Allah forgiveth not that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgiveth anything else, to whom He pleaseth; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin Most heinous indeed.


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YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.


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YUSUFALI: Satan's plan is (but) to excite enmity and hatred between you, with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah, and from prayer: will ye not then abstain?


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YUSUFALI: And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise.


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YUSUFALI: (Here is) a Parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised: in it are rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey pure and clear. In it there are for them all kinds of fruits; and Grace from their Lord. (Can those in such Bliss) be compared to such as shall dwell for ever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels (to pieces)?


And there are many hadiths about drinking alcohol. Believers were ordered to throw away alcoholic beverages, not to use them as medicines, and not to produce or sell them.


Volume 7, Book 69, Number 481, Sahih Bukhari:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever drinks alcoholic drinks in the world and does not repent (before dying), will be deprived of it in the Hereafter."

Volume 7, Book 69, Number 484:
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "An adulterer, at the time he is committing illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer; and a person, at the time of drinking an alcoholic drink is not a believer; and a thief, at the time of stealing, is not a believer." Ibn Shihab said: 'Abdul Malik bin Abi Bakr bin 'Abdur-Rahman bin Al- Harith bin Hisham told me that Abu Bakr used to narrate that narration to him on the authority of Abu Huraira. He used to add that Abu Bakr used to mention, besides the above cases, "And he who robs (takes illegally something by force) while the people are looking at him, is not a believer at the time he is robbing (taking) 

Volume 7, Book 69, Number 487:
Narrated Ibn 'Umar: 'Umar stood up on the pulpit and said, "Now then, prohibition of alcoholic drinks have been revealed, and these drinks are prepared from five things, i.e.. grapes, dates, honey, wheat or barley And an alcoholic drink is that, that disturbs the mind. 

Book 023, Number 4892, Sahih Muslim:
Wa'il al-Hadrami reported that Tariq b. Suwaid a-Ju'fi asked Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) about liquor. He forbade (its use) and he expressed hatred that it should be prepared. He (Tariq) said: I prepare it as a medicine, whereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: It is no medicine, but an ailment. 

Book 023, Number 4961:
Abu Burda reported on the authority of his father: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent me and Mu'adh to Yemen saying: Call people (to the path of righteousness) and give good tidings to the (people), and do not repel them, make things easy for them and do not make things difficult. I (Burda) said: Allah's Messenger, give us a religious verdict about two kinds of drinks which we prepare in Yemen. One is Bit' which is prepared from honey; it is a fermented Nabidh and is strong and turns into wine, and (the second is) Mizr which is prepared from millet and barley. Thereupon, Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), who had been gifted with the most eloquent and pithy expressions, said: I forbid you from every intoxicant that keeps you away from prayer.

Book 023, Number 4975:
Yahya Abu 'Umar al-Nakhai reported that some people asked Ibn Abbas about the sale and purchase of wine and its commerce. He asked (them): Are you Muslims? They said, Yes. Thereupon he said: Its sale and purchase and its trade are not permissible. They then asked him about Nabidh and he said: Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) went out on a journey and then came back and some persons amongst his Companions prepared Nabidh for him in green pitcher, hollow stump and gourd. He commanded it to be thrown away, and it was done accordingly. He then ordered them (to prepare it.) in a waterskin and it was prepared in that by steeping raisins in water, and it was prepared in the night. In the morning he drank out of that and on that day and then the next night, and then on the next day until the evening. He drank and gave others to drink. When it was morning (of the third night) he commanded what was left of that to be thrown away. 

Source:

University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje

Monday, September 29, 2014

Do I want to distance myself from ISIS?




This Summer, the western world was shaken by two conflicts, one in Europe, Ukraine, and one, again, in Syria and Iraq. The latter, caused by the arrival of 'Islamic State', a new caliphate, raised some interesting questions to Muslims and those who care for Islam.

Truth is, firstly, both Sunni and Shiah traditions promise the return of a final Khilafah, which will restore justice and bring peace. Another truth is, that, also in Islam, every people has a basic right to found a new state according to its own founding principles, and every person may be elligible for high leadership, as described in Qur'anic verse 3:26. There's no exception to this rule for Islamic peoples. The first topic of interest is, whether it is indeed the promised final, infallible khilafah. Scholars of all main schools of thought in Islam agree, that the Imamah of infallible caliphs belongs to descendants of the Saudi tribe of Quraish. The caliph of Islamic State, however, is Iraqi and the Caliphate is situated in Syria and Iraq. Doubtful therefore is, that IS is the final khilafah as prophesied in the ahadith.

Now the second issue. The media report, that Islamic State kills those of its inhabitants who don't want to convert to Islam. Contrary to popular belief, Islam does not allow Muslims such killing. These ahadith reported by Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim (the two at the end) testify as such:


Volume 5, Book 59, Number 628:

Narrated Salim's father:

The Prophet sent Khalid bin Al-Walid to the tribe of Jadhima and Khalid invited them to Islam but they could not express themselves by saying, "Aslamna (i.e. we have embraced Islam)," but they started saying "Saba'na! Saba'na (i.e. we have come out of one religion to another)." Khalid kept on killing (some of) them and taking (some of) them as captives and gave every one of us his Captive. When there came the day then Khalid ordered that each man (i.e. Muslim soldier) should kill his captive, I said, "By Allah, I will not kill my captive, and none of my companions will kill his captive." When we reached the Prophet, we mentioned to him the whole story. On that, the Prophet raised both his hands and said twice, "O Allah! I am free from what Khalid has done."


Volume 5, Book 59, Number 687:

Narrated Jarir:

The Prophet ordered me during Hajjatul-Wada'. "Ask the people to listen." He then said, "Do not become infidels after me by cutting the necks (throats) of one another. "


Volume 9, Book 84, Number 61:

Narrated 'Aisha:

 A group of Jews asked permission to visit the Prophet (and when they were admitted) they said, "As-Samu 'Alaika (Death be upon you)." I said (to them), "But death and the curse of Allah be upon you!" The Prophet said, "O 'Aisha! Allah is kind and lenient and likes that one should be kind and lenient in all matters." I said, "Haven't you heard what they said?" He said, "I said (to them), 'Wa 'Alaikum (and upon you).


Volume 9, Book 84, Number 68:

Narrated Yusair bin 'Amr: I asked Sahl bin Hunaif, "Did you hear the Prophet saying anything about Al-Khawarij?" He said, "I heard him saying while pointing his hand towards Iraq. "There will appear in it (i.e, Iraq) some people who will recite the Quran but it will not go beyond their throats, and they will go out from (leave) Islam as an arrow darts through the game's body.' "


Volume 9, Book 88, Number 184:

Narrated 'Abdullah and Abu Musa: The Prophet said, "Near the establishment of the Hour there will be days during which Religious ignorance will spread, knowledge will be taken away (vanish) and there will be much Al-Harj, and Al-Harj means killing."


Volume 9, Book 89, Number 329:

Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard the Prophet saying, "There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world)." He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, "All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish."


Book 032, Number 6327:

'Urwa reported on the authority of his father that Hisham b. Hakim b. Hizam happened to pass by some people in Syria who had been made to stand in the sun and olive-oil was being poured upon their heads. He said: What is this? It was said: They are being punished for (not paying) the Kharaj (the government revenue). Thereupon he said: Allah would punish those who torment people in this world (without any genuine reason).


Book 032, Number 6328:

Hisham reported on the authority of his father that Hisham b. Hakim b. Hizam happened to pass by people, the farmers of Syria, who had been made to stand in the sun. He said: What is the matter with them? They said: They have been detained for Jizya. Thereupon Hisham said: I bear testimony to the fact that I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Allah would torment those who torment people in the world.

Al Khawarij are those who think, that rebellion and revolution against leaders is allowed in Islam. Islam, however, asks us to consult with each other in a peaceful manner, as prescribed in Qur'anic verse 42:38, and to obey leaders, even if those aren't always just, as prescribed in verse 4:59.


More importantly, Qur'an itself forbids Muslims random killing of those who reject Islam or left it. Please see one of my previous entries on this blog, The Basics of Islam's Outward Boundaries. Qur'an as reference of judgement in Islam precedes any other scripture, unless explicitly stated otherwise... which isn't often the case. Unbelievers and apostates may be killed only if they kill and persecute believers themselves and neither offer peace nor enter Islam.

We could ask ourselves, if indeed #IS has the right to call itself an 'Islamic' State, if it radomly kills those who live in its newly conquered lands and don't want to convert to Islam or pay 'jizya' tax. How violent has the relation of local Muslims, Christians, Yezidi, and other groups been? If it wasn't violent, then IS has no case.

There's a third question of interest: Is any party allowed to retaliation? The answer to that one isn't simple. Islam allows the faithful retribution for those who were killed, according to these Qur'anic verses:


002.178 Surah 2 Verse 178

O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.


002.179 Surah 2 Verse 179

YUSUFALI: In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves.


002.194 Sura 2 Verse 194

YUSUFALI: The prohibited month for the prohibited month,- and so for all things prohibited,- there is the law of equality. If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, Transgress ye likewise against him. But fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who restrain themselves.


017.033 Surah 17 Verse 33

YUSUFALI: Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, we have given his heir authority (to demand qisas or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the Law).


The law of equality prescribes, that any retaliation against other people's harmful behavior must be of equal value, law which may also be applied to offenses slighter than killing. This issue, however, touches the history between Islam and the West. IS may have a point, when it triumphantly announces killing of the British, American, and other western journalists or workers they captured. There's a long line of killing and retribution of killing in our joint western and middle eastern histories; recent history has shown a revival since the US-presidencies of the Bush family, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. And the Middle East has been of the receiving end, mostly, and grossly. Against the killing of every American or European, we've seen at least 10,000 Iraqi, Afghani, and other killings in the Middle East by western armies. And journalists or workers may be an interest party in this war. The temptation to retaliate may have been less, if the West had paid better compensation for the suffering and loss of property during colonial occupation, during bombardments, etc. Not without reason, Islam offers a way out of retaliation with forgiveness. At some time, the cycle of retaliations should end.

Then there's a fourth, final question, not a slight one either. None of us can effectively act, unless we know who we are dealing with. Rumor has it, that IS may be fake. There are plenty of videos circulating, saying that the beheadings of journalists are fake. Therefore, I looked at mainstream footing as these:

http://www.reuters.com/video/2014/08/20/islamic-state-says-beheads-...

http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/remembering-james-foley/


Don't worry--the images aren't scary, no one is actually beheaded in these videos

In this case, James Foley, I find the accusation credible. I see two different people here; obviously their voices and their facial movements differ. So what really happened to James Foley? And why the fake? Is IS real, at all? Why was its initial name changed, a name that reminded of forgotten Egyptian goddess Isis? I find the thought tempting, that this group may not at all be a Muslim group. They may be a group of provocateurs, enabling some parties a new war. What if the USA, Iran, any other country, have a hand in that? What must happen to all their military personnel, should war be over? Military personnel may suffer the same trauma as jihad travelers do, after all. Not to mention the tempting shine of the oil. The strangest aspect of it, is the anonymity of thousands of casualties resulting from bombardments versus the flagrant cruelty of one, or a few, beheading(s) of a journalist, who has a name and a face. It does make those 10,000 seem equal to this one person. And that fact, on the other hand, is exactly what Muslim extremists are fighting against, and they have a point here, too. The question is, really, who is the extremist here. The Americans and other westerners have dug themselves deep into the Middle East with their warfare. It's not easy to stop that. One may wonder, if the west is really fighting itself, before any one else.

Is there a solution to this latest problem? The only solution may be a full lock-up of the area occupied by IS, so that no one may enter or leave it, and aid and shelter for the many refugees. IS will have to leave the area, or it has to isolate itself. This will probably leave the least damage.


Source: 
University of Southern California USC-MSA Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement (Compendium of Muslim Texts) http://www.usc.edu/org/cmje

Monday, October 14, 2013

Why-Questions For Ourselves

The oldest question in the world. It has general and personal aspects.

Honestly, I think we can't answer the general aspects. We don't know beyond doubt where we came from. Religions have all their own answers, sometimes in full contrast to one and other. I have gradually learned to rely on myself. "Why am I here", "Where am I going", are questions usually approached in a moral fashion by religions. It may be a help cord for humanity to hold on to, but is it an answer to the question? The role of humanity in the scheme of things on Earth, is seen as a task, by religions. And its future is determined by the way humanity carries out this task. The problem then lies, again, in the differing, sometimes contrasting answer furnished by religions. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism basically say, though in differing ways: The human soul is forever; its future in the afterlife is determined by how the living man or woman behaves during life. And there's an invisible, omnipotent creating God who creates, decides for and judges us, and everything else. But the stories of these religions are different, and so is their worship. Buddhism says: there is no invisible world behind this, this is all there is and has been, there is no creation, and the human soul isn't immortal. Personally, I think that all religions cast their light on an aspect of the truth that was revealed to their spokesmen, usually referred to as prophets. Why the stories differ, is an answer God only knows;) Or only some answers can be proved to be true or false. Islam still is my own religion, but I can't confirm that the prophet Muhamed, pbuh, really met archangel Gibryl, and that Gibryl truly came with God's word. We can't prove it, no matter how valuable and truthful its content may be. That is faith: Acknowledging something to be truthful or valuable, without having falsifiable evidence. The consequence is, that none of us have the right to forcefully impose our non-falsifiable convictions on other people. That also goes for atheists.

I think, that Buddhism has a point here, it's view can be retrieved with Ibn Rushd, for those who like to know if there's a parallel with Islamic views somewhere. I agree with them and think there was no first creation. Mass cannot have emerged from the non-existent. That's technically and absolutely impossible. Non-existence isn't empty space, because space is existence. Therefore, mass must always have been there, which doesn't mean there has never been empty space. Empty space is always mass-related. Like Ibn Rushd, I think, that God is working within the universe, as the force within it. God may be time, the law or force of nature, an abstract concept. God cannot be compared with anything at all, says the Qur'an. There's no god, there's just the law or force of nature, but that's not god, atheists say. When the Bible says, that "the earth was without form, and void", it may say there was a first creation of our present planet and the other celestial bodies, but Genesis leaves open whether it must have been a remould of something else, another mass. The story in Genesis may sound contradictory to scientific knowledge and even to itself. An aspect not irrelevant to the age-old question, is that other religions have their own stories, that may also be impaired and proven-untrue.

And then, how about thinking of where we're headed to. The afterlife. Is there nothing, or is there a retribution, where justice is restored? It's always been approached from a moral point of view, even by atheists. We should live righteous lives in order to attain a good afterlife. Or, vice versa, we don't need to... etc. The only thing not eagerly considered, is the possible preparation to a bad afterlife. A life in Hell. If Hell is forever, shouldn't we learn now how to live in pain, or at least in unpleasant conditions forever? Shouldn't we learn to accept evil as part of a whole that may have good in it, simply because the whole 'needs' this aspect. We're not taught to deal with an eternal painful retribution. (How we should, is another issue.)

All things considered, I think it's better to keep things personal. It leads to always-relevant and tangible answers to the age-old questions. Why am I here? Where do I go? I stick to things I know. I came from two parents and a long line of ancestors. I live here, because I was born nearby. I have children, they have my genes. Why do we live somewhere? Because of family, a partner, or friends cherished enough to be counted as family. Because I like the town I live in. Because of a job. But I think that most people tend to find their livelihood near family and friends. The chance is realistic, that I'll stay here too, because it's not easy to leave and then live away from family. Why do people leave the vicinity of family and friends? To be with a partner. It may be uniting with an existing partner, or traveling to a country or town where a partner is likely to be found. It may also be necessity. If it's impossible to find a source of income or affordable housing in the vicinity of family and friends. Yet, I think that most people hesitate to leave their country or city for work only, no matter how tempting the prospects may be. There should be someone or something else too, to make it worthwhile to live alone in an apartment far away from home. That's how it works for me. In all honesty -- a partner, or family and trusted friends somewhere else will make me move away more easily than only a great writing gig. The chances are realistic, though. And it's best to recognize that I'm not sure what will happen after death, and try to do my 'best' as is recognized as such in my community, including not causing harm to others.

With thanks to fellow blogger Izaakson.