Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|05/01/01 at 18:21:32|
I am bored out of my mind. This PhD thing is driving me crazy. I am going to need serious mental help afterwards. I am at the lab right now trying to write this never-going-to-be-done paper!!
Leslie.. how can you keep on going, and you are doing yours in Comparative lit!!
Someone help please!! Need entertainment really desperately. write something funny/silly/wacko.. i dunno, just do something PLEEEEEASE!
|05/01/01 at 19:03:07|
Okay I had to log in to respond to this!
[quote]I am bored out of my mind. This PhD thing is driving me crazy.[/quote]
Tell me about it! The last month or so has been awful torture for me. Things don't fall into place, whenever you start writing you get writers block, your adviser thinks you are slacking, and any distraction ends the whole concentration that you had painstakingly developed. To make things worse, at least for me, deep down inside I feel I am wasting my time. I am doing the same things that I did 3 years ago and am not learning anything new (no real intellectual incentive). And there is this continuous mental game with the adviser on when he would let me go.
What makes PhDs mentally hard is that it is a lonely process. Nobody understands your work, nobody is there to encourage you (and there are many people discouraging you), and there is little time for anything else isolating you from the rest. In my case, my adviser has been really unreasonable. I have seen other advisers let students go with half the amount of work that I have done :( If you tell him that, he gives you a lecture on how PhDS are supposed to be hard, don't you want to be like this famous scientist, etc. But the reality is much starker (faculty positions are difficult to get). But they don't understand...he sits in there reviewing my work briefly, writing his name on the article and having them published. I don't know the funding situation in your dept., but here I had to change projects a few times (in different fields) thus slowing done my progress. He has found an all-rounder mild mannered guy in me, nobody else is that versatile in the dept., he knows it, and hence he doesn't want me to leave :(
[quote]Someone help please!! Need entertainment really desperately. write something funny/silly/wacko.. i dunno, just do something PLEEEEEASE![/quote]
|05/01/01 at 19:00:03|
|Uhmm... this makes me think, do I want a PhD???|
|05/01/01 at 19:07:12|
Thanks sooooo much Asim for writing. I thought I was alone feeling this low. Somehow misery lovers company :)
Asim, don't you have a grad committee - they too should have some input on when you have enough work for a PhD. Hey let me tell you something about faculty positions...there are vacancies and there will be more. All those baby boomers are reaching retirement age and there seems to be a good turn-over.
I think my problem is that, I too, deep down feel that I am wasting my life, not just my time. My advisor is plain useless. He is not advising at all. I feel all alone and lost most of the time. My day is usually spent staring blankly at the computer monitor, until after some miracuolous inspiration I manage to write or re-write few sentenses.
Anyhoo, before this things turns into a PhD complain fest (I am sure Leslie or MuslimaKanadiyyah will join shortly :)), someone please tell us that there is light at the end of the tunnel...or at least distract us a bit. :)
|05/01/01 at 22:21:47|
[quote]Anyhoo, before this things turns into a PhD complain fest (I am sure Leslie or MuslimaKanadiyyah will join shortly :)), someone please tell us that there is light at the end of the tunnel...or at least distract us a bit. :)[/quote]
Mona, I know how you feel. Most days I don't seem to accomplish much of anything, but I think that it is part of the process. I believe that a Ph.D. tells you more about yourself than it does about the topic you're researching. (For instance, I never realised that I was this good at avoiding necessary work -- instead I will read almost any article that has no connection whatsoever to what I'm supposed to be doing.) And yes, with the input of my committee, my research topic has deviated tremendously from the topic that I wanted to investigate, but I have to keep in mind that I do have something to say about it, even in its diluted form. If I had insisted on researching my original idea, nobody at this university could have supervised me, and I would not be able to progress at all. It is the idea of contributing to the knowledge of the world, even in a small way, that keeps me going even when I'm frustrated with the problems that are inevitable in such a long and arduous process.
I just have to keep in mind that the thesis is an exercise and not my life's work. I should not expect this thesis to win me a Nobel or a Pulitzer Prize, it is merely a stepping stone to the projects that I would truly like to tackle. (An investigation of the cultural diversity that created the unique and multilingual poetic form of the Andalusian MuwashshaHat is just one. For those who don't know, a muwashshaHah is a really cool poem that is written in both classical Arabic and the local Andalusian vernacular (Mozarabic) which is like a cross between Spanish and Arabic. The deviation from the Arabic form with the vernacular kharjah is what interests me here). My Arabic isn't quite good enough to deal with this properly yet, but in sha'a allah, it will be. For the moment, however, I must concentrate on the project at hand which I hope will be finished in another two years.
I don't know if any of this helped, but I know there has to be some reason that we're being so masochistic. Maybe knowledge itself is worth the pain. Remember the words of Mu'adh ibn Jabal, that were quoted previously on this board:
"Knowledge is a comforting friend in times of loneliness,
it is the best companion during travels, and it is the inner
friend who speaks to you in your privacy. Knowledge is the
discerning proof of what is right and what is wrong, and it is
the positive force that will help you surmount the trials of
comfort, as well as those of hardships. Knowledge is your most
powerful sword against your enemy, and finally, it is your most
dignifying raiment in the company of your close companions."
|05/01/01 at 22:26:00|
|nice quote! i was looking for a new signature!! see this PHD thing you guys are doing really works ;)|
|05/02/01 at 00:20:16|
Wow, that quote is encouraging and a good reminder on the purpose of knowledge. I feel the PhD process is a good test in patience. Often time weeks and months go by without any significant progress. Then, all of a sudden out of nowhere a new understanding or idea is developed and progress is made rapidly. I also spend a lot of time reading seemingly irrelevant stuff. But I think this is important, especially in the early stages of research, so as to develop a broader picture of the problem and maybe get some good ideas in the process. Most of the research these days is done in advancing knowledge and understanding by integrating knowledge from different disciplines. The corpus of knowledge is immense so often just sifting and combining ideas can produce new knowledge of much value.
I love to read and go into new areas. The frustration in the PhD process often comes from the rules and regulations that restrict free creativity. I have no desire to get a degree like PhD but without getting it I pretty much cannot do anything else.
Okay back to some venting :) A little venting is good to let off some steam to reduce pressure and temperature :)
Mona, in our department the committee members are just puppets. The adviser has all the powers. And if your adviser is a senior professor, like mine, then you cannot complain to anyone else. My adviser actually respects me and my work. BUT, he always has his logic to convince me into doing something that I initially refused to do. This world/society is just not a place for a mild, inconfrontational type of person. Everybody takes advantage of good guys :(
I have been applying for faculty positions and the response has not been good so far. The demand varies from discipline to discipline. Unfortunately, my field has been all messed up, neither engineering nor computer science, so I don't nicely fit into university programs.
Advisers are good at throwing buzz words and painting wild dreams. They often have no clue on how difficult those concepts are and how to go about achieving them. I have written several papers and generally getting the idea and the big picture is the biggest hurdle. Once this hurdle is crossed then the writing flows more smoothly (provided of course your motivation is not down in the dumps :)).
Ah well, all I can say is hang in there, take a break once in a while, and pray for something to click. On the positive side, a PhD is good patience training (which by itself may be worth something in the next life inshallah :))
There is also a newsletter called ABD Survival Guide that has nice articles on common issues faced by PhDs during their dissertation process. You can subscribe to it at http://www.ecoach.com/
For the rest of the folks, if you can't provide any encouragement, you can at least make dua for us :)
|05/02/01 at 07:03:08|
this always makes me laugh :)
Interview with Raphael, former Jehovah's Witness Minister (Taken from The Islamic Bulletin, San Francisco, CA 94141-0186)
A forty-two-year-old Latino, Raphael, is a Los Angeles-based comic and lecturer. He was born in Texas where he attended his first Jehovah's Witness meeting at age six. He gave his first Bible sermon at eight, tended his own congregation at twenty, and was headed for a position of leadership among the 904,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the United States. But he traded in his Bible for a Qur'an after having braved a visit to a local mosque.
On November 1, 1991, he embraced Islam, bringing to the Muslim community the organizational and speaking skills he developed among Jehovah's Witnesses. He speaks with the urgency of a new convert, but one who can make immigrant Muslims laugh at themselves.
He told his story mimicking a cast of characters.
I remember vividly being in a discussion where we were all sitting in my parents' living room and there were some other Jehovah's Witnesses there. They were talking about: "It's Armageddon! The time of the end! And Christ is coming! And you know the hailstones are going to be out here as big as cars! God is going to use all kinds of things to destroy this wicked system and remove the governments! And the Bible talks about the earth opening up! It's going to swallow whole city blocks!"
I'm scared to death! And then my mother turned around: "See what's going to happen to you if you don't get baptized, and if you don't do God's will? The earth is going to swallow you up, or one of these huge hailstones is going to hit you on the head [klonk], knock you out, and you will not exist ever again. I'll have to make another child."
I wasn't going to take a chance of being hit by one of those big hailstones. So I got baptized. And of course Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in the sprinkling of the water. They submerge you completely, hold you there for a second, and then bring you back up.
I did that at the age of thirteen, September 7, 1963, in Pasadena, California, at the Rose Bowl. It was a big international assembly. We had 100,000 people. We drove all the way from Lubbock, Texas.
Eventually I started giving bigger talks - ten minutes in front of the congregation. And a circuit servant recommended me to give the hour lectures that are done on Sunday when they invite the general public. They usually reserved those [sermons] for the elders of the congregation.
[In an authoritarian voice:] "Sure he's young. But he can handle it. He's a good Christian boy. He has no vices, and he's obedient to his parents and seems to have pretty good Bible knowledge."
So at the age of sixteen I started giving hour lectures in front of whole congregations. I was assigned first to a group in Sweetwater, Texas, and then, eventually, in Brownfield, Texas, I got my first congregation. At age twenty, I had become what they call a pioneer minister.
Jehovah's Witnesses have a very sophisticated training program, and they also have kind of a quota system. You have to devote ten to twelve hours a month to door-to-door preaching. It's like sales management. IBM has nothing on these guys.
So when I became a pioneer minister, I devoted most of my full time to doing the door-to-door ministry. I had to do like 100 hours a month, and I had to have seven Bible studies. I started lecturing other congregations. I began to get a lot of responsibility, and I was accepted at a school in Brooklyn, New York, a very elite school that Jehovah's Witnesses have for the crème de la crème, the top one percent. But I didn't go.
A few things no longer made sense to me. For example, the quota system. It seemed like every time I wanted to turn a corner and get into another position of responsibility, I had to do these secular material things to prove my godliness. It's like if you meet your quotas this month, God loves you. If you don't meet your quotas next month, God doesn't love you. That didn't make very much sense. One month God loves me and one month He doesn't?
The other thing I started noticing is tunnel vision. Jehovah's Witnesses are the only ones who are going to be saved in God's new order, nobody else, because all of them are practicing false religions. Well, I thought, Mother Teresa's a Catholic. That's our dire enemy. So I said, Wait a minute, Mother Teresa has spent her entire life doing things that Jesus said: take care of the poor, the sick, the orphans. But she's not going to have God's favor because she's a Catholic?
We criticized the Catholic Church because they had a man, a priest, to whom they had to confess. And we'd say, "You shouldn't have to go to a man to confess your sins! Your sin is against God!" And yet we went to a Body of Elders. You confessed your sins to them, and they put you on hold, and said [Elder as telephone operator:] "Hold on just a minute . . . What do you think, Lord? No? . . . Okay, I'm sorry, we tried our best but you're not repentant enough. Your sin is too big, so you either lose your fellowship in the church or you're going to be on probation."
If the sin is against God, shouldn't I directly go to God and beg for mercy?
Probably the nail that hit the coffin was that I noticed that they started reading their Bible less. Jehovah's Witnesses have books for everything that are put out by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society. The only people on the entire planet who know how to interpret Bible Scripture correctly are that group of men, that committee in Brooklyn, who tell Jehovah's Witnesses worldwide how to dress, how to talk, what to say, what not to say, how to apply Scripture and what the future is going to be like. God told them, so they can tell us. I appreciated the books. But if the Bible is the book of knowledge and if it's God's instructions, well, shouldn't we get our answers out of the Bible? Paul himself said find out for yourself what is a true and acceptable word of God. Don't let men tickle your ears.
I started saying, "Don't worry so much about what the Watchtower says - read the Bible for yourself." Ears started to prick up.
[Old Southerner's drawl:] "I think we got us an apostate here, Judge. Yup. I think this old boy's one taco short of something."
Even my father said, "You better watch it, young man, that's the demons talking right there. That's the demons trying to get in and cause division."
I said, "Dad, it's not the demons. People don't need to read so much of these other publications. They can find their answers with prayer and in the Bible."
Spiritually I no longer felt at ease. So in 1979, knowing that I could not make headway, I left, disgruntled and with a bad taste in my mouth, because all my life I had put my soul, my heart, my mind into the church. That was the problem. I didn't put it in God. I put it in a man-made organization.
I can't go to other religions. As a Jehovah's Witness, I had been trained, through the Scriptures, to show that they are all wrong. That idolatry is bad. Trinity doesn't exist.
I'm like a man without a religion. I was not a man without a God. But where could I go?
In 1985, I decided to come to Los Angeles and get on the Johnny Carson show and make my mark as a great comedian and actor. I have always felt like I was born for something. I didn't know whether it was going to be finding the cure to cancer or becoming an actor. I kept praying and it got frustrating after a while.
So I just went to the Catholic church close to my house, and I tried it. I remember on Ash Wednesday I had that ash cross on my forehead. I was trying anything I could. I went for about two or three months, and I just couldn't do it anymore, man. It was:
Stand up. Sit down.
Stand up. Sit down.
Okay, stick your tongue out.
You got a lot of exercise. I think I lost about five pounds. But that's about it. So now I'm more lost than ever.
But it never passed through my mind that there is not a Creator. I have His phone number, but the line's always busy. I'm doing my little movie shots. A film called Deadly Intent. A telephone commercial in Chicago. An Exxon commercial. A couple of bank commercials. In the meantime I'm doing construction work on the side.
We're working on this mall. It's the holiday season, and they put these extra booths in the hallways. There was a gal at one, and we had to pass right in front of her. I'd say, "Good morning, how are you?" If she said anything, it was "Hi." And that was it.
Finally, I said, "Miss, you never say anything. I just wanted to apologize if there was something I said wrong."
She said, "No, you see, I'm a Muslim."
"I'm a Muslim, and Muslim women, we don't talk to men unless we have something specific to talk about; otherwise we don't have anything to do with men."
She said, "Yes, we practice the religion of Islam."
"Islam - how do you spell that?"
At the time, I knew that Muslims were all terrorists. She doesn't even have a beard. How could she possibly be Muslim?
"How did this religion get started?"
"Well, there was a prophet."
I started some research. But I just came from one religion. I had no intention of becoming Muslim.
The holidays are over. The booth moves. She's gone.
I continued to pray, and asked why my prayers weren't being answered. In November of 1991, I was going to bring my uncle Rockie home from the hospital. I started to empty his drawers to pack his stuff and there was a Gideon Bible. I said, God has answered my prayers. This Gideon Bible. (Of course, they put it in every hotel room.) This is a sign from God that He's ready to teach me. So I stole the Bible.
I went home and I started praying: O God, teach me to be a Christian. Don't teach me the Jehovah's Witness way. Don't teach me the Catholic way. Teach me Your way! You would not have made this Bible so hard that ordinary people sincere in prayer could not understand it.
I got all the way through the New Testament. I started the Old Testament. Well, eventually there's a part in the Bible about the prophets.
I said, Wait a minute, that Muslim lady said they had a prophet. How come he's not in here?
I started thinking, Muslims - one billion in the world. Man, one out of every five people on the street theoretically could be a Muslim. And I thought: One billion people! C'mon now, Satan is good. But he's not that good.
So then I said, I'll read their book, the Qur'an, and I'll see what kind of pack of lies this thing is. It probably has an illustration on how to dissemble an AK-47. So I went to an Arabic bookstore.
They asked, "What can I help you with?"
"I'm looking for a Qur'an."
"Okay, we have some over here."
They had some very nice ones - thirty dollars, forty dollars."
"Look, I just want to read it, I don't want to become one, okay?"
"Okay, we have this little five-dollar paperback edition."
I went home, and started reading my Qur'an from the beginning, with Al-Fatihah. And I could not get my eyes off of it.
Hey, look at this. It talks about a Noah in here. We have Noah in our Bible too. Hey, it talks about Lot and Abraham. I can't believe it. I never knew Satan's name was Iblis. Hey, how about that.
When you get that picture on your TV set and it's got a little bit of static and you push that button [klop] - fine tune. That's exactly what happened with the Qur'an.
I went through the whole thing. So I said, Okay, I've done this, now what's the next thing you got to do? Well, you gotta go to their meeting place. I looked in the yellow pages, and I finally found it: Islamic Center of Southern California, on Vermont. I called and they said, "Come on Friday."
Now I really start getting nervous, `cause now I know I'm going to have to confront Habib and his AK-47.
I want people to understand what it's like for an American Christian coming into Islam. I'm kidding about the AK-47, but I don't know if these guys have daggers under their coats, you know. So I come up to the front, and sure enough, there's this six-foot-three, 240-pound brother, beard and everything, and I'm just in awe.
I walked up and said, "Excuse me, sir."
[Arabic accent:] "Go to the back!"
He thought I was already a brother.
I said, "Yessir, yessir" [meekly].
I didn't know what I was going back for, but I went back anyway. They had the tent and the rugs were out. I'm standing there, kind of shy, and people are sitting down listening to the lecture. And people are saying, Go ahead, brother, sit down. And I'm going, No, thanks, no, thanks, I'm just visiting.
So finally the lecture's over. They're all lined up for prayer and they go into sajdah. I was really taken aback.
It started making sense intellectually, in my muscles, in my bones, in my heart and my soul.
So prayers are over. I say, hey, who's going to recognize me? So I start to mingle like I'm one of the brothers, and I'm walking into the mosque and a brother says, "Assalaamu alaikum." And I thought, Did he say "salt and bacon"?
There's another guy who said "salt and bacon" to me.
I didn't know what in the world they were saying, but they all smiled.
Before one of these guys noticed that I was not supposed to be there and took me to the torture chamber, or beheaded me, I wanted to see as much as I could. So eventually I went to the library, and there was a young Egyptian brother; his name was Omar. God sent him to me.
Omar comes up to me, and he says, "Excuse me. This is your first time here?" He has a real strong accent.
And I said, Yeah, it is.
"Oh, very good. You are Muslim?"
"No, I'm just reading a little."
"Oh, you are studying? This is your first visit to a mosque?"
"Come, let me show you around." And he grabs me by the hand, and I'm walking with another man - holding hands. I said, These Muslims are friendly.
So he shows me around.
"First of all, this is our prayer hall, and you take your shoes off right here."
"What are these things?"
"These are little cubicles. That's where you put your shoes."
"Well, because you're approaching the prayer area, and it's very holy. You don't go in there with your shoes on; it's kept real clean."
So he takes me to the men's room.
"And right here, this is where we do wudu."
"Voodoo! I didn't read anything about voodoo!"
"No, not voodoo. Wudu!"
"Okay, because I saw that stuff with the dolls and the pins, and I'm just not ready for that kind of commitment yet."
He says, "No, wudu, that's when we clean ourselves."
"Why do you do that?"
"Well, when you pray to God, you have to be clean, so we wash our hands and feet."
So I learned all these things. He let me go, and said, Come back again.
I went back and asked the librarian for a booklet on prayer, and I went home and practiced. I felt that if I was trying to do it right, God would accept it. I just continued to read and read and visit the mosque.
I had a commitment to go on a tour of the Midwest on a comedy circuit. Well, I took a prayer rug with me. I knew that I was supposed to pray at certain times, but there are certain places where you are not supposed to pray, one of which is in the bathroom. I went into a men's room on a tourist stop and I laid out my carpet and I started doing my prayers.
I came back, and when Ramadan was over, I started getting calls from different parts of the country to go and lecture as a Jehovah's Witness minister who embraced Islam. People find me a novelty.
[Two immigrants converse:]
"This guy like apple pie and he drives a Chevy truck. He is a red-blooded American boy. He was a Jehovah's Witness."
"Those people that come in the morning?"
"That never let us sleep on Sundays?"
"Yeah, this guy was one of them. Now he's one of us."
Eventually somebody would come up to me and say [Pakistani accent], "Oh, brother, your talk was so good. But you know, in the Shafi'i school of thought.."
The only thing I could do was turn to them and say, "Gee, brother, I'm so sorry, I wish I knew about that, but I don't know anything about Islam except what's in the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Some of them are taken aback and say, "Ha-ha! Poor brother. He doesn't know anything. He only knows the Qur'an."
Well, that's what I'm supposed to know. And it's been a very loving protection. I think it's all in Allah's hands."
|05/02/01 at 09:23:35|
|Asalaamu Alaikum ;-)|
[quote]write something funny/silly/wacko.. [/quote]
Ermmm……was this what you had in mind:
Well you did ask ;)
But seriously though, inshaAllah, all the hard work you guys are putting in now will bear fruition in the years ahead.
I wonder if we have any one doing a PhD in the UK. From what I've heard they tend to be a bit of a doss over here.
|Stress Relief for you Guys|
|05/02/01 at 09:40:49|
Picture yourself near a stream.
Birds are chirping in the crisp, cool mountain air.
Nothing can bother you here.
No one knows this secret place.
You are in total seclusion from that place called the "world."
The soothing sound of a gentle waterfall fills the air
with a cascade of serenity... and the water is so clear that
you can easily make out the face of the person
whose head you are holding under the water.
There now.......feeling better?
|05/02/01 at 10:09:44|
Thanks guys..you are all awesome! :)
|05/02/01 at 10:39:36|
OK, this has nothing to do with nothing. (I got the idea from Seinfeld)
but the Milliion dollar question on "Who wants to be a Millionaire" last night was
How many days are there in a non leap year of the Islamic calendar?
The answers were a) 365 b) 354 c)4oo d)376.
The guy could not answer it and he had 2 lifelines left!
I got it right :)
Hope this did............something
even if you just said "what is she talking about" I have succeeded in distracting you from your phD boredom for a moment
|05/02/01 at 12:47:04|
Was this seriously the last question on WWTBAM?
So what was the answer? B?
|05/02/01 at 13:38:08|
|hmm that's what i would say.. is there leap years in a lunar calendar?? doesn't make sense eh|
|05/02/01 at 13:44:52|
|Assalamu alikum Mona|
Yesterday I came home from an awful
MSc exam and I wanted a bus, train to
'accidently' hit me. Allahmdulliah none
did and when I came home my dad told me that I can't assume that I've failed
without finishing my whole course! I need to keep working and doing my best. So
Mona don't give up now or feel downhearted. Just keep going strong, until the
PhD's are hard but imagine all those wonderful letters of the alphabet you'll
have at the end and beginning of your name when you get through it.
There is no way you'd have been accepted to do a PhD if your supervisor
thought you were not capable
enough BUT since you were accepted then YOU CAN DO IT!!
If you are lacking motivation and drive then just remember by finishing this
PhD you will be a role model for all young muslim girls. So remember
you'll be a hero at the end of this!!
Just try your best and things will go from there. Trust in Allah and he will
help you the way he sees best. He rewards people that work hard.
From Panic Attack Sister
p.s. when you're bored don't surf the web go and do some prayers it should calm
|05/02/01 at 14:33:32|
what about this one ;-D
If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
— Albert Einstein
|05/02/01 at 15:51:41|
Was this seriously the last question on WWTBAM?
So what was the answer? B?[/quote]
You got it right also. 354 is the correct answer
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