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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|02/05/04 at 06:17:43|
|Asalaamu Alaikum |
A bit of light relief from something I came across recently:
Imagine you were homeless and living rough with no money, food etc and a man approaches you and says that he will give you either a dollar today or a million dollars tomorrow.
What would your answer be?
More importantly, *why* would you answer in your particular way?
If you canít come to a decision what more information would you like to know about the scenario before you made up your mind?
Thoughts / Suggestions / Questions all welcome but no mathematical formulae or discounting theories will be allowed!! ;)
|02/05/04 at 12:09:57|
[quote]no mathematical formulae or discounting theories will be allowed!! [/quote]
My question is, is "tomorrow" the proverbial "tomorrow"...kind of like the way Muslims freely use the words "insha Allah", or is it the actual tomorrow?
And am I starving, starving, like those Ethiopians we see on TV (may Allah help them)?
What kind of welfare system is in place in the country I live in? †Are there any soup kitchens around the corner? :P
How many people are in my family? †Am I male or female?
I think I'd go for the million if it was TOMORROW, and I'm not starving starving and I live in Toronto on John and Queen (soup kitchen), if I'm not the head of the family, and if I'm female.
Okay this is an addendum, an after-thought: a dollar can't get you anything anyway. In CanaDUH we can't even buy a pack of gum with a dollar anymore...even if it was an American dollar, that wouldn't help because the Canadian dollar is doing pretty well -- actually I made 1.3133 on it the other day, I'm so proud of myself. CAD $ 1.31 could get me a pack of gum, but that wouldn't fill my stomach, and the remaining CAD $ 0.16 would really get me nothing. Also, begging for a dollar, is not that hard. If you ask for a penny everytime someone walks out of a Tim Hortons, 100 people later, you'd have a dollar anyway....AND maybe the owner would take pity on you and get you some coffee. So perhaps you should up the stake by making the dollar something more valuable. I hate to break it to you, but I can tell you haven't taken any courses in economics. My 'reservation price' is wayyyyyyyyyyyy above the dollar.
|02/05/04 at 12:18:04|
|02/05/04 at 16:39:08|
|wlm, interesting questions bro.. u are the king of hypotheticals.. i think you shoulda became a philosophy professor :)|
they did a study once where they asked kids the same question.. would you like one cookie now or 5 cookies later.. and they found those that waited ended up more successful in life!! they were able to wait and plan delay their gratification. perhaps that's what islam teaches us.
|02/05/04 at 16:53:19|
[quote]perhaps that's what islam teaches us. [/quote]
Indeed. Dunya today, or Jannah for eternity thereafter.
[i]"The best use of life is to spend it on something that will out last it"[/i]
PS- Jannah.. you seem to be getting lots of slack for the color changes. Just wanted to say that I love it †:)
|02/05/04 at 16:57:21|
|02/06/04 at 02:31:06|
|I may be completely not answering bro Khalid's question but here is what transpired between two men in the Mogadishu (Somalia) Theatre way back before Siad Barre was outsted:|
These two guys were walking on the street and suddently one says: If Allah dropped a bag of 100 million shillings right now infront of us, what will you do?
Second man: Will divide it equally among the two of us and we will be rich.
First man: Okay, let me calculate how much each one us will get. Then he does his calculation and gives the other man the result.
Second man: Why are you getting more than me?
First man: Because I am the one who did all the work, calculating how much each one of us gets. I used my brain and that is why I have to get more.
Second man: No WAY! And they start to fight.
A man passing by sees them fighting and comes to stop them. He asks why they are fighting. They tell him. He looks at them both them and starts laughing. He laughed so hard that it annoyed both of them. So, they turn on him and ask him what is soo funny about their situation. He tells them: I have never seen men fighting over such a stupid thing. You guys do not even have money are you already fighting over it! You stupid fellas are fighing over IF!!! The two men look at each other bust out laughing too.
[quote]Imagine you were homeless and living rough with no money, food etc and a man approaches you and says that he will give you either a dollar today or a million dollars tomorrow.
What would your answer be?[/quote]
My first reaction would be, why say I will give you a dollar? Why not just give me since you can see that I need it?
As for the million dollars tomorrow, tomorrow never comes! And a desperate person knows that better than anybody else.
[quote]More importantly, *why* would you answer in your particular way?[/quote]
It is human nature to respond. More often than not, a person in need does not have pride. Pride is a luxury for such a person.
|02/06/04 at 06:14:49|
Okay some further clarification to help a bit:
[quote]My question is, is "tomorrow" the proverbial "tomorrow"...kind of like the way Muslims freely use the words "insha Allah", or is it the actual tomorrow? [/quote]
For the purposes of this scenario weíll say actual tomorrow
[quote]And am I starving, starving, like those Ethiopians we see on TV (may Allah help them[/quote]
Youíre hungry yes but not starving
[quote]What kind of welfare system is in place in the country I live in? Are there any soup kitchens around the corner?[/quote]
Reasonable and there are a few
[quote]How many people are in my family? Am I male or female[/quote]
So given the above would you still take the money tomorrow?
And for sake of argument is there anyone who could make a convincing case for taking the money today given the above scenario. [Feel free to make further assumptions if you need to]
[quote]interesting questions bro.. u are the king of hypotheticals.. i think you shoulda became a philosophy professor[/quote]
Thatís what reading too much Ghazali does for you!!
Be warned ;D
|02/06/04 at 07:56:41|
Sounds like a classic analogy to aakhirah to me. I see similar themes: the rewards, patience, greed, contentment, entity with power to give, belief in the promise, etc.
|02/06/04 at 07:57:34|
|02/10/04 at 07:03:06|
Jazakallah for the input guys.
As ever with these type of things, Iím not sure there is ever a particular right answer so getting other peopleís opinions is always good and insightful.
I was hoping Br SuperFob was going to elaborate on his answer but it appears heís content to keep it short and sweet.
Sr Halima your story reminded me of something else but more of that later.
Okay so hereís my take on this:
A guy comes up to me and says a dollar today or a million tomorrow. Initially it seems like a bit of a no brainer.
Whatís more interesting to me is why would anyone *not* go for the million tomorrow?
Is there any possible reason you would prefer a dollar today?
Well here are some reasons why you may want a dollar today:
1. Youíre unsure if youíre actually going to live tomorrow
2. You donít think heís actually got the money, hence this is some kind of game heís playing with you.
3. Even if you do think heís got the money, you donít trust that heíll give you the money.
Iím sure there are others out there as well but the importance of the above is that a person makes *implicit assumptions* when making a choice whether they actually realise it or not.
Specifically if you decide to take the million, you implicitly assume that:
1. There will be a tomorrow and you are going to be around to see it.
2. Youíre confident that the man is telling you the truth
3. Youíre confident that the man has the means to give you this money and that itís not just an extravagant boast.
If, for any reason, you knew *for sure* that one of the assumptions above was wrong, you would obviously go for the dollar now.
The question then leads to how can the man know *for sure*?
[To Be Continued]
|02/10/04 at 09:11:25|
I don't know about your reasoning. I mean it would make sense, except, like I said, a dollar is worth almost nothing to me. So, even if he doesn't have the million, it's worth a shot...the probability of getting the money (low as it is), is much more satisfying than the dollar (which can't buy me anything).
I don't have faith in the guy, but let me bring the math into it. Let's say the probability of him giving me the million is 0.0001% (which is a VERY low probability), but then the expected value of this gamble (because let's admit it, that's what it really is...hence it's haraam...hence let's forget about it altogether.)
E(X) = 0.000001 (1,000,000) + 0.999999 (0) = 1 will yield the SAME result of him giving the money to me right away. If the probability is any lower, then I don't get squat, but it doesn't matter anyway, because the dollar isn't worth anything to me anyway, so this whole math exercise was pointless.
But, if the probability is ANY higher...your expected return goes up significantly, and the probability of doing better is worth more than the dollar today.
|02/10/04 at 12:00:36|
|If, for any reason, you knew *for sure* that one of the assumptions above was wrong, you would obviously go for the dollar now.|
The question then leads to how can the man know *for sure*?
[To Be Continued]
Well in the absence of being able to create a time machine to see what will happen in the future, he can [u]never[/u] know *for sure*.
Hence as Br SuperFob says he has to either believe or disbelieve in the promise made to him.
Okay letís now change the scenario a bit and factor in some of Sr JustOneís math.
Imagine that the man tells you upon your questioning that he doesnít actually have the million but he knows the Ďpersoní that does and gives you a letter from this Ďpersoní explaining where the million is located.
After rolling your eyes a bit, you ask him whether heís actually ever met this Ďpersoní and he says he hasnít but he himself heard this from *another* Ďpersoní!!!
So now in order to go for the million tomorrow we have to implicitly assume *all* of the following:
1. Youíre confident this millionaire Ďpersoní exists.
2. Youíre confident this Ďother personí exists and is truthful
3. Youíre confident that the original man is telling you the truth
4. Youíre confident that this letter from the original man is genuine and the Ďpersoní has the money.
5. Youíre confident there will be a tomorrow and youíre going to be around to see it.
I can see Sr JustOneís probability reducing as we type!!
[color=Red]It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said:
Ask me (about matters pertaining to religion), but they (the Companions of the Holy Prophet) were too much overawed out of profound respect for him to ask him (anything).
In the meanwhile a man came there, and sat near his knees and said:
Messenger of Allah, what al-lslam is? -to which he (the Holy Prophet) replied:
You must not associate anything with Allah, and establish prayer, pay the poor-rate (Zakat) and observe (the fasts) of Ramadan.
He said: You (have) told the truth.
He (again) said: Messenger of Allah, what al-Iman (the faith) is?
He (the Holy Prophet) said:
That you affirm your faith in Allah, [The ĎPersoní]
His angels, [The ĎOther Personí]
His Books, [The Letter]
His meeting, [The Tomorrow]
His Apostles, [The Original Man]
and that you believe in Resurrection and that you believe in Qadr (Divine Decree) in all its entirety,
He (the inquirer) said: You (have) told the truth.
Hence the scenario ultimately becomes a question of Faith or Belief [Iman]
The assumptions one makes in the scenario are merely articles of this faith as defined in the above famous hadith.
Many analogies can be made from the above scenario. Here are just a few:
The first is that of a non Muslim, who, in the absence of faith, leaves the million and prefers the dollar today.
[Sr JustOne Ė I think a small amount is used in this scenario to reflect the valueless of this world [dunya] in comparison to the hereafter. Itís there to demonstrate that some would rather go after something small and insignificant in comparison to a much greater reward. Otherwise I would agree with your reservation price being higher.]
But why would a non Muslim do this when as Sr JustOne says:
[quote]probability of doing better is worth more than the dollar today[/quote]
Hence in the scenario you could imagine the man not actually believing in the million but playing safe, he declines the dollar in the hope that he might get the million tomorrow.
However, there is one last part of the scenario which the man has forgotten to tell you, namely that in order to get the million tomorrow you must observe good actions for the rest of today.
Allah says in many places of the Quran:
[color=Red][i]Those who have faith [u]and[/u] do righteous deeds,- they are the best of creatures.
Their reward is with God: Gardens of Eternity, beneath which rivers flow; they will dwell therein for ever; God well pleased with them, and they with Him: all this for such as fear their Lord and Cherisher [98:7-8][/color][/i]
Hence belief in the assumptions is insufficient. Not only does the man have to believe he will get his million tomorrow but he has to obey the commands he has been given and do righteous actions in the period of time he has to wait for his reward.
And thatís where the problem lies for the non Muslim, for declaring something with the tongue is easy but actually practicing on what you believe is the harder part.
But the scenario is a useful analogy for us as Muslims too.
Although we believe in the assumptions and have faith, we seem to have difficulty with the requirement to act in accordance with Allahís will.
Indeed far from rejecting the dollar [dunya] which and concentrating on the million [hereafter] we seem to be obsessed with getting the dollar and satisfying our desires in this world.
And thatís exactly what I was reminded of upon reading Sr Halimaís post about the two men fighting over some imaginary wealth.
As has been mentioned by people above, it appears we have lost our notion of patience and perseverance.
Okay enough from me.
Iím sure there are many more things that you could add to the basic premise to highlight a particular point.
|02/10/04 at 17:01:43|
i would ignore the man. a dollar or a million; both do not offer any real help. both are extremes. but if the dollar is duniya and the million is akhirah; then i pray that God would give me the toufeeq to recognise it and choose Him.
|02/10/04 at 19:00:05|
i should have known :)
to those who have read Shafiqur-Rehman, the following will be familiar:
Shataan (nickname of the author's friend) was asked to teach two small kids, who just won't
He finally tempts them with toffees, and says:
"Look, i have these five poffees in my palm, come and each of you get two toffees, but first tell me how many will i have left?"
The kids advance, the the smaller one hesitates, and tells the elder one:
"Be careful, he could be trying to teach us"
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