Archive for August, 2012

Dirac’s visual representation of electron spin

August 27, 2012

Bismillah. Received from Sabbir Rahman:

Assalamu `alaikum,

I just came across this superb YouTube video which beautifully demonstrates Dirac’s ‘visual metaphor’ for the spin of the electron (note that being a spin-half particle, the electron has to rotate through 720 degrees before it returns to its original position):

Some of you may recall that in my own model, electrons are described as rapidly rotating (Kerr) black holes, the singularity of which, when ‘blown up’, has the topology of a “double torus” (where ‘torus’=surface of a doughnut). In particular, the electron is formed from the rotating gravitational collapse of neutrinos, which become trapped in bounded orbits wrapping around the toroidal singularity.

Now these orbits wrap around the torus once in each rotation, but the curious thing is that each time an orbit crosses the inside of the ring (which occurs once in each revolution), the direction of time for the neutrino flips sign (from the perspective of an external observer, that is – the neutrino itself would be blissfully unaware of this). Thus, after completing two orbits of the electron’s ring singularity, each bounded neutrino returns to its original position both in space _and_ time, having spent half of the time travelling forwards in time and half of the time travelling backwards in time!

If you watch from 1:13 minutes into the YouTube video, where the dancer is rotating a cube in her hand, you can see a very precise analogy of what this neutrino motion looks like – imagine that every time the dancer’s arm is above her elbow that time is passing in the forward direction, and every time her arm is below the elbow that time us passing in the negative direction. I would even recommend that you try doing this yourself, to get a good feel for how this works – and perhaps get an idea of why, if indeed elementary particles like electrons, quarks and neutrinos, are indeed topological objects, they must be spinorial. If they had integer spin, then spacetime would get into a horribly tangle mess every time once of these elementary particles rotated.

From 2:02 minutes into the video, you can see how this works – although the electron seems to tangle up space horifically after the first 360 degree rotation, it miraculously untangles space again after a further 360 degree rotation – both mind-boggling and beautiful, I hope you will agree!

Best wishes,


Is settler violence terrorism?

August 22, 2012

Bismillah. An important development:

Brookings scholar Natan Sachs and Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman held a media conference call today, August 22, on the arrest of seven Israeli settlers for reportedly attempting to lynch several Palestinian youths, and the State Department’s designation of settler violence as terrorism.

In the September/October issue of “Foreign Affairs,” Sachs and Daniel Byman, who is also at Brookings, write that confronting settler terrorism is a “clear moral and political imperative” for the Israeli government and that not doing so could imperil any hope of peace with the Palestinians.

“Whenever extremist settlers destroy Palestinian property or deface a mosque, they strengthen Palestinian radicals at the expense of moderates, undermining support for an agreement and delaying a possible accord. Meanwhile, each time Israeli leaders cave in to the demands of radical settlers, it vindicates their tactics and encourages ever more brazen behavior, deepening the government’s paralysis. In other words, Israeli violence in the West Bank both undermines the ability of Israel to implement a potential deal with the Palestinians and raises questions about whether it can enforce its own laws at home.”

When is Eid al-Fitr? 1433 / 2012

August 15, 2012

Bismillah.  *Sunday 19th August 2012 is a sensible date for Eid al-Fitr 1433 for the whole world.*

Please refer to the Moonwatch data (, that shows:

Friday 17/8: Conjunction and astronomical new moon around 15.54 UT (GMT) – no crescent moon is visible anywhere on earth that night, except possibly in the Southern Pacific, very close to the solar date-line.

Saturday 18/8: The crescent moon is visible throughout the Southern Hemisphere, plus a few places north of the Equator, but not in Asia, the Middle East, North Africa or Europe.

Sunday 19/8: The crescent moon is easily visible throughout the whole world, including the UK.


Sunday 19th August 2012 is a sensible date for Eid al-Fitr 1433 for the whole world: there is expected to be a high degree of agreement on this, as has happened in previous years.  (Those who began Ramadan on Fri/Sat 20/21 July will complete 30/29 days of fasting and celebrate Eid together.)

For those following local sightings, Monday 20th August 2012 would be Eid al-Fitr 1433 in the UK.

May Allah bless us all during the remainder of Ramadan and on the glorious day of Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast).

Dr. Usama Hasan,

Senior Researcher in Islamic Studies at Quilliam & Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

15th August 2012 / 26th Ramadan 1433

About the Ramadan start date this year 1433/2012

August 15, 2012

Bismillah.  This is what happened:

Saudi claimed to have seen the moon on Thursday 19/7 and began Ramadan on Friday 20/7; many other countries followed suit.  However, we know definitely that such a sighting was impossible, for at least two reasons:

(i) from precise astronomical calculations ( )

(ii) had it been genuine, there would have been an easier sighting from the Southern US and Central America on the same date, which there wasn’t.  Refer to Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwa on moonsighting (elsewhere on this blog), as well as Sheikh Afif al-Akiti’s detailed treatise on the subject.

However, the ECFR ( ) had already announced that Ramadan would begin on Friday 20/7, due to the expected visibility of the crescent moon from South America on 19/7.  The ECFR mentioned Santiago (Chile) in its declaration.  Note that the ECFR’s declaration implied that they agreed that moonsighting was impossible in Saudi on that date, but ruled that the Chile sighting was enough for the whole world, even if it occurred many hours after local sunset elsewhere: e.g. the ECFR method required Australia to begin Ramadan on 20/7, even though they are about 12 hours ahead of Chile. 

Note also that this ECFR method is consistent, and is a possible approach to determining Arabian/Islamic lunar dates worldwide, using the solar date-line as an effective lunar date-line.  If people agree to use this method, it is a possible solution to the moonsighting problem, although we will need to check that it gives a reasonable pattern of 29/30-day months.

Amongst Sunni Muslims, there were three start dates:

(i) Friday 20/7 – those following the impossible Saudi sighting or the plausible ECFR method

(ii) Saturday 21/7 – those following the easier sightings around most of the world on the next day

(iii) Sunday 22/7 – for northern latitudes such as the UK, those following a local sighting.

Amongst Shia Muslims, the same three start dates were observed, based on people following the fatwa of their authority (marja’), whether Fadlallah, Khoei or Sistani respectively.

Eat, Fast and Live Longer – BBC Horizon programme

August 10, 2012

Bismillah. Received from Farrukh Younus, with thanks.


Wow! Just watched the Horizon episode entitled ‘Eat, Fast and Live Longer’ where the presenter underwent different types of fasting. Some highlights:

After a 4-day fast, with just water and a cup-a-soup a day, while huge benefits to his health were observed, he opined, “The biggest problem with prolonged fasting is me … Despite knowing all the wonderful benefits, I just can’t bring myself to do it.”

Regarding alternate-day fasting with just one meal at lunch time on the fast day. “As long as you stick to your calorie goals on the fast day you can eat whatever you want on the feed days.”

On the effect on the brain, “Sporadic bouts of hunger trigger new neurones to grow … Fasting stresses your brain matter the way exercise stresses your muscles … Hunger makes you sharper.”

After 5 weeks, on a ‘5 days normal eating and 2 day fasting diet’ he lost a stone in weight and his body fat gell from 27% to below 20%.

IGF-1 is a major risk factor for various types of cancers. Both the 3.5-day fasting and 5 week fasting dropped his IGF-1 by 50%! And his blood sugar levels dropped to 90 (normal).

For those in the UK, I strongly encourage watching the show on the BBC iPlayer: it’s a long one hour but very informative:

And briefly, in Islam, a continuous fast is actually prohibited. However, along with Ramadan, it is recommended to fast any 3 days each month [or 2 days per week, usually Monday and Thursday – U.H.]. While the fasting in the show above include drinking water throughout and eating a single main meal on the fasting days, I can’t help but see a parallel in the advice.

Finally, what struck me in the earlier part of the show was a comment made: that people in poor countries die from a lack of food while people in richer countries die from too much food. May we all find a better balance of food consumption both for improved health as well as continued enjoyment, amen.

Islamic teachings about looking after orphans

August 5, 2012

Bismillah. These also apply to orphans who are fostered or adopted, of course. This is written in the hope that it will be of benefit to individuals, charities and other agencies that help orphans.

One of the inspirations to do this was recently meeting an elderly Somali-Yemeni woman in London who is fostering two Afghani orphans with the help of the UK welfare state.


Did He not find you orphaned, and give you shelter? … So as for the orphan, do not oppress! (Qur’an 93: 6 & 9)

Piety is not to face east or west in prayer, but piety is to have faith in God … and to spend of your wealth, out of love for God and despite your love of wealth, on relatives, orphans, the needy and others … (Qur’an 2:177)

The righteous, they give food, out of love for God and despite their love of food, to the needy, the orphan and the prisoner. (Qur’an 76:8)

The following are sound (sahih) traditions, except where indicated, recorded in Imam Bukhari’s al-Adab al-Mufrad, nos. 131-140, in chapters about orphans.

“One who strives on behalf of the widow and the needy is like the one who fights in the path of God, or fasts by day and stands in prayer by night.” – The Prophet, peace be upon him. [1]

“Whoever is tested with young daughters [including orphans] and shows kindness to them: they will be a barrier between him or her and the Fire.” – The Prophet, peace be upon him. [1]

“I and the one who takes care of an orphan will be like these two in the Garden.” – The Prophet, peace be upon him, indicating with his forefinger and middle finger. [2]

Abdullah, son of Omar, Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), would not eat without one or more orphans sharing his meal.

An orphan used to eat at mealtimes with Abdullah, son of Omar, Companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Once, he arrived late and the food had all been eaten, so Abdullah brought him some porridge with honey. [3]

“The best of homes are those where an orphan is shown kindness. The worst of homes are those where an orphan is shown cruelty.” – attributed to The Prophet, peace be upon him. [4]

“Be to an orphan like a merciful father or mother.” – Dawud [5]

A man asked Ibn Sirin [5], “How should I treat an orphan under my care?” He replied, “Exactly as you treat your own child.”


[1] Also in Sahih al-Bukhari & Sahih Muslim.

[2] Also in Sahih al-Bukhari.

[3] Narration weak; meaning sound.

[4] Narration weak; meaning sound. Also in Sunan Ibn Majah.

[5] A disciple of the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).