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Sunday, November 11, 2007

{Quick Reflections 39} Whose Time?!

Posted by Badeea at 9:05 AM
The dimension of “time” is always fascinating to me. Unlike “place” with its three dimensions (length, width and height) which you can always see from inside and outside by changing your position “time” is always accompanying you and moving with you. As a human being you can never see it from outside.
To standardize the position or the place of things and try to find and describe the positional relationship between objects in space man invented the co-ordinate system. As an outsider viewer you can choose a certain spot and determine that it has the x:y:z co-ordinates of 0:0:0 and then relate the position of any object in space around that spot and its exact x:y:z co-ordinates accordingly. These 3 dimensions are independent of the ever mysterious fourth dimension; time.
Man does not know when “time” started and when will it end. Even the use of the term “when” to describe the absolute start or end of time is not correct because before it started and after it ends there will be no “time” to compare to and hence no “when”!! I will elaborate further on this if God wills 6 articles from now when we discuss the issue of “Eternity”.
Due to man’s limited capability of understanding and describing the ever changing time dimension it was more difficult for him to standardize time like he did with space. Hence in the process of standardizing time on Earth man opted to always correlate it to space or place. Accordingly he invented the “Time Zone” system which defines time in relation to your “position” in place on Earth.

Almost a year ago I was involved in a lot of traveling to and fro between East and West in a short period of time using different modalities of transportation including ground and air.
When I thought about it during my travel I found that one’s time of arrival is determined by three factors.

First is the time zone at your destination point. In the USA you are governed by 6 different time zones depending on which part of the country you are in. On the main land in the extreme East, where I currently reside, you lie in the Eastern Time zone which is GMT-5. As you head towards the West you gradually cross time zones starting with Central Time, then Mountain Time and finally Pacific Time on the West Coast which is GMT-8. Off the main land you have Alaska Time Zone which is GMT-9 and finally Hawaii Time Zone which is GMT -10.

The second factor that determines your time of arrival is of course the type of transportation used as it determines the speed by which you reach your destination.

The third factor is even more complicated. It is your direction of travel. Are you heading East or West?
Earth rotates in an anti-clock wise direction relative to the Sun and hence the generation of East and West and Day and Night as we see it and hence East is ahead of West in time. In other words if you choose a point in the middle between East and West and say that it is the “present”, East will be the “past” and West will be the “future”. Accordingly when you head East you are relatively trying to go to the “past” while Earth is always rotating towards the “future” and hence you “lose” time due to your relative adding to the effect of time on yourself. Let me provide and example here. If you are in the San Francisco, Pacific Time Zone (relatively West) and the time now is 3pm it will be concurrently 6pm in New York, Eastern Time Zone (relatively East). If there is a mode of transportation that would move you between these 2 time zones in only one minute and you leave San Francisco at 3pm you will arrive in New York at 6:01 pm. You would have already lost 3 hours in addition to the time it took you to get there (one minute).
On the other hand if you are heading West you are relatively trying to go to the future along with Earth which is always rotating towards the “future” and hence you “gain” time due to your relative canceling of the effect of time on yourself. If you reverse the above example and travel from New York to San Francisco you would gain 2 hours and 59 minutes (3 hours minus the one minute it took you to get there).

Theoretically speaking if you manage to travel around Earth heading West along with Earth, and hence canceling the effect of time on yourself, with the same speed Earth rotates around itself time will not change for you and it will remain constant. However there is a catch here! Even if you travel with the same speed at which Earth rotates around itself you are consuming time to do that so again you are forced to move to the “future” albeit at a slower speed than people sticking to the regular movement of Earth.

Practically we do not travel that fast but we certainly do gain or lose time when we travel by air. For example if you travel from Chicago (Central Time) heading East to Cleveland (Eastern Time) you are losing time. If you take off from Chicago at 9am (concurrently 10 am in Cleveland) and it takes you one hour to get to Cleveland you will reach it at 11am Cleveland time so you would have lost 2 hours (the one hour traveling time in addition to one hour time zone difference).
On the other hand if you take off from Cleveland at 9am and head West to Chicago (where the time is concurrently 8am) and it takes you one hour to get there you will arrive at 9am Chicago time. So you would have gained one hour time zone difference but lost one due to travel time and ended up with a net stationary time.

Now where am I heading with this complicated and confusing time analysis issue?!

When I was a teenager I was told by one of my mentors that shortening and uniting of prayers and aborting fasting during traveling was a merciful lightening of duties from God in the past on travelers due to the hardships of traveling people used to face in the past. In light of the development of relatively very fast and easy air transportation modalities (the second factor mentioned earlier which affects our time of arrival at our destination), there is no need to use that specific “mercy” in our age.
However my dear mentor was mistaken in his analysis. He took into account only the speed of transportation in reaching his conclusion. He forgot about the other 2 important factors; time zones and the direction of traveling with its consequent loss or gain of time issues. According to which time zone will you determine your prayer time or your start or break of fast time? The starting point or the ending point or somewhere in between? What about the lost or gained time? How will you account for that in your calculations? Certainly it is a very controversial issue that would cause a lot of havoc and debate amongst people.
Accordingly God’s merciful and wise lightening of worshiping duties, prayers and fasting, during travel also applies to our time in spite of all advancement in transportation modalities to avoid unnecessary confusion or argument that could arise due to the above mentioned new two factors that were not present in the past; time zones and gain or loss of time when traveling fast enough.

Correction: I received the following comment about when time stops absolutely, rather than relatively, "by the way time would only stop when u are equal in speed to light and then mass becomes infinite if that was applicable. i am physically speaking. read one two three infinity. it is a nice book"

1 comments on "{Quick Reflections 39} Whose Time?!"

Beth on November 22, 2007 at 12:58 AM said...

Now try explaining time to a toddler. Right now in my son's world everything past is "yesterday." Recently we were sharing a meal with some friends and he proudly declared, "We had this yesterday!" I hadn't made that meal for weeks.

I can't get his mind to wrap around the concept of yesterday as just one day. But I'm not really pushing it because I enjoy this stage of life.

He has also begun to ask, "What time is it?" He gets frustrated when I answer with things like "lunch time" and "time for pappa to come home." He wants the actual time of day. I wonder what it means to him.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by my little blog and for your kind words. I feel somewhat honoured that my humour was so well-received by the one who penned the deep thoughts contained in your posts!

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"Do they not then meditate on the Qur'an? And if it were from any other than God, they would have found in it many a discrepancy" (Qur'an, 4:82)

2009 THEME: Islam in the West and Our Children (Discussion & Resources regularly updated)

There is increasing concern that second and third generation Muslims in the West are mostly no longer Muslims so they actually end up adding to the Christian or Atheist population of the West, albeit racially from a non-Western origin. Accordingly, the ratios mentioned in the video ( would be correct in regards to race or ethnicity but not necessarily to religion.

It is a grave danger facing our children and grand children from a real life stand point as statistically only 1/5 of the second generation stay really Muslims when they grow up and are independent and almost non from the third generation are Muslims. And that is why the Western authorities are still permitting the immigration of Muslims inspite of the figures provided in the above video. They know that on the long term the descendants of Muslims in the West leave Islam because their parents raised them up with an Eastern mentality in a Western society instead of an Islamic mentality that encompasses all cultures.

You can see more about that by Jeffrey Lang; an ex-atheist American Mathematics University Professor who reverted to Islam in 1982. He has also written 3 books that I highly recommend; "Struggling to Surrender", "Even Angels Ask" and "Losing my Religion; A Call for Help".
Now I will leave you to enjoy 2 short excerpts from one of his lectures followed by links to his most important full presentation regarding our children.

Here is a solution that is yet to be implemented.

Raising children here is not an easy task ofcourse but if we do it the right way they will be true Muslims in shaa Allaah who are "Informed Muslims" rather than "Muslims by inheritance" like their counterparts in the East. Hopefully they will then be a much better generation than ours.

Quickly, I do believe that the best 4 authors (for example, there are many others but these are my favorite) who could guide us through this difficult process are Yahiya Emerick, Jeffrey Lang, Jamal Badawi and Dalia Mogahed.

Here are some links for future reference and for an ongoing learning process that I have started collecting slowly.
Please spread the below information to all your Muslim contacts in the West.

Jeffrey Lang: I highly recommend the lecture titled "The Purpose of Life". It has true meanings that I have not come across in any Arabic literature.

Yahiya Emerick:
Articles: I highly recommend reading and spreading the last article in this link by the name of "The Confusion of the Scholars"
Books: There are only 14 books, about half for adults and the other half for kids. The extra are just repetitions.

Jamal Badawi:
Many products including books, articles and lectures mostly for adults. You can find them by searching his name online. My favorite is;

Dalia Mogahed: (Obama's adviser)
Has one book so far but has a great potential. "Who Speaks for Islam".
You can watch her debate with Irshad Manji (an openly Lesbian Canadian Muslim who is distorting the picture of Islam in the name of "Progressive Islam")

Finally here is a website for a store that sells lots of Islamic products including Islamic cartoon DVDs in English and Arabic for kids.

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