Friday, June 29, 2012

Making the most out of our short lives

Last Saturday (24th of June), we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture from a da’i from Indonesia. Ustad Dwi Condro gave a short lecture as a warming up for Ramadhan (the month of fasting for Muslims) at Kyoto Muslim Association’s As-salam prayer hall. Around 30 brothers and 20 sisters from all over Kansai attended the lecture. Some came from Osaka, Nara, and of course from Kyoto.

The lecture began right after lunch (around 13.00), where ustad Dwi Condro opened with a slide showing a question that many Muslims need to think upon, “with our limited life span, how do we get good deeds as much as possible, which will not be cut off even when we die?”

He said that the answer could be seen in surah Yasin ayah number 12. God tells us:
“Verily, We give life to the dead, and We record that which they send before (them), and their traces and all other good and evil they did, and that which they leave behind, and all things We have recorded with numbers (as a record) in a Clear Book.”

The key in the ayah is the word “traces”. Other people can continue the traces of goodness that we do, and we receive the rewards of those good deeds. For example, if we teach beneficial knowledge to people, and the people use that knowledge, even after we die, we will receive the rewards as long as the people continue to benefit from the knowledge that we taught them. It goes the same with sins.

The Prophet PBUH said, “Whosoever calls (others) to guidance will have a reward like the rewards of those who follow him, without that detracting from their rewards in the slightest. And whosoever calls (others) to misguidance will bear a burden of sin like the sins of those who follow him, without that detracting from their sins in the slightest.”

Calling guidance doesn’t have to be by giving lectures on Islam. Simple things that are taught by the Prophet PBUH can also be a form of guidance for other people. So imagine the rewards that our predecessors have, the ones that taught Islam and guidance to us. Take a look at the great companions, the great Imams of Islamic law, and finally the Prophet PBUH. They all get our rewards when we follow them.

However, no matter how great those people were, they were human beings like us. And thus, we also have the opportunity to become great like them. We can also teach and call people towards guidance. But how can we do this? In the Quran, Allah SWT tells us that the companions were the best generation that was raised. Their key characteristic was that they called towards good and forbid the bad (amar ma'ruf nahi munkar), while having firm belief in God. So in order to reach their status, we should also do the same.

The greatest act of “amar ma'ruf nahi munkar” is to conduct it to corrupt leaders. The leader’s actions will affect the people below him. If the leader upholds rules that are contradictory towards the religion, the people will also be in sin. This is especially true in many countries in which the majority of the populations are Muslims.

One simple example is usury / interest (riba). It is clearly mentioned in the Quran and hadith that it is forbidden at any cost, that the ones who commit it will receive severe punishment. The Prophet said that one of signs of the final day is when most of his followers will be involved in usury, those who do not get involved will be affected by its dust. One dirham taken from usury is equal to the sin of committing adultery 36 times. In usury there are 99 doors of sins. The proof is already shown, where we have a global economy collapse.

In Indonesia, the key to forbid usury is in the policy makers / leaders. If the leaders can be firm to make regulations to ban usury, then the people, whether willingly or not will have to follow. So if we can do amar ma'ruf nahi munkar to the leaders successfully, we might help all of the people. The Prophet PBUH said that the best shuhada (martyr) is his uncle, Hamza RA, and the people who come to an unjust ruler to give advice to him, and is killed because of it.

There are only two choices: Do amar ma'ruf nahi munkar, or get punishment from God and get our prayers rejected by Him. So we should at least make firm intention to do it, because even only by intention we get rewards.

Finally, Ustad Dwi Condro concluded that if the rulers have agreed to conduct shariah law, we should all come to an agreement that the country formed shall be called a Khilafah. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

First impressions on my new Macbook air 11.6 inch 2012

As I have said in one of my previous posts I am in the process of migrating from a windows PC to a mac computer. Although the ride isn’t as smooth as I want in to be, the overall experience has been a good one. Here I am going to list some of the things that I like (and don’t like) from my macbook air experience. I’m no techie by any means, so I’m probably going to give somewhat na├»ve insights, which I still hope can be beneficial nonetheless.

the 11 inch macbook air

Quick delivery
I bought the 11 inch macbook air from the online apple store here in Japan. I customized it to the 2.0 GHz intel i7 processor and 8GB of RAM. While the base models are available immediately, the customized ones need 3 to 4 business days for delivery. It turns out that my customized macbook was shipped from China, and it took exactly 4 days for the macbook to reach me. So the delivery was on time. Although being on time is not extra ordinary here in Japan (because it is the norm of the society, and one thing that I love about Japanese), having to deliver it from China, and still got it on time was good work from apple.

Design and looks
After unboxing it, the first thing that pleased me with the mac was obviously the weight; build quality, and the design of the computer (even the package was good looking). I think nobody can deny that apple makes beautiful gadgets, and the macbook air is among the best that they have designed. Another thing that I immediately noticed after short use was how nice the screen was. I am coming from a 15.4-inch ASUS laptop (K53T). And frankly, the ASUS’ screen could not compete against the macbook air’s. The quality difference is that obvious, well for me anyway. The macbook air’s screen, even though smaller, is brighter, and has more contrast and clarity.

The iLife bundle
I had some videos that I have wanted to edit for a long time. But the only software I had was windows moviemaker, which I didn’t like that much. In addition of only having Japanese interface (because I have a Japanese OS), there weren’t that many options, and the menu was mediocre at best, and thus the procrastination. After spending some time with iMovie, I have to admit that the iLife bundle is one of the good selling points of mac computer. The software was pleasant to use, intuitive, and I got results in no time.

Mac OS and the track pad
Mac OS is a wonder to use. Of course I can get everything done even with my windows PC. But using the Mac OS is really refreshing. I have been using windows for over one decade, had a couple of stints with PClinuxOS and openSUSE in the past, and I have to say that the looks and feel of Lion betters them all. I especially like how it utilizes the track pad. Scrolling, moving between programs, moving between desktops, have never been as nice. On Lion, I surprisingly prefer the track pad to my USB mouse.

Another plus is the ease of changing the language interface. While on windows we need to get the most expensive version (ultimate) to get this feature, on the mac, it’s readily available. This is especially useful for people who are staying abroad. In Japan, all new computers are installed with the Japanese version of the OS, and to get a non Japanese OS usually comes with a premium. The universality of Mac OS solves this problem, as you can change the interface into many languages (of course this goes the same with Linux).

Built for speed
Well, maybe all reviewers say this, but I have just got to say it again. The macbook air is blazing fast. From powering it up to being able to use the OS takes below 15 seconds. It’s a nice change from having to wait 1 minute for my windows 7 to boot up on my ASUS laptop. Reviewers say that this is due to the flash storage. The i7 processor and 8 gigabytes of RAM probably also play a role. With this setup, even though I run windows 7 32 bits through parallels, I barely get any hiccups.

There are perhaps other things that I like about the macbook air, but the above are the only ones that I can think of for the time being. However, despite the positives, I also experienced some negatives, which I will share next.

Let’s face it, macs are expensive. This is one of the main reasons why I’ve been holding back in buying one up until now. And I’m sure that there are many people who have the same argument for not jumping on the apple bandwagon. I have to admit, it was a tough decision for me in the beginning. I first got my hands on a macbook air when I got to toy around with my dad’s. I liked it so much, but was turned off by the price.

Then came apple’s WWDC in the beginning of this month, which introduced a strong line up of new macbooks. When I saw that the 11 inch got an update with a stronger CPU and more memory, with narrow price margins with last years version, I began to think about buying it. But one thing that really helped me with my decision was apple’s commitment to the environment and social responsibility, as you can see here, which is contrary to their biggest rival, Microsoft. Well, it might as well be a marketing tactic, but at least they are doing something. That really gave me the courage to go the apple way.

Connectivity problems
There were some problems when I tried to use connectivity features of the macbook. The first problem I encountered was when I wanted to use my PC’s disc drive to install windows on my macbook via remote drive (through the network). I followed everything according to the instructions, but wasn’t able to get it to work. I finally found a way around the problem, which was to download an ISO image of my version of windows from the Internet, and use it for installation in parallels (a virtualization software to run other operating systems on a mac). So some things “just didn’t work” for me, contrary to the advertisements.

Another connectivity issue that I encountered was when I wanted to share files with my windows PC. Again, I followed all the instructions, but couldn’t get it to work at that time. I finally was able to get it working when I used another network that I set up. So perhaps, there was a problem with the network. And maybe if I had used the working network when I tried using remote drive, I would not have experienced any trouble. But nevertheless, for my case anyway, it didn’t just work, and I had to work it out to get things running.

Available freeware
I mentioned that I installed windows 7 in my Mac OS through virtualization. This is because I wasn’t able to find the equivalent freeware that I use on my PC. I often use programs called bioedit and, which are important for my work. There are other alternatives for, but there are no alternatives whatsoever for bioedit. I also need a program that can draw chemical structures, which are also not available as freeware on the Mac. I got iLife for free, but lost access to the many freeware that are available only on windows. Installing windows on the Mac partially solved the problem.

Not a lot in the box
Another thing that disappointed me was the lack of accessories that apple included in the box. For something this expensive, I was hoping that apple would put in more. The macbook air has only USB ports and a thunderbolt port. It would’ve been nice if apple provided HDMI and VGA adapters to connect to an external monitor. Or perhaps throw in a small protective bag (maybe this is asking too much). But anyway, the lack of accessories in the box is somewhat a disappointment when I got my macbook.

Ultra small texts for the toolbar menus
Another thing that I disliked but am beginning to get used to is the size of the fonts in the toolbar. Because of the high resolution and small screen, the texts are ultra small and difficult to read at first. Thank God, my eyes can still adjust, but it would have been nice if the OS had the option to change the size of the fonts in the interface (like the option available in windows). The only way to change the size of the fonts is to change the resolution, which I would prefer not to do.

Mediocre battery life
Battery life is mediocre at best. I probably could only get around 3 hours with maximum screen brightness, Bluetooth and wifi on, surfing the web reading articles and watching youtube videos. Perhaps if I turn off Bluetooth, tune down the screen brightness, I could get better battery life, but the battery is definitely left to be desired. My 15-inch ASUS laptop can go up to 4 hours without any fuss, which is a big thing for a 15-inch laptop. I hope that the battery life can be improved with the mountain lion update coming soon.

Keyboard not springy enough
One of the reasons that I bought the macbook air is because at first, I loved the feel I got when typing on my father’s macbook air. A friend told me that he didn’t like the keyboard on the macbook air, an opinion that I shrugged off. But now that I’m using it extensively, I’m beginning to feel the same. I really miss my ASUS’ springy large keyboards. With the macbook air, I get a feeling that if I strike the keys too hard; they might not go back up again. But this is a minor complaint, because despite it being not springy, I can type fairly quickly on the macbook air’s keyboard.

So I guess that wraps up my first impressions (which turned out to be quite long) on my new macbook air. I hope I didn’t bore you with my rants, and thanks for reading. Peace!

UPDATE 2012/06/24
The CPU seems to run a bit warmer than my liking. When running windows 7 in parallels, it reached 90 degrees C at one point. At first I was a bit worried, but it turns out that it is normal for the CPU to reach that temperature (macforum), as long as it doesn't go above 105 degrees. Even if it gets to critical heat, the CPU will automatically throttle down or shut itself down as a safety mechanism.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

My future farm series: the problem of hunger

"In Somalia, every 6 minutes, a child dies from hunger"
The Somalian famine, 2011

As I promised a follow up on a previous blog post I wrote, in this post I would like to share my thoughts on one of the benefits that I might get from starting my own farm. I would like to (hopefully) establish food security, at least for me and my family. I feel that many of us depend too much on the market (and money) to provide for our daily needs on the dining table. Our minds are twisted to think that food security is equivalent to economic security (or the availability of money), which isn’t necessarily true.

God tells the Muslims that the devil instills fear in the heart of men through poverty. Among the consequences of poverty is hunger. We might live in places that have adequate, if not excessive amounts of food, thus we never feel hungry. While there are others who are literally dying due to hunger. The problem of hunger is real, even though it may seem oblivious to many of us.

In 2010, it is estimated that a staggering number of 925 million people in the world are suffering from chronic hunger. That’s about 13% of the total world population. Every six seconds, a child dies from undernourishment problems. The data provided by UN’s Food Association Organization (FAO) shows us that the problem of hunger is a serious one and needs to be dealt with as swiftly as possible.

There are many factors that contribute to this condition, among them including poor distribution of food, overconsumption, and the inability of localities to produce their own food, which results in extreme dependency on areas or countries which can. Ironically, in many cases, the problem of hunger often happens in areas or countries where food can be produced relatively easy. One example is in Indonesia, one of the richest countries in terms of natural biodiversity and resources, which due to outrageously poor management, political problems, etc, struggle with food insecurity in many provinces, needing to depend on the help of the UN and NGO's.

Nobody is safe from being afflicted by the problem of hunger. That's why as soon as I get back home to Indonesia, one of my first agendas is to make me and my family self sufficient and be able to provide for others in the food department (or at least lower our dependence on the market/buying what we need). And once again, starting a farm seems to be the most logical solution.

In a book that I bought last year, the author mentioned that it is possible to produce all the food we need on just a quarter acre (4000 square meters or 0.4 hectares). With this amount of land, we're not only able to fulfill our own needs, but can also provide others, while still having enough to save (as pickles, dried food, etc). I haven't thoroughly read the book yet (only skimmed through it), but at least I know that it’s not impossible to provide ourselves with limited amount of resources.

Of course the need for food may differ from person to person, depending on knowledge. Some “need” to eat excessively, some eat normally, and some only need a little amount of food. To correct our view on the amount of food we really need, we need to equip ourselves with knowledge about it. As an illustration, an average man needs around 2500 to 3000 calories per day in order to stay healthy. This amount is equivalent to around 25-30 bananas or 3-4 big macs. Of course that’s oversimplifying the matter, as we also need to supply our body with adequate amounts of protein, carbohydrate, vitamins, and minerals (which can all be obtained from plants by the way).

The point that we should emphasize on is: it doesn't take that much food to keep us alive and going. In fact, for Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH gave strict guidance to not over-eat. He said, “No man fills a container worse than his stomach. A few morsels (pieces) that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. If he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for his breathing.” He didn’t only say it, but lived it as well. It was reported that there would be no cooking activity in the household of the Prophet for several months, and that he would live by dates and water. By the way, this was when he was the ruler of Arab, a king among kings, who could have had any meal he had wanted. But he chose to give away what he had for the poor. People having enmity against him, just don’t know him well enough... But anyway, once again, a little food is enough for us to keep us alive and healthy.

By making a well planned garden scheme, anybody can plant and grow the food that they need. Thus, this is one of the goals of my future project. The carbohydrate can be obtained from plants like corn, rice, potatoes, bananas, etc. The protein can be provided by growing plants that contain high amounts of protein such as pumpkins, asparagus, cauliflower, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, etc, and can also be obtained from eggs or milk for those who also choose to raise farm animals (I’m planning to, but let’s see how it goes). Vitamins and minerals are obviously readily available in all fruits and vegetables.

Obviously hunger is a problem that we all need to be concerned of. Especially when we look at the statistics of food security from FAO, where there doesn’t seem to be much improvement from the 1990s up to now. But we shouldn’t stop at the point of being concerned. We need to act and try to contribute positively towards this problem, and we need to contribute right now. Although it is my dream to at least be self sufficient (thus my plans to build a farm), I’m not in the position to do so.

However, there are still many things that we can do for our brothers and sisters in humanity who suffer from famine. The obvious thing that we can do is to send donation for those who need it. There are many options from where we can donate our money, one of them is through the Islamic relief of USA or other similar organizations. There are also lists at CNN and CBS that direct us to similar opportunities to donate.

If it feels too difficult to donate even a fraction of our money for orphans and people in need, there’s definitely something wrong with us. We need to fight this reluctance, and believe me, we’ll reap more benefit than what we sent out (in charity), in the addition to the nice feeling of being able to help someone, even if we only donate a small amount. We can also try to fast/do sawm to have more empathy and awareness towards the problem of hunger. And lastly, pray and keep the victims in our thoughts and wish them all the best.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Starting a farm of my own

I often get the question, “what are your plans after you graduate from school?” While for many Indonesian students studying abroad the answer is obvious, to become a researcher, to become a lecturer at a university, among many other awesome answers, my own answer might be somewhat an anomaly.

I’d like to start a farm. Make a vegetable garden, grow vegetables, and raise some farm animals, as well as providing my own clean water, electricity, propane gas (for cooking), take care of my children’s education, and try to be more self-sustained.

One thing for sure is that, I don’t want to work FOR other people (working with other people is of course not a problem). By that I mean by not being trapped in a system that ties me up and keeps me away from doing what I want to do most (read books, teach and spend more time with my family, learn Arabic, study the Qur'an, and other personal projects).

And starting a farm for me would probably be a good idea.

Besides that, I want to work for something that I believe would be worthwhile and can sustain my family even after I’m gone. By starting a farm, hopefully I can set up a good framework for my children to not be too worried about the future (especially in these times where insecurity is constantly instilled into our minds).

Why do people work anyway?
Isn’t it for fulfilling needs? What are our needs? What we really need to survive. Not the ones people tell us we need, like what they tell us in all the commercials on TV, but the ones that we really-really need to have a decent and honorable life.

If only we were able to fulfill our basic needs, wouldn’t it be enough for us and we’d be able to live independently and be engaged in activities that we think are beneficial for us? Of course, it’s not always up to us. Sometimes we just have no choice in choosing what we do. Be it economic pressure, hopes from parents, and other factors, sometimes we’re just deprived of choice when choosing our paths.

But if given the opportunity and resources, I’d really like to start a farm. By starting a farm, I’d be able to fulfill many of the needs of my family. It doesn’t have to be a big farm. Big enough to support my small family is more than enough. I’ll be writing more about this dream of mine from now on. So I’ll be regularly updating my blog with these kinds of posts besides the usual topics. Hopefully, it’ll keep my enthusiasm up and strengthen my will to take the plunge.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

To mac or not to mac

I’ve been a windows user for almost all of my life (well, maybe not all of it, as will be mentioned next). My dad had a commodore 64 back in the 80s, and then we had a 386, 486, up to the Pentiums that ran on a variety of Windows versions (ranging from 3.1, 95, 98, and XP). In the last 6 years I had a Dell XPS M1210 which ran on windows vista ultimate (which died after 5 years of hard work), and now I am typing on an ASUS K53T running on windows 7 home edition which I bought at the end of 2011.

So after extensive use of windows, obviously I am familiar with it, at least for the things I need it for. But to tell the truth, I have some gripes with my current windows machine, and would like to exchange it to something that suits me better. I have no problems with the operating system itself, as I previously said, I am familiar with windows and it does what I need it to do. But nevertheless, the little things that I dislike about my current machine makes me want to try and experience something completely different. Like getting a macbook perhaps?  

The first thing that I dislike most about my current machine is the size and spacing of the keys on the keyboard. I don’t know why, but they encourage mistypes more often than what I experienced with my Dell XPS, making the typing experience less enjoyable. The second problem is the location and the sensitivity of the track pad. The track pad is located at such a position that it is easy to accidentally tap it when typing. The extreme sensitivity makes the problem even worse. And typing is my number one activity on my laptops.
The third thing that I dislike about it is the quality of the monitor screen. The colors it produce are rather washed out and lacking contrast. Changing my sitting position often leads to the necessity of changing the screen position.
Other minuses include it being rather heavy and do not look as good as other computers aesthetically.

Thus, I am in the middle of contemplating to sell my machine and get another one instead, a machine that can address my problems and give even more. In come the macbooks. As many of you know, Apple has just released their new line of macbooks, including updates for the macbook air and the macbook pro lines. In addition, my father recently came for a visit and I got a chance to try out his 2011 11 inch macbook air. I have to say that it’s one beautiful piece of machinery. I also tried typing on it a bit, and I found the experience to be gratifying.

However, I needed to list factors to try to make up my mind. And so I have tried to list the pros and cons that I will face by making the change.
The pros are:
1.    The comfortable keyboard keys. As I have mentioned previously, one thing that made me really want the macbook air is the nice keyboard key feel and arrangement. It was so comfortable to write with, my PC doesn’t stand a chance.
2.    The machine looks gorgeous, especially the screen. I don’t know what they do to their screens, but in my opinion, the macbooks screens are among the best looking notebook screens around. As I spend long hours in front of the computer screen, it would definitely be a nice upgrade from my current notebook screen (albeit the macbook air is smaller, they both have the same resolution).
3.    Fast booting up. While I’d have to wait for several minutes to get my PC up and running, the macbook air turns on instantaneously, a real bonus to encourage myself to pick it up and write something.
4.    Lack of games. Well, I’m stating this as a pro because I like video games very much, and I know that they are a waste of time. It’s a sickness that I have had for quite some time. Thus, getting the macbook air would possibly prevent me from playing games and I can use my time for better things.
5.    I’m supporting a company that at least shows that it has commitment towards “green” economy. They try to use recyclable material, reduce the environmental damage that can be caused from production and use of their products, and be energy efficient among other things. In fact, according to a website called better world shopper, who have categorized companies based on their business practices, apple has a respectable rank compared to Microsoft.
6.    Mobility. Obviously it’s uncomfortable to log around a 15inch, 2.5kg laptop around (to tell the truth, back in my undergraduate days, I used to carry an even heavier laptop). The battery life is decent though. For normal use (no gaming and videos), the battery can last for around 3 to 4 hours, but the weight is definitely a downer. The macbook air 11 inch on the other hand is extremely light, weighing at around 1kg with a battery life of 5 hours.
7.    Better integration with my ipad and iphone. Although I have quite an old iphone (an old 3G), I am planning to upgrade it in the future. I also have a new ipad which runs on iOS 5.1 which supports icloud. Although icloud is also available for PCs, the integration with macs seems much more natural.

So those were the benefits that I could think of at the time being. But of course there are also some cons that I need to pay attention to.
1.    Expensive. Well this might be a subjective judgment, and may differ among others. But for me, the macbooks are expensive gadgets. So I need to contemplate about whether the premium is worth it for me or not. Of course some people might say that macs last longer, but computers will get obsolete after 4 or 5 years, and my dell lasted for that time span, so to me it’s not a valid argument.
2.    Need to start relearning the OS from the beginning. I have never owned a mac in my entire life, and being used to windows, this worries me a bit. I have used my laboratory’s mac mini for simple chores, but I have never used a mac for extensive usage. But even if OS X doesn’t suite me, I also have the option to install windows 7 on the machine (which thankfully I have).
3.    The 11 inch screen might be too small. Well, my previous dell was 12.1 inches, and I coped just fine. It worries me a bit about the macbook air being too small, but I guess that’s the trade off for being portable, and I’ll be willing to compromise for it.

I can’t think of other cons for the time being. But right now these are the things that I might need to think about before I make my decision. I like to write, even though I am not good in it by any means, a new gadget to encourage me to do more writing would be nice. Nevertheless, I hope I can decide well, not make this extravagance, and benefit from my decision. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Amusing ourselves to death

I have just finished reading another book from the late Neil Postman. And again, I’d have to say that it was a real eye opener for me. The title is “Amusing ourselves to death: public discourse in the age of show business”. Although the book was written in the mid 80’s, it’s still very much relevant even for today. Perhaps that is why the book is being re-published over and over again.

He tells us that we are living in times where everything is trying to be made as a form of entertainment. And by saying everything, he really meant everything. Even education, politics and religious matters have been transformed into a form of entertainment. So much so, it is planted in our mind that in order for an idea to be successful, they must be packaged in an entertaining way. The main agent that created such an environment is none else but the television set. The TV changed dramatically our way of life and our way of viewing things.

In the case of education, in the US at least, “edutainment” was pioneered by Sesame Street of the children’s television workshop. I had my childhood in the 80’s, and I remembered vividly the “education” (or entertainment) from that show. From what I understand from Postman’s book is that this kind of “education” is unnatural and in many ways destructive for the children who watch it. It makes the children think less and entertained more. And to tell the truth, I feel that it’s exactly the case. Of course there is no doubt that children can still benefit from the show, but the long term loss outweighs it by far.
In the case of politics, one example is in presidential elections. It’s no longer a secret that the candidates who win the elections are the ones who spend more time on air, and can manage to make a good impression on the viewers. They don’t need to be intellectually superior or have a better track record. What they need to do is look good on TV. And this is indeed the case in many countries. In the TV culture, the image that the candidates build on TV outweighs their other virtues.

The book also mentions about how people treat religiosity in this age of entertainment. Normally, nowadays, people tend too steer away from religious matters. However, things could change if they are packaged with elements of entertainment.The preachers who will be listened to are those who are able to commoditize what they say in an entertaining way, regardless of what they say. Perhaps through songs, through their style of speech, and gimmicks, among many things.

So for many people living in this age, life is nothing but a continuous cycle of jumping from one entertainment to another. As mentioned in the book, we live in an almost realized Huxleyan reality. In which we are being imprisoned, out of our own free will, and enjoy the imprisonment that we are in. This holds us back from transcendence in becoming the amazing creatures that we were created to become.

"The Day of Resurrection draws near, None besides God can avert it.  Do you then wonder at this Quran?  And you laugh at it and weep not, wasting your (precious) lifetime in pastime and amusements.  So fall you down in prostration to God, and worship Him (Alone)"
(Qur'an - An-Najm 53:57-62)