Thursday, December 21, 2006

Acting to be 'seen by men'

Abu Hurayrah records the Prophet as having exhorted his followers to seek refuge from the Pit of Grief. When asked what this Pit of Grief was, he said it was gorge in Hell from which Hell itself sought refuge four hundred times a day. The Prophet was then asked who would enter that Pit. "Those scholars who act to be seen by men", he replied.

(Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore

I was taught this poem in grade 4.

Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore —
No doubt you have heard the name before —
Was a boy who never would shut a door!

The wind might whistle, the wind might roar,
And teeth be aching and throats be sore,
But still he never would shut the door.

His father would beg, his mother implore,
"Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
We really do wish you would shut the door!"

Their hands they wrung, their hair they tore;
But Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore
Was deaf as the buoy out at the Nore.

When he walked forth the folks would roar,
"Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore,
Why don't you think to shut the door?"

They rigged up a Shutter with sail and oar,
And threatened to pack off Gustavus Gore
On a voyage of penance to Singapore.

But he begged for mercy and said, "No more!
Pray do not send me to Singapore
On a Shutter, and then I will shut the door!"

"You will?" said his parents; "then keep on shore!
But mind you do! For the plague is sore
Of a fellow that never will shut the door,
Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore!"
-By William Brighty Rands


Hunger would keep me up at nights. If it weren't my thoughts, it was hunger- I would feel an urge to go eat something, but wouldn't. And time would just pass.
I'm not sure if something's wrong with me. I'm not sure if I'm scared of food- too much food- although deep down I know that's what it is. Whenever I would eat, I could never eat my full. I would far too often remember our beloved Prophet (pbuh), his companions, and others and their description of hunger pangs. Abu Hurairah's reactions to hunger were often confused with seizures. But what was the point of staying hungry, if it didn't let me sleep?
Over time, I'd also get embarrassed when I would be asked to eat. It would make me think, "do these people feel I need more food? Do they think I'm a greedy person in need?"
I can't seem to explain this behaviour. When I look @ food, it's like looking at many many images captured in my mind- of skins and bones, but on real live children. Then I would commit the larger sin, and begin to eat. But no sooner than I started, I'd just stop. In fact, I always picked the smallest plate I could find, so that I wouldn't get a chance to put a lot of food in the first place. And I always ensured I drank water half an hour before eating so that it would fill me up nicely.
I don't feel the same way about drinking, then why do I, about eating? I don't feel any more pious than I did, then what am I achieving by staying up at night?
And the part that confuses me is that there's always lots of food around. I could eat all day if I wanted, and all night. I could ask for, and get every delicious thing. But... oh those children. What about my neighbour? I don't have to look to far. Or someone in my very own city. Why is food so important for our survival? But Allah provides, Allah provides...

Then, am I being arrogant?
Why am I so confused about this...
And I'm still hungry...
Soon it will be morning, and I'll have something to eat at breakfast...

Sincere words?

"Forgive me if you can"

Whether said in person, over the phone, or SMS... what do these words really mean?
Forgive me if you can...

What if I can't?
Then it doesn't really matter to me if you forgive me or not, I just thought I'd ask you to forgive me everything I did wrong, or if I hurt you..
If you don't forgive me, too bad, my life definitely will move on, and in fact, has moved on...
If you do forgive me, good for you, good for me

Did you ever ask the question, "Can you forgive me?" or "Can you ever forgive me?" or "Will you forgive me?"
No, you didn't. You didn't think about it, you don't really care. So, it doesn't matter if I forgive or not. You can deal with it the Day you will be asked about it. And that Day, I'll be busy asking for my own forgiveness.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Islamic Finance Forums everywhere

Islamic alternatives in the field of business, commerce, finance and investments are seeping into mainstream economics.
Ever since I got involved with the 3rd International Islamic Banking, Finance and Insurance Conference (May 17,18 2007 in Ottawa) as the Director of Marketing, I found out about the following conference that have happened recently (there have been many happening in the last few years):

  1. Beirut: 2nd Banking and Finance International Conference- February 23, 24 2006
  2. Doha: World Islamic Infrastructure Finance Conference- November 5,6 2006
  3. Zurich: The International Islamic Finance Forum, Europe- November 13-16, 2006
  4. Kuala Lampur: Kuala Lampur Islamic Finance Forum 2006- November 27-29, 2006
  5. Islamabad: World Islamic Economic Forum- November 5-7, 2006

And the ones upcoming:

  1. London: 6th Annual Islamic Finance Summit- January 30, 31 2007
  2. Singapore: Islamic Finance Asia 2007- February 13,14 2007
  3. Ottawa: 3rd International Islamic Banking, Finance and Insurance Conference - May 17,18 2007
  4. Toronto: Islamic Finance World North America 2007- May 22-24, 2007

Monday, December 18, 2006

Uncle and Aunty

I meet so many people, and I learn from each individual.

I met an Uncle and Aunty like none other. They are not my relatives.

They must be in their 50s, and do not have children. Aunty is the backbone of Islamic awareness amongst South Asian women in Al Ain. She keeps everyone together- She orders books for everyone, she gets pamphlets photocopied, she hooks up people who can help each other, she directs people who're looking for certain services, and she does a lot more than I can possibly know in such a short time I've been here.
She doesn't lose an opportunity to do a good deed. She also attends every single lecture, study circle, lesson she hears about, no matter how far, or how late it may be. And this is where Uncle's role comes in. Aunty doesn't drive, so Uncle has to drop her everywhere. In Ramadan, he spent hours waiting for her, as she would attend her classes. He would not only drive her around, but anyone else who needed a ride. There would be so much going on, and he wouldn't get enough sleep.
And Aunty would tell him, "inshallah I'll let you rest after Ramadan". :)
But there's no rest for uncle. I meet Aunty @ the Masjid regularly, and Uncle leaves work to drop her off, and then goes back to work. Sometimes, he'll stay in the Masjid until she's done with her lesson, all by himself.
When aunty goes to visit her friends, and there's no male @ home, Uncle will wait in the car until Aunty's had her tea/dinner/lunch/chat whatever it may be. And he never complains, and he always waits. He never says no. Even when his eyes are bloodshot red with swelling. I feel for him...

As her niece said- If Aunty were to tell Uncle to eat soap, he would do so gladly.
I wish they had kids. But Allah has a different plan for everyone.
And as time passes, I learn more of Allah's plans for me.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm Nobody's Child

This made me cry so much today, thinking of, and watching the orphans of Palestine...
Forgive us, forgive us...

I was slowly passing an orphan's home one day
And stopped there for a moment just to watch the children play
Alone a boy was standing and when I asked him why
He turned with eyes that could not see and he began to cry

I'm nobody's child, I'm nobody's child
I'm like a flower just growing wild
No mommy's kisses and no daddy's smile
Nobody wants me I'm nobody's child

People come for children and take them for their own
But they all seem to pass me by and I am left alone
I know they'd like to take me but when they see I'm blind
They always take some other child and I am left behind

No mother's arms to hold me or soothe me when I cry
Sometimes it gets so lonely here I wish that I could die
I'd walk the streets of heaven where all the blind can see
And just like all the other kids there'd be a home for me

I just can't seem to figure out
Why the folks all pass me by
Cause I know that it's true that god takes
Little blind children with him in the sky
And they tell me that I'm oh so pretty
And they seem to like my big curls of gold
But then they take some other little child
And I'm left here all alone

I'm nobody's child, I'm nobody's child
I'm like a flower just growing wild
No mommy's kisses and no daddy's smile
Nobody wants me I'm nobody's child

Watch it on Youtube.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

RIS Live!

Kamran and Shyemaa' have started a wiki website that will have transcribed online notes from RIS this year.
Here's a message from them:

My husband and I have developed a wiki site, called, whereby we hope we are able to update the summaries of each lecture that shall take place during the three days. It is also our hope to print out posters (8.5"*11") of the summaries of the lectures the next day - limited amount, and also post those on
the website that we have made.
If you are interested and hooked onto what I have mentioned thus far, please read the remainder of the letter and let us know if you will be able to help us.

Jazakumullahu Khayr!

The walk

We took a walk along the beach together, a slight chilly breeze, besides the crashing waves leaving our footprints behind us. Our laughter echoed in each other's voice. I playfully threw water at you, from my bottle, and made you wet and cold.
And that's the mistake for which I'll suffer... for long...
I turned back to look... and didn't see you, only indelible footprints in the sands of time.
Did you not even once think? How could you not hear the painful silent words?
But no, you just left me those footprints, to figure out how to erase them.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Veil No Bar

Bahrain's Ruqaya Al Ghasara celebrates after winning the women's 200m final on the fourth day of the athletics competition for the 15th Asian Games at Khalifa Stadium in Doha, on Monday. – AFP

Perks of being a pilgrim

If you're going for Hajj through the Dubai Airport, then “Like the previous years, all pilgrims will be offered a gift bag that will include Haj accessories such as slippers, prayer mat, first aid box, umbrella and a thermos,” said Najjar. [Haj arrangements in place at Dubai airport]
There are so many perks of being a pilgrim! First, you get loads and loads of duas wherever you go- This is because people are asking you to pray for them when you get to Haram, and they have to pray for you in order for your duas to be accepted.
This is the pillar of Islam that weighs more than jihad for the sake of Allah. 5 days of continous worship, devotion, and detachment by millions of dusty, dishevelled followers.
So many prayers, I hope to pray for everyone, and not leave out anyone inshallah. May Allah (swt) accept everyone's duas.
My birthday gift this year inshallah is that I'm leaving for Hajj that day :)- as Sana pointed out. How cool is that?

The new aloo wala in India- An emerging reality

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The 16 Decisions of Grameen Bank

In the 9 years of Grameen Bank, Muhammad Yunus has established 16 decisions that the loanees have to make before they get the money. These are some of the most-well thought out issues you could ever bring out in a developing country.
To think that 6.74 million borrowers, 97 percent of whom are women have actually committed themselves to do away with dowry- The concept is simply unbelievable.
In the CNN report on Muhammad Yunus receiving the Nobel Peace Award, upon being asked that Islam prohibits interest, and "you are a Muslim, most of your borrowers are Muslim, then how does this work?" He replied that most (religious) people who had issues with his bank were concerned with that the loans went to women, and NOT that he asked for interest...

  1. We shall follow and advance the four principles of Grameen Bank --- Discipline, Unity, Courage and Hard work – in all walks of our lives.
  2. Prosperity we shall bring to our families.
  3. We shall not live in dilapidated houses. We shall repair our houses and work towards constructing new houses at the earliest.
  4. We shall grow vegetables all the year round. We shall eat plenty of them and sell the surplus.
  5. During the plantation seasons, we shall plant as many seedlings as possible.
  6. We shall plan to keep our families small. We shall minimize our expenditures. We shall look after our health.
  7. We shall educate our children and ensure that they can earn to pay for their education.
  8. We shall always keep our children and the environment clean.
  9. We shall build and use pit-latrines.
  10. We shall drink water from tubewells. If it is not available, we shall boil water or use alum.
  11. We shall not take any dowry at our sons' weddings, neither shall we give any dowry at our daughters wedding. We shall keep our centre free from the curse of dowry. We shall not practice child marriage.
  12. We shall not inflict any injustice on anyone, neither shall we allow anyone to do so.
  13. We shall collectively undertake bigger investments for higher incomes.
  14. We shall always be ready to help each other. If anyone is in difficulty, we shall all help him or her.
  15. If we come to know of any breach of discipline in any centre, we shall all go there and help restore discipline.
  16. We shall take part in all social activities collectively.

See the images here: The 16 Decisions of Grameen Bank

The hardest part of body to take care of

are definitely the teeth.. Cleaning my teeth seems to take forever. First the tongue scraper for the tongue, and then the tooth brush for @ least 2-4 minutes [I perhaps don't even last a minute].. then the flossing[ all the teeth take a while!... and finally the mouth wash [ which should be @ least 60 seconds, but my mouth starts to burn after 15]!
All this @ least twice a day [if not after each meal].. and then the rubber tip @ least once a day which takes the same amount of time as flossing.
And doing this every single day for the rest of my life... oh lord help me!

Why haven't they invented one device that can do it @? Really, how difficult can it be...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Friday, December 08, 2006

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christianization in the Dark Continent

Here is a partial translation of the AL-Jazeerah intervew between Maher Abdallah and Shiekh Ahmed Katani talking about the issue of 6 million muslims leaving Islam every year in Africa alone. This was a television interview that was transcribed and translated into English.

Ahmad al-Katani: This is Our Pain, We Must Struggle

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Don’t bring children under five to mosques

4 December 2006

ABU DHABI — The General Authority for Islamic Affairs and Awqaf (GAIAA) in Abu Dhabi has issued a circular to mosques across the country urging worshippers not to bring with them children below five years of age to pray.
The GAIAA said the decision has been taken to maintain peace and quiet at mosques.
The authorities reportedly received a number of complaints that some people insist on bringing children to mosques and the noise they make often disturb prayers. There was mixed response to the circular. While some feel that the decision will help to ensure tranquillity in mosques, others protest against it saying there’s no religious bar on children entering mosques and they must be allowed to familiarise themselves with mosques from their early childhood.

Read in Khaleej Times

Look for the bare necessities-The Jungle Book Soundtrack

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
Old Mother Nature's recipes
That brings the bare necessities of life

Wherever I wander, wherever I roam
I couldn't be fonder of my big home
The bees are buzzin' in the tree
To make some honey just for me
When you look under the rocks and plants
And take a glance at the fancy ants
Then maybe try a few

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!

Look for the bare necessities
The simple bare necessities
Forget about your worries and your strife
I mean the bare necessities
That's why a bear can rest at ease
With just the bare necessities of life

Now when you pick a pawpaw
Or a prickly pear
And you prick a raw paw
Next time beware
Don't pick the prickly pear by the paw
When you pick a pear
Try to use the claw
But you don't need to use the claw
When you pick a pear of the big pawpaw
Have I given you a clue ?

The bare necessities of life will come to you
They'll come to you!

So just try and relax, yeah cool it
Fall apart in my backyard
'Cause let me tell you something little britches
If you act like that bee acts, uh uh
You're working too hard

And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true

The bare necessities of life will come to you


It's been an exhausting weekend. I had to get my blood pressure checked for the Hajj card and the doctor said that it's too low to write on the card. And then twice to the hospital on the same day.
Today I had to drive around for about an hour. The roads I was on were long and empty and all I could see were mirages. Mirages of so many things.
Mirages of the trees, of the speed bumps, of cars...
Mirages of things I run after in life, but never get to them.
Mirages that stay for so long, that I begin to think they're real, but just when I've accepted that, they disappear.
Elements that that mislead you, and set you back so much, that you don't know even know how to retrace your footsteps.
Tricks that life plays on you.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

For all you weak souls

There is one element that is worth its weight in gold, and that is loyalty. It will cover a multitude of weakness.
- Philip Armour

Lots of water!

It's POURING in Al Ain! And in Abu Dhabi too, Jeewan just confirmed.

Sama Dubai is building the Dubai Towers:

"Dubai Towers will feature a choreographed concept that will metaphorically represent the flicker of candlelight. "

Friday, December 01, 2006

For the greater good

In the animated movie, The Incredibles, the following scene takes place:
Lucius: Honey?
Honey: What?
Lucius: Where's my super suit?
Honey: What?
Lucius: Where - is - my - super - suit?
Honey: I, uh, put it away.
Lucius: Where?
Honey: Why do you need to know?
[helicopter explodes outside]
Lucius: I need it!
[Lucius rummages through another room in his condo]
Honey: Uh-uh! Don't you think about running off doing no derrin'-do. We've been planning this dinner for two months!
Lucius: The public is in danger!
Honey: My evening's in danger!
Lucius: You tell me where my suit is, woman! We are talking about the greater good!
Honey: 'Greater good?' I am your wife! I'm the greatest *good* you are ever gonna get!

Please save water

I'm reposting this, as my information was incomplete the first time. I was waiting for my friend Anup to do the research for me :P

“Consider the water which you drink. Was it you that brought it down from the rain cloud or We? If We had pleased, We could make it bitter” [Qur'an 56:68-70].

Please please save water. It's an easy thing to do. Save water when you turn on taps, when you use the dishwasher, when you wash your clothes and dishes, and when you water your garden.
Please do not exploit this miraculous blessing from Allah (swt). Please follow the sunnah. Save each drop, and thank Allah for this bountiful blessing.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh):
- Performed ablution using one mudd [i.e. a measure equal to a handful of water] (Al-Tirmidhi)
- Took a shower using one sa` [four handfuls].
- said "Do not waste water even if performing ablution on the bank of a fast-flowing (large) river.

Why should we conserve water?
Think of what happens @ the end of the pipe. Where does tap water come from?
From surface water, including reservoirs, lakes and rivers, and the rest from ground waters. The latter come from aquifers, which are underground geological formations that store rainwater. The rainwater seeps through porous strata such as sandstone and chalk. Water companies drill wells or bore holes into aquifers and draw water from them.
Major cities are usually supplied from the larger volume surface waters, whereas ground waters supply smaller populations, although this is not always the case. There are also areas that receive water from a mixture of sources.
Water is treated at water treatment works before flowing through water mains, sometimes over considerable distances, to arrive at your home. Samples are taken at each stage of treatment and distribution along the way, and tested by the water company to make sure that you receive high quality water.
Image taken from DWI- Dams cause loss and destruction of habitat
- Removal of surface water causes erosion
- Increase in saltwater intrusion can cause change

The major problem with water today is it's commercialisation. And what this is doing is making water expensive for poor people, even in rich countries.
From the United Nations Human Development Report:
- Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%
- “Already, corporations own or operate water systems across the globe that bring in about $200 billion a year. Yet they serve only about 7 percent of the world’s population, leaving a potentially vast market untapped.” (John Tagliabue, As Multinationals Run the Taps, Anger Rises Over Water for Profit, New York Times, August 26, 2002)
An amazing resource is: Water Conserve

Here are some water saving tips from American Water and Energy Savers:
  1. Create an awareness of the need for water conservation among your children. Avoid the purchase of recreational water toys which require a constant stream of water.
  2. Be aware of and follow all water conservation and water shortage rules and restrictions which may be in effect in your area.
  3. Encourage your employer to promote water conservation at the workplace. Suggest that water conservation be put in the employee orientation manual and training program.
  4. Patronize businesses which practice and promote water conservation.
  5. Report all significant water losses (broken pipes, open hydrants, errant sprinklers, abandoned free-flowing wells, etc.) to the property owner, local authorities or your Water Management District.
  6. Encourage your school system and local government to help develop and promote a water conservation ethic among children and adults.
  7. Support projects that will lead to an increased use of reclaimed waste water for irrigation and other uses.
  8. Support efforts and programs to create a concern for water conservation among tourists and visitors to our state. Make sure your visitors understand the need for, and benefits of, water conservation.
  9. Encourage your friends and neighbors to be part of a water conscious community. Promote water conservation in community newsletters, on bulletin boards and by example.
  10. Conserve water because it is the right thing to do. Don't waste water just because someone else is footing the bill such as when you are staying at a hotel.
  11. Try to do one thing each day that will result in a savings of water. Don't worry if the savings is minimal. Every drop counts. And every person can make a difference. So tell your friends, neighbors and co-workers to "Turn it Off" and "Keep it Off".

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Next Steps

Peace be upon you.
I wont be posting much up and until I return from Hajj inshallah. Please pray for me.
I hope to see all of my friends going for Hajj inshallah, that'll be nice.

Memorisation's going okay...I'll pick up once I'm back from Hajj inshallah.

Plus, I might be in Pakistan early January for a very special reason- My father's closest friend's daughter is getting married. But there's a lot to be done here- The first quarter of 2007 would inshallah see the establishment of CAMP Dubai with several initiatives under it. Also, my brother is the Assistant coordinator of the III Canadian Forum on Islamic Economics and Finance, and I'm the Director of Marketing so being in Pakistan doing development work before May would probably not work out. Planning for the next 6 months is harder than I thought. I need to read a lot more about development. Plus, I'm beginning to think... I always wanted to give back to my country, but @ this stage, why not travel and volunteer in a different country?

I've been driving around Al Ain... and switching between my brother's automatic and my mom's manual car has been quite a disastrous experience. I always preferred stick...until I drove automatic around too much. And then when I switched to manual, the car made the worst possible noises ever, as I forgot all about the clutch...
I wouldn't mind putting a "new driver" sticker on the car I drive... @ least that way, those crazy Arab drivers would stay away! One of my accomplishments was to get my grandmother to wear the seatbelt everytime she rode with me.... she's always absolutely refused to wear it saying it's "too complicated".
But what thrill to drive on perfect roads!

I've joined a book club in Dubai...but if the book club turns out to be only desi, I'm gonna stay away. I'm always reminded by a friend's statement: People in Dubai have nothing better to do than being stuck in traffic all day or hanging out @ the malls. I shouldn't be talking about Dubai so much, I've never lived there!

My sister's been helping out with getting sponsors for an upcoming Charity Bazar in her school. She was telling my mother all about the VIPs she called, and it turns out, she spoke with the person who had given a list of 16 names on her birth.

I pray that everyone's blessed with parents like mine.
I better sleep.. tomorrow's a long day.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Choosing a phone number

I had enough planned for my morning today with mummy being out, but my brother woke up really early and shouted with excitement: "Get your Du number!". Du has just opened- a new company in competition with Etisalat. And you can "book" the phone # you want for a fee that varies from 100 to 3000 Dhs. Numbers like 7654321 are Platinum, others 5565565 are Gold, and so on. Honestly, what a waste of money. We spent about 2 hours searching for some good numbers.
I've to get a phone number, and I've booked a few numbers too!
One that's the same as my Toronto #: 055- 619-4485
If only my name was 7 letters! Most people miss out the last letter anyways: 055-HUM-AIRA (486-2472)
The other # I asked him to book: 055-FOR-GIVE (367-4483)
Hmm... I should have made it __4-GIVE.
I wanted to get PATIENCE, but that's 8 letters!
Any more suggestions for cool phone numbers?
I wont know how many of these #s I'll get until December 28th, but I'll be @ Hajj @ that time inshallah.
In other news, my brother bought me a printer/scanner and a digital camera. Now I can take all those pictures everyone's been asking me about inshallah!

Also, in more news, I'll be moving my leadership blog from wordpress to blogger. Wordpress is annoyingly slow, and has too many features that aren't necessarily very useful. Also, blogger now has labels, which can be used as categories...and that was the biggest advantage of wordpress. The only thing that's missing is the Read more feature, but I'm sure that will come up soon...

And the final piece of news, Hafsa would probably be quite amused, but someone wanted to learn Arabic grammar from me, she's mummy's age... and not to mention, I didn't learn much Arabic grammar myself, so we both are going to learn a loooooot of Arabic grammar inshallah. Plus, I'll pick up quite a bit of Urdu as well. I'm looking for a good book to translate from Urdu to English (that hasn't been translated yet), to improve my Urdu... any suggestions?

Wait... there's some last bit of news. You can read the stories of the Prophets over and over again, and continue to learn loads of them. So I decided I'd cover a Prophet (peace be upon him) a day with my grandmother and go over his life before going to bed. I think that's a great bonding exercise, and she's leaving for Pakistan in a few days :(

Some ayahs for reflection-
Allah (swt) talks about the hypocrites in Surah Baqarah:

2:17 Their similitude is that of a man who kindled a fire; when it lighted all around him, Allah took away their light and left them in utter darkness. So they could not see.
مَثَلُهُمْ كَمَثَلِ الَّذِي اسْتَوْقَدَ نَاراً فَلَمَّا أَضَاءتْ مَا حَوْلَهُ ذَهَبَ اللّهُ بِنُورِهِمْ وَتَرَكَهُمْ فِي ظُلُمَاتٍ لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ

2:18 Deaf, dumb, and blind, they will not return (to the path).
صُمٌّ بُكْمٌ عُمْيٌ فَهُمْ لاَ يَرْجِعُونَ

2:19 Or (another similitude) is that of a rain-laden cloud from the sky: In it are zones of darkness, and thunder and lightning: They press their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunder-clap, the while they are in terror of death. But Allah is ever round the rejecters of Faith!
أَوْ كَصَيِّبٍ مِّنَ السَّمَاء فِيهِ ظُلُمَاتٌ وَرَعْدٌ وَبَرْقٌ يَجْعَلُونَ أَصْابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِم مِّنَ الصَّوَاعِقِ حَذَرَ الْمَوْتِ واللّهُ مُحِيطٌ بِالْكافِرِينَ

2:20 The lightning all but snatches away their sight; every time the light (Helps) them, they walk therein, and when the darkness grows on them, they stand still. And if Allah willed, He could take away their faculty of hearing and seeing; for Allah hath power over all things.
يَكَادُ الْبَرْقُ يَخْطَفُ أَبْصَارَهُمْ كُلَّمَا أَضَاء لَهُم مَّشَوْاْ فِيهِ وَإِذَا أَظْلَمَ عَلَيْهِمْ قَامُواْ وَلَوْ شَاء اللّهُ لَذَهَبَ بِسَمْعِهِمْ وَأَبْصَارِهِمْ إِنَّ اللَّه عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Friday, November 24, 2006

Death is certain

It wasn't the first time that I had to deal with an emergency @ the Hospital for Sick Children as the Muslim Chaplain Assistant. But it's one of those incidents that you can never forget. Subhanallah. May Allah (swt) protect us, and give us good health. Life's trial can be very extreme for some people. And can change their lives forever.
And I hope that I never forget it.
The last thing I was expecting within a week of Eid was an emergency @ the hospital. My friends and I had just finished giving out some gifts to the kids in the hospital, when one of them expressed that she'd like to go home...
"But there's one more baby to visit...", I said. This was on Sunday afternoon, after Eid... on October 29th. But she expressed that she was tired, and wanted to go home and change.
I walked by myself to the NICU, thinking about what to say. I wasn't quite prepared- I didn't know the family, or the case, all that I had done was dropped off the baby's gift with the nurse on the day of Eid.
I explained who I was, and the nurse let me know. I was familiar with this ward... so many machines... the family care room, the incubators, my first emergency case earlier in the year... Subhanallah, I felt scared. The nurses of the baby were very confused to see me.
"How did you know?"
"Know what?"
"That we're going to remove the feeding tube?"
My heart skipped a beat. Here I was, to see the beautiful baby, and to wish the family Eid Mubarak, and spend some good time with them, and the nurses tell me that the baby is going to die really soon! I really wasn't prepared for this. Incidentally, I didn't have my Qur'an on me, or my reference book either. The next few hours, as I witnessed the tragedy the family went through, my mind was so confused. I felt very lonely, and at a loss for words. I'm not even sure if I asked Allah (swt) for strength. And personally, that time in my life was so difficult, I was being lashed out at like a leaf in an angry storm.
"A chaplain! You must be sent by God". And the other nurse repeated the same.
When the whole ordeal was over, I realised definitely I was sent by Allah (swt), to learn some very important lessons of life.
The nurses updated me on the case. It was really sad. The mother only spoke Urdu, and thankfully that's one of the languages I speak. The baby was about a month old, a girl and she could not survive on her own due to a congenital defect.
I sat with the mother for a long time. She didn't look much older than me, but had 3 other children, who were watching TV next to us. I can't imagine how it must have been for them to spend their days like this @ the hospital. Her husband was on EI. They didn't have any relatives. She said some things to me, that really made me reflect.
"Why did Allah give her to me, if He had to take her away?"

Yes, why does Allah (swt) give us people we love in our lives and then take them away, whether it's because of a death, a separation, divorce, misunderstanding?

The nurses would come every now and then, to take the baby away from her. Of course, one of the nurse said, "there's never a good time. Waiting is not going to help much".
I looked at the mother in front of me, a tiny figure, her face wet with tears, her scarf and clothes all ruffled- she had the baby in her arms.
So much love, I thought to myself. Even though the baby is deformed, and has caused the entire family to spend the month in the hospital. Her hands and feet were deformed and twisted. But her face was so beautiful... They loved her so much that they wanted this little life to live, even though she wasn't perfect... Just pure, simple, beautiful love.

"They've been asking me to give her to them. How can I do that? How can a mother do that?"

I didn't realise what a profound action it would be for the mother. Basically you're giving your own daughter, whom you delivered from your womb, with a lot of pain, to death. They would take off her tubes, and that would be the end of her life. But wasn't it Musa's mother, who cast him into the river in a basket? And all the strong women of the past, who made greater sacrifices? Mother's are tested the most in this world. Look at all the mothers in Iraq and Palestine.
Her husband was so supportive. I had to contain myself, and be strong for all of them. He said, "she was only meant to be with us for this short time. Say Allah's name and let her go".
I recited Yasin softly. They waited for me until I was done with my duas.

May Allah bless Musarrat and Aunty... they showed up a bit later, and were an awesome awesome support. Musarrat made sure all the children had food, and she even cleaned up everything. She sat with the mother and hugged her, and comforted her a lot.
In front of me, I witnessed an action so powerful and compassionate- what one Muslim does for another truly for the sake of Allah (swt). And there are people in this world who find it so easy to be unjust.
It was getting late in the night.
I did go home, but the nurse called me back saying the mother really needed support. I got onto the bike, and was back @ the hospital.
The baby had died. I spoke with the two boys. Mashallah, what strong young little boys, the oldest being in grade 8. They had sober expressions on their face. I can't believe these kids were witnessing something like this @ such a young age. For sure this would shoot up their maturity, and change their perception of life. I wished that I could've talked to the 2 boys longer.

The nurses informed me that they better take the baby away soon, because she's going to turn blue, cold and hard, and it's not good for the parents to have that as the last memory. And true, in front of me, the baby had begun to turn blue. Her brother touched her and said she was very cold. Yet, she was wrapped in blankets, and her soft, silky hair were slightly visible. Her mother looked stunned, she was quiet, and crying silently. Her husband sat on the chair next to her.
A while later, I started a conversation. She said, "I was convinced Allah would cure her. In Pakistan my relatives said that the doctors have been able to cure several such cases".
What do you do when your conviction in something fails you? It's the affair of the believer. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: "Strange is the affair of the mu'min (the believer). Verily, all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the mu'min." But if it were in the hands of the doctor... this world doesn't work this way.
I couldn't stress enough how important it was for the mother to be patient through this. I repeated again and again, and again. For there's nothing better than beautiful patience.
I'll stop the narration here.
That day I realised that, anything can happen to anyone, and at any time. Doesn't matter if you're rich or poor. If you have a lot of iman or not. Allah will surely test you. You will be hurled around in this world. You will be forced to hold on to hope. And sometimes, you'll have to let go of hope. But your troubles will never be greater than the ones of the one in front of you, and you can never fully understand what the one in front of you goes through. Your deeds are your own deeds. Your pain is your own pain. And this is just a temporarily world, and Allah's promise is true.

Related link: Chaplaincy-The beginnings

Appreciating little things

One thing that's characteristic of my parents is that despite their extremely busy schedule, they always find time to sit and appreciate little things, for a significant amount of time, and they take great pleasure in that.
Such as, talking about fruits- A fruit's taste, colour, texture, feel and so on. Often noticing things about it that no one else would. And then thanking Allah (swt) for the abundant.
We all need to do that daily. Running after the big things in life, we forget about the little things. And that's quite sad because when you stop to think- What really matters in life? It's that which you have been able to humble yourself before.

Yesterday, my father got me a USB fan. Really, that's one of the funniest unnecessary inventions ever. It's a fan on a wire so that it can be adjusted to wherever you want it to go. It looks like a giant fly.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Some decisions...

  • I've to look around for information on investment banks in Dubai... do they have shariah compliance issues associated with them?
  • Is it worth driving to Dubai 5 days a week? Not if you're the only person in the car...that has huge environmental consequences...
  • I've always had niqab on my mind... should I start now? Most men in this country have staring problems, and some women too. Quite disgusting!
  • There's an awesome conference happening in Dubai called Leaders in Dubai... The registration fee is 3000Dhs...should I attend?
  • Teach @ the local Masjid? That would be so COOL!
  • Start a UN Chapter in UAE? Maaan...I can't believe there isn't already one
  • Private teacher or school? School... I like learning in classrooms
  • I have to find a good printer in Pakistan for a friend who wants to have her book for children published before Hajj...
  • When should I visit Pakistan?


Monday, November 20, 2006

Living a different life- What if I was a maid?

My mother has a maid who comes in for 3 hours, 5 times a week. I rarely speak with her, except the ocassional salam. Today, the mop bucket water had a funny smell, so I just asked her to add dettol to it. She's much older than me, but I called her by her first name. And after that, as I stepped into the car to get some groceries, I thought... what if I had to do her work? What if destiny had taken everything away from me, and only left me with the option of working as a maid...
What kind of work would I like to do?
I wouldn't mind washing the dishes.. or ironing clothes...

I live in a huge house, and through my life, I've never been refused anything I wanted. Right now, I have access to any of the 3 cars my family has, and I can travel whenever and to wherever I wish.
But if things were to change for the worse- And as a human, I would say, for the worse... then what would happen?
If I had to work as a maid....
I wouldn't like
- If kids call me by my first name, because that's my culture
- Cleaning toilets
- Massaging oil into someone's hair
- Being taunted, if I left some dust in some random corner
- Given leftovers in wierdly-shaped-century-old containers
- Picking up things from the floor that the owner of the room should have had enough discipline to not have throw down in the first place
- Cleaning @ wierd hours in a house located in the middle of no where
- Asked to participate in non-Islamic religious functions
- Taking out tonnes of smelly garbage
- Ugh... doing dirty laundry...
- Getting irregular payments
- Being forced to negotiate my salary
- ...

I'd DEFINITELY wear gloves while doing any work.
Where would I live?
What kind of clothes would I wear?
Would I feel proud of my "profession"?
Would I gossip, if I worked in multiple homes and the families knew each other?
What if I was abused? How would I make ends meet?
All this would be very very difficult. May Allah not test me severely with my health, and wealth.
Iftar time!

2006 in a review |

2006 has been the most remarkable year in life my by far. I worked for most of it, with the best team ever- Everyone was extremely helpful. I had an awesome supervisor, who'd literally kick people out early on Friday afternoons, or whenever there was a severe weather warning. The best part about working @ The Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics was the fact that my work was benefitting research which in turn would benefit scores of people over the years to come- Actually, if I may, thousands and millions of people, as these investigators and technologists work to find solutions to complicated diseases and conditions.
The first quarter of this year was so busy, that sitting down to eat had no value in my life @ that time. Subhanallah... I was busy trying to get MAC Youth Give's website up, thankfully Tariq, Khaled and others took on the task upon themselves, and so far, they've done a great job. I miss Rania and Afifa... Rania was my tajweed teacher- they've decided for now to stay in Lebanon.
Somewhere in the line, I had also started the blog on leadership... and I have such a looong way to go.
My brother contested and won the MSA elections, and that for sure is a great experience for him.
Of course, as soo many people pointed out to me- my surgery: appendectomy was Allah's way of telling me to slow down. I was in.. and then out of the hospital. I never thought I'd be admitted @ the hospital where I work. I can't forget how I had just got my health card made a week or two before my surgery.
I spent May here @ home, and got to meet my mom's youngest sister and her kids. It was a houseful of mischief-makers. Being a chaplain assistant @ the hospital gave me a new perspective each time I got paged. Shariah program classes were more of a bonding time between me and Hafsa, than studying Arabic. I met Kahkashan, and the 3 of us, along with Khadija discussed everything out there. Definitely, Hafsa and Kahkashan are blessings from Allah in life, and my mirrors. Hafsa, additionally, surpasses the definition of hyper. In fact, I firmly believe Hafsa should be a word in the dictionary.
I started training as a fitness instructor, and passed the theory exam [which personally was quite an accomplishment, as 80% was the minimum to pass]. Unfortunately, my practical placement didn't work out and I was unable to complete the certification. But it was simply an amazing experience just to be able to sit in a class with other girls and learn about fitness, health, diet, and caring for the participants in your class. We covered training for various categories in class, such as pregnant women and seniors. The instructor was an amazing woman, and an amazing mom too! I had a chance to get up-close and personal with her, and I was so proud to know her!
Oh... and learning how to brush my teeth the RIGHT way was priceless! [there's a previous post on it...]
I went whitewater rafting with CAMP Toronto, and met a whole buncha fun people- I met them again @ the CAMP CARES Iftar. Rafting was absolutely crazy. I can't swim, but this was so wild. It wasn't fun being wet and cold @ the end, but it was so worth it. I'm so glad Fatima came on the trip, because I didn't get to spend time with her after that... not even before I left :( I also discovered I can still play badminton, and win a few games too! hehe...
Also, before that was the CAMP Annual Gala dinner, definitely worth a mention.
My team mates decided we should go to Wonderland, since I've never been there- and I ventured there for the first time this summer in 5 years. It was fun. Vinit insisted I try bungee jumping with him- I would have, except he's not a girl. So I didn't. That was in August. A few weeks before Wonderland was a hospital SLRI staff picnic- and I tried stilt-walking! Very cool. I also played soccer for the first time, actually second- the first time was @ MAC Sports Day that I had helped organise. In any case, @ the next team meeting, it was embarassing to get comments about me playing well. Ah well...
I wasn't sure if I'd be in the country past August, but Sawitri and I managed to raise over $1200 for the MS Bike Tour. Thank you to all those who supported us. Our team was called Aqua Freeze, and we biked 55km for Multiple Sclerosis. The best part was... actually, there were many best parts- First, all the training! I would cover between 5-30km through the week, divided into endurance, speed and moderate days. One such trip was biking to Iqbal foods and back. The other best part was that Sawitri and I were the only hijabis in the race. We were so proud of ourselves. Perhaps the only Muslims too. The Bike Tour was sooooooooo beautiful- I didn't know there's such a beautiful field in the middle of Toronto! WOW!! As we raced down the Gardiner, I thanked Allah (swt) for the opportunity.

Cont'd: 2006 in a Review II

2006 in a Review ||

Cont'd: 2006 in a Review I

That was also the time when I started preparing mentally for moving back to UAE- stepping down from my positions, cutting down on my projects, focussing on getting things done [despite all that, my last few days in Canada were such a mess]- And also the realisation that I wont be seeing 2 of my best friends- Asma, who had started teaching full-time and Fatima, who had moved to London.
Another date I wont forget is August 13th- Muslim Fest Leadership session, my IELTS test, Fatima B's wedding and sleepover @ Asma's all on the same day! This reminds me... my clothes are still @ her place... so is my green kettle!
Our new MAC halaqa also started, with a new naqeeba, and that was a welcome change, Alhamdulillah- Although, I do miss our Friday Programs!
Ramadan was a great spiritual revival. It was for the first time, that I was @ the masjid daily, except twice, and I was able to cover tahajjud @ the masjid as well. For most of the month, I supervised the baby-sitting and women as well. Often, Sawitri and I would take turns praying taraweeh, to make sure someone was keeping an ear on the noise level, and an eye on the kids.
I'm typing this part of the blog entry in the kitchen, while cooking rice. So far, it's been over a week here, and I'm exhausted by the time it's Isha (7pm). Staying @ home all day is more exhausting that what I've been used to! Mostly because mummy is a fast-worker, and her tasks keep me running on my toes. But Alhamdulillah, I need to be doing much much more than this for my parents. May Allah help me.
I rarely get to interact with kids, definitely not little kids. Sometimes @ the masjid, I would sit with them and answer their questions. There was one girl who always wanted to know why we can't see god. Abdullah was my favorite- A lively 3-year old, who would always gimme a "Goojob!" on my drawings that I made for him. The cutest thing he did was, emptied the lowest shelf on the bookcase that had some prayer mats and scarves and fit himself in! He was a rare sight @ the Masjid though- his mom's expecting so she'd come when she was feeling upto it. Ramadan ended with a disorganised Eid Party that sawitri and I planned for the sisters and kids who come to the Masjid- I dunno about myself, but the women simply loved it, and the kids were ever so delighted with the henna I did on their hands. The bad part was being stuck in one corner for 3 hours doing the henna...
I didn't get a chance to thank all those who came to visit, all the lunch, dinner, coffee invitations that I got, and all the little gifts... I love you all!
And inshallah inshallah, the end of this year, beginning of the next should be another life-changing-humbling-experience.
Like everyone, I went through periods of fluctuating Iman. I had a lot of questions that needed to be answered. Most of all, I had a foggy mind, and the fog has cleared, Alhamdulillah. Allah's Signs for us are clear, and they're all around us. It is for us to ponder on, and figure out ourselves. I'm a better person today, than I was yesterday, and the day before. And I'm a free person. Allah (swt) chose this for me, and I gratefully accept it.
Abrupt ending, I know :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Very Cool!

Today when I went to wake mummy up for fajr, she asked me if I had suhoor.
I was surprised. How did she know I was going to fast today? I hadn't told her I would, or anyone else. In fact, I slept before everyone else in my grandmother's room. I hadn't fasted in the last 2 days. And it's a Sunday, not a Thursday or Monday... nor it is the 13, 14, or 15th of this month. I told her that I was looking for the rest of my sandwich, and I couldn't find it. She said that Baba had eaten it, and she had left me another sandwich on the dining table. "Did you not see it?" "I thought it was for Freeha..."
How did she know?? Mom's are so amazing!
It feels wierd that Sunday is a working day. Actually, it felt wierd that Saturday was a holiday! The weekend in UAE used to be Thursday and Friday, and sometime this year it got changed to Friday and Saturday. The week starts on a Sunday. That for some reason, just doesn't sound right...

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Yesterday, I went for Jumu'ah to the local Masjid for the first time ever in this country. My mother told me that this particular masjid has been built by the people, as opposed to the government, and hence it had more active participants. Very cool.
But when I walked in to the Masjid, I stopped dead. The interior was so so beautiful! It's definitely one of the most beautiful Masjid I've been to, after the ones in Saudi Arabia. It looked as if the interior was made of gold. As we entered the prayer room for women, I was even more surprised to see a large LCD screen showing the men's side and the Imam.!
I finished praying my nafil and sunnah, and attentively listened to the Khutbah, which was in Arabic. I missed a lot of it- I wasn't able to piece it all together. However, I did understand the verse, where Allah (swt) says:
To those who reject Our signs and treat them with arrogance, no opening will there be of the gates of heaven, nor will they enter the garden, until the camel can pass through the eye of the needle: Such is Our reward for those in sin. [Al-Araf (The Heights) 7:40]
The Imam also talked about sayings of Imam Ibn Qayyim (rahimuhullah), but I still have to search for the whole translation online.

After the khutbah, something awful happened, that just made me so angry that I couldn't stop thinking about it all day, and even now. A little boy, perhaps not even 4 was playing with a water bottle, by throwing it on the floor. I decided to play with him by catching the bottle before it hits the floor...and as soon as I caught the bottle, a woman comes up, his mother, and just slaps him hard on his head. It was so hard that the kid was almost going to fall. He wasn't even making noise, the prayer was over and everyone was leaving. The boy's facial expression changed... he rotated a couple of times in his position, very next to tears. It was a hard slap. I couldnt't move from my spot. The mom just walked away to the back of the room, and sat down. She had another kid, whom she kissed and made her/him sit down on her lap. Meanwhile, this kid found his way to his mom and fell down next to her. I was so enraged.
I'm sure kids get beaten up by their parents all the time. But this was horrible. You shouldn't hit on the head- It was hard enough to have caused a concussion. I was so mad that as soon as I got home, I couldn't stop talking about it to my mother. Mummy said, " parents do not realise what they do, and then kids have these awful images of hating the Masjid". She told me to pray for the mother. Mummy tells me to pray for everyone. Mummy said that if she was there, she would have talked to the mom. That's exaclty what I wanted to do- Except, I probably would have made no sense in Arabic.
What an impatient society we live in. A society in which we see very clearly what we want, and the only truth seems to be: I am right. And we do not realise the consequences of our actions.
And we keep losing time. Life's journey continues.

Friday, November 17, 2006

"You can do it"

When I was doing the MS Bike Tour back in September, on our way back, my knees started killing me. They were hurting so bad, but I couldn't stop pedalling. For that leg of the tour, Sawitri was ahead of me. I didn't know what to do- all I knew was that I could not give up, not when I was more than 1/2 way through. I called someone and said, "My knees are hurting". A few minutes later, the person called back and said, "you can do it. You can do it".
I was reminded of this because I felt the same way while trying to complete a task downstairs. Alhamdulillah, the task's done. But I'm quite hungry...

Throughout our lives we meet people who believe in us. One of the saddest things I read, and it's so true, in John Maxwell's book: Becoming a person of influence, was that: Most people have no one who believe in them.

I had written an article on how to become a person of influence for the TMV and CAMP Connections. I should be posting that up on the leadership blog.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Living Islam

In life we all make so many choices. For a while now, including during my move back to UAE, I felt as if I was standing on a slippery surface with soap on my feet. In fact, ever since I got back, I stopped eating to the point where I'd always feel starved, but didn't have the energy or will to eat. I'd feel lightheaded all the time, almost next to fainting with anorexic-like symptoms, and it just seemed to stay like that.
Yesterday I got a big hit with a certain application of mine that got rejected- and I thought to myself, after all that's been going on, I really didn't need this. I came home with suppressed tears and collapsed @ mummy's knees. She constantly reminded me of Allah's wisdom, and Allah's decisions. My sister looked @ my face, and she said you can tell I've cried a lot as I had obvious dark tear marks on my face. That sounded pretty distressing as well.
Sometimes I feel I'd end up in the hospital any second, but that would cause a lot of stress and pain to my family, and that kept me hanging...somewhere.
These 2 major changes in my life has been an extremely humbling experience. The first one more so than the second. Part of my strength and belief is to never lose hope. In 22 years of my life, I have always believed that if you strongly want something in life, Allah (swt) will give it to you. To me, that's the way life worked. Everything that happened was proportional to the strength of your belief in it. And I still believe in that. Yesterday when my application was rejected, my eyes had filled with tears. My brother said: You have your whole life in front of you, try again later.
But that's the problem: The only reality of everyone's existance is death. And the thought that I'm 1/3rd of the way in a lifespan wasn't of much solace.
Believers are strong people- They are strong in their faith in Allah (swt), in the decisions they make, in the promises they make to themselves and others, and strong in their patience when they have to wait. A believer would sacrifice himself rather than wrong another person, his forsight and wisdom would always make him make the right choices.
Sometimes, it's so easy to say that all affairs rest with Allah (swt), after you have crossed all your limits. or to say, it will happen when Allah Wills- as women who put wearing the hijab aside would say. Yet, before all affairs are rested with Allah (swt), we have to perform our prayers, set our course, we need to fulfill rights and obligations, do our tasks...
And I also believe that whatever happens to us, is because of our own doing. If someone oversteps my authority, or is injust with me, or hates me, or likes me, or uses me, or an application of mine is rejected, or something worse, awful, terrible happens- It's because of something wrong I had done.
Just like how when Umar (ra) had sent a Muslim army to the huge land of Egypt, and they were under seige. Umar (ra) said to them it's because of their own doing- either the Muslims weren’t praying properly, or mistreating the prisoners, or their ibadah wasn’t complete [instead of complaining and blaming others].
I feel ever so grateful to people who have gone out of their way for me. Not my friends, or family, but people whom perhaps, I may never see again. Like my aunt's brother-in-law who helped my brother carry a 60kg box down the stairs of my appartment, or the TTC driver who realising that I wanted to get on board but was running towards the stop, stopped midway and opened his door to let me in, or the child who handed me something that fell, or the porter who helped me with my suitcases at the Abu Dhabi airport, or the person who sent me an email a few days ago telling me that he wished he could dream and do what I do, and so countless people who may have just smiled at me... every gesture of theirs reinforces my belief in myself, that I may not deserve it, for the person I am, but Allah (swt) elevates my status amongst who He wills.
One of the things I do is to make a special prayer for the person I'm visiting, especially if it's at their house- a prayer to keep them safe, and under Allah's mercy, and to be called as witness to their hospitality towards me.
Everytime Sayam signed in, I'd read his nick: Forgive and Forget, and force myself to think. Forgive, but shall never forget- Never forget those subtle moments, petty talks, good humour and concern. I sent a few of my friends an email asking them to take a few minutes, to forgive someone. We often think that we're such great human beings that we have the right to hold a grudge against someone even if they're wrong, but what if.... what if we get called on the Day of Judgement as those who are bankrupt?
Rasoolullah (pbuh) said:
"Do you know who the bankrupt is? The bankrupt from my nation is the one who appears on the Day of Resurrection having performed the prayers, fasted and paid the zakah, but had also abused that person, slandered that person, wrongfully taken the wealth of that person and spilled the blood of that person. These people will take from his good deeds. If his good deeds are thereby exhausted, he will be given their sins and then he will be thrown into the hell-fire".
I realised, everyone's good is not the same. We try to do good, and we face ethical choices. Someone else's good could be your bad. Well, that just means that a person trying to make things right for himself may make it wrong for others. They make it wrong for others because others may have done something, but have been misunderstood. But looking @ the bigger picture, it seems more right than wrong.
And part of our belief is... becoming stronger in the face of oppression, patient in the face of adversity, and grateful in the face of good.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

A 100 miles

If you miss the train Im on, you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles,
A hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles, a hundred miles,
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Lord Im one, lord Im two, lord Im three, lord Im four,
Lord Im 500 miles from my home.
500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles, 500 miles
Lord Im five hundred miles from my home.

Not a shirt on my back, not a penny to my name
Lord I cant go a-home this a-way
This a-away, this a-way, this a-way, this a-way,
Lord I cant go a-home this a-way.

If you miss the train Im on you will know that I am gone
You can hear the whistle blow a hundred miles.

Jab koi baat bigad jaye, jab koi mushkil pad jaye
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz
Naa koi hai, naa koi thaa, zindagi mein tumhaare sivaa
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz

Ho chandni jab tak raat, detaa hai har koi saath,
Tum magar andheron mein, naa chhorna mera haath

Jab koi baat bigad jaye, jab koi mushkil pad jaye
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz
Naa koi hai, naa koi thaa, zindagi mein tumhaare sivaa
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz

Wafaadari ki vo rasmein nibhayenge hum to kasme,
Ek bhi saans zindagi ki, jab tak ho apne bas mein
Jab koi baat bigad jaye, jab koi mushkil pad jaye
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz

Naa koi hai, naa koi thaa, zindagi mein tumhaare sivaa
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz

Dil ko mere hua yakin, hum pehle bhi mile kahin
Silsila ye sadiyon ka, koi aaj ki baat nahin

Jab koi baat bigad jaye, jab koi mushkil pad jaye
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz
Naa koi hai, naa koi thaa, zindagi mein tumhaare sivaa
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz
Tum denaa saath meraa, o, humnavaaz

Friday, November 10, 2006

Goodbye Toronto!

Nouman Ashraf had told me to read this book "Oh the places you'll go" by Dr Seuss. Hmm... I really want to have bubble tea before I leave...!

Oh, the Places You'll Go!
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.
It's opener there
in the wide open air.
Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.
You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.
You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.
And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...
...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.
Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.
With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!
Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.
Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.
I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.
All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.
And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.
But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.
On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!
---Dr. Seuss

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The world of unknown

" the 2-eared rabbit that jumps out of the bushes...
and it's dark, and there's a lake,
you want to touch it
but you're scared to go near it because it is... not a human
...and you don't know what it is...
but a 2-eared rabbit
so what about the 2-humped camel?
Can that be a human?
Huge, majestic and proud
with long eyelashes
and longer journeys..."

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I found this note amongst some of my high school stuff:

"Sometimes being a friend means mastering the act of timing.
There is a time for silence.
A time to let go
and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.
And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces
when it's all over."

Google revealed the author of this quote: Gloria Naylor

I crushed it and threw it away.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What is 1325?

1325 brought a lot of expectations and hopes for women around the the world, regardless of the fact that most were, and still are unaware of this resolution.
This was the first time in history that the United Nations addressed the role and experience of women in armed conflict.
so, what is it really?
A watershed political framework that makes gender perspectives and women relevant to negotiating peace agreements, planning humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, and rebuilding war-torn communities. It makes the pursuit of gender equality relevant to every single Security Council action, ranging from elections to disarmament efforts. The resolution is a broad blueprint, calling for change in how the international community approaches peace and security issues. By adopting SCR1325, the UN commits to including references to women and a gender perspective in all Security Resolutions, UN mission mandates and reports.
Read the entire resolution here.

As Sir Emyr Jones Parry, President of the Security Council said on OCtober 28, 2005:
"If we want to do justice to peace, we must do justice to resolution 1325"

I'm quite pressed for time, so more later...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Key to a healthy relationship

Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) said, "play with them (your children) for the first 7 years. Teach them for the next 7 years. And then after that for 7 years, become their friends. And after that, leave them alone."

A mother's heart

Sheikh Muhammad ibn Faqih narrated this in the Rules of Engagement class:
Promised a man of old
a lad, dinars and gold

For a price like no other
the very heart of his mother

For glitter he did not stagger
took to his mother a long dagger

Pulled out her heart with his hands bare
for everlasting riches, a small fare

Heart in hand, he rushed in haste
not a moment he wished to waste

He fell, and out rolled from his hand
the heart of his mother into the sand

Out called the heart 'O son of mine'
'I hope surely you are fine'

Fear gripped the lad
'What have I done?' he said

His self he intended to punish for the vice
'O my son' called the heart: 'kill me not twice'

At the hospital

I had the feeling all day something was going to go wrong, and it did. I was supposed to take the bus, and then the subway home after the meeting. But as soon as evening fell, my thoughts began to make me feel nauseous and I started feeling fluctuations in my blood pressure levels. Everything seemed blurry. I couldn’t remember what I said, or whom I met. I just wanted to go home. And…I fainted in the subway. I don’t recall what happened, except that I was clutching my laptop for dear life. My eyes were closed, but I could hear sounds…
Just like the previous two times I had fainted. People were trying to lift me… some were shouting for the ambulance… some wondered if I was dead…. That seemed like a lot of people for that time of the night… It was close to 11pm.
I was very awake by the time I reached emergency. After a few hours, the doctors and nurses had a lot of questions. Of course it’s stress, what else can it be? I’ve a perfectly normal lifestyle, and I eat alright. I had found out that your gums swell up and bleed when you brush if you’re very stressed out, so why not a drop in your blood pressure cause the same thing? The reason was good enough for me to be discharged a few hours later.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I spoke with her today. She made fun of the fact that I wanted to sleep for 17 minutes. What could I do? The phone had been ringing all morning, and I really wanted to sleep!
And my own misery was drowned by her excitedness. She was so happy... I could feel the glow on her face from across the miles. Wow... the feeling of being united with someone can really change your days and nights. I wonder what she was expecting? May her special prayers be accepted.
It was a quick conversation. She asked me about other updates- I had none. Same old.
Ah well, you must be busy? Well said. I am!
Alright, catch you later!

From Local to Global: Making Peace Work for Women

"Leadership of women is not just a matter of mandate. Women's leadership has to be bought with a clear vision, fired by commitment, nourished by credibility, galvanised by performance, and cradled incessantly in the bosom of power. It should stand in the bed rock of a politicized constituency, and a platform of results that would benefit not only women, but everyone in society."

- Dr Massouda Jalal, Minister for Women's Affairs, Afghanistan

In the next few weeks, I'm going to spend a few posts on the Security Council resolution 1325. It's been 6 years since this resolution, and I wanted to write about:
- UN's progress and responsibility
- UN System-Wide Action Plan
- Different departments/committees that merged
- Their recommendations
- The global leaders behind this
- Advocacy and awareness
- Resources: where to go for more

Thursday, November 02, 2006

'Look ma.. no fish!'

In first year, 5 years ago, I used to live on campus residence. A few months into Canada, I had an unfortunate incident when my bonsai cactus died. But that has nothing to do with the fish.
One of my suitemates told me that she was going on vacation in the winter to the Carribean, and kindly asked me if I could take care of her goldfish while she was gone. I was unsure... never had a pet, not even a fish, and certainly wasn't planning on getting one in the near future. I told her, and she said it's the easiest thing in the world to take care of a goldfish, all I had to do was to put the food in the bowl, and she'd even the wash the bowl once before she'd leave so that I wouldn't have to do it.
It sounded like a piece of cake. How hard can it be?
The day before she was leaving, she knocked on my door.
"Hey Humairah. Guess what?"
"Hi.. what happened?"
"You don't have to worry about the goldfish anymore."
"Oh... howcome? Are you taking it with you?"
"Umm.. I was washing its bowl in the washroom, and I accidently slipped the fish down the sink drain"

Name Plate

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


This sucks. I spent three hours perusing websites to find the perfect gift for someone... and had no luck. The person has such limited interests, that everything I think of seems cheezy...


"Verily one's external manner is the mark of one's inner manner, and the movements of the productive members of the body are the results of passing thoughts. Morever, actions are the result of character, and fine breeding is the distillate of knowlege. Indeed, actions are rooted and originate in the innermost thoughts of the heart. [Verily] the innermost lights of the heart shine upon one's external behaviour, adorning and embellishing it, and subsitute good qualities for disliked and evil ones.
Furthermore, he whose heart is not humbled, his external members are not humbled; and he whose chest is not the niche of the divine lights, there does not spread over his external features the beauty of the prophetic manner."

- Abu Hamid Al Ghazali, Ihya Uloom Ud Din

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In the Interlude

It was one of those cold, windy, rainy nights in the city, and she was walking along a dark road. A lost soul, questioning herself uncontrollably on destiny's games, completely unaware of the rain drops trickling down her cheeks, and soaking her clothes. It was her tears that blended with the darkness around her, causing cracks in her already low confidence, like cracks in an old wall...
But she had no answers. And the rain continued to pelt her. Many moments later, her legs gave way, and she collapsed along the sidewalk.
None of the passerbys noticed this silhoutte against the backdrop, lying lifeless, fighting with the desires of herself and the reality.
In this world, who stops for a stranger anyways?

I finished serving my duty at the hospital, and was looking forward to going home to rest. It had been a tiring day, dealing with the family of the deceased baby, and all I really needed was some time to reflect on what went wrong. The thought of the mother giving up her child began to haunt me, and I didn't realise I had wandered off in the wrong direction, until I saw a figure, barely noticeable in the bad weather.
"A young mother?" I thought to myself... "perhaps not. Just a homeless person." But it was one of those moments where your instincts fire up, and mine definitely did.
I quietly walked upto her, and sat by her side. I noticed the laces of her shoes were undone and were mixed with mud. "Did she trip?".

"Hi... are you alright?" A simple silence, that seemed almost deafening against the beating rain. I placed my umbrella next to me. "Listen... it's getting cold. It's not safe either. You need to go indoors. Did you hurt yourself? Are you tired? Should I call a cab?"
She finally shifted, turned around and faced me. "Oh Lord...what a sad face.." In that brief instant, I saw her inside, on her face. Every single emotion she was feeling was painted by the streaking tears on her face, a face not much older than mine.
"Can you help me? Can you answer my questions?", she asked.
"Uh...I can try. But first, let's get warm."
I escorted her to a nearby shade, and the blasting heat from sewers below warmed us up in no time.
"They took everything away from me... I lost everything in hours. Everything that I had worked hard and saved up in so many years...", she began.
"Why did it have to be me? I don't have an address to my name anymore. In a matter of hours I ended up on the street. My worst fear, in all these years just came true... how am I going to live?"
I realised she was a victim of some fraud. I couldn't do much to help her. She was scared, lost, and confused. I had to get home. It had been such a long time, and I have an early day tomorrow. She'll find a way. Something, someone should be able to help her. The city offers lots of programs.

"You know what- I don't know what happened with you, and why. But all I can say'll be fine. In this life, you don't need a whole lot to survive, and sometimes, you learn that the hard way. But once you learn it, everything falls into place. Just don't hesitate to ask for help. Good night!"
And I walked away.

Pat Robertson on Feminism

Feminism is a "socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."
- 1992 statement from Rev. Pat Robertson, offering his views on empowered women

About songs I post

I don't listen to music anymore- These are all old songs I remember from when I used to listen to music. Most of these are... nice.

Viva Forever- Spice Girls

Do you still remember
How we used to be
Feeling together, believe in whatever
My love has said to me
Both of us were dreamers
Young love in the sun
Felt like my saviour, my spirit I gave ya
We'd only just begun

Hasta Manana,
Always be mine

Viva forever, I'll be waiting
Everlasting, like the sun
Live forever,
For the moment
Ever searching for the one

Yes I still remember,
Every whispered word
The touch of your skin, giving life from within
Like a love song that I'd heard
Slipping through our fingers,
Like the sands of time
Promises made, every memory saved
Has reflections in my mind

Hasta Manana,
Always be mine


Back where I belong now,
Was it just a dream
Feelings unfold, they will never be sold
And the secret's safe with me

Hasta Manana,
Always be mine

[Chorus x2]

Watch it on youTube

Monday, October 30, 2006

What next?

Foot reflexology....
If you're around, join me for dinner tonite @ Hernando's Hideaway- 545 Yonge St @ 7pm.

Friday, October 27, 2006

@ the Daily Bread Foodbank- MYG Event

Two hours of food sorting... was definitely a mind-juggling task! There were 32 categories of food, and it was important to ensure that they don't get mixed up. MAC Youth Give organised a day @ the Daily Bread Food Bank on October 14th.

Syma made a comment when she saw all the other people helping out: 'People are so nice! I didn't know they'd care!' It's true- People of other faith come out in much larger numbers than us. Muslims are quite passive.
There were some very interesting donated food items. The worst was putting away a box of lindt chocolates... and handling food for that long while fasting was very exhausting!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ramadan Fast-a-Thon

UofT held a fast-a-thon this year, and it's the 3rd one in a row. Alhamdulillah it was well attended, and Safiyyah has a really nice account on her blog.
At Sana's high-profile iftar, I met Grahame Rivers- one of Sana's friends, and an avid Liberal just like her. Grahame was quite interested in experiencing fasting, and when I told him about the fast-a-thon, he just had to give it a try!
When I saw Grahame @ 6:30, his face was awfully red, and he could barely speak. Sana and I distracted him until we got to the food [the food was awful...], and after that it seemed all normal.

I'm glad I got to hear an account of a non-Muslim's experience of fasting. It really opens your eyes to the gifts in your religion.

Raindrops on Roses

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels;
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles;
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes;
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes;
Silver-white winters that melt into springs;
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the dog bites,
When the bee stings,
When I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.

When Galloway spoke...


Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today, but last week you already found me guilty.

You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever and you call that justice.

Now, I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors.

Then, I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me, you assert that I have had "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is that Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns.

I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war and, on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

New Toronto Phone Number

It's official, I finished work yesterday, October 24th and inshallah I'll be leaving Canada on November 10th. Leaving a country is definitely a tough decision, despite months of mental preparation. I can't live without my friends, who are Alhamdulillah too many to name, so I got myself a Toronto phone number in UAE!
It's already active, I'll be emailing out the number in a few days.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Real Men (or rather, no more real men)

"Women will no longer be able to give birth to the likes of Khalid bin Al-Waleed."

- Abu Bakr, May Allah be pleased with him

[Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah, Dar Abi Hayyan, Cairo, 1st ed. 1416/1996, Vol. 7 P. 141]

Melting Pot- by Boyzone

Take a pinch of one man
Wrap him up in suntan
Add a touch of blue blood
And a little bitty bit of
whatever you choose
Curly black and kinky
Mix it with love and let's see
If you lump it altogether
Well you've got a recipe
for a get along scene...
Oh what a beautiful dream
If it could only come true
You know you know...

What we need is a great big melting pot
Big enough to take the world
and all it's got
Keep it stiring for a hundred years or more
Turn out coffee colored people
by the score

Mick and Lady Faithful
And everyone who's graceful
You know the living could be tasteful
And we should all get together
in a mixing machine
Yeah yeah yeah

The poorest and the wealthy
Weakest and the healthy
If you lump it all together
Well you gotta recipe
for a get along scene
I'd better call up the Queen
It's only fair that she know
you know you know...

On not neglecting one's household responsibilities

Abu Said recorded that an aggrieved woman came to the Prophet (pbuh) expecting him to support her against her husband. She said: 'Messenger of Allah (swt), my husband Safwan ibn al-Muattal beats me when I pray, and makes me break my fast when I keep fast, and he doesn't offer dawn prayer until the sun rises'.
He asked Safwan, who was present there, about what she said. He replied: 'Messenger of Allah, as for her statement 'he beats me when I pray', she recites two surahs and I have forbidden her' The Prophet (pbuh) said: If one surah is recited, that is sufficient'. Safwan continued: 'As regards her saying 'he makes me break my fast', she (will) keep fasting; I am a young man, I cannot withold myself'. The Prophet (pbuh) said on that day: 'A woman should not fast except with the permission of her husband.' Safwan said: ' As to her statement that I do not pray until the sun rises, we are a people belonging to a ( certain) class, and (our profession of supplying water) is already known about us. We do not awake until after sun-rise'. The Prophet (pbuh) said: 'Offer your prayer when you awake'. (Abu Dawud 2453)
[Water carriers supplied people until almost the end of the night, and therefore found it impossible to rise for prayer before sunrise).

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Wall Must Fall
Sign and send the campaign postcard to the Prime Minister. Insist the Canadian government publicly work to uphold the decision of the International Court of Justice.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A new blog!

This was coming... it had to come!
But it's a short project inshallah.
I've created a new blog that's going to have really short excerpts from the life of Umar bin Al Khattab, May Allah be pleased with Him.
The link is:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, that if there were to come a Prophet after him, it would have been Umar.
Umar (ra) reached excellence in all areas of his life: his simplicity, sense of leadership, administration, conquests, compassion, justice...
We have so much to learn.
May Allah, subhana wa ta'ala, guide us, and lead us in the direction of the Khulafaa-ur-Rashideen.

A Special Bond

His face was always smiling, and that smile would emanate a special illuminating light, that I'd notice everytime I saw him. I know he's been struggling for a very long time now, fighting to accept the reality, yes it's true- I am leaving for a long time without a plan of return. The first time he heard it, his silence made me realise how shocked he was. I felt sad. I'll be leaving everything and everyone behind. He made me feel as if he wants me to stay more than anyone else. And he repeated that, sincerely, over and over again. 'Please stay...It will never be the same without you.'
And today he called and said, 'perhaps you don't realise, I love you a lot. You might think it's a joke, but it's true.' I said don't make me cry.
'Is this brother of yours deserving of your time? Can we meet once before you leave? Somewhere...special, where I can cherish and remember our memories until you return?'

Under my breath, I quietly said, 'but I will not return...'

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Diversity Issue in Netherlands

I was invited by br Nouman Ashraf, Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Officer @ UofT, to attend a brainstorming session held on campus, on the topic of Diversity in Netherlands. The session was organised for a delegation of high profile Dutch political figures. They included mayors of various cities, and a few police representatives.

The hour-and-half went by pretty fast. Everyone present had a lot to say. Br Nouman had selected a few students he knew to come share their experiences, and aid in the discussions.
I must commend these group of people, who flew all the way here from Europe- They sincerely cared about solving the issue of diversity, and dealing with Muslims, and wanted to learn as much as possible about what the difference between their country and Canada was.
I've always been proud of this place, and today, I was even more thankful.

A bit of background:

Government and their agencies, including police, are not willing to respect the customs, traditions, beliefs and behaviours of minority (non-Christian) groups. Neither do these groups try and work with each other to 'problem solve" issues, which is one of the primary functions of Community Based Policing. This is how this mission to Toronto originated. The Netherlands have a lot of minorities groups, most who originated from their former colonies.
They cause a lot of problems and dilemma for the 55, 000 police officers in The Netherlands.
The chief constable decided that we must import a document with a profiled vision to deal with diversity - minorities, homosexuals, the Muslim community.
As a result of the killing of film producer Theo van Gogh, the Muslim community has been targeted, not only by the police but the mainstream communities. The police officers are not adequately trained to deal with diversity and their interaction with the public is very poor. They do not understand customs, cultures, religious beliefs, the need for Muslims to prayer 5-times a day, the refusal of some Muslims to shake hands with female detectives, refusal to talk to females detectives, assumption that Muslim women are not allowed to speak to male officers, etc. Every day, the police Force experiences about "30 dilemma dealing with diversity issues."
Toronto was chose over London (UK), New York City and Baltimore, because everywhere in Europe, it is acknowledged that Toronto is recognised, by the United Nations, as one of the most diverse cities in the world. So then, what is happening there ? What are communities getting on ? What is the police doing to police such a diverse society (city), What training do the front-line police officers receive ?
Some of the facts that came up:
- The clause in the Canadian charter of rights that talks about equality and no discrimination is EXACTLY the same as the Dutch
- Canada has 60% immigrant population. Netherlands has about 40%: The difference is that the 40% are Muslims, but in Canada, it's a mix.
- Immigrants in Canada have an average of 1.2 degrees compared to the locals:0.97. Immigrants are highly educated, whereas in the Netherlands, the immigrant community is mostly the labour class.
- The first wave of Muslim immigrants entered the Netherlands around the 1960s, so their population is much older than ours.
- Netherlands is densely populated. A very small country, yet it's the next after Bangladesh in their population density.

Issues in the Netherlands:
- Do they want the immigrant community to stay?
- Have they done enough to teach the language to foreigners?
- This generation (the third) seems to be more extreme and radical than the first generation that came here.
- There are about 10 Muslims political leaders in the entire country.

So what makes diversity work in Canada?
- Canadians have great programs for immigrants.
- Immigrants are praised for their achievements, regardless of their background
- Diversity is @ all levels- not just in religion.
- Educated Muslims have integrated well, and are even part of the political process.
- Muslims here are also deeply involved in society, and social upliftment.

I concluded that there's an absolute need for the Muslim community to teach others about Islam. The government has made no such effort, nor have the Muslims.