Monday, December 31, 2007

Coincidence blend

Today, I made the wackiest tea drink ever and I named it the Coincidence Blend. It's a blend of a special Pakistani tea and Ethiopian tea spice.

The reason why it's a coincidence is because, my mother made some Kashmiri tea for my brother because he requested her to (exam cravings I believe) and instead of making regular tea to find out how it tastes with the Ethiopian tea spice mix which my father brought back today, I added it to the pink tea that she made.

Don't ask me how many cups of that I've had (and I'm not a tea drinker)! But when you have pistachios, almonds, rose water, tea spice, sugar, milk and Pakistani green tea (or Kashmiri chai) all in one... it can make you high! I have to say, you are missing out! Unless if you're in town a few weeks from now because I'm seriously thinking of throwing a tea party.

I spent an hour in the internet searching for the ingredients of the tea spice without any luck. Anyone know?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Never Smile at a Crocodile

Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin
Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile
You may very well be well bred
Lots ot etiquette in your head
But there's always some special case, time or place
To forget etiquette
For instance:
Never smile at a crocodile
No, you can't get friendly with a crocodile
Don't be taken in by his welcome grin
He's imagining how well you'd fit within his skin
Never smile at a crocodile
Never dip your hat and stop to talk awhile
Never run, walk away, say good-night, not good-day
Clear the aisle but never smile at Mister Crocodile

From: Peter Pan

Ernie and Bert

Freeha, this one's for you:

Nafay's Travel Blog from Kabul

Nafay writes:

I'm currently in Kabul (Afghanistan) doing a short internship at an organization here - Women and Children's Legal Research Foundation. I guess this is what legal "activism" is about ;-). Anyways, if ever you hit a dull moment where you are about to crack open a book and get a head start on next semester's work (HAH!), you check out my travel blog: which tries to show what life in Afghanistan is like these days.

Nafay has a BA and MA in Economics and he's currently pursuing a law degree @ Mc Gill.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Doesn't matter

If I'm a year older. I still run around and jump all over the place and sing songs and do silly things.
Forever young inshallah.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Eid Mubarak

and Eid Mubarak from our goat Sheikh as well!

May Allah (swt) accept from us.

Eid day is going to be rather interesting. I hope I have some time to put mehndi on my sister's hands. I chose a really difficult design so it's a 3 hour work. I haven't been able to move my neck since morning (not sure what I did!) so that adds to the challenge.
A conference call meeting at 5am, another at 6am, both of which I'm running. Then, Eid salah around 7:30am. We decided to do the sacrifice on the second day. So I hope that leaves me enough time to clean up my room (yea, I'm bad...). Sometimes it's hard to be prepared in advance!
And if all goes well, I'm going on a desert safari on Thursday!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Egg crisis!

Eggs have disappeared off the shelves of all major super markets in Al Ain. I don't know the situation in other cities, and I'm too lazy to research. You can check out Gulf or Khaleej
A tray of large eggs used to cost 12 dhs. A few days ago, the price had doubled to 26 dhs. And I asked my father today, it's upto 29, and eggs are still hard to find!

I hope this scarcity is temporary. The reason is cases of bird flu in India and Saudi Arabia. Local production isn't enough to meet the demands.

On an unrelated note, my mother collected the vegetable waste in the evening so that my father could give it to the neighbours to feed their hens. I didn't know hens eat vegetables.

Today however, we went to Buraimi for some errands. For all you Al Ain-ers lost without eating their eggs, the cost of the tray across the border is only 18dhs, and they are available!

Go get 'em!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

What is our problem?

Either we ask too much, or we don't ask at all. We can't seem to find a balance. A friend who's been having trouble praying at work (and losing her values) was talking to me, and she said, "you know, it'll be great if you can get a degree from Harvard. That way, you'll have no problems at all".
Had it not been towards the end of our conversation, I would have lashed out a defensive, in a positive style.
I said to her, "inshallah I won't have problems even otherwise", and I know she had a skeptical look on her face.

I spent 5 years in Toronto. I can't say that I didn't face challenges with practicing Islam, but I can say for sure that there wasn't a problem that didn't have a solution. One of the best examples was the way I was able to handle the issue of praying during exams especially in winter with the help of the MSA, some students with like minds and my faculty. There were professors who said no to me on my face. Others asked me to make a "silent" prayer at my desk, and so on. But in every situation, I did not miss a prayer because of conflict with exam timings. There were times when the exam ended at 4:30pm. With Maghrib setting in at 4:40pm, that gave us less than 10 minutes to get through the crowd and find a spot to pray, and then open our fasts. This was a situation when we weren't accommodated because of our own oversight of approaching the faculty too close to exams.
The best arrangement I found was praying right outside the door, with a TA watching me, as well as the students inside the room. We would take turns. I always carried a compass on me so I always knew the direction of the Qiblah). And sometimes, some of the brothers who availed of these opportunities even did a jama'a in low voices during the exam!

So, why do we lose out? Why does my friend think that a degree from Harvard will pave way for me in the most difficult of times which I might face because I come across as a visible Muslim?

Being a visible Muslim
A person can use any situation to their advantage, or disadvantage. Most people tend to feel weak and wary as soon as they're faced with a difficult situation that compromises their beliefs. As a visible Muslim, instinctively I want to be able to portray a good image because I know that Islam is the right way, and by opening up people to Islam, I'm introducing them to a better way of life. Now, I might have a degree from Harvard, but people will first see me as a Muslim always because I don't think for the rest of my life I intend to walk around with the degree stuck to me. So much for the degree.

It's important to be in a mindset that hijab is great, and my hijab will help me. I still remember my first year in Canada. I was new to the hijab and didn't know how to pin it properly, but I never failed to notice the way guys differentiated in their treatment towards me and towards other girls. I was always given more respect. This same "respect" can be very easily labelled as "cold shoulder" by other people. In their efforts to "integrate", especially girls, they often forget that it's better not to be associated with people of the opposite gender if they are not able to respect you.
In particular, I remember a guy called Trevor. A classmate decided to study at my place, and in the hallway, we ran into him. I'm not sure how, but the conversation steered towards the topic of the reality of hellfire. Trevor resolved to become a better person.

It is so much easier for people to ask me what I'd like rather than for me to tell them, and being a visible Muslim makes it so much easier. I worked as a student assistant for a quadriplegic student for a summer and we became really good friends. I never needed to mention that I'm a Muslim to him. He once invited me to his party, and left me a very long voice mail message before he began his preparation. He wanted to know if I had any dietary restrictions, and then chanted off a list of ingredients in the different food items he was planning to use, and, "do you eat onions?".

It's true that you'll not always people who are accommodating and friendly. Sometimes my friend and I ventured to go jogging in the mornings. And at one time, someone did shout something awful at her. This incident was easy to ignore. What's not easy to ignore is the case of my friend, who's colleague with whom she shared her office, told her not to pray there because she felt uncomfortable. Even that situation has a solution.

Another friend, 19 year old revert to Islam, simply couldn't get herself to wear the hijab because she worked at a jewellery store. Everyday her story was the same- She felt horrible about the way she dressed, but she needed the job.

What a lot of people fail to understand that, when you place your values and religious responsibilities before everything else, Allah (swt) raises the ranks of such people in a very different way. They don't necessarily have to become CEOs or begin earning 6 digit salaries (there are examples of such people as well) but at least their hearts and minds do not possess the guilt that comes with selling out their values.

For sure if you want prosperity, you will achieve it through hard work, whether you wear the hijab/keep a beard or not. The comparison doesn't exist because you cannot compare the position of a person in this world, with his position with Allah (swt).

Perspective & creativity
We might think that Islam is foreign to most people around us in Western societies, and a scary religion as well. Yet, the bigger reality of this life is that there are millions of people groping in the darkness, looking for a guiding light. People in search of inner peace because nothing in their search, nothing else has satisfied them. So many people who are thirsty for the truth, but they just don't know that it all lies in Islam, because it's not within human comprehension to view the major benefits of being a Muslim right away. I'm still growing in my faith and discovering new paths.

My exposure hasn't been too wide, but I feel that we can always find a solution if we don't blow things out of proportion. There were people who would insist that if they want to pray during an exam, it has to be in a separate room on a "clean" floor. I found that to be so unnecessary. I wish in our training system we introduce a course titled "Foresightedness". Everything has to be done in steps. What is the bigger goal? Every time I walked into the registrar's office with the intention of making arrangements to pray during my exam, the thought that if I succeed, it's going to make it easier for Muslim students after me, was always there. So, stop being selfish.
Our salah is so beautiful that it has no attachments to material requirements. It is so pure that even with hundreds of eyes on you, you can pray if you really want to.

Also, if we weren't accommodated for, it was because we didn't ask for it early enough. There's hardly anything in life that wont go well if you don't plan it well. And planning ahead is an important part of the creative process.
The decision in this case, to allow students to pray, is not taken by just one person, but rather, it's propagated up/down several levels because they also have to choose the best possible solution. Don't forget to thank them later. Little gestures like these really go a long way. It's so easy for us to be aggressive and create so much drama every time something goes wrong in our community, but we are not quick and constant in our relationships with others.

When I was working as a research assistant on campus, in my lunch breaks, I would run downstairs to the Alumni office and help them prepare for the upcoming alumni dinner for those who graduated in the 40s and 50s. I would barely have 20-30 minutes because I had to eat and pray as well. However, this was an excellent opportunity to network (because I was hoping I'd be allowed to attend the dinner!) at the same time, I had made a place for myself that people would remember. To explain further, I did quite mundane tasks such as photocopying and cutting out old class pictures and sticking them up on boards, or making phone calls for RSVPs. But in that little time I had, I maintained a great relationship with the employees working in that office. One lady was from Cyprus and she told me about how in Cyprus, there's a major focus on family values. It was raining heavily one day and she decided to drop me to my place (I had to leave my bike on campus).

The problem does not lie in asking for time off for Friday prayers when you negotiate your job offer. The problem lies in how you ask for it. There are several factors operating at different levels. Study the person you are going to ask. Know your workplace. Prepare your case well, don't just blurt it out. Make an impressive statement about yourself. Be friendly. And my most important advice would be, ask for what you need after you have created a relationship of trust with your colleagues and immediate managers.

I've been to several fundraising events in Muslim communities- fundraising dinners for their own organisation, relief, masjid, etc. And over the years, I've seen a great improvement the way the it's done. We cannot expect to do things in the same way for the rest of our lives and expect impact in our society. Look at what children do in order to earn a few bucks- car wash, painting, window cleaning, etc. This work requires a lot of creativity.
I've seen congregations dwindle because of the mosque's fundraising techniques. Being creative is in other words, growing with society.

There was a time when mosques did not have loud speaker systems, and now they do (after much fiqh debate of course). Creativity is key. Be different. If you're asking for something, ask in the best possible manner. Definitely it is your right, but when you are setting a precedence, excellence and creativity are key.

I had worked at a startup company for a really short time and there was a really cool Muslim guy in his late 30s who had a prayer mat in his drawer. He showed me the room where he used to pray- a room full of pipes and cleaning supplies. He had an amazing attitude towards dealing with his religion. He had started working there a week before me, and I remember on one Friday, he walks into the CEO's office and goes, "Hey Daniel, I'm stepping out for an hour for the prayer. Will see you later. Have a great lunch."

If you feel troubled by asking for religious accommodation, then trouble is what you will get. Again, I'll stress that I'm not perfect. I faced problems and several times I made decisions that affected me adversely. And at the end, I always reminded myself, I need to be stronger.

Jumping at delusive opportunities
We have an interesting habit of rejoicing at small "successes" and then forgetting all about it. Just because someone asked me about whether their list of ingredients is halal, does not mean I'm calling up the guy and telling him I'm coming over with a Qur'an for him and start preaching Islam.
We really know how to torture people with our ways of communicating our very profound thoughts on Islam without checking if the other person is listening or even cares.
Islam is best spread by action. Get your own act right before you start preaching. We so easily forget that action is not just salah (in public) or making a grand statement of not drinking alcohol, but action is also your honesty, your hard work, your demeanor, your professionalism, and very importantly- your outlook and your treatment of others!

Note: This post was originally titled, "The trouble with not wearing Hijab".

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Join Us - January 11 to Shut Down Guantanamo!

Friday, January 11, 2008: The 6 year anniversary of the first prisoners being brought to Guantánamo.

jan 11

Last year on January 11th, after 500 people processed from the Supreme Court to the Federal court, 150 people risked arrest on behalf of the men in Guantanamo, with 88 being arrested inside the Federal Court in DC. Many of those arrested withheld their identification and took the names of men at Guantanamo. It was a very powerful day, made possible by the contributions of many in the extended Catholic Worker family.

This year, we again are working with many groups on a demonstration in Washington, D.C. The day will begin with a press conference at the White House led by Amnesty International followed by a “prisoner procession” to the Supreme Court.

Come to DC or organize a vigil, demonstration or speaker in your own community!

Additionally, and as a recruiting mechanism for Jan. 11th, we are asking people to participate in a 24 hour fast for justice on December 5th, the day the Supreme Court will hear two cases related to Guantanamo prisoners. [Download flier]

  • ENDORSE the Jan 11 Day of Action
  • DOWNLOAD flyers, web buttons, adaptable press release, and more.
  • FIND housing, food, transportation, legal and other logistical info.
  • POST your event to our calendar.
  • DONATE and support the Jan 11th mobilization

  • International Day to Shut Down Guantánamo

    “If it were up to me I would close Guantánamo not tomorrow but thisafternoon…We don't need it and it is causing us far more damage than any good we get for it.”–Colin Powell, June 10, 2007, Former Secretary of State

    “The Guantánamo camp was created on a myth…It was built on a lie…And it was organized around a fiction…It is time to get rid of it.” –New York Times Editorial “Gitmo: A National Disgrace,” June 6, 2007

    Guantánamo is “a stain on the character of the United States.” –Archbishop Desmond Tutu

    “Immediately close the detention center for at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and either release its inmates or bring them before an impartial tribunal.”–United Nations Human Rights Commission

  • Find resources for action, order T-shirts and jumpsuits, and get complete and up-to- date details about the day’s events on our website:

    Prisoners of Guantánamo march to the Supreme Court:
    A provocative street theater performance involving people wearing orange jumpsuits and black hoods. We will march in an orderly, silent procession, hauntingly evoking the moral disgrace that is Guantánamo.
    • All participants are strongly encouraged to attend a final planning meeting and training on Thursday (January 10th), 4–6pm.

    After dinner, there will be a public program on Guantánamo from 7–9 pm. Location: St. Stephens and the Incarnation Church,
    1525 Newton Street NW, at 16th Street.

    For more information or if you have any questions, please email Matt Daloisio ( or Frida Berrigan at (

    • Organize a vigil, speaker or demonstration in your own community if you cannot come to Washington, DC.

    In December 2005, a group of twenty four friends, following the nonviolent tradition of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker walked to Guantánamo to visit the prisoners, calling themselves
    “Witness Against Torture.” When they returned, they launched the “Campaign to Shut Down Guantánamo,” which consists of public education and community outreach, networking and resource
    sharing, and acts of nonviolent civil resistance to draw attention to the plight of prisoners in Guantánamo, and victims of the war on terrorism everywhere.

    Friday, January 11, 2008

    Marks Six Years of Torture, Detention and Abuse at Guantánamo
     10:00am– Gather at Lafayette Park for Orientation to Prisoner March (1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW)

    11:00 am – Amnesty International and National Religious Campaign Against Torture demonstration in Lafayette Park

    Noon – Guantánamo Prisoner Procession from the White House to the Supreme Court (2 plus miles)

    1:30 pm – Funeral Ceremony at the Supreme Court remembering the four men who died in custody at Guantánamo and mourning the death of Habeas Corpus

From: Of course,

Saturday, December 08, 2007

New aerobics class in Al Ain

My mom.. seriously..! (this was her idea)
What can I say? Alhamdulillah!

Introducing a great fitness program for aunties!
for the FIRST time in Al Ain
Commencing December 9, 2007

Days: Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays
Exercise type: Hi/Lo aerobics, progressive
Timings: 8-9am
Location: New Khabisi
Duration: 6 weeks

I want to set up another program for a younger age group 26 and below.

If you're interested in either, drop me an email.

Email addiction

On my way back from Dubai today I was marking assignments in the car on my laptop. And since I had been away all day from email, I walked up the stairs with my laptop checking my email until I got to my room.
This is really bad. I tried to limit checking my emails every 6 hours, but it didn't last too long. I wasn't this bad until I started working for Ansar Financial on the Islamic Finance conference...
Those were crazy days. I'd wake up between 2-3am almost daily just to check my email.

But it's because I DO get that many emails! And I have to keep track of 5 timezones (business hours). I love the global aspect of my life, but I absolutely don't love the loss of routine.

Can the addiction be any worse? Tell me I'm not the only one!
Yea, you can also tell me I need a life and I'd believe it!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Connect with nature everyday

Lately I've had my window open. The weather is absolutely gorgeous! Everyday, I pull the curtains aside and watch the birds on the trees right outside my window. I can hear them chirping throughout the day, a very welcoming distraction when I'm working.

It's really important to have a direct connection with nature every day of your life. The signs of Allah (swt) are manifest in his creations in a much better way than they are in the creations by humans.
And every time I venture out into the desert, I try to imagine the serenity and peace our Prophet (pbuh) and his companions experienced when they would spend time alone. I appreciate the desert more each day.

It’s easy to go several months without ever touching the earth, as most of our activities involve walking on pavement as we move from home to car to office to grocery store and back again. When was the last time you sat down on the ground or touched the earth in some way?

I feel quite sad when I see people overloading themselves with painkillers for a headache or any type of pain. Our lifestyles are harming us, and we don't even realise because time just flies. We have stopped breathing. And something as simple as breathing can solve a lot of problems.

Physical contact with soil, natural waters, sunlight, and fresh air is healing. When stress has built up to the danger point, a trip to the ocean or mountains, or even a walk around the block, is often all you need to restore perspective. Beyond that, contact with nature keeps you apprised of your place in the ecological system. Many of nature’s forces are stronger than an individual human, just as many species are more vulnerable than humankind. This humbling perspective keeps the big picture in mind.

You need to remember that your true environment is far more than just the stimulation and context of your relationships, ambitions, career, family, home and so on.

Start Today
Here are some simple ways to connect with nature again:

  • Go barefoot. Feel the grass or the gravel or the hard-packed earth under your feet. Wade in a rain puddle, or walk barefoot in the snow for a new sensation!
  • Grow plants or flowers and let your fingers touch the earth.
  • Keep living green plants and flowers around your house.
  • Get outdoors, if only for a few moments a day. Let the sunlight touch you and warm you. In the heart of a city, it is still possible to find green zones.
  • Listen to the sounds of nature—the wind blowing, rain falling, birds chirping—even in the midst of an urban environment.
  • Prepare your meals using fresh and raw foods whenever possible, or bake your own bread. Carefully handling the fruits of the field reminds you of your connection to the earth.
  • Practice the Native American way of adapting yourself to nature, rather than trying to make nature adapt to you. For example, avoid dependency on air-conditioning in hot weather. In cold weather, keep the heat in your home at 68°F (20°C) or lower.
  • When you are around young children, use language that communicates a healthy respect for the power of nature and a sense of awe at its beauty and mystery. Avoid teaching them that soil is dirty or that any creatures (even so-called vermin) are bad.
  • Exercise outdoors as much as possible. Take a hike. Go for a bike ride instead of driving your car to the corner store. Rollerblade in the park, or get a group of friends together for a ball game or a kite-flying party.
  • Plan your vacations for maximum enjoyment of the outdoors (with minimal environmental impact). Even a one-day family trip with a picnic can be a tremendously healthy break in your normal routine.

Build a Masjid

This is a really nice piece!
I wonder if Sh Amienoellah has similar stories to share from his ancestors?

Virtues of Building a Masjid: Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani (Discourses on the Islamic Way of Life)
On At-Talib's blog:

Allah decreed that the Dutch attacked Cape Town seize it. The Britishers had known that the Malaysian were very good fighters and warriors. They were very brave. So, they asked them to drive away the Dutch but the Malaysians said that it made them no difference whether the Britishers had authority of the Dutch, for they were slaves any way. However, they were willing to fight the Dutch on condition that they be permitted to offer prayers in Cape Town and allowed to build a mosque.


We must heed this fact- these people did not demand monetary remuneration. They did not ask to be set free, and they did not put forth any material condition. Their only demand was that they be allowed to build a mosque. Accordingly, they fought the Dutch very bravely and compelled them to retreat. The Malaysians then reminded the Britishers of their demand and were allowed to build a mosque. These poor people built the first mosque in Cape Town in very trying conditions. They lacked proper tools and material and money. They even could not determine the Qiblah [ The direction in which Muslims Pray, facing the Ka’bah at Makkah} with the result that it is off the mark by 20 degree or 25 degree. Today, the prayer mats are spread at the proper angle which leaves disalligned with the walls.
These brave people did not ask for a house to live in and they did not demand money. They did not seize the opportunity to demand proper food and drink. Their demand was that they should be allowed to construct a mosque. This is the history of the Muslim people. They preferred a mosque over everything else and did not omit the duty of building it in their pitiable condition, too.

May Allah (swt) enable us to be from those who are able to build mosques for the people. May Allah make all the mosques a source of goodness and blessing for the people of the neighbourhood. May He cause these people to fulfill their obligations and may they inhabit their mosques and keep them occupied. Ameen.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Just because I live in UAE

does not mean that:

  • I live in Dubai.
    • I would commend you if you are able to tell me that Dubai is a city in UAE, it's not the other way around, it's not the capital, and what UAE stands for.
    • Abu Dhabi is the capital city, and Dubai is one of the 7 Emirates.
    • I live in Al Ain, which is about 120km away from Dubai.
    • Hence, I cannot answer your complicated questions on Dubai- I have never lived there!
    • Although I am guilty of telling people I'm from Dubai simply because it's so much easier...
  • I'm Arab.
    • It's hard to find Arabs here, which is almost sad!
    • You cannot become a citizen of this country even if you're born here or lived all your life.
    • I believe one way is, if a girl marries a local Arab man then she can become a citizen? Other than that, I'm not aware of ways of obtaining citizenship.
    • Everyone here is on a visa or temporary residence.
  • I can speak Arabic.
    • I wish I did! I can tell you all about Arabic grammar (because I've been studying it) but I can't speak a proper sentence.
    • You only need to know English here, and Urdu is an asset.
    • In fact, you can get away with just Urdu as well, and a few words of English. Lots of hand signs.
  • I don't know English.
    • I'd meet random people in Toronto and elsewhere who would be bursting with this question.
    • The local Arabic schools are mostly attended by local Arab children. Everyone else goes to private schools.
    • Choosing a school is an experience in itself, the variety is commendable- French, Libyan, American, Lebanese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Chinese... you can study wherever you want!
    • High school exams actually get sent back to the country of the school for correction.
  • I can't bike.
    • I could bike if I wanted to. The problem is, the roads here are not designed for pedestrians or bikers. They're only designed for cars. Hence, it's a dilemma to cross the street.
  • I can't drive.
    • Yea, I still get this (as of yesterday)
      I've to drop my mom off- brb
      u drive??
      both stick and automatic :D
      and they let u there!!!
      This is UAE...
      the Finance minister is a woman...
  • I have a dozen cars.
    • We have 3, but the reality is, none of them are mine. As an expatriate, you cannot have more than one car under your name. In fact, many people don't own their cars, it's under their company's name.
  • I'm rich.
    • It depends on field you work in. But it took my father about 20 years to get to the level he's at.
  • I walk barefeet outside.
    • It's true that the roads here are very smooth. Driving is an unparalleled pleasure! However, there's no way you can walk barefeet in 40degree + temperatures
  • I go for Umrah every month.
    • Wow, I wish! But everything requires logistical planning. Definitely being able to drive to Makkah is a big blessing!
  • I can buy all the gold I want.
    • It's true there are gigantic gold markets in many cities of the UAE, but personally, I'm not attracted to gold.
    • So do people shop for gold until the drop? I think that only applies to local Arabs. Most expats are busy paying for expenses such as children's school fees, etc.
  • I'm a knowledgeable Muslim.
    • It's sad, but I have to rely on external sources for my Islamic knowledge.
    • Perhaps the resources in Arabic are adequate, but it's hard to find books in English.
    • It's harder to find Islamic learning centres. In fact, propagation of Islam is rather discouraged. It's discouraged to discuss religion openly.
  • I own a house.
    • You can only own property in Dubai through certain dealers. This is a new rule introduced in the last 6 years that enables you to obtain a 99-year residency. This is the closest you can get to permanent residency.
    • We've been paying rent since day 1 here.
  • I can't withstand the cold.
    • There's always that adjusting period at the beginning of winter that takes me a while to get used to, but I love winter sports such as skiing and skating.
    • At the same time, I love the desert sports as well- dune bashing and sand skiing.
    • But my parents can't withstand the cold at all :(
    • HOWEVER, offices and malls here in UAE are freezing cold!
    • "You wear a jacket inside and take it off outside"

And this list below is specific to Dubai:

You know you have lived in the Dubai too long when...

  • You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat

  • You expect the confirmation of your flight reservation to be 'inshahallah"

  • You think everyone's first name is Al

  • You don't expect to eat dinner until 10.30pm

  • You need a sweater when it's 80 deg F

  • Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the houseboy

  • You think speed limits are only advisory

  • You think black is appropriate day time wear

  • You wear a jacket inside and take it off outside

  • You don't question how an ID card works for women wearing abayas

  • You think the further you edge into the intersection, the faster the light will turn green

  • You believe that the definition of a nanosecond is the interval between the time the light turns green and the guy behind you starts blowing his horn

  • You give directions by land marks instead of by road names

  • You think a red light means run it

  • You make left turns from the far right lane

  • You make right turns from the far left lane

  • You make U turns from any lane you want

  • You know a traffic jam on this side of the road means an accident on the other side

  • You measure time by the prayer calls

  • You don't expect the traffic police to stop you for a traffic offence

  • You know that the colour of your skin is your entry criteria

  • You think driving with your foot on the dashboard is cool

  • You find everybody thinks they can speak English

  • You think Bebsi is better than Coke

  • You shake your empty Cappuccino cup when you've had enough

  • Having a belly is a sign of being healthy

  • You think the hazard lights are fog warning lights

  • You find you've visited all the new malls that mushroom by the minute

  • You still buy Dubai Duty Free's lottery tickets when it would have been cheaper to pay the down payment for the BMW instead

  • You know which side of a shawarma to unwrap first

  • You look forward to rainy days


I'm nervous

Friday is an extremely important day. I hope it goes well, because it's been so long and I haven't tried hard enough to get out of my comfort zone. It's only the beginning of the challenge, and I wont know the results until the second quarter of next year.

It's almost as if there were no changes for so long, and all of a sudden everything is happening at the same time. I thrive on excitement, and no doubt I'm really looking forward to facing challenges, but a small part of me is slightly scared.
It took a lot of hope and waiting for me to finally decide what I want to do, and a lot of motivation from a friend. I feel now that if she does not keep me going all the way, I'm not going to be able to do it.

Thanks Sana, you're simply awesome! Actually, another person deserves credit as well, but I wont mention the name.
I did it once before, several years ago, and there was nothing like it. I wish it wasn't so difficult doing it again the second time. May Allah make it easy...

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

To my friends going for hajj this month

Your experience at Hajj is one that you should never forget. Ozair just reminded me it's been a year now! Alhamdulillah my hajj experience was quite amazing. A few of my friends were also at Hajj last year and I managed to meet up with them. It was great!

I remember talking to Sawitri a month after we returned from Hajj and asking her, when will I feel the impact? And she said that sometimes it comes much later, and the older you are, the earlier it hits you.

Even though it was just me and my father, I think Alhamdulillah I managed to do a few interesting things. I was sick all the way in Madinah and was able to go to the Masjid once a day, if at all. But, I managed to join Rania's Hajj group to visit a Sheikh who was 99 years old, mashallah...

I can't say that Hajj is a spiritual experience. It's actually an experience of struggling to experience spirituality amidst millions of people.

Those who are going for hajj this year have been asking me for advice and tips. All that information can be found online. In fact, there's also a website that Hafsa had found last year- Hajj

What advice would I give?

  • Try to go out of your as much as you can to help people. An old woman/man might need help in making tawaf, someone might lose their slippers, others may get lost, many people lose money as well. There are endless opportunities to help others.
  • Be generous. My Hajj roommate was amazing at this. She'd spend a lot herself, and encourage me to spend as well, and with anything she bought she'd remind me, "wow, there's so much reward in this! aur kharch karo!"
  • Try to do a tawaf a couple of times a day or more (after/before each salah).
  • People will make you go crazy...... ignore them and be patient.
  • Don't waste a single second on the day of Arafat. Most people in my tent were busy with either their chai, or gossiping (unbelievable) or sleeping!
that's all :)

And I carried lemon, tea bags and honey with me everywhere I went. Mummy said that if you have black tea with lemon and honey in it, it will protect you from illness.

Donate blood

I received the email below from Fahmi:

Dear friends,

We are writing this email because we need your help desperately. Our father has been diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a blood disease that results in acute leukemia and is in urgent need for a stem cell transplant. We are sincerely asking all of you to help save our father’s life.

As you may know, finding a matched stem cell donor is very difficult. Unfortunately, patients are not able to find a suitable donor within their family 70% of the time. Likewise for our father, no match was found within his family members. The only remaining hope is to look into unrelated marrow network registry around the world. As tissue types are inherited, a patient is most likely to find a match within his/her own racial or ethnic group.

It gets worse. As a Bangladeshi Canadian, his chances of finding a match within the South Asian community is 1 in 20, 000. This is because there is a severe shortage of people from the South Asian community who are registered on the network. This is also true for other ethnic communities such as Asian, African and Middle Eastern communities. This is why, Canadian Blood Services is promoting and welcoming all ethnic minority groups to join the marrow network.

We need all of you to join Canada’s OneMatch stem cell network. If we collectively take an effort to join the registry and spread the word, we can help save a life like my father’s and of thousand others around the world.

Registering for Canada’s unrelated marrow network is very easy. After completing an online form, a registered nurse from Canadian Blood Services will contact you in few days to make an appointment for you to give a small sample of your blood. The sample would be used to determine your tissue type (HLA type) and this is not the same as your blood group. Once again, all you need to get registered is to fill out a form and to give a small sample of blood, its very simple. You can fill out the online form to register and get more information at:

To be able to register as a stem cell donor, you must be aged between 17 to 50 years, be in good health, and be willing to help save the life of any patient with whom you may match. After registering in the marrow registry, if you are a match for a stem cell transplant, the most common way to donate your stem cells is through your blood. Despite what you may have heard, modern techniques enable donors to donate their stem cells simply by donating blood. There is absolutely no risk or complications associated with being a donor. Please visit the websites for more information.

Our father’s best chance of finding a match is within the South Asian community. You can be that match and register to marrow network. Just like my father, there are thousands of patients around the world who is looking for a suitable matched donor. You can save lives and given them second chance at life.

You can help by doing three critical things:
1• Getting informed: Learn about stem cell and bone marrow donation process. Please visit in Canada or in U.S. You can also call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) in Canada and 1-800-MARROW-2 (1-800-627-7692) in the U.S.
2• Spreading the word: Tell your family, friends, relatives and co-workers. Tell them in person, through phone and through email. Forward this email to as many people as possible and ask them to do the same. Remember, you can ask anyone between the ages of 17 and 50 and that means the students in schools, colleges and universities. You need to raise awareness about this issue in your community.
3• Joining the registry: There are thousands of people around the world awaiting to find their one match. You have the ability to save a life.

We are in desperate need for all your help to save our father’s life who we love very much. Would you not want the same if a loved one needed a stem cell transplant?

We hope we can count on each and every one of you to join the OneMatch stem cell network.
For more information please check the websites and attached documents. Should you have any questions, concerns or comments regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact:

Fahmi & Ishtiaque Choudhury, Family and Friends
Toronto, Ontario

Monday, December 03, 2007

Fresh Tuna Stir-Fry & Cannelloni- Cooking with Asra

On Thursday, Naseer uncle's 13-year old daughter came over to our place after school. Uncle was coming home (the doctors have told him bed rest for 3 months minimum) and Rizwan had gone to pick him up, my parents were out grocery shopping so it was upto Asra and I to make dinner.
I taught her a few things, and here are two awesome recipes from Thursday's menu.

Fresh Tuna Stir Fry
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/4 lbs fresh tuna, cut into 1-inch cubes*
1/4 cup low-sodium teriyaki sauce**
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup vertically sliced onions
2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
Additionally, you can marinate it with spices beforehand.

1. In a bowl, combine lime juice and tuna.
2. In a small bowl, combine teriyaki sauce and cornstarch, stirring with a whisk.
3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.Add in onion, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes.Add in fish mixture; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add teriyaki mixture; stir-fry 30 seconds or until slightly thick.

Cannelloni with Cheese, Spinach and Walnuts

12 Barilla cannelloni
2 cups milk (700ml)
1 cup ricotta cheese (500g)
400g Parmesan and marble cheddar/halloumi cheese**
150g fresh spinach
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup chopped almonds
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

In a pot, melt the butter on low heat, and slowly add the flour, milk (previously boiled). Whisk. Add all the cheese (except 1/2 of Parmesan), salt and pepper and let them melt together. In another saucepan, cook the spinach coarsely chopped in olive oil for 5 minutes.
Mix it all with the nuts and fill the cannelloni. Spread half the cheese cream at the bottom of a pyrex baking dish and place the filled cannelloni at the top. Cover with the remaining sauce and cook for 40 minutes at 180 degrees Celcius.

*Chopping up a fresh tuna fish was not fun. It was the complete fish with the eye and all. Eeks!
But I had to do it because my father insisted that I make the tuna. I only managed to cut half, the rest, I mixed with the ingredients and put it in the oven for baking.

**I had asked my parents to get teriyaki sauce and it was quite the experience for them. They called me 3-4 times from Carrefour! I've never found Parmesan cheese here, and even hazelnuts are an extremely hard find in Al Ain...

***The original recipe uses gorgonzola and percorino, I just used marble cheddar :)

Book review- The Tipping Point

An excellent book on sociology. Malcolm Gladwell is my new favourite! He has a very succinct style. I especially loved the last chapter that deals with the real reason smoking is not controlled yet, and how to approach this whole issue of controlling smoking.

The underlying messages in the book relate most to people who are in the marketing field. But for everyone else, Gladwell does a great job of showing how a single person's efforts greatly impacts trends that may span from his local community to nation-wide. It makes you believe that a single person can make a lot of difference, if they connect with the right people (Mavens) and spread it through the best means (Connectors). It helped me identify each person I work with as a Maven, Connector or Salesman. Very cool. For example, Hafsa is definitely a Connector with her gazillion contacts.

There's a lot of information in the book, from a detailed analysis on the success of Sesame Street to why the suicide rates went up in Micronesia. He talks about how the Law of 150 proves time and again that 150 is the ideal size of a company. If you have more employees, you have to split to keep up the performance. It's also the reason for the success of the book- The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. He also gives a detailed insight into Airwalk's marketing campaign by Lambesis before and after it "tipped".
It was great reading a book that covers a wide range of companies, trends, and societal issues all explained through a few basic concepts introduced and formalised by the author. I'd go pick up his other book, Blink as well.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Travelling etiquettes

10 – It is Sunnah to say the following du’aa’ when leaving the house: Bismillaah, tawakkaltu ‘ala Allaah, wa laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa Billaah. Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min an adilla aw udalla aw azilla aw uzalla aw azlima aw uzlama aw ajhala aw yujhal ‘alayya (In the name of Allaah, I put my trust in Allaah and there is no power and no strength except with Allaah. O Allaah, I seek refuge with You lest I should stray or be led astray, or slip or be tripped, or do wrong or be wronged, or behave foolishly or be treated foolishly).”

12 – It is mustahabb to travel with a group of people, because of the hadeeth of 'Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "If the people knew what I know about being alone, no one would ever travel alone at night." Narrated by al-Bukhaari.

13 – It is mustahabb for the group to appoint the best and wisest of their number as their leader, and to obey him, because of the hadeeth of Abu Sa'eed and Abu Hurayrah who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "When three people set out on a journey, let them appoint one of their number as their leader." A hasan hadeeth narrated by Abu Dawood with a hasan isnaad.

14 – It is mustahabb to set out at the end of the night , because of the hadeeth of Anas who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "You should travel at the end of the night (or throughout the night) because it is easier to cover a greater distance at night." This was narrated by Abu Dawood with a hasan hadeeth. It was also narrated by al-Haakim who said: it is saheeh according to the conditions of al-Bukhaari and Muslim.

16 – It is mustahabb for the traveller to say takbeer when going up a rise in the land and to say tasbeeh when going down into valleys and the like.

18 – It is mustahabb for him to make du’aa’ most of the time when travelling, because his du’aa’ will be answered.

From: Al-Majmoo’ (4/264-287) by Imam An-Nawawi. He mentions sixty-two points on the etiquette of travelling.

White vs brown

White bread vs brown bread

White bread is made is from wheat flour from which the bran and germ have been removed. This is where much of the nutritional bread value is. White bread is lower in zinc, fiber, thiamin, niacin, trace elements and "good" fats and oils. White bread in many countries has to be fortified with vitamins and minerals *by law* during the bread making process. These are usually sprayed into the mix. It's somewhat ironic that the nutrients that are removed from wheat are re-added by this means. Nature provides, we destroy, then add it back in via a man made form.

Once the bran and germ is removed, the flour is bleached using potassium bromate, benzoyl peroxide or chlorine dioxide gas. Potassium bromate is also known as Bromic Acid or Potassium Salt. It's an oxidizing agent, can be fatal if swallowed, is harmful if inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may also cause kidney damage. Benzoyl peroxide is another irritant that can kill animals, birds, or fish, and cause death or low growth rate in plants. Chlorine Dioxide is also a pesticide and even though it breaks down very quickly, it is ranked in the USA as one of the compounds most hazardous to the environment.

So even before the baker adds his chemical magic, there's some pretty solid cons relating to white bread. Another point to note is that anything that needs "refining" requires more energy resources to do so.

By the way, just because bread is brown in color doesn't necessarily mean it's brown bread in the traditional sense of the term, i.e. meaning whole wheat or wholemeal. Check out the ingredients on the bread that you buy and ensure that the first ingredient is whole wheat or wholemeal flour rather than enriched wheat flour or just wheat flour. Enriched/wheat flour is the same type of flour used in white bread. The presence of caramel also is an indicator that it's not true brown/wholemeal bread as caramel is used as a coloring agent. A couple of other ingredients to avoid if possible are fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil/fats; aka trans fats.

The general rule of thumb is the less ingredients in the bread and the presence of wholemeal flour as the major ingredient, the better it is for you - and the planet.
From: White bread vs brown bread

White rice vs brown rice

The following chart shows the nutritional differences between brown and white rice. Fiber is dramatically lower in white rice, as are the oils, most of the B vitamins, and important minerals.

Brown Rice

White Rice

1 cup

1 cup




Dietary Fiber

3.32 g

0.74 g

Vitamin E

1.4 mg

0.462 mg


137 mg

57.4 mg


142 mg

57.4 mg


72.2 mg

22.6 mg


10 mcg

4.1 mcg


4.88 g

4.10 g


49.7 g

49.6 g


1.17 g

0.205 g

Thiamin (B1)

0.223 mg

0.176 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.039 mg

0.021 mg

Niacin (B3)

2.730 mg

2.050 mg

Vitamin B6

0.294 mg

0.103 mg


26 mg

19 mg


1.05 mg

0.841 mg

This chart clearly shows the nutritional superiority of brown rice over white.

From: What’s Not Right about White?

White sugar vs brown sugar
Although a cup of brown sugar has slightly more calories than white, brown sugar also contains 187 milligrams of calcium, 56 mg of phosphorous, 4.8 mg of iron, 757 mg of potassium and 97 mg of sodium, compared to only scant traces of those nutrients found in white sugar. All the good parts – the molasses, the vitamins and minerals – have been removed; there is practically nothing left but carbohydrates and calories.
Now that the days of white sugar being considered a status symbol are long gone, the refining is now done for purely commercial reasons; it allows the sugar to last longer in the warehouse and on the supermarket shelf. Of course, to protect the end user – that’s you – merchants can simply put a “Consume Before:” stamp on the package of unrefined sugar. But that also means a risk for the merchant should the unrefined sugar expire before it gets sold. Ultimately, it’s your health that pays the highest price.

From: What’s Not Right about White?

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's a small world

This is my all-time favourite sing-along-song :)

It's A Small World

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears,
It's a world of hopes and a world of fears,
There's so much that we share,
It is time we're aware.
It's a small small world.

It's a small world after all,
It's a small world after all,
There's so much that we share,
It is time we're aware.
It's a small small world.

There is just one moon and a golden sun,
And a smile means friendship to everyone,
Though the mountains are high,
And the oceans are wide,
It's a small small world.

It's a small world after all,
It's a small world after all,
There's so much that we share,
It is time we're aware.
It's a small small world.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Native Deen: Zammilooni Zammilooni

I'm not into anasheed, but this is nice!

Coincidentally, a friend mentioned this incident a few days ago.

Bring your resting heart rate down

What is your resting heart rate?

This is a person's heart rate at rest. The best time to find out your resting heart rate is in the morning, after a good night's sleep, and before you get out of bed. The heart beats about 60 to 80 times a minute when we're at rest. Resting heart rate usually rises with age, and it's generally lower in physically fit people. The more well-conditioned your body, the less effort and fewer beats per minute it takes your heart to pump blood to your body at rest.

What is maximum heart rate?
Maximum Heart Rate (Max HR) is the highest number of times your heart can contract in one minute. Max HR is the most useful tool to be used in determining training intensities, because it can be individually measured or predicted.

How to determine maximum heart rate?
You can define your maximum heart rate by
1) having it measured in an exercise test
2) using age-predicted maximum heart rate formulas.

Predicted Maximum HR There is a mathematical formula that allows you to predict your Max HR with some accuracy. It is called the "age-adjusted formula".

WOMEN: 226-your age = age-adjusted Max HR
MEN: 220-your age = age-adjusted Max HR

If you are a 30-year-old woman, your age-adjusted maximum heart rate is 226- 30 years = 196 bpm (beats per minute).

These formulas apply only to adults. The generally accepted error in age-predicted formulas is + - 10-15 beats per minute, which is due to different inherited characteristics and exercise training.
Ideal For Benefit Desired Intensity Level (% Maximum heart rate)
Light Exercise Maintain Healthy Heart/Get Fit 50% - 60%
Weight Management Lose Weight/ Burn Fat 60% - 70%
Aerobic Base Building Increase Stamina Aerobic Endurance 70% - 80%
Optimal Conditioning Maintain Excellent Fitness Condition 80% - 90%
Elite Athlete Maintain Superb Athletic Condition 90% - 100%

For example, if you want to Lose Weight/Burn Fat: do your favorite exercise at 60%-70% of your maximum heart rate, based on your age, for at least 30 minutes a day, three times a week. To program your Heart Rate Monitor into your Ideal Weight Management Zone, use the Target Heart Rate Chart above.
From: Heart monitors

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Robinson MBA

This looks good.

Program Highlights:

  • Full-time, 14-month program.
  • 4-continent experience - Students will be in residency in Atlanta, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro and spend 2 weeks in China.
  • Courses are integrated across the partner schools, providing students with a true global perspective.
  • Leadership & Commercial Diplomacy - Students will examine the interplay between the public and private sector. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the regulatory environment and legal issues as they compare and contrast across four countries and four trading blocks. Learn more>>
  • Short week in Washington D.C. - This includes working visits to the Department of Commerce. Other international agencies, such as the WTO and the EU Directorate are also part of the program.
  • Internship / Field Study -The internship/field study takes place at the end of the program for approximately 16 weeks. It is the culmination of the classroom and experiences applied in a live situation.
  • Students will have the option of obtaining a functional certificate through the selection of additional electives, thereby demonstrating a depth of knowledge in a particular discipline. This option is in addition to the 14-month program.
  • Graduates receive:
    • Robinson College of Business MBA degree. Robinson is AACSB accredited.
    • Master's degree from IAE. IAE is EQUIS accredited.
    • Certificate from COPPEAD. COPPEAD is EQUIS accredited.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lifetime achievement award

I'm working on putting together a list of nomination criteria for a lifetime achievement award for a professional organisation. The exercise has been quite interesting, with questions like:

  • How long is a "life time"?
  • How do you compare achievements in different profession?
  • Minimum percentage of community contribution?
  • How much should be the person known in the circles around him?
  • Education level?
  • Should self-nominations be allowed?
  • ...
In the next 10 years, what type of work would you do, to win a lifetime achievement award?
I'm still working on the criteria, but here are my thoughts.

If your plan is
  • to work a 9-5 job and support your family, and volunteer once in a while because that's all you can handle,
  • Or, if you have no career goals but simply want to serve the community, like running a soup kitchen,
  • Or, having a goal such as setting up a school for orphans by putting all your money behind it
you're not going to get an award in this world.

Now, this award is quite different from the type of work you would do to raise your rank in front of Allah (swt)- That's a completely different story, because Allah (swt) loves a charitable act that's done in such a way that the right hand doesn't know what the left hand has given, or a youth who's attached to the masjid, or those who serve their parents; you can't get an award in this dunya for that type of worship.

So, what kind of work do you need to do to get an award both in this dunya, and the akhira?

Sunday, November 25, 2007


What's that one dua that you really want Allah (swt) to answer?

Think hard and leave a comment :)

Alhamdulillah uncle's out of ICU today! Jazakumullahu khairan katheeran for your duas, comments and emails.

Creamy Mango Cheesecake

This low-fat cheesecake is as creamy as any other, but makes a healthier dessert option, unlike the Chocolate Rhapsody (but there's no comparison, chocolate rules!).

1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp honey
1 large ripe mango
1 1/4 cups low-fat soft cheese
2/3 cup low-fat natural yogurt
finely grated rind of 1 small lime*
3 tbsp apple juice
4 tsp gelatin**
fresh mango and lime slices to decorate

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Mix together the oats, butter and honey; press into the base of a 8in loose-bottomed cake tin. Bake for 12-15 min. Cool.

2. Peel, stone and roughly chop the mango. Process with the cheese, yogurt and lime rind until smooth. Heat the apple juice until boiling, sprinkle the gelatin over it, stir to dissolve, then stir into the cheese mixture. Pour into the tin and chill until set. Turn out and decorate with mango and lime slices.

* Make sure the lime is grated well, otherwise the small bits will taste quite bitter. Some people like that taste, but I don't. Or, you can get grated lemon rind @ Bulk Barn at the rate of $100/kg!

** If halal gelatin is not available, use what I used: agar agar.

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's as if

my life has a new purpose now.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

In the last 6 days

I received two emails that I can't stop thinking about. One from a student in an Arabic course I was TAing, and another from a friend in Kampala, Uganda. I haven't met either, but I feel a strong connection with both.

The first is no ordinary student. She's an obs/gyn physician, a mother of two, who was taking some 5 courses online, which was quite impressive mashallah. However, during the course, her father had to undergo two surgeries. Then, between a cardiac arrest and a resuscitation, she had to travel to another city because:

I found that my husband wasn't feeling too good. I convinced him to get some bloodwork/labs done - and he landed in hospital with a rare type of an auto-immune kidney condition, Glomerulonephritis. This was in the middle of Ramadan, and Alhamdulillah, it was the fadeelah of fasting that this disorder could be diagnosed in it's early stage before it could affect other organs. He is now on heavy medications, but Alhamdulillah, doing much better.
I was in Chicago last weekend to check on my father, they moved him to a rehab center from the hospital, Alhamdulillah, so that he can get some physiotherapy to tone him up,since he has become very frail and weak and hardly able to sit up or stand up by himself (for a person who used to walk 5-7 miles a day, it's hard to imagine.)
Subhanallah, while I was reading s.Ankabut in Ramadan, I felt the weight of the 2nd ayah, and strangely, it was so reassuring that it helped me all through my ordeals. Remember I over enthusiastically joined a whole bunch of classes at Sunnipath, so I could enrich my knowledge more and uplift myself more towards taqwa and 'husn khuluq.
I had a lot of free time on my hands at that time and so I wanted to make the best of everything - according to one of my favourite hadith where the Prophet,SAS said, "make the best of the 5, before the other 5 overtake you......" You must be knowing this. I had also started memorizing the Quran,learnt tajweed, started learning Arabic etc- at a slow and steady pace. So thats why I went all-out with sunnipath,
because I was so happy to discover it! Anyway, Alhamdulillah 'ala kulli 'haal.
I haven't yet had a chance to go back on the sunnipath site to review my classes.I believe they'd just be there for a semester. I wanted to join the same arabic course I was in so I could be with my old batchmates with sh.Sulayman in the next semester, but it was simply impossible. Both my kids also couldn't continue this semester-
the days just flew! I might repeat all my courses in subsequent semesters, I feel so incomplete.
You have always been in my heartfelt duas, Humairah, even though I couldn't be in touch with you. ( right from day-1 when you had sent me such a reassuring email when I was so overwhelmed with my classes!!)

The second is a request:
Sister,I would like to introduce you to a muslim brother who is in some kind of need,may be you may be knowing some one who can help him out,he is currently a finalist student at the East African school of library and Information science,Makerere University studying the same course which I did,Bachelors in Library and Information science majoring in the field of Records management
he is now in his second last semster and if all goes well,he may graduate next year inshallah,but he has got one stambling block as regards with his education as Allah says in Quran 2:155-157
His father got some serious problems,he is currently out of work which has unabled him to clear up his tuition fees in time and yet he is remaining with less than two weeks to start for his end of semster one examinations.
I kindly request you sister,incase you know of any Muslims or organizations out there who can help him out with any thing towards his tuition,to please try for him as he also tries from other sources Inshallah.

It's simply superb how the Qur'an gives hope to people in so many different ways. What a blessing to be just Muslim. Have you thanked Allah today for blessing you with Islam?

The two verses:
29:2 Do men think that on their [mere] saying, “We have attained to faith”, they will be left to themselves, and will not be put to a test?

2:155-157 And most certainly shall We try you by means [125] of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of [labour's] fruits. But give glad tidings unto those who are patient in adversity who, when calamity befalls them, say, "Verily, unto God do we belong and, verily, unto Him we shall return." It is they upon whom their Sustainer's blessings and grace are bestowed, and it is they, they who are on the right path!

Monday, November 19, 2007

My Love Story

Please note that this is not a detailed account. There's way more love in the real story.

I used to see her almost every 6 months, and till today it surprises me that I would remember her each time I saw her. We would have a minimal exchange of salams, and perhaps a how are you, and walk off. That was how we used to meet for some 3 years. Then, at the beginning of 2006, I didn't know how fast my life would change, and how beautiful that change would be. I began to see her every week. At first, it was the usual exchanges. Then it turned into wider smiles, and many weeks later, peels and peels of laughter.
It was still quite early to discover my love. What was it about her? To be honest, I still don't know. There were others around us, and we were a tight group. We had no choice- we were in the same car on both days of the weekend, and that too twice.
The discovery happened one day, when we were faced with a challenge. Out in the suburbs, we were stuck in a cold building, with no immediate rescue. In front of her, I could not but be brave. I decided to run as far as I could, or at least to the end of the road, and get a French Vanilla for her from Tim Hortons. Ah, to my delight, she decided to accompany me.
What could be more beautiful than that? The weather, unlike in the cold building, was nice outside. We jogged, ran, walked, and then did a little bit of all three together. I didn't want the moment to end, but Tim Hortons was not too far.
With our drinks in our hands, we had a grim look on our faces on how we'd get back. I wasn't too grim, I was just happy I could gaze into her bright eyes, through her glasses.
That day changed everything. We began to talk a lot. Then I had to leave in May, and the separation was painful. I wanted to make it special, so I decided to surprise her with my all-time favourite drink, at my all-time favourite tea joint Bubble Tea 168, a few hours before I had to be at the airport. I knew I was returning soon and that was a great relief. Every day of my vacation, I would update her about what I was upto. I was half way across the globe from her, in a different timezone, yet, our love adjusted to any virtual adaptations required. It was great. When I got back, we just grew closer and closer to each other.
I never thought the day that is today, was so near.

She was in tears towards the end of last year when I was @ the airport for the second time that year, at the departure terminal. Both of us didn't know when we'd see each other again. And then the most amazing thing happened. I talked to her more than anyone else in the world. We were connected as if were in the same room. Hours daily, on MSN, Google Talk, Vonage, emails on top of emails, and in so many other ways. We were so attached that it would be too painful to go without knowing where she was every 6 hours. Have you ever heard of a love like that?

Alhamdulillah Allah (swt) facilitated our meeting in the summer again. I tried to see her as often as I could. We would make the silliest excuses. Luckily I was staying close to her workplace. She got me an aircard, so I had the internet with me wherever I went- At the Toronto airport on my way to Ottawa, and back, in the cabs to the hotel, in my hotel room, and even on the stage when I was sitting next to the speakers! She was such an angel, that despite her feelings for me she let me cancel a night's plan with her because someone else asked her for it. One of our funniest meetings was on a day when something important happened with both of us- I had passed my fitness instructor's practical test and was officially certified, and she had her wisdom tooth removed. We took pictures that day- and I don't drool over them considering the fact that her face was swollen and I was in my fitness clothes. Yea, not the best shot, but she's always beautiful.
She never left my side...

A few months ago, there was a minor hiccup- Access to instant messaging programs on her blackberry was blocked. So what? There are so many other ways. This world can do whatever it wants to there's no separating us.
That is, until today.
Today I'm so happy for her. It's what she calls, "sweet pain". I just don't know if the pain is sweet, or if the sweet is painful. But even that doesn't matter. She's embarking on to the phase of her life that I always knew would come, sooner than later. And I knew that phase would be without me. But to be honest, me not being there does not matter to me. Because I know she'll remain in my heart forever, and me in her heart.
There's much happiness to come, she just doesn't know. She might think it's a separation, but to me, it's just a new kind of bond.
We've never run out of things to talk- ever. And now, there will be newer things to talk about!
I just want to say two things:
One, remember the hadith: 'The whole world is a provision, and the best object of the benefit of the world is the pious
I love you.