Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Book Reviews

Br Jeewan and I perused the book section @ Carrefour, as we waited for Sharon and Lisa to get some stuff for later in the evening. He asked me if I had read the Alchemist, amongst some other books. I told him I've taken up reading after 5 years, and I'm still finding it a challenge.
It was only when I started working did I start ordering books, and I probably have 80% of the books unread. And I keep adding books to my wishlist, when my sister is not around, since her regular statement is, "not another book! At least finish reading the ones you have now..."

Well, I'm trying :)

He gave me a quick review on some of the books there. And definitely most of them were books that I knew I'd never get around to reading them... perhaps if I had nothing else to do in life. But my reading time is quite limited, so I've to choose carefully.

Anyways, they gifted me The Alchemist before they left. I started reading the book.. and spent all day on it.

At the Zoo

I visited the Al Ain zoo after perhaps more than 10 years. I was in the mood for ice-skating, but Jeewan and his kids wanted to visit the zoo this past weekend when they came over to Al Ain.

The zoo has changed a lot, a lot of the fences have been replaced by glass. There's been extensive landscaping, and a bird sanctuary has been added. However, most of the zoo was under construction, which was sad. I didn't see any elephants, or rhinos, or fish. We did see snakes, alligators, African and Desert exhibits, and penguins.

I realised I had forgotten everything I knew about animals. I didn't remember the last time I even saw most of them.
When the apes talk to each other, they sounded like horns. The monkeys were the noisiest.
I observed the apes for quite some time, as Jeewan and Muad clicked away on their cameras.
I saw one of the gorillas sitting on a pedestal...and thought to myself, it's sitting just like the way humans sit- leaning their backs, with one leg stretched out, one knee bent up and an arm on it, and arm on the side to support your weight. But if you compare the creation with humans, no human would want to be turned into a monkey as any punishment.
And then I reflected on the ayah:

[2:65] And well you knew those amongst you who transgressed in the matter of the Sabbath: We said to them: "Be you apes, despised and rejected."
وَلَقَدْ عَلِمْتُمُ الَّذِينَ اعْتَدَواْ مِنكُمْ فِي السَّبْتِ فَقُلْنَا لَهُمْ كُونُواْ قِرَدَةً خَاسِئِينَ

I saw eagles and vultures, quietly staring out @ us.
And I couldn't stop thinking about the nile crocodile. The last time I was around crocodiles was when I went to Thailand in 1999. Crocodiles dont move a lot. They come from a very ancient lineage, since the times of dinosaurs, if they ever existed. They're very still in water, and most of the times their eyes are closed. Just when you're about to think its dead, or sleeping, it blinks. They look very sinister and evil. There's no good in them. You dont want to be around them. Why would even want crocodile leather? What good it is to kill an evil creature and then eat its meat as a "delicacy"? A crocodile's bite strength is upto 3,000 pounds per square inch!

I left the zoo thinking, why would Allah, of all reptiles, create crocodiles?

As you can tell, I'm not an animal person.

Sabr (Patience)

Everyone knows about patience, and everyone has their own remedy for increasing their patience.
I flipped through the book 'Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet (pbuh) by Imam Al Jauziyah, and found a small section on patience. I thought I'd type some of it, since it makes some interesting analogies. Plus, I had a hard time sleeping.

Sabr is one half of faith, as some of the Salaf say, and the other have is praise (and appreciation). Sabr is to faith as head is to body. There are 3 types of sabr:

  1. Sabr while performing Allah's commands, so that one does not ignore (or get bored) with them.
  2. Sabr with resisting doing wrong by shunning the prohibitions.
  3. Finally, sabr with accepting what destiny thrusts upon you as decisions of Allah instead of being enraged at them.

When one has acquired these 3 types of patience, one's patience will be complete and the delight of the next life will be whole. The person has achieved a win-win situation, winning in both the worlds. No person will achieve these great rewards except by passing over the bridge of sabr, just as how no one will enter Jannah unless he passes over the sirat.

Much of the illnesses and the sicknesses that attack the body and the heart are a result of impatience. Sabr is the best preserver of the health of the heart, body and the soul.

And we know from the Qur'an that patience is the tool to achieve success. Victory comes with patience.

Amjad R. M Syed in his book, Islamic Perspective on Prayers and Coping with Sickness writes:

You can practise sabr by:
  • Not complaining or cursing your fate
  • Engaging in dhikr
  • Asking Allah (swt) to keep us steadfast in Imaan
  • Gaining taqwa by giving charity
  • Seeking astaghfar (Allah's forgiveness)
  • Helping others who are in more difficult than ourselves
  • Reciting, listening to, or contemplating on the Qur'an
  • Reading, finding out and trying to follow the examples of sabr practiced by the Prophets, Companions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the favoured servants of Allah (swt)
  • Always being thankful to Allah (swt) for the good things He has bestowed you
  • Monday, February 26, 2007

    Lunch breaks

    Whenever I worked, I always had something going on during my lunch breaks.
    At Sick Kids, I'd mostly have meetings with the Muslim Chaplain in the lunch hour. Sometimes, I'd visit a patient. Or do a quick round of groceries. Towards the end of my employment there, I'd have once a week aromatherapy classes. It would be a challenge trying to eat while doing something else, but I absolutely enjoyed doing chaplaincy work whenever I could. Sometimes my lunch breaks would get longer (also had to pray Dhuhr) I'd just work late.

    At the aerospace institute lab, the summer before I joined Sick Kids, I would go down to the first floor to the Alumni office, and help them with dinner preparations- such as photocopying pictures from year books and sticking them onto boards, or calling people to invite them. It was summer, and there wasn't much going on around the engineering buildings.

    At Ryerson, I'd mostly spend my time reading during the breaks, since I wasn't too familiar with the campus. I would also bike around a lot, since that was my first summer biking after a gap of about 10 years.

    And for the jobs I did in UAE... there were no lunch breaks. Lol.

    Sunday, February 25, 2007

    Yaqtin (Gourd)

    Source: Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet, translated by Jalal Abual Rub

    Yaqtin means gourd or pumpkin, although the word Yaqtin entails more meanings than these two. Yaqtin in Arabic entails every tree that does not have a stem, such as watermelon and cucumbers. Allah said:

    و انبتنا عليهِ شجرةً مّن يقطين
    "And We cause a plant of gourd to grow over him" [37:146]

    The Yaqtin mentioned in the Qur'an is the pumpkin, which is also called Dubbaa or Qar'.

    In the Sahihain it is narratedd by Anas bin Malki (ra) that a tailor once invited the Messenger of Allah (swt) to eat from some food that he made. so I (Anas) went with the Messenger of Allah (ra) and the tailor brought forth some bread made from barley and some soup that hd Dubbaa and dried meat. I saw the Messenger of Allah follow the traces of the Dubbaa all around the edge of the pot, which made me love Dubbaa ever since that day."

    1. Yaqtin is a type of cold and wet plant and a light food that is easily digested. If the gourd was not spoiled in the stomach before being completely digested, it produces a good mixture in the stomach especially when one eats similar or compatible types of food with it. For example, making mustard and pumpkin produces bitter humor, while eating it with salt makes it salty and with constrictive substances makes it constipate. when it is cooked with Safarjal (quince), it will provide good nutrition for the body.
    2. Gourd is light on the stomach, especially for those who do not suffer from phlegm or cold condition. The wetness contained in this plant helps ease thirst and headaches if one drinks its extract or washes his head with it. Also gourd soothes the stomach however one uses it, and is very beneficial for those who have hot temperaments.
    3. Also when Yaqtin is kneaded with dough and baked in the oven and then its extract is mixed with some light drinks, it helps cool down fever, quenches the thirst and constitutes a good, nutritious food. If it as mixed with quince jam and Manna, it eliminates bile.
    4. When pumpkin is cooked and its juice is mixed with some honey and Natron, it will cause phlegm and acid. If gourd was ground and then the head is bandaged with it, it will help ease the hot swellings in the cerebral.
    5. When the gourd rinds are squeezed and the extract is mixed with rose oil and used as ear drops, it will help against hot tumors. Also its rind helps ease the swelling of hot eye infections and against gout.
    6. When gourd finds some spoiled mixtures in the stomach, it also gets spoiled causing harmful mixtures in the stomach. In this case, one should treat this condition with vinegar and sour substances.

    In general, it's one of the most lightest food and easily digested.

    Tuesday, February 20, 2007

    The Eradication of Polio

    As there is for smallpox, an immunization thechnology is also available to achieve global eradication of polio.
    Only 784 cases were reported worldwide in 2003, compared with 350,000 in 1988. As estimated two billion children have been immunized since 1988, with the cooperation of twenty million volunteers and international funding on the order of $3 billion.

    - The End of Poverty, Jeffrey D. Sachs
    20 million volunteers. We're a 6 billion people.
    We can change the face of the world if we cooperate.
    We can end poverty if each one of us takes it as a personal cause.
    We can turn dreams into reality if we put others first.

    Monday, February 19, 2007

    The ultimate honour

    The Byzantines captured some of the Muslim women, and Al Mansur bin Ammar heard the news. They said to him: Why don't you go and sit near the caliph and urge the people to attack?"
    So he went and sat near the Caliph Haroon Ar-Rashid in Ar-Raqqah, near Damascus.

    Whilst Mansur was urging people to fight for the sake of Allah, a tied up bundle with a letter attached was thrown to him. Mansur opened the letter and in it he read:
    "I am a woman from among the Arab clans. I heard what the Byzantines did to the Muslim women, and I heard that you're urging the people to attack. I looked for the most honorable thing on my body, and it was my two braids, so I cut them off and wrapped them in this bundle. I urge you by Almightly Allah to make them into a bridle for the horse of a warrior fighting for the sake of Allah. Perhaps Allah will look upon me and have mercy on me because of them."
    Mansur could not control his feelings when he read these noble words. He wept and made the people weep with him. Then Haroon Ar-Rashid launched a general mobilisation, and he himself fought alongside the mujahidin, and Allah, the Exalted, granted them victory.

    Saturday, February 17, 2007


    She decided to eat my shirt, the little red smiling flower with music wasn't quite to her taste. She simply tossed it away, and reached for the edge of my shirt. And now the corner is wet. All fed, with her new burst of energy she lift her legs to the sky in excitement, and put them down. Then again, now with her little tiny hands holding her little tiny feet, and again. Until she had her fill, and decided to roll over on her back, and make another attempt to crawl.
    Not quite little one, you're only 5 months old. She looked at me, as if to tell me, "I can crawl before I learn to sit". And with graceful swimming strokes, she tried to crawl. She continued for quite some time, and once assured she had moved from her origin, (which she hadn't), she decided it was time to wail for milk again.
    She refused to sleep, it had been all day. As if she'd miss something big happening around her, if she slept for even a moment. I whistled to her, soft and lightly. She laughed, very delighted, and satisfied.
    I took her in my arms, and rocked her to sleep.

    Thursday, February 15, 2007

    Skiing and Snowboarding in Dubai

    A second Dubai indoor ski slope is the Dubai Sunny Mountain Ski Dome in Dubailand which is due to open in 2008. It will provide a great attraction, featuring a revolving ski slope, an artificial mountain range, an ice bridge, a cable lift, a snow maze, an ice slide, polar bears cold water-aquaria and special sound and light effects.

    Ski Dubai in Dubai Emirates Mall started in December 2005 is the worlds third largest indoor ski slope, measuring 400 meters and using 6000 tons of snow. Ski Dubai resort is the first Dubai indoor ski slope to open.

    Wednesday, February 14, 2007

    Al Maghrib in Toronto gets big!

    A few years ago, sh Muhammad Al Shareef started the Al Maghrib institute, across North America, with a great vision. The last I heard from him, he was aiming for a class size of 1000. He is working round the clock developing curriculae to bring Islamic education to your doorsteps.
    I received an email that the next course, The Shepherd's Path, has 501 students enrolled, mashallah. That's super amazing.
    Al Maghrib institute has some of the best instructors out there, and the double-weekend-degree-seminars are very intense and powerful. With some courses, you learn a lot right there, you go with loaded with all this Islamic information that you're so proud to gain, and with other courses, such as Rules of Engagement, you find yourself applying what you learnt over weeks, months, years, Alhamdulillah.

    For those people who don't think the Al Maghrib institute timings/locations work for them, there's Sunnipath! Sunnipath courses are comprehensive, covering a wide range of topics. The courses are completely offered online, and it's so convenient- You can listen to and see the instructor and ask questions during the online sessions as the lesson progresses with the powerpoint slides, just like in a classroom. This is even better because you wont feel shy asking your questions. Every lesson is available to view and listen as many times as you want. The instructor has office hours. Isn't it amazing that you may be sitting in Sydney tutored by someone in Amman? The TAs are very responsive and friendly, and they deal with your issues quite well. There are quizzes and final exams within flexible time frames. And I'd say this- Their courses are a much better experience than I could describe.
    So give it a shot, enrol in the Introduction to Islamic Finance, taught by Faraz Rabbani. It's a great course, delving into topics you've always wondered about and going to just about the right depth.

    Monday, February 12, 2007


    ثُمَّ قَسَتْ قُلُوبُكُم مِّن بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ فَهِيَ كَالْحِجَارَةِ أَوْ أَشَدُّ قَسْوَةً وَإِنَّ مِنَ الْحِجَارَةِ لَمَا يَتَفَجَّرُ مِنْهُ الأَنْهَارُ وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَشَّقَّقُ فَيَخْرُجُ مِنْهُ الْمَاء وَإِنَّ مِنْهَا لَمَا يَهْبِطُ مِنْ خَشْيَةِ اللّهِ وَمَا اللّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
    Then, even after that, your hearts were hardened and became as stones, or worse than stones, for hardness. For indeed there are stones, from out which rivers gush, and indeed there are stones which split asunder so that water flows from them. And indeed there are stones which fall down for the fear of Allah. Allah is not unaware of what you do. [Surah Baqarah, verse 74]

    This verse talks about 4 different types of stones, or rocks. Our hearts that become as hard as stones, stones from which rivers gush forth, stones which split and water flows from them and stones that fall from the fear of Allah.

    Why does Allah (swt) mention our hearts in this verse, along with the stones?

    Al-Qurtubi and other Imams say that Allah creates this characteristic - humbleness - in stones. Another view is that solid inanimate objects possess a certain degree of awareness.

    Sometimes, even a stone can put you to shame.

    The Doha Debates

    I'm not sure how popular the Doha Debates is in the West, but BBC does the entire coverage on it. Last night, I watched the debate on the motion: "This House believes only a new dictator can end the violence in Iraq".
    I only watched it because George Galloway was one of the debaters. However, in his own words, his views ended up being misrepresented. He made a few very good points, about Hugo Chavez being the leader elected by the government of Venezuela time and again despite the US, the CIA, .. but the rest of his energy was wasted in defending his views.
    At one point he even said: "you do not know me well enough if you're saying I support the US."

    It made me reflect on how people like him, Noam Chompsky, Tariq Ramadan and others really have their feet in quicksand, for the views they hold publically. "
    The motion was rejected, the audience vote against it was 67%.

    The next debate topic is: "This House believes the veil is a barrier to integration ". I'd love to go. Admission is free!

    Adnan Pachachi, former President of the Iraq Governing Council, blamed occupying forces for the sectarian violence in Iraq during the latest Doha Debate on January 31. "The vast majority of Iraqis are not involved in sectarian violence, they want to live in peace. Militias act in the name of a sect. I blame this on the occupying power, which established a system based on division," he said.
    Mr. Pachachi was arguing against the motion: This House believes only a new dictator can end the violence in Iraq.
    He won the Debate with co-speaker British parliamentarian George Galloway. The audience backed their call to support democracy and reject a dictator by a majority of two to one.
    Arguing for the motion were Sabah Al-Mukhtar, President of the Arab Lawyers Association in the UK, and Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who served for 20 years in the Middle East.

    Thursday, February 08, 2007

    Winnie the Pooh!

    Oh my god, I got my hands on some really hilarious Winnie-the-Pooh "little" books. I could read them again and again and backwards for ages!

    In order to understand the joke, you need to have a little idea of who the characters in Winnie the Pooh are. But I'll save that for a later post.

    Here are two from Winnie-the-Pooh's Little Book of Friendship The secret of Pooh's social success
    Be Prepared to Make New Friends
    ...and Pooh wondering what a Grandfather was like, and if perhaps this was Two Grandfathers they were after now, and, if so, whether he would be allowed to take one home and keep it...

    Say it with Flowers
    Nobody had ever picked Eeyore a bunch of violets, and the more he thought of this, the more Piglet thought how sad it was to be an Animal who had never had a bunch of violets picked for him.

    And two from Eeyore's Little book of Gloom Read this book, then you'll be really sorry...
    You can lead a horse to water...
    but you can't make him sink!

    Invisible mending
    You can give the donkey a happy ending...
    but the miserable beginning remains forever.

    UM Financial making headlines as usual

    Omar Kalair has figured out how to provide financial support – what we call a
    mortgage – with no interest charges attached.

    "Few of Kalair's clients understand how difficult it was to devise such a seemingly simple approach. While working at Hewlett-Packard and Airmiles Loyalty Group, he put together a business plan and spent two years knocking on doors at 70 financial institutions before finding an interested potential partner at Credit Union Central of Ontario."

    Putting faith in Islamic mortgages

    Your name can mean many things...

    And you may not even know!
    Take for example, my brother's name- Rehan. At Carrefour, my sister spotted this and we took a picture:

    Wednesday, February 07, 2007

    FOBLANDISH - Yusuf Yusuf

    So... this is what my brother's been upto after I left him back in Canada...

    Friday, February 02, 2007

    Memorizing the Qur'an

    `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, "The one who was devoted to the Qur'an will be told on the Day of Resurrection: `Recite and ascend (in ranks) as you used to recite when you were in the world. Your rank will be at the last Ayah you recite.'''
    [Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].

    Thursday, February 01, 2007

    Largest pillow fight, largest wallet attempt today

    DUBAI — The final day of DSF World Records Venture 2007 will witness the creation of two new very interesting world records — the largest pillow fight and the largest wallet.
    The DSF World Records Venture aims at involving people of all nationalities in Dubai to create an annual event of record breaking. Adjudicators will be present from 3pm to 5pm to verify whether new records have been created.
    The Largest Pillow Fight, which will involve a massive 4,500 participants, is an exciting record-breaking effort being held today at Al Safa Park. The event is organised by DSF along with Foresight, a non-profit organisation that helps people with eye disorder Retinitis Pigmentosa. Read more...

    Chinese Whisper game record broken

    DUBAI — Shrieks of excitement rang out in the Safa Park yesterday morning as students from Our Own Indian School (OOIS) broke the Guinness world record for the largest ‘Chinese Whispers’ game ever played.
    A total of 850 students from the school took part in the game. The previous record stood at 814 participants.
    The game of Chinese Whispers involves whispering of a particular sentence by one player to the next, and it goes on and on until the last player says the sentence aloud. For a new world record to be made, the sentences spoken by the first and last players should match accurately. Read more...