Thursday, 31 December 2009

The New Year & Old Memories

A brand new year is starting and I just it's the best time to reflect on the past yr and such and see how we can change for the better as Muslims, as humans (although they should mean the same thing but some of us forget that).

By the way, did you know, there's a blue moon tonight? :D

This year was slightly boring for me but I feel like I made some really good changes, especially towards the end. InshaAllah, I can improve further in the coming 2010 in places I lack and replace everything that I find is negative with something positive. :D

I was remembering old friends who I am no longer in touch with. Not sure what triggered the memory. I had actually tried to get in touch with both of them shortly after the incidents (which were rather small to lose a long friendship over) that drove us apart but didn't get a response. I wonder if they think about how silly that was. Do people ever realize things and are able to overcome their ego and try to patch the relationship that had more positive than the few negatives that caused the split? I can imagine Shaitaan finding it pleasant when good Muslims/friends/family members develop misunderstanding. I wonder if they think about that. Alhumdulillah. I am not really upset about it because from my side, I did try to contact them.

Sometimes, people say a lot of things that a perfect person would do in a perfect world but in most less than perfect situations, we forget our own philosophies and act just as the next inconsiderate person would. Perhaps, to be more self aware should be our new year's resolution. :)

Happy New Year to all!

May Allah (swt) help us to be better Muslims and do more of what is pleasing to Him and what brings us closer to Him. Ameen.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Google Wave Bots

I wonder how many people are waving. *waves back* lol.

I haven't used it as much as I hoped I would. Everyone I know seems to have the same issue. Probably the worst thing about GW (doesn't that remind people of Bush? :P ) is that it takes a while to load and frequently hangs. :(

Back to the point. A list of bots one can use in GWave (sounds better than GW, no?):

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Surah Mulk Protects From Punishment Of The Grave

It is related in the Sunans of Imam al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud on the authority of Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him):

I heard the Messenger of Allah (upon him be peace) saying, "There is a Surah in the Qur'an which contains thirty Ayat which will keep interceding for a man until his sins are forgiven. This Surah is `Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion.' (Surat Al-Mulk 67).''

Another hadith, I believe it is from Tirmidhi:

A person is approached [by the angels of punishment] in the grave from the legs then the legs say: You cannot approach him from here for he used to stand on us reciting Surat al-Mulk; when they approach his chest it says: You cannot approach him from here for he preserved Surat al-Mulk in me; and when they approach his head it says: You cannot approach him from here for he used to recite Surat al-Mulk with me.

Hence this Sura is the Immunizer (al-Mani`a), it immunizes one from the punishment of the grave. It is mentioned in the Torah* as Surat al-Mulk also. If anyone recites it in the night he has accomplished a great deal and has excelled.

Isn't this a wonderful benefit of reciting a 30 ayat (verse) Surah every night before sleeping? I am trying to make it a habit to reciting it every night. InshaAllah, I'm hoping in the process I end up by hearting it. :)

* Please note: I have taken that statement from sunnipath and have not personally come across any references of the Surah in the online versions of the Torah.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Stress, Anger and Guarding One's Tongue

Feeling a bit stressed out lately. A lot of things on my mind. Some more silly than others. But that's a part and parcel of life. Sometimes when we are stressed, it leads to anger and anger can lead to things we shouldn't be saying. It may seem like a release but it can just add to our sins.
"The strong is not the one who overcomes people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself when in anger." (Al-Bukhari, Book 73, #135)
Messenger of Allah - SallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam - said, “Most of the sins of the children of Aadam are from the tongue.” - At-Tabaraanee (3/87/1-2)
Abu Moosa al-Asharee - radiAllahu' anhu - said, “O Messenger of Allah, which of the Muslims are better?” The Messenger of Allah said, “Those who do not harm the Muslims with their tongues and hands.” - Saheeh al-Bukhari (1/10) and Saheeh al-Muslim (1/64)

If we compare the problems we face, they are nothing compared to what some of our Muslim brothers and sisters are facing. So, here are a few of my tips for when someone feels tenses:
1. We should make dua to Allah (swt) and ask him to lessen our burden and help us with whatever problem/obstacle or stress we are facing.
2. We try to change our mood because when you are stressed and upset, you can't think clearly. One way of this is to watch a cute video, like this:

It was funny how the cat had it's paw over the rabbit's head. :P MashaAllah, so much love!
Once you watch many such videos and lighten your mood, you can proceed to the next step.
3. Figuring out how to eliminate the problem. If you can fix it, figure out how. Is it worth worrying about? If you can't fix it, what can you do to improve the situation or how you react to it? One way is by doing something that makes you happy that makes the problem giving you stress seem small.
4. Read the Quran and ponder over it's meaning. Read your favourite verses. Keep a collection of verses that help you and bring you peace and calm you.
5. Sleep on it. If it's something that you can't think of a solution, make dua to Allah (swt) and sleep on it. You'll feel better about it when you have rested.

If there's something that helps you, please do share. InshaAllah, you found the above advice beneficial. :)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Reliance on Allah (swt)

It's got quite cold in most parts of the world. I'm feeling rather bad for the birds and wondering how they survive the winter. I saw a dove today. It's tail was missing. A pigeon has been visiting me for a few weeks. It has hurt one of it's eyes. I think it can see out of it partially as it keeps looking at me as it walks across my balcony's railing. Making me feel pity for it and so I especially put some food for it.

That reminds me. There's a hadith about reliance on Allah (swt):
Narrated ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab: I heard Allah’s Messenger saying. “If you all relied on Allah with due reliance, He would certainly give you provision as He gives it to birds who issue forth hungry in the morning and return with full belly at dusk.”(At-Tirmidhi)

Alhumdulillah. :)

Well, here's a picture of warmer times. :D And yes, this one I've snapped.

(click for a larger view but please do not steal. Thanks.)

Monday, 7 December 2009

Low Imaan/Faith

It's an extremely common problem that everyone of us have faced at some point or the other in our lives. Yet, it can be very dangerous because at times this can lead people out of the fold of Islam. So it's important that we recognize when our imaan is low and work on things that will help improve it.

The Prophet Muhammad (S) said: "Faith wears out in the heart of any one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts” (Mustadrak al-Haakim).

How can we recognize when our faith dwindles?
- One feels irritated and moody and even depressed.
- They delay good deeds and sunnah, such as salat (prayer).
- Not remembering Allah in dua or dhikr.
- Quranic ayahs not having an effect on the person.
- Stinginess/miserliness.

What one can do to boost their imaan?
- Make dua if you feel your imaan is low.
- Reflect on ayahs of the Quran. Here are a few ayahs that one might feel at ease when reading:

93:1 By the Glorious Morning Light,
93:2 And by the Night when it is still,-
93:3 Thy Guardian-Lord hath not forsaken thee, nor is He displeased.
93:4 And verily the Hereafter will be better for thee than the present.
93:5 And soon will thy Guardian-Lord give thee (that wherewith) thou shalt be well-pleased.

4:99 For these, there is hope that Allah will forgive: For Allah doth blot out (sins) and forgive again and again.

35:29 who rehearse the Book of Allah, establish regular Prayer, and spend (in Charity) out of what We have provided for them, secretly and openly, hope for a commerce that will never fail:

- If you are feeling low, give something in charity. It has helped me feel better.
- Do dhikr and when you suffer from bad thoughts, say "audhubillah". Some forms of dhikr:
Subhan'Allah- 'Praise be to Allah'
Al-Hamdullilah- 'Thanks be to Allah'
Allahu Akbar – 'Allah is the Greatest.'
La ila ha illallah- There is no worthy of worship except allah

Things that can help prevent imaan from decreasing:
- Avoiding sin as sin hardens the heart. This means both major and minor sins. We have to keep improving ourselves and trying to be better Muslims.
- Keeping good company and avoiding the bad. Our family and friends influence us and it is important to try and stay in the company of good people who remember Allah (swt) often and hasten to do good deeds.
- Performing good deeds.
- Praying regularly and remembering Allah (swt) often.
- Remembering death.

I've tried to keep the topic short and simple. If you have had some ayahs/hadith, etc which have benefited your imaan, please feel free to share.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Just An Update

InshaAllah, everyone had a lovely Dhul-hijjah and Eid and made the best use of the days. :)

Been quite busy the last few days. Google finally sent me an invite to join googlewave! Actually, I felt it was quite fast so I would definitely recommend people to sign up for a googlewave account directly.

Just a suggestion for this week: If there's something you really need, start making dua for it whenever you remember. The more times you ask, the more likely Allah (swt) will accept it. Just make sure when you ask, you are absolutely sincere.

Do let me know if it works. :D

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Make The Most Of Dhul-Hijjah

The first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah are considered the best days of the whole year, including last 10 days of Ramadan. This shows the important of utilizing this opportunity to increase our ibadat (worship) and grow closer to Allah (swt).

Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "There are no days in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Allah than these ten days." The people asked, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight, giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." (Reported by Al-Bukhari)

Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "There is no deed more precious in the sight of Allah, nor greater in reward, than a good deed done during the ten days of Sacrifice." He was asked, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah?" He said, "Not even Jihad for the sake of Allah, except in the case of a man who went out to fight giving himself and his wealth up for the cause, and came back with nothing." (Reported by Ad-Darimi)

This is a really excellent video of the number of things one can do during these 10 days.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) commanded us to recite during this time a lot of tasbih (glorification of Allah), as well as tahmid (praising Allah) and takbir (saying 'Allah is Greatest').
`Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "There are no days greater in the sight of Allah and in which righteous deeds are more beloved to Him than these ten days, so during this time recite a great deal of tahlil (saying: 'there is no god but Allah'), takbir and tahmid." (Reported by Ahmad)

Make the best of it. :)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Catch The Google Wave!

Google has released a beta version of the Google wave which is supposed to be the way email should be used in today's generation/time. I didn't want to sit an watch an hour plus long official video about how the program works. So, instead I found a really short and simple one. I love how they try to explain it. Great for people who aren't really tech savvy. :)

Watch and enjoy!

Only issue is, just like how gmail was available to only a few people initially, google wave has been launched with the same idea. To test the program with a limited number of people and let them invite their friends to test it. Obviously, because you can't test the google wave if you have no one to work with. The invites are going real fast so if you can get someone to send you one, grab it. Strangely enough, people were buying invites on e-bay! Again the issue is, once you get an invite, you may not be able to invite anyone else so you have to know people who already have it to be able to use it with them. So, one can either hold off on using it and let the people who really need it try it first. Or you can grab an invite and and wait till google allows you to invite your friends & co-workers.

And if you have an invite to spare, invite me as well. :D

Thursday, 12 November 2009

More Fake Forwards

I've been getting more fake Islamic forwards with fake hadith. The mentioned hadith is not even written in a proper way. I am not sure who writes these up and why people send these around without even trying to find out the truth? Why have we become so passive about false information. Yet, we don't trust what we read in newspapers because everyone is "anti-Muslim". How is a forward any more reliable?

I guess it'll take time for people to change old habits if they really care for the truth. We are trying so hard to remove misconceptions about Islam among non-Muslims yet we continue to spread false information between each other without a second thought. Please think about what you send and try to confirm it's source. And if you realize it's not the truth, please try to educate your friends and family about it so we can put an end to these forwards once and for all. :)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Busy Busy Busy

I've been having a very busy time and will probably continue to have one for a couple of months so instead of completely ignoring my blog, I'm planning to post short posts on something on my mind, Islamic messages, etc. InshaAllah.

I still plan on posting some of the pics that I took, InshaAllah, in a few days when I get a little time off. :)

Monday, 26 October 2009

This Made Me Smile - part 3

It's been almost 9 months or so since I started to keep food for the birds in my balcony. I've had a wonderful variety of birds coming to eat. Although, it's mostly pigeons, I'm also getting sparrows, doves, mynas, a crow (never knew they were in the area!), and a couple of BulBuls. I realized early on that they were a pair and mashaAllah they are really pretty birds even though they are not so colourful. Probably the most distinguishing feature about them is their red bottom!

However, this is not what made me smile. For a few days, I hadn't heard or seen the Bulbul pair come to my balcony and I felt bad because I wasn't sure where else they might be finding food. However, I was pleasantly alerted to their presence by their sweet voice. As I peaked through my balcony door, I saw a baby along with them! It was bigger than a sparrow and had a funny tweet but cute nonetheless. MashaAllah! I really wished to take a family picture but I didn't want to scare them on their baby's first trip. I'm absolutely delighted. :D

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Feeling Grateful

So often we talk about being grateful to Allah (swt) for the things we have been given but sometimes it takes a while for the realization to really set in for what we have and what we haven't been tested with.

Although, I am usually around patients and see different diseases, I tend to look at them from a learner's/doctor's perspective until the last few days when people I know have told me of their afflictions and I've got to see the emotional effects of those problems. Alhumdulillah, none are life-threatening, yet it is something that also pains them to be suffering from such problems. And that's when I realize how lucky I am (not in a selfish way) that Allah (swt) hasn't tried me in this manner as yet. I really feel bad for them and try to cheer them up and try to help them see the brighter side of things as well. And it also makes me realize that even though people may not be going through the same trials I face but surely Allah tests us all in our own ways. So, instead of focusing on the difficulties we are facing, we should focus on the things we are NOT being tried with.

Whenever you realize that Allah (swt) protected you from something, say Alhumdulillah and thank Allah and ask Him to continue to bless you in what you have. If your dua is accepted, then pray 2 rakaats non-obligatory prayer and thank Him. And keep asking Allah (swt) to protect you and your family and friends and other Muslims.

(PS: I know I haven't added any hadith or Quranic ayahs regarding this matter as I normally do. It's because I've been a bit busy lately & will find some soon but this topic has been on my mind this week and I wanted to share it. But feel free to share the ones you know in this matter and I'll include them in my post.)

Monday, 12 October 2009

Duas Unanswered

There are times in our lives when we are concerned about our duas not being accepted but one should not feel disheartened.

Allah says in the Quran:
"When my servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close to them: I respond to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me; let them also, with a will, listen to My call and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way"
(surah Baqarah 2:186)

He (swt) listens to every supplication and either the dua is answered or it is kept for a later time or Allah (swt) removes some misfortune from the path of the person or it is kept to be given as a reward in the Hereafter.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“If a Muslim invokes Allah for other than sin or the severing of relations, Allah in turn responds to his Du'a in one of three ways; either He accepts it (and grants what was asked for),or He delays its reward to the Hereafter, or He removes a calamity from him that equals his Du'a (in magnitude). The Companions said, “ We will then supplicate often.” The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Allah will reward you greatly.” [Ahmad, Bazzar, Abu Ya’la and Hakim]
The Prophet (pbuh) explained how the answer of a Du'a is good in all its forms even if it appears as though they were not answered. The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“On the day of judgement, Allah will call a believer until he stands before Him. ‘O My servant, I have commanded you to call upon Me and have promised to answer you. Did you truly call upon Me?’ He (the servant) will say, ‘Yes, my Lord.’ Allah will say, ‘Whenever you called upon Me I answered you. Did you not call upon Me on the day of such and such to relieve your calamity and I did?’The servant will say, ‘Yes my Lord.’ Allah will say, ‘I gave it you in the worldly life, Allah will add, ‘Did you not call upon Me on the day of such and such to relieve your calamity but it seemed that I did not reply to you.’ The servant will say, ‘Yes my Lord.’ Allah will say, ‘I compensated such and such for you in Paradise.’ Allah will say, ‘Did you not call on Me to meet your need and I did.’ The servant will say, ‘Yes my Lord.’ Allah will add, “I gave it to you in worldly life.’ ‘Did you not call on Me on the day of such and such to meet your need but it seemed that I did not reply to you.’ The servant will say, ‘Yes my Lord.’ Allah will say, ‘I compensated such and such for you in Paradise.” The Messenger of Allah said, “ Allah will never leave out any supplication of a believer unless He will expound this for him through the following; either He will give it to him in worldly life or delay it in the Hereafter. Thereupon, the believer will say, ‘I wish I was given nothing of my du'a in this world.” [Hakim]

So even if for some reason our duas seemed to not have been answered for this world, they will be as rewards in the Hereafter. The best thing to do then is to be assured that no matter what, we will always benefit from making duas.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

American Sympathy For Discrimination Against Muslims

Have you ever tried googling for "Islam" in the news? I did and majority of the stories were related to spreading fear about Islam and talks of militants and suicide bombers adding to the already present Islamophobia. But I was happy to come across this particular article which shows that the effort Muslims are making in talking about the real side of Islam and spreading the understanding of it's teachings is starting to make a difference.

Fewer Americans see Islam as violent, poll finds

The percentage of Americans who believe Islam encourages violence has declined in recent years but remains far above where it was in 2002, while very basic knowledge about the faith has shown modest increases, according to a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Most Americans also believe Muslims are discriminated against, a finding that suggests empathy for a community whose leaders often say they are regarded with suspicion and hostility.

The nationwide survey of over 4,000 adults in August found that 58 percent of Americans believe Muslims face a lot of discrimination in the United States. By contrast the same numbers for atheists and Mormons are 26 and 24 percent respectively.

"The fact that Americans believe Muslims face a lot of discrimination is a substantial finding ... It is sort of like the public looking at itself in the mirror and there is some empathy for a group facing discrimination," said Michael Dimock, an associate director at the Pew Research Center.


As a group, only gays and lesbians were seen worse off than Muslims in this regard with 64 percent saying they faced a lot of discrimination.

Thirty-eight percent of those polled believed Islam was more likely than other faiths to encourage violence, down from the 45 percent who held this view two years earlier.

But that number has fluctuated over the years and in 2002, when it was first asked the year after the Sept. 11 attacks, only 25 percent of the U.S. public said they thought Islam encouraged more violence than other faiths.

"Within other religious groups, fewer than four-in-ten people express this opinion (39 percent of white mainline Protestants, 38 percent of white Catholics, 33 percent of the religiously unaffiliated and 30 percent of black Protestants.)"

Over the past several years, Pew has found that Americans' knowledge of the most basic facts about Islam has increased modestly though many remain in the dark about the faith.

"A slim majority of Americans know the Muslim name for God is Allah, and a similar number can correctly name the Koran as the Islamic sacred text. Overall, 41 percent of the public is able to answer both questions correctly," Pew said. In 2002 only 33 percent responded to both questions correctly.

But 36 percent of Americans remain "unfamiliar with either term," according to Pew.
The article talks of how it's mainly the politicians who have a stronger view of Islam as a violent faith.

Another article on the same study by the Associated Press reads:
"Americans are learning more about Islam, and familiarity with the faith makes people more likely to view Muslims favorably and less likely to believe Islam encourages violence, according to a new study.

The "small and gradual, but noticeable" change has an affect, Smith said. Those most familiar with Islam were least likely to link the religion with violence. Fifty-seven percent of people who knew the names Muslims use to refer to God and their sacred text, and were also acquainted with a Muslim, said Islam did not encourage violence more than other faiths.

The same percentage of that group said their overall opinion of Muslims was favorable and 70 percent of that group said there's discrimination against Muslims.

Only 21 percent of those with a low familiarity with Islam had a favorable opinion of Muslims, and less than half of that group saw a lot of discrimination against them.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Pew's findings back up his own group's research. He blamed a "vocal minority" in the U.S. for fanning anti-Muslim bias with increasingly harsh rhetoric since 9/11.

"Unfortunately, people have focused on that tiny, tiny minority of Muslims who have carried out violent acts, and claim to act in the name of Islam," he said. "Ninety-nine point nine, nine percent of all Muslims will live and die without coming near an act of violence."

Seemi Choudry, a 20-year-old Muslim student at Loyola University in Chicago, was skeptical of the report's findings that said Americans were more familiar with Islam.

"If they are learning Islam through mass media and pop culture, that's easily accessible stuff," she said. "I don't know that's the type of Islam that I would want to be infiltrated with."

The survey did not address where or how Americans were getting information about Islam.

Choudry said she has not experienced any discrimination personally, but feels that Muslims on the whole are treated differently.

"We do suffer discrimination, which is the consequence of a lack of knowledge or ignorance," she said.

Most of the findings came from a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, conducted Aug. 11-17 among 2,010 adults. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent. Some findings also came from another survey of 2,003 adults conducted Aug. 20-27.

Hooper said continuing education about Islam is the key to fighting prejudice. In June, CAIR began a campaign to distribute free copies of the Quran to 100,000 local and national leaders, from President Obama to local school principals.

"When knowledge about Islam goes up, prejudice goes down," Hooper said."

This is definitely a good sign thanks to the efforts taken by the Muslim as well as the non-Muslim community to change this impression among the general public. This again shows that it is so important for Muslims to practice good character and the true teachings of Islam and spread it's message to the people.

Hadith that we can reflect on:
Narrated Asma' bint Abu Bakr: My mother came to me, hoping (for my favor) during the lifetime of the Prophet asked the Prophet, "May I treat her kindly?" He replied, "Yes." Ibn 'Uyaina said, "Then Allah revealed: 'Allah forbids you not with regards to those who fought not against you because of religion, and drove you not out from your homes, that you should show them kindness and deal justly with them.'.......(60.8)

Narrated Masruq: Abdullah bin 'Amr mentioned Allah's Apostle saying that he was neither a Fahish nor a Mutafahish. Abdullah bin 'Amr added, Allah's Apostle said, 'The best among you are those who have the best manners and character.'

Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said that he heard Said ibn al-Musayyab say, "Shall I tell you what is better than much prayer and sadaqa?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Mending discord. And beware of hatred - it strips you (of your deen)."

Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said that he heard Said ibn al-Musayyab say, "Shall I tell you what is better than much prayer and sadaqa?" They said, "Yes." He said, "Mending discord. And beware of hatred - it strips you (of your deen)."

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Said ibn al-Musayyab from Abu Hurayra that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry."
Also refer to my previous post here.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Michael Schumacher Is The Stig?

Okay, I know I'm a few months late on this great discovery. I've been busy and I just saw the episode.

Anyway, so here's what an article had to point out regarding the episode:

Some say that it was a publicity stunt, and that the BBC almost broke its own guidelines by allowing a guest to plug a brand of rum. All we know is: Top Gear has claimed that Michael Schumacher is The Stig.

The corporation pretended that it would finally end speculation about the identity of the mysterious test driver who puts cars through their paces for the programme by claiming that the real Stig would be unmasked.

But in the event it was a stunt to allow Michael Schumacher, the former Formula One champion, to give publicity for Bacardi, which pays him to raise its profile.

The segment, broadcast at 8.30pm on BBC Two, showed the driver breaking the lap record for vehicles on the Top Gear track while driving a Ferrari FXX. Schumacher broke the previous record, set by a Gumpert Apollo, by almost seven seconds as he crossed the finishing line in 1 minute and 10.7 seconds.
Here's the point to pay attention to though:
Footage at the end of the programme showed Schumacher driving ineptly around the track, causing Clarkson to comment: “You know what? I don’t think that Michael Schumacher is The Stig.”

That to me seems like they were trying to say, "it's really not". I have my own reasons for feeling he wasn't the stig. I know I'm not the first person to say that. But from the moment he stood there at the back of the studio I felt something weird about him. It was as though he looked very different. From his standing pose to his physique to his style of walking. Even when Jeremy sat him down and asked him whether he's ready to reveal his identity, he didn't seem the same. Anyone else sense that? I guess it could have been because an article claims that Top Gear uses different people to play The Stig.
A source on the show added: 'Look at the pictures of the Stigs from show to show. If you look at the height of Stig in different pictures, that tells its own story.

'In some he looks a lot taller than others. People have become obsessed with finding who the Stig is but they have not considered that it is possible that it is more than one person. The simple fact of the matter is that there are currently a number of Stigs who drive on the test track. Since the Stig first drove on the show, it has never been practical to have one single driver taking care of all the Stig's many commitments.'

Well, that's just great. So who knows. Maybe Michael Schumacher WAS the real STIG! :P Okay, I spoke too soon, here's a wiki article on the matter:

On 21 June 2009, Schumacher appeared on BBC2's motoring programme Top Gear as The Stig. The BBC has since admitted that Michael Schumacher is not the regular Stig and was there on that occasion because Ferrari would not allow anyone else to drive the Ferrari FXX which was featured in the show.

Does Cracking Your Knuckles Cause Arthritis?

The simple answer is NO. This is one of the most popular myths that has been floating around and still continues to do so. However as far as I have read about it, it's not true.

Here's what an article I found online had to say:

How the Joint Works

A joint is formed where the ends of two bones come together. The ends of the two bones are covered by articular cartilage. The cartilage is surrounded by what is called the joint capsule. Inside the joint capsule, there is synovial fluid which serves as a lubricant for the joint and also as a source of nutrients for the cells that maintain the joint cartilage.

Synovial fluid contains dissolved gases -- oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. When you crack your knuckles or when pressure is applied to a joint, the pressure inside the joint capsule expands but the expansion is limited by how much synovial fluid is contained in the joint. Synovial fluid cannot expand unless pressure inside the joint capsule drops and the dissolved gases can escape out of the fluid. The cracking sound comes from the gases rapidly being released from the fluid.

Study Conclusions

There have been a few studies over the years that considered whether or not cracking knuckles caused arthritis. One study found that there was no increase of hand arthritis among knuckle crackers, however, knuckle cracking was related to hand swelling and lower grip strength.

Another study indicated that while knuckle cracking was not associated with arthritis, it was associated with damage to ligaments that surround the joint and dislocation of tendons. While cracking your knuckles is not linked to causing arthritis, there may be a connection to soft tissue injuries.


Effect of habitual knuckle cracking on hand function. Annual of the Rheumatic Diseases. 1990 May;49(5):308-309.

What makes the sound when we crack our knuckles? Scientific American. October 26, 2001.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Ahmed Deedat's Debate With American Soldiers

Ahmed Deedat was a South African Muslim scholar who passed away in 2005. I was researching about him and came across this interesting video. It's a video where he debates with the American soldiers of the First Gulf War in Saudi Arabia and has 11 parts in total.

One of the things that was interesting was his way of talking which I believe is very important in dawah. It is very important to be polite and I also understand how easy it is to lose one's patience when something hurtful is said about one's religion or about oneself. Which is all the more why I really appreciate and respect those who manage to maintain patience and remain calm and continue the work of dawah. And if one reflects upon the word dawah which means "invitation (to Islam)" then one should understand naturally that the gesture of inviting someone should be filled with kindness, gentleness, and of brotherhood.

The second thing I truly appreciate about scholars like Ahmed Deedat and Dr. Zakir Naik is that they have not simply studied the Quran but also other religious scriptures. It is easier to invite others to Islam when you understand their religion and them better.

InshaAllah, we can take examples from such Muslims in our community and aim to be better Muslims.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Sleep Deprivation May Lead to Alzheimer's?

Neurologic diseases are one of the worst diseases and Alzheimer's disease is one of them. It's a progressive disease where there is loss of brain cells (neurons) which results in progressive memory loss. So far, there is nothing to reverse the process and our best plan of action is to try and limit the progression and prevent the disease.

This is just a start to try and understand the disease a bit better and hopefully someday to try and find a cure or a way to prevent the disease.

"The research was conducted in mice and is preliminary, and it may not apply to humans. Still, the possible link between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer's raises the prospect of possible treatments that target related pathways in the brain, explained study author Dr. David M. Holtzman, chairman of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

"This might be a way to delay or prevent the disease by doing something in middle life" rather than waiting until something goes wrong, Holtzman said.

The Alzheimer's Association estimates that as many as 5.3 million people in the United States have the disease, which is the country's seventh-leading cause of death. Alzheimer's disease is incurable, and although some treatments are available, they only relieve symptoms. In some cases, those symptoms include sleep problems.

Holtzman and his colleagues were not initially looking at sleep, but instead wanted to better understand how a protein clogs the brains of people with Alzheimer's. It's not clear how these clogs, known as plaques, and structures called "tangles" cause symptoms. But experts think it may have something to do with their disruption of how neurons communicate with each other.

The researchers developed a way to monitor the levels of the protein by the hour in both humans -- through a continual measurement of their spinal fluid via a catheter -- and mice.

The researchers discovered that the level of the protein went up during waking hours and fell during sleep. Holtzman said that its levels may be related to brain activity, which is higher during waking hours.

In mice, the researchers found that sleep deprivation boosted the levels of the protein, which builds up in plaques.

If a person is awake for a long time, levels of the protein might build up, Holtzman said. This could play a role in middle age because Alzheimer's disease begins to clog the brain several years before symptoms become apparent."

For the entire article, click here. It reminds me of something I was discussing with my mother recently. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that for every disease Allah created there is a cure. All we need is the ability to discover that cure.

"There is no disease that Allah has created, except that He also has created its treatment."(Al-Bukhari)

Back From My Ramadan Break

I had over a month long break from blogging. Hope everyone had a good Ramadan and Eid. :D

Even though I wasn't able to read the Quran this year, I felt it was a more beneficial Ramadan this year and that's what counts. However, we have to remember that just because Ramadan is over, our ibadat shouldn't and we should use Ramadan to make improvements in ourselves and follow it through the rest of the year.

Shawwal is here and one can utilize this month to keep the shawwal fasts.
“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan, and then follows it by (fasting) six days of Shawwal, it is as though he has fasted the whole year.”
"Whosoever observes fast in Ramadan and then follows up with six fasts in Shawwal, will be regarded as though he had been fasting every day." (Reported by Muslim)
It was proven from Abu Ayyub (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: "Whosoever observes fast in Ramadan and then follows up with six fasts in Shawwal, will be regarded as though he had been fasting every day." (Reported by Ahmad, Muslim, Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi)

One can combine the shawwal fasts with the fasts of Mondays and Thursdays for double rewards.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to fast on Monday and Thursday. On being asked about that the Prophet said: "Deeds are presented on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim or every believer, except for those who are forsaking each other. He says [about them]: 'Leave them.' " (Reported by Ahmad with authentic chain of narrators)

And the same can be done for fasting on the 13th, 14th and 15th days of Shawwal:
Abu Dharr Al-Ghafari reported: "The Messenger of Allah ordered us to fast for three days of every month - that is, on the days of the full moon (the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the lunar month). And he said: 'It is like fasting the whole year.'" (Reported by An-Nasa'i)
Although, one can fast on these days of every Islamic calendar month.

Besides fasting, we should constantly seek forgiveness for our sins since we never know when we may reach the end of our journey. Infact, last night I suddenly woke up with great fear as though something terrible was going to happen and I wouldn't live to see daylight. Automatically I started to ask for forgiveness repeatedly until I felt the feeling pass and could go back to sleep. But it made me realize how important it is to constantly seek forgiveness for our sins. We take our time for granted and live as though we have all the time in the world. Our Prophet (saw) used to seek forgiveness more than 70, and according to some narrations more than 100, times a day!

From Anas, radiyallahu 'anhu, who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, say:

"Allah the Almighty has said: 'O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me, and hope in Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds in the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I shall forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with an earthful of sins and were you then to face Me, without having associated anything with Me, I shall grant you an earthful of pardon.'"

[Recorded by Al-Tirmidhi, who said that it is a good and sound hadith]
There is no excuse to not seek forgiveness. Make a habit of seeking forgiveness before and after every prayer and eventually increase the time and occassions for seeking forgiveness such as before leaving the house, before entering your home, upon waking up, upon going to sleep, etc.

There's a lot more one can do like changing bad habits and replacing them with good ones. But the important thing is to keep working on ourselves.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Ramadan Special

The Holy Month of Ramadan is only a few days away and it's good to be prepared and make the best of this month.

For now, here's a few things to get us all started.

1. Ramadan's Ilminar by Muhammad AlShareef
It's starting tonight so sign up as soon as possible.
Ilminar has concluded but I believe you can listen to it here.

2. Heart wheel journal
To help keep up with the progress during Ramadan

3. Day 3 of Heart Wheel Journal

InshaAllah, I'll be adding more useful things soon. :)

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Indian Actor Detained At Newark Airport

Ever heard 2 completely different versions of a story? Well, this is the perfect case scenario.

I recently heard of the Indian actor, Shahrukh Khan being detained at Newark Airport (ironically at a time when Indians are celebrating their Independence day - August 15th) because, well, coz he is a Muslim. The timing is also ironic considering his next project to be released is "My Name Is Khan" which is based on racial profiling.

According to an American paper, SRK downplayed the event and it was reported as if the whole incident was no biggie. Which actually isn't a biggie because he's famous but rather because he was among many who undergo racial profiling. Such reporting is nothing new when it comes to American papers as far as I have seen.

"I told them I am a movie star," Press Trust quoted Khan as saying.

The reported detention made top news on TV stations in India.

Kahn told reporters in suburban Chicago on Saturday that he did not want an apology from the U.S. government. Asked about what happened, he simply said: "I think it's a procedure that needs to be followed, but an unfortunate procedure."
His surname is Khan not Kahn. *rolls eyes* Evidently, the news reporter can't spell because they are too busy writing their own version and downplaying the reality of security checks. Ever heard of Google, sir?

According to other papers such as the Hindustan Times, he was quite upset by it.
Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan was on Saturday questioned for two hours at the Newark airport in the US over his surname and was freed only after Indian diplomats intervened.

The Indian government and entertainment industry reacted furiously after the 43-year-old actor, named by Newsweek last year as one of the world's 50 most powerful men, revealed how he was detained and stopped from even using his mobile telephone.

"They checked me because I was an Asian," the actor said. "They wanted to know why I came to the US and where I am staying."

Shah Rukh's manager Niloufer Qureshi earlier told IANS over telephone from Mumbai: "He was detained because his surname is Khan. He was kept until officials from the Indian embassy intervened."
According to Gulfnews paper:
"I was really hassled perhaps because of my name being Khan. These guys just wouldn't let me through," he said in a text message to reporters in India.

"Absolutely uncalled for, I think. I felt angry and humiliated," said Khan, who just finished a month long shoot in the US for his upcoming film, My Name is Khan, which is a Muslim man's experience with racial profiling.
According to the American papers he was detained for 66 mins whereas according to the Gulf paper, he was held back for a couple of hours. He was lucky he had the Indian government to help him in this regard. What about the poor Muslims who have no connections what-so-ever and are detained for hours to days because they look or sound Muslim. It's an unfortunate situation and although Obama is trying to improve the image of America by visiting Middle Eastern countries, it would be really helpful if there was a way to change the perception of Americans towards Muslims as well.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Catch-up News

Apparently Paris Hilton had visited Dubai and I understand this was way back in June but I still found it interesting to see she was trying to study UAE’s culture to make sure you doesn’t offend anyone. She was coming for the shooting of her show “My New BFF” where she’s trying to find a Best Friend in Dubai. I found it a strange pick because the Arab culture vs the Hollywood/LA culture is so far apart. My guess is the only things the girls in UAE would have in common with Paris are shopping since that’s one thing Dubai is pretty well known for. Other than that, I got to see a few of her pics in a traditional Arab dress and I should say, she looks much more beautiful in modest dressing and all covered up rather than the skimpy clothes she usually dons. Whoever has designed the dress did one hell of a job!

Don't you agree? :D

Next is Michael Jackson. Was he murdered, was it suicide, was it accidental overdose? Apparently no one is sure. Atleast, not the sources I’ve read. He was temporarily laid to rest at Los Angeles’ Forest Lawn Memorial Park. No word whether it will continue to be his final resting ground. No word on him dying a Muslim. It’s now between him and Allah. We should leave it at that.

Hopefully I didn’t leave out anything. :D

Back From My Blogging Break

Unfortunately, I was facing problems posting yesterday but inshaAllah today it'll work fine.

I’ve been a bit busy the past few weeks and needed to take a break from the blog world. Ramadan will be coming soon as well and so I may not be able to post that often. But inshaAllah I’ll try to add things that are relevant and helpful for everyone during Ramadan. :D

So, lets try to catch up and see what I’ve missed.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Manners Of Giving Sincere Naseeha/Advice

- An extract of an article by Kamil Mufti in Al Jumuah Magazine.

Seeking the Pleasure of Allah by giving Naseehah

It is necessary that a person has the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah when giving naseehah. Only such an intention deserves reward from Allah and acceptance from His slaves.

If the intention is other than that, then that person deserves the anger and wrath of Allah as well as the hatred and rejection of the people - including the one being advised.

Not slandering the one being advised

This is an affliction that has befallen many Muslims. Many times, after taking a closer look, we find that the person giving naseehah actually wants to slander the person he is advising because of personal hatred. This does not befit the one being advised and may lead to a worse situation with no benefit resulting from the naseehah.

Naseehah is to be given in secret

Naseehah is most likely to bear its fruit when given to a person when he is by himself, for in such a situation the person is less likely to be affected by the thoughts of others. The sincere advisor should not aid the Devil over his brother by publicly rebuking him and letting Shaitaan beguile his brother into not taking the naseehah. This closes the doors of goodness and acceptance, and reduces the chances of the naseehah from being accepted.

This is why our pious predecessors used to give naseehah in secret. Hafidh Ibn Rajab writes, "When the righteous predecessors intended to give naseehah to someone, they admonished him privately, to the point that some of them said, "The one who exhorts his brother between him and himself , then it is naseehah. The one who exhorts him in front of people, then it is merely scolding!"

Fudail Ibn Ayyadh, one of the pious scholars from our predecessors, said, "A believer covers up and gives naseehah, whereas an evildoer exposes and humiliates." Ibn Rajab commented on Fudail's saying, "It is naseehah if it is with a cover, while humiliating is with broadcasting."

Naseehah is to be given with kindness, gentleness and softness

A sincere advisor must be kind, soft and well-mannered in giving naseehah to others, as this might get the desired response from the one he is advising. One must understand that accepting naseehah is like opening a door, and that the door will not open without the proper key. The one who is given naseehah has a heart that has a lock in some matter - for he has abandoned something that Allah has demanded from him, or has committed something that Allah had forbidden him from. There is no better key to unlock the heart than kindness in giving advice, gentleness in exhortation and softness in speech as the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said, "Kindness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty, and it is not withdrawn from anything but it makes it defective." [Muslim]

Do not compel others to follow one's Naseehah

It is wajib (obligatory) on the advisor to render sincere advice to others, but it is not his right to compel others to follow his advice as well. That is the right of the Muslim ruler upon his subjects or a Muslim Qadhi (Judge) in his jurisdiction. A sincere advisor is one who guides toward goodness, but he is not to command others to act upon it.

Ibn Hazm writes that one should not give naseehah on the condition that it must be accepted, otherwise if one goes beyond this, he will be oppressing not advising, and seeking obedience and control. In another passage, Ibn Hazm writes that if a person is mistaken in his advice, he would be expecting people to follow him in his mistake.

Choosing the proper time to give Naseehah

The one giving naseehah must choose the right time to give his advice, since a person is not always ready to receive naseehah.A person may be angry about something, upset about not getting what he wanted, grieved for something he may have lost, or there may be some other reason that might prevent him from responding to the naseehah.

Abdul Hamid Bilali writes, "Choosing proper time and place is one of the greatest causes for the acceptance of naseehah and eradicating evil", and as Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud said, "Hearts (sometimes) yearn and are attentive, but (sometimes) they go through lapses and feed repulsion. So take from them when they are (in a state of) yearning and are attentive, and leave them alone when they go through lapses and are feeling repulsion."

Naseehah that is against Islam is not to be followed

Giving naseehah is part of Sharia. Therefore, if someone gives advice to leave a deen demanded by the Sharia or to perform a forbidden deed, then it is not called naseehah. The one giving such should quit doing that and the one being advised should not accept it. For instance, if someone tells you to shave your beard, to expose some part of the body by taking off the hijab, to shake hands with women on job interviews, to date the girl you are interested in, to take a job at a gas station that sells alcohol, or to go see the latest movie, then you should not obey. These matters are not counted as naseehah which the Prophet (sallAllahu 'alaihi wa sallam) made part of the religion.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Death in Islam part 2

The following hadith talks about what happens after a person dies.

From Al-Baraa’ ibn Aazib (ra), who said:

"We went out with Allah’s Messenger (saws) with the funeral of a man of the Ansar and we came to the grave and the niche in the side of the grave (al-Lahd), had not been dug out yet, so Allah’s Messenger (saws) sat and we sat around him as if we had birds upon our heads, and in his hand he had a stick with which he was striking the ground. Then he raised his head and said: ‘Seek Allah’s refuge from the Punishment of the Grave,’ two or three times. Then he said: ‘When the believing servant is leaving this world and going onto the Hereafter, angels with white faces - as if their faces were in the Sun - descend upon him. With them is a shroud from the shrouds of Paradise and perfume for embalming from the perfume of Paradise, so they sit away from him at the distance the eye can see and then the Angel of Death (as) comes and sits by his head and says: "O good soul, come out to forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure." He said: "So it comes out, just as a drop flows out from the mouth of the drinking vessel, and he takes it but does not leave it in his hand even for the blink of an eye until they take it and places it in that shroud, and that perfume, and there comes out from him a smell like that of the best musk found upon the face of the earth." He said: "So they ascend with it, (i.e. the persons soul) and they do not pass by any group of Angels except that they say: ‘Who is this good and pure soul?’ So they reply: "So and so, the son of so and so." with the best of his names which he used to be called by in this world, until they come to the lowest Heaven, and ask that it should be opened for him, so it is opened for him, they accompany him through every Heaven until he is taken up to the seventh Heaven, and Allah the Al-Mighty says: "Write the record of my slave in Illiyon (signifying highness) and return him to earth to his body." Then they say: "Who is your Lord?" So he will say: "My Lord is Allah." So they will say: "What is your Deen?" He will say: "My Deen is Islam." So they say: "Who is the man who was sent amongst you?" So he will say: "He is Allah’s Messenger." So they say: "How did you come to know that?" So he will say: "I read the Book of Allah, and believed in it , and attested to it." So a caller will call from Heaven: "Indeed My servant has spoken the Truth, so spread a place for him in Paradise, and a open a door to Paradise for him, so some of its fragrances and scents come to him and his grave is extended as far as the eye can see." He said: "A person with a Handsome face, and beautiful clothes and good smell comes to him and says. ‘Receive good news, which will please you. This is the day which you were promised.’ So he says to him: "Who are you?, since your face appears to signify good." So he says: "I am your righteous actions." He therefore says: "O Lord, establish the Last Hour. O Lord establish the Last Hour - so that I may return to my family and wealth."

But when the unbelieving servant is leaving this world and going into the Hereafter, angels with black faces descend upon him as far as the eye can see. The Angel of Death comes and sits by his head and says: "O foul soul, come out to Allah’s displeasure and anger." So the soul spreads throughout the body, so he (the Angel of Death) drags it out, just as a pronged roasting fork is pulled out of wool. So he takes it, but does not leave it in his hand for the blink of an eye until they put it in those coarse sack cloths. Then there comes from him an offensive stench, like that of the foulest smelling corpse rotting upon the face of the earth. So they ascend with it (i.e. the soul), and they do not pass by any group of angels except that they say: "what is that foul smell!" So they say: "So and so, son of so and so," calling him with the ugliest names which he used to be called with in this world, until they come with him to the lowest heaven, and ask permission to enter, and it is not opened for him." Then Allah’s Messenger (saws) recited:

"...for them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of a needle (which is impossible)." (Qur'an Al-Araf 7:40)

Allah (swt) says: "write his record in Sijjeen (a name signifying constriction) within the lowest earth." Then his soul is flung down, and he recited:

"...and whoever assigns partners to Allah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place." (Qur'an Al-Hajj 22:31)

So his soul is returned to his body and two Angels come and make him sit up. Then they say to him: "Who is your Lord?" So he will say: "Ah, ah, I don’t know." So they will say: "Who is this man who was sent amongst you?" So he will say: Ah, ah, I don’t know." So a caller will call from heaven: "You have lied so spread a place for him in the Fire, and open a door to the Fire for him." So some of its heat and scorching air comes upon him, and his grave is constricted to the extent that his ribs interlace, and a man with an ugly face, unsightly clothes and smelling offensively comes to him and says: "Receive news of that which will grieve you, this is the day which you were promised." So he will say: "Who are you?" He will answer: "I am your evil actions." So the unbeliever will say: "O Lord, Do not establish the Last Hour."

It is important for us to read and reflect upon the hadith and imagine ourselves in such a situation. Once we are touched by death, there is no going back. There is nothing more we can do to improve our status in the eyes of Allah (swt). We can never be sure how long we have. Would we continue to live the way we do if we knew we'd die today?

"Until when death comes to one of them (those who join partners with Allah), he says: "O my Lord! Send me back in order that I may work righteousness in the things I have neglected..." (Qur'an Al-Mu’minun 23:99-100)

Allah accept the repentance of those who do evil in ignorance and repent afterwards; to them will Allah turn in mercy, for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom. Of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil until death faces one of them and he says: ‘Now have I repented indeed’, Nor of those who die rejecting faith; for them We have prepared a punishment most grievous." (Qur'an An-Nisa 4:17-18)

Friday, 3 July 2009

Death in Islam part 1

With the unexpected demise of Michael Jackson, it makes one ponder about one's own lifespan. Was MJ's death really premature? All of us were born with our time of death fixed.

"Nor can a soul die except by Allah’s leave, the term being fixed by writing..." (Qur'an Al-Imran 3:145)

You have asked from Allah about durations of life already set, and the length of days already allotted and the sustenance the share of which has been fixed. Allah would not do anything earlier before its due time, or He would not delay anything beyond its due time. (Muslim)

People die everyday. No one is certain of when his/her time will come. The only thing one is certain of is that every one will die.

"Every soul shall taste death. And We test you by evil and by good by way of trial. To Us must you return." (al-Anbiyaa 21:36)

"Wherever you are, death will find you out. Even if you are in towers built up strong and high." (al-Nisaa 4:78)

'Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, 'Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler." The sub-narrator added: Ibn 'Umar used to say, "If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your lifefor your death."

Allah explains to us that our life is a trial and our purpose is to worship Allah (swt) and to enjoin good.

"O you who believe fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in the state of Islam" (al-Imran 3:102)

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) recommended that we remember death often:

“Make mention of the destroyer of desires (i.e. death) very often.” (Tirmidhi)

However we should never wish for death:

Allah's Apostle said, "None of you should long for death, for if he is a good man, he may increase his good deeds, and if he is an evil-doer, he may stop the evil deeds and repent." (Bukhari)

Allah's Apostle said," None of you should long for death because of a calamity that had befallen him, and if he cannot, but long for death, then he should say, 'O Allah! Let me live as long as life is better for me, and take my life if death is better for me.' "

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Will Michael Jackson Have An Islamic Burial?

Michael Jackson's death came as a shock to many including myself. It was only recently that I had heard of his conversion to Islam in November 2008. At first I suspected them to only be rumours until I read about it in the news that he had changed his name to Mikaeel. Finally, only Allah (swt) knows what was in Michael's heart.

There are more speculations whether his funeral will be as per the Islamic tradition. It is no secret that his brother Jermaine Jackson had converted to Islam in 1989 and was one of the influences in Michael's conversion. The following video is his comments on the passing away of his brother.

It can be considered as Michael had indeed converted and there will possibly be an Islamic funeral although there are no confirmed reports as yet. His death certainly serves as a reminder that each and everyone of us will die.

3:185 (Picktall) Every soul will taste of death. And ye will be paid on the Day of Resurrection only that which ye have fairly earned. Whoso is removed from the Fire and is made to enter Paradise, he indeed is triumphant. The life of this world is but comfort of illusion.
May Allah accept his shahada (testament of faith) and forgive his sins. Ameen.

Are Acai Berries Really All That?

There has been a craze behind the beneficial effects of the acai (pronounced aa-sigh-ee) berry and how they are full of anti-oxidants and can help one lose weight. But how much is true and how much is false advertising? I almost tried to buy some myself but decided to do some research first.

It all started with Dr. Oz who mentioned the beneficial effects of the acai berry on Oprah. However, if one investigates into the matter, one can find the following:

"Neither Oprah Winfrey nor Dr. Oz endorse or are associated with any acai berry product or on-line solicitation of such products," said Harpo spokeman Don Halcombe. "Harpo lawyers are aggressively pursuing all of the companies that we know about or are reported to us."

"We were looking at foods that have deep colors," said Oz. "These naturally colorful ones reflect antioxidant power."

As far as those weight-loss properties, Oz said, "I'd be surprised if by itself acai could help."

But, he confided, "it's not going to hurt you, and it's as good an antioxidant as anything else. That's not where I would put my money."

The best way to lose weight, according to Oz, is to avoid simple carbohydrates and incorporate the right nutrients into one's diet, lose that fat around the waist, exercise and add fruits, vegetables and fiber to the diet.

"All other things like supplements have limited benefits," he said. "If you order French fries, a Big Mac and a large coke, you're not going to lose weight and even the acai isn't going to help."

Moral of the story - Don't believe everything you hear on TV.
"Invariably, as is the case with these products, the hype gets way ahead of the science," said Dr. David Katz, associate clinical professor of public health and medicine at Yale University. "You get more bang for the buck by just eating more fruits and vegetables."
The news article goes on to say:

While there is some merit to the rich antioxidant content of exotic fruits such as acai, consumers can get the same punch in dark chocolate and an array of other foods, such as oranges, tomatoes and blueberries, according to Katz.

"There really are two fallacies: one is that we can package the benefits of a food into a supplement - that often doesn't work," he said. "The second is that just because a food is high in antioxidants, it will translate into unique health benefits. We have no evidence of that either."

There is no proven scientific data regarding the amazing benefits of the acai berry. The research that I did come across claimed that acai berries have an anti cancer affect in cell cultures. Here's the thing though, most fruits and vegetables will have the same effect! This is because of the presence of the anti-oxidant vitamins A, C and E.

Free radicals and oxygen radicals, produced by our body during respiration, metabolism and by other causes such as pollution, smoking, etc, are harmful to our cells and can lead to cancer so our body tries to neutralize these by using antioxidants. Antioxidants can also have a cardio-protective effect.

The best method to get a rich source of antioxidants is by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables. These also provide fiber which is great for constipation, diarrhea and preventing colon cancer. Everyone should try to get a minimum of 30 mins daily exercise and in order to lose weight one should exercise for atleast an hour. There is no trick to weight loss. It comes down to burning more calories than you consume. Whenver you find yourself focusing too much on a certain type of food, remember, moderation is key. The aim should be to cut out junk food, eating excessive carbohydrates and try to consume a more balanced diet along with staying active. It also helps to stay well hydrated and get a good night's sleep.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Random Rant/Advice # 1

I've noticed these things happening so many times that I decided I need to blog about it and hopefully people reading it will think about it and make changes if they do it too.

1. Dads who cross the road while dragging along their 3 - 5 yr old kid across the road.
Come on! A dad can lift their kid in their arms for 2 mins while crossing the road, right? So why dont they? Are they that lazy? It's really not safe if he falls down on the road. Nor is the fact that these dads pull them up by their arms in order to get them to climb up the road divider in a hurry. You can cause a dislocated shoulder for God's sake! There is no excuse for a man not to pick up his kids in his arms while crossing the road, especially if you are NOT using a proper crossing.

2. People who cross from in front or the back of the car.
I find it unbelievable that so many people don't know how to safely cross a road. The worst is people crossing roads from points of u-turn when most drivers would be looking at the opposite direction for on coming traffic. These people tend to cross from in front of the car in such a way that if the car moves even an inch forward, they'd get hit. These, mind you, are NOT pedestrian crossings. Yet, people feed the desire to choose these dangerous places to cross. I wonder if they are slightly suicidal as I've heard of a few cases where people purposely jumped in front of a car to avoid whatever stresses they have in their lives. Unfortunately, if it wasn't enough that they cross in front of cars when the cars are moving forwards, these people also cross from behind cars when a car is reversing. Fortunately, most people reverse pretty carefully and slowly but why do these people get the urge to see if they can cross from behind a car without getting hit. I wonder if it would take a broken leg for them to see, it's not worth it.

However, I feel, the government needs to take steps to make safer crossing zones for people especially in heavily populated areas so people stop risking their lives and the lives or their family members in the process.

3. Selfish parkers
Basically, these people do not know how to park and apparently the diving lines mean nothing to them. They usually take the parking of 2 cars and this can be extremely annoying when you are in a place with more cars than parking spots. Usually when I see such cars, I have a strong desire to stick some sort of a huge note on their windsheild about their stupidity/ignorance/selfishness.

So, please, have some consideration for others.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Surah Tariq

I've been trying to learn this Surah. I had started a while back but never got around to finishing it sadly. Even though I know I can do it in a few days if I try to learn just 3 ayahs per day. So, it just came in my mind to try to restart and I am upto 7 ayahs now, alhumdulillah. InshaAllah, putting it out there would help me stick to it. Hence this post. :D

The recitation is by Mishary Alafasy. I liked the fact that this video had clear Arabic script and English translation as well. :D

Tafseer the Surah by Imam Zia: A really good job, mashaAllah.

Regarding the following ayah:
So, let man ponder on what he has been created from. He has been created from a spurting fluid that comes from between the bones of the back and the chest. Indeed He [– the Almighty –] is able to resurrect him. (5-8)

I wanted it into perspective from a medical point of view. As mentioned in the video, one understanding is that the gonads actually arise from a person's back and then move forward and downwards to finally settle in the scrotum for a man and the pelvis in a woman.

The figure shows how the testis moves from the back (retroperitoneal postion) near the kidney to eventually lie in the scrotum. It is the reason why in patients with an undescended testis, it can be felt even in the abdomen (depending at the site of its arrest).

Friday, 12 June 2009

Why Do We Forget?

Why do parents forget what it was like to be a child or an adolescent?

Why do the newly rich forget what it was like to be poor?

Why do the healthy forget what it was like to be sick?

Why do the married forget what the struggles were like to be single?

Why do we forget and become ungrateful for all the things we now have? Worse. Why do we start pointing fingers, looking down upon and hurting people who are now in the position we once were? Where has the empathy gone?

Why do friends forget what it was like to have none? Why do they suddenly start avoiding the friends who are in need, inspite of them being there through thick and thin? What makes us act this way? So selfishly. As if the world revolves around us. As though we are right and everyone else is wrong. Our pain is pain but someone else's pain is nothing. Someone else's loss is meaningless.

How can we deal with people in such a selfish manner and then face Allah in prayer each day and cry in our duas asking for help and beg for mercy? Is that what Islam taught us? Do we even know Islam if this is our behaviour? If we can't want for our brother/sister (in Islam) what we want for ourselves, are we really good Muslims?

May Allah place mercy and empathy in our hearts. Ameen.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Through The Eyes of A Muslim Convert

I had typed up the post a week or so back but I'm only completing it now so here goes:

Have you ever looked at Islam from the point of view of a convert? I love learning about how they opened their hearts to Islam and what they saw in Islam and Muslims that attracted them. Many of the converts knew Muslims with amazing characters and usually it was the simple gestures that made them want to know more about Islam. That should be just one reason for us to be motivated enough to be better Muslims, inshaAllah.

Here's one of the videos that I truly enjoyed watching:

Just some of the points that were brought up that I appreciated them talking about is:

1. Doing our work to please Allah (swt) rather than to simply please others. The benefit of that is that even though people may not appreciate you, Allah (swt) always will and He will reward us in ways no one else can.

2. How Allah is always watching us and is aware of all that we do and this knowledge prevents us from sinning and if we do sin then we constantly seek Allah (swt)'s Forgiveness.

3. Changing our purpose from wanting things from this life and material things to concentrating on pleasing Allah and being happy and thankful for with what we have.

4. Being humble and patient which most of us have difficulty with.

5. Looking at problems and difficulties as challenges and looking at it as a chance to please Allah (swt) and learn and benefit from them.

The purpose of sharing these thoughts is because often times we take our actions, our practice of Islam and Allah's Mercy for granted and we tend to slack in aspects of how we practice Islam. By looking at other Muslims, it can inspire us to change and become better and closer to Allah, inshaAllah.

Knowing Oneself & Salatul Istikhara

[As salaam walaikum dear readers. I've noticed a lot of hits on this post. Please leave your comments as I would love to know if this post was beneficial to you. Jazakallah khair. :)]

I've been wondering if we see ourselves through others eyes. In my teen yrs, everyone (besides family and close friends) believed I was a shy, quiet girl when infact I was pretty talkative. I was just more comfortable with a small group of people rather than a whole lot. So, not many people really knew the real me. I believe I always knew myself well. I knew my beliefs, where I stood and what I wanted (which did change alot over time but I was always aware of it). I guess this is why most decisions came easy to me. It was only when I was not sure if I was making the right choice have I struggled the most. But alhumdulillah, I believe I'm trying to do my best. Many a times when I really felt confused, I've prayed to God and of course, the best prayer when you are confused about a decision is Salatul Istikhara.

I've prayed Istikhara in about 3 different circumstances and I believe things always worked out for the best. Alhumdulillah.

For those wondering about the prayer, it is to ask Allah (swt) for guidance in any matter that we may be concerned or confused about.

It's a very simple prayer. You make wudhu (ablution) likefor any regular prayer, face the qibla and pray 2 rakaats (non obligatory) and at the end of the prayer, recite the following dua:

‘Allahumma inni astakhiruka bi’ilmika, Wa astaqdiruka bi-qudratika, Wa asaluka min fadlika al-’azim Fa-innaka taqdiru Wala aqdiru, Wa ta’lamu Wala a’lamu, Wa anta ‘allamu l-ghuyub. Allahumma, in kunta ta’lam anna hadha-l-amra Khairun li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or ‘ajili amri wa’ajilihi) Faqdirhu li wa yas-sirhu li thumma barik li Fihi, Wa in kunta ta’lamu anna hadha-lamra shar-run li fi dini wa ma’ashi wa’aqibati amri (or fi’ajili amri wa ajilihi) Fasrifhu anni was-rifni anhu. Waqdir li al-khaira haithu kana Thumma ardini bihi.

“O Allah, I consult You as You are All-Knowing and I appeal to You to give me power as You are Omnipotent, I ask You for Your great favor, for You have power and I do not, and You know all of the hidden matters . O Allah ! If you know that this matter (then he should mention it) is good for me in my religion, my livelihood, and for my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) then make it (easy) for me. And if you know that this matter is not good for me in my religion, my livelihood and my life in the Hereafter, (or he said: ‘for my present and future life,’) then keep it away from me and take me away from it and choose what is good for me wherever it is and please me with it.”
For more information, check here.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Doing Away With Negativity

I had been thinking about this topic a few nights back and I came across this wonderful article on positivity.
I especially enjoyed reading the following:

"As believers, we are guaranteed victory no matter what our condition is, and that’s what makes us special. If we become ill, our sins fall away from us like leaves fall from a tree. If our child dies, he or she will wait for us in the Hereafter and intercede for us until we enter paradise. If we fight in a war, we will either win, or die as martyrs, which is a greater victory in itself.

So the question begs to be asked, why then are Muslims so pessimistic?"
Unfortunately, we can't change what we don't realize. Which is how lucky we are and how blessed we are in our life inspite of all the difficulties and crisis we face. As wise people say, whenever something bad happens, always look to the people who are in a worst situation than yourself. This is so we realize how lucky we are and so that we may be grateful to Allah (swt).

If you are among those who feel down after hearing criticism, try to not concentrate on the negative aspects in your lives and temporarily distance yourself from those who you find trying to pull you down with criticism, either on purpose or unintentionally. Although, generally criticism can be healthy because we may be unaware of what mistakes we might be making, but sometimes being criticized constantly can make us feel frustrated and have a negative impact instead of what was intended. In such cases, try to not concentrate on the negative but positive aspects of the situation and deal with the aspects that need improvement when you feel you are in a more positive frame of mind.

Remember that Allah (swt) does not burden His servants with more than what he/she can bear and He promises that with every hardship there will be ease. So, even though we may feel stressed about something today, tomorrow may bring better news. Finally practice patience during hardship, as recommended by the following hadith:

"The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said: 'A believer, in all his affairs, is envied whether in times of adversity or in luxury, and this is a special feature for believers only. Whenever a believer wallows in luxury, he thanks Allah, and whenever he faces hardship, he commits himself to patience. In all cases, it is good for him.' (Reported by Muslim)"