Friday, 27 February 2009

Freaking Fake Forwards

Don't you just hate it when you get the same forwards again and again from friends every few weeks, months, etc? What's worse is many times these forwards are completely useless and full of lies. Probably the most annoying ones are those that threaten you with some kind of misfortune if you do not forward them to a few 100 friends. Okay, so I'm exaggerating regarding 100 friends.

Lately I was sent forwards of all kinds. The only common factor was that they were all a waste of time and full of lies. I don't mind a good joke or a nice message or even cute baby pics but the moment a forward tells me to pass it on, I reach for the delete button. If it was a good message, it would spread without the need for any kind of pressure. If you've noticed, many "religious" forwards try to guilt trip you into forwarding the messages. So, people forward them along just to ease their conscience so they don't feel like the bad guy or girl. You hit forward and wow, don't you feel great? Don't kid yourself.

Okay, so maybe I'm being a bit harsh and sarcastic. But someone needs to talk about this and break the cycle. There are amazing websites made to destroy the chain of false forwards. If only someone took the trouble to google instead of hitting the forward button.

So, for those who are really interested in breaking the chain and don't want to feel guilty about sending out and spreading lies, here are a few simple tips on what you can do to be sure of the contents of the mail:
1. Simply google the subject of the forward. Most of the time the forward is really old and people have discovered it's fake. These are the people who made the REAL effort. If that doesn't work you can always add the word "hoax", "fake", etc to the search and it's likely that if it indeed is a hoax, you'll find something about it.
2. Sometimes subjects get changed and you don't find much so try to pick out key words or phrases from the email and google for that.
3. Try searching for the email specifically on sites like the following:
Hoax Slayer
Hoax Buster
4. If the forward is of a specific nature, then check for the information on specific sites.
eg. A very popular one was hotmail shutting down and asking users to forward the mail to discover the users whose accounts are still active. Isn't it strange that most people decided it's easier to forward the message than to actually contact the hotmail staff and ask them if the information was true?
Other popular messages that spread fast are about viruses. Best thing is to check with Microsoft and other such sites regarding these viruses. Again, most of the time, they are fake. But it's always better to be safe than sorry. Be sure if it's real and what you can do to protect yourself.
Fake Islamic emails, unfortunately, are also very common. Many times I've noticed they are about fake hadith. These probably take more effort in figuring out because there are no specific sites aimed at such kinds of forwards. The possible options here are asking your local imam, writing in to the many islamic q&a sites which you trust (but that could take some time), or trying to google for the hadith, and other content to make sure we aren't spreading false information. Usually one of the clues that the email is fake or atleast partially fake is if it contains any kind of shirk (associating partners with Allah), threatening you with any kind of misfortune, not mentioning the source of the information, hadith, or generally a very haphazard, random message with no real purpose or very poorly written. Meaning, it's not an Islamic article. It's like a forward with some hadith or "Islamic" story, a few inshaAllahs and a please share it with others.

InshaAllah, I'll try my best to pick out the fake Islamic emails whenever I come across them and post them here.

In the meantime, if you manage to follow the simple tips I've suggested instead of simply hitting that forward button, feel free to feel great. Now please forward this message to everyone you know. ;)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

This made me laugh...

Sometimes I come across articles, posts, comments that make me laugh. They may not be intentionally funny but I still find them humorous. Does this mean I have a strange sense of humor? Even so, I'd like to share a few of the things I came across today and it may bring a smile to your face as well.

We've all had times when we were frustrated by the internet connection some way or the other. Maybe some of us more than others. I found this particular comment in a blog post on trying to fix the issue rather hilarious:

"I've tried the usual, in the usual order. Shouted at the computer, switched it off and restarted it, shouted at it again, hit it. Nothing works."

I also came across the following comment to a blog post that made me laugh. It speaks for itself:
"a radiologist told me I had a nice uterus, which funnily enough was removed more than 20yrs ago"
Maybe it's just me. I need some sleep.

Avoid Suspicion

There are many evils in our society that cause disunity and disharmony amongst us. Among them is that of suspicion.

Allah (swt) says in the Holy Quran, 49:12 (Y. Ali):

"O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it...But fear Allah. For Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."
Suspicion can ruin every relationship. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) clarified how satan works to ruin our relationships and impressions of each other through suspicion as mentioned in the following hadith, Bukhari's Book of Manners #1293, Muslim and Abu Dawud:
Anas reported that a man passed by while the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, was with one of his wives. The Prophet called the man and said, 'O So and so. This is my wife, so and so." The man replied, What I might have thought about another, I would never think about you." The Prophet, upon him be peace, said, "Shaytan [satan] will circulate through a person just like blood circulates [through one's veins]."
Therefore, it is permissible to call
over a person and inform them of the facts, so that they will not be suspicious.

Finally, in another hadith also talks about why we should be wary suspicion:
Abu Huraira, r.a., reported that the Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, said, "Be careful of suspicion, for it is the most mistaken of all speech. Do not spy on others, compete* among yourselves, envy one another, or despise one another. Rather, be servants of Allah and brothers!"
The following is a dua for the removal of suspicion and doubt from the heart (Source):
(Quran 23:97) وَقُل رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ
(Quran 23:98) وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ
My Lord! I seek your protection from the prompting of the Devils; and my Lord! I seek your protection from them approaching me.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Perfectly Imperfect

As humans, we have a tendency to want to get things right. Some of us more than others. Such people might be called perfectionists. They spend hours over something and may still be unsatisfied while others might be happy with half the work. I've always believed I was a perfectionist when it came to my work. So, when I came across the Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, I naturally assumed it was me. But it wasn't. It makes me looks like a lazy perfectionist at best.

Now, some of you may have heard of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) but that's not the same as OCPD. OCD is described as a person being obsessed with something and in order to decrease their anxiety, they are compulsed to perform certain actions repetitively. Eg, if someone was obsessed with being clean, they compulsively wash their hands multiple times maybe for hours until they are satisfied that they are clean. Whereas a person having OCPD is someone who is obsessed about details. They have "chronic preoccupation with rules, orderliness, and control. This disorder is only diagnosed when these behaviors become persistent and disabling. The individual with this disorder often becomes upset when control is lost. The individual then either emotionally withdraws from these situations, or becomes very angry. Occupationally, the individual tends to be a high achiever with an excessive devotion to work. However, inflexibility, perfectionism, preoccupation with detail, and inability to delegate work may seriously interfere with the individual's ability to complete a given task." Source.

Thinking about these disorders makes me glad that I do not suffer from these problems. Alhumdulillah, I know when to be flexible, when to take it easy and when I need to put my nose to the grindstone. Being a doctor can be humbling and inshaAllah I hope this attitude doesn't change as I increase in knowledge and experience.

Beauty of the Brain & Sleep Paralysis

In my last post, I spoke of hypnopompic hallucinations and my experience with something known as sleep paralysis. I had to research my experience and have managed to come across some lovely explanations on the matter.

Taken from this webpage:

"Sleep paralysis is a condition in which someone, most often lying in a supine position, about to drop off to sleep, or just upon waking from sleep realizes that s/he is unable to move, or speak, or cry out. This may last a few seconds or several moments, occasionally longer. People frequently report feeling a "presence" that is often described as malevolent, threatening, or evil. An intense sense of dread and terror is very common. The presence is likely to be vaguely felt or sensed just out of sight but thought to be watching or monitoring, often with intense interest, sometimes standing by, or sitting on, the bed. On some occasions the presence may attack, strangling and exerting crushing pressure on the chest. People also report auditory, visual, proprioceptive, and tactile hallucinations, as well as floating sensations and out-of-body experiences (Hufford, 1982). These various sensory experiences have been referred to collectively as hypnagogic and hypnopompic experiences (HHEs). People frequently try, unsuccessfully, to cry out. After seconds or minutes one feels suddenly released from the paralysis, but may be left with a lingering anxiety."
And from an Islamtoday article:
"The source of this phenomenon is a natural bodily function. When you sleep, your brain shuts off the signals coming from your muscles so you do not get up and act out your dreams. This is to prevent you from injuring yourself in your sleep. For some reason, people with sleep paralysis come into consciousness before the brain returns voluntary control back to the muscles, creating a sense of feeling paralyzed. This sensation is quite uncomfortable and understandably frightening, which can lead the not wholly conscious person to experience some of the secondary symptoms of this disorder that can often be very frightening and realistic."

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Hypnopompic hallucination or jinns

Hypnopompic hallucination is a psychiatric term that refers to a hallucination that occurs while a person is waking up from sleep. In psychiatry, a hallucination can be in any sensory modality like an auditory hallucination (sounds), visual (lights, figures), or tactile (pressure, pain), etc.

So, why am I talking about this?

A few nights back I was asleep, I felt I heard a sound and then as though there was something sitting on me. As a reflex, I wanted to recite the ayat ul kursi but I was still asleep in reality and paralysed and couldn't recite it. By the way, I talk in my sleep too so it would have been normal for me to recite surahs in my sleep. Then I tried to move and I couldn't for maybe 10 secs and finally I was able to open my eyes and move and I started reading the ayatul kursi thrice, then the 3 quls thrice each before I finally felt better. I was wide awake and wondering if this was a dream or a jinn.

My friends and I used to love sharing jinn stories and I remember my friend saying that there are a certain type of jinn which sit on you and you can't speak or move and these jinns are usually very powerful. Personally, I never researched this. I guess I should.

If you haven't already figured out, the reason I mentioned hypnopompic hallucinations are because if I had relayed my experience to a psychiatrist, he/she would almost certainly tell me it was a hallucination as I was awakening. These kinds of hallucinations are not pathological and do not indicate any mental illness.

In psychiatry, we learn about and see patients with certain symptoms very similar to jinn possession. Sometimes, it's hard for me to separate the two. Maybe because you learn with experience and I haven't studied either in great detail.

Maybe what I had experienced was a hallucination or maybe, just maybe, it was a jinn playing around. *dum dum ddduuuummm* *x-files music* :P

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

To Bank Or Not To Bank...

I happened to come across a blog post where someone went to the bank to withdraw some money and the cashier told him they were running short which made me question things they take for granted like taking money out of a bank account.

Reading that reminded me of a scene out of the movie "Mary Poppins" where a boy wants to use his coin to feed the birds. The bank owner tries convincing the boy to invest it in the bank and grabs his coin and he starts yelling to "give it back" and it causes a huge commotion in the bank where people think the bank is refusing to give back money and start demanding to withdraw all their money. lol. My mother had seen this movie during her childhood and I saw it during mine. It's an amazing movie, if you don't mind the singing and dancing.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Entering the blog world

I've been wanting to be a part of the blog world for a while now. I keep having random thoughts and ideas that I would love to pen down so I've finally decided to make my own blog.

The aim of my blog is to discover myself and maybe share my views with my readers. Being a Muslim and a doctor, I'll probably be focusing a bit on these 2 aspects of my life but I have so many varied interests that my readers will soon discover. And maybe I'll discover a bit about myself as well.

In case anyone's wondering, Nasreen is just a pen name that I've decided to choose for myself.

So lets get started! :D