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.