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.