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.