Sunday, December 27, 2015

Etiquette of dua: How to supplicate to Allah



The word “dua” refers to sincere and heartfelt supplication one makes to Allah. The dua can be for worldly matters like health, wealth, success and better livelihood. It can also be for spiritual matters like asking for forgiveness for sins, guidance on the right path and for Paradise in the Hereafter.

The dua is actually a testimony of fact that the Muslims consider Allah to be the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and believe that all the blessings come from Allah alone. 

No matter how important or how trivial the need might be, supplicating to Allah shows that the Muslim believes that none on this Earth can withhold what Allah has ordained and no one can grant any such favors which Allah has not constituted in their destiny. Hence it is with this faith and acceptance that a Muslim supplicates to Allah.

Supplication to Allah must be made with complete humility and preferably in a state of physical purity. It is also better to face the Qibla (direction of the Holy Ka’aba towards which Muslims pray). The dua should be made with raised hands and fear of Allah in the heart. The supplication, whether it is for the person himself or for someone else, must be made with a sincere heart. It must not be invoked for sake of showing off or as a false exhibition of piety.

When a Muslim supplicates to Allah, he must begin by testifying to the fact that Allah alone is worthy of worship. He must also invoke peace and blessings of Allah upon his last Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). He should then give thanks for all the blessings Allah has already endowed upon him. Then he should sincerely ask for his lawful needs. The supplication should also be made by invoking Allah’s attributes and names like Ar-Rahmaan (the Most Gracious), Ar-Raheem (the Most Merciful), As-Salaam (the Source of Peace) and Al-Khaliq (the Creator). 

A Muslim should also supplicate to Allah in times of ease and abundance, because dua is an expression of remembrance of Allah that is most liked by the Creator. During hardships, one usually invokes Allah for speedy resolution of his troubles, but when a Muslim remembers His Creator during times of happiness, Allah is most pleased with him.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: 

“Remember Allah during times of ease and He will remember you during times of hardship.” Narrated by Ahmad.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, 

“The supplication of every one of you will be granted if he does not get impatient and say (for example): `I supplicated my Rubb but my prayer has not been granted’.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

This hadith shows one of the most important etiquettes of supplication to Allah. When a person is in need of something like happiness, success or wealth, one should continue asking Allah without ever thinking that, in spite of praying for a long time, his prayer has not been granted. 

One should never allow frustration, arrogance or even doubt to overcome his mind. A Muslim must firmly believe that, if his prayer is not being answered immediately, then Allah might have a greater reward for him for his patience and forbearance.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Do not be among those who are ungrateful and thankless: My Story

I was born to Muslim parents in a Muslim household. But that was the extent of my being a Muslim. I used to get up for fajr prayers, yawning and grumbling because my dad’s clock was loud enough to awaken the dead. I used to hurry through my other prayers because there was television, college activities and my friends whom I just could not ignore. 

I fasted in Ramadan because iftar things seem more delicious when one is hungry. And I would hand out a few coins to the beggars who would knock on my car window because I had some loose change in my purse after hours of shopping. Yes, that was my extent of being a Muslim.

For the first 20 years, I breezed through my life without a care in the world. I had very loving parents esp my dad who could never say no to any of his four daughters. I had good brains which saw me through school and college. My wardrobe overflowed with colorful dresses and more shoes than I could possibly wear.


When I got married, I was blessed with a beautiful daughter. Next year, my second daughter was born. Less than six weeks after her birth, she contracted viral pneumonia and my life changed forever. It was the 21st of Ramadan and the time was just before fajr prayers when she breathed her last in my arms.

Nothing in my life had prepared me for the sorrow or anguish or pain or the disbelief that followed. We had money to admit her to the best hospital in town. She was under the care of top pediatrician and the hospital prided itself on its nursing care. I was surrounded by my family. She was supposed to get well and not die. Wasn’t she?

Then the anger set in. What had I done to deserve this? What had she done? Why did Allah give her to me in the first place if she was to be taken away just weeks later. Why did I carry her for nine months, and endure the torturous labour pains when she was not meant to live? Why did I have milk to feed her when she was not meant to stay?

I needed answers so for the first time in my life, it seemed, I really turned to Allah. I begged for peace and tranquility and somehow that made me open the Qur’an. It seemed to me that every verse had been written for me and it gave me comfort like nothing else could.

“Truly, it is by the Remembrance of Allah that hearts find rest.” [Qur'an, 13.28]

“And be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are patient.” (Qur'an 8:46)

I had not been very patient, it seemed to me so was Allah with me? Had I been forsaken and abandoned? And then I began to find answers and it seemed to me that the more I read the Qur’an, the more I got what I sought.

“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested.

And We indeed tested those who were before them….” (Qur'an 29:2-3)

Don’t we go through motions in life, feeling superior and safe because of our material comforts and wealth? How quickly our faith crumbles when a calamity touches us. How quickly our eeman flies out of the window and we lose hope when grief and sorrow come to visit? Doesn’t the Qur’an say:

“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-S├óbirin (the patient ones, etc.).” Qur’an 2:155

That day, Allah tested me with loss of life that was dear to me and it was up to me to be one of the patient ones. But how? Tell me, O Allah. And then the verse of Surah Rehman hit me.

“Then which of the Blessings of your Lord will you deny?”

Allah had given me so much my entire life. Did I ever thank Him for my loving parents or my caring sisters? Did I ever show gratitude for any of the blessings that He had bestowed upon me? Did I ever say a prayer of thanks for my husband who had tears of joy in his eyes when our daughters were born and wept when our younger one passed away? Did I ever pause to take stock of all the things I had taken for granted all my life and even think about thanking my Creator?

And then another verse that brought me to my knees

“Who say, when a misfortune strikes them: Lo! We belong to Allah and Lo! Unto Him we are returning. Such are they on whom are blessings from their Lord, and mercy. Such are the rightly guided” (2:155-157).

This transient life has no meaning if we do not understand its purpose. Each of us is here because Allah willed and death will certainly overtake each of us. Our prophets, most pious and beloved of Allah, also suffered calamities and sorrow and yet remained steadfast. Prophet Ayub (peace be upon him) said:

“What Allah has taken away from me belongs to Him. I was only its trustee for a while. He gives to whom He wills and withholds from whom He wills.”

When my Creator says that He never puts any burden on a soul that is beyond its ability to bear, who am I to argue otherwise?

“No burden do We place on any soul but that which it can bear.” (6:152)

Verse after verse of the Qur’an washed over me, driving away my despair and bringing solace. Today Alhamdulillah, I have two daughters and two very naughty sons.

Indeed which of the blessings of our Lord can we deny?

_________________________________________

My younger daughter is forever in my thoughts. In her memory, I buy school books for needy children, give away new clothes, toys and shoes on Eid and it is always a wonder to see the smiles that light up those children. Though she is not with me in physical sense, I am very fortunate because there are many women who never experience the joy and miracle of giving birth. Allah has given me this joy and for this blessing I am truly grateful.

At times, I wonder what she would have looked like today. Wearing a pretty pink dress and her front teeth missing? Maybe bent over her school books doing homework? Sometimes I still cry but I have found peace and I know that Allah is never unjust and our trials are a test of our faith in Allah and in Qadr.

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Strange is the affair of the Mu’min, verily all his affairs are good for him. If something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for him. And if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Saabir) and it becomes better for him. And this is only for the Mu’mmin.”

Subhan Allah!

My request to those who are reading my story is this. If you have parents or siblings or a caring spouse and children, if you have the ability to see, hear and do things with your own hands and if Allah has given you the means to enjoy comforts of life, please say a short prayer of gratitude to Allah every day.

Take some time to reflect upon the favors of Allah and thank Him as is His due.

“If you count the favors of Allah, never will you be able to number them. Verily, man is given up to injustice and ingratitude.“ [Qur'an 14:34]

Do not be among those who are ungrateful and thankless.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Website review: Earnably.com



Earnably.com is an on-line rewards site where you can complete tasks to win points and then redeem those points for cash via Paypal, Amazon gift cards and Bitcoin payments. The site is free to use and can be joined by members from all over the world. 

There are loads of different ways to earn points with Earnably.com though some of the lucrative offers are only available for members from certain countries. Some of the ways to earn on Earnably are through:

o Offer Walls
o Completing Daily Surveys
o Watching Videos and ads
o Listening to the Radio and putting in a CAPTCHA Code every 10 minutes

There are also weekly and monthly contests to help you earn even more points with Earnably. 

My first impression of the site Earnably.com was that it looks a lot like Chatabout.com and people who are active on Chatabout will have little trouble using this site. However the


I like the auto redeem feature on this site which enables you to automatically redeem a pre-selected reward whenever you have enough points in your account. 

225 points are worth $2
500 points are worth $5
950 points are worth $10
1850 points are worth $20
2750 points are worth $30

Another way to earn a point daily is to put in the special promo code which can be discovered by hovering the mouse over the holiday icon under the menu. This offer runs till 25th December so take full advantage of this special offer as soon as you sign up.

Members must be 18 or over to join Earnably, and only one account is allowed per household. So join the site today and start earning by completing offers, taking surveys and watching videos.



Please join using my referral link: http://earnably.com/r/16016


See you there!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Because anything is possible



The sky is not the limit
If you put your mind to it

Once there, it’s just land beneath your feet. 
Look yonder, there are galaxies beyond.

To be explored and conquered 
Anything is possible

Reach above and touch the stars 
Aim high and decide your own fate

Aspire, struggle and endeavour 
Take your destiny in your own hands

Belief is all that’s wanted. 
An attempt is all that’s required

Because anything is possible!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Basics of investments




This post comes courtesy my husband who likes to read a lot about investments and financial planning. He says:

If you're satisfied with living on a paycheck that simply covers your present day expenses , then you need to change your financial attitude immediately. 
This is one of the many ways to ensure that in your old-age, you will be living on hard times. 

Old-age benefits, pensions , etc. cannot support your current lifestyle in the future. Even if you are saving up cash now, keep in mind that inflation eats up the value of your money. A dollar tomorrow cannot buy the same things that a dollar today can, so simply saving cash will not do the trick.

Any excess money above and beyond the emergency fund should be invested so that the money goes to work for you and increases your wealth . When you invest, you spend money to acquire a thing of value, i.e an asset.

The different avenues of investing include: real-estate , shares/stocks, mutual funds, commodities, etc. Each investment can have a different purpose, i.e it can be held by the investor because it increases in value or it can generate a periodic income .

Starting out:


When you start out, you won’t know what the best type of investment for you is. It is, therefore, important that you initially invest in the most defensive manner possible.

In other words, put your money in highly reliable and low risk investments. These are likely to generate less income, but this accounts for security. Don't be enticed by investments with high returns, because, inevitably, they also entail high risk of losing your investment.

For a moment, consider what you would have to go through if you lost your investment – and remember to keep this advice close to your heart.




Another method of ensuring the security of investment is to diversify, such as spread your savings to different types of investments. This way if one investment is doing poorly, the others will provide you a cushion to any losses.

The easiest way is to put your money in a reputable mutual fund where an experienced person will manage your money to keep it safe and profitable. The amounts required are low and can be built upon with time.

Where to invest:



A good investment is something that benefits you during difficult times or when an important need arises. You can invest your money in real estate, shares/stocks, mutual funds, commodities, etc.

Each investment can have a different purpose, i.e it can be held by the investor because it increases in value or it can generate a periodic income.

For example, you may invest in the stock or shares of a company. If it is a stock of a good company, i.e if the business fundamentals of the company are good, then you may periodically receive dividends from the company as it earns profits. With time, the value of the stock may also increase as the company grows so that when you have to sell the share, you will sell it at a profit.

With some assets, you need to continue spending money on them even after you have acquired them. So, if you buy an apartment, the apartment will be generating an income for you through rent.

However, you will be spending money on maintenance and property-tax As long as the balance of expenses and income means that there is (a) a net inflow of cash and (b) in a suitable amount, then that investment may be considered fruitful.

Educating yourself is the most important investment you can make and the one which will generate the greatest returns. Don’t take this casually. Otherwise others and not you will be in control of your money.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Website review: Daily Giveaway Alert!




We all love free stuff and it is always worthwhile to check websites such as Daily Giveaway Alert where we can get information about the latest samples and giveaways that are 100% free.

Daily Giveaway Alert is a relatively new website with a clean, uncluttered look and the offers are updated every 24 hours! Sign up to get an email alert every time their new list of freebies & giveaways goes live. 

The DGA Team promises to personally check every offer so if you want free samples, enter sweepstakes, play instant win games or just have some daily fun, signup for the alerts via email and never miss out on the fabulous offers.


A DGA app is also coming soon. 


Friday, November 6, 2015

Quizbook..Play free online Quiz games and Win Cash...

quizbook

Image credit: http://www.quiz-trivia.com/


To be very honest, I am truly addicted to this site.

On Quizbook, you can play free online quizzes, earn points and the points you earn can be redeemed for cash deposits to PayPal... Points are worth 1 cent per 10 point.

There are many categories like science, history, geography, movies etc. You have to answer multiple choice questions and each question has to be answered within 10 seconds. Keep playing and keep earning points.

The minimum payment amount is $10. I have not reached this amount as yet so I cannot really say whether the site really pays but it does look legitimate.

The fun part is you gain knowledge and have a lot of fun. If you want to join the site,please sign up using this code:



Thanks and see you on Quizbook.


DISCLAIMER:

I joined Quizbook just a few days ago and have earned 80 cents so far so I cannot really say if the site is legit or scam. I have not reached minimum amount as yet. So whoever joins does so at his or her own risk. I am learning lots of new facts so it is fun in its own way.

UPDATE: 

The rules at Quizbook are now changed and the minimum payment is now $5. I requested payment and got paid promptly. However the rate of each correct answer is now 0.7 point instead of 1 point so now it takes longer to reach payout. (20 correct answers mean 14 points instead of 20 points).





Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A poem dedicated to children of war hit zones in this world




Image credit: Pixabay.com

The orphan sits on the pavement 
His heart full of fear and woe 
His parents were killed in the bombardment, 
The bombardment of the bloody war.

The orphan sits on the pavement, 
A locket hangs round his neck. 
On the back is an inscription__ 
‘With Love from Mum and Dad’.

The orphan sits on the pavement, 
A beautiful picture in his mind. 
The picture of his parents,
 A likeness no one can find.

As the blue dome darkens 
The street lights come to life. 
He has no friends to go to 
He knows not even strangers in his life.

The orphan sits on the pavement. 
Happiness unknown to his heart. 
His parents were killed in the bombardment. 
The bombardment of that bloody war.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Easy Eye Care Tips

Our eyes are a great blessing from Allah They let us see the rainbow in the sky, help us read a book, write an essay, admire a painting, choose colourful clothes and matching shoes and help us navigate our way through a crowded park or street. Without eyes or good vision, the world would be a dark, blurred or a scary place.

Eyes play a major role in our everyday lives and yet we do not pay much attention to their care. 
Here are some tips for eye care:



Image credit: Pixabay.com






Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Give Charity Whose rewards Never Cease

Allah has promised great rewards for the smallest act of goodness. For those deeds that continue to benefit Allah’s creation ever after the doer has passed away, the rewards and blessings from Allah are unlimited indeed.


Islam encourages us to think not only for ourself but also of others. Sadqa Jariya or charity that is ceaseless is one which keeps on benefiting people long after we have gone to the grave.


Read more at : Ceaseless Charity


Tips for Losing Weight By Following Prophet's Sunnah (pbuh)

Obesity certainly is a problem that has attained epidemic magnitude in many countries where it is increasingly viewed as a serious and growing public health problem.

Major causes of obesity are overeating and a sedentary life style. Islam advocates moderation in eating. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised people that one third of the stomach should be left empty when the meal is finished.....


Read more at http:  Fighting Obesity the Islamic way




Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Brave Young Soldier

Zawar jammed the green cap on his head. His bright eyes were shining with joy and pride.

“How do I look, grandpa?” He turned an eager face towards his grandfather.

“Just like a brave fauji jawan (young soldier),” his grandfather replied fondly and Zawar beamed happily. Standing upright on the donkey cart, he saluted the grazing cows, the roadside beggar, the green fields, the grand old trees and even the bleating goats that he saw on the way.

Zawar and his grandfather supplied milk to the army base near their village. Everyday, before dawn, the little boy would help his grandfather milk the cows and cart it to the base canteen. Captain Khalid had befriended the young lad and gifted his old, worn out cap to him. When they reached home, Zawar rushed to show his cap to his mother who was churning butter.




The following evening, a stranger called Durab came to the village. He told the villagers that he wanted to buy some land. He toured the whole area and met everyone. He was terribly interested in Zawar when the old munshi told him that they supplied milk to the army base. He was very friendly but Zawar did not like him. He felt that there was a cunning look in his eyes. Mr Durab asked a lot of questions about the soldiers but the young boy grew silent and unresponsive.

Mr Durab was staying in the little village inn. The next day he again came to Zawar's house.

“Well, boy,” he said. “Would you like to earn some money?”

Zawar did not reply. They were poor but he did not trust Mr Durab.

Mr Durab gave him a gaily wrapped box. “Do me a little favour, boy. Tomorrow morning when you go to supply milk, give this mithai (sweets) to the guards. Our soldiers are so brave. I want to show my love and respect for them.”

Zawar took the box. It was very heavy.

Mr Durab handed him a shiny watch. “This is for you for being such a good boy. If you do me this favour, I'll bring a nice, fat envelope full of money for you.”

Zawar again had an uneasy feeling but the watch felt nice on his slim, brown wrist.

“Don't tell anyone. Ok?” He patted Zawar on the head and went away. On an impulse Zawar decided to follow him. Mr Durab slowly went up the narrow, dusty road. It seemed as if he was not going anywhere in particular. However, when he reached a little forest at the end of the village, he gave a little whistle. To Zawar's immense surprise, the old beggar came out. They talked in low voice and Zawar held his breath.

“What can they be talking about?” he thought.

The two men looked around and went into the forest. Zawar followed and saw them enter an old, abandoned hunting lodge. He went around cautiously and heard more voices. He peeped in through the grilled window and saw Mr Durab and the old beggar with another person. They were eating and talking in a language he did not understand. He snooped some more and in another room he saw something that made his blood run cold. On the floor, there were some weapons and uniforms.

Suddenly Zawar knew that they were enemy spies. He looked around desperately. He could not tackle three men and he was too far away from his village to call anyone for help. There was only one thing to do. As quick as lightning, he darted forward. The three men looked up in alarm. Before they could move, Zawar slammed shut the heavy iron door and bolted it. With trembling fingers, he took the heavy lock from the gate and locked it too. The men were shouting, kicking and hurling threats but Zawar quickly sped towards the army base. He was afraid that those angry men would escape and come after him.

At the base, he poured out his story to Captain Khalid. Hardly believing his ears, he called his superiors and then everything happened very quickly. They raided the hunting lodge where the three furious and frustrated men were still locked up and arrested them.

Zawar threw the watch at Mr Durab. “We lay down our lives for Pakistan, Mr Durab. No amount of money can make us betray our country.” The prisoners glared at the young boy who had ruined their evil plans to create chaos.

Later, Zawar was given a medal for his bravery in a special ceremony. But the best reward for the little fauji jawan (young soldier) was the scholarship to study in the best cadet academy and a chance to serve his country.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Colour of Courage




"Have you seen the new girl? Isn't she weird-looking?" Maria snickered.

"She is from some African country. No wonder she looks like this," Laila said scornfully.

Maria and Laila were best friends. They were always together in school but they had one big problem. They loved to make fun of other girls. They invented cruel nicknames for their class-mates and did not care if someone's feelings got hurt. Other girls in the class were wary of their sharp tongue and steered clear of the two friends but Laila and Maria did not care. They had too much fun together mocking their classmates. They were both very pretty girls but this had made them vain. 

"Hey Fatty," Laila called out to Hira, who unfortunately was a bit plump. "Who is that Ugly?"

Hira glared at Laila but answered softly. "Her name is Mbabwe. She is here as an exchange student. Don't be rude to her, Laila. She is a guest in our country."

"Bah, guest indeed," Maria said contemptuously. 

The two friends bent their heads together and Laila whispered something. They both went into peals of laughter. Hira shook her head in exasperation and went off.

Mbabwe soon settled down in her new environment. She was extremely polite and intelligent. She had a strange sing-song voice and moved with a quiet grace. All the students in the class were very friendly towards her and did their best to make her feel welcome. All, except, Laila and Maria. 

"Look at them," Maria said during recess, when she saw some students around Mbabwe talking and laughing. "I don't know why everybody is so fascinated by her. She is so dark."

"I know," Laila agreed quickly. "Look at her hair. It looks as if spaghetti is sprouting out of her head."

"And she moves as if she has a pitcher on her head," said Maria, exaggerating Mbabwe's graceful gait. 

"Ugh! And her nose. I would hate to look at myself in the mirror everyday if I looked like her," laughed Laila, not bothering to keep her voice down.

Unfortunately, Mbabwe heard them. She looked around and her expression was sad and hurt as she realized that they were making fun of her. Tears welled up in her eyes. All the other girls were silent and they looked at Maria and Laila reproachfully.

"Come on, Mbabwe. You don't have to listen to their nonsense," said Farah, taking her hand. 

"Oh, Miss Acne-face has made a new friend," Laila taunted Farah. 

Just then, the bell rang and everybody went inside. Nobody talked to Laila and Maria for the rest of the day but they did not care.



Next Sunday, Laila's family went for a sea-side picnic. Laila's father unloaded the car while Ali, her four year old brother chattered incessantly. He was very excited and clutched his red ball tightly in his chubby hands.

Laila and her mother looked for a good spot to sit. To her dismay, she saw Mbabwe sitting under a big umbrella with her host family. They were all laughing and having a good time. Mbabwe then looked up and waved to her.

"Oh, no!" groaned Laila, under her breath. "What is she doing here? Now I'll have to introduce her to my family."

Mbabwe stood up and approached Laila's family with a good natured smile. Her host parents also came over to meet them. However, Laila's response was cold and brief. Laila's father noticed his daughter lack of geniality with a frown. He stepped in the awkward silence and while the parents exchanged pleasant introductions, Mbabwe stood silent, her eyes downcast.

Laila suddenly saw her little brother on the pebbly beach running towards the blue sea. He was running as fast as his chubby legs could carry him as his bouncing ball kept on rolling. Laila stood frozen with horror for a second and then screamed.

"Ali! Stop! Father, stop him!" For an agonizing second, everyone remained rooted at the spot while oblivious to any danger, Ali chased his prized possession. There was a resounding splash as he slipped and disappeared under water. Laila's mother screamed with horror and fainted. 

Everyone ran towards the water where Ali was floundering under the weight of his wet clothes. A big wave carried him further off the coast. Hearing the shouts and screams, people on the beach also started gathering but few knew how to swim. Some jumped in the water but where was the little boy?

Laila saw the red ball bobbing up and down in the sea. Holding her unconscious mother in her arms, she felt numb. Her throat felt raw as if a thousand screams were trapped inside her. She then saw somebody swimming in the water in quick graceful strokes. The swimmer went under water and then came up for air. She saw the person then submerge again and change directions. 

As Laila stood with her eyes glued to the sea, the swimmer surfaced with a small body. Laila's heart went still. It was Mbabwe. She started coming in shore with the limp body in her arms. Other people gathered around them blocking her view. Laila could bear no more. She left her mother with some sympathetic ladies and raced towards the crowd. 

As she approached the excited people, her feet slowed. What will she see? With her heart hammering, she went forward. She saw her father tightly hugging__a wet, squealing, splattering, thoroughly disheveled, but still chattering incessantly__her brother. With tears of relief and joy pouring down her eyes, Laila went up to them and hugged them both. 

She then looked around and saw Mbabwe. Somebody had placed a warm shawl around her shoulders. People were offering her hot tea, congratulating her on her remarkable courage and strength. She looked embarrassed and awkward with all the attention and praise.

Laila went to her. The two class mates looked at each other. Laila could muster up no words to express her gratitude, to apologize to her for her past behavior, to show her over whelming shame and regret. But none were needed. Maybe it all showed in her eyes. Mbabwe held out her hand and Laila enveloped her in a tight embrace.

Next day, the entire class was amazed at Laila's changed demeanor. Laila stood in front of the class and apologized to each class mate for her scathing words and nicknames. She recounted the previous day's event and thanked Mbabwe profusely for saving her brother's life. Laila had found the courage to see the errors of her ways and correct her mistakes.

She had learned that physical beauty is only skin deep. It is the inner self and the true color of  courage that matters.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Leopards fighting a losing battle for survival in India

Leopards are one of the most graceful and magnificent beasts of prey to roam the earth. Their tawny skin, black and brown spots and sleek, powerful bodies make them a sight to behold.


However, leopards are now fighting a losing battle for survival as more and more of their species are being hunted and killed. In recent weeks, the state of Assam in north-eastern India has been in the news due to rising conflicts between local villagers and leopards. 
But, it is not the savagery of the beasts that will make your blood run cold but the brutality of the people in dealing with their feline enemies.






Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Sad Plight of Endangered Species in Pakistan

In many poor and under developed countries, there is very little awareness about the importance of conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. 

Wildlife is not considered a precious national asset and is often seen as a means of earning a quick profit or just the next meal on the table for a large, hungry family...

Read more:

http://www.theflamingvegan.com/view-post/The-Sad-Plight-of-Endangered-Species-in-Pakistan


Monday, August 3, 2015

Website review: SpiderMetrix.com



A very long time ago, I joined a website called Spidermetrix.com. It was a lot of fun and now after a long time I logged in again to check my account. I was happy to see my account intact and all my points there even after such a long time.

On Spidermetrix.com, members worldwide can participate in surveys, including studies on everything that you eat, drink, drive, watch and do. There are also quickies where you can earn one point for answering a simple question. The site has been around since 1999 so I am guessing it is a genuine one that really pays.

And now for the rewards. The site offers spider-points for every survey that you are invited to do and you accept. These points can then be used for:

Vouchers, from amazon.com (or amazon.co.uk in Europe).
Real Cash, via PayPal
Donations to World Vision Australia.
Auctions where you bid using your points.

If you decide to sign up to this site, please use this link:


http://www.spidermetrix.com/smx120.php?refspider=gulrukh2

Make a little cash and have some definite fun!




Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sights, sounds and aromas of Ramadan



Fasting has been enjoined upon the Muslims in Ramadan which is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a month of intense prayers, devout worship and religious zeal. But another dimension that makes Ramadan such a unique experience in Pakistan is the accompanying profusion of sights, sounds and aromas that permeate the air and enrich the soul in this holy month

The last days of Shaba’an see a heightened sense of anticipation among the faithful. People crowd on rooftops, remain glued to their radio sets or gather around the television for the news of sighting of the Ramadan moon. As soon as the sighting of the thread-like crescent is announced, the air is filled with cries of “Ramadan Mubarak.” People ring up relatives and friends to convey the glad tidings and wish each other “Happy Ramadan”. 

There is much excitement in households as menus for sehri and iftaar are discussed. Then the muezzins call the faithful for Isha prayers and people go forth in large droves for the first of the taraveeh prayers of the month. For those who stay at home, the television networks telecast soul stirring recitation of the Holy Quran, naats and live taraveeh from the Holy Kaaba.




Predawn time again sees a flurry of activities. Harassed mothers bang on doors to wake up kids, alarm clocks are silenced, bathroom doors are banged and wide yawns are stifled as everyone rushes about preparing for sehri. There are groans from those who are not accustomed to waking up this early and stumble about half asleep on their feet. 

There are shrill, ear piercing whistles from guards who double up as signalers to rouse people. In some areas, people pay drum bearers or ‘dholchis’ to go about waking the slumberous. 

After this cacophony of sounds comes the aromas as sehri gets prepared. Fried parathas, curry, porridge, fried eggs and hot toasts, omelets, fresh fruits, yogurt, juices, lassi, tea and water or any other food that suits the palate adorns the dining tables as people eat enough to last them for the day. With the advent of night jobs and 24-hour open restaurants, there is no shortage of traffic even at this semi dark time. 

Roadside canteens, halwa puri stalls and tea vendors do a sterling business. The clamour of cutlery and cooking utensils reach their peak just before the fajr prayers as more sleepy heads join the fray. A siren blares through as the end of sehri time is announced. Forks and spoons are put down and eating and drinking comes to a complete stop. As the first Allahu Akbar rings out, mouths are rinsed and ablution performed as once again people make a beeline for the nearest mosque. 

The first day might pass in a state of drowsiness. But being Pakistanis, we use every occasion as a reason to celebrate and indulge in our favourite pastime____ eating. Office chatters are filled with plans for elaborate iftaar parties.  Families too plan get together as more and more people want to earn the blessings of Allah by providing food for others to break the fast. 

As the day progresses, it is not unusual to find that people and places go through a marked transformation. Shops seem to be emptier and mosques fuller. Cinemas and restaurants have a deserted air about them. Offices and educational institutes close early. 

Most taxi and bus drivers forsake their penchant for vulgar Punjabi songs and put on cassettes of na’ats, durood sharif and recitation of the Holy Quran in deference to this month. There seem to be more beggars on the streets invoking Allah’s name for the sake of alms, zakat or sadaqah. They knock on car windows, follow you around and ring door bells incessantly. 




Around Asr time, the streets come alive again. “Splat”, “sizzle”, “splash,” “crackle.” Vendors start preparing the mouth watering wares that will be used for iftari by millions of people that day. Spicy pakoras, aalo and qeema filled samosas, channa chat, fruit chat, crisp papri, dahi bhalay in yogurt, sweet jalebi, sour tamarind chutney are some of the delicacies that are bought by fasting men crowd. The air is filled with the aroma of ghee, spices and hot food making the stomachs grumble.

Everybody is in a tearing hurry to get home before iftari so that this special occasion can be celebrated with those closest to heart. Frantic travelling causes the inevitable traffic jams on our roads with frantic manoeuvring by volunteers and traffic police to unclog the blocked avenues. Horns blare and tempers fray but for some even this is an opportunity to be hospitable and charitable. 

In such busy junctions, some philanthropic people set up huge iftar dastarkhwaans to help those who are stuck in the jam break their fast. Dates and milk sodas, samosas and jugs of cold Rooh Afza are passed around. Allah’s bounty makes its presence felt and more and more people donate food for the poor, the impoverished and the less privileged.  

At home, women frantically try to get everything prepared before the Maghrib prayer. Food is placed on the table, trays laden with iftaar delicacies are sent around to neighbours and acquaintances. Many people are busy reciting Suras and prayers as this is one of the times when prayers are heard and obliged most by our Creator. 

Dupatta clad women and topi clad men take their place at the dining table and listen for the sound of azaan. With the onrush of consciousness of Allah’s blessings and bounty, there are tears in many eyes as people fervently beg forgiveness for their past sins and pray for more blessings and mercy.

The countdown to iftaar begins on the television which had previously been airing religious sermons and cooking shows. Children are usually most excited at this point and when the dua for breaking the fast is announced, they grab dates wrapped in silver warq, ready to pop it into their mouths as soon as they hear the azaan. People usually partake a little food and slake their thirst and then offer their prayers. After that, the family again sits down for a proper meal, tea and fruits.



As the month progresses, so does the discipline and spiritual zest. Waking up at sehri or going without food and water all day long no longer seems difficult. People make exceptional arrangements for special prayers like Salat-ul-tasbeeh and Itikaaf, the practice of spending the last ten days in mosques for strict prayers and worship without worldly distractions. 

These last ten days also see a sharp increase in shopping for Eid. Shops display colourful clothes, shoes, accessories, glass bangles, mehndi and Eid cards. Everything seems to glitter and shine just like the eyes of young shoppers who throng the markets looking for their special Eid clothes.

Ramadan is the most keenly awaited month in the Muslim calendar. It is a time of reflection, introspection and unbridled religious fervor. It is the month of abstaining from physical desires, reaching for taqwa and attaining piety. It is also a time of greater sense of community spirit, of giving to the poor and asking for blessings from Allah.

It is a time of enjoying family re-unions and iftaar parties. Even though prices of food items spiral up and the expenses of Eid-ul-Fitr loom ahead, everybody enjoys this special month for all its excitement and benedictions.

Ramadan Mubarak!




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