Friday, July 30, 2010

Rushdie's Letter: Criticism

Assalamualaikum


This is a critical reply to a letter posted on Daily Ruminations back in 2008 titled "Salman Rushdie - Letter to the six billionth person". I came across it now, read it and decided to reply to it. Probably quite late :D.. but better late than never. Especially on things like this. Big JazakAllah to Umer for providing me the link.

PS: My replies in green.
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Dear little Six - Billionth Living Person: As one of the newest members of a notoriously inquisitive species, it probably won't be too long before you start asking the two $64,000 questions with which the other 5,999,999,999 of us have been wrestling for some time.
How did we get here? And, now that we are here, how shall we live?

Dear Rushdi. As one of the newest member of the notoriously sneering species, it is a pleasure to note that you at least admit that the whatever dollar questions remain unanswered - still being wrestled with.

Oddly - as if six billion of us weren't enough to be going on with - it will almost certainly be suggested to you that the answer to the question of origins requires you to believe in the existence of a further, invisible, innefable Being "somewhere up there", an omnipotent creature whom we poor limited creatures are unable even to perceive, much less to understand. That is, you will be strongly encouraged to imagine a heaven, with at least one god in residence.

Oddly, it has occured to you that we the inquisitive EXIST and all on our own... function and procreate, all on our own... the entire universe runs smoothly all on its own - down to the whole factory running within a single cell - all on its own. The fact that you're unable to percieve THIS little piece of clear logic, is what's beyond us poor creatures.

This sky god, it's said, made the universe by churning its matter in a giant pot. Or, he danced. Or, he vomited creation out of himself. Or, he simply called it into being, and lo, it Was. In some of the more interesting creation stories, the singly mighty sky god is subdivided into many lesser forces - junior dieties, avatars, gigantic metamorphic "ancestors" whose adventures create the landscape, or the whimsical, wanton, meddling, cruel pantheons of the great polytheisms, whose wild doings will convince you that the real engine of creation was lust; for infinite power, for too easily broken human bodies, for clouds of glory. But it's only fair to add that there are also stories which offer the message that the primary creative impulse was, and is, love.

Creation stories might be many - yes, but the truth is only one. If you're not convinced by it, cool. But this gives you no right to ridicule all the versions with a singlemindedness worthy of an award, really. You can't prove your theory, even if you're unconvinced by the opposing theory. There are far too many out there who (despite, not having seen it)... believe in God. And you don't find them ridiculing the opinions you hold.

Many of these stories will strike you extremely beautiful, and therefore seductive.

No. That's not the reason why we believe in them. Sorry. Wrong guess.

It is possible that they may at some point come to feel inescapable, not in the way that the truth is inescapable, but in the way that a jail is. They may at some point cease to feel like the texts in which human beings have tried to solve a great mystery, and feel, instead, like the pretexts for other properly anointed human beings to order you around. And it's true that human history is full of the public oppression wrought by the charioteers of the gods.
In the opinion of religious people, however, the private comfort that religion brings more than compensates for the evil done in its name.


Firstly, for people who do believe in God (with their hearts and minds) do not feel the truth to be like a jail, confining them. So wrong guess here again. And secondly, the teaching of human beings that led to this truth, wasn't forced upon us. Nobody pointed a gun at us to believe in God. And thus, the argument that they only did it to order us around, stands totally invalid. The fact is, that evil can take any excuse for committing evil. If religion is one such excuse, then the blame on religion itself is foolish. Go blame those particular people.

As human knowledge has grown, it has also become plain that every religious story ever told about how we got here is quite simply wrong. This, finally, is what all religions have in common. They didn't get it right. There was no celestial churning, no maker's dance, no vomiting of galaxies, no snake or kangaroo ancestors, no Valhalla, no Olympus, no six-day conjuring trick followed by a day of rest. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Your opinion, your opinion, your opinion. We don't consider the creation process as wrong.

But here's something genuinly odd. The wrongness of the sacred tales hasn't lessened the zeal of the devout in the least. If anything, the sheer out-of-step zaniness of religion leads the religious to insist ever more stridently on the importance of blind faith.

It's not blind. As I said (and I'm a believer so I know what I'm saying), the decision is a sound one, made by the heart and mind. If you don't believe that, your problem.

As a result of this faith, by the way, lt has proved impossible, in many parts of the world, to prevent the human race's numbers from swelling alarmingly. Blame the overcrowded planet at least partly on the misguidedness of the races spiritual guides. In your own lifetime, you may witness the arrival of the nine billionth world citizen. (If too many people are being born as a result, in part, of religious strictures against birth control, then too many people are also dying because religious culture, by refusing to face the facts of human sexuality, also refuses to fight against sexually transmitted diseases.)

Weird it is, that you, not having had control of when to enter this world (did you decide your birthday hmm?), and not in control of when you'll leave this world... think it's prudent to think that we all have control over the population size of this planet?

There are those who say that the great wars of the new century will once again be wars of religion, jihads and crusades, as they were in the Middle Ages. I don't believe them, or not in the way they mean it. Take a look at the Muslim world, or rather the Islamist world, to use the word coined to describe Islam's present day "political arm". The divisions between its great powers (Afghanistan against Iran against Iraq against Saudi Arabia against Syria against Egypt) are what strike you most forcefully. There's very little resembling a common purpose. Even after the non-Islamic NATO fought a war for the Muslim Kosovan Albanians, the Muslim world was slow in coming forward with much needed humanitarian aid.

Oh you don't need to remind us about the ''efforts'' of the Muslim nations right now. They are deplorable. But we also know that it's the leaders of these states that are quite oblivious to events around them. Not the common man. If the common man were like this, there would be no flotilla towards Gaza .. knowing that Israeli forces aren't going to give them a red carpet welcome. And btw, the war b/w religions is already going on. And yes, ideology remains the key war instigator even now.

The real wars of religion are the wars religions unleash against ordinary citizens within their "sphere of influence." They are wars of the godly against the largely defenceless - American fundamentalists against pro-choice doctors, Iranian mullahs against their country's Jewish minority, Hindu fundamentalists in Bombay against that city's increasingly fearful Muslims.

If you're calling state laws as wars... then even more weird is that you didn't mention in this list of yours one very very important one... the policies of the state of Israel, the policies of India on Kashmiri Muslims... it's not only the godly who impose their laws. Secular governments do the same thing. If one opinion is unacceptable to you, doesn't mean you go about calling it war and then select a subset of state policies as examples. Puny indeed.

The victors in that war must not be the closed-minded, marching into battle with, as ever, God on their side. To choose unbelief is to choose mind over dogma, to trust in our humanity instead of all these dangerous divinities. So, how did we get here? Don't look for the answer in story books. Imperfect human knowledge may be a bumpy, pot-holed street, but it's the only road to wisdom worth taking. Virgil, who believed that the apiarist Aristaeus could spontaneously generate new bees from the rotting carcess of a cow, was closer to a truth about origins than all the revered old books.

To choose unbelief is your choice, we're open to believing in God, despite you thinking of it as being closed minded. Trusting in humanity can't go side by side with belief in God? Apparently, you haven't read much into history. Imperfect human knowledge was enlightened with scriptures, and this knowledge was the source of illumination for a great number of minds. And then you ask, how did we get here? Didn't you, in the beginning talk about this as a notoriously inquisitive display to ask these questions? Consistent, aren't you?

The ancient wisdoms are modern non-senses.

Live in your own time, use what we know and, as you grow up, perhaps the human race will finally grow up with you and put aside childish things. As the song says, "It's easy if you try."

As for mortality, the second great question - how to live? What is right action, and what wrong?- it comes down to your willingness to think for yourself. Only you can decide if you want to be handed down the law by priests, and accept that good and evil are somehow external to ourselves.


The blind wanderings and backtrackings of modern sciences is also a lot of claptrap, no worries. And sure, go ahead with this logical mode. Hand over the morality reigns to each and everybody's own individual self. So if a thief thinks its moral to steal (because he/she felt it inside that its okay!), then don't blame him. Sure.

To my mind, religion - even at its most sophisticated - essentially infantalizes our ethical selves by setting infallible moral Arbiters and irredeemably immoral Tempters above us; the eternal parents, good and bad, light and dark, of the supernatural realm.

To each, his or her own. We don't (and won't) mock your ideas. Follow what you will, but at least you shouldn't mock the things you don't agree with.

How, then, are we to make ethical choices without a divine rulebook or judge?

You're not supposed to. That's the thing, see.

Intellectual freedom, in European history, has mostly meant freedom from the restraints of the Church and not the state.
The Church men had made the laws that were suffocating mankind. Christianity had nothing to do with it. Even now, the lobbying for doing away with celibacy laws prove that the original teaching did NOT contain celibacy - nothing unnatural is ever promulgated in the main religions.

This is the battle Voltaire was fighting, and it's also what all six billion of us could do for ourselves, the revolution in which each of us could play our small, six-billionth part; once and for all we could refuse to allow priests, and the fictions on whose behalf they claim to speak, to be the policemen of our liberties and behavior. Once and for all we could put the stories back into the books, put the books back on the shelves, and see the world undogmatized and plain.
You mean, see the world in chaos and disorder. Even right now, the world's in disorder because of lack of belief in accountability (yes, even by those who CLAIM they're following religion and do heinous crimes - all acts of people who don't believe in God, Hereafter and Judgement).

Imagine there's no heaven, my dear Six-Billionth, and at once the sky's the limit.


Imagine a Just God, and imagine trying to follow His Teachings, being good to fellow humans and doing good in all spheres of life. The sky is certainly the limit.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Updates on the Plane Crash in Islamabad

Assalamualaikum

Image courtesy: The Express Tribune

There are quite a few updates to the plane crash (Air Blue ED202) in Islamabad today morning at 9.44am PST.

1. The claim of survivors (5, then 7 and then 9 - God, I was so happy and imagine how hopeful the relatives of the passengers must have been!) was all wrong. There were no injured ''being shifted to hospital''. The DIG Islamabad Bin Yameen said that when he reached the area (around 40 minutes later on foot!), there were no signs of any injured. Whatever he could recover was body parts. No intact bodies. So where did the injured story come from, I have no idea.

2. The rescue effort is now mostly over. More than a 100 bodies (remains) were taken out of the wreckage and sent to hospitals. The relatives of the passengers were flown to Islamabad via Air Blue's special service at 8pm flight and reached there by 9.30. Latest reports say that 25 bodies have been identified.

3. Rehman Malik says that terrorism cannot be ruled out. Speculations are circulating around why the plane didn't land normally on runway 30 and took the ''bad weather circuit route'' to land on runway 12. And if that circuit route was taken, why did that plane head over to the hills? The most reasonable explanation is this:

Meekal Ahmed, Columnist for The Express Tribune writes:
May I try and put some perspective on this for those above who don’t seem to know much about aviation but are writing anyway:

If you are using runway 12 as it seems (the Murree road side) there is no ILS. The ILS is on runway 30 (the opposite side). So the procedure (which I never thought was safe) is you fly the ILS to 30 and then you break off and turn right and fly parallel to the Margalla hills and then turn back in and land on 12. It’s not a circle but more of a race-track pattern. You may ask why not have the aircraft turn left rather than right towards the Margalla Hills. The reason is that on the left of runway 30 is Dhamial Air Base, GHQ and so on and as far as I remember that is all so-called “Restricted” airspace. You cannot fly over it. This is CFIT (Controlled Flight Into Terrain) not as stated above. Final point, when you are flying parallel to the Margalla Hills, you are required to keep the airport on your left in sight. So I can visualize the captain in the left seat looking left. Maybe the F/O was flying and craning his neck too. They just seem to have drifted into the Margalla Hills — perhaps because of high winds. They lost what is called “Situational Awareness”. Basically they did not know where they were.
May those who perished rest in eternal peace.

Source: The Express Tribune

Personal Updates:

1. The pilot, Pervez Iqbal Choudhry was our cousin's wife's dad !! **wails**. This we just found out a while ago! We knew her dad was a pilot, we just didn't know the name. Poor poor her! Aik to she's not even here, so she can be with her mom and bros. Secondly, the mom and one son went to identify the remains :'(, and this must be so extremely tough for them. What we do know about them is that he was a very very honest man and there can be no doubt that this was either a weather problem or a very genuine human error. There are no chances he was intentionally negligent (like, people are asking why did he take the decision to land there anyway?). I really hope the family finds solace in the fact that this brave pilot was conscientious enough not to crash the plane in residential areas, and tried his best till the last moment.

2. One of the girls (member of Youth Parliament too) was our school's head girl 2-3 years ago! The school where we studied till O Level. Somehow, she now seems more familiar, even though I never knew her. The fact that she is also from the same school connects us... and hence, I'm double/triple sad for her and family.

3. One other girl we know gaaibana (also from our school) lost her husband :'(. He was in that plane too. The girl's expecting a kid, and what a harsh harsh time she must be going through right now.

4. Another incident: There was a newly married couple (who got married only 3 days back!), on this plane, probably on their honeymoon. They were the family of my brother in law's colleague in his office. :'(.

These are just four cases. More connections will emerge ... as the days go by. The loss is too great. And the stories too poignant. We can only pray to Allah (SWT) to somehow Grant sabr to these families, and make them find comfort in the fact that the time of departure from this world ... is always always fixed for everybody. The method of departure, varies. So if it weren't for this plane crash - then it might have been something else. But since it's fixed and part of the package specs we all come with (DOB, DOD -> date of departure, TOD --> time of departure etc), nobody can really change that.

I pray for the Hifazat (safety) of everybody, Ameen.
 

Pakistani plane with 152 aboard crashes

ISLAMABAD — A passenger plane with at least 152 people on board crashed Wednesday as it came in to land at Islamabad, Pakistan, during heavy rain. 

An official said forestry guards were reporting at least five people had been killed, but an official said three people were found wounded but alive and there were unconfirmed media reports for 45 survivors.
The cause of the crash was not immediately clear, said Pervez George, a civil aviation official. He said the Airblue plane, which was made by Airbus, was flying from Karachi to Islamabad and described the weather conditions as difficult.

"The plane was about to land at the Islamabad airport when it lost contact with the control tower, and later we learned that the plane had crashed," George said.

A reporter for Pakistani TV channel Geo TV said that the pilot was trying to land at Islamabad on schedule at 9:30 a.m. local time (12:30 a.m. ET), but was told to wait because the airport was busy.
The control tower lost contact 13 minutes later, said Pakistan's AAJ-TV.

Guards with the forestry service said they had found some wreckage and seen some bodies, police official Mohammad Saeed said.
Source
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ARY News:

ISLAMABAD: An airliner carrying 157 passengers and crew members crashed in Margalla hills after losing contact with the control tower of Islamabad airport.

A help desk has been set up at Islamabad airport to meet the inquiries about the passengers of the unfortunate airliner.

The rescuers have retrieved 10 dead bodies and five injured from the wreckage of the airliner at Daman-e-Koh and shifted to PIMS hospital in Islamabad.

The flight of the Air Blue Airlines Air Bus 320 flew from Karachi at at 7:50 A.M. Wednesday morning was scheduled to land at Benazir Bhutto Airport of Islamabad crashed in thick forest near Daman-e-Koh in Margalla.

According to sources, the unfortunate airliner passed over the airport but didnt allowed to land. The eyewitnesses saw the airplane crashing with Sohawa hills and caught fire and emitting thick smoke.

Air Blue spokesman Raheel talking to ARY News said the airliner was crashed before landing at Islamabad airport.

The rescuers have retrieved 10 dead bodies and five injured from the wreckage of the airliner at Daman-e-Koh here.

The hospitals in federal capital have declared emergency after the air crash in Margalla Hills.

Source
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The morning had started so well :'(. I managed to wake up for keeping fast... and then Alhamdulillah read the Holy Quran at the most afzal (blessed) time, which is just before Fajr! And then, when I slept and woke up later, the above news greeted us :'(.

The questions which Dr. Shahid Masood asked was:
1. Why wasn't the plane allowed to land on Isb airport?
2. There are several other places where the plane could have landed. Why wasn't it given clearance?

No answer. The airport authorities remain silent. Rehman Malik ''praises'' the efforts (which means that people not really equipped to handle any emergency managed to reach that difficult place in the hills on foot!)... and the poor people were trying to move the wreckage (burning!) with their bare hands!

Oh meray Allah.

The situation remains extremely shaky. There are a few injured shifted to hospital (a/c to Rehman Malik), but a news reporter, present at PIMS Hospital, Islamabad wasn't able to see any of those 5.

We can just pray to Allah to ease this hardship, somehow, save the injured present at the crash site and give our emergency response system personnel some AQAL.
Ameen. :'(



 Image courtesy ABC News

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Of rains and Shab-e-Baraat!

Assalamualaikum

As I write, thunder rolls behind me and I can hear the rain splashing down! *tries to contain her excitement* - if only, I were in a park right now and I could RUN through it !! (As mum says ''hazaaron khwaishain aisi...")

We Karachites tend to get amazed and excited at rains that last beyond um, an hour! And this one has been on and off since yesterday!!!!!!!!! CooooL! Well, not that cool. *glumly*. Yesterday we had a class of Chip Multiprocessors. On our way to the university, we got stuck in a humungous traffic redirection effort made by a leading political party of Karachi which was celebrating its nth Yaum-e-Tasees (does anybody know what this means?). This meant that we were surrounded by cars waving flags and blaring out ominous sounding songs. Trying not to glower generally, we inched slowly towards the university from an alternate route. So reached there LATE.

Class had started. And I was clueless. As usual... **disgusted with herself**. Should read up stuff before going to class, I know but somehow, it never happens.

Anyway, when we went outside for Maghrib prayers, viola ! Rain! And lots of it! And thunder. And God, the lightening :D. It was marvelous. Btw, lightening reminded me of the Ayah in Surah Baqarah (one benefit of trying to learn a big Surah is that words jump out at you and connect beautifully in an Ayah :) and lovely if you remember the whole of it. And lovelier if you can recall their translations). So the Ayahs I was reminded of was:

19. Or like a rainstorm from the sky, wherein is darkness, thunder, and lightning. They thrust their fingers in their ears to keep out the stunning thunderclap for fear of death. But Allah ever encompasses the disbelievers (i.e. Allah will gather them all together). 


20. The lightning almost snatches away their sight, whenever it flashes for them, they walk therein, and when darkness covers them, they stand still. And if Allah willed, He could have taken away their hearing and their sight. Certainly, Allah has power over all things.



An apt description of those (don't believe in God) who wander around in the dark, and during flashes of lightening, can go a few feet forward/find their way, but then the darkness envelops them again and they just wander around aimlessly ... through life.

So we made our way carefully through the water towards the Girls' Common Room, where we prayed Maghrib. Then, came outside and the rain had slowed. Went back to class, and then the lecture became a little understandable. Shukar. Later, when we got off (Sir let us off early - 8.30pm :P).. and happily, we skipped towards the car. The rain began again as we drove off, becoming heavier, and heavier. We took another route (because of the jalsa on our usual route). But!! We got stuck. In a huugee jam. I couldn't get it. Was it the rain? Was everybody in a hurry? Were cars driving slowly? What was the jam about? At first, we enjoyed the weather. But pretty soon, since i had been the fool who had her window opened and nearly drenched in the rain, began to shiver as the wind picked up. Sigh. Later, we got stuck in another jam. Somehow, we reached home. It was 10.30 when we did. And btw, the standard duration b/w my home and university is 30 minutes. **deeeep scowl**. It was a horror.

Anyhow, today started all dark and rainy. And it is still dark and still rainy :):):). Just that we're all stuck at home, can't go out and can't even go for a walk. There is a danger of electricity running through water that's stnading on the roads and being electrocuted :S. So much for enjoying in the rain. Yet, I hear loud fiirecrackers outside. The ''shugal'' is on. 15th Sha'baan is tonight and there will be rounds of sweets (halwas) and people will ask forgiveness from each other and try their best to stay awake tonight. As far as the Saudi Research Council goes:

Question: We see some people specifying the 15th of Sha'baan with particular supplications and reciting the Qur.aan and performing naafilah prayers. So what is the correct position concerning this, and may Allaah reward you with good?
 
Response: That which is correct is that fasting the 15th of Sha'baan or specifying it with reciting (the Qur.aan) or making (particular) supplications has no basis. So the day of the 15th of Sha'baan is like any other 15th day of other months. So from that which is known is that it has been legislated for a person to fast the 13th, 14th and 15th of every month, however, Sha'baan is characterised unlike the other months in that (except for Ramadhaan) the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) used to fast more in Sha'baan than any other month . So he used to either fast all of Sha'baan or just a little. Therefore, as long as it does not cause difficulty for a person, it is befitting to increase in fasting during Sha'baan in adherence to the example of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam).
 
al-Bid'u wal-Muhdathaat wa maa laa Asla lahu - Page 612
Fataawa Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih al-'Uthaymeen - Volume 1, Page 190

Source


Question: Is standing the night of the 15th of Sha'baan in prayer and fasting during it's day legislated?

Response: Nothing firm and reliable has been established on the authority of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) that he stood in prayer in the night and fasted during the day of the 15th of Sha'baan. So the night of the 15th of Sha'baan is like any other night, and if someone is a regular worshipper during other nights, then he may stand the night in prayer on this night without assuming anything special (because of it being the night of the 15th of Sha'baan). This is because specifying a time for any act of worship requires a authentic proof, so if there is no authentic proof then the act is regarded as an innovation and all innovations are misguidance. Likewsie, regarding specifically fasting during the 15th day of Sha'baan, then no (authentic) proof has been established on the authority of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) to indicate the legislation of fasting on that particular day.

As for that which is mentioned from the ahaadeeth regarding this subject, then all of it is weak as the people of knowledge have indicated. However, whoever has the habit of fasting the 13th, 14th and 15th (of every month), then he can continue and fast during Sha'baan as he fasts during the other months, without assuming anything special about the 15th of Sha'baan. Also, the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) used to increase in fasting during this month (Sha'baan), however, he did not particularise the 15th day, rather proceeded as per norm.

Source

And Allah (SWT) Knows Best!

Another good article says:

Misconception # 4: This is the night when our fate, lifespan, and provisions are decreed.

Clarification: Some people think that the “blessed night” (laylatim-mubarakah ) mentioned in Surah ad-Dukhaan (44): 3, refers to the night of 15th Shabaan, when Allah decrees our lifespan, provisions and fate. In fact, they even pray 6 rakahs, 2 for each of these things. However, all that is fabricated and far, far away from the Sunnah. And, in reality, the “blessed night” mentioned in Surah ad-Dukhaan, actually is referring to Laylatul Qadr that comes in Ramadhaan. (Tafseer Ibn Kathir of Surah al-Qadr)

Misconception # 6: This is the night when the souls of departed ones return to their families.

Clarification: Here again, some people misunderstand the ayaat in Surah al-Qadr and think that the ’sending down of the Ruh’ as mentioned in this Surah refers to the souls of dead people returning to see their families, even though it refers to Jibreel (Tafseer Ibn Kathir). And that is why we see women preparing the sweets, the Halwas and other ‘goodies’ for the souls of their loved ones.

Not only is that in itself an erroneous, deviant belief and bid’ah, but to believe that the souls of the dead can return back to the world and meet with their relatives is also totally incorrect and false. The teachings of the Qur’aan and the Sunnah clearly state that the souls of the dead do not return back to the world. Besides, they don’t even eat the Halwas. It is actually you who eats it! 
Source

:D

I plan on making chanay kee daal ka halwa .. but any other day besides today :).. IA.



And it is He who sends down rain from the sky, and We produce thereby the growth of all things. We produce from it greenery from which We produce grains arranged in layers. And from the palm trees - of its emerging fruit are clusters hanging low. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.
(Surah Al-Anaam 6:99)

Monday, July 19, 2010

What do you do?

When the edge is so near
When nothing seems clear
When the drop instills fear
What do you do?

When the noise is overwhelming
When the silence is deafening
When the people are all opining
What do you do?

When you're quite in the dark
When you don't know what to mark
When there nothing but a spark
What do you do?

When life throws a challenge
When dealing with it, leads to imbalance
When imbalance creates a to-do
What in the world do you do?

You can step back, or forward
Rush from it, or toward
Act normal, or awkward
But what do you do?

The problem may seem impossible
The task too difficult, very probable
The feeling is generally of 'blues'
The question remains; What do you do?

Copyright Uni_Scratches_headoony 2010 who is today...a

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Embarrassing -- :@

Assalamualaikum

The week's been a nightmare. And I can't wait for it to be over. Monday... where ARE you?




Friday's class (much-anticipated) was not great. Not because of the teacher of course. Because of US. Moronic us! Basically, we had been asked to get the book 'as soon as possible' ... but we smart people never really care about the book when 'slides' are available to rote-learn from. I wanted the book badly but something or the other kept putting off the nearly 1 hour ride to Urdu bazaar and getting it. So it was postponed to next week. When the teacher discovered that only TWO people in class have gotten the book, she was so disappointed -- I couldn't look at her in the eye. She was like, 'don't you guys ... care?'

I wanted to sink in the ground. Then she continued ... 'I had been told that students of this particular university aren't much into reading. And they don't read papers (she said it with the expression that said 'MS level pay not read any research papers?') - I wanted to sink further in the ground.

I don't think this PG course is going to give me anything. It is not structured to give me anything. And my brain's too well conditioned by the existing amazing undergrad education I went through. Life sucks. And her disappointed expressions about our non-carish attitude sucked too! AND... the fact that I was the only student in class who had no idea of some of the things being taught. Sigh. The only pipeline I knew of was the oil pipeline :(. Who knew there was so much to a pipeline !!


On a very different note, Mum read out a beautiful Ayah today, which I'd like to share. It was in response to a very angry person relating all the mean/bad stuff that other people have done and hurt feelings etc etc. The Ayat is: (Surah Haa Meem verse number 34,35)

وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ 
حَمِيمٌ

Translation: And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best, when lo! he between whom and you was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend.

Then the next verse is.. (key verse) ..

وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا الَّذِينَ صَبَرُوا وَمَا يُلَقَّاهَا إِلَّا ذُو حَظٍّ عَظِيمٍ

Translation: And none are made to receive it but those who are patient, and none are made to receive it but those who have a mighty good fortune.

So you see, even if the world has turned against you and is unfair with you (chances are that'll never happen; it's always a few friends/relatives etc who have been making lives miserable), the thing to do is NOT to return to them the SAME attitude, but repel the misdeed, with a good deed. And that personality isn't granted to anybody and everybody. It's given to those who are patient.. and those who get it, are indeed LUCKY. Fortunate!

May Allah Make us Fortunate in this regard. Imagine, if everybody started acting like this. There wouldn't be any complains that occupy our time so much. Think about it.

By the way ... :D. Bhanju has learned a new word! 'Dadaaaa' - now he keeps sayin Dadaa, dadaaa dadaaaa... and well, unfortunately, he doesn't have a dada.. (grandfather). It was poignant when TB remarked 'See? My kid is saying dadaaaa, he so knows that I'm missing my Dad so much!'

Statements like these make me go...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What's next, nobody knows :S

What's next, nobody knows
Some little highs, some little lows
Whiling away time, some two hours ago
We received a shock, in one big blow

As I sat on my chair, and reached for the mouse
A strange smell struck me, was there something in the house?
In a few microseconds, it became clear
Something was definitely amiss, oh dear

Two seconds later, I felt quite sure
My laptop was about to catch fire, how immature!
The smell wasn't coming from the laptop, it was from another room
I jumped up and ran, convinced I (and laptop) were doomed

"DAD! There's a fire!" my yell resounded, quite loudly I guess
Dad came sprinting out, and ran straight to the UPS
The brand new stabilizer, was smoking away profusely
A horrid smell was everywhere, I tried not to breath

Within seconds the whole house was awash in that smoke smell
Poor mum and dad were coughing, unable to breath well
I opened all the doors and windows, trying not to choke
The stabilizer was disconnected and carried outside to smoke

A few minutes later, things went back to normal here
But I can't help thinking - with great great fear
What if we were asleep? And it had happened v.late at night?
Would we have smelled it, made it out in time?

The day proved to be a lesson, a lesson in the fact
That anything can happen anytime, we should make a pact
With ourselves, that we should be ready ... at any moment in time
To welcome death with respect, not with shock, sublime

The day was quite eventful - with this happeneing in the end
A mixture of upsets, playfulness and well, quite a blend
I should be really thankful to Allah, for we escaped something dreadful
And to be better humans, prepared for death always -- I'm hopeful!

Copyright Uni_Sombreooony_2010


Coooooool technology ! :)



Now think about making the actions and doing, say, parasailing ... or ... bungee jumping ... orrr... whatever you want! With a virtual kid to keep you company!
Man, are we robots or what! :P.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dajjal: The Anti Christ by Ahmad Thomson

Assalamualaikum


This is the book I'm currently reading. Not the revised edition, the previous edition actually. This book was bought by me a longg time back. And like with all worthwhile things, it had been left aside as I got busy with university and what not. Khair, now I reconnected with it am struck by how the author has presented things. This is not the conventional preachy book, but rather, it talks about REAL stuff that's happening all around us, the issues that are bothering us, and the stuff that we normally don't like talking about, fearing that the other person might think that our imaginations have run away with us.

I'd like to share some excerpts with you all, as I move slowly through the book :$, page after page. You'll find summarized info, and all original content will be within quotes :). So here goes. By the way, the author is a convert and is a British barrister (Wikipedia).

So the author introduced the concept of Dajjal, and described Dajjal as a three tier concept. Dajjal as a person, Dajjal as a way of life, and Dajjal as an unseen force.

When he talked about Dajjal as a way of life, he's mentioned the world that's shaping up today and how it is slowly but surely paving the way for the person - Dajjal - to establish himself as the ruler of the world. This world, as we know it, is evolving, changing gradually. Many things that were prevalent in the past, aren't here today. This blog post will aim to highlight a lil bit of what has changed, and btw, these are the things we (the gifted human beings) SHOULD notice. Now I quote:

"Dramatic changes have taken place on the face of this earth in the last hundred years. ... In the large cities of today, the individual has become increasingly alienated from his or her self and from others and from knowledge of Allah, a cog in the consumer producer process who, when not at work or asleep, is often trapped in an infantile and unfulfilled search for illusory self-gratification - which ensures that there is usually very little time left to reflect and to consider where he or she is going - no time to actually do something about breaking out of the recurring behaviour pattern in which he/she is trapped. ...

There is less time to meet together, and more time to watch TV. There is less time spent working together and more time spent working alone. ......

Perhaps the only way of appreciating how dramatic the change has been is to observe what happens when a multi national corporation decides to exploit the natural resources of a hitherto inaccessible region of the world. In a relatively brief period of time, the activities of the people controlling the corporation have not only disrupted the way of life of the people living in that area, but also eliminated their traditional sources of livelihood ... Suddenly, everybody has a number and wants this thing called money and the social harmony that existed before the mine, or factory, or well or whatever became a reality, is gone. All this is done in the name of progress and civilizing the backward, but in reality, the new lifestyle which is inevitably linked with the new technology,... is the sign of the end of a human transaction in that area."

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Now the thing to ponder upon is after reading it (if you've read it :P), that what we're told and defined, as ''PROGRESS" - usually... usually has some huge multicorporate stakes behind it. Whether it be some new cellular communication technology, mineral water plants instead of local water, or any other  international investment... it does take away the old system of the people and DEFINE that as progress.

Is that really progress? Something to think about, and discuss.

Friday, July 9, 2010

C it her way!

This is in response to a wonderful poem, written by Shagufta on her blog: C it my way! Thank you so much :):) and here's my thank you gesture :P...

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
 So you wrote for three people - I'm writing for only one! :)

C it her way

It hasn't been long that she's been around
But man, has she managed to astound
The blogosphere with her words, so deep
The "awards" for which, she's already reaped

Her personality shines through her post
As through life's ups & downs, she coasts
Her blog beams out a message of hope
With hilarious events, and how she copes
With trouble and pain, nobody really deserves
But it's part of life, & for everybody, reserved

I hope she sails through the bad times with ease
And definitely, her sister, she manages to please
That she keeps up her posts, so heartfelt and kind
And that she always cleans her kitchen on time!

I'll stop this silly poem with a duaá
That please Allah (SWT) Make Shagufta
A  wonderful person to her family and friends
A joy to be around, a person to send
A gazillion such wishes and duaas for her life
To be full of laughter, happiness and very little strife

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Copyright Uni Grateful-oony 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Pictury Post :):)

Assalamualaikum

This post should be a reminder for me in the year to come IA. The things I should do, and the things I should avoid. There has been too much time spent on this planet, and I keep having the feeling that there are things (huge things) I really should start doing before it's too late. Like write about worthwhile stuff on my blog. I really hope I can do that. It'll be so much better than rants :P (but I can't guarantee they're going to be fun!).

Things I should start eating :D...


And start avoiding :P...


Start using good stuff like ...


And reading nice stuff like this: 


Know my geography better... start using this..


Use this more often to deal with scounderals (:D)...


Should fan myself with the breeze of hope and faith - and try spreading it too!


And learn to organize my life in an orderly manner :P...


Enjoy my love for animals ... especially..


And finally, take the twists life has to offer as.....


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Topology of the day!

Salam

The day was dedicated to the next round of an interview. Man, was my stomach a pack of butterflies or what. And I had hoped not to qualify too :(. Sigh. Khair :):) The interview went well. I was honestly able to explain my issue, and they were able to understand my issue. So the issue that was bugging me is gone! (Have I said the word ''issue'' too many times?).

So that's another job opportunity out of the window. I was a lil on the sad side to see a lot of qualified guys there - looking for jobs too. They definitely need it more than us :S:S.. (not generalizing but seriously, the three girls that were there including me - we don't have any pressure on us, nor any financial responsibility to actually go for this and be extremely disappointed if we don't get it). I was only disappointed because I'd just felt great to be able to start contributing productively to society. Guess that's just not meant to be.

I should really learn how to make that chicken chargha -

The good part is that went to sisters' afterwards, and had a nice time with bhanju wanju. He's got the remarkabl-est ability to make you forget your ghams and concentrate on just ... playing and fooling around :D. And the cutest bit is that he's started with his first (rather, second) word now. First it was amma, mammaa... and now it all abbaa... bababbababa... :D. He just can't stop saying it. And don't even ask how nehaaal his father is :D:D:D Masha Allah.

Then, we had our second class of Architecture of Chip Multiprocessors. And we did coooooooool stuff in it. Get this. The lecture today was on interconnection strategies - how will the 4 cores in a quad-core processor be interconnected ? What are the topologies that can be used. And what are the performance parameters in each topology. So we were given an intro to the 6 parameters. They were -
1. Network Size (no. of nodes in the network, or cores in a chip multiprocessor :P),
2. Degree of node (no. of input/output connections a single node has),
3. Diameter of network (Number of links in the shortest path between the furthest pair of nodes),
4. Arc Connectivity (Minimum number of communication links that can be removed to break it into two disconnected networks),
5. Bisection Width (Minimum number of communication links that can be removed to break it into two equal sized disconnected networks) and
6. Cost (total number of links/connections). Now for a simple diagram like a linear array.....

 The network size = 4 ... the degree = 1 and 2, diameter = 3, Bisection width = 1, Arc Connectivity = 1, and cost = 3. Simple Wimple. But now what if you have something like this:


OR this...


then comes the enjoyable times in class. Oh, the joys of using one's brain :D. To make it all more complicated (read, fun), the teacher had asked us to express all the parameters in terms of the network size (denoted by N). So mental math had to be done, and fast!....

I enjoyed myself :). Alhamdulillah.

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Topology of life

The mesh we're all in
Encloses our existence
Traps our dreams
Captures our hopes
The topology is dynamic
Each day adds new nodes
Of confusion, direction
Their degree, infinite really
Too many advices, too many decisions
The bus is the same, and unique
Each human is different no?
But the topology is dynamic
Our network grows - connections increase
Diameters span continents, and oceans
The rings of friends, our circles, our security
Offer comfort, and beauty within ourselves
The dimensions of our existence evolve
As we discover each new twist of fate
And wonder at the variation of it all
No wonder, the network grows
And topology remains dynamic

Copyright Uni_Punched_in_the_Gut-oony 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And the third one begins...

28th June, 2010

Assalamualaikum

Today my third semester began with a course which has only 7 of us in there. The class seems sooo empty :( - I miss my old fellows! At least there wasn't pin drop silence in the class like there is now.

So the course is called 'Advanced Topics in Computer Engineering' – and the advanced topic is 'Architecture of Chip Multiprocessors'.  Now it sounds pretty cool, but I was highly skeptical before attending it, because in our engineering educational institutes, the cool sounding subjects often turn out to be extremely off-putting.

But it wasn't ! This course is being taught by a teacher who is a PhD scholar in this subject and his thesis is about to be completed now. He took the subject right from the basics and I know exactly what we're going to study ... which sounds sooo interesting :). Get this, we're going to study the entire architecture of Intel processors, AMD processors and something called Sun Spark (?). Never heard of it. But there is a machine out there which is called Sun Spark.

I also got this one confusion cleared. What exactly is the difference between multi-programming, multi-tasking, concurrent and parallel programming. :P. I was always confused. He cleared that up pretty well as well.

For the record, whatever we're doing now (handling spreadsheets, browsing, listening to some audio in the background, watching a clip etc) is all concurrent (happening one after the other)  – even though it LOOKS parallel.

Again, for the record (er, record for me :$), 32-core processors are now out in the market. But they cost 32k rupees too :D. But it sounds like a good investment **quite dreamily**

And.. (I'm so ashamed to say this is stuff I didn't know, and this was being said in the intro lecture) :$, the machines are best suited for MS Windows OS, whereas AMD machines are great for Linux.

Overall, it was a pretty nice day!

PS: For research purposes, an 80-core processor is out in the academic circles. Eighty!!!