Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Of juicy gossip - and walks :)

This post was meant to come day before yesterday.

How many times have we said stuff like:

1. XYZ is reported to have happened, but I THINK....
2. This guy/organisation is collecting money for charity, but I THINK...
3. I HEARD so so saying that....
4. I BELIEVE this to be true/false
5. I think she/he is lying...
6. I do think he/she will go to hell
7. Uss ke shakal pay 'kafir' likha hay !! Phitkaar barasti hay chahray pay!

All of these things are based on rumours, or our own thinking. And hence, strongly discouraged in Islam. If somebody comes to you with so and so story, don't believe in it, or worst, start spreading it, or re-tweeting it, or blogging about it, or status updating about it etc. Do it only after you are absolutely 100% sure about that piece of hot news - before making judgements.

I hope to follow this first :(. And then pass it on to the rest of you.

So today's Taraweeh Truffle: Hot Gossip and Juicy Rumours


A walk to remember :P

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Of arguments - both good and bad


There is something that struck me a lil while back. There is an Ayah in the Holy Quran which says:

"We did indeed offer the Trust to the Heavens and the Earth and the Mountains: but they refused to undertake it being afraid thereof: but man undertook it he was indeed unjust and foolish." (Surah Ahzab, verse 72). 

It says that the Holy Quran (which is called Trust here), when offered to the mountains (along with heavens and earth), they refused to take it up. It was so heavy for them, that they knew that they couldn't bear the burden of carrying it. This responsibility was only taken up by the human being.

Now consider this other ayah:

"And when Moses arrived at Our appointed time and his Lord spoke to him, he said, "My Lord, show me [Yourself] that I may look at You." [ Allah ] said, "You will not see Me, but look at the mountain; if it should remain in place, then you will see Me." But when his Lord appeared to the mountain, He rendered it level, and Moses fell unconscious. And when he awoke, he said, "Exalted are You! I have repented to You, and I am the first of the believers." (Surah Al-Aaraaf, verse 143)

So this verse talks about the time when Hazrat Moosa (AS) asked Allah (SWT) to show him Himself - and Allah (SWT) Knew that that wouldn't be possible for Moosa (AS), but when Allah (SWT) did ''tajjalli'' on the mountain, predictably Hazrat Moosa wasn't able to take it and fell in a faint. When he came to, he admitted that he doesn't need to see Allah (SWT) to believe in him. 

Now, the point to be noted about the second verse is Hazrat Moosa (imagine, a prophet, and somebody who had already CONVERSED with Allah SWT) was not able to see a mountain turn to dust - so, can we easily see a mountain turn to dust? Nope. We can't. Connect this with the first verse... the mountain was not ABLE to take the Holy Quran and that Quran laid HEAVY on the mountain!

And now consider the question: How do we treat the Quran? We all have one. We all possess a copy, it's sitting right there on the cupboard - possibly wrapped in most intricately crafted cloth ever. But do we treat it as something a majestic mountain refused to take up.? 

Something to think about!
On a completely unrelated and shameful note, I had an argument with Mum again! I know it's not right - it tarnishes the fast - it's good to just AGREE to parents - and not argue etc etc etc. I know alllllllllll that. Yet.... :'( :'( :'( 

Sometimes, I wish I were a really really really docile person. Jis nay JO keh dia, I would have replied with a yes! Life would have been much simpler. But no, I HAD to get envious of a friend whose donating money from her salary for flood relief - and this envy had to have me lashing out at Mum for not allowing me to work and earn money of my own so I can donate... and the age old argument (its really been happening for ages now) continued. I could have just swallowed the fact that I don't have money (on a periodic basis, like a salary) to donate to my heart's content. I could have just swallowed my anger at ''Just because the whole world thinks education is to be obtained for a job, doesn't mean it really had to be obtained for this reason only'' - and not replied back. God, I was furious. **tries not to get furious again at her fate**
In Memory of Faraj Hassan Alsaadi
It is with the utmost sadness that we share the heartbreaking news that former detainee Faraj Hassan Alsaadi died in a tragic motorcycle accident on August 16th at 9am. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon - to God we belong and to Him we return. His last night in this world was spent in defence of his sister, Aafia Siddiqui, speaking to a crowd of 300 in her support at the 'Aafia - the Last Stand' rally and supplicating for her in an unprecedented act, leading 90 people in qiyaam and qunut outside the US embassy, London.
If you read more about this man, you'd find out that his life was mostly full of trials and hardship. He was caught in 2002 in the UK and imprisoned on charges that weren't really there. Nothing got proven against him, but he remained detained and subsequently house arrested, till November 2009. In November 2009, he became a free man. And not a year is over from that time :(. So from Nov 2009, this man has been a champion and a principal supporter of the cause of Dr Aafia Siddiqi's predicament. These past few months were spent arguing for her case, giving talks and even leading protests. An unshakable person, really. It's so sad he left this world too soon, but the point to be noted is how he spent his life, despite the odds against him.


Today's Taraweeh Truffle: Spider Sense :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Taraweeh Truffles :)

Interesting title :). Mohammad Al-Shareef came up with this. This is actually a 10 minute video series he has started for each day of Ramadan. Each truffle has a selection of 1-2 verses of the Holy Quran, a very practical explanation and some great lessons involved.

If you want to have a really nice 10-minute refresher of deen, and want to spend Ramadan in a better way, do check out these videos.

Today's Truffle was: Stuffed Nose :). It was awesome. Video link here

These things are preaching - but SO easy to watch and learn. I so hope scholars have this side to their personalities too - which can attract the old as well as the young MA. ay Allah Reward him abundantly for the effort. More videos below:

Ramadan Day 1 Truffle: Truffles or Kisses?

Day 2: Dua for Bling?

Day 3: Gimme them Popsicles

Day 4: Pray ON

More can be found here!

Flood hits Thatta city, canal breach endangers Larkana

THATTA: After submerging kacha (unsubstantial) areas of Thatta, the flood water has changed its direction towards the concrete areas of the city outskirts. A breach in the embankment of Keerthar Canal has endangered Larkana and areas including Rato Dero and Garhi Khuda Bukhsh Bhutto, SAMAA reported on Thursday.

According to details, flood water is rapidly entering the houses of four concrete villages: Haji Khamiso Babbar, Mallan Babbar, Nawaz Ali Barast and Hali Moosa Khaskheli Goth, near Jhirk City.

The people of the all four villages, on their own, are trying to drain out flood water, but the water level is rising constantly. The District Administration is busy strengthening safety embankments to control flood water before it hits the National Highway. The flood affected people of the villages told SAMAA that after their houses submerged, they are taking refuge on roof tops and other elevated places.

The District Coordination Officer of Thatta, Manzoor Ahmad Sheikh, said while talking to SAMAA that the people residing in these concrete area villages will be evacuated safely. In Garhi Khuda Bakhsh Bhutto area of Larkana, speedy work is underway to strengthen the safety embankment at Jannat Shakh to save the tombs of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto and their ancestors.

Due to the shortage of modern equipment and stones in bulk, strengthening the Jannat Shakh safety embankment is suffering severely. After the constant rise of water pressure, Larkana is endangered by robust floods arriving from the two sides of the city.

The people of Larkana are threatened and harassed by the expected flood. They have started to evacuate from the endangered areas on their own. SAMAA 

Allah Khair karay... :(. Thatta is around 2 hours drive from Karachi. I really don't know where that water is headed!! (most probably for the Arabian sea of course). But the question is, will it take a plunge into Karachi? And if so... where? Man, if only I had a charted out plan of the water.. :(

The people of Thatta are quickly leaving their homes. And by the way, the tombs of BB and Zulfiqar Bhutto are desperately protected by personnel, and speedy work is going on by the govt to build some dam/protection surrounding the area. I do wish such effort could be done for LIVING people too by the govt.

Also, I think everybody who wants a safe place, to gather at Nawdero. That way, at least you will be assured of govt. efforts to save you since you're there at the 'sacred place'... May Allah Have Mercy on us Ameen!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Updates to the "Help in a Box" initiative!


Today was a mad day :). I was dead in the morning :(.. had the beginnings of a bad flu. That has worsened :S but my spirits are relatively high - because of the day.

We went againt to Imperial Lawn for helping out with boxing the boxes :P .. of ''Help in a Box'' initiative. There were a lot fewer people there... I guess because today was a week day. We hadn't been able to go for the past two days, and were eager to help. There was so MUCH stuff there - MA... people have been really really generous. I got my hopes up all over again that maybe, just maybe... ALL of this stuff WILL reach deserving families. Insha Allah! My hopes had been dashed quite a bit by the incidents mentioned in the post below.

So we had bought some stuff to give, which were in two heavy cartons - and two plastic bags. The cartons were lugged by me.. and the bags by Chotpo. When we were walking towards the entrance, Chotpo remarked that she was still carrying her big handbag :D... why? She said that one should never leave anything in the car. Ho, listen to what happens next.

One thing. Since my direction-giver (MUM) wasn't with me, I had carefully crafted out the journey to that place with my mum earlier. Unfortunately, I hadn't crafted out the journey BACK. (it's not so simple because of flyovers and what not - so I was rather dreading the journey back, and had already warned Chotpo that we're going to ''ghoomofye'' around the place a bit before I can locate the road which leads us back). She bore it with a kind face :). Ho .. little did i know :P

Anyway, we volunteered there - had a lot of fun going around the circle and collecting eatables in the bag - this time, there was mixed nimko, and channa (gram) added to the pile. LOADS of cartons. MA. MA.
Tired out, we finally called it a day after 1.5 hours. Had to get home :( and that takes a long time (plus, I didn't know the way back).

When we stepped outside, it dawned on me first. The place where my car was parked.. was empty! The place was totally empty! I gaped at the empty place, looked here and there desperately, trying to locate my car. Chotpo was equally astounded, and very panicked. I asked her in a shaky voice .. "Do you have insurance?" (It's her car - and look at the self-serving nature of man - the first thing that occured to me were the words: stolen! and cost!) :$. Khair, after making sure that we weren't dreaming and the car REALLy wasn't there, I trudged back inside, and told one of our organizers that our car has disappeared. He looked at us in exasperation - and pointed to the back area (parking area) and explained that he had told everybody a lot of times that cars need to be parked inside, because outside, it's not allowed to park. So I had parked in a non-parking area and my car had been towed!

I sure as heck hadn't seen a No Parking sign (and defintiely hadn't heard this order of the organizers). But he was kind enough to send another person out with us to ''locate a traffic police wala and ask him where towed vehicles are kept'' - it took some time before a traffic policeman passed us - Chotpo was afraid that the traffic police might refuse to believe it's our car and we might have to give it up for good... (now I feel like laughing at this :D). But at the time, there was a lot of worry and concern. Plus the fact that we had to get home in time to MAKE iftari (and poor chotpo was dead tired - because she had been to university for the whole day and i had picked her up and we had come here).

Sigh. So finally, a traffic policeman crossed our way, he was stopped by one of the organizers of Help in a Box - he explained where towed vehicles are kept, and in the meantime, we had stopped a rickshaw wala to take us to that place :D. Luckily, it was not very far - and we got on, with foreboding. Chotpo warned me a million times ''not to argue, and if they ask for money don't be so self-righteous, and just GIVE the money"... **grinning** (at the time, I was quite worried about having to give a bribe). Khair, reached the place and saw my lonely car parked there within the barriers. Went inside the ''chowki" and asked the person seated there what I need to do in order to get my car. [I had been planning to move the barrier myself and drive off aisay hee - but before I could implement this wild idea, a traffic police wala stopped me :$]. Anyway, I had to pay a good-sized fine :( but shukar no challaan. Then, we returned home, in time for iftari making business. I remarked to Chotpo when we travelling in the rickshaw to where my car had been towed to... "Hey, we're back on the road which takes us home! I know the way from here" ... :D

Lesson number 1: Keep your eyes open for No Parking signs, even if you don't see it, doesn't mean it's not there!

2nd Lesson: Don't park near a No Parking sign, even if there are 3-4 cars parked there too. Your car will be the one getting towed.

Funny road sign :D

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Pakistan Flood Relief - Victims or ...?


This post is written with much sadness and regret - at our people in general. For one thing, the Sialkot incident isn't leaving my mind. I keep picturing it. Again and again. Maybe I shouldn't have seen the uncensored video... :'(:'(:'(:'(. I felt like my heart would burst open. And I wasn't even standing there. What, then, can be said regarding those who were standing there, witnessing it, with camera phones in their hands, shooting the vid peacefully, while the poor poor guy thrashed about on the ground in pain? His brother got a little less pain I think, because ha passed away (or passed out) quite early on. But this poor poor guy... (Oh, I so hope he is enjoying himself in Jannah right now..Ameen *blinks back tears*)... this poor guy wasn't spared for 3 or so hours. We can't imagine the pain he must have gone through.

The reason why I watched the video was... because one part of my brain had just refused to accept, that a bunch of people can actually see something like this, and not intervene. It wasn't possible. So I had to see it, to believe it. But I couldn't watch the full video... I had to switch that tab off and I remember my heart was racing and my brain pounding with misery.

Another thing. The people standing there, they are QUITE visible in the video. So WHY isn't the police catching them? Oh yeah, I forgot. The police is the biggest, blood-thirstiest of them all! There is even a small kid there, who is beating up those poor guys, and WHY isn't he arrested on spot? And put behind bars for life?????  There is a police wala there, he's visible by his gait! He's asking the person with a stick... to use a BIGGER and THICKER stick!! Why isn't he dealt with...with the same blows...and left to bleed away with a crowd looking on?????? There are other 2-3 guys there who are beating the victims up. Clearly visible. Not wearing masks. Not hiding themselves. Talk about bayhissi with a flair! They should be all caught, the whole lot of them, and dealt with in the same way. No respite. I'm sorry if I sound blood-thirsty... but that's what I feel, after watching this carnage. So that the rest of those animals learn a lesson not to attack their own kind, ever ever again.

*tries to calm down*

Anyway, this post wasn't about the incident. Although it can be linked in one way... and that is... in a country where these animals exist, why wouldn't such a country be afflicted with the worst flood in the century? Why ever not? Why wouldn't its people die by drowning in flood waters? Why wouldn't their houses be swept away, their ready-to-harvest fields washed out, their livelihoods destroyed...Why wouldn't the rest of them perish in disease? Diaorrhea? Dehydration? Hunger? Poverty? Target killing? Why wouldn't we have rats as presidents? Goons as parliament members? Criminals as governors? Slaves as leaders? Illiterates as Ministers?

WHY not????????????

Of course these afflictions would hit such a country. People of Sialkot (witnesses - and there were many... I saw!)... I am ashamed of you. I am ashamed of all those who stood there, and yet dare to call themselves human. Dare to look at others in the eye. Manage to sleep at night. The mother of those kids hasn't forgiven you. She will never ever forgive you. Will pray against you for as long as she lives. The father will probably hate you and curse you for the rest of your miserable empty lives. And don't worry. The curse of the mazloom (victim) reaches Allah (SWT) first. So don't you worry. Even if you can sleep now and enjoy life now, you won't. Later. Insha Allah. Ameen. Summa Ameen.

So back to what this post was meant to be about.

The flood victims - the ones we feel so sorry for, and are rushing to help, aren't such innocent human beings after all. There were always cases of fraud, whenever a calamity strikes, but this time, it has really crossed the limits.

Incident 1:
My sister's domestic servant informed her that all her rleatives have gone to Interior Punjab now. Sis asked "Why?" - the servant said ... "Oh, to collect relief goods of course." Sis was horrified. The maasi then explained that see, they say that if food/clothing are being given to Punjabis, so we're Punjabis too and we should have a share.

Oh yeah? What if God started Thinking the same way, and since Interior Punjab has been flooded, your houses get flooded too in Karachi, since you're Punjabis? How's that for fairness? Dishonesty, corruption and greed. Traits of our society!

Incident 2: 
My BIL went with his organisation to Interior Sindh, to distribute a truck of relief goods. They had a bunch of people from his workplace, and armed guards on the truck - who had orders to shoot. Good. He was so motivated about helping out and doing his bit in the relief work. What happened was that when TB came back, he was quite disheartened. And he gloomily said that he will never go there to 'help' again. What was the reason?

Well, his workplace had organised this effort, and in the process, they had made a pre-survey of the affected area, made a note of deserving families, and given them a coupon with which they could get relief items, when the truck of goods came. So when the truck went in that area, there were all sorts of people coming over and begging for ''raashan'' (food stocks). TB narrated, that there were people coming in motorbikes which must have cost around 80k rupees, begging for flour, daal etc. TB and his colleagues asked around that what the hell is going on. The locals told them, that these people are ones who, when their harvest is cut in April, from the profits, they buy expensive things (like bikes, TV, what not), and the rest of the year, they beg for food. They're not poor, they just choose to be lavish and foolish. (and Leech-like and greedy and opportunistic).

All around, there were undeserving people coming over to take relief items. There were even people who had stock piled flour bags (boris) up to the ceiling of their places. And yet, their greed wasn't satisfied... and they had come over to beg for more. People have donated so MUCH. TB reported that there is an amazing amount of food items all around. But people STILL want MORE. Their greed isn't letting them get satisfied.

I am reminded of Surah Takasur's ayah - in which Allah Reminds the us, that we are SO involved with the life of this world, its goodies, its wealth, its benefits, that that's ALL we think about - how to attain more, and more and more... TILL... we reach our time of departure from this world, and that's the only way we stop.

Thanks for reading this far. I agree this was a rant-ish post, but it was a much needed one - and I am miserable at the state our society is in, the values have all but gone, and there is nobody who can stop the gross injustices happening to our own people, or rather.. KIDS. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Worthwhile Venture


I am writing about yesterday.

A few days back, I had received a text message saying that a Flood Relief Centre has been set up at Imperial Lawns (main Shahra-e-Faisal), and the name of this initiative is ''Help in a Box" and they need volunteers. I was, as usual, not sure as to its genuinity so the first thing to do was to establish the credibility of this initiative. Basically, two guys thought this whole idea up, inducted a team with them, made a Facebook Page and got started and running. One of my friend's sister works in an organisation which designed their posters/banners. Once, the credibility was established, we decided to go there and volunteer for them.

Yesterday, we set out at 3pm (the timings were 3-5pm), and we started searching for the place :D. Now Shahra-e-Faisal is such a HUGE road, that when you travel from one end to the other end, it's a whole road trip! Add some traffic, noise and pollution - and if you're fasting too, the result is: a great big pounding head!
We roamed around, searching all around frantically for something called Imperial Lawns "near the newly constructing flyover'' (as this was the directions given to us) :). Finally, (after travelling straight towards the airport, looking for a U-turn !! and then travelling back straight towards Regent Plaza - which is on the other end - AGAIN for a U-turn !!! we finally somehow, in the middle of the Shahrah, located the Lawn. Shukkar. It had taken us 1 and a half hours to reach there, something that only should take around 40-50 minutes.

When I entered the place, I saw people milling about. They seemed to be going around in circles. I stared in amazement. It was a human assembly line!

The entire setup was in the form of a huge semi circle. A line of people had formed a circle and were moving from table to table. At the first table, they would get a huge plastic bag, move on to the next table. People at the next table would throw in a bottle of mineral water, next table. People at the next table would quickly throw in a packet of biscuits, then next table, then came a packet of milk, next table, then came a box of matches, next table... then came a tube of toothpaste, next table :D... then came a packet of dates Phew! and finally deposit the bag at the last table where it would be quickly snatched by waiting hands, eagerly wrapping it up, putting brown tape on it, and then making a pile of it. This pile would be tackled by other sets of hands, one by one, each packet would be thrown to another set of hands, which would catch it smiling, and then transfer the packets in a box, when the box would be full, tape would be put on it, and it would be stacked on top of a HUGE pile of boxes.

Sigh. Ever saw something so perfectly organised? Arranged? All for the love of the people who are suffering in most of Pakistan?. I was so charged, so motivated to see this scene, that when 20 volunteers were called in, I was the first to literally run inside the ring. We started the rounds. One table after the next, it was a controlled frenzy (controlled because everybody was in a line - and frenzy because everybody wanted things to be put in the bag as quickly and efficiently as possible). We stayed there for a very short time :(. Just 45 minutes I think. And then since we hadn't prepared for Iftaar and Dad was home, and our drive home was bound to take around an hour, we had to leave. Me mum and Chotpo. Mum of course couldn't do the running around, so she sat on the chairs by the side and observed everything with interest. I'm so glad she came. She was the direction-giver of course... I wouldn't have reached the place alone ever... and not with Chotpo either. She and I both share the directionally challenged genes :D. So me and Chotpo were part of the assembly line. It felt SO good. I feel so honoured to be part of groups of people who are working so selflessly for this cause.

Even though in this whole affair, my contribution was like 0.00000000025%, the effort still felt something, and I felt energized after those 45 minutes (all 1.5 hour drive fatigue forgotten). :) .. it was a tremendous moment.

For those of you who have some free time, are in Karachi, are available from 3-6pm OR 8-11pm (today confirmed, rest of the weekdays check out their FB page for confirmation), these people need volunteers. They call themselves Help in a Box (very apt!), and they're working at Imperial Lawns, Shahra-e-Faisal. If you need detailed directions, please email me. And it's okay if you don't take some stuff to donate with you (because as far as I could see, they had loads of everything. People must have been really generous with their money). But if you do, it's even better :).

Their Facebook Page can be found here. And it's a credible, trustworthy source of giving charity. They have documented their whole procedure and made it transparent via pictures and videos. Do check it out! And Karachites, please do something. You have a house that's standing on dry ground, not water. What did we do to deserve not having to worry about the flood water entering our homes and drowning us? So we have a responsibility. And I hope we all realize it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Khala-hood Chronicles


Among the gloom and doom in the country and everywhere around us, I thought of brightening this post up by mentioning a few habits of my bhanja (nephew). They're fun, easy to grin at, but sometimes worthy of a little grimace or a sharp yelp of pain, depending on the intensity of his acts.

Scene 1
At around 10 months Masha Allah (multiplied by 100000), Bhanju can now take his baby steps... unaided. There was quite a big prelude to this hallmark achievement, with him holding on to something (ranging from your shoulder, to your leg, to the sofa leg etc etc) and hoisting himself up. His skinny-ness helped I think. So he usually stood up, looked around in amazement (wow! I'm vertical! finally!), and then promptly... let go. Of whatever he was holding. We would all yell and either he would fall down and look startled (he isn't much of a crybaby shukar!), or he would grin cheekily as one of us would rush to hold him.

So after this prelude, the kid one day let go of whatever he was holding, and began to take teensy steps! I got a text saying ''Chotu is taking his first baby steps Masha Allah Masha Allah'' :D.. His proud daddy couldn't wait to announce it to the world!
Man, the love one's kid induces in the heart. It's astounding MA.

Now, when he came over, we would all want to see him walk (and I know this won't last when he manages to run around the house and get into scrapes). It's such fun when I stand in front of him, hold out my arms, and make clowny noises... he would WALK towards me. Er, I would back away (to make him walk more) but mum scolded :$, so I stood there till he reached me, all jubilant and excited at actually walking towards his khala.

Scene 2:
Me: Say, ''Yoooooooooooni - Khaaaa LAAAAAAA (note the emphasized capslocked portion).
Everytime he would come over for the last month or so (since he started saying mamaa, pappaa, amma, anna, aapaa etc etc :D), I would practise the same thing. "Say... Yoooooni-KhaaLAAA''
Now, when I was doing the same thing, the kid says all sorts of words, then gibberish, and among the gibberish comes out a word that very closely resembles a ''LaaaaAAAaaaaaaa" (imagine it in musical tones :S).

Well, its a start :) - Today, he managed to do this many times: look at me and let out a ''lllaaaaaaaa''' :D:D

Btw, this cracked me up :D:D

Scene 3
There are times when you just feel like giving him a nice smack (in his mum's vocab: a boopoo), or yelping your head out. I prefer the latter. It generates more sympathy for me (from the family who is onlooking), and it makes the lil dude laugh :D. SO what happens is that he would lovingly come towards you. His mouth would be half open... he would rest his cheek against your shoulder, and you'd go awww. In less than 2 seconds, you will be like aAAARgh! Because he would have bitten your shoulder with all of his 4 teeth (2 full, 2 half out). :D. The great part is, that the yelp makes him laugh, which makes him open his mouth and viola! Your shoulder (or hand, finger whatever) is released!!

He sure loves to stand by the window (on the bed) and would keep looking out, then turning around and giving you these adorable smiles. Often, if you're lying on the bed too trying to sleep .. he would check if you're sleeping. Yep? So then the next step is to either:
1. Sit down on the sleeping person's head! (yes, head! I have had him sit himself down on my head countless times in the past two days) ... lol. Of course, you wake up with a start and stare at him reproachfully. To which he gives another of his adorable laughs. Sigh. One can't stay mad at kids like these :D

2. OR, he's going to reach out his lil hands, grab a fistful of your hair, make a special I'm-being-naughty-and-I-know-it noise, and PULL. Ugh. It's a wonder I still have hair on my head. This has happened countless times toooo.

Exactly like this!

At the end of the day, it's been an exhausting but happy day. Because as I said, among the gloom and doom, kids bring joy (and disorder) in one's life. And there ain't no better anecdote to life's topsy-turviness ever!

Lucky them :). They rule - you just can't disobey a baby!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Of Ramadan Charity and Mishaps


Ramadan is going along fine, but totally depressing as more and more sad news pours in about the flood victims and the hardships they are facing. I am yet again saying this, please people... if you have not donated anything up til now, and you're reading this, chances are that you are sufficiently well off to be able to donate a day's salary/a little something from your pocket money/a portion of last year's Eidi/some clothes from your wardrobe, anything to the flood victims! More important is the edible stuff - anything like dates, nuts, other dry fruits, ready meals, instant soups etc can do.

So we had decided (after much concern and worry about where our donation will be going), to give our stuff to the ''Relief project for Pakistan" - an initiative taken by Soufia Siddiqi, who is a Rhodes Scholar 2010. I communicated with her, and this turned out to be a very genuine efffort. So if you want further details on how to contact her/give donations/do online money transfer, do visit the link above and help out.

So... we had to get instant meals today. I picked Chotpo from her university, and then we went to Naheed Super Market. Now, Naheed used to be quite a cramped congested place, but now they have gotten a bigger store. Man! Awesome. So much walking space ... it looked like a park! Only the ''park'' was lined with goodies. So manyyy chocolates :(.. keh bus nahi. I'm digressing :S.. We went to the dry fruits section. Nuts were too expensive :$, and if we had bought them, we would only have been able to take up a few packets and nothing besides that. So we ended up taking raisins (kishmish), chanas, meetha chanas, chuwaray, instant soups, and rewriaan. Then, we went on to dates and picked out some packets of that. Finally, we got to the ready meals section and put everything within reach into the overflowing trolley. Instant masoor pullaao, instant curries, daals (lentils), aalo bhujya, chicken biryanis what not. All went into the trolley. A worker there eyed us, amazed. Then asked ''Ap log baher jarahay hain kia?'' (Are you guys going abroad?). We grinned, and said ''Nopes, we want to send this to the flood victims" - he was so surprised! (and that makes me sad, cuz hello, everybody should be like ''ohhh... of course, why didn't we think of that!"). Anyway, as we lugged the heavy trolley to the check out counter, we got some really weird stares. Hmmm... I don't think anybody in their right minds would get this much stuff for their homes ! :S..it should have been understood that this is all flood victim relief stuff. All that was packed in bags (we got a loyalty card too! yayy :$), and then went to the car.

Our next stop was TCS, where we stumbled in, carrying all the heavy bags. As soon as the bags were inspected and a huge 25kg box brought out, without our even saying it, the manager of that place (I guess) had guessed exactly why this box was being sent. And I was amazed at his helpfulness when he learned that this was for the flood victims. He brought out some chairs, made us sit - then carefully packed in the stuff so that 2 boxes weren't needed (as one of the employees had predicted)... then he proceeded to give us his number so that anytime we have anything for relief work, we just give him a call, and wherever in Karachi we are, he's going to come and pick up all the heavy stuff... !!!!!!!!
Can you believe the enthusiasm and jazba he had for the country and its suffering people? I was beyond amazed. And very happy at this attitude. It's hard to find sometimes, but it's there :).

Then we had an envelope too... being mailed to the same place. We thought that the envelope would go separately. But the TCS people said to us to put the envelope in the box, so that ''your cost is saved'' .. :D. Man... I was in shock at this totally ''not-thinking-just-about-profit-attititude". I asked them .. ''You have cargo services, why not assign a plane to take the relief goods for free to the affected areas? It's such a great opportunity!" ... the man very very sadly said ...
"You know... we had this kind of a service when the earthquake struck Pakistan in 2005. But the medical/pharma companies began to abuse this service, and started sending heavy consignments ...claiming that they were for earthquake victims, but in actuality, those weren't .. !. So we stopped this service." He further said ''Well, this time around, the people are sleeping... they were disappointed that their efforts/donations didn't really reach the victims, and were swallowed by ''elements'' somewhere along the way.. so obviously, people are not donating now."

Sigh. What a totally low point in Pakistan's life, that people aren't trusting ANYBODY. Everybody is being looked at with the same ''Oh they're going to eat up our stuff... already there is too much inflation and price hike, we already have meagre resources, and we don't want these crooks to eat all that up" .. :(.

But I was really impressed with the TCS personnel... I had truly not expected such amazing effort on their part. They also provided me with a number in their Lahore office, so that if anybody living in Lahore wants their stuff picked up and taken to the TCS, they can simply call them up and they'll do so. So we left that place, with our hopes high and hearts uplifted, really believing that there is some hope to this country's survival, even in this gloom!

So mishaps now...? (Should I talk about something idiotic, after talking about worthy stuff?). No :$ I shouldn't. Suffice it to say...these advices are for me! :$

Take care all, and remember, any and every act of kindness/charity is multiplied by a LOT especially if done in this month. A family fed on your donations... might just be one of the sources of salvation for you on the Day of Judgement. So don't miss this chance and reach out to Pakistan's flood victims. And do pass on these messages to your peers.

Allah Pa Amaan!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

It's 14th August - Independence Day! - Act now..!


The day when this country was born, is here. The journey started in 1947 - and Pakistan is still standing, although there have been many a pitfalls here and there. But the country remains on its feet, and will Insha Allah survive the challenges it faces now.

Now, the most important thing. How to celebrate (or spend, or think about, whatever) the Independence Day 2010? You may be one of those who think ''What independence?"....or ''I'll be fasting, man" ... or ''Do we have anything to celebrate for?"

We all have duties. As citizens of Pakistan, we need to do our bit to help out the country when it needs us. So instead of wasting time watching TV, sleeping, or decorating your house, buying huge flags and all... why don't we decide to do something constructive for the nation?

Right now, the best thing we can do is to help out in the flood relief efforts taking place in the country. There are several ways you can do so.

1. If you live near the affected regions, why not visit them personally and distribute some needed things like water and packages of food?

2. If you live far away, why not make a donation to a load of charity organisations helping out the flood victims - and who really need cash or food items, clothes, bedding, tents wegaira? It's always better to give cash, though because the money is easily used by the organisations to get stuff they want from the locally accessible places.

So! The list of organisations that are accepting and appealing for donations:

Islamic Relief: Pakistan Floods Appeal
You can visit this page and find out that they are giving out: hygiene kits, food packs and tents. Note:

£20 will buy a family hygiene kit
£40 will buy a food pack for a family
£150 will buy a family tent

So donate now, and be part of the relief efforts !
Islamic Help (England):

You can make a cheque/postal order made payable to ‘Islamic Help’ and send it to:
Islamic Help 19 Ombersley Road Balsall Heath Birmingham B12 8UR

Please do not send cash in the post and please do not forget to write your name and address on a piece of paper.
Bank: You can put money directly in their bank account
Name: Islamic Help
Bank: HSBC
Account No: 41687425
Sort Code: 40-42-12

If you are in a country other than the UK, you can go into any bank in the world and quote the following International Bank Account:
Number (IBAN) and Branch Identifier Code (BIC)
IBAN: GB 72 MIDL 404212 41687425

Muslim Hands (UK)

ISLAM CHANNEL APPEAL: What your money can buy
  • £50 tent to accommodate 5 people
  • £150 can buy powder milk for 10 babies, for one month
  • £235 Family Package, including accommodation for 5, food for 1 month and water
  • £2,500 will support the setup and running costs of a Medical Camp for 1 month.
*Food parcels typically consists of: 10kg atta (chappati flower), 2kg rice, 2kg cooking oil, 2kg sugar, 2kg pulses, tea, salt and spices and 2kg soap powder for washing and bathing.

Donate here
World Vision UK

Children and women, who are the most vulnerable groups in emergencies, are already suffering the effects of the flooding, living in unhygienic conditions on roads, roof tops and other higher grounds under the sky. With more rains expected, help is urgently needed.
  • £22 could provide a family with food packs for 10 days
  • £66 could provide a family witth food packs for a month
  • £132 could provide two families with food packs for a month
 Donation link: here

With your help we can save lives:  
£12 will buy one family hygiene kit
(including soap, washing powder, sanitary cloths and towels, oral rehydration salts and nail cutter/comb)

£14 will buy one family household kit
(including a plastic bucket, water cooler, floor mats, waste bin, shawls and water purification tablets)

£46 will buy tools for clearing up
(including a shovel, pick axe, bucket, broom and wheel barrow)

Donate now

You can also donate by texting...

1. SWAT to 50555 to donate $10

2.   ZAKATUS to 50555 to donate $10 to the Zakat Foundation of America, which is providing food and clothing for flood survivors

3.  AID to 27722 to give $10 the the World Food Programme USA, which transports food to flood victims in isolated communities

Texting can be conveniently done by installing this cool app called MGive - download link here. Simply select your phone model and enter your home phone number.

Remember: The texting options above were for US residents only.

Edhi Foundation: 

Contact details here


Al-Khidmat Foundation:
Donate here: http://al-khidmatfoundation.org/donate-here.php

Szabist Sports Society and Roteract Midcity, Karachi.

SZABIST Sports Society and Roteract Club of Karachi MidCity have taken the step to organize a collection camp for flood relief. It started from 4th August, till the end of the month.



Pakistan Rising 
Pakistan Rising has identified basic needs for flood victims in Mardan, Charsadda, Dir and Swat. The situation is dire with some people resorting to eating leaves and drinking rain water. The immediate need is for food and water.
Pakistan Rising has 500 families in district Rahimyar Khan in immediate need of food relief. They r being rescued by launches all morning. We need 4 lakhs to feed them. Please donate in cash or kind, or contact them to send food trucks you may be in charge of.

Account details as follows.
Account name: Pak Rising (please note the account name is Pak Rising)
Account #: 20311-714-179297
Bank: Habib Metropolitan bank Ltd.

From any city you can put it in any Habib Metropoitan bank branch. Just please note that if it’s a check, the name has to be Pak Rising.


Give2Asia Pakistan Flood Relief Fund
In response to the Pakistan floods that have devastated lives in the past week, Give2Asia is launching the Pakistan Flood Relief Fund. We are launching the fund after receiving initial commitments of $30,000 from private donors wish to help survivors. To address increasing needs, Give2Asia will work with its network on the ground to identify local organizations in Pakistan responding to the disaster. We welcome donations of all sizes, and all contributions will be used to either provide immediate relief or aid in the long-term recovery of survivors.
Donate here.

Soles4Souls® Inc. is Committing 100,000 Pairs of New Shoes to Pakistan Flood Victims
Shoe Charity responding to cry for footwear in traumatized Middle Eastern country
Soles4Souls Inc. is committing 100,000 pairs of shoes to the victims of the floods and monsoon rains that are devastating the country of Pakistan.  In conjunction with its partners in the footwear industry and trusted distribution agencies, Soles4Souls is responding to the overwhelming need for appropriate footwear in the midst of rising waters and crushing mudslides.

Donate $1 for a pair of shoes, and this goes to Pakistan as well. Donate here

Sarhad Rural Support Programme
Concerned citizens based in Lahore are collecting relief items for the Sarhad Rural Support Programme, the largest NGO in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. SRSP’s experience and size make it the most suitable choice for donations at this time. They are a part of the Rural Support Programmes Network (rspn.org), founded by Shoaib Sultan Khan, who was nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize (along with President Obama and others).

People may make donations directly to SRSP, write crossed cheques to us in favor of SRSP or donate relief goods directly to them (which will then be loaded on to trucks headed for SRSP warehouses in Peshawar. People are also welcome to join in the effort of loading the trucks and actually making the trip to the affected areas to see the profound difference their generosity makes in the lives of so many.
The link to their Facebook page is : http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=120053684708340
Contacy: Umar Agha. Cell: 0321 842-2425 and email: ua2121@columbia.edu
Maymar Trust
To donate a ( 10 x 10) tent for a family: Rs. 12,000
A huge tent ( 14 x 14) for a few families: Rs. 5,000
A tent for a mosque ( 30 x 30) : Rs. 30,000
Gas Cylinder: Rs. 900
Generator: Rs. 80,000
Food: 8,000/-for one month
Medical Supplies: Rs.20 to 25,000/- ( for one day )
Beds and bedding: 300 per bed
Plastic Tirpal ( shade)( 4 x6) : Rs.900/-
Donate here:
Account Title: Muhammad Faisal
A/c No: 011802008000265
Meezan Bank/ Gulshan-e-Maymar, Karachi.
A/C Title: Tariq Manzoor
Muslim Commercial Bank
Branch Code: 1555
Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation
Here is the information required to make a donation:
Title of Account: Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation
Account #: 0030445261000455
Name of Bank: MCB Bank (1028), Super Market, Islamabad-Pakistan
Tax Exemption: 6043/ATD/2008-09


Pakistan Red Crescent Society:
PRCS has offices in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Muzaffarabad. Please see: http://www.prcs.org.pk/help.asp

Pakistani Youth:

An independent group of students:

The Volunteers/ Voice of the Civil Society:
VOTCS with the help of our Pak Army jawans will be sending Provisions to the affectees. VOTCS is now a registered (No. DSW 3369-K) welfare organization in Pakistan, and is operating as a Non-Profit, Public Charity in the North America, Inc. – 501(C)(3) Organization(Tax Exempted)
For more info call:
Hadia khan@03018245999
Sadia Haroon@03218251122
Irum Farooque@03002332142

Young doctors are in the process of arranging a series of free medical camps in the flood affected areas. First Camp is at Nowshera.
Please Contact Ms. Alina Akhyar at alinaakhyar@yahoo.com, who will email you the Trust’s past activities, bank account details and other queries. They have already done some pretty impressive work.
Account number: 00400101065364
Account title: Khadija Nadeem
Askari Bank
Chaklala Scheme 3 branch
Khadija is the founding member and handling all donations.
Behbud Association

Donate via PayPal here



1.         FOOD ITEMS

Dried Milk for Children and Families
High Nutrition Biscuits
Food Packets consisting of Tea, Sugar, Milk Powder, Vegetable Oil,  Pulses and Spices
Mineral Water


2.         NON FOOD ITEMS

Water Coolers
Cooking Utensils
Footwear for Children
Mosquito Nets
Bed Spreads
Floor Mattresses


Hand Towels
Tooth Paste
Female Sanitary Pads
Diapers/ Pampers for minors
Washing Powder/Soap

4.         MISC

Mosquito Repellents
Prickly Heat Powder
Children Anti Rash Creams
Water Purification Tablets
Candles /Match Boxes


The relief items may be sent to your nearest PAF Bases, where they have made arrangements for collection and transportation of the items to the flood affectees
(Source: National Disaster Management Authority [NDMA]) 

Another list by NDMA outlines essentials that are needed by donors:
Water Filtration Plants
Dewatering Pumps
Medical Equipment
Hygiene Kits
Non Perishable Food Items

Lastly, PAF Museum Karachi is also holding a collection point where they need edible items (dry) and juices etc to transport to the flood affected areas. Please go out there, give some packets of dates and other similar stuff and make this Independence Day really meaningful!

*completely exhausted*

I hope this list proves useful and we can donate any amount that we can to the flood victims. It may be a drop in the ocean, but countless drops DO make up the ocean. So Happy Independence Day to all Pakistanis and hope you ''spend'' the day profitably! (Pun hugely intended) :)

Awwwww - these two adorable babies were born to Bushra Humayun at a camp in the outskirts of Nawshera! :D. May these kids see a very bright future for them Insha Allah. Awwwww ... On the left is Abdullah Khan and the right one is named Muhammad Bilal! Adorable! And brings a smile to the face whoever sees them - no matter how hard the calamity is, hope still exists :):)

Image courtesy: ATP

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ramadan: A Time for Revival or Survival?

A really great read and I wish we could all implement some of the things we need to do in this holy month, in order to increase our taqwa, piety, level of eemaan, and of course, khushu and khuzu in salah.

I wish you all a very successful (in getting closer to Jannah) Ramadan and hope we give a lot of stuff in charity to the Pakistanis severely affected by floods. A dua goes out for Karachi (even though it has been safe from the flood uptil now) - I heard that the flood is going to hit Karachi as well on Aug 13th (which is tomorrow). May Allah Help us in this time of trouble and Give strength and patience to the affected people. Ameen.

Ramadan: A Time for Revival or Survival?

As in years past, the beloved yet unexpected guest of millions, "Holy Ramadan" once again enters our lives. Muslims are filled with great joy in anticipation of welcoming him. Yet to one unaccustomed, it would almost seem as if Muslims had never met him before!

All of a sudden, our new-found love for this guest causes us to radically change our daily schedules and habits to entertain him. Our Mosques mysteriously overflow with worshippers, chapters of the Quran are heard chanted till the wee hours of the morning accompanied by a hail of cries, and our social gatherings and feasts become livelier than ever before - all these sacrifices made to honor this special and 'holy' guest from Allah.

Isn't it interesting and ironic that while he is among us, for a full 30 days, we starve, read numerous articles on do's and don'ts of treating this guest, avoid watching TV in his presence, and sing songs or Nasheeds of joy, yet we fail to understand him and the mission of his visit? For some odd reason, this same "Holy Ramadan" becomes a stranger to us on the 1st of Shawwal!

Let the Scrubbing Begin!

What many of us forget is that this guest accompanies a deep purpose and responsibility. It is as Muhammad al-Shareef notes:

"Whenever a guest comes to our home, we prepare in advance for his arrival by vacuuming the carpet, dusting the shelves, and scrubbing the sinks. We should do this for our guest of Ramadan as well. But the scrubbing should not just be of our physical surroundings, it should include the scrubbing of our sins!"

Ever Wonder Why The 'Change' And 'Blessings' Don't Last?

Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi explains in Let Us Be Muslims:

"The greatest mistake we commit is to regard the outward shape of acts of prayer and fasting as the real 'Ibadah (worship) and we suffer from the delusion that whoever just fulfills these requirements performs the 'Ibadah of Allah. Just as physical strength cannot be obtained from the bread until it is fully digested, the spiritual power cannot be obtained from fasting until the person allows Ramadan’s purpose to permeate one’s heart and mind and dominate one’s thought, intention and deed.”

Ramadan - A Tool Of Transformation And Month Of Sharing

In addition to the indispensable personal benefits of fasting, Ramadan is a time for social awareness. As Hammudah 'Abd al-Ati describes in Islam in Focus:

"No sociologist or historian can say that there has been at any period of history anything comparable to this powerful institution of Islam: Fasting in the month of Ramadan. People have been crying throughout the ages for acceptable belonging, for unity, for brotherhood, for equality, but how echoless their voices have been, and how very little success they have met."

No Time To Hibernate!

As Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick eloquently explains in Ramadan in History:

"Ramadan is actually a time of increased activity wherein the believer, now lightened of the burdens of constant eating and drinking, should be more willing to strive and struggle for Allah. The Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) nine Ramadans were filled with decisive events, such as Jihad, and he left us a shining example of sacrifice and submission to Allah. Throughout Islamic history, most of the significant battles were won in this month!"

Living Taqwa - Moving Dead Hearts To Action!

Quran [2:183] describes attainment of Taqwa to be the real purpose of Fasting. But, what is Taqwa?

Sayyid 'Umar ibn al-Khattab: "A person with the quality of Taqwa is like a person walking with caution on a thorny road. The way he would take care to save his clothes from getting entangled in the thorns, so is a person with Taqwa conscious of every action he does (for fear of falling into wrong)."

Sayyid 'Ali ibn Abi Talib: "Taqwa means fearing Allah, acting in accordance with the Quran, contentment with whatever little you have, and preparing for the day of departure (death)."

Imam al-Ghazali narrates: "Whoever fears something (in the creation of Allah) runs away from it, whereas whoever fears Allah runs to Him (out of love and obedience)!"

Let us all begin to live a life of Taqwa this Ramadan to avoid the 'thorns' that come our way in the form of worldly temptations in the media and society in general.

Intensifying Our Love And Study Of The Quran

It is said when you love someone, you would know every little thing he or she says, likes and dislikes. How can we claim to love Allah, yet know very little about His message and gift to us? Ramadan offers the rare opportunity for an intense reflection on the message of the Quran. It is the source of a constant revolution in the lives of millions of those who possess a living heart, as Allah says, "Indeed in this (Quran) there is remembrance for those who have a living heart, listen attentively and are awake to taking heed." [Qaaf: 37]

It is reported that Imam al-Zuhri would say about Ramadan, "It is recitation of the Quran and feeding of people." Similarly, 'Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) would recite from the pages of the Quran starting at the break of day at dawn in Ramadan until the sun had risen.

This Was The Spirit Of Ramadan

"This was the spirit of Ramadan that enabled our righteous forefathers to face seemingly impossible challenges. It was a time of intense activity, spending the day outside and the night in prayer while calling upon Allah for His forgiveness. Today, the Muslim world is faced with drought, military aggression, widespread corruption and tempting materialism. Surely we are in need of believers who can walk in the footsteps of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), the illustrious Sahabah, and leaders like Tariq ibn Ziyad, Salahuddin and the countless heroes of Islam. Surely we are in need of the Muslims whose fast is complete and not just a source of hunger and thirst. May Allah raise up a generation of Muslims who can carry Islam to all corners of the globe in a manner that befits our age."

a passionate reminder from Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick.

A Quick Checklist Of Ramadan:

  • Make a resolve to win the maximum favour of Allah: perform extra voluntary prayers (Nawaafil), make frequent Du'a and increase remembrance (Dhikr).
  • Try to recite some Quran after every Prayer. In fact if you read 3-4 pages after every Prayer you can easily finish the entire Quran in Ramadan! Study the Quranic Tafseer (commentary) every morning.
  • Invite a person you are not very close with to your home for Iftar, at least once a week. You will notice the blessings in your relationships!
  • Bring life to your family! Everyday, try to conclude the fast with your family and spend some quality time together to understand each other better.
  • Give gifts on 'Eid to at least 5 people: 2 to your family members, 2 to your good friends, and 1 to a person whom you love purely for the sake of Allah.
  • Commit to an Islamic study circles to enhance your Islamic knowledge and practice. Plan to complete reading a book on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life in these 30 days.
  • Donate generously to the masajid, Islamic organizations, and any where people are in need. "This is a month of sharing!"
  • Share Ramadan and its teachings of love & patience with your neighbours. Learn how at http://www.soundvision.com/info/ramadan/
  • Initiate a project to promote or revive a ‘forgotten’ social cause in the Muslim and non-Muslim community: fight against racism, AIDS, drugs, cancer, smoking…etc.
  • Did you know, our society, which constitutes only 20% of world’s population, actually consumes 80% of world’s resources! Volunteer at food bank or Anti-Poverty campaign, while fasting!
  • Seek the rare and oft-neglected rewards of 'the night better than a 1000 months', Laylatul-Qadr.
  • Weep in private for the forgiveness of your sins: It is the month of forgiveness and Allah's Mercy! It's never too late.
  • Learn to control your tongue and lower your gaze. Remember the Prophet's warning that lying, backbiting, and a lustful gaze all violate the fast! Abandon foul language forever.
  • Encourage others to enjoin and love goodness, and to abandon everything evil. Play the role of a Da'ee (one who invites to Allah) with passion and sympathy.
  • Experience the joy of Tahajjud prayers late at night and devote yourself purely and fully to Allah in the I'tikaf retreat during the last 10 days of Ramadan.