Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Blue Pill People


[An old article, but very very relevant to today!]

by Hari Heath
Dec - 2002 "Idaho Observer" -- There are none so blind as those who will not look. If you are one of those who will look, take a look around. You are surrounded -- surrounded by millions who will not look. These are the blue pill people. Who are these blue pill people and why won't they look?

“The Matrix” may be only a movie, but it presents some scenarios with much relevance to our current situation. In the movie, Neo meets Morpheus and is offered an opportunity and a choice. Neo can take the red pill and see the truth for himself, or he can take the blue pill and return, comfortably unaware, to the illusion of the Matrix. There he can live out his life undisturbed by the truth. The truth depicted in The Matrix is an extreme version of modern socialism.

In the futuristic scenario of the movie, a massive array of human beings are kept in self-contained pods that resemble artificial wombs. These “row-cropped” human entities are maintained in their pods, from their in vitro conception until they are no longer useful to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) entity. The AI entity needs certain things from these “humans” for its own sustenance, so it continuously breeds new human crops and extracts from them what it needs. In return, the AI entity supplies the humans' needs with several permanent intravenous connections and a neural link. The neural link provides the pod-bound humans with a complete illusion -- the Matrix. In the AI-created illusion the humans have a normal life in a real world. In reality, however, the civilized world was destroyed some time ago and humans have been harvested as crops for the benefit of the Al entity ever since. The Matrix is a complete digital holographic type “world” created by the AI entity to mentally contain its human crops while it extracts what it needs from their pod-bound bodies.
In the movie, when Morpheus is about to offer Neo the choice between either the red pill or the blue pill, he explains:

“You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain -- but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life; that there's something wrong with the world; you don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?”

“The Matrix,” Neo asks?

“Do you want to know what it is? The Matrix is everywhere, it is all around us. Even in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes; it is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”

And Neo asks, “What truth?”

“That you are a slave Neo, like everyone else, you were born into bondage; born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch; a prison for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to experience it for yourself.”

Those few humans who were either born into reality, or have successfully taken the red pill, become the focus of the movie's story -- their attempts to destroy the Matrix and liberate the mass of humanity that lives completely encapsulated in their pods and the illusions fed to them by the powers that be -- powers that will go to any length to maintain the illusion.

Extreme, but not much different than our modern system of corporate government and capitalistic socialism. The governing powers need things from us, not the least of which is our consent. To obtain our consent we are fed all manner of benefits. We are programmed from an early age to believe that such benefits are necessary. To obtain these benefits, a number of conduits are attached to each of us. Adhesion contracts like Social Security, a driver's license; voter registration for a pretended choice of social masters, bank accounts where credit is manufactured for our use and other memberships, registrations, licenses, deeds and permits to insure the conduct of our affairs will be confined within the “matrix” of corporate governance.

We are given our own numbered “pod,” a social net provided by the government. Educated according to mandates of the state, our belief system is further cultured by corporate media.

There are various forms of “welfare” should we succumb to poverty or disease. If we are threatened or in danger we can call 911. Government's job of “securing” us is made easier by the massive database tracking our movements, our finances, the location of our homes and businesses and our tax records. When old age creeps up, we can rely on government to take care of us.

The corporate/government/financial interface combines to create a massive illusion of benefits -- the American dream. For the price of a promise to indebt our future labors, pay our taxes and play within the system, there are seemingly limitless toys, castles, comforts and consumables for those who believe in this Matrix. For half our productivity taken in taxes (the other half in payments) and the deeds and title to whatever we think we own, government and its private affiliates will take care of us.

To live in this Matrix, all we have to surrender is any genuine sense of independence, personal responsibility and our right to live freely and actually own the fruits of our labors.

And, like in the movie, a contingent of agents are deployed to combat any renegade humans who have a will for freedom from the Matrix which surrounds us.

As Morpheus expiained, “The Matrix is a system Neo, and that system is our enemy. When you are inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters, the very minds we are trying to save. Until we do, these people are part of that system and that makes them our enemies. You have to understand that most of these people are not ready to be unplugged and many are so hopelessly dependent on the system, they'll fight to protect it.”

Why will blue pill people fight to protect a Matrix that enslaves them? It's all they know. And all their toys, castles, comforts and consumables will be gone without the Matrix. Their whole illusionary existence will evaporate, leaving them naked and alone.

What won't the blue pill people in our current “real” world look at? They refuse to acknowledge they are they are funding their enslavement to a socialist homeland police state. Last month, a few “red pill” people traveled to D.C. for an eloquent conclusion to Freedom Drive 2002, exposing the fraud of the l6th Amendment, the IRS, and the federal income tax. But the blue pill people remained comfortably in their coma, ever willing to pay a tax they do not owe. They fund Congress and the Nazi/moron president's implementation of America's new Third Reich, so they can feel “secure.”

And, so the blue pill people can finally understand what really happened the morning of September 11, 2001, Henry Kissinger, the angel of death and global tyranny, will investigate the facts and tell us the blue-pill truth. Will Americans really believe the Doctor of genocide?

Hidden away on the 6th floor of the Department of Justice building is the secret FISA Court. U. S. attorneys have been going there for years to get secret search warrants from in-house, rubberstamp judges under the guise of “national security.” This parallel “legal” system can order clandestine searches of citizens' and non-citizens' homes. From the “evidence” gathered, we can be secretly declared “enemy combatants” and held indefinitely at U. S. military bases.

Remember the detainment camps those paranoid conspiracy theorists told you about years ago?
U.S. officials claim they can detain and interrogate enemy combatants until the executive branch declares an end to the war on terrorism. This includes no access to lawyers or family members; investigations, interrogations, trials and punishments can be held without the protections secured by the Constitution. The Nazi/moron president's administration says there is ample precedent for what it is doing. Are we following the “ample precedent” of a man named Hitler?

Meanwile, the Congress has passed the American Gestapo Authorization (Homeland Security) Act which defines a terrorist as:

“The term “terrorism' means any activity that -- involves an act that is dangerous to human life or potentially destructive of critical infrastructure or key resources; and is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State or other subdivision of the United States; and appears to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.”

As a test for social compliance, 838 blue pillers recently passed blissfully through an unconstitutional random roadblock in Pittsburgh without “seeing” the real “terrorists” in Homeland Security's new America -- the police state (See page 22). Is our present police state “dangerous to human life” and “destructive of critical infrastructure” like the Bill of Rights? Is it “against the laws” (18 USC 241; 242) to deprive a citizen of their right to travel and be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects? Do random roadblocks, by design, “intimidate or coerce a civilian population?” What happens if you don't comply with the roadblock?
The next test for blue pill compliance will be mass inoculations for smallpox. Will the blue pill population literally trample all over each other to get their shots as some officials predict? Has the vaccination “matrix” been so well entrenched in the blue pillers' minds that they will actually let mercury, monkey puss and aborted fetal tissue be injected under their skin based on an unproven theory that such things promote health and prevent disease?

And what greater “matrix” is there, than our current “fiat;' financial system? We “believe” that a piece of paper with the picture of a dead president has the value of the number printed on it and that one dead president is more valuable than another. We don't even consider that the use of this dead president paper is the direct cause of our own enslavement.

Have you ever seen your bank account? It's not there. Only the slight-of-hand practiced by the teller and the accountant behind the scenes makes this illusion look real to the blue pill people.

How deep does the rabbit hole go? Near the end of the movie, the Matrix's agent Smith acclaims the virtues of the Matrix to the captive red pill people's leader Morpheus: “Have you ever stood and stared at it? Marveled at is beauty; its genius? Billions of people, just living out their lives -- oblivious.”
Source: The Idaho Observer 

Where exactly are we going?

This is called: avoiding studies for an upcoming exam :$


Here goes:

Where exactly are we going?
Compared to just... last year
Prices weren't THIS high
Faith wasn't THIS dear


Where exactly indeed
What have we achieved?
Moral values have slowed down
Our consciences, run to ground


Where are we headed towards
What troughs will we reach
And for how long
Will corruption be preached

How long will we fall?
How long before we can stand tall
Before our own selves, our future generations
And we call ourselves humans? The gall!

Only today
I watched in dismay
As an MNA
Confidently displays

An inherent knowledge
About the kinds of liquor
Available to them
To enjoy without a ''fikr''

What constitution? What shamelessness
What blatant display of lowliness
He should be prosecuted for this
But no, he generated laughter in all his finesse

Could we think this would have happened
Ever..?
We know they do this stuff
But display it openly, we thought, NEVER

Today it's the talk of taxes
The poor masses look up from the flood
Exhausted they are, expecting relief
But they're stamped beneath feet, dealt with thuds

So many got injured today
Beaten, bloody, broken
What did they do, except stand in a line
Waiting for some money, a token

Life steadily grows worse
As our leaders' smiles get wider
THEIR leaders' greed becomes deeper
And we're just the silent spectators

No wonder we're hit so hard
And blessed with such a party, ruling
Never had we thought we're going to fall this low
Where exactly are we going!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Retribution for a World Lost in Screens

This is a big article - but once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. Hence thought of sharing. Every bell in this article rings true, it is SO applicable to today. Let's see if we can change our own mindsets to come out of this ''slavery to images'' - 


By Chris Hedges


September 27, 2010 "Truthdig" -- Nemesis was the Greek goddess of retribution. She exacted divine punishment on arrogant mortals who believed they could defy the gods, turn themselves into objects of worship and build ruthless systems of power to control the world around them. The price of such hubris was almost always death.

Nemesis, related to the Greek word némein, means “to give what is due.” Our nemesis fast approaches. We will get what we are due. The staggering myopia of our corrupt political and economic elite, which plunder the nation’s wealth for financial speculation and endless war, the mass retreat of citizens into virtual hallucinations, the collapsing edifices around us, which include the ecosystem that sustains life, are ignored for a giddy self-worship. We stare into electronic screens just as Narcissus, besotted with his own reflection, stared into a pool of water until he wasted away and died.

We believe that because we have the capacity to wage war we have the right to wage war. We believe that money, rather than manufactured products and goods, is real. We believe in the myth of inevitable human moral and material progress. We believe that no matter how much damage we do to the Earth or our society, science and technology will save us. And as temperatures on the planet steadily rise, as droughts devastate cropland, as the bleaching of coral reefs threatens to wipe out 25 percent of all marine species, as countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh succumb to severe flooding, as we poison our food, air and water, as we refuse to confront our addiction to fossil fuels and coal, as we dismantle our manufacturing base and plunge tens of millions of Americans into a permanent and desperate underclass, we flick on a screen and are entranced.

We confuse the electronic image, a reflection back to us of ourselves, with the divine. We gawk at “reality” television, which of course is contrived reality, reveling in being the viewer and the viewed. True reality is obliterated from our consciousness. It is the electronic image that informs and defines us. It is the image that gives us our identity. It is the image that tells us what is attainable in the vast cult of the self, what we should desire, what we should seek to become and who we are. It is the image that tricks us into thinking we have become powerful—as the popularity of video games built around the themes of violence and war illustrates—while we have become enslaved and impoverished by the corporate state. The electronic image leads us back to the worship of ourselves. It is idolatry. Reality is replaced with electronic mechanisms for preening self-presentation—the core of social networking sites such as Facebook—and the illusion of self-fulfillment and self-empowerment. And in a world unmoored from the real, from human limitations and human potential, we inevitably embrace superstition and magic. This is what the worship of images is about. We retreat into a dark and irrational fear born out of a cavernous ignorance of the real. We enter an age of technological barbarism.

To those entranced by images, the world is a vast stage on which they are called to enact their dreams. It is a world of constant action, stimulation and personal advancement. It is a world of thrills and momentary ecstasy. It is a world of ceaseless movement. It makes a fetish of competition. It is a world where commercial products and electronic images serve as a pseudo-therapy that caters to feelings of alienation, inadequacy and powerlessness. We may be locked in dead-end jobs, have no meaningful relationships and be confused about our identities, but we can blast our way to power holding a little control panel while looking for hours at a screen. We can ridicule the poor, the ignorant and the weak all day long on trash-talk shows and reality television shows. We are skillfully made to feel that we have a personal relationship, a false communion, with the famous—look at the outpouring of grief at the death of Princess Diana or Michael Jackson. We have never met those we adore. We know only their manufactured image. They appear to us on screens. They are not, at least to us, real people. And yet we worship and seek to emulate them.

In this state of cultural illusion any description of actual reality, because it does not consist of the happy talk that pollutes the airwaves from National Public Radio to Oprah, is dismissed as “negative” or “pessimistic.” The beleaguered Jeremiahs who momentarily stumble into our consciousness and in a desperate frenzy seek to warn us of our impending self-destruction are derided because they do not lay out easy formulas that permit us to drift back into fantasy. We tell ourselves they are overreacting. If reality is a bummer, and if there are no easy solutions, we don’t want to hear about it. The facts of economic and environmental collapse, now incontrovertible, cannot be discussed unless they are turned into joking banter or come accompanied with a neat, pleasing solution, the kind we are fed at the conclusion of the movies, electronic games, talk shows and sitcoms, the kind that dulls our minds into passive and empty receptacles. We have been conditioned by electronic hallucinations to expect happy talk. We demand it.

We confuse this happy talk with hope. But hope is not about a belief in progress. Hope is about protecting simple human decency and demanding justice. Hope is the belief, not necessarily grounded in the tangible, that those whose greed, stupidity and complacency have allowed us to be driven over a cliff shall one day be brought down. Hope is about existing in a perpetual state of rebellion, a constant antagonism to all centers of power. The great moral voices, George Orwell and Albert Camus being perhaps two of the finest examples, describe in moving detail the human suffering we ignore or excuse. They understand that the greatest instrument for moral good is the imagination. The ability to perceive the pain and suffering of another, to feel, as King Lear says, what wretches feel, is a more powerful social corrective than the shelves of turgid religious and philosophical treatises on human will. Those who change the world for the better, who offer us hope, have the capacity to make us step outside of ourselves and feel empathy.

A print-based culture, as writer Neil Postman pointed out, demands rationality. The sequential, propositional character of the written word fosters what Walter Ong calls the “analytic management of knowledge.” But our brave new world of images dispenses with these attributes because the images do not require them to be understood. Communication in the image-based culture is not about knowledge. It is about the corporate manipulation of emotions, something logic, order, nuance and context protect us against. Thinking, in short, is forbidden. Entertainment and spectacle have become the aim of all human endeavors, including politics, which is how Stephen Colbert, playing his television character, can be permitted to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Campaigns are built around the manufactured personal narratives of candidates, who function as political celebrities, rather than policies or ideas. News reports have become soap operas and mini-dramas revolving around the latest celebrity scandal.

Colleges and universities, which view students as customers and suck obscene tuition payments and loans out of them with the tantalizing promise of high-paying corporate jobs, have transformed themselves into resorts and theme parks. In this new system of education almost no one fails. Students become “brothers” or “sisters” in the atavistic, tribal embrace of eating clubs, fraternities or sororities. School spirit and school branding is paramount. Campus security keeps these isolated enclaves of privilege secure. And 90,000-seat football stadiums, along with their millionaire coaches, dominate the campus. It is moral leprosy.

The role of knowledge and art, as the ancient Greeks understood, is to create ekstasis, which means standing outside one’s self to give our individual life and struggle meaning and perspective. The role of art and scholarship is to transform us as individuals, not entertain us as a group. It is to nurture this capacity for understanding and empathy. Art and scholarship allow us to see the underlying structures and assumptions used to manipulate and control us. And this is why art, like intellectual endeavor, is feared by the corporate elite as subversive. This is why corporations have used their money to deform universities into vocational schools that spit out blinkered and illiterate systems managers. This is why the humanities are withering away.

The vast stage of entertainment that envelops our culture is intended to impart the opposite of ekstasis. Mass entertainment plays to the basest and crudest instincts of the crowd. It conditions us to have the same aspirations and desires. It forces us to speak in the same dead clichés and slogans. It homogenizes human experience. It wallows in a cloying nostalgia and sentimentalism that foster historical amnesia. It turns the Other into a cartoon or a stereotype. It prohibits empathy because it prohibits understanding. It denies human singularity and uniqueness. It assures us that we all have within us the ability, talent or luck to become famous and rich. It forms us into a lowing and compliant herd. We have been conditioned to believe—defying all the great moral and philosophical writers from Socrates to Orwell—that the aim of life is not to understand but to be entertained. If we do not shake ourselves awake from our electronic hallucinations and defy the elites who are ruining the country and trashing the planet we will experience the awful and deadly retribution of the gods.

Chris Hedges is former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times and author of the bestseller “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning” reports on Bush’s plan for Iran, and how a callous war, conceived by zealots, will lead to a disaster of biblical proportions.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Of Weddings, Wehshat, and ... What?

Assalamualaikum

Today is a day of unusual titles. I love the previous post's one :D. Khair. This is a lil story about the wedding of my nearly 1st cousin (I call her nearly 1st cousin because she is the daughter of my dad's first cousin, and they're VERY close..).

This cousin of ours is really sweet MA :) and very seedhi (simple) as well. Yesterday was her wedding, and today was her Valima. And the functions were both pretty lavish. Hence, the wehshat (what's wehshat in English?). When I entered the hall yesterday, the scene seemed to be out of some catalogue. And when I stepped into the hall today in the Valima, the scene seemed to be out of some movie. Sigh. Beyond amazing decor, and today's food ! ! !  - man! I mean Masha Allah! At one place, we could see ''kataa kat'' being made! (what's kataa kat in English?)..


and at another place, fresh roti was being made. Then, there was a separate dessert table, filled with chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, mousse cake, pudding, gulaab jamun, blueberry mousse, mango mousse/icecream - this was just dessert! You can imagine the rest !. Then, the stage setting, the bride and groom setting... I'll elaborate here.

Yesterday, the bride was in her room - and now ready to be escorted to the stage. Nikkah had been done, and poor her was looking so beyond tense that I couldn't help quipping some jokes around so that she may smile ... she did! But then her face would fall back into tension. Then, the moment came when she was to come out and go to the stage, which was at a lil distance. She went with her brother, and friends, and reached the stage. From the stage's stairs, the groom was supposed to take her hand, and guide her to the decorated chairs to sit. This whole scene was supposed to be captured in much detail by the video-wala (man shooting the wedding video). I watched in dismay, as she reached the stairs, the groom was standing right there, and the movie man stepped forward, straightened her dupatta (!!!), and settled her clothes in I dunno, a somewhat more photogenic fashion (!!), and then stepped back to shoot !! *outraged*...

If I were her husband, I would have poked this man in the eye! ! ! :@:@


Is this like common?!?!? Am I the only one getting outraged at this amazing display of all hudood crossing! ? Why wasn't anybody else outraged, and kept smiling? Sheeeeesh!

So this wedding day, and today's lavish Valima, I was all like... ''I so wanna leave!'' - sigh. I wish I had some .. I dunno... girl-inclinations towards this whole farcical sajaawat dikhaawat (dunno what's that in English :D). The whole bridal makeup deal, and the superb dress, and the pretty much laakhs of rupees spent on just the decor... and I'm not even estimating the catering costs...

In this day and age, when Pakistan is suffering so much, and the flood has taken away so many of the good lifestyles of people, won't we be questioned about any lavish spending we do in the name of .. weddings? Something to think about.

Now, the ''what'' in the title of this post:

Today in the Valima, my BIL looked very busy. Apparently, he found some friends who had also been invited, and what not. Later on, my sis told me (very smilingly) - and this was the conversation that went on:

Sis: You know what T is doing?
Me: What?
Her: Socializing!!
Me: Er, so? We all are, aren't we?
Her: No no.. he's socializing... for that!
Me: (*kind of knew what was up, yet asked*) What kinda socializing bhui?
She: He's trying to ''create contacts'' -- and find out suitable matches... for you!
[My dessert turned sour]
Me: *speechless* Why in the world?
She: Well, he thinks I won't do it, and this is the best WAY of doing this kind of thing... so he's out and about!
Me:*scowling* ... koi aur kaam nahi mila?

I mean seriously... a bari bee (bara baa actually) if there ever WAS one... is my BIL. I never thought my sis would get married, and I'd be obtaining a dada! (or more approprately, a dadi!) *a huge sigh*

These Spineless Chumps in Islamabad

By Yvonne Ridley

September 25, 2010
"Information Clearing House" -- Obfuscation, is an awkward word but it essentially sums up the behaviour of all of the Pakistan government ministers, diplomats and politicians who have had a hand in the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

Now they're scrambling over each others backs like a bucket of frogs clawing their way to the top in a bid to speak to the media to feign shock at the silly sentence dished out by New York judge Richard Berman a few days ago.

And on top of all of this over-acting that other major obfuscator America has said Pakistan will have to sign two international treaties dealing with the exchange of prisoners to enable the return from the US of Aafia.

Poppycock!

Why don't these spineless chumps in Islamabad grow a backbone and their gin-soaked counterparts in the US State Department to get stuffed.

Exactly what difference would it make if Pakistan were a signatory to the Council of Europe Treaty and the OAS Treaty? Please don't tell me US Administration would abide by these? Of course they wouldn't. The USA has continually violated and ignored the Geneva Conventions and still a serial offender by keeping open Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention centres.

And in Aafia's case it has also thrown the Vienna Conventions out of the window.

The shameless, outgoing US Ambassador Anne Patterson based in Pakistan lied to the world from her barbed wire bunker in islamabad when she claimed Dr Aafia Siddiqui was given full consular access at all times - I can prove Aafia wasn't.

According to some new documentation I've seen which includes log sheets collated by the FBI, I can prove that at no time from July 18 2008 on the day Aafia was shot by US soldiers in Ghazni, Afghanistan through to August 5 was she was taken to court in New York was she ever offered consular services. And nor was she told of her rights to have access to these services.

In between all of this, let's remember she was on a life support machine in Bagram, under heavy sedation. OK she might not have been alert enough to have her rights read to her, but that did still not prevent her from being interrogated by the FBI. And according to the recordings the agents made, never once did any of those agents inform Aafia of her rights.

And when she arrived in America, not only did Hossein Haqqani, the Pakistan Ambassador based in Washington fail to do his job or demand that the US allow him to do his job by providing consular services to Aafia, the US officials again deliberately did not tell Aafia her rights.

Flouting the Vienna Conventions is a serious matter and the US is guilty - so when the US starts to tell Pakistan it needs to sign two international treaties, I say "pot, kettle and black"!

America threw out the Vienna Conventions when dealing with Aafia - and this single, reckless arrogant action alone has now opened the door for every country in the world to do the same to every US citizen who falls into difficulty overseas.

Now is the time for the United States to start leading by example and show some humanity by releasing Dr Aafia Siddiqui immediately - only by righting the initial wrongs in the first place can the US move forward from this disgraceful episode.

The US stands guilty of violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by failing to afford a Pakistani citizen - in this case Aafia - the right to consular access.

Another reason to declare her trial a mis-trial. Judge Richard Berman is the one who should be charged. Ignorance of the law is no excuse Your Honour and at the moment you stand guilty as a law breaker not a law maker for dragging Aafia through an illegal trial, the process of which was flawed from beginning to end. it all happened on Judge Berman's watch.

The Pakistan Government now needs to demand the repatriation of Aafia with immediate effect. The US needs to shut up, back down and show some humility by returning the Daughter of Pakistan.

And with a bit of luck innocent US citizens travelling abroad will not get caught up in the fall out of this violation of international law and human rights.

Yvonne Ridley is a patron of Cageprisoners, a human rights NGO which first raised the plight of Dr Aafia Siddiqui in 2004.

------------------
PS: I love the title of this article :D:D

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Stories that Rip the Heart !!

The Dead were Completely Unrecognisable

Interview With Family Devastated by US Drone Attack

By Asim Qureshi

September 24, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- EXCLUSIVE - Cageprisoners (CP) interview with Haider whose brother-in-law Mohammed Asghar and his friends became the victims of an unlawful US drone attack.

CP: Could you please introduce yourself?

Haider:
Bismillahir rahmaanir raheem
My name is Haider. My brother-in-law, Mohammed Asghar, lived in Peshawar and worked as a money exchanger in the markets there.

CP: Where did the drone attack take place?
H: The attacks took place in North Waziristan, Miranshah in District Ahmadkheel. My brother-in-law had friends he was visiting in Waziristan. As he was a guest there - and as is the custom of the people - many of the locals gathered to welcome him into the area. He was sat with a group of these people from the community when everybody gathered to pray the evening prayer (‘Isha) together. The drone attack happened in the middle of the prayers and the entire congregation was martyred.

CP: Were there any Taliban or Al Qaeda in the gathering or were they all civilians?
H: All the people gathered were locals from the community who had come to welcome the new guest to the area. The people are renowned for their hospitality and it is unthinkable for them that somebody would come to visit and they would not have a gathering to welcome them. In total, 31 people were killed. Drone attacks are so powerful nobody can escape them merely injured.

CP: How did you find out this happened?
H: Between our area and Waziristan is an 8 hour journey. The drone attack happened at night time and we all knew about it by the following morning. People who had witnessed the attack had come to tell us and described what they saw of the remnants and damage in the aftermath. They said the attack was so severe that they could not even distinguish the bodies from one another- even the bones of the people were completely blown apart. The dead were completely unrecognisable. My brother in law’s coffin was tightly sealed and we were not allowed to open it to view anything. We had the coffin with us for 30 minutes before it was taken away for burial.

CP: Why do you think the US/Pakistan government do this and what do you think they hope to gain?
H: We just don’t know. We don’t know how much authority Pakistan has given the US to attack our areas and we don’t know until when the US are given free license by the Pakistani government to carry out these drone attacks. So far between 1400-1600 people have died as a result of these attacks. Nobody takes responsibility for these civilian deaths. Ask the journalists or officials for the true statistics, we know that it is 1400-1600 civilians, women and children killed. In this, they would have been lucky to even have 11 or 12 ‘militants’ amongst them. These attacks are so widespread that even my brother in law who lives in Peshawar was made a victim of it. Who do I appeal to? Where can I go? I don’t even know who to hold responsible for his death and how I do it.

I am shocked that the US can come to attack Pakistan in this way and Pakistan does not even have the authority to question them on the deaths they are causing. The civilians in all these regions are extremely frightened and fearful. They can’t work in the day, nor can they sleep during the night. As soon as they hear the slightest sound of an aeroplane, they flee in panic from their homes and buildings trying to find a place for security. The whole community is in a state of fear and I just cannot explain to you how unbearable these calamities are for the people. Every household has at least half of its people martyred (i.e.: killed) as a result of these attacks. I simply do not understand what the understanding between Pakistan the US is on this matter.
CP: Haider, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and we are sorry for your loss.

This item was first posted at http://www.cageprisoners.com 

-----------------------------------------
Drone attacks do not bother President Zardari

WASHINGTON: A prominent US journalist Bob Woodward has revealed in his book ‘War of Obama’ quoting president Zardari as uttering that the loss of lives caused by US drone strikes in tribal belt in Pakistan did not worry him, adding that he did not care if so bothers Americans.

Bob Woodward also wrote in his book that President Asif Ali Zardari, after his election, held meeting with the then CIA Director General Michel Hayden on November 12, 2008 in New York. During the reported meeting, Michel Hayden apprised president Zardari of killings of some US citizens among other tribal people in a US drone attack in Pakistan.

According to book, president Zardari replied that deaths inflicted by drone attacks may bother you Americans but not me. Senior Taliban commanders should also be targeted; the book also quoted Zardari as wishing.

-----------------------------------
CIA used pirated, inaccurate software to target drone attacks: lawsuit

'They want to kill people with my software that doesn't work,' software exec tells court
The CIA used illegally pirated software to direct Predator drone attacks, despite apparently knowing the software was inaccurate, according to documents in an intellectual property lawsuit.
The lawsuit, working its way through a Massachusetts court, alleges that the CIA purchased a pirated and inaccurate version of a location analysis program, which may have incorrectly located targets by as much as 42 feet.

The allegation raises fresh questions about the CIA's execution of drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which are believed to have killed hundreds of civilians in the past four years.

And if the court decides to grant an injunction against users of the software, it could potentially halt the CIA's drone attacks, at least temporarily, as the agency works to find a replacement.

Massachusetts-based Intelligent Integration Systems Inc., or IISI, has asked a judge to stop clients of IT firm Netezza from using software IISI says is pirated, reports The Register.

According to IISI, Netezza reverse-engineered a location analysis program called Geospatial and installed it on its own hardware, which it then sold to the CIA. Netezza had contracted IISI to build the software, but decided to create its own unauthorized version after the project suffered delays, the lawsuit alleges.
The CIA accepted the pirated software despite reportedly knowing it "produced locations inaccurate by up to 13 metres (42.6 feet)," reports The Register.

Read more here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

 Condemned By Their Silence:    Information Clearing House: ICH

 Condemned By Their Silence:    Information Clearing House: ICH

By Yvonne Ridley

September 21, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- - There are literally millions of people across the world who are now involved in the intriguing case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and they fall in to several categories.

The first is a huge army of ordinary people of faith and no faith who represent many different nationalities and their aim is to see justice and fair play delivered to Aafia.

The second is a small, but on the surface of it, more powerful group of individuals who are ruthlessly ambitious; prepared to manipulate the truth and openly lie to elevate their own position to the detriment of others and Aafia in particular.

These are numerous in the Pakistan government, past and present, as well as the last two US administrations and includes the dark forces at play which support them as well as the coterie of smooth-talking diplomats and ambassadors who tread the corridors of power.

Then there are the others – perhaps the most despicable group of all who are what I call fence sitters and spectators. The great Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said that evil would only triumph if good people sat back and did nothing and he was right.

With few exceptions the larger Muslim organizations have remained uncharacteristically quiet about Aafia’s case.

Why have they been muzzled? Correction. Why have they allowed themselves to be muzzled? To their eternal shame they have remained silent about the plight of Dr Aafia Siddiqui because they have been duped by an officially-sanctioned unofficial whispering campaign.

The rule is simple brothers (and sisters), comrades, friends and campaigners. If something is wrong it is wrong, entirely wrong and in Aafia’s case there is something wrong about the kidnap, torture and rendition of a brilliant academic and her three children.

The fence sitters in the US are a disgrace. Men without courage or backbone are more to be pitied, I suppose as cowardice is a dreadful affliction in the battlefield that is life.

A yellow streak down the spine makes people look the other way, blinkers their vision and forces them to adopt an Ostrich position. This makes it all the more easy for hate preachers like Pastor Jones in Florida to emerge and threaten to burn the Holy Qur’an.

But Edmund Clarke was right when he said evil will triumph if good people sit back and do nothing. The leaders of the organizations I’ve mentioned are good people but they are frightened and I pray that one day they will get the courage they so desperately need to stand up and be counted.

And in these troubled times it does take courage to stand up against an arrogant, bullying, intimidating political machine which brought words like kidnap, torture, rendition, water-boarding and extra-judicial killings in to daily use.


Just a few hours remain before the resumption of a trial in a New York court which is being presided over by Judge Richard Berman. To his eternal shame he is one who has remained silent about the manner and style with which Dr Aafia Siddiqui was presented in his court.

How the hell can a Pakistani citizen who allegedly committed a crime in Afghanistan be tried in his court without an official extradition procedure at the very least?

Why did he not demand that the paperwork was at least in order? He has presided over a mis-trial from the outset.

While he deemed the defendant mentally fit to stand trial but not mentally capable of determining her own legal team. Whenever Dr Aafia Siddiqui – a brilliant neuro scientist bordering on genius by the way – attempted to sack her lawyers he refused her request saying she wasn’t mentally fit to make the decision. You can’t have it both ways, Your Honour.


Judge Berman has alas, so far, remained silent about the private – behind closed door meetings – he has had with the Pakistan Ambassador Hossein Haqqani. Another good reason for a mistrial if only the legal team had the backbone to challenge the judge in his court.

The trouble is so-called ‘Dream Team’ lawyers Charlie Swift and Linda Moreno’s very lucrative two million dollar trial was being paid for by the Pakistan Government, making Mr Haqqani the overall client. Hmm, how does that one work when the Pakistan government colluded in the first place with the US intelligence agencies to kidnap Dr Aafia Siddiqui and her three children from the streets of Karachi in March 2003? Another reason to declare a mis-trial.

And what of the ubiquitous Mr Haqqani? He’s not a career diplomat. In fact he holds US citizenship or has aspirations to making him a very peculiar choice as Pakistan’s man in Washington. Once his foray into the world of diplomacy comes to an end he’ll resume his career as a lecturer in America, something his US controllers remind him on a regular basis.

His Excellency has certainly been a busy little bee with regards Dr Aafia’s case … briefing some of my colleagues in the western media telling them ‘off-the-record’ what a bad woman she is!

Just recently his cover was blown when he refused the very excellent female politician Cynthia McKinney a visa to Pakistan. Cynthia was part of an international delegation due to travel to Islamabad to raise concerns about the case with the government there.

Mr Haqqani, who thinks nothing of giving visas to Blackwater guns-for-hire and mercenaries heading to the fresh killing fields of Pakistan saw fit to stop the former US Congress woman from travelling there.

He squirmed and wriggled after being hoisted by his own petard, but like a worm impaled firmly on a fishhook of his own making, he could not escape the humiliating exposure of his duplicitous behaviour.

If he has been briefing against Dr Aafia Siddiqui all this time, one can only imagine what nonsense he filled in Judge Richard Berman’s head during their private meetings. In any other country this sort of revelation would be a career wrecker for both men, but justice is the US is a strange beast.

(Yes, this is a serious allegation to make and I would have asked the judge personally, but he has banned me from using his fax and phone! Hilarious really, when you consider he has no legal jurisdiction in London, where I live. Obviously he thinks if he can hold a trial on a crime allegedly committed in Afghanistan, he can have me renditioned and charged with contempt of court.)

But let’s get back to Dr Aafia’s case which has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with protecting the names and reputations of a collective of men and women in the US and Pakistan – from presidents past and present to lesser politicians and their craven diplomats.

And if it means sacrificing one Dr Aafia Siddiqui on the fire of their burning ambitions then these ruthless people have shown they are more than capable of doing it.

What you have to decide now is if you are a fence sitter or a fighter for justice.

Doing the right thing isn’t always easy but there is a growing army of ordinary people out there who will continue to campaign for justice for Aafia.

We will not be silent – nor will we throw in the towel after Thursday.

That is when our campaigning will really begin.

In the interests of justice, commonsense and decency let all concerned bring an end to this farce now and reunite this innocent mother with her family.

* Yvonne Ridley is President of European branch of the International Muslim Women’s Union and a patron of Cageprisoners.

Dr. Aafia Siddiqui's Sentencing :'(

Aoa

I had been hoping against hope that something would somehow change the course of action we all knew would happen, but nothing came in between. No Pakistani consulate in America, no our dearly beloved ambassador to the US, and no Muslim leader, sham or real. A/c to Dr. Fozia Siddiqui (Dr Aafia's sister), nobody really did anything substantial except give false hopes and even more false deadlines. They weren't serious, just stalling. Now that the sentencing has been done (btw, I wonder why they had to say 86 years.. they could have simply said ''Till you die!'' ) - the case has become more complex, and Dr Aafia's return to Pakistan now has become totally impossible.

The TV has been showing pretty much all the news and analysis related to her sentencing, but here I'd like to share this video. It's not new, but it's very gripping and tells real facts, not false assurances.



And part 2:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Great advice(s)!

Assalamualaikum

I'd like to share a snippet of an e-mail received by one of the Pakistani doctorates working abroad. I think it's applicable to all of those who are striving towards a good postgrad degree and want to make it big in academics, as well as get admissions in good schools.

''What I usually recommend students at your stage is to do your project as best as you can. Know as many things as you can over the course of the project, and get yourself familiar with what's really going on. Don't get too caught up with whether a research topic will get you admitted to a particular school or not. If you've done a very good project, and know a lot about it, I'm sure good schools will take interest in you. Graduate admissions are a combination of many different things, and luck is one of the biggest one, so predicting anything specific is not very consequential. Also, papers these days sometime can make too hard of a selling pitch, so you should consider everything with a grain of salt."

I just hope I can IA follow this advice, it sounds extremely practical.

Oh yeah, one thing more. I had been planning to give (and still am IA) the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) early next year. So wanted to register from now on. To my utmost horror, I found all the seats for Jan, Feb, March and April filled! Now I wanted to give in the first three months only because then this scholarship I want to apply to, will have its deadline passed. I had actually resigned to my fate, and had planned to just register for the GRE in December!, BUT, Alhamdulillah, I didn't.


Due to a colleague's good advice, I decided to call up the GRE people (the regional centre for Asia is located in Malaysia!). This was a tough decision on me (yeah, you may laugh), because if there is something I cannot do, it's make a phone call (specifically abroad, but local works too) and ask something :$. Huge shortcoming. But somehow, gathered the courage, tried to call. Didnt work. I think I had the international code wrong - but I was exactly copying the number from the website. What the heck! Lol, instead of being irritated, I was happy! That I don't have to talk!


A lil while later, I tried again. And this time, I had figured out that you gotta dial '00' before any number posted on the website :P. Shukkar, it worked, and this automatic recording started saying something weird and then to either press 1 or 2 I didn't understand. Shukar I didnt hang up - even though I was heck nervous - and listened to that voice again. Lol. My wait worked, because apparently, waiting was the best choice. The phone was picked up! And this very nice man listened to me patiently, and informed me that the dates from Jan 2011 are appearing as "booked" because registration for 2011 hasn't even started yet!

Phew. So THAT was it...!I need to register by end of October or early November, and then I'll see those scary seats empty, waiting to be booked online. Man, was I scared or what! I have semester exams in November/December :S. So Alhamdulillah, this was one great advice too, for which I am profoundly grateful to both Allah and the good colleague.

Lessons learned today

Aoa

Today was a very learning day. And it was a good thing (Alhamdulillah) that I ignored the whispering of the nafs ... ''Oh it's too hot outside! How will you drive this far!" ..and the like, and went to the Astaghfaar (asking forgiveness from Allah) program arranged at the Institute where I had taken the Quran course for 3 months.

It was actually REALLY hot outside, and my car ride was miserable because of it. But anyway, the trip was well worth it because the speakers were great, and the dua was passionate. One of the speakers was a lady who had been to the camps set up for the flood victims. She narrated pretty horrible stories of the poor people, and what they had to go through - and even now, their aazmaish (trial) hasn't abated; they're still in pretty much troubled area - where fighting for food is common... so much so that even when this lady's team distributed prayer mats once, there were huge fights over it. And the painful irony is, that out of 100 people, only 2 or 3 would know how to pray!
Imagine!

The second speaker talked about Surah Anfaal - and I'm going to quote here, because I think it's really important to keep these things in mind.


24. O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he () calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allah comes in between a person and his heart (i.e. He prevents an evil person to decide anything). And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered.
25. And fear the Fitnah (affliction and trial, etc.) which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong (but it may afflict all the good and the bad people), and know that Allah is Severe in punishment.
26. And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land, and were afraid that men might kidnap you, but He provided a safe place for you, strengthened you with His Help, and provided you with good things so that you might be grateful.
27. O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).

The italicized portion is the point the lady talked about. She said that starting from 1947, the journey of Pakistan was a very humble one in the beginning. There were no huge buildings, instead, there were desks underneath shades of trees, and there, the official government work went on. She said that she is an eye witness to this spectacle. Later on, Allah Gave us a LOT. What we have right now, is eons more than what we started out with. But what did we do with this wealth? Instead of taking it like a trial, and being cautious about it, we totally forgot basic human rights, and set on a path to easy money, greed, over-fulfilness, etc. And this is the result! That we're asking ourselves: Why Muslims? Why did those poor people get washed away in the flood?
Well, when the azaab (calamity) strikes, it strikes everybody. Not just the perpetrators.

It was very awakening :(. We were told that the flood victims now need rashan (food items) as well now, as the initial stock is drying up! May Allah SWT Help them, and Help us do osmething for them. I hope I can volunteer - there are quite many camps in Karachi now, and this is much more accessible than, say, Muzaffargarh...

So summing up: I learned that:

1. The flood victims need our help and support even more now, that the winter is approaching.
2. Just blogging about the issue isn't enough. Some real action is needed.
3. The poor people don't even know how to pray, some basic deen education is also needed. And is being imparted...
4. We really need to pray for Dr Aafia Siddiqui. Her sentencing is tomorrow. And even though there are all the odds pointing towards a life imprisonment, I'm still hoping and praying for a miracle to take place, and her to come back home to her kids. Ameeeeeeeeen.
5. If we don't wake up now, we're going to be surrounded by even more aazmaaishes - as if enough isn't happening now. We were shaken in 2005.. we didn't wake up. We were shaken with milder earthquake... Balochistan. We didn't wake up. And now the floods and extreme injustice especially in terms of bloodshed... is taking place. What ELSE can go wrong here, I shudder to think about.

So please... (me first, then you)...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Taraweeh Giggles

AoA

Weird title. But I feel like adding some giggles in my life right now .. it's been too depressing these past ten days. And btw, please say a short duaa for my mom. Her fever wouldn't go down and now my Dad thinks it might be Dengue (since her WBCs and platelet counts are lower than normal). Hopefully, its not. But even then, I'm praying its just viral and not typhoid or something bad. So please do say Ameen to: "May Allah Grant Dr N a good health and make her daughter a source of great joy to her, Ameen" :). This last bit is a lil impossible, but no harm in praying right!

Khair.

So our taraweeh this year was in masjid (instead of the hall where we prayed last year with tafseer and translation talk before the actual taraweeh). Now I had been a pioneer in the masjid to carry a pocket Holy Quran with me, and open it up during Taraweeh. The source of my act had been the Mecca/Medina Taraweeh where I had seen people do this, so I figured that if it were really wrong, the Saudis would be the first to ban it. Also, my concentration in taraweeh drastically improved after this Quran carrying thing. So it was a pleasure to read the full 20 rakahs, and they didn't even seem long!

One fine day (or rather, night), in Taraweeh prayers, the Imam Sahib was about to read a passage of the Holy Quran where a ''Sajdah'' (prostration) occured. My mum and this one Aunty knew that a sajdah is coming up. Pious people.. :S I was completely clueless. So this Aunty announced loudly to the group of ladies, that a sajdah is coming up! The Imam never announced this. He was one of us :D...

What happened was, that the Imam realized too late that there is a sajdah ayah in his recitation. So what he tried to do was, cut short the recitation, and recite only till one ayah before the sajdah! Hence, in 2 Rakahs, he decided to read just 4-5 Ayahs! **grinning from ear to ear**. Now, you all must be aware, that the least portion of the Quran recited in one rakah of namaaz, is one big Ayah, or three small ayahs. Ittefaq say, at that moment, there was one big ayah, and some small ones. SO the imam recited the one big Ayah, and said ''Allah-hu-Akbar'' - indicating Rukuh.


Obviously, what would have happened.. :D. Everybody was SO confused, so utterly bewildered keh yeh kia hua? ... And the sajdah announcemnet rang in everybody's head. (except mine, because I hadn't heard it!). So I went into Rukuh... and the people next to me went into Rukuh as well... Now, this all (and what follows) happened in seconds. Im just taking my time to describe it. Out of the corner of my eye, in Rukuh position, I saw some ladies in the corner... in sajdah! Prostrating!! Immediately my mind thinks "Aha! This was a sajdah!!! Thats why the Imam said Allah hu Akbar just after one Ayah!"

So me the moronic idiot... (who was carrying the Holy Quran and reading it, and hadn't seen any Sajdah indication!), drops straight into Sajdah! And meri daikha daikhi, all the poor ladies in my neighbourhood, thinking of me as the 'knowledgable girl who carries the Quran and follows the Taraweeh that way' - went straight into Sajdah too.

At that moment.. as soon as I (and the poor ladies next to me) had dropped down - ... the Imam says 'Sami Allahu liman Hamidah' ... Imagine the horror. I scrambled up (**lote pote with laughter now**).. in a great frenzy... and in even greater frenzy, scrambled up the poor ladies next to me from Sajdah position to the standing position... Obviously, un ko time laga... as soon as they all stood up, the Imam said 'Allah hu Akbar' and went straight into Sajdah. LOL. We all hastily dropped back to Sajdah -- Oh my God. I was convulsed with laughter. In namaaz. Imagine... {*feels very guilty*}. I couldn't stop myself. Shoulders shaking, I finished those two short rakahs, pata nahi kaisay, and then the buzzing started after Salaam. The ladies were all like, 'what the ..'? Mum and that Aunty had understood what had happened, and knew that they had also made the mistake of thinking that the Imam had gone into Sajdah, hence the confusion. I just sat there, laughing my head off (silently of course :$).

That taraweeh was hilarious. Afterwards, my Dad remarked (obviously) that I should have had more sense, especially since I was carrying the Quran and knew there wasn't any Sajdah Ayah there... But the brain sometimes does the funniest things... and then you realize later what's happened.

Something that terrifically applies to me: -

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We lost him today

Assalamualaikum


Today was a beyond tough day. Allah Has aazmaishes for everybody, and though we weren't on the primary receiving end on the aazmaaish handout, but we were still in the secondary rows, and were duly affected.

Today was the kind of day you look back on, wonder where the hours flew, and then wish those moments would never return again in your life. You try not to flash back at the emotional scenes, and even though you try your best to block the images, they keep coming back to haunt you... and you end up being bone tired to the core, and yet not able to actually sleep. I wish days like these wouldn't often befall anybody Ameen.

Basically, today morning, Dad never went to his clinic, stayed at home. The halaat, though weren't bad, but people were so scared of venturing outside and opening their shops etc, that there was not a soul outside to do business. Hoo kaa alam (total silence). In this silence, we had gone out to drop sis the priss home. She was going home early for this reason only. When me and Dad dropped her and the kiddo off, we went straight to nani's place to check out mamu's tabiyat (condition). He wasn't doing great. Everybody around him looked as if they haven't slept the night. Nani was awake too, having spent the whole night praying and praying. S Mamu had developed 105 degrees fever, and it wasn't coming down. Finally at around ten in the morning, it did. But Dad and I were there and now the oxygen cylinder was being needed continuously (previously, it had been needed at intervals).

Alhamdulillah, Dad arranged for the 3rd oxygen cylinder, because the 2nd one was to go empty by afternoon. We came home after a while.

Then me and Chotpo had to go get the jehaiz box from this lady we know (who prepares these boxes for the needy). So this time, the needy was one of Dad's patients. So we made a trip to the lady's place, and got stuff. Then, the driver was to go home. Before we reached home, Dad called up to tell us, not to send the driver home. Poor S mamu had taken for the worse.

Dad went there again at around 4pm. I wanted to go again with him. Mum didn't let me. Because she wanted somebody to drive her there in case Dad indicated that it was now time to come in an emergency. Anyway, Dad stayed there ... We got intermittent calls from Dad - S Mamu went from bad to worse. The fever climed to 106.. (!!!). And then, as everybody around him recited the kalima and Surah Yaseen, he took his last breath at around 6pm in the evening. Inna lillahe wa inna illaihe raajeoon.

May Allah Grant him everlasting peace and joy, Ameen. And sabr to the family.

We reached the place after maghrib... the whole ghusl and tadfeen thing was done very very quickly. It was heart-wrenching to see nani and nana. They couldn't control their tears... but never wailed, and never raised their voices. Alhamdulillah. It was even more heart-wrenching to see Juwairiyah, the 6 year old daughter, go up to her 'Daddy' and kiss him on the forehead, before he was taken away for namaz-e-janaza (funeral prayers). It was heart-wrenching.


F Mami was so sabr se, (patient) that I was amazed. She was in an extremely bad shape, not having slept the night before and refusing to eat a single morsel, but the fact is that she had been mentally prepared well by the doctors. It was really only prayers and duaa's that were being tried out by us. Even though her journey, is not going to be easy from this point onward, I'm still hopeful that her three kids will be a support, and a source of joy to her... Insha Allah. 


Lastly, a very very apt and nice Hadith, which serves as a reminder to me first and then to you readers.

On the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah, sal Allahu alayhi wa salla, said: "Seek out that which benefits you, seek help only from Allah and never say you can't do it.

"If any adversity comes to you, do not say: 'If I had only acted in such-and-such a way, it would have been
such-and-such;' but instead, say: 'Allah has decreed (it) and what He willed, He has done,' for verily, (the word) (if)
opens the way for the work of Satan." - Saheeh Muslim

JazakAllah for reading.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Islam and Ego (!!)

A beyond amazing lecture by Brother Nouman Ali Khan. I so truly wish I can take this advice firstly for myself, and analyse myself to determine my weaknesses and ego factors. Then correct myself to be a humble Muslim, and not an arrogant Muslim.

A very common problem which he discusses. Do take out the time to watch the whole of it, and hope we all become humble, kibr-less Muslims Insha Allah. Ameen.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Of Tears, Desperation and Duaas

Assalamualaikum

The past few days have been nothing short of a nightmare. Only that it's real. And staring at us in the face. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine a time like this, but it has really truly happened.

Background: 
My mum's first cousin (S Mamu) has been a pretty cool Uncle for me as far as I can remember my childhood days. He is the ''fun'' type of an adult, and the special thing about him is that when I went to Ireland, his house is where I stayed in for two weeks, and enjoyed every second of it! This mamu of mine, despite having a real tough job schedule, had driven me and the whole family to Portsmouth, an exceptionally clean beach somewhere in Ireland and I have amazing memories of the time. He's the one who dropped me off at the airport really early in the morning and managed so much of many of my travel-related issues - I was an idiot then, and he was there for me. This part is, by the way, 8 years ago. His youngest kid was born 2 years later (after I visited) and she is now 6 years old MA.. :'(

Earlier this year: 
We received the strange piece of news, that S Mamu has to go for surgery. Surgery??? We stared in astonishment and shock at each other. When one is so far away, and so vibrant, you're bound to feel exceptionally sad and hairaan at this turn of events. Why would he need surgery? Nothing was explicitly told to us, except that it's got something to do with the brain, and the surgery is a loong one. Being in the dark was worse. I remember the days when mum used to visit their house in karachi, where his mum and dad (poor them!) were sitting and praying for their son. Their mum and dad (nani and nana) are two of the most patient beings Ive ever seen, Alhamdulillah. They used to just control their tears, and keep on praying. The surgery duration stretched out, mum was there, she told us all later how tough that time was, and how they had prayed so very hard for the operation that was going on in the UK.

The surgery was successful! We all breathed a sigh of relief ... and figured, that whatever it is, will get better IA. Little did we know the enormity of the situation. The news was that he is doing better after the surgery.

What happened next:
We heard the terrifying news that S Mamu also had to undergo radiotherapy. What!! After the surgery!? What's going on! .. was our reaction. We didn't know anything, because nothing was explicitly conveyed to us. Dad said ''hey, you know it sounds like cancer only"... We denied it completely. Cancer, and brain, and S Mamu don't go together. Khair, he underwent radiotherapy for a few weeks. This was April 2010. The news was that he's doing well after the radiotherapy.

A while back: 
A couple of months back, we got to know that nani and nana were going to the UK. Now, nana is the adventurous type, but you can't get my nani out of the house for anything! And she was willing to go to the UK!? Man! Something was definitely wrong. This was mid June, 2010. We kept in touch with nani and nana, and found that ''he's doing better, but getting weak" - ''Oh just give him loads of good food!" was the typical reaction. Little did we know!

In end of July, we began to receive negative news. S Mamu could only move about in a wheelchair, and had to be taken care of, and my F Mami was doing all the caring business. MA. (May Allah Reward her abundantly, I'll tell you something about her nature a lil later IA). And he couldn't speak clearly. Another shock. Couldn't speak clearly? What in hell was wrong?

Around two weeks back, mum had a chat with nani who said that S Mamu's left side doesn't move. See, the gradual decline - note the increasing negativity. Still convinced, that this is all medicinal side-effects, we assured nani/nana that everything is ultimately going to be okay. Little did we know.

NOW:
On Sunday, I got the glad text from my cousin ''Chacha and everybody are coming to Pakistan tomorrow" ... !!! Man, you should have seen my excitement. It could have only meant one thing .. that he was allowed to travel! If a person is allowed to travel, that MEANS that he/she is wayy better than we were conjuring up in our brains. I was soo relieved! Little did I know... :'(.

When they landed, my mum called up nani immediately (btw, she wasn't excited like me, she was having very negative thoughts. I thought she was getting extra paranoid, this was an occasion to jump for joy!). And after that talk with nani, I saw my mum crying. "WHAT'S WRONG" - I yelled.
And the answer was, the worst thing I could have ever ever thought about this particular mamu of mine.

The UK doctors have given up. They only gave permission to travel to Pakistan, because my nani gave her signature that she wouldn't sue if something happens on the plane! And he was bought in an air-ambulance... and he isn't even conscious!!!!!!!!

Now, what could we have done. Me, dad and mum morosely went to visit. Poor S Mamu... lying like that. Breathing with soooo much difficulty.... not able to move an inch! And it was a torture to see my nana. Nani is pretty saabir. Nana is impatient. He would again and again, come to nani and demand ''Yeh meray S ko kia hogya hay''' - again and again he would go to S mamu, stroke his face and talk to him.... God, I don't think I can go on describing the scenes at that house which I saw on Monday afternoon.

Monday was 27th Shab (odd night of last ten days of Ramadan) - so that night was spent in duaa (prayers) for only one thing: that Allah (SWT) somehow Does a miracle, and saves S Mamu's life... even if everybody seems to have given up, I don't think one should lose hope in the fact that some degenerated brain tissue CAN be regenerated by the Creator. Miracles are possible right.? *sniffles*

Monday was also the day I had my 3rd meeting with my supervisor, and I had been so excited about so many things. Every particle of happiness I had felt in the morning, just evaporated, when I saw my lively mamu, lying there so helplessly and not able to do a thing.

So what had really happened: 
1. It started with heavy-head-ness, which everybody thought was due to sitting in front of the PC for long hours.
2. Then there were incidents of loss of balance, and blurry vision (chakkar ana)
3. Docs recommended medicine, - no effect.
4. Docs recommended scans, that showed the lump.
5. The lump had already advanced to stage FOUR.
6. The surgery was held - 95% lump removed.
7. The remaining 5% was tackled by radiation.
8. Mamu was pretty okay till then - talking, walking, no paralysis.. suntain jaain!
9. The medicine he was on, the docs ordered to stop it, completelely. Bad move. As soon as it was stopped, mamu experienced loss of mobility, which was mistakenly thought of by the family as ''weakness''
10. Doc appointment was a few weeks away - those weeks , S Mamu got worse.
11. Finally doc appointment came, and docs ''hurriedly prescribed the medicine again'' - but what was the use of that? The deed was done.
**disgusted with the UK medical system** (aur hum bethay gunn gaatay hain un kay).
12. The med was administered, mamu grew worse, left side paralysed.
13. Situation didn't improve - speech affected, what not (and rem, all this is coming after the much-blamed tumour was removed!).
14. So finally, the day came when F mami was told very frankly ''We're afraid, he has just a few weeks more to live'' ... [I dunno how I'm writing this whole thing... it's so beyond horrible]
15. 3 days later to point 14, mamu went into a ''no-response stage'' - nani and nana who were still there, made a HUGE and quick decision to move immediately to Pakistan.
16. Docs raised a fuss - but nani signed, and relieved them of any sueness (although I beg to differ. I think there should be a very solid case on how they bungled up the follow up treatement of S mamu, and this is a clear case of negligence!)
17. 4 days later, massive packing (and donating the rest!) later, they all came back to Pakistan.

This is the story I wanted to share, for a particular reason. That you dear readers, wherever you are, say a short duaá for S Mamu, who is lying there helplessly, unable to communicate a single thing that may be happening to him. That he might recover (somehow), and be a source of joy to his family, especially his 6 year old doll of a daughter. Ameen.

F mami:
When I met her back in 2002, she was such a shy, quiet type of a lady who was hesitent about adapting to UK life, and dealing with the new accents, new laws, driving license stuff and the like. And now, MA she has gained such confidence and patience that the whole medical trauma was being dealt with by her and her alone. Doctor appointments, driving long distance to the hospital, administering medicines and what not. May Allah Reward her for the work she did.

Update
Today we went to their place, and S mamu was actually LOOKING at his dad :D. And, when my dad asked him to move his right leg (to indicate that he was hearing us, and knew what we were saying), he moved it slightly! So MA, these cues are so precious to us. May they become full fledged movement and may he speak soon Ameen!

Thank you for reading this far. The past days were horrendous, may we emerge from our trials with success and enriched eemaan, Ameen.

This Eid will be very very sad... 






Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Last Truffle - and the Last Ashara!

The Final Days


An excellent article on the things to do in the last ten days of Ramadan, and how to effectively spend Lailat-ul-Qadr (one of the odd nights of Ramadan):

Maximize the last 10 days of Ramadan
I'm posting a summary to this article, full text can be found here.

Here are some tips of things we can do on the Night of Power and the time before and after it.

1. Take a vacation for Allah.
We take a break from our jobs for almost everything in life. Why not this time to focus on worshiping and thanking our Creator.

2. Do I'tikaf.
It was a practice of the Prophet to spend the last ten days and nights of Ramadan in the masjid for I'tikaf.

3. Make this special Dua.
Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said: I asked the Messenger of Allah: 'O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of Qadr, what should I say during it?' He said: 'Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.' "(Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi). The transliteration of this Dua is "Allahumma innaka 'afuwwun tuhibbul 'afwa fa'fu 'annee"

4. Recite the Quran.
Perhaps you can choose Surahs or passages from the Quran, which you have heard in Tarawih this past Ramadan to recite.

5. Reflect on the meaning of the Quran.
Choose the latest Surah or Surahs you've heard in Tarawih and read their translation and Tafseer. Then think deeply about their meaning and how it affects you on a personal level.

6. Get your sins wiped out.
Don't just pray using the shorter Surahs that you know. Try to make your prayers longer, deeper and meaningful. If you are familiar with longer Surahs, read the translation and explanation and then pray reciting these Surahs, carefully reflecting on the meaning while you pray.

7. Make a personal Dua list.
Ask yourself what you really want from Allah. Make a list of each and everything, no matter how small or how big it is, whether it deals with this world or not. Allah loves to hear from us. 

8. Evaluate yourself.
Ask yourself those questions that need to be asked. Do an evaluation of where you are and where you are going. Let this evaluation lead you to feel happiness for the good you have done and remorse for the bad you have done. This latter feeling should make it easier to seek Allah's sincere forgiveness when making the Dua mentioned in tip number one above.

9. Make long, sincere and deep Duas
One of the best times to do this is during the last part of the night. That means for instance, waking up one hour before Suhoor time to ask Allah for anything and everything you want that is Halal. This can be done using the Duas of the Sunnah, but also Dua in your own language, with sincerity and conviction.

10. Memorize a different Dua every night
They don't have to be long. They can be just one line. And be sure to know what they mean generally at least, even if you don't know the exact translation in English.

11. Attend the Dua after the completion of Quran recitation
Almost all Masjids where the Imam aims to finish an entire reading of the Quran in Tarawih prayers in Ramadan will be completing their recitation in these last ten nights. They may try to end on one of the odd nights and read the Dua at the end of a reading of the Quran. Attend this particular night's Tarawih prayer with your family. See if you can attend different Masjids' Tarawih prayers the night they finish reading the Quran.

12. Plan for the next year
Once you've done a self-evaluation, you can plan on where you want to go, at least in the next 12 months. Laylatul Qadr is a great night to be thinking about this (without taking away from your worship), since you'll Insha Allah, be in a more contemplative state. You may choose to dedicate one night of power for evaluation and one night for planning for the next year.

16. To do list for the Night of Power
Make a to do checklist for each Night of Power. This should define how you would like your night, the one better than a thousand months, to be used. Pick things from this list and define the sequence you would like to do things in. This will help you avoid wasting your time in unproductive chats which common in the festive atmosphere of Masjids at the Night of Power.

May you all have a very spiritually uplifting Last Ashara of Ramadan 2010.