Saturday, April 30, 2011

What is wrong with Sesame Street?

Source: Albalagh

By Khalid Baig

According to a report Sesame Street is about to hit Pakistan. It is being brought by the number 20, as in $20 million. That is the amount the donors are putting up for a full scale invasion of the children’s space to make sure no child is left out of its great charms. It will be aired on PTV, which has the largest reach, and will be taken even to remote parts of the country via mobile vans. Further, it will be accompanied by a radio show and travelling Muppet road shows.

Call it war on illiteracy. With this planned carpet bombing of letters and numbers illiteracy should soon be erased from the country.

If you are inclined to start singing and dancing with the Muppets to celebrate the anticipated victory of literacy you are highly advised not to check the background record of this great wonder. For it is a minor detail that in the US where the show has been going on since 1969 and where there is hardly a child who has not been exposed to it, Johnny still cannot read or write. According to a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, more than two-thirds of the nation’s fourth-graders are reading below proficiency level. And according to the American College Testing Program an astonishing 49 percent of the 1.2 million students who took its college admissions test in a recent year lacked college-level reading skills.

Those who know the ABC’s of literacy and of television are not surprised. The ability to read and understand requires concentration and reflection, while television focuses on light, action and noise. Its visual pyrotechnics can keep the young eyes glued to the screen but they cannot train the young minds to get engaged in the processes that are a foundation for reading. In fact continuous exposure makes them incapable of enjoying or relating to a page of text. They demand the excitement that comes from looking at fast paced action, moving colors and music.

The generations grown on Sesame Street demand their classrooms, their teachers, and their books to be like Sesame Street. Anything else is too dull and too boring for their corrupted tastes and too demanding for their corrupted cognitive capabilities. American novelist and poet Laureate Larry Woiwode reportedly wrote, “television eats books.” To which critic Kay S. Hymowitz added: “Then Sesame Street is the Cookie Monster.” For it “effectively ensures the conversion of the next generation to TV's beliefs and gods.” 
Sesame Street brings forth the worst of television because its genesis was the idea that children can be taught by television commercials, which require the minimum of attention span and offer the maximum of entertainment. Certainly, as claimed by the producers, it is founded on the greatest research effort of any television program. That research has been in how to keep the young eyes glued to the screen. The winning formula was fast-paced action, pixilation (a series of individual frames without connectors, so that characters move jerkily), talk in sound bytes measured in seconds, music and dance.

Children loved it. So did the parents whose guilt feelings about letting television babysit their children (as mothers left the home for the workplace in increasing numbers in the 1960s) was assuaged by the rhetoric about using television for a higher purpose. They needed a justification for television and what better justification there could be than educating the very children who were being spoiled by the ubiquitous babysitter.

What actually happened is a different story. Johnny learnt a few letters or numbers but he developed an addiction for the glitzy world of television entertainment. The learning disabilities it created can be seen by looking at the textbooks now being produced. It is ironic that they are still called textbooks as the “text” in the textbook --- from kindergarten to junior college ---- must now be subordinate to the pictures in every subject including mathematics. In the words of Neil Postman, “Sesame Street undermines what the traditional idea of schooling represents.” He called it the third great crisis in Western education and took Sesame Street to task for “its pretense that it is an ally of the classroom.”

So much for literacy. The story of its devastating impact on culture is no different.

In exporting the plague called Sesame Street the producers have made another claim. That they uphold diversity and respect the culture and values of the country that it is exported to. That too is as false as the first claim. There is certainly a carefully constructed façade to support it. It uses local languages, characters, and themes. Yet as Hymowitz notes, “the show couldn't be more monocultural and conformist in its unwavering endorsement of American anti-intellectualism and cult of the cool.”

It cleverly picks those elements from the target region’s practices that will serve its monocultural agenda. In Sisimpur (Bangladesh), Ikri Mukri plays the tabla and Asha proudly presents dance performance. In Galli Galli Simsim (India) it is the celebration of Bhangra. Whether in Shar’a Simsim (Palestine) or Alim Simsim (Egypt) or Hikayat Simsim (Jordan) the first and the last lessons are in music. Music and dance. Dance and music. This is what the Sesame classroom is all about.

It is more than a side issue for any Muslim country. For it collides head on with the values and received wisdom of this Ummah. For that we do not need to go any further than Omar bin Abd al-Aziz --- esteemed as the first reviver of Islam. In his letter to his son's teacher Sahal he wrote:  “The first thing that your instruction should instill in their hearts is the hatred of musical instruments; their beginning is from Shaytan and their end is the anger of Al-Rahman (the Most Merciful).”

The program also uses carefully planned role models for the young minds. It is Tuktuki in Sisimpur (Bangladesh) and Khokha in Alim Simsim (Egypt). It will be Rani in SimSim Hamara (Pakistan). The Muppets are telling the young Muslim girls how they should talk, think, and behave. Most important what their goal in life should be. It is anything and everything other than being a good homemaker. Be a police officer, astronaut, scientist, whatever. Girl empowerment. It is doubtful that most of those who were nurtured on the glitz of “edutainment” will be able to become scientists. But it is highly likely that they will be unable and unprepared for attending to the responsibilities of homemaking. John Dewey calls it collateral learning: the formation of enduring attitudes, which is far more important than the spelling lesson.

To gauge its seriousness we need to realize that throughout the Muslim world, the family life is going through a crisis. Age at marriage is going up as is the divorce rate. Marriage rate is going down. The divorce rate in the first year of marriage in Egypt is 42%. In Saudi Arabia it is 62%. Whether in Indonesia or Pakistan or Jordan, it is the same story of globalization of misery. Combine that with a high percentage of young people in the society and we can begin to get a feel for the terrible catastrophe we are facing.

While the reasons for this are many, the media has played the largest role by promoting materialism, hedonism, and individualism. Television promises everything and delivers nothing. Its promises expand the expectations and therefore the frustrations as the gap between the expectations and realizations grows. The values of contentment, sacrifice, and compromise --- so essential to smoothing out the rough ride in real life --- are alien to this culture. And now with its attractive Muppet role models, the same message is being given to the youngest of children.

According to the Guardian report about the upcoming Pakistani version, one of its goals is to fight “religious conservatism.” (And of course this is not a war on Islam). We can see how this is being done through other (carefully researched, we can be sure) subtexts in the program. In Shara’a Simsim (Palestine) one tiny episode deals with the issue of fear. Children there live in constant fear of Israeli aggression so this is an important topic. Child actors answer how they deal with their fear. “I run away or look to someone to help comfort me,” says one. “I will talk to myself until I forget about being afraid,” says another. “I think of nice things.” “My brother talks to me.” “I go to my sister.” For a nanosecond one girl says: “I will speak to God.” See they have accommodated everyone. Turning to God is just one of the ways and not the most important one of them either. It has been mentioned and cleverly dismissed by being ignored. Another episode devotes the segment to an actor who says he overcomes fear by singing. Then he sings to demonstrate his technique. Whether or not this helps the children overcome fear, it will help them overcome “religious conservatism.” Goal accomplished.

So it is a war as Sesame Street’s invasion of all these countries has been on a war footing, using every imaginable means to reach every child in the target area. But it is not the war on illiteracy that its accompanying massive propaganda suggests. Rather it is war on literacy and on culture (and religion).  The Muppets may look cute. But there is nothing cute about what they are up to.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Nobel Peace Drones

By Glenn Greenwald

April 22, 2011 "Salon" ---
A U.S. drone attack in Pakistan killed 23 people this morning, and this is how The New York Times described that event in its headline and first paragraph:

When I saw that, I was going to ask how the NYT could possibly know that the people whose lives the U.S. just ended were "militants," but then I read further in the article and it said this:  "A government official in North Waziristan told Pakistani reporters that five children and four women were among the 23 who were killed."  So at least 9 of the 23 people we killed -- at least -- were presumably not "militants" at all, but rather innocent civilians (contrast how the NYT characterizes Libya’s attacks in its headlines: "Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas").

Can someone who defends these drone attacks please identify the purpose?  Is the idea that we're going to keep dropping them until we kill all the "militants" in that area?  We've been killing people in that area at a rapid clip for many, many years now, and we don't seem to be much closer to extinguishing them.  How many more do we have to kill before the eradication is complete?  

Beyond that, isn't it painfully obvious that however many “militants” we're killing, we're creating more and more all the time?  How many family members, friends, neighbors and villagers of the "five children and four women" we just killed are now consumed with new levels of anti-American hatred?  How many Pakistani adolescents who hear about these latest killings are now filled with an eagerness to become "militants"?The NYT article dryly noted: "Friday’s attack could further fuel antidrone sentiment among the Pakistani public"; really, it could?  It's likely to fuel far more than mere "antidrone sentiment"; it's certain to fuel more anti-American hatred: the primary driver of anti-American Terrorism. Isn't that how you would react if a foreign country were sending flying robots over your town and continuously wiping out the lives of innocent women, children and men who are your fellow citizens? What conceivable rational purpose does this endless slaughter serve? Isn't it obvious that the stated goal of all of this – to reduce the threat of Terrorism – is subverted rather than promoted by these actions?

Regarding the announcement yesterday that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner was now deploying these same flying death robots to Libya, both The Washington Post's David Ignatius and The Atlantic's James Fallows make the case against that decision. In particular, Ignatius writes that "surely it's likely that the goal was to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi or other members of his inner circle."

I don't know if that is actually the purpose, though if Ignatius is good at anything , it's faithfully conveying what military and intelligence officials tell him. If that is the goal, doesn't that rather directly contradict Obama's vow when explaining the reasons for our involvement in the war (after it started): "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." It already seemed clear from the joint Op-Ed by Obama and the leaders of France and Britain -- in which they pledged to continue "operations" until Gadaffi was gone -- that this vow had been abandoned. But if we're sending drones to target Libyan regime leaders for death, doesn’t it make it indisputably clear that the assurances Obama gave when involving the U.S. in this war have now been violated. And does that matter?

Finally, when the OLC released its rationale for why the President was permitted to involve the U.S in Libya without Congressional approval, its central claim was that -- due the very limited nature of our involvement and the short duration -- this does not "constitute[] a 'war' within the meaning of the Declaration of War Clause" (Adam Serwer has more on this reasoning). Now that our involvement has broadened to include drone attacks weeks into this conflict, with no end in sight, can we agree that the U.S. is now fighting a "war" and that this therefore requires Congressional approval?
* * * * *

A new NYT/CBS poll today finds that only 39% approve of Obama's handling of Libya, while 45% disapprove (see p. 17). That's what happens when a President starts a new war without any pretense of democratic debate, let alone citizenry consent through the Congress.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Still Can't Think Of a Title!

Imagine you started out on a long road...

At first, the length of the road, scared you. Made you nervous...

Not only was the road long, it was also lonely. You knew you were considered one of the idiots for taking this road. But no other decision seemed so right to you. So you took off!

Once you started off, the road didn't look that bad. In fact, it became a little fun. You tread slowly at first. Pretty soon, you started skipping. And then running. You loved the road and the direction where it was taking you!!

You zoom along. Nearly a year passes by. A year isn't that short yeah. So you get used to road. You start appreciating the texture, the speed, the scene, the sights, the sounds, even the solitude. Until one fine day...

You come to this. You stop, confused. What to do, you wonder. Then you seek out people. Ask around, how to go forward. They tell you... there is no way. So after all those months of zooming on that road, you have come to a dead end. No way forward.

You are advised to take another road. The other roads all have different textures, different sights, different sounds. Everything different. You know you gotta learn to get used to the new-ness. You know it's not easy. You want to sit down and bawl.

*grinning from ear to ear at the above picture*

The minute you grin at your situation, the outlook changes. You're perfectly back to square one. Your efforts of the past so many months surely have been sunk down the drain. But you can try to learn the ABCs again. You can try to learn to crawl again.

So even though you face a major setback in your life, a pretty huge road-block that has served you to swing around and march right back to where you came from, even though your mood may be blackened by the way Pakistan just lost to the Windies right now ... (:@:@:@), you do believe in the ray of hope that shines behind every cloud of gloom and setbacks.

The way forward may seem
Impossible to pass
The roads are many, the mind multi-layered
Just take up a new task

Life may seem goal-less for a while
Worthless it will never be
As long as you breath, in and out
You can go on a new spree

Try out the other roads - the other ways
Don't be disheartened so much
Life will set out a new direction
With new sights, sounds, with a new touch!

Copyright Uni_Set_Backoony_2011

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Nasheed: Songs of Innocence

Concentrate on the lyrics. It's an amazing lesson a father can give his children (especially daughters). Out of this world amazing.

I can never tire of the depth of the message this nasheed gives, and the best line in it is:

Wisdom is the re-finding of innocence :)


Songs of Innocence

Allahu Allahu La ilaha illa Hu

And I sing my songs of innocence
To you my precious child as you lay on your bed
With your sleepy eyes and your heavy head
Rest and dream in peace till morning comes again

I will sing my songs of innocence
I will sing my songs of innocence

And I sing my songs of innocence
As I watch you sleep, think what may lie ahead.
So many the roads that before you spread
Take the way, my child, to the Beloved Friend

Lead a life of truth and innocence
The way of sunnah, the path of the Prophet
Let your words be echoes of his sentences
Let your deeds be shadows of his radiance.

And though the world outside seems cold and hard
And you may feel like you are wandering alone
Do not fear, do not grieve, in Allah place your belief
In his remembrance your heart will find its peace

And I gaze at you in wonderment
How your heart is filled with innocence.
You’ll never know the joy you bring to me
How your touch and smile dispel my every grief

May you never lose your innocence
With life’s bittersweet experience
And when the time comes, remember this:
Wisdom is the refinding of innocence.

Now you’re breathing easy, I must call an end
I have sung my song of innocence
And if our paths should never cross again
May God’s peace and mercy upon you descend

We will meet at the gathering of innocence
At al-Kauthar, the fount of abundance
By the Prophet’s hand may our thirst be quenched
We will be with him, and we will be content

Salallahu `alayhi wa alihi
Peace and blessings on him and his family
And all who follow in his blessed way
You and I, my child, may we among them be
You and I, my child, may we among them be…

Will you help me learn of innocence?
Sing a song of love and innocence?
Will you help me find my way back home?
Will you fill my heart with innocence?
May I come to you an innocent?
Let me sing my song of innocence.

Just go do it - What choice will you make?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quite Graphically!

From yesterday to today.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "losing a knut, and finding a galleon?" {Every Harry Potter fan knows what this phrase means}..

So like, yesterday I got an amazing job offer. I was almost beside myself with joy and surprise. Came home. Talked to folks. Asked opinions.

Today, had the following convo with none other than Mom:

She: If your job starts from the 1st of July, then you're going to have a pretty tough time handling it. Believeeee meeeee
Me: Yeah, but but.. Andy says it's manageable. People do it all the time!
Mum: People always do things a certain way. It's how they function!
Me: It's how they're brought up! Why do girls find it hard to give up careers and look after kids? Because the ambition is DRILLED into them at a very early age!
Mum: *veryyy smugly*... Now don't you see? I never ever drilled any ambition in you. Made such an effort not to orient you in one single direction at all.
Me: Yeah. But you did the opposite.
*unable to stop myself*..
Me: You opposed it to the extent that at every exam you said stuff like 'What's the use, when you're not going to do anything in the real practical world ever?'
Mum: So? You're not, right?
Me: But you see? Your theory isn't right! Because you've tampered with it. You forbade me to work! How can that prove that you foresaw that a girl-engineer will never work?
Mum: Yeah, but working isn't practical for you. Didn't you see up till now? All a girl-engineer is good for is teaching! What else?
Me: *hardly able to speak now*... You know what? Teaching is a GREAT job.

*end of conversation*...

My emotional upheaval knew no bound for the next several hours :-)

The convo I had with a lady in the evening.

Me: So you see, I was offered this job, but Mum wasn't very supportive. Sigh.
She: Oh beta. You know. I'm fully in favor of you going for it. You won't find me discouraging you from this.
Me: Oh? Hain? Wow.
She: Yes, it all depends on you. If you can manage the work - house chores, timings and schedule, you can manage it. It's your ball game.
Me: Hmmmmmmmm thanks :) I'll pass on this opinion to Mom.
(shukkar I didn't blurt out this, "You know what? I like you!!).

The 9pm upper-lifter was this very conversation. Not to mention, a neighbor came over because she wanted to study Digital Electronics. Now :D.. I've studied that stuff 5 years ago !! Touched it now! And had fun :D

At the end of our 2-hour rigorous parhai session, she said something which just made my day :D..

"Yeh Digital Electronics itnaa mushkil to nahi hay. How come woh humaray teacher humaain aisay nahi samjhaatay jaisay aap nay samjhaayaa hay" ... (Digital Electronics ain't that difficult. How come our teacher doesn't teach the way you taught right now?)

:D:D. Alhamdulillah!

She advised me :D..."You know, you should go to GIK and teach" :D. I'm like, (laughing like anything), "Swabi? You think mum is going to lemme go to Topi and teach?), and she answers, "Well, go find somebody to get married to in Topi, then" ..

I can just roll about with laughter on this one.

Lastly, my apologies to all the people I have bugged (for advices) these past few days. :(. I had no clue they had exams and all. Just got to my senses today and figured out that er, that the people I bugged were too polite to tell me they're bogged down with academics and tried to solve my problems in life. (Including people who I bugged about singing me a Hilary Duff song - er, I didn't realize you were having mids. I've been an idiot!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Of Spookiness :$ and Life's Lessons!


The post is supposed to be about something else, but what happened abhi in the previous 15 minutes, is worth noting down (even if I can laugh at it later - my heart is still beating rather wildly at the moment).

The thing is that we had loads of guests today (I say loads because Bhanju stands for 5 people :D)... And finally when everybody left and now I was relaxing and sitting in front of the PC after a long gap, doing something I have long since given up :$. Listening to a Hilary Duff song (and asking somebody to sing it !!). Then I was called by Mum to help her in taking out the laundry from the spin-dry and hang it up outside. Sigh. Got up reluctantly.

Now, we live in a very notorious area of Karachi - bad 'halaat' is like, common! Yet, as Mum and I were busily hanging up the washing, we heard a LOUD volley of gunfire. Seemed to come from just outside our house. It was THIS close. Aao daikhaa na taao (dunno how to translate that in English), Mum left everything as it is, and rushed inside the house, me on her heels. Then hurriedly closed the gate. We ran out of pure fear :D... (heheheheeh, it was such a sight!). And I was like, bullet abhi lagi, tabhi lagi and the last thing I have done in my life is listened to that song! (I'm negative that way :P).

So Hilary Duff, or no Hilary Duff - I have hurriedly switched it off, and vowed never to hear it again **grinning**

Not to mention, that me and Mum finally had the courage to tiptoe outside in the front yard (now), hurry up with the washing and when came inside only to find the cat inside the house who had hurried inside with us when we had rushed in from the back-yard. There was another flurry (thank God mum didn't scream ! And neither did I!) and I opened the back-yard's gate to let out the cat but she promptly hurried into the drawing room. :D:D:D Mum hushed and shushed, and finally it was out of the door. Breathless, we sat down and tried to get our breaths back after such an exhausting 'hanging up the washing to dry' :D - Boy, were we spooked!

Lesson? People are so very afraid of dying. Clinging to life is a pure instinct.. and we should remember that life can be extinguished in mili-seconds. Hence, we should always be prepared for our GDFE (Grand Departure From Earth).

The day's highlight was : GUESTS.

The first batch arrived in the afternoon.. and this family is basically my Mum's old neighbor's and we call them 'Khalas' and 'Maamoos' - they're THIS close MA. A more simple and down-to-earth people you can not find in this city, at least. Masha Allah multiplied by thousands! The family comprises an old lady (R nani), her two sons and their wives (my parents' age) and their kids. R Nani hadn't come today. When we asked why, we got a very alarming and SAD answer:

Me: Where is R Nani?\
Khala 1: She didn't come because she said she doesn't want to.
Me: HUH?
Khala 2: Beta, she is not in her senses naa.
Me: Kiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.....
(Basically, a few months back we had visited their place and R Nani had talked to us so normally and all!! What had happened?)
Khala 1: Beta, teray ko to malum hay, woh hoti hay na 'Alzheimer' - usmain to yehee hota hay
Me: Omg :(
She: Yes, it's quite bad now. The condition's deteriorated a LOT.

Then they explained HOW the condition has deteriorated.

1. Every day, R nani gets up and fights with her daughters-in-law about 'why didn't you send me to school' ??
2. She doesn't know whether she is dressed or not.
3. She doesn't remember where the bathroom is.
4. She says "Pakistan bunn gaya? Yeh sub tukray karnay kee kia zaroorat thee?"
5. She demands to visit 'her mother' ... somebody who passed away a long time ago.
6. When told this, (point 5), she insists that she met her mom 'only yesterday' ..
7. She tells everybody that her folks 'beat me hard' and 'abuse me' ...
8. She says something, the family explains to her patiently why that thing isn't possible, and she nods. One second later, she repeats the same thing. The loop has no 'break'

Surah Yaseen:
36:68 If We grant long life to any, We cause him to be reversed in nature: Will they not then understand?

Waman nuAAammirhu nunakkis-hu fee alkhalqiafala yaAAqiloona
Her 'bahus' (daughters in law) are both managing the house and their kids, and looking after their MIL with such amazing care. They admitted that they do fall short in terms of temper (especially when R nani really refuses to listen to them) and there are ensuing arguments, but generally they said that it's their fardh to look after their MIL who needs their love and care so much at this stage of her life.

And this makes me think of all those people (very very religious people) who maintain this stance (very very strictly) that a woman is only responsible for her husband and her kids. And that's the only thing she is going to be asked for on the Day of Judgement. Like, it is said that if she wants a helper in the house, she has the right to ask for it, and if she says she's not going to cook/clean/do something for the in-laws (other than the hubby), then she has the right to it... but the question arises.. where is 'ehsaan' then??

I asked my Mom this today... and she had an instant answer :D.

Me: Mum, if women aren't required to look after the in-laws, is it really all right then, to er, refuse to do so and um, get some professional help/nurses etc?

Mum: When the Holy Prophet SAW noticed that the woman who threw rubbish/filth at him, didn't do so one day, he inquired about her and found out that she was ill. So he went and visited her. Do you think it was required of him to visit her?

Point taken .. :D

And highly highly agreed with. I mean, seriously, how can anybody sleep at night if they have given up on their own family - even if that family isn't related to them by blood!

One heart-wrenching story was told by Mum, when she and I were talking to those DILs of R Nani.

There was a lady who attended Mum's dars and she was highly upset etc. When people asked her what's wrong, she said that her mom-in-law had been very ill and that her jaith (husband's elder bro) was unmarried, and he was the one who looked after his mother. He literally did everything for her - nurse duties included (MA, what a son). Then, Allah ka karna yeh hua, that the son passed away. Now the ailing mom-in-law was left alone. She had other sons too.. one of which was this woman (who was telling the story)'s husband. So at this point, her husband decided to bring his mom to his own place, and have his wife look after her MIL. The wife at first was pretty okay with the deal, but then (in her own words) she was given a lot of 'mashwaray (advices)' from 'well-meaning' friends and family members. They warned her:

1. You have lil kids, how in hell are you going to look after an invalid?
2. You're not used to this, how are you going to handle this?
3. You have no idea what troubles you will face!
4. You should at least insist that the MIL should live with you guys for a while, then with other sons (take turns etc).
5. Etc...
(I am only noting these in point form because these are the general advices from 'well-meaning' people of society on various matters of life).

Khair, the lady decided then to listen to the well meaning friends/family and informed her hubby that she cannot take care of his mother, and the mother should live with other sons too etc ...

Since none of the sons (their wives primarily) was willing to take the responsibility, the ailing mother was sent off to Edhi's Home.

I can just weep at this story... And lemme tell you why. The lady who was sent off to Edhi Home, passed away exactly one week later. That's it. That's how long she had to live. Now the lady who was telling the story (ailing MIL's bahu) was in tears because she said that Allaah Had Tested me and I failed. And everybody consoled her, and told her that if you're genuinely sorry about it, then Allaah is All Forgiving, Most Merciful.

Insha Allah.

I can weep at the story, because I'm like.. how would the mom have felt, when she was being carted off to the Edhi Home? She wasn't 'child-less' .. she was just taken as some 'responsibility' nobody could shoulder, and her last week on this planet was spent in a strange place, away from home. Khudaya.. it's a blessing she didn't have long to endure this.

The lesson at least I can derive from these stories is.. that we're always going to face trials and tests in our lives that wouldn't 'technically' require us to strictly take responsibility for them. The test will actually be about the level of 'taqwah' that is inside us, which would enable us to take responsibility over those even for whom we wouldn't have to answer on the Day of Judgement. After all, we're not so perfect that we'll be standing there on that Day, very much at ease about our Aaa'maal and result. We'll need all the Mercy and Blessings we can GET. So what will help us in the long run .. The ehsaan we have done in our lives, stuff we have done without anybody asking us to... without anybody imposing it upon us ... with the stuff that is OPTIONAL for us to take up, stuff that will earn us the blessing and happiness of those we are OBLIGED to make happy and blessed.. etc.

Lastly, a very pertinent analogy which distinguishes between Muttaqin and Muhsineen:

Among the employees of a government may be some who scrupulously discharge the functions entrusted to them, doing nothing to which one can take exception, but who are not otherwise committed. Others, however, may be loyal, devoted and totally committed to the Government. They do not just carry out the duties that have been assigned to them but are always zealously concerned to promote the interests of the Government. They exert themselves beyond the call of duty, being perpared to sacrifice their lives, property and children in defence of their country. Any violation of the law hurts them personally, any sign of rebellion is enough to arouse them. Far from deliberately harming the Government they will spare no effort to support it. More than anything, they want to see their own Government paramount in the world and their flag high in all corners of the earth.

The first kind of people are Muttaqin of the Government and the other its Muhsiniin.


May Allaah SWT Enable us to be one of the Muhsineen, somebody who is willing to sacrifice their rights to make others happy and comfortable... Ameen!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yay for Today!


The day started with Fajr and Quran. Then set the alarm for 8am since I had to cook before leaving for a gathering of my Quran class friends at N baji's house.

Alhamdulillah, the alarm and Chotpo woke me up :) and slowly I trudged into the kitchen, rubbing my eyes. Sigh. Veggie cutting was another painful affair [don't you think there should be a machine, in which you just dump the washed veggies, and it cuts them for you, in small cubic pieces.. (after cleaning the blackie portions off too).. :P]

*yawn*. My fantasies will remain in the category of 'hazaaron khwaaishain aisi..'

At 9.30, I came out of the kitchen after Dad's breakfast 'making' and settled down with a cup of tea and ... Sudoku~!

I am soooo addicted to it. I don't know what's come over me. ANYwhere I see Sudoku, I literally run after it, and just HAVE to solve it. It's insane! Where is my self-control I have no idea.

Speaking of self-control, a TV show was recommended by a friend of mine - the show named 'Dexter'. I was told that it's amazing beyond amazing, out of this world etc. Lol. In all I-want-to-be-considered-an-adult spirit, I sat down yesterday night, and watched the first season's first episode. In about 20 minutes down the line, meray 21 tabaq raushan ho chukay thay. My conscience bothered me so badly that I shut it off and vowed never to look at this stuff again. Gruesome, graphic, violent, gore-y, and able to bring out the 'violence-lust' in a person.

NOT recommended by Uni_still_loves_kids' stuff-oony

Khair, where was I? :S. The Sudoku, yeah. After successfully solving the 'easy' one and frowning on the 'tricky' one, I realized that a lot of time had passed. I was supposed to be ready and out by 10.15, get cake from a bakery and go to pick up my friends from the bus stop we had all agreed on.

Mum: Uni, make sure you reach home before Jummah prayers.
Me: Mum, I'm going before Jummah prayers, I'll reach the actual place by 11.30 probably, and I should just leave in an hour?
Mum: Look, you have a curfew. 2.00pm. Max.
Me: *scowl*

Finally, I was out. Driving alone after a loong time! Reached bakery. Choosing a cake was no problemoz. Anything with 'Oreos' in the cake's name has the word 'Uni' written on it! [Conscience yell : What about your diet!!!].... but there are times when the conscience can be supremely ignored.

As I was coming out of the bakery.. I saw this couple...  Made me grin to myself. Really thin guy, and something like his triple ...girl. Both looking sooo out of this world happy keh if their happiness had some physical effect, 10 other people in the vicinity (including me) would have had a wide grin on our faces. How utterly sweet... (Masha Allah).

Made me think that there just might be other ingredients to happiness than perfect 'dimensions' and made me think that all the older ladies who are after the un-skinny portion of society - madly trying to 'skin' them down - assuring them, that they're just doing this in order to ensure their (the girls') happiness.. may very well be...utterly wrong!

I digressed yet again. This post is full of diversions. Khair, reached the bus stop after 30 minutes. No friend in sight. Turned out that their buses had been late. So me, instead of aimlessly driving around and sweltering more than I already was sweltering in the shadeed heat, I decided to fill the CNG. That done, I drove slowly, trying to kill time :(. Finally, (like, at 11.30!), managed to catch hold of one friend - Amber. Second friend's (Nat's) text came that she has JUST gotten the bus, and it's going to take her half an hour more ...!!

Khudaya. We reached N baji's place around quarter to 12. N baji hadn't reached home from her yoga class (she is a yoga instructor). We met N Baji's Mum in law. I was amazed by this woman :) MA. Such an old lady (she is 78 MA) and sooo active and intelligent. She told us that she had been an athletic in the Olympics, representing Pakistan! And her husband was a hockey player (some popular player too, pity I hadn't heard of him :$). Then she told us her routine and how she keeps walking and doing exercise etc. Amber asked her, "Aap kee kia masroofiat hay?" (what do you keep busy in?) and the old lady answered,

"My home. I was always a home-maker from the time I got married. I look after the house, do the chores, help out my husband with his tasks and do my religious duties. I believe this is enough for a woman to handle. Then I walk regularly, so as not to have my joints 'fuse' together and prevent  me from moving.. after all, I am 78!"

A truly inspiring lady!

Then, a phone call from my second friend, Nat came. She had finally reached the agreed bus stop and her bus wouldn't come here, so I had to go pick her up. So far, I had driven more than I had er, not driven.. :D.

Anyway, me and Amber went out, crossed Tariq Road and went to the bus stop to pick up Nat. Then, came back and then the fun began. Nat had brought her sister, who has an adorable 5-month old Masha Allah. I was comparing the lil sweetie to my Bhanju and wondering how come we were always in a hassle with Bhanju even when he was 5 months old, and this lil baby!! The cutie was sukun se, lying in his mom's arms. Playing with her dupatta. Not making any kind of fuss (except when he got hungry). Man!!!

When we were all sitting together, there was a small discussion on the last rukuh of Surah Kahaf (today was Friday, yea) and everybody contributed their thoughts on the Surah and how it is said to be a protection against the Fitnah (trial) of Dajjal and the tribulations that are coming and yet to come regarding the End of Times.

Only too soon, the dua was said and brunch/lunch was served. That bit was cool too as N baji had made (or maybe her cook made it) iced tea !! Not the yucky one in the can. Amazingly delicious one :). Alhamdulillah. My cake was a hit. Er, I hadn't made it so no credit goes to me :D. At 1.30, I was the first one to jump up. We all had spent just 45 minutes together :(. Khair, curfews are curfews... and mum had mentioned 2pm. So off I went, much to the general chorus of 'Don't gooo sooo soooooon' from the group. But had to leave, no other way. Driving back was an amazing experience. Jummah time. No traffic.

Masha Allah :D

Reached home in like, 15 minutes (a journey that easily takes 45 minutes in traffic).

In the evening, drove out to get fruit and vegetables along with Chotpo. Our awaara-gardi led us to Liberty :D... from where I got some books! These few weeks are meant for relaxing Insha Allah! Later, the we came home and took out the juice extractor (thingie we got yesterday :S meant to make fresh carrot/beet/apple juice for Chotpo since her hemoglobin is at an all time low :(:(:(...).

The extractor parts were carefully washed, dried and the machine was placed on the kitchen counter, with two eager faces hovering over it (me and Chotpo). She cut apples into small pieces, I read the manual and got the machine ready to run. Imagine the scene. Chotpo put apple pieces (around 7-8 small cubes) in the feeding tube. I pressed down the tube holder and locked the juicer. Then I was supposed to turn the knob at low-speed.

I twisted the knob, and the juicer whirred to life. We both peered anxiously at the juice jug (where the juice was supposed to spurt out). Haaaaah!!

No juice spurted out.. :D. We stared in amazement. What happened to the cubes we put in? Then, in front of our astonished eyes, one drop of apple juice fell in the jug. Then some seconds pause. Then another drop. Then a few seconds pause. Then another drop.

That's it.

Staring incredulously at the machine, we realized that the extract is very small for lots of fruit pieces. So in went four apples - turn by turn - cube-wise. Puffing with exertion, finally drop by drop, the juice jug filled up till...

In fact, half of above. That's it. It came out to be equal to one small glass. Four nice-sized apples' worth!!

Uffff. HUMARA juice nikal gaya. :@:@:@.

But it was an overall nice day :D. Veryyy different from the day represented in the previous post. Like-minded friends - there ain't nothing like 'em!! :-)

So long!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt


With that dramatic title, this post promises to be a er, girly wurly one. So anybody who is not a female, or is a tomboy-ish female is highly cautioned right now only. This post would have been  password protected, if Blogger had this feature :P. But it doesn't. So anyway, read at your own risk!

So today was a nice ghanchakkar (medley) of various things. Today's schedule had been mapped out so painstakingly by me last night.

1. I was supposed to sleep after Fajr and wake up at 8.30.
2. Then cook
3. Then give Dad breakfast
4. Then rush upstairs because I had promised the lady that I'll help out with the 'science projects' that are one of the modules of the Montessori Certification Course she is taking.
5. Then I was supposed to hurriedly iron clothes and get ready.
6. After this I was supposed to leave at 12.30 to pick up friend 2 to reach Friend 1's home - where we were supposed to have lunch and fun!

Sigh. Things didn't quite well go according to the plan.

The alarm didn't wake me up. Mum's calls didn't wake me up. The tube light glaring above my head didn't wake me up. My DAD woke me up when he called out to me for his breakfast! It was already 9.30am!!

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

*panic time*

I leapt from the bed, ran to the kitchen, hurriedly made the breakfast... then looked at the clock despairingly wondering whether everything is going to work out or not. Then set to work cooking food and all. Finally, got farigh around 10.15 and somehow, reached upstairs by 10.20am. Tried to hurriedly sort out the science projects.. :(. The entire work was done by me (and there was no other way!). This is the saddest thing alive, but there ARE some people who simply cannot follow simple 1,2,3 step-wise instructions written clearly in a booklet, and unable to do even basic things...! We should be sooooooooooo grateful to Allah SWT for the Blessing we have of 'deciphering' etc.

One not so great conversation went like this:
(UWA = Upar-wali-Aunty, UWL = Upar wali lady {aunty's daughter :D})

UWA: Soo, we heard about the upcoming wedding in your close family. What are you wearing?
Me: Oh, I’m wearing a frock-style dress with er, choori daar I guess

UWL: Ooh, which color which color?
Me: *tells them the color*
UWL: *silent*, UWA: *silent*

*a few seconds pause*

UWA: Beta, what on earth made you choose that color?
Me: *silent*

UWA: Betas shadion main to achay aur bright colors pehentay hain.
Me: Er, it isn’t that bad you know

UWA: Beta, you could have worn pink! Why didn’t you choose pink?
Me: Pink to aur both say log pehen laingay.. no?
(Talk about a lame answer) :(

UWL: So are you guys going to be in a beauty parlour?
Me: Well, probably yeah.

UWL: And you will have to get your eyebrows done too, yeah?
Me: *silent*

UWA: *pressing the matter* Beta, you have to look presentable, you have to do this, that, it’s a close wedding… everybody will be there… every minor flaw in the immediate family of the bride/groom is like, ‘visible!’ – you have to …

Me: *not able to keep it in any longer*… Look, I know you have valid points,  but it’s a clear Hadith which prohibits one to touch their eyebrows. So no, I am not into any cherum-chari with my eyebrows at least.

They both: *silent*
Some science experiments…

Sigh. Got farigh from there by 11.30, rushed downstairs and started ironing. In the middle of it, the door-bell rang. Driver was here (from Dad's clinic) and he was asking for the key. I ran to the place where the key is kept..and found NO key!!! Calling out to Mom, that I have to leave by 12.15 didn't prove to be useful cuz the only person who had that key last, was Dad. Sighhh. Called Dad up and found out that HE had mistakenly put the key in his pocket.

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

:D:D. Now I can smile at this :D:D. At the time, I was like... furious!

The fiasco was complete when Dad (on phone) pointed me towards the spare key. Happily, I took it to the driver. Eagerly, he inserted it into the slot and turned. Nothing happened. The lock wouldn't budge. He tried every tactic on the planet, but that 'spare' key never worked.

Then we had to send the driver back in a rickshaw for the key!!

Finally, he was here. And I was out.

The way is pretty much straight-forward - but in traffic, things get sticky. The time was 1pm-ish. So going-towards-shehr traffic wasn't supposed to be there. Ho! We couldn't get past the Quaid's Mausoleum area. Cars were all turning back from that point. Road completely blocked (or jammed). We had no idea why. We turned back, went from an extremely long route ... and were sitting in the car for 1 hour, 15-mins (in Karachi, in the heat, this is like a 4 hour drive, probably worse).

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

Finally, reached the friend's place. Had an amazing time, in most of the things. Underline most. The un-most things were all focused on me.

Conversation 1:

(Friend 1 = F1 and Friend 2 = F2)

F1: Soo, you told us about your first cousin wedding, yeah. What are you wearing?
Me: Oh, this frock style dress and um, choori daar I guess.

F1: And which color?
Me: *tells them the color*

F1: Uh, okay. Andddd what’s the material of the cloth?
Me: *quite clueless but still prattles off what the dukaandaar had said* Oh it’s something called ‘short-chiffon’ …
They: *nod wisely*
F1: You ARE going to a beauty parlor right?
Me: I probably will, yeah

F1: You need to do , etc etc
Me: *scowling*. Look, nobody is touching my eyebrows. I’m tellin ya

Both: *astonished at first, then both start talking*: But you HAVE to, are you NUTS? You just have to get them in ‘shape’ and you can just use a ‘tweezer’ every 10 or so days…
Me: *exasperatedly* LOOK. I have no intention of spending my precious time on my eyebrows EVERY ten days! No way!

F2: *sarcastically* It’s just 15 minutes spent on yourself – how long is THAT?
Me: No, sorry. That’s 45 minutes a month! Quite a lot!
They: *argue argue argue*

F1: Okay, now learn to use some makeup! You have to get lipsticks, blush-ons, eye-shadows, and mousse.
Me: *baffled* Mousse to khaatay hain nee?

F2: *looks exasperated*. NO, lagaatay bhe hain!
Me: *sighhhhh*

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

So three girls sitting together, talking about various things. What subject is the most LIKELY to crop up? Guess? You can’t? *rolls her eyes again*. It’s marriage of course.

Basically, F1 is married (and has an adorable 4 year old MA). She has been continuously after me and F2 because we’re the single ones. She’s been like a real dadi maa… :P Sometimes, we’re amused, and sometimes we’re like.. here goes F1 againnnnn, uff.

So today, the topic was touched upon in a rather ‘touchy’ manner.

Conversation 2
F1: So Uni, if you were ever getting married, would you talk to your spouse before marriage? Like normal chat etc..
Me: Nope
They: *look extremely surprised by my answer*

F1: You’re nuts, right?
Me: Nope

F2: Look, you’re just being idiotic. You have to BUILD a relationship…
Me: Well, that can ‘built’ like, after marriage!

F1: What in the world are you ever going to do!!?!?!? Sign a marriage contract and walk up to your spouse and say “Hi, I’m Uni. Your wife. Know me?”
Me: *trying desperately not to laugh here*… Bhui, you guys think your way, I think my way. Simple.

F2: Okay, what are you going to talk about then!! If you don’t know somebody, what do you talk to them about?
Me: I dunno. Books?

They: Haahahahaaa. You don’t talk to spouses about books! Idiot. Guys are into movies, and heavy-end games.
Me: *sigh*.. what do you know…. My spouse might like BOOKS too! It’s not un-heard of.
They: *give up. Uni ka kuch nahi ho sakta*…

For lunch, we had ordered Khawsey (man, amazing :D). It’s a Burmese dish…(I never knew). I always thought it’s a Gujerati dish, since it’s made in my family so much. For dessert, they opted to go to this place F1 recommended. I had informed them beforehand, that I won’t be even looking at desserts, but I’ll sure accompany them. Looking incredulously at me, they walked outside, and we all went to that place.

That dessert wali place had a strange setting. Aik to I haven’t been to these Zamzama outlets, so I’m not at all familiar with the eateries. It struck me a lil later what the setting of this place resembled. F1 mentioned it and it struck me… It resembled the setting of a pub.

A pub!!?!?!? :’(. I was sitting in a place which resembled a pub!

We walked up to the counter. Oh man, nobody trying to be healthy/fit should even step near that place. The aroma!! I could see chocolate fudge brownies, various kinds of cheese cakes, fresh bagels, and the menu had stuff like waffles, stack of pancakes, Oreo flavored pata nahi kia kia…

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

They ordered Chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream. I was determinly looking away. They tried a LOT to make me have some. Lol. But for somebody who has stayed away from chocolate since July 2010, and for somebody who has been away from sweetmeats for quite some months now, could resist the temptation… not with great difficulty. At much pressing though, I did taste it. Man, it was beyond awesome. The taste  in my mouth became bitter when I saw some of the posters on their walls. My eyes nearly popped out at one. It said (maybe not exactly, but on the lines of)

“Hot poker, and loose women here”

One of them depicted a guy with a beard on top of his head, and the caption read, “Fundo    Mental”

Another poster showed some bearded man and women too and the caption said something on the lines of “Taliban – with passion, lust etc etc

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

The place, and it’s food was no doubt beyond awesome. But in this kinda setting, people can only feel a lump in their throats and beg Allah SWT for Forgiveness while they sit there, throwing big money on small treats.

Finally, we came home. On our way back, one conversation went like this:

Conversation 3

F2: These idiots, holding a juloos like this. This is the reason why we were stuck in the jam! SOME public servants. 
Me: They’re just servants of their own pockets. Look what they did about the Raymond Davis case.

F2: *grinning*.. hehehe. He was a smart one. Used the Shariah. Got away. Heheh
Me: *stunned into silence for a few seconds then managed to say* Well, the Shariah was used wrongly, and he didn’t get the bright idea.. it was our dear ambassador!

F2: Whoever. Who cares! They were smart enough to use these laws. When you make DUMB laws like Diyat (blood money), what do you think will happen? If you have stupid laws like blasphemy around, what do you think will happen. It’s ridiculous – these Shariah laws. Look at the dumb zina laws. They make no sense, and if you have them, you’re gonna suffer. Bad.
Me: *silent*

Koi Meray Dil Ka Haal Jaanta - Uss Waqt

The fact of the matter is, these are my oldest (very first bffs) school friends. We have had such great times together. We still do. But I can’t help feeling how different their thinking and my thinking is. And that makes me wonder, will I ever fit in…in any crowd here? My previous Quran class friends are all scattered. The current Quran class is scattered (because sometimes I take it, sometimes I don’t), so friends I should forget about there.

This video lecture I watched tonight… nearly reduced me to tears.

May Allah Grant us all the company that we all need, Ameen.

And by the way:

They (all those who worship others than Allaah) invoke nothing but female deities besides Him, and they invoke nothing but Shaytaan, a persistent rebel!

Allaah cursed him. And he [Shaytaan] said: ‘I will take an appointed portion of Your slaves;
Verily, I will mislead them, and surely, I will arouse in them false desires; and certainly, I will order them to slit the ears of cattle, and indeed I will order them to change the nature created by Allaah.’ And whoever takes Shaytaan as a wali (protector or helper) instead of Allaah, has surely suffered a manifest loss.
[Al-Nisa’ 4:116-119]

In al-Saheeh, it was reported that Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “Allaah has cursed the women who do tattoos and those who have this done, the women who pluck eyebrows and those who have this done, and the women who file their teeth and change the creation of Allaah.” 

Then he said: “Should I not curse those whom the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) cursed, when it says in the Qur’aan (interpretation of the meaning): ‘… And whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it, and whatever he forbids you, abstain (from it)…’ [al-Hashr 59:7]”

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Long - but excellent!

There's no business like war business
By Pepe Escobar

Lies, hypocrisy and hidden agendas. This is what United States President Barack Obama did not dwell on when explaining his Libya doctrine to America and the world. The mind boggles with so many black holes engulfing this splendid little war that is not a war (a "time-limited, scope-limited military action", as per the White House) - compounded with the inability of progressive thinking to condemn, at the same time, the ruthlessness of the Muammar Gaddafi regime and the Anglo-French-American "humanitarian" bombing.

United Nations Security Council resolution 1973 has worked like a Trojan horse, allowing the Anglo-French-American consortium - and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) - to become the UN's air force in its support of an armed uprising. Apart from having nothing to do with protecting civilians, this arrangement is absolutely illegal in terms of international law. The inbuilt endgame, as even malnourished African kids know by now, but has never been acknowledged, is regime change.

Lieutenant General Charles Bouchard of Canada, NATO's commander for Libya, may insist all he wants that the mission is purely designed to protect civilians. Yet those "innocent civilians" operating tanks and firing Kalashnikovs as part of a rag-tag wild bunch are in fact soldiers in a civil war - and the focus should be on whether NATO from now on will remain their air force, following the steps of the Anglo-French-American consortium. Incidentally, the "coalition of the wiling" fighting Libya consists of only 12 NATO members (out of 28) plus Qatar. This has absolutely nothing to do with an "international community".

The full verdict on the UN-mandated no-fly zone will have to wait for the emergence of a "rebel" government and the end of the civil war (if it ends soon). Then it will be possible to analyze how Tomahawking and bombing was ever justified; why civilians in Cyrenaica were "protected" while those in Tripoli were Tomahawked; what sort of "rebel" motley crew was "saved"; whether this whole thing was legal in the first place; how the resolution was a cover for regime change; how the love affair between the Libyan "revolutionaries" and the West may end in bloody divorce (remember Afghanistan); and which Western players stand to immensely profit from the wealth of a new, unified (or balkanized) Libya.

For the moment at least, it's quite easy to identify the profiteers.

The Pentagon
Pentagon supremo Robert Gates said this weekend, with a straight face, there are only three repressive regimes in the whole Middle East: Iran, Syria and Libya. The Pentagon is taking out the weak link - Libya. The others were always key features of the neo-conservative take-out/evil list. Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, etc are model democracies.

As for this "now you see it, now you don't" war, the Pentagon is managing to fight it not once, but twice. It started with Africom - established under the George W Bush administration, beefed up under Obama, and rejected by scores of African governments, scholars and human rights organizations. Now the war is transitioning to NATO, which is essentially Pentagon rule over its European minions.

This is Africom's first African war, conducted up to now by General Carter Ham out of his headquarters in un-African Stuttgart. Africom, as Horace Campbell, professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University puts it, is a scam; "fundamentally a front for US military contractors like Dyncorp, MPRI and KBR operating in Africa. US military planners who benefit from the revolving door of privatization of warfare are delighted by the opportunity to give Africom credibility under the facade of the Libyan intervention."

Africom's Tomahawks also hit - metaphorically - the African Union (AU), which, unlike the Arab League, cannot be easily bought by the West. The Arab Gulf petro-monarchies all cheered the bombing - but not Egypt and Tunisia. Only five African countries are not subordinated to Africom; Libya is one of them, along with Sudan, Ivory Coast, Eritrea and Zimbabwe.

NATO's master plan is to rule the Mediterranean as a NATO lake. Under these "optics" (Pentagon speak) the Mediterranean is infinitely more important nowadays as a theater of war than AfPak.

There are only three out of 20 nations on or in the Mediterranean that are not full members of NATO or allied with its "partnership" programs: Libya, Lebanon and Syria. Make no mistake; Syria is next. Lebanon is already under a NATO blockade since 2006. Now a blockade also applies to Libya. The US - via NATO - is just about to square the circle.

Saudi Arabia
What a deal. King Abdullah gets rid of his eternal foe Gaddafi. The House of Saud - in trademark abject fashion - bends over backwards for the West's benefit. The attention of world public opinion is diverted from the Saudis invading Bahrain to smash a legitimate, peaceful, pro-democracy protest movement.

The House of Saud sold the fiction that "the Arab League" as a whole voted for a no-fly zone. That is a lie; out of 22 members, only 11 were present at the vote; six are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), of which Saudi Arabia is the top dog. The House of Saud just needed to twist the arms of three more. Syria and Algeria were against it. Translation; only nine out of 22 Arab countries voted for the no-fly zone.

Now Saudi Arabia can even order GCC head Abdulrahman al-Attiyah to say, with a straight face, "the Libyan system has lost its legitimacy." As for the "legitimate" House of Saud and the al-Khalifas in Bahrain, someone should induct them into the Humanitarian Hall of Fame.

The hosts of the 2022 soccer World Cup sure know how to clinch a deal. Their Mirages are helping to bomb Libya while Doha gets ready to market eastern Libya oil. Qatar promptly became the first Arab nation to recognize the Libyan "rebels" as the only legitimate government of the country only one day after securing the oil marketing deal.

The 'rebels'
All the worthy democratic aspirations of the Libyan youth movement notwithstanding, the most organized opposition group happens to be the National Front for the Salvation of Libya - financed for years by the House of Saud, the CIA and French intelligence. The rebel "Interim Transitional National Council" is little else than the good ol' National Front, plus a few military defectors. This is the elite of the "innocent civilians" the "coalition" is "protecting".

Right on cue, the "Interim Transitional National Council" has got a new finance minister, US-educated economist Ali Tarhouni. He disclosed that a bunch of Western countries gave them credit backed by Libya's sovereign fund, and the British allowed them to access $1.1 billion of Gaddafi's funds. This means the Anglo-French-American consortium - and now NATO - will only pay for the bombs. As war scams go this one is priceless; the West uses Libya's own cash to finance a bunch of opportunists Libyan rebels to fight the Libyan government. And on top of it the Americans, the Brits and the French feel the love for all that bombing. Neo-cons must be kicking themselves; why couldn't former US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz come up with something like this for Iraq 2003?

The French
Oh la la, this could be material for a Proustian novel. The top spring collection in Paris catwalks is the President Nicolas Sarkozy fashion show - a no-fly zone model with Mirage/Rafale air strike accessories. This fashion show was masterminded by Nouri Mesmari, Gaddafi's chief of protocol, who defected to France in October 2010. The Italian secret service leaked to selected media outlets how he did it. The role of the DGSE, the French secret service, has been more or less explained on paid website Maghreb Confidential.

Essentially, the Benghazi revolt coq au vin had been simmering since November 2010. The cooks were Mesmari, air force colonel Abdullah Gehani, and the French secret service. Mesmari was called "Libyan WikiLeak", because he spilled over virtually every one of Gaddafi's military secrets. Sarkozy loved it - furious because Gaddafi had cancelled juicy contracts to buy Rafales (to replace his Mirages now being bombed) and French-built nuclear power plants.

That explains why Sarkozy has been so gung ho into posing as the new Arab liberator, was the first leader of a European power to recognize the "rebels" (to the disgust of many at the European Union), and was the first to bomb Gaddafi's forces.

This busts open the role of shameless self-promoting philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy, who's now frantically milking in the world's media that he phoned Sarkozy from Benghazi and awakened his humanitarian streak. Either Levy is a patsy, or a convenient "intellectual" cherry added to the already-prepared bombing cake.

Terminator Sarkozy is unstoppable. He has just warned every single Arab ruler that they face Libya-style bombing if they crack down on protesters. He even said that the Ivory Coast was "next". Bahrain and Yemen, of course, are exempt. As for the US, it is once again supporting a military coup (it didn't work with Omar "Sheikh al-Torture" Suleiman in Egypt; maybe it will work in Libya).

The oh so convenient bogeyman resurfaces. The Anglo-French-American consortium - and now NATO - are (again) fighting alongside al-Qaeda, represented by al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQM).

Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi - who has fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan - extensively confirmed to Italian media that he had personally recruited "around 25" jihadis from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against the US in Iraq; now "they are on the front lines in Adjabiya".

This after Chad's president Idriss Deby stressed that AQM had raided military arsenals in Cyrenaica and may be now holding quite a few surface-to-air missiles. In early March, AQM publicly supported the "rebels". The ghost of Osama bin Laden must be pulling a Cheshire cat; once again he gets the Pentagon to work for him.

The water privatizers
Few in the West may know that Libya - along with Egypt - sits over the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer; that is, an ocean of extremely valuable fresh water. So yes, this "now you see it, now you don't" war is a crucial water war. Control of the aquifer is priceless - as in "rescuing" valuable natural resources from the "savages".

This Water Pipelineistan - buried underground deep in the desert along 4,000 km - is the Great Man-Made River Project (GMMRP), which Gaddafi built for $25 billion without borrowing a single cent from the IMF or the World Bank (what a bad example for the developing world). The GMMRP supplies Tripoli, Benghazi and the whole Libyan coastline. The amount of water is estimated by scientists to be the equivalent to 200 years of water flowing down the Nile.

Compare this to the so-called three sisters - Veolia (formerly Vivendi), Suez Ondeo (formerly Generale des Eaux) and Saur - the French companies that control over 40% of the global water market. All eyes must imperatively focus on whether these pipelines are bombed. An extremely possible scenario is that if they are, juicy "reconstruction" contracts will benefit France. That will be the final step to privatize all this - for the moment free - water. From shock doctrine to water doctrine.

Well, that's only a short list of profiteers - no one knows who'll get the oil - and the natural gas - in the end. Meanwhile, the (bombing) show must go on. There's no business like war business.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Monday, April 4, 2011

Full House :)

One of my earliest TV memories .. and one of my favorite shows :D:D..

Quick tip: When feeling a lil on the low side, watch one of these. Laughter guaranteed :D

This is the first ever episodes (with a different Danny Tanner) but hilarious all the same - especially how Joey and Jesse change the baby's diaper .. *lote pote with laughter*

Since embedding is disabled, I'm just posting the link to part I

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Major and Minor Shirk

What is Minor Shirk?

Minor shirk is 'ar-riyaa' which is to beautify an action which is initially intended for Allaah, for the sake of showing off or gaining praise.

Allaah, the Most High, says, "So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord." (al-Kahf: 110)

The Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "That which I fear for you most is the minor shirk." Then he was asked about it, so he (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) replied, "ar-riyaa (showing off)." [1]

Then, he (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) explained it saying, "A man stands in prayer, and beautifies it due what he notices somebody else looking at him." [2]

And from this shirk is swearing by other than Allaah, such as swearing by forefathers, the rivals (set up alongside Allaah), the Ka'bah, and honesty etc. The Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "Do not swear by your fathers or mothers or the rivals (set up alongside Allaah)." [3]

He (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "Do not say, 'By the Ka'bah', rather say, 'By the Lord of the Ka 'bah'. " [4]

He (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "Do not swear by anyone except Allaah." [5]

He (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "He who swears in the name of honesty is not from amongst us." [6]

He (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "He who swears by other than Allaah has committed kufr (disbelief) or shirk." And in another narration, "Kufr and shirk." [7]

And from minor shirk is the saying, "Whatever Allaah wills and you will." The Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, to the one who said that, "Have you made me a rival (or partner) to Allaah, rather say, 'Whatever Allaah alone wills.'" [8]

And from minor shirk is the saying, "Had it not been for Allaah and you ...." and, "I have no one but Allaah and you." and, "I ask Allaah and you." and the likes of this.
The Prophet (sallallaahualaihi wasallam) said, "Do not say, 'Whatever Allaah wills and so and so wills', rather say, 'Whatever Allaah wills then whatever so and so wills.'" [9]

The people of knowledge have said that it is permissible to say, "Had it not been for Allaah then so and so..." but not, "Had it not been for Allaah and so and so ..."


[1] The hadeeth is saheeh (authentic) and it is reported by Ahmad (5/428), al-Baghawee in "Sharh us-Sunnah" (14/324) and al-Haithamee in Majma' uz-Zawaaid (1/108) and he said, "It is reported by Ahmad and at-Tabaraanee, and the narrators of Ahmad are those of the Saheeh (al-Bukhaaree)." And it is mentioned by Shaikh al-Albaanee in "Silsilah as-Saheehah" (no. 951) where the Shaikh stated that the chain is good.

[2] The hadeeth is hasan (good) and is part of a hadeeth reported by Ahmad (3/30) and Ibn Maajah (4257) and it is mentioned by Shaikh al-Albaanee in "Saheeh Targheeb wat-Tarheeb", where the Shaikh mentioned that the hadeeth is hasan and traced it back to al-Baihaqee, as well.

[3] Reported by Abu Dawood in Kitaab ul-Aymaan wan-Nudhoor (oaths and vows), Chapter: The prohibition of swearing by the fathers (no. 3248). And reported by an-Nasaaee in Kitaab ul-Aymaan wan-Nudhoor, Chapter: Swearing by the mothers (7/5). And Shaikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaanee indicated towards the authenticity of the hadeeth in "Saheeh ul-Jaami' " (no. 2126) and the rest of the hadeeth is, "...and do not swear by anyone except Allaah, and do not swear except that you are truthful."

[4] Reported by an-Nasaaee in Kitaab ul-Aymaan wan-Nudhoor, Chapter: Swearing by the Ka'bah (7/6) (no. 3773) and reported by Ahmad in the "Musnad" (6/371,72) and al-Haakim in his "al-Mustadrak" in al-Aymaan wan-Nudhoor (4/297) where he said, "This hadeeth has a saheeh chain" and adh-Dhahabee agreed with him, and it was also authenticated by Ibn Hajar in "al-Isaabah" (4/389).

[5] Part of a hadeeth which is reported by Abu Dawood and an-Nasaaee, whose reference has preceded in footnote no. 5. Reported by al-Bukhaaree and Muslim from the hadeeth of Abdullaah bin Umar (radiallaahu anhu) with the wording, "Verily Allaah forbids you from swearing by your fathers, so whoever wishes to take an oath then let him swear by Allaah, otherwise he should remain silent." Reported by al-Bukhaaree in Kitaab ul-Aymaan, Chapter: Do not swear by your fathers (7/221) and by Muslim in Kitaab ul-Aymaan, Chapter: The prohibition of swearing by other than Allaah, the Most High (5/80).

[6] Reported by Abu Dawood from Ibn Buraydah from his father, in Kitaab ul-Aymaan (3/223) and it was mentioned by Shaikh Naasir ud-Deen al-Albaanee in "Silsilah as-Saheehah" (vol. 1, no. 94). And the Shaikh quotes from al-Khataabee in "Ma'aalim us-Sunan" (4/358), who commenting upon this hadeeth said, "And maybe the reason for this prohibition is due to the fact that he ordered the taking of oaths by using Allaah's Names and Attributes, and honesty is not one of the reported attributes of Allaah, rather it is a command from His commandments and an obligation from amongst His obligations, so it is forbidden due to what it contains of equality between honesty and Allaah's Names and Attributes."

[7] Reported by Abu Dawood in Kitaab ul-Aymaan (3/223,224) and similarly by at-Tirmidhee in Kitaab ul-Aymaan, Chapter: The prohibition of swearing by other than Allaah. (4/110) (no. 1535) and he mentioned that the hadeeth is hasan saheeh. And it is reported by al-Haakim in his "al-Mustadrak" (4/297) and he said the hadeeth is saheeh according to the conditions of the two Shaikhs (al-Bukhaaree & Muslim) and adh-Dhahabee agreed with him.

[8] Reported by al-Bukhaaree in "al-Adab al-Mufrad" (p. 265), Chapter: The saying of the man, "'Whatever Allaah wills and you will.' (no. 784), and by Ibn Maajah (no. 213), and Ahmad in his "Musnad" (1/214) and it was mentioned by Shaikh al-Albaanee in "Silsilah as-Saheehah" (no. 139).

[9] Reported by Abu Dawood (no. 4980) and Ahmed in his "Musnad" (5/384) and Shaikh al-Albaanee indicated towards its authenticity in "Silsilah as-Saheehah" (no. 138).

al-Haafidh al-Hakamee A’laam as-Sunnah al-Manshoorah li I’tiqaad at-
Taaifah an-Naajiyah al-Mansoorah Translated by Abul Irbaad Abid Zargar