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Archive for May, 2013

This video perfectly sums up everything I have to say in answer to all the questions people throw at me about our beloved Prophet. Such an intelligent and logical response. Please watch and let me know your thoughts.

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You know those moments in your life when you step outside the moment, look at yourself and think – this is perfect. This, I can now tick off my bucket list?… well I had a moment like that recently when I went on a trip to Uluru. The amazing aura of spirituality and peace out there in the middle of the Australian desert is an amazing feeling which everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

We city folk are a closed off lot. We get into our black office attire, hop on our trains and shuffle off to work in an endless cycle of striving to achieve financial security so we can enjoy life. But sometimes it helps to take a break from the rat race and appreciate the enormity of the country we live in. While it is tempting to hop on a plan and fly off to Bali and enjoy the sand and surf, actually experiencing the real Australia is a much more rewarding experience. Besides my trip to Hajj – this has got to be the most fun I have ever had on a trip.

We flew out to Alice Springs from Sydney on Tiger at the unholy hour of 6:40am. After a three hour journey we landed at Alice Springs airport which is so cute and quaint if you blink you will miss it. We hired a car and drove into Alice Springs (all of which is still smaller than Sydney’s CBD) and stocked up on supplies for the next five days from Woolies. This saved us the time and money of finding and buying halal or substantial food on location (considering petrol was $2.12/L, you can imagine how expensive food was). From Alice we drove the 446km of amazing road that is the Stuart highway and reaching Yulara (where Uluru is), made cabin number 7 our home for the next few days. Over the next few days we experienced Uluru up close and personal, the actual climb was closed due to forecasted rain (and then actual fog and rain) but the base walk was equally amazing and 9.8km doesn’t feel so long when you frequently stop for pictures and rest. If you can’t do the whole walk, you can always drive along the looped road around the rock and take the shorter walking trails which lead to some amazing watering holes and art on the rock itself. Walking around the base means you also do not injure any sensibilities as there is a sign which states the Aboriginals request that the rock not be climbed as it is of spiritual significance to them.

Once we completed our time at Uluru we drove 25km to Kata Tjuta (previously known as the Olgas). Kata Tjuta is a group of rock formations that can be clearly seen from Uluru and paired with Uluru form the two major landmarks within the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The park entry fee is $25pp for a ticket that is valid for three days. At Kata Tjuta, there is a walk called the “Valley of the Winds” walk which is a challenging trail around the rock formations and takes approximately 3 hours. If you are able bodied then this is a great experience. The one downside to all great experiences in the Northern Territory though is flies. If you are planning to go, make sure you invest in a fly hat ($6-7 from the local IGA at Yulara) which will save you much needed energy in swatting away the hordes of determined and unrelenting flies which persist in following you the moment you step out of the car. Both Uluru and Kata Tjuta have sunrise and sunset viewing areas which are located a minimum of 10km from the actual rocks, so make sure you finish your walk with enough time to get to the viewing areas for sunset (or sunrise as the case may be).

Our final challenge was Kings Canyon. Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in Northern Territory, Australia. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, it is 323 km southwest of Alice Springs and 1,316 km south of Darwin. We headed out early in the morning on a clear skied day and after 3 hours of driving got to King’s Canyon which was drenched in rain and fog. Having invested a good part of our day to get here we were determined to do the walk and set out anyway with our fly hats and rain coats. What we saw was no small sight. The walls of Kings Canyon are over 100 metres high and formidable to look at. We found a very helpful map of the walking trails at the base of the canyon which showed us that several walks exist at Kings Canyon. The 2 km (return) and approximately 1 hour Kings Creek Walk traces the bottom of the gorge. At the end of the walk is a platform, with views of the canyon walls above. We decided to do the 6 km (loop) Kings Canyon Rim Walk which took us 3-4 hours and traces the top of the canyon. The first part is definitely the hardest and very deceiving considering the rest of the walk was a piece of cake in comparison.  The walk begins with a steep climb which locals call “Heart Attack Hill and it takes you 100m up to the top, with spectacular views of the gorge below and of the surrounding landscape (you can JUST make out the carpark). About half way around the loop, a detour descends to Garden of Eden, which is a small piece of heaven on earth. Beautiful waterfalls and lush plants (mind you getting there involves going down some pretty steep stairs after which in the rain we didn’t have much time to admire the garden itself). The last half of the walk makes you feel like you are in a maze of jungle and rock with weathered sandstone domes all around which reminded me of stacked pancakes but that might just have been how hungry I was. A steep slow descent of ‘rock stairs’ closes the loop and bring you back to the starting point. I am glad it rained as I do not think I could have done the walk in high temperatures. There is little to no shade and on a hot day the sun would be merciless on top of a canyon with nowhere to hide. I should also mention that part of the gorge is a sacred Aboriginal site and visitors are discouraged from walking off the walking tracks.

The remainder of our trip included a camel ride and a night’s stay in Alice Springs. Going with three close friends meant that our road trip was a lot of fun and that the four of us were in a similar situation in our personal lives made the conversations all the more interesting and insightful. Travelling with people always brings you closer or at least gives you a better understanding of what kind of person they are. This trip was immensely beneficial for all of us as we all needed a break from our lives both professionally and personally. We all agreed that the sense of spirituality and peace at Uluru was no trick of the mind and it was an aura that seeped into the skin and set the heart at ease. I found myself concentrating better in my prayers and making more passionate and thoughtful prayers to God besides the usual prayers of I want this and that. I found that driving along the Stuart highway with nothing but the wide expanse of desert on either side made my heart unfurl and soar within me. It opened up all my pores and made breathing so much easier. It eased the aching muscles and the aches and tensions of life. Out in the middle of nowhere we all found a serenity and tranquillity that we were hard pressed for in our city life.

The Australian dessert is immense in its beauty as it is in its size. At every turn we saw something beautiful, magnificent or fantastic. These memories will last me a life time and what I have learnt from these experiences will educate my future writings and opinions. I would encourage everyone to take the time out and travel to a place where God feels close and the beauty of His creation soothes the heart.

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This is a rant. I am going to admit that right at the onset of this post. But I am also going to state that this isn’t just my rant. It is a collection of rants I have collated from numerous people I have met. Some of these rants hold me as the victim, some point to me as the perpetrator. Regardless they are rants I agree with so here goes.

 1. The generation before us left us a mess

This is one I saw on Facebook and while I was reading it – the truth hit home. MY generation are the ungrateful brats! The generation before us may have done a lot of crap but read the rant below and you will see that they did far more to preserve what they had than we do now.

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman, that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, “We didn’t have this gree thing back in my earlier days.” The young clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day. Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were truly recycled. But we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we reused for numerous things, most memorable besides household garbage bags, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our schoolbooks. This was to ensure that public property, (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribbling’s. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But too bad we didn’t do the green thing back then. We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that young lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day. Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then. We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have the green thing back then. Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the green thing back then?

2. Kids these days are way too tech savvy

Let me give you a scenario. I won an ipad and took it home. I left it on the counter and went to shower and change. By the time I had come downstairs, my 13 year old sister had managed to start, configure, download and play on it. It took me two whole minutes to figure out how to make the screen stop sliding and I consider myself quite tech savvy! My sister had only briefly played with an ipad before. She is one of several kids I know who amaze me with how quickly they can pick up on technology. I have a 3 year old cousin who owns an ipad full of games and knows how to get onto youtube and watches cartoons in foreign languages. I know a 10 year old who owns an ipad and takes it everywhere she goes. She took it to a party I was at, and proceeded to ask around for the password to the wireless. At her age I didn’t even know what a wireless was! She then decided to go check the base of the modem in case the password was written there. Who told her that? How does she know? Why are kids these days so much more comfortable sitting in the dark playing video games than running around outside playing with a bat and a ball or with friends – developing social, physical and life skills?

I think arming a child (for that is what they are even if ‘we’ are hell bent on snatching their innocence from them) with an ipad instead of a bat and a ball is the most dangerous thing we are doing in modern society. Yes we live in a highly technological society but that is the whole point. They are saturated with technology everywhere else and it is our responsibility to at least have the kids of today engaged in what they are doing and who they are with when they are out and about at social or sporting events. It is now an all too familiar sight to go to a sporting event and see the benches filled with people on their phones instead of watching the game. At parties, we are always tempted to pull out our phone and pretend if we are alone even for a minute. Why the insecurity? If we took our heads out of our phones we would actually make some real friends instead of having to pretend or talk to our ‘online friends’. This is why it is so important for us to ensure our kids, our siblings and our younger generations of family and friends are well rounded individuals who can carry on a face to face conversation as well and as proactively as they can carry out digital ones.

3. Children are no longer innocent

In a society oversaturated with information, kids are quickly picking up more than is good for them. Kids as young as 5 can be heard swearing at the top of their voices at their parents. Teenagers are now watching porn at alarmingly increasing rates and the youth of today are experimenting with drugs with little care for the consequences. If we do not proactively ensure our children are getting the childhood they deserve then they will not get the youth they deserve nor the adulthood they could have had. Kids are so impressionable and quick to pick up things that if you spend more time on your make up than on reading them a story book, it won’t take long before they are doing the same. It is our responsibility to ensure the kids of today experience the same innocence we did as children, the simple pleasures of playing hopscotch, handball, running around outside and making up imaginary friends. Kids should learn to foster their creativity and imagination at a young age and also learn what it means to be bored. Being bored actually stimulates prosocial behaviour. “Bored people feel that their actions are meaningless and so they are motivated to engage in meaningful behaviour,” said Wijnand van Tilburg, from the University of Limerick, co-author of the paper, Bored George Helps Others: A Pragmatic Meaning-Regulation Hypothesis on Boredom and Prosocial Behaviour. “If prosocial behaviour fulfills this requirement, boredom promotes prosocial behaviour.” Sadly, kids these days have so much technology dictating their every moment that this crucial aspect of their growth is being stunted.

 4. When I was your age…

When I was your age:

  • I didn’t swear at my parents (I still don’t)
  • I didn’t have a mobile phone (turn it off and go talk to a real person)
  • I didn’t watch tv shows religiously (stop letting unreality dictate your reality and waste your life. Live it.)
  • I read everything I could get my hands on (Read. It is the basis of all knowledge)
  • I didn’t feel entitled (You are not the centre of the universe. Pick up after yourself)
  • I didn’t waste time (University is not for you to defer indefinitely. Get there. Study. Get out and work. Life is too short to dilly dally)
  • I had curiosity (Life is not simple. Don’t walk down a single road and think it will all be ok. Be curious, reach out and grab different opportunities and see where they take you
  • I enjoyed what I was doing (If you are facebooking, twittering, instagram-ing or blogging during an experience then you are not fully in the moment. Stop, get your head out of the sand and live in the moment.
  • I didn’t get fed up if something didn’t happen instantly (Stop expecting rewards of life to be as forthcoming as a fast food resturant’s menu)

5. Stop ‘Muslim-bashing’

I am SO sick of Muslim bashing. By politicians, the media, the general public and even other Muslims. GET OVER IT. I have enough complications in my life without having to consider all the politics and strife that Muslim bashing is incurring in my life. Let me and other Muslims live our normal lives filled with the same things in your life – Education, love, life, marriage, family, travel, spirituality and the finality of death. This is the simplicity of the life we all crave and it’s hard enough as it is – so please cease and desist the ‘Muslims are rotten talk’. It’s getting really boring now. And to all you Muslims out there who sit there silently and pretend to be ‘white’ and remove or disassociate yourselves from being Muslim or knowing about Islam because you don’t want fingers pointed at you… shame on you. You should know that Islam is a perfect way of life and that what a minority of misled Muslims do should in no way be a reflection on the rest of us. The same way that deranged people of Christian, Jewish or other religious affiliations should not be a reflection on their religion and people. You should foster positive discussions instead of just staying silent. Don’t be a coward.

5. Let’s not be alone together

I want to end on this video which is more thought provoking than your usual ‘rant’, a ted talk on how addicted we have become to technology. A great thought-provoking watch and not so much a rant but a warning of what we are doing and who we are becoming. “Fostering real relationships, that is the next frontier!”

What are some rants you’ve heard that you agree/disagree with? Comment below and let me know!

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This is a piece of writing by a friend of mine Zara* (name changed to retain anonymity) which I loved so much I want to share with you guys.

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I love a man. Well, at least my mind thinks it does and chemicals in my body want to agree. I am the type of person who is never sure what she wants in life. Life; every day is a trial and error of what is adventurous, exhilarating and the one that I am least bothered about, practical.  But one thing, I have known is that a man that can talk deep philosophy gets me intrigued. Unfortunately, in my lifetime, I have not come across many. Living ones anyway. Until.

Until, I came across a Facebook page of a person who had most of his status updates and photos set to public. I saw photos first as one does when sussing out a completely innocent stranger. Before I even looked at his Facebook, I had put him in a box. The box which said, he has studied this, works as this so must be like this. Then I started reading his status updates, which rather than being one-liners were paragraphs of expression. I read with trepidation, then disgust at some and with a little bit of dread when reading the rest. Nevertheless, I read on and eventually started laughing out loudly. No one about in the house, I read and laughed, cringed a little and then repeated the process. Somewhere in all that I fell in love with his way of thinking.

I’ve had a smile about my face since then. I told the details of this to my confidant thinking she will set me straight. I even used the words like crazy, silly etc.as hints so she would repeat them back to me and I would come out of my emotional state. Even more hopeless romantic than myself, she instead encouraged me to make contact this stranger halfway across the world. You see, he doesn’t know I exist. He doesn’t know I have imagined our first contact, the words we might exchange or even plans we would make. (that’s what us over-imaginative girls do). He doesn’t know I have imagined him serenading me with poetry, running his hand over my cheeks, looking into my eyes; saying more than his lips ever could. So was this a crush or a bit more, I asked myself.

I have developed crushes before but reality usually hits very quickly for this overly romantic person. Before the rose colour has even faded from blushing sight of my crush, my imagination filled dreams are shattered due to one reason or another. I would hold onto that castle of imagination in my thoughts a little longer just for hope’s sake. Seeing the shattered pieces of my imagination upon my feet, I simply step over like my heart was never touched. I step over to build a new tower of dreams again for the next person that I think might be “the one”.

This little thought made me pause and reflect. Why do I allow myself to build mansions of dream? Why does my heart interfere so quickly before my brain has even the chance to object? The answer came that it was the elation I feel of wanting to love and be loved. Love with utmost passion, with abandonment of the world where all that matters is him and me. Is it possible to even find such a person who can hone in on my energy? Sigh! As I try to calm myself from the spell of his words and ponder, “What will become of this fervent lover?” Then again, I could take my friends advice and make contact. But then again…

Till I spoken words with my lips or heard his through my ears, he will remain the Socially Challenged person in his part of the world and I, his Zara, on this.

ELATION

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