Saturday, September 20, 2008


Thank you, thank you, CatsJellicle, for sharing this link.

'Observing Ramadan' from the Boston Globe's 'Big Picture' section. So very nice.

About time to leave, you think...

...when you get smacked by a truck driver?

Today, while inching along and balancing precariously in bumper-to-bumper, horrorific traffic near Dairy Circle on my Old Reliable, I got attacked by a monster.
There I was, trying to ride in a straight line with my very large and heavy brother seated behind me, shoulders and back aching with the effort (not to mention under tremendous psychological pressure because in spite of the abominable traffic I didn't want to weave and ride out of line or 'break any rules') when this speed demon in a big truck starts honking like a madman right behind me. Please note there was no place to go ahead, WE WERE IN A TRAFFIC JAM for God's sake! But apparently I was cramping his style and I could hear a continued barrage of screams and cusses from behind. So I ignored him and continued my careful balancing act. When suddenly this beast vrooms up alongside, sticks his scrawny neck out his window and to my great shock and horror starts yelling at me, pointing and shouting stuff at me I had done him some personal wrong (like laughed at his clothes or something). I swear he was almost frothing and foaming at the mouth and I wanted to reach out and give him one tight slap, like MTV. Except I didn't.
I asked him to shut up and try driving straight, and this was possibly the last straw because stud muffin then swerves dangerously in front of my bike, leans out of his window and... hits me on the helmet! Then races away, nearly killing people on the fly. Aiiiiyayyayyayai!
If anything can knock the wind out of me, it's people's rudenes, and here I was subject to just so much of it as one can take in a lifetime.

I mean, what, what, what? What the hell was this?
Like a loser, seething in anger and still unable to digest what had just happened to me, I pulled up next to a traffic cop (in spite of my chequered past with this set) and in a very uncomposed and disturbed, damsel in distress state ( I know, shameful, but I was actually shaken and very out of sorts at that point) narrated what had happened. I asked him to get the next cops to hold up the damn truck (already visualising myself pointing at the loser in court saying, "It was he!" and the jury- which we don't have in India, I know- saying, "Guilty on all 300 charges of attempted murder"), but Traffic Cop just asked for the vehicle number and said he would register a case of 'rash driving' against him.
Well, what else?

Hmmmph. I'm leaving. It never used to be like this.

Good Gawde writes about his disillusionment with the Mumbai he grew up in.
Let's talk about right here right now. I've been in Bangalore since the infantile age of 15 so that takes care of my growing up years, I think.
Back in '97 it was a lovely, quiet, cool (climatically and otherwise) place.
And today it comes to this. Rowdies on the road bonking law-abiding, smaller-sized citizens on the head and getting away with it.

Tchah, I tell you, it ruined my day of fasting it did. More's the pity.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Really now.

F1 season heading to another frenzied end with one point separating McLaren's Lewis Hamilton from Ferrari's Felipe Massa. If the stewards this year continue to behave as they have so far, viz. abominably, no surprise if the Reds come out on top.

Bah. Read this CNN article.

(PS: I hate CNN. But still.)

Koffee with Kimi

Kimi let slip a funny the other day.
“You don't have to be Einstein to understand that this is not the right way to fight for the title,” said Raikkonen. “It's not over yet, but now it will take a miracle, like one that makes lightning strike twice.”

Erm. Kimi, you also don't have to be Einstein to undertsand that there is nothing miraculous about lightning striking twice. Lightning strikes a thousand times, a million times, has been doing so since the world came to be.
I think you mean lightning striking the same spot twice. Hmmm. Yes.

(Very much like Preity Zinta on KJo's show. "Skimmerish," said the intelligent Zinta.
Tee hee.)

Sorry, sorry. I like Kimi, even. Am just being catty.

Who Speaks for Islam?

Extracts from very interesting Gulf News article I found just now:

"In this five-part series, carried every Friday during Ramadan, Gulf News publishes excerpts from the fascinating conclusions of the largest ever opinion survey of the world's Muslims, carried out by Gallup. 'Who speaks for Islam?' by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed was published by Gallup Press.
What do the world's one billion Muslims really think? What does the silent majority of Muslims want for their lives, and in their politics? Why are the aspirations of the vast majority of Muslims in direct contrast to most of the world's impressions of Muslims?

1. "The religion of Islam and the mainstream Muslim majority have been conflated with the beliefs and actions of an extremist minority.
The vital missing piece among the many voices weighing in on this question is the actual views of everyday Muslims. With all that is at stake for the West and Muslim societies - indeed for the world's future - it is time to democratise the debate."

2. "- Dream jobs: When asked to describe their dreams for the future, Muslims don't mention fighting in a jihad, but rather getting a better job.
- Radical rejection: Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustified.
- Religious moderates: Those who condone acts of terrorism are a minority and are no more likely to be religious than the rest of the population.
- R.E.S.P.E.C.T.: Muslims around the world say that the one thing the West can do to improve relations with their societies is to moderate their views toward Muslims and respect Islam.
- Clerics and constitutions: The majority of those surveyed want religious leaders to have no direct role in crafting a constitution, yet favour religious law as a source of legislation."

3. "While Sharia is widely depicted as a rigid and oppressive legal system, Muslim women tend to have a more nuanced view of Sharia, viewing it as compatible with their aspirations for empowerment. For example, Jenan Al Ubaedy, one of 90 women who sat on Iraq's National Assembly in early 2005, told the Christian Science Monitor that she supported the implementation of Sharia. However, she said that as an assembly member, she would fight for women's right for equal pay, paid maternity leave, and reduced hours for pregnant women. She said she would also encourage women to wear hijab and focus on strengthening their families. To Ubaedy, female empowerment is consistent with Islamic values."

4. "A growing number of Muslim women are choosing to cover their heads, while others do not."

5. "Though no society is free from racial prejudice, Muslims take great pride in what they regard as Islam's egalitarian ideals.
For example, a Moroccan World Poll respondent says what he admires most about the Muslim world is Islam's message of racial equality. "I have a high regard for Islam's values and teachings and the non-racial attitudes of Muslim people." The Quran emphasises the unity of believers around a shared faith, regardless of ethnicity or tribe."

6. "- Faith and family are core values in Muslims' lives, and Muslims regard them as their societies' greatest assets.
- Jihad has many meanings. It is a "struggle for God", which includes a struggle of the soul as well as the sword. The Islamic war ethic prohibits attacking civilians."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Prof. Maimoona Murtaza Malik & others

DISCLAIMER: Post on religion and related topics. Aaaargghhh! Steer clear those of you who will have nothing to do with either. Go to the tags that say 'nonsense' instead. There's so much of that on my blog. :)
Folks who have any knowledge/interest on the following may please comment. Else, please refrain. Thank you, thank you.

It also must be added that a great deal of the charm and attraction the following personalities and their shows hold for me has to do with the beauty of the language. I am a sucker for well-spoken and well-used Arabic, Urdu and Farsi, which I think are the most beautiful languages in the world and when you throw in the heady subject matter of Islam, I'm quite hooked.

Allors! Here we go.

1. Professor Maimoona Murtaza Malik
I am a big fan. Of this lady and certain other speakers I have been following of late.
I have been watching the graceful, classy, very well-read and eloquent Prof. Malik on QTV's Ramadan ladies' special, Khawateen Time, as regularly as I can. And she leaves an impact, she does. I am going to try and be like her. Haw haw. (Khawateen Time is a call-in program, apart from having one topic of discussion a day. Have tried calling in with no success. Have a few quick questions off the top of my head that I'd like sorted out by a scholar like her.)
Prof. Maimoona Murtaza Malik exudes calm and grace, and as a clincher, talks with such a voice of reason and understanding as makes me want to pick up many books and start learning more. (And she wears lovely abayas...!)
For her DVD's, you can check out her section on Sahulat Bazaar. I've already ordered some stuff.
Aside: Controversy has to surround a good thing. Arguments on various public forums (fora?) about whether Prof. Maimoona Malik is Sunni or Shia. I ask, how does it matter? *rolling eyes*

2. Dr Israr Ahmed
High on my Favourites List is one Dr Israr Ahmed. Oh my Lord, he's very brilliant. He's got a huge bank of knowledge, and what an orator! He doles out poetry by the ladleful, he spews beautiful Urdu, Farsi, Arabic and English quotes like an... err, I can't give an appropriate simile - what else spews poetry so admirably? Caught his lecture on shirk recently and it made my blood run cold. Time to get in line, Saab.
[Booming voice: "Man salla yuraa'ee, faqad ashraka..."
etc. Nice edits too by QTV, with reverb effects, to drive home the horror perfectly! :)]
The thing about Dr Israr Ahmed. He is certainly not what I would call calm or quiet a la Prof. Maimoona. He has a big voice, filled with expression and drama. But he is not a poser. The subject matter of his discourses is such that his style of oration is very suited to it. So, for realism and sincerity, and of course, for being so appropriately moved by the right things, he gets my vote.
Trivial trivia: Dr Israr Ahmed was very close to Allama Iqbal. In fact of point I believe he was almost considered a son to the great poet.
Aside: I read somewhere that Dr Israr Ahmed has courted controversy in the past over his comments on Shia Muslims, as well as for his statements on 'global Jewish/Zionist hegemony'. Can't say anything about this since I haven't seen or heard for myself.
In general, on the former, let's just say I don't subscribe to intra-Islamic rifts at all and as for the latter, well that's an open book.

3. Mufti Muhammad Akmal Qadri:
Then there's Ahkam-E-Shariat, hosted by Mufti Muhammad Akmal Qadri, whom I've respected since some years now when I first watched him at home in Jammu. (That was the month of Ramadan as well, and my first truly satisfying one, come to think of it.)
Ahkam-E-Shariat is a lovely program, which as the name suggests, deals with practical matters as looked at by Shar'ia. Regular folks like you and me can call in and ask Mufti saheb to clear any doubts we might have in the clear light of the Holy Qur'an and the hadeeth. Which, let's face it, is the only way for Muslims to look at things. And in between replying to all queries, he touches upon a new topic each day, and in great detail.
Once again what is most admirable about Mufti Qadri is his personality. The male version of Prof Maimoona Malik in terms of grace, level-headedness, stright-talking and quiet.

How I prefer calm, reasonable and intelligent religious discourses of the Prof. Maimoona-/Mufti Qadri-kind to cocky, derisive, condescending speeches that I often find being aired on other channels.
The voice of reason, understanding, clarity and grace is the need of the hour. This is the true picture of Islam that should be showcased to the world, and I speak especially of the impact on non-Muslims who migt be tuned in (by mistake or otherwise). As if Islam isn't vilified enough by the media at large, when we have big names, loud rants and big publicity following cheap production values, it doesn't throw an accurate or too-good light on us.
Unfortunately and surprisingly, it is these playing-to-the-gallery speakers on Islam who are high on the popularity charts. How the masses love them. Gaaah. Wherefore education? Oh, well. Moving on.


Sahih Bukhari Hadith 3.123
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) said, "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained."

Obviously the month of Ramadan does special things to one, spiritually speaking, and this Ramadan in particular I have been very affected. To pick a current analogy from Obama: It is time for CHANGE.
And that's coming up in short order, insha'Allah. I head back home to Jammu and Kashmir and do things that really matter, help with the folks and in general prepare for The Afterwards. This is a very big deal to me and ideally should have been from the very beginning, but there's no time like now to make amends.
Onwards then...

I am so looking forward to this next phase.
"As for those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths."
(Al-Ankabut, 29:69)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Five For Five!

That's right. Straight sets even. Superb, Roger Federer.