Sunday, August 31, 2008

"This day have We perfected for you your religion and finalized Our blessing upon you, and We are pleased that Islam be your religion."

These words from the Quran are probably my favorite and remembering this message from Allah makes me feel very proud to be born a Muslim. God-willing everyone finds their goals fulfilled during this Holy month and I pray that we all attain closeness to Allah, peace of mind, humbled characters, completion of the Quraan at least once, and anything else we strive for individually.

I will pray my first Taraweeh of the month tonight (Taraweeh is the special prayer for Ramadan that can be offered by choice each evening, in which portions of the Quraan are recited). I must admit prepping for Ramadan this time was hard for me; I'm talking about just grasping the fact that Ramadan was approaching. Usually, there is a feeling I get before the start of the month and this time it just didn't occur to me until a few hours ago.

This is the first time in my life that Ramadan arrives at the end of the summer and that's probably the biggest reason I couldn't believe it until now (I'm used to days being shorter in Ramadan and the weather being chilly, so just the visual reminders were absent).

For those of you confused about why Ramadan doesn't occur the same time every year, in contrast to the Gregorian calendar, the Islamic year is dependent on the cycles of the moon. I would never do justice in trying to explain this, so here's a very good link at handy-dandy Wikipedia (I love that site...well most of it).

Well, I better get going and kick the month off to a good start (and hopefully maintain it that way through the end). I'm super excited Alhamdulilah! Oh, and I also get to start my new job on Tuesday, during this Ramadan, I think that's a blessing in disguise =D.

Have a blessed month, you and your families!


Hey all, Assalamaalaikum and Ramadan Mubarak - peace be upon you and a blessed Ramadan.
I am so excited about this one. Let's pray God-willing that our spirits and Iman (faith) will stay on a high, and continue in that direction for the rest of our lives.
I apologize for not posting so much, I have been meaning to, but I can never perfect what I would like to say.

Instead, here is a piece from a blog that I find inspirational. This is Layla Anwar's blog, a very educated Iraqi woman and her raw thoughts since the invasion of her country.

For those who are literalist in thinking and language, it can prove almost impossible for them to capture the essence of what I am trying to convey.

Take another example - the verb to Love in Arabic. There are over 99 ways to express the concept/feeling/state of Love in Arabic.

I am yet to come across a language that prides itself on its Love variations like in Arabic.

Love through and under all of its states is to be found in different verbs expressing the one thing -- Love. A yearning Love, a longing Love, a passionate Love , a liking Love , a burning Love, an infatuating Love, an ecstatic Love, a deep Love, a missing Love, a caring Love, a friendly Love, a bitter Love, a sorrowful Love, a grieving Love, a cruel Love, a platonic Love, a lustful Love, a waiting Love, a jealous Love, a possessive Love, a conquering Love....and keep counting over 90 variations of the verb to Love.

One state of Love in Arabic is "Shagan". "Shagan" is excessively hard to translate into English. Shagan is a state of Love where one experiences - yearning, longing, lamentation, waiting, nostalgia, tinged with a subtle taste of bitterness of something that has gone to pass but one is still hoping for...but nonetheless a creative, inspired state of Love, almost melodious in its Hopefulness...

See what I mean - this is the brilliance of the Arabic language, a language that combines in one word Shagan all those seemingly contradictory states of both despair and hopefulness -- of finally meeting and uniting with your Beloved, against all odds.

The state of Love produced by "Shagan" is a very peculiar one...It is an almost obsessive one...because everything reminds you and takes you back to the Beloved.

Everything - a smell, a color, a look, a familiar face, a taste, a perfume, a memory, a song, a melody, a scenery, a text, a letter, a book, a name, a word, a verb, a Language...

Painting: Iraqi artist, Abdul Hussain Al-Twaij.
The entry:

Perfect ending to a not -so- fun summer

Summer is done. The Olympics have long been over. Potential trip to NYC never happened. And school is starting. Again. Whoop de-freaking-do.(All you people who are excited to start school make me sick!) I didn't do anything this summer as I've stated numerous times. Whatever. I. Don't. Care. And although I would love to complain and bore you to tears, about my lack of... well..anything... this summer, there are some things that happened/are happening at the end of the summer that don't make it seem that bad.

  • Ramadan begins on September 1st. And thanks to Falling Up's post, I made a Ramadan resolution list that I intend on fulfilling, God willing.
  • My oldest sister, Sue, and Billy(my niece and nephew), are coming home from their overseas trip. I really missed those kids.
  • Controlled Chaos is back from her never-ending vacation. Thank God! Trying to manage this blog with a bunch of lazy writers, was just not my cup of tea. (No offense guys!) And theres a slight chance that I kinda sorta maybe possibly could have missed her. Just a tad bit.
  • Read as many books as I possibly could.
  • Looking forward to my last semester as an undergrad, God willing.
  • And I don't care how old I am, back to school shopping will never get old. And let me tell you the sales were pretty darn good! Just ask Artistic Logic ;)
  • Also looking forward to and excited about the new seasons of Grey's Anatomy, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, and Desperate Housewives. And the series premiere and return of 90210!!!!!!! I know these shows are pretty scandalous,but they are so addictive. (Their addictiveness in no way justifies their scandalousness though. Just saying.)
  • The fall season is almost here. So that means we're almost done with this hot, humid, sticky, and annoying summer weather. And maybe, just maybe, my summer allergies will end.
  • And lastly, there is a slight chance that I might have an extra two weeks off before I start Student Teaching, seeing as how my University Student Teaching director still has not placed me in a school or a school district. Let's see how that goes.

Ok so it's not exactly the perfect-est ending; so long as I'm content, that's all that matters.

And I'm content. Kind of.
If one cannot appreciate different races then one deserves to have his world in black and white.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back from India

Asalaam walaikum(peace be on you) and Hi everyone

First off, sorry I haven't written in a while, a long while. What can I say, I've been busy in India. Not to mention the internet there gives me a headache. I now have this huge appreciation for 'Falling Up' who writes from India.

I have so much to tell you guys about Hyderabad, the city I'm from. I was only gone for a little more than a month, but it feels like ages now. For example, i was sitting and catching up on the blog and I all of a sudden realized, I couldn't remember what my name was.
I mean my blogger name, not my real name. I don't have that bad of a memory. Thank god.

I'm even in this semi-depression. I know I'll get over it, but I can't but help miss the busy, simple, caring, Indian, non existent personal space, overpopulated, polluted, filled with amazing eating out options, and a somewhat nawabish life.
What's nawabish? It's not a kabab, if that's what you're thinking. A nawab is an urdu word to describe a lord( you know, like a feudal lord or some type of royalty).

You have servants to do stuff for you. And you go to the stores and people do stuff for you. No matter how much I may boss my younger brothers around to do something for me they would never replace the amazing feeling of having a servant. Don't get me wrong, I don't treat my brothers as servants, they usually say no and make me beg, not to mention they complain the entire time they're doing something for me. aahhh so useless...

I went to a mall with 'Falling Up' and I wanted to try on a pair of shoes. We tell one of the many salespeople who are standing around trying to find something to do. The guy takes the shoe I'm pointing it, runs off to the storage room, and comes back with a pair of shoes closest to my size (Can you believe they don't even have size 9 shoes? I left feeling like big foot). He then picks up my foot and puts the shoe on for me. And what do I do? I freak out like no other. Some guy just touched me, lifted my pant a little and fit a shoe on my foot. I don't shake hands with guys if I can help it and this went beyond anything that made me uncomfortable. But my freak out takes on the silent form and I just freeze in shock and then look at 'Falling Up' while my brain is still trying to process. I think if my freak-out had not taken a silent form, I would have kicked the guy right in his groin or gone for his neck. The effects of the shock lasted for a while. I think it was God's way of saving the guy's life or myself from latter embarassment.
The point of this story was to show you how much people do everything for you, not to tell you how violent I can be.

What can I say about Hyderabad? It's an amazing city. It's developing fast, real fast. But there are so many areas that are untouched. It has like two different worlds, or lifetimes co-existing. I tried capturing everything in pictures to show you guys. But my photography skills are nothing like artistic logics. To sum it up in a sentence, they kinda suck expecially when I'm trying to capture everything in an auto ( a three wheeler yellow taxi- you'll see the picture later). Actually no, I take it back. My camera sucks, yes my photography skills aren't anything close to artistic logic's but they don't suck, it's my camera. I'm getting my self a new one before I leave the country again insh'Allah (God willing) My camera is so slow, it's brain numbing. Half the things I wanted to take a picture of would never be caputured, just dust.

For now I'll leave you with this, soon I'll put up whatever pictures I managed to get and describe my trip. I'll probably do it in parts. Think of this post as a preview, and imagine some cool music playing like they do with movie previews.

This preview has been rated G

She went on a 12 hour journey to India Dish dadish dun dunn
Her brain had gone numb from watching 4 movies back to back Ta naa naaaaa
She was scared to go the bathrooms in the airport in Delhi but to her suprise they were clean and empty Dinuuu da nuuu
She missed her cat, and decided she would never want to get married in India. Dadunn
And evertime she had to cross a street, she knew it would be her last. BUT, it never was. Luck and her cousins kept her alive. Tanunn dun dishunn

Coming to the internet near you at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Lovely Year

sunset 08/20/08, originally uploaded by Rabujee.

Have you noticed, each day the sunset looks different from the one before? Hmm, random thought that comes to me every time I look at this photo. Ever since I snapped it a week ago, I watched the hues of the sky every evening at sundown and they're always different. Anyways, I thought that was pretty amazing, you should see for yourself. Its also amazing how looking through a lens opens my eyes a lot more to whats going on around me.

Flickr [the website where I upload all my photos] tells me on September 8th it will be an entire year since I took up this hobby. It passed by really fast, I still remember last autumn vividly. That was the first year of my life that I actually begun to enjoy seasons other than spring or summer. For 21 years I'd always loved warm weather, especially living in Michigan (winter sucks here), I longed for springs' arrival when school would be nearing the end and everything felt fresh. In high school, I actually enjoyed waking up early morning and being dropped off to school, or on the rare occasion when I walked the 7 or 8 blocks. But by midday everything got sort of stuffy and while the rest of the kids in my class would be dressed in their shorts, tank tops, tees, dresses etc., I was still wearing at least two layers to cover up properly (not that I regret doing that). Thats when I wished to hurry up and go home so I'd be one day closer to starting summer vacation. At least then I could dress lightly while I relaxed at home. Okay, I have no idea where this is going now lol but I guess I'm just reminiscing.

So where was I? Oh yea, enjoying different seasons...last years autumn was so beautiful and for the first time I felt it; the way the colors changed and the fact that the sun still shone brightly, warmly, yet the onset of evening brought a cool wind. And if you took a walk at that time, you'd feel it on your face, refreshing to your mind (sorry for sounding sappy but thats how I felt hehe). I guess, I always associated fall with loneliness or departure...maybe its just a natural reminder of death (at least thats how I used to see it). And I'm not denying that that is true...but I think theres another contrast here, that among all that change, there are still creatures preserving their liveliness each in their own way. Birds fly to a warmer climate, people put on more clothes (some do anyways lol), certain species go into get the picture.

Sunsets, in a similar right, are usually viewed as the end of something, am I wrong? Maybe thats just how I thought about it anyways, but isn't that really disappointing, to associate such a beautiful sight with something sad like an end of something? Couldn't a sunset be the beginning of something, like the time when you can await the arrival of the night and the moon. The moon is sometimes ignored, since we all go in our cozy homes before it even shines in the sky. Then we never set eyes on the sky again 'till the next morning when its gone. Maybe the sun's going down and spreading its colors across the sky are a way of it introducing the onset of the moon, like an orchestra that plays soft, melodious tunes before delivering the climax.

My main point here is that where there's an "end" there's surely a beginning. And, I don't know but I think that taking up photography helped me enjoy every experience a little bit more Alhamdulilah . And this time around, I'm looking forward to that first leaf that turns to its orange-ish hue. And I'll definitely jump on that big pile of crunchy leaves on the sidewalk, and I don't care how old I am =P.

P.S. Before you go, check out this short film by Alonso Alvarez, it was a winner this year at Cannes Short Film Online Competition. Anyways, check it, it kinda goes with this post...enjoy!

The Story of a Sign

And meanwhile we have gone on living...

I feel like that guy in the picture. Okay I am way better off, thanks to God for blessing me for everything that I have. But I feel like this right now.

I'm not allowed to eat meat until my liver is back to normal. I LOVE meat. Especially red meat. Too bad it's hard on the liver. So I've been off it for about a week and a half and am starting to get crabby...and hungry. I need to complain so here I am, cribbing about my lack of energy. I feel weak and light headed. Okay, I'm not that bad. But it could get to that. If I can't deal with no meat now, how am I going to deal with no food or water from dawn until dusk when Ramadan {the Muslim Holy month} starts??

Ramadan is coming up in a few days. The year has flown by and I am not mentally and spiritually prepared for this blessed month whatsoever. When I was little I thought fasting meant doing everything really really fast. lol. Ramadan is more than fasting from food. It's about fasting from speaking wrong, doing wrong, controlling one's anger, trying to be more generous/merciful, etc. Personally, I feel that it's about learning patience. I feel like few of us have patience and need to practice it. I speak first and foremost for myself.

Ramadan isn't just about going hungry; it's more about improving yourself as a Muslim and a human being and applying what you do in this month to the rest of the year and the rest of your life. It serves as a model, as a practice month. It takes about 40 days to build a new habit and 40 days to quit a habit. Around a month, right? Ramadan is a great time to drop the old, bad habits and pick up new, good habits. In this month we try to increase our worship and become closer to God.

Every year I make a list of Ramadan resolutions that I hopefully will be able to implement throughout the year. I have to keep in mind to not make drastic changes. The quicker I jump into something huge, the sooner I'll jump out of it. I want to be able to do something that I can apply to the rest of the year. Some of my goals for the upcoming month are:

  • To finish reading the Qur'an {Muslim book}
  • To learn the proper way to read the Qur'an {pronounciation}
  • To revise the chapters of the Qur'an that I've already memorized.
  • To be nicer to my sister
  • To be more patient and to control my anger
  • To stop being a baby and learn to accept things as they are instead of complaining all the time.

I'm sleepy. *yawns* I bet you it's because of the vegetarian diet.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's just how the religion and culture rolls

I feel like I haven't posted a "This day in History" post in a while. It seems like the random days I choose to see what happened on this exact day years ago, I can never find anything interesting. And when all else fails, I come and read old emails from the particular day in which we are in.I keep old emails from everyone. It's something I started doing when I switched to Gmail. Gmail has unlimited storage space. Well I'm sure it's not unlimited, but it seems like it. So because of that I don't throw away emails I get from friends and family.I started using Gmail in 2006, when Artistic Logic introduced it to me. Artistic Logic and I have emails from almost everyday since 2006. I like looking back on them and seeing what we were doing/talking about/latest drama in our lives.

So with that said, on this exact day ,August 23,2007, a year ago (according to the email I found), my brother met his future wife.

Before I get into that, I must explain that it was an arranged marriage. In South-Asian/Indo-Pak-Bengal culture, most marriages are "arranged"--so to speak. And yes, it does still happen even though it's the 21st century. And yes, it does still happen in America too, even though we're not in the "homeland". It's normal for most of us. Long story short, this is how it works: A proposal comes from somewhere, family does a bit of a "background check", if "background check" is good to go, guy meets girl, and girl meets guy. They talk for a bit, families get to know one another and if they like each other then it's a done deal. It becomes known in the community that the guy and girl are taken and betrothed to one another. And in a few months, while they get to know one another better (again depending on the family) the wedding reception is planned. I'm sure there are minor differences here and there, depending on the family, but for the most part, that's how it works. Or at least that's how it happened with my brother and sister in law. It may be weird to you, but like I said, it's normal for us. It's how the culture rolls.

So I remember when we went to go see my sister in law, it was a new experience for me. I was with my family and her entire family was there too. My sister in law was an acquaintance of ours. And so it was kinda awkward for me to see her in this situation.I had never been to a "meet and greet" before, except when I was like 10 or something, too young to remember anything. I remember sitting around and mingling with her relatives. My brother in the other room, sitting with her brothers, nervous as heck. my sisters and I kept staring and laughing at him. And we kept sending him text messages telling him to sit up straighter, converse more with her relatives, and to stop eating so much. And after about two hours of doing that, the guy and girl finally met. And they only talked for like ten minutes, max. It seems pretty weird, I know. My brother left that day, hoping she felt the same way that he did. And a couple of days later, he got his answer. From that initial meeting, they liked each other. And now a year later, my sister in law and brother are expecting their first child, God willing. And genuinely happy, I might add.

On a side note when people who aren't used to cultural norms such as these, hear about arranged marriages, they think it's backwards and too traditional. I've had many friends tell me that this is America and we don't have to do that anymore.And ask me why don't we just date and look for a spouse for ourselves, instead of our parent/guardian doing it for us. What they fail to understand is, that we aren't being forced into these marriages and the reason we still "practice"(for lack of a better word) is because that is how we were raised and that is just how our culture is.

Another aspect that coincides with arranged marriages in South Asian cultures is religion. Most people in the South Asian countries of Bangladesh and Pakistan, and parts of India, follow Islam. Islam prohibits a man and woman from dating.
Instead, in Islam relationships before marriage,of any kind, between members of the opposite sex is forbidden.

In most Muslim families, when the family and/or individual decides they want to get married, most abide by the following guidelines, as found on this website:
  • Young person makes du'a (prayer)for Allah(God) to help him or her find the right person
  • The family enquires, discusses, and suggests candidates. They consult with each other to narrow down potential prospects. Usually the father or mother approaches the other family to suggest a meeting.
  • Couple agrees to meet in chaperoned, group environment. The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said, "Not one of you should meet a woman(or man) alone unless she is accompanied by a relative ". The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) also reportedly said, "Whenever a man is alone with a woman, Satan is the third among them". When young people are getting to know each other, being alone together is a temptation toward wrongdoing. At all times, Muslims should follow the commands of the Qur'an (24:30-31) to "lower their gaze and guard their modesty...." Islam recognizes that we are human and are given to human weakness, so this rule provides safeguards for our own sake.
  • Family investigates candidate further - talking with friends, family, Islamic leaders, co-workers, etc. to learn about his or her character.
  • Couple prays salat-l-istikhara (prayer for guidance) to seek Allah's help in making a decision.
  • Couple agrees to pursue marriage or part ways. Islam has given this freedom of choice to both young men and women - they cannot be forced into a marriage that they don't want. Islam prohibits forced marriages.

This type of focused courtship helps ensure the strength of the marriage, by drawing upon family elders' wisdom and guidance in this important life decision. Family involvement in the choice of a marriage partner helps assure that the choice is based not on romantic notions, but rather on a careful, objective evaluation of the compatibility of the couple. That is why these marriages often prove successful.

It may be weird to you, but like I've been saying over and over and over, it's normal for us. And instead of thinking we're weird because of that, or "backwards" it would be beneficial for both parties to ask/answer questions and understand these practices/beliefs/culture/religion,etc.. better.

And after understanding it better, if it still seems weird, just know that for some of us, dating is weird.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mrs. Cullen: The Non-Smoker

Dear Friends,

I know I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks. I wish I had a really important reason for it but the truth is that I’m extremely lazy. Yes, I did go camping (twice) but after that, no excuse. I just sat around all day in my room doing absolutely nothing. I can’t believe summer is almost over and I have not read one book. [Breaking Dawn does not count. I wasn’t a book. It was a waste of life. A waste of time. A waste of the name book, I don’t know who the HE double hockey sticks gave it that name.] Anyways, I guess once again reality T.V. is my weakness. I have spent the last few weeks watching Big Brother 10 [don’t watch it, please]. But I guess I am glad that I watched it during the summer instead of a college semester, which I usually do. I have so much on my mind but first lets discuss my laziness. I am QUITE embarrassed of it. Genius people aren’t usually lazy. They are so busy doing genius things and saving the world. [Sigh.] Believe it or not, I am in a HUGE fight with someone because of my laziness. How pathetic is that? Person Anti-Laziness thinks I should be spending time with her instead of sitting around doing nothing. I agree!! I agree!! But I can’t do it. I just love my bed. So comfy. I just love my PJs and I have already worn them for 95% of summer, so why take them off now?? Not only did I get in a fight with Person Anti-Laziness [who by the way is not talking to me right now], I turned down so many opportunities to hang out with friends FOR NO REASON AT ALL. One particular example just happened a few days ago. I even got ready to go to the movie but then I didn’t feel like driving. I just sat home and did nothing. What is nothing?? Watching reality TV is doing nothing. Reading Breaking Dawn is doing nothing. Napping all day is doing nothing. Sitting on facebook all day is doing nothing. I am just full of nothingness.

Enough of my pathetic-nothingness life. One reason I didn’t hang out with Person Anti-Laziness has a lot to do with HOOKAH [aka SISHA, aka ARGEELA aka SOMETHING WORSE THAN SMOKING aka BAD IN MY BOOK]. Person AL always wanted to go to Dearborn [a city in southeastern Michigan with a large Arab population] to eat yummy food and smoke hookah. I am so down for eating [my most favorite thing in the world. So, if you are smart and put that together with my laziness, you will learn that I am overweight] but it’s the hookah that stops me. I don’t care if other people do it, I just don’t want to do it myself! And I feel that if I go with Person AL and friends, then I will fall into peer pressure and do it as well. Ok I don’t feel; I know that will happen [which is pretty weak of me]. Man do I hate hookah. Not just for being a stupid and unhealthy thing but for helping create this argument with myself and Person AL. I know I just usually blab on about nothingness but today in this post I just wanted to add this simple link thingy about hookah [for which you just need to click on the title of this post]. After reading that you will learn that hookah is worse than smoking so that should already put a RED ALERT in your head because we all know the consequences of smoking.

Yours for the sake of Peace, Brotherhood, and a Smoke-free Environment,
Mrs. Cullen

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind.....

I love reading books. If I could marry books I would. And I'm sure my fellow book lovers would agree with me when I say that it is my dream to either own a library. Or live in a library. Or both. I love being absorbed by the plot and getting away from reality. If only for a little bit. And when I've finished reading a book that I really, truly enjoyed, I feel like I lost a friend in the process. Weird, I know. But such is my attachment to books.

My summer vacation just started and since I'm not going anywhere and don't have anything spectacular planned, I figured I would just stay at home and read as many books as possible before life begins again. And I've recently found out that I like it better when someone recommends a book to me, instead of me perusing for endless hours trying to find a book that I might like. So if you're like me and would like some book recommendations , here's a list I put together for you, books that were recommended to me from various people (with a brief synopsis* and my own thoughts):

  • An Unexpected Light:Travels in Afghanistan by Jason Elliot
    • This is an account of Elliot's two visits to Afghanistan. The first occurred when he joined the mujaheddin circa 1979 and was smuggled into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan; the second happened nearly ten years later, when he returned to the still war-torn land. The skirmishes that Elliot painstakingly describes here took place between the Taliban and the government of Gen. Ahmad Shah Massoud in Kabul. Today, the Taliban are in power, but Elliot's sympathies clearly lie with Massoud. Although he thought long and hard before abandoning his plan to travel to Hazara territory, where "not a chicken could cross that pass without being fired on," Elliot traveled widely in the hinterland, visiting Faizabad in the north and Herat in the west. The result is some of the finest travel writing in recent years. With its luminous descriptions of the people, the landscape (even when pockmarked by landmines), and Sufism, this book has all the hallmarks of a classic, and it puts Elliot in the same league as Robert Byron and Bruce Chatwin.
      • I've just begin reading it. Will let you know how it turns out.
  • Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy.
    • At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy tells her story of great suffering and remarkable strength without sentimentality and with considerable wit. Vividly portraying the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasure of wanting to be special, Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect.
      • I really enjoyed this book because it was a memoir and because Grealy doesn't sugar coat things for you. She's straight to the point. And also this book deals with the ugly truth about society and how we perceive people based on looks.
  • The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
    • A lot of professors give talks titled "The Last Lecture." Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them. And while they speak, audiences can't help but mull the same question: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?
      When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn't have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave--"Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"--wasn't about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have...and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

      • Randy Pausch is a truly remarkable man. If you aren't into books, I would definitely recommend watching The Last Lecture on youtube or something. He is very inspirational and makes you realize that you should not take life for granted. More on Randy Pausch in another post.
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
    • Some failures lead to phenomenal successes, and this American nurse's unsuccessful attempt to climb K2, the world's second tallest mountain, is one of them. Dangerously ill when he finished his climb in 1993, Mortenson was sheltered for seven weeks by the small Pakistani village of Korphe; in return, he promised to build the impoverished town's first school, a project that grew into the Central Asia Institute, which has since constructed more than 50 schools across rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.
      • As a future teacher, I was really happy to see this man work so hard for so many years to provide the best education possible for children who truly needed it. Mortenson shows how you can fulfill all of your dreams with just the right push and not a lot of money.
  • Do not be Sad by Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarnee
    • Sheikh Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarnee authored a self-help best seller book about helping Muslims, as well as Non-Muslims cope with feelings depression of helplessness and for times when one feels discouraged and sad. This book is different from the many of similar kind in that it is written specifically from an Islamic perspective and referes to the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, and Hadith, yet also quotes western philosophers and thinkers whose words of wisdom are equally applicable in this context.
      • This was the first Islamic book that I felt attached to. It was just the book I needed during a rough patch in my life.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini.
    • Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.
      • If you havent read this book already, do so!
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    • Death himself narrates the World War II-era story of Liesel Meminger from the time she is taken, at age nine, to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family in a working-class neighborhood of tough kids, acid-tongued mothers, and loving fathers who earn their living by the work of their hands. The child arrives having just stolen her first book–although she has not yet learned how to read–and her foster father uses it, The Gravediggers Handbook, to lull her to sleep when shes roused by regular nightmares about her younger brothers death.
      • Haven't read this book yet, but am definitely interested in reading a book where "Death" is the narrator.

If you have any book recommendations, do share!

*I didn't want to give my own synopsis' of the books, didn't think I would do them justice. Majority of the reviews are from

Friday, August 15, 2008

A little bit about the green and white

happy bokeh day, originally uploaded by Rabujee.

A couple weeks ago I had my final exams for a couple courses I took this summer. I was studying in a group study session on the day of the last final when I was asked by one of my classmates where I am "originally from." I guess all this time he had been under the impression that I was of Arabian descent as most people assume owing to the Islamic head-covering I wear (termed Hijab in Arabic). When I told him I was from Pakistan he began to question me about the country's history. His first question was when did it break apart from Hindustan and become a sovereign state. I answered 1947 and he looked surprised and muttered something like "I thought it was like...1999." I was a bit amused at this and realized people really don't know much about Pakistan and since today (August 14th) is the official Independance Day of my land of origin, I thought to blog some little known facts about it that I researched. Hope you guys enjoy the read and learn a little from this. =)

Here goes:
1. Pakistan stands bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast.

2. Pakistan has been invaded by Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Turks, Afghans and Mongols, in the past (how come the British aren't included in this list as well??).

3. The geography of the country ranges from high mountains in the south to hills in the west. Vehement rivers, steep valleys, snow covered peaks and gigantic glaciers make up the north of the country. (Nope, its not all desert)

4. It is the home of 8 languages of which the national language is Urdu (not Pakistanian as I've heard some people say lol) and the offical language is English. The remainder include Balochi, Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Sindhi and Siraiki.

5. The majority follow Islam followed by a minority of Christians and Hindus.

6. Like the USA has 50 states, Pakistan has 4 provinces: Punjab, Sindh, NWFP and Baluchistan. (NWFP is short for North Western Frontier Province)

7. Pakistan is home to the second highest mountain on earth called K2 (after Mount Everest); this mountain comes in the Karakoram mountain range.

8.Mehrgarh, lying on the Kachi plain of Balochistan, dates back to 6000 BC and is one of the earliest known farming villages in the Indus Valley.

9. Pakistan has the second largest Muslim population in the world, after Indonesia.

10. The silk route actually exists in Pakistan today, built in the 60's and 70's by the Pakistani and Chinese government. This unique highway follows the ancient silk road over a breathtaking knot of mountain ranges that incorporates the Karakorum, Pamir, Kunlun, Hindukush, and Himalaya mountains.

11. Pagan tribes also still exist but more and more are converting to Islam. These are people known as the Kalash residing in the Hindu Kush mountains (specifically in Chitral). (If I could add a photo, I would but seriously guys look up the Kalash on flickr or google images , they are a unique people).

12. Finally, lets pay some homage to my Bangladeshi friends =D. Yes, Pakistan was initially two regions, East and West named for their location relative to India. East Pakistan gained independance in 1971 and became Bangladesh.

Well, that should do for now although this doesn't even put a dent into the rich culture, diversity, and history of Pakistan. Its one of my goals, God-willing, to learn about it one day AND be able to tour the different regions of the country and see/experience everything first-hand.
Lastly, a little about the picture I posted. Well, I was supposed to take a more fitting picture today but due to a MASSIVE migraine I just couldn't get to it. SO, I dug into the archives and found this. I chose it mainly for the colors green and white as they are the colors of the Pakistani flag.

And, of course its not August 14th anymore so I'm already late on this post. 15 minutes into August 15th and I guess I'll leave with a Happy Independance Day to India now. In fact, Happy Independance Day to all of Southeastern Asia tehehe.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Everything's Going to Be All Right!

I've had a trying couple of days and a very VERY traumatic day today. Thank God no one is hurt but there are a bunch of other issues that we need to solve. Ugh! Anyways, I wanted to write out a post but I am too tired and shook up. I've been meaning to post about this for quite some time but I think I'll just post this for case anyone reading this is going through stressful times like me.

So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief . {Qur'an 94:5-6} God mentions this twice. He doesn't make promises He won't keep. And He stressed this twice in a row. So no matter how bad things seem, remember this: everything's going to be all right.

God does not burden any person with more than he can bear.{Qur'an 2:286}. If He put you through it, He will pull you through it.

"Seek help in steadfastness and prayer. But that is a very hard thing, except for the humble." {Qur'an 2:45}. Indeed. We need to constantly remind ourselves to remember God in these times and that He WILL helps us. All we have to do is ask.

“Wondrous are the believer’s affairs. For him there is good in all his affairs, and this is so only for the believer. When something pleasing happens to him, he is grateful, and that is good for him; and when something displeasing happens to him, he is patient, and that is good for him” (Muslim). We have to turn to God for everything. In good times be grateful. In hard times be patient and Remember God.

I went to a Islamic camp thing a few years ago and one of the scholars mentioned that God tests the ones He loves. And you are tested for mainly three things
  1. To be elevated in His eyes
  2. To become stronger
  3. For expiation of your sins
Anyways, I'm going to go now before my computer dies again. Looking up this stuff made me feel better. I hope these verses of the Qur'an and Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad Peace be upon him helped you, too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Happiness deep down within....

Originally uploaded by Rabujee

Couple of things/thoughts that made me smile today:

  • Looking at Artistic Logic's photography over the past year,especially her first attempts at photography (see above picture) and knowing I was one of the first few that she came to for critique and an opinion.
  • Summer tuition bill paid off!
  • Knowing that I'm almost done with the summer semester. I only have one final exam left and it's the last class for my Teacher Education program before Student teaching. Alhamdullilah! Almost there!
  • Going to the public library and seeing a dad reading to his daughter.
  • Reading old emails from this exact date last year (08/11/2007) where I was asking my friends for pics for a slideshow that I was putting together for my Speech class. The theme of the speech was "Ceremonial" , i.e. wedding toasts, acceptance/presentation of an award, congratulatory speech, farewell presentation,etc. I chose to do a speech on the eve of our hypothetical graduation ceremony where I'm with my closest friends and I'm giving a toast to them. I think that's what it was.
  • Watching two homeless men play an intensive game of chess
  • One of my closest friends being back from Mexico.
  • Going to work and not feeling the negative emotions I usually feel.
  • Thinking about my resignation as supervisor. (Oh by the way, did I mention that I resigned as supervisor: one of the best decisions of my life)
  • And also knowing that I'm quitting that job in December, God willing, helps too. Countdown has officially begun :)
  • The three hours I spend at work going by pretty fast.
  • Finally finding a book about the last Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) life, that I feel content with.
  • Approach of Ramadan, the 9th month of the Islamic calendar. Also the month where Muslims observe fasting from dusk til dawn.
  • Knowing that someone, somewhere, out there is making a special prayer for me. I can seriously feel it, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
  • And lastly this poem that was originally uploaded with the picture above:
Happiness deep down within.
Serenity with each sunrise.
Success in each facet of your life.
Family besides you.
Close and caring friends.
Health, inside you.
Love that never ends.
Special memories of all your yesterdays.
A bright today with much to be thankful for.
A path that leads to a beautiful tomorrow.
Dreams that do their best to come true.
Appreciation of all the wonderful things about you.

Friday, August 8, 2008

One world, One dream

That is the official slogan for the 2008 Olympics. The Olympic games begin today. 08/08/08. This is what you would call History in the making.

I'm super excited for them. I love watching the gymnastics portion.

And I was watching the commercials for this years Olympics, and I was really happy to see a Muslimah(Muslim female) athlete. Not really sure which sport or country she represents, but happy to see her nonetheless.

I guess I was living under a rock because after doing some research I found out that this is not the first time that Muslim women have taken part in the Olympics. The most Muslim women athletes that have taken part in the Olympics was in 2004, where there were more than 50 Muslim women representing their respective countries. Among these women were Friba Razayee, who was the first woman to compete for Afghanistan at the Olympics, setting a historical record for her country. And Rubab Raza, was the first female swimmer Pakistan sent to the Olympics. And Egypt, alone, had 15 Muslim women participating the Olympics.

I'm not sure who the Muslim women are in this years Olympics, but I'm going to try to find out. I've never followed the Olympics like other devout fans, but I think I'll watch more of it this year. The kickoff for the Olympics begins at 7:30/6:30 today. Don't miss it!

Monday, August 4, 2008

There's no wrong way.. to eat a Reeses

I want to keep this one short.

My half-sister (who happens to be Christian) left up an away message that simply said: "God answers PRAYER!" This made me smile. It's so obvious to anyone, isn't it?

And then today, I came across this beautiful hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings on him):

Narrated by An-Nu'man ibn Bashir(may God be pleased with him):

Allah's Messenger (Peace and blessings upon him) said:
Supplication (du'aa) is itself the worship. (He then recited:) "And your Lord said: Call on Me, I will answer you" (xI.60).

[source: Sunan of Abu-Dawood 147]

Glory be to God (SubHanAllah). How simple is that. I don't know about you, but I always feel like I just keep coming up short, with my 'ibadah that is (my worship). And then my Lord tells me that He loves most for me to simply... talk to Him. Captain Obvious strikes huh? But of course, God has no need for our prayers and our good deeds; in Islam we reduce nothing from His kingdom (the universe) and we add nothing to it (to Him belongs all things, and to Him all returns) -- which reminds me of a thought I had a while ago that I will continue to bring up here and there.. That God intended the destruction of the universe the moment He created it. That thought is inescapable in the study of physics.

So why are we asked to pray? to worship? The depth of this is actually simple.. Love. There are other elements, but all that drives a true devotee of faith is love. (If I got into that discussion though, I wouldn't be keeping this short, would I?)

The reminder is really about God's love. Nothing is ours and All is His. He says, "Call on ME! I will answer you!" He says, "Ask from me, I will feed you! I will clothe you! I will shelter you!" He loves to hear the complaints of HIS creation. So when we spend so much time complaining.. (on blogs, on the phone with our friends, moaning and groaning to anyone that will hear it), we need to stop ourselves for a minute and think, "wait a minute! no one wants to hear this crap.. except... my Lord!" and complain to the Lord. Meanwhile, we get ajr (good deeds) for doing so. I hope that will provoke you to start invoking (your Lord) ;). Like eating a reeses (i think?) there's no wrong way.. to supplicate!

Muslims know that the central concept behind Salah (the ritual prayer we perform at least 5 times a day) is to show our gratitude to the Lord for His blessings and mercy. So that's what worship is all about, yes? Gratitude.

And yet, here we are told that the opposite of gratitude -- Complaint -- is a form of worship.

... How cool is that?

... Could there be a more Merciful, or a better God?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Random thoughts I thought of today.

If you don't love yourself, why should anyone else?

I am so lucky to have my health. Thank You, God.

There's beauty in everything because it was created by God. You just have to take a closer look, sometimes. I am beautiful. And so are you.

Don't be mean to people for no reason because if something horrible ever happened to them you would feel guilty.

If you have beef with someone...let it out. It saves time and energy.

You can't please everyone. Forget trying to please them all at the same time all the time. Do what you gotta do. Everyone else can just deal with it.

I love it when I have a stupid grin on my face and I don't know why. We don't need a reason to be happy, but a reason to frown. Sometimes I think people have it the other way around.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Feliz Cumpleaños

On August 2, 1995 (exactly 13 years ago) my youngest sister was born. She is the youngest out of four sisters and one brother.
I remember that day very clearly. I can't write a post about my other siblings' birthdays because obviously I can't remember anything from their birth.

Anywho, on that day, my mom and dad left us four sisters home alone (my brother was in an Islamic School in New York at the time). They didn't tell us where they were going. Ok, I lied. I think my dad made up some lame excuse like my mom's hand hurt so he was taking her to the doctors. They never told us that my mom was pregnant. I never even realized that my mom was pregnant. I don't even think I knew what being pregnant was. Okay I must admit here that me, as well as my siblings, are very oblivious to certain facts. And apparently my mom being pregnant was one of them. How we missed that, I have no idea. I blame it on living such a sheltered life. Either that or my parents were to0 embarrassed to tell us that my mom was pregnant .Not embarrassed of the pregnancy, mind you, but I guess just talking about it with their children made them shy? Who knows. I never asked and never will.

All I know is that one minute my sisters and I were watching 90210 [I know what you're thinking. Why were a bunch of girls, from the age range of 4-13 watching 90210. What can I say? We really liked it and had older teeny bopper cousins who made us watch it with them] and the next minute my dad gives us a call and tells us that we have a new baby sister. I'm serious, that's how it happened. One minute my mom's hand was hurting, next thing you know, she was giving birth.

I tell ya, I had one interesting childhood.

Anyways, clearly it is my younger sister's birthday today, and in an attempt to be nice to her (since I'm the only one that is incapable of being nice to her apparently) I wanted to wish her a Happy and wonderful 13th birthday! May your teen years be filled with acne and attitude as was mine. Just kidding..hehe. (And yes, she will read this because I force all of my siblings to read this blog)

Friday, August 1, 2008

"I always fear that creation will expire before tea time."

Okay, I'm back from the exam hiatus and the forewarning is that this post has nothing to do with the photo nor the title. Thanks for understanding ;).

So most of you that know me, know I don't mind housework, chores, cleaning, cooking, organizing, doing all those things which some of us *ahem* run away from (or dream of hiring help for, someday). But as much as I don't mind spending time on such things, there are still a few chores that are so irritating to do.

I just put the laundry in the washer, then the dryer, now its sitting upstairs in the hallway waiting to be folded and put away. Its easy to avoid for some time but honestly I can't relax when I know theres still something I have to do, and because its something I hate to do I just put it off but keep thinking about it in the back of my mind, oye its so annoying.

Another thing I hate doing is vacuuming, seriously I just hate lugging around a heavy vacuum, up the stairs, down the stairs, etc... And even more hateful than the actual vacuuming is cleaning out the detachable "dust bin" (for lack of proper terminology). All that dust you spent so much time cleaning up, now flies out again and is airborne and ready to settle back on your floor, tables, carpet, and so on. And then imagine vacuuming on a really hot, humid day and you have this big machine spewing out hot air all around you. *Sigh*

But I guess, until I strike it rich and can hire a maid, I'll have to continue doing these things...or make my sister do them (hehe).

As for long-term plans, I can always marry a house-husband, right? Mind you, one of my best friends has never touched the laundry, since the day she got married four years ago. Her husband has done it all with no complaints =D.

I guess it is possible but not that probable.

Alrighty, off to fold I go. =\.