intellectual property rights: This blogger firmly believes in intellectual and other property rights. Links have been given to the material including images and maps used from outside sources. The blogger requests pointing out any material that have escaped this policy.
Today: consumption kills eco-systems; fraud, greed, grand larceny and theft bring down world's finances; deceit, infidelity and instant gratification destroy families; murders and wars have left us without peace or stability. On top we have droughts, earthquakes, floods, storms, tsunamis … has the world gone mad! Submit now to Allah before it is too late - to the One and Only God, the Creator, Lord and Sustainer of the universe, Unique in His Person and Actions, without any blemish, weakness or relatives. Follow the Sunnah of Muhammad (the last Messenger and Prophet - upon whom be the peace and blessings of Allah), and join those who will be the really successful ones.

see end of page for buttoned useful links

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A typical Jewish-American success story

The greatest fraud in the history of the US was exposed in December 2008. Bernie Madoff perpetuated a $50 billion ponzi scheme fraud on his formerly wealthy investors. The size of the losses is mind boggling - three times the size of the proposed bailout of the US automakers. His entire investment fund has been a big lie for decades. The immorality of his actions is incomprehensible. Charities have been wiped out, the life savings of entire families have been lost, and innocent lives have been ruined. The potential sentence of 20 years in a country club prison and $5 million fine is not nearly equal to the pain caused by this man’s immoral evil actions. This man was well respected by the Wall Street investment community, a prominent Jewish philanthropist, and part of the wealthy high society crowd located in West Palm Beach. This begs the question, if this man has been running this type of scam for decades, how many more are out there on Wall Street? After a year of never ending tales of scandal, fraud, lies, greed and mismanagement, this episode should be the final straw which convinces the American public the investment game is rigged and they do not have a chance.

This tragedy is a failure of morality, a failure of regulation, failure of unbridled capitalism and a failure of common sense. Bernie Madoff started his firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities in 1960 with $5,000. It started as a classic American success story and is ending as an American tragedy. Mr. Madoff had a spectacular rise on Wall Street. His firm was one of the founding members of the NASDAQ. He emerged as one of the key leaders in the rise of the NASDAQ and eventually became Chairman of its Board. Madoff served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University, as well as Treasurer of its Board of Trustees. An college class in ethics in his youth may have benefitted Mr. Madoff’s clients. His firm was one of the top market makers on Wall Street. His estimated net worth grew to between $200 and $300 million. He adapted easily to his rise from humble beginnings to immense wealth. He owns estates in Roslyn, N.Y., Montauk, Long Island, a luxury apartment that occupies the entire12th floor on Manhattan's Upper East Side valued at more than $9 million. He also owns mansions in Palm Beach and France and is a member of the Palm Beach Country Club. He also possess a 55-foot fishing boat named "Bull." After this week’s revelations, it seems appropriate that one of George Carlin’s words you can’t say on TV should have been added to “Bull”. His offices were located in the famous “Lipstick” building in NYC. The building is famous for being shaped like a lipstick case. The building could be considered shaped like a less flattering sexual object, and is more fitting to what Mr. Madoff did to his investors.

Search "The Lipstick Building" on the net.

The words on Mr. Madoff’s website now seem gravely ironic. "In an era of faceless organizations ... Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC harks back to an earlier era in the financial world: The owner's name is on the door. Bernard Madoff has a personal interest in maintaining the unblemished record of value, fair-dealing, and high ethical standards that has always been the firm's hallmark." It is doubtful that the words “high ethical standards” will grace Mr. Madoff’s gravestone. Even as his ponzi scheme was unraveling, his high ethical standards led him to try and distribute his $200 to $300 million to family, friends, and employees before the victims of his crimes could attempt to recover some of their money. It is too soon to conclude what the long term effects of this scandal will have on our financial system. It is likely that the name Bernard Madoff will go down in the history of ignominy with Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Ken Lay, Bernie Ebbers, and Dennis Kazlowski as examples of the most disgraceful behavior in the history of our financial markets.

How can a man live such a Big Lie for decades and sleep soundly at night? Aspects of Theodore Dreiser’s classic novel An American Tragedy are evident in this heartrending story. Dreiser’s theme of the desire to rise up socially and financially in modern America holding the very seeds by which such desires are denied is clearly apparent in this tale of woe. The lure of materialism isn't solely the acquisition of wealth and goods, but the attraction such wealth and goods holds over people, often at the expense of other values. As Mr. Madoff’s success grew, his desire to attain ever higher social status must have led him to take more risk and use illegal means to continue up the social ladder. This overwhelming aspiration for acceptance and accolades in the wealthiest high society of Manhattan and West Palm Beach, led this man to risk everything. The result has been a tragedy of epic proportions. This fraud is reminiscent of the 1938 indictment of the respected former President of the NYSE Dick Whitney for looting his firm, friends, relatives, and charities of millions to fund his high society lifestyle. Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it.

The definition of a ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that involves paying abnormally high returns to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from net revenues generated by the business. Mr. Madoff’s investment firm ponzi scheme was incredibly unsophisticated. He was spectacularly successful at marketing his fund to the ultra-rich Jewish communities in New York and Florida as well as Europeans at ski competitions attended by the rich ruling elite. His fund generated returns of 12% to 13% per year consistently for decades. The fund only had five losing months since 1996. The market has had dramatic monthly moves over this time. It is a virtual statistical impossibility for an investor to have such a consistent record through bull and bear markets. Madoff refused to provide his clients online access to their accounts. He sent out accounting statements by mail, whereas most hedge funds email statements and allow them to be downloaded via computer for easier analysis by investors. His books were audited by a three-person accounting firm, Friehling & Horowitz, operating out of a 13-by-18 foot location in an office park in New York City’s northern suburbs. A $17 billion fund could not possibly be audited by one partner and one accountant. These facts were all warning signals that many skeptical investment analysts had pointed out years ago to the SEC and in articles in Barron’s.

It was not topnotch undercover investigating that revealed this fraud. The SEC investigated Madoff’s firm twice in the last eight years and found nothing. Madoff’s son-in-law was an SEC official. The SEC has an annual budget in excess of $900 million and has failed miserably in its mission to protect investors. The oversight of hedge funds has been virtually non-existent during the Bush administration. Again, Alan Greenspan, the patron saint of free markets, proved his prescience in 2000 when he campaigned before Congress to not regulate hedge funds. He described hedge funds as “a vibrant trillion-dollar industry dominated by U.S. firms. They are essentially free of government regulation, and I hope they will remain so. Why do we wish to inhibit the pollinating bees of Wall Street?” These killer bees have contributed greatly to the biggest financial destruction of wealth in history. What are the odds of one man being on the wrong side of every major financial debacle in our country in the last ten years? Mr. Greenspan wins the grand prize again.

What brought down Bernie Madoff was not his guilty conscious, but redemptions of $7 billion from investors that overwhelmed his ability to pay them from new funds. The story that he wants everyone to believe is that he was the only one who knew about the fraud. His brother, two sons, niece, and other family members held high level positions in the firm. It is beyond believability that none of these people knew what was going on. A $50 billion fraud can not be perpetuated by one man acting alone. It certainly appears that as a 70 year old man, he is attempting to shield his family members who should also be spending 20 years in prison. If he was truly remorseful, he would have done the world a favor and taken a swan dive off his 12th floor balcony. Instead, he will hire high powered lawyers, using his phony wealth, to extend his life of luxury secluded in his 12th floor hideaway. This is a man who gives Ponzi a bad name.

Ultimately, Mr. Madoff will be judged by his Maker. A special place in Hell awaits him, next to Hitler, Stalin, and Timothy McVeigh. The victims of his crimes are many. The Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation has lost its entire $8 million endowment; The North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System and the Texas-based Julian J. Levitt Foundation have lost millions; the town of Fairfield, Conn. has seen 15 percent of its retiree pension fund totaling $42 million vanish; Maxam Capital Management run by Sandra Manzke has been wiped out; Tremont Capital Management has lost millions; and thousands more have lost their life savings. A personal story told by Minyanville writer Justin Rohrlich about his grandfather addresses the true heart braking tragedy of this man’s immoral actions.

A personal account from James Quinn

“Last night, it happened to my 88 year-old grandfather Carl. World War II veteran, Captain in the Army, saw combat in the Philippines. His father was a dry-cleaner, his grandfather was a fabric dyer on the Lower East Side at the turn of the century. My granddad was scheduled to go into the invasion of Japan before we dropped the bomb. Instead of going into certain death, he came home and went to the City College of New York on the GI Bill.

Armed with a mathematics degree, my Grandfather eventually landed a job at Neuberger Berman. Became a CFA. Was a director of Tishman Speyer. Helped build Roosevelt Raceway. Ran the pension fund for Price Chopper supermarkets. I had dinner with my grandfather on Wednesday night. Over sushi, he told me about how amazing Bernie Madoff was. This was a common refrain in our conversations. “While the rest of the market is tanking, Madoff is up for the month.” Today, I bought the New York Post on the way to the subway. Bernie Madoff was on the front page. His fund was described as a “Ponzi scheme” that lost $50 billion. My phone rang. It was my mother.

“Your grandfather just lost everything,” she said.”

This blackest of marks in investment history will forever alter the faith that investors have in investment managers, financial advisors, mutual funds, and hedge funds. Americans are being buried under a blizzard of lies. This is truly an American Tragedy.

The Sun Will Set For You
And the shadow of the day
Will embrace the world in grey
And the sun will set for you
Linkin Park – Shadow of the Day

There is a reason old sayings become old sayings. They have an underlying truth that spans the test of time. Some old sayings that apply to our current economic and investment environment are:

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
The cards are stacked against you.

The Madoff affair illustrates that rich people can be just as gullible and foolish as poor people. In their quest for social status and fitting in with the “smart” money crowd, affluent people all over the country put their life savings into the hands of this criminal. No investor can generate positive returns using the same strategy through all market cycles. Warning bells should have been going off. Diversification is the golden rule of investing. The foolishness of these people putting every dime with one man is maddening. Mr. Madoff’s nickname, “the Jewish T-bill”, is fitting today with T-bills providing negative yields.

Another American Tragedy is in the making. A much bigger Ponzi scheme that will shock every person in America is still operating. It is being conducted by the U.S. government and your elected politician leaders. It is called our National Budget. With most of our spending on automatic pilot, the aging of the baby boom generation will put tremendous strain on our economic system in the coming years. As you can see, Medicare costs will explode over the next 40 years. The increasing debt will result in interest payments on the debt becoming the largest expenditure in the federal budget. The longer we wait to address this unavoidable train wreck, the more likely it will result in generational war between the baby boomers and younger generations. Mandatory spending for agriculture subsidies, unemployment benefits, civilian and military pensions and health benefits continues to grow. The ponzi aspect of this system is that we continue to pay out benefits by printing money. We are obligated to pay $53 trillion that we do not have. Social Security has run at a surplus since its inception. The money is not in some lockbox. Your trustworthy leaders have spent all of the surpluses ever generated by Social Security to keep the ponzi scheme going.

A typical Jewish-American success story


The US is a house of mega scams and ponzi schemes

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Minorities protest ban on JuD

Minorities protest ban on JuD

Minorities protest restrictions on suspect charity

Updated at: 0800 PST, Wednesday, December 17, 2008
KARACHI: About 300 members of Hindu and Christian communities demonstrated in Pakistan in support of a Muslim charity accused of being a front for the militant group blamed for the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

Most of the protesters Tuesday in Hyderabad, 110 miles (180kilometers) north of Karachi, were women from Sindh province's Thar Desert.

Bhai Chand, a Hindu community leader, said Pakistani government restrictions recently imposed on Jamaat-ud-Dawa threatened their livelihood because the charity has set up a network of water wells in the desert.

“The charity would always come to help us,'' Chand said. “I do not buy it that they are terrorists when they have always been helping us even though we are not Muslims.''

The protesters carried banners reading, “Are those who give shelter to the shelterless and those who give water to the thirsty terrorists?'' and “Do not ban our savior!''

The government acting after the United Nations declared the charity a terrorist group and a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, which is blamed for the Mumbai attacks that killed more than 160 people has shuttered all of its offices, arrested scores of activists and put its entire leadership under house arrest.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at U.N. headquarters in New York that she understands that “there are so-called charitable activities,'' but that the U.S. “learned the hard way, that sometimes these are too intertwined with organizations that have terrorist ties.''

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gift for Bush from Iraq

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Causes of Apsotacy

Some form of apostacy has existed among Muslims. Initially it was nifaaq. The apostates have either hidden it, or at least moderated it if they were living in Muslim societies. Many such apostates even came back to Islam as their end approached.

This does not apply to apostates living in non-Muslim societies. Most there had taken off quietly, falling into sin, and leaving the question of faith unanswered. This is changing now, and a virulent aggressive form of apostacy is being seen, which actively seeks to convert Muslims away from Islam. In addition, there are reports of large numbers of Muslims being enticed away. How far these are true, I cannot say, but some must be happening, particularly in Africa and in the West.

For some time, as you may have concluded from my posts, I have been reading on and researching unIslamic behavior that may be leading to declarations or acts of apostacy from Islam. Here are some of my thoughts. There may be more. I would like others to suggest what other reasons come to their minds. Then maybe we can figure out ways to fight this.

Please also post any links that may be of interest in this regard, particularly if someone has actually researched or some alim has answered this question.

Causes of apostacy from Islam:

1) Belief that Allah is non-loving, while the Christian God is loving, having sacrificed his only begotten son for humanity.

2) Belief that Islam is stern, does not allow fun

3) Love for and expectations of marriage to a non-Muslim man

4) Perceived discrimination of expectations of tolerable behavior from male and female children

5) Peer pressure

6) desire to taste alcohol, dance, gamble, eat non-zabeeha meat etc.

7) tendency in the teens to peel off dress

8) A contemporary desire to avoid conflicts by letting things be, to let everyone believe in what they want without any proselytizing, as this leads to conflicts

9) Hotheadedness and rigidity among Muslims

10) Moral restrictions at home, and consequent rebellion against them

11) Too much strictness, and harshness in punishment for unIslamic behavior. This may include denial of home entertainment like watching TV

12) Too much laxity at home. Sometimes this takes the form of hiding from the stricter parent any behavior that is unIslamic, or protecting the child from a little punishment to drive home the message. Usually it is the mother who does this hiding

13) A clash of values and actual living. For example, a career in movies, singing, or modeling may be considered inappropriate, but movies, pop songs videos, model shows, beauty contests, female swimming or tennis, etc. would be eagerly watched at home by those wanting to enforce these values

14) Another example is being integrated in the interest-bearing economic system, like working in a bank, calculating interest as an accountant or financial consultant, etc. but ruling out the showing of skin or beauty

15) I have this somewhere. I offer it for evaluation as a possibility:

When an honest complaint is made and no method of repair or redress is made possible; it is the party who disables the debate who CAUSES the Apostasy.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Indian Fighter planes probe Pakistan defences

As usual, the kuffar say something, and do something else.

The Indian Foreign Minister says India has no intention to attack Pakistan.

Despite Pakistan government's capitulation to US ad Indian designs, due to which it is fighting the very people committed Pakistan's defence, two violations of Pakistan's airspace by Indian fully armed planes took place today - one from Indian occupied Kashmir and the other from Lahore sector.

They had intruded four kilometers inside Pakistan before being confronted by PAF.

Pakistan Air Force fighter planes intercepted them and they were forced to flee back.

In the Arabian Sea, explosions have been heard. Some additional naval activity and these explosions in the present context are meaningful. However, no large scale mobilization of the Indian land forces has been observed so far.

India has been unable to contain the terrorism by 35 separatist movements. The Indian local terrorists are in control in Gujarat. Indian army serving Colonel has been arrested for supplying arms to these Hindu fundamentalist terrorist organizations, but that is being put on the back burner and instead, India is blaming Pakistan so as to divert local opinion from its failures and to put Pakistan under pressure.

The Indian media has not played a sensible part. It has raised the temperature and pressure on the Indian government to be a war hawk.

Airspace violation by armed planes is a very, very serious thing to do. Coupled with the Arabian Sea explosions, India is embarking on the path to war, and that will benefit only war mongers.

As of today, suppliers to NATO have stopped plying their vehicles to Afghanistan.

Friday, December 12, 2008

prove the case against Jamaatud Dawah

Pakistani government, succumbing once again to non-Muslim pressures, has banned Jamaatud Dawah and sealed all their accounts and offices, arresting many of its office holders, leaders and activists.

The UNSC has banned four individuals of JD. The interesting bit is that one of those banned, Haji Muhammad Ashraf, died six months ago.

The other interesting bit is that no evidence of involvement of JD or its leaders in terrorism has been provided. India keeps saying that evidence of their involvement has been found, but that evidence does not see light. Obviously this is just pressure, and the Pak government, always eager to please its non-Muslim masters, dances to their tune.

Just half an hour to one hour ago, Fazlur Rehman, chief of JUI has asked the same question. Where and what is the evidence

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

of false gods and goddesses

This is in response to the slogan raised in a mosque:

Jaey Hind

India's Muslims hope to avoid backlash

AP News

Dec 08, 2008 14:39 EST

The cleric stood before dozens of bearded men who had gathered on a crowded Mumbai street corner to honor the 171 people killed by Islamic militants.

"Many innocents were killed by these terrorists," said Ibrahim Tani, president of the Muslim Council of India. "Those who were martyred are our family."

The men raised their fists in the air and cried out: "Long live mother India!"

The speech was part of an aggressive campaign by Mumbai's Muslims to show their solidarity with India's Hindu majority in the wake of last month's attacks.

Muslim groups have held community meetings and peace marches, brought tea and cookies to hospitalized victims, and organized blood drives. Leaders have asked people to tone down festivities for the Muslim holiday of Eid, and the city's largest Muslim graveyard refused to bury the nine slain gunmen.

India has a history of Hindu-Muslim tensions that at times erupt into violence. Mumbai itself was the scene of riots in 1992-93 that claimed at least 900 lives.

Soon after, a terrorist attack in Mumbai killed more than 250 people — an attack the government says was masterminded by Muslim gangster Dawood Ibrahim. He was one of 20 suspects that India asked Pakistan to hand over last week. Pakistan denies that Ibrahim is in its country.

More recently, Hindu mobs killed 1,000 Muslims in the state of Gujarat in 2002 after Muslims were accused of burning a train car full of Hindus. Who set the train on fire has never been established.

"Whatever happens in India, everyone is pointing at Muslims," said Parvez Khan, who runs a shoe shop on Muhammad Ali Road, a heavily Muslim neighborhood in Mumbai. "Even if Mother Nature does anything, we are blamed. So far, everyone is blaming Pakistani Muslims, not Indian Muslims."

He fears that distinction could easily blur. "When you go to sleep and get up the next day, it's always a new thing," he said.

A few doors down is a bakery where police gunned down five Muslim workers in the 1992-93 riots.

"Times are bad. The whole world is in chaos now," said a man sitting at a table outside, drinking sweet milky coffee. He would not give his name for fear of stoking tensions. "We really want peace and harmony now. You pray for that," he said.

So far, right-wing Hindu groups, which have targeted Muslims and other minorities in the past, have directed their ire abroad over the attacks.

"Pakistan is responsible, definitely. Internal security we are not concerned about at all," said Shishir Shinde, a spokesman for the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, an offshoot of the Shiv Sena, a Hindu fundamentalist group.

Neelam Gorhe, a spokeswoman for the Shiv Sena, said India's own Muslims were victims of the terror attacks. "There is going to be a united reaction to the terrorists," she said. "People who died were also Muslim. Why should there be a reaction against Muslims?"

The government's early fingering of Pakistanis as the likely culprits has helped take the heat off India's Muslims, said Arzu, the newspaper editor.

"Had there been some confusion as far as the identity was concerned, things might have been different," he said.

Arzu added that he has seen a list of the dead and about a quarter were Muslims.

Across from him sat Sayyed Mazhar, his left hand bound in a bright blue cast. Mazhar said he was shot outside Mumbai's main train station on the first night of the attack. His friend, he said, was shot in the thigh. He held up a wad of bloodied 100 rupee notes with a bullet hole at the center pulled from his friend's pocket.

"The anguish is ours, too," Arzu said.


A few miles to the south, thousands of protesters thronged outside the burned-out Taj Mahal hotel, setting up candlelight shrines and calling angrily for political change and war with Pakistan.

One man held a sign that read: "Terrorism doesn't have a religion ... Or does it?"

I too hope that a backlash is avoided.

I hope that there is peace and justice on this earth, because peace means that we can do Dawah, and then more people will come to Islam.

I too, and generations of my family before me, from both paternal and maternal sides, were born and are buried in India, Delhi to be precise, although we do not turn the graves into permanent places like tombs etc. The graveyards are turned over after 40 years, to make space for new burials.

I too, have a great deal of love for my land, my country, my people.

But this is where I stop.

From time immemorial the land where one is born, or where one has been nourished, has been referred and revered as Motherland. Just as one would not want to hear any abusive comment against his mother, one does not like to hear anything against one's Homeland/ Motherland/ Fatherland.

In time, this took the form of a goddess - just like Nature is a goddess to some, their countries, especially if the land has had a name from a distant past, is a goddess to them.

Bharat Mata is such a goddess.

My country, my nation, my sect, right or wrong, are such goddesses.

Muslims have succumbed to pressures and fallen to such goddesses.

Our countries, our nations, our ethnicities, our tribes, all these are for identification alone.

Unfortunately, familial or tribal affinity was a rallying cry soon after the Prophet's (saw) death. Then ethnicity, sect, became goddesses to some of us. We were divided according to Arab, non-Arab. Hanafi, Shafiee, etc. When the Sunnis came together, the shia/Sunni divide remained.

In the First World War, the Ottoman Empire, was broken up by internal nationalities seeking independence. We became Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Hindis, Habashis, and what not. Our ethnicities became our new goddesses. Our lands became our new gods.

A very powerful group of Ulema, whose hatred for the occupying power Britain, made them come so close to idol-worshipping Hindus that jeay Hind, or jeay Bharat Mata became a slogan for them.

The age of nationalism dawned upon us in the twentieth century. Further divisions along ethnicity have now overtaken us.

May Allah protect us from worshipping any false god or goddess.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

214 US, NATO vehicles burned in Pakistan

More than 160 US, NATO vehicles burned in Pakistan

later the fighure was revised to 171.

The very next day, 53 more vehicles and their loads were turned into scrap, raising the total to 214. That is good new for scrap metal dealers.

By RIAZ KHAN – 2 hours ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen blasted their way into two transport terminals in Pakistan on Sunday and torched more than 160 vehicles destined for U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan, in the biggest assault yet on a vital military supply line, officials said.

The U.S. military said its losses in the raid near the northwestern city of Peshawar would have "minimal" impact on anti-Taliban operations, set to expand with the arrival of thousands more American troops next year.

However, the attack will fuel concern that insurgents are trying to choke the route through the famed Khyber Pass, which carries up to 70 percent of the supplies for Western forces in landlocked Afghanistan, and drive up the cost of the war.

The owner of one of the terminals hit Sunday denied government claims that security was boosted after a raid last month near the pass in which militants made off with one Humvee and later paraded it before journalists.

"We don't feel safe here at all," Kifayatullah Khan told The Associated Press next to the still-smouldering vehicles, predicting that most of his night watchmen would now quit their jobs out of fear. "It is almost impossible for us to continue with this business."

The attack at the Portward Logistic Terminal reduced a section of the vast walled compound to a smoldering junkyard.

Khan said armed men flattened the gate before dawn with a rocket-propelled grenade, fatally shot a guard and set fire to a total of 106 vehicles, including about 70 Humvees.

Humvees are thought to cost about $100,000 each, though the price varies widely depending on armor and other equipment, meaning Sunday's losses may exceed $10 million.

An Associated Press reporter who visited the depot saw six rows of destroyed Humvees and military trucks packed close together, some on flatbed trailers, all of them gutted and twisted by the flames.

Khan said shipping documents showed they were destined for U.S. forces and the Western-trained Afghan National Army.

The attackers fled after a brief exchange of fire with police, who arrived about 40 minutes later, he said.

The nine other guards who were on duty but stood helplessly aside put the number of assailants at 300, Khan said, though police official Kashif Alam said there were only 30.

At the nearby Faisal depot, manager Shah Iran said 60 vehicles destined for Afghanistan as well as three Pakistani trucks were burned in a similar assault.

The attack was the latest in a series that have highlighted the vulnerability of the supply route to the spreading power of the Taliban and other Islamic militants in the border region.

Vast quantities of supplies pass through Pakistan after being unloaded from ships at the Arabian sea port of Karachi. Some is routed through Quetta toward the Afghan city of Kandahar, but most flows through the Khyber Pass toward Kabul and the huge U.S. air base at Bagram.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan said in a statement that an unspecified number of its containers were destroyed in Sunday's attack but that their loss would have "minimal effect on our operations."

"It's militarily insignificant," U.S. spokeswoman Lt. Col. Rumi Nielsen-Green said. "You can't imagine the volume of supplies that come through there and elsewhere and other ways."

"So far there hasn't been a significant loss or impact to our mission," she said.

Still, NATO has been seeking an alternative route through Central Asia, which it acknowledges is more expensive.

Pakistan halted traffic through the Khyber Pass for several days in November while it arranged for troops to guard the slow-moving convoys.

Shahedullah Baig, a spokesman for the interior minister in Islamabad, insisted Sunday that the extra security covered the terminals.

"They are fully protected, but in this kind of situation such incidents happen," Baig said.

However, Khan, the depot manager, said that was untrue, and there were only a handful of lightly armed police at the targeted terminals on Sunday afternoon.

Peshawar has seen a surge in violence in recent weeks, including the slaying of an American working on a U.S.-funded aid project.

The city lies close to the lawless tribal regions along the Afghan border, where Osama bin Laden and other top al-Qaida leaders are believed to be hiding.

On Saturday, a car bomb detonated in a busy market area of the city, killing 29 people and injuring 100 more. The blast wrecked a Shiite Muslim mosque and a hotel, but the motive and culprits remained unclear.

The instability in Pakistan's northwest coincides with serious tensions with its eastern neighbor India in the wake of recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

New Delhi blames the attack, which killed 171 people, on an Islamic militant group fighting Indian rule in the disputed Kashmir region, heightening tension between the nuclear-armed neighbors that could distract Pakistan from its role in helping the U.S. fight terrorism.

Associated Press writers Zarar Khan in Islamabad and Heidi Vogt and Jason Straziuso in Kabul contributed to this report.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

The boy who would be President

I guess there are many such boys who dream of being President. I am going to talk of one such boy, like I talked, in a previous post, of a girl who lost everything. On the surface she possesses everything one could desire. In reality she has lost the most precious possession of hers.

Same is the case with this boy. He was born in a family of established earlier immigrants to a country where there was farmland aplenty, and the population was thin. In those days, there was a lot of immigration from the Middle East to this country - Jews, Christians and Muslims. The country was Christian. All these immigrants identified themselves as Arabs. This changed later. The Muslims thought the deen would take care of itself, and provided rudimentary Islamic education to their children at home. Many of these children fell victim to society, and became Christians. Some still remained Muslim.

A second wave of Muslim immigration from the Middle East took place a hundred years later. This time there were some religious preachers among them. They realized the importance of organized teaching, and Islamic atmosphere, and they set up mosques and Islamic centers.

One such center was set up by this boy's childhood friend's father. So this boy and his friend often attended Islamic classes together. They did together what boys do. This boy wanted to be President. He was a born leader. He took up law because he thought his way to the top lay through the Congress. He practiced it, and joined a populist political party. He ran for governorship, and was elected. Then there was a coup by the military, and his party's government was overthrown. He was arrested and tortured. He came out a more determined and knowledgeable man.

He had learnt that his country's constitution prohibited non-Christians from running for Presidency. It is then that unhappiness started creeping in. He wanted to be President. He thought he had it in him to solve his country's problems or so he confided in his childhood friend.

Eventually he made his choice. He became a Christian, together with his family. And he won the Presidential election, not once but twice. He did well, and turned the economy around. When he wanted to become President for a third term. There was an internal revolt in his party, and he had to give up the idea.

He lived an ostentatious life. He made money and influential friends. He put his country on the map of the world. He lived among celebrities, and like a celebrity.

Unfortunately, he too had opted for this world rather than the next.

This too was a deal of loss.

Friday, December 05, 2008

The girl who lost everything - probably:

Why probably, will become clear at the end, I hope.

Well, she won't agree with you at all that she has lost anything worthwhile. She will insist that, on the contrary, she has gained a lot.

In fact, she may not even waste any time on you if you suggest something like that to her.

She won't be ignoring you out of snobbery, for she isn't a snob. She is a very sensible, down to Earth person, with her feet firmly on the ground. She has always been like that - from childhood. The reason for ignoring you would be because she does not want to take part in arguments and bickering. She had enough of those when she made the most important decision of her life, as a teenager.

But if she were giving one of her rare interviews, and you were the interviewer, she will give you a reply, very softly, and she would tell you what she thinks is the truth. She won't lie and she won't refuse an answer, for she is a person of principles, and she does not lie.

She may or may not also point out to you something that I definitely must, to be honest to her. That something is her successful career, and how she had risen very fast in that very competitive, catty profession, where at any one time no more than 25 girls occupy the top slots, to reach the very top in only three years.

If she does mention her success, she will do so with a disarming smile and a matching attitude that she isn't special, just lucky. "There were and are thousands of girls who could be doing what I was doing", she will say. She will also tell you that her success is due to those unsung heroes who work in the background to make girls like her successful. She will name their professions, she may even name the persons who helped her become what she did become - a household name and recognized face in Europe and the United States, from the most humble and overworked floor-scrubbing housewives to the elite, including the Royalty.

She would be right of course, for she is sensible and never lies, but it is humility that makes her dismissive of her own talent and hard work that she put in her profession. Without that, she would not have been the unique success that she was. She made it look so easy, so natural, that people forget there is hard work behind it all.

That would show you success in her career. Out of humility she won't mention that her annual income was in the millions, but you can easily search the net to find out what the top earners in her profession were getting.

She will point to her husband, and her daughter, for she is in a happy marriage, and is totally devoted to her adorable daughter and very successful husband, who is equally and visibly in love with his wife.

When she retired from her career for marriage and looking after her daughter, she had tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars. She had apartments in New York and Florida, and maybe in Paris. The man she married, had an order of magnitude more money than her.

Of course, if you are the interviewer, she is most likely to invite you over to her house. Don't be surprised at her New York home in an exclusive suburb with lush gardens and private swimming pool. Nor should you raise your eyebrows at the three SUV's parked there. Hers is a very sensible living. What she has and why she has invited you to her home, is not to show off her success, as she is a very private person. She is no longer in the news, but that is because of her own choosing. She has successfully and on purpose left public exposure. This does not mean she doesn't do anything which is not in the public's interest, but more of that later. If you do get invited to her house, and I sincerely hope you do, since you are doing the interview, ask her to show you her wardrobe. You will be pleasantly surprised at her selection. It comes from the finest and the most expensive brands, as do other things in her house. And it is all in very good taste, or maybe it is just her. Everything looks just superb when she is around.

The assets I have outlined above is for her day-to-day living. She has villas and apartments in other exclusive places, too, like Israel, for example. Her husband is a shrewd investor and real estate lawyer. Among his exclusive projects, he has invested in development of real estate for the wealthy in Israel, and she has wisely entrusted her financial matters to her husband, like all Jewish sensible women do. They look after the house, and leave the money decisions in their husband's hands. They are secure. And despite the fact that women from her profession often find their marriages do not last, hers is likely to do "till death do them part", and maybe even beyond death. If you are familiar with the prices of luxury apartments in previously run-down slums of Jaffa, that have been bought by the not so insignificant Israelis and Americans, you will marvel at the business acumen of her husband.

If you were to mention the loss of accommodation and livelihood to those who were living in those slums, she may give you a convincing lecture on the benefits of capitalism. She has a degree in Business Administration, and her own life proves that capitalism has made the American Dream come true for her, and for some others. She may list for you some of the many professions that have grown out of her own, thus creating work for many. She may then list for you the many others, that her husband, as a real estate investor and lawyer, has helped grow.

When her husband and his brother are known to be involved in a deal, the other parties get cold feet. If they are wise, they would simply leave the field for them. These brothers have taken on governments like that of the Philippines and the city of New York, potentates like the King of Saudi Arabia and the Emir of Kuwait, magnates like the owner of Harrods, international wheeler-dealers like Adnan Khashoggi, and a host of other super-rich and super-powerful. And they have come out the winners in each case.

Now let me ask you, if that isn't success, what is. The girl we are talking of, has made a wise choice, although she married for love. She always had a wise head. It came to her by associating with people older than her.

She will say she is just lucky. I will of course, dispute that as I dispute the wisdom of her choice, but we will leave that disputation for later. Oh sure, most people in the world, most specialists of worldly affairs, will agree that she has been lucky in that sense of the word. But I prefer to be in the minority. I do not base my analysis on democracy or specialist opinion.

She wasn't always so lucky. Her father struggled to give his family a middle class living, and she always found people who had more, much more, than her. Her father took her to Dislneyland, Florida, when she expressed a desire for this, but then she wanted a yacht, a holiday in the Bermudas, a swimming pool in her home, designer clothes, and much more. She was born to a mixed-culture and mixed-ethnicity couple in a bi-lingual city, and she learnt at least two more languages - the native tongues of her father and mother and she can read another one as well.

Her mother felt the husband was neglecting her and the daughter. He wasn't, but the wife wanted all time in the evening to the family. So her childhood saw fights between her parents, who divorced when she was nine.

She was the odd one in the whole school. She inherited a beautiful body from her mother, and the color of her skin from her father, and that made her stand out. Cross-ethnic children are often very attractive, but the children do not know it. That also made her peers make fun of her, and to shun her. After many unsuccessful attempts at getting into their circle, she learnt to keep her thoughts to herself. She started hanging out with quite children older than her. And she became mature much earlier - mature and worldly wise. She saw what the others were doing, and what they were having, a good time, wine and dancing and exposing the skin, and friends of the opposite sex, and she wanted that. When you are a teen, you want that. I don't blame her. I too wanted the same. I have seen some who didn't, but they are in a very small minority. Most of us want a good life in this world. Don't you?

What is wrong with that?

Nothing, I suppose, for those with a different outlook on life. But again what was wrong may become clear later. Let us continue with her story.

In her mid-teens she became a rebel. Perhaps many teenagers think of rebellion and where they can, they do so. She started dressing and making up like a rebel. She was working as a waitress in her mid-teens when she was spotted by a talent hunter who saw her walk by. He tried to persuade her into a career for which he thought she was eminently suited. This career had been suggested by her mature friends as well, but she had laughed it off. Now the talent scout wouldn't let go of her until she said yes. Her parents were not happy with this. Although divorced, nd from different cultures, they disapproved of such careers as they thought these were unhealthy from the moral point of view.

She had been resisting the demands of the talent scout on her own. Now that her parents were against it, her rebellious nature came to the fore, and she decided to give that career a try.

Arguments and fights followed. She had to stay late or even out of town. Her father couldn't put up with it. His standing in his community had gone down. His leadership was in question. He would lose it soon. She wanted to do whatever she liked, without any religious or moral restraints. The differences came to a head. Neither the father nor the daughter have revealed what happened, but one day she stormed out of her father's house to go to New York, never to go back again.

Some will say this is the best thing that has happened to her, for her career took off from that day, and what a career it is! No one like her has been seen before or likely to be seen since. She was unique in her chosen career. No one has been able to reproduce the strange combination of disdain and invitation in her. From a purely artistic critique, her performance has been brilliant throughout her career.

So she was a success in her performance, and that brought her fame and fortune. She was commanding millions of dollars in annual earnings within two years of that move to New York.

She was sensible. Success did not go to her head. No scandals are associated with her. She did not do drugs. She did not hang out with that crowd. Instead her boyfriends were established and moneyed Jewish lawyers and professional people - all very straight, all who would become the pillars of society. The paparazzi did chase her, but gave up, there was no juice to report.

She was careful with her money. She did not throw it away on whims and toys. She invested it wisely, and her Jewish friends helped her. On of these friends became her steady lover and fathered her daughter. After the daughter was born, and not before that, she married her boyfriend. Generally once a woman is pregnant by a steady boyfriend, they marry before the child is born. Not in this case. I wonder why.

However, it has been a successful marriage. She has devoted herself to her husband, her daughter, and her husband's circle. She also demonstrates her social conscience by raising money for charity and environmental causes. She is no longer seen or heard of in her previous profession, although many long for her to return. Both husband and wife are Democrats. Both have donated $2300 each to the Democratic Elections this year (2008).

She is not a feminist. She has dropped her father's surname, and taken on her husband's, signifying that her rebellion was against her father.

The world will say: All in all a successful life, and she is only 37 at the moment. Plenty more time to go, and achieve more.

Why then did I title the post:

"The girl who lost everything"

Unfortunately, the girl traded in her deen for all this that she has today.

Initially all she asked was to be allowed to model. The parents objected, as this was against haya, and would eventually lead to a morally corrupt life. She insisted, but it seems that she knew what she was getting into. Later, when she had become successful in her career, she said in an interview, almost mocking her father, that when she had made known her decision, her father went to her agent in her city, asking that his daughter should not be given lingerie modeling jobs. She laughs at this, saying: "It is funny, really funny". It sure would look funny to her here in this world; for she was modeling see-through underwear; she was photographed baring nipples of her breasts; she was photographs topless, and even totally naked in one internet shot.

She started drinking, dancing, having boyfriends to enjoy life including sleeping with, and eventually she also made at least one sex video.

It isn't that she did not know better. Her father took her for Hajj, in her early teens, and she toyed with the idea of leading a religious, pious life. Again at an interview she said: "(My father said:) I (i.e the daughter) am a Muslim. Islam does not allow one to drink alcohol, dance, mix with the opposite sex, show skin - all that I am doing now. I am putting him in jeopardy (this is a reference to the criticism he was facing for not being able to bring his daughter in line). It was all very dramatic". This was said in a mocking tone. And this: "I do what I am. This is what I like. This is what I am."

So, what her father said was dramatic to her,; something to joke about; something to make fun of.

What does she imply: that she has given up Islam.

The parents were right. Modeling leads to corruption.

When she dies, if she dies unrepentant, she will find the trade was one of severe loss for her.

Would you also make a deal with Satan, to give you this world, trading in your faith?

Oh, you can be liberal, we will let you have a social conscience, subject to the interests of the Israeli security, of course.

Let us hope and pray she comes back to the deen.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Why me-ism and why not me-ism

Most people I have met have voiced this question (why me?) or a variation:

Why not me?

It seems the typical human is a saint, and is being perpetually wronged. Disaster after disaster befalls him. Merit is not rewarded. The "others" are hounding him. All he wants is something simple and achievable like … which every Tom, Dick and Harry is getting, but he is being denied his right.

○ The teacher doesn't know the subject. He gave me less marks because I am brilliant, and he is jealous.

○ I did not get the job because they received a phone call from a general/ federal secretary/chairman

○ I belong to a different ethnic background/sect, and they are very prejudiced

And so on …

So one says "Why me?" when he perceives a wrong to him, and "why not me?" when he sees someone else with something his heart desires, like a palatial house, a BMZ, glittering jewelry, well-behaved and brilliant children, etc.

Today I applied the reverse:

A young man who is one of those who has hounded me often to take money from me, came again with his tales of woes. I have decided to be a little more strict, as I too have to live within a budget, so I told him off, and came back inside.

Then I asked: "Why not me?" I mean, why aren't I the one going begging. It made me feel so grateful to Allah that I had been spared this fate. Then I recollected many more such people. Orphans who live in orphanages, and at one time were sent out to beg for themselves and the orphanage.

Why not me? I mean wasn't it a tremendous blessing that I lived with my family who catered for all my problems, and when I left, I still get looked after, and also receive duas, totally undeserved duas at that.

Some years ago, when my sister was buying a house in Karachi, I was there, so I was asked to check it make suggestions for alteration. As I was going into the house, a man, about my age, was pushing a vegetable cart. He was a vegetable seller. He said:

"Seth, Allah has given you so much. I am your age, but I cannot even arrange a place to sell my vegetables. If I could afford a small shop, I would not have to push this cart".

Now, I could have answered with the truth: that I am not a seth; I am a worker. Neither me, nor my sister can afford to set up a shop for you. But I stopped short; gave him some money, and went about my business.

Why wasn't it me who was pushing that cart?

Something to ponder about.

So next time you feel like "Why me?", ask yourself: "Why not me?".

And if you feel like: "Why not me?", Then ask: "Why me?"

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A lifeline abroad for Iraq children

This is a step in the right direction, but the WAR profiteers should be made to pay more, much more than what Hope.MD is requesting them.

A lifeline abroad for Iraq children

Army doctor, colleague create nonprofit to link young with needed care

By Ernesto Londoño

updated 12:13 a.m. ET Dec. 3, 2008

BAGHDAD - A couple of months after Capt. Jonathan Heavey, a Walter Reed Army Medical Center physician, arrived in Baghdad, an Iraqi doctor handed him the medical file of a 2-year-old boy with a life-threatening heart ailment. The doctor said the boy couldn't get the care he needed in Iraq.

Heavey decided to help. He e-mailed a copy of the child's electrocardiogram and other information to a former colleague at the University of Virginia, who agreed to treat the boy for free. Then Heavey began the many-layered process of applying for U.S. visas for the boy and a female guardian. Among other things, Heavey had to provide proof that the guardian wasn't pregnant. Two months into the process, the boy died.

"It was pretty crushing," said Heavey, a 33-year-old battalion surgeon assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. "It was incredibly disappointing to know there are academic facilities back home willing and able to help. But there were just too many logistical hurdles."

Appalled by the state of Iraq's health-care system and frustrated by rules preventing military doctors from treating Iraqis, Heavey and a colleague, Capt. John Knight, 36, began arranging for sick Iraqi children to receive free medical treatment abroad. During their year-long deployment, which ended last month, they created a nonprofit organization that has sent 12 children overseas for medical care, funded by $17,000 that Heavey and Knight have contributed from their own pockets and raised from family and friends.

Heavey, who is so polite and soft-spoken that he seems out of place among gruff infantrymen, and Knight, 36, a physician assistant, worked at a small aid station inside the high walls of Forward Operating Base Justice, a U.S. military base in the Kadhimiyah section of northern Baghdad.

Late last year, they visited a hospital where malnourished and neglected children rescued from an orphanage were being treated. A U.S. Army civil affairs unit had visited the orphanage and discovered children lying naked on the floor, surrounded by excrement. The plight of the children, some of whom had cholera, drew media attention in the United States and elsewhere.

Heavey and Knight, who both have young children, were haunted by what they had seen.

One day, as they worked out in the outpost's windowless gym, the pair decided to start an organization. They had their doubts: Maybe there would be mounds of red tape and cultural barriers to overcome. Maybe they'd be able to help no more than a handful of kids. Maybe it wouldn't work at all.

But as Knight later explained it: "We want to help people. We still really believe in what we do."

When they floated the idea around FOB Justice, many of their superiors and colleagues rolled their eyes. Then they approached military lawyers to ask whether, as Defense Department employees, they could solicit contributions.

"They were flippant about it," Knight said. "They didn't think it was going to go anywhere."

From that point, Heavey and Knight spent every spare minute on the organization. They lugged their laptops along on missions so they could work on their project during downtime. They spent hours downloading documents using the outpost's maddeningly slow Internet connection. They reached out to nonprofits and sent e-mails to friends, acquaintances and friends of friends asking for help.

Their first case involved an 11-year-old boy who had been admitted to a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad after being wounded in an insurgent attack. He had sustained severe burns and lost large amounts of tissue. An infection required expensive antibiotics.

Heavey contacted a friend at the University of Cincinnati, who agreed to take the case and found a family willing to take care of the boy and his grandmother during the treatment. Things came together at the last minute, just as doctors at the military hospital in Baghdad were concluding that they had to discharge the boy.

"Telling us they had to kick him out," Heavey said.

Heavey and Knight purchased the airfare for the child and his grandmother, who left Baghdad in late April. They are still in Cincinnati, where the boy's treatment at Shriners Hospital for Children has gone well.

"We got one!" Heavey told Knight after the boy and his grandmother left Iraq. "Now it's time to open the gate."

Army lawyers told them they could raise money for the foundation as long as they didn't identify themselves as military officers. They hired an Indian company to create a Web site, Hope.MD. The Internal Revenue Service responded to their application for nonprofit status with a letter saying they would need to submit additional documents to demonstrate that the organization wouldn't support terrorists.

"We found that to be particularly entertaining," Heavey said.

The next few cases Heavey and Knight took on involved children who were legally blind. Esen Karamursel Akpek, an ophthalmologist from Turkey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, agreed to volunteer her services. The children are being treated at a hospital in Istanbul free of charge.

With dozens of additional cases in the pipeline and the end of their deployment just a few months away, Heavey and Knight started thinking of ways to broaden the reach of their organization. Knight jokingly suggested that they raise money from defense contractors.

"The next thing I knew, Jon was actually doing it," Knight said.

Heavey hovered around the computer during the seven hours it took to download Securities and Exchange Commission financial reports on the top 10 defense contractors. Two weeks later, with all the documents in hand, he created a database that juxtaposed the companies' revenue and net income for 2002 and 2007. Lockheed Martin, for example, posted $26.58 billion in revenue in 2002 and $41.86 billion in 2007. Halliburton saw its revenue increase from $12.57 billion to $22.58 billion during the same period.

"You always have a hunch that there are people who make money off a war," Heavey said. "But you never really grasp the extent of it until you look at the figures. It's mind-blowing."

In October, Heavey sent letters to Lockheed Martin, Halliburton and eight other companies, detailing what he had learned about their revenue.

"Greetings from sunny Kadamiyah Baghdad!" Heavey wrote, telling them briefly about Hope.MD and the handful of children the organization had been able to help. "Using our own funding we have helped nearly a dozen children receive surgery for life-threatening and disabling conditions they suffered in violent attacks. According to the revenue and income metrics below, it appears to us that you have considerably greater resources to help more children."

Heavey asked the executives to match, dollar for dollar, any money that Hope.MD is able to raise online.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Book of Fables

Book of Fables

Table of Contents

Little Red-Riding-Hood
The Goose That Laid Golden Eggs
The Dog in the Manger
The Fox and the Grapes
Little One Eye, Little Two Eyes, Little Three Eyes
The Wind and the Sun
The Crow and the Pitcher
The Boys and the Frogs
A Country Fellow and the River
Puss in Boots
The Farmer's Sons
The Lion and the Bear
The Lion and the Mouse
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Stag and the Lion
The Star-Gazer
The Fox and the Lion
The Farmer and the Stork
The Dog and the Wolf
The Fox in the Well
The Two Packs
The Dog and His Image
The Fox and the Stork
The Spendthrift and the Swallow
Jack and the Bean-Stalk
The Frog and the Ox
The Miller, His Son, and Their Ass
Cinderella, or the Glass Slipper
The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing
The Arab and His Camel
Tom Thumb
The Tortoise and the Hare
The Country Mouse and the Town Mouse
The Gnat and the Bull
The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood
The Ant and the Grasshopper
The Lion and the Fox
Dick Whittington and His Cat
The Cat, the Monkey, and the Chestnuts
The Lark and Her Young Ones
The Flies and the Pot of Honey
Beauty and the Beast
The Wolf and the Lamb
The Travelers and the Bear
The Tortoise and the Eagle
The White Cat
The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox
The Jackdaw and the Doves
The Four Bulls and the Lion
The Country Maid and Her Milk-Pail
The Cat, the Weasel, and the Young Rabbit
The Traveling Musicians
Belling the Cat
The Wolf and the Crane
The Wolf and the Shepherd
The Frogs Ask for a King

Monday, November 24, 2008

greetings on a Monday morning

"Good Morning", I said as I entered the kitchen cum dining room.

It was small for our flat of eighteen bedrooms. Two at one end of the flat were for a couple, and their small children, if any. Society was changing. Religion had already gone out of fashion. Lasting attachments, marriage and children, were following suit. Without a generation of young ones to follow, society would collapse. Selfishness of youth and consumerism for the young meant this message could not be delivered directly. All over the Campus, one could see stickers displaying the message "Two can live as cheaply as one". Someone had written under one such sticker. "Problem is that two become three and then four". A few years ago, government social engineers had hit upon the idea of mixed-gender flats so as to encourage couple and then family formation. Maybe the smallness of our kitchen was also a deliberate design. It would encourage some intimacy. After making something to eat for two, one would feel like going to the bedroom for eating it, as the dining area would be crowded.

Anyway, there I was, fresh from sleep and rest. So as I entered, I announced a "Good Morning" to all - assorted fellow students in the kitchenette. We were neither in the same department, nor would leave the University in the same year, but we were flat mates, and a "Good Morning" greeting was in order.

I did not receive a single reply.

"Hmmm ...", I thought. "This needs rectification. I mean postgraduate students are self-occupied and selfish, but a greeting is a greeting, it must be returned. These students must be taught some basic manners."

"Good Morning Christine, Good Morning Angela, Good Morning Pete, Good Morning Ibraheem, Good Morning Mike, Good Morning George", I said, taking each one's name separately.

Back came the replies, subdued, a little sheepish, but they came.

Satisfied, I looked around. My favorite table by the window was not taken. I took the seat in the corner, facing the crowd, and put my p-cap on the table. I always had a cap. You never know when a cold breeze would come and clog my sinuses. Precaution is the name of the game. When I get up to make my breakfast, this p-cap would ensure that my seat remains reserved. I too am selfish. A good morning is all right, but to give up my favorite spot from where I can look out the window and enjoy the scenery, that is not on.

I saw that I would have to wait for the cooking area to be free before I prepare my breakfast.

What should it be? I started thinking: Cereals - Wheatabix or cornflakes? Eggs or Cheese or baked beans? - Heinz, for Beanz meanz Heinz. Goes without saying that these would be accompanied by toast and butter and milk and coffee - instant, of course.

A breakfast has to be filling and hearty to face the challenges of the day ahead.

As I was silently debating with myself, Sheida entered.

"Good Morning, Sheida", I said in my confident, chirpy voice.

"What is so good about it?" came the gruff reply, almost cross.

"My", thought I, "why is she like that today? This calls for extraordinary measures."

"Good question, Sheida. I will answer it, but first you should have your breakfast. Sit down here," I pointed to the chair opposite me, then continued, "while I prepare our breakfast. Today's is on me."

Sheida looked just a little surprised, but came over and sat down opposite me. I looked at her. She was crushed. Obviously she had been studying all night. That is what happens if you go for a Masters. If you are like me, and get accepted for a straight doctorate, you have a free ride for three years. Your time is your own, and you give headache to your supervisor, for he seldom sees you do anything productive, or even read anything, or even say that you need help.

Or at least I had this fortune. I have always had such fortune. Whenever I needed time off over extended periods, I found myself in a position where no one questioned what I was doing. Sure, I did not get any perks, but that was a secondary consideration.

Sorry, I was talking about Sheida and was sidetracked into talking about myself. That is another problem of old age - well, not so old. I shouldn't think of myself as old until I cross 80, but the wife never lets me off the hook, "You are old, so behave you age".. Wonder what that means. What is acceptable behavior at my age?

Oh no, let us get back to Sheida. She had accepted the invitation without a word. I set the table - bowls for the cereals, quarter-plates for toasts, salt and pepper dispensers, a bottle of half-cream milk. I liked full cream, but had learnt that most people, especially girls, preferred skimmed milk. They probably needed to shed fat. I had no such problems. Although I had never made breakfast for anyone before this, I had often invited people for coffee or tea, and as a compromise I kept half-cream milk. I arranged the eatables which I thought were common to all breakfasts: orange juice, bread, butter, marmalade, sugar, and honey. Then I straightened myself, stood a little to Sheida's left, and bending just a little, as only seasoned butlers or waiters do, asked her:

"What will ma`mselle have for breakfast? Wheatabix or cornflakes, eggs, cheese, corned beef, or baked beans?", I said. Then added hopefully, "or maybe all of these?"

"Wheatabix and eggs", she said with just a hint of a smile.

"Good, ma`moiselle has made a healthy choice", I said. Then I thought: there is hope yet of turning her back into a human, "and how will ma`mselle like her eggs? Boiled, poached, sunny side up, or an omlette", I continued with my mock act.

"Sunny side up", she said.

"Good choice again, ma`mselle", I said approvingly. I placed the box of Wheatabix on the table. Then I looked for an opening at the cooking range. When I saw one, I moved to prepare the breakfast. I put my own frying pan on the electric stove. I never used the communal pans. They were often contaminated with lard or bacon or other pork material. Rather than spend precious time cleaning the pans over and over again, we Muslim residents had bought our own pans. I took out the eggs and expertly breaking the shells, I fried two eggs for each of us. Then brought these over to the table.

As I placed the eggs before her, I saw she hadn't even taken orange juice, so I commented in a complaining sort of way: "Ma`mselle hasn't started her breakfast yet? The eggs will get cold."

"I am waiting for you", she said.

"I am honored", I said, and sat down opposite her.

We started the breakfast, and after some food had gotten into Sheida, I said: "Did ma`mselle notice that the menu here does not include bacon, the usual English breakfast."

"I don't eat pork, any more".

"Really, ma`mselle has made me really happy."

When she had moved in with some of her college mates into our flat, she had initiated the conversation with us old-timers, so that we all had a preliminary introduction. Then at the weekend she had asked me: "Come, timbuktu, we are all going out to this fabulous Chinese takeaway, real cheap", and I had decided there was no harm in humoring her. We had gone out and it really was good food and what is more for us students, it was cheap.

She was from Iran, a Shia Muslim. Her father, a lecturer at Tehran University, had placed her in an English boarding school, from where she had taken admission in a polytechnic, and now she was at my University. I would have looked down at her being from a polytechnic, for I used to be a snob. But she must have been good in Maths to have gained admission to our Production Engineering Department, and that meant she commanded my respect. This was in those days. I am not a snob anymore. I have learnt my lessons, in very very hard ways, let me add.

Those were the days of the Shah, and employees at Tehran University, like other Iran's officially patronized institutions, had to be liberal. Her father was no exception. And she supported the Shah. I did not. I referred to the Shah as "Shahe Khaen" - the embezzler king. She would wince at that, but she knew most students, Iranian or not, hated the Shah and used that term.

So I too called him an embezzler. I wasn't Iranian, but I did not like kings or queens, on principle.

I am wiser now - Kings, Queens, Princes and Princesses, Daughters of the East, Presidents, Chairmen, Chief Executive Officers, are all the same.

We were similar in some respects. Both of us were non-practicing Muslims. None of us offered prayers. None of us fasted. We were tolerant, although my tolerance was probably more on the surface that a deep one. She was a little more far gone than me in liberalism. We both drank and danced occasionally. But she went to the pubs with friends, and ate pork. I did not. I hated pubs. They reek of smoke and alcohol, and something else besides. I preferred clubs or less than noisy restaurants with plenty of space. She probably did not have access to these, as she was a poor student. She had no boyfriend in "that" sense of the term, and I too avoided having a girlfriend. There was nothing attractive in her physical appearance. Now that I try to recall her face, I think she was so plain, a little makeup would have done wonders for her, but she never put on a makeup.

I had friends who were earning well, and had expense accounts, so when they came visiting, they needed company and we went out to dinner, and other things.

Then I had seen her eat pork, been dismayed, and uncharacteristically asked her:

"You eat pork?" This wasn't a question. The hidden question was why.

She went on the defensive. "It is my father's fault. He sent me here when I was young."

"Correction, Sheida. It WAS your father's fault. You are an adult now, and responsible for your own actions. It is your fault now."

Silence had reigned for a while, then conversation had moved to another topic.

However, that was another time, in the past. She had now given up pork, and that made me happy. The more people give up on haram, the happier I was.

I asked her, "shall I tell you now what is good about this morning, Sheida?"

"Sure", she said.

"Right", I said then started listing.

"For one, we are alive. We have a chance to make amends for the harm we may have done, and to do good.

Second, look outside, and see that this is a bright sunny morning. It is going to be a pleasant day.

Third, looking outside, we can see the grass on the lawns that surround us. We are lucky to be living here, if only for a while. Have you been to the University of Aston in Birmingham?" Same city, but that one is right in the city center. The noise, and the pollution, and nothing but concrete towers. We are indeed lucky to be in this pleasant University, to which the Cadbury's have donated vast acres of land - hills and fields and lakes, even. And that Messrs. Lucas of Lucas Batteries have donated money to build this cozy hall of residence for us.

Fourth, none of us here are is handicapped. We are instead the privileged. We have sports facilities, a state of the art gymnasium, and sports center, an excellent library, large lawns everywhere in the University, not just outside this window.

Fifth, we are having a full, healthy, loaded with vitamins, breakfast. Even in this country, there are people who do not have the means to eat so well.

Sixth, we are postgraduate students. Again, how many have this privilege? And what is more, the state is paying for our keep, at least it is for mine.

Now tell me, isn't this a good morning?"

She smiled, a weak smile, but a genuine one: "It wasn't, but now it is. Thanks. I am sorry I was in a nasty mood. I had to study all night."

"My pleasure". said I, and she started to eat her breakfast hurriedly. "I have an exam today, and have to go", she said.

"Good luck", I said. I did not have any exams. I would have just one final viva, to defend my thesis.

Three years of freedom, scholarship guaranteed, working on a problem, designing, setting up the apparatus, experimenting, making sense of results, writing a thesis and defending it. That was a good deal. But alas, it would soon change. The universities would have to generate their own funds, and would become commercialized. Students would not get such generous scholarships. These would be tied to performance. They would have to study on student loans. I would be out of it, though.

Life was good.

And I had made some people feel brighter that day.


As for Pakistan, many a times strangers have stopped and helped me change a tyre, or run errands for me. I have seen people help (and myself helped) those less priveleged than them, like women, old men. I am old and have a white beard, and people are kind and helpful.

I do think people in Pakistan were very friendly. As living has become difficult, as every institution has failed, as individuals have been exposed to be corrupt or unprincipled, there is however a dog-eats-dog attitude.

But people are still helpful, although maybe not in the everyday city life. Despite increasing poverty and escalating differences in lifestyles, people give. Edhi testifies to that. His is the largest individual private charity being run from private donations. He even has helicopters now.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rising Rock in Saudi Arabia

True or hoax?

see this's unbelievable !!!
Surprising Rock

A huge rock in a village of Al-Hassa region, SAUDI ARABIA raises 11 cms from the ground level once in a year during the month of April and stays elevated for about 30 minutes !!!

They say that 17 years ago, one terrorist was shot dead behind this rock as he was hidden there.

This encounter happened in the month of April 1989. You can see the fresh blood stains on the rock.

Most surprisingly, when the rock rises from the ground, these stains become darker, fresher and wet.
Local residents tried to wipe off the stains several times, but after some time it appears again
on the rock automatically.....
isn't it astounding ?
Have a look....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

consolation for the heart

What happens to you when you hear the adhan, especially when you are outside the mosque and you hear it on the loudspeaker. I guess in Western countries the adhan on the mike is forbidden, so many there would not know the feeling I have on hearing it.

I said in a post that I went to Karachi in 1977 from London. There:

I met my mother, siblings and assorted nephews and nieces, handed over the keys of my suitcase to my youngest sister, ate what mother had prepared for me, took a shower and changed.

I was about to lie down to rest when I heard it:

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar

Allah is Great, Allah is Great
meaning: "Allah is the Greatest, or Allah is the Great One"
(As I heard it, it registered with me how much I had missed this declaration. Yes indeed Allah is the Greatest, nay Allah is the Only Great One.)

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar

Ash-hadu anla ilaha illallah
meaning: "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah"
(Allah is derived from al-ilaha, the God, the One and Only God)

Ash-hadu anla ilaha illallah

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah
meaning: "I bear witness that Muhammad (sallahu alaehi wa sallam) is His (last) Prophet

Ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah

Hayya alas-salah
meaning: "Come to offer prayers"
(Lahawla wa la quwwata illa billah
There is no power to do good or to refrain from bad except through the Power of Allah)

Hayya alas-salah

Hayya alal-falah
meaning: "Come to Salvation"
(Lahawla wa la quwwata illa billah
There is no power to do good or to refrain from bad except through the Power of Allah)

Hayya alal-falah

Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar

La ilaha illal-lah
meaning: "There is no God but Allah"
(Indeed there is no God but Him!)

As I finished answering the adhan, I recalled that we are to make this dua:
Allahumma Rabba hazehid-Dawatitta`mma
WasSalatil Qaaima
Aati Muhammada nil waseelata wal fadilah
Wabhashu maqamam mahmoodanilladhi wa`adtah

Hearing the adhan, I felt strangely empowered. This feeling lasted for more than 25 years. Any time I was down, all I had to wait for was the time of the adhan, and I would hear it, and all worries, all weights on my shoulders would be lifted. Allah is Great, so what do I have to worry about? It is only in the last three or so years that on hearing the adhan, I no longer feel that internal strength to face anything in the world. Maybe it is the age, maybe I need to rejuvinate my faith.

I wouldn't exchange hearing, answering the adhan and this feeling of empowerment for a trillion dollars.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Little Zohra's lesson to her father


Here is a little sample from my novel. At this rate, it will take a long time to write it, but sometimes it is the effort that counts.


Zohra ran excitedly alongside her father and younger sister. She always had to walk rather hurriedly to keep pace with father long strides. The younger one was in father's arms, prattling as he walked.

She had two sisters older than her, and another between her and the one presently enjoying the trip out with her. When abba had asked his six year old if she was ready to go for a walk with him, she had wanted to take her gurriya along with her.

When this younger sister was about to be born, Zohra's mother had told her they were getting her a gurriya. Since then she had considered the newly born baby as her doll. She cherished her gurriya, and as soon as she was able to, she started looking after whatever needs she could. While she would allow others to hold her gurriya, it wouldn't be for long, and gurriya slept with her, period.

A walk with abba was always a pleasure for all the girls. He was so kind and gentle, He worked very hard, but tried to take at least one evening off in a week, to be with his family. The girls were learning not to make demands on him. They were good learners. He, however, tried to give them a small treat whenever he took one of them out. And he balanced his walks with his daughters so that everyone received an almost equal number of time.

Zohra was the favorite, though. Her mother showed her favoritism by loading her with responsibility, or maybe it was just a necessity. A six year old girl can carry an awful lot of responsibility in poverty stricken parts of the world, and she was mother's assistant. The older ones also helped, but somehow she would soon act as a mother to her younger sisters, and administrator to the older ones. Amman, with so many kids to look after, needed help, and when her third daughter started helping her, she naturally landed the job.

She did not mind it. Children don't. They think it is play.

Abba tried to hide his favoritism, for he loved his other daughters equally well, but this one was special. They were all pretty, some more than the others, but all had inherited their mother's looks and proportions, not their father's. The latter would have been a disaster, or maybe not - depends on what you think disaster is.

As they walked past the confectionary shop displaying a proud large sign: "AK Sweet House", on Frere Road, she glanced at it, stopped just that little while, as her eyes caught sight of the sweets displayed. She started moving again, but kept looking back, even when they had gone a long distance forward. Her father had noticed that hesitation in front of the shop, and the longing in her glances, and he asked:

"Do you want to eat a sweet or something?"

Zohra said, "No, abba".

Abba knew. She wanted to eat sweets, but had learnt to control her wants. His heart went out to her, and he said:

"Come, let me buy you something."

Zohra did not refuse any more; instead she said happily: "OK, abba", and they turned back. She had forgotten her restraint. After all, she was only six.

As they entered the shop, abba took his two daughters to a corner and seated them facing the road. They could watch the Neon signs and flashing lights on other shops, and see the busy rickshaws and the tram over the heads of the pedestrians who were themselves a treat to watch.

"What will you eat?" asked abba, "Rasgullas, Chum Chum, Imartee, Ghulab Jaman, or what?"

"What will you eat gurriya?", Zohra asked her sister in turn.

"rush goola", said the gurriya, in her broken tongue, and Zohra broke into a smile, which turned into a happy grin. She loved to listen to her sister - she talked so cute. She hugged her gurriya.

So rasgulla it was.

Abba went to the counter to place the order, and stayed there to talk to the owner. A waiter brought a plate of rasgullas to the kids. When abba had finished with his exchange of views with the owner of the shop, he looked in their direction to make sure they had eaten. Then he signaled them to come to him. He made his payment, and they came out of the shop. After walking some distance, he asked the girls if they had liked the rasgullas.

"Yes", both said happily.

"How many did you eat?"

"We both ate from one. Gurriya has such a small stomach. I had to force her to eat a little" , informed Zohra.

"But I paid for six", said abba, a little upset at the waste of five rasgullas. That was a substantial amount in his book.

Zohra thought very, very quickly, on her feet at it were. "Abba, we left them for the sisters. We can go back, and get them in a shopping bag".

They did that, and on the way back, abba thought of his responsible and loving daughter, and made a silent prayer for her.

He had learnt a lesson.

From that time onwards, whenever he bought a child something, he did the same for other children as well.


copyright (c)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

How much land does a man need - I

This is a story by Leo Tolstoy, that moved me when I read it. Since the copyright no longer applies to it, I will publish it here, in parts.

part I

An elder sister came to visit her younger sister in the country. The elder was married to a tradesman in town, the younger to a peasant in the village. As the sisters sat over their tea talking, the elder began to boast of the advantages of town life: saying how comfortably they lived there, how well they dressed, what fine clothes her children wore, what good things they ate and drank, and how she went to the theatre, promenades, and entertainments.

The younger sister was piqued, and in turn disparaged the life of a tradesman, and stood up for that of a peasant:
"I would not change my way of life for yours," said she. "We may live roughly, but at least we are free from anxiety. You live in better style than we do, but though you often earn more than you need, you are very likely to lose all you have. You know the proverb, 'Loss and gain are brothers twain.' It often happens that people who are wealthy one day are begging their bread the next. Our way is safer. Though a peasant's life is not a fat one, it is a long one.
We shall never grow rich, but we shall always have enough to eat."

The elder sister said sneeringly:
"Enough? Yes, if you like to share with the pigs and the calves!
What do you know of elegance or manners! However much your good man may slave, you will die as you are living-on a dung heap-and your children the same."

"Well, what of that?" replied the younger. "Of course our work is rough and coarse. But, on the other hand, it is sure; and we need not bow to any one. But you, in your towns, are surrounded by temptations; today all may be right, but tomorrow the Evil One may tempt your husband with cards, wine, or women, and all will go to ruin. Don't such things happen often enough?"

Pahom, the master of the house, was lying on the top of the oven, and he listened to the women's chatter.
"It is perfectly true," thought he. "Busy as we are from childhood tilling Mother Earth, we peasants have no time to let any nonsense settle in our heads. Our only trouble is that we haven't land enough. If I had plenty of land, I shouldn't fear the Devil himself!"

The women finished their tea, chatted a while about dress, and then cleared away the tea-things and lay down to sleep.

But the Devil had been sitting behind the oven, and had heard all that was said. He was pleased that the peasant's wife had led her husband into boasting, and that he had said that if he had plenty of land he would not fear the Devil himself.

"All right," thought the Devil. "We will have a tussle. I'll give you land enough; and by means of that land I will get you into my power."

Friday, November 07, 2008

A mother's dream fulfilled

We went to school, and good ones at that. Only we gave up on things that needed money.

For years, I wore hand-me-downs, and never felt anything. I just did not observe what others had. What they had was theirs, and it had nothing to do with me. Even looking at what they had made me think I was invading their privacy and property, and that was an improper thing to do.

The only time I started seeing consumer goods was when I had spent many years in the West. I still did not see what others had. I went to Regent and Oxford Streets in London, and window-shopped, only to appreciate the beauty of these consumer items.

I am glad the cycle breakers and the NGOs weren't around when we were at school. They would have broken us, instead of the cycle.

The problem is too big. It requires a revolution. If not a bloody one, then one in thinking, and unfortunately the world hasn't given up on the American Nightmare. I am sorry, but this is what I think the American Dream actually is.

It requires Islam to be practiced in toto, and again unfortunately, this needs a revolution in thought, of the elite and the masses.


P.S.: I remember now how my mother made ends meet. She sold her jewelery, bit by bit, and she had loads of it. Then when the jewelry was gone, she sold her brass and bronze utensils and flower pots with intricate designs, huge and heavy trays called "seenee", and huge copper utensils. And heavy curtains, those you see only at palaces. Those were her dowry things she sold. When these were gone, I don't know how she managed. She worked very hard, and she prayed, even the tahajjud. She did her wazaif as well.

My mother and her elder sister were the two most wonderful people in this world.

Mother had a dream - that her children would be educated, and Allah (swt) fulfilled her dream, alhamdulillah. All her nine children, except one, who was prone to accidents in the head and lost quite a lot of blood that way, have had education upto masters at least. All own their own houses. All have their own cars. And all practice Islam.

I did not fulfill my own dream: to take a doctorate in Chemistry under Linus Pauling in California, I do have a doctorate - in Chemical Engineering. And although I did not get a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, (as my teachers at Dacca University thought I would), I hope that my work, however humble and however unpublished, will be rewarded in the Hereafter. That is what I want, most of all, to be summoned on the Day of Judgement, and told by Allah He is pleased, and He has reserved His reward for me in the Hereafter.

masha`Allah to all that follows here: One of my brothers became a Chartered Company Secretary. That is a very respectable and very paying profession. One of my sisters fulfilled my father's dream. She is an FRCP from the UK, and one of the most sought after medical consultants in Karachi. The youngest of my sisters is very well placed in the Pakistani branch of one of the topmost international NGOs. I won't mention which, for I do not want to give away the identity of my family. She has been offered a place abroad by the said NGO, but has declined, for mother doesn't want her to leave Pakistan for good. The brother who did not progress beyond Matriculation because of his head injuries, has one of the finest collection of books - in English as well as Urdu.

All my siblings have the tenacity and perseverance of my mother. I am the exception. Somewhere along my life (at age 20, I think) I developed an attitude of "it isn't worth the trouble", but I still asked Allah (swt), and He has looked after me very well indeed. The story of that, the story of my own life, is a story of miracle after miracle, and maybe it is due to my mother's duas, for after age 20 at least, I did nothing to deserve what I have.

It, of course, is worth the trouble. One should ask Allah (swt) for everything, even what looks unachievable, for He can create the conditions to give you what you want. I asked for some such things when I was in Canada, and I did it when I was a non-practicing Muslim, or maybe I had stopped being a Muslim, but I still asked Him. It is amazing how He fulfilled these. Only I did not ask Him to fulfill my dream in Chemistry. I relied on my own brilliance. And that is where I went wrong. There is a couplet in Urdu:

Tu hee nadaan chand kalyon peh qana`at kar gaya
warna chaman mein elaje tangiye damaan bhee tha

You, stupid one, yourself stopped short with a few buds
Otherwise, in the garden there was cure for a short shirt as well

(when you are collecting buds and flowers in bulk, you use your shirt to collect these, if you do not have a basket).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Room for the impious Muslim

Isn't there a Hadith to the effect that if we did not commit sins and then repent, Allah (swt) would replace us with a nation that did commit sins, and then repented.

So, instead of looking down on people who commit serious (kabeera) sins, perhaps we should encourage them in a mild manner to repent.

One of the problems of the Ummah is the self-righteousness of the individuals. We think we are better than the other Muslims many of whom we out of hand declare outside of the faith.

We should fight that tendency, try to find reasons and excuses for behaviour, pray, and gently guide the sinful.

Let have room in our hearts, in the mosque, in our homes, for the impious Muslim.

The only time we should withdraw is if association with from him/her poses a threat to our own or our family's eemaan.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Is Obama listening?

good. I congratulate Obama and all who supported him for the President of the US of A.

What does it mean for those of us on this planet who are non-US people.

For there are an awful lot of us.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, where the US or its ally Israel is bombing and killing ordinary people.

Will Obama compensate the Iraqis for the destruction of their lives? The four million displaced ones, who have left homes because of the infighting brought on by the war on Iraq.

He cannot bring back the more than 1.2 million Iraqis killed as a result of this war, but will he apologise, and compensate the Iraqi people.

For again, we are an awful lot of people.

Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Pakistan, where the US is bombing and killing ordinary people. Will Obama compensate the Iraqis for the destruction of their lives?

We are an awful lot of people, and we have been living under occupation of people we do not like: in Chechnya, Kashmir, Mindanao, Pattani, ... and many more places.

Will Obama label us terrorists for our struggle for independence?

Where we are nominally independent, we live under autocratic or corrupt rule - the fruits of corruption going to foreign companies, consultants, and the rulers, who deposit their ill-gotten wealth in the West's money-laundering havens, foremost among these being the US of A.

What is Obama going to do about it? Or is he?

That is what concerns me. What wonderful lives the people of the mighty US of A will enjoy, doesn't matter much to me, except to wish them happiness.

Is Obama listening? Will he stop the money laundering, the deposition of our wealth in the names of the corrupt? Will he return our stolen wealth to us, or will he use it to finance the credit crunch of capitalism?

Is he listening?

Some more on apostates

I did some more research on apostates, and I was surprised to see there have been some prominent ones. In most cases it was the love of dunya that made people made the choice of leaving Islam. One of the Presidents of Argentina (Carlos Saúl Menem Akil) was a Muslim who converted to Roman Catholicism in order to satisfy his political ambitions. It wasn't until the mid nineties that Argentina abolished the requirement of her President being a Roman Catholic. Ibne Hafsun in Spain, The Khans of Kazan and Qasim in Russia, all became Christians to retain or to get lands to rule from the dominant Christian Emperors.

Some apostates are reverts from Christianity, who went back to Christianity. How genuine was their intial reversion to Islam, is open to doubt.

Queen Nazli of Egypt and one of her daughters also converted to Roman Catholicism, the latter to marry her Copt lover. They dies and are buried in the US.

The other daughters of Nazli remained Sunnis to the end. They too had been in exile in Europe, but refused to join Nazli, even when their stipends were cut off. They worked like us commoners for a living, and upon their death were brought to Cairo, where they are buried.

The Shah of Iran's elder sister Shams also converted to Roman Catholicism. Princess Soraya Bakhtiari, the Shah's first wife, who was divorced for being infertile, tried her hand at being an actress in Hollywood before becoming a director's companion. She probably converted as well, for the American Consulate held a service for her upon her death. Since the Iranian elite had been Westernised, it is not surpeising.

Such conversions from ordinary Shia to Christianity, or from wahdatul wujud Sufis is also understandable. When they have already accepted divinity in humans, it is a smaller step to transfer their belief of the incarnate god from their previous one to Jesus.

I was more surprised at apostacies from so-called wahabism, but it seems that here some display strictness and ex-communication. This causes people to lose faith. And here we need to understand how to get such extremists to listen to us.

Others who left Islam, did have questions to which their pre-conceived/determined answers were not forthcoming.

Some have started campaigns against Islam, while most have left it quietly.

The viciousness with which non-Muslim Imperialism attacks Islam, is fed by such campaigns.

Under the circumstances, perhaps the Jurists were right in turning the apostate away from the community, and in prescribing the death penalty for those apostates who vilify Islam. But the experience of Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq and kashmir shows that Imprerialism will not leave us alone.

I have to think more about what would be the correct response to apostates. Even better, what is the way to prevent Muslims from becoming apostate and going to Hell as a result. As the prophesies of our beloved last Prophet Muhammad (saws) regarding the end times, come true, and people give up Eemaan for dunya, perhaps instead of engaging with apostates, may be it would be better to turn to individual salvation.

Regarding Yasmeen Ghauri, I now have no doubt in my mind that she has deliberately left Islam to enjoy life. She had an unhappy childhood, with constant bickering at home - something then to avoid in your home. In one of her interviews she is implying that her father said "I (Yasmeen Ghauri) am Muslim, and in Islam we are not allowed to drink, dance, show skin, etc. all that I am doing now". Clearly snubbing her father and those who question her choice of a career. She makes fun of her father when he says "You are putting me in jeopardy. You are going to Hell". all very dramatic, she says with a condescending smile. At the end of her catwalk, she puts her heel fown, as if she is making a statement. What statement is she making? Obviously that "I am doing what is forbidden in Islam. What can you do"?

All we can do is to try to prevent our own from being tainted with her outlook on life.

It is ourselves and our own relatives we must first try to save from hellfire.