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Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Real Purpose of Education

The Real Purpose of Education
Education---like democracy, free markets, freedom of the press, and "universal human rights" --- is one of those subjects whose virtue is considered self-evident. So is the superiority of the industrially advanced countries in attaining them. Consequently, any package that arrives with one of these magic labels on it, automatically qualifies for the "green channel" at our entry ports. No questions asked. This uncritical acceptance has severely crippled our discussion of all these vital topics. For example in education most of our discussion centers around literacy statistics and the need to have so many graduates, masters, Phd’s, and so many professionals --- engineers, doctors, etc.--- in a given country based on the standards in the industrially advanced countries. The central issue of curriculum, and even more fundamental issue of the purpose of education normally do not attract our attention; they have already been decided by the "advanced’ countries for us and our job is only to follow in their footsteps to achieve their level of progress.
Indeed they have. In the "first" world, education has become an extension of the capitalist system. Its purpose is to provide qualified workforce for its machinery of production and eager consumers for its products. Stated in a more polished form, the purpose of education is to provide for the economic prosperity of a country. Similarly on a personal level today the purpose of education is to be able to earn a respectable living.
While earning halal living and providing for the economic well being of a country are certainly important Islamic goals as well, the linking of education to financial goals is extremely unfortunate. It turns the centers of learning into mere vocational centers in their outlook and spirit. It degrades education and through it the society.
To bring home the pivotal but forgotten role of education we need to recall that there is a fundamental difference between human beings and animals. Instincts and physical needs alone can bring ants, bees, or herds of beasts together to live in a perfectly functioning animal society. Human beings do not function that way. They are not constrained by nature to follow only those ways that are necessary for the harmonious operation of their society. If they are to form a viable, thriving society, they must chose to do so. What drives that choice is the sharing of common goals, beliefs, values and outlook on life. Without a common framework binding its members, a human society cannot continue to exist; it will disintegrate and be absorbed by other societies. Further, the society must ensure that the common ground will continue to hold from generation to generation. This is the real purpose of education. The education system of a society produces the citizens and leaders needed for the smooth operation of that society, now and into the future. Its state of health or sickness translates directly into the health or sickness of the society that it is meant to serve.
Today we find many internal problems --- corruption, injustice, oppression, crippling poverty --- everywhere we turn in the Muslim world. If we think about it, we may realize that most of these problems are man-made. Which is another way of saying that they are largely traceable, directly or indirectly, to the education system that produced the people who perpetuate the problems. The rulers who sell out to foreign powers and subjugate their people; the bureaucrats who enforce laws based on injustice; the generals who wage war against their own people; the businessmen who exploit and cheat; the journalists who lie, sensationalize, and promote indecencies, they are all educated people, in many cases "highly" educated people. Their education was meant to prepare them for the roles they are playing in real life. And it has, although in a very unexpected way!
The problem plagues all layers of society. Why are Muslim communities in the grip of so much materialism today? What should we expect when our entire education system is preaching the gospel of materialism? Why have we effectively relegated Islam to a small inconsequential quarter in our public life? Because that is precisely where our secular education system has put it. Why in our behavior toward each other we see so little display of Islamic manners and morals? Because our imported education system is devoid of all moral training. Why our societies are sick? Because our education system is sick.
This is the real crisis of education. Before we got into this mess by importing from the Colonial powers what was current and popular, education in our societies was always the means of nurturing the human being. Moral training, tarbiya, was always an inalienable part of it. The ustaz,(teacher), was not just a lecturer or mere professional, but a mentor and moral guide. We remembered the hadith then, "No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training." [Tirmidhi]. Our education system was informed by this hadith. Our darul-ulooms still maintain that tradition but the number of students who pass through their gates is minuscule compared to the secular schools.
In the U.S. and Europe, the schools were started by the church. Later as forces of capitalism overtook them, they molded them into their image. Moral training was a casualty of that takeover. But capitalism and their political economy did need people trained to work under these systems. So citizenship training was retained as an important, though diminishing, component of the curriculum--- a religion-free subset of the moral training it displaced. Whatever civility we see here is largely a result of that leftover component. The imported versions in the Muslim countries, though, had even that component filtered out. And the results are visible.
We can solve our problem once we realize our mistakes. The first purpose of our education system must be to produce qualified citizens and leaders for the Islamic society. Tarbiya, real Islamic moral training, must be an integral part of it. This must be the soul of our education, not a ceremonial husk. All plans for improving our education will be totally useless unless they are based on a full understanding of this key fact. This requires revamping our curricula, rewriting our textbooks, retraining our teachers, and realizing that we must do all this ourselves. We do have a rich history of doing it. Are we finally willing to turn to our own in-house treasures to redo education the way it should always have been?

The Rotting of Hearts

The Rotting of Hearts
The body of a human being is of the earth. Therefore, man has material needs, like the rest of creation, such as eating, drinking and reproductive needs. Yet, at the same time his soul belongs to the spiritual world and to Allah. When man is controlled by the needs of the body he falls away from Allah. But, if the soul is in control of the body, man comes closer to God. His body is engulfed in the divine light, and his heart is illuminated.
In order to achieve divine illumination we have to purify our hearts from the earthly characteristics inherent in them. Without purification of the heart we cannot lead a healthy spiritual life. Much as there are physical diseases, there are also spiritual diseases, and these reside in the heart.
If a tree has diseased roots the traces of the malady can be seen in its branches and fruit. If there is a disease in the heart its effects are visible through the wrong actions of the person. The disease of the heart can be cured by the rememberance of God and the chanting of His beautiful names. Allah the Almighty states in the Chapter Ra’d:
“The Unbelievers say: "Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?" Say: "Truly Allah leaveth, to stray, whom He will; But He guideth to Himself those who turn to Him in penitence, "Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction.” (Ra’d: 13:27-28)
Much as a disease needs a thorough course of medication, similarly the heart can be treated through continuous rememberance; a little rememberance here or there does not treat the disease at the root. Therefore, the Holy Qur’an commands that Allah should be often remembered. The Qur’an commands us to remember Him day and night, often no number or limitation being given. When the number is not stated, it is understood that the number should be more than that of anything else. An occasional rememberance of God does not soften the heart; the following verse commands us:
U ye who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. (Ahzab 33:41)
“And when the Prayer is finished, then may ye disperse through the land, and seek of the Bounty of Allah: and celebrate the Praises of Allah often (and without stint): that ye may prosper”. (Juma 62:10)
“Remember thy Lord much, and praise (Him) in the early hours of night and morning”. (Al-i Imran 3:41)

The Deadliest of All Sins: Arrogance

The Deadliest of All Sins: Arrogance
It has been called ummul-amraadh, or the root of all sicknesses of the heart. Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wasallam, warned that a person having even an iota of it in his heart will never enter Paradise. This deadliest of all sins is kibr, or arrogance.
No one likes arrogance --- in others. We never like a person who is haughty, too proud, or condescending. We detest a person who belittles us and has a huge ego. Similarly we love people who are humble, polite, and easy to talk to. We love people who give us respect and honor. Thus if we follow the principle of treating others the way we like to be treated, most of these problems might be cured. In reality, the treatment of ummul-amradh requires a deeper look.
For that we need to appreciate the difference between Aadaab or manners, on the one hand and Akhlaq or morals on the other. While adab deal with one's external disposition, akhlaq as defined by Islam deals with our inner thoughts, feeling, and attitudes. In a healthy personality, manners and morals are in harmony. But it is also possible to have the former without having the latter. The first concerns itself with how a person deals with others. The second is concerned with what a person thinks of himself. Two persons showing humbleness in their dealings with others, may have exactly opposite ideas in their minds. One may do it out of his or her "generosity"; the other may do it because he genuinely thinks that he is not better than the other person. The first person only has a shell of humbleness, which will crumble when tested. It is the second person who is really free of arrogance.
Real greatness belongs only to Allah, our Lord, Creator, and Master. Human beings are just a creation of Allah --- and a very small creation in comparison to the unimaginably vast universe He has created. Anyone who understands this will realize that our proper status is only that of servants of Allah. In fact for a Muslim the real human model is none other than Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam, who is the greatest of all human beings. His greatness lies in being the humblest of all servants of Allah! It is impossible for any person who has this consciousness to entertain any notion of his own greatness.
This leads us to the definition of kibr, given in a famous hadith: "Kibr is to knowingly reject Truth and to belittle other people." This hadith exposes two strains of this deadly disease, both dealing with our exaggerated ideas of self-importance. The first suggests that I am more important than the Truth. The second suggests that I am more important than other people.
We know about the Quraish and Jews of Arabia who had come in contact with Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wasallam, and who knew in the heart of their hearts that he indeed was the Messenger of Allah. Their arrogance, though, kept them from accepting it. History has recorded statements from some of them who said we know he is the Promised Prophet but we will keep on opposing him to maintain our leadership.
While that was the most blatant form of arrogance, we can witness the same attitude on a smaller scale in our own discussions and arguments. A person realizes that he is wrong, but then his pride keeps him from admitting it. No matter how polite or "humble" that person may appear to be ordinarily, this test shows the presence of arrogance in his heart. It is arrogance that keeps a person from saying "I am sorry."
The second strain involves our feeling of superiority with respect to other people. Islam teaches us that one should never consider oneself greater than other people, because that judgment will come from Allah, and Allah alone, on the Day of Judgment. None of us knows what our end will be, whether we will end up being a winner or loser over there. The person who appears to be nobody here may end up with eternal bliss because of his goodness that only Allah knew. The person who is a big shot here may end up among the sinners who will be punished there, because of his evil that only Allah knew. How foolish, it is then to congratulate ourselves over our fleeting "superiority".
What if a person does have an edge over another person in measurable worldly terms? How then can he not consider himself superior than the other person in that respect? The point is sometimes made in half jest: it is difficult to be humble when you are so great. Islam does not ask us to reject reality and imagine we don't have what we really do. Rather it asks us to take a deeper look at the reality and not be misled by a superficial perception of it. And the simple reality that escapes many is that our health, wealth, talents, and power are not of our own creation. God gave those to us as a test and He can take them back whenever He wills. Those who are conscious of this reality, their blessings will produce gratitude in them; those who are blind to it will develop pride and arrogance.
Some forms of kibr are subtle. If a person is embarrassed to bow to Allah in the presence of non-believers, that is a case of "kibr in the face of Allah," says Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi.
While throughout history humanity had agreed on the evil of arrogance and the virtue of humbleness (despite its failures in practice), but this century has seen new dogmas that aim at changing the definitions of good and evil. Humbleness is no longer desirable. Rather, one has to avoid "Inferiority Complex." Alfred Adler (1870-1937) gave us that term. According to him, life is a continuous struggle to move from a position of inferiority to a position of significance. Those who fail to make the progress, develop inferiority complex, which can be treated by increasing self-esteem. Unfortunately today such pseudo-science is accepted as gospel truth.
The truth is that problems arise when we turn away from reality. A humble person is a happy, contented, grateful person who thanks God for His blessings and has no notion of his own superiority. False notions of superiority or of one's entitlements in life, on the other hand, lead to frustrations and complexes.

How to maintain love for the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam)

How to maintain love for the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam)
The strength of love for the Messenger (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) is connected to the Muslim’s faith. When his faith increases, his love for the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) increases. Loving the Prophet (sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam) is an act of obedience to Allah and a means of drawing closer to Him. Loving him is one of the obligatory duties in Islam.
It is narrated that Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) said: “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his father, his child and all the people.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In his response to a question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
“Our love of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) is bound to be enhanced if we read his seerah (biography) and study the examples from his life as diligently set out in the Sunnah. Such studies have moved thousands of scholars throughout the centuries to dedicate their entire lives to learning and transmitting them. The library is full of their works.
In order to enhance your love of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam), think of the following:
1. Think of this humble servant of Allah who never tired of reminding himself that he was a humble servant of Allah. He said, “I am a servant of Allah; I eat like a servant, sit like a servant and walk like a servant.”
2. Think of his lofty morals and his compassion towards the most vulnerable, the women, children and animals. We learn that he would be moved to tears at the death of a child, and he would commiserate with a child at the death of his nightingale.
3. Think of his qualities as a boss who never picked faults. The young man who had served him ten long years said, “I served the Messenger of Allah ten years, and yet not even once did he condemn me for something I did wrong or failed to do right!”
4. Through his excellent morals and conduct, he earned the love of everyone around him, men and women, young and old. Even his enemies noted that they never saw such expressions of love shown towards any temporal or spiritual leader before him.
5. His selfless and self-effacing behavior turned his hardened enemies into his ardent admirers who were ready to give their lives for the sake of him and his mission. Look at `Umar, Safwan, `Ikrimah and Khalid (radhiallahu 'anhum) and many others who had been once his fiercest adversaries.
6. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) was born an orphan and died like an orphan. In other words, his lifestyle never changed. He reminded a person who feared his might, “Take it easy! You have no reason to fear me! I am not a king, but the son of an old woman of Quraysh who used to survive on dry meat!”
7. He consistently and vigorously opposed any forms of self-adulation and self-adoration so that he even forbade his people to stand up in reverence for him. Prior to his death, one of his stern warnings addressed to his followers was, “Do not venerate me as the Christians venerated Jesus, son of Mary. I am only a servant of Allah and His Messenger!”
May Allah shower His choicest blessings on His servant and chosen Messenger Muhammad (sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam) and his family and companions; and may the Beneficent Lord raise us all up under his flag on the Day of Resurrection. Aameen

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Muhammad Bin Qasim rahimahullah

Muhammad Bin Qasim rahimahullah
Muhammad bin Qasim was born around 694 AD (if we are to believe the tradition that he was seventeen when he attacked Sindh in 711 AD). He belonged to the Saqqafi tribe that had originated from Taif in Arabia, and he was also a close relative of Hajjaj bin Yousuf (possibly a second cousin, but not a nephew as narrated in the popular tradition). Much because of the influence of Hajjaj, the young Muhammad bin Qasim was appointed the governor of Persia while in his teens, and it is said that he did a good job at crushing the rebellion in that region. Sometime around the same period he got married to a girl in the Tamim tribe. There is also a popular tradition that presents him as the son-in-law of Hajjaj bin Yousuf, but some scholars discredit this tradition since an authentic pedigree of Hajjaj doesn’t mention any daughter. It is more likely that the young hero was married to a woman of Banu Tamim, and although the name of his wife does not appear in recorded history it is certain that she gave him two sons who later became famous for their own exploits.
When Muhammad bin Qasim invaded Sindh, Hajjaj arranged for special messengers between Basra and Sindh, and told the general never to take any step without his advice. This order was followed to the letter during the campaign. “When you advance in the battle, see that you have the sun behind your backs,” Hajjaj wrote to his cousin just before the famous storming of Debal. “If the sun is at your back then its glare will not prevent you from having a full view of the enemy. Engage in fight immediately, and ask for the help of Allah. If anyone of the people of Sindh ask for mercy and protection, do give it to them but not to the citizens of Debal, who must all be put to the sword.”
Debal was the first important town in Sindh captured by the Arabs under Muhammad bin Qasim. It is also said that just before the final attack, a Brahmin came out to inform the invaders that the flag on the temple is a talisman and if they strike it down the city will hold no longer. “When the army of Islam scaled the walls of the fort, the Debalese opened the gates and asked for mercy,” says the writer of Chachnameh, the primary source on Muhammad bin Qasim written on the orders of his descendants. “Muhammad bin Qasim replied that he had no orders to spare anyone in the town, and that his soldiers had to do the slaughtering for three days… 700 beautiful females, who were under the protection of the temple, were all captured along with their valuable ornaments and clothes adorned with jewels.” The women and children thus captured from Debal were included in the spoils of the war. Some of them were distributed among the soldiers, while one-fifth was sent to the Caliph through Hajjaj bin Yousuf in accordance to the Islamic law that proclaimed that one-fifth of the spoils of the war belonged to the Caliph for rightful use. These spoils included two daughters of the deceased ruler of Debal, who were handpicked for the Caliph’s harem.
The fate of Debal sent shockwaves across Sindh. People consulted their astrologers, and soon the word was out: fate has ordained the country to fall to the Arabs. It is more likely than not that the Arab invaders sponsored the rumour after seeing at Debal how local superstition could be exploited as a war strategy. The Buddhist population of Sindh was the first to make secret alliances with the Arabs, since they had little stake in the rule of the Brahmin dynasty. Hajjaj Bin Yousuf carefully dictated the terms of mercy to Muhammad bin Qasim all the way from Basra. “Whoever submits to you, let him retain his power and wealth and family,” Hajjaj ordered his cousin. “And whoever does not submit, treat him brutally and torture him till he submits.”
Muhammad bin Qasim’s advance towards Dahar was very careful. The Arab ensured that his supply line was safe, moving ahead only after each city on the way was secured in possession and its population either annihilated or won over with generosity. To Hajjaj, who was sitting several thousand miles away, it might have seemed that his cousin was wasting time. “Now give up other towns and march against Dahar,” Hajjaj wrote in a rather frustrated mood. There is a subtle, almost vague indication that Muhammad bin Qasim wanted Raja Dahar to submit to him and rule over Sindh as the Caliph’s viceroy. Hajjaj saw this as a waste of time. “I am shocked at the weakness of your policy,” Hajjaj wrote to him. “People will think that you are trying to bring about peace! You should inspire fear."
“O Men of Arabia,” Muhammad bin Qasim charged his armies to the final contest with Dahar. “These crowds of infidels have come prepared to fight with us. You must use all your strength, for they will put up a furious resistance for the sake of their wealth and families. Ride against them… With the help of Allah, we hope to make them all food for our sharp swords, take away their wealth and their families, and obtain large booty. Do not show weakness, and remember that Allah makes the end of the pious happy.”
Dahar was killed at the Battle of Rawar. “It is related that when the fort of Rawar was taken, all the treasures and arms that were in it were secured, except what had been taken away by Dahir’s son Jaisingh,” narrates the author of Chachnameh. “All this booty was brought to Muhammad bin Qasim. The slaves were counted, and their number came to 60,000. Out of these, 30 were young ladies of royal blood including Raja Dahar’s niece whose name was Husna (Sundri). Muhammad bin Qasim sent all these to Hajjaj, together with Dahar’s head, and one-fifth of the booty, as the royal share… When the head of Dahar and women and the treasure were brought to Hajjaj, he placed his forehead on the ground and offered prayers of thanks-giving, saying: Now I have got all the treasures of the world. I rule the world.” It is said that one of Dahar’s wives, Ladi, married Muhammad bin Qasim, but there is another tradition according to which Ladi killed herself by jumping down the rampart when she saw the Arabs.
The conquest of Sindh was completed with occupation of the remaining major cities, especially Brahmanabad and Multan. This brought more serious responsibilities. So far, Sindh was treated as an enemy country, and in his earlier conquests Muhammad bin Qasim had torn down temples, replacing them with mosques. “Now that the people of this land have placed their heads in the yoke of submission,” Hajjaj instructed his general. “I do not see what further rights we have over them beyond the usual tax. Therefore, permit them to build the temples of those they worship. No one is prohibited from, or punished for, following his own religion, and let no one prohibit it, so that these people may live happily in their homes.” This edict of Hajjaj bin Yousuf had a lasting influence in the history of Muslim India. By giving the Buddhists and Hindus the status of “zimmis,” and imposing “protection tax” (or “jizya”) on them.
It was about this time that he lost both of his sponsors at the court. His cousin Hajjaj was the first to die, soon followed by the master himself, Caliph Walid. The successor on throne, Caliph Sulieman bin Abdul Malik, was a generous monarch who owed his throne to the opponents of the late Hajjaj bin Yousuf. Most of these were relatives of people killed or tortured by Hajjaj (some 20,000 women and 50,000 men were found unjustly imprisoned when Hajjaj died). They demanded revenge, and there was no way, nor enough reason, for Sulieman to stop them. Muhamamd bin Qasim was high on the hit list due to his close association with Hajjaj.
It is said that the young general was about to invade an Indian state when the Caliph’s messengers arrived to take him back in chains. True to the soldier’s honor, like always, Muhammad bin Qasim obliged. His followers wept bitterly, warning him that he was going back to a certain death. We don’t know what he said in reply, if he said anything. We do know, however, that shortly afterwards, just before he died of torture in the prison of Wasit, he recited an Arabic couplet to the effect: “They wasted me at the prime of my youth, and what a youth they wasted: the one who was a defender of their borders.”

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The Mighty Oak

The Mighty Oak
It was autumn in the forest. The days were short, and the air was crisp and cool.
The tall graceful pine trees whispered to each other all the time, talking about the creatures who lived in the forest. They were most puzzled about the skinny tree in the middle of their stand.
"Look at the funny looking tree in the center named, Oakey," they would say over and over. Oakey was different.
"You can't be a pine tree like us because your leaves are big and wide and red and yellow. Your trunk is short and skinny. Our leaves are narrow and graceful and our limbs cover our solid trunks completely."
At times, nasty laughter rang through the forest. The Pines teased and teased little Oakey until he could hardly hold his branches up to the sun.
Oakey tried not to listen, but the whispering went on day after day. He knew he was different, very different than the graceful green pines.
After a few very cold nights, Oakey looked at all his empty branches. He had no leaves left at all, and felt very tired and sad.
The Pines laughed and laughed and said he looked like a skinny stick.
One of the tallest Pines said, "No birds can nest in your branches and no squirrels can race up and down your trunk. You are a useless stick. Deer could never bed down under your limbs."
The Pines began to believe Oakey had no value as a forest tree. Over the long winter, they never even talked to him again. It was the saddest loneliest time of his life.
Oakey wished he could go somewhere else, be like the graceful Pines with graceful needle leaves all the time, wished he could protect birds and be a friend to the squirrels and other creatures.
As the daylight began to get longer and warmer, Oakey noticed he had more energy, and his branches were covered with delicate bright green buds. Deer of the forest munched on his bark and delicious green buds.
The Pines were confused.
As time went on, Oakey's bright green buds burst into large shiny dark green leaves that covered every branch. Even light green flowers formed near the shiny leaves.
The Pines could not believe the change they were seeing. Oakey was not a skinny ugly stick anymore. He stood taller in the sunshine and displayed his crown to the sky.
A cardinal sang a beautiful song, and built a nest on one of Oakey's strong limbs. Squirrels tickled Oakey until he burst into laughter by racing up and down his trunk and through his branches. Dozens of butterflies flew in formations around Oakey in the sunshine.
The Pines were upset and jealous of all Oakey's new popularity. He was definitely not a graceful pine, he did not have thin green needle leaves through all the seasons.
Oakey did not want the Pines to be jealous and unhappy. He knew how it felt to be sad. So he said to the pines, "We can be friends, too. When I rest in the winter, you can protect all the creatures that live and play in my branches. Then in the summer, we can all play and whisper together. We are all trees, just different kinds. We can share the forest and make it better for everyone who lives here."
The Pines, thankful for the kind heart of Oakey, nodded in agreement.
Each year Oakey Oak grew taller and taller and stronger and stronger. Each summer, more and more bird families lived in his branches, and more squirrels played on his trunk. Even a wise old owl lived in his top story. The butterflies and bees were happy to fly circles around their friend, the Oak. In the winter, his friends, the deer depended on his bark for food, and all the small creatures used the seeds of the oak, the acorns, for food.
Towering above all the other trees, Oakey became the Mighty Oak of the forest protecting the Pines during storms and providing homes for the small creatures, his friends. The Mighty Oak was never sad again, and neither were the Pines. They lived together working in harmony respecting differences.

The Mast of Nooh ‘alaihis salaam Ark

The Mast of Nooh ‘alaihis salaam Ark
During the reign of Caliph Haroon Rasheed, a person claimed to be the Prophet Nooh ‘alaihis salaam. Haroon Rasheed called him and asked, “Are you the same Nooh who was sent earlier or you are someone else?”
He answered, “I’m that same Nooh who live earlier for nine hundred and fifty years. Now I am sent back to live for more fifty years so that I might complete my thousand year.”
Haroon Rasheed sentenced him to death. So he was hanged. While he (dead body) was still handing, a jolly man passed by, looked at the hanging man and remarked,
“Great Mr. Nooh! You couldn’t find anything else than the mast from your ark?”

The True Champion

The True Champion
With the right upper cut, Ali knocked his opponent down and won the championship bout once again. He had never been defeated in his five-year career. The world hailed him as the greatest boxer ever to wear the belt. The best-liked trait of Ali amongst his fans was his voracious ferocity. He was the worst tempered man, easily gripped by rage. His last three opponents had all gone to the hospital but his anger was never sated.
Ali had his next bout scheduled against an outspoken boxer, Fadil, whom Ali hated the most. Fadil was relatively new in the arena but had remained undefeated like Ali. The fight was of great significance to both, as it would decide the true champion. Ali was well aware of the challenge and anticipated it impatiently. He had in him the fire and the passion, coupled with his rage; he was invincible in the arena.
Ali started training day and night. He wanted to keep himself at hundred percent. After his tiring daily training ritual in the gym, he decided to take a walk to his home. The gym was built in one of the city’s poor neighborhoods. Ali was soon surrounded by beggars asking for alms to buy food. Ali, who was tired from the training was in no mood of charity and started shouting at the beggars. Everyone was aware of the boxer’s anger and ran away. One of the beggars was a middle-aged cripple who had not eaten for two days. While others ran away after angering Ali, he persisted and asked again for help. Ali was enraged. He lost his cool and hit the poor beggar in the face, knocking him down. As he walked past the beggar, he heard the poor man’s words,
“True champion is one who defeats not his opponent, but his anger”.
Ali paused for a moment, pondered carelessly on the uttering, and took a taxi to his house.
The day of the championship bout finally came. Ali and Fadil were presented to thousands of keen spectators as the champion and the contender. Ali was asked to say a few words to the fans before the fight. He arrogantly assured them of retaining the title. On his turn, Fadil came down pouncing on Ali with insults and such contempt that Ali was infuriated and started trembling with uncontrollable rage. He had vowed to teach Fadil a lesson.
The fight began and Ali started hitting Fadil with left, right combination of ferocious punches. Big talking Fadil soon realized that he was no match for the champion and in his desperation started hurling more insults at Ali. This was the boiling point for the champion, who turned red with fury. No man on earth had insulted the champion in front of thousands. Ali had decided to take revenge. He hit Fadil with a left punch that left him bleeding. Ali was about to finish the fight off with his deadly right upper cut that the beggar’s voice again rang in his ear,
“True champion is one who defeats not his opponent, but his anger”.
Ali again paused for a moment, pondered deeply, and this time realized the power of the words. The entire monstrosity that had possessed him suddenly vanished and was replaced by a pacifying smile on his face. The lapse allowed Fadil to regain his composure. He launched another onslaught of insults on Ali who replied with his content smile. Ali had now started a fight within a fight. Fadil was not his opponent anymore. It was an evil shadowy creature, his own anger. This was proving to be a tough fight. He possessed enough physical power to defeat any opponent however strong he might be, but fighting his own anger demanded spiritual power and strength of character. Fadil soon realized that he was making a fool out of himself by doing all that useless talking. He made an attempt to punch Ali. To his utter disbelief, he succeeded in punching him. This made him bolder. His insults and punches kept hitting Ali who remained calm and in his own thoughts, kept punching his anger. Fadil dealt the final blow to Ali who fell down on the ring floor, but during his fall had hit his anger the deadly upper cut.
The fight had ended with a strange outcome. Two champions had emerged from a single boxing bout, Fadil for the people and Ali for the heavens above.

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Pioneer of Freedom

Pioneer of Freedom
Allama Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was an erudite religious scholar, an author and a sincere political leader. His efforts first for the creation of Pakistan and then, after it's creation, for the establishment of a truly Islamic system of Government were, indeed, laudable.
He was born in 1885 at Bijnour (UP). He was educated at the renowned Darul-Uloom of Deoband, where Shaikhul Hind, Mahmud-ul-Hasan was one of his teachers. He was Head Teacher Madressah Fathehpuri in Delhi for two years and Head Teacher Darul-Uloom, Dabel, Surat for 12 years. He spent 18 years at Deoband where he taught Hadees. He ultimately became Head of the Institution. Allama Shabbir then completed the 'Tafsir-ul-Quran' left unfinished by Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan.
During the Balkan War he took a leading part in collecting money for the Hilal-e-Ahmar (Red Crescent) Fund.
Allama Saheb was one of those few Deoband Alims who fought for the establishment of Pakistan. He was the Founder President of Jamiat-ul- Ulama-e-Islam in 1946.
After Independence he became a Member of the first Constituent Assembly of Pakistan and remained so till his death in March 1949. He left his indelible mark in the history of Pakistan when he spearheaded the 'Objectives Resolution' passed by the Constituent Assembly in March 1949 and participated in the preparation of the first draft of the constitution of Pakistan
He died at Baghdad-ul-Jadid, Bahawalpur State on December 13, 1949 and was buried at Karachi. Punjab University, Lahore conferred upon him posthumous degree of Doctorate of Laws.
Some of his memorable publications are 'Tark-i-Muvalaat Per Mofassal Tabserah, 1921' i.e. 'Detailed Treatment of the Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movements, wherein the Allama asks the Ulemas to lead Muslims against the British (This pamphlet was so convincing in its arguments and powerful in its contents that it was soon banned by the then British Government in India), 'Hamara Pakisan' (pamphlet) 1942, 'Hamara Islam' Deobandi. 'Khutbat-e-Usmani, Lahore'.

Air Pollution

Air Pollution
When people think about air pollution, they usually think about smog, acid rain, CFC’s, and other forms of outdoor air pollution. But did you know that air pollution also can exist inside homes and other buildings? It can, and every year, the health of many people is affected by chemical substances present in the air within buildings.
Air is the ocean we breathe. Air supplies us with oxygen which is essential for our bodies to live. Air is 99.9% nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor and inert gases. Human activities can release substances into the air, some of which can cause problems for humans, plants, and animals.
There are several main types of pollution and well-known effects of pollution which are commonly discussed. These include smog, acid rain, the greenhouse effect, and "holes" in the ozone layer. Each of these problems has serious implications for our health and well-being as well as for the whole environment.
One type of air pollution is the release of particles into the air from burning fuel for energy. Diesel smoke is a good example of this particulate matter . The particles are very small pieces of matter measuring about 2.5 microns or about .0001 inches. This type of pollution is sometimes referred to as "black carbon" pollution.
Another type of pollution is the release of noxious gases, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and chemical vapors. These can take part in further chemical reactions once they are in the atmosphere, forming smog and acid rain.
How can air pollution hurt my health?
Air pollution can affect our health in many ways with both short-term and long-term effects:
Short-term effects include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, and upper respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Other symptoms can include headaches, nausea, and allergic reactions. Short-term air pollution can aggravate the medical conditions of individuals with asthma and emphysema. In the great "Smog Disaster" in London in 1952, four thousand people died in a few days due to the high concentrations of pollution.
Long-term health effects can include chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerves, liver, or kidneys. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly. It is estimated that half a million people die prematurely every year in the United States as a result of smoking cigarettes.
How can we prevent
the damaging effects of air pollution?
In many countries in the world, steps are being taken to stop the damage to our environment from air pollution. Scientific groups study the damaging effects on plant, animal and human life. Legislative bodies write laws to control emissions. Educators in schools and universities teach students, beginning at very young ages, about the effects of air pollution.
Adequate ventilation is also a key to controlling exposure to indoor air pollution. Home and work environments should be monitored for adequate air flow and proper exhaust systems installed. Additional information is available in a book titled Understanding Ventilation .
One of the most dangerous air pollutants is cigarette smoke. Restricting smoking is an important key to a healthier environment. Legislation to control smoking is in effect in some locations, but personal exposure should be monitored and limited wherever possible.
Only through the efforts of scientists, business leaders, legislators, and individuals can we reduce the amount of air pollution on the planet. This challenge must be met by all of us in order to assure that a healthy environment will exist for all the people.

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As You Sow, So Shall You Reap

As You Sow, So Shall You Reap
In the reign of caliph Haroon-ur-Rasheed, there lived a clever barber in Baghdad. He was a high-class barber and had many wealthy men and courtiers among his customers. One day a poor wood seller brought him a load of fuel wood. He offered him a dinar for the wood; the wood seller demanded three. After a long haggling the barber said, “Here are two for all the wood you have on your donkey’s back. Take or leave it, my dear man. I can’t pay more.” The wood seller agreed.
The barber asked his servant to unload the wood and also the wooden saddle. The wood seller protested and said that the saddle was no part of the fuel wood. But the barber replied, “Old man! I have paid for all the wood on the donkeys back. The saddle is made of wood and it is there on the donkey’s back.” So saying he seized the saddle and ordered his servants to throw the wood seller in the street.
The wood seller went to the Caliph. The Caliph could not help him because the terms of the bargain favoured the barber. But he did offer the poor man a piece of good advice.
The next day, the wood seller went to the barber’s shop and asked him to cut and shave him and his friend. He offered to pay two dinars for it. The barber cut the hair of the wood seller and then told him to bring his friend. The wood seller went out and brought his donkey. The barber flew into a rage, “How dare you play a silly joke on me? I, the barber to the King’s courtiers, shave your donkey! Get out of here, before I break your skull,” he said.
The wood seller went to the Caliph once again. The Caliph called the barber before him. After listening to the statements of the parties, the Caliph pronounced: “The wood seller is in the right. If the saddle of the donkey can be a part of the fuel wood, the donkey can very well be a man’s companion and friend.” Then he ordered the barber to shave the donkey in the presence of all the courtiers. The barber had to do this while all the people laughed at him.

Sand & Stone

Sand & Stone
Two friends Ismail and Ibrahim were walking through the desert, as the sun was beating down on their heads, and they were thirsty for water they began to argue. The argument got more
and more heated and eventually Ismail struck Ibrahim across the face. Ibrahim felt hurt inside but without anything to say, he wrote in the sand: "Today, my best friend slapped me in the
They kept on walking, until eventually they came across an oasis, where they decided to stop and bathe. Ibrahim jumped in and began to wash, while Ismail sat back and relaxed.
Suddenly Ibrahim began to scream and shout, he had developed a cramp and was having difficulty keeping his head above water, he was drowning.
Ismail dived in after him, and brought him gently to shore. When Ibrahim recovered from the shock, he scratched a message on a nearby stone:
"Today, my best friend saved my life"
Ismail who had saved and slapped his best friend Ibrahim, asked him, "Why, after I hurt you, you wrote in the sand, and now you write on a stone?"
Ibrahim, smiled and replied:
"When a friend hurts us, we should write his deeds in the sand, where the winds of forgiveness can blow it away, and when a friend does something good, we should engrave it in stone, where it will remain for eternity."
"Show forgiveness, enjoin what is good, and turn away from the foolish (i.e. don't punish them). And if an evil whisper comes to you from Satan, then seek refuge from Allah. Verily, He is All-Hearer and All- Knower.” [Surah al-Aa'raf 7:199-200]

The Digipals

The Digipals
Dani and Zebi although have been living in the cyber café for all of their lives but they are not enjoying there any longer. Every day a more anguishing event occurs while youngsters browse the net and Dani and Zebi are very disturbed by this. They are very anxious to leave but where can they go?
Dani: "Assalam-o-Alaikum! How has your life been going? Mine has not been very pleasant recently and I don't approve of the ambience in the café.
Zebi: "Waalikum-us-Salam Brother Dani! I strongly support you in your opinion about the café. It's just so sad to see that Muslim children are wasting their precious time as well as money in such futile activities. I, sometimes feel like crying over this deplorable situation."
Dani: "I don't say children should not browse or do activities on the Internet. They are not availing the opportunity which the electronic media provides to use it for the promotion of Islam."
Zebi: "You know Dani there are children who are making such commendable efforts for the sake of their religion. They are making new web sites to create awareness of Islam to link Muslims all over the world."
Dani: "Ah! Don't you wish we were PCs of such noble children. Even we would have adventures, creating new web pages. Wow! Just imagine, we could be a source of benefit to the mankind. And then Allah (Subhanhu Watala) would be so pleased with us."
Zebi: "Oh! That's my biggest dream ever! But do you think it will ever come true? With all this around us. No good people come here. How will we ever get out of this place?"
Dani: "Oh! Zebi! Don't lose hope, Inshallah somebody will help us and that help will be from Allah (Subhanhu Watala)."
Zebi: "You are right! Nobody can answer our prayers except for Allah (Subhanhu Watala). If He wants, we will be able to leave this place against all the odds. But if He does not will, we can never go, no matter how favourable the circumstances."
Dani: "The basic idea is to be humble servants of Allah (Subhanhu Watala) and spend our lives to please Him. Remember dear friends, life's not worth wile, if it is not spent by the will of Almighty Allah."
Zebi: "Dani, you and I will pray to Allah to help us free from the difficulty on our hands. And our precious readers, you also pray to Allah that we are owned by great people like your own selves."
Dani: "Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahu Alaihe Wassalam) preached that a Muslim should help another in pain and agony. And so did the Sahaba and, therefore, such a strong Muslim community evolved in whole of Arabia."
Zebi: If we start from our own siblings by carrying for them while they are ill, giving a helping hand with their chores. If you are older helping out with the homework would be a good way of expressing your kindness and love."
Dani: "Concern for your fellows, arouses fondness in their hearts for your and they will be there for you in the time of need. When you love someone for Allah (Subhanhu Watala), there are no chances of betrayal in friend ship."
Zebi: "So lets vow from today, that whenever we pray, we will remember our kids and kin from the core of our heart. And lets hope that Allah (Subhanhu Watala) grants our prayers."
Dani: "Inshallah Zebi, don't you worry about that. Allah loves us more than anyone and He can never leave His beings at the time of need."

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Abdullah ibn Jahsh radhiyallahu ta'ala 'anh was among those who were the first to accept Islam. When the persecution of the Quraysh got severe, Prophet Muhammad sallallahu 'alaihi wasallam gave permission for his companions to emigrate to Madinah. Emigrating was not a new experience for Abdullah. He and some members of his immediate family had migrated before to Abyssinia. This time, however, his migration was on a far bigger scale. His family and relatives, men, women and children, migrated with him. In fact, his whole clan had become Muslims and accompanied him. Abdullah's clan were not long gone when the alerted Quraysh leaders came out and made the rounds of the districts in Makkah to find out which Muslims had left and who had remained. Among these leaders were Abu Jahl and Utbah ibn Rabi'ah. Utbah looked at the houses of the Banu Jahsh through which the dusty winds were blowing. He banged on the doors and shouted: "The houses of the Banu Jahsh have become empty and are weeping for its occupants." Abdullah bin Jahsh had the most beautiful and expensive house. He sacrificed this house for the pleasure of Allah. Seeing it abandoned, Abu Jahl entered the house and took all its contents. Later, when Abdullah ibn Jahsh heard what Abu Jahl had done to his house, he mentioned it to the Prophet, peace be upon him, who said: "Aren't you satisfied, O Abdullah, with what Allah has given you instead, a house in Paradise?" "Yes, Messenger of Allah," replied Abdullah. From that moment he never had any regret for that house and became completely satisfied with the beautiful palaces that are waiting for him in Paradise.... 

Patience to Learn

Patience to Learn
A young man presented himself to the local expert on gems and said he wanted to become a gemologist. The expert brushed him off because he feared that the youth would not have the patience to learn. The young man pleaded for a chance. Finally the expert consented and told the youth, "Be here tomorrow."
The next morning the expert put a jade stone in the boy's hand and told him to hold it. The expert then went about his work, cutting, weighing, and setting gems. The boy sat quietly and waited.
The following morning the expert again placed the jade stone in the youth's hand and told him to hold it. On the third, fourth, and fifth day the expert repeated the exercise and the instructions.
On the sixth day the youth held the jade stone, but could no longer stand the silence. "Master," he asked, "when am I going to learn something?"
"You'll learn," the expert replied and went about his bussiness.
Several more days went by and the youth's frustation mounted. One morning as the expert approached and beckoned for him to hold out his hand, he was about to blurt out that he could go on no longer. But as the master placed the stone in the youth's hand, the young man exclaimed with-out looking at his hand, "This is not the same jade stone!"
"You have begun to learn," said the master. 

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How to Write a Story

How to Write a Story
You already know how to tell a story. You do it every day! Every time you tell someone about something that happened to you or something you did, you tell the "story" of what happened. For example, if something funny happens at school, when you tell a friend about it, you've created a story. The trick is to be able to write it down.
You can write a story about anything you want. All you need to know are the basics -- the ingredients of your story. You can't bake a cake without ingredients, right? So here they are -- all the ingredients you need to write a good story.
Story Structure
What's wrong with this story:
They went to the store, but it was closed! Nobody was on the street at all. Laughing, they went home and had ice cream from the refrigerator. The End
The story above has no beginning, so it doesn't make much sense. It doesn't have much of an ending either. It's a story because it tells about something, but it's a pretty silly one.
All good stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Some stories even end up in the same place they started. So, before you begin to write, sit and think for a little while about the beginning, middle and end of your story.
Ready to begin writing? Then grab a pencil and paper, or open up a new file on your computer, and get started!

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