Water crisis

Water connects every aspect of life. The water crisis is a health crisis. Access to safe water and sanitation means opportunity for improved health and the ability to help fight disease. Access to safe water means improved health. It means increased dignity and reduced psychological stress for young ladies and women.
The human body consists of 70% of water. Roughly 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, of which 96.5% is contained in saltwater oceans. Less than one percent of the water on Earth is fresh and approachable. We all need it to survive. Nearly 10 percent of the world’s species live in lakes, rivers, wetlands and aquifers, and they are declining at a faster rate than terrestrial and ocean species. WWF is focusing on freshwater ecosystems to help produce a sustainable future for all. Population growth, changing consumption patterns and climate change have put increased pressure on our new water resources.
Cape Town is running out of water and low dam levels in the emerald-green highlands of Lesotho are raising alarm bells in South Africa’s industrial heartland around Johannesburg, which delivers so far avoided the shortages hitting other regions. The overall picture of South Africa is worrying, with Cape Town the most urgent.
Expressing concerns over using up water reserves in Pakistan, environmental experts and researchers say mega cities like Lahore lack safe drinking water. According to WASA Lahore, the ground water table depth in Lahore city has sunk by 600 feet to 1,000 feet. This is an alarming development as the water table depth in the rest of Punjab is between 30 to 60 bases.
Other large cities in Punjab facing the same situation are Faisalabad and Multan while the same situation also prevails in Karachi owing to its enormous size and humungous population. The urban centre is facing shortage of water as it is not getting the required 100 million gallons of water. Water theft and power outages at the pumping stations are also the main reason as to why the supply to Karachi is being moved.
New approaches to filtration and extracting moisture from air promise to relieve the world’s looming water scarcity crisis. Meanwhile, improved technology for capturing water vapour from the air holds out hope for arid areas.
Desalination technologies could take fresh water to everyone, but are currently very costly. Desalination is an operation that extracts mineral components from saline water. More generally, desalination refers to the removal of salts and minerals from a target sum. Most of the modern interest in desalination focuses on the cost-effective provision of clean water for human use. Along with recycled wastewater, it is one of the few rainfall-independent water sources.
Due to its energy consumption, desalinating sea water is generally more costly than fresh water from rivers or groundwater, water recycling and water preservation. Nevertheless, these alternatives are not always available and depletion of reserves is a critical problem worldwide. Presently, approximately 1% of the world’s population are dependent on desalinated water to meet daily needs. Desalinated water is usually healthier than water from rivers and ground water, and in that respect is less salty and lime scale in it.

Nevertheless, a revolution in water filtration developed at The University of Manchester could provide a much-needed solution, with ready access to clean water finally a real possibility for the world. A research team led by Professor Rahul Nair in Manchester University has developed a graphene-oxide membrane that makes whisky clear, paving the way for new commercial application of graphene membrane. The latest research report says that the newly developed membrane allowed alcohol to fall through and remove the larger molecules, which gives the amber colour to whisky. We filtered whisky and cognac through the graphene-oxide membrane. As a result, we reasoned that the membrane allowed, the alcohol to pass through, removing the larger molecules that give it amber colour. The clear whisky smells similar to the original whisky. According to Dr Nair, the new research would help them extend the applications of grapheme-based membranes from sea water desalination to organic solvent nanofiltration.
On April 2017, Prof Nair demonstrated that a multi-layer membrane made from graphite oxide can filter out the sodium chloride in seawater much more promptly and cleanly than existing techniques. Unlike sea water desalination, which separates salt from water, OSN technology separates charged or uncharged organic compounds from an organic solvent.
Prof Nair hopes full-sized desalination plants with graphene membranes will be possible within five years. Still, he thinks that a small scale version of the graphing filter can be developed for bottles and household units within two years. Initial studies indicate that all this is absolutely feasible with the graphene membrane; it performs superbly, better than anything else. Graphene filters would have the further benefit that they will not let any liquid through when they get to the end of their life. During the following few months, the portable graphing filters will be tested to check that they work for chemical contaminants such as cadmium, copper, arsenic, nitrites, nitrates and pesticides.
Solutions to the problems are there, it all depends how quickly actions are taken to resolve the issues.

Modern Slavery

The “sex work” discourse has turned the world’s oldest profession into the world’s most modern profession. The legal status of prostitution varies from country to country, from being legal and considered a profession to being punishable by death.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.
In 1949, the UN General Assembly adopted a convention stating that, prostitution and the accompanying evil of the traffic in persons for the purpose of prostitution are incompatible with the dignity and worth of the human person, requiring all signing parties to punish pimps and brothel owners and operators and to abolish all special treatment or registration of prostitutes. As of January 2009, the convention was ratified by 95 member nations including France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and not ratified by another 97 member nations including Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Prostitution has occupational hazards that few other jobs come close to: 82 percent of people in prostitution have been physically assaulted, 83 percent have been threatened with a weapon and 68 percent have been raped. The death rate among women in prostitution is higher than for any other group of women, including homeless women and drug addicts.
Groups claiming to represent “sex workers” are just as likely to be a voice for pimps as they are to represent the women who earn their living selling sex.
Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
It was Barack Obama who said that human trafficking should be renamed ‘modern slavery’, so as to highlight the appalling conditions people were living in.The same applies to prostitution: it is not ‘sex work’. Most of the time, it is modern slavery.

Prostitution has not changed. It is the same industry, the same rich men buying poor women, the same exploitation, the same violence and the same trafficking. What has changed is the label.
Hooker, whore, prostitute, call girl, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers only? Why not the men who is paying?
I am in agreement with the Sweden, Norway, and Iceland, where it is illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them — the client commits a crime, but not the sex worker.

 

Sadequain forever

IMG_7301بول کے لب آزاد ہیں تیرے

بول، زباں اب تک تیری ہے

تیرا ستواں جسم ہے تیرا

بول کہ جاں اب تک تیری ہے

دیکھ کے آہن گر کی دکاں میں

تند ہے شعل، سرخ ہے آہن

کھلنے لگے قفلوں کے دہانے

پھیلا ہر اک زنجیر کا دامن

بول، یہ تھوڑا وقت بہت ہے

جسم و زباں کی موت سے پہلے

بول کہ سچ زندہ ہے اب تک

بول، جو کچھ کہنا ہے کہہ لے

Majorelle Marrakech

Towering minarets against deep blue skies immediately spring to my mind whenever I think of Marrakech, known as the Red City thanks to the vividness of distinctive hue of the thick walls surrounding the old city. For decades Marrakech has been a popular tourist destination, attracting everyone from the Beatles to Yves Saint Laurent.

Vigorous and bustling Jemaa el Fnaa is a whirlwind of colour and noise, where concourse of people braid between packed stalls exhibiting brightly coloured spices, dry fruits and a thousand other goods, in the evening the square is packed with fire-eaters, acrobats, astrologers, and other characters of street entertainers.

Only a 20 minute walk from the Jemaa el Fnaa is one of the most evocative places in Marrakech, a tranquil garden Jardin Majorelle. As I enter the garden it seems hard to believe that only half an hour ago I was walking through the bustling crowds of Jemaa El Fnaa square. Inside the Majorelle gardens the atmosphere is totally tranquil, sky high bamboos, palm trees and the complex arrangement of cacti and flora has left me in an overwhelming feeling of reverence. The flows and pools filled with water lilies and lotus flowers, delicate sound of dribbling water accompanies the song of the nightingale in the gardens, the rustling of leaves and the chirping of numerous exotic birds who come here to take refuge.

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Set up by the expatriate French painter Jacques Majorelle in 1920s.The son of well-known furniture designer Louis Majorelle, was born in 1886 in Nancy. After studying art in Paris, Majorelle visited Morocco, whose colours and light mesmerized him. Moving to Marrakech in 1919 with his wife, he bought four acres of land in 1923 where he built his Moorish-style villa. His greatest art work is supposed to be the Majorelle Garden, which he created in 1924. A special colour of blue, which he practiced extensively in the garden, is named after him – Majorelle Blue. During his travels, he brought home plants from all over the world, corresponded with fellow passionate gardeners worldwide, and amassed a total of 10 acres to have more distance. It took him forty years of love and dedication to create the enchanting garden in the heart of the Marrakech. The more he travelled, the more he enjoyed gardening, he began to bring plants from around the globe and to communicate internationally with people who shared his passion for botany. He took on hundreds of rare varieties of trees and plants.

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Majorelle opened it to the public in 1947. Sadly, after his 1956 divorce, he was pressured to sell off the property piece by piece. After a serious car accident, he went for medical treatment in the last year of his life to Paris, where he died in 1962. The garden was deserted after his death.

Since 1980 the garden has been owned by French Fashion Designer Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. After preserving the garden and villa from demolition for a new hotel, Saint Laurent bought them in 1980 with his partner Pierre Berge.

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Saint Laurent increased its number of plant species to 300 from 135, and installed automatic irrigation systems pegged to certain times and the demands of each plant. He and Berge lived in the villa, renamed Villa Oasis, which they decorated as an Orientalist fantasy, and turned Majorelle’s studio into a museum of Islamic artwork.

After Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) died in 2008, in the presence of numerous personalities and friends, Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered at Villa Oasis, his private residence in Majorelle Garden.

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Saint-Laurent praised the garden as a “constant source of divine guidance,” saying he even dreamed about its vibrant colours. We were seduced by this oasis where the colours of Matisse were mixed with those of nature.

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Whore of Babylon

Several terms are becoming derogatory and indecent as human race is moving forward. In Oct 2010 President Barack Obama signed a legislation requiring the federal government to replace the term “mental retardation” with “intellectual disability” in many areas of government.
Prostitution has been practiced throughout ancient and modern cultures. Prostitution has been described as the world’s oldest profession, and despite consistent attempts at regulation, it continues nearly unchanged.
Prostitution was commonplace in ancient Israel. There are a number of references to prostitution in the Hebrew Bible. The Biblical story of Judah and Tamar provides a depiction of prostitution being practiced in that time period. Prostitution in Ancient Rome was legal and licensed. In Ancient Rome, even Roman men of the highest social status were free to engage prostitutes of either sex without incurring moral disapproval. At the same time, the prostitutes themselves were considered shameful. Most prostitutes were slaves or freedwomen, and it is difficult to determine the balance of voluntary to forced prostitution. Because slaves were considered property under Roman law, it was legal for an owner to employ them as prostitutes. During the Middle Ages prostitution was commonly found in urban contexts. Although all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage were regarded as sinful by the Roman Catholic Church, prostitution was tolerated because it helped prevent the greater evils of rape. However, sexual slavery was not considered prostitution and was very common during the Arab slave trade during the Middle Ages and early modern period. Women and girls from the Caucasus, Africa, Central Asia and Europe were captured and served as concubines in the harems of the Arab World.

Hooker, whore, and prostitute, call girl, hooker, harlot, slut, etc. etc.
At least to me I find all the above terms derogatory and disrespectful. Have we given any term to the men who pay these sex workers for their time? Why do they deserve any respect if women sex worker can’t?
Why are we judgemental towards the women sex workers?
Don’t you think men visiting brothels are prostitutes not women?
What’s a polite and respectful name for a prostitute?
Ask yourself this question honestly?

Like mother like daughters

Every day is women’s day.

The International Women’s Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been coming about for well over a century – and continues to grow from strength to strength.

This day was celebrated for the first time by the United Nations in 1975. The General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace to be remarked on any day of the year by Member States.

Obsession is, the domination of one’s thoughts or impressions by a persistent idea, image, or desire. Since I met with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, I am obsessed with her fearlessness, her vision for democracy, her views on human rights and freedom of speech. Today Pakistan is celebrating the International Women’s day, I would like to share not a pleasant incident, but it is linked to her bravery.

On Nov 27 1991 a friend of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Farhana Veena Hayat was assaulted by five gunmen at her residence in Karachi. Ms Farhana Veena Hayat was the daughter of Sardar Shaukat Hayat, a prominent member of the All India Muslim League and granddaughter of Sir Sikander Hayat, chief minister of united Punjab.

She accused the province’s home affairs adviser, Irfanullah Marwat, a son-in-law of the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan, of having ordered the violation. She claimed the rape was politically motivated because of her friendship with Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. There were two other cases set out the limelight because of Farhana Hayat’s case, Khursheed Begum and Rahila Tiwana, a Pakistan Peoples Party student activist. All three women were connected with PPP.

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She was raped to send me a message. This is the worst sort of male prejudice, male chauvinism to send a message to a woman political leader by raping her friend, her supporters: Benazir Bhutto

Benazir Bhutto led her Pakistan People’s Party, chanting “Fascists,” in an unprecedented walkout from President Ghulam Ishaq Khan’s ceremonial address to a session of Parliament. Firing tear-gas canisters and swinging batons, police later drove 2,000 Bhutto supporters away from the heavily guarded Parliament House. Ghulam Ishaq Khan denied any official complicity. He told the reporters that the charges against Irfan Ullah Marwat are nothing more than fabrication.

Initially, the Sindh. The government tried to sink off the case as one of audacity and assault. The police even refused to lodge an FIR. Benazir Bhutto, along with several political parties and women’s organizations, established a countrywide campaign demanding the arrest of the offenders but no arrests were made. Protests over the rape of Farhana Hayat reached a peak on 12 December 1991 when rallies were called in Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi

On Dec 12 1991 the Sindh government formed a one-man tribunal consisting of Abdul Rahim Qazi of the Sindh High Court to test the case. The tribunal’s report, presented to the Sindh government two weeks later and made public. The tribunal cleared Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat of any engagement in the rape and also concluded there was no political motive behind the rope.

Mr Irfan ullah Marwat remained highly controversial during the term of office of all powerful Sindh Chief ministers, the late Jam Sadiq Ali. The two, along with the former DIG CIA, Samiullah Marwat, were blamed by Benazir Bhutto for unleashing a reign of terror on the PPP leaders and workers, which reminded her of the days of the late General Ziaul Haq.

Mr Irfan Ullah Marwat, who was elected from the PS-114 constituency on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) ticket, met Ex-President Asif Ali Zardari on 24TH February 2017 at the Bilawal House and announced joining the party. I just got blanked when I heard this news, couldn’t understand how to respond.

While I was in shock BB’s daughter came to the deliverance;

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All faiths and all societies have given parents an honourable status. From a purely material standpoint, we find ourselves indebted to our parents, I am sure it must have been very difficult for Miss Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto to show their disagreement publicly, but it was the training of their brave mother who taught her children how to show your disagreement without being rude. Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it in full. Bakhtawar Bhutto and Aseefa Bhutto you are an inspiration for millions this year and years to come. I hope you always will stand strong for the women of Pakistan.

Nothing is sacred…..

A lot has been penned since the suicide attack outside Lal Shahbaz Qalendar’s Shrine on Thursday last week and much more should be written to denounce the ISIS mindset who is critical of rituals performed at the shrines, and is viewed as heretical by some hardline groups.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said;
This is an attack on Pakistan’s future.

Sehwan Sharif is one of the oldest towns of Sindh. It is highly respected in Sindh because of resting place of the great mystic poet Syed Mohammad Usman Marvandi known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, who preached religious tolerance among people of many religious, especially Muslims and Hindus and therefore his mysticism attracted people from many religions. He was called Lal after his usual red attire. His shrine is a true synthetic place, where Hindus and Muslims are as welcome and worship together. One of my acquaintances told me that hereditary guardian of the tomb is still a Hindu. It is narrated that there was a Shiva lingam right there in the shrine until the 1970s. All these Hindu legends and beliefs have come together with the religious belief of the Muslims to create a truly extraordinary place. It is a habitat where different religious identities are embraced.

William Dalrymple spent some time at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, meeting devotees and dervishes to understand the syncretic culture of the Sufis. In his book, Nine Lives, he describes the shrine as;

“A place where for once you saw religion acting to bring people together, not to separate them”.

In recent history the ideology of Extremism and bombing the Shrines started from Najaf. On 29 August 2003 a massive car bomb rocked the shrine of Imam Ali in Najaf soon after Friday prayers, which claimed the lives 124 including one of Shiite top cleric Ayatullah Mohammad Baqar Al Hakeem who returned to Iraq after living in exile in Iran for 20 years. The bombing was the most virulent attack in Iraq in 2003. Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed responsibility for the attack.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS follows a rigidly austere threat of Islam that believes shrines are inverse to Islam and should be demolished. To further their ideology of anti-shrines second major attack was carried on 22 February 2006 on Imam Askari’s Shrine, which shattered the golden dome of one of Iraq’s most revered Shiite shrines.

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On 29 March 2016 at least 72 people were wiped out in a suicide blast that took place in Lahore’s crowded Gulshan-I-Iqbal park. The powerful blast ripped through a massive crowded area of the park. Witnesses stated the crowd included a large number of Christian families celebrating Easter. Easter Sunday was supposed to be special. After going to church services, families gathered in the vast Gulshan-e-Iqbal park. Most of the victims were from Lahore’s beleaguered Christian community.

On 22 June 2016 Pakistan’s most respected musicians Amjad Farid Sabri, celebrated for devotional Qawalis from a century-old mystic tradition, was gunned down near his Liaqatabad residence. But both the music, and the shrines at which it is often performed, have long been a target for religious conservatives who despise all forms of music and consider the shrines eccentric and un-Islamic.

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Whether it is an attempt on the Imam Ali Shrine in Iraq or Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan or the loss of uncounted precious lives, nothing is sacrosanct to any hardline Islamists. The incorrigible behavior that Pakistan is seeing today is nowhere near the antiquated devotional attitudes and tolerant sentiments of the homeland. This is an attempt on a Pakistan’s pluralistic history, the attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar has once again demonstrated that the militants consider pluralistic Islam a threat to their own version of Islam. 305 people have been killed in 10 different attacks on Shrines since 2005.

We are not constrained by the confines of religious perimeters; this is the answer of the resilient majority of Pakistanis. We are united to overcome the extremists, and this is final.

Disabled does not mean less abled

I have got a bad habit of watching news first thing in the morning ,most of the time there is always one bad news which causes stress for the rest of the day, last year on doctor’s advice I have stopped watching news and talk shows to avoid stress, for a change few week ago I tuned a news channel which was showing a protest of the people with disabilities, who were demanding from Balochistan government to ensure implementation of quota in government services and few other demands and in few minutes Police started manhandling the protesters to clear the route for a government official. The disabled persons have been protesting for five months to press the authorities for acceptance of their demands but none of their demands are met.
This was not the first incident, in December 2014 and 2016 on International day of people with disabilities a group of blind protesters who were protesting to increase job quota for them in government institutions were brutally manhandled by Punjab Police.
When I tried to find some statistics of people with disabilities in Pakistan I got surprised after finding out that the last census in Pakistan was conducted in 1998 after a gap of 16 years. Holding census is a constitutional requirement which is not being met. In March 2015 Prime Minister of Pakistan with the consent of four provinces announced country’s sixth census to be held in March 2016, unfortunately it has not been conducted to date. Now Federal Government is willing to carry out census in March 2017. If the government does not have the statistics of people with disabilities the budgetary allocations will always be wrong. So, the first hindrance that persons with disabilities encounter is statistics.
It took me some time to find an institution who can provide statistics, after putting some efforts I managed to contact Helping Hand for Relief and Development a private NGO who produced a detailed report about the People with disabilities Statistics in Pakistan.
According to 1998 census Pakistan had 3.28 million people with disabilities. According to Helping Hand’s report of 2012 population of PWDs in Pakistan was 5.035 million, which is more than the population of any of the individual countries population of Norway, New Zealand, Lebanon or Kuwait. From within Pakistan, PWDs population is more than the combined population of three cities i.e. Multan, Hyderabad and Peshawar. It is estimated that around 1.4 million are the children of school going age including 0.6 million girls.
The data incorporated in publication at district, provincial and national level should’ve facilitated the researchers, policy makers, planners, government departments and welfare organizations. It should’ve helped the governments to address the issues and vulnerabilities of PWDs but after witnessing protests in Quetta and Lahore subsequently I believe provincial governments have wasted the efforts of Helping Hands.
Disabled Persons’ Employment and Rehabilitation Ordinance initially promulgated in 1981. The declaration established responsibility of the State toward the prevention of disabilities, protection of rights of persons with disabilities and provision of medical care, education, training, employment, and rehabilitation to the persons with disabilities.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2006. Pakistan became the 101st country to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities when former President Asif Ali Zardari signed the Instrument of Ratification on UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in September 2008.In 2009 PPP government took some measures by launching special CNIC scheme for the special persons. The main purpose was to identify special people throughout the country and provide them facilities.

Special Citizens Act, 2008 seeks to provide the accessibility to disabled citizens at every public place, with regard to allocation of seats in public transports, provision of facilities on footpaths for wheelchairs and blind persons. Similarly, while crossing the roads special citizens must be given priority. Under this act, government shall make the concerned authorities bound, before the construction of buildings in public or private sectors particularly in Educational Institutions, Banks, Hospitals, Shopping Malls, Police Stations, Airports, Railway Stations, Bus Stops, Hotels and at every public place to provide the facility of access of wheelchairs. After the 18th  Constitutional Amendment in 2011, the provincial governments have been empowered to take further initiatives.
We cannot force the governments but we can at least raise awareness through different means, social media can play an important role to educate people. Our overall cultural apprehensiveness on how we treat and interact with disability is questionable, let the change begin at primary level. Let us educate our children from young age to respect without discrimination. Let us educate people to stop calling them with ugly names certain terms that were once considered politically correct are now offensive. The terms “retarded” was once considered correct, as so many people use in impertinent fashion but not any longer. We need to celebrate our co-equals for their differences. As a society, we have the responsibility to promote the inclusion of our differences. When interacting with someone with a disability, we can be respectful in both our words and actions. It may be easier to understand how to interact with people who have disabilities if we imagine having a disability ourselves. Think about how we would want people to talk to or treat us?
Let us discourage discrimination and create a more tolerant world.

4th Feb; World Cancer day

 

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 What an inspiration Ms Edie Littlefield Sundby is; She was given three months to live ten years ago after a Stage 4 gallbladder cancer diagnosis, against all odds, she survived 79 rounds of chemo and radical liver and lung surgeries, losing 60% of her liver, and her right lung. She is vibrantly alive, and the only person to have traversed the historic and largely unmapped 1600 mile Mission Trail that spans from Loreto, Mexico, to Sonoma, California. Her book ‘The Mission Walker,’ will be released July 25, 2017.
Few excerpts of inspiration from her book;
I started to walk the day I was told I was dying of cancer. I believe walking has kept me alive. I live with a constant, pressing awareness of death. Once I start to walk, I am not afraid anymore; all is well. I thank God every day for this life, and I want there to be more, though that’s not known. What is known is that I’m alive today, this minute. And that’s pretty much what we all have – this day, this moment. A long walk is a slow remembering of how profound and wonderful life is; God is everywhere and in everything. Wherever I look I am looking at God.
“I am fighting to stay alive not because I fear death, but because I love life.”
The Mission Walker: I Was Given Three Months to Live…

cancer

freedom of speech

Blasphemy, freedom of speech, rule of law; these are the familiar topics in discussion these days. I was thinking to write my thoughts on these topics. Hence, I had to think twice, even to think about such topics because there is no room left for tolerance. Fatwas are already set up as soon as you give your opinion about anything which is not acceptable to any other sect.
I would wish to present some excerpts from a dialogue I read years ago in Urdu, recently I have discovered the English version which was originally translated from French to Persian. A dialogue between Ja’far as Sadiq (702-765 CE) was the 6th Imam Of twelve Shias and according to some traditions a teacher of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Wasil Ibn Ata and many more including Jabir Ibn Hayan the alchemist. I would like to request my readers to keep the time of this discussion in mind before I present you more on the subject of blasphemy and other related issues.

Theory about the “Origin of the Universe”. By Ja’far as Sadiq ;
“ The universe was born out of a tiny particle, which had two opposite poles. That particle produced an atom. In this way matter came into being. Then the matter diversified. This diversification was caused by the density or rarity of the atoms.”
Ja’far as Sadiq was a patient and tolerant teachers of his time. After his lectures he would listen and reply to the remonstrances of his critics.
The Dialogue is between Ja’far as Sadiq and Abu Shakir. Abu Shakir used to criticise Ja’far as Sadiq on his Islamic views, specially Tawheed, oneness of God.
Once Abu Shakir, said to him: Would you allow me to ask some questions?
Why not? said Ja’far as Sadiq.
Abu Shakir: Is it not a myth that there is Allah?
You want people to believe in a thing which does not exist. If there was Allah, we could have felt his existence through our senses.
You may say that we can perceive the presence of Allah by our intelligence and not through our inner or outer senses. But our intelligence also needs the assistance of our five outer senses, without which it cannot function. We cannot make any reasoning or come to any conclusion without the help of our senses.
By your imagination you have created a being, which is of your own image. Since you see, talk, hear, work and rest, He also does exactly what you do.
You do not show Him to anyone. To maintain your hold on the people you say that He cannot be seen. You also say that He was not born from the womb of a woman. He does not procreate and that He would not die.
Your Allah is also like the veiled god. You say that the universe was created by Allah. As a matter of fact the universe came by itself. Does anyone create the grass, which grows in the field? Does it not grow and get green by itself? Does anyone create the ants and the mosquitoes? Do they not come out by themselves?
l know that some people, who have been deceived by you, believe in your invisible Allah, but you cannot deceive me and make me believe in Him.
By introducing your invisible Allah to the people, you want to acquire wealth and position and have a respectable, comfortable and luxurious life. These are my last words. I do not want to say anything more.
Ja’far as Sadiq replied:
l would like to start with the last part of your speech. Your accusations that I want money, position and a comfortable life would have been justified if I was living like a caliph. You have seen today that I have eaten a few morsels of bread only and nothing else. I invite you to my house to see for yourself what I will have for dinner and how I live.
Abu Shakir, if I wanted to acquire wealth and have a good life, as you say, I was not obliged to teach and preach to get rich. I would have earned money and got rich by my knowledge of chemistry. Another way to get rich was to do business. I have more knowledge’ about foreign markets than any merchant in Medina.
I have heard, that your father was a pearl merchant. Perhaps you may have some knowledge about pearls. But I know all about pearls and precious stones. I can also appraise their market value. If I wanted to get rich I would have worked as a jeweller. Can you test and recognise a precious stone? Do you know how many kinds of rubies and emeralds there are in the world?
I know nothing about them, replied Abu Shakir.
Do you know how many kinds of diamonds there are and what colours they have?
I am not a jeweller, but I know all about the pearls and precious stones. I also know where they come from. All jewellers must know about gems, what I know, but few of them know their sources. Rough diamonds are cut by experts. This is the cut of a diamond, which gives it its brilliance. Those who are experts in cutting diamonds are trained from the childhood in the profession of their fathers and forefathers. Cutting a diamond is a very delicate and difficult art. A diamond is cut only by a diamond.
I have said all this simply to show to you that if I wanted to accumulate wealth, I could have done so by making use of my knowledge about jewels.
You have said that I have fabricated stories and ask the people to worship Allah, who cannot be seen. You refuse to acknowledge existence of Allah, because He cannot be seen. Can you see inside your own body? If you could have seen what is inside you, you would not have said that you do not believe in Allah, who cannot be seen.
You have said, that a thing which cannot be seen, touched, tasted or heard, does not exist.
Do you hear the sound of the movement of blood in your body? It makes a full circuit of your body. If the circulation of blood stops for a few minutes you will die.
Abu Shakir said: I cannot believe that blood circulates in the body.
It is your ignorance, which does not let you believe that your blood circulates in your body, and the same ignorance does not let you believe in the existence of Allah, Who cannot be seen. Have you seen the tiny living beings, which Allah has created in your body?
It is because of these small creatures and their wonderful work that you are kept alive. They are so small that you cannot see them. Since you are a slave of your senses, you do not know about their existence. If you increase your knowledge and decrease your ignorance, you will come to know that these small beings in your body are as large in number as the particles of sand in the desert. These small creatures are born in your body, multiply in your body, work in your body and die in your body. But you never see them, touch them, taste them or hear them in your life time. If you had known yourself and had the knowledge of what is going on inside your body, you would not have said that you do not believe in Allah.
Pointing his finger to a huge stone Ja’far as Sadiq said:
Abu Shakir, do you see the stone, which is in the foot of that portico? To you it seems lifeless and motionless, because you do not see the brisk motion, which is inside the stone. Again it is lack of knowledge or your ignorance, which would not let you believe that there is motion inside the stone. The time will come when the learned people would see the motion which is in the stone.
Abu Shakir. You have said that everything in the universe came by itself and has no Creator. You think that the grass in the field grows and gets green by itself. You must know that the grass cannot grow without seeds and seeds would not germinate without moisture in the soil and there would be no moisture if no rain falls. The rain does not fall by itself. First the water vapours rise and gather above in the atmosphere in the form of clouds. The winds bring the clouds. Then the water vapours condense and fall down as rain drops. The rain must also fall at the right time, otherwise no grass will grow and become green.

Take the seeds of ten kinds of herbs and put them in a closed jar, which has sufficient water, but no air. Would they germinate? No, in addition to water, seeds need air also. It is possible to grow grass, herbs and fruits in hot houses, when it is very cold, provided there is sufficient air. Without the presence of air no grass will grow in the fields. If there is no air, all plants and animals, including human beings, would die.
Do you see the air, on which your very existence depends. You only feel it when it moves. Can you refuse to believe in the existence of air? Can you deny that to grow and get green the grass needs many things like seeds, soil, water, air, a suitable climate and above all a strong managing power, which may co-ordinate the action of these different elements.
It is not because of one’s knowledge, but it is due to his ignorance that he does not believe in Allah. When a wise man thinks of himself, he finds that his own body needs a controller so that all its organs and systems may function properly. He then realises that this vast universe also needs a controller or supervisor so that it may run smoothly.
Do you think that the mountains are only heaps of stones? The Great Allah has created them to serve some very useful purpose. They were not created so that you may take stones and turn them into idols. Wherever there is a mountain there is flowing water. Rain and snow which fall on the mountain tops produce streams of fresh water. These streams combine together to form big rivers, which irrigate farms and fields.
I am too small and too weak to create Allah with my brain. It is He, who has created my brain, so that I may think of Him and know Him – my Creator. He was there before I came into being and He would be there when I am no more. I do not mean that I would be totally destroyed. Nothing in the universe is totally destroyed. Everything is subject to change. It is only Allah, Who does not change.
Abu Shakir said: I cannot believe that a thing may be everywhere but remain unseen.
Ja’far as Sadiq said: Do you know that the air is everywhere but cannot be seen?
Said Abu Shakir: Although I cannot see the air, I can at least feel it when it moves. But I can neither see your Allah nor feel his presence.
Ja’far as Sadiq said: You do not feel the presence of air when it is not moving. The air is only a creation of Allah. He is everywhere, but you cannot see Him or feel His presence by your senses. You have admitted just now that although you do not see it, but your instinct or your soul tells you that there is something inside the stone, and is not the stone, which can help you. That something is Allah.
I know that you will not accept, or perhaps you do not understand, what I say. A man must have sufficient knowledge to understand complicated problems.
If there was no Allah there would have been no universe and no you and me.
The sentence, “There is no Allah”, is meaningless. The existence of Allah is a must.”
Everything in the universe obeys His laws, which are permanent and eternal. Because of His absolute wisdom and knowledge, He could make such wonderful laws, which will last for ever. Each and every law, made by Him serves some special and useful purpose.
Ja’far as Sadiq asked: Do you now believe that Allah, who cannot be seen, does exist and what you worship is the unseen Allah?
Abu Shakir replied: I am not yet convinced. I am in a quandary. I am full of doubts and misgivings about my convictions.
The above discussion will make me more comfortable to explain my views on blasphemy in my next write up .

The journey, not the destination….. travel; envisage; contemplate