slip-sliding away…..

Archive for September, 2006

Recommended

Posted by Yacoob on September 29, 2006

This is a bit of a mixed post – I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve enjoyed over the course of this year, and would recommend to others:

  • Palestine Online Store: The Palestine Online Store seeks to make products from or about Palestine, particularly informational resources, more widely available. While the focus is on informational resources (books and documentary films), other products such as apparel, handcrafts, and solidarity items are also featured. Many of the items featured at the Palestine Online Store are actually fundraisers for grassroots organizations. 
  • Muslim Hands Sponsorships: For a small amount every month, you can make such a big difference in someone’s life. Someone who is in desperate need – an orphan in a war-torn country; an elderly person who has no family to be with; a student trying to find a bright future…we often hear about these parts of the world and the terrible things happening there – but how often do we get the chance to actually do something for them? We have so much going for us in this country, and we often take that for granted. I think its important for us to share what we have, if we can.

I urge you to think about becoming involved in one of these sponsorship programmes. Even if you can’t afford a sponsorship on your own, do it with someone else – 2 or 3 or even more people. It doesn’t matter how many of you it takes to make up the amount each month…what matters is that you’re contributing, no matter how small the amount.
 
It’s not about what you can “spare” – it’s about what you can GIVE. and I think most of us – if we tried – could give a little to this cause every month.

The link is for the international website, which has details about the various sponsorships available.  You can contact the South African branch for more details if you’re in SA. If you need additional contact details for the SA branch (in Cape Town), I can send those to you as well.

  • The Soul of a Butterfly: Reflections on Life’s Journey by Muhammad Ali: Muhammad Ali’s memoir focuses largely on his spiritual evolution from his childhood to his years as a boxing star, through fatherhood and into his role as a Parkinson’s disease advocate and peace activist.  Ali’s simple prose is sprinkled with his boxing poetry, some read by Davis and some read by Ali’s daughter Hana.
  • Closer than Veins” by Outlandish: new album by the European hip-hop group whose previous hits include “Walou”, “Guantanamo” and “Aicha” (i love that last 1 :) ). The 1st single from this album is “Look Into My Eyes“, which is based on a poem expressing the plight of those suffering from America’s foreign policy with regards to Israel and Palestine.  You can preview the album at Musica Digital. (The link may not work – if not, just search for it on the site)
  • Al-Jumuah magazine, Sept 2006 issue: Was my first time getting this magazine, and I was very impressed. The theme of this particular issue is “Coming of age”, and the articles cover topics very, very relevant to our generation (and those younger than us). Some of the topics are:
    • “The Muslim Culture of Crisis”,
    • “Overcoming the challenge of lust”,
    • “Lowering the gaze” (a huge challenge in today’s world, especially a country like ours – this article should be especially useful, with summer time coming soon),
    • “Sex and the Single Muslimah”,
    • Virginity,
    • Adolescence and sex education,
    • Birth control and Abortion in Islam,

I found the articles to be extemely well written; they aren’t written in a juristic or Fatwa type of tone. Instead, they are more discursive and educational, as well as encouraging. Practical application to today’s environment and challenges is so important, and they cover these aspects well.

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They seem to understand that effectiveness lies in connecting with your audience, talking *to* them – discussing, explaining, etc….in a way that is not authoratitive – a way that isn’t like you’re scolding or treating the young reader like a child.

The majority of us are well-educated and intelligent, and I think their approach is very respectful of that fact. We’re addressed in a way where we are considered mature and educated individuals.

I really recommend getting the magazine, so look for it if you’re in an Islamic bookshop (which is where I got mine), or anywhere else you may find it for that matter.

I think publications like this can benefit us a lot, whether its through  education, debate, or getting us to think about things which we are often too scared to talk about.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Tag along

Posted by Yacoob on September 29, 2006

In keeping with the ‘tag’ theme, I’ll play along – but I’ll break the mould and make it more than seven songs, and they’re not necessarily ones I’m “into right now” – but they are ones that I really enjoy. I’ll call this list:

Songs that make you go”hmmmm”

  • Outlandish – “Any given time” & “Look into my eyes”
  • Fort Minor – “Kenji”
  • Nas – “Rule”
  • Bone Thugs n Harmony – “Change the world” (extended version)
  • Nelly Furtado – “Afraid”
  • Michael Jackson – “Shout” (the vocals aren’t so clear, but the lyrics are good though)
  • Jewel – “Hands”
  • Stacie Orrico – “Instead”
  • The Cranberries – “Zombie”

And then, from the days of old:

  • Phil Collins – “Another day in Paradise”
  • Kansas – “Dust in the wind”
  • Stevie Wonder – “Redemption song” (Bob Marley cover)
  • Bob Dylan – “All along the watchtower”
  • Sting & The Police – “Russians”

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

The opportunity

Posted by Yacoob on September 27, 2006

The opportunity

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Initially, I’d planned on talking about one thing (which is the topic of this post) – but I got sidetracked, and the detour became its own post, “Changes”, below this. So, read one, or read both….its all just stuff in my head, which is finding its way out.

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In all honesty, ramblings such as these are often just for myself – an outpouring of what’s on my mind. They’re not written with the objective of getting someone else’s thoughts on the matter, or even trying to influence someone else through my own thoughts…it used to be selfish, written for me only – sometimes shared with a few others; but through this blog, it seems, i now have, a public space to share some of these outpourings.

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So, read on if you will – comment and discuss too if you will. But feel no obligation to say anything about it. After all, it still isn’t for you – its for me. But you’re more than welcome to join me in my head :)

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“The opportunity”

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Every year, when Ramadaan comes, we are reminded of the many, many benefits of this month; the benefits of fasting; the meaning of Ramadaan; the great opportunity we have to “change” ourselves for the better.

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This year is my first Ramadaan all alone – no parents, no family, no relative to stay with me (this is out of choice). And though I felt a sadness at this initially, I’ve realised what a blessing it is – what an opportunity it is.

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Solitude has always been a big part of my life. It’s given rise to a very, very active mind (over-thinking); a lot of self-analysis; and – very importantly – the physical, intellectual and emotional space to discover myself and ‘work’ on myself at times.

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At the end of last Ramadaan, I made a list: a written account of things I wanted to improve, needed to improve – and *how* I planned on improving them.

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This practice of writing down problems, thinking through them and writing down possible solutions, is something which I’ve found very encouraging:

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* It helps me articulate things that would otherwise sit festering in my mind, and seeping into my thoughts and well-being.

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* It also gives me a feeling of action – of initiative. Taking action to fix something that’s wrong…or trying to fix it, at least (for we do not fix things – we only make the intention to fix/improve them, and then make our efforts to do it).

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This year, I’ve realised that I really can use this month to try to address more of my problems, and make some self-refinements and improvements. We’ve been reminded many times by now, I’m sure, that this month is an opportunity for changes.

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Living alone for the past year has taught me a lot about how life can overtake you. The person you are, the person you want to be, the dreams and goals you have….these are all “you”. But, when you take on the responsibilities of adult life (which I haven’t fuly done yet, but I’m much closer now than I was a year ago) – you find that there’s so much you have to do, so many things that need to be done…and you can drown in your duties and obligations and the things that are required just to keep going.

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You can lose yourself – but not like the Eminem song…this “losing yourself” I’m talking about is the loss of what’s important to you; the piling up and pressure of everything else, which gives you less and less time for yourself. less and less time to do the things you love; the things that feed your soul; the space and time and freedom you NEED to be truly well-balanced.

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So, this year, while I have much privacy and more time (for I’ve made some adjustments – made this a big personal project of mine), I’ve made a new list. Except this is not just a few things, and its not confined to a “problem – solution” format.

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This list is everything i could think of – problems, aspirations and dreams, things i’d like to improve on, bad habits i’d like to drop, new activities i’d like to bring into my life permanently.

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Its a long list, and i’m not planning on trying to implement it all, or figuring out how to do each and every one of them. First and foremost – its another one of those personal outpourings, meant to take it from being stuck in my mind, and put it one step closer to reality.

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I’m sure we all know about procrastination. But we should also know that a very, very important method of fighting procrastination is to break things up into manageable pieces.

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For me, this list is not so much a list of things to do. Its a list of big and small that I aspire to and aim for. Things that have lived in my mind for years, but never been formally expressed as “goals” or objectives.

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Writing it down is my first step. Once its on paper, it becomes more real.

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Whether these things happen or not – is not my concern at the moment. It doesn’t matter to me if I do achieve the things on the list.

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What matters to me is that I’m being pro-active about the things that are important to me. And that starts with small steps. And that continues with consistent efforts for the rest of my life. Efforts which are regular – and not ‘routine’ (because routine can be good, but when routine loses its meaning to you – when you lose sight of your original motivation – then its no longer good).

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If I can offer any advice to other people on this topic – its:

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0.) make a dua for guidance and inspiration in your thoughts and ideas; then

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1.) evaluate yourself;

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2.) if your will to work on certain things is strong enough, then take that first step of writing down (or recording, whichever way works for you) what you want or need;

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3.) make a sincere intention to work on those things (in any volume you want);

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4.) make a dua for guidance, assistance, courage and strength in your endeavours; then finally

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5.) get started!

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Ramadaan mubarak to all :)

 

Posted in Meanderings, Ramadaan | 6 Comments »

Changes

Posted by Yacoob on September 27, 2006

We often listen to speakers, be it at Jumah, or other occassions – we hear what they have to say, and hopefully take something meaningful and positive out of that – something we can relate into our own lives, and apply to our own selves and way of life.
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And many times we do find inspiration and good resolve after having heard such a talk.
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But this post is not about that…this is an “irritation” post – something that bugs me. If you’re not in the mood for something negative, you don’t need to read this post. Look at the pictures instead….after all, there are lots of them on this blog ;)
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“Changes”

I’ve always had an issue with the word “change” being used in these kinds of talks and lectures. I mean, we all know that we have problems, faults, weaknesses, commit so many sins (whether small or big, knowingly or unknowingly)….but I’ve always felt that motivational talks such as these come across, most times, in a negative light.

Let me put it in terms of how you would try to teach a child behaviour: there’s negative re-inforcement (i.e. punish them if they do something bad), and then there’s positive re-inforcement (reward them for doing something good, or abstaining from something bad).

This method of behavioural teaching is something that we very much find in our deen. Allah often gives us this balancing of the two in the Quran – talking about the punishment for the disbelievers and wrong-doers; and the rewards for those who believe and do good deeds.

To use a phrase that I’ve heard somewhere else, we should live “between hope and fear”.

Anyway, I’ve digressed (as I so often do, for those of you who know me well enough ;)

Before I continue – I should insert the disclaimer – so that anything I say is, hopefully, not taken the wrong way:

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Please note: None of this is intended to offend anyone; and I hope you don’t take any of my examples or points as being absolute – I’m not referring to *every* talk or lecture; I’m just referring to a trend that I perceive from the talks and lectures I’ve attended. Its completely my own perception – and we all know how perceptions can differ from person to person. So what comes across one way to me, may come across very differently to another. All I’m doing here is expressing *my* perception, interpretation and thoughts. I’m not labelling any speakers or topics, or poking holes in their approaches…this is an opinion piece. Thats all…an expression of opinion.

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My point with the talks – the motivational talks which I perceive to be negative in tone; is that the speakers usually talk about how we need to “change”…and from my understanding, a need to “change” implies that you are starting from a point of negativity, a point of being in the wrong.

Now, I know we are in the wrong a lot of the time – I know that, as mentioned above, we commit sins and we do things we shouldn’t, we wrong OURSELVES and others.

My point here is not to disprove the speakers, or tell them, “you’re wrong – we don’t need to change”.

My issue is that sometimes it comes across to me that the speaker assumes his audience is automatically wrong in character, wrong in actions, wrong in how theylvie their lives.

Of course, in all cases, their message – the essence of their talk – is good and positive, and should be inspiring to us.

But I guess I just take issue with the assumption – what I perceive as the assumption: the assumption that the audience is at this low point – and that the audience needs to “change” to be uplifted.

I don’t like that because speakers often do not know every person in their audience – or even the majority of their audience. You cannot make an assumption about someone else that you don’t know: you can’t call into question their character; lifestyle; level of faith, if you don’t know them at all.

Yes, its true that we all have deficiencies, weaknesses, and sometimes real sicknesses in these areas…but I just don’t like the idea that I’m going to be pre-judged (in a negative light) by someone who doesn’t know me.

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Detour ahead…fasten your seatbelt :)

Now, before I wrong myself with the rest of this point – I must state right now that this is something I find myself guilty of doing: I let myself build up an impression of a person based on what I see of them; how they look, or how I perceive them to be, based on certain things…and a lot of the time these are negative thoughts, dislikes, which are shaped by my own past experiences of others that have had the same outward qualities.

all these thoughts and perceptions come to me, burrow themselves into my psyche – without me even talking to the person, knowing what they’re really like in person after meeting them.

this is something i’ve realised about myself – that i do this, i make assumptions based on things that aren’t real; biases that are unfair; judgements that are irrational.

and its something i need to work on, and plan on working on.

so, just wanted to say that – because if i didn’t, it would make me a hypocrite; critiscising a concept which i myself am guilty of – assumptions.

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Back to the road now (the bit before this little block) :

So, my objection is to the idea that someone i don’t know is, like, telling me i’m a certain way, when they aren’t qualified to comment or assume those things about me.

Basically, the constructive idea i favour – over the ‘negative assumption’ method – is that speakers can, more often, go at things from the opposite side: instead of pushing the theme of “we’re bad” (to oversimplify it) – rather push the theme of positivity and reward. talk about the “good” you can gain by doing certain things; inspire someone to do something better, to change for the better, by taking the approach of positive re-inforcement, rather than critiscising and trying to make people feel bad about themselves all the time, and hoping that guilt will be the catalyst for positive change.

Anyway, so thats my beef with the approach adopted many times by speakers. Again, no harm intended, and no negativity intended…its just perception and opinion. and i do not know what is in the mind of the speaker when they choose and use this approach…and i do not know, truly, how effective their approach is – or whether the “positive approach” i spoke of would be more effective….all i’m doing is speaking for myself. I hope no misunderstanding or ill-feeling is brought about as a result of these words.

Posted in Meanderings | Leave a Comment »

“My Time Machine”

Posted by Yacoob on September 20, 2006

“My Time Machine”
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One day while the flowers were blosomming, I was on the

phone with my my friend. We were planing to steal a time

machine from the university of mysterious machines. Then on

Friday night my friend and I went to the university of

mysterious machines. we were lucky because, the guards were

asleep. The gate was electric, so we got a pole and did a

pole vault over the electric gate. There was an electronic

part at the door. I had a thing that opened the door, so I

used that. when we got inside, we went to the machine room.

In the machine room there were thousands of time machines.

Quickly, but quietly we took one time machine and ran out

of the building. We took the key from a guard that was

asleep. Quietly we opened the gate and ran out with the

time machine. Then we loaded the time machine into the back

of the truck. When we got to my house we took the time

machine into my house. After that I thanked my friend for

the help. When my friend left, I set the dial for 1939.

Then I got into the time machine and closed the door.
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Suddenly, there was a flash and, I found

myself in the middle of world war two. All the warriors

were amazed and kept staring at me. Suddenly all the

soldiers charged at me. Then all the Germans decided to be

on my side. Then the war began. Suddenly one of the Germans

threw a spear at an enemy, then all the germans started

throwing spears at the enemies. Soon all the enemies were

dead. Then there was a bright flash, I stepped into the

flash and found myself at home. Then I went and got my

truck. I put the time machine at the back of the truck.

Then I went to the university of mysterious machines and

returned it. When I got home, I called my friend and told

him to come to my house. When he got to my house, he asked

me why the time machine wasn’t there. Then I told him the

whole story.
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by <me>, Std 1/Grade 3

30 May 1989

Posted in Back in time | 7 Comments »

What IS that?

Posted by Yacoob on September 19, 2006

photo0520.jpg

Just a hole in the wall

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electric.JPG         bluesy_inverted.JPG

I’ll leave you to figure out where these came from…

Posted in Something to see | Leave a Comment »

Story time :)

Posted by Yacoob on September 6, 2006

Once upon a time, there was a man – carefree as can be – walking down the street, minding his own business….

1-carefree.jpg

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when suddenly

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he was accosted by a not-so-dangerous puppy!

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Unfortunately, before he could see that the dog meant no harm (how could a cute little puppy-wuppy hurt a big old man like him? :)) , he was already scared and jumped into the nearest car he could find:

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But the former owner of the car caught up with him, and wasn’t happy…

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…so he prepared to take revenge:

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Wanting to preserve his life, the man once again did what came naturally:

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But he was stopped by a sign

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His pursuer, though, was still…..well……in pursuit, so the man decided – since he had to slow down anyway – he may as well be quiet as well. With this in mind, he

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tiptoed down to

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His pursuer – still in pursuit – wasn’t one for stairs or walking, but his preferences couldn’t be accomodated: he was slowed down by the threat of a power failure

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Nevertheless, he had become even fiercer, and was determined to catch the now not-so-carefree man who had tried to make off with his beloved (former) vehicle

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So the man, even more terrified at this point, decided he had to hide. But the hiding places he found were alarmingly conspicuous

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So he made a run for the toilets, choosing the less obvious option

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Unforunately, his move was anticipated, and he was stopped in his tracks:

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what happens next? Well, you’ll just have to stay tuned and find out later….

Posted in But seriously... | 1 Comment »

 
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