Archive for April, 2005

Great Tool for converting MS Access to MySQL

Posted on the April 30th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

For two projects that I’m busy with, I need to convert an Access database to MySQL. Its more the data that needs to be transferred thanthe structure.

Going through the web, I found a great tool for doing this, and best of all its freeware!

DB Converter by Zenwerx Custom Programming takes an Access database, and generates it into SQL compatible with MySQL and Oracle. Fab tool, andworks, and gets my thumbs up.

Have a look at: http://www.zenwerx.com/products.php?id=2

The download is available at: http://www.zenwerx.com/dbc_1.5.2_install.zip

Blogging as a Sadaqatul Jaariyah (Perpetual Charity)

Posted on the April 30th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

As a web developer, one of the biggest difficulties is trying to get client to provide decent content. At first I thought it was ‘laziness’ on their part, only to find out, with experience, that it seems to be endemic.

Having developed the website for the Islamic College of Southern Africa (ICOSA), and now busy with the one for the International Peace University of South Africa (IPSA), I’ve always tried to encourage the lecturing staff to allow their research to be published on the web.

But in general, we need to ask how many Muslim scholars have blogs, and can we encourage them to go into blogging. It doesn’t have to be ‘academic’, just valuable interesting ideas that they have to share.

For one, I’ve learnt how much better it is to write down things, and enormous thanks goes to the Blogger.com and Google teams for facilitating this, and giving me the freedom to express myself in a way that is comfortable.

Another thought and perhaps reason for Muslim Scholars to start blogging.

Whatever gets written in the blog remains, the ideas may change over time, they may be criticised, or hardly read. But perchance, the writings can help someone. A blog remains a legacy in a similar way to that of a book. The blog will become a Sadaqah al-Jariyah, a perpetual charity, a gift from yourself to others, many of whom you may never meet, benefitting humanity, even after you have passed on.

Classical Islam and Water Management

Posted on the April 30th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

Here in Cape Town and the Western Cape (South Africa), we are experiencing water shortages, and proudly, Muslims are playing a leading role in spreading the message. In fact, the councillor in charge ofwater management is a Muslim, viz. Councillor Saleem Mowser.

Nonetheless, I was amazed when an Imam recently used Classical Fiqh to offer ways & means to play a part in water conservation.

In Islam, there are various categories of water, to attempt a transliteration:

  • Maa Tahir Mutahhir – Clean water that can be used to purify other things
  • Maa Tahir – clean water, but does not have the purifying capacity
  • Maa Najis – unclean, filthy water

In this perspective, water that is saved from showering (as an example) changes from Maa Tahir Mutahhir to Maa Tahir and could then be used for the garden or the car.

It was this analysis and statement from the Imam that amazed me. How often is it that when we are faced with a ‘modern’ day problem, we tendto run away from the ‘classical’ teachings.

There are many examples of water conservation practices in the time of the Holy Prophet. To quote one:

Ibn Majah reports that a person was making Wudu and he was using too much water. The Prophet -peace be upon him- said, “What is this waste?” The man said, “Is there a waste in Wudu also, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet -peace be upon him- said, “Yes, even if you were near a flowing river.” (Ibn Majah, Hadith no. 419)

http://www.pakistanlink.com/religion/99/06-04.html

Add to this the practice of Tayammum, perhaps there is still alot to be explored in this field, and highlights the urgent need for knowledge management as a reminder. A great shukran to the Imam for doing exactly this.

Pope and the Khilafah

Posted on the April 30th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

A bit of a late thought. In the past weeks there was the death of Pope John Paul II, followed by the rare occurrence of the conclave to elect a new pope. All the cardinals summoned to the Vatican, distinct election process, etc.

Here’s a thought that passed by…

How would Muslims go about electing a Khalifah? Similar process? Same feelings of anticipation?

Sadly, the Khilafah doesn’t exist at present, but just the thought. Perhaps we could focus then on Imams, Muftis, Grand Shaykhs, and how they get elected, all of which, should be significant events, given their influence.

Indian general: Aids is deadlier than bullets

Posted on the April 22nd, 2005 under Uncategorized by

Reading this article on IOL, perhaps there is an explanation for this, which wouldn’t go well with the Indian government.

Perhaps if you stopped letting your troops RAPE women of your opponents, this disease will stop spreading. Yes, its true. You surround tribes, separate men from the women, and then begin a session of mass-rape, in particular of Kashmiris! Try denying that!

So, the story doesn’t come as a surprise. Also, you have a wonderful law that soldiers that can’t be held accountable for actions whilst on duty. In reality, we will all be accountable for actions of the Day of Judgement in front of the Almighty.

But who knows. It seems that the liberation of Kashmir may come sooner than later, becaused the Indian Army is screwing itself (pun intended).

SAReunited.com

Posted on the April 22nd, 2005 under Uncategorized by

Yesterday I registered at http://www.sareunited.com/ – its a website that tries to reunite high school classmates. Was kind of sceptical atfirst, will Rylands High Matriculants in 1996 actually sign up to this?

Yes, there was: Fathima Khan (aka bombnose), Mumtaaz Parker, Rehana Hamid.

So South Africans, sign up to SA Reunited. You’ll be surprised how many class mates you’ll meet.

Jews in Medina

Posted on the April 22nd, 2005 under Uncategorized by

Last night I attended Moulood-un-Nabi celebrations at Masjidul Quds, Gatesville (Cape Town). The speaker, Hafith Mahmood Khatieb, gave anexcellent talk, and there is one point which made me really think.

Muslims believe that all other prophets came to inform their people of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Jesus told his followers, and so didMoses.

According the speaker, the presence of Jews in Medina is indicative of this knowledge that they knew where the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would reside. Plausible?

UWC Staff Orientation 2005

Posted on the April 20th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

Today I attended the staff orientation programme at work (UWC – University of the Western Cape), here in Cape Town, South Africa.

What can I share about the experience?

We were addressed by various members of the university’s executive, include the rector, Prof. Brian O’Connell, all of whom had inspiring words to say in imparting the UWC vision to us. Some of the things that stuck:

Change is often slow, only rapid in exceptions. One of the examples cited is that of marriage. Once couples have exchanged vows, it seems as though they have undergone rapid change, yet in reality, they have committed themselves to a path of learning about each other. Understanding that change is often slow is vital if we are particular focusing on encouraging others to change their behaviour – let alone ourselves.

Knowledge has always been important, and in the primitive age (pre agricultural), man had to be able to distinguish between wholesome and poisonous food. This knowledge was shared, and gave rise to role of expert who advised others – a knowledge management exercise!

Prof O’Connell gave the example of the Aztec people and how wrong knowledge can be disastrous:

The Aztec people realised the importance of the Sun that they started worshipping it. They knew that the Sun disappeared in the evening (but not that the Earth was round). Out of fear that the Sun could fail to rise the next day, they started offering sacrifices to the Sun. They recognised that the greatest sacrifice is to offer the self, and from occasion, had tribesman killed as a sacrifice to the Sun.

One of the points that he elaborated alot on is that of transcending culture – In the pursuit of excellence, we often need to recognize the limits of our own culture in relation to challenges. There is no ‘best’ culture, but in the face of challenges, we need to incorporate best practices.

A statement of his is interesting as a thought on the generation gap. “It is easier for those on the edge of the culture to transcend and accept new ideas, than those in the middle.” Hopefully I can write more on this at a later stage

Battling Spam Identity Theft

Posted on the April 20th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

We accept that spam is a daily reality and nuisance we’ll have to live with and accept in the Modern Age. But there is something worse than spam – it is Spam Identity Theft, and something I had to recently confront.

What is Spam Identity Theft?

We all know what spam is. Spam Identity Theft is when someone (the spammer) uses your email address as the sender (From: you@youremail.com).

This is unethical and problematic for two reasons. Firstly, it gives the domain a bad impression as one that sends out spam. Secondly, you (and not the spammer) receives the failure reports, undelivered mail messages, etc. I had to battle daily with around 30 such reports, frustrating of which is the bandwidth and time wasted using a dialup connection. (There is another frustration called Telkom that many South Africans are aware of).

Taking the fight to the Spammer

There are many ways to take the fight to the spammer, and I write more as a victim of spam identity theft, then as a victim of spam. One which I thought would help was to trace route the IP address to an ISP, and ask them to stop this. Spammers need a way of connecting to the Internet you know. Results wasn’t too great 🙁

Second Approach: Find the owner of the website they are redirecting you.

This takes some explanation. Spammers can fake the From: address because they are not interested in replies. They want people to visit a certain website, which redirects people to the final website.

Redirection is important, as this is the way referrals work, and the spammer makes a living. Many people focus on attacking where the email spam come front. Why not also attack the sites where the spammer wants you to visit. Usually the owner of the domain is the spammer.

I tried this approach and it seems to have worked for now and the spammer has probably taken up a new domain for spam identity theft (s.p.i.t.). Looked up the domain using www.checkdomain.com, I managed to get the owner’s email address and sent him an email. Had this not worked, I would have emailed the hosting company. Nonetheless, step one was good enough to clear the use of our domain.

So this is the suggestion: Instead of fighting backwards and trying to trace spam. Perhaps we should take the fight forward, and attack the websites that they want users to click on, the ones that are doing the redirecting. Now all we need is a court victory where we sue such sites and create a legal precedent. That way, we can hopefully create a spamless (emphasis on less) environment!

Data to Information to Knowledge

Posted on the April 20th, 2005 under Uncategorized by

Here’s a graph I found in “Knowledge Management – Techniques for Building Corporate Memories” by Ian Watson.

The column on the left speaks of context dependence, that knowledge is data understood (information level) within a context. Two people can be presented the same data, but will understand it differently based on context.

There is one word for this – experience. An interesting discussion: Does knowledge change if the context changes?