Archive for the ‘Reflections/Thoughts’ Category

Cape Town Ramadaan 2017 Calendars?

Posted on the May 25th, 2017 under Islam and Muslims by

With Ramadaan around the corner, one will find lots of Ramdaan calendars containing the Salaah Times for the month. This is particularly important as Muslims starting fasting from sunrise (Fajr prayer), and break their fast at sunset (Maghrib prayer).

I have already come across quite a few, but there’s something that stands out from them: For Cape Town, they all have different salaah times, which depending on the calendar you follow, means you’ll either be fasting earlier or breaking the fast later. The purpose of this blog post is three fold:

  1. To show evidence of these differences without commenting on which one is more correct/accurate.
  2. Related to the first point, to raise awareness of the issue to get Muslim scholar/leaders to rather address the issue.
  3. To call and raise the importance of providing salaah times in an open format.

The Different Salaah Time Calendars for Cape Town

If one were to classify the Salaah Time calendars for Cape Town, they could fall into three broad groups:

  1. The Printed/Distributed Calendars in Cape Town (Wembley one being a standout)
  2. The Jamiatul Ulama KZN Perpetual Calendar
  3. The Calendar based on Calculations using the Muslim World League – Angle Based Rule method.

1) The Printed/Distributed Calendar

Taking a look at most of the printed/distributed Islamic calendars in the Cape, I’ve often found it difficult to accurately match the formula/calculation method as it’s usually slightly different/out to the formulas/calculation methods found on the Internet.

For reference purposes, I will refer to the one published by the Wembley Group of Companies annually for the past 25 years, these calendars chronicle sites and events of historical significance in Islam alongside beautifully photographed images. The concept and content of the calendar is usually done by veteran journalist and Radio Voice of the Cape presenter, Shafiq Morton. (The first one on Shaykh Yusuf’s Kramat in 1994 was done by him, as well as the latest one. Cannot say for sure each edition was done by him).

The calendar is available for download at http://wembley.co.za/calendars/.

For the purpose of reference, lets consider the Fajr and Maghrib times for today (22 May 2017) and for 27 May 2017 which is predicted the 1st of Ramadaan.

22 May 2017: Fajr – 06:16, Maghrib – 17:52

27 May 2017: Fajr – 06:19, Maghrib – 17:50

Re-use of the “Printed/Distributed Calendar”

a) Muslim.co.za (Disclosure, run by me). The Salaah times from the Islamic calendar was manually copied and typed into an excel spreadsheet, and then exported into a database table. It gets treated as a perpetual calendar in that Salaah times on a given Gregorian date will always be the same regardless of year. Random checks are performed in Muharram with newly printed Islamic calendars to ensure they are still the same.

b) Cape Town Muslim Events – Source: WhatsApp Daily Profile Photo

 

c) Balmoral Supermarket (I assume many other companies will too) Source: https://www.facebook.com/balmoralsupermarket/photos/a.314665238725457.1073741829.314257428766238/647582772100367/?type=3&theater

 

 

2) The Jamiatul Ulama KZN Perpetual Calendar

The description in the Jamiatul Ulama KZN Calendar shows that it is either based on or generated using the Prayer Time Calculator V2.5 by Dr Monzur Ahmed. The one for Cape Town can be found here: http://jamiat.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/ptpCAPETOWN.pdf

Re-use of the “Jamiatul Ulama KZN Calendar”

From my brief investigation and comparison of the salaah times, this calendar is used by:

  1. Voice of the Cape – http://www.vocfm.co.za/resources/salaah-times/
  2. Salaahtimes.co.za (Acknowledges that they use the Jamiat KZN data) – http://www.salaahtimes.co.za/cape-town
  3. Samd.co.za – http://www.samd.co.za/salaah_times_CT.html

In my opinion, there are two reasons why the Jamiatul Ulama KZN calendar used by so many others:

  1. The Jamiatul Ulama KZN generated such calendars for many of the major cities and towns in South Africa using a known tool.
  2. From a software development perspective, it was easy to extract this data to show daily salaah times, for example. (This is what muslim.co.za uses for all other towns besides Cape Town).

The Salaah Times for comparison:

22 May 2017: Fajr – 06:09, Maghrib – 17:52

27 May 2017: Fajr – 06:12, Maghrib – 17:50

The Maghrib times are exactly the same as the ‘Printed Calendar’ but the Fajr Time is 7 minutes earlier.

Radio Islam Perpetual Calendar for Cape Town

The Radio Islam perpetual calendar for Cape Town (available at http://www.radioislam.co.za/salaah_times/Ct/Cape_Town_SF.htm) is similar to the Jamiatul Ulama KZN one, but a minute later for each item.

The criteria is mentioned, viz.

  • Location: Cape Town, SOUTH AFRICA
  • Juristic Method: Hanafi, Timezone: GMT +2
  • Calculation Method: University Of Islamic Sciences, Karachi
  • Maghrib: +3 minutes after Maghrib (sic) (Probably meant sunset)

The Salaah Times for comparison:

22 May 2017: Fajr – 06:10, Maghrib – 17:53

27 May 2017: Fajr – 06:12, Maghrib – 17:51

The “Taqweem” Calendar

Again similar to the Jamiatul Ulama KZN one, but out by a minute in some instances:  http://taqweem.rapidsoft.co.za/report_perpetual.php?ID=141

The Salaah Times for comparison:

22 May 2017: Fajr – 06:09, Maghrib – 17:52

27 May 2017: Fajr – 06:12, Maghrib – 17:49

 

3) Calendar based on Calculations

These calendars can be found on a few websites like livingislam.co.za are usually based on widget provided either by Islamic Finder or SalaahTimes.com. Even though the salaah times provided are not the same as the printed one in Cape Town, many websites use them in my opinion because these are the only ones easily available to be integrated. Perhaps a poor reflection on local Muslim developers for not coming up with one?

The Salaah Times for comparison from https://www.islamicfinder.org/world/south-africa/3369157/cape-town-prayer-times/

22 May 2017: Fajr – 06:09, Maghrib – 17:50

27 May 2017: Fajr – 06:12, Maghrib – 17:48

The Salaah Times for comparison from https://www.salahtimes.com/south-africa/cape-town

22 May 2017: Fajr – 06:09, Maghrib – 17:49

27 May 2017: Fajr – 06:12, Maghrib – 17:47

The last one in particular seems to be the source for the calendar generated by the South African Students Association in the Arab Republic of Egypt (Source: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=127922454437974&set=ecnf.100016606606825&type=3&theater)

The calendar based on calculations has a similar Fajr time to the Jamiatul Ulama KZN calendar, but an earlier Maghrib time.

Summary of Differences

Comparing the earliest and latest times between the different calendars for Fajr and Maghrib shows their is up to a 7 minute difference between the times for Fajr and a 3 minute difference for Maghrib (in one case, 4 minutes).

As mentioned, determining which one is more correct/accurate is a task for the Muslim scholars/leadership to resolve.

 

The Need for Providing Salaah Times in an Open Format

 

Will tackle this in a new blog post, Insha Allah

Lessons from the Isra and Mi’raj from the Perspective of a Parent with a Child with Autism

Posted on the May 26th, 2014 under Human Rights,Islam and Muslims,Productivity,Reflections/Thoughts,South Africa by

The Isra and Mi’raj are the two parts of a Night Journey that, according to Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad took during a single night around the year 621. The Qur’an makes reference to this event in Chapter 17 (Al-Isra) verse 1:

Exalted is He who took His Servant by night from al-Masjid al-Haram to al-Masjid al-Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, to show him of Our signs. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Seeing.

Now whilst many people will expound on the significance of the journey and the night, events that occurred, and how the Salaah (5 daily prayers) became ordained, I believe it also offers lessons and inspiration for people with special needs and their parents and those who support them.

From the perspective of a parent of a child with Autism, no other Islamic event resonates with me more than that of the Isra and Mi’raj.

The Isra and Mi’raj in the Face of Rejection and Dejection

Ask any parent of a child with special needs as to what has been their greatest challenge and battle. Many will think it is the ‘burden’ of the child or the financial cost factor or the sacrifices of time.

On the contrary, these parents will tell you the greatest challenge and battle has been to face rejection: rejection that kids can have a disorder or disability; rejection that disorders or disabilities exists; rejection that their kids cannot behave ‘normally’; rejection with the notion that ‘parents probably did something wrong’, and hence are ‘being punished’.

And what makes this challenge even harder is put simply: the loss of support.

Accepting that you have a child with special needs is tough. Tougher than this is coming to accept that people for whom you believe would support you through thick and thin, will abandon you when you need them the most.

My greatest source of comfort has been to know that our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went through a similar phase, in what has generally become known as ‘Aam-ul-Huzn’ or the Year of Sorrow.

The period was referenced by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the toughest time of his life, and preceded the event of the Isra and Mi’raj. It is the period where he faced a number of misfortunes:

  • The public boycott where the Meccans banished the Banu Hashim to an area known Shib Abi Talib (Valley of Abu Talib), and refused to trade with them resulting in hunger and privation.
  • The death of his wife Khadija (RA), the first person to accept Islam and upon whom he could always rely on.
  • The subsequent death of his uncle, Abu Talib, whose protection ensured that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) would never face any direct harm.

Following these misfortunes, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also faced the brutal rejection of the people of Ta’if who stoned him. Such was the extent of his injuries that even his shoes were filled with blood. The Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) came to him with the Angel of the Mountains and said that if the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) wanted, he would blow the mountains over the people of Ta’if.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) instead replied with the following prayer:

O Allah, To Thee I complain of my weakness, my lack of resources and my lowliness before men.

O Most Merciful! Thou art the Lord of the weak and Thou art my Lord. To whom wilt Thou relinquish my fate! To one who will misuse me? Or to an enemy to whom Thou hast given power over me? If Thou art not angry with me then I care not what happens to me. Thy favor is all that counts for me.

I take refuge in the light of Thy countenance, by which all darkness is illuminated. And the things of this world and next are rightly ordered. I wish to please Thee until Thou art pleased. There is no power and no might save in Thee.

As time has passed, I’ve realized that my role is not to force people to accept that autism exists, or to force people to accept my son. As a matter of fact, such efforts might not only have been in vain, but also a poor utilization of time and effort.

Instead my role has to be to not only support my one son who has autism in particular, but to assist all my kids to become the best they can be, to the best of their ability.

In doing so, we prove to others that autism is not a burden, but an opportunity to show others, that no matter the weaknesses of our kids, we will not give up on them. The goal is not to make them compete or be better than others, but better than what they can be, and in doing so, remove the stigma of autism.

Our weakness and lack of resources will only be outdone by our determination.

The Isra and Mi’raj as the Turning Point in Turning Perspective

At this low point in time, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was taken on this glorious journey. Some scholars are of the opinion that there were a few reasons why the Prophet Muhammad’s journey started at the house of Umm Hani, and not his own.

  • Firstly, it was closer to the Kaaba.
  • Secondly, some opine that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stayed there after the incident in Taif to not reveal the extent of his injuries to his immediate family.

The latter point is, in my opinion, also reflective of how many parents of kids with special needs put on a ‘brave face’. Deep down, they are filled with concern of the future, and what would happen when they are no longer around.

These are natural to have, but have to gradually fade into an action plan. Firstly, the best way to prepare for the future is to build it. Secondly, we cannot tell how long we will be around, so best make every minute of it starting now.

The less time spent fretting about other people’s opinions, thoughts and behaviour, means more time to do something constructive.

The Isra and Mi’raj and the Scent of People who Don’t Give Up

One of the incidents of the Isra and Mi’raj that is only occasionally shared is this one:

On the journey of the Isra, the Prophet smelled a very nice odor. He asked Jibreel about this pleasant scent and Jibreel informed him this good smell was coming from the grave of the woman whose duty used to be to comb Pharaoh’s daughter’s hair. This woman was a good, pious believer.

One day, as she was combing Pharaoh’s daughter’s hair, the comb fell from her hand. At this she said, “Bismillah.” The Pharaoh’s daughter asked her, “Do you have a god other than my father?” The woman said, “Yes. My Lord and the Lord of your father is Allah.”

The Pharaoh’s daughter told her father what had happened and he demanded this woman blaspheme and leave Islam, but she refused. At that, the Pharaoh threatened to kill her children.

He brought a great pot of water and built a great fire under it. When the water boiled, the Pharaoh brought her children and started to drop them into that pot one after the other.

Throughout all this, the woman remained steadfast to Islam, even when the Pharaoh reached her youngest child — a little boy still breast-feeding — but she felt pity for him.

At that, Allah enabled this child to speak. He said to his mother, “O Mother, be patient. The torture of the Hereafter is far more severe than the torture of this life, and do not be reluctant, because you are right.”

At this the woman requested Pharaoh collect her bones and the bones of her children and bury them in the same grave. The Pharaoh promised her that — then dropped her into that boiling water. She died as a martyr. The good odor the Prophet smelled coming from her grave is an indication of her high status.

Adapted from: http://www.islamawareness.net/Isra/miracle.html

Kids with special needs are also kids of Jannah (paradise), and some would argue this is a fanciful thought. But when you meet a child that is unable to talk or unable to verbalize his/her thoughts, perhaps it is that their tongue is protected from committing sin, a child who unlike others cannot display disrespect verbally or demonstrate foul language that he/she has learnt.

These are indeed the kids of paradise. The question is: will we use them as a means to enable us to also enter paradise.

The Isra and Mi’raj and the Journey You’d Never Imagine You’d Undertake

The story most often told is that of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his meeting with different prophets on different levels of Jannah.

Since the inception of Raa’id being diagnosed with autism, it’s been a rollercoaster ride of emotions, finding a school for him, getting him to therapies, etc.

The one question I occasionally ponder is: How would our life have been, had he not have been diagnosed with autism? A few answers:

  • We probably would never have met other wonderful parents who also have kids with special needs.
  • We probably would never have given up evenings to attend support groups and learn from the experiences of others.
  • We probably would never have been invited by the University of Cape Town to use Raa’id in a pilot programme that they wanted to roll-out, a programme that would benefit hundreds of other children.
  • We probably would never have been as passionate about any disorder as we now are.

The ‘early days’ were daunting. It remains a marvel when we meet parents whose kids have recently been diagnosed with autism. We see our old selves in them; they are starting to undertake a journey that we undertook a few years ago, a journey we’d never imagine we would undertake.

The Isra and Mi’raj and the Special Verses that could be only be Shared in a Special Way

During the Mi’raj or heavenly journey, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received a portion of verses of the Holy Quran of which I cannot help but remind myself of on a daily basis. Beyond my personal attachment to them, these verses of the Holy Quran have certain special characteristics that no other verses of the Holy Quran have:

  • Firstly, these are the only verses of the Holy Quran that were not revealed on Earth.
  • Secondly, these are the only verses of the Holy Quran that were not revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) through the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel). Instead they were given directly to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on the night of the Mi’raj.

Now if one would ask, if these verses are so special, what would they relate to: does it refer to the Majesty of Almighty Allah, does it perhaps refer to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), or perhaps this glorious journey of Mi’raj.

The special verses of the Holy Quran that were shared in a special way on this special night refers to the wonderful capacity that mankind has. The verses that were revealed form part of the last verses of Surah Baqara (the second chapter), and the last one reads:

Allah will not place a burden on any soul greater than it can bear.
It gets every good that it earns, and it suffers every ill that it earns.
(Pray:) “Our Lord! Condemn us not if we forget or fall into error; our Lord!
Lay not on us a burden Like that which Thou didst lay on those before us;
Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have strength to bear.
Blot out our sins, and grant us forgiveness. Have mercy on us.
Thou art our Protector; Help us against those who stand against faith

Raising a child with special needs is an enormous responsibility, eased only with the knowledge that this is the Almighty’s will, and that He only grants this to people with a special capacity, one they might not realize they have.

Conclusion

Now in 2014, it is barely a few weeks after the Autism Awareness month of April, that Muslims will celebrate the auspicious night of the Isra and Mi’raj. In a few years to come, these will overlap each other, as the Islamic calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian one.

Tonight as people fill up the Masaajid, you may see a young child behaving in a way you may consider ill-befitting the sanctity of a Masjid. That child may or may not have a disorder. That child will not be Raa’id though.

Raa’id, because of his autism, cannot stand crowds and restrictive space. He is only six now, so it concerns us whether one day in the future he will be able to perform Jumu’ah.

The truth of the matter is that more and more parents will be pondering this concern.

  • In 1970, the numbers for autism was 1 in 10,000.
  • In 1975, it was 1 in 5,000.
  • In 1985, it was 1 in 2,500.
  • In 1995, it was 1 in 500.
  • In 2001, it was 1 in 250.
  • In 2004, it was 1 in 166.
  • In 2009, it was 1 in 110.
  • In 2012, it was 1 in 88.
  • Last year, in 2013, it was 1 in 50.

Preparing For Hajj – Some tips for techno hajjis

Posted on the September 27th, 2010 under Internet,Islam and Muslims,Reflections/Thoughts,South Africa by

Going on Hajj nowadays is so much different from years ago. As someone that was fortunate to be there in 1995 and last year (2009), the differences were stark. No longer did we have queue for prepaid phones, we could video chat (skype) with our family back home. No longer did people have to wait for photos to be developed. We shared them immediately on Facebook. And yes, we took photos of ourselves inside the Haram and MMS’d it home!

Opting to take our gadgets also came with its own preparation. Having learnt from the advice of well-wishers, as well as mistakes from previous trips, here are some tips we can offer.

Electricity – Get a Travel Plug Converter

Saudi Arabia uses the Type F plug, South Africa the Type M. One Hajji noted that his hotel also had the Type G plug (as used in the UK), but this is very rare.

I found a travel plug converter at Diskem, but its generally available at stores like Cape Union Mart. Also try places that sell suitcases. Type G to Type M is easier to find and available at Clicks for instance, but rather take the Type F. This also makes a handy gift to Hujaaj!

We also took with a multiplug allowing us to comfortably power the laptop as well as charge our cellphones, camera battery, electric tooth brushes, electric shavers.

Saudi Arabia also uses 220V so there’s no need to change the voltage on your equipment.

Type F Plug

Type F Plug

Type M Plug

Type M Plug

Type G Plug

Type G Plug

WiFi and Internet

Even if Wifi is advertised  free in your hotel, it may only be available on a certain floor. Check with your travel agent whether the hotels you are staying in offer WiFi and whether WiFi is offered on all floors or just some. I found WiFi more available in Medina than in Makka. It may be because of the construction work, but speculation on my side.

Internet on your Cellphone

Have a habit of quickly checking Facebook on your cell phone, I was shocked to see how expensive this is with airtime just running away. My guess is that it costs something in the region of Rs2 (Saudi Riyals) a megabyte which would be more expensive than South Africa.

Tip: Keep this is mind that their billing rate may be different. Also check your airtime balance regularly, and modify the settings of programs that connect to the Internet. In my case, one of them was one that downloads the daily weather.

3G Internet for Your Laptop

It is possible to take your 3G card with and purchase a one 30 day data bundle from a service provider in Saudi Arabia. There are two advantages to doing this:

  • If your hotel does not offer WiFi on your floor, you can comfortably Skype and video chat with your family in the comfort of your hotel room.
  • If your package involves moving to Azizia, you’ll have Internet access there! Azizia is nice, but WiFi is not standard there 😉

Some tips on purchasing a data bundle

1) Saudi Arabia has two main operators: STC and Mobily. STC is the equivalent of Telkom, advertises everything but has nothing and unlikely to help you if they sense you are going to make them THINK or do some real work. The service from Mobily on the hand was wonderful. They knew their products, no queues.

2) Purchase the data bundle in Medina

Makka is full. Since it is also winter there, there is a shorter time between the Waqts and also to get to the Haram on time. By the time you get to the front of the queue, its time for Salaah. However, try and purchase it closer to the end of your stay in Medina, but with enough time to go back to them if any issues arise (about three days before you leave). A data bundle lasts for 30 days. The later you purchase your data bundle, the later for your stay in Makka you can use it. Otherwise you run in the dillemma of wanting to purchase a data bundle just a few days before Haj and risk losing the balance of data/airtime.

3) Requirements

I purchased the data bundle at the Mobily Store in Central Medina (opposite the Hilton hotel). They required a photocopy of my passport (which I did not have) but accepted my Al Anwar card. Best to take a photocopy of your passport with.

4) The connection settings for Mobiliy is built into Ubuntu, just setup a Mobile connection. For Windows users, they are:

Number: *99#
APN: web2

However, the pamphlet given is quite handy. The salesman will also tell you that you can bring your laptop to them and they will help you set it up!

AIR Time

Recharge Card

Recharge Card

Airtime is sold in various denominations. However, if you buy a larger, you stand to gain extra airtime. For example, a Rs100 airtime card gives your Rs150 airtime (cant recall exactly, but it was in this region).

Best of all, the cards have two scratch areas, so even if it is a single card, the airtime can go on to two phones. As they say in Cape Town, “Klap together”.

This also offers the opportunity for the budding entrepreneurs in Makka and Medina. Check that you are not paying the extra Rs50 when you dont have to. Also, some of them will sell you half the card for Rs75. There are so many of them, just walk away and move to the next guy.

Internet Banking

The number one rule: Update your profile to receive your One Time Password (OTP) via email. By default, most people receive their OTP via SMS. Unless you have international roaming activated and WORKING, you may not receive this, which may stop you from performing any transactions via the Internet.

Standard Bank users can only opt to receive their OTP via SMS or email. FNB users have the option of receiving the OTP via email in addition to SMS.

However, for both of them, you need to setup the OTP via email before leaving your hometown. Usually someone from the branch has to phone you, ask you to verify your details, etc. before they set this.

For Standard Bank, if you set up a recipient, you will not need to enter a OTP when doing a transfer to them.

ATMs, Banking in General

Please check that your card does not expire whilst you are on Haj. Banks usually have your new card a month before they expire, and you can request them to send you one earlier as well.

You are able to do cash withdrawals at Al Rajhi bank. In Makka, they are situated in front of the Hilton hotel. In Medina, there’s an ATM on the first floor of the Hilton Hotel. In most of the more modern malls, they do accept cards. Some of the smaller shops usually share one machine that services a group of them, so you may have to walk to another point to have your card swiped.

Wires

Make a checklist of all the wires and cables you need to take with. Its annoying to be on the other side of the world only to discover you dont have a cable you need.

Back Home Preparation

Apart from checking that you are hooked up, ensure that your family is likewise. Are they able to connect to the Internet, start skype, etc.? Does their webcam give a grainy or feed, etc.? Run a few checks before you leave, and also put them in contact with someone thats knowledgeable. If they are going to use someone else’s Internet connection, ensure that you have budgeted for this as well.

Lastly,

Where possible, assist your fellow Hujaaj if you can. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that the best of people are those who assist others, and how much greater is this in the Holy Cities. If you find any of these tips handy, please make Duah that the Almighty grants the author to apply these tips himself in the Holy Lands, Insha Allah

[Video] Shaykh Sadullah Khan’s Khutbah at Claremont Main Road Masjid

Posted on the September 4th, 2010 under Internet,Reflections/Thoughts by

The khutbah is available online, but sometimes it’s just easier to watch it online.

Being in touch with the Nabi Muhammad (PBUH)

Posted on the May 3rd, 2010 under Reflections/Thoughts by

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken to reading Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings. One of the many touching incidents occurred in Madina.

The Prophet (PBUH) had to serve in multiple roles as the leader of the Muslims, governor of Madina, prophet, etc. At this time, he divided his day into three. 1/3 for family time, 1/3 for community affairs and a 1/3 to spent in worship and prayer.

Some of the companions felt as if they were losing touch with the Prophet, given his multiple roles, fixed time in them, and the large amount of people who were all vying for his attention.

In this regard, Allah revealed the verse:

Surely Allah and His Angels bless the Prophet. Oh you, who believe, call for blessings on him, and salute with (respectable) salutations. (Chapter 33: Verse 56)

This would be their (and our way) of staying connected with him!

The Prophet (PBUH) would also add: “Whoever invokes blessings on me once, Allah will invoke blessings upon him ten times”

Before you commit sin, ask yourself

Posted on the January 8th, 2010 under Reflections/Thoughts by

Before you commit sin, ask yourself:

Do you know what day it is today?

Is it not perhaps Friday, the day of Jumuah?
Is it not perhaps Thursday, the day after Jumuah?
Is it not perhaps Saturday, the day after Jumuah?
Is it not perhaps Monday, the day the Prophet was born?

Would you like to commit sin on such a day?

Do you know what Islamic month it is?

Is it not perhaps the Holy month of Muharram, that start of the new year, where we resolve to rid ourselves of past bad ways?
Is it not perhaps the Holy month of Ramadaan, the month of fasting, where the Shaytaan is chained?
Is it not perhaps the Holy months of Hajj?

Whatever time it is, do you really have to commit that sin

Advice on Hajj and Old People

Posted on the November 3rd, 2009 under Reflections/Thoughts by

This year, I have the fortune to be on the Hajj or Muslim Pilgrimage. I am sharing this experience with many people, some of them double my age. Travelling with old people is both humbling and rewarding.

Humbling to note that despite their age and the accompanying reduced health and strength, they haven’t given up on undertaking this magnificent journey. Humbling because they are the ones who prevail calm, patience and sabr at long queues and bureacratic annoyances.

Rewarding because it provides us younger people with the opportunity to assist them in the holiest cities where the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The best of people are those who are most beneficial and helpful to people”.

On my journey, I’ve compiled a list of a few short tips aimed at the children of old people, and what they can do to make their parent’s journey much easier.

Cellphones:

1) Provide them with a cellphone that has a distinct on/off button.

Cellphones need to be switched off on aeroplanes. To save space, some cellphones link the switching on/off button to an existing button, but this grouping confuses some old people

2) Disable the sim-card pin

Sim-card pin are there for protection, but it also means having to remember their number. Many are not aware this even exists, as they’ve needed to switch their phones on/off before.

3) Activate international roaming – even if just for sms

Some people have this activated, and they may not have. Explaining international roaming, and that it has to be done prior to leaving South Africa for it to be activated takes some effort.

4) Convert all essential contact numbers to an international dial out.

For example, a house number in Cape Town locally would be: 021 555 1234. Rather convert this to +27 21 555 1234. +27 is South Africa’s dialling code, 21 is for 021 minus the zero, and the rest is the number.

This way, older people do not have to remember to add the +27, and drop the one zero, etc.

5) If possible, provide them with a slide-out keyboard.

It’s painful to watch someone spend five minutes typing out an SMS

Bags:

It would be easier said that done, but encourage them to travel with as few bags as possible, and rather a bigger overnight bag, than multiple small bags. South Africans are usually provided with a shoe bag which gets used as an additional stuffed travel bag. Take into account that they will have with them:

a) overnight bag
b) Haj operator bag for carrying passport/documents
c) Chair for Salaah
d) Shoe bag

Quite a lot to not only carry, but also manage.

Camera:

Even one fitted to a cellphone will allow them to capture moments that are special to them. However, bare in mind they will probably have no place to download their photos to. My suggestion is to provide them with a large memory card or multiple memory cards so that they wouldn’t have to delete any photos they might have already taken.

Quick Guide to Ramadaan Do’s and Don’ts

Posted on the August 21st, 2009 under Islam and Muslims by

Got this in an email. Neat!

Ramadaan Highway Code

Will Facebook exacerbate social issues in Mxit?

Posted on the August 6th, 2009 under Internet,Reflections/Thoughts by

Recently, I’ve noticed more and more young people talking about and joining Facebook. In one instance, I’ve come to learn that practically a large majority of learners in a secondary school (we talking about 12-16 year olds) have joined Facebook.

In light of a recent incident where a girl met someone on Mxit and ran away from home, it raises some questions:

  • Are such young people putting themselves at risk with personal info and details being shared on Facebook?
  • What steps/advice can be taken/rendered to assist and protect young people who are on Facebook?

Understanding Mxit vs Facebook

Mxit is a popular cellphone application in South Africa. In a region and continent with high and excessive telecommunication costs, Mxit is a cheap alternative to SMS (Short Message Service). Whereas users pay a premium rate to send SMS’es, Mxit uses a form of instant messaging, where users only pay for the data cost of sending a message.

Being a cellphone-based social instant-messaging application, the only information really being made available is the cell phone number of the user, and possibly the name of the user if they dont use a pseudo-name.

Mxit (like Facebook) operates on a friend request-and-accept approach, but also offers a chatroom service, and it is seemingly here that ‘relationships’ (for want of a better word) fosters.

Given the ability to generate online friendship, being known for having a lot of online friends, and thus possibly popular, may be one reason why people allow such friendships and relationships to happen.

Enter Facebook

These young people are entering Facebook at a time where it has already reached spectacular growth, and some are even forsaking it for alternatives like Twitter. I’m unable to account for why they are switching to Facebook. Is it perhaps the next step after Mxit? Is it because Facebook offers more features than Mxit? Is it because of the popularity of Facebook and that adults are using it?

Oddly, Internet access is not an issue since many of them are accessing Facebook via there cell phones. Perhaps the fact that Facebook has a mobile version helps.

Facebook Features which could be considered dangerous from a Mxit perspective

  • Facebook allows users to upload photos of themselves, providing a picture to the name
    • So unlike Mxit, there is a picture to the person you are corresponding with
  • Facebook allows users to be tagged in photographs
    • Even if the user does not provide a photo of him/herself, others could do it for them
  • Facebook allows users to enter a detailed profile, including contact details
    • Compared to Mxit, this is much more comprehensive
  • Facebook provides a history of past activity
    • Mxit doesnt.
  • Facebook’s add a Friend feature provides a risk where people blindly accept friendships.
    • The more friends you have, the better it supposedly seems, as it makes you appear more popular. Mxit doesnt have the search feature of Facebook where users can search for friends.

If parents become concerned and paranoid about Mxit, it’s not difficult to see why they could possibly be more apprehensive of the dangers Facebook potentially provides at a greater risk than Mxit.

Facebook’s negative could also be positive

I recall an incident a few months ago where an older sister stepped in when her younger sister started receiving inappropriate comments on some of her photos. This is an advantage of an open system, and makes it easier for an adult/guardian to supervise. Needless to say, the intervention was a rebuke to the offenders who desisted from their actions.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

 

Focus Booster App

Posted on the August 4th, 2009 under Adobe AIR,Reflections/Thoughts,Software and Technology by

For the past couple of days, I’ve been experimenting with a tool called Focus Booster. It’s a simple app with an easy method to help you measure and increase your focus and concentration:

 

  1. Firstly, choose the amount of time you would like to complete a particular task. By default it is set to 25 minutes.
  2. Prepare to do the task, clear your PC desktop of any distractions, and start the timer.
  3. Continue working until you’ve completed the task or the timer runs out.
  4. Take a break
  5. Restart the process with your next task

Tiny app, simple process, but it works for me, and these are the benefits I believe are derived:

  • Forces you to plan and think about a single task you would like to perform
  • A quick glance at the timer helps you focus, there is something watching you!
  • Helps you to persevere, (just another 8 more minutes to go, etc.)
  • Provides some type of measurement of how long you can focus, and challenges you to better it. The next version will allow you to record your focus sessions.

Focus Booster is a free application and requires Adobe AIR to run. Download it at: http://www.focusboosterapp.com/ . Follow updates on twitter @focusboosterapp