Originally posted on Yasmin Elahi:

3-10-2015…….I posted this blog two years back, hence readres may note a difference in the days mentioned. I still feel the lessons of Eid ul Azha should be re learnt, not only by children but also by grown ups like me!

My house is strangely quiet for the last two or three days! In fact, the street I live on has also lost its extra ordinary hustle and bustle. The happy kids, enjoying the glorious days before Eid ul Azha, are no more to be seen as they are back to their school and home work regimes.

The city was bustling with activity till last Tuesday! Cows and goats were the most sought out living beings treading the earth in our part of the world. Discussions revolved around them, prices and sizes being the most important issues! Mothers had thrown caution to the wind as children came and went out…

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بھلا وہ کون ہے کہ جب کوئی بے قرار اسے پکارتا ہے تو وہ اس کی دعا قبول کرتا ہے اور تکلیف دور کردیتاہے؟…..

Who listens to the distressed soul when it calls on Him and Who relieves it’s sufferings

Sural Al Namal..part of ayat no. 6

THE TRUE SPIRIT! (My article in Young World on 25th September)

Eidul Azha is just round the corner. As I step into my terrace with my evening cup of tea, I hear happy shouts of children. I peep out of my front door and see a few children of the neighbourhood having the time of their lives, as they race their goats in the lane. A group of those who haven`t yet attained this honour are participating in the celebration by running along, clapping, shouting and urging the goats to run faster.

Some have even managed to sneak twigs from their gardens and are offering it to the goats in the hope that the proud owner will allow him to race the goat for a while.

The most frequently asked questions among the children these days are, `Have you been to the mandi yet?` `When will your dad get the sacrificial animals` and the most troublesome of all `Howmuch did you (or your father) pay for this goat (or cow)? Eidul Azha is steadily becoming a competition, a rat race to acquire the largest or most expensive animal in the neighbourhood, whether it is a goat, a sheep or a cow. Those of us who have paid a hefty sum for their animals display them around proudly, grabbing every opportunity to mention the price. The people who are regular in performing the yearly sacrifice but cannot afford very expensive animals, feel a bit let down. Although they are sure to join the daily ritual of walking and racing of their goats, the feeling of embarrassment is written loud and clear on their innocent faces.

Is this display and competition the real spirit of this festival? Let us remind ourselves about the true spirit of Eidul Azha. This great Muslim Festival, which is second only to Eidul Fitr, teaches us great lessons every year. It is not about boasting how much we can spend or showing off how rich we are. On the contrary, it teaches the lessons of obedience, sacrifice, compassions and how we should share our blessings with those who are not as privileged as we are!

Apart from the religious aspects of the lessons we learn and relearn every year (total submission to the Will of the Almighty), Eidul Azha revives in us social and moral values. The lesson we learn from this festival of sacrifice is universal and applicable to all mankind. It reminds us of our blessings and kindles feelings of compassion in our heart for the poor around us.

Last year, just to check if the meat seller in my locality was charging me the correct rates of beef and mutton, I asked my maid at what rate she was buying these commodities. She looked at me with a rueful smile, “How do I know baji? It is difficult to manage daal roti (lentil and bread) for my big family, I can’t afford to buy meat. We have beef and mutton only at Baqr eid when people like you give us some, or sometimes when a baji like you gives away her leftovers.”

My maid’s reply taught me a disturbing lesson. We have more than one dish at our table each day and one of them is sure to be of meat, whether it is mutton, chicken or beef. But if I look around with a compassionate heart, I feel that I have more of everything than what I really need. And I always took this blessing for granted.

Dear friends, this year when your parents are distributing the meat from the sacrificed animals, urge them to give away bigger packets to the needy. Instead of stuffing our fridges and freezers with the meat, let us think about those who have not been able to afford sacrificing an animal and will so happily and thankfully like to receive some meat from others. These people cannot afford to buy meat otherwise the rest of the year too. Let them have a hearty feast with their families and enjoy the meat for a few days. If possible, make some extra place in your freezers so that you can store small packets for your household helpers, which they can take away after a few days.

Festivals are happy occasions meant to bring people together. They revive in us the spirit of sharing and on Eidul Azha we are taught to do this by sharing the meat from the sacrificial animals so that there is a feast in every home, regardless of status. And you can share your extra clothes, books, toys and other items of daily use which are more than your requirements. Spread happiness among the less fortunate by sharing your blessings with them because, in the end, the spirit of sacrifice, compassion and love for humanity counts, not the size, health or price of the goat, sheep or cow we sacrifice on Eidul Azha!

Two of the main lessons we learn from this occasion are obedience and sacrifice.

Obedience: Most of my young friends know that the sacrifice of animals Muslims make from the 10th to 12th of ZilHaj every year is to commemorate the great sacrifice of the Prophet Ibrahim A.S. He dreamt that he was sacrificing his only son Ismail as Allah had ordained him to do so.

Both father and son had no second thoughts in complying with this Divine Order, but Allah in His infinite Mercy, replaced the little boy with a ram. The lesson we learn from this great sacrifice is universal and applicable to all mankind. We should obey the Almighty without arguing or complaining. Our parents and our teachers are our greatest well-wishers in this world. Often young minds cannot contemplate what they ask or expect from us, but obeying without complaining always brings good results for us.

Sacrifice: Children are the most valuable assets of every parent, who leave no stone unturned to keep them away from all harm. Prophet Ibrahim’s A.S readiness to sacrifice his son on Allah’s command teaches us an important lesson. When we observe Eidul Azha and sacrifice animals, we part with a good amount of our money, but we make this sacrifice to help the people who are not as privileged as we are.


I hvA close friend’s mother, who was bedridden for the last two or three years due to a stroke, (and was suffering from multiple health problems) was rushed to the hospital after she had a silent heart attack. When I and a mutual friend went to the hospital to enquire about her welfare, a peep into the ICU was suggestive enough for her fate. Tubes seemed to protrude from different parts of Auntie’s frail body and an oxygen mask nearly covered her pale face. A very active woman in her prime years, she was a fighter by nature, but it was too clear that she was losing her battle for life. To my surprise, I found my friend confident and calm, “Ammi’s doctor says that she will be shifted to a private room in a day or two and go home once she starts taking and retaining oral meals”. Either she didn’t want to share her fears with us or was in a state of denial as the writing was clearly on the wall!

          When I called a couple of days later, for the first time I sensed a note of panic in my friend’s voice, “I am feeling scared!” she said in a worried tone. “The doctor just says let’s wait and see in answer to my queries. Ammi has not been shifted from the ICU yet and seems to be slipping into a coma”. As she kept on sharing her fears and concern for her mother with me, unconsciously my mind slipped into the past and I remembered with pain similar times when the tide of my father’s life was ebbing! I was nearly tempted to say, “I know what you must be feeling! I have been through this situation”, but somehow I bit my tongue before the words slipped out and instead tried my best to console my friend.

          After hanging up I sat in deep thought trying to admonish myself, “This is the moment my friend needs me to share her concern and fears with, and not mine to go back down memories’ lane and tell her about my painful experience. Her grief is the present, what I have experienced is the past. Such remarks had pained and irritated me in my moments of grief and I shouldn’t make this blunder today when a dear friend is going through a similar situation”.

          Auntie passed away peacefully the next day and when my friend’s son called to inform, though I felt sad for her, a sense of relief also engulfed my heart. Thanks goodness that I had held back my words just in time. By lending a sympathetic ear, I had done the best a friend can do in a hopeless situation!

          Often when someone close to us wants to share his woes with us, expecting sympathy or a word of advice, we make the blunder of cutting him short and declaring, “I can understand what you are going through because I have been through this!” or worse still “Someone I know or a friend knows has had a similar experience”. We forget that the person in distress is in dire need of a listening ear, and badly wants to pour out his problems with someone he thinks will be helpful and kind. Or better still, in a totally no-win situation, offer a shoulder to cry on. Hardly can we imagine the feelings of the distressed person, who is cut short with a confident, “I know what you must be feeling. I have been through this!”

More than a decade has passed but the painful memories of the last days of my father’s life is still fresh in my mind. A patient of acute Ulcerative Colitis, he was not keeping good health for the past many years. And finally, he was rushed to the hospital after extensive rectal bleeding. Although Daddy’s doctor tried blood transfusions and the required medications, nothing seemed to work for him and within a week, he slipped into a near comatose state. The doctor was sympathetic but practical, “Take your father home and make him as comfortable as possible, because medically nothing more can be done for him.”

 I can never forget the sense of deep agony and total helplessness of those days. With hearts heavy as lead, I and my siblings watched the tide of life ebbing from our father, day by day, hour by hour!

Relatives, friends and acquaintances came pouring in to enquire about Daddy’s welfare. But it became very frustrating and annoying because most of them had a story to tell. “So and so had similar symptoms in his/her last days!” “I can feel your pain as I have experienced this traumatic situation. My father/mother/spouse/ child/friend died in such and such manner.”

With a heart nearly bursting with pain, I often felt like blurting out rudely, “No! You can NOT understand what I am going through! This dying man is my beloved Daddy, the iron-man of my life who loved me dearly but ruled over me like a tyrant, who made endless efforts, either by bullying or coaxing, to bring out the best in me. How can you understand my agony? This grief is mine and totally different from what you (or someone you know) have experienced in the past! And at the moment, my pain is too deep for me to care about how so and so died! ”

But every time I felt like saying something as blunt, an inner voice told me to keep quiet. These are all well-wishers, only their mode of sympathy may not suit my state of mind! I tried to convince myself again and again.

The pains of those insensitive remarks linger to the day. The painful experience of Daddy’s last days has taught me an important lesson. There is a time to listen and a time to speak. Only by lending a compassionate ear and a shoulder to cry on, we can help a dear one to cope with his pain. I cannot and do not undermine the importance of kind and consoling words, but only when they are uttered at the correct moment! Often while sharing their woes, our friends just need a hand to hold, a sympathetic ear to listen and a caring heart to understand.

A TIME FOR REFLECTION (My Article on Ramadan in Young World, Dawn 20th June)



      Friends we have been blessed again with a very important month of the Islamic year. Ramadan is the month when Allah gives us a new chance to become not only better Muslims, but also better human beings. This is a month which inculcates in us the good qualities of obedience, compassion, discipline and piety.

        We all are aware about the physical requirements of fasting. In the wee hour of the night, although sleepy, we get up for the Sehr meal.  But as soon as we hear the Muazzin call for the Fajr prayers, we immediately stop eating and drinking, even if at times we have to leave our meal unfinished. In the evening, we wait patiently for the Maghrib Azaan (although the Iftaar table is full of our favourite dishes) and start eating only when it is time to break the fast.

          We do all this is to comply with the requirements of a fast, because we all know that we have to abstain from eating and drinking from dawn to dusk. In this way, fasting teaches us the importance of discipline and punctuality in life.

          But friends, have you ever pondered on the spiritual requirements of Ramadan and what is the true message of a fast? If we ponder upon the good qualities we can learn in this month and try to adopt them, we will avail of the full advantage of fasting. This will not only help us to lead and a better and content life, but also make the people around us happier.

Be Compassionate:

         Compassion is one of the most important lessons of Ramzan. Only when we go without food and drink for long hours, we can imagine the sufferings of the poor who often have to sleep on an empty stomach. Our abstinence is a choice, but they have no other option as their meager income is not enough for three square meals every day. When you sit in the coolness of your fans, try to imagine the hardships of laborers, fruit/ vegetable vendors and other daily wage earners. In spite of the scorching heat, even though they are fasting, they have to work hard just to make the ends meet.

Share your blessings:

       We are seldom aware of our blessings unless we witness a lack of them. During Ramadan, when we ponder on the lives of the people less blessed than us, we will learn to share our blessings. Your extra things can be very valuable for a poor child. Rummage your wardrobes for the clothes you seldom wear, the books and magazines you have already read, the extra toys you can do without! Donate all these plus a part of your pocket money in charity. The sense of serenity you will get from this act is too great for words.

Let go of all negative feelings and traits:

         Holding grudges or nurturing hard feelings only draws us towards negativity. This Ramadan, lets resolve to purge our souls of all ill feelings. If you have had a quarrel with a friend or sibling, try to sort out differences by giving a second thought to their point of view. Maybe you both perceive an issue from different angles. Discuss with them with an open heart whatever is troubling you. You can agree to disagree but still remain on good terms.

          Often children are envious or straight away jealous of their peers who are more intelligent in their class or more popular among their teachers and elders. Instead of harboring these negative feelings, try to find out the reasons behind their success. May be they are better in studies because they are more responsible students and do not waste their time in unnecessary activities. Some of them may be more popular because of their cheerful or helpful nature. Let go of negative thoughts and ponder on your own shortcomings.

        Resolve that you will never back-bite, lie or cheat. You will find yourself a much improved person by the end of the month.

Be kind to the young and polite to the elders:

         Humility, kindness and politeness are the important teachings of Islam. Remind yourself in this month how far we all have moved away from these valuable teachings. You must realize that your younger siblings and other children in your circle need your care and attention. Treating them with love will go a far way in inculcating positive traits in their personalities. It will also strengthen your bond with them.

            Resolve that you will always talk politely with elders. Being considerate and helpful towards them will not only make them happy, it will also give you a sense of satisfaction. Those of you who live in extended families should try to pay extra attention towards your aged grandparents and help them when they need your assistance. Running an errand for them, helping them use their cell phone or reading out a book or newspaper to them may take a few minutes of your time, but it will definitely make them happy.

Learn to control your temper

        A fast should be considered an exercise in self-restraint and patience! We all tend to fly into a rage more easily when we are fasting, as the hunger and thirst make us irritable. A very important lesson of a fast is to learn to be in charge of your feelings. Even if you are angry at something or someone, remind yourself that you are fasting. This may seem difficult in the beginning, but as the month will draw to its close, you will have improved your temperament to a great extent.

Do random deeds of kindness:

      Vow to be helpful during Ramadan to lighten the work load of people around you. It may be helping out the maid in her daily chores, making your bed and clearing up the clutter in your room, laying and clearing the Iftaar and Sehr table to make Mummy’s work easier or babysitting your infant sibling so that your fasting mother can have a short nap in the afternoon, offering a helping hand will make you a better and more compassionate person.

        Offering a plate of Iftaar goodies, dates or even cold water to the guard in your lane, people gathering in the mosque for food or even a stranger passing by your home are deeds of kindness which will give you immense satisfaction.

Be moderate in spending:

     The most enjoyable part of Ramadan for most children is shopping for Eid ul Fitr, the Muslim festival at the end of the fating month. You definitely deserve new clothes, shoes and toys after you have fasted for the whole month. But please do not get carried away in your expenditures. Spending in moderation will help you develop a lifelong habit which will also facilitate you when you start your practical life.  

Be regular in Namaaz and Ponder on the Quran during Ramadan:

        This is a month when we all feel naturally inclined towards prayers, good deeds and meditation. Offer your Namaaz on time and invite your siblings to do so. Often people get into a regular habit of praying five times daily during Ramadan. Set out time each day for reciting the Quran with translation and ponder on the verses you have read. You can also discuss what you have read with your parents/grandparents so that they can explain the meanings in a better way. In this way you will have an improved knowledge of the message of the Quran.

     We often witness Cleanliness Drives in schools, offices, hospitals and on a larger scale in cities. This month why not resolve to purge our souls of all impurities? We must realize that cleaning our souls is as important as physical cleanliness. We just have to ponder on our lives, our attitudes and our concepts and resolve to improve ourselves in all walks of life! This Ramzan lets resolve to make our World a better place to live in!

UNESCO Heritage Sites in Pakistan

FRIENDS, I am sure most of you know that Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is an important agency of the United Nations. The main objectives of Unesco are to work for peace and security in the world, by promoting international cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture. It also strives to promote the rule of law, respect for justice and basic human rights.

Unesco also has the important mission of maintaining a list of sites which are of outstanding cultural, geographical or historical importance. The organisation chooses such sites worldwide and declares them Cultural Heritage Sites. It then ensures that these sites are well-preserved for the future generations.

Today we shall discuss the Unesco Cultural Heritage Sites in Pakistan. There are six such sites in Pakistan and at present, 18 more sites are under consideration by the Unesco.

The year the site was declared a Unesco Heritage Site has been written in brackets.

Mohenjo-Daro (1980)

MOHENJO-DARO, which dates as far back as the 26th to the 19th century BC, is located on the right bank of the Indus River in Larkana, Sindh. The ruins of this largest and earliest urbanised city of South Asia were first discovered in 1922 by Sir John Marshall. Major excavations were carried on in 1930, revealing a well-planned and maintained city with broad streets, an intricate drainage system, well-built brick houses, a community bath and a huge granary.

Further excavations were stopped in 1965 due to fears of disintegration and work for the conservation of this historical site is going on since then. Artefacts made from gold, ivory and lapis, etc., suggest that the dwellers of this city were rich people who benefited from the highly fertile plains of the River Indus and trade with the nearby Mesopotamia. The Dancing Girl and the King Priest are among the famous statues found in Mohenjo-Daro.

Taxila (1980)

SITUATED in Rawalpindi district, 30km northwest of Islamabad, Taxila, which means ‘City of Cut Stone’, is an important archaeological site. It dates back to Fifth Century BC and has nearly 50 sites spread over an area of 30 kilometres.

Taxila was an important Hindu and Buddhist centre and is considered to be of religious importance by followers of both religions. Here we come across the relics of Buddha, Alexander the Great and famous emperors Asoka and Kanishka.

Taxila reached its peak of development under Asoka and saw the most creative period under the Gandhara rule. For nearly two centuries it was a seat of great learning, with a university having more than 10,500 students. Science, medicine, astronomy, philosophy and mathematics were some of the important subjects taught there.

The ruins of Taxila are well-preserved and we can find the remains of the university, streets, houses, stupas and palaces, etc. During the excavations, gems, gold and silver coins, Gandhara scriptures and images of Buddha were discovered which can be seen in the Taxila Museum. The blend of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islamic cultures makes Taxila a rare and unique archaeological site.

Takht-i-Bahi (1980)

AN important historical site 16km from Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Takht-i-Bahi (Throne of Origins), is situated on a 152m high hill. It is the remains of a complete Buddhist monastery with four distinct parts. The history of Takht-i-Bahi and the neighbouring small fortified city of Sahr-i-Bahlol ranges from the First to the Seventh Century AD.

Takht-i-Bahi was originally a Zoroastrian complex but with the advent of Buddhism, was converted into a Buddhist monastic complex. Due to its high location, Takht-i-Bahi remained safe from different invasions and is exceptionally well-preserved to this day. It is regarded by archaeologists as the most imposing relic of the Buddhism in the Gandhara region of Pakistan. Many fine sculptures have been dug up from this historical site.

The Fort and Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, 1981

THE Fort and Shalimar Gardens in Lahore are outstanding architectural monuments of the Mughal era which are famous for their royal grandeur. In the mid 16th century, Lahore became a centre of culture and art. Emperor Akbar built the grand fort in the walled city and the Deewan-e-Aam, built in red stones belongs to this era.

His successors kept on making additions to the Fort and Shah Jahan’s Naulakha and Sheesh Mehal and Jahangir’s pictured wall are great tourist attractions to this day. Though the fort was destroyed and rebuilt several times by various rulers, we can still see beautiful marble palaces and mosques decorated with mosaics and gilt.

The Shalimar Gardens, built by Shah Jahan in 1642, are spread over 16 hectares. These sprawling gardens are influenced by Persian and Islamic traditions and are divided in three descending terraces. They have multiple fountains in water channels. The mosaic, marble nets, waterfalls, large ornamental ponds, flowering plants and trees are a beauty to the beholder’s eyes.

Makli (1981)

MAKLI, the necropolis in Thatta, Sindh, is among the largest Muslim cemetery in the world. Its history dates back from the 14th to the 18th centuries. The tombs belong to four dynasties of Sindhi rulers, as well as Sufi saints and scholars.

The monuments and mausoleums in Makli are built from high quality honey-coloured lime-stone, intricately carved bricks and glazed tiles.

Some tombs of famous saints and the one of Jam Nizamudin II, are well-preserved. Makli represents the civilisation of Sindh in that era and can also be called a blend of Hindu, Mughal and Islamic cultures.

Rohtas Fort (1997)

ROHTAS Fort is a garrison fort built by Sher Shah Suri after he defeated Mughal emperor Humayun in 1541. Situated on a strategic location on a small hill near River Kahan, it is a classic blend of early Muslim military architecture and artistic traditions of Turkey and the Indian Subcontinent.

Located about 16km from Jhelum city in Punjab, Rohtas Fort has massive walls and bastions which run for over four kilometres. The fort has 10 gates which enclose the citadel and army quarters. Haveli Maan Singh added later on by Emperor Akbar has Hindu architectural influence.

Friends, the above-mentioned places are not only Unesco Heritage Sites, but also precious national assets of Pakistan! While visiting them, we should take great care to preserve them so that they retain their original structure.

BORN TO SUCCEED (My article in Young World..11th May, 2015)


          All of us want to do something extraordinary in life. We wish to achieve something amazing and want our efforts to be acclaimed by the world. We work hard and put in all our abilities, both physical and mental; to attain the goals we have set for ourselves in life; to prove our mettle to the world. But there are people not as lucky as us! They also have their dreams, goals and aspirations, but severe physical or mental handicaps make the task of pursuing this task more daunting.

Friends, I would like to share with you details about some gifted people, disabled but never dispirited! These are people who won world-wide acclaim in spite of being severely handicapped. With the help of their sheer determination, indomitable spirit and hard work, they have risen to world-wide fame. By refusing to surrender to their limitations, these people contributed positively to the world, making it a better place to live in and proving that they were born to succeed!

Thomas Edison (1847-1931)

Few of us know that the famous inventor Thomas Edison had a learning disability in his early life and was not able to read till he was twelve! Due to a bout of scarlet fever and recurring ear infections, he developed hearing problems at a young age. This problem further aggravated with time, leaving him nearly deaf. But his disability did not stop Edison from hard work and his iron will earned him world wide acclaim.

Edison has more than 1,000 patents to his credit. When we talk about the electric bulb, his name comes to our mind instantly. The telegraph system and the phonograph are two of his famous inventions which changed the world of communication. He also made significant contribution in improving the X-Ray technology, storage batteries and motion pictures. Girls will be interested to learn that he invented the world’s first talking doll.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Renowned Mathematician/Physicist, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921, had a learning disability and did not speak until age 3. He had a very difficult time doing Maths in school and had a weak memory. It was also very hard for him to express himself through writing. It is said that he did most of his experiment in his head, instead of a proper laboratory.

Einstein made many contributions to the field of theoretical physics and completely changed the way we understand the behavior of things as basic as light, gravity, and time.

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

FDR, as he is fondly called by the Americans, is one of the most inspiring famous people of the world who had a major physical disability.  Roosevelt was the president of USA who helped and guided the nation successfully during the World War II. Unfortunately, earlier in his political career, he contracted polio after drinking contaminated water at a campground. He was paralyzed from the waist downwards, but for several years, his illness was kept secret from the nation.  During his entire tenure, he used a wheel chair and worked only from his office. But his disability did not affect his services to the USA, which he served in a memorable way!

Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Helen Keller, an American author, political activist and lecturer is a household name worldwide. Losing her abilities to speak, see and hear after an illness when she was only 18months old, she overcame the adversities of her life to become one of the 20th century’s leading humanitarians. Due credit must be given to her teacher Annie Sullivan, whose untiring efforts groomed her abilities to communicate in the sign language.

The first deaf/ blind/ mute person to get a Bachelors degree in Arts, Keller is famous for her campaigns for workers’ rights, for women’s right to vote in elections and many other progressive causes. She was outspoken in her views against wars. With Annie Sullivan, Helen Keller travelled to more than 39 countries and was especially popular among the Japanese

Keller’s disability in no way affected her social interactions. She met every US president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon. B. Johnson and was friends to famous personalities like Alexander Graham Bell, Charlie Chaplin and Mark Twain. She received many awards during her lifetime to acknowledge her great accomplishments.

Two famous Helen Keller quotes are,

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

2… “The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart.

Christopher Reeve (1952-2004)

The man who is better known by children as the ‘Superman’, Christopher Reeve attained fame due to his acting achievements. He was an American actor, film director, author and activist. In 1995, he was thrown off his horse while participating in a horse riding competition and was severely disabled. He needed a wheel chair and was on a portable ventilator to breathe for the rest of his life.

His disability made him a great lobbyist for people with spinal cord injuries and the stem cell research.


Ralph Brown (1940-2013)

Ralph Braun was diagnosed with Muscular Atrophy when he was only 7 years old, and in the next few years lost his ability to walk. Doctors were dubious about his spending an independent life, but he and his parents were determined to prove them wrong. From engineering the first battery powered scooter, he went on to design and manufacture wheelchair accessible vehicles. His efforts have changed the lives of disabled people worldwide.

In his autobiography “Rise Above”, Braun describes the challenges he faced as a young and disabled man and the poor regard society generally has for such people. He throws light on how his physical handicap strengthened his determination to be independent; to prove to the world that disabled people can also lead an active and productive life! He created the Braun Corporation which is the leading manufacturer of wheel chairs and accessible vehicles.

For his untiring efforts to make the lives of physically handicapped people better, Braun was named “Champion of Change” by President Barrack Obama.i

Stephen Hawking (born 1942)

A British physicist with a world renowned career spanning over 40 years, Stephen Hawking is regarded one of the greatest scientist of the 20th century second only to Einstein.  He was diagnosed with a rare motor neuron disease (ALS), when he was only 21 and a student at the Cambridge University. Over the decades, this slow wasting disease gradually left him paralyzed as he lost control over his arms, legs and voice. Undaunted by his disability, he kept on his research work.  He is still teaching with the help of a computer which is supported by a word compiling machine. He communicates using a single cheek muscle which is attached to the device.

Hawkins is the author of “A short History of the Universe” and “A brief History of Time.” His Big Bang and Black Hole theories have drawn the attention of the world. He is an academic celebrity and among many others is the recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the USA. His famous words worth quoting are, “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.


 Saima Saleem, the first blind diplomat of Pakistan is often called the Hellen Keller of our country. Due to a genetic disease she lost her eyesight when she was in her teens. But undaunted by this major disability, she struggled to overcome all odds in her path. A gold medalist of the Kinnaird College University for women, she fought for her rights to appear for all her exams in Braille, as she refused to trust a writer’s ability. Saima’s indomitable will and determination enabled her to join Foreign Service, previously out of bounds for the blind. Never looking back, she struggled and succeeded in having a computer based exam in which she stood 6th among all the participants and first among the women.

Topping all training and exams, she went on to getting another gold medal from the Foreign Service Academy and a scholarship to a prestigious School of Foreign Service in USA. After joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Saima has been working passionately to improve human rights in Pakistan. She is currently serving as Pakistan’s Permenant Mission to UNO in Geneva and is working on human rights’ issues in which she is considered an expert.

Friends these are facts about only a few disabled people who rose to famous due to their firm resolve and determination to not allow their handicap to interfere with leading a successful life.  The list of such people is quite long. But there are millions of other ones who are not famous, but are still heroes. Heroes, because they live with, fight and overcome their disabilities every single day of their lives.



Sustenance from Allah


کہہ دو کہ : میرا پروردگار اپنے بندوں میں سے جس کے لئے چاہتا ہے رزق کی فراوانی کر دیتا ہے، اور جس کے

لئے چاہتا ہے تنگی کر دیتا ہے۔ اور تم جو چیز بھی خرچ کرتے ہو، وہ اس کی جگہ اور چیز دے دیتا ہے، اور وہی

سب سے بہتر رزق دینے والا ہے۔

سورہ سبا ۔۔۔۔ آیت39



Say: Verily my Lord enlarges and restricts the Sustenance to such of His servants

as He pleases:and nothing do you spend in the least in His cause but He replaces it:

for He is the Best of those who grant Sustenance.

Surah Saba Ayat 39

My mother is around no more!


One of the most precious memories from my early childhood is something which often brings a mist to my eyes and a sad smile on my face! But in those days my feelings were totally different; I felt a bit astonished and looked up at my father with a wee bit of amusement! Whenever he was sad, distressed, ill or stuck in any such difficult situation, he would declare with tears in his eyes, “With whom should I share my woes? Alas, my mother is around no more!”

          And I distinctly remember that my instant response to this statement was surprise! What need has a grown-up man like Daddy for a mother? I wondered silently! Moms are for kids like me, to look after us, tend to our needs, comfort us when we are sick, console us when we are frightened! Though I must admit I wasn’t old enough to think about all this as clearly as I am writing today, but thoughts like these fluttered across my little head as I disdainfully ignored Daddy’s misery and turned back to whatever I was doing!

          In all fairness to him, I must mention here that my father was not a weak man! With a strong will power, (and temper too) and a cheerful personality, he was a highly intelligent and wise man. Perhaps the master-mind of a huge family, his advice was sought and followed by even those older than him. And he also had a very strong relationship with my mother. They had a bond of deep love and understanding and always shared/ discussed their problems with each other.

          But tears always came easily to Daddy, something not considered proper for men in our part of the world. I realized later on in life, those tears were a sign of a sensitive heart rather than a weak personality!

          Sadly, it took me nearly a life time (or a good part of it) to understand why my Father always yearned for my Grandmother in his moments of distress! 

          After I was married, I had to move away from my family and settle in a new city, with an entirely new family. I was young and inexperienced and life did not turn out to be the fairy tale I had dreamt it to be! Problems which are usually a part of the early stage of a married life confused me.  Not knowing what to do in which situation and no one to turn to in an alien city, there used to be times when I simply wanted to run into the comforting and safe haven of Ammi’s arms. I yearned for her advice, her love and for the sense of security which we all feel when our mothers are around!

          It was in those days that I began to understand my father’s feelings and realize what he meant when he missed his mother in hard moments. No matter how old we get, we always want our mothers to be at our sides. Both in difficult times and in happy moments, I felt that life is not complete Ammi’s presence and loving support. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of my father’s deep love for his mother. My grandmother had died young, in fact before my parents got married, but even decades after her death, Daddy never ceased missing her.

          As life moved on, I settled down in the new environment and got busy with my children and family life. Meetings with my parents were often possible after years. I still missed Ammi, but finally I got used to not having her around whenever I needed her. Whenever stuck in adversities, I tried my best to hide my yearning for her presence.

          Unfortunately, married life was not smooth sailing for me. After fighting tooth and nail to overcome the problems which multiplied over the decades, I finally realized that the writing was on the wall. In those painful days, I found myself too tired to struggle anymore. And then the inevitable happened and my marriage ended in a divorce!

          I fail to describe the anguish and the deep sense of insecurity of those days. Nightmares! Fears lurking in the dark! Dazed with pain but too proud to show my grief, I shed silent tears when no one was around. I silently mourned the death of love and the security which I had once thought was an inevitable part of married life! Thinking that times couldn’t be any worse for me, I had the solace that soon Ammi will come over and I shall find peace after crying my heart out in her arms.

          Little did I know that the worst was still to come! Although the back count for Ammi’s arrival had begun, but she (or fate) had other plans! Going to bed one night, she passed away peacefully in her sleep!

          The tragic news of her sudden demise hit me like a bomb shell! As if hit under the belt, I felt stunned with pain, the tears just refusing to come! Totally shattered, I just sat in a state of disbelieve, staring blankly at people pouring in for condolences. “How could she do this to me?” I asked myself in anguish and somewhat anger. “Didn’t she know how badly I needed her?”

          And then, for the first time in my life, I fully realized what Daddy meant, and also my foolishness in not understanding his feelings! Mothers are needed for a life time! They do not only care for their kids when they are young, the solace of their presence is needed at all ages. They do not only bandage bruised knees, they soothe bruised souls too! Their arms not only shelter their young ones against the fear of darkness, they allay the fear of the unknown in grown up children too!

          And in those moments of excruciating pain, as I sat in a stony silence, I heard a voice muffled in tears declaring, “With whom should I share my woes? My mother is around no more!”