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

TIME TO IMPROVE OURSELVES!

       ramadan-greeting-cards1

      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

http://www.dawn.com/news/1184759/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)

http://epaper.dawn.com/DetailNews.php?StoryText=11_04_2015_371_003

BORN TO SUCCEED!

          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

 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

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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

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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!

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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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

IN SEARCH OF QUAID’S PAKISTAN

In search of Quaid’s Pakistan!

Published Dec 27, 2014 06:22am

DECEMBER 25th is a day of national importance for Pakistanis, as it is the birth anniversary of the Father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. With his deep vision, indomitable will, intelligence, dedication and courage, Jinnah whom we Pakistanis call Quaid-i-Azam (the great leader), united the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent under the Muslim League. After a long struggle under his leadership, Pakistan came into being on the August 14, 1947.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah was admired equally by friends and foes. Stanley Wolpert, in his book, Jinnah of Pakistan compliments him in these words, “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

The dream

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IT was Jinnah’s dream that Pakistan would emerge as a sovereign democratic state, where the law would reign supreme, the politicians would work with honesty and dedication for the state, all citizens including women would play an important role in the development of the country, human rights would be protected and quick justice would be within reach of all, poverty and illiteracy would be eradicated in the minimum possible time and non-Muslims would be treated with respect and tolerance and dignity.

By firmly holding on to the principles of unity, faith and discipline, he wanted the nation to move forward and carve its place among the developed countries of the world.

The golden principles

JINNAH once said, “I have no doubt that with unity, faith and discipline we will compare with any nation of the world. You must make up your minds now. We must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness.”

A firm faith in Allah and religious values, faith in the power of hard work, truth and honesty and faith in each other, were the guidelines he gave the newly emerged nation.

Unity among all provinces, among the people belonging to the different sects of Islam and tolerance/respect for the non-Muslims, was his second golden principle. He also laid great stress on discipline which he said was essential for growth.

He repeatedly advocated that to move forward in the world as a developing nation, Pakistanis needed to practice discipline in all parts of life.

The reality

AS fate would have it, Quaid-i-Azam died only a year after Pakistan came into being. Sadly, the inefficiency of the successive politicians, deep rooted corruption at every level and a general lack of civic sense in the people, our country’s affairs are on a constant downslide since its early years. Today, after more than 67 years of independence, we find Pakistan has a poor image on the international level and even within the country we find people disillusioned and frustrated by the state of affairs.

The problems

SADLY, at present, the Pakistan that Jinnah had envisioned is nowhere to be found! We are facing a multitude of problems. Bad governance, poverty, inflation, terrorism, religious intolerance, sectarian issues, lawlessness, rising graph of illiteracy and poverty, shortage of power and gas are only a few of the troubles we are facing. Greed, lust for power, corruption, unemployment, putting personal gains over Pakistan’s interests and political/economical instability, are some of the factors which are worsening the problems we face.

Basically, Pakistan is an agricultural country, rich in natural resources like gas, coal and precious metals and has sites of great tourist attraction. But due to the mismanagement and corruption of successive governments, we cannot fain full benefits from these resources.

Current situation WE seem to have totally forgotten the principles Jinnah laid down for us! We have lost faith in Allah and the teachings of our religion. We do not have any faith in our leaders, nor do we trust each other. Attacks on minorities and desecration of their places of worship are something common in Pakistan.

There is no unity among us. Before realising that we all are Pakistanis, we proudly call ourselves Sindhis, Punjabis, Balochis, Pakhtoon or Muhajirs. We are a sunni, a shia, a deobandi or a barelvi, before we realise that we are Muslims who worship one Allah and follow one Quran. Killings due to the difference in religious beliefs are everyday news.

As a nation also, we see a total lack of discipline in our country. Whether you are at the airport, a railway station or a bus stop, you will see people pushing, shoving and shouting at each other. The corrupt politicians squander away precious tax-payers’ money on their extravagant life styles. Instead of merit, jobs are given out to undeserving persons while the talented and educated youth search in vain for reasonable jobs. Rules are bent and twisted to suit individual whims. We take pride in breaking rules and taking the law in our hands. Criminals go unpunished if they have the right connections.

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The solution

THE problems faced by Pakistan are so compound that it is not easy to find a way out! On this important day, instead of just paying verbal tribute to our great leader, let us join hands and heads and vow to find ways to change the disturbing situation. We all must vow to be truly patriotic to our country, to serve it by all means and work endlessly and selflessly to bring it back to the road of progress.

One of the most important steps to guide Pakistan towards a better future is providing quality and affordable education to all school going children, irrespective of their economic or social status. Literacy is the light which will create awareness among us, promote a sense of patriotism and responsibility. With education comes the proper balance between one’s rights and one’s duties, which in turn lead a nation towards honour, dignity and sovereignty as a state.

Quaid-i-Azam with his great vision, knew how important education is for the future of Pakistan. Addressing youth he once said,

“Without education it is complete darkness and with education it is light. Education is a matter of life and death to our nation.”

Quaid-i-Azam had great faith in the students of Pakistan. Addressing them on one occasion he said, “My young friends, I look forward to you as the real makers of Pakistan, do not be exploited and do not be misled. Create amongst yourselves complete unity and solidarity. Set an example of what youth can do. Your main occupation should be in fairness to yourself, to your parents, in fairness to the State, to devote your attention to your studies. If you fritter away your energies now, you will always regret.”

Friends, without hard work by each and every Pakistani and determination to change the state of affairs, Jinnah’s dream cannot be transformed into a reality. By holding on firmly to Quaid-i-Azam’s words, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve” and ““Failure is a word unknown to me”, we can still find the road to prosperity and with our heads held high, march towards Jinnah’s Pakistan.

WATER FOR LIFE

Water for life

Published about 16 hours ago

Steps for conservation of water are no more an option but vital for survival

Daddy was sombre as he was going through the newspaper at the breakfast table. Looking up at his children, 14-years-old Hammad, 10-years-old Asif and seven-years-old Humna, he asked, “Children do you have any idea how lucky you are? I am sure you are not even aware of your blessings.”

A bit surprised by this remark Hammad asked, “Why do you say so daddy?”

“Look at this,” he said as he turned the newspaper towards the kids.

“Who is this woman and why is she filling the dirty water in her bucket?” Asif couldn’t help asking.

With a rueful smile, daddy replied, “Children this is a woman from Tharparkar and she is filling water for her household use. I am sure you know that Thar is a big desert in Pakistan.”

“Ughh! It’s dirty water! And the camel is also drinking from the same pond! Daddy, why doesn’t this woman use water from the taps in her house?” Humna asked innocently.

“This is because she has no taps at home and has to walk a long distance in the hot sun to collect water, which she and her family will use for cooking, drinking and washing.”

Humna looked perplexed. Then her father drew her close and said, “Thar is a desert and people live there in huts made out of mud, straw or hay. So ‘facilities’ like taps or clean drinking water are not there. Not only this woman, in fact all the other people living there have no choice other than using unhygienic salty water. And they consider themselves lucky to have even that. Don’t you think you are lucky, as you have taps with ample running water through them and access to clean drinking water also!”

Daddy usually liked to discuss serious issues with the children in a light tone as he wanted to create awareness in them about everyday problems and how they could play a positive role in solving them.

The children listened with interest and empathy as daddy continued, “We are living in a crucial age when steps for conservation of water are no more an option but vital for survival. Water shortage is becoming a global problem due to increasing population, economic growth and climate changes.

“Today, clean drinking water is only around one per cent of the water reserves worldwide. It is a very precious commodity, but as we seldom face a scarcity of it in our lives, we cannot even imagine the sufferings of the millions of people who are facing an acute shortage of this vital resource. Do you know that 80 per cent of all illnesses and more than one-third deaths in developing countries are due to drinking unsafe water?”

“Daddy, as we have heavy rains in the monsoon and snowfall in the mountains in winter, I guess the situation is not so bad in Pakistan,” Hammad looked towards daddy as if seeking reassurance!

“I am sorry children, but the harsh truth is that the current water situation in Pakistan is far from satisfactory. Our water requirements are met basically by annual glacier melts and monsoon rains. With the change in the climate, an ever growing population, inefficient long-term planning and scarcity of reservoirs, much of this water is not used to yield maximum benefits.

“When there is excessive rain, this precious water either floods the plains and the villages, causing havoc, or is carried away unutilised to the sea. Most of the year, we have a drought-like situation when people do not have sufficient water for their basic needs. By international standards, Pakistan is considered a water-scarce country.”

“Do you think we can do anything to improve the situation?” Asif’s little face looked concerned.

“Ah, that was the point I was trying to bring to your attention! We all talk about change but we forget that in order to bring change and improve the situation in our country, we should also be part of the change. This rule stands for all problems we are facing today. I would like each one of you to give your suggestions on water conservation. Think about it and we will get back on this important topic after dinner.”

The children looked excited as they finished dinner. Little Humna, the youngest, wanted to speak first.

“I have been thinking all day, and have a few ideas. When I brush my teeth twice each day, I usually leave the tap running. But from now on, I will make it a point to turn off the tap after wetting my brush and turn it on only after I have brushed properly and have to rinse my mouth. Also, I will make my baths shorter. While I rub on the soap, I will not waste water by letting the shower run.”

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Daddy smiled, “Do you know my dear that we lose three gallons of water per minute if we keep the water running unnecessarily. We should also apply this rule to the numerous times we wash our hands daily. By taking these simple steps, a lot of water can be saved.”“What are your suggestions Hammad?” Daddy turned to the eldest.

“I usually wash the car and water the lawn. I have checked on internet that the evening is the best time for watering lawns as water is not lost to evaporation. From now on, when I wash the car, instead of the garden hose, I will use a couple of buckets of water and a mop, and I will water the garden after sunset. I have also resolved to use the shower only once a week and the rest of the days I will use a bucket of water for bathing. What right do I have to take leisurely showers when more than one billion people in the world do not even have access to safe drinking water!” he said in a sad tone.

Arif was the last to speak, “Daddy, I have thought of something very important. We often ignore leaking taps and faulty flushes which causes a lot of water to go waste. From now on, I will make it my duty to check every tap, shower and flush to ensure that not even a drop of precious water is wasted. Whenever there is rain, I shall put buckets and tubs outside to collect the rain water. We will later use it to wash the driveway or the muddy corridors.”

Mummy too joined the discussion and said in a guilty tone, “I have a confession to make. To make my work easier, I often let the hot water in the sink run while I scrub the dishes. To save time, I place frozen meat or poultry under the tap so that it thaws quickly. I also use the washing machine without a full load. From now on, I shall give up these practices as they waste a lot of water.”

“Great ideas!” Daddy said in a pleased tone. “Now I will tell you about some steps being taken for the conservation of water on the international level.

“The water we use in bathrooms, kitchen sinks, dishwashers and washing machines is called ‘grey water’, while the water we use in toilets is named “black water’. In many developed countries it is a common practice to collect grey water in storage tanks, treat it to remove impurities and solid wastes, and reuse in gardens and toilet flushes. But it is important to keep in mind that any such system for collecting and reusing this water should be properly installed and well-maintained. Also, remember that grey water should never be used for cooking, bathing and drinking as it can be dangerous for health.”

“Other methods used globally for conservation of water are collecting rain water in artificial lakes or in small dams. This water is later used for irrigation, power generation or channelled through canals to dry areas.”

Winding up the discussion, Daddy said, “Children, we could talk on this topic all night, but you have school tomorrow. But before you go to your rooms, I would like to tell you one more thing. The teachings of Islam also stress on the conservation of water. In a well-known Hadith related in Ibn-e-Majah, our beloved Prophet (PBUH) stressed on ‘using water economically even if a person is on the bank of a flowing stream’.”

Sentiments of a friend on 14th August 2014

‎کیسا جشن ِ آزادی؟ آج ہم مناتے ہیں کیسا جشن ِ آزادی اک طرف ہے ہنگامہ، اک طرف ہے بربادی سرخ ہے زمیں اپنی، خوں سے بے گناہوں کے کیسی ناروا چنُری ماں کو اپنی پہنا دی ہم سے دشمنی تھی یا باغباں کی کوتاہی جس پہ آشیانہ تھا  ، ہر وہ شاخ کٹوا دی ہات پر دھرے ہم ہات، کوستے ہیں قسمت کو بے عمل روش نے یوں مشکل اور بڑھوا دی اس قدر ہے مایوسی ایسی بے یقینی ہے گویا اپنے کاندھوں پر لاش اپنی اُٹھوا دی اب بھی وقت ہے یارو، اب بھی کچھ نہیں بگڑا پاک سرزمیں کو پھر کردیں شاد آبادی مل کے اُٹھ کھڑے ہوں ہم، اتحاد اپنا لیں نظم اور یقیں کو ہم کر لیں رہنما ہادی مل کے بار اُٹھوائیں قوم کی امانت کا روح ِ قائد ِ اعظم ہو کبھی نہ فریادی خواب ِ شاعر ِ مشرق پھر سے کردیں زندہ ہم اور پھر منائیں ہم مل کے جشن ِ آزادی ۔۔ احمد صفی 14 اگست 2014‎

کیسا جشن ِ آزادی؟

آج ہم مناتے ہیں کیسا جشن ِ آزادی
اک طرف ہے ہنگامہ، اک طرف ہے بربادی
سرخ ہے زمیں اپنی، خوں سے بے گناہوں کے
کیسی ناروا چنُری ماں کو اپنی پہنا دی
ہم سے دشمنی تھی یا باغباں کی کوتاہی
جس پہ آشیانہ تھا ، ہر وہ شاخ کٹوا دی
ہات پر دھرے ہم ہات، کوستے ہیں قسمت کو
بے عمل روش نے یوں مشکل اور بڑھوا دی
اس قدر ہے مایوسی ایسی بے یقینی ہے
گویا اپنے کاندھوں پر لاش اپنی اُٹھوا دی
اب بھی وقت ہے یارو، اب بھی کچھ نہیں بگڑا
پاک سرزمیں کو پھر کردیں شاد آبادی
مل کے اُٹھ کھڑے ہوں ہم، اتحاد اپنا لیں
نظم اور یقیں کو ہم کر لیں رہنما ہادی
مل کے بار اُٹھوائیں قوم کی امانت کا
روح ِ قائد ِ اعظم ہو کبھی نہ فریادی
خواب ِ شاعر ِ مشرق پھر سے کردیں زندہ ہم
اور پھر منائیں ہم مل کے جشن ِ آزادی

۔۔ احمد صفی
14 اگست 2014

Allah will make an exit for whoever fears His displeasure…

Yasmin Elahi:

This ayat is so consoling in troubled times!! Subhanallah!

Originally posted on Islamic Reflections:

If Allah pushes you to the edge of difficulty, be patient and trust in Him fully because one of two good things can happen; either He will catch you when you fall or He’ll teach you how to fly.

There is always a way out, as Allah said, “Allah will make an exit for whoever fears His displeasure, and provide for him from where he would least expect it.” (Qur’aan, 65:3)

Dr. Bilal Philips

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