Thursday, November 28, 2013

The story of Luqman the wise from Surah Luqman (Chapter 31 of 34 verses)

Photo taken in Lodhi Garden, Delhi - Shish Gumbad, a 14th Century Tomb

The history:

Luqman (c. 1100 BC) was believed to be from Africa and a traditional Arab sage. Among the Arabs, Luqman was well known as a spiritual associate and a possible grandnephew of the Old Testament Prophet Job. His story was quite similar to the fable teller and a wisemen of Greece called Aesop (c.620-564 BC).

Similarly to Aesop, Luqman was described as a perceptive man, always watching the animals and plants of his surroundings while trying to understand the world based on what he saw. One day, whilst sleeping under a tree, an angel came to him and said Allah wanted to bestow a gift upon him, a choice of either to be a king or a wise man. Luqman chose to be a wise man, and when he woke up from his nap, he was aware that his senses and understanding had sharpened. He felt in complete harmony with nature and could understand the inner meaning of things, beyond their physical reality. Immediately he bowed down, thanked and praised Allah for this wonderful gift. Later on, Luqman was captured by slavers and sold as a slave.

During his captivity, Luqman was denied of his freedom. He could neither move nor speak freely. This was the first trial he had to bear. He suffered his captivity patiently, for his heart was lit with faith and hope, and he was waiting for Allah's action.

The man who bought him was a good as well as an intelligent man. He treated Luqman with kindness. He noticed that Luqman was not an ordinary man and tried to test his intelligence. He ordered Luqman to slaughter a sheep and to bring its worst part to him. Luqman slaughtered the sheep and took its heart and tongue to his master. On receiving them his master smiled, fascinated by Luqman's choice of the 'worst'. He understood that Luqman was trying to convey some deep meaning, though he could not make out exactly what. From that point his owner began to take more interest in Luqman and showed more kindness to him.

A few days later, Luqman was again instructed to slaughter a sheep, but this time he was asked to take the best parts of the animal to the owner. Luqman slaughtered a sheep, and to his master's amazement, he again brought the same organs (the heart and the tongue). His master asked Luqman how the heart and the tongue could be both the worst and the best parts. The wise Luqman answered: The tongue and the heart are the sweetest parts if its owner is pure; and if he is wicked, they too are as wicked! Thereafter, Luqman's owner held him in great respect. Luqman was consulted by many people for advice, and the fame of his wisdom spread all over the country.

The Quran:

Surah Luqman reminds the believer that Allah ensures His Protection to those who remain steadfast in the salat (prayers) and give their wealth to those who are needy, granted that the intentions are pure (many times repeated in other Surah as a reminder to Muslim of their obligatory ritual). This Surah addresses the issue of the respect due to one's parents when it comes to the worship of Allah, read 31:14 "And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in effort upon effort did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal."

Important to note that Luqman the wisemen lives before the times of Christianity and Islam but the Holy Quran quotes Luqman’s advices to his beloved son in the following verses:

31:13, Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: "O my son! join not in worship (others) with Allah, for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing."

31:16, "O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them).

31:17, "O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs.

31:18, "And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster.

31:19, "And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass."

Source: Al-Quran and my favorite website, Wikipedia

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Office Function (Diwali 2013)

Diwali or Deepavali falls on 3rd November this year but the festival was celebrated in our office on 21st November 2013. Every year, we are celebrating 4 festivals in the office, Chinese New Year (for the Chinese staff), Eidhul Fitri (for the Muslim and Malay staff), Diwali (for the Indian and Hindu's staff) and Christmas. We have a real 1 Malaysia spirits among the top management to bottom down ranking staff. It keep us united that way, a sense of belonging.

Diwali, the festival of lights is a 5 day Hindu's celebration which starts on days of wealth (dhanteras). Dhanteras means 13th day as per Hindu calendar. Diwali is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna paksha (dark fortnight) in the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin. On Dhanteras, Goddess Lakshmi (the Goddes of Wealth) is worshiped to provide prosperity and well being. Dhanteras holds special significance for the business community due to the customary purchases of precious metals on this day. 

It was a colorful choice of purple and white that our staff club chose for the decoration that day. Some of the staff were very sporting to put on Indian clothes like Saree and Punjabi suits for the diwali spirits. Foods were catered from famous caterer which includes Lamb grill and Satay. 

As usual, the invited performers has given marvelous shows. My favorite among all are Bangra dance and Peacock dance. 

Our norm practice to share the auspicious day with the staff is by inviting children from the selected charity home where gifts and angpow (money) were distributed to them that day. The Board of Director, headed by our Chairman Tan Sri Halim seen smiling widely in below photo. 

In Malaysia, Deepavali is celebrated during the seventh month of the Hindu solar calendar. It is a federal public holiday throughout Malaysia. In many respects it resembles the traditions followed in the Indian subcontinent. 'Open houses' are held where Hindu Malaysians (of all ethnic groups like Tamils, Telugus and Malayalees) welcome fellow Malaysians of different races and religions to their house for a scrumptious meal. This is a practice unique to Malaysia and shows the goodwill and friendly ties practised by Malaysians during any festive occasion.

Monday, November 25, 2013

That's what friends are for (Ili's birthday)

On Friday, 22nd November 2013 last week, we were celebrating a colleague's belated birthday in the office. It was a surprise event for the birthday girl. The genius behind the arrangement is none other than our favorite girl, Iskmahani. She's been planning a week earlier but due to other commitments of the birthday girl, we had to postpone the event numerous time.

A sweet birthday girl, Ili Liyana Azman is cutting her vanilla sponge cake 
As it was supposedly to be a surprised to Ili, the girls (Nurul, Isk and Eila) given excused by volunteering to buy a packed lunch for everyone on Friday. The lunch was from KFC and the cake was from the nearby bakery. I captured each and every steps of the surprised moments.

Partner in crime, Nurul and Isk, waited in the room
We make sure we gathered inside and she'd be the last to enter. As soon as she entered, we were singing a birthday song. She was touched by the sights and our sincere thoughts.

She's the last to enter (holding a tab while walking)
Below photo was surely priceless. She shed her tears seeing what was on the table. Her best friend, Shakirra was next to her. What more would you ask for when sharing a beautiful day with your close friend, especially when it was for celebrating your birthday, though, a belated one?

Huge birthday card.. Brilliant choice
I snapped another 1 of her and her close group before I joined them in December 2012, in black shawl, Eila, cream shawl, Shakirra and in red shawl is Iskmahani. Arg... all 4 of them are a posers.

Before the food, we recorded a group photo just to record how good it was for you to have lots of girl friends. A real friend who is really supportive, a shoulder to cry on, a good listener and definitely who in a way shape your life too. Hence, it is important to be a little bit selective when you choose who that you can call a friend. That's what friends are for is suited for this entry. Love and keep your good friends always. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Clothes by Kahlil Gibran vs Quranic verses

When Kahlil Gibran speaks on Clothes

Your clothes conceal much of your beauty, yet they hide not the unbeautiful.
And though you seek in garments the freedom of privacy you may find in them a harness and a chain.
Would that you could meet the sun and the wind with more of your skin and less of your raiment,
For the breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.

Outfit on Monday, 18th Nov 2013

Some of you say,"It is the north wind who has woven the clothes we wear."
And I say, Ay, it was the north wind,
But shame was his loom, and the softening of the sinews was his thread.
And when his work was done he laughed in the forest.
Forget not that modesty is for a shield against the eye of the unclean.

Outfit on Tuesday, 19th Nov 2013

And when the unclean shall be no more, what were modesty but a fetter and a fouling of the mind?
And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

Outfit on Wednesday, 20th Nov 2013

What the Quran Said about Hijab?

The clearest verse on the requirement of the hijab is Quran Surah 24:30–31, asking women to draw their veil over their bosoms.
"And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veil over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husband, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments".

In the following verse, the wives of the Prophet women are asked to draw their veil over them (when they go out), as a measure to distinguish themselves from others, so that they are not harassed. Surah 33:59 reads:

"Those who harass believing men and believing women undeservedly, bear (on themselves) a calumny and a grievous sin. O Prophet! Enjoin your wives, your daughters, and the wives of true believers that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): That is most convenient, that they may be distinguished and not be harassed".
Outfit on Thursday, 21st Nov 2013

Remarks: Beside discipline myself to have more patience dealing with people and with my very own enthusiasm, I also improving my clothing style appropriate for a proper Muslim women. For this special entry, I took extra effort posing for my OOTD (outfit of the day) from Monday to Thursday. Have a cheerful and blissful day everyone. Hope you may now understand why we have to cover our bosom though some interpretation said not necessary for Muslim women to cover their hair. Peace!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A brother in Karachi

I missed the person who inspired me to write about "Do Smokers Die Young?". The magical things happened after the entry was published, my son Naim quit smoking. After much conditions set upon him, Naim is now in MSU learning Public Relations, after completed his "National Service". Back to the person that I missed, he is the one that I called brother Kazmi though he never acknowledged that. Instead he called me sweetheart whenever hearing my voice or seeing my face.

I went to see him on 14th May 2013 when I was in Karachi. We normally will spend quite sometimes in his office, talking business until I got tired. So, in between the discussion I got up and snapped pictures of his photo collection safely kept in his room. Below was all his siblings with their late parents in 1 frame. He was a young and handsome looking guy, just like a Bollywood film actor, Rishi Kappoor, perhaps? He is on the top left side, maybe at his late 20's when the photo was taken below. Besides, he kept a lot of newspaper cutting about his projects, his achievements.

On another corner, he kept his family photo within feasible distance. This guy talks a lot about his proud grandchildren that he adored and missed miserably. He's staying alone in Karachi when the whole of his family resides in America. During my last trip to Karachi, on 13th June 2013, he took me to see his new accommodation, a penthouse that he created on top of his office. He finally detached himself from his bungalow plot which is a sorrow to stay, alone in a huge house. To my opinion, the penthouse is a much better place for him.

Before I left that day, we had a photo for a special memory of us 2. I'm really glad that his staff helped us with below lovely pose. As for now, I never knew when would I return to Karachi again to see him or maybe had a real celebration after a hard works "fighting with the Client" in Karachi. Now that I learn to let go of that feeling, a sense of belonging has long gone. May you live peacefully and happily ever after Mr Kazmi. My farewell to you beloved "Brother". 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Deepika and the new House

Deepika is a very special girl to me. She was my personal assistant when I was a Project Team Leader in Vijayawada. Knowing this pretty and kind hearted girl since I joined the office in January till my demobilisation in December 2012 was truly fated, a bless. Though I no longer her boss, we are still contacting each other via Google talk. We keep on updating our stories, mostly ALL about personal stuff.

Few months after working together, we started sharing our private and personal story. Saddened by her story, I have my respect on her bravery, she lives alone with her single mother in the heart of Vijayawada city. Her father died when she was still young. Her eldest brother met a tragic accident and died while he was just started working. There are no man in the house looking after them. Some people took advantage to these 2 pitiful ladies. How sad, how cruel, how unfair.

But one must have faith in God, for He is looking over everyone, will never neglectyou in anyway. Just have faith and keep praying, then you will see lights at the end of the day. That's what exactly happened to Deepika. Never once, she lost herself in a cruel world. With some money and a piece of land left by her late father, she finished her education and get a good job in our project. This girl has brain, dedication and willingness to learn. 

I personally guided her to be responsible with the submission of Monthly Progress Report, which she performed really well though she is not an Engineer. She listened to my nasty words and scolding when she did something wrong. She took it in a positive manner as a way to improve herself. She understand that I did that for her benefit and did not differentiate others. It was not true that I did not scold her like others. She is equally treated but because she accompanied me more during my lonely days, i.e. weekend, I keep her forever close to my heart.

Last week, she informed that she will be away for few days for her housewarming. It brought so much joy to me as what we usually deliberated at length, started from selling of the land in Vijayawada, purchase a small plot somewhere in the urban area and built her own house is now a reality. With the proceed gain from selling the land, she managed to built quite a comfy house for the 2 of them with some balance kept save as comfortable savings in her bank book. The photos that I'm sharing in this entry were emailed by her with her duly consent to write her story.

Now that she has a secured job, a good house, I pray that she will find her other half to join both hand in marriage as these 2 things are indeed a good dowry for any future Indian husband.

I also wishes her the best of life, do not simply trust others, invest well (do not only spend money on handbags and shoes) and most important of all, be happy. I love you so much my girl! 


Monday, November 11, 2013

Train Ride in India, Secunderabad to Guntur, 2011

The ride: 24th June 2011

During 2 years of my working stay in India, I always wanted to venture train rides in India. When a short working assignment was given to me in June 2011, a month after my arrival on working visa passport, I was truly overjoyed to ride a smaller parts out of 115,000 km length of railway line built all over India. It was a short journey to reach a project site in Vijayawada from our headquarters in Hyderabad. The distance between 2 populated cities is approximately 275 km.

With the train ticket in my hand and a camera safe in my bag pack, I was so ready to experience the adventurous journey as soon as I reached the Secunderabad Railway Station, seen in below photo. An evening before, I was telling everyone in the office the details that I'm going to capture during the ride. The secretary purchased a seat ticket at air-conditioned class 2 carrier. The journey will takes about 2 - 3 hours only. 

My face started to frown when the smell (not the scenery) was not what I expected. The shits like smell hits my nose when we entered the platform. I was wondering what was that? where it was coming from? I hold my nostrils as not to keep my spirits down. When I was about to step into the carrier, I looked down onto the tracks beneath. It was a fresh shits, strongly smells, visible right down on the track. Only Heaven knows how shocked I was. Nobody forewarned me what to expect there, at the station. How did Shahrukh Khan able to sing and dance as if he was enjoying a fresh weather smells in his film?? 

Once inside the carrier, I dare not move anywhere due to the shock that I just encountered. Later I was told that it was too expensive for the Indian Railway to put up a toilet facilities in all the stations, though efforts has been made since 2002 for a clean trains. Hence, man and woman will take turn to do their business, "there" at the edge of the track border. Railways were first introduced in India in 1853 from Bombay to Thane. It takes time for the Indian Railways to upgrade the train facilities as what we have in Malaysia. In fact, when I was travelling from Butterworth to Bangkok I saw the same thing (i.e. toilets on the tracks". Both Malaysia and Thailand are upgrading their railway system at present with the hope that 1 day, all the train will have proper toilet sucking system like most of in urban area.

Back to my mission of capturing the beautiful rural view scenery with my camera. The window panel of the class 2 air-conditioned is a bullet proof. It was another disappointment as the result of my photo from inside the train is like the above photo. On the positive note, I like the reading culture in India. Most of the locals reads a lot. How impressive. I had my opportunity to have few shots at one of the small station when the train stops to let passengers get in and get off. 

At the same stop, I saw how the passengers break the rule by simply crossing the track to the other sides of the rail line. This dangerous act is recorded in below photo.

Guntur train station, written in local Telegu was captured in below photo.

On 27th June 2011, we returned to Hyderabad via night train, again from Guntur station. The night view at the train station was something that I looked forward. A lot of them are simply sleeping on the floor with and without a mat. It was a bliss to see how peaceful they are in their deep sleep ignoring the loud sounds of locomotive bells. 

This is how the sleeping berth of class 2 air-conditioned looks like. It was not bad for a good night sleep though mine was disturbed all the way till we safely reached Hyderabad the next morning. Sadly that I do not had anymore opportunity nor the courage, except for a short 100 km distance ride from Pune to Daund in August that year during another assignment in Maharashtra state.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Random Flowers shot in Italy

When I was touring Italy  and Switzerland in 2006, half of the photos that I snapped were the beautiful flowers collected from all over the places that we went. It was more than 500 shots that I'm sharing a few with all of you. Enjoy!

Groups of Daisies

Groups of Lillium

Yellow Tuilps in Lake Lugano, Switzerland

Groups of Roses