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Monday, February 09, 2015

The Future

Years ago, when I was in the Merchant Navy, I had two experiences:

The first one happened in a camera shop in Hong Kong. I saw a couple buying a camera and the salesman was telling them something that the camera could not do. I had had that model before. The couple looked Indian so I told the man in Urdu/Hindi that the camera didn't do what he wanted to do and the shopkeeper was cheating him. I left. The couple came out a few minutes later and the man thanked me. I asked him if he was a tourist and it turned out that he was the Indian Ambassador to Mongolia.

Mongolia? The last time I heard of it was in school, I think. In Pakistan's newspapers we rarely see the country mentioned. But it is there. With an Indian Ambassador.

The second experience was going to Kenya - which had fallen from grace. It used to be a beautiful place once. I had friends in Government College, Lahore, from Kenya.

Now, shops after shops remained empty. One large department store had only one item: One single brand of toffees in a corner. A large restaurant had very few dishes but could cook anything you wanted, if you were look for a bad version of its taste.

In both cases people lived. Their countries existed.
But - for all our purposes - they were as good as dead.
I can't remember anything great about it
except Gengiz Khan from Mongolia.

•••••

Apart from these two experiences there were two more:

We went to Athens. Greece had lived as the centre of civilisation for centuries. In modern Greece, there are a few ports, a shipping industry that breaks all records of honesty, and tons of tourists that arrived each day.
I remember one American tourist standing near the Acropolis and telling his wife that this was where he stood in the war and had his picture taken. She asked him why the building was famous. He said it was the oldest school in old Greece.
We also went to Rome. Again the centre of civilisation for centuries, it is now just a major city. Tourists love it. However it is no longer a world power. The old buildings, like those in Athens, are there for all of us to see … and it has the Vatican.

•••••

But from Greece and Rome - the great powers that they were - we still remember many great philosophers, mathematicians, kings, poets, writers, and even gods.

These are some Greeks

Socrates (c.470/469 – 399 BC) was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and the plays of his contemporary Aristophanes.

Plato (c.429-327 BC) - He was a brilliant student of Socrates and later carried on his work. He gathered Socrates' ideas and wrote them down in a book. Plato founded the world's first university. He wrote down his teachings and people all over the world, even today, study the Greek philosophers

Aristotle (382-322 BC) - discovered many things in science and biology. He wrote books about physics, poetry, zoology, biology, politics, governments, and more. His father was the personal physician of the King of Macedonia. When Aristotle turned 17, he went to Athens to study with Plato.

Parmenides - watched an eclipse of the Moon in about 470 BC, and noticed that the Earth's shadow was curved. He worked out that if the shadow was curved, then the Earth must be round.

Archimedes - was a mathematician and an engineer. He designed a machine, called the Archimedean screw, which could make water flow uphill. His design has been used for almost 2,000 years, to take water from rivers to the fields. Archimedes was able to tell fool's gold from real gold.

Pythagoras - was a mathematician. Can find out about Pythagoras' theorem on right-angled triangles.
Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great - born in 356 B.C. in Pella, Macedonia, the son of Philip of Macedon, who was an excellent general and organizer. He was called 'the Great' because he conquered more lands than anyone before him and became the overall ruler of Greece. He also travelled to areas that are now part of Pakistan.

And here were some of their gods and goddesses: Aphrodite, Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Hades, Hera, Poseidon, Zeus.

These are some Romans

Gaius Marius - the man who organized the army into the most effective fighting machine on earth. At times it appeared nothing could withstand the mighty legions of Rome. It was Marius who changed the way the army organized itself.

Julius Caesar - no doubt the most famous Roman of them all! He conquered Gaul in a brilliant campaign which is still used in studies for training generals today. His victories in Gaul brought into the empire what should later become one of the most important new territories to the empire. (See the movie with Marlon Brando).

Nero - the most notorious Roman of all times. It is most likely that Nero was insane. He came to power because his mother murdered his step-father emperor Claudius. During his rule much of Rome burnt down in the Great Fire of Rome. Helpless to stop the fire, he is supposed to have sung as he watched Rome burn. (A great movie, Quo Vadis, has Peter Ustinov play him. Well worth a watch).

Cicero - “Gratitude is not only greatest of the virtues, but parent of all others.” This timeless quote, and many others that tell us about the essence of living our lives, and that we may have heard time and again – all of them came from the famous Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero. Widely considered as one of the greatest orators and prose stylist to have lived in the ancient Rome.

Spartacus - Without a doubt, the most famous gladiator in the entire Roman history, a Thracian by birth, he was a soldier caught in war and then sold in slavery to fight in the-then famous gladiator battles. But as history has proved time and again, even though you may take away a soldier’s freedom, a warrior’s fierce will for independence can never be easily given up. (Don't forget to see the movie and the 4-part TV series about him. Both are called Spartacus).

And here were some of their gods and goddesses: Apollo, Aura, Aurora, Bacchus, Cupid, Diana, Genius, Juno, Jupiter, Lucifer, Luna, Mars, Nemesis, Pluto, Saturn, Venus, Voluptas, Vulcan.

•••••

When Cancer comes to a person s/he dies. Just like the others who have not had Cancer. It will be painful … and s/he could live longer and worry more. But s/he dies.

When Cancer comes to a country, sadly it doesn't die. It lives on and on. Sometimes of no use, like the first two. Sometimes as a City that people visit and even care for, like the last two, but without the power they once had. And people remember their names. Read about them. Study about them in schools. Look at them as planets. See films about them.

•••••

India 'died'. We called it Partition of 1947. Pakistan came into being as part of it. Pakistan 'died'. We called it Partition of 1971. Bangladesh came into being. Soon these countries will die. But differently.

What will we remember about them? I don't know about the other two, but Pakistan will die fairly quickly - specially at the hands of the small group of fanatic extremist Muslims that are becoming larger and larger everyday as a group. How long before they get their hands on or produce a nuclear weapon?

I know that when it is dead and gone, and people read about it years from now in their history books, there'll be Professor Abdus Salam who will live on.


In his conclusive remarks after getting the Nobel Prize.
instead of taking any credit for himself,
he said "Pakistan is deeply indebted to you for this". 
Alas Pakistan forgot and betrayed him.

•••••

And in the 'cultural world', maybe, Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Here's a translation of his poem (written in August 1947, at the birth of Pakistan), Subhé Aazaadi.

Dawn of Freedom (August 1947)
(Literal Translation: V G Kiernan)

This stain-covered daybreak, this night-bitten dawn,
This is not that dawn of which there was expectation;

This is not that dawn with longing for which
The friends set out, (convinced) that somewhere there we met with,

In the desert of the sky, the final destination of the stars!
Somewhere there would be the shore of the sluggish wave of night,

Somewhere would go and halt the boat of the grief of pain.
By the mysterious highroads of youthful blood
When (we) friends set out, how many hands were laid on our skirt's;

From impatient sleeping-chambers of the dwellings of beauty
Arms kept crying out, bodies kept calling;

But very dear was the passion for the face of dawn,
Very close the robe of the sylphs of light.
The longing was very buoyant, the weariness was very slight.

 It is heard that the separation of darkness and light has been fully completed,

It is heard that the union of goal and step has been fully completed;

The manner of the people of suffering (leaders) has changed very much,

Joy of union is lawful, anguish for separation forbidden.

The fire of the liver, the tumult of the eye, burning of the heart, --
There is no effect on any of then of (this) cure for separation.

Whence came that darling of a morning breeze, whither has it gone?
The lamp beside the road has still come no lessening,
The hour of the deliverance of eye and heart has not arrived.
Come, come on, for that goal has still not arrived.




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Friday, January 09, 2015

RIP Najma

Photo by her daughter, Deneb


Najma Sadeque

A great friend
A brilliant writer
A fabulous feminist
A fantastic researcher

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

25th December


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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2014/12/17 - Morning has broken?


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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Greatest Qavvaali Book

I have a lot of books on Qavvaali from several publishers. They are, at best, small volumes that deal with a particular Gharaanah, a group of qavvaali performers, a small collection of Farsi Poems (I am sure there are Urdu, Punjab and Saraiki versions available). None has the ability or the range that this book covers.

The title of this remarkable book, by Dr Hasan Aziz,


 is Kalaamé Aarifaañ.

Pushed through its collection and printing by his daughter Ayesha (His son, Arsalan, and wife, Ghazala, also appear in smaller letters in the dedication), this is an amazing collection of the poetry of Sufis and Mystics. Their whole family loves this genre and hold regular qavvaali sessions at their place.

It took over 10 years to write Kalaamé Aarifaañ and the book is unique that it is in Urdu and English. It features the poetry, the transliteration, the meanings in English and Urdu, and the tafheem and taffseer as related by episodes and legends of the Sufis and Mystics.

The book is recommended to be read from right to left - traditional for Eastern books, and the English version is on the same page(s).

Kalaamé Aarifaañ has, apart from a remarkable collection of the famous poems on Persian, Urdu, Farsi, Saraiki and more — plus the writings about them — a lovely glossary, a starting comment, a timeline of the people mentioned, and a remarkable wonderful history of Qavvaali. All of them are, again, in English and Urdu, as are the words of Fehmida Riaz.

The Urdu was written by Dr Hasan Aziz and extremely well translated into English by Dr Zarine Mogal. Amazing how two doctors could do all this in their very spare time. Dr Aziz's late brother-in-law did a great job in helping him with the Persian work and the late and dear friend, Imran Mir, supervised the printing and the style of the book.

Photograph by Marvi Mazhar

Pity that Imran died just a few days before the launch. We missed him greatly at Karachi when the launch was done through the courtesy of Getz Pharma's CRP on 6th December. Getz Pharma also helped publish the book.

Kalaamé Aarifaañ will also be launched at
Islamabad on Saturday (13th: Kuchh Khas - 6pm)
and Lahore (14th: Faiz Ghar - 6pm).
In both places it will be sold at a reduced price.

Printed on good quality paper, the hard cover book of almost 600 pages is in colour, with a lovely golden edge of pages, and is offered in a book-safe cover. The size is 10"x13" and the book is an absolute delight to look at.




If the remarkable book was not all, there two DVDs in it. The first one features 6 modern sufi/qavvaali pieces in video from Coke Studio … but, much more important, is the second DVD that features 48 Audio pieces of Sufi Songs and Qavvaalis. An absolute treasure that comes with a small booklet that talks about these pieces.



"Isn't the book expensive at Rs 15000", asked a rather rich friend. I thought of the years that went by, the love of qavvaali and Sufi music, the collection of poems, the translation, the tremendous amount of research and writing, the collection of videos and audios, the permissions to have them published here, and the finally delightful publication of the gorgeous book. But I didn't say that to him at all. I just asked him that if he and his wife took out two friends for a good dinner at a stylish restaurant (never mind the rather odd costs of the drinks at home!), they'd spend that much. And the pleasure would be gone in a day or so. The book you'd have forever … and visit it often.

Incidentally, the book will be sold
for Rs 10000 only at the launches.


Still not convinced if its worth buying?
Download a PDF sample of the book from here and see.


The book will also be available at T2F's bookstall. It will also have a website, soon, put together by PeaceNiche, where new stuff will be added to the book.


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Zahra's Paradise

The book was billed as "Zahra's Paradise - A Graphic Novel for Teens" on Amazon. I just thought that I love graphic novels but had never read one for teens, so I got the book.

It blew my mind!


The book should not have the 'teen' word attached. It will be then bought by a lot more people. It's a must read. Brilliantly written by Amir and illustrated by Khalil — but, remember, both names are nom-de-plume because of the fear of being caught by the Irani Government or its Snipers.



Zahra's Paradise is fiction as far as the tale itself is concerned. But all of it is based on true stories. Stories that we sometimes hear — but many do not reach us. Except the tale of Neda that went viral. More about that later on in this introduction.

While it was fiction-based-on-truth, it was compared to Art Spiegelman's Maus and Mariane Satrapi's Persepolis which were the start of personal stories in Graphic Novels. 








Two brilliant Graphic Novels that you must read!






The black and white artwork in Zahra's Paradise is remarkable. The story is something that we must not just know but be careful to see that our State doesn't head this way (… though there are some early signs). Protests here, so far, have been 'peaceful' if one is to compare them with this story. But there have been some deaths. That's how all this starts …



One of the scenes from Zahra's Paradise

Zahra's Paradise, the name, is a translation of Beheshté Zahra - a graveyard outside Tehran that is named after the Prophet's daughter, Bibi Fatemat-uz-Zahra. There is a popular belief that anyone buried in this cemetery will rise in Paradise on Doomsday.

•••••

Neda Agha-Soltan is touched briefly in the book. The video of her death went viral on 20 June 2009. She was unarmed and killed by a bullet on her chest. Paulo Coelho saw the video and put it on his website that had many more people viewing it. Why did he do that? Because his friend, Dr Arash Hejazi, seen in the video, was the publisher of Coelho's books in Iran. Dr Hejazi tried to help Neda and keep her alive, but failed.


Her death — as is usual — was blamed on foreign powers.  He was then accused of trying to help the 'killers' in a conspiracy theory that the Government launched. He escaped to Britain and has written his story in a book called The Gaze of the Gazelle.


"OK, I was bleeding. I was wounded. The bullet that pierced Neda's chest took her life away, but ripped my life apart. She stared into my eyes and died. She couldn't say anything. But it was as if she was telling me: 'Do something!' and I couldn't do anything. Those eyes are following me wherever I go. Those eyes keep my heart bleeding. I lied when I said that memories fade away. Some don't. A few years ago I saw the film Memento by Christopher Nolan. There, Guy Pearce has lost his short-term memory after a blow to his head, during an attack on himself and his wife, during which his wife is killed. The last thing he remembers is the look on her wife's face, while life is slipping away from her body. From then on, his brain cannot keep short-term memories, so time does not pass from the horrible moment. The memory doesn't fade away, so he can't heal.
I couldn't heal. The memory of those eyes did not leave me. They haunted me, asking me to 'do something'. I spoke up about her, thinking that she will leave me. I talked to BBC, The Times and other media, when I realised that the Iranian government was trying to conceal her death and then blame it on foreign service. But she still didn't leave me. I had to do something else, or else I would have bled to death myself. So I wrote, and when I wrote, I felt better, and the eyes became kinder, and the bleeding stopped whenever I resumed writing. She wanted me to tell her story, the story of the generation, she wanted me to tell how it came to that moment… I wrote, because I was in pain, and telling the story eased the pain."
•••••


Roya Boroumand, to add another important name, is a remarkable human rights activist and runs a website that you must visit if you are interested in seeing the breadth of her work. (Read Sa'id's full story about Kahrizak - A prison that eventually closed, we are now told). She is responsible for a lot of stuff that fills this book which ends with 13 pages of finely written names of people who were assassinated or killed in Iran. The men and women are in a 'silent city' called Omid (Ümmeed in Urdu). You can visit this site to see the Omid Memorial Project which gave the list of 16,901 names at the time the book was going into print.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ahaadees (or, if you are obsessed, Ahaadeeth) …



The Qur'an, or the part of it I read as a child, was in Arabic. Occasionally I was given an Urdu Translation under the Qur'anic verses. I even got one that had a Direct Translation in Urdu under it and a Meaningful Translation in Urdu under that.

I understood little, if any, of its meaning or what it desired of Muslims. The force was to read the Arabic and I paid very little time to the Urdu version. This is the way that most of us read it as children. It was much later, as a grown up, that I read it - fully - in my 'religious reading period', whilst I was at sea and had the time to think about all religions and their counterparts. I read several English and Urdu versions of the meanings of the Qur'an. These included Deobandi, Barelvi, Shia, Ahmadi. In English I read Pickthall (who converted from Catholicism to Islam in 1917) and Abdullah Yusuf Ali (a Dawoodi Bohra). The latter version is the one that is given by Saudi Arabia now to guests. I'd also read many others by people who were not Muslims (e.g. Arberry).

You might want to know why did I have a 'religious reading period' at all. Part of it was my interest in Religion itself, as a subject, but a lot if it was my love of reading of Western or Eastern prose and poetry. Many of these contained references to historical figures based on numerous religions, a lot of them from the past and some from the more recent present. I had to understand these references to fully enjoy reading all the works that I did. Apart from religious works I also read Plutarch's Lives and other old books that spoke of the great men who followed these gods.

Having decided that the best way to read it would be, preferably, in a chronological order … so that I understood how the human mind evolved and how their ways of belief helped them do so … I started carrying several books to the ships with me.
(The sea was the best period of my life, I am sure, giving me time to read, listen to music, watch plays, meet people from all parts of the world, talk to people who would just have been part of my dreams were I not sailing to their ports. O' how I miss it!)
Except a few, almost all people I met remained into the Islamic Deen or other religions into which they were born, with families and environments playing the major role. However, I also found that many of these beliefs (and disbeliefs) turned people into Polytheists, non-Theists (like the Buddhists), Deists, Monotheists, and even Agnostics, Atheists, and anti-Theists.

Reading most religious books, as far as it was possible, in the order that they were sent to us by a God, or were written by humans (inspired by God), I finally reached Islamic Studies that included the Qur'an, Sunnah, and Hadees (often spelt as Hadith or Hadeeth).
Ziauddin Kirmani's wonderful book, The Last Messenger with a Lasting Message, has this to say: "… we should not confuse the word Sunnah – the way the Prophet would act in a particular situation or, in other words, his line of action – with what we call Hadeeth (Tradition), that is, a reported incident from the life of the Prophet."
Sunnah is what the Prophet of Islam did, like saying his prayers. For example, he prayed slightly differently at times and we have groups of Muslims who pray with their hands folded at the stomach, above the stomach, and some in between these extremes. There are some who in prayers, like him, recite a verse loudly, while others think, also from seeing him, that it should be said very softly. None of these makes them non-Muslims at all … but they are set apart as the followers of certain Taqleeds.

Hadees, written by people several years after the Prophet's passing away (we are told that the Prophet did not want them written down so that people don't consider it to be the equal of Qur'an) actually were stories about what he said (or supposedly did say), as narrated by one person to someone else to someone else to someone else …

The Hadees, to be considered True - in this game of Chinese (/Arabian) Whispers - had to come through people known to 'speak the Truth'. Rather difficult, actually, when you look at generations that had passed, but (strangely!) acceptable to the ones who spent their lives writing these hadeeses down.

We now have several books, like Bukhari, Muslim (Bukhari's student), and four others, from the Sunnis. This whole collection is called Kütüb Al-Sittah. Most Sunni Muslims who strictly follow the Ahaadees (although there are some Muslims who do not) believe that Sahih al-Bukhari is the most important book after the Qur'an.

Muhammad ibn Ya‘qub ibn Ishaq al-Kulayni al-Razi al-Baghdadi was from a noble family of Kulayn, near a city called Ray. He was buried in Baghdad near Bab al-Kufa in 981 C.E. His compilation of Ahaadees is known as Al-Kafi that all Shias read. It is a collection that is considered priceless by its own followers. A preface of the translation (Muhammad Sarwar, 1999) states that "Al-Kafi is not a book independent of the Holy Quran. This volume simply provides beautiful details of the above matters as they are mentioned in various passages and verses of the Holy Quran."

(I am rather surprised that, of late, many Shias, including a couple of close friends of mine, don't think that all of Al Kafi is necessarily true.)

•••••

Having been brought up to believe in the Qur'an and Sunnah, I also read a lot of Bukhari and Al-Kafi (and, very occasionally, Muslim) for purely historical interest … not counting them to be part of my belief system as something I 'must' follow. Now, with Internet, most of us who have access can read all these books online or download them (and hundreds of thousands do so). They read this and use it …  but without even still bothering to read the Qur'an and its meaning in their own languages.

Always sounds peculiar to me, this attitude! I can have discussions with people over something today and, very rarely, do I find the person quoting a verse for or against my thinking ... but, much more frequently, I am told that their view is supported by a Hadees. This even happens sometimes when that particular Hadees is almost against the Qur'anic teachings.

•••••


Sahih Bukhari, a collection of 2602 Hadeeses collected in 16 years by Abū ‘Abd Allāh Muḥammad ibn Ismā‘īl ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al-Mughīrah ibn Bardizbah al-Ju‘fī al-Bukhārī (194 - 256 AH / 810 - 870 AD), is among the most popular websites that I visit often. I was astonished that the Preface said Hadees and Sunnah were the same thing. Many Muslims have a concept, now, that these two are the same. Pity!

Among the collection of Bukhari's 'Sahih Ahadees' are nine books and the first book has Menses as its Chapter Six. Surely there must be more important things that we must follow, but these important things have been dealt with in later books/chapters.
I used to always wonder how, after being told to behave morally, the Prophet's widows — women whom the Muslims consider their Mothers (Ümm-ül-Momineen) — spoke to several random people about the Prophet's attitude towards Menses. I guess things were more tolerant then. Specially in Arabia. In my growing up in the subcontinent - and until very recently - none of the men and women talked about this, ever. Most of them still don't.

Some ahaadees really seem fantastic. Take this, as an example:
"Narrated Abu Huraira and Zaid bin Khalid: 'Umar Ibn al Khataab said "Allah sent Muhammad with the Truth and revealed the Holy Book, Quran, to him, and among what Allah revealed, was the Ayah of the Rajam (the stoning of married person - male & female) who commits illegal sexual intercourse, and we did recite this ayah and understood and memorized it." (Bukhari: Volume 8, Book 82, Number 815)
The Sahih Bukhari Ahaadees states that certain verses of the Quran were taken away. Then it quotes their gist and also tell us when or why this happened. Isn't it odd that people would remember these verses after three generations? Specially after God had made us forget them!

•••••

A few of them are also about Hazrat Ali, or some other holy person, in which the Prophet is mentioned. Is this a Hadees? Here's one of them. What do you think?
"Abu al-Nu‘man Muhammad ibn al-Fadl related to us: Hammad ibn Zayd related to us from Ayyub from ‘‘Ikrimah who said: “Some Zanadiqah were brought to ‘Ali and he burnt them. This reached Ibn ‘Abbas and he said: I would not have burnt them because of the prohibition by the Messenger of God: ‘Do not punish with the punishment of God.’ I would have killed them in accordance with the word of the Messenger of God: ‘Whoever changed his religion kill him’.” (Bukhari Vol. 9 Book 84 No. 57)"
Incidentally this is one of the Ahaadees that's quoted when Muslims want to kill an Atheist … or even someone who has changed from Islam to become a member of those that are considered Ahlé Kitaab.



•••••


Allaama Kulaini's Al-Kafi ook 20 years to be compiled. Among it's numerous volumes it has stories of the pre-Creation, the Prophet, his Ahlé Baét, the Imaams, and other religious matters. Apart from the fact that many Sunni Muslims don't agree with Al-Kafi, the book also has the following tale (and many similar ones, actually) …

Muhammad ibn Yahya has narrated from Sa‘d ibn ‘Abdallah from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad al- Thaqafi from Ali ibn Mu‘alla from his brother, Muhammad from Durust ibn abu Mansur from Ali ibn abu Hamza from abu Basir from abu ‘Abdallah (a.s.) who has said the following. "When the Holy Prophet (s.a) was born he remained for days without milk. Abu Talib himself breast fed him and Allah sent milk through his nipples. It continued for several days until abu Talib found Halima al-Sa‘diya and the child was given to her"  — H , Ch. 111, h 27

One has to believe in the supersupernatural to understand that God works in Mysterious Ways and He did not think it would be wise to give the Prophet's mother some milk but Decided to alter a male into being a kind of heterosexual.

•••••

I must state, though, that it is not just Ahaadees that are filled with Zaeef and Unacceptable versions. This madness is also part of the history which is altered profusely when people teach their children about their past. Here's one example:
Allama ibn Jawzi writes: That when Adam (May Allah bless him and grant Him peace) was being created, the noor of Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] was placed in Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace]’s forehead and Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] saw Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace], Adam [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] asked “who is he?” Allah Ta’ala replied “He is the last Prophet and will be the chief of your children.”
(Al Wafa chapter on Birth of Prophet [May Allah bless him and grant Him peace] by Ibn Jawzi).

You can read more on this subject alone here.

•••••

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Monday, October 13, 2014

The Stone Age is over …

9th October 2014



So off I went to South City H


Put on my slippers


… and lay in bed …


thinking of the surgery.


Was I stressed?  No …


The operation was going to be performed by Dr Mumtaz Maher …


… who is a great surgeon and a lovely artist!


The Pacemaker chap turned up, checked me, and I was fine.


No, this is not Oyster Soup. It's my removed gallbladder!
(Thanks for the picture, Nuzhat.)


In Laproscopy they just cut holes in the tummy and remove it.


Here are my 9 stones.


Here's a close-up of the biggest one I had.

The hospital, which looks like a 5-Star Hotel, was clean. No strange smells. A food courtyard! Surgeon Dr Maher, Anaesthesiologist Dr Jakhrani, various RMOs, and the smart Registered Nurses were all polite.

As far as the Nurse Assistants were concerned - polite that they too were - I was taken aback, when I was feeling less groggy, that the three of them were standing around me and one was touching my left-bottom of the tummy. I had though the surgery was going to be on the right side, so I asked what thy were looking at. The oldest person said, "We are just looking for your Pacemaker. It must be small." I told him that the Pacemaker was large and was under my left shoulder. They uncovered me and saw it and I heard an "Uff" sound. Wish they had been trained to know where Pacemakers are fitted.


Just in case you don't know, this is what my Pacemaker looks like.

• 

So I am now back and resting at home.



Not too much, actually.
Went out for a meal at Gellato Affair that evening.

The shoulder pain is a bit bad but will go away soon.
(That's because they tie your arms in an odd position.)


Billie was missing me but is now happy!



I hope this is the last surgery I will have had.

 •

My previous surgeries have included all this:

A collarbone fractured and put into place in Karachi.
Had to be broken again by the doctor since it was bent.
It is now in an H-position.
Shit!

A broken nose at Government College, Lahore,
because the opponent of Kamal Azfar
thought I should not support him
and hit me with a brick.

A Varicose Vein surgery in the UK.
Tons of them in my stomach area had to be removed.

A Prostate Gland Surgery at OMI in Karachi.

A Hernia Surgery at NMC in Karachi.

A Quadruple By-Pass at NMC in Karachi.

A Pacemaker fitted this August at NMC in Karachi.




If you need to know why I didn't do this surgery at NMC,
take a look here and here.




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Sunday, October 05, 2014

5th October 2011

The phone rang early one morning and I heard Ragni say,
"Have you heard about Steve?"



Steve Jobs was dead.

I have spent years with Steve Jobs & Apple. One of my first computers was the Apple II which I bought within days of it hitting the market. I had migrated to the Mac as soon as that marvel appeared … added every new model for years until I finally settled on the new iMac, possibly because of my age. The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and the ATV are all over my den. Yes. I will be with Apple as long as it — or I — live. 

A major part of Steve's Presentations (popularly know as SteveNotes) was that almost each one was a gem, as was his "… And there's one more thing" ending. 

Can't remember all of them, but here are some of the many things Steve Gods-er-Sorry-Jobs offered after that sentence:

Apple's return to profitability at MacWorld Expo San Francisco 1998

iMac in colors at MacWorld San Francisco 1999

22-inch Apple Cinema Display at Seybold 1999

AirPort base station and card after iBook introduction at MacWorld Expo New York 1999

iMac DV, iMovie, and iMac DV special edition, October 1999

At MacWorld SF 2000, Aqua was introduced. Jobs announced that he would continue at Apple permanently, dropping the "i" (for "interim") from "iCEO"

Power Mac G4 Cube at MacWorld NY 2000

PowerBook G4 at MacWorld San Francisco 2001

17-inch iMac G4 at MacWorld New York 2002

Power Mac G5 at WWDC 2003

12-inch Aluminum PowerBook G4 at MacWorld 2003

iPod Mini at MacWorld 2004

iPod Shuffle at MacWorld 2005

Fifth-generation iPod with video, announced at a press conference entitled "One more thing..."

MacBook Pro at Macworld Expo 2006

Movie sales at the iTunes Store in September 2006; a second "One more thing..." in the same presentation unveiled iTV (renamed Apple TV at Macworld 2007)

Safari for Windows beta at WWDC 2007

Aluminum Unibody MacBook, October 2008

Video camera and speaker in fifth-generation iPod Nano at the Apple Music Event in September 2009

FaceTime video calling for the iPhone 4 at WWDC 2010

Second-generation Apple TV running on iOS at the September 2010 Apple Music Event
Revised MacBook Air at a press event, "Back to the Mac", in October 2010

Wasn't that ding awesome …

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

How Little We Know …

OK family and friends. Here's another day.

My Gall Stones

My brother-in-law, Tariq Husain, is generally worried about everyone's health (except, perhaps, his own!) and at every person's slightest problems he will always jump in and try to help. I am grateful for his over-enthusiasm because it sometimes sticks. 

Of course, I get that help from him, too, often despite my protests. Now that I had refused my surgery at NMC after a near disaster, Tariq called from his Haj Trip and said I should look for a second opinion, possibly from Dr Saad Khalid Niaz. Although I believe that a 'friendly doctor' didn't think much of him, Nuzhat got an appointment for yesterday and off we went with all my papers.

Dr Niaz spoke to me and enquired why there had been no Ultrasound even on my first trip at NMC. He said it was a good hospital and he was surprised. Then I showed him the Ultrasound taken at Shamim's insistence and he said fine, you have gall stones and a surgery is necessary. No other treatment, he thought, would work. This is what Shamim had also said, earlier.

I showed him my other papers and explained the process that left me refusing surgery at NMC and all he did was laugh. He said the Anaesthetist was strange. Also there was no need for an Open Surgery and I should have a Laparoscopy, instead. He suggested an Anaesthetist, Dr Jakharani (whom he thought was one of the best here), phoned him up after I agreed, and got me an appointment in half an hour. So off we rushed to see him at another hospital.

Dr Jakharani - an oldish man - saw me, spent some time with me, advised me, and said that Laparoscopy was the right answer. No need to do an open surgery. He said Dr Zia Yaqoob, at NMC, was right in saying I could have it. But he thought I should speak to Dr Maher Mumtaz, the surgeon who'd perform the operation.
Dr Mumtaz was Dr Shamim's first preference, but because I had had 3 surgeries (Hernia, Quadruple Bypass, Pacemaker) at NMC — which is also only 5 minutes away from my house — he also suggested two Professors he knew there, and I chose them.
I now know that the senior of the Professors had been 'trained' by Dr Maher Mumtaz who pioneered Laparoscopy in Pakistan.

Just a few minutes wait and Dr Mumtaz came in. An even older man than Dr Jakharani, he was very good during his conversation. He checked me out. Saw the Ultrasound and said Laparoscopy is the only answer.

When I said I had a right to refuse the NMC surgery, he said:

  • You have had a Bypass – so your heart is working
  • You have a Pacemaker — which means it's keeping the rate right
  • Both things make you better than the average patient
  • The Anaesthetist would have had to give you the anaesthesia either way, so what was he worried about
  • Let's not talk about what happened at NMC. Let's just move on
  • Keep this stupid old report of Hepatitis B out. It might cause a mistake. Just keep the right ones in your folder
  • There is no need for an open surgery at all!!!
  • I should sleep over the right side of my body and not the left … as that could cause the stones to go near the entrance and block it or hurt me a lot.
Dr Jakharani & Dr Mumtaz, both, said they have treated octogenarians and yesterday they did a Laparoscopy on a Doctor who is retired and is 92 years old.

The answer, then, is that if I have to have Surgery, I'll have to go to Dr Mumtaz's assistant after Baqr Eed. Give him my ECG, X-Ray, Ultrasound and anything else he wants. Keep off Loprin for 5 days. And then we can do the operation. Shamim came back last night. I've discussed this with him. He says that's the right way to go since my Gall Bladder is no use now.
•••••
All of this seems good, except my faith in Doctors here has shaken. My father was a Doctor of the good old stock. If necessary, he asked for a second opinion or brought another doctor in on the case. He always had extremely good bedside manners. He loved his work! Today, Shamim is also like that. Of course, neither of them made money here!

•••••
Anyway, I have to live to 80 … as I promised Ragni this.
•••••

"The idea is to die young as late as possible."

Ashley Montague



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