Life and Times Blog

The world we live in

Ramadan is a month of self-reflection and reconnecting. Reconnecting with our Creator foremost, our own ‘self’, our families, our identity, our community, our friends and in the process our ideals as well. Ideals framed by our religion, Islam.
Being a part of this religion imposes an obligation upon us, it being a trust from God.

Allah tells us in the Quran:
“You are the best of communities brought forth for mankind.” Quran (3:110)
Not doing our very best to live according to our Islamic values would mean us betraying not only ourselves, but the world around us as well. This duty to propagate a message would apply to any individual who is sincere in their belief in a set of values which they hold to be beneficial, and therefore applies to all people with a consciousness
of and a desire for a better world to live in.

Like every other ambition, influencing the world we live
in requires a deliberate, concerted effort. It is not only in grand
gestures that these efforts can be enacted. Within all of
our individual routines and social circles, there lies the opportunity
to be a positive influence. Perhaps the most important method is the
one we should assume to be the most natural, living these values
personally. If a person cannot be persuaded by actions they are
unlikely to be persuaded by words.

In being deliberate in our efforts to improve the context we
live in, we need to increase our levels of being pro-active and
constantly vigilant about opportunities that we may create to this
end. If there is any kind of committee at our workplace, or schools, we
should aim to be on it.
If there is an opportunity to deliver a speech at a function at work,
or University, we should be the first to deliver it. Neighborhood safety patrols, any platform involving the chance to influence our environment.
Our presence on these platforms would give us the opportunity to imprint on
it the deep moral values that form our identity. The communication of these
values may not always be overt, but their influence should always be
felt.
We don’t always need elaborate structures, complex methodologies, only a
real desire to improve what we see around us.

The Prophet (SAW) advised us: “If any of you sees an evil action, let
him change it with his hand, if not his hand, then let him speak out
against it, if not speak then at least let him feel it to be wrong in
his heart, and this is the lowest level of faith.”

Islam has many prominent and competent representatives in a wide variety of fields, political, humanitarian, commercial, scientific, but every individual Muslim represents an opportunity for even greater representation. Perhaps it is a lack of confidence that holds many of us back, a lack of conviction in either the values we claim to believe in, or rather a lack of confidence in our ability to communicate these
values. Overcoming the former is a matter of self-reflection and
education, the latter is a fear that can be conquered by harvesting an
awareness that Allah is our Helper, as stated in a Hadith:
“God will continue to assist the servant, as long as the servant is
assisting his brother”.
Don’t be anxious, be courageous.

As often as I hear people complain about the failures of our
particular society; crime, corruption, poverty, I cringe, recalling
the phrase “The only thing necessary for evil to prevail, is for good
people to do nothing”.

Mankind is always receptive, on the whole, to a message of upliftment
and improvement.

Whatever efforts we pursue, let us never forget that we do say in acknowledgement of the Unity and Supremacy of Allah.

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is
good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong: they are
the ones to attain success.” Quran (3-104)

Ramadan Mubarak.

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September 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

Mbeki Era

Thabo Mbeki’s resignation speech: http://allafrica.com/stories/200809210010.html

Please read the text in the links below together with his resignation speech:

I am an African

http://www.soweto.co.za/html/i_iamafrican.htm

Inauguration

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/370679.stm

Address at the UN on Africa

http://www.unu.edu/unupress/mbeki.html

September 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Press-ed Pause.

12 months, 12 countries. Its been a rocKiNg time. Returned home a week and a half ago. The first time I’ve stopped in 7 of those 12 months.
Back to Johannesburg.
I wasn’t looking forward to stopping, I like running, it keeps me fresh.Alert.
New environments, new challenges, new exposures. New, new, new.

It’s a necessary part of representing your youth appropriately, to expose yourself to as many new things as you can (of which travel is only one of many,others include new people, concepts, experiences,knowledge). Aside from being pure fun, it equips you such that when you do settle into the various aspects of life, it’s a more informed decision. Even in those decisions, previous other experiences will weave themselves into that reality, to enrich its tapestry. It doesn’t have to be that when you get old-er you stop experiencing, but it seems that the initiative to do so slows down, partly slowed by practicalities too.

I don’t know where I’ll be going now, what I’ll be doing. It’s unsettling, the plan was always defined up to this point. Grade 1, Grade 2…Undergrad, Honors, Articles, Overseas.
Right now it’s wake up, hang out, break the fast, go for prayers. The Plan doesn’t stretch further than that, Long term planning is no further than 5 days in advance.

Home is very comfortable though, but Comfort isn’t and shouldn’t be my priority right now.

I have some tough decisions to make, consequential decisions. I don’t like lazing around, but man, I don’t like working.

I could easily go on being flotsam, its a very easy space to fall into, but I suspect that even though it might work perrrrfectly for now, it may not look like such a hot decision a few years down the line.
The middle road, I need to find it, balancing immediate satisfaction with long-term prudence.
P-R-U-D-E-N-C-E.
PROOOOOODEEEENCCE.

(as I type this I think prudence is for GIRLS!Flotsam ROCK ON! But i’ll be sensible.)

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Humans, fish, and Public Works…

The last leg of my 2 month journey, Misr (the Arabic name for Egypt).
Cairo, Alexandria and Dahab.

In terms of a bustling city, packed subways (yes, Cairo has a subway) and 24 hour street life, Cairo leaves London looking dejected and meek.
The city leaves you spent, physically drained, psychologically assaulted, in mere hours. Where in other cities the call to Fajr ( the dawn prayer) rouses people from their slumber, it seems that in Cairo this is the call to urge people off the streets and to their beds.
More than the pyramids, I was taken by the architectural splendor of some of the mosques I visited, amazingly grand and intricately detailed. Best of all these are not museums, they are still used today  as mosques.

Of course there was the thought on whether such scale was appropriate, some of these mosques had taken more than a decade to complete and at exorbitant cost. I personally believe that all communities do need some examples of splendor, in order to enhance our identity and encourage human excellence as well as the pursuit of beauty, in all its many forms.However, these such endeavours should be limited in scale and frequency, or efforts should be made to accomodate their pursuit in other ways.
 On balance, I believe that in most times, current and past, basic human needs (of which the poor are most dependant on Government to provide) supercede cultural expression by a far margin, this being the reason to urge restraint in such projects.
An argument could be made that such projects are examples of public spending, which is often used as a tool for general economic upliftment as well as job creation,thus filtering down to society’s needs. This is true, however even as public works programmes, more can/could have been done in focusing on basic human needs and initiating public programmes in infrastructure etc.

In total I spent 3 days in Cairo, 3 days in Alexandria, 3 days in Dahab.

In Alexandria I was startled to find the same unrelenting human throb as Cairo. A local informed me that it was especially so due to the impending start of Ramadaan, the month of restraint. Alexandria is a far more pleasant city than Cairo,scenic, better planned and calmer residents.
Alexandria has a distinctly European trace to its character. This is unsurprising given its status as the base of Cleopatra during the era of her trysts with the Romans, and well before that the presence of Alexander the Great. The European signature was imprinted as recently as the 1940’s, Alexandria was described as the city you could get anything you could get in Europe at half the price.
The famed library at Alexandria is impressive. At different points in history it held the status of the reatest library in the world, at different points in history too, it was destroyed and rebuilt, mostly due to political power plays and wars.
It was rebuilt to its current form in 2003, at a cost of $220 mn, with a collection of 500 000 books.
The building is awe-inspiring, its content would take more than an afternoon for inspection, but I am certain it is equally impressive, although I doubt it is still the worlds best library in terms of content.

Dahab was the main objective of the trip, a small coastal village in the Sinai desert, world famous for its diving spots.
I travelled solo to Dahab, my travel mate having fallen quite ill and reluctantly heading home, to realise that I didn’t enjoy travelling solo much at all anymore. I had done Cuba and Morocco in December 2007 by myself and it didn’t seem so bad then, but in Dahab it felt lousy. The only issue with waiting for company to travel is that it’s so limiting, but as the raucous time in Mali proved, company is of crucial importance.
The diving was excellent, I have only dived in 3 spots since getting my certification last year, Mozambique, Cuba and now Dahab-Red Sea. As good as it was, (diving/snorkelling seldom disappoints), I think Cuba was a better diving spot.

Back to the UK for 3 days, and the home to SA.

September 6, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments