Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Section 49-O....Voting provision only for accounting

Here's some bad news for people who were counting on the Section 49-O provision to voice their unhappiness towards incapable / criminal / corrupt candidates contesting for election in any constituency.
Got to know that the entire provision is only for accounting purpose in case a person doesn't want to vote nor wants any bogus voting to be done on his behalf. So if you opt for this provision, your vote is as good as waste or as not having voted at all!
But can't we have a laws or provisions which the majority of the people in India support? We can have a movement and bring a change. After all we are a democracy and any party elected by the people is actually representing us and our needs. If we were happy to even read about such a law/ provision, can't we all work towards having it in place?
We all blame the government, the political parties and the ministers, but fail to exercise our rights as citizens of the nation. There are so many things we can change ourselves. We can bring changes by working towards it. We elect the government and relax and abuse them till they are in power. Instead, we should make them accountable. Groups / organisations / party offices, which inspect the progress/ change brought about by an MLA / MP should be set up. Citizens of the area should have representives in the group and make a list of demands or changes required in the area and put it up to the MLA and keep ensuring that some action is being taken on the same. This is the way corruption can be fought. It reminds me of Chandrababu Naidu's policy, where he called his party, 'the Company' and himself the CEO. The MLAs were the Managers and the party workers, the staff. And just like every employee is accountable to the company for his actions, the Managers and workers should be made accountable. After all they are getting paid for it.
Even after the 1993 riots in Mumbai, the situation was really bad. People were scared and had started distrusting each other. I remember suddenly having some Hindu friends ignoring or avoiding me then. But immediately afterwards, the police with the help of the locals in highly volatile areas set up the 'Mohalla committees', with members of Hindu-Muslim and other community representatives of a locality affliated to the local police station of the area. These committees started celebrating all festivals of all religions together. Most of the times, the Officer-in-charge of the police station was the chief guest. These Mohalla Committees were a hit and they also brought back faith in the police and trust within the different religions in the area. And to date, in those areas there have not been any major communal violence. The Mohalla committees still function in many 'once' communal violence-prone areas.
Its pathetic when even the youth of the country just sit and voice their concerns and then go casually about their lives. The 26/11 incident was an eye opener for us all. It woke up the nation. People started making themselves aware of the laws, provisions. In short people wanted a change. But just shouting and making speeches and having gatherings and rallies is not the only solution. We should ask for positive changes. And work in groups towards achieving it.
We need new laws wherever old ones are hampering our progress and acting as deterrents towards the country's security, economy and future.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Let there be Normalcy

Everyone wants a better and safe life. Who doesn't? But will ridiculing all politicians and refusing to vote and hoping for Army Rule/ President's Rule help the country? It will create more chaos and make us more vulnerable to outside attacks and terrorism. It will also lead to Civil Unrest. Many countries have been destroyed in such Civil Disorders. It means spoiling our economy, projecting a poor international image of ourselves and causing more harm to our own people. It will lead to unending war within the country, with our own people. Indirectly, we will be doing what our enemies want to happen to us. We will be helping them (the terrorists) in spreading terror. And what they've failed to achieve till now (spreading terror in our hearts), they seem to be achieving slowly with such foolish and panic reactions of some people.
I've been receiving many mails and smses encouraging people not to light candles nor see victory in capturing the terrorists. They talk of the country not being safe to live in and not trusting government to save us. They're spreading the trend of not voting, fully untrusting the politicians and let Army Rule. Such mails and 'sms'es are spreading unrest in people and encouraging them to be angry and fight back our own government ! This is ridiculous! Are we becoming our own enemies? Have we started resenting 'Democracy' to such an extent? Don't we love our freedom? If President's Rule/ Army Rule comes, we will speak the language of hatred and bullets. Have we started detesting normalcy? Or we want a 'Saddam' or 'Zia' kinda rule in India? Army Rule is equal to Military Dictatorship. And President's Rule is enabled as a means for the central government to assert authority over a state if civil unrest (such as riots) occurred and the state government didn't have the means to end the unrest. Critics of president's rule argue that most of the time, it has been used as a pretext to dissolve state governments ruled by political opponents. Thus, it is seen by many as a threat to the federal state system.

We, Indians, are not so weak that we have started to believe Military Dictatorship or President's Rule is better than Democracy. We will all lose our rights of freedom. The same people who are freely talking all this, will not be allowed to open their mouths later if their wish comes true! Or are these mails being spread by Communist supporters or those who want to see India fail ? So exercise caution before forwarding such mails. Anger for what happened is understandable. But when anger exceeds limits, it leads to madness and chaos. And we do not want chaos in India. If you do not like the election candidates in the area, use the 49-O option. Speak to the election offices or the proper authorities and find out about your rights in this regard.

Our fight is against Terrorism. Not against any particular country only. Terrorism within the country as well as people from outside who are causing harm to our country, both should be destroyed and dealt with severely. The candlelight march on 4th Dec, 2008 turned out to be more of anti-Pakistan instead of anti-Terrorism. What about 'terrorism' hidden within the country? What about the terrorists who have been spreading terror in North East for so many years? Also, there have been many organisations within the country who have been spreading terror. Why are we suddenly awake and instead of uniting to fight terrorism, reacting like crazy people out to destroy our own country? We should've united and started revolting against this menace long back. But were we quiet because earlier only the common man was being a target of blasts and terror ? And we're awake only after realising that even the affluent aren't safe! In such times we need to relax and react coolly. We should not panic. Letting panic prevail is as good as letting terror prevail. And we're not terrorists! We want Peace and Normalcy.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Let's fight Corruption by Exercising our Voting Rights Properly


49-O in Constitution of India

I came across this information from a friend and found it very informative. Please read and find out what special rights you have as a voter.

Did you know that there is a system in our constitution, as per the 1969 act, in section " 49-O" that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and convey the presiding election officer that he doesn't want to vote anyone?!

Yes such a feature is available, but obviously these leaders have never disclosed it.
This is called "49-O".
Why should you go and say " I VOTE NOBODY" ?

Because, in a ward, if a candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has received "49-O" votes more than 123, then that polling will be cancelled and will have to be re-polled. Not only that, but the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them.

This would bring fear into parties and hence look for genuine candidates for their parties for election. This would change the way of our whole political system.... it is seemingly surprising why the election commission has not revealed such a feature to the public.

This seems to be a wonderful weapon against corrupt parties in India . Show your power, expressing your desire not to vote for anybody, is even more powerful than voting. So don't miss your chance. So either vote, or vote not to vote (vote 49-O) and pass this info on.

It is seen in the past few years that even many of the educated masses take elections as just another holiday to relax and give it a miss. Some feel that all politicians are corrupt, so why vote? And the result is that voting percentage falling especially in cities. And we have alarming percentage of votes, around 40% or so in some places. If someone feels that the candidates in the area are not upto the mark, its better to go to the polling booth and exercise your 49-O rights and let the government know about it. Just choosing to ignore the elections will not get your opinion across.

Use your voting right for a better INDIA.

The exact extracts from the Constitution (THE CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS RULES, 1961), are as under :

49-O. Elector deciding not to vote.-If an elector, after his electoral roll number has been duly entered in the register of voters in Form-17A and has put his signature or thumb impression thereon as required under sub-rule (1) of rule 49L, decided not to record his vote, a remark to this effect shall be made against the said entry in Form 17A by the presiding officer and the signature or thumb impression of the elector shall be obtained against such remark.

Pls click below link for more details
http://lawmin.nic.in/ld/subord/cer1.htm

Monday, December 01, 2008

28th November 2008.... Reactions


The day after i.e. 27th Nov 2008, many people preferred to stay home. Some companies were officially closed while many companies were open with less attendence. Most banks were open all days, including the Fort branches.

But on 28th Nov, 2008 when I stood at the station to board the train to office, there was crowd as usual. Most people were expecting a less crowd. But it was no so. And everyone was talking, commenting about the previous two days events. The operation at Taj was still on.

One man to another : ''Kuch bhi kaho... woh logon ne perfect planning ki thi. Maanna padega. Ab pakadkar kar kya fayda. Unhonhe toh apna target complete kar liya". (They had done perfect planning. What's the use of catching them now. They've completed their target.)

Other man : "Heard that one of the terrorists worked at the Taj for a few months. That's why they knew the place so well."

First man : "Tu kal office gaya tha? Main toh jaata. Lekin mera office Opera House side hai. Isliye ghar waale jaane nahin diye" (Did you go to office? I would've gone, but my office is near Opera House, so family members didn't allow me to go.)

After getting into Ladies compartment, more comments were heard within... more daring and questionable.
One lady : Its really sad. But how come there was no security at the sea?
Second lady : Now they've increased security.
First lady : Now what's the use? Always they do afterwards. Even after blasts. They'll become strict for 15 days or so, then back to usual.
Second lady : Yeah. And they came from Gujarat. What was Modi doing?

Other set of females discussing.
One lady : Now where is MNS? Why didn't they come forward to save their land?
Other lady: Yes, when Mumbai needed them, they were nowhere to be seen.
First lady: In fact, today we ladies are going to office. But one boy, who supports MNS, said he can't come. I told him problem is in South Mumbai and now its nearly over. But he replied that how could he take risk. And his family is also not allowing.
Another lady: Now they had to call people from outside to save Mumbai. It was sad how they beat up the candidates who came for Railway Exam.
One more lady joins in : Now if they really do something to save Mumbai or show how much they care, we'll all join MNS. And giggles
Another lady : How they took all that stuff inside Taj and Oberoi? Some insider might be involved

Another two ladies were discussing behind me.
One Lady: Now they'll blame Congress
Second Lady : As if nothing would've happened if anyone else was there.

There were emails and smses floating around -
''Where are the Sainiks? The NSG commandoes who came to save Mumbai were all Non Maharashtrians'' and it went on...
Some were blaming the present government for their failure. And urging people to vote them out.
Some urged people to protest on 29th Nov (Sat) by wearing black bands on wrist or forehead.
I chose not to forward such mails/ smses, which were more in political interests and more of a mockery of the entire situation. We could deal with them later, when the entire operation was over.

In Office.
We were reeling under work pressure. So no time to discuss much except how we reached home. In between there was an alarm regarding some fresh firing followed by news of all TV channels being asked to shut down.
One of my colleagues : Jeeturaaj knows better. I've been following his program throughout the incident yesterday. Today he's going to be on air full day.
Another female colleague : Yeah, I also hear his program for updates. I'd called him yesterday to tell him our office was working, but told him women were excused.
Just then first colleague takes out his FM receiver and tunes in. He hears for few minutes and declares that fresh firing thing was a rumour.
I was surprised to hear about Jeeturaaj's popularity.
He calls his home also and then says some channel spread the rumour and thats why they were asked to shut down.
And everyone seemed angry after they heard this.

After a while, they was more news (a rumour) that the terrorists were moving towards RBI. And suddenly many offices/ branches of companies / banks were asked to exercise caution and leave early. Since we were in the suburbs, it didn't affect us much. We continued with our work.

After that there wasn't much news except some news updates from people's homes. We got information that the attackers were watching TV inside and using satellite phones and were fully updated on what's happening outside. They were said to be muching tandoori chicken.

Someone wondered how they got all that stuff inside. I reminded them that Taj also has a kitchen and might have a storage there. Some agreed. Some didn't and insisted they carried it inside.

Then we were all engrossed in our work and the day passed on as usual.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mumbai under Attack


26th November, 2008. It's a day we will never forget. But for everyone in my house, we remember it every year 'coz its my sister's birthday. We wished her on phone this year 'coz she got married a fortnight back and was on her honeymoon.

We'd been working late in office due to crisis. At around 10 pm, we started getting calls from home as well as smses from friends inquiring about our safety and about firing in some parts of Mumbai. At first it seemed like some small incident. We'd heard of bomb blasts. And firing seemed like a small thing. It sounded more like policemen trying to get some situation under control. When we're working, the outside world is lost to us. Then slowly there were more calls from our families a little stating that some terrorists had entered the Taj and Oberoi and were firing at people. Also came to know that Central Railway trains had shut down due to firing at CST station. Somehow it all didn't make sense. Still we had the feeling that all was happening in South Mumbai and we had not much to fear. Our office is near Powai (Andheri- East). Then we heard of a blast in a taxi at Vile Parle. Now this was quite close. We were already bogged down with work. And already late. That was already tension for our families. And to add to it, this. The news was fast spreading. First CST, the Taj, then Oberoi, then Cama Hospital, then Nariman House, then taxi blasts.... it seemed like the terror was slowly spreading through Mumbai. We all seemed lost. Since we were still in office, some of our family members started panicking and crying. We also didn't know what to do.

The situation was bad in office as well as out of it. We were thinking whether to stay back or go home. For girls, it seemed scary to venture out late and that too amidst such a situation. Another female colleague had each and every relative enquiring of her safety. Her husband was really worried. My Dad's health went bad. Mom was alone. She was getting calls from relatives outside Mumbai. Brother was in office. She was caught at once with Dad's health on one side, me on the other and non-stop calls from relatives. Of course, she couldn't handle it and started crying. I had pacify her.

Luckily, my colleague's husband, Sandesh, (who stays at Borivli) called back and made up his mind to come to office in his car to pick up his wife. And promised to drop me till my house too. That was a relief for me as well as my family. But still we weren't much sure what the situation outside was. When Sandesh left home, he had his small son, his sister and mom crying. Everyone seemed to be crying for each other. It was crazy.

Finally we left office. Western Express Highway was empty (most people seemed to have left early). But we were stopped many places by policemen, who were doing a thorough check of all vehicles passing by. There was Naka Bandi at Dahisar Check Post as well as additional places. Finally reached home in one piece. Unusually, there weren't many people on the road as many seemed to prefer to stay indoors or had rushed home early. Central Railway line people were stuck. But later learnt that they had special trains late night (much after last train hours) to help stranded people reach home.

Only after reaching home and watching television did I realised how bad the entire thing was. After that, could not sleep inspite of terrible headache as every news update brought more news of tragedy. People dying, top police officials dying; it seemed never-ending.... It was a long night. Finally slept in the wee hours of morning. And chose to stay indoors next day, more because my health went bad with stress and over-work!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Story of BOMBAY STATE


This is the story of BOMBAY STATE AND MYSORE STATE. No, there was no Maharashtra then. There was just one huge BOMBAY state which included the entire present day Maharashtra and places like Karwar (my good old gaon), Dharwad, Belgaum and Bijapur, alongwith some parts of Gujarat and Deccan.

In 1957, it was decided to have Linguistic States. Since Dharwad, Belgaum and Bijapur had Kannada speaking population, it was decided to merge them with the then MYSORE state. The people in Karwar majorly spoke Konkani then (some spoke Marathi too). But due to geographical convenience it was decided to hand it over to MYSORE state. (Karwar is on the tip of present Karnataka and very close to present day Maharashtra and Goa). The new state then came to be known as KARNATAKA. (So, I have strong Mumbai roots… ha ha!)

What happened to BOMBAY STATE then? When the funda of linguistic states was being chalked out, Morarjee Desai was the Chief Minister of Bombay. He, being a Gujarati, decided to club apni Mumbai city with GUJARAT state. And the new State (after handing over the Kannada speaking regions to old Mysore State), was to be called MAHARASHTRA minus Bombay (or Mumbai) city. Marathis were obviously furious when they heard this. They launched an agitation under the 'Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti' against the merger of Mumbai city with Gujarat state. Many Mumbaikars lost their lives fighting for the cause. Finally their demands were considered and a new state MAHARASHTRA was formed on 1st May, 1960 with Mumbai city included in it. That is the day we celebrate 'Maharashtra Day' every year.

All of you have seen Hutatma Chowk or Flora Fountain. Next time see it more closely. It was built in remembrance of those people who lost their lives fighting in the agitation to retain Mumbai in Maharashtra state. The agitators were fired at near Flora Fountain and the place was later renamed as Hutatma Chowk, meaning "Martyr's Crossroad". Their names are encrypted there. It’s a pity we have forgotten those Mumbaikars. If it weren't for them, Mumbai would have been part of Gujarat and we'd all be Gujaratis now. Would we then have a GNS (Gujarat Navnirman Sena) instead ?


Courtesy: My Dad, who's stayed in Mumbai nearly all his life and knows the city inside out and has seen it grow and change over the years

In support of MNS

I came across this mail as a forward and think it is apt to share with all. Read on.....
Yes, we all should support Raj Thackeray and take his initiative ahead by doing more...
1. We should teach our kids that if he is second in class, don't study harder.. just beat up the student coming first and throw him out of the school
2. Parliament should have only Delhiites as it is located in delhi
3. Prime-minister, president and all other leaders should only be from Delhi
4. No Hindi movie should be made in Bombay.. Only Marathi.
5. At every state border, buses, trains, flights should be stoppedand staff changed to local men
6. All Maharashtrians working abroad or in other states should be sent back as they are SNATCHING employment from Locals
7. Lord Shiv, Ganesha and Parvati should not be worshiped in our state as they belong to north (Himalayas)
8. Visits to Taj Mahal should be restricted to people from UP only
9. Relief for farmers in Maharashtra should not come from centre because that is the money collected as Tax from whole of India, so whyshould it be given to someone in Maharashtra?
10. Let's support Kashmiri Militants because they are right in killing and injuring innocent people for the benefit of their state and community..
11. Let's throw all MNCs out of Maharashtra, why should they earn from us? We will open our own Maharashtra Microsoft, MH Pepsi and MH Marutisof the world
12. Let's stop using cellphones, emails, TV, foreign Movies and dramas. James Bond should speak Marathi
13. We should be ready to die hungry or buy food at 10 times higher price but should not accept imports from other states
14. We should not allow any industry to be setup in Maharashtra because all machinery comes from outside
15. We should STOP using local trains... Trains are not manufactured by Marathi manoos and Railway Minister is a Bihari
16. Ensure that all our children are born, grow, live and die without ever stepping out of Maharasthra, then they will become true Marathis
------------------------------------------
That article was in a lighter vein. But I have my own thoughts to add.
While on the topic of Marathi manoos, I would like to know many things.......
  • Whether the word 'Marathi manoos' stands only for Hindu Marathis or includes the Christians, Muslims and other religion people from the state as well ?
  • Whether North/ South Indians staying in the State for more than 50 years or ever since in Independence can be called Marathi manoos?
  • Should people from the old Bombay State (which many are not aware of these days) call themselves Marathi too? What was done to retain the state?
  • What should Marathi people living and working in other States do now? Should they come back?
  • Can Marathi manoos go and study in IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Indore and the likes ? (Of course, the Marathi students there might already be bearing the brunt of Raj's campaign without any fault of theirs')
  • Now that we cannot tolerate people from other states moving within their own country and coming to Maharashtra, can we voice our concerns when we are discriminated in some other country?
  • Why is the hatred towards UPites and Biharis only? Why not Gujaratis? Of course, we know why! (Mumbai's economy runs mostly because of them!)
  • Will the campaign target people from other states also one by one?
  • Lastly, should we call ourselves Maharashtrians first, then Indians? Or only Maharashtians ?
For those who do not know, I was born and brought up in Mumbai. My parents came to Mumbai many years back from Karwar (Northern border of Karnataka), which touches Mararashtra and Goa. Karwar was part of the Old Bombay State, which included some parts of Gujarat, Marathi speaking Marathwada region of Hyderabad, the northern Konkani / Marathi speaking region of Karnataka. A lot of famous Marathis are originally from Karwar, but proudly call themselves Marathis now. The once famous Marathi actress, Jayshree Gadkar is a Karwari herself. The Goud Saraswat Brahmins are settled in Goa and Karwar, which are just 3-4 hours away (by road and 1 hour by train) from each other. They have also started calling themselves Marathis over a period of time. Sometime recently, the Marathi speaking people of Belgaum had launched a campaign to be included in Marashtra.
I am a Marathi. I can speak, read and write Marathi. But I am an Indian first. If everyone starts thinking limited, moving in limited areas and being intolerant towards others, we will be going back to the Stone Age. That's how people used to live millions of years back. Living for their areas, their states, their countries and waging Wars to acquire more land or expand country. They had limited knowledge of the outside world. Those countries which started to gain knowledge, started moving to other lands and started 'discovering' places, though they existed since millions of years. Slowly people started moving to lesser known places and knowing the world. Then transportation and communication means improved over period of time and world started shrinking in terms of accessibility. We started moving towards 'Globalisation' and the world became a small place. We boast of being able to have breakfast in one country, lunch in another and dinner in a third country !
But suddenly, we seem to be disliking all this. We are going back to primitive time by talking of my land; your land. Talking of throwing off people who discovered and moved to newer areas. Slowly, we might go back to our own clamped shells, just peeking out to check if all's fine. Then we'll shrink not as a world, but within ourselves and into our own primitive regions. And our children will say - 'Once upon a time, they say that the world was a small place and people would move freely to wherever they liked!'

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

So much to write abt.....

Lot of things happening around me these days....
'Fraud autorickshawalla', 'midnight drama in Ladies First Class compartment', 'situation after 11 pm in Mumbai Local', 'tension in Mumbai due to Raj's arrest', 'Leelavati hospital on Amitabh's birthday'.
Have lots to write on. I wish I was a full time journalist. Then I would've written to my heart's content.
But very busy with work these days and some important event coming up at home keeping me busy throughout the week.
Maybe I'll write during the weekend if I get time.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Forgive Us All, Dear God - A Prayer



What's happening in the world ?
There's hatred everywhere.
Some people kill people of the other faith and in retaliation, they kill some people from the first faith.
This will never stop.
Revenge, hatred. It will go on.....

Now it's not only the world. It's happening in India as well.
Bombs in the metros.
Killing of innocents. What for ?
According to the Qur'an, killing a person unjustly is the same as killing all of humanity, and saving a person is the same as saving all humanity.

Now there's killing of Christians in Orrisa.
Burning orphanages, which is the shelter for the homeless.
It takes a lot of effort to build a home for someone else. To break it, is the biggest sin.
Communal violence in Assam.

Hatred for each other.
Labelling each other.
Having misconceptions.
Who is it helping anyways?
The politicians, of course.
As they prepare for the elections.
Else, we people have nothing to gain out of this violence and hatred.
We are just destroying ourselves.
We all want Peace.
Let us strive for Peace.
Oh God! Forgive us All.
And show us the Right Path.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Mens' brains v/s Womens' brains


This one's simply hilarious! The man's a marriage counsellor!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ramzaan- The Month of Fasting


The month of Ramzaan is soon coming to an end. We are already in the midst of the last important days/nights of this 'blessed' month. In a matter of 3/ 4 days, we will be celebrating Eid-Ul-Fitr.

As I fast through the month, I am often asked strange, inquisitive and sometimes, odd, questions by my colleagues, who do not know much about the month. The questions vary from 'do you have to break fast with home food only' to 'when can you fast and when you cannot', 'what happens when you don't fast', 'Do Muslims keep eating whole night' etc. For some its hard to digest that most Muslims refrain from even watching movies, hearing music and watching 'entertainment programs on TV'. I've given up FM radio right from the beginning of the month and avoid TV as much as possible except for informative programs and a little time for some decent serial. I've lost track of new movie releases/ reviews and songs during the month.

I am sure the non-Muslims are many times confused as well as wonder what Ramzaan is all about.
Presenting compilation of various data I gathered from the net (with my own additions and editing), which cover all information in detail and will serve as good information to those who do not much about Ramzaan- The month of Fasting.

Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset. The fast is performed to learn discipline, self-restraint and generosity, while obeying God's commandments.Fasting (along with the declaration of faith, daily prayers, charity, and pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the "five pillars" of Islam. Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven days earlier each year. ( www.cair-net.org )

How To's of Fasting
(Taken from
www.soundvision.com )

The Obligation

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah's commands through the highest degree of commitment, sincerity and faithfulness to seek Allah's mercy, to atone for sins, errors, and mistakes and to avoid condemnation to Hell.

It is done out of deep love for God, with a genuine virtue of devotion, honest dedication and closeness to Allah, for Fasting is for Allah and Him alone.

The fasting during Ramadan is obligatory on every adult, sane, and able Muslim.

Time: When to fast

Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from three primal physical needs of human beings- food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn (approximately one and a half hours before sunrise) to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.

Who is exempted from fasting
1. Children under the age of puberty and discretion;
2. The insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two categories are exempted from the duty of fasting and no compensation or any other substitute is enjoined on them;
3. Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fasting and bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer at least one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person day.
4. Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by fasting. They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and makeup for it, a day for a day;
5. People expecting hardship. Such people may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it in later days, a day for a day. But it is better for them, the Quran says, to keep the fast if they can without causing extraordinary hardships;
6. Expectant women and women nursing their children may also break the fast, if its observance is likely to endanger their own health or that of their infants. But they must make up for the fast at a delayed time, a day for a day;
7. Women in periods of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days). They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it, a day for day.

Niyyah or Intention of Fast

To observe the fast, the intention of fasting is essential (Wajib). The intention should be made daily, preferably before dawn of each day of fasting (in Ramadan).

Provision is made if someone has forgotten to express his intention before dawn. In such a case one is allowed to express intention of fasting before noon to avoid the invalidation of the fast.

The wording of Niyyah may be as follows:
"I intend to observe fast for today."

Suhoor/ Sehri

Suhoor is a predawn meal (breakfast) to be consumed before dawn. One needs to get up much before dawn so that he/ she had have breakfast, before he/ she proceeds to fast the following day.

Any consumption of food or drink should cease at least five to ten minutes before the onset of dawn.

Iftar

Iftar is an Arabic term meaning breaking the fast immediately after the sunset. It is considered to break the fast with dates, as that was the way our beloved Prophet used to break it. This is followed by having other snacks or meal.

This is eaten after making the following Dua (supplication) for breaking the fast:
"Oh Allah! I fasted for your sake and I am breaking my fast from the sustenance You blessed me with, accept it from me."

What breaks the fast

1. Intentional consumption of food, drink, medicine, or smoking during the fasting.
2. Any injection which has some nutritional value.
3. Beginning of menstruation or post natal birth bleeding (even in the last moment of sunset).
The conditions mentioned above invalidate fasting and require "Qada" (making up only the missed day or days). However, intentional intercourse during the hours of fasting invalidates fasting and not only requires "Qada" but also additional penalty (Kaffara-see the explanation of this below).

What does not break the fast

1. Eating or drinking by mistake, unmindful of the fast.
2. Unintentional vomiting.
3. Swallowing things which are not possible to avoid, such as one's own saliva, street dust, smoke, etc.
4. Brushing the teeth.
5. Bathing: if water is swallowed unintentionally, it does not invalidate the fast. However, while fasting gargling should be avoided.
6. Injection or I/V (Intravenous) which is solely medicinal and not nutritional.
7. In some special circumstances if the food or drink is just tasted and immediately removed out of the mouth without allowing it to enter into the throat.

Kaffara

During the fasting period, if one deliberately breaks his or her fast, s/he must free one slave, or fast for sixty continuous days, or feed sixty needy persons, or spend in charity an amount equal to feeding sixty persons.

If one chooses to fast sixty days and the continuity is interrupted for any reason, except menstruation, one has to start the sixty day cycle all over again.

Breaking of the fast under exceptional conditions

Muslims are permitted to break their fast of Ramadan when there is a danger to their health.
In this situation a Muslim should make up his/her fast later. The missed fast(s) can be made up at any other time of the year, either continuously or intermittently, except on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr and the day of Eid-ul-Adha

Tarawih

These are special Sunnah prayers in the month of Ramadan. They follow the Isha prayers. A minimum of eight and a maximum of twenty Rakat are offered in pairs of two.

Lailat al-Qadr

Amongst the nights of Ramadan, there is one special night of Power (Qadr) which is highlighted in Surah al-Qadr (Surah 97 in the Quran).

It has the significance of being better than a thousand months (Quran 97:3).

This was the night when Quran was revealed to mankind. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) recommended Muslims search for this night of Power (Qadr) in the odd nights of the last ten nights in Ramadan.

Muslims spend the night in Ibadah (worship), asking forgiveness of their sins and reciting the Quran.

TRADITIONAL PRACTICES
(by
www.cair-net.org )

* Breaking the daily fast with a drink of water and dates
* Reading the entire Quran during Ramadan (For this purpose, theQuran is divided into 30 units.)
* Social visits are encouraged.

EID UL-FITR ("Festival of End of Fasting") PRAYERS AT THE END OF RAMADAN

* Eid begins with special morning prayers on the first day of Shawwal the month following Ramadan on the Islamic lunar calendar, and lasts for three days.
* It is forbidden to perform an optional fast during Eid because itis a time for relaxation.
* During Eid Muslims greet each other with the phrase "Eid Mubarak"(eed-moo-bar-ak), meaning "blessed Eid" and "taqabballah ta'atakum,"or "may God accept your deeds."

Fitra
Fitra (Fitr) is for fasting Muslims to give food or money on behalf of fasting people. The head of the family pays rice / grain / barley / common food of the region or equivalent money (which is reviewed yearly) @ 2.25 kgs per person on behalf of each person in the family. If he is responsible for his mother and father, then he has to pay Zakat ul Fitr for them too.If a person cannot fast permanently in the month of Ramadan (for instance, because of illness) they have to pay Fitra for each fasting day.

This is paid to a poor / deserving / needy person at the end of the fasting month (or after sighting the moon), but before EID, so that they can also celebrate the festival happily
RAMADAN Q&A

Q: How did the fast during Ramadan become obligatory for Muslims?
A: The revelations from God to the Prophet Muhammad that wouldeventually be compiled as the Quran began during Ramadan in the year610, but the fast of Ramadan did not become a religious obligationfor Muslims until the year 624. The obligation to fast is explainedin the second chapter of the Quran: "O ye who believe! Fasting isprescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that yemay (learn) self-restraint...Ramadan is the (month) in which wassent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) forguidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of youwho is present (at his home) during that month should spend it infasting..." (Chapter 2, verses 183 and 185)

Q: What do Muslims believe they gain from fasting?
A: The main benefits of Ramadan are an increased compassion forthose in need of the necessities of life, a sense of self-purification and reflection and a renewed focus on spirituality.Muslims also appreciate the feeling of togetherness shared by familyand friends throughout the month. Perhaps the greatest practicalbenefit is the yearly lesson in self-restraint and discipline thatcan carry forward to other aspects of a Muslim's life such as workand education.

Q: Do people normally lose weight during Ramadan?
A: Some people do lose weight, but others may not. It is recommendedthat meals eaten during Ramadan be light, but most people can'tresist sampling special sweets and foods associated with Ramadan.

Q: Why does Ramadan begin on a different day each year?
A: Because Ramadan is a lunar month, it begins about eleven daysearlier each year. Throughout a Muslim's lifetime, Ramadan will fallboth during winter months, when the days are short, and summermonths, when the days are long and the fast is more difficult. Inthis way, the difficulty of the fast is evenly distributed betweenMuslims living in the northern and southern hemispheres.

Q: What is Lailat ul-Qadr?
A: Lailat ul-Qadr ("Night of Power") marks the anniversary of thenight on which the Prophet Muhammad first began receivingrevelations from God, through the angel Gabriel. An entire chapterin the Quran deals with this night: "We have indeed revealed this(Message) in the Night of Power: and what will explain to thee whatthe Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousandmonths. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit by God'spermission, on every errand. Peace!...This until the rise of morn."(Chapter 97) Muslims believe Lailat ul-Qadr is one of the last odd-numbered nights of Ramadan.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Moderate Path

I came across these lines from Hadees (Hadith) which hold a lot of relevance today:
Hazrat Abu Huraira (Radiyallahu Anhu) reported Allah's Messenger (Sallalahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) as saying, 'The religion is ease, but if anyone overdoes it, it gets the better of him ; so keep to the right course, approximate to perfection, rejoice, and ask help in the morning, the evening, and some latter part of the night'.
The above Hadees clearly states that one should follow the Path shown by Allah, pray 5 times a day but at the same time enjoy social life and live in equilibrium with society. It tells us not to overdo the religious bit, cause anything in excess can lead to negativity. Maybe thats what's happening today. When we refuse to accept our social obligations and other duties and just walk, talk and think of religion, we might so get involved in it that we might start feeling that everything else except us is wrong. This slowly leads to negativity and later to hatred. This hatred then leads to destructive thoughts.
So follow religion, be tolerate towards others (this is also one of the teachings of Islam) and more importantly be humane. This is the correct way to follow the Right Path.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

THE BIG BANG THEORY - THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE



With the ‘Large Hadron Collider’ experiment going live, everyone is looking into their religions and wondering if it supports such a study. People are greatly confused and even scared of the wrath or curse of God. Some feel that if the experiment goes wrong, the whole earth will be destroyed. Having said that, we have nothing to fear as everything on this earth and universe, is controlled by the Almighty God, who will have a final say in the matter. The earth will end only when HE wills.

Everyone might not have heard about the Big Bang theory. It’s only the people who've studied science or kept themselves updated about things. So it is but natural that even some religious scholars might not be able to comment much on the subject. 

Many news channels have over-hyped the entire experiment by screaming themselves hoarse that the world is coming to an End. They have given out unnecessary ‘Red Alerts’ without studying the experiment or the logic behind it in detail. This has resulted in chaos in some places, where people working away from their homes have returned back to their families and even a suicide case has also been reported.

Scientists from 80 countries, including Indian scientists have been working on this experiment since many years. From the various reasons of carrying out the experiment, one of the main reasons according to some scientists is to study whether God created the Universe or the Universe got created by itself with a Big Bang. Now this is one part with which I do not agree. Because the Big Bang theory is clearly mentioned in the Quran.

I did my bit of research on Science on the Subject and related texts in Quran and came out with amazing revelations!

What is the Big Bang Theory?



The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. Discoveries in astronomy and physics have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. Prior to that moment there was nothing; during and after that moment there was something: our universe. The big bang theory is an effort to explain what happened during and after that moment.

According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a "singularity" and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities." Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know. After its initial appearance, it apparently inflated (the "Big Bang"), expanded and cooled, going from very, very small and very, very hot, to the size and temperature of our current universe. It continues to expand and cool to this day.

Contrary to belief, there was no giant explosion as such. Something happened and the universe was formed and started expanding. What is this something and how it happened is what the scientists are trying to study with the ‘Big Bang Experiment’.

Having understood the ‘Big Bang’ theory, which speaks about the Origin of the Universe, let us not mix it with the Origin of Life. Both are two different things. By accepting the ‘Big Bang’ theory, how can we prove that God was not ‘creator of the universe and life on earth’? Many people think that this theory is against religion and often confuse it with Origin of Life. Now let us look at it this way. The Universe was formed some billion of years ago. At that time it was still too hot and still in the earlier stages of expansion, so the question of existence of life then was not possible. Life came into existence much later.

Science states that the universe was once just a cloud of 'smoke' This is one of the undisputed principles of standard modern cosmology.
God said in the Quran:Then He turned to the heavens when it was smoke...
[Holy Quran 41:11]


Out of this one mass of smoke, the sun, moon, stars, galaxies etc (i.e. the Universe) was formed. That is what the Big Bang theory proposes too.

Refer to the Verse from Quran which clearly mentions about this fact :Surah Al Anbiyaa Verse- 30
 :
"Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together before We split them asunder ? We made from water every living thing. Will they not then believe?"

The first half speaks about the Big Bang theory, while the second half speaks about the Origin of Life. It clearly states that life was formed from water. Science tells us now that the life on earth originated from water. Even today while we are exploring the galaxies and actively searching for life on other planets, the first question we ask : ‘Is there any water on that planet to sustain life?’, because we know that without water life is impossible.

Also refer to the following Verse detailing the ‘Big Bang’ expansion theory :The heavens, We have built with power and, We are expanding it.
(Chapter: 51, Verse: 47)


There are seperate Verses in the Holy Quran which talk about how Evolution of Life as well as other scientific facts. Quoting just a few here :


"(God is the one who) raised the heavens without any pillars that you see, and He is firm in power and He made the sun and the moon subservient (to you); each one pursues its course to an appointed time; He regulates the affair, making clear the signs that you may be certain of meeting your Lord."
(Chapter 13 - verse 2)

"And He it is Who spread the earth and made in it firm mountains and rivers, and of all fruits He has made in it pairs; He makes the night cover the day; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect."
(Chapter 13 - verse 3)

This verse also points out the sexual reproduction in plant kingdom, much before science discovered it. In 13/3 male and female fruit plants are described.
Similarly reference is made to the water origin of animals:-

"Allah Almighty (God) created from water every living creature: so of them is that which walks upon its belly, and of them is that which walks upon two feet, and of them is that which walks upon four".

In other verses, it also goes on to explain about the Creation of Man. But we are only discussing the Origin of the Universe here. Discussing Science and Islam would require a separate Chapter. I’ve added the verses of Origin of Life to clear the confusion between the two things.

And all this was revealed to our Prophet Muhammed (Peace be upon him) by Allah in the Holy month of Ramzan through Angel Gabriel (Jibrail Alaissalaam) 1400 years ago by way of The Quran. Since Muhammed (PBUH) was himself illiterate, he couldn’t have read about all this or copied it from somewhere. And many of these facts were only discovered within a span of the last hundred years and were not known to Mankind 1400 years ago! And no data in Quran has ever been manipulated, adapted, changed since then. Every available copy of the Holy Quran on this earth, whether old or new, whether handwritten or printed will be the same. Of course there are translations, but the original text hasn’t changed over the years. So there is no chance of later additions.

Surprisingly, Quran not only speaks about the ‘Expansion of Universe (Big Bang)’, but also about the subsequent ‘Contraction of the Universe’ (Big Crunch).

What is Big Crunch?



If the expansion continues, after billions of years, all the energy of the sun and stars will be exhausted and every living thing will freeze to death. Eventually, only the expanding emptiness will remain. Alternatively if there is enough mass in the universe, gravity will one day stop the expansion and then contraction will begin. A contracting universe would ultimately end in a very hot and compressed state called "The Big Crunch." This would also destroy all life forms, as we know them.

Some physicists like Michael Berry, Thomas Gold, and Steven Hawking feel that time may reverse when the universe begins contracting. This prospect has a striking resemblance to the Quranic description of the Day of Judgment.

That Day We will fold up heaven like folding up the pages of a book. As We originated the first creation so We will regenerate it. It is a promise binding on Us. That is what We will do. (Qur'an, 21:104)


In another verse, this state of the heavens is described thus:
They do not measure Allah with His true measure. The whole earth will be a mere handful for Him on the Day of Rising the heavens folded up in His right hand. Glory be to Him! He is exalted above the partners they ascribe!
(Qur'an, 39:67)


What is Time and What is Reversal of Time ?


Many people have tried to explain time including Albert Einstien, but it is still an elusive mystery. What moves slowly for us, might be a matter of seconds in another part of the universe or in God’s context. There are many other references in the Holy Quran like Muhammed (PBUH)’s trip on the night of Shab-e-Mehraj, where the Prophet covered the seven heavens, but was missing from his bed only for a few minutes/ seconds and was back when the bed was still warm! Time, as we know, keeps moving into a future direction. Things form, then destroy with time. People are born, then die. This is time. What if time is reversed? Everything in the world will go in a reverse direction. The dead will come to life, the old will become younger. Now that’s what the Day of Judgement is all about as stated in the Quran. So the contraction of the Universe will lead to reversal of time and finally everything will be back to its original hot single mass. That will be the Day of Judgement (Qayamat).

Day of Judgement 

Does this mean that we will be able to predict the Day of Judgement when the Universe starts contracting? NO. Though, the concept of contracting of earth appears to be simple as expansion, it would not be so easy for us to decipher. And moreso, because God clearly states in the Quran that :Men ask you of the Hour. Say the knowledge of it is with Allah only.
What can convey to you that may be the Hour is near.
(Chapter: 33, Verse: 63)

They bid you to hasten on the doom.
And if a term had not been appointed,
The doom would have definitely come on them.
And it will come upon them suddenly
When they perceive not.
(Chapter: 29, Verse: 53)

This is explained by the fact that time will also reverse with the contracting (slowing down of expansion) and we will not be able to measure the difference. If time slows with slowing down of expansion, we will be calculating speed with our slower time, and will not realize that the contraction has started since the rate of expansion will appear same to us. In fact with our slower time, when we calculate expansion till the far reaches of the universe, it might even appear to be faster. Ain’t that mind boggling?

What I discovered in a Day is truly amazing. This is so complicated. You have to relate time, theory of relativity, Big Bang and study it in depth with Physics to really understand all this. And still there are many questions unanswered.

But the fact remains that the Day of Judgment cannot be predicted by any of us. It will be decided by our Creator -The Almighty and will come when we’re least expecting it. So all the Dooms Day predictors please relax and chill out! You won’t know when it’s going to come.


The Unanswered Questions
This is what the CERN’s ‘Large Hadron Collider’ experiment seeks to obtain -Answers to many questions regarding the Origin of the Universe and it’s Future.

Is this against any Religion or are we playing with Nature ?
It is not wrong to know and seek knowledge because Quran clearly encourages all Men and Women equally to seek knowledge
"Are those who have knowledge and those who have no knowledge alike? Only the men of understanding are mindful. " (Quran, 39:9)

"My Lord! Enrich me with knowledge.." (Quran, 20:114)

Quran also encourages scientific research :
"And whoso brings the truth and believes therein such are the dutiful."
(Quran, 39:33)

So there is nothing wrong in carrying out this experiment. As far as playing with nature is concerned, we all know that nothing happens without the will of God. The World will end when God Wills.


References :
And Of course, The Holy Quran