We are only a few days away from Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims around the world. The Muslim fast, which consists of abstinence from food, drink and marital relations, is from the morning (dawn) to the evening (dusk). Some physical and mental preparation is in order for a successful Ramadan. Muslims are encouraged to fast a few days a month throughout the year, so the fasting itself should not be an issue for most people. However, there is a spiritual aspect to Ramadan that we must prepare for to get the most benefit from the month of Ramadan.
The purpose of fasting is to get Taqwa or consciousness of God (hope for His mercy and fear of His wrath). Taqwa is a sought after quality for every believer. Taqwa requires effort on the part of the believer to acquire. Allah says in the Quran about fasting:
ياايهاالذين أمنوا كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب علي الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
[Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 183, Al-Quran]
The prescribed way to establish a connection with our Creator and Sustainer Allah is Salah or the prayer. The month of Ramadan is not just the month of fasting but it is also the month of the Quran. Islam is not practiced in isolation. Ramadan is specially a time when the whole community comes together.
To prepare for the blessed month of Ramadan, it is important to bring our focus toward the worship of Allah with the Prayer, increase in the study of the Quran and to reach out to people around us to really get into the spirit of Ramadan inshaaAllah. In summary, just remember these three points:
1-Worship of Allah with prayer more
2-Study of the Quran more
3-Reach out to people around you more
May we reach the blessed month and may this Ramadan be the best Ramadan yet, Ameen.
Who doesn’t love Mathematics? Actually, I think most people I know don’t really like Maths. And I believe the reason for this is primarily the lack of good Maths teachers. Teaching is tough and if you don’t love it, you will likely not be able to do a good job of it. And Maths is an important subject in high school and has long reaching and long lasting impacts on the lives of students. Mathematics does matter a lot in everyday life. I used to think when would I ever need such and such concept from Mathematics as well. But you’d be surprised.
If you’ve had good Maths teachers, chances are that you’ll love or really like Maths. On the other hand, if you’ve had mediocre Maths teachers or worse, then you might just hate Maths. Teachers play a huge role in students’ lives, some of them might not even be aware. I’ve been blessed to have absolutely legendary Maths teachers wherever I went to school. So I really like Mathematics. I wouldn’t say I absolutely love Maths, but I do really appreciate and enjoy it. I really love Physics. But I digress.
I recently discovered a fantastic YouTube channel where an Australian Maths teacher makes Mathematics fun. Mr. Eddie Woo’s channel, called WooTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/misterwootube) is filled with videos of Mathematics classes where he demystifies Mathematics concepts for his students and the world. His style of teaching had me hooked and I binge watched several videos such as his Visual Proof of the Pythagoras’ Theorem
and the one about Thinking Deeply about Simple Things
Since I love Physics, I also found some really interesting Physics channel on YouTube, For the Allure of Physics. Do check it out:
Finally, if you know how to teach and love explaining concepts to others, you might want to try teaching as a career. If you’re good, you have a real chance to make a huge impact on the lives of many students.
As human beings and students of knowledge it is important for us to keep learning new things constantly. Seeking knowledge is a lifelong journey. In my humble opinion, seeking knowledge be it through reading or through exploring or traveling or speaking with people or through any other means is necessary for a truly fulfilling life. Therefore, I think it is good to put a system around this thought and learn something new every month and keep track of it to give yourself the motivation needed to keep going.
Seeking knowledge doesn’t have to a boring exercise. In fact, in order to be successful it has to be something you enjoy so focus on the subject areas that interest you the most. But do not shy away from anything as you never know if you would enjoy something until you have tried it. Obviously this doesn’t mean trying everything because there are clearly things to avoid in this world. So avoid the bad and focus on what is good.
Last month, I was intrigued with Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Astronomy as I made my way through A Brief History of Time. The world of science is a fascinating experience and I truly enjoy learning more and more. There is so much to learn 🙂
This month I’m focusing on learning Python programming as much as I can. I find it intriguing and have been wondering why I didn’t explore Python before! It has become a very important programming language recently due to the demands from Data Science, Machine Learning, Big Data and AI.
Next month it might be something different. But the point is to keep acquiring knowledge (there is a sea of knowledge for every domain out there just waiting for us to embrace it), putting it into practice if possible (because what is knowledge if we don’t act upon it?) and propagating what is good to others (sharing the knowledge with fellow human beings to make this world a better place).
A fair warning to the readers: this blog post reeks of geek so proceed at your own risk.
With the explosion of the ways human beings are creating, collecting data these days thanks to ease of storage (storage media has been becoming increasingly affordable (in other words, cheaper and cheaper). Additionally it has become increasingly easier to generate and collect data from so many devices (smart phones, satellite systems, cameras, social media etc. et.c). So with this incredible amount of data (literally in the tera-bytes) there is a need to utilize to make sense of the data and to utilize it in useful ways (to make better predictions, make more money, avoid more crimes, design better medicine, create better products, sell more services etc. etc.). Companies (as well as universities) have realized how important it is to do science with data. As a result, the discipline that has recently become very popular is Data Science. Just do a Google search for Data Science and you’ll be amazed at how much information there is out there.
Data Science usually requires skills such as Mathematics, Statistics, SQL, Data Analysis, Business Domain Knowledge and Programming in R or Python. Python and R are the two most popular programming languages with the Data Science discipline these days. So if you’ve a solid Math background and love to do programming, this might be something you might want to look into. It seems like a really interesting field with a lot of opportunities for really meaningful work.
A data scientist typically works in one dedicated domain area: it could be anywhere or anything. For instance, you could be working in marketing, medicine, product engineering, urban design, smart cities, transportation, astrophysics or whatever else you’re into or find opportunities in. There are sure to be a lot of opportunities in pretty much any discipline. Exciting careers for bright students. Study your Mathematics well!
I just finished reading the late Stephen Hawking’s best seller “A Brief History of Time”. What a treat that book was! I totally recommend it, if you’re into science, specially physics, chemistry and mathematics. Although you don’t need to know or understand all of the science behind it to appreciate it, it does help. I don’t claim to understand everything he’s written there or agree with everything he put forth, but it was still a treat for the good old brain. It was probably the best book on such mind (and space/time) bending concepts as Einstein’s General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics. And if you are at all interested in the mysteries of time travel, black holes and the origins of the universe, among other things!
I started reading Dr. Israr Ahmed’s (may Allah have mercy on his soul) book Allama Iqbal Aur Hum (which is in Urdu) but I found it to be a bit too advanced in the language it was written it. It was Urdu interspersed with Persian on some pages. I found a recorded video lecture on YouTube where Dr Israr is explaining the book! I’m going to watch that first and attempt to read the book again.
I’m now starting to read another book “How to Approach and Understand the Quran” by one of my favorite authors and scholars of Islam (Sheikh) Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo. I have actually met the Sheikh a couple of times as well and sat in one of his classes. I have also read another book of his, “Commentary on the Forty Hadith of Al-Nawawi” (two volumes) which was the required text for two semesters in my BA in Islamic Studies, Alhamdulillah. I can’t wait to start the book. InshaaAllah I’ll write about it after I finish reading it.
Our health is a huge blessing from Allah. We don’t realize how truly big a blessing good health is until we get sick, may Allah always keep us in good health. We should never take good health for granted and thank Allah for the good health. Alhamdulillah! Always take care of our good health. We should watch what we eat and drink, avoid everything that is hazardous to our health as much as possible (including processed foods). We should also keep an active lifestyle, walking, jogging, running or biking for a few minutes daily. This is the bare minimum we should do to keep us healthy. Although this is all common sense, but it is not very common as a practice.
I have generally had good health but have had some problems recently due to the terrible amount of pollution of every imaginable type in my environment. I generally avoid taking medication unless it is absolutely necessary, may we never have to take any medication. With the help of Allah, I am recovering now, Alhamdulillah. It has made me miss praying at the mosque which by far is the biggest disadvantage. Aside from the pain and suffering, may Allah protect us from sickness and disease.
The environment is a really important factor in our health and well being. A good environment is supremely important for our physical, mental or spiritual well-being. I have been irritated with the lack of care for the environment and it has recently affected my health. I am writing a research paper on the subject of pollution, it’s numerous hazards and suggest some practical solutions that everyone can actually act on to contribute to a better environment, inshaaAllah. Pollution is not something to be taken lightly. No matter what aspect we look at pollution, it is nothing but bad news. We need to work hard to root it out and keep it at bay for good. May we succeed in this endeavor.
Among the things that really and truly twist my tail is thoughtless bad design for everyday stuff. The lazy production of mediocre garbage that fills the markets from a toilet plunger that won’t plunge crap (quite literally) to the can opener which won’t quite open cans if the engineer’s life depended on it.
I’m not a designer and I don’t make much of anything tangible (unless you print what I make) but I am an avid user of everyday stuff and I can say that bad design is everywhere. Cars are designed badly. Yes they are. Home appliances are designed badly. Everyday use products that are needed around the home are designed with hardly a design concept that can be called as such. What is the point of making products that don’t last, that ruin the environment, that don’t do what the consumer really wants it to do? Would you buy a blender that would break if you used it a few times, knowing full well when you bought it that there was a pretty good chance it would because it looks like a design disaster? Yes we would. Because we don’t know any better.
I get that there is a price to pay for quality and design of products but there needs to be a threshold of how useful, user-friendly and usable a product is before it can make it to the supermarket shelves around the world. I mean come on. There is a slew of products in the market these days that any self-respecting person would never want to have their name on it. If there was an ounce of self-respect left the manufacturer would have not let the product past their quality control.
It seems that the only motive for the manufacturer was to get the product made as cheaply as possible to make the consumer pay a price and buy it. It needs only to be marginally functional and the knuckleheads we are as customers, we would buy it. There is no real incentive for the manufacturer to build something they can be proud of. Forget about manufacturing products that last or products that can be considered as sustainable environmentally friendly products.
I found these videos depicting the model of our solar system in the Milky Way galaxy amazing. Fascinating to see the motion of the planets around the sun and the sun’s own motion through the galaxy. It’s hard to say how accurate this model is. Still it’s pretty awesome. SubhaanAllah!
I’ve always been interested in Science in general but specially so with Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy. My interest in these areas were recently reawakened by a book I’d long wanted to read: A Brief History of Time by the late Stephen Hawking (read my other blog entry about that book here). What a fascinating book that was. It’s surprising that life throws so much at you that you forget what you’re passionate about it put what really fascinates you aside for so many years. Doesn’t resonate with you? Maybe it’s just me then 🙂 I’ll likely start writing more about Mathematics, Physics and Astronomy more now as I’m reading more about those topic areas now. Obviously my other interest areas are the Quran & Hadith, Computers & Programming (and most recently Data Science, Machine Learning & AI) and Languages (particularly in love with Arabic (for most of my life), Persian (because of their beautiful art movies and books of poetry), Turkish (because of Ertugrul and German & Dutch just because). Did you know I took a course in Linguistics in college and enjoyed it immensely.
Here are a few of the verses from the Quran relevant to astronomy:
O company of jinn and mankind, if you are able to pass beyond the regions of the heavens and the earth, then pass. You will not pass except by authority [from Allah ]. [Surah Ar-Rahman, Verse 33, Al-Quran] (https://quran.com/55/33?translations=20)
It is not allowable for the sun to reach the moon, nor does the night overtake the day, but each, in an orbit, is swimming. [Surah Yaseen – Verse 40, Al-Quran] (https://quran.com/36/40?translations=20)
Then I swear by the setting of the stars, [Surah Al-Waqiah, Verse 75, Al-Quran] (https://quran.com/56/75?translations=20)
Why worry about our sustenance when Allah provided for us when we were babies and entirely dependent on our parents, May Allah bless them for taking care of us. Why worry about our sustenance when Allah feeds every creature, big and small? Why worry about our sustenance when Allah has promised that sustenance is His to provide? We worry because of the weakness in our faith or complete lack thereof.
It is strange that as intelligent as we human beings are, we completely ignore our intellect when it comes to sustenance. We completely ignore what we observe. We completely rely on our own assumptions which we have made up. We assume we are responsible for our sustenance. What we ignore is the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea and animals in the wild. Even the insects. Even the microbes. Even the kings and queens of the world. They all depend on Allah alone for their sustenance. If Allah stopped the sun from shining and giving us life supporting warmth or the atmosphere from providing us the air we breathe or the water from quenching our thirst or from plants and animals from being the source of food and energy for our survival.
All we need to remember is that we didn’t come into this world by our own choice. Our Creator created us into existence and put it on this planet and He promised us sustenance. We do need to work for it but we needn’t worry about it. If we increase and strengthen our faith in Allah, we will find that the worry will diminish and disappear. We are here for a purpose. Recognize what that purpose it and we will find our hearts will be at peace as we work on that greater purpose. And Allah will take care of our sustenance just as he takes care of the sustenance of innumerable birds in the sky.
The Seerah refers to the study of the blessed life of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (ﷺ) may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. The reason for studying his life is obvious: he is the Prophet of Allah who brought Islam to us. The Quran was revealed to him. He explained Islam to us. Allah commanded us in the Quran to obey Him and His Messenger (ﷺ). Therefore, it is our religious obligation as Muslims to learn about our Prophet (ﷺ) and what he taught and follow his teachings in order to succeed in this life and in the hereafter.
He (ﷺ) implemented Islam in his own life and showed it to the companions who also followed his examples. They meticulously recorded his sayings, his habits, his likes and dislikes, his approvals and disapprovals, his orders and his prohibitions. They even recorded how he looked, how he dressed, how he handled himself, how he behaved with different people, how he was as a husband, how he was as a father, how he was as a leader, how he was as a friend, how he was as a human being. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
The Quran as well as the Hadith contain details of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) life. To really understand what Islam is, we have to take a deep dive into the study of the Seerah. We need to learn the background, the culture, the time, the tradition, the language and the circumstances in which the Prophet (ﷺ) was sent to really understand the message he brought. The more we study the life of the Mercy to the Worlds (ﷺ), the more we love him. The more we learn about what he went through, how he dealt with every situation in his life, what his comforting words to the companions were in every situation, the more we can’t help but love him (ﷺ).
Just like with the study of the Tafseer and any other study in Islam, it is important to study it from the most authentic sources available to us and not fall victim to propaganda of the Orientalist writings which consist of numerous texts readily available nowadays that were written in an attempt to misguide the masses and misinform them. So we should be careful and weed out the bad stuff and focus on the writings of the Muslim scholars. A lot of these authentic texts have been translated into English as well as other languages globally so they are accessible even if you don’t yet read Arabic.