Posts Tagged ‘Reflections’

TED: Focus on Biology

// September 3rd, 2009 // 6 Comments » // Blog

I spent a couple of hours on the tube today, and decided to catch up on the mountain of TED videos I have sitting on my iPod. I went through about five in total, three of which had a Bio theme. I found these to be particularly interesting (said the Biologist) for different reasons, and thought I'd share.

Janine Benyus shares Nature's designs

This talk was about the fascinating field of Biomimicry. I swear, if I had the talent to invent, this would be my work. I love the presenter's humility. I don't know how anyone could not be humbled by the creative genius of natural design, as revealed in the video.

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day; there are indeed Signs for men of understanding. Men who celebrate the praises of Allāh, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (With the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee! Give us salvation from the penalty of the Fire.” [Qur'an: 3:190-1]

Kary Mullis' next-gen cure for killer infections

A very short video, but intriguing nonetheless. I wish he had gone into more detail about how exactly they plan to target the infectious organisms via the DNA linker (?). I guess I'll have to look it up at some point. I also think it's premature to say “mission accomplished” at this stage, as not everything transfers smoothly from lab work to clinical trials.

Elaine Morgan says we evolved from aquatic apes

Now, before you all go crazy on me: I am not posting this video because I agree with her theory. I just think it's a brilliant example of dogmatic thinking amongst scientists – even evolutionary biologists. Plus, she's funny!

A Pre-Ramadan Thought

// August 19th, 2009 // 5 Comments » // Blog

I left a comment on Organica's latest post, which I wanted to share here, mainly as a reminder to myself:

“It is much easier to do good deeds in Ramadan because your nafs is weakened by fasting, and the shayateen are locked up. This illustrates that there is something inherently good about humanity, which shines through when worldly temptation is removed.

It's a lesson for us to seek that [good] out within ourselves and others all year round, inshā’Allāh.”

An early Ramadan Mubarak to you all!

Channel 4 Revelations: “How Do You Know God Exists?”

// August 16th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Blog

Programme synopsis:

“Leading figures in the five principal faiths in Britain discuss their beliefs and answer questions about their basic faith and their own spiritual journeys.

The key figures interviewed are Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, Muslim theologian Tariq Ramadan, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and Swami Pramtattvadas.

As well as addressing the 'big questions', including their concepts of God, heaven and hell, they speak frankly about their struggles and frequent moments of doubt, about the divisions within their ranks and crimes that have been committed in the name of religion.”

I only caught the second half of the show, but was just in time to see Tariq Ramadan do a really bad job of explaining the infamous 'wife-beating' verse in the Qur'an. It's not entirely his fault… editing is a dodgy business, and he only had one sentence to work with, really. But that's why I get quite annoyed with these types of shows. You aren't given the time to do justice to any topic.

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My Big Day Out

// July 27th, 2009 // 7 Comments » // Blog

As I mentioned in my last status update, Thursday 23rd July ended up being quite a productive day for me, māshā’Allāh. For a start, I was actually active between the normal working hours of 9.30am and 4.30pm. Amazing! I didn't even manage that during my PhD.

The day involved two major meetings, each relating to the two main projects that currently dominate my unemployed life: Deaf Muslim initiatives (e.g., SignLabs), and blogging. As the content of both meetings was pretty much confidential, I'll skip the details, and just describe the basic aims.

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A Sad Realization

// July 13th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Blog

A few moments ago, I posted the following status message:

Mehzabeen wonders why the Star Trek Voyager crew (or even DS9 – though I'm not really a fan of that spin-off) never got their own 'motion picture'?

I am not sure why I posted it, because, truly, I don't expect anyone on my FB or Twitter, or even my Googable blog, to answer it… unless they want to point out how much of a geek I am for thinking about such things, which is so freakin' cliché, that I'd be forced to throw a virtual chappal at them for not having the imagination to come up with something wittier. I mean, c'mon!

Anyway, it got me thinking about the last time I actually had a friend whom I could share this gloriously abnormal side of me with, as there is no-one in my life right now. For some reason, girls generally aren't into SciFi, never mind Muslim girls.

To be honest, I think the last time was in secondary school; not even undergrad. Sure, I hung around with student folk who had similar interests, but I wouldn't class them as “friends”. Just people in my extended social circle. (No, I wasn't part of the university SciFi soc).

I don't even have hope for a future husband-type to have a similarly nerdy streak in him; people are just so BLAH. Or, if they're not boring, they're already married – most likely to women who don't appreciate that quirky side. Gah!

Honestly, am I just a one-off here?

Is there anybody else out there?

Hello -oh -oh -oh…? [echo dissipates into the darkness]

Sigh.

Don’t Play Shaytaan’s Blame Game

// July 10th, 2009 // 10 Comments » // Blog

I attended the much hyped (my own doing) “Emasculated Muslim Men and the Feminist Hijabi” debate this evening. I actually bumped into my good blog buddy, Sumera, prior to the start of the event; so I know that I wasn't the only intrigued blogger in the audience.

Anyway, I don't have much to say about it all. Partly because I was asked to film it, so I was too busy paying attention to my camera, to soak in much of anything. I can tell you that it was a very mature, rational discussion, māshā’Allāh; there wasn't really any kind of 'debate' as such, as all the speakers pretty much agreed with one another (even though the panel consisted of Muslims and a non-Muslim, men and women – “Yey!” for social harmony).

However, one tidbit that made a lasting impression, was offered by the entertaining, yet informative, Imam Shahnawaz Haque (Psychotherapist, Teacher and Khatib), in response to an audience member asking why all the attention was being placed on the deficiencies of men – what about women's deficiencies?

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Ten Years Later

// June 28th, 2009 // 4 Comments » // Blog

This weekend has been one of nostalgia and reminiscence.

Every June, the alumni association of my school holds a reunion dinner. This year, special invites were sent out to my class – the class of '99 – to celebrate our 10 year anniversary.

I knew straight away that I would not be attending. For one, it's in Leicester; for two, the ticket cost £30; and for three, there will be alcohol a plenty, which, on the grounds of both religion, and personal comfort, precluded my attendance.

Still, I couldn't keep my mind off the gathering.

In school, I was your average nerd: 'four eyes', train tracks on my teeth, overweight, hair always neatly braided, A-grades in every subject – except Phys Ed, naturally. Thank God, I was never really bullied; rather, incessantly teased, and the victim of more than one practical joke.

Therefore, ever since leaving school, I have dreamt about returning to a future reunion, as a smart, successful – and yes, gorgeous – individual, who didn't let her geekish tendencies hold her back in any way (if anything, they would help to mould me into said “smart, successful, gorgeous individual”). The typical 'ugly duckling turns swan' teen fantasy.

What I didn't expect, however, was that midway between graduation and reunion, I would undergo a complete moral and spiritual makeover; a personal revival that has altered every previous misguided notion of what makes someone a success, and truly beautiful. Now, the idea of attending a reunion to simply show off how great I have it, would be anathema to the principles that I hold dear.

Besides, I imagine the entire dinner would be such a superficial experience, especially as I detest small talk. Further, I have made contact with many of my past school mates via Facebook. If I really wanted to catch up with them in person, I would have done so by now, especially as several also live and work in London.

Saying all that, I'd still like to meet up with a few people from my past; especially my teachers. Thank them for their hard work, guidance, and inspiration. I'd also like to walk around the old school grounds, as they were quite beautiful, and are home to some great memories.

Anyway, until I marry Noah Wyle, my original reunion fantasy would be incomplete. Really, without him, it wouldn't even be worth the bus fare. Ten years, fifty years: some dreams will never die (even though we do become more realistic about how unattainable they are with every passing year).

:)

Definition of Friendship

// June 28th, 2009 // 2 Comments » // Blog

I just wrote a mini-paper on the meaning of friendship, in response to a contact's status message on Facebook. It kinda sucks to take over someone's profile like that, so I am transferring the rant from there, to here, and replacing it with a much shorter URL. :)

Plus, I want a longer term record of what I said, because it's the kind of advice that will bite me in the bee-hind one day, if I ever forget it – this post will hopefully serve like a post-it note, for when I will inevitably need the same 'talking to'.

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Why I Could Teach, But Most Likely Never Will

// June 10th, 2009 // 8 Comments » // Blog

This post on homeschooling reminded me of a recent realization about my own aversion towards taking the PGCE route that so many PhD graduates seem to pursue, having realized that they can no longer tolerate the research environment.

It's not that I don't enjoy teaching – even teaching kids, and young people. I just can't deal with the discipline issues; or should I say, lack of discipline issues. I can already predict that having to deal on a daily basis with rowdy adolescents that are intent on pushing every button and testing every boundary, will eventually reduce me to one of those babbling, stuttering, post-nervous breakdown teachers that we've all been taught by at one point in our lives (for me, it was my year 9 History teacher. There were rumours that his odd behaviour was a result of him being locked in a cupboard by his students for several hours. And this at a private school).

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Have You Thanked Allah?

// June 9th, 2009 // 1 Comment » // Blog

I was e-mailed the following by a friend, and thought it contained some great bite-sized chunks of wisdom.

Have You Thanked Allāh?
by Imâm Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

Salmân al-Fârsî radhiyAllahu anhu said:
“There was a man who was given many of the luxuries of this world, and then they were taken away from him. But he continued to praise and thank Allâh until everything had been taken from him, even his bed. And then he still praised and thanked Allâh. Another man, who had also been given many of the luxuries of this world asked him, 'What are you praising and thanking Allâh for?' The man said, 'I am praising and thanking Him for blessings which, if others asked me to give them to them in return for all that they have, I would never give them up.' 'What can they be?' asked the second man. 'Can't you see?' asked the first man. 'I have my eyesight, my tongue, my hands, my feet…'”

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