Poverty and me…

25 08 2008
  1. My young economist colleague told me moments ago that there is no poverty in our peaceful country. Obviously, the Abode of Peace is a world-renowned oil rich nation so the poorest of souls should not have existed.
  2. So define what poverty means? Simplest definition: The state of being poor.
  3. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty) has a quite comprehensive and bit more detailed description of poverty. The endless arguments and debates about the subject matter will never cease.
  4. I personally look at myself as in the state of being poor. I still am forever thankful for all that I have now and could have ever asked for from the Lord of the Universe.
  5. Many more people around the world are enduring much worst sufferings than me.
  6. As poverty-stricken that I think I am, I could still bring food on the table for my family.
  7. I certainly lack knowledge apart from lacking in all desired luxuries that life has to offer generally. This lack of knowledge is the worst form of poverty I can think of, really.
  8. Knowledge is power. With power comes wealth, naturally. And absolute power corrupts absolutely.
  9. Where am I going with this cliched poor writing of mine? Nowhere, for sure. I am merely going in circles in trying to reach my own consensus of poorness where and when it matters most.

 One of the global billionnaires, Bill Gates, has his own brilliant take on the subject of ‘inequity’: “If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.

I am optimistic that we can do this, but I talk to skeptics who claim there is no hope. They say: “Inequity has been with us since the beginning, and will be with us till the end – because people just … don’t … care.” I completely disagree.

I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with.

All of us here in this Yard, at one time or another, have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing – not because we didn’t care, but because we didn’t know what to do. If we had known how to help, we would have acted.

The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity.

To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.

Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes in the future.

But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: “Of all the people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of one percent of them were on this plane. We’re determined to do everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one half of one percent.”

The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths.

We don’t read much about these deaths. The media covers what’s new – and millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background, where it’s easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It’s hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don’t know how to help. And so we look away.

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks “How can I help?,” then we can get action – and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter. “

Extract of Speech by Microsoft Founder, Bill Gates

(Harvard Commencement, June 7, 2007)

Coming from the man with the heart of gold, Mr Gates does care! And so do we care, too, don’t we?

Although I am resigned to the fact that some of us are meant to be born wealthy and most of us (including yours truly) are meant to live in poverty, there is no stopping all of us from caring about others’ well being and helping them to live the good life – richly or poorly. What differentiates us all is what is deep in each of our own hearts. The richness in the heart is the one thing that will determine the real wealth of any human being… 🙂

I think one way to experience how the poor and the needy would feel whenever they are starving is if one were to try fasting like how we Muslims refrain ourselves from taking food and drinks from dawn until dusk during the Islamic Fasting month of Ramadan.

It can be surreal but at least fasting teaches us to appreciate those who are faced with poverty, starvation and malnutrition. Personally, it is a learning experience for me and the knowledge gained can be awesome!

Such experience will then lead us to go a step further by opening our hearts to give something back to the poor and the needy – be it in the form of cash or in kind… The rich should really part with 2.5 percent of their annual income to help eradicate poverty in this world. In Islam, it is called “Zakat” or the Tithe, which is one of the Five obligatory duties of every Muslim. 

PLK  

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London Olympics 2012 – World Peace at last?

24 08 2008

‘ONE WORLD, ONE DREAM’ has been successfully achieved in the recently concluded Beijing Olympics ’08… and London Olympics 2012, here we come!

The Chinese supremacy in sports by winning a total of 100 medals (of which more than half are in Gold) has also been boosted by the unmatched and most spectacular of Official Opening and Closing ceremonies in Olympics history. And the winners are the people of China from its powerful Supreme Committee down to the lowly peasants throughout the vast country, rich in ancient history.

The most obvious champions of the olympics games, apart from all the medal winners, are of course sports and peace lovers from around the globe who had thronged the Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing and all other olympics games venues throughout China for the last 16 days. TV viewers globally have played their peaceful parts by sitting it out in front of their TV screens 24/7 for more than two weeks according to their waking time zones. One world, one dream it has been, indeed.

Britain’s former Olympics champion, Sebastian Coe, is now being faced with the most daunting task to spearhead the British Olympics organising committee in equalling the amazing feat of Beijing Olympic Games ’08 organisers when the world’s most metropolitan of cities, London, will host the Olympics in four years’ time. Peace, Love and Kindness will be in the misty London air soon enough! I shall try my personal best to bring my whole family to London to witness it all (God willing).

PLK





Religion of Peace and gotta Fast soon!

18 08 2008

ALL religions of the world are basically peaceful in nature or are primarily aimed at instilling the core value of inner peace within the heart and soul of one and all of faithful followers of each religion.

Peace and all other good values of spiritual enhancement, particularly love and kindness, are the total embodiment of any religion. My little and somewhat hollow knowledge of my own spiritual belief can be pretty daunting at times. I still have a long, long way to go in terms of religious piety and complete or holistic faith in my own daily spiritual practise. More importantly is the fact (and the reality of life) that it is my major responsibility as a Muslim husband and a father to guide my own family (my wife, son and daughter) to the Righteous Path!

Being a Muslim, I know that I must whole-heartedly fulfil my obligations as prescribed in the basic tenets of Islam i.e. the five main pillars of Islam (“5 Rukun Islam”) and the six principles of Faith (“6 Rukun Iman”). A top priority knowledge I should seek is the “Aqidah” and “Tauhid” (Oneness of God).

In short, the 5 Pillars of Islam are: 1. To declare that there is no god but Allah and that Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; 2. To pray five times a day; 3. To fast during the fasting month of Ramadhan; 4. To pay the Tithe (“Zakat”) and 5. To perform the pilgrimage or the Haj in Islam’s holiest city of Mekah in Saudi Arabia. 

Islam Online further defines the above as: “The five pillars of the Islamic faith, the fundamental constituents of Muslim life, are:

  • Shahada, the profession of faith in the uniqueness of Allah and the centrality of Mohammed as his Prophet ?
  • Salat, formal worship or prayer
  • Zakat, the giving of alms for the poor, assessed on all adult Muslims as 2.5% of capital assets once a year
  • Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, which every Muslim should undertake at least once in their lifetime if they are physically and financially able; the annual hajj takes place during the last 10 days of the 12th lunar month every year
  • Sawm, fasting during Ramadan, the holy ninth month of the lunar year.”

Islam Online elaborates: “In Islam, faith, (Iman or Aqeedah) is the matter of knowledge. The Muslim must believe in his heart and have faith and conviction, with no doubts or suspicions.

The Islamic “Aqeedah” is established on the principle that “There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”.

The principles of “Aaqeedah” are those which Allah has ordered Muslims to believe in.

Allah (swt) says:

(The Messenger believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers. They say, ‘We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers’ – and they say, ‘We hear, and we obey. (We seek) Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the return (of all)) [Qur’an 2:285]

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) described how Jebreel explained faith in Islam to him;

Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, His Messengers, and the Day of Resurrection.”

Allah says:

(And thus We inspired in You (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. You did not know what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith (iman) was. But we have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of our bondmen…) [Qur’an 42:52]

The basic principles that Muslims must believe in and follow are the five pillars of Islam. One will not be called a believer just by knowing and understanding these pillars but he must come to the level where he submits and implements them.

Iman, in this manner, incorporates Islam.

Imam Abu-Hanifa said,
“The understanding of faith is better than understanding of the science.”

What he meant by faith here is the “tawheed” (believing that there is no good but Allah (set)) and he meant “shariah” by science. It is clear that he put the understanding of “tawheed”, which is the foundation of the Islamic faith, before the understanding of the “shariah”.

Also, Sheikh Al-Haruwi Al-Ansari said in his book, “Itiqad Ahl Al-Sunnah”;
“The first obligation upon the slave is the knowledge of Allah.”

This is also proven in Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) saying;

“You will come to people from the People of the Book. The first thing that you should call them to is to worship Allah. If they gain the knowledge of Allah, then tell them that Allah obligates upon them five prayers during the day and night…” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim] Source: Islam Q&A”

The 6 Principles (Beliefs) of Faith or “Iman” are: 1. To believe in Allah the Almighty; 2. To believe in the Angels (“Malaikat”); 3. To believe in the Holy Books (the “Al-Quran”/”Injil” or Bible/”Torah”/”Jabur”); 4. To believe in His Messengers (“Rasul”); 5. To believe in ‘Fate and Destiny’ (“Qada’ dan Qadar”) and 6. To believe in the Day of the Resurrection i.e. Life in the Hereafter (“Hari Kiamat/Akhirat”) or popularly known as ‘Doomsday’.

In slightly more than a week’s time, all Muslims globally (numbering more than a billion, I gather) will start to fast for one whole month (depending on the Sighting of the New Moon of Ramadan in most Islamic countries) which is expected to commence on September 1, 2008 i.e. the First Day of the Ramadan month in the Islamic calendar year of 1429 Hijrah.

PLK





Meet Dave Rave Eddie Murphy ’08

13 08 2008

When you’re down and out, tired, dying for laughter as the best medicine, enjoy down-to-earth movies… then I dare you to watch Eddie Murphy in his simply the best comedy in a long while, “Meet Dave”. I’m not gonna bore you to death with any kissy-butt tale about this brilliant movie-goer friendly movie, save to say: “It’s hilariously funny with a combo of Charlie Chaplin and Three Stooges slapstick kinda comical film!” Much more than that is the ‘keep it sweet, stupid!’ (KISS) story about the real lessons of love, friendship and understanding which all earthlings should appreciate as much as admired by teeny-weeny midgets from Planet Nil somewhere out there in the Galaxy fantasy of the “Meet Dave” movie director, Brian Robbins (he directed “Norbit” as well, starring Eddie Murphy).

By sheer chance, I spontaneously texted my spouse last night (who SMSed me to pick her up from the Mall) that we could go to see any movie playing around that time i.e. 8’ish. Upon checkin’ out the Mall Cineplex shows, we’d have to wait another hour or so before the next movie-time. So we decided to give Seri Q-Lap cineplex a try.

Voila! 8.40pm was Meet Dave time! The Missus got us 2 discounted tickets since she’s a ‘Member’ while the romantic hubby (?) bought a combo2 popcorn order with extra Sprite regular plus an M&M packet and a KitKat choco-bar to go. And JIT we made it to our comfy-reclining front seat eye-level with the silver screen (Just In Time!). While munching our shared popcorn and downing my thirst-quenching gassy drinks, we were all the way giggling in fits of laughter to Eddie Murphy’s brand of bubbly humor!:) The ex-Beverly Hills Cop and the Voice of Shrek3 truly made my day! So if you think your day was like the worst nightmare, why don’t you just “Meet Dave”?;)

PLK





May Peace be with you Love unto me and you Kindness comes to you!

9 08 2008

Peace is to love is to kindness, people! These are the three ingredients of a holistic lifestyle. Time is drawing near. It strikes midnight in a few minutes. I am still awake trying to figure out what else to write in my first ever blogsite. To cap off my night, I will simply say life is a bewilderment. Tomorrow is another better day…

By now, time has crossed the night line. Dawn is soon to follow. It is time to close my eyes and wake up to the mystifying light of day in five to six hours time, God willing. Good night, sleep tight, sweet dreams, guys!

PLK