Saturday, 26 January 2008

Anniversary of the Ironic Tooth

A year ago almost exactly, on the verge of completing preparations for a sermon about patience, I had my front tooth knocked out completely.

A year on, just moments ago, having completed my weekly Hadith discussion with my younger cousins (may Allah make them grow to be strong pious Muslims) and whilst play-fighting, guess what?

Guessed? If not, read the latter part of the Hadith we covered in our discussion and it will become oh so clear (like the gap in my mouth):

"A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one, and both are good. Adhere to that which is beneficial for you. Keep asking Allah for help and do not refrain from it. If you are afflicted in any way, do not say: 'If I had taken this or that step, it would have resulted into such and such', but say only: 'Allah so determined and did as He willed'. The word 'if' opens the gates of satanic thoughts."

Indeed, Allah decreed my front tooth (rather, the denture that is my front tooth) to break into two pieces and so it happened, wallahu akbar wa a3Dham.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

6, Muslim Spain

Title: Muslim Spain
Speaker: Abu Yusuf Tawfique Chowdhury
Language: English
Running Time: 1.5 hours approx
Producer: Qadimoon

A brief insightful two-part lecture outlining the events and suggesting the causes that lead to the rise and fall of Muslim Spain. History goes on repeating so worth the listen with lots of lessons to think about for today.

Food for thought: "Over 800 years of Spain's life was ruled by the Muslims." Bet you didn't know that! "Every science that is majored in the world was advanced in Spain by their intellectual endeavours." Surprised? And finally, "At a time when Spain had sophisticated waterworks and street lights, across the Channel people were living in mud huts next to the river." Intriguing indeed. (Quotes taken from the CD cover case.)

Monday, 21 January 2008

M100 Programme - Strategic Planning & Visioning and Funding & Development

I attended the second installment of the Mosque 100 Programme yesterday, which consisted of two workshops: 'Planning & Visioning' and 'Funding & Development'.

The first workshop included a nice hands on exercise, which was to perform a SWOT analysis of our respective organisations, i.e., to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Oppurtunities and Threats.

The second workshop was full of useful tips for composing successful funding applications and developing successful sustainable projects.

With plans to launch a youth club in my locality imminent, these training workshops could not have come at a better time, and all Praise is due to Allah, Lord and Sustainer of all that exists.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Experiences of Muslim Students - Open Space

I attended an 'Open Space' event yesterday conducted by the Office for Public Management (OPM), who have been commissioned by the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority to conduct research into Muslim students' experiences of studying in higher and further education institutions in London.

The event was introduced with findings from on-line surveys carried out by the OPM late last year. The surveys, according to the OPM, identified five areas of concern: 'Tackling Discrimination', 'Social Environment', 'Learning Environment, 'Meeting the Needs of Muslim Students' and 'Identity'.

The main part of the event consisted of two hour-long sessions in which a number of discussions ran simultaneously. Personally, I found the discussions to be very useful, both in airing my own views, experiences and concerns, and also in listening to those of other attendees; Muslim and non-Muslim.

Of course I went with my own agenda, which was to make known some of the issues facing Muslims at my university, like the recent introduction of a ban on wearing the veil, inadequate facilities for the obligatory congregational Friday prayer and the irritating argument we have to hear oh so often: "we are a secular institute". A secular institute! Then why the Christmas trees?!

Anyway, some of the topics discussed were: 'Emotional implications at further/higher education', 'Barriers to further/higher education and choice', 'Ablution and prayer facilities', 'Involvement and participation of Muslims', 'Leadership and role models', 'Tackling discrimination', 'Islamic Societies and surveillance', 'Islamic Societies and Student Unions' and 'The academic curriculum'.

A note on attendance: There seemed to be around 40 participants from various organisations and institutions, under half of which were Muslim. The Muslims, except a few, all seemed to be in their early 20s and only 3 (including myself) were males currently studying or recently completed their studies.

A pause for thought: Why do Muslim women always significantly outnumber Muslim men at events of this nature? Surely the issues concerned affect us both equally?

Another thing that got me thinking after the event was this: Yes things could be better and we are entitled to request (I say "request" and not "demand" after being kindly advised in this regard yesterday) the rights we feel we are entitled to, but how little, if ever, do we show appreciation to the institutions for the facilities they do provide us with? Worth a thought, no?

You can find more information about OPM and their research here:
http://www.opm.co.uk/muslim

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Back in the Ring

After a month and a half out with various niggly injuries, I finally returned to the ring yesterday and boy did I love every second of it; the giving and even more so the receiving.

To play on another soul's words, me without the fighting world is like the earth without water, unfulfilled, dry and unbelievable!

Verily, very few accomplishments give greater satisfaction than getting inside the head of an opponent. That first sight of him lose his cool is like a predator's first scent of blood... near ecstasy!

Seeing him rage and spiral into an oblivion of anger; nostrils flared, brows frowned, neck stiffened and veins popped, is exactly the kind of thing one tastes in a sweet pleasurable dream whilst tucked away comfortably at night.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

5, The Ultimate Fighter

After many years of thinking this to be just another one of those pointless reality television programmes, I finally gave it a try, loved it and just finished watching seasons 1 and 6.

What is it? A number of mixed martial artists are gathered to live together, train together and fight one another in a ring/cage/'Octagon' (call it what you will) over a prolonged period of time in a 'winer stays on' tournament style set-up. The winner of the tournament is awarded a six-figure contract to fight with the Ultimate Fighting Championship organisation.

I found both seasons to be a good insight into the training of mixed martial artists but more so a great insight into the mind and motivation of the fighters. I definitely plan to catch up on seasons 2 to 5 and look forward with excitement to season 7 (to be coached by current light-heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and winner of season 1 Forrest Griffin!), which will be filmed and aired later this year.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Mosque 100 Programme - Introduction & Training Seminar

I attended a seminar yesterday conducted by the 'Oak Community Development' group, which was the first in what will be a long-term programme geared towards "creating better and inclusive communities". The group are a training consultancy organisation that have been contracted by the Muslim Council of Britain to turn our Mosques from places limited to prayer and supplication to becoming hubs of the community buzzing with life and activity.

Yesterday's seminar included a session on 'Good Governance of our Mosques and Organisations', a discussion entitled 'Facing up to the Challenges' and a talk about 'Planning, Organising and Sustainability'.

A step in the right direction me thinks.

Friday, 4 January 2008

The Ultimatum

Besides prayer, there is no activity that brings me greater joy than to fight.

So you can imagine my despair when my doctor strongly urges me today, for medical reasons, to give it up.

To describe the shock in the language of a martial artist, it was, well... err... like a kick in the groin.

"There are many other sports...", he says in corcordance with the advice of my dear mother, "... that cause less trauma."

Trauma!? The trauma of absorbing a physical strike does not compare to the psychological trauma of making this decision.

Time to turn to my number one love for a much-needed assistance.