Thursday, 23 April 2009

(Empathic) Communication

"Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

"Diagnose before you prescribe."

"Empathic listening is also risky. It takes a great deal of security to go into a deep listening experience because you open yourself up to be influenced. You become vulnerable. It's a paradox, in a sense, because in order to have influence, you have to be influenced. That means you have to really understand."

"It may take a little more time initially but it saves so much time downstream."

(Source: 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People')

Listen with the ears, the eyes and the heart,
for feeling, for meaning, for behaviour.
Sense. Intuit. Feel.
Afford "psychological air".
Understand. Affirm. Validate. Appreciate.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

18, Ghazali Beginning of Guidance

Title: Ghazali Beginning of Guidance
Speaker: Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf
Language: English
Running Time: 36 lessons (approx 30 mins each)

Finished listening to this audio series after many many months of slow attentive listening. A bit slow paced but the lectures cover many different day to day matters, including cleanliness, prayer, fasting, character, manners and friendship.

Audio series downloadable from

Sex and Relationship Education

Attended this seminar yesterday entitled "Sex and Relationship Education - The Need for a Muslim Community Response" organised by the Waltham Forest Council of Mosques in association with SREIslamic. Very good, professional presentation. Quite scary how our society is corroding with the times. We definitely need to maintain our moral standards and values, and not lower our bar of acceptability, amidst the craziness.

Note to self: Become a school governer.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The slow, complicated road to adulthood

A good article that I stumbled upon whilst reading the one quoted in the previous post:

"... And a fifth of women and a third of men aged 20 to 34 are still living with their parents. So yet again we worry about what is happening to family life in Britain today...

... What was previously a normal rite of passage to adulthood has instead become like scaling a distant peak that can only be conquered after years of effort and preparation...

... The deodorant Lynx, for example, is marketed to young men on the proposition that it makes them sexy; but the advertisers have discovered that it is actually bought by mothers for their twentysomething sons who are still at home..."

(Source: The Times, 18 April 2009)

I can't remember the last time I bought deodorant. My stock seems to replenish itself.

Ghost in the Terror Machine

I was just Googling and doing some reading regarding the anti-terror raids last week and came across this article which I thought worth archiving:

"... At any given time MI5 monitors about 2,000 people in Britain who form an estimated 230 networks suspected of links to violent extremism. Each individual is subject to a sliding scale of monitoring depending on the agency’s assessment of the threat they pose and how close they are thought to be to "attack planning".

Each week a committee of senior MI5 officials meet at the agency’s headquarters in Westminster to review the status of each operation, upgrading and downgrading different investigations as appropriate..."

(Source: The Sunday Times, April 12 2009)

Very good article worth reading and re-reading.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


"... During his campaign Mr Obama was, as he put it himself, 'a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project[ed] their own views'. He gave a lot of people the strong impression that their most urgent goals were also his..."

Betrayed by Obama, The Economist, Jan 22nd 2009

Old article I know. The world moves so fast. I wonder if Mr Obama still uses the words "hope" and "change" with such oomph?

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Youth Gathering

We held a lunch get-together yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday) for the youth of the area at the local community centre. The plan was simple - all welcome, come along, but bring some food. We prayed Dhuhr together, then let the youngsters play (pool, table tennis, dodgeball, handball, computer games, air hockey) whilst we set up. When ready, we got everyone together for a short interactive reminder (manners of eating in a group), munched and then the youngsters went back to playing whilst we cleaned up. It worked out nicely. A good variety of food (sweet and savoury) and plenty for all, alhamdulillah.

A funny moment: Whilst setting up before prayer, I needed to pass over a prayer mat. Thinking it easier to jump over rather than take my shoes off and walk, I jumped. My foot got caught on the underside of the mat. I tripped and tumbled. One of the kids responds instantaneously, "Whoah! Allah punished you for walking over the prayer mat with shoes on." A rare sign of God-fear. This kid will go far insha-Allah.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Cairngorm, Scotland

Spent a couple of days and nights in Cairngorm, Scotland. Beautiful. So much to be grateful for.

Something to do for my next trip: Get some tarpaulin and rope and make a shelter and windblock for the fire and prayer areas.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Participation and Development

Attended this 1-day course last Saturday entitled 'Participation and Development: If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right!' jointly organised by Engineers Without Borders UK and Architects Sans Frontieres UK.

We looked at some tools that can aid participation. In particular, techniques for social data gathering (Pie charts, Venn diagrams, Flow diagrams) and spatial mapping (of the human body and geographic areas).

I found the example of Westfield constructing a new shopping centre in Stratford quite interesting - residents are being asked "How do you want this shopping centre?" rather than "Do you want this shopping centre?" Leading questions!

The second half of the workshop involved a group exercise. Given a post-Tsunami scenario replicating a Southern Indian village, each person was given a character/role and in increasingly larger groups of increasingly conflicting interests we had to identify and prioritise the top "needs" of the village.

Lesson learnt: Think positively - begin by grouping commonalities rather than shooting down anomalies.

The Land of Opportunity


"... It all seems quite feasible in a land where a once corrupt, polo playing landowner awaiting trial in a prison cell, has recently experienced a miraculous change of fortune and now rules the country as president-elect.

Many people here aren't as lucky..."

(Source: Article entitled 'Glimpses of the Punjab' by Tahseen Chaudhry found in the April 2009 issue of 'emel - the muslim lifestyle magazine')

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, 6 April 2009


"Win/Win is a belief in the Third Alternative. It's not your way or my way; it's a better way, a higher way."

"Competition, not cooperation, lies at the core of the educational process. Cooperation, in fact, is usually associated with cheating."

"With 'No Deal' as an option, you can honestly say, 'I only want to go for Win/Win. I want to win, and I want you to win...'."

(Source: 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People')

The above advice is for settings of interdependency. Cooperate to create interdependency.

The alternatives: "Win/Lose" ("I get my way; you don't get yours"), "Lose/Win" ("Go ahead. Have your way with me"), "Lose/Lose" ("We both lose"), "Win" ("I secure my own ends - and leave it to you to secure yours").