Monday, 31 August 2015

4-day trip to Ireland (Dublin and Galway)

Went to Dublin and Galway in Ireland with the wife for four days last week. Here's the itinerary of our trip:
  • Thursday 27th morning flew over from London Stansted to Dublin airport with Ryanair.
  • Thursday 27th afternoon picked up our rented car from Europcar at the airport and drove to our hotel (Aspect Hotel Park West) located west of Dublin town centre near Park West and Cherry railway station.
  • Thursday 27th afternoon got the train from Park West and Cherry railway station to Dublin Heuston railway station and then the Luas tram on to the town centre (Abbey Street) from where we started our walk south to Dublin Mosque passing Trinity College, Merrion Square and St Stephen's Green en route.
  • Thursday 28th evening prayed Asr and Maghrib at Dublin Mosque and had dinner in between in the Mosque canteen.
  • Friday 28th morning drove down to Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland for Jumuah and then had lunch at the Mosque canteen following Jumuah. What a Mosque!
  • Friday 28th afternoon drove further down south to Powerscourt Estate Garden and Waterfall. Highly recommended! 
  • Friday 28th evening drove back up to Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland for Maghrib and a light dinner and then on to our hotel.
  • Saturday 29th morning returned the car in the town centre and then caught the train to Galway.
  • Saturday 29th afternoon walked around Galway town centre and caught a very nice crafts and food fair on Church Lane just off Shop Street.
  • Saturday 29th afternoon picked up our rented car from Budget and drove along the coast to our B&B (Summerville B&B) and then on to Spiddle town, stopping along the way a couple of times and catching the views.
  • Saturday 29th evening drove back into Galway town centre for dinner. We went to Pearla Na Mara restaurant and found it to be very nice!
  • Sunday 30th morning drove along the coast back into Galway town passing and stopping at Salthill en route before returning our car.
  • Sunday 30th afternoon got the train back from Galway to Dublin Heuston railway station and then the Luas tram on to Abbey Street to pick up some goodies before getting the Airlink 747 bus from Busaras to Dublin airport.
  • Sunday 30th evening got our return flight from Dublin airport back to London Stansted.
Good trip overall alhamdulillah. We could have done with an extra day in Dublin to ride the DART local train to explore the east coast and an extra day in Galway to explore Connemara National Park... but I guess that leaves us things to do should we return!

Here are our pictures from the trip:

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Muslim names and PayPal transactions!

So my account was blocked by PayPal over a month ago and I've been chasing them up to figure out why and when I found out why... it had me in stitches!

It turns out it that my attempt to forward £100 to my friend Ali with a note "Deposit money from Abdul Basit and Taleb" contained a forbidden word in it: Abdul Basit. No joke! PayPal is instructed by the American government to flag all transactions which contain the word Abdul Basit in it.

So, lesson learnt: if you're going to use PayPal to transfer money to friends, avoid using Muslim names in the transaction note or risk getting your account blocked! True story :-D

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Day trip: Wendover station to Coombe Hill

Went on a day trip with the wife, niece and nephew last bank holiday Monday. We got the train from London Marylebone station to Wendover station in the Chiltern Hills (around 40 minutes). And then we walked from Wendover station to the top of Coombe Hill, chilled there for a while and then back to the station. It's a nice easy walk which takes around 40 minutes each way if walking at a reasonable pace and not taking breaks. The view from the top of the hill is very nice on a clear day like what we had. If you use Ordnance Survey maps, it's the Chiltern Hills North (181) map which you want (grid reference '86 07' to '84 06'). 

Some pictures from the walk here.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Book Review: Virtues of Jerusalem, by Ismail Adam Patel

This is the perfect little book for anyone planning on visiting Jerusalem (Al Quds) or just generally wanting to know a bit more about why Jerusalem is so important for a Muslim. It covers the verses of the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) in which the land is mentioned as well as the Prophets of old who are linked to the area. There is a section also about the history of the area in the previous 1,000 years but rightfully I felt modern politics and Israeli occupation is not dwelled on and is not the focus of this book. If anything stood out for me in particular, it was the point that it is the land itself which is blessed more so than any particular building or structure within it. In summary, get this book if you're going to Al Aqsa!

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Book Review: Training the Samurai Mind – A Bushido Sourcebook, by Thomas Cleary

Nice collection of essays from Japanese thinkers who lived in the last millennium on what it means to be a martial artist. Some of the ideas about God and divinity in these essays are indeed alien to the Islamic understanding but that aside what is proposed of the ideal character and virtue which one should aspire to is very much consistent with Islamic teaching. I've picked out some quotes below which stuck out for me the most:
"Kindness means the wish to relieve suffering; compassion means the wish to give happiness." (Ichijo Kaneyoshi [1402-1481])
"... there are buoyant attitudes that overcome things, and depressive attitudes overcome by things..." (Suzuki Shosan [1579-1655])
"When you manage to overcome your own mind, you overcome myriad concerns, rise above all things, and are free. When you are overcome by your own mind, you are burdened by myriad concerns, subordinate to things, unable to rise above. Mind your mind; guard it resolutely. Since it is the mind that confuses the mind, don't let your mind give in to your mind." (Suzuki Shosan [1579-1655])
"To see what is right yet fail to do it is lack of courage." (Yamaga Soko [1622-1685])
"Even if you have a plough, it's best to wait for the season." (Yamaga Soko [1622-1685])
"... when you look to the left you forget the right, and when you look to the right you forget the left. If you look at an opponent's hands, your mind inclines to the hands; if you look at his feet, your mind inclines to the feet. Once there's any imbalance, you're like an empty house. If thieves break into an empty house, since the owner's not home he can't stop them. For this reason, you should have an overall perspective, not a biased view." (Izawa Nagahide [1711-1732])
"If you fight willing to die, you'll survive; if you fight trying to survive, you'll die. If you think you'll never go home again, you will; if you hope to make it back, you won't." (Adachi Masahiro [fl. ca. 1780-1800])
"A swordsman strikes out after the other but hits home before the other." (Hirayama Heigen [1759-1828] quoting Chuang Tzu)
"I have heard of military actions that were clumsy but quick, whereas I've never seen any that were skilful yet took a long time." (Hirayama Heigen [1759-1828] quoting Sun Tzu)
"... break the enemy's soul, and his skills will become useless." (Hirayama Heigen [1759-1828])
"Wind and rain can be shut out, but cold and heat cannot be controlled, because they have no form." (Hirayama Heigen [1759-1828] quoting The Master of Huanin lessons on military strategy)
"... people lacking in loyalty and respect for parents are worthless no matter how good they may be in other respects." (Saito Totsudo [1797-1865])

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The three keys to martial arts

The keys to martial arts are three:
practical, theoretical, psychological.

The practical element:
learning the forms and techniques,
and hardening the body.

The theoretical element:
comprehending the principles
of victory and defeat.

The psychological element:
mastery of calm.
Cultivating an imperturbable mind.

(Summary of an advice found in Thomas Cleary's 'Training the Samurai Mind' part of an essay attributed to Adachi Masahiro of the 18th century)