The butterfly is a flying flower, The flower a tethered butterfly

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Prime Minister's Questions 31 October 2012

Question by question guide

  • EU budget negotiations
  • City Deals (Southampton and Portsmouth)
  • police and crime commissioners’ elections
  • jobs in Barton-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire  
  • regulation of the media
  • Winterbourne View convictions
  • strategy for jobs and growth
  • energy policy
  • the Russian Convoy Medal for Arctic veterans
  • publication of emails
  • small business rate relief
  • NHS funding
  • positive growth figures
  • military covenant in Northern Ireland
  • Kettering Hospital
  • skills, growth and apprenticeships
  • council tax freeze  
  • closure of Ford factory in Southampton 
  • green growth
  • accident and emergency department closures
  • army battalion and regiment cuts
  • child benefit changes 
  • export, growth and manufacturing

Friday, 26 October 2012

Hajj and Eid

Happy [Eid] El-Adha to all Muslims, and my best wishes to those who went to Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, this year and hope that their endeavour will be accepted. A congregation of around three millions, you can only imagine what a spritual experience this must feel like.

Al-Adha means 'the sacrifice'. This is performed on the first of the four day Eid following standing on mount Arafat. Whether you were a Haj yourself standing on Arafat yesterday or not, Muslims are required today, each to their own ability and if they can at all, to  be charitable and giving as well as make a sacrifice, or to order and share a sheep or more with family and the poor. Personally, I don't order, I buy a ready for sale equivalent, although some say this is not allowed since it is a sacrifice but that's what I do anyway - and  usually, you keep a quarter for your own use, gift a quarter to extended family and the rest goes to the poor. And so, like all Muslim Eids, this is predominantly a day to remember the poor and a day where families gather, eat and celebrate together. Islam is therefore always seeking this togetherness and standing by the poor as well as family.

To be a Muslim, one is required to 1- Attest that there is only one God and that Mohamed is his messenger  2- Pray five times a day  3- Give Zakah, or two and a half percent of all savings or value of unused assets to the poor every year  4- Fast the month of Ramadan unless unable to due to sickness, long travel, etc 5- Go to Hajj at least once in a life time.

The first four are a must, although not everybody abides fully. The fifth, or Hajj, is for 'those who have a way to it', hence Hajj is not obligatory if doing so causes financial or health hardship. Some scholars interpret that to mean emotional and family constraints too and, of course, those can vary widely. For example, a nursing mother is not supposed to leave her young children with others to go to Hajj unless trusted provision can be arranged, like leaving the children with grandparents for example or else do it when the children are all grown up, if feasible and able ... and so on ...

For modesty, men are not allowed any stitched garments but can only wrap sheets of white cloth around their bodies, while women are allowed a simple white gown and head cover. For Hajj, women are not allowed to cover their faces or hands but must leave them bare as a requirement to Hajj. It is also always expected that those intending to go to Hajj spend time reflecting, be extra charitable and to try and resolve any disputes,   pay outstanding debt and apologise for past wrong doing before embarking on the endeavour. If they then perform the rituals and keep the good intentions afterwards, they are promised that all sins will be forgiven. Hence, Hajj is a spiritually purifying experience and why it is always sought despite the hard regime.

This is the route which has to be followed by every Haj. To give you a little perspective, it's roughly about 14 miles between Mecca and the Arafat mountain where everybody stood to answer the call of God to Hajj yesterday, and that's a must do ritual like all the others covering this route. In the old days, before the advancement of transport, those performing this pilgrimage used to either walk or travel in caravans pulled by camels. Nowadays, there is of course air and sea as well as road travel, then coaches for internal use between the different points. So the endeavour, though still is very demanding, it is not as hard as once was nor do those performing Hajj need to sleep in the open or in caravans anymore, apart from when on the Arafat mountain and a few other parts on the route where tents of all standards are now the norm.

As you can see from this picture, Mecca is now a modern city that caters for all, with all standards and classes of hotels, serviced accommodation ... etc, so no tents there. Instead, comfort from share a room standard to proper luxury and upwards for those who can afford it.

Early this year when I was in Egypt during Hajj time, I heard that some people now put themselves into financial difficulty to go to Hajj. I then met a couple in their thirties who had to sell the only car they had to pay the huge cost to them for the journey including the modest-ish accommodation. This car, like here, they use to do the school run, their shopping, take the kids for an outing, etc, but that's now gone. I asked what they were going to do without it, well, from what they said, it seems they will put themselves into hardship, precisely what Islam says you must not do! It made me wonder why don't the Egyptian scholars advise people like them that they don't have or need to do that?! Mind you, Will they listen? ... for part of the reason for taking such drastic step was, as they said, because Hajj prices were getting bigger and bigger year on year so they felt that since they were able to win their two places in a low cost government organised scheme, that it was best not to waste it in case they don't get another opportunity since getting selected for Hajj has somehow become a race  unless you can pay 'Big'!

Then I have a friend who, seeing the rising poverty due to the stark inequalities in Egypt, she decided, even from before the revolution, to adopt a poor young family of a couple with two small children instead of going to Hajj. So, she deposited the cost of her middle of the prices Hajj money into a bank and allowed the interest to be drown by the couple each month until such time when the children are bigger and need more spending on education, getting married and the like. In which case the bank will approve payment from the original capital and not just the interest against proof or invoices presented. So, it is like a trust. Her reasoning for this action was that so long that there are such inequalities and the resulting poverty in her own country, she felt that God, the most merciful who wants us to support the poor, perhaps did not make Hajj an obligatory must do as the other four pillars of Islam, not only to excuse the sick and the needy, but to also give those able enough room to think and do what their heart tells them is right. She didn't think that getting money out of her country, and one can only imagine the total sum leaving when the country is now in need, to go and hand it over to those who are not by any means needy but quite the opposite, was a sound idea so she took in the young family to her heart instead ... she no longer will be able to go to Hajj herself, but she told me she felt good about what she did.

I wonder what the scholars think about that scenario here? My friend's logic was based on the Islamic principle that 'What one's home need, is 'haram' or forbidden to take [even] to the mosque'. So, can and does this principle apply to this example here? Able, healthy but won't go because she'd rather help the poor?

Is being responsible for and feeding a poor family, or similar, in your own needy homeland be a substitute equal to Hajj?

I do not know what the scholars think, and it would be good to know. So there, if any 'knowledgeable' scholar, hopefully Egyptian or Saudi, is reading this please give an opinion. I just hope this scholar will not just simply say this is one thing and that's another, since my friend could not do both and why she made her choice. I also hope the endeavour of that young couple who put themselves into difficulty to go to Hajj will be accepted but, how about others like them too? - I know God is most merciful, most forgiving either to those like my friend who 'decided' to channel her money where she believes it is most needed instead, or to those now priced out because of the forever rising numbers and therefore spiraling cost involved [Now around three million people go to Hajj every year and this is predicted to rise to 20 million by 2030]. In both cases Hajj has now become out of reach Money wise for many who could afford it before as everybody involved now try to get the most out of a Haj rather than helping them perform their call to God at a reasonable cost.  The reason why now some choose, as my friend has shown, that heart wise, it is doing better good to stay at home and spend the money on the poor. This is now a choice that is beginning a new trend for some Muslims, albeit the numbers are small at the moment. For those, and since God is everywhere, good intentions and deeds, like spending at least the same money it costs to go to Hajj on good causes, then striving to be close to the Lord in one's own home and a sincere calling as in this song - will suffice? Will the Al-Azhar scholars issue guidance to allow this particular form of charity to equal Hajj for those who want it? I don't know but ... I hope so ....

Happy Eid :-)

Kiswet Al-Kaaba House, Cairo

Good: Two Moslim Scholars equal helping the poor to Hajj [in Arabic], but not good enough as there needs to be a proper Fatwa by Al-Azhar and/or the Saudi Mufti if it is to be believed by the public 

Say: I call God [Allah means God in Arabic]

قـل ادع الله إن يـــــــــــــــمسَسْك ضرٌّ
Qol ed'o Alah en yamssassaka doron
Call God if harm touches you

 ووجِّهْ نـاظريك إلى السَّمــــــــــــــــاءِ 
Wawageh nazeryaka ela assama'ay
And direct your eyes to the sky

فعـند الله إنْ تسألْه أجـــــــــــــــرًا 
Fa end Alahi an tass'alaho agran
For the Lord has reward when you ask him

وعـند الله مـوفـورُ الرَّجــــــــــــــاء 
wa end Alahi mawfouro elraga'ay
And with God, plentiful hope

وقـل يـا رب لا تسأل ســـــــــــــــواه 
Wa qol ya rabi la tass'al sewaho
Say, O Lord, and call no other

يبـدِّل بعـد عسـر الـيــــــــــــوم يُسْرا 
Yobadelo ba'd ossr el yaouma yossra
And he will replace all hardships with ease

Wa en add el ada 
And if difficulty returns

fadfa' assaho
Push it's harm far

Bezekr Ellah
By remembering The Lord

Talqa elda'af nassra
Weakness will turn to victory

قـل ادعُ اللهَ لا تــــــــــــــيأس لخطب 
Qol ed'o Allah la tay'as lekhatben
Call God and don't despair

ولا تحـزن عـلى آلٍ ومـــــــــــــــــال 
Wala tahzan ala alen w malen
Do not grieve over family and material hardship 

وثِقْ فـي كل نـــــــــــــــــــازلةٍ بربٍّ 
Wa theq fi kol nazelaten beraben
Trust in the Lord when faced with misfortunes

يبـدّل إن يرد حـالاً بحــــــــــــــــال 
Yobadelo an yored halan behalen
With his will, he will change one present with another [better]

قـل ادع الله سـرًا أو جهـــــــــــــارًا 
Qol edo Elah seran aw gaharan
Call the Lord in secret or in public

وقـل يـا رب لا تسأل ســـــــــــــــواه 
Wa qol ya rabi la tas'al sewaho
And say, O Lord, do not ask others

فعـيـنُ الله لـيلاً أو نهـــــــــــــارًا 
Fa ayno Elah laylan aw naharon
For God's eye is awake day or night

تـراك وإنَّ عـيـنك لا تـــــــــــــــراه 
Tarak w en aynaka la taraho
Sees you despite your eyes not seeing him

Qol ed'o Alah
Say: I call God

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Britain is ... Going UP! :-)

“True prosperity is the result of well-placed confidence in ourselves and our fellow man.” 

Tough on crime!
Tough on stagnation!
Tough on the deficit!
Team Now Delivering!

UK economy returns to [Growth]
Prosperity is on the [horizon]

Good news!


... and so, no, I am not cautious, I am optimistic, ... and with optimism comes hope, and with hope comes prosperity ....

Well done UK ... keep it up


Give us [hope]
Forget doom and gloom, it's time for optimism on the [economy]
A moment in the sun will last if you [help] it to [last]
UK economy is best in [Europe]
Good news for GDP, bad news for [Labour]

*Yes, look for and operate in new markets, but though we shouldn't concentrate on the EU as was, we don't leave what we have, not at a time when we don't know what will become of them, too [Great article] and  No to [leaving]

Britain shouldn't jump the gun on leaving the EU [click]

And keep watching that economy Big Boss ... and Team DC!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Prime Minister's Questions 24 October 2012

Question-by-question guide

  • Jimmy Savile allegations
  • energy tariffs
  • West Coast Main Line
  • police force numbers
  • Corby redevelopment
  • Northern Ireland economy
  • justice system rehabilitation
  • Kettering hospital
  • employment figures
  • Virgin Care donations
  • NHS and foreign patients
  • tax avoidance by large corporations
  • banking union and the Euro
  • new Chief Whip
  • BBC enquiries
  • Leveson related correspondence
  • armed forces benefits
  • modern day slavery
  • low carbon energy sector
  • prisoner voting rights
  • local planning
  • investigation into a paedophile ring
  • youth unemployment
  • Scottish National Party legal advice
  • child protection

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Mama style ...

Ma is in her stagnant mode ... 

It means ... I can''t be bothered ... No! Total eclipse ...

Well, if he says so ... he's right too you know ...

Here ... purrrfectly yours ...

Or, you know wot! Naaaa ...

Meaoooww ... that's meee ...

Absolutely! ...

Soooo, back when I find a purpose, you know, like a reason ... when? ... Who knows?! Tomorrow, next month, in an hour, more, less ....

Maybe I should book a holiday too,  but where, where ... ya I know ... Asia somewhere maybe? ... if I can be bothered ....

So, see you soon and ... Ciao for now  :-)

What a doll! What a [doll!
Happy Birthday Sir [Doll:]

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Prime Minister's Questions: 17 October 2012

Question-by-question guide

  • universal credits
  • supermarkets paying farmers
  • unemployment figures
  • front line police numbers
  • Chief Whip
  • energy prices
  • nuclear deterrent
  • Trident missile program
  • Rwanda aid
  • Armed forces disability benefits
  • Corby hospital
  • Leveson related correspondence
  • Enterprise Allowance
  • West Coast Main Line
  • British Union and the Scottish referendum
  • planning system
  • NHS and cancer drugs
  • EU referendum
  • Structural deficit

Friday, 5 October 2012

Wine of unity

From the large jug,

drink the wine of Unity,

So that from your heart you can wash away

the futility of life's grief.

But like this large jug,

still keep the heart expansive.

Why would you want

to keep the heart captive,

Like an unopened bottle of wine? 

With your mouth full of wine, 

you are selfless 

And will never boast of your own abilities again. 

Be like the humble stone at your feet

rather than striving to be like a Sublime cloud:

the more you mix colours of deceit, 

the more colourless your ragged wet coat will get. 

Connect the heart to the wine, 

so that it has body, 

Then cut off the neck of hypocrisy and piety 

of this new man. 

Be like Hafiz: 

Don't lie around

Get up and make an effort. 

 He who throws himself at the Beloved's feet

 is like a workhorse and will be rewarded 

with boundless pastures and eternal rest.