He yelled at her, “Go back where you came from!”

A friend tweeted this, I thought I should blog it for ease of reading.

Saw an incredible gesture of kindness, reconciliation and forgiveness at my neighborhood McDonald’s this morning: a man standing in line in front of a Muslim woman in a headscarf suddenly turns to her and starts yelling that “her kind” are not welcome in this country. He went on a mini-tirade against how his values conflicted with the values of her faith and that she should “go back to where she came from”.

The poor woman in front of us was taken aback by the unprecedented verbal assault but seemed to remain calm and tried to respond patiently. He ignored her and didst want to have anything to do with it so he turned around to the cashier and began to place his order. And heres where it gets really interesting: he went to pay for his rather large breakfast meal order when his card was declined, even after several attempts. Talk about karma!!

He protested to the cashier that his family was waiting for him in the truck outside and that they needed to get on the road and were hungry. He didst have any cash on him and was trying to convince the poor beleaguered employee to give him his order for free. When that was refused, he began to storm out of the restaurant, ashen-faced and embarrassed – glancing ferociously at the Muslim woman behind him as he brushed past her.

And here’s where my faith in humanity was reassuringly restored: the Muslim woman immediately pulls out her card, pays for his order and tells the man: “Hey, l’ve got your order. Don’t leave yet”! The man turned around in shock just as he was about to exit the restaurant and stood at the door sheepishly, not knowing what to do or what to say. Not only that, but the cashier was so genuinely surprised by this woman’s sudden and spontaneous gesture that he gave her his employee discount on the order and winked at her that he appreciated what she had just done.

When the order was ready, the Muslim woman carried it over to the man who had verbally accosted her just moments ago, gave it to him and said: “| wouldn’t feel good about myself if my neighbor started his day hungry while I was full, so here you go. You don’t owe me anything – just pay it forward and may God go with you, my brother”.

The man looked at her incredulously,  mouth-wide open, turned around, walked over to his truck where his family was waiting for him, dropped off the food, muttered a few words to his wife and came back inside. He walked up to the Muslim woman, stood up straight and tall and – to the surprise of everyone watching this drama unfolding – he asked for her forgiveness, gave her a very audible “thank you” for all to hear and leaned forward to give her a big burly hug. He then turned around and quietly left. The entire restaurant exploded with clapping and cheers. What an incredible thing to behold!!

That Friday Energy

That Friday Energy
That Friday Energy

You gotta love Fridays for the sheer amount of energy you feel thinking it is the last day of the week. It is weird. One should feel more tired, wornout after a long week of work, yet it is not the case. It is obviously all in our heads. We could score the same amount of energy or thereabouts other days if we were to think.

There is no doubt we all like to be in the comfort of our homes with our loved ones or out there doing something fun. But if we manage to change our workplace to accommodate some level of comfort or fun, then perhaps we could manage to feel as energetic as Fridays, every other day. So what is stopping us? Let’s take a look at some of the reasons we might feel like crap at work:

  • We no longer enjoy the work we do (or we never did)
  • We no longer like the people we work with (or never did)
  • We see our work as means to an end
  • Our work environment is boring/unpleasant
  • Our work hours are not flexible

There could be a lot of other reasons but we suffice with the above.

If you do not enjoy our work but you used to do, maybe something changed or you changed or it probably became very routine. In these cases there are things you can do change things around.
Obviously, you can always look for new opportunities within the organisation you work for or elsewhere. You can also ask around for secondment opportunities which is a good idea to move away from that routine day-to-day work you do. But the way to make things interesting in your current work is to suggest new ideas to management to improve the way you work, experiment with methodologies, use your break time to do something different every time.

You cannot change people’s attitude easily, if someone’s negative attitude is causing you grief at work. Sometimes it could be the way we perceive things and they may not be that way in reality. See, if your issue is you and not that person. In which case it is simpler, because you will have to change your attitude. But if it is definitely the other person’s fault, then perhaps speak with them. It could be a misunderstanding or if you are right and reasonable and they are reasonable, then they might agree to adjust. If it is more serious, talk to your immediate supervisor, see if it can be addressed that way. If these are not serious issues, then let go of petty disagreements. Be accepting of people’s behaviours as long as it is not harming you in any way. At the same time, don’t be a pushover. Stand up for yourself.

For a lot of us, our work may be just a means to an end. But there is no reason one should suffer under it. You shouldn’t think of your work as only a source of income but also as a way that you are contributing to the society in a way or other…. (of course unless you are doing dodgy and/or criminal stuff in which case you should suffer, regardless…). You should feel proud of what you do. Think about the last person you served or worked with or your last achievement no matter how small. Think about how it may have made a difference or made someone’s problems diminish or go away. Right about now, you should feel good about yourself.
It is not about how big a deal it was to you but what it meant to them and how it would have them a step closer to their goal. Think how you do this all the time, day in and day out. This way, your work will be a source of happiness and you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

I am sure these are very simple common sense issues that everyone at some point thought about, but it is a good thing to remind ourselves every now and again that we are important and what we do is important, if not to everyone, to those who are directly or indirectly impacted positively by it.

Now tap that Friday energy every day and feel the best you can feel every day of the week.

Pretend Democracy Campaign in Afghanistan takes a blow

Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani
Carrey, Abdullah and Ghani

A national unity government now in Afghanistan means that the struggles and oppression that people of Afghanistan went through since at least 2001 when NATO invaded Afghanistan were basically for nothing. It is like saying, “We made a mistakes. Let’s go back to drawing board and start over. Democarcy has failed.”

The idea that we are somewhat better off than 1992 is laughable at best.  A government of coalition is basically what was agreed upon in Berlin back then and this is what we are going back to. As a matter of fact it is the same as when the Mujahideen took over Kabul in 1992. Hundreds of thousands of people killed by kinds of murderers from Jihadis to Talibs to Pakistanis to Americans since then and the ending is where it all began.

The naivety of us to think that somehow we would become civil and incorporate some form of democracy in our society boggles my mind. But then again I said this several times. My friends with whom I had similar discussions over the years will attest to that.

The fact that supporters of Dr Ashraf Ghani and Dr Abdullah Abdulla embarassed themselves on social media belittling each other was not surprising either. This was exactly what happened back in 1994. Hekmatyar was on about the fact that Rabani had joined with Kuffar but the moment he had an opportunity to make a deal with Dostum he did not think twice. Similarly, people in Dr Abdullah’s camp throwing all sorts of hypocritical statements that Ashraf Ghani has joined with Dostum while they were the ones who empowered Dostum to being with.

The idea that somehow one of these people will make a difference in the lives of common Afghans is ridiculous. The fact that people are so up in arms to defend these symbols of  neo-clonialism is shameful. They know that these two, whichever one becomes the next president is just a conduit to pass their masters wishes through. Proof enough is that when they could not sort out the problems, they called their master to come and make peace.

It is to hope that somehow this circus becomes an opportunity for people to learn a lesson and not blindly follow their ‘leaders’. However, political allegiances in Afghanistan being tribal and ethnocentric, it would be too much to hope for.

That is why I have put most of my energy into the situation in Palestine over the election mishaps in Afghanistan. Some sees it as an issue of priority. I see it as a “I told you so” situation that could have been avoided. It is clear from what is happening in Iraq, Palestine and Syria that America has no intention of letting peace finds its way in the middle east. Similarly, this development in Afghanistan is a proof that the same is true for Afghanistan.

Thus a Thug Becomes an Afghan Hero

Marshal Fahim
Marshal Muhammad Qasim Fahim

 I will not mourn the death of Marshal Fahim for a moment let alone three days.

This idea of holding national mourning is absolutely ridiculous.  I have not seen a single positive achievement from Fahim to make his death a sad occurrence.

There is a saying in Dari, “Morgh kam Goish kam” which roughly translates, “The fewer the chicken, the less chickenshit.”
I am being very insensitive here but none of the warlords who brought death and destruction to Afghanistan has any right on people to hold three days of mourning. Frankly, this is embarrassing for the government to announce three days of national mourning for a person whose sole interest was his growing wealth. Will all government high ranking officials get three day national mourning? I doubt it.

Fahim was not a hero by far and not a man who deserves kindness and prayers from people.  Throughout his time, there have been several reports of human rights violations and corruption, including occupying land illegally.
In 2005 Human Rights Watch described Fahim as “one of the most notorious warlords” and implicated him of torture and murder. In recent years he was associated with Kabul criminal gangs that were involved in abductions and smuggling of weapons and drugs.
He has also been refereed to as “semi literate, self appointed field marshal, and one of the principal obstacles to Afghan unity because of his alleged ruthless threats, beatings and general thuggery, ” in The Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan.

His legacy a long with his friends, in addition to all deaths and destruction that he is directly and indirectly responsible, is also the invasion of Afghanistan by foreign forces.

In few days or weeks, they will probably name a street after him, if they haven’t done that and few year later a statue will be erected for him and he will be named a national hero.. and thus a thug becomes a hero.

A Shared Ramadan Experience

We are only two Muslims in our company, but every Ramadan almost everyone else fasts one day to share the Ramadan experience with us. Our work organises a dinner for those who fast. This year, one of our colleagues emailed us the following and with her permission I decided to post it here.

Iftar
Iftar at Lazzat Kadah

When we were first approached and invited to be a part of Ramadan we all thought that it would be a breeze, a lot of us are constantly forgetting to eat lunch anyway, skipping dinner or breakfast because we are too busy too.

What we realised as we inched closer and closer to the day (Tuesday this week) was that there wouldn’t be a cup of tea on arrival at the office in the morning. No afternoon coffee and banana. No glass of water to sip on to keep us refreshed throughout the day. What we all also didn’t realise is that we would have to wake up before the crack of dawn to eat. I know that was my plan, but at 5.30 in the morning just didn’t happen for some reason ;) zzzzzzzz

So, at 8.30am when I arrived at the office I was already hungry. Mainly because I knew there was 8 hours and 6 minutes until anything was going in my mouth. I know I wasn’t the only one on the countdown to 5.36pm.

I think the biggest struggle throughout the office was not having a comforting, refreshing cup of tea or coffee and having some kind of fruit or snack to get us through the afternoon slowdown.

Anyway, all 12 of us made it as far as I am aware (unless someone did a sneaky). 8 of us then made the journey, which seemed to take forever on an empty tummy, to Lazzat Kadah, a Pakistani Restaurant in Coburg for our well deserved Iftar.

I know that I will be taking part in Ramadan fasting next year and I hope that others will continue to do so. It wasn’t only my first time taking part in fasting (I don’t count the 40 hour famine when I was 8, I had 2 packets of barley sugars and a carton of just juice) it was the first time for a few others in the office too. I have heard that the first time is the hardest, and that it gets easier. I hope this is true. I guess we will all find out next year :)

Thanks for organising this great experience. I really, really really appreciated my tea this morning.

Ramadan 2013 is around the corner

Ramadhan
Ramadhan (Photo credit: ihtatho)

By now most preparations are done. Muslims around the world will be celebrating the holy month of Ramadan in few days.
For us in Australia it is going to be rather easy with short and cold days. May Allah make it easy for those brothers and sisters who live in the places where they have to fast for 16 hours and more. With heat from one side, hunger from the other and on top of that, other temptations will sure make things rather unpleasant, but remember that in Allah’s pleasure rests our pleasure.

Let’s evaluate what does Ramadan mean to us. What do we see in Ramadan? Do we use it as an opportunity to leave our sinful past behind or just as a bridge to connect two sinful parts of our lives?

I have witnessed many people who use this month as a month to repent their sins and afterwards go back to their old life. While, it is not for us to judge their actions, it becomes our duty to remind them that this is a month of refinement and improvement. If one intends to go back to old habits, then there is no point in improvement. Sure, our good deeds will reap rewards from Allah, but this is not the sole purpose of Ramadan. It should be seen as one of many doors out of the world of sin and our intention should be that once on the other side, the door should never open again for us to go back.

Inshallah, this year like every other year, the month of Ramadan will bring joy to the lives of Muslims and fill their hearts with Taqwa (God-conciousness).

 

May Allah give Barakah to all Muslims and the ability to fast the month of Ramadan.
May Allah allow us in this holy month to worship Him as we have never before.
May Allah make this month a time to repent our sins and not go stray.
May Allah bring and keep our children to the right path, the path of those who He has bestowed His mercy upon.
May Allah cause those of us and our loved ones who have strayed from the straight path, to return.
May Allah’s forgiveness showers our deceased.
May Allah cure our ill, solve our problems, open our hearts to words of Hikmah, strengthen our hearts and make us steadfast on His path.

 

Aameen Ya Rab-el-Alameen

 

 

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AWK: Sum of a Column

Imagine you have a file with multiple columns and you need to quickly get the total of a column in command line in UNIX. The easiest way is to use AWK in the command line.

Let’s take the following file:
datafile.txt

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 11 12

To get the sum of column number 7 execute the following command:

awk '{sum+=$7} END {print sum}' datafile.txt

You will get the sum of 7, 8 and 9

24

Let’s now write a small script to calculate the sum of a column and also print a running total.

Input

2010 191 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2011 144 286 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2012 112 254 354 454 554 654 754 854 954
2013 191 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2014 191 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991
2015 178 291 391 491 591 691 791 891 991

Program

#!/bin/awk -f
# scriptname: calc_sum
# input: column number, data file
BEGIN {
    printf ("\tValue\tRunning total\n")
}
{
    sum += $colnum;
    printf ("%s:\t%.2f\t%.2f\n", $1, $colnum, sum)
}
END { 
    printf ("Total:%.2f\n", sum)
}

Command

$ calc_sum colnum=8 datafile.txt

Output

        Value   Running total
2010:   791.00  791.00
2011:   791.00  1582.00
2012:   754.00  2336.00
2013:   791.00  3127.00
2014:   791.00  3918.00
2015:   791.00  4709.00
Total:  4709.00

Of course you can run the above program from the command line, but it is neater and readable this way.

Cover your Babies!

So the irony is the psychopath who molested his own child got off with a fine and a short imprisonment, and now a Saudi “Cleric” is promoting the idea of baby-burqas.

This embarrassment of a Sheikh is ridiculing the concept of modesty. It is amazing how far some people are prepared to take Islam to protect their misogynistic nature. The sad truth is that since these people live in the birthplace of the prophet (PBUH) and where Ka’bah is, they appear to the world as representatives of Islam.

Islam is already portrayed in the western media in a negative light and such nonsensical fatwas make for a good story. Muslims need to be more vigilant about such clerics and raise their voice against such injustice to the name of Islam. Muslim should stand firm to show their opposition to such rulings that goes against the essence of Islam.

These people are worse than Khawarij and should not have a place among us.

Alhamdulillah, that there are scholars who have spoken against this, but the  these will not get as much publicity.

Sheikh Mohammad al-Jzlana, former judge at the Saudi Board of Grievances, said that Dauod’s ruling was denigrating to Islam and Shariah and made Islam look bad.

Jzlana urged people to ignore unregulated fatwas and explained that there are special regulations set by the Saudi authorities to administer religious edicts and appoint those who are entitled to issue them.

He said that he feels sad whenever he sees a family walking around with a veiled baby, describing that as injustice to children.

I would like to think that Islamic institutions in Saudi test their students’ sanity before letting them graduate and Saudi media would do the same before letting them speak on national TV. But I guess we do not live in a perfect world.

Taliban

Do I support Taliban?

I have been said to be a staunch supporter of Taliban, which is not the case. While I oppose NATO occupation of Afghanistan and have supported the insurgency to an extent, I have great concern and reservation about certain approaches and groups that fight against the current puppet regime.

Let me make it clear that I do not support any establishment that indiscriminately kills civilians, whether by means of suicide bombing, drone attacks, white phosphorus or unjustified nightly raids of Afghan homes.