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Showing posts from July, 2011

Ramadan must-haves

Ramadan, which begins tomorrow in Malaysia, won't be the same without dates (see picture above).  The fruit is part of the ritual of breaking the fast, as was the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.A.W).He was reported to have said: "If anyone of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. In case he does not have them, then with water. Verily water is a purifier." 
Until the late 80s good quality dates were a rarity in Malaysia. People had to make do with inferior quality ones and only the well heeled could afford the best. Today it is difficult to choose from the vast array of varieties on offer.  This was my dilemma yesterday when I had to pick between dates from Tunisia and those from Saudi Arabia at a supermarket near my apartment. 
Indeed, the types available in Malaysia range from cheap to expensive. In between is the fresh and gourmet selection. Customers usually receive gifts of dates from companies they do business with during Ramadan. The quality of t…

What will Shunya Susuki think of next?

I learned recently that my friend Shunya Susuki had bought a “cheap” violin on Net auction. He plans to teach himself to play the musical instrument “although they say it will be difficult to do so”.

The purchase is a fulfilment of a dream that dates back to his days at Kyushu University when he wanted to be a violinist, among other aspirations.

But a cello player, his senior at the university, had told him that a violin was “too expensive to buy” and Susuki gave up his musical ambition until recently.

Some may think that Susuki, at 57, is being very ambitious but they don’t know the multi-talented Japanese architect, urban planner, inventor and educator. He sees life as a voyage of discovery: creating a robot, designing green cars and sculpting are among his many artistic pursuits.

So learning to play the violin is one more path to personal gratification and development. According to wikiHow, “the road to learning the violin is a long one” and it takes lots of discipline to “practice dif…

Pitbull and Marc Anthony: Rain Over Me

Soothing words from a good friend

Dr Koh Soo Ling has a gift for putting feelings into words. See below for her latest offering.


Don't make promises you can't keep

American celebrity Samuel Ward McAllister reputedly said the following:
“A dinner invitation, once accepted, is a sacred obligation. If you die before the dinner takes place, your executor must attend.”

The Arabic term InsyaAllah which means “God willing” or “If is God’s will” essentially conveys the same message.

Muslims are taught to add InsyaAllah to the end of a declaration of intent. For example, a friend invites you to his son’s wedding party and you graciously accept the invitation: “Thank you very much for inviting me to your son's wedding. I will be there, InsyaAllah (God willing)”.

The phrase InsyaAllah reminds Muslims that they are not privy to God’s plan and they cannot say with any certainty where they will be at a particular point in time. Sickness, death -- whether that of a family member or their own -- and other compelling situations could prevent them from fulfilling all their obligations, social or otherwise.

The above argument allows Muslims to break their commitme…

Muslims gear up for Ramadan

Ramadan, the annual month of fasting, will begin on August 1, this year and preparations to welcome the holiest month on the Muslim calendar are already in full swing.

Muslims who observe Ramadan are counting down to the special month by preparing themselves --mentally, spiritually and physically -- for the fast.

They constantly remind themselves that Ramadan is not just about refraining from eating and drinking during the day but also a time to be very close to God by offering more prayers than usual and to practice patience, humility and spirituality.

Some Muslims began fasting in June for a few days a week to ease their bodies into the month-long fast in August. My late father would do the mini fast three months before the start of Ramadan and when it finally came he grew accustomed to the idea of waking up at 4am for the pre-dawn meal (sahur), going without lunch and having a glass of water by his bed at night to hydrate.

My father also worried about food wastage during the ninth …