Monday, January 5, 2015
ANGEL AMONG US "Plots for Tots Cemetery" is the infant burial area which is adjacent to the Islamic Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Westland , Michigan , USA . When you walk in this area you cannot hold back your tears by looking at tiny teddy bears , flower pots and reading the headstones about the babies resting there ."Plots for Tots " is a section dedicated to babies in the Muslim Cemetery of West Land ,where fetuses, infants and young children of Muslim Families are buried . Najjah Bazzy a nurse and a social worker and a mother herself bought this piece of land where miscarried babies, infants and toddlers could be buried in accordance with Islamic rituals . “People need closure,” said Bazzy. They parents are quite heartbroken on the death of the baby and they want to bury him or her in a dignified way. It is one of a kind infant cemetery in the state of Michigan and perhaps in the entire United States which is dedicated to only Muslim babies . Parents often find out about the program from physicians ,funeral homes and mosques. Plots for Tots burial site was dedicated in 2009 and the first baby was buried here in 2010. 39 babies have been buried here up till now and there is room for 190 more . Most of the babies or infants who are buried here belong to poor families whose parents could not afford burial costs. This program under the umbrella of Zaman International Hope for Humanity was established in 2002 after Najjah Bazzy became aware of 222 fetuses in a local hospital of which many had been there for years. Najah Bazzy is an Arab Muslim who was born and raised in Detroit . She is a good friend and a source of inspiration for me . Zaman has " Bayat al Zehra" a food pantry for underprivileged families .Trucks of Zaman International deliver groceries , gently used clothes and furniture to many families living in poverty in the metro Detroit area. She also started the BOOST program which offers sewing lessons to women who were victims of abuse . Sister Najjah as I call her is somewhat an "Angel " among us . She always greets you with a smile in the office of Zaman International in Detroit "s suburb of Dearborn . There is no speck of makeup on her face yet it is always glowing maybe with "noor" . When I asked Sister Najjah about the need for Plots for Tots she replied "One day I was giving a lecture to a group of nurses on caring for Muslim mothers. I was out of state and speaking at a hospital that served a high concentration of Muslim women seeking obstetric services. My lecture was on Women in Islam and Care of the Muslim Mother .I was explaining the ethical code of Islam concerning birthing, death, burial of babies and other related issues. When the discussion ended, a managing nurse came to me and asked if she could see me privately. She wore a troubled expression. I was obliged . The nurse invited me to visit their pathology laboratory. As I followed her through the corridors we approached the a room, and then we entered a typical pathology lab. The woman raised her hands and gestured to the shelves lining the walls. "Here is our museum of babies," she said. "I don't know what to do with them all. I've had them on shelves here for years." I could see by their dated labels that some of the containers were seven years old. I looked at the white tubs filled with human beings, little bodies of babies .Some of the containers held two and three babies .They ranged in fetal age from 12 weeks to full term. Little hands and feet, little faces and bodies. I thought of the Prophet. Each day as our Prophet left his home, on the way to his Mosque ,he would stop at the cemetery along the way. He would stop on the way and again coming back and say "Salaam" , to the people resting in their graves. I asked to be left alone for a while. When the nurse had gone, I began to lift down the containers one by one. I said "Assalamu Aleikum, little ones". It taught me two things: The babies in their jars were orphaned, homeless, helpless. And I was guided". Sister Najjah "s reply made me burst into tears . This year in 2014 Sister Najjah was able to raise enough funds to expand her projects with the purchase of a building in Michigan that will serve Zaman "s headquarters . Sister Najjah is a humble down to earth lady , she dresses in simple clothes and a white scarf . She greets you with a smile .She works like any other volunteer in the office answering phone calls , packing donated clothes and toys in boxes . Sister Najjah bathes the bodies of the infants herself in the funeral house before sending them to the cemetery . Sister Najjah says " we are all created by God and we all deserve dignity .......young or old , born or unborn ".
Monday, December 22, 2014
FEAR MONGERING : WE NEED AN ALIEN TO HELP US IDENTIFY OUR PROBLEMS AND CHANGE Yesterday evening I watched the Bollywood movie " PK " staring Amir Khan as PK an alien who does not belong to our " Gola " ( earth ) and Anushka Sharma as Jaggu who just completed her journalism education from Belgium and is a news reporter in Delhi . She found "PK " in the streets who dealt things in his own unique way which grabbed Jaggu"s attention .He is an Alien type human his unique sense of style , peculiar way of talking and eating pan makes him very different from others .PK asks questions which nobody had asked ever, each question initially sounds like a big joke but then it leaves question mark on one "s mind. Some one stole his remote control and now he is unable to send messages to his space ship, his quest for his remote control brings him to Delhi where he finds that " human beings ask God for help and guidance ". The movie " PK " is a statement on the most touching subject that is Religion. Producer Raj Kumar Hirani tells the different ways religion is used and demonstrates each contradiction in a humorous way. The movie makes us laugh but also makes us think. It makes us cry for the right reasons. It helps us find faults in our beliefs. It makes us think that are the "so - called religious leaders and religious fanatics" using fear mongering to scare us ? The movie is a satire which deals with perhaps the most important issue faced by humanity these days which is " propagators of religion thrive on the fear of those who flock on them". After watching this movie I thought about the people who shot Malala Yousufzai two years back just because according to them girls should not go to school . I also thought about the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram which kidnapped hundreds of schoolgirls and I thought about the latest massacre the massacre of innocents students in a Peshawar School . The ability of any of these groups to attract global attention depends to on how shocking and how horrific their actions are. A school attack involving dozens of child victims sends shock waves around the world. Prophet Mohammed (SAW) said "seek knowledge even if you have to go to China to find it". Prophet Mohammed ( SAW) said "Four things support the world: the learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the good, and the valor of the brave”. "Aisha al-Siddiqa ( PBUH) was a hadith-narrator, scholar, intellectual and jurist of great standing. She is believed to have reported 2,210 hadiths Abu Hurayra, ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Amr and Anas b. Malik (PBUH)were the only ones from amongst male hadith-narrators who had narrated more traditions than she did. This itself explains that women could not only teach women but also men . How can Islam be a religion which is anti - education when the Holy Prophet always emphasized on the importance of education . Why do these called " Muslims " kill students, they certainly are not following the teachings of Islam . Somewhat like in the movie " PK " there are people around us in the " real world "who are promoting religious bigotry . They are using scare tactics , perhaps our world also needs " an alien " who can identify the problems in our views and our beliefs and help us change !!!
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
DKNY LAUNCHES RAMZAN COLLECTION Famous American label DKNY's Ramazan collection is available exclusively at their Middle East stores, and the 12 looks are simple, elegant and striking in pastel shades. DKNY’s campaign is part of a big push the label has been marketing in the Middle Eastern Markets.DKNY recently launched a Middle East website and opened several stores in Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. After Chanel this will be the second biggest American brand to launch a " Ramzan Collection".
LYARI FILM FESTIVAL trying to encourage youth of Karachi If you are familiar with the demographics of the city of Karachi you would have read about the suburb of Lyari which has produced very talented boxers , it is a small fishing town . Lyari has been hard hit by sectarian violence in the last two decades . Lyari Film Festival will take place in the last two weeks of September 2014 . It is a project of Nosach Films Academy in collaboration of WDFP (Women Development Foundation Pakistan) & KYI(Karachi Youth Initiative). This festival will feature films made by young film makers from Lyari in particular and Karachi in general.
Sunday, April 27, 2014
PAKISTAN GETS ITS FIRST PAKISTAN IDOL ZAMAD BAIG from Mandi Bhauddin wins the coveted title , brand new car , lots of cash and a singing contract from Geo TV today ........he becomes the first Pakistan Idol . A country which is badly affected by inflation and insecurity presented an awesome oppourtunity for its youngsters to audition for a reality singing contest and it provided an oppourtunity for its people to enjoy a singing competition where they can vote for their favorite contestentant . Geo TV launched this franchise which auditioned 28 thousand contestants in 9 different cities . The first group of 86 contestants were invited to perform in Karachi where 13 were selected . Every week one was eliminated . The five month long journey reached its climax when three contestants Muhammed Shoaib from Peshawer , Zamad Baig from Mandi Bhauddin and Ali Asad from Karachi reached top three and today at the Grand Finale Zamad Baig won the title after recieving one million votes . Today " s event was a two hour long episode with mesmerizing performances by the queen of Sufi music Abida Parveen and rock star Ali Zafar. Being a Pakistani away from home I enjoyed watching our talented youngsters .........
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
My younger daughter Amber won MLK essay contest here is her essay : Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamer or Visionary? Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamer or Visionary? Martin Luther King Jr. was simply a man to himself, however people saw him as a hero or savior of the Civil Rights, and indeed he was but it’s his beliefs that really defined him. In 1955, King was arrested by leading a boycott in a transportation company at Alabama, which demanded non-whites to give up their seat to any whites that boarded and they would get up and move to the back of the bus, King didn’t seem this process was fair to the African-Americans who have rights as well as whites. He kept on giving speeches and protests that weren’t violent at all. He put his life in risk just to speak out his mind and try to get other victims to stand up to themselves. In 1963, King continued his work to try to encourage other African-Americans by protesting to the whites and writing speeches getting him in the headlines global. One included King’s “I have dream” speech, in Washington D.C, which touched many others deeply. One quote from this speech is, “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” What I understand from this piece of King’s mastery speech is that he’s saying that even if the non-whites get their rights back they as a community will always stick together and make sure that if they ever get into a situation like the civil rights movement they will never forget about their hope. King’s death was so powerful and inspiring that the congress made a law for the Civil Rights Movement. King’s awards included the Nobel Peace Prize, The Presidential Medal of Freedom, and The Congressional Gold Medal. King’s legacy will always be remembered to all, his acts spread across the Atlantic Ocean into South America which influenced the Black Consciousness Movement and Civil Rights Movement in South Africa. Albert Lutuli, one of kings inspiration, fought racial justice in South Africa, was also a African American Nobel Peace Prize winner. His family also followed King’s footsteps. Starting out with Coretta Scott King, King’s wife, the same year of King’s assassination established the “King Center” in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as both social and civil justice. King’s son Dexter King is serving his part by being the King Center chairman. Lastly, Yolanda King, King’s daughter, was both motivational speaker and founder of Higher Ground Productions, an organization specializing in diversity training. Martin Luther King Jr. inspires me because he believed in others and he knew that his words will cause people to think their minds off, and that he never gave up on them he kept on pushing them even if that meant pushing them to the extremes. He would always have faith in everyone whether their race, gender, religion or ethnicity he thought everyone was part of the solution that will forever face the earth, the symbol for hope. “The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is that a dreamer has his eyes closed and a visionary has his eyes open” ~Martin Luther King Jr., I Have a Dream