Ramadhaan 1430 Mubaarak!

بسم الله الرحمان الرحيم

رمضان 1430 مبارك

الحد لله, it’s Ramadhaan once again!  Granted, I’m a bit late, but I posted elsewhere in a more timely fashion, so I guess I have some kind of an excuse.  ِAnyway, while this is definitely a month most noted for the abstention of Muslims from food & drink, in reality it is so much more than that.  It is the opportunity to really get yourself into less of a worldly mindset and focus on our goal – Jannah.  So, I ask Allaah to grant us the ability to seek out the full reward of this most blessed month and grant us the fullest extent of His Mercy, Forgiveness, and freedom from the Hellfire.

Blogging with Arabic text

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

الحد لله, I am trying more-and-more these days to practice writing Arabic with actual Arabic letters rather than using cumbersome transliterations.  This is partially due to my father’s abhorrence of transliterating Arabic, lest the skill to actually write Arabic in Arabic be lost.  I agree with him, and besides, it’s a great way to learn the language and get used to using it.  So, as much as possible, I’m going to try to start using more-and-more Arabic, where appropriate, in my typing, by using the actual Arabic letters, إن شاء الله.  If anyone has any questions about what a particular Arabic phrase is, then please post your question.  I will try to include a simple glossary.  Some autolinking would be great, too…let me look for a WordPress plugin for that…

Shaykh Abdullah ibn Jibreen has passed away

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raajiʿoon.  Verily we are from Allaah, and verily unto Him we shall return.  Shaykh Abdullah ibn Jibreen has passed away.  Muslim Matters has some additional coverage, including some kind words by Shaykh Abu ʿAmmaar Yasir Qadhi, who had the occasion to meet the shaykh several times.

Whenever the news of the death of one of the scholars reaches me, I always remember the following hadeeth from Saheeh Muslim:

Book 034, Number 6462:

‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr b. al-‘As reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Verily, Allah does not take away knowledge by snatching it from the people but He takes away knowledge by taking away the scholars, so that when He leaves no learned person, people turn to ignorant as their, leaders; then they are asked to deliver religious verdicts and they deliver them without knowledge, they go astray, and lead others astray.

May Allaah protect us from the dangers of ignorance and following the ignorant.

Marwa Sherbini: The Hijab Martyr

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Assalaamu ʿalaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh

Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raajiʿoon.  Our sister, Marwa Sherbini, was murdered in Germany as a consequence of wearing her hijaab, a style of dress fulfilling the commandment of Allaah for women to cover themselves appropriately when outside of their homes.  Muslim Matters has a story covering this great issue: Marwa Sherbini: The Hijab Martyr.

Continue reading “Marwa Sherbini: The Hijab Martyr”

It’s a boy!

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alḥamdulillāh, on Monday, the 19th of Rabīʿ ulʾawwa, 1430 (16th of March, 2009) at 5:38 PM Malaysia local time, Allāh blessed us with a 2.3 kg (~5 lb.) blessing we named ʿAbdurraḥmān (عبد الرحمن), which, in Arabic, means “slave of the Most Merciful”, which is one of the beautiful names of Allāh in Islām.  In fact, the Messenger of Allāh, ṣalallāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam (may Allāh peace & blessings be upon him) mentioned that the two most beloved names to Allāh are ʿAbdullāh & ʿAbdurraḥmān (slave of Allāh), which is why we chose that name for our first son.

Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, Book 025, Number 5315:
Ibn Umar reported that Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: The names dearest to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Rahman. (link)

Both mother & son are doing fine, alḥamdulillāh, and we all came home earlier today.

Picture requests will not be honored.  😉

Unfinished Projects

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I have the bad habit of starting things and not completing them.  This is bad for numerous reasons, just a few of which I’ll list shortly.  I will warn you now that as this post is meant to help me organize my thoughts, it will list-heavy, as I do find lists and other types of grouping structures to be beneficial and help in making relationships (e.g., database schemes).

I already know that as I type this I will revisit this post in the future as I will be unable, in one sitting, to be think of all of unfinished projects.  Therefore, I will come back and add to the list as I recall more things (and find the time and desire, a rare combination these days, to update the blog).

For

  • Unfinished projects tend to clutter your mind
    • I tend to turn to unfinished projects whenever I work (i.e., get paid to do something) and hit a stumbling block.  This severely hinders my progress on work, which ultimately leads to less getting done.
    • Time when I could be brainstorming solutions is usually spent wondering about these myriad unfinished projects, which, lacking much focus, tend to yield few to no tangible solutions.  This includes walking/riding to the masjid, showering, and other activities that tend to leave the brain free and, ideally, well-suited for addressing beneficial thoughts.
    • If I try to focus on something, I can have a hard time preventing my mind from wandering to these unfinished projects.  This is related to the point about work above.
    • It’s just not healthy to have so many things on the mind at once.  There is a point at which the benefit of multitasking is overshadowed by the overhead of just trying to keep track of everything.  It’s not efficient.
  • Having so many unfinished projects means that it can be hard to pick just one to work on.
  • Playing catch-up may give a false sense of achievement, because the value of these unfinished projects are not equal, and therefore, I may complete one that is really not that important while one that is more valuable was never completed.  Therefore, just trying to clear out the backlog of projects may yield a net result of close to zero.
  • There are many more, and I may amend this list in the future as I recall them.

So, here is the list of my unfinished projects (at least those that I can recall at one point or another).  I am including some thoughts on the different ideas as well.

  • Redesign the Audio Islam website
  • Write a script to automatically tag all the audio files, especially the ones containing Qurʾān recitation, with reciter & sūrah information
  • The Fedora Documentation manpage coverage project
    • This is basically an idea I had related to the Fedora Documentation project to ensure that all executables had an associated man page (manual page, a low-level documentation system for Unix-like operating systems such as GNU/Linux).
    • The first step in this is to canvass the existing packages & executables and see what already has a man page.  I have already started on this, but there is much work left to be done.
    • There are plenty of sources for documentation that can be used as baseline manpages, including the Debian project.  So, this project doesn’t require as much work as it does just coordinating and facilitating.
  • A Paltalk replacement
    • Paltalk is a voice conference & chat application (video is also supported, but I don’t care about that right now) that is widely used, but terribly proprietary.
    • My goal is to create or synthesize a replacement for Paltalk using only free software and open technologies
      • The best candidates for this are SIP (for multimedia) and Jabber/XMPP (for text chat).
      • The landscape for software that can do this in a simple fashion is rather bleak, but there are some solutions.
      • I’m currently focused on FreeSWITCH as the SIP server and ejabberd as the chat backend.
      • Linking them such that it will be one service will be quite challenging, and still requires a free software client that has solid support for both SIP & XMPP
        • I’ve been looking mostly at Qutecom, SIP Communicator, and Psi
        • On GNU/Linux, the Empathy client for the Telepathy framework is outstanding, but, is limited to free-software operating systems.  I think Windows support is a long way out still.
  • AlMaghrib in Malaysia
    • I am trying to catalyze the establishment of AlMaghrib Institute seminars in Malaysia (almost surely in Kuala Lumpur, at least at the beginning).
    • I’ve already purchased the domains almaghribinmalaysia.com/net/org, and I just need to get the site setup.
      • To start off, I think just a blog with some information about AlMaghrib is fine.  It can be fleshed-out later.
    • Alḥamdulillāh, there is already a lot of interest both within and without Malaysia.  I have several contacts here that are also excited and may be able to facilitate the first few steps.
      • I see the first step being getting a group of excited & enthusiastic locals to get behind the effort.
      • After that group is identified (and it is really an ongoing process), see about getting the support of existing organizations.
        • From an initial perspective, it seems like this is going to be easy, in shāʾ Allāh.
      • With this support, we will want to schedule some kind of event to gain a wider audience interest.  Something like a conference or teaser seminar, perhaps a week-long program with some of the AlMaghrib instructors.
        • Many of the AlMaghrib instructors are already known or well-known here
        • Having Suhaib Webb might be particularly nice, as his wife is Malaysian.
        • Waleed Basyouni has expressed an interest in coming to Malaysia, and some work is already in progress regarding that, but it may have stalled (temporarily only, in shāʾ Allāh)
        • Yasir Qadhi is another instructor that has some reknown here, apparently (from what I’ve been told).
  • HidayahTech
    • My own technology consulting business
    • Although HidayahTech is currently the name of my blog, I have also resolved to use this as the name for my own consulting business.
    • Services will include
      • Audio recording, editing, mastering, and production (I did this, for example, for the Texas Dawah Convention in 2007)
        • I am consider splitting this and other audio-related services into it’s own business, namely, Hidayah Audio
      • Web technologies
        • Hosting (this is generally quite easy)
        • Moodle (an open-source learning mangement system, for putting schools online, for example)
        • Audio services, including hosting my “replacement for Paltalk” solution above
      • Consulting
        • This will include a wide variety of services ranging from system administration, general IT, infrastructure, to web development
        • I may take some partners or hire some friends for this aspect of this business, as I will need help for some points of it
  • Global Homeschooling
    • This is my premiere project, if I had to pick one.  I consider this to be something great if I can achieve it, by the Permission of Allāh.
    • To sum it up, I want to develop a system whereby Muslims (and truly, anyone) can homeschool their own children easily.  Homeschooling may be too specific of a term, though, because I want the scale to include a plan that can be implemented by governments.  I would like children, and really anyone, to be able to be educated within their own homes, utilizing the bevy of technology that exists.
    • Technology creates options & opportunities, and this is a belief I take strongly.  Therefore, I think we should utilize it.  I see education as one of the most important investments that can be made, whether it is Islamic or related to the worldly sciences, both of which are important.  I actually believe the distinction to be artificial, but it will take time to get there.
    • So, to put it in a few words, I would like to develop a system of education leveraging technology that is globally accessible allowing education to be released from the confines of school buildings.
  • Learn the Python programming language
    • I think learning Python has a high return value on the types of applications I would like to write, including graphical ones.  Also, it is quite the preferred language for many platforms, not the least of which is Red Hat & Fedora.
  • Memorize the Qurʾān
    • Please keep in mind that this list isn’t in order of importance…;)
    • I think this is a goal every Muslim should have.  I started this goal, seriously, while I was staying in Egypt with my parents, even semi-regularly visiting the imān of the nearby masjid to review my memorization.  Sadly, since arriving in Malaysia I’ve not really resumed, and I am afraid I may start regressing.  This is the kind of project that can be achieved through a little, regular & constant work every day.  I really should commit to something, even if it is as simple as one āyāh per day.  That would be better than none.

60 Minutes segment on apartheid in Israel

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/01/23/60minutes/main4749723.shtml#ccmm

Watch at the link above for a bold & frank look at the living conditions of the Palestinians under apartheid in Israel, specifically in the West Bank.  Interesting to note is that the story only mentioned the West Bank.  Keep in mind when viewing their situation that Gaza is far, far worse off due to the blockade imposed by Israel & Egypt and also the sheer density of the region.  Without justice, how can people be calling for peace?

Arundhati Roy: Mumbai was not India’s 9/11

Arundhati Roy, in an article for the Guardian out of the United Kingdom, has written a deep, insightful, and thought-provoking article analyzing the circumstances and the context surrounding the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai.  For a non-Indian like me, most of what she writes is very fresh & new, revealing currents in the Subcontinental social climate that I was, prior to this, unaware of.

Note: I’m sharing this article because I found it profoundly insightful, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything she says or concluded 100%.  In fact, I don’t think I can make that claim about anyone alive today.  I just felt it was worthy of being shared to give some perspective to those, like me, who are ignorant of the situation in the Indian subcontinent.

Click the link to see the article, or read on for the full text here (archived for posterity).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/12/mumbai-arundhati-roy
Continue reading “Arundhati Roy: Mumbai was not India’s 9/11”

Close Encounters of the Blurred Kind

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

While riding (on a scooter) to a nearby masjid with one of my brothers-in-law, I felt something flew straight into my eye despite the fact that I was wearing my glasses at the time.  I was unable to flush it out while on the bike, and I thought that, like most eye gunk, it would just migrate to the corner of my eye for easy extraction.

As it turned out, I was unable to get it to move, and after returning home, I could still feel it.  I looked in the mirror and was able to spot, rather clearly, a small black speck in my right eye right between my iris and the surrounding white area.  I flushed my eye out with water, and, alhamdulillaah, I was able to get it out.  Surprisingly, it stayed on my finger long enough for me to show it to my wife, brother-in-law, and finally, to take a few pictures.

UFO extracted from my eye
UFO extracted from my eye

The object is roughly spherical in shape (though it’s hard to tell from the picture), and if I had to guess, I would say it was an insect of some kind, or part of one, given it’s semi-shiny appearance and the few features I was able to make out.

There are too many amazing things about this.  For starters, just the sheer size of the thing and how much trouble it was causing me in my eye.  Also, the fact that it was so easily flushed-out.  And, alhamdulillaah, my eye, though red immediately after I extracted the speck, was fully healed as if nothing happened within hours (and possibly minutes).

Alhamdulillaah for the blessing of sight and for everything else that we take for granted.  How easily could it have been that this would have turned out worse?  Alhamdulillaah ʿala kulli shayʾ.

Message Mastery by Belal Khan

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, my good friend Belal Khan of Leechon Films fame has started (a while back, actually) a program called Message Mastery.  You should get the full explanation from the website, but the basic gist of it is that it is a training seminar focused on developing masterful messages through the medium of video.

He’s released a few videos that are freely available that are samples of what the entire program entails.  I found the one entitled “Three POWER Principles of Filmmaking” to be quite refreshing in how simple, yet effective, such techniques can be.  Even more beneficial is that the tips he provides, while framed around the production of video media, are general enough to be beneficial in almost any context.

Give his site a check-out and leave some comments as he’s very keen on getting & responding-to feedback from his visitors & members of his program.

Disclaimer:  Belal is just my friend – I am neither associated with Message Mastery nor am I enrolled in the program…yet.

Texas Dawah Convention 2007 Audio Project – overview

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Introduction

Alhamdulillaah, a few months back, I successfully wrapped-up the audio recording & production project for the Texas Dawah Convention 2007. This was clearly one of the most ambitious projects in which I’ve been involved in my life, especially given the degree of responsibility I was given and the amount of work I had to do.

The project for me was a great learning experience on numerous fronts – management, business, technology, work ethic, and team work are amongst a few of them. If it weren’t for the great support I received from my partner & friend (I’ll only mention him if he wants me to – knowing him, he probably would prefer I don’t by default), then the work would have never happened and would have ended-up a terrible flop.

Please read on if you’re interested in knowing the history of how I became involved with this project, how it was executed, some of the challenges I faced during it, and finally, and a part of which I am very proud, how I completed almost exclusively using free (as in freedom) software, particular that which comes with Fedora.
Continue reading “Texas Dawah Convention 2007 Audio Project – overview”

Family blog

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Last week my wife & I have decided to start our own family blog to track family’s Islamic development.  As a result, I will most-likely be posting my personal- and family-related musings over there rather than here, allowing HidayahTech to remain more tech-oriented.  That doesn’t mean there will be a complete dearth of such posts here, but I hope you get the picture.

While the family is generally personal and focused on my family, we are aware that it is public (anything with a URL should be considered as such), so feel free to visit, read, and even comment if you are so inclined, as long as you feel there benefit to doing so.

Floating Masjid of Kuala Terengganu

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

One of the beautiful sites in the city of Kuala Terengganu, the hometown of my wife, is the Floating Masjid, pictured below:

Floating Masjid of Kuala Terengganu

We prayed `asr here a few days back, and naturally, having my camera with me, I snapped a few pictures. Click on the image above to go to the gallery and see more pictures of the masjid.

Discontinuing with DiscoverULife for now

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Well, my wife & I have decided, both mutually and with the guidance of istikhaarah, that we’re going to discontinue our participation with DiscoverULife for the time being. We both stayed in for exactly one month, which was always intended to be an evaluation period. As it turns out, given our current situation in terms of finances, schedules, and sheer difficulties due to our physical separation, we felt discontinuing for the time-being to be the best option. Alhamdulillaah.

Continue reading “Discontinuing with DiscoverULife for now”

Benefits & Lessons We Learn from the Lives of the Prophets

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

One of the requirements for the exam for the last AlMaghrib Institute seminar, Rays of Faith, held here in Columbus, was to write a one-page essay on the topic, “Write one page about the benefits and lessons that we learn from the lives of the Prophets OR chose one Messenger and write about the benefits and lessons we learn from his life“. I wanted to share what I had written here once the exam was over. It is posted inline in this article. The essay can be downloaded as a PDF file, as well. Continue reading “Benefits & Lessons We Learn from the Lives of the Prophets”

Texas Dawah Convention 2006

Alhamdulillaah, I’ve really been enjoying my stay down here in Houston for the Texas Dawah Convention (TDC). Without a doubt, the lectures, workshops, and other programs are all very beneficial, but what I continue to value the most is the new relationships that I am able to forge as well as taking back the fond memories of time spent with some excellent Muslims. In my experience, nothing comes close to TDC in these regards. Continue reading “Texas Dawah Convention 2006”

Server bandwidth usage comparison – Ramadhaan case

Alhamdulillaah (all praise is due to Allaah) for the arrival of yet another Ramadhaan! Amongst the points people look forward to in Ramadhaan are the abstaining from our physical desires during the daytime, the togetherness with family & friends, the greater boost in faith manifested in extra worship, and surges in bandwidth usage… Continue reading “Server bandwidth usage comparison – Ramadhaan case”