Archive | November, 2009

The Hand of Gaul

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

The story of the underdog is a perennial favorite amongst audiences worldwide – there’s nothing like a victory against the odds to raise the spirits, as evidenced by the joyous reaction of Pakistani civil society to their World Twenty20 win in June. In times of difficulty, this tale of triumph over adversity gains even more appeal as more people relate to the context –  Seabiscuit and Jim Braddock, for example, symbolized the struggles of America during the first Great Depression.

Equally popular is the fallen hero – celebrity misdeeds occupy a great deal of press coverage as it is, and everyone has an opinion on a tainted legacy – for many, the French legend Zinedine Zidane is remembered not for his match-winning headers against Brazil in the 1998 World Cup Final, but with his header into the chest of Marco Materazzi in the 2006 Final.

Combine the two, and there’s a recipe for an explosion of huge proportions. When the underdogs from Ireland were going into a winner-goes-to-World-Cup against heavyweights (and previous finalists) France, no one could have predicted that living legend Thierry Henry would stain his record with a blatant handball that directly led to the winning goal. With spice added on by the fact that Michel Platini, the president of the European football association, is a Frenchman, conspiracy theorists around the world had a field day.

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Image Credit: The Telegraph

In 1986 it was the Hand of God when Maradona exacted revenge against the English; in 2009 it has been the Hand of Gaul that knocked out the Irish. 23 years have passed and we are no farther on. There was not only evidence but also admission of guilt both then and now – and the fact that the outcome has been the same both times is a disgrace.

The world has changed dramatically and football must adapt with it. The calls for modification that purists scoff upon must be translated into action after this latest travesty, for the game has already undergone change over the past few decades. The days of ferocious, take-no-prisoner defenders such as the Italian Claudio Gentile (famous for being anything but gentle) are more or less over. The last great Frenchman with a tainted legacy, Zidane, was red-carded after his infamous outburst was missed by referee Horacio Elizondo and reported by assistant referee Luis Medina Cantalejo through headset. And this year, UEFA is testing the concept of goal-line referees in the Europa League (previously the UEFA Cup).

In that context, a system to reduce the unfair results such as the one last week should be introduced. It is in the interest of the beautiful game to maintain a tradition of meritocracy and, yes, provide a level playing field. Giovanni Trappatoni’s men were denied the chance to take part in the biggest sporting spectacle in the world, and a whole nation has been temporarily alienated from the sport, turning away in disgust at the injustice conferred upon their heroes by a combination of cheating, human error, damningly, archaic rules.

For cheating and human error will forever remain part of sport as an institution, and there is little short of obsessive monitoring that any authority can do to prevent it. The rules, though, can and should change.

Arguments against the use of technology in football are centered around the assumption that replays would bring disruptions to the flow of the game, as well as take away the unpredictability of the human element. However, cricket and tennis have shown that video replays are often inconclusive (another criticism of them) and that DOES assure human and not robotic decision making. In addition, the usage of replays can be carefully restricted to ensure that games are played in full flow. 
 
One suggestion for FIFA is to introduce instantaneous video replays for assistant referees and limit their usage to reviews at half-time and full-time to decide whether any retroactive decisions should be made. Furthermore, these reviews should be exclusively for match-changing decisions such as red cards, penalties, and yes, handballs leading to goals. Goal-line referees are another good idea for they maintain human decision making and do use technology as well (albeit minimally).

For this specific situation, Henry could be fined or banned for a few fixtures (both international and domestic, which possibly takes him out of El Clasico – heavy punishment indeed!) based on video evidence as well as his own statement. Interestingly, the striker has stated that a replay would be fair to Ireland and has been supported by many big names, such as Roy Keane, David Beckham, and Patrick Vieira. In any case, actions taken by the governing body now would help prove that FIFA is serious about promoting fair results and taking positive steps to improve decision making.

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Author: Nabeel Ahmed

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Reveal the New 2010 Mini Cooper….Big on the outside, small on the inside. Did the Germans read the brief upside down?

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

Here it is, the moment we all have been waiting for. Seven years since BMW revealed the new Mini, I can now reveal the brand spanking 2010 Mini Cooper, Oh wait! I think its the wrong car, I might be looking at the old one. Wait, NO! This definitely is the new Mini Cooper and BMW claims that every panel is different. I personally think, BMW has gone to great lengths to make sure that the new version looks exactly like the old one. Understandably so, because people love the styling.

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Mini is a successful, if aesthetically subtle, evolution of the worldwide phenomenon, supporting the notion that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Mini still looks and feels high end, drives superbly and remains attainable.

 

I think it should not always be about the big expensive tire shredding stuff. In fact, there should be a trend in Canada towards small affordable fun cars, stuff that looks good at 20 km/h in a traffic jam at Hwy 401. I mean, take the Mini as a prime example, its not the fastest car in the world and the roof folding arrangement is a little unfortunate in the convertible version, but it has 4 seats and a white roof top, and look at it, Barbie would definitely love it, I think so. Well, some cars are Rock and Roll, some are hip-hop overjoy but this is definitely a pop video. Because it starts from only $22,800 no one thinks you are a rich kid. It’s the kind of car that makes people go ‘awww’ rather than ‘ahhh’, more like a fashion accessory.

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The thing is though, if fashion accessories have to work, they have to have a real world application. A Swiss watch for example; there is no point of it being extravagant, if it cannot work 200 meters deep in sea. An SUV has to work off road even if you live in downtown Toronto. A training shoe has to work in a gym even if your nickname is Couch Potato. So its no good for the Mini to be all winky dinky and funky. If it’s going to have any street credibility, it has to shine in the trendiest parts of the trendiest postal codes of the trendiest cities in Canada and I must say, ‘this car looks sensational.’

 

The Cooper might make all the right growly noises but it is powered by a 1.6 L, 4 cylinder engine which makes only 118hp and 0-100 km/h takes pain stricken 10.4 seconds. I believe the smaller engine still feels a little gutless in a car that is heavier than its size would lead you to believe. On the other hand, the Mini is now far more comfortable, something that will make a huge difference to people who will use it for long journeys and over bumpy roads. It really is a class act now. I love the way, how dials stick out and scream the speed limit so you refrain from getting any speed tickets. Another area of improvement over the previous generation car, the new Mini feels substantially more sturdy inside and uses less brittle plastic around the dash and doors.

 

Earlier, my claim of BMW making a carbon copy of old Mini is totally wrong. There is a difference. If you knew your old Mini you would remember that the headlights were a part of one big clamshell arrangement which was very expensive for BMW to build and very costly to replace in case of a front end bump. The new lights themselves now pierce around the holes in the hood, and therefore less repair costs.

 

You have to admire the marketing genius. BMW, with its reputation for build quality and dynamic excellence fully in play, reinvents the most brilliantly packaged car in history as the worst packaged car of modern times. Yet still makes it a huge success. Terrific fun, but threatened by Barbie label.

 

Barbie or Ken? Mini does seem to suffer from a split personality disorder, but Mini’s real forte hasn’t been diluted in this slightly softer new version. Although a fraction less sprightly, the overall set up is even more accomplished, meaning you can push it even harder with relative impunity, and this is no job for Barbie. The Mini has got a bad rep in certain parts of the country where it has a girl only label and some companies use them as advertising hoardings, but in isolation the Mini is too good and too much fun to be anything other than cool.

 

Even though the new car looks virtually identical to the old one, this new version of Mini is completely different. It rides better, it handles better, its built better and its more efficient. If I am in the market for a small car and my name is Ken, Mini Cooper has still got my money. But to judge it by these criteria is to miss its point completely. This is a great little car – its outright brio and its zesty vitality are key to its charming appeal, intangibles that transform even routine trips into memorable alfresco journeys despite the limited performance thrills. The Mini Cooper is aimed at its target audience of style-conscious women and metro-sexual men with spot-on accuracy. It’s a winner.

  Author: Sohaib Zahid

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Texting more than you should? Phone-obsessed teens have recently become Text-a-holics!

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

The sight of a teen texting on his/her sidekick or phone is nothing new, be it a shopping mall, a living room, gym or even a classroom. Teenagers in North America are used to having cell phones at the young age of 12 or 13, some even before. However as the years have passed by, teens are now developing a new trend of texting more instead of talking on the phone. Many school officials considered having phones in classrooms a big distraction but this text-obsession might end up being a serious one.

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As of the year 2008, more than 75 billion text messages are sent each month compared to 18 billion in the year 2006 which shows an increase of more than 200 percent. 

Many teenagers say it’s easier and more advantageous to text than to call a person. Teens believe it’s awkward to talk on the phone especially when the conversation has a “dead end” where no one knows what to say. Savannah Young, an employee with the Revol Wireless store on South Raccoon Road in Austintown, believes “With texting it’s to the point, so like three hours later, you might resume your conversation. If you get a text back, that’s cool, but if not, that’s OK.”

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Furthermore, recent phones like iPhone, blackberry and G1 have Wi-Fi enabled which allow a user to use the internet but many use it just for IM or chat. Psychologists believe that “tapping away on a mobile phone or computer keypad or checking them for electronic messages” temporarily takes away 10 points from a user’s IQ. This means that Electronic messaging lowers a user’s IQ by 10 points which is higher than Marijuana which lowers it by four points.

  • 80% of teens own cell phones
  • Average of to get a phone is between 10 and 11
  • Teens average 2,272 texts per month
  • An average teen sends 75 texts per day
  • 40 percent teens can text blindfolded

In addition, text messaging is more dangerous than just reducing someone’s IQ.  Brandie J. Conklin who was 22 died on April 12th as her car crashed with a milk truck. Officials have said that she had been exchanging text messages with her boyfriend at the time of the crash. Eleven States in the U.S have already passed laws which prohibit texting while driving which include Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington—and the District of Columbia.

 

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Author: Rahul Mehta

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A Revelation or Just a Repetition: Sugar Sammy at South Asia Stand Up at York University

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

Going to a stand up comedy show for my twenty fourth birthday, I was très excited. I have been to Yuk Yuk’s several times, and have even caught a show of The Second City. However, this was going to be different. It was a desi show. The headliner was Sugar Sammy, an Indo-Canadian from Montreal, whose face I had seen plastered all over York University for the past month. A good looking insolent visage challenging the viewer to come catch his show. Very cheeky and in your face.

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Organized by USAY (United South Asians at York), the show on 17th November was packed and nearly sold out. Expectations were high. I wasn’t surprised to see many women there, especially since famous gorgeous guys draw girls like flies to garbage, and in this case, it was very sexy comedian. Good looks and a sense of humour. You get the picture.

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I was also waiting breathlessly for Sugar Sammy to appear. I had heard much praise from my sister who had caught bits of his act on YouTube. But since he was the headliner for the evening, his appearance was reserved for the last part of the show.

The show started later than its scheduled time, but the acts following up to Sugar Sammy more than made up for the delay. First to come was Dave Meherje, followed by Vidur Kapur and Massimo. All of them had their distinct style ands their shockingly funny acts added more to the anticipation of the upcoming headliner. 

Finally, it was time for THE Sugar Sammy, who arrived late and made the MC, Peter Kash, sweat a little since he ran out of his poorly timed jokes.

What a disappointment. Not the MC, but the headliner.

I expected more from this good looking “funny” guy whose claim to fame is his ability to reach out to audiences in four different languages- English, French, Punjabi and Hindi. Most of his jokes were to do with the audience. They might have been funny if we had been able to hear him properly. In his eagerness to pick on others, he kept putting the mike away from his face. His jokes- the few he cracked- were outdated and predictable. He seemed more of a Russell Peters rip off, even though he declares to draw inspiration from Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock. The building up of expectation that the former comedians had worked at fizzled out little by little as my disappointment with Sugar Sammy set in. I was bored and kept looking at the watch. I found him gimmicky and just a good looking poster boy who was good at strutting on the stage and killing time.

But what went wrong? Surely, he was having a bad day. His past successes point at a comedian who is not only talented but in high demand all over the world. After all, he just won the 2009 COCA (Canadian Organization for College Activities) Award for Best Comedian AND has a huge fan following all over the world. So, what really went wrong? My guess: either he has let too much fame get to his head (like our very own Sonu Nigam) or he just tailors his show according to his audience. Perhaps, he felt York University didn’t deserve a good show. Or, maybe, the standards of taste have really gone down within the past year. What ever it is, that’s the last time I pay $10 to go watch Sugar Sammy.

sanchari_sur 

 

Author: Sanchari Sur

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What to Write in Perfect Personal Statement

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

High school seniors can get away with not writing a college essay, but they would be probably only applying to public colleges or for two year programs. For others applying for scholarships, private colleges or honors programs at public colleges, now is the time to crank out the college essay. 

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For many students, the college application essay, also known as the personal statement, is the most important part of the college application process. Since colleges don’t give applicants that much space to write, there’s a lot to do.

So what’s it all about? The college essay is anywhere from 400-800 words usually, and the topic is generally on something related to the personality of the student. That means the topic is not very specific but pretty open. A common topic given by colleges is: Discuss an experience that changed you. I have seen some colleges ask applicants to create an interview transcript (line by line summary) of an interview between the applicant and Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. However, there’s no right answer and no formula for success.

The college essay is a chance for students to reveal who they really are. Though students are sending in test scores and grades, the essay is the opportunity to write about motivation, interests, goals, and even more. 

The first key to a good essay is to start early, way way ahead of when it is due. Secondly, students should have 7, 8, or even 15 drafts! 

The good essay may contain some dialogue, or at least some actual experience. I have seen great essays with a description of a past experience – a traumatic, a successful, a personal moment that can provide the reader some insight into what happens in the applicant’s life.

A good essay will have focus on the applicant, the writer and will demonstrate some of the applicant’s characteristics or qualities. 

A good essay will show without telling. In other words, a good essay will find a way not to tell the reader who special or amazing the writer is, but will show it. A good way to do this is of course to use examples.

Finally, a good essay may have a turning point, or a description of the moment when the reader realized or learned something

The essay is not the place to share your opinions on your philosophy of life, of religion, or why you love your mother or why you like (or dislike) biryani. It’s not the place to show off your vocabulary, there’s no need to use SAT words unnecessarily. A few nice SAT words will do nicely. 

Since I have written quite a bit about examples, maybe I should give one right about now. A lot of applicants who are writing college essays wonder what they should write about. There really is no limit, but some good examples might be role models that have shaped or affected the way you are now – it could be a cousin or friend. Another good one is an experience that has changed you and this might be a sports experience or something related to afterschool activities like a performance.  Those are rather traditional, but other great topics I have seen include passions, identity, relationship between the student and their neighborhood or neighborhood, among many others. There are many topics but the focus must always be on the writer, the applicant!  

Let me ask the readers a few questions! How many who read this article have decided not to go to college? How many students have decided to apply to private colleges?

Muntasir Photo_Profile

 

  Author: Muntasir Sattar is a PhD student at Teachers College.

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Liberal, Progressive, Conservative or Traditional? Eman Ahmed – Project Manager at Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

Assignments at work are considered assignments, you invest time, you invest intellect, and you are paid for it. Little does it say that you would get a chance to encounter people you wish to meet, those unknown, unfamiliar, without-names silhouettes that can re-orient your misdirected lives.

Eman Ahmed was a name passed down to me from my supervisor. Just a name. No profile, no details. When I inquired more about her, a simple answer followed my several inquiries, “What good of a journalist are you if I have to feed every answer to you before you step out of this office.” Frustration followed this answer along with a smile that spoke of accepting a challenge.

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With a shaky voice and recharged confidence, I gave her a call in the evening from my personal cell phone. A friendly voice greeted me from the other end. I was confused, I was shaky, “How old is she?” I asked myself. This particular bit of inquiry was important for me, like any other young internee, I am a victim of ageism; fearful of interviewing professionals who can make me sound like a fool from my own mouth. I swallowed my apprehension, introduced myself and requested to meet for an interview.

After answering several of her questions, my request was accepted and I was sent a 58-page long paper entitled “A Multitude of Solitudes? Canadian Muslim Women and Rising Religiosity” to review before I met her. This request was not unusual, but it certainly added more mystery to the author.

I had an uneasy night before I was supposed to meet her at her apartment. I am a South Asian girl; it was risky enough to walk into the apartment of a stranger about whom you knew very little. My adventurous streak was making itself very visible that morning; maybe the high adrenaline from the nervousness that I had been experiencing all night was giving me the courage.

I arrived at her doorstep, finding a woman in her thirties, who greeted me with such enthusiasm that I had a feel of nostalgia. I thought I was back in Lahore, knocking at the door of one of my friends for an evening cup of ‘chai.’

Her small living room spoke lengths about her bachelor life (about which I knew nothing when I had stepped inside). The colorful embroidery on the cushions, a Kashmiri style throw at the back of her couch and the coffee table in the middle, gave me a welcoming feel, everything spoke of a woman’s space. The single shelf in that room, over-stacked with books, spoke million words about her life and interests.

I was enthusiastic, I have been ever since I have started questioning beliefs, ‘a healthy activity’ my professor always says.

I turned on my recorder and we dived straight into our discussion, most of it about religion, some of it about youth and multiculturalism in Canada.

By the end of the discussion, I was as puzzled as I was before, I had encountered another opinion, another perspective on various subjects I have been questioning. By the time I left her apartment after an hour, the words of my own professor were echoing in my ears, “some questions are about invoking discussions to develop tolerance for opinion in human race, seldom do we arrive at conclusions.” I sighed aloud, I appreciated the tolerant Canadian society and took the bus back home.

Here is my conversation with Eman, with a lot of questions, which at a point I felt were going in circles, and no definite conclusions. I happily share another learning experience with you:

Eman Ahmed grew up in Pakistan, spent 20-24 years there, did M.Sc in Social Anthropology from Oxford, applied for Canadian immigration, landed in Vancouver, did an MA in publishing from Simon Frasier, worked for CIDA for an year in Ottawa and moved to Toronto. She did some work in Scarborough village area with the Pakistani community. Currently she is the Project Manager at Canadian Council of Muslim Women. She is also on Toronto Public Library Board.

After hearing all these accomplished I embarked into questions that were popping in my mind:

GN: How do Muslim women balance between being a Canadian and being a Muslim?

I don’t see issues where there is a contradiction and one would have to choose between the two.

GN: What about issues that contradict with the modern versions of being a woman? Such as staying within the boundaries of your house, or wearing a hijab? It talks about men having supremacy on you or a subtle power over you?

Eman: I think if you are talking about religion then it’s all a matter of interpretation. I personally don’t think that hijab is a religious requirement. The Quran only talks about modesty, and what is modest or not depends to a large extent on your environment. What is modest in Pakistan might not be modest here, and what is modest here might not be modest in Pakistan. I also don’t find it restricting. Even those who do interpret hijab as being a requirement would not see it as restricting.

She laughs and adds, “I don’t have any man who has ‘supremacy’ over me. I don’t see those contradictions.  I don’t believe Islam says a man is superior and I have to be home bound.

GN: Don’t you think that’s a very subjective view of religion?

Eman: Isn’t religion subjective anyways?

GN: I would say that that is a politically correct statement, and it’s a sort of thing we all like saying, my religion is my religion and your religion is your religion.” But we see fights based on religion all across the globe.

Eman: Islam says that there is no compulsion in matters of religion.

GN: Then where do Islamic laws stand? Like divorce laws or laws concerning slaves?

Eman: Even there I would say there is big misconception. There is no ONE Islamic law. You say Shariah, there is no one body of law that is Shariah. Secondly, it’s not God made, it’s man-made and I have no problems questioning that. The term Islamic law is very controversial in itself. There are 4-5 schools of Islamic laws but there is no agreement even among these schools on such laws as divorce or custody of children. One would say age x, other would say age y, so which laws?

And then there is the concept of ‘Takhiyur’ which allows one to pick and choose from all the different schools; you don’t have to restrict yourself to one particular school of Muslim law. There are many liberal interpretations out there, why shouldn’t I pick those?

GN: So you consider yourself more on the liberal progressive side?

Eman: No, I wouldn’t say that because I have many conservative elements as well.

GN: Such as?

Eman: Such as respect for ones parents.mWhy put somebody in a box that either you are conservative or you are liberal.

GN: You talk about interpreting Quranic verses, but scholars and maulvis don’t agree to that approach?

Eman: Why not? Who has made them the master of my religion?

GN: Then what would you say about the concept of ‘qiyas’ and ‘Ijma’ where Muslim scholars of the time sit together and debate about a certain issue that has come up to arrive at a conclusion.

Eman: Who defines who is a Muslim scholar. I am as much of a Muslim scholar as you are. That’s what we are seeing in Pakistan. Ahmadies are not considered Muslims, Shia’s and Ismailies are persecuted. So why do you want to go down that road.

GN: How do you unite young Muslim women to represent Islam while having so many subjective interpretations?

Eman: What Islam or religion means is different to everyone. Beyond the five basic pillars, it’s up in the air.

GN: Being in the Canadian Council for Muslim, how much balance do you see between culture and religion? Is culture stronger than religion?

Eman: I don’t know the councils view on this but I have a very strong view on this. We can’t separate culture from religion. The implications of doing so are that you are disregarding how people live Islam. The Islams of South Asia, Indonesia and the Middle East are all different. If you take culture out of the mix, then  which is the “authentic Islam” ? And more importantly who will be the arbitrator and decide what is Islamic and not. By taking culture out of the equation one is treading a purist/puritan path.

Author:Saniya Zahid

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Hajj and Spiritual Enhancement

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

In this statement of prayer made by Muhammad, God’s Messenger, there is an overflowing offering of the self in the presence of God. To sincerely acknowledge the Almighty as Provider and Maintainer, Creator and Supreme Lord, is to realize and affirm one’s reason for existence—to live in the humble servitude of God. There is no meaning in existence, if the presence of God is denied and rejected. Life is not simply a time of merriment and pleasure, where nothing matters except the prevalence of human desires and wants.

According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

 In fact, life is a time of responsibility and obligations, a time when the sacred “trust” is completed and the obligation for the devoted service to God is fulfilled. In this context, Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) is a good paragon for representing pristine human obedience and devotion in the fulfillment of God’s commandments.

 According to tradition, via a series of dreams, Prophet Ibrahim was asked to sacrifice his son, Ismail. (In Jewish and Christian thought, Isaac was the recipient of this command.) Though extremely difficult, he complied; and at the final moment a ram was divinely substituted. In commemoration of this remarkable event, Muslims make the pilgrimage to the sacred Ka`ba, the House of God, the sanctified shrine to remember God which had been built by Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail (Ishmael).

There is much merit and limitless blessings associated with the pilgrimage or hajj. The Prophet stated that: “If anyone performs the pilgrimage for God’s sake without talking immodestly or acting wickedly, he will return [pure] as on the day his mother bore him.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

As an important practice of faith, it becomes essential for all Muslims to be able to complete the hajj at least once during their lives. According to the Prophet: “The pilgrimage should be performed once, and if anyone does it more often, he performs a supererogatory act.” (Ahmad, Nasa’i, Darimi) The question arises regarding those who cannot for some reason complete this important practice.

In a narrative from Ibn Abbas, the merit of the pilgrimage can be passed to someone who cannot perform it when another person fulfills the requirements instead. Thus, “A woman of the tribe of Khatham asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah! The ordinance regarding the pilgrimage made obligatory by Allah for his servants found my father a very old man unable to sit firmly on a riding camel, shall I perform a pilgrimage on his behalf?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ And this happened in the Farewell Pilgrimage.”

On another occasion, Ibn Abbas told of a person who came to the Prophet and stated that his sister had taken a vow to make the pilgrimage, but had died. The Prophet asked whether he would pay a debt, supposing she owed one, and when he replied that he would, he said, “Well pay the debt due to God, for it is the one which most deserves to be paid.” (Bukhari and Muslim) 

As for the actual etiquette of the both genders performing the pilgrimage simultaneously, the hadith narratives again provide directives. According to the following tradition, “Ibn Juraij reported that when Ibn Hisham forbade women making circuits along with men, `Ata said: ‘do you forbid them, while the wives of the Prophet made circuits along with men?’ I said, ‘Was it after the verses related to the curtain [were revealed] or before?’ He said, ‘By my life! I found this after the curtain verses.’ I said, ‘How did men mix with them?’ He said,’They did not mix with them; A’isha used to make circuits remaining aside from the men, not mixing with them; … but when they intended to go into the Sacred House, they stopped before entering it till the men were turned out.’” (Bukhari)

The practice of both genders to simultaneously perform this ritual, consolidates the idea that in Islam all people have equal dignity, prestige and respect. One gender is not more superior to another. Despite biological differences, spiritual obligations are the same. Hence as directed with wisdom by the Prophet, men and women were to acknowledge the presence of God as a unified community, with equality and harmony.

The sacred Ka`ba, is a gift to be cherished and respected by all Muslims, and commemoration of the ultimate sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim is formally concluded with the Hajj. The actual existential fulfillment of this sacrifice by all Muslims is to be of service to the creation of God– and willingness to make the peaceful sacrifice of time, resources and energy. With Eid al-Adha we celebrate the human destiny to truly live when we bequeath in peace.

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 Author: Dr. Habibeh Rahim is the Professor of Religion at St. John University.

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Next Generation Bhangra Nation

Posted on 26 November 2009 by .

There were chimtas, there were dhols, there were sappars, there were peerhees, there were colourful lachas, silk kurte, doppattas with gotta, there was culture and yes there was history. A student of kinesiology at Victoria, B.C., Kira’s great great grandfather was the first Sikh to come to Canada. As such she is the fourth generation Canadian.

Indo- Canadian Chamber of Commerce 044

Indo- Canadian Chamber of Commerce 044

 

Chardi Jawani (Blooming Youth)

Chardi Jawani (Blooming Youth)

 

Indo- Canadian Chamber of Commerce 047

Indo- Canadian Chamber of Commerce 047

 

Indo- Canadian Chamber of Commerce 084

Indo- Canadian Chamber of Commerce 084

It all came together at Next Generation’s Bhangra Nation. 13 Bhangra teams from ages 8 up to 25, from the US to Victoria B.C, Canada, got together to compete against one another. The teams were emotionally charged and the level of energy was unbelievable. You would imagine guys climbing on one another’s backs and shoulders to impress the audience, but our young bhangra dancers from Shan-e-Punjab (Punjab’s pride) were nowhere far from guys. They did the same.  

Rochester Bhangra

Rochester Bhangra

These teams have the most amazing and interesting names, and when translated into English they are even more fascinating. Take for example “Nache Tapde Punjabi” (Dancing, Jumping Punjabis), Charhdi Jawani (Blooming Youthfulness), Ministry of Bhangra…yes folks…there is no official Ministry of Bhangra, however the team on Generation Next’s cover is called Ministry of Bhangra.

Ranvir Raoi - Foundaer of Bhangra Nation

Ranvir Raoi - Foundaer of Bhangra Nation

“Bhangra Nation has grown over the years,” says Ranvir Roi, the Founder of Bhangra Nation. Professionally, a pharmacist, Mr. Roi started Bhangra Nation during his years in University of Toronto. The success of the event can be determined by the fact that the event was sold out with almost 350 people present. Mr. Roi says that many a times, parents bring the kids to such event to retain the cultural identity, to preserve Punjabi heritage.

And truly it would have been quite hard to dance on the beat of the dhool without understanding what is being said in the song.

Author: Staff Writer

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Diwali, Eid, Christmas with Dinner & Dance

Posted on 25 November 2009 by .

We were told that you are attending one of the most significant events of the year. It was an event organized by Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce (ICCC). It was hard not to see why this was said the event was attended by professionals, entrepreneurs, Federal Minister, Members of Parliament, representatives from Ontario Legislature and Mayor McCallion.

Organizers - Rohan, Asha, Surbhi, Rakhi, Gurdeep & Kundan

Organizers - Rohan, Asha, Surbhi, Rakhi, Gurdeep & Kundan

The guest of honour was Minister Jason Kenney, Canada’s Minister for Citizenship and Immigration and Multiculturalism. Among other dignitaries were MP Patrick Brown, Chairman of Canada India parliamentary Association, MPP. Reza Moridi Parliamentary

Dr. Anita, Rupel & Aditi

Dr. Anita, Rupel & Aditi

 Assistant to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities, MPP. Bob Delaney, Parliamentary Assistant to the minister of Tourism, Hon. Harinder Takhar - Minister of Government Services, MPP. Amrit Mangat-

Minister of Citizenship & Immigration - Mr. Jason Kenny

Minister of Citizenship & Immigration - Mr. Jason Kenny

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister Responsible for Seniors, Ms. Preeti Saran Consul General of India, Toronto, Mr. Venkatesan - Vice Consul General of India and  Mr. M.P. Singh – Head of Chancery , Consulate General of India.

Lisa, Gaurav, Zeeshan & Muneeza

Lisa, Gaurav, Zeeshan & Muneeza

Among the sponsors were Etihad, Aylesworth LLP, State Bank of India (Canada), ICICI and Rogers, and at the corporate tables were BMO, Keyser Mason Ball LLP, CIBC, Scotia Bank, Ghumman Professional Corporation, Silver Hotel Group, Emirates, Delta Chelsea Hotel, TD Canada Trust, Aundhia, Parikh & Kapadia LLP, Excelsior Financial Group Inc., Wyvil, HSBC, RANA, RANKA, South Association Dental Association, Skylink and Homelife Realty.

Syed Imran Shah - South Asian Model of the Year

Syed Imran Shah - South Asian Model of the Year

ICCC presented  the Annual Holiday Dinner & Dance 2009 with the theme of Royal Indian Celebration and Extravaganza  to celebrate festive season of Diwali, Eid, Christmas.

The evening was truly regal from gorgeous, glittery, sparkling dresses of women to flattering suits of men. 

 Author: Staff  Writer

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IMTD: Healthcare Without Borders

Posted on 25 November 2009 by .

“Most of the times people think India is a poor country..but this was a platform to showcase India and what medical facilities are available in India,” says Ms. Jetty Thampi, executive of Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre. She along with members of 12 other Indian hospitals has been in Toronto to sell Indian hospitals and the world class facilities available to Canadians who are sick and tired of wait times in Canadian hospitals.

IMG_3054In 2005, the list of patients needing surgeries was made public. “At that time, I saw the market for this business in Canada. There are 800,000 people in Canada who need surgeries,” Ms. Sayyed said.

Ms. Yasmeen Sayeed, President and CEO of Surgical Tourism Canada has come up with the unique idea of the conference and exhibition termed as India: Medical Tourism Destination (IMTD), Healthcare Without Borders. The goal is to show Canadians that healthcare is available to them in India and that India is not necessarily a poor country a lot of people think it to be.

IMG_3055Ms. Sayeed is a healthcare management professional who has worked in India, Middle East, UK and now here in Canada. She has been sending patients to India for hip, knee, spine and other treatments for almost five years now.

Once the patient decides to go to India, the consent forms are signed, medical reports are shared with the surgeon. Once the surgeon has studied the reports, the patient is put in direct contact with the surgeon in India via electronically or cellularly.

 Initially her company was sending a couple of people to India for treatment, now the number has risen to 8 or 9. The company takes care of which hospital would be the best for the treatment, rehab, stay in India, visas to India, airfare, motel stay; and most recently Surgical Tourism Canada has collaborated with an insurance company as well. Custom Assurance does not cover the actual procedure, but it gives insurance coverage of $50,000 – $250,000. This insurance covers the travel expenses of a patient if he or she has to travel to India the second time.

Mr. Ronjon Lahirir, Director India Tourism, Toronto (Min. of Tourism, Govt. of India)

Mr. Ronjon Lahirir, Director India Tourism, Toronto (Min. of Tourism, Govt. of India)

“Canadians have publically funded healthcare, so the concept to pay for healthcare is new to them,” Ms. Sayyed says. On an average hip or knee transplant costs $12,000 to $15,000.

Doug Antoniak has been served by Ms. Sayyed’s company. He had chronic spine problem. Doctors in Canada told him to take medication and to stay at home.  “There was nobody around here in Ontario to help me” says Mr. Doug. One night he and his wife Cathy watched CTV News’ story on a patient who had gone to India for treatment. At that time they looked into spine treatment in India. “We did our research on the internet.”  They had to visit India twice and spent almost $75,000 – 80,000 on their two trips. Concerned about medical expenses, they believe “we can’t put a price on health.”

Ms. Jetty Thampi, Executive International patients care services, Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre

Ms. Jetty Thampi, Executive International patients care services, Sri Ramachandra Medical Centre

“It’s something eye opening. Whatever you decide to do, you need to do your research. Consumers have to be very careful of which hospital to choose to and which surgeon to choose to; of people who say that they are medial operators but have no medical background,” Ms. Sayyed warns.

While the response of the conference and exhibition at IMTD is said to be “tremendous” by organizers, the turnout was more from people who wanted to explore. “The people who are coming here are the people who want to explore and to look into what India has to offer. They are trying to see what things are available..This conference is a confidence building measure.. People come for business collaboration, to see if the India can deliver  as par with Canada medically,” says Mr. Ronjon Lahiri, Director of India Tourism, Toronto.

Yasmeen Sayeed, Presdient & CEO of Surgical Tourism Canada Inc.The biggest challenge, as the company grows, would probably be lack of any Canadian or North American oversight over what Surgical Tourism Canada does. “Currently there is no regulatory body in existence.. but as the business grows, I am sure there will be, but we have set the standards for us.” Indian Medical Travel Association supported by Ministry of Health regulates this industry in India. “We are joining forces with our counterparts in the US and the UK..so that there are some sort of benchmarks established.”

99.9 % of Ms. Sayyed’s clients are white Canadians. The reason, Ms. Sayyed, thinks is that many Indo-Canadians already have resources available in India if they have to go to India for medical reasons.

Author: Asma Amanat

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