Sunday, May 28, 2006

A little reminder

This morning, instead of the usual weekly tafseer classes, we viewed two slideshows concerning the plight of our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Later, they handed round a box for donations. I mulled over the fact that we could do so little to help our afflicted fellow Muslims in this jihad against the musyriqin. This issue has been highlighted time and again, but I fear that only very few amongst us who really did empathise with the essence of it and committed to the cause wholeheartedly. And by that, I mean boycotting the products of Israel and those who support the Zionists. We were reminded of this boycotting ‘thing’ during the furor surrounding the Danish cartoon issue not long ago but I think we could use a little prompting on our roles every now and then.

As quoted in a translated letter by Dr Khalil Ismael Al-Hayyah of HAMAS in a copy given to us (I’m paraphrasing) - if we merely become observers to this episodes of transgression and do nothing about it, we will be adjudicated in the Day of Judgment. Our brothers and sisters will demand the rights that they did not get from us in dire needs. They would die as syahids, but our fate is still hanging in the balance. Whilst they are bearing bullets in their bodies, we are happily digesting food made by the very people who fired the bullets in the first place. We are handing them the means to manufacture those bullets, thus in a way, we are fraternising with them. Aren’t we ashamed by that fact?

And just so to clarify the consequences, we won’t die from not eating McDonald’s or not drinking Cokes or Starbucks coffee. It’s just that our love for this world too often overcast the greater beauty of Al-Akhirah that we fail to sort our priorities accordingly. We are not perfect, but we can always strive for the better. And Allah knows best.

Mother Russia in spring

Sunday, May 14, 2006

She walks in beauty

She Walks In Beauty
by George Gordon, Lord Byron

She walks in Beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

My mother is an admirable person of all sorts- character-wise, knowledge-wise, career-wise... it is unnecessary really to go on. She was a strict mother (not so now, I think my youngest brother is having it really easy ;p) but maybe we were really stubborn back then. Hehe. Anyhow, she impelled every one of us to be the best we could possibly be, especially in our studies and character. All my successes have been due to her (and my father's, of course, but he's not our main character today. haha) endless encouragement and support, and also, her amazing drive to repeat the same babblings advice over and over again (I must be really stubborn then. Hehe).

I love my mother very much and am very proud of having her as a mother, and I hope that I won't be a disappointment to her (I know I have been a few times) too. Here's wishing you a very Happy Mother's Day, Mak, and you really ARE the lady described in Lord Byron's poem =)

Saturday, May 13, 2006

V for Victory

We had a little 2-day holiday on 8 and 9 May to commemorate Victory Day (or VE Day) for the Allies in World War 2 during which warm celebrations were held in town. Earlier on Friday, my class together with a 3rd year class engaged in an excursion organised by our Russian teachers. We footslogged about the Square of Fallen Fighters, the Alley of Heroes and the Volga (all of which housed quite a number of monuments) in an effort to commemorate the courageous defenders (consisted not only of soldiers but also factory workers and generally untrained civilians) of Stalingrad- the former name of Volgograd, for those really in the dark- in the Battle of Stalingrad. The bloody battle, whose casualties of both German and Soviet amounted up to 2 million, stamped a pivotal moment in the war leading to the decisive Battle of Berlin that had the Nazi bowing to defeat.

But enough of history ;) Stretching from days prior to this significant date you could distinctly observe war veterans with numerous medals pinned on their chests ambling along the alley, paying due respect to their fallen comrades. As our teacher enlightened us with historical facts and thoughts, which eminently centred on the national heroes, I could feel the love and pride swelling in her heart through every syllable enunciated on her tongue (and her teary-eyed expressions)- and it made me feel, too… I felt for the people who were caught in the web of insanity of the era, interwoven with hatred between politically correct world leaders in which these people had no choice but to fight for their family and land. How awful it must have been, to be ensnared in tight battlefield unarmed but told not to leave in the pretext of preserving the spirits of the soldiers. Nevertheless, look at Volgograd today! Quite a remarkable sight for a city reduced to mere rubbles courtesy of the war, I must say.

The pictures below, however, were not taken during the excursion, as I sensibly forgot my camera (“A good photographer always brings his camera”- my dad. Well!), but on Tuesday, May 9 instead. A whole lot of people flocked to the centre to watch live cultural performances, buy plentiful souvenirs and balloons of every shape and shade, and of course, paid homage to the war heroes at the memorials. As for me, I got myself a red star-shaped balloon (I don’t know why, stars fascinate me- when I’m bored I’d doodle stars<-- but that might be due to the fact that I couldn’t draw much else. Haha), a Russian flag to complement my newfound patriotism (hahaha) and a giant cotton candy for my super-sweet tooth. Fabuloso!

A view of a monument in the park opposite our academy

Lovely fountains by the embankment of Volga

a guy talking to a war veteran (note his medals if you can)

20 Roubles for a few snaps with Mr. Python. No, thank you, sir!

A happy couple dancing to the tune of Native Indian live music nearby

catching on the collage bug from neemo ;)