Travel Indonesia

Vol 3- Issue 3 Travel IndonesiaIndonesia, a large group of islands in South East Asia, is a unique country. Islam is the dominant religion with the greatest number of adherents. The high number of Muslims makes Indonesia the most populous Muslim majority nation in the world. Indonesians are known to be very courteous people and often cited as gentle and god fearing. As the world experiences targeted militancy, Indonesia has not been spared. Nevertheless, it remains a favourite and economical tourist destination today for a myriad of reasons.

Places of Interest

Surabaya

A booming city of over three million, Surabaya offers many good hotels, shopping centers, and entertainment places. Its well-stocked zoological garden includes several species of Indonesian fauna such as orangutan, komodo dragon, and a collection of nocturnal animals. Mpu Tantular Museum offers archeological art and cultural items from prehistoric times until the country’s independence.

Trowulan – Pandaan – Tretes

The surroundings of the Trowulan village is believed to be the site of the ancient capital of Majapahit. Archeological excavations in the area have recovered many terracotta ornaments, statues, pottery, and stone carvings, which are displayed at the Trowulan Museum. Up to 10 km from Chandra Wilwatika is Tretes, one of the most beautiful mountain resorts of East Java.

Malang

90 km south of Surabaya is Malang, one of the most attractive towns in Java. A strong sense of civic pride is sensed from the well-maintained and painted becaks, the neat main-square, buildings, and streets. The cool climate is one reason why it is highly desirable among the East Javanese.

Purwodadi Botanical Garden

Founded in 1941 for the study of plants growing under relatively dry conditions, the Purwodadi gardens lie about 30 km northeast of the Malang, just off the Surabaya-Malang main road on the lowest slopes of Mt. Arjuno at an altitude of 300 metres .

Mount Bromo

One of the most exciting experiences is watching the sunrise from the crest of the Bromo volcano, a three-hour drive from Surabaya, followed by a pony ride from the village of Ngadisari over a sea of sand to the foot of a volcano.

Sadengan is a famous wild life reserve and feeding ground smaller in size than that of Baluran. It is in possession of 700 wild buffaloes and a variety of other wild life, all of which can be seen from the viewing tower.

Meru Betiri Reserve

After a rough 30 km ride, which crosses half a dozen rivers through dense jungle and rubber plantation, you finally arrive here on the southeastern tip of the province, where the last of the Javanese tigers had sought refuge. A hundred and fifty years ago, Javanese tiger inhabited most of Java and was even considered a nuisance in some populated areas. But through the 1800s and early 1900s it was hunted mercilessly and its habitat destroyed by plantation builders. The government and the World Wildlife Fund have mounted a determined effort to save the tiger and its environment.

Food

Rice is the basis of almost all Indonesian dishes and is usually served with fish, chicken, or vegetables. Two common dishes, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goring, can be found everywhere and are an easy introduction to the Indonesian diet. Every town has at least one market, providing the traveller with an incredible range of fruits, vegetables, and snacks. Warungs, or food stalls, offer the tastiest and cheapest food.  If you choose to eat from Warungs, check to see if locals are eating there. Indonesians drink hot coffee and tea, but bottled soft drinks are readily available. Most dishes are eaten using hands.

Clothing

On many formal national occasions, men in the early 1990s wore Batik shirts with no ties that were not tucked into their trousers. They wore black felt caps or Peci, once associated with Muslims or Malays. Women wore Sarongs on formal occasions, along with the Kebaya, a long-sleeved blouse. On these occasions, women often tied their hair into a bun.

In addition, they might have carried a Selendang, a long stretch of cloth draped over the shoulder, which on less formal occasions was used to carry babies or objects.

Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta

Among the many Masajid this one is special. A 45 meter diameter central spherical dome covers the main prayer hall. Staircases at the corners of the building give access to all floors. The main hall is reached through an entrance covered by a dome 10 meters in diameter. The mosque also provides facilities for social and cultural activities, including lectures, exhibitions, seminars, conferences, Bazaars, and programs for women, youth, and children.

Sports

Boat racing and kite flying are very popular on most of the islands. Stone jumping is a sport in Nias. Young men, who play this game, sometimes jump over a wall with a sword in their hand. A favourite sport is Sepak Takraw. Two teams try to keep a rattan ball in the air with their feet. Badminton and tennis are popular throughout Indonesia. Indonesians are long-standing winners of the Thomas Cup men’s division and the women’s championship for badminton. Soccer is another popular sport. The Indonesian government encourages ‘sport for all.’

Permitted and Prohibited Methods of Contraception in Islam – Part II

which_method-HUBIn the last issue, we looked at the permissibility of birth control in Islam as well as the process of fertilization. The thumb rule is: any method that prevents fertilization of a mother’s egg and father’s sperm is allowed, whereas a method that destroys a fertilized Zygote (Nutfah) or is an irreversible process is not permitted.

With this perspective, let us now analyze the options available to us.

Common Methods of Contraception

1) Natural methods

Rhythm method

An egg can be fertilized only during the day or so after ovulation. Sperm can live in the female reproductive tract for up to 6 days. So intercourse that takes place more than 5 days before or 2 days after ovulation is unlikely to lead to pregnancy. Abstinence during this period is called the rhythm method. Women need to know exactly, when they ovulate, by measuring their body temperature and/or levels of hormones by a urine test.

Withdrawal method (Azl)

The husband withdraws from the wife’s vagina before the release of sperm. This method was practiced during the time of the Prophet (sa).

2) Chemical methods

They are also known as spermicidal chemicals. Chemicals such as nonoxynol 9 are inserted in the vagina – these are all acidic and inactivate the alkaline sperm. They are usually available in the form of soaps, foams or jellies.

3) Mechanical barriers

These prevent husband’s sperm from entering the wife’s vagina.

Condom

This is a sheath of thin flexible material (such as latex) worn by the husband. They are highly effective and are the most commonly used form of contraception in Pakistan.

Diaphragm

This is a rubber dome placed at the upper end of the vagina. They may be used alongside spermicidal chemicals.

Cervical cap

This is an impermeable cap fitted over the wife’s cervix. It may be left in place until menstruation.

4) Hormonal methods

Oral combined pill

This is also called an oral contraceptive pill (OCP). It contains a combination of two synthetic hormones: estrogen and progestin. The estrogen works in the ovaries to prevent ovulation (release of egg) by giving negative feedback. The two most commonly prescribed OCPs in Pakistan are Nordette (by Wyeth) and Marvelon (by Organon).

Oral progesterone only pill (POP pill)

This is also known as the mini pill. It contains a very low dosage of the hormone progestin. It does not inhibit ovulation but creates local changes, which interfere in either fertilization or implantation of the fertilized zygote. This type of pill is not currently available in Pakistan.

5) Intrauterine devices (IUD)

For centuries camel drivers in northern Africa inserted a stone in the uterus of their female camels before starting on a long trek. This prevented the animal from becoming pregnant on the journey.

The intrauterine device (IUD) accomplishes the same purpose. It must be inserted by a physician. A variety of materials (usually containing some copper) and shapes are used.  Coils (Cu 7 & CuT) and Lippes Loop are commonly used. Research indicates that it is the presence of a foreign body within the uterus that makes conditions unfavorable for implantation of the fertilized zygote.

IUDs have caused such bad side effects (e.g., infections of the uterus and fallopian tubes) that only two types remain on the U.S. market! They are used in Pakistan as well. One is Mirena® – it releases a progestin and can be left in place for up to 5 years.

6) Sterilization:

These are irreversible processes.

Tubal ligation

A woman’s fallopian tubes (both of them!) are cut and tied, so that no egg can be fertilized. It requires incision(s) and must be done under anesthesia.

Vasectomy

A man’s reproductive tubules in the testes are cut near the top of the scrotum. It can be done in the doctor’s office with a local anesthetic in 30-40 minutes.

We need to educate ourselves and spread awareness about the various types of contraception options. Otherwise, there are chances of getting pressurized by family planning workers or ‘well-meaning’ gynecologists to use a particular method increases, if we have no idea how it works. It is mostly lack of awareness that leads women and families to make unwise birth control choices or none at all. Sterilization and IUDs are recommended by doctors, who themselves are most probably not aware of their consequences.

Having identified the permissible methods available to us, the choice of method of contraception is ultimately a personal one. We must consult a medical practitioner to determine that it is a safe way.

Permissible Birth Control Methods

Method Why permissible?Intervention before fertilization
Rhythm No artificial intervention
Withdrawal No artificial intervention
Combined pill No egg release
Condom No sperm entry
Diaphragm No sperm entry
Cervical cap No sperm entry
Spermicidal chemicals Inactivates sperm

Non-Permissible Birth Control Methods

Method Why not permissible?Intervention after fertilization or irreversible process
Intra Uterine Devices (IUDs) e.g. coil Egg and sperm present – kills zygote
Progestin only pill: POP pill Egg and sperm present – kills zygote
Vasectomy (male sterilization) Irreversible process
Tubal ligation (female sterilization) Irreversible process

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personality Ethics vs. Character Ethics

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Reaping benefits out of the Quran and Seerah, I always notice, how they place absolutely uncompromising emphasis on the value of character integrity. But what really took me by surprise was reading Stephen R. Covey’s bestseller “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” The book was so much in line with the core Islamic values. The author narrates his personal experience of the middle seventies, when he was required to review 200 years of success literature published in the USA as part of a doctoral program.

He scanned hundreds of books on self-improvement, popular psychology, and self-help. A startling pattern emerging in the content of the literature was noticed. Much of the success literature of the past 50 years was superficial. It was filled with social image consciousness, techniques and quick fixes with social band-aids and aspirin that addressed acute problems and sometimes even appeared to solve them temporarily, but left the underlying chronic troubles untouched to fester and resurface later on.

It was after the World War I that the trend of focusing on the personality ethics emerged. According to Covey, “success became more a function of personality, of public image, of attitudes and behaviors, skills and techniques that lubricate the processes of human interaction. Some of this philosophy was expressed in inspiring and sometimes valid maxims such as ‘Your attitude determines your altitude,’ ‘Smiling wins more friends than frowning,’ and ‘Whatever the mind of man conceives and believes, it can achieve.'”

It also focused on clearly manipulative, even deceptive tactics, such as using techniques to make others like us and to fake interest in the hobbies of others for achieving what we want. The personality ethic approved of intimidating others and wearing the ‘power look.’

However, some elements of the personality ethics are essential for success, such as personality growth, communication skill training, and education in the field of influence strategies and positive thinking. But they are secondary in greatness. It is like constructing a building, whose foundation is the character ethics, or reaping a harvest, whose seeds lie in our character strength.

Now, let us have a look at the character ethics. In 1776, thinkers and social scientists of United States believed that the foundation of success lied in such values as integrity, humility, fidelity, temperance, courage, justice, patience, industry, simplicity, modesty, and the golden rule. Everything that the Quran has ever taught us – that there are basic principles of effective living, and that people can experience true success and enduring happiness only as they integrate these principles into their characters. These are the principles of character ethics.

If we were to use human influence strategies and tactics to get work done, to be more motivated, or to make others like us, while our character is fundamentally flawed, marked by duplicity and insincerity, then in the long run, we cannot be successful. Once the charm disappears and the real face appears, all techniques will cave in. Frustration will build, relationships will become sour, and in spite of efforts, results will be far from desirable.

Lessons to Learn

As the West compartmentalized the character ethics, rather than recognizing it as a foundational and catalytic ingredient of success, they have paid the price. It gave birth to a ruthless and self-centered perception of life. This can be very blatantly observed in the media campaigns they broadcast and through the behaviors of an entire generation, which skipped the core values to cram in quick-fix solutions into their lives.

But as the saying goes, it is not a pity to sight someone making a mistake but to experience others repeating that mistake, rather than learning from it. Pakistan regretfully is treading the same path.

Last year, when I experienced the ordeal of getting my 3 and ½ year old son into school, my shock knew no bounds. Every reputed school was interested in an extrovert and outspoken child. Every mother wanted her kid to be the most eloquent voice box in town, mainly because that was in demand. God forbid, if the child failed the school entrance test – the parents went into mourning, self-pity, and envy.

I wondered if ever any of these parents went to that length to teach their children the significance of honesty, compassion, or other basic values in life. Instead, at this tender age of learning, they were being conditioned to a whole set of superficial traits, which would mould their mindsets into believing that this is the ultimate key to achievement. Later in life when they fail, they would be left devastated and confused.

Steven Covey has presented his case with a strong example of the law of harvest. If we forget to sow in the spring, play all summer and try to cram in the harvest in autumn, what will happen? Can we expect a shortcut? No. It is a natural system. The price must be paid and process must be followed. This also works for human relationships, whether at work or at home. If marriages are contracted on the pretext of false pretence and a flimsy veneer bringing two families together, when the charming tactics and techniques begin to crack up, relationships will break up, too.

There is an extremely powerful and critical lesson to be learnt here, something that every single one of us can relate to. We need to develop, change, and even train ourselves inside-out. Basic goodness gives life to technique. Once the values are in place, additional tactics can lead us to success. In Islamic terms, we can relate this to Tazkiyah-e-Nafs (self-accountability). Attempting to correct our own faults and constantly trying to improve ourselves by following the primary values (character ethics) and then developing the secondary principles (personality ethics). Once we have sown the seeds of a strong character upholding core values, success is bound to follow in our personal and professional lives and even beyond – in our lives in the Hereafter.

Is it a Luxury?

bsr005This article is the first part of a new series about ethical dilemmas at work.

A young business executive complained bitterly about gender discrimination at work. A wife was griping about the fact that her husband had to spend his Sunday at the office to compensate for the hours lost because of Eid vacations. A marketing student was having difficulty reconciling marketing principles with her knowledge of Islam. A businessman expressed how difficult it was to get work done without resorting to bribery. The list can go on and on. Do our prayers and fasting in Ramadan help us become better Muslims? Or is it just fine to leave Islam at home, when you come to work?

Allah (swt) says: “And I (Allah) created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone).” (Al-Dhariyat 51:56) Therefore, it’s important to realize that the purpose of our life is to submit to Allah’s (swt) will; in short – to be Muslims.

Before committing to a code of ethics, clarify your intention and remind yourself that as a Muslim you ought to pay heed to what your Creator tells you. He knows best; therefore, you ought to give yourself up to Him.

An eye-opening Hadeeth emphasizes the importance of safeguarding our faith, whether at home or at work. Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Hasten in good deeds before calamities, which will come like portions of a dark night. A man will get up a believer in the morning and an unbeliever at dusk, and a believer at dusk and an unbeliever in the morning. He will sell his religion in exchange for the frail goods of this world.” (Muslim)

Keep in mind the last words of the Hadeeth. Most of us believe that a step towards ethics means a step towards economic loss. The two, however, do not connect. We have no less than our own Prophet’s (sa) example, who had worked as a trader. When Khadijah (rta) employed him to go to Syria for trade, he returned with more profits and blessings than before. Khadijah (rta) was informed by her servant about Muhammad’s (sa) good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity, and faith.

We also have other examples, such as Abdur-Rahman ibn Awf (rta), who was a wealthy trader, and Muhammad ibn Ismail Bukhari (better known as Imam Bukhari), who also was a wealthy trader and a Muhaddith (Hadith scholar). On the flip side of the coin, we have today’s examples of such as Enron and Worldcom, which had to suffer because of unethical decisions at the executive level.

Before proceeding with issues regarding work ethics, it’s important to do self-check for assessing, whether we have the level of Iman for taking a principled stand in dealing with ethical dilemmas at work.

Check your Taqwa Level

As Muslims we need to check our level of Taqwa (consciousness about Allah (swt)), for it has a direct bearing on our compliance with the Islamic code of ethics. How to do this is a question many wonder about.

Check the state of your heart in three situations: (1) when listening to the Quran, (2) in gatherings, where Allah’s (swt) Dhikr is done, and (3) in solitude. Check how you feel in such situations. Do you feel that Allah (swt) is watching you? If not, then pray to Allah (swt) for a sound heart (Qalb-e-saleem).

Keep in Mind the Hereafter

Belief in the fact that life in this world is temporary and whatever we do here has a bearing on life in the Hereafter is an important component of faith. Reading the Quran, keeping in mind death, and doing Dhikr help us to remain conscious about life after death. We should not merely believe in the Hereafter but have the highest level of conviction that we will have to give an account of our deeds, for which we will be justly recompensed. Describing the qualities of the Muttaqin (the pious), Allah (swt) says: “…and they believe with certainty in the Hereafter.” (Al-Baqarah 2:4)

Offer Salah and Make Duas

It’s important that as a practicing Muslim, you should offer your five daily mandatory prayers. You should also try to offer voluntary prayers (Nafl), whenever you can. Allah (swt) says: “O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly, Allah (swt) is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (Al-Baqarah 2:153)

Dua (supplication) is also an important form of contact with Allah (swt). A very comforting verse of the Quran is: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant, when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor)…” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Pray to Allah (swt) to grant you piety and to purify your soul. A beautiful supplication of the Prophet (sa) is as follows: “O Allah! Grant my soul (Nafs) its piety and purify it, for You are the Best of the ones to purify it, (as) You are its Guardian and Master.”

Don’t be Sad

Don’t despair, if your self-assessment does not come out excellent. Allah (swt) says: “Say: ‘O Ibadi (My slaves), who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah (swt): verily, Allah (swt) forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Az-Zumar 39:53)

Also, try to look for friends inside and outside the organization, who may help you stick to your principles, when faced with ethical issues. Above all, remain committed and pray for help to Allah (swt). May He reward your efforts. Ameen.

How to decide, whether your act was ethical or not?

Ask yourself the following

1.   Did this act bring you closer to Allah (swt)?

2.   Did this act move you away from Satan?

3.   Did this act bring you closer to Paradise?

4.   Did this act move you away from Hell?

Interesting Fact

Xerox Corporation has a 15 page ethical code, one section of which states:

“We’re honest with our customers. No deals, no bribes, no secrets, no fooling around with prices. A kickback in any form kicks anybody out. Anybody.”