Iran: Beauty, Charm, and Splendour

Bushra Anwar gives us a glance into the charms and attractions of Iran

There are places you visit, and all you write home about is the massive duty-free shop at the airport. Then, there are places you visit and do not want to go back home. On my recent trip to Tehran, the capital of Iran, it was just that.

From my first expectant drive through the city to my gloomy farewell from the place, I was enchanted. To call Tehran beautiful would be an understatement; it is beauty, charm, splendor, and character rolled into one.

Tehran is an extremely well developed city, with parks, sports complexes, and malls. Vast highways, bridges, underground stations, and flyovers connect the city. The more upscale areas have modern high-rises, glass and chrome offices, and residential buildings with car parking, pools, and other facilities. However, to place Tehran among the typical modern cities would be unjust; it is a perfect blend between ancient architecture, contemporary styles, and natural beauty. Hilly terrains dot the landscape, and long lanes of weaving trees remind of a scenic Parisian avenue. It was a pure pleasure to walk up and down the roads, bordered by hills, gardens, and rocky topography. A snowy, mountainous backdrop completes the allure of the city. In addition, it is dotted with remnants of the old Tehran – huge palaces, ancient structures, and gateways. Not too new to be soulless, not too old to be passed over.

I spent my three days in sightseeing, hobnobbing with the public in Bazaars, and, like all tourists, visiting the numerous elaborate palaces of the exiled Shah, viewing the magnificent crown jewels, and, of course, shopping.

Like most modern cities, Tehran has an underground subway, which makes commuting easy and cheap. The taxi service is extremely efficient – just dial the number of the local taxi station, and one will appear at your doorstep almost immediately. Having obtained a friendly English-speaking driver for the day, we told him to take us wherever he thought feasible for first time visitors. We were driven to Sahebqaranian – one of the Shah’s most luxurious palaces. It was overwhelmingly beautiful, with elaborately mirrored halls, lavish imported furniture, office rooms, luxury bed and bath areas, waiting rooms, bars, tearooms, ladies quarters, and vast palace grounds. It started snowing that day and we crunched on the soft snow and fallen leaves with pure pleasure!

The next day, we went to the Central Bank (Bank Markazi Iran), where the Shah’s jewels are kept. The displays were unimaginably dazzling: entire thrones carved in gold and set with shining rubies, emeralds, diamonds, and other precious gemstones; jewelry ranging from tiara’s to bracelets, rings, turban pins, in glittering diamonds and sapphires; velvet robes studded with opals.

One of the most interesting sport activities in Iran is skiing. There are 16 ski resorts in Iran, out of which the most famous one is Dizin. The next day was delightfully cold and snowy, and we spent a lovely day high up in the mountains, tubing down the pristine white snow, balancing on skis, and throwing snowballs. Other popular sports are mountain biking, horseback riding, climbing, desert trekking, mountaineering, diving, and hunting.

Iranians are of the friendliest people I have ever come across. Everyone from the bookseller (who refused to accept payment for my postcards) to my bus companion (who insisted on paying my subway ticket) and the museum guide (who struggled to translate for us in English) were truly courteous, helpful, and extremely welcoming. It was a delight to walk through the crowded Bazaars, mixing with the people. Language, however, is a barrier – it is difficult to find people, who speak English.

Yet, among the best things about Tehran is absolute safety – the highest form of crime in the city is ‘overcharging by a shop owner’. Even a young lady walking on a deserted Tehran street at 3 am has no fear of being molested.

Iranian specialty food boasts of Sumaq or dried pomegranate with lamb Kababs and roasted tomatoes. Restaurants and eateries are aplenty. For the tourist, Iran is extremely easy on the wallet, unless you plan on taking back with you Persian carpets, which the country is famous for!

Other cities to visit are:

Shiraz – often regarded as one of the most attractive of Iranian cities; situated 919 Km south of Tehran.

Isfahan – has been designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site.

Gorgan – in northern Iran, has good air, railroad and road access. Entering or leaving by land between Iran and Turkmenistan is open to both Iranian and foreign travelers.

Mashhad – (mah-shahd), meaning place of martyrdom, is the capital of Khorasan province, located 850 km north east of Tehran, near the border of Turkmenistan.

Qom – located some 120 km south west of Tehran. Sometimes considered the religious capital of the Iran, Qom hosts the tomb of Hazrat Masumeh, sister of Imam Reza. Many religious schools, dedicated to Islamic teachings, are located around the sanctuary of Hazrat Masumeh.

Tabriz – founded during the Sassanid period; located 597 km north west of Tehran.

Temperature: 9C min.- 42C max.

Aloe Vera (Ulwa:Sabir)

Dr. Sabheen Riaz Khan provides us with the benefits of aloe vera

Qays Bin Rafi Al-Qaysi narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Aloes and wart-cress are a sure cure for illness.” (Abu Dawood)

Aloe Vera is a semi-tropical plant with over 240 different species growing mainly in the dry regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. Although it is a member of the Lily family, it has cactus-like characteristics. Mature plants vary in size and usually have 12-16 thick, tapered, and spiny leaves. The plant is harvested every 1 to 2 months by removing the leaves that contain a clear gel-like substance.

Aloe Vera contains numerous vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, natural sugars and agents with anti-inflammatory properties (i.e. preventing redness, swelling, pain and hotness of the skin due to burns, bites, cuts, etc.) and anti-microbial properties (i.e. preventing infection and contamination by micro-organisms). The combination and balance of the plant’s ingredients are what purportedly gives it its healing properties.

Umm Salama (rta) narrated that Allah’s messenger (sa) visited her on the day after Abu Salama (rta) died, and she had spread fresh aloe juice over her face. Allah’s Messenger (sa) asked her: “What happened to your face O Umm Salamah?” She replied: “It is only aloe juice I applied to my face for moistening, O Messenger of Allah, and it does not have perfume.” The Prophet (sa) said: “It contracts the tissues, and it can burn up your skin. Apply it, if you wish, at night, and not during the day.” (Abu Dawood).

Many ancient works refer to the use of aloe. One of the first documented users was Cleopatra, who lived from 68 to 30 C.E. She is said to have used the gel on her skin as protection from the sun, for she thought it helped keep her skin young. About the year 6 C.E, Discorides, a Greek physician, discovered aloe vera was effective in treating a wide range of ailments, such as kidney problems, constipation, and severe skin-burns.

Aloe Vera is useful and practical to have around the house. One of its unique qualities is that it does not need to be prepared for internal or external application for it comes in ready made gel form that can be mixed with water and consumed or applied directly to the skin. Its only drawbacks is that it is usually too strong for children, or pregnant or nursing women to take internally, and not to forget it’s unpleasant bitter taste. Use with caution as people have shown skin reactions to the plant.

Nubayh Ibn Wahab reported that the eyes of Umar Ibn Ubaydullah Ibn Ma’mar were swollen, and he decided to use antimony. Eban Ibn Uthman prevented him from doing so and commanded him to use aloe instead, and reported on the authority of Uthman Ibn Affan (rta): “The Prophet (sa) had done that”. (Muslim)

Aloe Vera is most famous in the Western world for its external uses, particularly in treating kitchen burns, acne, irritation, cuts, insect bites and wounds from injuries or surgery. It is used by dermatologists to speed healing after facial dermabrasion (removal of scars from the skins top layers through mechanical means). In Japan documented cases of radiation burn victims have shown that aloe healed the burns more rapidly than any other method. Research also reveals that early application of aloe vera to areas of frostbite prevents tissue death.

Aloe works most effectively when it is taken directly from the growing plant, as it is sterile and prevents contamination. The mucilage (substance that causes the adherence of two surfaces) found in the gel of the leaves contains mucopolysaccharides, and is largely responsible for aloe’s healing action on both burns and wounds. Aloe also contains varying amounts of anthraquinone glucosides, which have bitter gripping cathartic principles that promote and / or ease the passing of stools. It accelerates the passage of faeces through the large intestine, by influencing the consistency and amount of stool to facilitate the elimination of faeces through the rectum. This explains its reputation as a colon cleanser and detoxification herb. It has also been used to relieve obstructions in internal organs, particularly the liver. In fact, aloe’s mucilage provides a unique soothing effect to the digestive system, as well as a cleansing effect from polysaccharides.

Although not conclusive, some studies indicate that aloe vera may have some value in the treatment or prevention of some cancers and arthritis, preliminary evidence shows that aloe vera may be useful in treating diabetes, immune system problems and psoriasis. Some of the latest research documented on MSNBC news on the 26th of July 2004 reported that tests performed on rats showed that the gel found inside the leaves of aloe Vera could help preserve organ function after massive blood loss, thus helping to counteract the deadly effects of blood loss. The aloe vera plant could provide a fluid that keeps trauma victims alive until they can get a blood transfusion.

It is wise to use the herbs that Allah has provided, remembering that, “For every malady Allah created, He also created a cure (and he who) acquires such knowledge shall benefit from it and one who ignores it will forgo such benefit.” (Bukhari)

How to Think BIG!

thinking bigEveryday everywhere young people take on new jobs. Each wishing to enjoy the success associated with reaching the top. Yet, they believe that climbing such heights is impossible, not realizing that there are steps that can lead them to the goal. But a small number of these youth have substantial belief in reaching the top and the steps that they need to take.

How to develop the power of belief?

  1. Islam teaches a believer to be optimistic. To think success rather than failure even at times when we are faced with difficult situations. In other words, a believer should think, “I will win, Insha’Allah” and not, “I will probably lose.” Pessimism leads the mind to think in the way of failure. Remember that pessimism is a gift from Satan or Iblees, whose name denotes hopelessness.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are. Successful believers are just ordinary people who have developed belief in Allah and the abilities He has given to them. Allah states: “Verily, We have created man in the best form.” (At-Tin 95:4)
  3. Allah wants to elevate the status of humankind and ensure its accomplishment and therefore He sent His Prophets and books. So, by thinking big according to the teachings of Allah (swt) and his Prophet (sa) the size of your success will be determined by the size of your belief. Think of little goals and expect little achievements. But think of big goals and you will win big. Big ideas and big plans are often easier. It is well to respect your leader and learn from him/her. But don’t just resolve to be like him or her, rather believe you can surpass and go beyond. .

Building confidence through your memory bank

  1. Deposit only positive thoughts in your memory bank. Everyone encounters plenty of unpleasant situations but successful people do not give it a second thought, whereas unsuccessful people brood over them so be among the successful and specialize in putting positive thoughts into your memory bank.
  2. A real smile melts away the opposition of others, and instantly too. So, smile Big. Harness the power of smiling. Remember Allah’s Messenger (sa) had a smiling face.
  3. With a positive, optimistic and cooperative attitude, a person with an IQ of 100 will succeed and earn more money and respect, than a negative, pessimistic, uncooperative individual with an IQ of 120. 60% dreaming and the rest do the trick. The biggest resolution would be the ‘Attitude’ – Think and dream creatively. Creative thinking is simply finding new, improved ways to do anything. Success at home, work, in community or just anything. For this, the basic truth is ‘Believe in yourself and the things that you can do – Believe in yourself and the world is Yours’.

Practice positive imagery

Each day spend some time in positive visualization of your goals and new life changes. Use your imagination for only through use does it sharpen. You can travel on the back of any thought you have in mind. Simply catch your thoughts, relax, tilt your eyes up just about twenty degrees and there you are.

Begin incorporating the following points in your attitude

  1. Overcome the fear of failure: When fear controls your actions, it takes charge. The only way you can overcome fear is to face it and attack it with full vengeance with one blow.
  2. Let your confidence soar: You must have the “I can do this” attitude if anything BIG happens to come your way. Confidence is more evident in a person’s actions, thoughts and emotional calm during stormy times.
  3. Don’t let small and negative people get in the way of your BIG ideas.

Tips for Better Thinking

  1. Suspend judgment when hearing something new.
  2. Explain things to others using their thinking patterns rather than yours.
  3. Remember that arguing is one of the least effective ways of changing someone’s mind. You don’t always have to fight to win.
  4. Use the language of leaders and people will be more inclined to treat you as one.
  5. Remember that your sense of humour is your stress barometer; when it seems like there’s nothing to laugh about that means you are overstressed.
  6. Constantly remind yourself that self-worth is not something you have to prove, or a conclusion you arrive at, it’s an assumption you start from.
  7. Spend more time reading than you spend watching television.
  8. Constantly monitor your self-talk; prefer positive language.
  9. Shun toxic people and those who push negative thinking; remember that you can fire anybody from your life.
  10. Practice positive “censorship;” you can choose to concentrate your attention on positive messages.
  11. Stay out of other people’s dramas; don’t become part of the victimology triangle.
  12. Always be learning; try to discover something new every day.
  13. Don’t kill ideas when you first hear them.Use the “P.I.N.” formula (Positive first, then Interesting, then Negative aspects).
  14. Don’t mistake a haphazard “brain-dump” for a conversation; explain your ideas clearly; use a discursive strategy to escort others to your truth.
  15. Always be ready to smile in the next second, and let it show on your face.
  16. In Thinking Big: The Keys to Personal Power and Maximum Performance, world-famous success expert Brian Tracy will take you beyond the limits of everyday thought, where you will tap into the vast resources of your mind and unlock unlimited potential.

By thinking big, you’ll become so confident, determined, and persistent that you can achieve any goal – nothing or no one will be able to slow you down or alter your course, Insha’Allah!

Success is an inside job. It’s a state of mind. It begins with you and is soon reflected in the world around you. By thinking big, you become a bigger person. By dreaming big dreams, you become a leader. By making plans to accomplish your goals, you take control of your life. And by practicing the ideas taught in Thinking Big, you can and will become unstoppable, by Allah’s Grace.

Here is an exercise to measure your true size.

  1. Determine your five chief assets.
  2. Invite some friends who will give you an honest opinion.
  3. Next under each asset, write the names of three persons you know who have achieved large success, but who do not have the asset to as great a degree as you.

Big thinkers are specialists in creating positive, optimistic pictures in their own minds and in the minds of others.