Characters can counter caricatures

cartoonBy now, we are all well-aware of the blasphemous caricatures publication by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands Posten, in September last year. France Soir, a Paris daily reprinted the cartoons along with a German paper, this January. Le Temps in Geneva and Budapest’s Magyar Hirlap also played their part. Spain’s ABC newspaper and Periodico de Catalunya put on display the photographs of papers, which had published the cartoons. The list goes on, including other European dailies such as France’s Le Mande.

The Muslims all over the world have condemned the publication of these caricatures and as a result, we have witnessed a variety of protests and demonstrations.  There is a call from all quarters for a complete boycott of Danish products.  Inevitably, this event has created deep resentment and has concurrently enraged the sentiments of the Muslim community the world over. And I feel myself a strong part of this community. But having said that, I feel that this problem should be confronted with more suitable means.

We raised our voices when “The Satanic Verses” was brought into the market. We chanted slogans and sent numerous emails asking Muslims the world over to boycott all Jewish products. But did all of that bear any fruitful results? I think not.

Before reacting against any form of bigotry, we must first analyze what we wish to eventually gain from it.  Do we just want to show that we are incredibly devout Muslims who will not take a word against Islam? Or do we want to leave a lasting image on the world that no matter what you do, you cannot shake our faith, our principles and our commitment.  We are a strong nation, which shall never waver, no matter how strong the trial may be Insha’Allah.

When the companions (rta) claimed loyalty to Allah’s Apostle (sa), they proved every word of it by following the Prophets’s (sa) Sunnah and the Quran to the core. They lived the faith and not just pay lip service. They ascertained it by passing along Allah’s (swt) message to the whole world with dignity and honour, regarding it as their fundamental duty.

They earned Allah’s (swt) pleasure Who glorified them. Don’t we wish to be like them? If our answer is yes, then we must first look into ourselves before we blame others. Are we the appropriate ambassadors of Islam? Are we submitting to Allah (swt) whole-heartedly, or are we simply following some odd rituals with a heavy heart? Are we strong enough to observe the message brought by our Prophet (sa) and have we made it imperative upon us to deliver it to the rest of mankind?

Let’s check ourselves and then our family, our neighbours, our countrymen…

The task is endless and we have a lot to do. There is no time to be wasted. One life may not be enough to cause a noticeable change. But one life, no matter how small, is enough to prove to the world that it was worth living.

Let’s make a pledge to ourselves that we shall be a beacon of light for everyone around us by genuinely reflecting the image of Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) Ummah. It is my conviction that if we mend our ways the world will be at our feet. Our Prophet (sa) won the hearts of even the greatest enemies of Islam, simply by submitting completely to the will of Allah (swt). We simply need to step out of the shadows of respect and reverence and build up the courage to practically apply and deliver what the Prophet (sa) brought to the mankind.

Travel Bangladesh

Vol 3-Issue 1 Travel BangladeshThe erstwhile Bengali Babu (sir) is always delighted to engage in philosophical discourse upon the most esoteric subjects. In spite of pressure from so many directions, the people of Bengal have retained a very nice sense of humor. This has probably been their only salvation. They seem to enjoy life in-spite of the chaos and troubles they face.


Dhaka was founded during the 10th century. It served as the Mogul capital of Bengal from 1608 to 1704 and was a trading center for British, French, and Dutch interests before coming under British rule in 1765. In 1905, it was again named the capital of Bengal, and in 1956, it became the capital of East Pakistan. The Romanized spelling of the Bengali name was changed from Dacca to Dhaka in 1982.

Dhaka is divided into the old city and the new city, and many residential and industrial communities. It is located in one of the world’s leading rice and jute growing regions. Its industries include textiles (jute, muslin, cotton) and food processing, especially rice milling. A variety of other consumer goods are also manufactured here. Boasting a happy blend of old and new architectural trends, Dhaka has been developing fast as a modern city and is throbbing with activities in all spheres of life.


Chittagong was described by the Chinese traveler poet Huen Tsang (7th century) as “a sleeping beauty emerging from mists and water,” and given the title of “Porto Grande” by the 16th century Portuguese seafarers. Even today it remains true to both descriptions. Chittagong, the second largest city of Bangladesh and a busy international seaport, is an ideal vacation spot. Its green hills and forests, its broad sandy beaches, and its fine cool climate always attract holiday-makers. The city’s many industries, powered by a hydroelectric plant up the river, use the products of the area – jute, cotton, rice, tea, petroleum (from offshore installations), and bamboo.


Khulna, one of the country’s industrial cities with its nearly 2 million people, stands on the Rupsa River. Some of the biggest jute mills in the country are located here. Khulna is connected to Dhaka by road, boat and air via Jessore. Accommodation and eating facilities are available.

Popular Products

Pink Pearl: Pink pearls are the best buy in Dhaka. These natural products are unparallel in luster. The rich and exuberant cultural heritage of Bangladesh is depicted vividly in its traditional jewellery.

Pearl jewellery is all hand-made by artisans, belonging to a traditional class of craftsmen, who have practiced this fine art for generations.

Gold & Silver: A wide range of gold and silver ornaments, silver filigree works, etc., are considered by many travelers to be unparalleled.

Ornaments in Bangladesh have been used from pre-historic times and for a variety of reasons. In addition to their aesthetic charm, jewellery has been the traditional form of savings, prized because it can be easily converted into money.

Brass & Copperware: Among the best buys here are brass and copperware trays, wall decorations, vases, etc., all hand-made with fine engravings and filigree work. Products made from hides and skins of animals and reptiles, intricate woodcarvings, cane and bamboo products, conch shell, bangles, embroidered quilts, Jamdani and silk fabrics can also be bought. These are available in the DIT market and a number of exclusive shops on New Elephant Road in Dhaka.

National Museum

In 1993, this museum was established and was called Dhaka Museum. In 1983, it was shifted to a new building and was renamed National Museum. It has 40 galleries and is a four storied building. It has four departments:

1.      Natural History,

2.      History and Classical Art,

3.      Ethnography and Decorative Art, and

4.      Contemporary Art and World Civilization.

Folk Art Museum

The Folk Art Museum was established in 1975 to fulfill the dream of celebrated painter Shilpacharya Zainul Abedin. There is a rich collection of different materials and forms of aesthetic and utilitarian values. All of this reflects the sentiments, impulses, temperament, moods, idiosyncrasies, and expertise of artists and artisans. It is a national museum depicting the art heritage of Bangladesh, exhibiting objects of exceptional design and skill.

Ethnological Museum

In the national progress, the Ethnological Museum stands as a milestone. There are ample facilities available for ethnological research. It is one of the best-specialized museums in South East Asia.
Archaeological Museums
Every place of archaeological importance houses a small archeological museum, i.e., at Lalbagh Fort, Mahasthangarh, Paharpur, and Mainamati.
Tribal Museum

 The only Tribal Cultural Museum in the Hill Tracts region was established at Rangamati town in 1978, and is run by the Tribal Cultural Institute. It preserves valuable objects and articles of different tribes depicting their socio economic, cultural and historical tradition. These include typical tribal attire; ornaments; arms and ammunitions; coins; statues made of wood, bronze and other metals; ivory products; handicrafts; paintings on tribal life etc.


Bangladeshi cooking is a culinary art form. A taste tantalizing blend of wonderful and fragrant spices that will keep you coming back for more. Many non-Bangladeshis have probably eaten Bangladeshi food without knowing. For example, over 80 percent of the “Indian” restaurants in the U.K. serve Bangladeshi food. If you loved it, it was probably Bangladeshi. Bengali cooking is also known for it’s wide array of sweets made from milk: Rasho-gollah, Kalo-jam, Shandesh, Mishti doi, Shemai, Chamcham … the names go on and on.

Relations with Pakistan

In February 2006, Bangladesh Premier Khaleda Zia visited Pakistan. Four MoUs (memoranda of understanding) were signed and discussion was held to finalise the FTA (free trade agreement) aimed at enhancing bilateral trade. The MoUs pertained to agricultural research, tourism, import, export, setting up of a standardized and quality control authority in Pakistan and a standard testing institution in Bangladesh.

Pakistan wants to benefit from Bangladesh’s experiences in macro-finance, social sector and population welfare whereas it can extend support to Bangladesh in IT and some other sectors.

Fact file

Contributed by Affaf Jamal

Nearly 83 percent of the population of Bangladesh claimed Islam as its religion in the 1980s, giving the country one of the largest concentrations of Muslims in the world. Muslims constitute 88 percent of the population of Bangladesh, most of them are Sunnis, but there is a small Shi’a community. The remainder of the population follow Hinduism (11%), Buddhism and Christianity. There are also small populations of Sikhs, Bahá’ís, animists and Ahmadis.

Religion has always been a strong part of identity. A survey in late 2003 confirmed that religion is the first choice by a citizen for self-identification; atheism is extremely rare. In spite of the general personal commitment to Islam by the Muslims of Bangladesh, observance of Islamic rituals and tenets varies according to social position, locale, and personal considerations.

Islam has made the peace loving people a brave and philanthropic community. Before Islam, the people of this region were chained in the caste system of Hinduism. The longing for a peaceful life with social justice has been the driving force of Bangladesh`s journey towards a true welfare society.

Squeeze Success From Sickness

Vol 3-Issue 1 Squeeze Success from Sickness

An episode of sickness is usually considered a hindrance, preventing one from doing much else than lying dormant and waiting for either health or death. Not so for the believers!  Sickness, like all phases of man’s life, can be an opportunity to use the faculties (heart, tongue, etc.) Allah (swt) has blessed us with for earning His favour and gathering reward. Here are some suggestions:

Submission to Allah’s (swt) will

To begin with, it would be a good idea to refrain from complaining, as illness, just like health, is from Allah (swt). “No disaster strikes except by Allah’s (swt) permission, and whosoever believes in Allah (swt), He guides his heart. Allah (swt) is the Knower of all things.” (At-Taghabun 64:11)

Be patient and express submission to Allah’s (swt) will, for illness may be a test or a cleansing of sins, washing away the burden we carry into the Hereafter. Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “No Muslim is afflicted with harm because of sickness or some other inconvenience, but that Allah (swt) will remove his sins for him as a tree sheds its leaves.” (Bukhari)

Have good thoughts and expectations from Allah (swt)

Thinking cheerful thoughts always helps to alleviate misery; moreover, we have been cautioned: “None of you should die without having good expectations in Allah (swt).” (Muslim)

Fear, hope, and repentance

Through our lives, we must fear Allah’s (swt) punishment for our sins; therefore, repent from them and hope for His Mercy, especially in times of sickness. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) once pointed out to a dying man: “The two (fear and hope) cannot come together in a man’s heart at such a time without Allah (swt) giving him what he hopes for and granting him security from what he fears.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Reading the Quran and other Islamic books

Sickness brings a halt to one’s usual time-consuming activities; thus, this is a good time to read and reflect upon the Quran. Contemplating on Allah’s (swt) Words brings a person closer to his Creator, and this in itself can be a source of healing: “We sent down of the Quran that which is a healing and mercy for the believers, but it does not increase the wrongdoers except in loss.” (Al-Isra 17:82) Reading Islamic books furthers our understanding of Allah’s (swt) decree.

Dhikr and supplications         

Dhikr and supplications demonstrate our conviction that only Allah (swt) is the One capable of helping us. These are the means for strengthening one’s ties with Allah (swt) and placing our affairs in His Hands. Various forms of Dhikr and supplications are recommended in the Quran and Hadeeth, which aid in bringing an ailing person into the company of Allah (swt) as the Prophet (sa) has said that Allah (swt) says: “I am with My servant, when he remembers Me and his lips move to mention Me.” (Ahmad)

Do not ask for death

Regardless of how severe one’s sickness may be, a person should never ask for death. Allah’s Messenger (sa) admonished: “So do good to your best ability, and let none of you wish for death: if he is righteous, he may have; and if he is a sinner, he may have a chance to repent.” (Bukhari)

However, we can ask Allah (swt) to bless us with the rank of a martyr: “(He) Who sought martyrdom with sincerity will be ranked by Allah (swt) among the martyrs, even if he died on his bed.” (Muslim)


“Cleanliness is half of faith.” (Muslim) An ailing person should endeavor to keep his body and clothing, as clean as he is able. If water is unavailable or harmful for the ailing person, other items can be used (tissues, cotton pads, leaves, etc.), to cleanse away impurities (pus, urine, feces, etc.).  Similarly, in the case of Wudu, a person may perform Tayammum. Bleeding from a wound does not invalidate Wudu; during battles the companions of the Prophet (sa) maintained Salah, despite their wounds. Moreover, a nice wash can be refreshing, aiding in recovery and preventing further illness.

Maintaining ritual acts of worship

All ritual acts of worship carry their own reward. Hence, it is essential that they are not neglected during illness, or (as in the case of Salah) delayed, because one is “just not feeling up to it.” The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Pray standing; if you cannot, pray sitting; if you cannot, pray on your side.” (Bukhari)

Though the ailing is exempted from fasting, missed obligatory fasts must be made up, when health returns. If the sickness is chronic, we have been instructed to feed one poor person per fast.

“So, whoever among you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. As for those who can afford it, they have to offer a ransom by feeding a poor person (for every day).” (Al-Baqarah 2:184)

Increase good deeds

Use sickness as a chance to increase in good deeds by giving charity, maintaining good manners with those around you, and allowing visitors to come see you (which bestows reward for both them and you). The Prophet (sa) has said: “The secret Sadaqah (charity) extinguishes the Lord’s anger; preserving the ties of kinship increases the life span; and rendering good to people protects from evil fatalities.” (Baihaqi)

Additionally, a good word can save a person from the fire (Bukhari); accordingly, advise your family to do good, as Allah (swt) has said: “They believe in Allah (swt) and the Last Day, they enjoin good and forbid evil and rush in emulating each other in good deeds. These are the righteous people.” (Al-Imran 3:114)

These are just a few acts to be kept in mind for productively using a period of illness to expand one’s reserve of good deeds, acquire more rewards, and rise in the ranks of the righteous, Insha’Allah.

Merits of Studying Social Sciences

Vol 3-Issue 1 Merits of Social sciencesIn Pakistan, students’ choice of subjects depends essentially on two factors. First, whether or not the subject can be cleared with the least possible effort, and second, whether it scores or not. Whether or not a subject is in lieu with the capabilities of the student is a factor that is mostly ignored. Social science subjects are one such category that are looked down upon by most students as being thoroughly useless. The opinion of the majority holds that there is no point in studying a subject that promises little marks and low percentage.

Also, social sciences (generally part of a larger field called ‘Arts’) are mostly looked down upon as subjects that can be cleared, albeit with a low mark and minimum study time. At the university level especially, most students see these subjects as lower in prestige, simply because there is little understanding or conceptual studies involved. Plus, many students believe that they require minimum effort.

However practically speaking, studying of social sciences subjects does involve a huge effort as well as promises a lot more than just marks and percentage. Following are some of the merits of studying social sciences. Do bear in mind that these merits vary according to the teacher and the system in which social sciences are taught. This writer is referring mainly to the study of social science subjects at ‘A’ levels and university.

A good command over the language

Examination in social sciences mainly involves writing essays rather than solving multiple choice or structured questions. Writing out answers to such questions, whether in an assignment, test or examination, requires not just knowledge but good command of the language being used. Varied sentence structure, proper use of tenses, a good introduction, efficient paragraphing, and adequate proof of planning have to be apparent. Hence, memorizing the textbook will only take one so far in this examination. This, in my opinion, is the very first merit of studying subjects such as economics and sociology. They strengthen your language skills.

Improved expression

As mentioned above, it isn’t just knowledge that is required to excel in this category of subjects. When solving questions, you’ll have to demonstrate that you have understood the question and the issue being discussed. In other words, you have to efficiently express yourself. A question like: “To what extent will fiscal policy solve the problem of inflation?” involves not just writing out facts about the fiscal policy memorized from your notes, but also expressing your own opinion about how it will solve a given macroeconomic problem. The same is true for other subjects in this category. Consistent practice will definitely improve your power of expression in writing.

Improved study skills

From the above two points, it naturally follows that rote learning is essentially a limited option, when studying social sciences. Hence, while reading a textbook or studying some other reference material, you’ll have to rely on such study skills as mind mapping, listing points, etc., to memorize the important phrases, points and definitions. As you proceed with each chapter, your study skills will definitely improve and get ample of practice as well.

Development of analytical and critical thinking skills

You can never rely on only one textbook, when studying for social sciences. There are always a range of books and material to go through, and you’re hardly required to reproduce them. Most of the times you will be asked to state your opinion and support it fully from what you have studied. In this, you will demonstrate that you have the skills to select material relevant to the question being asked, analyze it critically, and then state your opinion accordingly by expressing yourself in the best way possible. Therefore, with such subjects as women studies and psychology, you can develop your analytical and critical thinking skills.

Awareness of current affairs

Most of the time, courses of social sciences require a knowledge and understanding of related global issues. So essentially you have to keep up with what is going on in the world and ensure that you use all your study skills and power of expression to reflect it in your exam or assignment. Some social science subjects’ syllabi have some specific issues mentioned; hence, a student has to keep up with them in the newspapers and astutely follow relevant news stories.

So there you have it. Those studying social sciences aren’t the ‘morons’ they often get labeled as, nor do they deserve the most uncalled-for insult from the scientific community as those, who couldn’t get admission elsewhere, or have an easy time of it, because they do not have to study at all. As can be gauged from the above points, social sciences are definitely not easy to study nor easy to pass and shouldn’t be looked down upon as inferior.