LiveDeen: Taking it Live!

livedeen

By Abdullah Hamid Ali and Naureen Aqueel – Freelance writers

“Bridging the gap between internationally renowned Islamic speakers and Pakistani audiences.” This is the introduction on LiveDeen’s Facebook fanpage. Faced with Pakistan’s unstable security situation and the desire among its English-speaking class to learn their Deen from scholars to whom they feel closer on an intellectual and linguistic level, a group of seven motivated men came up with just the solution: LiveDeen!

LiveDeen events bring in international Islamic scholars and their expertise via video conferencing, allowing audiences to interact with the speakers. “The world is becoming fast-paced and people, especially the youth, want to see dynamism and diversity in events,” explains Brother Nouman Idrees Sheikh, head of the LiveDeen team and one of its founding members. “For this reason, we decided that one-way lectures should be supplemented by interactive group activities. Another advantage is that attendees also get to ‘know one another’, and can take something practical from what they have learnt.”

“The online lecture is complimented by a live workshop conducted by a trainer stationed at the venue. This not only enhances learning and retention, but also keeps the participants engaged throughout the session.”

The team operates with modest technological logistics, which include a video conferencing system with a high definition camera (e.g., Polycom), a projector of minimum 4000 lumens, a screen, a sound system and dedicated 1MB connectivity. For the international station, they require a laptop or a PC with small HD camera and normal connectivity of 1MB.

Since August, 2011, the team has so far had seven events in Karachi. Thanks to them, Pakistani audiences have benefitted from international speakers from Qatar and Saudi Arabia as well as the United States of America, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Scholars, who have reached out to Pakistanis via LiveDeen events, include: Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Phillips, Sheikh Abdur Raheem Green, Sheikh Wisam Shareiff, Imam Kareem Abu Zaed, Sheikh Abu Abdissalam, Adnan Rashid, and Ustadh Noman Ali Khan.

“We select scholars and speakers, who are involved in the call to Islam internationally and follow the Quran and Sunnah without any innovation in Deen,” states Brother Nouman.

The LiveDeen team consists of seven core members: Abdul Aleem, Asim Ismail, Majid Mirza, Kashif Naseem, Nouman Idrees, Abul Lateef Motan and Shahnawaz Siddiqui, along with twelve volunteer brothers. They also have a sisters’ wing, which currently comprises eleven sisters.

Initially, the founding members helped set up the initiative financially and mutually decided that all profits would be ploughed back into the project, while any shortfalls would be shared among the team members. “Alhumdulillah, we – with the help of our participants – have been able to cover the expenses through ticket-selling and occasional help from the sponsors.”

In the future, LiveDeen has plans to have live lectures by international speakers. Although arranging in-person events can be an arduous task, especially with today’s travel restrictions, LiveDeen recognizes the value of having in-person events whenever possible to increase audience engagement. For this reason they held their first annual exclusive in which speakers flew to Karachi from outside the country. The event was the first of its kind with a whole day of knowledge, wisdom and close interaction with world renowned speakers. Noman Idrees says about the event: “By the help of Allah, and the efforts of the team members and volunteers, this event was a major accomplishment for LiveDeen.”

So far, LiveDeen has received an encouraging response from its participants. A young man, who has attended all of LiveDeen’s lectureshops, had this to say: “I believe LiveDeen has come up at a very appropriate time, when misconceptions about our religion are breeding. Alhumdulillah, I think LiveDeen is very efficiently tackling those for me and is providing for all of us youth a platform where we can learn how beautiful and simple our religion is. Alhumdulillah, each lectureshop is a life changing experience and a charge-up to stay on track and work for our Deen.”

LiveDeen invites others to join them as volunteers in the following capacity: Marketing & PR, Creative Design, IT & Website, Event Logistics, Event Volunteers and Social Media. Email: info@livedeen.com.

Many lecture-shops of LiveDeen have been transcribed and published by Hiba. They can be accessed online at www.hibamagazine.com

Arabic Calligraphy – Vehicle for the Word of God

calligraphy

Compiled by Hina Jamal – Freelance writer and editor

For thirteen centuries, the dominant influence in the Arab world has been the Islamic religion. Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (sa) in the Arabic language. Because this book was sacred, special care was taken in its transcription, and the art of calligraphy developed as a result. Arabic calligraphy, therefore, derives its great prestige in Islam from the fact that it is the chosen vehicle for the Word of God. It is an art – indeed the chief form of visual art – with an inspiring history and a gallery of great masters.

Islam has exerted a more subtle, indirect influence on the development of the art of calligraphy: by discouraging the graphic representation of human beings and animals, it channelled the creative energies of Muslim artists toward other decorative arts, especially calligraphy. Because the Quran itself has always been the most widely owned and widely read book in the Muslim world, the incentive to produce beautiful transcripts of the work has been powerful and constant. It has inspired generations of calligraphers, who have sought to reproduce its words with a perfection of style worthy of its content.

What distinguishes calligraphy from ordinary handwriting is, quite simply, beauty. Handwriting may express ideas, even great ideas, but to the Arabs it must also express the richer dimension of aesthetics. Calligraphy to the Arabs is, as the Alexandrian philosopher Euclid expressed it, “a spiritual technique,” flowing quite naturally from the influence of Islam.

Calligraphy Styles

There are many different styles of Arabic calligraphy. These developed over centuries into formal scripts. Each script has distinctive shapes and characteristics.

Scripts were created for various purposes. Some were used to write the Quran; others were used for court documents. Small scripts were created to send mail by pigeon post; large scripts were developed for architectural inscriptions and so on.

Different regions developed their own styles. Three regions in particular were important in the development of calligraphy: the Arab world (from Morocco to Iraq), the Ottoman empire (present-day Turkey and beyond) and Persia (present-day Iran and beyond).

The first script associated with the Quran is known as Kufic, after the southern Iraqi town of Kufa. Kufic script developed in the late eighth century and is generally recognizable by its short vertical and elongated horizontal strokes. By the tenth century, the rapid spread of Islam prompted calligraphers to refine and standardize six cursive scripts – Thuluth, Muhaqqaq, Naskh, Rayhani, Tauqi and Riqa – used for literary, religious and administrative purposes.

Tools and Materials

Traditionally, a reed pen, carbon-based ink and coated paper are the primary tools needed to write good calligraphy.

1)      Pen (Qalam)

A reed pen is carved with a penknife and trimmed at an angle on a small cutting board made specifically for this purpose. The pen is then slit down the middle, allowing it to hold about one letter’s worth of ink. This is preferred over a pen with a metal tip, because the flexibility of the natural material allows for a greater range of motion while writing.

Yaqut Al-Mustasimi, a great calligrapher, said: “Calligraphy is a spiritual geometry – manifested by a material tool. If you shape your pen well, you will do your calligraphy well. But if you neglect your pen, you will have neglected your calligraphy.”

2)      Ink

Calligraphy ink is made from soot, dissolved gum Arabic and water. This ink is water-soluble, and mistakes can be easily removed from the paper with a wet cloth. In the past, the soot used was scraped from inside the Masajid’s lamps, thus imparting a spiritual blessing to the writing.

3)      Paper

Until the tenth century, calligraphy was written on papyrus (made from fresh-water reeds) or parchment (made from the skin of an animal). In the tenth century, paper was introduced in the Middle East. It gradually replaced papyrus and parchment because it was cheaper and easier to produce. Before a piece of paper is used for calligraphy, it is usually dyed, coated with a starch mixture and then burnished with a tool that gives it a smooth finish.

People

The art of Arabic script calligraphy has been passed down from the masters to students for centuries. A master calligrapher is someone who has achieved a high level of skill in one or more scripts.

There have been countless master calligraphers throughout history. Starting in the early seventh century with ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (rta), the fourth caliph of Islam, we can trace the transmission of calligraphic skills to the present day through a living ‘chain’ of calligraphers. Masters taught students, who then became masters and taught others. Different schools developed within this chain, each of which was found by a leading and innovative calligrapher and followed by others, who refined and clarified the founder’s work.

The Traditional Learning Method

To learn Arabic script calligraphy in the traditional way, you first find a master calligrapher with whom to study. Though resources exist to help you learn calligraphy on your own, you will be most successful if you study one-on-one with an artist. The script you study depends on your background and interests. Many beginning students start with a smaller and simpler script. Once you have mastered it, you can move on to more complex scripts.

The curriculum of calligraphy was established centuries ago and consists of three stages:

  • Mufraddat (detached letters) – independent and paired letter forms
  • Murakkabat (assembled letters) – words and phrases
  • Ijaza (license) – certification

The entire process can take many years to complete, depending upon the amount of time you devote to practice, the availability of a teacher and your natural skill level.

Modern Calligraphy

Today, all kinds of artists use calligraphy in their work: sculptors, painters, graphic designers, graffiti, digital, silkscreen artists, etc. Despite these artists’ wide range of styles and their use of vastly different materials, all somehow incorporate calligraphy into their work. Much of this art is far removed from the traditional calligraphy of using pen and paper to write according to a set of rules.

In recent decades, digital technology has enabled the creation of new typefaces that represent the Arabic script accurately. Typographers have developed many high-quality typefaces for the Arabic script and we are likely to see significant progress in Arabic type design in the coming years.

 Source: http://calligraphyqalam.com/index.html

Hiba is offering calligraphy classes for beginners (teenagers and ladies). Interested individuals are requested to call the office for details (0213-5343757; Monday-Friday; 9 am – 1 pm)

Hope after 9/11 – Book Reviews

reviews

Title: The Prophet’s Methods of Correcting People’s Mistakes

Author: Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid

Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH)

Pages: 150

Availability: Da’wah Books, Khadda Market, DHA Phase 5, Karachi / www.iiph.com.sa (Online Store)

Correcting others’ mistakes is the duty of every Muslim, as this is closely linked with the basic Islamic concept of enjoining good and forbidding evil. In his book, “The Prophet’s Methods of Correcting People’s Mistakes”, Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid offers much needed advice for carrying out this quite daunting task. In the age, when advices on behavioural issues are rampantly streaming from the Western authors, this book is a much needed addition to the bookshelf of every Muslim home.

Sheikh’s Al-Munajjid’s name needs no introduction, as his work always contains only most authentic Islamic information. In this book, the Sheikh has collected many methods of the Prophet (sa) for teaching people and correcting their mistakes. In the first part of the book, Sheikh discusses the various types of mistakes people make, while in the second part, he offers thirty-eight advices, based on the Ahadeeth, on correcting various types of mistakes. Indeed, in the example of the Prophet (sa), we have the best guidance for our daily dealings.

Title: The Freedom of Opinion in Islam

Author: Abdus-Salam Al-Basuni

Publisher: International Islamic Publishing House (IIPH)

Pages: 100

Availability: Da’wah Books / www.iiph.com.sa (Online Store)

This book is based upon Sheikh’s Abdus-Salam Al-Basuni’s major work “Hal bi Al-Islam Hurriyah li ar-Ra’y”, which was originally published in Arabic in 1994 to address the Western media assault on Islam, accusing it for being the cause of ‘backwardness’.

In his work, Sheikh addresses the ongoing debate about freedom of expression. He discusses a range of issues related to freedom of opinion in Islam, draws comparisons between secular and Islamic systems, and arrives at the conclusion that man-made constitutions are often nothing more than ‘ink on paper’. He exposes the reality behind the claims of Western democracies about the freedom of opinion, and the actual consequences of unrestricted freedom of expression.

When discussing freedom of opinion in Islam, the Sheikh emphasizes that it is every Muslim’s basic right, which is protected by the Islamic law. He discusses the limitations Islam places on freedom of opinion and shows how these limitations help to protect the rights of individuals, their privacy and honour, as well as the security of society.

Treating Dengue the Herbal Way

dengue

Dengue fever is an infectious disease caused by a virus transmitted through a particular type of mosquito. It can also be transferred between humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. High fever, skin rash, dehydration, and severe joint and muscle pains are early symptoms of dengue fever. There is no medical cure for dengue. Prevention is the only cure, except a few herbal treatments available for patients.

It is suggested to take fresh juices, lots of water and other fluids as soon as the symptoms are evident, without waiting for test results, as the disease may progress and cause damage to vital bodily organs. Dengue fever can cause deficiency of fluids in the body. Fluid replenishment is essential to reinstate liquid loss and lower the fever.

Fruit Juices

Juices of sweet melon, orange, apple and pomegranate are effective for increasing the platelet count. Add a few drops of lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey in apple juice to increase its therapeutic properties. These juices nourish the body and strengthen the immune system in order to build up resistance against the virus.

Extract of Papaya Leaves

Papaya leaf extract is very beneficial for natural treatment of dengue fever. Take two fresh leaves of papaya, pound and squeeze out the juice and take one tablespoon twice a day. If it tastes bitter, add a few drops of some other juice.

Holy Basil

Holy basil (Tulsi) is a powerful healing herb and can also be used for the treatment of dengue fever. Juice of holy basil leaves mixed in fresh water should be given to the patient every 2 to 3 hours. This will help bring down the fever. Tea of basil leaves is also very effective in reducing the temperature.

Fenugreek Leaves

When it comes to natural remedies for dengue fever, fenugreek leaves (Methi) cannot be ignored. Herbal tea made with fenugreek leaves is good for relieving fever. Slightly roast fenugreek leaves, powder them and use two teaspoonfuls when preparing tea. Strain and drink warm with a bit of clarified butter.

A dengue fever patient should rest and use mosquito nets to prevent bites and help break the cycle of transmission of disease. It is essential to follow a healthy diet based on liquid juices. Besides the aforementioned home remedies, consulting a qualified doctor is very important.