Travel Egypt

Vol 2 -Issue 3 EgyptMany people associate ancient Egypt with slaves building the great pyramids, although today we believe that the pyramids probably were not built primarily by slave labor. Egypt is described as ‘the gift of the Nile,’ to which travelers are drawn by the pyramids, sphinx, ancient Luxor, and the Nile River. The Pharaohs, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, the Turks, and the British have all ruled Egypt. Modern Egypt is a blend of these legacies.


To eat ‘real,’ you have to eat ‘street.’ Egypt is a culinary adventure. ‘Eating street,’ as we define it, does not confine itself to stand-up meals from cart vendors – it is more of an everyday cuisine of an everyday person. These everyday Egyptians eat well.

Elegant restaurants offer delicious oriental selections, such as Kofta (ground meatballs), Kebab (grilled meat), Mulukhia (green soup), Tahina (Tahini) salad, Hamam Mahshi (stuffed pigeon), Baba Ghannoug (Tahini and eggplant) and mixed green salad, stuffed grape leaves, Foul and Falafel (cooked and fried beans).


Egypt can rightfully be termed as shopper’s paradise with its exquisite carpets, typical Egyptian historical reproductions and artifacts, papyrus wall hangings, dates and dry fruits, spices and prayer beads, colourful fabrics and clothes, as well as fabulous jewellery.
Although the cities have their own Bazars, the most famous among them is the Khan-el-Khalili in Cairo. The place has a long tradition of connoisseurship in collectibles and there is always the possibility of finding a real gem. Bargaining is the best way to get your way through the market.

At the more sophisticated shopping malls, you can shop in the comfort of an air conditioner and pick up wall hangings and the famous Egyptian rugs and carpets.


Cairo is a city that often mixes the many cultures of the world with the many ages of the world.

The Great Sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion’s body and a woman’s head that devoured by-passers unable to answer her riddle. Three times a night in three different languages, the Sphinx plays the role of storyteller, narrating the history of the ancient Egypt.

The most famous site in Egypt is the Giza Plateau, which has the largest pyramids. Many believe it was the ancient burial chamber of the pharaoh and his queen, while others suggest it had astronomical functions.

The National Geographic Society Museum is located in the El Shura Council. The museum has different chambers labeled as Cairo Hall, Africa Hall, Suez Canal Hall, Egyptian Ethnography, and a General Hall about Egypt.

The Wadi Digla is made up of limestone rocks, which indicate that this area was once covered by the ocean. A very good place for camping, scouts trips, and bikers, who need rugged roads to ride along.


Alexandria, the second largest city and the main port of Egypt, was built by a Greek architect Dinocrates (332-331 BC) on the site of an old village, Rhakotis, following the orders of Alexander the Great. It was the site of the Lighthouse, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, as well as the Great Library.

The Lighthouse of Alexandria (also called Pharos Lighthouse) was used to mark the harbor, using fire at night and reflecting sunrays during the day.

The Great Library, established by Ptolemy I (305-285 BC), was the most important centre of learning in the ancient times. The beautiful new building, with its distinctive granite wall covered by the letters of alphabets from around the world, today is a recognizable landmark of the new Alexandria.

The fort was built in the 1480’s by the Egyptian Mamelouk Sultan Qaitbay on the spot of Alexandria’s ancient Lighthouse. It was said that Qaitbay spent more than a hundred thousand Dinars on the work of this citadel.


Built on the site of the ancient city of Thebes, Luxor is one of Egypt’s prime tourist destinations. In a town, where tourism accounts for 85 percent of the economy, it is hardly surprising that you cannot move without being importuned to step inside a shop, rent a caleche, or have your shoes shined. Hassled and overcharged at every turn, some tourists react with fury and come to detest Luxor. Keep your cool and sense of humour – it is possible to find genuine warmth here. Once you get to know a few characters and begin to understand the score, Luxor becomes a funky soap opera with a cast of thousands.

Nile River Cruise

Tips for choosing a Nile River Cruise:

  1. Make sure you know exactly, where the cruise will stop, the time you should plan spending in the cruise, and what you will see in that area.
  2. Find out, what the accommodations on the boat will be like – what are the amenities, the size of your cabin, and what star level of hotel does it compare to?
  3. Will your guide travel with you? Will you have a private guide or be part of a group?
  4. Are there discounts for bringing multiple travelers? Or a supplement for a single traveler? If you are traveling alone, will you have a private cabin?

Masajid in Egypt

While most of the tourist Masjids are to be found in Islamic Cairo, the oldest of them all, the Amr Ibn El-As Mosque, is located in Coptic (Christian, or Old Cairo). Al-Azhar Mosque, one of the most influential Masjids in Islam, is the location of the World’s oldest University. Some Masjids in Egypt, particularly in Cairo, are actually complexes that include a number of other structures, which may or may not be attached to the Masjid.

You can walk into the desert by yourself, climb an unnamed hill, and watch the sun lazily dropping into the horizon reflecting on Allah’s (swt) beauty in creation. There is much to be relished in this historic country that shaped some of the very pivotal years of Islam.

Fact File

Contributed by Affaf Jamal

Egypt for the Muslims, Jews and Christians holds a significant mark in history as a land where Prophets came and rose.

Prophet Yacoob (as) had twelve sons, his favorite being Yusuf (as). Yusuf (as) was sold as a slave in Egypt. When famine came to the land, Yusuf (as), who became the Pharaoh’s minister, invited his family, to come to Egypt. Their family grew and became a large tribe known as the Banu Israel. Ramses II became king four hundred years later. He made the Banu Israel his slaves. It was from this very tribe that another great Prophet arose, Moosa (as) who would defeat the great Pharaoh and add to the treasure of Egyptian history.

Common Respiratory Ailments in Children

Vol 2 -Issue 3 Common Respiratory AilmentsPneumonia

Pneumonia is a general term for an infection of the lungs that may be caused by a number of different viruses and bacteria. The types of pneumonia you are likely to see in your baby include:

Viral pneumonia

In young children, respiratory synctial virus (RSV) and influenza virus are the most likely causes. Viral pneumonia typically starts like a cold and slowly, but steadily, gets worse. Your child may have a fever of 101.5° F or more, a worsening cough, and rapid breathing.

Bacterial pneumonia

With bacterial pneumonia, your child will have a sudden onset of symptoms – fever up to 103° F, rapid breathing and coughing. The child will not want to eat and will seem very ill.

How is pneumonia diagnosed?

Fever and cough are pneumonia’s main features along with a number of other symptoms; however, it is hard to tell, whether your baby has pneumonia. If your child has a cold that seems to get suddenly worse or does not get any better after about two weeks, call your pediatrician.

Since pneumonia is an infection of the lungs, your pediatrician will be listening to your child’s lungs for decreased breathing sounds or other abnormal sounds. Your child will be breathing rapidly in order to take in more oxygen, because some of the air sacs in the lungs are filled with fluid. The doctor might hear some wheezing, too. If your child has a severe case of pneumonia and gets admitted to the hospital, most likely an x-ray and blood tests will be done, in order to determine the cause of pneumonia and appropriate treatment.

How is pneumonia treated?

The treatment depends on the type of infection, the severity of the illness, and the age of the child. Viral pneumonia, like all other viral infections, does not respond to antibiotics, so treatment may be limited to rest and fluids. Some children require nebulizer treatment. Your doctor may also provide your child with supplemental oxygen through a tube or mask to make breathing easier. Dehydration from rapid breathing and fever is often a side effect of pneumonia, which is why taking in fluids is so important. A bacterial pneumonia will be treated with antibiotics, possibly by intravenous (IV) delivery.

How to prevent pneumonia?

There are a number of things that you can do to boost your child’s chances of staying healthy:

Keep up to date on vaccinations

The Hib, the Dtap, and the newly introduced vaccine (not available in Pakistan) help prevent pneumonia. In addition, if your child has a lung disease, such as asthma, talk to your pediatrician about getting the influenza vaccine every year, as a way of cutting down on the chances of catching the flu and having it develop into pneumonia.

Practice good personal hygiene

Wash your hands and your children’s hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs. In addition, do not let your children share cups and utensils and teach them to cover their mouth and nose, when they cough or sneeze, since pneumonia is transmitted through droplets in the air. Furthermore, make it part of your house-cleaning routine to wash regularly all the places germs are likely to hang out, such as the phone, toys, doorknobs, and the refrigerator handle – anywhere germy body parts might touch.

Create a smoke-free environment

Studies have shown that children, who live around cigarette smoke even for short periods, get sick more often and are more susceptible to illnesses such as pneumonia, upper respiratory infections, asthma, and ear infections. Children with asthma are at higher risk of developing pneumonia.

Onset of influenza season

Influenza, known as the ‘flu,’ is a respiratory illness spread through the droplets of coughs and sneezes that cause symptoms, such as fever, headache, extreme fatigue, and muscle aches.

What this means to you: children, who are at risk for complications from flu, include infants, children between 6 and 23 months, and children over two years, who have chronic medical conditions, such as chronic heart or lung disease, asthma, respiratory allergies, sickle cell anemia, diabetes mellitus, HIV, cystic fibrosis, and chronic renal disease. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend that children with these chronic conditions receive yearly flu shots.

How to prevent asthma in your child?

There is nothing you can do for fully preventing your baby from getting asthma, if it is in the baby’s genes. You will not know your child is asthmatic, until the appearance of consistent symptoms, such as wheezing and coughing. However, if you and your spouse have allergies and asthma, then also your baby has a strong likelihood of having asthma. You may be able to delay its onset, until your baby is older (and the lungs are bigger and stronger), by doing the following:

  • Limit your baby’s exposure to dust mites by encasing the crib mattress in an impermeable cover, removing carpeting and plush toys from the room, using blinds instead of heavy fabric drapes, and washing the bedding once a week in hot water.
  • Keep the child away from passive smoking. Cigarette smoke is not considered an allergen, but it does irritate the lungs.
  • Avoid using a fireplace or wood stove. Although the warmth and coziness are inviting, the smoke may irritate your baby’s respiratory system.
  • If it is clear that your baby has developed an allergy to a pet, you will need to keep the pet away from the baby as much as possible.
  • Limit the child’s exposure to viruses by practicing good hygiene.
  • Delay giving your baby the foods that are likely to cause food allergies, such as eggs, nuts, shellfish, and cow’s milk.

Remember – prevention is better than cure!

Studying Effectively

Practical advice from Hafsa Ahsan for making the most of your study time and avoiding the pre-exam panic

Effective studying isn’t about opening a textbook and learning each and every chapter by heart. In fact, when you learn everything by heart and regurgitate it during exams, you’re not really learning anything. You may get good marks, but do you realize that this method of learning is unreliable? Often when nervous, all that has been memorized is forgotten. So, what are more effective methods of studying and applying knowledge acquired during exams? Here are a few tried and tested techniques.

Mapping out ideas

Once you have read a whole chapter or part of it, simply write down the main point or central theme in the center of a sheet of paper. Then, around the main point, write supporting words or key phrases related to the central theme. This will help you remember the key concepts, without having to resort to rote learning.

Making a list of important points

If mapping confuses you, then stick to its alternative-making a list of important points. I have noticed that many students tend to write down whole essays as notes and then try to cram them. Listing is a more useful technique. Here is a small example:

Question: How has globalization affected the Third World countries?

  • Adverse effects on trade
  • Exploitation of cheap labour
  • Rise of multinationals
  • Adverse effects on the local economy
  • Loss of local languages
  • Loss of cultural values
  • Subservience to international economic organizations
  • Positive effects for the average consumer
  • Positive effects of increased flow of information

If you have noticed, each point in and of itself needs a huge explanation. Learning these phrases and then explaining them in your own words during an exam is a much better option than spending hours filling pages and pages with explanations of key words and then spending another week studying them.

Underlining important points in the textbook

You can use this technique in conjunction with the above. While you are reading a certain chapter, underline important points and explanations. Then, use the above technique to make a list of key points. When you are revising, keep the list in your textbook, so as to be able to go over the main points alongside the explanation in the textbook. Remember, learning key phrases is not the point; rather, how they relate to the main theme of what is to be learned.

Linking up related points

In subjects, such as sociology, international relations, etc., almost all chapters are inter-related. While studying, try to discover, where they are linked and chart that out in a map. When answering questions on one chapter, you can always refer to other chapters to prove your analytical and critical reading skills.

Studying with proper breaks

I hate to shatter the popular myth, but studying for fourteen hours at a stretch will not ensure that you’ve learnt more than your friend, who only put in five hours a day. Studies show that there is an optimum level of study, which can be achieved within five to six hours per day. This is where you learn and retain the maximum from what you study. Beyond this, you will discover that you hardly retain anything, but rather suffer from mental fatigue and often hardly understand what you’re reading. The optimum number of hours that can be put into studying effectively varies for every person, but the average comes to around four to five hours a day. The best thing to do is to study for a while, then take a short break and return to your books after some time.

Learning to manage time

It goes without saying that if you have only opened your textbook a week or two before exams, you can expect to put up with a huge workload coupled with bouts of panic. However, studying something immediately after it has been covered in class will ensure that in the end, when you sit down to study for an exam, you will have with you a few mind maps and lists of important points to revise for each topic. You can then make a workable timetable, giving each subject an equal amount of time. Time must be managed throughout your academic session. Try putting in one hour of study daily, after completing your assignments, and you will have no problem managing your time, when the exam time is around the corner.

Proper means ‘proper.’

According to research, the best way to relax your mind is to engage it in various activities. Put simply, it means that lying back with your eyes closed after putting in an hour’s worth of study will definitely not relax your mind. The mind can only be relaxed, if you do something different from studying. Go to the kitchen, for instance, and fix yourself a snack, pick up a storybook for light reading or go out for a quick jog – these are proper breaks between studying that will ensure a relaxed mind, when you come back to your textbook, as well as enable you to concentrate fully on the next part of your timetable.

So, here you have it – a range of techniques to help you study in a much better way. The most important thing to remember while studying is: study is for the sake of learning. If you’re only studying for the sake of exams and good marks, then you might as well stick to the rote learning system. However, if you seriously want to learn, you’ll have to let go of the conventional techniques. When is a better time to do it than now?

Takaful: Islamic Insurance

Vol 2 -Issue 3 TakafulWhat is Takaful?

Takaful is an Arabic word that means ‘guaranteeing each other.’ It is a scheme of mutual support that provides insurance to individuals against hazards of falling into unexpected and dire needs.

Is there a need for Islamic insurance?

Yes, there definitely is a need for Islamic insurance:

  • One of the ways to reduce the risk of loss in business due to misfortunes is through insurance. The concept of insurance, where resources are pooled to help the needy, does not contradict Shariah.
  • This is not a new concept; in fact, it had been practiced by the emigrants of Makkah and the Ansar of Madinah following the migration of the Prophet (sa) over 1400 years ago. (Practices, such as A’Qila – communal assistance for killings, Hilf – mutual assistance, Tawun – self help, and Tabbaru – donation were prevalent at that time).
  • Conventional insurance involves elements of uncertainty (Al-Gharar) in the contract of insurance, gambling (Al-Maisir) as a result of the presence of uncertainty, and interest (Al-Riba) in the investment activities of the conventional insurance companies. All these contradict the Shariah. Takaful, thereby, provides an alternative.

How does Takaful run?

  1. A group of people form a pact and agree to guarantee jointly among themselves against loss or damage that may be inflicted upon any of them.
  2. A fund is set up, where every group member contributes a sum of money.
  3. Should any member or participant suffer a catastrophe or disaster, he would receive a certain sum of money or financial benefit from the fund, as defined in the pact, so as to help him meet the loss or damage.

What is Tijari Takaful?

The Takaful system can be operated within the Tijari (commercial) aspect of the private sector. Here, Takaful is based on the Islamic commercial profit-sharing principle of Mudharabah.

How does Tijari Takaful run?

  1. A group of people join to form a Takaful fund.
  2. A Takaful operator or Al-Mudharib is designated to manage the contributions to the fund.
  3. The funds are invested by the Takaful operator.
  4. The obligation to assist fellow participants financially is fulfilled.
  5. Thereafter, the profit that arises after the fulfillment of obligations is shared, according to a mutually agreed ratio.

Current practice

Theoretically, scholars suggest that the cooperative insurance can be the basis of the Islamic insurance. The model envisaged by scholars is that the management and control of a Takaful company are in the hands of the members, who are also the policyholders. The insured and the insurers are, therefore, the same people. Its main purpose is mutual security, not profit-making. However, not all companies strictly follow this recommendation. Whereas companies in Sudan follow the cooperative insurance model, companies in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region are primarily commercial in nature.

Takaful – A local form existing in Pakistan

Though not entirely conforming to Shariah laws, a local form of mutual insurance based on the principle of co-operation (Tawun) exists in Pakistan. The form is comprised of a ‘committee’ (literally, a group of people) where participants contribute a certain sum of money, and the entire pool periodically accrues to each member in turn. This total amount could be used by the participant to pay off a debt in lump sum or to cover expenses. Nevertheless, this is an informal system that does not have legal protection or cover and, therefore, is open to abuse.

Information sources:

Note: The prevalent system of Islamic banking the world over is truly not the ultimate and ideal solution. It is only a step towards creating an interest free environment to provide Muslims with an option. Much needs to be achieved keeping in view the injunctions of Quran.