Travel Uzbekistan

uzbekistanImagine a city as old as Paris with just as attractive sites. Imagine a place where the locals are gracious, hospitable and kind. It gets even better. It’s a place where a dollar gets you a taxi ride to anywhere in town. Plus shopping is cheap, and food is delicious. Give up? Uzbekistan. It’s located in vast Central Asia, with some of the world’s finest Islamic architecture and exotic bazars, and has the virtue of being a traveller’s dream.


This is the most popular topic among people so I figured I would attend to it first. The Uzbeks eat on a square shaped wooden or metal piece of furniture called topjon. Bread called non is served and eaten with every meal. Generally, the Uzbeks prefer mutton to other kinds of meat. But Kazi-a special sausage made of horsemeat, fat, and special spices-made according to well-preserved ancient recipes is a delicacy served during special occasions. Fruits and vegetables grow in abundance in Uzabekistan, so naturally they are widely used in cooking all year round.

Once there, try the meat and vegetable soup called Shorpa, or the Uzbek noodle soup called Laghmon. The most traditional Uzbek main dish is the Plov that is suitable for daily meals as well as celebrations. There are variations of this dish, but usually it is made with chunks of mutton, shredded yellow and orange carrot for colour and taste, and rice all of which are cooked in a cast iron pot. The meat is usually eaten with the fingers.

Dumplings are also very popular. Manty are steamed dumplings stuffed with chopped onions and lamb or mutton. Chuchvara is another dumpling stuffed with minced meat, onion and spices served with sour cream or yogurt. You might also like Samsa-pastry stuffed with meat, onion, and a variety of vegetables-fresh from a clay oven. Or how about skewered chunks of mutton barbecued over charcoal known as Shashlyk over a bed of raw sliced onions.

Tea is consumed with every meal. And Chai-khanas (teahouses) full of old men chatting the afternoon away over a pot of tea are everywhere in Uzbekistan. Usually tea is served with samsa, bread, halva, and a variety of fried foods. Samarkand and Tashkent have a variety of places to eat, ranging from small local establishments around bazars, to fancy international joint venture restaurants. Take your pick.


If you are in Bukhara seize the opportunity to visit its mosques. Kalyan Mosque with its intricately decorated portals is located in the heart of the city. It is the largest mosque in Central Asia, able to accommodate around 10,000 worshippers. It is towered over by the Kalyan Minaret with its bands of decorative brickwork that was said to have impressed Genghis Khan. Magoki-Attori Mosque constructed in the ninth or tenth century is the most ancient architectural masterpiece in Bukhara It was rebuilt in the twelfth century, but only the southern façade and portals remain to this day. An earthquake in 1860 caused the double dome to fall and the mosque destroyed, but it was rebuilt in the twentieth century. It remains one of the most sacred places in Bukhara because its architecture summons up spiritual longing for the Afterlife. Balyand Mosque is for those of you who prefer a small district mosque. It is located in a quiet residential neighborhood southwest of the old city.

If you are in Tashkent you can visit the Teleshayakh Mosque-an interesting ensemble erected in a place called Khast Imam. The ensemble comprises the Barak-Khana Madrassa of the sixteenth century, the Teleshayakh Mosque, a rich religious library, the 16th century Kaffal-Shashi mausoleum built on the grave of Abubekr Mukhmmad Kaffal-Shashi, and the Imam Al-Bukhari Institute.

The minarets of the Juma Mosque dominate the city of Khiva’s skyline, appearing like lighthouses from afar. The mosque has 218 amazingly ornate carved wooden columns.

Cities for Sight Seeing


The city of Bukhara, once a renowned Islamic center of learning, is now an inhabited museum with 140 impressive architectural monuments dating back to the Middle Ages. Today, 2,300 years later, ensembles like the Poi-Kalon, Kos Madras, Ismail Samani Mausoleum and the Kalian Minaret are still favorite tourist attractions. .

Or you may take a break from sightseeing by hanging out at the Laub-i-Hauz. It has a teahouse where you can get refreshments or a hearty meal. Or if you are a shopper, you may want to visit the three remaining dome-covered bazars called toks.


Poets and historians of the past called it the “Rome of the East, The beauty of sublunary countries. The pearl of the Eastern Moslem World.” Its memorial and research complex has become a holy site because of the theologian Imam Ismail Al-Bukhari who has been revered among Muslims for many years.

On the southeast slope of Afrosiab is the burial vault Shahi Zinda, the famous ancient architectural ensemble of Samarkand. The keepers of Shahi Zinda are sure to tell you of the ancient legend of Kussam ibn-Abbas who once lived there. After finishing a sermon one day he removed his own head, tucked it under his armpits and hid in a narrow opening of a cave where he is still thought to live today, hence giving it its name “A Living King.”


Tashkent has always been an important international transport junction. Unfortunately, the destruction caused by the revolution of 1917 and the massive earthquake of 1966 has left us with only a few architectural monuments.

For museum lovers, Tashkent houses many museums of Uzbek and pre-Uzbek culture such as The State Art Museum that houses a collection of paintings, ceramics and Bukharian royal robes; and The Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts with its exhibits of embroidered wall hangings and antique jewelry.


Fairy-tale like city Khiva has managed to retain its exotic and oriental image. The old part of the city called Ichon-Qala is where all the architectural monuments are located.

No doubt there is a lot to see and do in Uzbekistan so I do not want to give away all the surprises in store for you there. So, I’ll just leave the rest for you to experience. Happy and safe travelling Insha’Allah.

Tie your Camel: Do Your Part

pilgrimsEvery Muslim, who is physically and financially able, must make the Hajj at least once. It is one of the most memorable and spiritually edifying experiences in the life of a Muslim. So, what is it like to prepare for and perform this physically grueling, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage?

One of the most important challenges to be prepared for is protecting yourself from the chances of catching diseases that affect your health. Approximately 2 million pilgrims gather in certain places at specified times. This can present major health challenges to them.

The following are some health issues and present prevention tips anyone should find useful before embarking on Hajj:

Consult your physician

Consult your physician to know about the new preventive procedures and necessary vaccines.

Pilgrims must carry on their personal medical card that explains their medical condition in detail for receiving prompt treatment in case of emergency.

Avoid dehydration

Most of us are not acclimatized to the intense heat that is experienced during Hajj. This leaves us open to the life-threatening conditions of heat stress and dehydration.

Substantial amount of liquid is lost through perspiration; hence, the pilgrim is advised to drink at frequent intervals to compensate the loss.

Limit your sun exposure

Use sunscreen and wear approved sunglasses. Avoid direct exposure to sunlight. Use an umbrella or other protective gadget.

Wear a broad rimed hat along with loose light coloured clothing (These clothes are to be worn when not in the state of Ihram).

Watch what you are drinking

Water may be contaminated. To avoid such diseases as Hepatitis A, typhoid, and cholera, try using bottled water, carbonated beverages, boiled water, hot coffee and tea, as these are generally safe.

Wipe bottle and can tops and use your own straws.

Use bottled water or boiled water for cooking and making ice.

Watch where and what you eat

  • Contaminated food can transmit diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and enteritis. Raw, poorly cooked foods, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided unless prepared in a reputable establishment.
  • Wash your hands before and after meals and every time you use the bathroom.
  • All fruit and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before consumption.
  • Do not leave food exposed to open air, dust, and germs.
  • Moreover you may wish to take some antibiotics or anti diarrhea medication on hand.

Avoid unnecessary exhaustion

Hajj requires lots of strenuous physical activity. Although Allah amply rewards all of it, the intense exertion coupled with harsh desert climate can take a serious toll on the body.

The aged, women, patients suffering from heart and respiratory ailments, and the physically challenged Muslims planning on this blessed trip must be accompanied by able bodied and healthy caretakers.

Avoid the usage of contaminated razors

Do not to use contaminated razors while having your hair shaved. A lot of contagious and blood transmitted diseases can be communicated in this way. Use disposable razors and dispose them safely once they have been used.

Use of masks

If you decide on using nose and mouth masks it is highly recommended that you change them frequently because they concentrate a good deal of dust, dirt and germs.

Stay clear of wide-open spaces

To sleep on the streets or under bridges throughout the Hajj season is harmful as these are ideal places for the spread of infectious diseases. It also cause fatigue and exhaustion to those who sleep in the open and exposes them to sunstrokes.

No smoking

The harmful effects of smoking are too evident to be denied. There is a consensus among contemporary scholars that it is prohibited. The harmful effects are not confined to the smoker himself but the non-smokers around him through passive smoking.

First-Aid kits

Remember to pack a personal medical kit containing first-aid supplies, and adequate amounts of prescription medication in original containers.

Practice good personal hygiene

  • Take all the equipment you need for personal cleanliness.
  • Dispose litter in baskets provided for the purpose.
  • Do not spit on the ground.
  • In order to avoid infectious disease, use the toilets for urination and defecation. Use them properly and keep them clean for others.


Fatigue and lack of sleep from the physically demanding regimen of Hajj rites can lower immunity and resistance, making pilgrims more vulnerable to disease. Getting and staying in good physical shape by regular exercise can ward off illness.

In conclusion, it is a Muslim’s belief that everything that happens in this world is by the will of Allah. Similarly, any illness or misfortune that may or may not befall us is by the will of Allah. Whilst it is true that we should accept whatever “misfortune” befalls us, we are also taught to avoid or reduce the possibility of these “misfortunes” by taking positive steps. We must make all these preparations as they are in line with a well-known saying of Prophet Muhammad (sa),“Tie your camel, then put your trust in Allah.”

Note: The above are general guidelines and are not intended to be a substitute for a consultation with a knowledgeable Hajj travel physician.

Required vaccines for Pakistani Pilgrims

Pakistani Muslims, travelling to Saudi Arabia require a visa, a passport, and proof of having received the inoculations required of any Pakistani citizen going abroad.

Saudi Arabia mandates that travellers to Hajj be vaccinated against meningitis to help prevent illness from contaminated food and water sources. The large crowds strain Saudi Arabia’s sanitation services.

Some physicians also suggest additional vaccinations to protect against typhoid fever, pneumonia, diphtheria / tetanus and malaria.

Catching Kids Being Good

kids being goodRewarding a behavior is the most effective way of promoting good conduct. Teachers can re-enforce youngsters by a smile, a ‘thank you’, some praise, or food. However, many believe that this method does not actually work – they continue to insist on their negative approaches that often make things worse, not better. Set up the child for success if he is not presently demonstrating the desired behavior. When a child displays positive behavior, recognize it. Do not hold a grudge. When first building a behavior, reward it each time as quickly as possible. The following are some reward suggestions that will encourage kids to strive for ‘being good’.

Tree of Achievements

For increasing the self-esteem in children, make a tree of achievement for each classroom. Make a display with a bare tree on a hillside or in a field and place a basket of brightly coloured leaves below. Whenever a child works hard or shows kindness, their name along with their good deed get written on a leaf and put up on the tree. This will encourage positive behaviour, and the children will love it.

Golden Wall

Use a ‘Golden Wall’ to encourage the circle time in the classroom. Write out the ‘golden rules’ from top to bottom on a wall. Every time a child adheres to some golden rule or successfully displays the focus golden rule of a particular week, write his / her name on a piece of paper and stick it to the Golden Wall. At the end of a half term, tear off all the labels from the wall and count them. The more a child’s name is on the wall, the higher are his / her chances for winning an award.

Behaviour Ladder

Age Range: 5 to 11

Draw a ladder onto a big piece of paper and write the names of children on little cards. Every time a child achieves something in any area, he / she moves a step up on the ladder. Similarly, the child moves one step down, every time he / she does something negative. For winning a secret prize, the child has to get to the top of the ladder.

Warm Fuzzies

The teacher makes on computer 25 squares of small grid for each child and places them on their desks. When a child works quietly on a task, produces excellent work, does homework, consistently follows class rules, the squares get stamped. Children also give them to each other for positive reasons at ‘warm fuzzy time.’ When the grid is filled, the student gets a certificate and sometimes a prize. Then, children aim for the next award, which is 50, 75, 100, 125, etc. Kids enjoy this type of rewards that promote positive behaviour.

Target Tree

Every half term, each student cuts out an apple and writes on it his / her personal target. Then, this apple is hung onto a tree prepared by the teacher. When the child achieves the target, he / she receives 2 merits. The next half term, a new apple gets added onto the tree.

Behaviour Train

Place on the wall a large train engine with several carriages behind. Represent each child in a carriage by writing his / her name and drawing a cartoon character. There should be on the wall also a ‘Missed Playtime Station.’ If during a play session a child misbehaves, his / her carriage gets removed from the train and placed in the station. The carriage can return to the train only if the child modifies his / her behaviour before the next playtime.

Prize Token

Give children a prize token anytime they work well on a task, produce a lovely work, answer a question correctly, etc. Children write their names on a piece of paper and put them in a prize jar. Keep on reminding children throughout the day: “Who is doing the work quietly so that I can give a prize token?” You will be surprised to see that students will stop talking and will get back to their work. At the end of the day, draw the names out of the prize jar. If students have been really good, give out a few more prizes; however, if they had misbehaved, warn them that no names would be drawn from the prize jar, unless they improve their behaviour.

Super Stars

This reward system is very simple and designed specifically for younger students. Teacher draws a star and leaves below it some space for writing the names of students. This becomes a ‘Super Stars’ list, into which the teacher writes then names of students any time they do something praiseworthy. When the class is rowdy, the teacher should say: “Twinkle, twinkle super star – can I see where you are?” This gets the attention of students and puts them back to their work. Super Star students can do some special tasks for the teacher.

In order to encourage appropriate behaviour everyone needs to be challenged and motivated. An effort that goes unrecognized or earns no appreciation has no chances to last. Even Allah the most Gracious, has offered Jannah as a reward for all the hard work good believers put in day in and day out. This motivation helps us stay guided and builds an eagerness to do our very best.

Positive attitude and expectation of a teacher from his student eventually enables the child to realize he has the potential to be good. Otherwise he would not have been asked to do good consistently. On the other hand labeling a child as a failure or demonstrating suspicion and anger over his undesired attitude only sends one message that the child is incapable of any improvement or change.

A List of Ideas for Earning Rewards

  • Have the teacher phone your parents to tell them what a great kid you are.
  • Draw on the chalkboard.
  • Be the first in line.
  • Choose any class job for a week.
  • Do all the class jobs for a day.
  • Be a helper in the room with younger children.
  • Help the librarian.
  • Choose a book for the teacher to read to the class.
  • Keep a stuffed animal on your desk.
  • Use the computer.
  • Be the first to eat.
  • Have a special sharing time to teach something to the class, set up a display etc.
  • Read to someone else.
  • Choose a movie for the class to watch.
  • Get a fun worksheet.

Allah (swt) Accepts Only Pure

PureAbu Hurayrah (rta) narrates that Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Verily, Allah the Exalted is pure and accepts only that which is pure. Allah has commanded the believers to do that which he has commanded the messengers. The Exalted has said: ‘O Messengers! Eat of the good things and do right.’ And the Exalted also said: ‘O Believers! Eat of the good things that we have provided for you.'” Then Prophet (sa) mentioned a man who after a long journey is dishevelled and dust-coloured. “This man stretches his hands out towards the sky and says: ‘O Lord, O Lord,’ while his food is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, his clothing unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How is he to be answered (in such a state)?” (Muslim)

More importantly, if an act is not pure and good, according to Shariah (Allah’s ordained laws), Allah (swt) will not accept it. He may not even respond to one who calls on Him if his sustenance is not from permissible sources. The Hadeeth explicitly mentions of living off of Haram means. This is one of the greatest and most widespread illness of today’s Muslim Ummah. People do not care about the source of their earnings as long as they have a comfortable life.

Some of the common pitfalls regarding unlawful earnings may be discussed, like Riba (usury or interest). Allah commands in the Quran: “O you who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but fear Allah that you may prosper. Fear the fire which is prepared for those who reject faith…” (Al-Imran 3:130-131)

Admonishing the people of Madyan, who used to cheat others in trade, Allah states in the Quran: “…Give just measure and weight, nor withhold from the people the things that are their due; and do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you if you have faith.” (Al-A’raf 7:85) The people of Madyan continued to earn by non-permissible means and were ultimately destroyed by an earthquake.

Similarly, lying to gain profits, causing damage to another’s livelihood to eliminate competition, accepting and giving bribes and practicing unethical behaviour of the like are also common in the Muslim world today. A disgraceful example is when some Muslim nations are quoted among the most corrupt administrations in the world.

As parents, we have a great responsibility. Firstly, to educate ourselves and secondly, to educate our children in the formative years about the lawful as prescribed by the Quran. Similarly, the Muslim youth when choosing their careers, must stop and think whether the area of education which they are choosing will lead them to lawful earnings or not.

Rizq (provision) is the bounty of Allah which He bestows on His creatures. He states in the Quran: “…All bounties are in the hand of Allah. He grants them to whom He pleases; and Allah cares for all, and he knows all things.” (Al-Imran 3:73) We should never assume that by following Allah’s prescribed means of earnings we, as Muslims, would be afflicted with poverty or disgrace. This is only a trap set by the devil to deviate good people.

If we want our prayers to be responded then we have to fulfill the conditions stipulated by Allah upon us and completely avoid all that is non-permissible.