Monday, February 25, 2013

Moment: a very short interval of time

Thought for the week: this moment is all we have

This moment is all we have, did you know that? Whatever has preceded this moment has gone and will never be repeated…

Life is a series of moments threaded together to make memories. I came across a saying on which to base this week’s thought: 

Moment: a very short interval of time

“Live each moment, it may be your last”

Sometimes we rush through our minutes of each day. The days running into each other and before you know it you are a few years older, and you can’t remember much of them.

How quiet it is in our offices. Everybody's brains seem to be connected to their computers till cut off time. We don’t talk anymore. We rather send emails instead of chatting over a cup of coffee. We rush off through the traffic, to get home only to fall down from exhaustion. We sleep restlessly, all the stress-filled dreams racing through our subconscious, only to wake and start the madness again.

Some of us have been granted second-chances, but have we appreciated it?

Have you taken the time to look outside and greet the beautiful sunrise, hear the twitter of the birds in the trees? Have you marvelled at the sunset at the end of the day, celebrating the fact that you have lived through another day?

I wonder if any of the parents I see rushing about in the supermarkets actually take an afternoon to enjoy quality time with the child they are pushing around in the stroller.

Have you actually listened to the laughter in your home? How many hours have passed by without you making contact with your loved ones just to show them how much they mean to you?

Have you stopped to think how precious it is to be alive, to be thankful for the body you live in, for the roof over your head? Do you feel the joy when your telephone rings, knowing that someone out there is thinking about you? What about that first cup of coffee in the morning: have you taken the time to savour its aroma, taste its flavour?

What about the pets you have, do you take the time to enjoy them?
Do you remember the pleasure they used to bring?
Have you tapped into that pleasure recently?
Do you take the time to appreciate the simple pleasures in your career or job?
Have you remembered to be grateful for the fact that you have a job?

Have you seen the change in the seasons and enjoyed each for what it has to offer?
The rainy days with heavy moist air, the scorching heat of summer accompanied by the smells of ‘braaivleis’, the cold winter's morning with the wind in the trees and the fog in the air, the brightly coloured leaves falling on the ground in Autumn?
The thunderstorms with cracks of lightning, the howling gales whipping through the trees, the crash of the waves against the shore, the snow on the Drakensburg, the trickling of the water through the reeds in the rivers.

Promise to savour the moment.

It may be a good idea to promise yourself one thing this weekend: Whatever you are going to do, make sure you savour the moment. Make an effort to ensure that your days do not melt into each other so much that they end up on a heap of forgotten moments.

Too many of us spend our time complaining ... why?

Fair enough, if it is something that we can change, or improve on let's mention it and then go about the task of changing it  - beginning with ourselves!

Each day, each moment is there to be lived. Be in the moment, fully and absolutely. The chance will not come your way again.

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Glimpse Through 5 Broken Cameras


Caffeinated Muslim

Over the weekend, I spent a lot of time with my sister’s kids – my nephew and two nieces. I even more than willingly fulfilled some duties as a khala/aunt and read a few books to my four year-old niece. One book I read was about an anthropomorphic tractor named Otis that helped save the farm animals, including the bull that no one ever liked because he always seemed so angry, from a tornado that touched down on the farm where they were lived.  This was after I read my niece a book about Angelina, the mouse that was a ballerina and who was going to be a bridesmaid at a princess’s wedding (I know, right?).
A day after I read those books to my niece, I watched the Oscar-nominated documentary 5 Broken Cameras, which is now streaming on Netflix and available for rental/Amazon Instant Video/however it is you get your movies these days. This film takes place in the village of Bil’in in Palestine. Director Emad Burnat started filming during the time in which a separation fence that encroached further on the land of the Palestinians for the settlements began construction. From 2005-2009, Burnat follows the non-violent protests against this barrier held by his fellow villagers and their inevitable run-ins with IDF soldiers. On occasion, the villagers are joined by activists from all around the world, including some Israeli citizens as well, as they try to reclaim land that is rightfully theirs.

The beginning of the documentary also coincides with the birth of Burnat’s fourth son Gibreel so as the director films the people in his village and the protests, he also shows us his family and we see Gibreel grow from a newborn to 5 years old. When Gibreel is just a toddler, he accompanies his father and brothers to protests. In one particular instance, the tear gas is launched like clockwork and even though Gibreel is in a car, you hear him cough on the gas. Later, as he’s telling his mom about the protest, his mom calls him a hero. Gibreel continuously sees his dad’s friends getting hurt, family members arrested, and IDF soldiers setting off tear gas and also going through their village. Watching 5 Broken Cameras so soon after spending quite a bit of time with family, I couldn’t help but think that Gibreel’s reality is so different than that of my own nephews and nieces. By including his family into 5 Broken Cameras, Burnat makes this documentary stand out. He humanizes the occupation in a manner that even if we can’t relate to it because hopefully many of us do not deal with outside forces trying to take our land, we can at least come away with a better understanding of what the situation is and the effects it has.

Burnat is the objective cameraman in all of this and and so he grapples with what it means to not only be behind the lens, but to stay there despite what is going on in front of him. This is a much different documentary than say something like the excellent Occupation 101. The creators of Occupation 101 give a history of the occupation from its roots, talk to experts, and also interview several people in the occupied lands. 5 Broken Cameras is only about the people in Bi’lin and their unending quest to hold onto what’s theirs. Those of us who watch 5 Broken Cameras have now become witnesses to the plight. With the Oscar nomination, 5 Broken Cameras has a great opportunity to be the way in which many more people become aware of the ramifications of the occupation. Check it out.

Just a note – Although most of the documentary is composed of material filmed by Emad Burnat, 5 Broken Cameras is also co-directed by Guy Davidi.


Monday, February 04, 2013

Septuagenarian becomes eldest Haafiz in Jeddah

Abdullah Mohammad Mousa, 70, becomes the eldest Hafiz in Jeddah

JEDDAH — Abdullah Mousa, a septuagenarian, has proven that age is no obstacle when it comes to fulfilling one’s goals and realizing long held dreams — in Mousa’s case memorizing the Qur’an.

There is indeed no such thing as “too late.”

“When I was younger, unfortunately I only learned two ‘Juz’ (sections) of the Qur’an and then I stopped. I became preoccupied with other distractions and then the stressors of daily life, demands of work and family obligations, and I drifted away from my dream of becoming a ‘Haafiz,’” said Mousa.

However, Mousa’s love for Qur’an prevailed and as the years went by memorizing the Qur’an in its entirety was still a lofty goal that he wished to achieve.

Mousa passionately longed to be included among those mentioned in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) “Verily, Allah the Exalted has people from among mankind, and the people of the Qur’an are the People of Allah, and His Chosen Ones.” (Abu Dawood)
It is common knowledge that mosques provide Qur’an lessons for boys in every city, town, and village in the Kingdom.

But, Mousa was pleasantly surprised and elated when he discovered that there were Qur’an classes for adults, too, taught at a mosque not so far from his home.

“The introduction of adult classes in the mosques is an excellent initiative on the part of the Charitable Society for Holy Qur’an Memorization in Jeddah, as these classes are greatly needed.

“The prime focus is on memorization but teachers also train attendees in correct pronunciation and recitation of the verses while adhering to the rulings of “Tajweed.”

“The adult classes give the elderly like me the opportunity to make up for what we missed in our youth, they also facilitate the learning process for middle aged working men with busy work schedules who too would like to remain connected to the Holy Book,” said Mousa.

The 70-year-old grandfather was so enthusiastic and dedicated to his noble task that he joined two Qur’an education groups, each at a different mosque, in the morning and evening.

On average he would memorize two to three new pages each day along with a daily revision of two sections, closely followed and prompted by his teachers at the mosques.

He managed to memorize the Qur’an by heart in only two and a half years.
Mousa passed his exam with a score of 91 percent and was awarded a certificate of excellence by the Charitable Society for Holy Qur’an Memorization as the eldest ‘Haafiz’ in Jeddah this year.

The secret tool that helped him constantly revise, stay focused, and finally achieve this honor, was that Mousa walked a distance of six kilometers each day, chanting and repeating the verses of the Qur’an that were on his revision schedule for that day.

As Mousa walked, he continuously repeated the verses until he was confident that he held them properly in his mind and heart.

Mousa says he is also blessed with a sharp memory, competent and compassionate teachers, and a supportive wife.

After accomplishing his lifelong dream, Mousa yearns for more knowledge. He wants to remain a student of the Qur’an as he plans to study the meanings of the verses and practice “Tajweed” in order to become more proficient at recitation.