Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ramadan Mubarak

May the 17th 2018 marks the beginning of the First of Ramadan, 1439 of the Islamic calendar and the beginning of the 30 days long month of fasting for the Muslims all over the world. We extend our heartiest congratulations to all Muslims who by virtue of fasting during this holy month will not only perform an obligatory and important of five pillars of Islam, but will be blessed with countless bounties from the Allah Almighty as a reward for abstaining from food and drinks and marital relations from dawn to dusk.

While fasting is obligatory on able bodied and healthy Muslims, be men or women, Allah does not intend to overburden those who do not have the power to fast or are in travel:
“But if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up from other days” {Surat al-Baqarah 2: Verse 184} 
“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person for every day” {Surat al-Baqarah 2: Verse 184}
During this blessed month, one must find time and devote it to learning Islam better and strengthening one''s faith. Some of the activities devout Muslims recommend are as under:
  • Remembering of Allah during daily chores like driving, walking, cooking or working.
  • Recite or listen to Qur’an recitation and read explanation. 
  • Listen to lectures of renowned scholars by attending specially arranged sittings during the month of Ramadan.
  • Pray taraweeh, speciall Ramdan prayers in the masjids after the night prayers
  • Try to be nice, pleasing, kind and generous during this month. However, this does not mean after this month is over, one should become disrespectful and discourteous. In fact this month teaches us restraint from evil and urge us to inculcate into our souls for the remaining part of our lives.
  • Make arrangements for opening of fast of the poor by arranging rations and cooked food for th needy.
  • Offer special prayers and dua for the parents, friends, and relatives who are no more for their forgiveness.
  • Those who can write, must write about beauty and truth of Islam so that even Non Muslims read the best of Islam and draw healthy inferences.
 May Allah’s immaculate grace and exceptional wisdom conquer lives of all Muslims as we celebrate this holy month of Ramadan. Have a blessed and peaceful Ramadan!

Photo | Originally posted in The Enlightened Path
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Google celebrates 53d birthday of Legendary Pakistani singer Nazia Hassan

The world famous Google remembered famous Pakistani pop singer Nazia Hassan on her 53rd birthday that captivated her fans' hearts.

Nazia Hassan, who at the top of her singing career, left to be married and died of cancer shortly thereafter in 2000 at the age of 35. But her melidious voice and her songs are still listened to by a large number of her fans.

Some of her all time hits include ‘Ankhain Milanay Walay’, ‘Pyaar dia Gallan’, ‘Disco Deewane’, ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Dosti’. Like The Carpenters, she and her brother Zohaib, sold over 65 million records worldwide and became the first Pakistani to top the British music charts in 1990’s.

In a statement, Google wrote, “When young Pakistani girls in the 1980s closed their eyes and clutched a pretend mic in their hands, swaying and singing, a major inspiration was Nazia Hassan. Hassan, sometimes referred to as the “Princess of Pop”, was a sensation the likes of which hadn’t been seen in the region in years. Young and graceful, with long flowing hair, she charmed the country by belting out favorite songs Disco Deewane and Boom Boom alongside her brother Zohaib.”

No brace up for one her very famous, melodious and musical song "Pyaar dia Gallan" beautifully depicting a typical village scene of Punjab provicen of Pakistan.
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Beautiful Birds of Pakistan - The Awesome Kingfishers

I am not a bird watcher but sure am a bird lover. I spend time watching beautiful birds the Nature created in numerous bird watching sites on the Internet beside keep surfing the sky and trees or even my lawn to see beautiful birds flying, landing and chirping. And the Nature has gifted Pakistan with a large variety of birds both local and those migrating from the colder regions from November onwards and being our guests till March-April when they fly back to their homes.

While every bird is peculiar in shape and colours, for no good reason I have fell in love with the Kingfishers. Confiding with you very candidly I have never seen a Kingfisher in my life but by merely watching their photographs, I have fallen in love with them Kingfishers.
Kingfishers are easily recognizable by their long, sharp and pointed bills and generally blue-orange-white coloured bodies. In fact proportionately, their beaks seem larger than their bodies. As per Wikipedia, Kingfishers  have 114 species and is divided into three subfamilies and 19 genera. kingfishers are generally found near rivers for they like fishing and eating them right away as fresh as possible. However, these are also found in jungles where they devour on small invertebrates. Kingfishers can be as small as 10 cm (3.9 in) in length and between 9 and 12 g (0.32 and 0.42 oz) in weight like the African dwarf kingfisher, while they can be as large as 42 to 46 cm (17 to 18 in) in length and 255–426 g (9.0–15.0 oz) in weight such as the giant kingfisher (Megaceryle Maxima).

The most common form of the Kingfishers (Alcedo Atthis) is simply the Common Kingfishers as can be seen in the three photos above.  It is very small to the size of 17 – 19 centimeters in length, weighing in between 34 – 46 grams. It has short yellow legs with its bill measuring four centimeters. These are usually blue and or green in colour and their upper-parts, rump and tail are a bright blue colour. 

Crested Kingfishers is yet another species of the bird. However, these are not as vividly coloured as their family but are easily recognizable by the crest over their heads as can be seen in the two photos below. These are not as commonly sighted as the Common Kingfishers.
The Crested Kingfisher is a fairly large bird of the size of 41 centimeters and is usually blue as its predominant colour. It is found in Pakistan, besides India, Bangladesh, Russia and stretching as far as Japan.
The Pied Kingfisher (below) is generally has black and white plumage, crest. It is usually found around lakes and rivers. One can spot these hovering over the water, looking for its prey and then diving into the water to catch fish for its lunch.
White throated kingfisher (Halcyon Smyrnensis), as can be seen in the following photos, is also called the White-breasted Kingfisher or Smyrna Kingfisher. It generally has a reddish peak with a brownish head, blue wings and a clear white through or breast. This species is generally found away from water courses and is thus also known as the Tree Kingfisher. However, this does not stop them visiting fields when crops are ready and wetlands like  swamps, marshes, lakes and even in mangrove swamps. It falls in the smaller category of birds with a size of 26.5 to 29.5 centimeters.
Those going on morning trails in the Margalla Hills in Islamabad can often spot these beautiful birds resting on tree branches or flying past overhead with awesome speed. These are found from Turkey right up to Philippines.

Kingfishers are readily falling in love type of birds due to their vivid and bright colours and larger bill. I wish to see these one day myself to appreciate their true beauty.
About the Photographer:

Mohsan Raza Ali hails from city of Multan and is now settled in Islamabad. Besides his wonderful hobby of bird watching and photography, he is computer science graduate from Islamic University, Islamabad and has been a senior Software Engineer at Bentley Systems, Development Manager at Aspose, Development Manager at Data Focal Innovations and an Application Architect at LMKR.

All photos above are the property of Mohsan Raza Ali and have been shared with his due permission. His photos can be seen on Facebook | Caption Photos: Crimson Sunbird

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

20 March - World Sparrow Day

We observe many days each year - like a day for women, animal life, environment or even health related diseases' days. But today, 20th March marks the day for a small bird that we often see around us and ignore: The House Sparrow.

The day is observed for the protection of House Sparrow and other common birds that we often see in the urban areas. However, due to fast growing and expanding urban areas, the natural habitat of such small birds is shrinking and it is feared that very soon we may not see house sparrows flying around us or sitting on our window panes.

Due to rapid urbanization in the 70s, the decline in population of home sparrow and other common birds started and as per some estimates, as compared to their population in the 60s, we are left with only 10% of such ordinary birds.

The celebration of the day is an international initiative by the Nature Forever Society in collaboration with the Eco-Sys Action Foundation and many other international organisations across the world. So do your best to make habitats for these birds by not destroying trees in urban areas or around your house. Rather grow plants and keep water in open for these creatures specially in summers as scorching days of summers take a heavy toll of sparrows and these die of thirst.

Photo: Mirza Naim Beg | Why celebrate World Sparrow Day
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Friday, February 23, 2018

23 March: From F-104 to JF17 Thunder

23 March is an important national day in the life of Pakistan -   It is the day when on 23 March 1940 the Pakistan Resolution was unanimously put forward in a historic meeting of the All India Muslim League during its annual meeting at Lahore's Manto Park (later renamed as Iqbal Park after Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, who for the first time gave the idea of a separate Muslim state to be carved out of the British India as he could see that Muslims and Hindus could coexist  - something that has now abundantly seen in the present day India where Hindu hardliners are deadly against Muslims and torture them in one way or the other) to demand for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the British India. It is also the day when the first constitution of Pakistan was adopted.

The relevant part of the resolution is as under:
No constitutional plan would be workable or acceptable to the Muslims unless geographical contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted with such territorial readjustments as may be necessary. That the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign.
It is also the day in 1956 when Pakistan was declared Islamic Republic of Pakistan from the Dominion of Pakistan and broke away the remnants of the British yoke which it continued even after partition from the British India on 14 August 1947. Initially the day was called the Republic Day but later integrating the two milestone events of same day in 1940 and 1956, it started to be known as Pakistan Day.

To commemorate this memorable day with honour and dignity, a Pakistan Day parade by the armed forces of Pakistan is held.
For me, this day has a tinge of nostalgia as it was this day in 1964 when I witnessed the armed forces parade for the first time at Fortress Stadium Lahore. And the hallmark of the day was the fly past of the supersonic Lockheed F-104 jets, known as the Starfighter, which had then been recently acquired from USA through Jordan. In fact at that time, Pakistan was the only country outside NATO which had been supplied with this modern aircraft of its time. The whole crowd of spectators applauded with a thunderous clap when the Starfighters flew past over our heads.

Later it was the same aircraft, which broke the sound barrier around 11 AM on 6 September 1965 - a thunderous noise that announced the breaking out of war between India and Pakistan. I was in school when the sound barrier was broken and it was soon after that our school was closed and we were all sent home.

That was 1964 - but as the 23 March 2018 dawns in Pakistan, the Pakistan Air Force proudly flies its indigenously produced JF-17 Thunder lightweight, single-engine, multi-role combat aircraft, which has been developed as a joint venture by Pakistan and China, and inducted in Pakistan Air Force in 2010.  So far about 100 of block I and Ii versions of JF-17 Thunder have entered in active service of the Pakistan Air Force. 
And plans are afoot to work on the block-III with many advancements in avionics, ordnance carrying capability and cruising range. Powered by a Guizhou WS-13 or Klimov RD-93 after burning turbofan, it has a top speed of Mach 1.6 and is equipped with  air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles, and a 23 mm GSh-23-2 twin-barrel auto-cannon.

And that is not all - in the meantime Pakistan Army and Navy too have undergone substantial changes and news weapons and platforms have been added. Thus today's parade shows up a huge weapon show in the parade ground outside Islamabad with lush green Margalla hills in the back ground.

The entire nation stand behind its gallant armed forces which are not only the single largest contributor the UN Peace Keeping Missions across the world, but is also one of the logest embattled army with the terroists and miscreants mostly coming from Afghanistan, targetting and falling back. The effective check and ruthless elimination of terrorists' havens has afforded much needed peace to Pakistan to concentrate on its developenmtal plans for present and future. Though it is sad to see USA and other world powers still not acknowledging sacrifices of some 70,000 and still press on Pakistan to do more. 

Our Armed Forces would continue to fight back terrorism in any form and one day God willing will be successful in its efforts.

Read my previous post on F-104s: 23 March and the F-104 Starfighters
Photos: PAF
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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Beautiful Birds of Pakistan - 7

Like the undersea marine life, the bids dominate the sky above us with their abode on trees and even marshland sand heavily vegetated areas. They in fact fill the sky with their presence and eye pleasing chirping sounds - except perhaps the crow which for some is less pleasing. 

Birds are as small as the Humming Birds with only a 5 centimeter presence or as large as the eagles which may have sizes up to 220 centimeters - but if you wish to include the Ostriches, the lesser birds as they cannot soar to the sky and have a small flights, then we are taking of birds as large as 2.75 meters.
Greater Egrets

I have been sharing birds as watched by a number of bird watchers in Pakistan - but mostly these are small birds which are very common to places near cities or in the fields. Today it is my seventh post based on spotting and shooting skills of Mirza Naim Baig, an avid bird watcher, nature lover and of course with a sharp eye to spot a bird and shoot it - not by his gun but his camera for us to admire the Nature and its man creations.

Kingfisher is a beautiful bird known for its longer beak and rather vivid colours despite its small size of 10 centimeters to maximum of 40+ centimeters. I love this bird and intend dedicating a separate post on it in days to come. For now here some beautiful kingfishers: 
 Common Kingfisher
 A pair of Pied Kingfishers
White breasted Kingfisher

Some other birds that adorn the skies and wetlands of Pakistan are:
  Common Teals (above) and Northern Shovelers (below) spotted in Lugh Lake
 Beautiful Swamp Hen with its unique blue and red colour combination (below)
 Pallid Harrier (above) and Marsh Harrier in flight (below)
  The long legged Pond Heron
The beautiful, unique and rare Yellow footed Green Pigeon

About the Bird Watcher and Photographer
Mirza Naim Baig is a freelancer member WWF who takes part inn the preservation of wildlife, beside being a wildlife tour operator. He is from Karachi and studied Bachelor of Arts at Edwards College, Peshawar and lives in Karachi. He is the owner of Dream Merchants.

His birding experiences and photos can be seen on FacebookAll photos above are the property of Mirza Naim Baig and have been shared here with his exclusive permission. In time more of his birding photos will be posted to share his hard work and love for these little flying birds.

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15 Real Facts of Coffee you must know before it vanishes

Coffee is one of the most favoured and most drank drink all over the globe. Its aromatic smell and strong taste takes away one's tiredness in seconds beside refreshing one's energies after a hard day's overload. But there are bad news in the air that coffee may not be available after a few decades as the temperature in areas where coffee beans are harvested are on the rise which will make it difficult harvest it any more.

If that happens, as has already been forewarned, millions of coffee lovers will go dry and perhaps the future generations may never know that there one existed a heavenly drink known as coffee.

However drinking coffee is one of the most controversial issue facing the researchers, doctors and coffee lovers. While the lovers are not prepared to leave this steamy strong flavoured drink, some researchers warn of its side effects while many advocate its strong health benefits. I too am an avid coffee lover, but owing to my sensitive stomach and high blood pressure, I drink it with extreme care in modest quantity - a cup a day and no more.

So do read the info graphic herein under that lists 15 Mesmerizing benefits of Coffee in case you are not a coffee lover and facts you must know before it is too late to start drinking coffee everyday before its fades away into the history.
The 15 Real Facts You Should Know About Coffee
Source: Words I Seek

However, drinking coffee comes with many health cautions beside health benefits. Those suffering from heart ailments, stomach disorders and some other diseases, should be careful in drinking excessive coffee. In fact one must read about coffee before drinking it in excess of of more than one or two cups a day.
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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Beautiful Birds of Pakistan - 6

This is my sixth post on beautiful birds as seen and photographed in Pakistan. And it is really heartening to see that more and more bird watchers are now sharing their experiences and beautifully shot photos of bird in Pakistan and sharing these on various groups on bird watching in social media. 

Mohsan Raza Ali is one of such bird lovers who shares his extensive shoots wherever he happens to be while traveling Pakistan. The photos being shared are those shot in the coital city Islamabad, the Margalla Hills and the Lake View Park near Islamabad and even Kahror Pakka in the Souther Punjab province of Pakistan where Mohsan shot the Black Drongo as seen in the caption photo and the five photos below:
 Blue Throat
 Indian Robbin male
 Indian Robbin female
Plain Prinia in yellow
White throated kingfisher
Common Kingfisher - Lake View Park Islamabad 

Kingfisher is one of may favourite birds for its vivid colours and extended peak which allows it to be recognized from long distance.
 Common babbler
Western Yellow Wagtail 

Common babbler and Western Yellow Wagtail are from the central Punjab province city of Muzaffargarh.

The birds in photos below are as seen in various parts of Pakistan's capital city Islamabad:
 Cinereous tit -Islamabad
 Crimson sun bird-Islamabad
 Long tailed shrike-Lake View Park-Islamabad
 Pied bush chat-Islamabad
 Red-billed Leiothrix-Margalla Hills
 -Rufous bellied Niltalva (female)-Margalla Hills
White throat fantail -Islamabad

About the Photographer:

Mohsan Raza Ali hails from city of Multan and is now settled in Islamabad. Besides his wonderful hobby of bird watching and photography, he is computer science graduate from Islamic University, Islamabad and has been a senior Software Engineer at Bentley Systems, Development Manager at Aspose, Development Manager at Data Focal Innovations and an Application Architect at LMKR.

All photos above are the property of Mohsan Raza Ali and have been shared with his due permission. His photos can be seen on Facebook | Caption Photos: Crimson Sunbird

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