Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Concept of Moon-god Allah: A Heinous Propaganda against Islam

Since emergence of Islam as one of the dominant religion, the people of the earlier Divine Books and faith, specially the Jews and Christians have started to feel a threat to their faiths as more and more people of other faiths are converting to Islam everyday that passes. For this very reason, we usually come across abject propaganda by them in the shape of hate literature and caricatures.

In one of our earlier posts "Jewish perception of Islam as Idolatrous" we put across a misleading perception by the Jews labeling Islam as Idolatrous by contending that the Muslims worshiped Muhammad (The revered last prophet of Allah) rather than the God the Jews worshiped. Please read our post on the subject with reference given below.

Today, I came across yet another concept, this time by the Christians, in which they believe that Muslims believe in the "moon god" as was done in the times before Islam. The idea was proposed by archaeologist Hugo Winckler in 1901. It was proliferated in the United States in the 1990s, first via the publication of Robert Morey's pamphlet The Moon-god Allah: In Archeology of the Middle East (1994), eventually followed by his book The Islamic Invasion: Confronting The World's Fastest-Growing Religion (2001). Morey's ideas were popularized by cartoonist and publisher Jack Chick, who drew a fictionalized cartoon story entitled "Allah Had No Son" in 1994. [1]

Many websites of Bible Societies and even otherwise of individual Christians have tried to prove that the moon-god found in the pre-Islamic era, both in Arabia and otherwise is in fact the same Allah that Muslims worship after Muhammad (peace be upon him, the Prophet of Allah) introduced "his" religion to come up with a religion to contest that of Jews and Christians. And have thus tried to present many photos of artifacts and relics showing worship of moon. They also content that Allah is the name derived from the moon-gods.

Then there is yet another question posed by the Christians: "Why is Allah never defined in the Qur'an? Why did Muhammad assume that the pagan Arabs already knew who Allah was?" Muhammad was raised in the religion of the Moon-god Allah. But he went one step further than his fellow pagan Arabs. While they believed that Allah, i.e. the Moon-god, was the greatest of all gods and the supreme deity in a pantheon of deities, Muhammad decided that Allah was not only the greatest god but the only god. My only reaction here is from my Christian friends: Has God been "defined" in the Old or New Testaments or an other holy scriptures before Islam? They wont find an answer to this but Holy Qur'an very clearly defines Allah in Allah's own words in the Holy Qur'an. In fact, one of the main themes of the Quran is to describe Allah and his oneness his attributes and actions. Here are some excerpts from the Holy Qur'an:

إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّـهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدْنِي وَأَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ لِذِكْرِي 
Allah Himself tells who He is: "Indeed, I am Allah. There is no other god except Me. So, worship Me and establish prayer for My remembrance." [Al Quran, Surah Ta Ha, Chapter 20, verse 14]
Allah - there is no deity except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of [all] existence. Neither drowsiness overtakes Him nor sleep. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Who is it that can intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of His knowledge except for what He wills. His Kursi extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires Him not. And He is the Most High, the Most Great. [Al Qur'an, Chapter 2, Surah Albaqarh, 255]
[All] praise is [due] to Allah , who created the heavens and the earth and made the darkness and the light. Then those who disbelieve equate [others] with their Lord. It is He who created you from clay and then decreed a term and a specified time [known] to Him; then [still] you are in dispute. And He is Allah , [the only deity] in the heavens and the earth. He knows your secret and what you make public, and He knows that which you earn. [Al Quran, Surah Al-An'am Chapter 6 verses 1-3] 
It is He who made the sun a shining light and the moon a derived light and determined for it phases - that you may know the number of years and account [of time]. Allah has not created this except in truth. He details the signs for a people who know. {Al Quran Surah Yunus Chapter 10, verse 5] 
There can be no more proofs that Christians would want, as these are just three references that define Allah.

It is very amazing that the Christians have tried to correlate the word Allah with moon-god while forgetting that Allah is an Arabic word and in the lands of Arab the Arabic language has been there since centuries. They object to word Allah as if Muhammad (peace be upon him, the Prophet of Allah) had coined it. It may be recalled that name "Allah" was in use even  before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  A proof of that is his father was named as Abdullah (meaning: servant of Allah). Therefore it should not be misunderstood that the name of Allah was introduced by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The word Allah as translation of God also appears in countless Bibles translated into Arabic, but strangely then no Christian objects to it. Sarah Lynn Johnson, a Christian Woman married to Muslim Man also substantiate this contention in an question -answer session on "Why do some non-Muslims say Allah was the moon god of Arab polytheists before Islam?" says: 
Allah is the Arabic word for God. Arab Christians also call God, “Allah.” Anyone who speaks Arabic will do this because that is the word in Arabic. My husband is Egyptian; when he refers to God while speaking English, he calls him God. When he is speaking Arabic, he calls him Allah. [2]
I came across an interesting revelation in one of the Christian sites which claimed that "The reader must know that Islam, Judaism, and organized Christianity all worship a trinity of gods." Now this is the most absurd statement I have ever come across. I as a Muslim know that all Muslims squarely and flatly reject the concept of Trinity (Father, son and the holy ghost) as all Muslims strictly believe in one monotheist Allah and reject all forms of polytheism. 

In order to be a Muslim, one must surrender oneself to God, and believe in the oneness of God, in the sense of His being the only Creator, Preserver and Nourisher. Having believed in oneness of Allah, a Must also acknowledge the Allah alone deserves to be worshiped, and thus abstains from worshiping any other thing or being.

Now coming back to the concept of moon-god Allah. In the Holy Qur'an, Allah makes it very clear that all landmarks like sun, moon and stars and every celestial object are His signs of creation and are NOT to bow down to:
"And from among His Signs are the night and the day, and the sun and the moon. Do not bow down (prostrate) to the sun nor to the moon, but only bow down (prostrate) to "Allah" Who created them, if you (really) worship Him." [Holy Quran Surah Fussilat, 41st Chapter, verses 37-43]
If this commandment does not satisfy the proponents of moon-god Allah, then they may like to read the following verse regarding the status of moon:
"They ask you about the new moons. Say: These are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage." [Holy Quran Surah Al Baqarah Chapter 2, verse 189]
The above two verses, thus clearly and amply make it clear that the celestial landmarks are signs of Allah's creation and to mark fixed periods of time (through sun) of the day and days and months (through moon).

Now as for the usage of moon on most of the flags of the Islamic countries does not mean that Muslims revere moon. In fact in the early days of Islam and of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islamic armies and caravans flew simple solid-colored flags (generally black, green, or white) for identification purposes. In later generations, the Muslim leaders continued to use a simple black, white or green flag with no markings, writing, or symbolism of any kind.

In fact the use of the crescent symbol on Muslim flags and roof finial on Islamic buildings originated when the Ottoman Empire won over the city of Byzantium (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) and adopted the crescent moon and star of the Byzantium's existing flag and symbol. Thereafter other Muslim countries too started using the crescent and star combination in their flags and roof finial on masjid. [3]

And last point to end up the useless discussion originated by the Christians to find a lame excuse to propagate against the Muslims. Over the years, the crescent moon has become a symbol of Muslim faith, like the Star of David for Jewish people, and the Cross for Christians. Muslims don’t worship the moon, nor do Jewish people worship stars or Christians worship the letter t. Please ponder over it !!

This post was originally posted by me in my blog My Ultimate Decision
Photo: Jalal HB | References: | Jewish perception of Islam as Idolatrous | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Once upon a time in Lahore

Once upon a time stories have always been fascinating as these always talked about beautiful princesses and princes, sometimes princes turning frogs too though. But their end was always charming and ending with kisses and love forever. 

I too grew up listening th the once upon a time stories and I wish I could go back to my childhood when may parents and all siblings were there under one roof and listen to those fascinating stories once again. But now with parents long gone and all siblings living their own lives scattered over different places, once upon a time is only a dream now.

And let me share my Once upon a time In Lahore [1], where I was born, raised (listening to the stories), and then left in search of my bread and butter to places far away never returning to live there again. But whenever I visit Lahore, I make sure I walk down on lanes and streets where I once walked with my family - now I walk alone cherishing the nostalgia of the days when love was in abundance and everywhere.

One of the roads we frequented with my family after sunsets was the Abbott Road. Starting from our house near once famous and thriving Lahore Hotel, we would go to Abbott Road truing left from where now Gulistan cinema stands. In those days, there was abandoned house surrounded with bushes and trees and looked like Dracula's house. In those Dracula films were very famous, or notorious I may say, and whenever we five brothers went past that place, my pace would speed up lest Dracula got out and suck my blood. But with my family and parents around, I felt no fear for my father was a fearless man and I know he would break Dracula's neck if he dared !!!

OK back to the Abbott Road, which like the abandoned "Dracula's house, was all barren, unlike its present screaming and congested traffic due to many cinemas that came up, was quite road with fields astride both side of the road. At the end of the road, there stood the Radio Pakistan building, the Television Station came a few years later in 1964. From here we would turn right to climb the once famous Shimla Pahadi (Shimla Hill). I do not know why it was called after Shimla, a beautiful tourist resort of northern India, but perhaps the presence of this raised ground reminded someone of Shimla and this small hillock was so named.

It was here that there used to be lot of fireflies and they would give their feint yet visible light and fly by us. My mother would catch some of these in her dopatta and I would cry with joy seeing these fiery creatures trapped inside. And could cry when my mother would let them go.

Now there is no Shimla Pahadi and no fireflies, and no once upon a time stories. All gone with the wind of the time and leaving behind the memories which saddens me for it reminds me of my parents and my elder brother who are no more, may they be blessed, and the galaxy of siblings living in their won smaller worlds, perhaps reading out once upon a time stories to their grandchildren.

Do you remember your once upon a time stories?

Photo : [1] Lahore is a thriving city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan
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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Unique Cheesy Pizza of Spontini Milano

There are more Pizza lovers in the world than any other single food. These come in many forms, hard crust or soft, spicy or extremely spicy, beef, chicken, pork or even vegetable. All sell alike to satisfy taste buds of pizza lovers. 

But if you go to a pizza shop and are offered only one type of pizza and when you reluctantly accept to eat, you instantly fall in love with that type of pizza and you always walk up to the same pizza shop?

Well although I am not a much pizza man but my children surely are. While in Milano, Italy my two sons had a wind of a particular pizza shop which incidentally was located very close to the hotel we were staying. So we walked over to the place and ordered the only kind of pizza available and waited patiently, watching others whose orderd had been served eating their order with much delight. The cheesy stuff was enough to fill my mouth with all the water of my body.
Oh I forgot to tell the name of the place, but you would guessed it from the photos I have shared above and in between the post - Spontini Milano  !! From the Tuscan “Cibi Cotti” rotisserie, to Pizzeria Spontini, pizza by the slice since 1953, the name is the place for real pizza lovers.
 Waiting for the surprise of our lives

And when our order was served, I reluctantly calved out a small piece which came to my mouth with long cheezy strings. And when I tasted it, I fell in love with this cheeze only pizza isntantly. It melted in my mouth. giving me the joy of my life. 

The piece served looked so big and at first glance I thought I would I be able to finish it. But when the eating got going, the place was empty in no time and I instantly rushed to counter to order more for us.
The huge size of the pizza piece can be well imagined from the photos shared above and pizza lovers would know how enormous one piece was. And One thing that amazed me was that the pizza was sold by weight and not by size. And pizza lovers both locals and tourists were buying in large quantities for obvious reasons.
So when you are in Milano Italy next time, do not skip the meal of your life at Spontini Milano - and if you miss, you will regret reading my post for the second time. Remember there is only pizza shop in Milano and that is Pizzeria Spontini.

Photo Header | All other photos were shot by me at Spontini Milano - 2014
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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Exclusive Father's Day Post: He was my Father

I was born as the last of five brothers in small house at Lahore. Pakistan in 1955 to one of the best fathers of the world. Son of a decorated police officer, recipient of coveted King's Police Medal, of undivided India, my father was born on 1st June 1915. He had a towering figure of six feet, with a Herculean body, for Charles Atlas was his favourite and he worked hard to shape his body like Atlas. When I saw Samson and Delilah in my childhood, I happened to have remarked to one of my brothers, "Look, how much Samson (played by Victor Mature), resembles our daddy". 

As for himself, he was greatly impressed by C!ark Gable in his youth and always wore mustaches like his. He also had a great taste and love for music, He had a "His Master's Voice' gramophone on which he used to listen to English and Urdu songs. K L Saigol, a famous united Indian singer was his favourite. There was a song at the end of which Saigol would give a laugh - it was a children's song. We would replay the last portion time and again and had fun. However, the gramophone was out of bounds for us. So when our father used to be away, we would block its sound passage with a piece of cloth, normally our shirts - just in case. It was years after when record players came our part of the world and we bought one. Then we used to play the LPs and our father would listen - perhaps enjoying the transition of technology from older to younger

Like his father, he also joined Police and mostly served in the intelligence Bureau and the Interpol. In fact, he pioneered Interpol in Pakistan and remained its unchallengeable chief for over twelve years. In his office, he worked with such a passion and zeal that he even never bothered that he was working only by himself with no other officer under him, but a clerk and a peon. When in 1964, he went to Paris to attend a conference of ICPO (international Criminal Police Organization) or generally referred to as Interpol, the performance of Pakistan Interpol was specially lauded. Later on he jokingly told us that had he informed the participants who all constituted Interpol in Pakistan, no one would have believed him. 

He was an exceedingly well read person, with a book or Reader's Digest always by his side. In fact it was because of this habit of his, that I also picked the habit of reading Reader's Digest, which continues till date. He could speak for hours and hours on any subject with impressive details and always sounded like an expert.

Like his body, he was a tough nut to crack also. As a police officer, he was a model for the rest. In a country, where bribery is synonymous with Police, there was one Mr. Bhatti, as he was commonly known as, who would not even look towards a penny if it was not what the government paid him - and did not let others do the same either. For this strength of the character, however, very few around liked him for his honesty. But he never cared. We lived in a small house in Lahore. A few still did not believe that a Police officer could be that honest and often remarked that upon retirement, by and by the 'money' would come out. But were discouraged when nothing came out as we continued living in our small street house.

During the last 6-8 years of his service, he was posted to Islamabad, but he kept us at Lahore so that our studies do not get disturbed. We would visit him during our summer and winter vacations. This used to be fun. Our mother would cook snacks for the journey from Lahore to Rawalpindi in Rail Car - a very good and efficient rail service of tis time. It used to leave very early in the morning and after 5-6 hours, our father would be hugging us at Rawalpindi railway station. From where we would go to Islamabad for a memorable vacation each year.

When we grew up, three of us five wore lucky to find our way to the prestigious college of Pakistan, the Government College Lahore, where our father had also been a student in early 1930s. Then all the three Ravians, the students of Government College are known as the Ravians - since the River Ravi flows next to the city of Lahore, parted, finding jobs out of Lahore, while the remaining two who happened to be twins, and Formanites, students of Forman Christian College, and later the National College of Arts Lahore, stayed back. Later, I joined the Army, Whenever I would visit my parents in Lahore, he would generally get upset on mine coming on leaves, even though these were not very frequent. As he himself seldom took any leave during most of his service, he would always advise me to concentrate on my profession rather than wasting time on visiting them.

Our lives continued without any eventful event or a true test of love of a man to his wife till 1993, Before this year, some 21 years had elapsed since his retirement as superintends of police- He never took any other job, as most people do in our country, as he would often remark that having served for such a long time without any leave or rest, he needed a break. However, he often wondered and would say, tilt that grim day of July, that he did not understand why he was still alive as he had nothing worthwhile left to do. But God had wanted him to look after his wife, who tor all her life had been serving him and the five of us like a most affectionate wife and loving mother. 

On that July day in 1993, she suddenly collapsed due to extreme dehydrations. When she was rushed to the hospital, her pulse was barely felt and blood pressure had dropped to the lowest limits. Although, because of a hectic effort on part of a team of doctors, she survived, the doctors were apprehensive of her survival and gave her maximum one year. But for the loving care by my father, she lived on. As a result of her illness, however, she partially lost her memory and became bed ridden. My father was there by her side day and night, attending to her all needs on the bed. He had prepared small photo albums of all of us with our families to keep her busy in seeing these all day long, whenever awake. 

She was treated most lovingly by a man whom we always thought had everything but the expression of love. He would remain awake most of the day and night for his wife may need something. The lack of sleep took a telling affect on his physique and from a healthy man, he soon shrunk to a mere skeleton. But his efforts did not wean. He would keep talking to her so that her memory could be revived. They would often talk of good old days, as our mother could only remember things of distant past but nothing of the present. Although, our mother had no other disease, but continued confinement to bed and ill effects of her earlier illness started having telling effects on her gradually. But the care she had from her husband, kept her spirits high. 

Then came 1995 a chain of sad partings hit our family. In 1995, my mother-in-law, a long sufferer of diabetes and heart patient died in February. The next year, my sister-in-law and renowned journalist Razia Bhatti suddenly died of brain hemorrhage. She was a celebrity, having editored tile only quality English language monthly "Herald" for years and later founded and editored an equally quality monthly, the "Newsline". Just months before her sudden death, she had won the Courage in Journalism award by the Washington-based International Women's Media Foundation.

Since my mother had a special liking for her, the news of her demise was kepi secret, lest it may also affect her. The same year the eldest sister of my mother; living in America with her husband and three children also expired. The next year on 14 August 1997, when rest of Pakistan was celebrating the Independence Day, my mother was sinking. Since morning, she was finding it difficult to breathe. All day long, my father remained by her side, reciting verses from 'Quran' and about 11:30 pm the 55 years long marriage came ID an end when my mother died in still strong arms of my father.

Thereafter, our father became very lonely - suddenly he had nothing else to do. He would then onwards often tell all around that for whatever he had been alive for, had been accomplished and soon it would be his turn. And after 10 months of our mother's demise and 10 days after his 84th birthday, he left on June 10. 1998 to join his life companion up in the heavens. While burying him, the last look on his face was so very reassuring as there laid a man with a most peaceful and satisfied face, a blessed man (God willing) for being a man of principles, strong character all along his life and for having looked after his wife no one could have ever dreamed of. 

Now that he is no more, I still keep a quotation under my office table - the one my father had on his years ago: "There is no limit to what a man can do, if he does not care who gets the credit". And he actually worked hard exactly as per the quotation, caring for no reward or appreciation. Although, he was decorated with the prestigious President's Police Medal, he never boasted of his achievements and lived for others - never ever caring for his own comfort.

It has been over 20 years since his demise, his memories are still afresh in my memory lane and it feels as if one day he would knock at my door and I would find him there standing with his usual warm and firm handshake. Though it is just a dream, but his life has been a beacon for my life and tried my best to be like him - though could not emulate him even one percent.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Islam: My Ultimate Decision - My New Blog

I have been writing blogs for quite sometime now and writing on some very diverse subjects. But one subject that I have always avoided to write was religion for I thought I was not equipped with knowledge to write about religions, specialty Islam and its comparison with other faiths.

But lately I have been reading about religions with reference to Islam, the final and ultimate heavenly religion revealed in the shape of the Holy Qur'an to the last of the prophets Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. I also read case studies shared by non Muslims who opted to leave their ancestral religions or faith and adopted Islam as their final religion. 

This prompted me to begin writing about Islam and its comparison with other faiths in a lay man's language, quoting references from holy scriptures and offering my view point as a Muslim. I have not tried to go into the intricacies as it would require a scholarly wisdom and knowledge .

Thus my new blog "My Ultimate Decision" is a blog which is basically written on the experiences of those who became Muslims and their life thereafter. My Ultimate Decision thus speak their language while interjecting useful information from all faiths while projecting the view point as a Muslim, based on the knowledge of the Holy Qur'an and as explained to us by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

In my pursuit, I have learnt many new things that I had not known before, some of which are the major hurdles in understanding the view point of people of others faith. I also came to know that hardliners are on both sides but while Muslims believe in all of the prophets before Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him and all the holy scriptures including Psalms, Torah and Bible revealed before Holy Qur'an, there is a hesitancy on part of people of other faiths to recognize Islam as a holy religion and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him as the last messenger of the Allah(God for others).

But then the encouraging thing is that despite many a misunderstanding, the religion of Islam is gaining popularity among the non Muslims and the graph of them accepting Islam is rising very fast. In fact some fear that Islam one day may overtake other religions for it leads to the ultimate truth and closer to Allah without any in between hurdles.

Do read my blog Islam: My Ultimate Decision and send me feedback to incorporate changes based on your experiences as a Muslim and specially after converting from other faiths to Islam. May Allay grant us wisdom and knowledge to know the truth and follow the path shown to us by Allah. Aameen

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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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