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Monday, December 25, 2017

Iqbal Ismail Calcuttawala

6th January 1940 — 19th December 2017

Iqbal always referred to himself as Iqi,
while I, like his other friends, called him Icky.

In this post I'll call him Iqbal throughout.



About the beginnings of our friendship

Abdul Razzak Marfani

Abdul Razzak Marfani, whom I had met in 1951 and who remained a great friend until his death, took me to his older friend, Ismail Haji Suleman, to listen to classical music. After that I used to go to Ismail Sahab very often (he lived not too far from my house), and one day I met Iqbal there.

I asked him why he was there, knowing that he had never discussed music with me (I had and have a large collection of music with me). He asked me why I was there. I said Ismail Sahab loved music. He said you know him? I said yes. "Well", said Iqbal, "he's my father."


I had known Iqbal since 1952 since a comic-vaala (Noor Miāñ), who travelled all over Karachi on his bicycle, loaded with comics and books, used to bring comics for Iqbal and me and saw us both at sweet shop in Soldier Bazaar and introduced us. We became friends and Iqbal used to come to my house frequently after that to exchange comics with me … and I'd go to his Māmoooñ's house where he lived with his uncles, Aziz and Jahangir, in a series of houses where his other uncles lived.

By the way a US$ was Re. 1, then,
(yes, just Re. 1)  and is Rs. 112 now.


In 1953 I joined St. Pat's and found Iqbal to be my classmate there. He and I became even closer friends. We were serious competitors in our Math classes where either he or I came first in every test. He loved Literature, too, and we bought books from the Comic-Vaala who was now carrying some classics and the Mad Comic (which later became Mad Magazine).



His house where Munchi, Anwar, Joe, Rahat, and I visited often had windows everywhere. All the outside walls had windows, but not like you normally get. There was almost a foot or more between them and another window appeared. And that was not all. Every room had windows, You could see from the rooms into the areas in the foyer, the table-tennis table room, or another place. And even that was not all. You could see between rooms, too, for there were windows there also. We always called it The Windows House and insisted that it was the windows that had been put together with bits of concrete to make it stand up and look like a house.


Iqbal didn't like Indian Classical Music at all and, though his father told me to get him interested, he never got into it — except that he fell in love with V G Jog's LP and had me get a copy for him from London, though I doubt if he ever played it, coz I don't remember a record player at his house. Perhaps he gave it his elder māmooñ who had a tremendous collection of music at his house.

Purchased in London after concert of Jog Sahab

Iqbal was a tremendous friend and it would take years to fill these pages with numerous stories that I would like to write about, but here are just a few …



The most important one was this!



Iqbal got his first car from his father. It was an Opel Rekord, (I can't remember the exact year but it was late 59-60), and he had a driver teaching him to drive. He drove it to my house and we went out for a ride and reached Old Clifton (where that lovely little Church was). I said I wanted to learn to drive, too, so he got into the passenger seat and I was given some instructions and I went around once and was coming back when I saw a bus parked there. Why did I accelerate? I don't know. Iqbal insisted to our friends that I was relaxing and had my feet crossed! However, I hit the bus really hard and its petrol shot out and people got out. The car was a total wreck. And it wasn't yet insured. And Iqbal had no driving license, either.

The Police came and arrested us and took us to the Thaana where Iqbal called his father's friend and i called an elder cousin of mine. They soon arrived. My cousin knew the Police IG and phoned him up. Iqbal's father's friend (who hadn't informed The father yet) also came with money. He paid the Bus Driver and the Policemen at the Thaana. To answer their question about who was driving, I said I was. Iqbal said to me not to take the blame for him since he was driving. No one really found out about it for months (except our school friends who were told the whole story and asked to shut up about it). Iqball's father only knew that Iqbal was driving and didn't ask us to pay — a great gift by Iqbal, for my father would not have been able to pay back a single paisa from his really poor life.


Oh, one other thing that I must mention. I had a fracture in my left shoulder and was taken to Dr. Habib Patel's Clinic where he joined it an put figure-of-eight bandages on it. A month later I was X-Ray'd and the bone had become slightly crooked in joining. Dr. Patel thought it would be easy to break it, much to my dismay. He broke it again and rejoined it. A month later I had another X-Ray session and the bone was now in a slightly S-shape. Still gives me pain on really cold nights.

One problem (and one that also persist till now) is that my left hand never got its strength back and I can't really hold on to things that I can with my right hand. However, it was time to celebrate. My friends and I, along with Iqbal , went to Bohri Bazaar to the famous Lassi/Halvah shop. Iqbal said he was buying cigarettes and came in much later. In the meanwhile we ordered our stuff and as the waiter delivered it I reached out with my left hand and took the halvah. Obviously, I couldn't hold it and it fell on the seat next to mine. The plate was lifted and the waiter went to get a cloth to wipe the stain — when Iqbal arrived and decided to sit on it. We all said don't sit there but he thought we were joking and sat on it. And didn't budge, while we all looked at each other and said Iqbal, there's halvah there — but no reaction happened. When we got out of the restaurant (dhaaba?) and headed back to the car, the driver said to Iqbal 'Āp kay patloon mayñ kyā hüā haé', he put his hand behind his back and shouted at all of us saying why did we make it sound like a joke?


One thing that I told his family while we were talking about Iqbal's life with us - and no one knew about it at all - was that he was looking after a Glue Factory in Hyderabad (Sindh). It belonged to his uncle or father, I don't remember now. And he was supposed to go and see it, often. So the trip was something we did two or three times. At one point, on the way back, the car overturned and overturned again and became straight, but on the side of the road. Everyone of us thought: I am alive but every one else must be dead! But no! Everyone came out of the car and hugged each other. We all helped and lifted the car slightly to face the road. Got into the car and drove off, with everything working. Wow!


There are so many things think of now. The class picnics; going out to Churches for Christmas and New Year's Masses; the parties - clean ones at his house but not so clean at Munchie's house (where drinks were served, too — but I didn't ever see Iqbal drinking until I saw in his book (mentioned next) that he did drink on one occasion in 1974, when his grandmother had died and he went into a pub and drank himself hoarse). He was a very straight Muslim who didn't think that killing anyone was anything but a bad idea! He was entirely anti-violence and loved Peace. His friends, like our classmates - for example - Eric Lobo, Kaikashru Baria, Louis D'Cruz, Shankar Khilnani, and many others were products of mixed marriages, Parsis, Christians, Hindus, and more.


When Iqbal was about to get married to Nasim he took me to the airport. In those days you could go up and watch passengers coming down from the craft, eat at a lovely restaurant there, and even walk up and meet the passengers coming off by walking almost to the plane. So I saw her with him and then we got home. He was the first one to get married and Nasim & Iqbal met very frequently, with him driving all the way to Iqbal Town, where I lived. We would go everywhere at night, eating food or just driving around,

The first thing was that we went out to eat Gol Gappas at Napier Road — known those days as the whore-hub of Karachi, until the Government banned it and the women moved into the best laid (no pun intended) places in Karachi! My wife who had never heard of Napier Road or its environment thought it was such a marvellous place: Lights up at all houses; people sitting on the floor as you could see through opening doors; all well-dressed. She said it was lovely to see so many Melāds going on and we told  her what it really was. Iqbal and I laughed like crazy that time.

One night we went to a place called Askar's Pono. The name seemed strange. We ordered food and asked the waiter to find out what Pono meant. He should come back with the food and the answer. We waited for a while and then we decided to move away, thinking the guy had not found out. Years later we walked into another restaurant called Taktiya Tikka Shop. Taktiya seemed a strange name so we asked the waiter what it meant. Lo and behold, it was the same waiter from Askar's Pono and he asked us if we were going to run away again!


Iqbal was the first in his family to have decided to leave business and go back to teaching, a job that he loved and never considered it a job. He wrote in Newspapers and Magazines. He talked of Finance - his pet subject - but also several other things. He wrote a book that must be read, specially if interested in the Bantva Memon family and its businesses. It's filled with wonderful stories that not many are familiar with. Well worth a read - considering that I am not a businessman but enjoyed it thoroughly

Excellent reading. If you can't find it, come to T2F.
There is a copy that you can read there.

In his Chapter 8 (My Story - 1947 Onwards) there is a whole page about my parents and me. My father and mother treated Iqbal and some of my other friends like they treated me - so I was always with 'siblings', though I really had none.


This was what he wrote on the book
that he gave to me.




Bye, Iqbal.

Nuzhat, Ragni, and I will miss you a lot.





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Sunday, December 17, 2017

What a lovely evening …

Shaikh Ahmad Ali Shaoq Kidvai

Yesterday (16th December 2017) my evening was spent at the Arts Council where two of my Great Grandfather's brother's books were re-launched. Shaoq Kidvai was a major poet in his time and had many students, including one that, after his death, became my Great Grandfather's student: Üstād Qamar Jalalvi, whom we all loved. (A CD of Qamar Sahab's selected works is available at T2F.)

About the two books, I am thrilled that Ahmad Qidwai Bhai - a cousin of mine who is Shaoq Sahab's great grandson (as is his wife, Dr Ismat, who is Shaoq Sahab's great grand daughter) - did this colossal work, along with his cousins, and brought out one of Lucknow's finest poets back into the limelight. One book is composed of his 'Ghazals', and the other is 'Masnaviāt, Müsaddas, and Tavēl Nazmayñ'.

Among the works is Ālamé Khayāl. The foreword was written by my grandmother in 1925, when she was 39. It is a remarkable document and women (as well as men, of course) should read it. The book is written in a women's form of writing (Yes, they were not allowed to use certain men's styles!) and talks of the desires that women have — but were never allowed to express them. (You can read how I found the original book by going here.)


His Musaddasé Laél-o-Nahār is a great piece and talks about Muslims and their problems. Though not well-known like Hali's Musaddas it shares many thoughts and, according to Ahmad Bhai, it should be called Musaddasé Badhāli.

A long nazm Science & Religion (aka Ilmé Tabē'yāt aor Mazhab) is at the end of the book. It has many footnotes that show the poet's understanding of Science, at least at those times. Think of a poet who died in 1925 writing this. Truly amazing work.

You can buy the books by calling up +92-51-5159800 — and the money that you spend on the books will all be given to Nori Patients Welfare Society in Islamabad (+92-51-285-3926)) where the team runs a FREE surgery ward for Cancer Patients. 

(Listening yesterday to Rukhsana Saba, Iftikhar Arif, and Ahmad Qidwai was a wonderful experience. Plus the promise by Iftikhar to come over next time and have a long conversation at home about his days in Lucknow was a lovely idea and we are anxiously looking forward to it.)

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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Thanks for the Music, iPod …

… but they are gone, now!

•••••

Released on October 23, 2001, just eight and a half months after iTunes came out on the Mac, I bought this at the end of November, 2001. What a delightful piece (and still my favourite iPod).


I soon got one for Nuzhat and she listens to it everyday at her work and travel. And its always carried by her in her old Altoids box.




Both iPods still work!
Of course! They are Apple Products, so obviously they work.

•••••

In a few years the iPods changed a bit in style and form … and, eventually, they got Screens. We could view and choose from lists of things we could put on them. By the way, they arrived with Apple Covers and Labels.


As I bought my 2nd and 3rd iPods almost as soon as they came out I could use them on different days with my Apple Speakers that are amazing. Sitting on a side table in our Dining Room, the air is filled with music all the time. The 2nd iPod (playing in the picture) has Eastern Music; the 3rd iPod has Western Music.


The last iPod I bought and gave to my wife was the little one … and she will use it some day. Heheh. Well, she does, on a couple of days - but mainly its her first iPod that's heard by her all the time. 
My own first iPod was used for my morning walks. When I got my Pacemaker fitted I was told that I could not have the speakers in my ear and would need to have Bluetooth or ELS stuff. So I did buy 3 Bluetooth headphones.

One for Travel on long flights. The Naztech one has 30 hours of running time on it, so it works on my US Flights. And back.





One more that stays on my Treadmill at home.


And an Earbud that I use at work.



•••••

Of course the old iPod has no Bluetooth! But I added a little gadget to it and it works with any one of my Bluetooth Headphones. Isn't life wonderful.


•••••

Thanks, Apple.
We all knew the iPods had to go at some point.

•••••

Oh. Just one more thing :)
Here's a quote from my Facebook post when SJ died.

When engineers working on the very first iPod completed the prototype, they presented their work to Steve Jobs for his approval. Jobs played with the device, scrutinized it, weighed it in his hands, and promptly rejected it. It was too big.

The engineers explained that they had to reinvent inventing to create the iPod, and that it was simply impossible to make it any smaller.

Jobs was quiet for a moment. Finally he stood, walked over to an aquarium, and dropped the iPod in the tank. After it touched bottom, bubbles floated to the top.

 "Those are air bubbles," he snapped. "That means there's space in there. Make it smaller."

[Steve Jobs, we loved your insights and your involvement in design … and the perfection you brought to the world.]

•••••

And when one is talking about Music:

The STAX Electronic Headphone I bought in 1982 when I was in Hong Kong. Expensive (USD $1000) but brilliant. They are 35 years old and work beautifully. Generally attached to my HiFi system, they also attach to my iMac and, occasionally, to my Zoom Recorder for live recordings, I adore it.


Electronic Speakers are a must! Mine are Quad ESLand they have no standard speakers in them. They just have a stretch of a flat substance inside that is powered by electrics through a plug. The substance stays flat until the sound vibrates it and it moves forward and backwards, producing the cleanest sound possible. They were brought in Hong Kong in 1984 while I was there and shipped with my (late) friend Jalal Akbar's luggage when he came to Pakistan.


Take a look at how thin they are …


There is no added heavy Bass, so many Pop listeners don't use these … but for many people who listen to Classical and Pop, they do want to add Bass. Mordaunt Short makes a set-up with Quad's Speakers and their own Woofer added to it. A friend of mine has them and they do sound brilliant. Specially if you love the Bass.

I am an Analogue lover (oh I do have CDs, too) so my LPs and Tapes sound remarkable through my set-up. Specially my Reel-to-Reels, recorded on a Revox A77.
I had to spend my last £150 in 1971 (on my first trip on the ship with my wife, Nuzhat) to buy this at Imhofs in London. That makes it 46 years old. And what a piece of art and sound it is. Still used, if we have a classical session at home.

But I do add a Zoom H4
so that I can make CDs for T2F.


And all said and done, the Zoom is remarkably good,
specially with its wonderful microphones.

•••••

I listen to Western Classical, Opera, Jazz, Many Vocals, Eastern Shüdh Classical, Qavvāli, Some Pops from East and West, and tons of Spoken Word - much of which I have recorded (including Müshāérahs). Not too fond of heavy bass, I am fine with my Quad ESLs. But you've got to send good clean sound to them.

Since all my music is listened to on a Flat Setting (not in the way my photos below show, where I wanted you to see the Controls they have), my Quad Pre-Amp and Amp are the best bets. I have had their first product which has inputs for different forms of 78s, as well. Great for my large collection of 78s dating back to the First World War PLUS a few of much older classical pieces.


They started with a Pre-Amp called Acoustical

and eventually moved on to the Quad 33 that could play LPs, 45s, 78s, Reel-to-Reel Tape Formats and Cassettes … with controls that filtered the sounds to a T! Naturally I bought the 33.


But the PreAmps need an Amplifier, so the Quad 303was a must. It stayed for many, many years with me but it died during a Pakistani Electrical Whoooof … and no one could repair it here.



Sad to see you go, 303 :(

•••••

But Quad had a new Amp out, so I bought it; The Quad 306.

Sitting between my favourite Classical Composers.

•••••

The old Quad ESLs do exceedingly well. In any case, as old age approaches, my ears aren't as good as they were once … so no change of speakers would be welcome, now, anyway :)
•••••

Bye, guys. I have to go back and listen to Sant Andreu Jazz Band on my CD. Although I have a load of LPs that I listen to — and they are a lot better than CDs, anyway — I have stopped buying them. They disappeared and have now come back, but not sold here (and are far too expensive abroad).

•••••

Incidentally, Cassette Tapes are back, too. And a good Cassette Player beats the CDs, too. However, while finding the right piece and turning the tape over has been made easier, the best player is an expensive piece and you'll have to wait until more Cassette Tapes are released. But if you've got a large selection of Cassettes in your house, go for it. And get one that turns them into CDs or MP3s as well.

Bye!

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Tuesday, July 04, 2017

The INDEPENDENCE Day

Over half the states that make up the union we call the United States are actually Native American words for the land or the people. White men kept them as they spread out …

1. Alabama
Named after the Alibamu tribe of Indians who were members of the Creek Confederacy. Literally, it means “clears the thicket.”


2. Alaska
From the word “Alakshak’ which means peninsula.


3. Arizona
This one’s uncertain but may derive from a word meaning “small springs.”


4. Connecticut
From the expression “quinnitukg-ut” which means “at the long tidal river.”


5. Hawaii
From the words “Havaiki” or “Hawaiki,” which was the legendary name of the original Polynesian homeland.


6. Idaho
Derived from one of three sources and meaning one of three things:
Comanche “Idahi”
Shoshone “ee-dah-how” which means something like “Good Morning”
Salmon River Tribe of Indians “Ida” means salmon and “ho” means tribe so we might be saying “Salmon eaters”.


7. Illinois
From “ilhiniwek” or “illiniwek”. “Illini” meant “man” and “iwek” makes the word plural, so, literally, “men.”


8. Iowa
Named after the Ioway Indians.


9. Kansas
Named after the Kansa Indians.


10. Kentucky
Means one of three things: meadow lands, cane and turkey lands, or dark and bloody ground.


11. Massachusetts
An Indian word meaning “about the big hill.”


12. Michigan
From the Chippewa Indian word “Michigama” meaning “large lake.”


13. Minnesota
From the Dakota Indian word “Minisota” meaning “white water.”


14. Mississippi
From the Choctaw word meaning “Great water” or “Father of Waters.”


15. Missouri
“Town of the large canoes.”


16. Nebraska
From the Oto Indian word meaning “flat water.”


17. New Mexico
Named after Mexico, of course. Means “place of the Mexica.” One source says that it’s derived from the name “Mertili” who was an Aztec god.


18. Ohio
From the Iroquois word meaning “beautiful.”


19. Oklahoma
From the Chocraw word meaning “red people.”


20 & 21. South and North Dakota
This used to all simply be called the Dakota Territory. The Indian word “Dahkota” means “friends” or “allies”.


22. Tennessee
From the Cherokee “Tanasi” which was a village. The word means one of three things: “meeting place”, “winding river”, or “river of the great bend”.


23. Texas
A Caddo Indian word meaning “allies.”


24. Utah
Derived from the Ute Indian word “Yuta” meaning “people who live high in the mountains.”


25. Wisconsin
From the word “Wishkonsing” meaning “place of the beaver.”


26. Wyoming
“On the Great Plain.”




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Friday, June 23, 2017

The Spiritual Music of South India


Kuldeep M Pai
"Kuldeep M Pai is an accomplished Indian classical musician and composer with an intrinsic sense of melody and creativity. He has mastered the playing of instruments including several percussion mediums. This versatile artist who is also a keen learner, has learnt and imbibed  the nuances of western classical music as well. In his ever expanding horizon of music, he delves deeper and deeper into the art form, exploring its core essence with dedication, conviction and undeterred devotion. 
Music, to Kuldeep, is a metaphysical medium which arrays the world in perfect alignment with the Ultimate energy. An in- depth understanding of the quintessence of this divine art form combined with a staunch adherence to our Santhana Dharma has persuaded Kuldeep to transcend the stylistic aspects of the art and arrive at its very core, where Music becomes a mere path to Silence."

KMP has learnt from Sri Antony Master, Sri Arun Kumar, and Sri Shamsuddeen in Carnatic Vocal. He also learnt Violin from Sri Hariharan, as well as Western Classical Piano from Sri Ramamurthy.

Although he himself plays and sings beautifully … his compositions and training of of bhajans and other religious songs which he teaches to young children are on another level.

One of KMP's remarkable series

Listen to these remarkable youngsters
&
specially, to Sooryagayathri.

Sooryagayathri
She is going to be a really great performer,
the signs of which are already seen in her renditions.













Aren't they just amazing!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

14.09.1947 - 13.06.2017


Linda Watson




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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Four books I read recently …


Brilliant Graphic Novel.
Something that many of my young friends should read
and also think of 'Growing Up in Pakistan',
as well as their future careers and their parental pressures.


Midhat was a friend of mine.
His (and Basarat's) daughter has written
a brilliant book.

TZH is a Pakistani Theoretical Physicist
and is a String Theorist.
I hope she comes to T2F for a 'Science ka Adda' session.

The book covers the most important ideas in Science
and, written as a Fact/Fiction piece,
it takes you through the passion of science.
Read it!!!


An inspiring book that addresses a lot of questions
that the young ask, given the way that the present day
forced Religious Instruction in Educational Institutes
plus the madness that current terrorists offer.

An Atheist Muslim
takes you through a Muslim/Atheist view.
The book is not likely to be available in Pakistan
but an Urdu translation is being considered.
It will also be available in an English Audiobook.

I wish people would read this and answer
some of his questions and queries.


AB, who's Fun Home was a bestseller graphic novel,
runs a series of cartoons that have to do with Dykes.
This is one such collection.
It is remarkably good and, unless you think you shouldn't
be reading this, I'd strongly recommend it.

On the other hand
I wouldn't advise young people to read this.
Not yet, anyway!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

An Urdu poet I love …

Zahoor Nazar's collection of Nazms
I bought this book in 1978
and have read it many many times.

Although he never became as famous
as I thought he would,
this collection is superb.

From his poetic Paysh Lafz,
a 7-page poem that starts with these lines
Maéñ shaaér hooñ

Maéñ nay jo mahsoos kiyaa haé jo daykha haé vohi kahaa haé

Chaahay voh dükh ho yaa sükh ho …
to his last nazm, Shahré Saba,
this collection provided me wth a lot of things to think about.
If you can still get a new edition, do get it.

Although I like many poems,
here is list of my real favourites.

(1)
His 5 poems of people's victories
that follow each other in style: 
Inqilaabé Cheen
Jagtay Jazeeray
Faith Suez
Inqilaabé Iraq
Maojé Sada

(2)
His 5 Martial Law poems:
Shabkhoon
Shabkhoon Kay Baad
Islaahaat
Ayk Eed
A'eené Nao

(3)
His brilliant poems
(about life, the universes, and everything?):
Sannaata
Mahaasabah
Aé Ghamé Sübhé Tarab
Maéñ Tera Kaon Hooñ
Vasvasah
Chiraagh Talay
Khamyaazah
Ayk Raat
Pathraao
Patja∂h Ki Ayk Shaam
Ayk Mülaaqaat
Tanhaai

(4)
And, finally,
my two absolute favourites:
Naee Gali
Taxi

Read him if you can find the book.
It'll be old, because it never got published again.


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Sunday, March 05, 2017

Marrying Ahlé Kitaab …

Many times I have heard that Muslim men can marry Ahlé Kitaab women who can remain under their Jewish or Christian religions, but Muslim women cannot marry Ahlé Kitaab men who want to continue to be Jews or Christians.

Not only has this been repeatedly told by mullaas as well as their non-mullaa ilks, like Zakir Naik, but it is also referred to in most Muslim families by parents and grandparents.

I have looked over the net and found several pieces supporting this attitude … but almost everyone says that the idea comes from Hadees. Considering that not every sub-sect believes in Ahaadees, and some sectors believe in a different section of Ahaadees, this cannot be the final ruling. I really wanted a Quranic ruling that can be applied to all Muslims.

Discovering that many people mentioned above also quoted the Quran as the source, I asked them for the relative passages and this is what I got:

First: I was told that it was in Surah 2 Aayah 221 which is quoted here:


This is talking about polytheists and not the Ahlé Kitaab who believed in one God. And it says so for 'your women' (and in a couple of translation as 'your daughters'). That makes it clear that it did not prevent women from marrying an Ahlé Kitaab, nor did it say she must force the man to convert.

Second: Other friends and their friends also quoted a more pertinent item, Chapter 5 Verse 5


Here it says in the second part that one can marry a chaste woman from among the believers but also from those who were given the Scripture before the Muslims. The people say that the Ayat is meant for man … and not for women.

Rather strange, I thought, because we often talk of Mankind (and other similar phrases in other languages) — but always refer to Men and Women. When I said this to them, I was told, "This is your poor interpretation". — Ok, then! But lets read the first part of the Ayat again:

Does that mean that since its in the same Ayat that - according to them - applies to Men, the food restriction is not for Women and she can, if she wants, have a different type of food from Men? Obviously not!!!

I shall be really obliged if some of you with a better understanding of the Qur'an than myself would please advise me about two things:

(1) The Qur'an offers advice fairly often to Men, but Women are - inclusively - supposed to follow the Ayat (we can find instances all over the Qur'an of this). Is this a linguistic problem, as I think, and not a gender-based one. That in most cases (unless specifically stated in the verse) the Qur'an is for all genders.

(2) Is there a verse in the Qur'an that says — differently from the two quoted above — Ahlé Kitaab men must convert to Islam before they marry a Muslim women? Or is that a Sünnah (which all Muslims must follow). Or is it based only on a Hadees.

Perhaps under the Comment section here you could respond. Thank you.

Update



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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Aesaa Naheeñ Chalay Ga?



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Sunday, January 01, 2017

It was the end of 2016 …

… and it took another one away.


Imtiaz Ahmad
Batsman, Wicket Keeper, Bowler
5th January 1928 — 31st December 2016

He brought colour into our lives.

Played in his first test for Pakistan in 1952
against neighbouring India.

Played for Nehru's Indian Team (at Nehru's request)
against the Rest of the World, scoring
300 Runs - Not Out
at the Brabourne Stadium, Bombay.

With his partner, Maqsood Ahmed,
Imtiaz was the fastest batsman in our team.

"Caught Imtiaz, Bowled Fazal"
(Fazal Mahmood 'Fazalled' England — Remember?)
That was our favourite phrase at the time.

He retired from Test Cricket in 1962.
Remained at the Cricket Academy until his death.


Imtiaz was not just a brilliant cricketer,
he was also a lovely poet.

Read about him in my earlier posts


Thank you for those wonderful days, Imtiaz Sahab.




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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Shamim's gone …

Dr. Syed Shamimuddin Ahmad

My closest friend
died
at
21:29
yesterday.



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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro: Dead at 90


Fidel Forever — 25.11.2016
Today I have seen many programs on TV, posts on the Net, emails, and a lot more on Facebook and Twitter, telling us how good Castro was, as well as how bad he was. We have seen Cuba mourning and eyes loaded with tears … and the Cubans in USA jumping with joy that he is dead.

Should my opinion of him and his one-time partner, Ché Guvera (who's picture people from Communists and Revolutionaries and Liberals and others post everywhere … and wear his T-Shirt Image in colleges and on the streets) change?

Ché Guevara
NO!!!

My encounter with Cuba has several things that I can recall.
Each one has been better than the other.

•••••

My first encounter was when I went to Cuba on my ship as a Merchant Navy Captain. We walked off the ship to get into the main city, but all we had were US$. We thought anybody would change them. But there was no shop around. The three of got on to a bus and offered the money to the driver who said he couldn't take US money. We said we had no other money and wanted to get to a bank to change this. He asked us to sit down.

Then, he put his hand in his pocket, brought out some small change, counted it, and put it in the ticket money box!!! His own money! He said we were guests and didn't have the money. He had the money and was paying it for us, since he can't take us free.

Wow!

•••••

My second encounter was going out into the city (after we had changed our money) and walk around the place, watching people eating ice-cream, smoking cigars, singing group songs on the road, dancing everywhere. They lived quite happily, it seemed to me, despite the fact that they had problems buying most things that we take for granted in our lives.

•••••

My third encounter was to go to the University with the ship's agents. He knew Che's daughter, Aleida Guevara.

Aleida with Fidel and Ché
She was wonderful and I remembered her telling us about her father who left them to go to Bolivia when she was 4 and was killed when she was only 7. Like her father, she is a strong Marxist. A Physician, she has been part of Cuba's growing interest in Education and Medical facilities, which I will talk a little about later.

(Aleida Guevara refused to go to a mass Pope Francis would lead during his historic Cuban trip, saying it would be “hypocritical” of her to be present.)

•••••

Many years later, my daughter, Ragni Marea, was at Hampshire College and had the option of going abroad to Paris or to a place in Cuba for a year's studies. When she wrote to me, I suggested that she go to Cuba. After all, I said to her, that Paris would probably be Paris when she comes out of College and she could visit it anytime. But if Castro died, Cuba wouldn't be worth visiting, somehow. So that's where she went for a year's studies.

•••••

Meanwhile, in Pakistan we had the worst Earthquake in history. More than thousands died. Thousands lost their homes. 

(I was in New Delhi, having breakfast at Tarun Tejpal's house He had gone to the bathroom. I felt a small jolt. He came out, wrapped in his towel, and asked f there was an earthquake. We got out of the house and many people were coming out and looking everywhere. New channels told us that there areas had been hit in Kashmir. No news of Pakistan, of course. I phoned BITS - Sabeen's and my software company - and found out that life has been much worse in Azad Kashmir.

Not just worse, much much worse, as I discovered three days later. A member of our team, Ziad Asim, had lost several members of his family and was now working at BITS on a software to bring people together in case they wanted to contribute goods to the earthquake victims. I asked him why he hadn't gone home. He said there is no place to go to. Everyone is dead. Sabeen was organising for places collecting the goods to be put on our website, so that people could deliver their goods there.)

Cuba sent us Doctors and Medical Aid facilities and Equipment that flew in every few days and added more and more. We were filled with their people here. They even sent out Pakistanis that they couldn't treat, locally, right into their own hospitals in Cuba. Even Ragni was called to translate some of the patient's broken-Urdu into English for the medical program workers there.

Had this earthquake happened in Cuba, would Pakistanis have said anything other than a few minor 'sorries' in the press. After all, our 'bosses' in the USA would hardly have been happy even with that!

•••••

Later on, when I was in Pakistan, Dr. Ghazala Aziz - a friend and a Doctor - was working with the people supporting the earthquake victims. She decided to hold a concert of Indian Classical Music stars, Shubha Mudgal and her husband Aneesh Pradhan, in Karachi to get money for these victims. 

Aneesh& Shubha
Shubha and Aneesh arrived here with their team and we had a concert that was lovely. The next day we took them out to the French Beach, with Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad's group so they could hear a live qavvaali at a hut that had been arranged.

I decided to call Ragni in Cuba so that she could listen to Shubha on my iPhone. She was a great fan of Shubha and Aneesh. A voice answered. I couldn't recognise it. So I called again. The same voice said, with some difficulty, "Abi. It's Ragni. I have fallen down. Hurt my back. Badly. I will be tested again, tomorrow. Please call again." - Stumped, I called Dr, Hasan Aziz (Ghazal's husband) out from the crowd. He spoke to Ragni and then told me that I should try and get to Cuba.

Ghazala gave me a number of a Doctor from Cuba, who was now in Pakistan. I called him and he said, "Don't worry about the Visa. I'll get it for you. Just get me to talk to the Doctor in Cuba and if he says you are needed, we will fly you out, asap, in one of our planes." Imagine — a Doctor willing to help me out, in the middle of his own work at the earthquake site. 

•••••

The next day I got a call from Cuba. Ragni spoke for a while and then the Doctor spoke to me and said that she'd hurt her back but was out of danger. She'd have to stay at home for 5 weeks and would not be able to return to her work at the University. He'd visit every week and I could call his home number and ask about Ragni. There was no need for me to come there.

I was glad that she was out of danger, though worried about her back. It later turned out that she'd hurt her vertebra in three places.

I was happy that she was being looked after by these people.

•••••

Four days later I got another phone call.
This was from Ragni's professor.

(I am quoting from memory and through what were, then, really happy tears. The words may not be quite right, but the gist is.)

"Dear Mr. Kidvai, Ragni is a wonderful student and can't attend her classes any more because of her hurt. I wanted your permission to visit her every two days and teach her what she has missed in class … so that when she finishes her course, I can give her the same test. I am sure she will pass. But I need your permission to do so and would like you to speak to her house people that it is OK by you."

•••••

I come from an area that, many realise, is known for its friendship and the way we treat our new and old friends. But this, I was never prepared for. I cannot say "Thank you" often enough to the Cuban people. May you live in Peace.


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Wednesday, November 02, 2016

A memory of the Vietnam War …

Fifty-one years ago this happened.





Read more »

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Etymology - 2 (Or should that be Et 2?)

As I said in my last post — Etymology - 1 (Kind of …), just in case you missed it — Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time. 


Te 2 Volume Compact OED

Because of my friend Masood Mahmood's description, I bought this 2 Volume Oxford English Dictionary, when my ship went to London. It had the full several volume dictionary compacted into two volumes. You had to use a magnifying glass to read the entries - and that came in the little box on the top.

This dictionary not only told us of the origins of most words, their movements from one language to another, the ways it had been used, the very first time it was used, it even offered us quotes of the words from well-known authors. Brilliant!


Among the first word I found when briefing through the volume — not an easy task, given its weight and the large magnifying glass being held — was Masquerade. The word, came from Masque - a face mask that people wore at these dance balls. And who did you think generally wore masks? Clowns! So what was the origin of this set of words? Think of Mascara, the eye shadow liner that women use and that does look a bit like the eyes of a mask if broadened in its application. You are getting close. Yes … the clowns made us laugh and were called Maskhara in Arabic. مسخرہ! There were hundreds more words there that came from Arabic, Persian, and Hindustani.




Soon after buying this dictionary I also bought
this delightful book.



Yiddish is a language that was used by Jews in central and eastern Europe before the Holocaust. It was originally a German dialect with words from Hebrew and several modern languages and is today spoken mainly in the US, Israel, and Russia. I loved Yiddish words and phrases (not only because many centuries ago my family was Jewish). I came across Yiddish words and phrases often in some American novels and very often in Jewish Humour and Satire. My admiration for Lenny Bruce - one that almost turned into worship - was another reason I loved Yiddish.

Reading Joys at the same time as reading many religious books, specially our own, I found the words had very different meanings in the Jewish language, Aramaic. Some words even came down to Yiddish, too.

I learnt, for example, the Jahannüm (جہنّم) was written as Ge Hennom, the name of a valley between two very high close mountains. The winds that went through it were terribly hot. A person guilty of treason was thrown live into that valley. The winds very slowly scorched him to a fiery death. 


This fun Yiddish dictionary, which had many interesting words, also had loads of humour - thanks to Rosten.  I still read it when I am feeling low.

Since some Yiddish words had their origins in Aramaic, Joys also got me interested in that language, too. I went looking for an Aramaic-English book, but that proved almost impossible. I did find smaller books, though, that translated parts of it, specially the Biblical stories, another area of my interest - and one that I really love.


For this who don't know anything about Aramaic,
Wikipedia says this:

The Aramaic language is a Semitic language closely related to Hebrew. Originally this language of the Aramaeans, it was used, in many dialectical forms, in Mesopotamia and Syria before 1000 B.C., and later became the lingua franca of the Middle East. Aram is the Hebrew word for ancient Syria. Aramaic survived the fall of Nineveh (612 B.C.) and Babylon (539 B.C.) and remained the official language of the Persian Empire (539-337 B.C.). Before the Christian era, Aramaic had become the language of the Jews in Palestine. Jesus preached in Aramaic, and parts of the Old Testament and much of the rabbinical literature were written in Aramaic language.



Potassium comes from the English word Potash. The chemical symbol, K, comes from Kalium, the Mediaeval Latin for Potash. Kalium was taken from the word alkali, which in turn came from Arabic: القَلْيَه‎‎ al-qalyah (= "plant ashes"). The similar-sounding English term alkali is from this same root. Elemental Potassium oxidizes rapidly in air and reacts vigorously with water, generating sufficient heat to ignite Hydrogen emitted in the reaction. Kali - a Hindu Goddess -  has her earliest appearance of a destroyer principally of evil forces, and is often portrayed standing or dancing on her consort, the Hindu god Shiva, who lies calm and prostrate beneath her. Her name came from the Indo-European language.





Ignis is Latin for Fire. In Hindi Agni means fire, and connotes the Vedic fire-god. In Sanskrit: “She Who Is Death”; In Hinduism, goddess of time, doomsday, and death. Another God that got its name from Indo-European languages.







Ether is the rarefied element formerly believed to fill the upper regions of space. It was all around us. It comes from Latin aethēr (“the upper pure, bright air”), from Ancient Greek αἰθήρ (aithḗr, “upper air”), from αἴθω (aíthō, “I burn, shine”). In Arabic it is Ithar (ایثر) and in modern Hindi it is Ishwar which comes from the Sanskrit word Ishvara meaning "the supreme lord who is around us all". Obviously one cannot help but see the links between this word, its Arabic equivalent, and the Hindi word. Here is a picture that describes the god.





Some of you, specially young readers, may ask
why should there be any Indo-European languages.
This is what actually happened
(taken from Herari's "Sapiens" - an amazing book!)



The Urdu word (مادر) followed the same Persian root.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Here are some more words that we use that come

from Aramaic and are used in Abrahamic Religions.


A word that struck me was Rachmon. This meant the kind of love that a mother gives to a child in her womb, never having yet seen it. Remember that many of our people also say Rakhman instead of Rahman (after all there is only a 'dot' on top of خ to make it a ح — kind of like a diacritical mark). So when the Jews say Rachmones be on you,  they mean that their God should give you the love that a mother gives to her child while it is in the womb. An undying love. The Arabic word (رحمٰن) came from this Aramaic word. ٰIt describes the Muslim God who loves them.

From the Quranic Verse [17.110]

Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names.""

(Translation: Abdullah Yusuf Ali) 


Nephesh is used in Arabic/Urdu as Nafs (نفس), and in the English Bible it as translated as Breath. A term we use often with slightly varying meanings in both these languages.

Rouach means Wind and is used as Rooh (روخ translated into روح : See my note above) in Arabic or Urdu. It is translated in the Bible as Spirit.

Shechinah is spelt Shekinah in English and is not in the Bible but comes from Talmudic writing. It is a grammatically feminine Hebrew word that means the dwelling or settling, and is used to denote 'the dwelling or settling divine presence of God'. In Arabic/Urdu it is Sakeenah (سکینہ), a common Urdu name for females.



There is so much to learn via Etymology. Let me almost end this post with a well-known Urdu word and how it may have been translated from Arabic into Hindustani.

Think of (ٰضیا)
pronounced in Arabic as Dhiya'
(and in English as Zia)
meaning "The Light".

Think of Diya (دیا)
used in Hindustani/Hindi/Urdu
as a lamp or "a source of light".

Could that difference have come from the ORIGINAL word being translated into two different forms by listening to the sounds and writing it in the Hindustani language in its Urdu and Hindi scripts? 


Happy Divali



But, finally, we must end with Death.
(It is so far the only way we know of how to leave this world,
though Science will soon take care of this, too, I know!)


We call this Death
Maot (موت) - in Urdu

Arabic = (Al Maot),
Hindi (Mautaa),
Indonesian (Maut)
and in many other languages.

We often say, in Urdu,
Maot has arrived
when Death arrives at someones door.

But where do we get the word Maut from?

From early Hebrew!
'Maot' was their name for the 'God of Death'.


God be with you!!!


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