Our Thoughts – and its Value

The Value of a Thought Do you have a desire to become wealthy? OK! Then let’s play a little ‘mental monopoly game’ to set an imaginary value on your mental process. Let’s suppose that for every thought you have, you either gain or lose a dollar. Assuming you have one thought a minute, every hour would then offer a potential $60 gain — or a $60 loss.

Each successful 16-hour day would then equal a potential ‘gain’ of $960. But on the other hand, a single negative thought like ‘Forget it, I’ll never make it anyway’ might trash four hours – creating a loss of $240 on your ‘mental balance sheet.’ So, can you see how important a single thought can be to one seeking prosperity? The Power of a

Thought Your life is not just the result of the thoughts streaming through your mind. In truth, your thoughts actually create your life. How can that be so? OK. Suppose you were laid off from your job. Now it’s obvious you did not create the weak economy leading to that event. BUT – you ARE in total control of how you respond. Here’s how that works: Suppose you get depressed and just give up.

Your response would obviously create a negative reality in your life. But what if you instead ‘take the tiger by the tail’ and start a new business on the web. You will have then created an entirely different reality in response to the exact same event. Life doesn’t just ‘happen’ to us. It’s our response to what occurs that creates our personal reality! Think about this for a moment. You really ARE in charge of creating your own life. The Thought Streaming Process Many people go through their lives paying little or no attention to their active thought process. They are largely unaware of how their mind works: What it tends to pay attention to, what it fears, what it says to itself, and even what it chooses to simply ignore.

For the most part we eat, sleep, work, play, laugh, worry, hope, plan, love, hate, cook, drive, work out – all with little thought as to how we think, or even what we are thinking. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If we gave conscious attention to virtually every one of our movements or actions, we would likely overload our brain with unimportant decisions. But there’s another level of thinking we should give intense, dedicated attention to – the thoughts that create our life reality! Thought Stream Focus Successful people have success-focused thought streams. Wealthy people have prosperity-focused thought streams.

Powerful leaders have leadership-focused thought streams. Do you want to create a lifestyle more prosperous than your current lifestyle? Then you’ll have to develop and refine a ‘prosperity-focused thought stream.’ ‘That’s easy to say,’ you may be thinking. ‘When you’re successful it’s easy to think success, and when you’re rich it’s easy to think prosperity. But I’m not close to wealthy or successful! The conditions of my life are keeping me down.’ Not so! There’s only one thing keeping any of us down — our thoughts. Your thoughts got you where you are today – and they will keep you there, unless replaced with something more positive and powerful! But, you CAN learn to direct your mind to create any lifestyle you desire.

The only true requirement is that you take action! Just wishing for something to change has no effect at all! You will always remain exactly as you are today, unless you take action, and change the focus and content of your thoughts. Creating a Reality Shift Assuming you DO want more prosperity, the place to start is by building a solid prosperity-focused thought stream. Start with a review of your current thoughts! If you want financial abundance, but constantly think about your lack of money – you’re focusing your thought stream on the wrong end of the ‘abundance stick.’ You need to take charge of the internal messages your subconscious mind is broadcasting. Failure to pay attention leaves your subconscious mind in control. Then your subconscious will simply continue to reinforce the same thoughts that created the reality you have today. Focus on feeling prosperous.

Do not give attention to mental thoughts of lack. Replace them immediately with thoughts of prosperity! Does this seem too simple? True, this takes no special abilities, intelligence or talent. It only requires a decision to take control of your thoughts. That’s it! No matter what your past or present situation, or how many times you might have failed to reach your goals, you CAN change your life condition by simply paying attention to the thoughts streaming through your mind. Give it a try, and watch your reality shift! Your lifestyle is a mirror reflection of exactly how you think. Prosperity consciousness doesn’t just ‘happen.’ You create it. Or you just continue to accept the crumbs that life happens to throw your way.

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Looking for New Steps in Islamic Finance

In the name of Allah, the Most- Merciful, the Very-Merciful
Islamic banking industry has grown rapidly during the past three decades spreading its
operations in many parts of the globe. Making its first debut in the small Savings Association
of Mitghamr (Egypt) in 1963, its strength has now reached over 250 financial institutions
operating in more than 40 countries with assets valuing USD 750 billions, and an annual
growth rate of 15 per cent. Almost all the giant conventional banks are in queue to establish
their Islamic units to capture the new emerging market. This rapid growth of Islamic
financial industry is, no doubt, encouraging for those who wished to relieve themselves from
the prohibition of interest on the one hand and to remain a part of the modern market
economy on the other. Now that a substantial period of more than three decades has passed
on the experience of Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions, it is imperative to review what
they have achieved so far and what they have missed.

It is, no doubt, a great achievement of these institutions that they relieved the Muslims
from clear prohibition of riba, and came up with some alternatives that might be adopted in
financial market without indulging in interest. In an atmosphere entirely dominated by
interest-based transactions, it was really a formidable task. I do not agree with those who
criticize them on the basis of utopian idealism, and claim that they should have brought an
immediate revolution in the entire pattern of the financial market and should, at the very
outset, have achieved the basic objectives of a true Islamic economy. This idealism that
accepts no breathing space between 0% and 100% always tends to support 0% and to
maintain status quo in practical terms. Looking from practical aspect, it is always a wise
policy to start something that can be done in a given situation, even though it is less
preferable from an idealistic approach. It was in this background that some instruments of
lesser risk like murabahah, ijarah and diminishing musharakah etc. were allowed by the
Shariah scholars. It is also wrong to say that these instruments have an element of
camouflaged interest. In fact, if implemented with all their necessary conditions that have
always been stressed upon by the Shariah scholars, they are substantially different from an
interest based financing. At the first place, all these instruments are based on real assets, and
do not amount to trading in money and financial papers, which is the case in an interestbased financing. Secondly, unlike an interest-based transaction, the financier, in each one of
these instruments, assumes the risk of real commodities, properties or equipments without
which the transactions cannot be valid in Shariah. Thirdly, these modes can be used only to
finance a commercial activity that is permissible according to Islamic rules and principles.

These basic distinguishing features are enough to draw a line of difference between the two
2 techniques of financing. Therefore, the notion that they are another form of interest is not
correct.

Having said this, one must not forget that these instruments are not modes of financing
in their origin. They are in fact some forms of trade that have been modified to serve the
purpose of financing at initial stage as secondary and transitory measures. Since they are
modified versions of certain forms of trade, they are subject to strict conditions and cannot
be used as alternatives for interest-based transactions in all respects. And since they are
secondary and transitory measures, they cannot be taken as final goal of Islamic Finance on
which Islamic Financial Institutions should sit content for all times to come. It is a matter of
concern for a student of Islamic finance, like me, that both these points are increasingly
neglected by the players in the field, and especially by the new-comers in the industry.

One should always differentiate between the transactions based on the original
philosophy of a particular system and the transactions resorted to in exceptional situations on
the basis of need. The former ones represent the real concept of the system, while the latter
ones do not. The original concept of Islamic financing is undoubtedly in favor of equity
participation rather than creation of debts, because it is only equity participation that brings
an equitable and balanced distribution of wealth in the society. Debt-ridden economy, on
the other hand, tends to concentrate wealth in the hands of the rich, and creates a bubble
economy which fuels inflation and brings many other social and economic evils.

That is why Islam has discouraged creation of debts, which should be resorted to in exceptional
situations only, and encouraged equity participation, which is the best way to a just and
balanced distribution of the benefits of commercial activities. Out of innumerable
instructions given by Islamic resources to that effect, I would like to quote only two
examples. It is reported by Sayyidah ‘Aisha ﷈, the blessed wife of the Holy Prophet ﷺ that,
during his prayer the Holy Prophet ﷺ used to seek refuge from indebtedness.
2
On the other
hand, the Holy Prophet has declared that ‘Allah Almighty remains with trade- partners (to
help and support them) unless one of them becomes dishonest to the other.’
3
These two
comments made by the Holy Prophet ﷺ are more than sufficient to show Islamic attitude
towards debts as opposed to the equity participation.
In the light of the above, Islamic financial institutions have much to do before they
achieve the desired objectives of a true Islamic economy. Although the trade-related
instruments like murabahah, ijarah etc. used by them in their operations, are not loans in
strict terms, yet they create debts on the basis of deferred sales or renting. As explained above,
debt-based instruments are not preferred ones, but they were suggested to be used as modes
of financing to start the wheel of interest-free financing, and to bring an instant relief from
interest in an atmosphere that was not fully prepared for immediate switch over to an equitybased system. It was a sort of first aid provided to a patient before he may have access to full
medical treatment. No one can deny the importance of measures taken as first aid, but who
can claim that they are the final cure of the disease, or that no further treatment is needed
after them? Pain-killers are necessary to give immediate relief, but they are not enough to
cure the deep-rooted ailments. The idea was that after starting their operations on the basis

1
I have explained this aspect of debt-based economy in my book The Historical Judgment On Interest.
2
Sahih-ul-Bukhari, Chapter10:149, Hadith no.832
3
Abu Dawood, Chapter 22:26, Hadith no. 3383iççâáåÖ=Ñçê=kÉï=píÉéë=áå=fëä~ãáÅ=cáå~åÅÉ=
3
of these instruments, they should gradually proceed towards the ideal forms of Islamic
finance.
Failure to abide by this idea has caused many problems resulting in total neglect of
equity-based financing. Despite the differences we have explained above between interest and
these instruments, they have many similarities in the net result, especially because of the
benchmark used for their pricing. This has prompted Islamic Financial Institutions to
compete with their conventional counterparts in all respects, and restrict themselves to the
debt-based products. In their zeal to compete conventional banks, they are trying to invent
‘Shariah compliant’ counterparts for each and every financial product available in
conventional capitalist market, regardless of whether or not they are in consonance with the
ethos of Islamic economy. Instead of gradual progress towards equity, the tendency is to
make maximum compromises to accommodate debt- related products matching with
practices of the conventional market. Even derivatives are being designed on the basis of
‘Shariah compliant’ methods. If some products had to be equity based, they too were
equated in some way or the other with a fixed return debt. ‘Sukuk’ was the best way to
proceed towards equity, but in order to restrict the return of sukuk holders, a threshold based
on Libor is applied after which the whole profit is given to a particular party in the name of
incentive for good management. In many cases, it is not even mentioned that after the fixed
rate the rest is incentive.
This situation needs serious consideration of the players in the field and of the Shariah
scholars who oversee the new products for Islamic financial Institution. Many conferences
and seminars are being held frequently to consider various aspects of Islamic finance. I think
it is high time now to find out ways and means to make our products not only compliant
with, but also founded on Shariah. Our research should now focus on how we can move
from debt-based to equity-based instruments in their true spirit, so that they may
demonstrate the beauty of Islamic finance based on its economic ethos. No doubt, there are
still some hurdles in their implementation, but they are not insurmountable for an industry
that is growing so fast, if serious importance is attached to this vital issue, which must be the
next topic of our discussion in a workshop devoted for this purpose. May Allah guide us all.

Communicating your Children

Communication is a complicated process, with your child receiving a lot of ‘information’ from you. These include:
  • The words you speak
  • Your tone of voice – loud, soft, harsh or whispered
  • Gestures
  • How you stand
  • Your facial expression

Your child has to watch, listen and react to an enormous amount of information and, in order to have a conversation with you, also judge when and how to take their turn.

Body language


The words you speak often carry less weight than the non-verbal parts of your communication. It’s worth considering the impression you give through your facial expressions and body language.
  • Take a moment to look at your face in a mirror. How do you appear? Are you frowning, smiling, strained? When you approach your child with a soft, smiling face they’ll be more receptive to your message.
  • Think about your posture. Do you stand over your child or get down to their level when you speak together?

Paying attention

Your child may know you care about them through your loving attention, but it takes extra effort to keep giving that message once they’re away from you all day at school. The sort of attention you give will change in subtle ways as your child matures and their needs change.
At age five your child will still be keen on cuddles, tickles and hugs. They’ll probably light up with pleasure if you wink, pat them on the shoulder, ruffle their hair or give them a thumbs-up sign. The rituals of saying goodbye at school can be important – a wave as they go in or through the classroom window shows you have them in mind.
Your child will tell you when they want your attention with the ubiquitous cry of “Daddy, Mummy look at me!” or with more subtle approaches to show you their artwork or books.
This isn’t showing off. Your child has asked because they need your approval and their self-esteem is often reflected in the attention you pay to them. Take these opportunities to stop what you’re doing and show your interest.

Get your message across

  • Get up close. This means stopping what you’re doing and going to within arm’s length. If you call out from a distance or from another room, they may not hear your whole message above the chatter and noise around them. They’ll also miss out on other information, such as the look on your face that shows whether you’re serious or joking, and the gestures you use.
  • Use your child’s name first. This will get their attention – people are tuned to hear their own name above most other words – so they know the message is for them. If their name comes last they won’t be sure who you’re talking to and may miss the message. “Joe, come for your bath please,” will work rather better than “Come for your bath please, Joe”.
  • Keep your instructions positive. For example, your child will respond better if you tell them what you want them to do, rather than what you want them to stop doing. Try “Emma, please hang up your coat,” rather than “Emma, don’t drop your coat”.
  • Give your child a chance to respond. Young brains take a few seconds to process what you’ve said and turn it into an action.
  • Keep it simple. Your child can remember only about three subjects in any one sentence. For example, “Tom, please take off your coat, hang it up and then come here,” will usually get a good response. “Tom, take off your coat, get your homework, find the pens, then come here,” will probably be too much.
  • Be clear. It’s good to give choices – this will build your child’s independence. For example, “Sam, would you like beans or spaghetti for dinner?” But don’t ask a question if you’re really giving an instruction. Asking “Could you go to bed now?” invites your child to say no!

Focus on your strengths

Do you remember when you were about six years old and Uncle Abdullah used to ask you, “What do YOU want to be when you grow up?” The answers back then were so easy! A Doctor…. A Pilot… or RAMBO! But sooner or later, the question got more serious … and the answers didn’t come as quickly! It seems that whether you’re just starting high school or about to finish college, the question on everyone’s mind (including yours!) is, “What do you want to do with your life?”

Unless you’ve already signed an BIG TELEVISION CHANNEL contract or are the next big pop singing sensation, making decisions about your future can be pretty overwhelming! But figuring out who you are and what you want to do can actually be a lot of fun. Here are a few tips to get you on track…
Focus on Your Strengths

RITO — lets play it. Take out a pencil and write down three things that you’re good at. Don’t be modest … and no, sleeping doesn’t count! Are you the one who always provides a shoulder to cry on? Do you make a mean chili? Can you easily ace an essay exam? Chances are your strengths are also things that you enjoy doing. And, the most successful people in the world would probably agree … it’s important to love what you do!

Now, next to each item, write down some jobs that use those strengths. For example, if you’re great in the kitchen, you could pursue a job as a chef, a caterer, or even a nutritionist. Or, if you have a knack for writing, consider journalism, teaching English, or even writing the next great novel!
Livin’ the Life

Once you have some ideas about what kind of career would be a good fit, you need to figure out what kind of lifestyle is important to you. Do you think that making money is the most important aspect of a career? Or, do you think that if you’re doing something that makes you happy, nothing else matters? For many people, “giving back” to society by choosing a career that helps others is important. So, try making a list of the values that are most important to you and then compare it to your list of jobs to see where there may be overlap. Once an elder said to me “ KIA HOSAKTA HAY is not important, BALKAY TUM KIA KAR SAKTAY HO YE SOCHO.

You also need to prioritize what you are willing to do in order to get your dream job. So, if you dream of being a surgeon, you need to be OK with eight years of medical school! And remember, most musicians perform for peanuts for years before being discovered and hitting it big!
Find a Mentor.. THE GURU

One of the best ways to find out if you’re on the right career track is to spend time with a mentor. A mentor doesn’t necessarily have to be in the exact job that you want, but find someone who does something in the field that interests you. Here are some questions that you might ask your mentor:

  • What kind of training and/or education does this job require?
  • What are the best things about this job? What are the bad parts?
  • What would you have done differently in your career path?
  • What advice do you have for people who are just starting out?
and a single question you have to ask yourself :
  • MUJH MAIN HIMMAT HAY?
A good mentor can steer you in the right direction and even help you when it’s ultimately time to look for a job.

According to Seema, a 19-year-old childcare provider, “You want to be able to pick your job … you don’t want it to pick you!” Take your time figuring out what will be a satisfying career, and don’t be afraid to take some chances. Many people go through several careers before sticking with one that fits, but it’s never too early to start thinking about what suits you!

Fresh graduates and young professionals have a higher chance of being unemployed today. Recession has forced companies to close down or cut their operations which, either way, forced job losses by hundreds or even thousands.
A few months ago, job loss is thought to be only on companies who offer luxury items or services.  Essential products and services are also being affected today as they announce massive job cuts. This situation is not only felt in Pakistan as the whole world is bracing for recession which could greatly affect the lives of millions or even billions worldwide. You are listening NOKRI KAHAN HAY YAR ! type of phrases these days frequently.
The young professionals will have a hard time getting a job during recession. But that doesn’t mean they would have financial trouble ahead. There are still ways on how to thrive in this looming economy for fresh graduates. As a young professional, they have the ability to adapt, improve and even unlearn some things just to make sure they would fit to a new career.

Self Employment Approach

 

Versatility to thrive in recession for young graduates is not only based in careers. They also have the ability to make some changes and improvements in what they know to establish a good business. (APNA KAAM)
Some would refute the idea of starting a business because of the current recession. Even small businesses are feeling the bug of recession. This should be taken into consideration when starting a business but this only happens in a wider environment.
You need to examine the local economic conditions. Although the general feeling about the hardship in recession is there, not everyone is having a hard time dealing with it. There is still a chance that your community is striving well.
But even if the local community is not doing well, there are still services based on recession that a fresh graduate could consider. Discovering these businesses only require creativity and a little research. There will always be something that you can offer to your community that might have some profit during recession.

Overhead Way

 

The rising unemployment, if you take a look at it carefully, is only based on the fact that large companies are opting to close down. Although there are blue collared jobs lost, the number is a lot less compared to white collared jobs.
In short, the jobs that are lost today are mostly jobs that offer great pay with great benefits. These types of jobs offer a great career and a great chance to live a good life. But because of recession, these types of jobs are now gone and if there are a few left; the chances of fresh graduates getting them are very small.
For that reason, pushing yourself to that type of job is not really viable. They could just get you frustrated as competition to these jobs is very fierce.  In the meantime, consider having a job that could be considered as a “bridge” or a temporary job that could pay your basic needs. These are simple jobs that will be used until the economy is back on its feet.
“ Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly. “

Soil knows not its color..

The next time you are in your garden or at a park, take a good look at the earth, the soil. Take some of it in your hand, feel it, look at it real close, and remind yourself that when you die that is what you will become.

So, how come then do human beings spend so much of time and energy discriminating against others who are of a different race? Take some time to think about it. If we have all descended from a common ancestor, then what makes any one of us superior to another? It does not make sense.

Racism has been the scourge of society for centuries. From the slave trade in the Arab world in ancient times through the European colonialism that pillaged most of Africa to the annihilation of native Indians by the Spanish in the Americas, racism (combined with greed for natural resources) has brutally destroyed societies and communities.

Advancement

We undoubtedly see ourselves today as the most progressive and advanced generation of all times, but do we really understand the meaning of advancement? Sure we have advanced heaps and bounds in medicine, science, and technology, but if we truly did advance socially, would we still be suffering the effects of blatant and subtle racism?

In September 2007, an unfortunate incident occurred in the US in a town called Jena. Six African-American youth were charged with attempted murder of a white youth. The incident was apparently invoked by some white students who banned black students from sitting under a particular tree. It is beyond belief that such acts of racism are still common in the US even today, in a country that insists upon equality for all.

Racism, however, is not limited to the US. We see it in Europe, Asia, and Africa — in fact, all over the world. Fortunate not to have suffered under apartheid in South Africa, imagine my utter disbelief and disappointment when I witnessed shocking racism that surmounts what I had personally witnessed in South Africa.

Religion

There are many people in the world who justify their discrimination toward others based on religious ideologies. In South Africa, the Christian right-wingers preached that they were sent by God to inhabit the land of South Africa and to “purify” the people of the land. Today, the Zionists justify their theft of the land of Palestine by falsely insisting that God promised the land to them.
However, when we take a look at what Islam says about people, we have to ask ourselves, why are Muslims not doing more to combat racism and promote understanding of different cultures? Furthermore, why has this not been forthcoming by the prominent scholars of Islam? Where are the voices of the Muslim Ummah when racism rears its ugly head?

Muslims are commanded by Allah to get to know one another. Surely, this is to marvel at the wonder of Allah’s creation that from just one male and female, He created hundreds of nations and tribes:

[The believers are but a single brotherhood.](Al-Hujurat 49:10)
[O humankind, We [Allah] created you from a single (pair) of a male and female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is (he or sh
e who is) the most righteous of you
.](Al-Hujurat 49:13)

In his book Islam in Focus, Hammudah Abdalati describes the Muslim Ummah as follows:

The community in Islam is not founded on race, nationality, locality, occupation, kinship, or special interests. It does not take its name after the name of a leader or a founder or an event. It transcends national borders and political boundaries. The foundation of the community in Islam is the principle which designates submission to the will of Allah, obedience to His law and commitment to His cause. In short, an Islamic community is present only when it is nourished and fostered by Islam.

Education

 From the above, it is clear that Muslims bear a large responsibility of fostering and nurturing good relations between different races and cultures. While the great Muslims of the past were successful in doing this (as is evident in most of North Africa), the Muslim Ummah of today has fallen behind.

There is a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Muslim scholars, teachers, and parents to instill in every generation the fact that racism can never be justified. The responsibility is on the Ummah to generate and sustain harmonious relationships among different races and cultures. The Ummah has to exert itself in accentuating the virtues and uniqueness of different people.

Arrogance associated with the color of skin has to be the most vile characteristic of any human being — a detrimental waste of time. For Muslims living in multiracial and multicultural societies, it is a perfect opportunity to enforce the cited Qur’anic verse. For Muslims living in a Muslim country, the homogeneity of the social structure should not allow one to forget the extreme and dire significance of the above verse.

Unity in diversity” has been an ongoing call in many countries. We are only cheating ourselves by not allowing ourselves to build bridges. In what is supposed to be a “civilized” world that we live in, we should hang our heads in shame that racism and racial violence — where innocent lives are still being lost — are still a norm in many societies. If we, the Muslim Ummah, were doing what Allah has asked us to do, we would be living in a far more prosperous social environment.

The next time you are about to utter a racial slur or witness blatant racism or racial violence and choose not to do anything about it, bear in mind that soil is all you will be when you die. For your actions or for your inactions, you will be held accountable to your Creator; we will all be.

Great Failures, Great Personalities

Bill Gates founder and chairman of Microsoft, has literally changed the work culture of the world in the 21st century, by simplifying the way computer is being used. He was the world’s richest man for more than one decade. However, in the 1970’s before starting out, he was a Harvard University dropout. The most ironic part is that, he started a software company (that was soon to become Microsoft) by purchasing the software technology from “someone” for only $US50 back then.

Abraham Lincoln received no more than 5 years of formal education throughout his lifetime. When he grew up, he joined politics and had 12 major failures before he was elected the 16th President of the United States of America.

Isaac Newton was the greatest English mathematician of his generation. His work on optics and gravitation made him one of the greatest scientists the world has even known. Many thought that Isaac was born a genius, but he wasn’t! When he was young, he did very poorly in grade school, so poor that his teachers became clueless in improving his grades.

Ludwig van Beethoven, a German composer of classical music, is widely regarded as one of history’s supreme composers. His reputation has inspired ? and in many cases intimidated ? composers, musicians and audiences who were to come after him. Before the start of his career, Beethoven’s music teacher once said of him “as a composer, he is hopeless”. And during his career, he lost his hearing yet he managed to produce great music ? a deaf man composing music, ironic isn’t!

Thomas Edison who developed many devices that greatly influenced life in the 20th century. Edison is considered one of the most prolific inventors in history, holding 1,093 U.S patents to his name. When he was a boy his teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. When he set out on his own, he tried more than 9,000 experiments before he created the first successful light bulb.

The Woolworth Company was a retail company that was one of the original five-and-ten- cent stores. The first Woolworth’s store was founded in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth and soon grew to become one of the largest retail chains in the world in the 20th century. Before starting his own business, Woolworth got a job in a dry goods store when he was 21. But his employer would not let him serve any customer because he concluded that Frank “didn’t have enough common sense to serve the customers”.

By acclamation, Michael Jordon is the greatest basketball player of all time. A phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire. Jordan single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar. Before joining NBA, Jordan was just an ordinary person, so ordinary that was he was removed from the high school basketball team because of his “lack of skill”.

Walter Disney was American film producer, director, screenwriter, voice actor and animator. One of the most well-known motion picture producers in the world, Disney founded a production company. The corporation, now known as The Walt Disney Company, makes average revenue of US $30 billion annually. Disney started his own business from his home garage and his very first cartoon production went bankrupt. During his first press conference, a newspaper editor ridiculed Walt Disney because he had no good ideas in film production.

Winston Churchill failed the 6th grade. However, that never stopped him to work harder! He strived and eventually became the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Churchill is generally regarded as one of the most important leaders in Britain and world history. In a poll conducted by the BBC in 2002 to identify the “100 Greatest Britons”, participants voted Churchill as the most important of all.

Steven Spielberg is an American film director. He has won 3 Academy Awards and ranks among the most successful filmmakers in history. Most of all, Steven was recognized as the financially most successful motion picture director of all time. During his childhood, Spielberg dropped out of junior high school. He was persuaded to come back and was placed in a learning-disabled class. He only lasted a month and then dropped out of school forever.

Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist widely regarded as the most important scientist of the 20th century. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and “for his services to Theoretical Physics”. However, when Einstein was young, his parents thought he was mentally retarded. His grades in school were so poor that a teacher asked him to quit, saying, “Einstein, you will never amount to anything!”

In 1947, one year into her contract, Marilyn Monroe was dropped by 20th Century-Fox because her producer thought she was unattractive and could not act. That didn’t deter her at all! She kept on going and eventually she was recognized by the public as the 20th century’s most famous movie star, sex symbol and pop icon.

John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by sixteen agents and twelve publishing houses. He went on writing and writing until he became best known as a novelist and author for his works of modern legal drama. The media has coined him as one of the best novel authors even alive in the 21st century.

Henry Ford’s first two automobile companies failed. That did not stop him from incorporating Ford Motor Company and being the first to apply assembly line manufacturing to the production of affordable automobiles in the world. He not only revolutionized industrial production in the United States and Europe, but also had such influence over the 20th century economy and society. His combination of mass production, high wages and low prices to consumers has initiated a management school known as “Fordism”. He became one of the three most famous and richest men in the world during his time.

Soichiro Honda was turned down by Toyota Motor Corporation during a job interview as “engineer” after World War 2. He continued to be jobless until his neighbours starting buying his “home-made scooters”. Subsequently, he set out on his own to start his own company. Honda. Today, the Company has grown to become the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer and one of the most profitable automakers – beating giant automaker such as GM and Chrysler. With a global network of 437 subsidiaries, Honda develops, manufactures and markets a wide variety of products ranging from small general-purpose engines and scooters to specialty sports cars.

Akio Morita, founder of giant electric household products, Sony Corporation, first product was an electric rice cooker, only sold 100 cookers (because it burned rice rather than cooking). Today, Sony generates US$66 billion in revenue and ranked as the world’s 6th largest electronic and electrical company.

Inspiration by Yvune Ridley

POLITICIANS AND JOURNALISTS just love to write about the oppression of women in Islam … without even talking to the females beneath the veil.

They simply have no idea how Muslim women are protected and respected within the Islamic framework which was built more than 1400 years ago.
Yet, by writing about cultural issues like child brides, female circumcision, honor killings and forced marriages they wrongly believe they are coming from a point of knowledge.

And I am sick of Saudi Arabia being cited as an example of how women are subjigated in a country where they are banned from driving.

The issues above have simply nothing to do with Islam yet they still write and talk about them with an arrogant air of authority while wrongly blaming Islam. Please do not confuse cultural behavior with Islam.

I was asked to write about how Islam allows men to beat their wives. Sorry, not true. Yes, I’m sure critics of Islam will quote random Qur’anic verses or ahadith but all are usually taken out of context. If a man does raise a finger to his wife, he is not allowed to leave a mark on her body … this is another way of the Qur’an saying; “Don’t beat your wife, stupid”.

Now let’s take a glance at some really interesting statistics, hmm. I can almost hear the words pot, kettle, black. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, four million American women experience a serious assault by a partner during an average 12-month period.

On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands and boyfriends every day . . . that is nearly 5,500 women battered to death since 9/11.

Some might say that is a shocking indictment on such a civilized society, but before I sound too smug, I would say that violence against women is a global issue. Violent men do not come in any particular religious or cultural category. The reality is that one out of three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Violence against women transcends religion, wealth, class, skin color and culture.

However, until Islam came on the scene women were treated as inferior beings. In fact we women still have a problem in the West where men think they are superior. This is reflected in our promotion and wages structure right across the spectrum from cleaners to career women who make it into the boardroom.

Western women are still treated as commodities, where sexual slavery is on the rise, disguised under marketing euphemisms, where womens’ bodies are traded throughout the advertising world. As mentioned before, this is a society where rape, sexual assault, and violence on women is commonplace, a society where the equality between men and women is an illusion, a society where a womens’ power or influence is usually only related to the size of her breasts.

I used to look at veiled women as quiet, oppressed creatures and now I look at them as multi-skilled, multi-talented, resilient women whose brand of sisterhood makes Western feminism pale into insignificance. My views changed after the truly terrifying experience of being arrested by the Taleban for sneaking into Afghanistan in September 2001 wearing the bhurka.

During my 10-day captivity I struck a deal that if they let me go I would read the Quran and study Islam. Against all the odds, it worked and I was released. In return I kept my word but as a journalist covering the Middle East I realized I needed to expand my knowledge of a religion which was clearly a way of life.

And no. I’m not a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. To be a victim you have to bond with your captors. During my imprisonment I spat, swore, cursed and abused my jailers as well as refusing their food and going on hunger strike. I don’t know who was happier when I was released – them or me!

Reading the Quran was, I thought, going to be a very simple academic exercise. I was stunned to discover that ut clearly stated women are equal in spirituality, education and worth. A woman’s gift for child birth and child-rearing is very much recognised as a quality and attribute. Muslim women say with pride they are homemakers and housewives.

Furthermore The Prophet (pbuh) said that the most important person in the home was The Mother, The Mother, The Mother. In fact he also said that heaven lies at the feet of the mother. How many women make it into the top 100 power lists for simply being a “great mother”?

With Islam choosing to remain at home and raise children takes on a new dignity and respect in my eyes, similar to those sisters among us who choose to go out to work and have careers and professions.

I then began looking at inheritance, tax, property and divorce laws. This is where Hollywood divorce lawyers probably get their inspiration from. For instance the woman gets to keep what she earns and owns while the man has to stump up half his worth.

Isn’t it funny the way the tabloid media gets very excited over the prospect of some pop or film stars pre-nuptial wedding agreement? Muslim women have had wedding contracts from day one. They can choose if they want to work or not and anything they earn is theirs to spend while the husband has to pay for all the household bills and the upkeep of his family.

Just about everything that feminists strived for in the 70s was already available to Muslim women 1400 years ago.

As I said, Islam dignifies and brings respect to motherhood and being a wife. If you want to stay at home, stay at home. It is a great honor to be a home maker and the first educater of your children.

But equally, the Quran states if you want to work, then work. Be a career woman, learn a profession become a politician. Be what you want to be and excel in what you do as a Muslim because everything you do is in praise of Allah (swt).

There is an excessive, almost irritating concentration or focus on the issue of Muslim womens’ dress particularly by men (both Muslim and non-Muslim).

Yes, it is an obligation for Muslim women to dress modestly but, in addition, there are many other important issues which concern Muslim women today.

And yet everyone obsesses over the hijab. Look, it is part of my business suit. This tells you I am a Muslim and therefore I expect to be treated with respect.

Can you imagine if someone told a Wall Street executive or Washington banker to put on a t-shirt and jeans? He would tell you his business suit defines him during work hours, marks him out to be treated seriously.

And yet in Britain we have had the former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw describing the nikab – the face veil revealing only the eyes – as an unwelcome barrier. When, oh when, will men learn to keep their mouths shut over a woman’s wardrobe?

We also had Government Ministers Gordon Brown and John Reid express disparaging remarks about the nikab – both these men come from over the Scottish Borders where men wear skirts!!

Then we had a series of other parliamentarians enter the fray describing the nikab as a barrier for communication. What a load of nonsense. If this was the case can anyone explain to me why cell phones, landlines, emails, text messaging and fax machines are in daily use? Who listens to the radio? No one switches off the wireless because they can not see the face of the presenter.

The majority of sisters I know who choose to wear the nikab are actually white, Western reverts who no longer want the unwelcome attention of those few leering men who will try and confront females and launch into inappropriate behavior. Mind you, there are a couple of London sisters I know who say they wear the nikab at anti-war marches because they can’t stand the smell of spliffs.

I am afraid
Islamophobia has become the last refuge of the racist scoundrel. But the cowardly, chauvinistic attacks launched – largely by men – is unacceptable to Muslimahs as well as their secular, female sisters from the left.

I was a feminist for many years and now, as an Islamic feminist, I still promote womens’ rights. The only difference is Muslim feminists are more radical than their secular counterparts. We all hate those ghastly beauty pageants, and tried to stop laughing when the emergence of Miss Afghanistan in bikini was hailed as a giant leap for women’s liberation in Afghanistan.

I’ve been back to Afghanistan many times and I can tell you there are no career women emerging from the rubble in Kabul. My Afghan sisters say they wish the West would drop its obsession with the bhurka. “Don’t try turning me into a career woman, get my husband a job first. Show me how I can send my children to school without fear of them being kidnapped. Give me security and bread on the table,” one sister told me.

Young feminist Muslimahs see the hijab and the nikab as political symbols as well as a religious requirement. Some say it is their way of showing the world they reject the excesses of Western lifestyles such as binge drinking, casual sex, drug-taking etc.

Superiority in Islam is accomplished through piety, not beauty, wealth, power, position or sex.

Now you tell me what is more liberating. Being judged on the length of your skirt and the size of your cosmetically enhanced breasts, or being judged on your character, mind and intelligence?

Glossy magazines tell us as women that unless we are tall, slim and beautiful we will be unloved and unwanted. The pressure on teenage magazine readers to have a boyfriend is almost obscene.

Islam tells me that I have a right to an education and it is my duty to go out and seek knowledge whether I am single or married.

No where in the framework of Islam are we told as women that we must do washing, cleaning or cooking for men – but it is not just Muslim men who need to re-evaluate women in their home. Check out this 1992 exert from a Pat Robertson speech revealing his views on empowered women. And then you tell me who is civilized and who is not.

He said: “FEMINISM ENCOURAGES WOMEN TO LEAVE THEIR HUSBANDS, KILL THEIR CHILDREN, PRACTICE WITCHCRAFT, DESTROY CAPITALISM AND BECOME LESBIANS”.

Here is an American man living in a pre-Islamic age who needs to modernize and civilize. People like him are wearing a veil and we need to tear that veil of bigotry away so people can see Islam for what it is.