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Discuss Latest World News / Egypt bomb kills new year churchgoers
« on: January 02, 2011, 02:24:02 AM »

Egypt bomb kills new year churchgoers

At least 21 dead and more than 70 injured after bomb explodes outside Coptic church in Alexandria

A man observes the scene of the bomb blast from within the Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt.
Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

At least 21 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in Egypt in a suspected suicide bombing outside a church in Alexandria as worshippers left a new year service.

It was initially thought a car bomb had caused the explosion just after midnight at the Coptic orthodox al-Qidiseen church. But the interior ministry suggested a foreign-backed suicide bomber may have been responsible.

The blast did not originate in any of the cars that were destroyed, a ministry statement said. "It is likely that the device which exploded was carried by a suicide bomber who died among others."

The circumstances of the attack "clearly indicates that foreign elements undertook planning and execution", the statement said.

The governor of Alexandria, Adel Labib, accused al-Qaida of planning the bombing. "The al-Qaida organisation threatened to attack churches inside Egypt. This has nothing to do with sectarianism," he told state television.

His assessment was shared by Kameel Sadeeq of the city's Coptic Christian council. "People went in to church to pray to God but ended up as scattered limbs," he told Reuters. "This massacre has al-Qaida written all over, the same pattern al-Qaida has adopted in other countries."

Senior health ministry official Osama Abdel-Moneim said the death toll stood at 21 ? a figure also reported by the state media ? and at least 79 had been wounded. Health minister Hatem el-Gabaly told the Reuters news agency that 17 people had been confirmed dead, 12 of them identified as Christians. Five bodies had yet to be identified, he added.

"The last thing I heard was a powerful explosion and then my ears went deaf," Marco Boutros, a 17-year-old survivor, said from his hospital bed. "All I could see were body parts scattered all over legs and bits of flesh."

Following the blast, hundreds of Christians took to the streets, clashing with police and Muslims. Some Christians and Muslims pelted each other with rocks after a mosque was reportedly targeted. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds. The Reuters news agency reported that some of the protesting Christians had shouted: "We sacrifice our souls and blood for the cross."

The interior ministry said the blast also damaged a mosque near the church and eight Muslims were among the wounded.

Nearly 1,000 Christians attended the mass at the church, according to a priest, Father Mena Adel. "I was inside the church and heard a huge explosion," he said. "People's bodies were in flames."

"This is a scene from Baghdad," said another witness.

People reported seeing the charred chassis of a destroyed car, with the remains of several bodies nearby and dozens wounded.

President Hosni Mubarak went on state TV and vowed to track down those behind the attack, pledging "we will cut off the hands of terrorists and those plotting against Egypt's security". He added that the bombing was an attack on "all Egypt" and that "terrorism does not distinguish between Copt and Muslim".

Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's population of 79 million.

Security around churches has been stepped up in recent months with the authorities banning cars from parking directly outside them, after an al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq threatened the Egyptian church in November.

The Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed responsibility for an attack on a church in Baghdad in November, threatened the Egyptian church over its treatment of women who the Islamist group claimed were being held after they had converted to Islam.

In November, hundreds of Christians rioted in the capital, Cairo, smashing cars and windows after police stopped the construction of a church.

?Pope Benedict denounced violence against Christians in his New Year address and appealed for religious freedom and tolerance. He said he would host a summit of world religious leaders in Assisi in October to discuss how to promote world peace.


Scholar wins Malaysian TV's Young Imam contest

A 26-year-old religious scholar has been chosen as the winner of a Malaysian TV talent show searching for a top young imam, or Muslim leader.

In Friday's live TV final, Muhammad Asyraf saw off the last of nine other contestants vying to win Young Imam.

He had survived 10 weeks of written and practical tests, which included reciting Koran verses, washing a dead body for burial and slaughtering sheep.

His prize includes a scholarship to a Saudi university and a trip to Mecca.

The prime time TV show, which followed the reality-TV formula of programmes like the X-Factor and American Idol, had proved a popular hit in Malaysia and had gained worldwide attention.

Role model

On being chosen as the winner by the programme's judge, an Islamic scholar and former imam, Mr Asyraf was "crowned" with a white Islamic skullcap.

"I feel good. Thanks to my parents, my wife and my fellow villagers who have been supporting me," AFP quoted him as saying.

Mr Asyraf's prize package includes a scholarship to al-Madinah University in Saudi Arabia, a job as prayer leader in a major mosque in Kuala Lumpur, a car and an all-expenses paid pilgrimage to Islam's holiest site, Mecca.

More than 60% of Malaysia's population of 28 million are Muslim.

The producers of the programme, which was broadcast by Muslim lifestyle satellite channel Astro Oasis, said that it was aimed at helping young Muslims engage with religion, by teaching them what it takes to be an imam and that an imam's work extends beyond the mosque into all aspects of Islamic life.

The candidates underwent the same training as other aspiring imams do, such as formal testing on religious theory and knowledge.

But they also tackled social issues involving young people, like motorcycle gang members and unmarried, pregnant teenagers.


Struggling with Sexual Harassment by Egyptian Men

Ironically, before I went outside today, I was determined to write another 'Things I've Learned..." post about the dangers of all/none statements that can lead to prejudice. I wanted to reflect on 2 young, Egyptian men I'd met at AUC and their struggles with love in a Muslim country. One had spent his life in boarding schools and is now agnostic and the other is a Christian who had grown up in Bahrain. Both were well traveled, sweet, sensitive, and complete gentlemen with heartbreaking love stories. I wanted to highlight their stories as a breath of fresh air to contrast the negative way I've discussed my interactions with Egyptian men. I have been struggling with my own growing aversion to Egyptian men and trying not to assume they were all walking monuments to depravity. Therefore, the post was going to be a reminder to myself that one can never generalize all or none of any group. Then I went outside and met the average Egyptian men and now that other post AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN...

I threw on my usual Cairo uniform of wrinkled t-shirt and jeans to go grocery shopping today. As I walked back from the fruit stand 2 blocks from my apartment, I noticed two teenage boys following me. One kept walking behind me and trying to whisper perversion into my ear. When that failed, he walked a couple paces ahead of me and kept looking back while the other walked behind me. In no mood to be bothered, I tried my usual techniques for avoiding street harassers 1) I slowed down and 2) walked over to a cop. The guys walked off quickly so I took the oppurtunity to cross the street and continue home. Out of nowhere, the 2 crossed over to me and began making lewd gestures. Nearing my apartment, 3) I walked into a store and pretended to admire scarves s that they wouldn't know where I live. Usually, most men would get bored and walk off by then but these 2 lingered outside.

I was running out of patience with them so I walked outside again, quickening my step. When one approached me and tried to reach for me, 4) I yelled loudly in English and flayed my arms for him to go away. He was momentarily surprised and confused so I hurried to my apartment building. To my dismay, he tried to follow me into the building! At this point, I flipped out, cursed him out, and shoved him back out the door. He had the nerve to raise his hand as if to slap me! Prepared to murder him in broad daylight if he dared, I stared him down until he lowered his arm and walked back outside.

Quite frankly, I find it hard not to completely despise Egyptian men right now. The constant sexual harassment, disrespect, and lack of regard for a woman's most basic right to walk from Point A to Point B in peace is disgusting. Unlike in other countries where a man will occasionally pull up in his car and flirt, someone will gawk at you or try to touch your hair, or a woman will have to endure a few amusing marriage proposals, harrasment in Egypt is ceaseless, viscous, and psychologically draining. In a report by Reuters, 2/3 of Egyptian men admited to sexually harassing women. The forms of harassment reported by Egyptian men include touching or ogling women, shouting sexually explicit remarks, and exposing their genitals to women. Contrary to popular belief, this BBC interview highlights that it has nothing to do with what a woman is wearing. Even women in full burqas and niqabs are sexually harassed. In my observation, harassment seems to be a means of inflicting discomfort in order to assert some form of power over a woman. The many shiftless,unemployed and sexually repressed young men are bothered by seeing most women moving about in public with a purpose to their step and money in their pockets. Harrasment is a way to ensure that a woman "knows her proper place" in society.

Reuter also said that 83 percent of Egyptian women reported having been sexually harassed. Nearly half of women said the abuse occurred daily. 98 percent of foreign women saying they had experienced harassment in the country...The survey said most of the Egyptian women who told of being harassed said they were dressed conservatively, with the majority wearing the Islamic headscarf. The Egyptian government has half-heartedly tried to adress this widespread issue but nothing concrete has come out of their efforts.The harassment is to the degree that, the one time I went outside and no one was in the street to sexually harass me, I was genuinely taken aback! My roommates and I almost ran outside and played and skipped in the street with joy! None of us could figure out what was going on. It was right after Passover and Easter...Had God struck down all the first born sons again?! The next day, my instructor informed me that the day before was Sham El-Nisem and most Egyptians were at the park with their families.

While sexual harrasment seems harmless on the outside, it leads to a break down of the moral fabric of society. It's a bit hypocritical to impose a way of dress on women based on Islamic views of modesty when men whip out their penises to the first blonde that walks by. The objectification of women in public is also perpetuated by the next generation of young boys. I've seen boys as young as 10 make perverted grinding motions to women walking by (gee, I wonder where they learned that?!) and call them things that no little boy should ever repeat. Furthermore, what begins as lewd gestures can quickly turn into violence against women. Most importantly, it serves to further silence women in the Middle East and push them back into the shadows. Although, there are arbitrary penalties for harrasment, only 2.6 percent of women report it to the police. In actuality, sometimes it's the police doing the harassing, making it difficult to find someone to speak to. Once, a woman does report harassment, she must then endure a long legal process in the slight hopes that something is actually done.

I've found myself completely avoiding lower-class Egyptian men. There is an internal debate going on inside me where one side continues to warn me against the dangers of blanket generalization and stereotyping groups and the other side bluntly points out that I get sexually harassed, have lewd and/or racist comments and gestures made towards me, or someone tries to touch me inappropriately everyday and if I'm not on guard, I may get seriously hurt one day. Thus, my survival instincts are winning out at this point and I view all Egyptian men in the street with suspicion and disgust. I'm determined to be a part of that 2.6% that reports each and every pervert from now on even if nothing comes out of it. Sexual harrasment in Egypt goes beyond just an annoyance, it's a violation of your most basic rights, personal space and safety.


Interview with Asra Nomani

'Gender Jihad' in the Service of Women's Rights

The 44-year-old US writer Asra Nomani is viewed as a prominent representative of "Gender Jihad". For the former Wall Street Journal reporter, there is no contradiction between Islam and feminism. She spoke to Alfred Hackensberger

In both western countries and Muslim societies feminism and Islam are mostly regarded as irreconcilable opposites. Why are they not compatible?

Asra Nomani: Yes, I'm always hearing that view at my lectures. But as far as I'm concerned, the two go hand in hand. I think Islam was originally a feminist religion. The Prophet Mohammed was a feminist, like his first wife Khadija, his daughter Fatima and his wife Aisha. None of them allowed themselves to be pushed aside, and they all spoke their minds. I don't think Islamic feminism is an apparent contradiction.

Actually, I meet religious feminists all over the world ? Mormon, Catholic, Maronite, Jewish-orthodox, Protestant. My experience is that women have to fight male power in Islam with the same dynamics as in all other religions.

When I mentioned your name to a colleague, the response was: Ah, gender jihad. What's it like to have such a tag?

Nomani: Well, very good, I must say. I'm very proud to be a soldier on this front.

And what is this soldier fighting for?

Nomani: For the rights of women, and at the same time for social justice. Women should not be the preserving jars of honor and purity. They should not be punished for their sexuality, by crouching in the backrooms and corners of mosques.

Women should not be gagged just because they bring men into temptation. These are all just control mechanisms to treat us as second-class citizens.

What's your view on the veiling of women?

Nomani: If you cover the face of a woman, it de-personifies her. The removal of the veil is a crucial element of gender jihad, because by doing this we dispel ignorance.

Now you've received support on this matter from one of the highest authorities in Sunni Islam. Mohammed Sayed al-Tantawi, the Grand Sheikhk of Al Azhar University, has described the niqab (face veil) as un-Islamic and issued a ban at the Cairo seat of learning.

Nomani: Yes, it's very important to us if the Al Azhar University assumes a leading role in this. We need the leaders of the Islamic mainstream to at last inject some reason back into this religion. I'm really happy that al-Tantawi has tackled an ideology that really is terrifying.

What is the problem if someone wants to wear a face veil, even if it only leaves a slit to see through?

Nomani: That's exactly the kind of western political correctness that excuses the niqab as a woman's free choice. This attitude conveniently forgets that it is symbolic of a highly puritanical and dangerous interpretation of Islam.

This justifies violence against women and suicide attacks with an allegedly literal interpretation of the Koran and suggests that a Muslim should not make friends with Jews and Christians if at all possible.

One should remember that our churches are also not allowed to preach racism. Islam should be measured by the same standards. Members of the Ku-Klux-Klan can't collect their drivers' permits with hoods over their heads.

Many Muslim women would be appalled at what you say. They wear the niqab or the hijab (headscarf) with pride.

Nomani: The puritanical interpretation of Islam has presented the niqab and the hijab as a free choice. Young American women think they are strong and independent if they cover their hair or their faces. In doing so they overlook the fact that this is about the sexualization and demonization of women, who apparently distract men from the right path.

I've heard it said by many Muslim women that covering their heads acts as a kind of protection against the sexual advances of men.

Nomani: In Egypt, the Center for Women's Rights published a study in 2008 that showed that women adhering to the Islamic dress code suffered the most sexual harassment. I've experienced it myself, when I was in northern India, one of the most conservative Muslim regions. My hijab did not protect me from sexual harassment. That's a myth that's peddled, and women are taken in by it.

Al-Tantawi claims the niqab is just a tradition that has nothing to do with Islam. How did the niqab come to be associated with Islam?

Nomani: I'll give you an example of how that works. There are translations of the Koran from Saudi Arabia in which passages on the niqab have simply been added in order to sell it as something Islamic. It's the same with the hijab. It's made into an obligation, although it's all only based on interpretations.

What does the Koran say about female clothing? Are there rules on what women should wear?

Nomani: There is nothing decreeing that she must cover her face or hair. There is nothing about a shawl, a headscarf or a veil, nothing about a color, whether it should be pink or black. There is also nothing to say that the hands must be covered, or that she can only show her eyes. These are all the rules of men. In accordance with the interpretation that I think is the right one, a woman should simply be moderate in the choice of her clothing.

In editions of the Koran from Saudi Arabia, which has conducted a missionary campaign in the mosques of the world over the last decade, it's all very different, you say.

Nomani: Yes, and as a Muslim woman I feel very concerned about this. The Saudi Arabian government was able to internationally propagate ? virtually unchecked ? a rigid, inviolable and monolithic form of Islam.

As the country where the holy sites of Islam are located, Saudi Arabia produces Koran translations and distributes them to millions of pilgrims who travel to Mecca on the Hajj. The translations are sexist and intolerant.

I'm always receiving Koran translations that say I should not make friends with a Jew or a Christian and cover my face, apart from one eye that may remain visible. Another route is via the mosques that were founded all over the world.

So Saudi Arabia is responsible for the propagation of a strict interpretation of Islam. One could almost say it's a lucrative business, when one thinks of the war on terror and the increased price of oil, which is making Saudi Arabia richer than ever.

Nomani: That's absolutely right. And we're not holding the Saudi government responsible for its complicity in the creation of this dangerous ideology.

First it was exported to Pakistan, which is currently a haven for militant Islamists. Then representative congregations were set up all over the world. And I'm not talking about some villages in Pakistan, but about my home city of Morgantown in West Virginia.

How does that work?

Nomani: They take over mosques and teach Wahhabi and Salafi ideology, and the rest of the congregation has to fall into line. It works very well. The men grow beards of a certain length, otherwise they're not regarded as true Muslims. And the women wear veils.

But there must be a need for it somehow. Propaganda alone can't be enough. Is it about a sense of community, of fashion, of being cool?

Nomani: Of course there's a need for it. You're cool if you practice a religion that lies beyond western interpretations. That's why young women think they're rebels because they wear the hijab.

A broad-based fashion protest movement?

Nomani: I believe that religion here is a consumer goods industry. It's a business selling both conservative and liberal ideas within Islam. The industry also has a fashion division ? an abaya (traditional Arab cloak-like overgarment) for 10,000 dollars in a boutique in the Gulf, pilgrimage clothing or discreet Islamic bathing suits available on the Internet.

In the liberal sector for example, this happens with T-shifts printed with slogans such as: "This is what a radical Muslim looks like." I'm continually astonished at what is sold as an Islamic product, and how.

Currently it's Islamic music. The funniest thing I saw recently was Islamic underwear. A G-string with the word 'bismillah' (in the name of Allah) visible on the back.

Whether it's a movement, or a fashion: it all has to come to and end at some point. How much longer will it go on for?

Nomani: I think the kind of Islam that wants to force women to wear a veil or a headscarf won't be around in 20 years. Mohammed Sayed al-Tantawi is one of the first leaders to say, indirectly, enough's enough. It's a good sign.

But do Muslim women have to suffer until then?

Nomani: For some time yet, that's for sure. But you must remember that it's not just the women who suffer, the men are also affected. The Taliban demanded that men looked, thought and behaved a certain way, otherwise they were not regarded as true Muslims. Control mechanisms don't stop at women, they are extending further and further.

The Taliban stealthily banished women from public life. In the end, this religious control culminated in the destruction of the Buddha statues. Do you think Tantawi had that in mind?

Nomani: I think he realized that it's not just about the veiling of women. At some point he could also become a target because he does not represent the same interpretation of Islam. It's not just a danger for women, but for us all.

? 2009 

Asra Nomani teaches journalism at Georgetown University. She is the author of "Standing Alone in Mecca", of the "Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom", and of the "Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque".

Discuss Latest World News / Obituary: Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd
« on: July 17, 2010, 12:15:36 AM »

Obituary: Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd

Pioneer of Progressive Interpretations of the Koran

The internationally renowned Egyptian Koran expert Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd was one of the leading Islamic reformist thinkers of our time. His discourse analytical study of the Koran paved the way for a contemporary understanding of Islam. Abu Zayd recently passed away in Cairo at the age of 66. Loay Mudhoon looks back on the life of this important man

In 1880, Lord Cromer, Britain's Consul-General in Egypt, said that a "reformed Islam is Islam no longer." Representatives of the traditional Islamic establishment in most Islamic countries and Islamic communities in the West are unlikely to find much fault with this famous dictum. After all, for them ? and for most devout Muslims ? Islam is fundamentally perfect and cannot be "reformed".

Nevertheless, since the dawn of the Islamic era, there have always been attempts to reform or renew the religious discourse in Islam.

The Egyptian literary scholar and Koran expert Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd made repeated references to these reform attempts throughout the course of his life. Abu Zayd pointed to the fact that the very first intellectual exertions of the Muslim community focused on the interpretation of the Koran; after all, he reasoned, the Muslim holy book appealed to humankind's thirst for knowledge.

He also pointed out that the few reformers that did exist turned their attention to a critical view of the principles of Islam rather than the search for new academic approaches to Islam's holy scriptures.

Revelation as a process of communication

But the Egyptian linguist and Koran expert Abu Zayd did just that. What's more, he applied linguistic methods relating to communication to the Koran.

According to Abu Zayd, there is a transmitter and a receiver in every communication situation. Moreover, in order for a message to be received by the receiver, the transmitter has to encode it and the receiver to decode it accordingly. Said Abu Zayd: "The revelation is the communication process, the channel through which the Word of God was given to Muhammad."

Abu Zayd never disputed that the Koran was revealed by God. However, he considered the Muslim holy book to be more than just "what God said" because it also had a human aspect, the Arabic language. As far as he was concerned, this aspect was actually a product that reflects the values and norms of Arab culture at the time. This is why he considered the Koran to be the result of a 23-year communicative exchange.

He used modern hermeneutics to elucidate this communicative process and, in so doing, highlighted the role played by humans in the genesis, interpretation and, above all, implementation of the Koran text in practice.

Writing the history of the Koran

Through both his efforts to release Islam from the grip of traditionalist and legalistic interpretation and his own interpretation ? which focused on the requirements of modern society and its normative achievements such as democracy, the rule of law, and human rights ? Abu Zayd opened the door to a contemporary and more flexible approach to the Koran.

Abu Zayd explained it thus: "We comprehend the text of the Koran as a cultural product in its historical genesis and, at the same time, as the generator of a new culture in history. However, the generation of a culture through the text only happens via the reception of the text of the Koran by the Muslims, who, for their part, are reliant on their own perspectives and attitudes. If we understand this, we can conclude that this culture, which the Muslims themselves created, is a culture related to a certain time that we can critically analyse and understand."

For Abu Zayd, the Muslim holy book was more than just "what God said"; it also had a human aspect: the Arabic language
Abu Zayd paid a very high price for this theory: not only was he treated with hostility in his native Egypt, he was also charged with apostasy before a court of law and his marriage to the Romanist academic, Ibtihal Younis, was declared null and void ? an unprecedented farce.

Even at the time, it was clear that it was not his academic writings on Koranic exegesis that had enraged his opponents, but his involvement in politics.

In 1992, Abu Zayd attacked the institutionalised "state Islam" of Mubarak's government in his book The Criticism of Religious Discourse. According to Abu Zayd, this "state Islam" was "no better than the extremists' interpretation of Islam, because both insist on their monopoly of the absolute truth."

Belief in change

Abu Zayd had to leave his native land because of the threats against his life. Together with his wife, he went into exile in the Netherlands where he latterly held the chair in Humanism and Islam at the University of Utrecht.

This modest Islamic scholar refused to be discouraged by hostility and attempts to sully his reputation and believed in the healing change in Islam right up until the end of his life: "Yes, I am a victim. But I am also a witness to the changes that are taking place, in spite ? as in my own case ? of all the terrible things that have happened. The famous Arab-Spanish philosopher Averroes was condemned. Nevertheless, his ideas have spread throughout the West," said the optimistic scholar in his last interview with

One can only hope that the gaping hole left by Abu Zayd in the debates about the reform and modernisation of Islam can at least be partly filled by his many students.

? 2010

Health & Fitness / Recipes
« on: July 11, 2010, 10:10:12 AM »

Peace everyone  :peace:

Do you have some recipes to share? If yes please post them here.  :eat:

Quote from: Leyna
Given my love for Indian food, I would love to get some interesting recipes from the Pakistani members on here.

Quote from: Ayisha

somosa recipe
pakora recipe
lentil daal

taking account of we only got 1 flour type in Luxor, which is used for everything and can only get lentils not any other special lentil type things you might use

Thank you  ;D

I'll start with some recipes I love.

One of my alltime favourites: palak paneer, spinach with homemade cheese.

I serve it with basmati rice and lentils with fried onions.

Palak paneer is a delicately flavored vegetable which is eaten with relish in North India. Palak paneer is a favorite Indian vegetable, which is both nourishing and delicious. It is a North Indian dish, which is popularly served with meals all over the country. Palak paneer is made of palonshak and paneer. Palanshak is the Indian name for spinach, and paneer is the Indian counterpart of cheese. However, paneer can also be substituted with tofu to suit individual taste.


Paneer ? 500 gms
Fresh spinach- two medium sized bunches
Fresh coriander- half a bunch
Cooking oil ? 4 tsps
Onion- one large
Tomato- One large
Garlic paste- 3tsps
Ginger paste- 1tsp
Coriander powder- 2 tsps
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder- 1 tsp
Butter- 1 tsp


First cut the paneer into small ( about 1?) cubes.
Take a heavy bottomed pan and heat 2 tsps of cooking oil.
Stir-fry the paneer cubes till golden brown.
Remove and drain on a tissue. Keep paneer aside.
Add 2 spoons of oil in same pan and fry chopped or grinded onion till soft.
Add garlic and ginger paste and stir for a minute before mixing the tomato paste, freshly chopped coriander leaves, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder and garam masala powder.
Mix well and roast for a while.
Boil the spinach leaves and blend in a food processor after they cool down.
Add spinach paste to the mixture.
Now add the fried paneer cubes to the gravy and mix well, without crushing them.
Garnish with butter and serve hot with Indian rotis or parathas.


Paneer - Indian cottage cheese

you need

milk (full cream): 1 liter
lemon: 1
muslin cloth or a fine thin cloth


1. take 1 liter milk in a heavy bottomed vessel.
2. let it boil, now reduce the flame and to the boiling milk add the juice of 1 lemon
3. as soon as u add the lemon juice the milk will immediately split.
4. cook this till the milk is curdled and a pale yellow transparent water is left behind .
(you can add more lemon if required).
5. keep on stiring occassionaly to avoid sticking of the milk at the bottom of the vessel.
6. now strain this in a fine muslin cloth to separate the water from the curdled milk.
7. hang this cloth for about 1 hour to drain all the excess water.
8. this lump of curdled milk in the cloth is paneer which can be cut into pieces and used in any dish as per requirement.

Note: I usually triple the recipe since the cheese keeps in the fridge for quite some time.

Lentils with fried onions

200 gms red or brown lentils
1 liter of water
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tomatoes, diced
2 green chilli peppers (or more, according to taste)
fresh coriander
2 tbs. ghee or oil
3 cloves of garlic
3 medium sized onions, sliced
chili pepper, according to taste

~Put lentils, water, turmeric, cumin and tomatoes in pot and cook for 10-20 minutes, or until lentils are soft.

~Add salt and take off the stove.

~Heat the ghee or oil in a small pot and fry the onions and the garlic until brown. The onions are similar to the ones you put on kushari, so you have to be patient and fry them for at least about 20 minutes, until they are nicely dark and crisp, but not burned.

~Sprinkle onions on the lentils, serve with basmati rice.

Off-Topic / Anyone from Iran? Need a translation ...
« on: July 11, 2010, 07:02:22 AM »

Peace everyone.  :peace:

Is there somebody here who reads / speaks Persian? I would be very interested in the translation of the poem fragments in this picture.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.  :)


Canadian women getting controversial surgery to mimic virginity


VANCOUVER ? Everything was at stake ? her future marriage, her place in her conservative community, her life.

The 23-year-old Muslim woman from the Middle East desperately wanted to appear to be a virgin.

She went to Dr. "Sam" with an unusual request. She wanted a hymenoplasty ? surgical restoration of the hymen, often done specifically for cosmetic reasons to mimic virginity.

"It?s a surgery for fooling a person, a lie that the woman is still a virgin, even though she had had sex," said Dr. Faizal Sahukhan, a Burnaby, B.C.-based sex therapist.

He has counselled several South Asian women against seeking the procedure.

The procedure is so controversial that most doctors contacted refused to speak about it. Dr. "Sam," a doctor in British Columbia?s Lower Mainland, only spoke on the condition that his identity be protected for his safety.

"There are some people who would not look at this surgery rationally," said Sam, who is concerned about retaliation from potentially duped husbands. "The fact is that most of my patients are Muslim . . . and I?m Jewish and a male."

Sam said he performs the surgery on average twice a month for about $3,500 per procedure, usually on women of Middle Eastern background.

One of his clients was preparing for an "arranged marriage" in Oman in the Middle East when she approached him, he said.

"She told me that there is a community doctor who checks to see if the hymen is intact before the marriage," Sam said.

In other Middle Eastern communities, in-laws will check the bride?s bedsheets for traces of blood the night after the marriage was consummated, he said.

With such a premium laid on a woman?s virginity, Sahukhan said women are under tremendous pressure to remain "untouched" until their wedding night.

Alia Hogben of the Canadian Council for Muslim Women called it "sexism, rooted in having a patriarchal society. It?s not surprising that these women feel compelled to do this surgery," she said. "Of course, there is no expectation that men also be virgins (before marriage), even though that is preferable."

Only a small number of clinics in Vancouver offer hymenoplasties and none of them advertise it on their websites, but both Sahukhan and Sam say they have seen a noticeable rise in requests over the past few years.

Sahukhan recounted the experience of a very upset Punjabi Sikh woman considering hymenoplasty.

"She said, ?If my parents find out about (my past), all hell will break loose,?" Sahukhan said.

Sahukhan said most of his female patients have had premarital sex outside their ethnic community, but consider the surgery when planning a traditional "arranged marriage."

These women fear they will be shunned by their families, served divorce papers or worse: subjected to physical abuse if their sexual history becomes known, he said.

He called the correlation between a woman?s virginity and her family?s honour a "tremendously heavy burden" ? especially since a hymen can be broken in a number of ways outside of sex, including vigorous exercise, use of tampons or a fall.

Anjelina Rai, a young South Asian host a Vancouver Bollywood radio station, said she was "completely flabbergasted" on learning about hymenoplasty.

"It?s just impossible to think anyone in my generation would feel the need to have this surgery," she said, adding the South Asian community is "more open these days to western ideas like premarital sex."

Manpreet Grewal of Abbotsford Community Services added that even if hymenoplasty was widespread in the South Asian community, the stigma runs so deep that women would not openly talk about it for fear of being ostracized.

To avoid the gossip mills, some Punjabi parents take their sexually active daughters back to India to undergo hymenoplasty ahead of an impending marriage, the South Asian Post reported recently.

Dr. Miqdad Ukaye of Royal Medical Tours in Bombay, India, said his agency gets 400 calls annually from medical tourists seeking hymenoplasty.

"It?s a social taboo to talk about it, which is why the numbers are limited," he said, "But it is gaining popularity."

Sam said he offers the surgery so that his female patients feel secure going into the marriage.

"I feel like I?m doing good here," he said. "If it gives the woman some confidence, then what is the harm in it?"

Although he does not promise bleeding to any of his clients ? about 30 per cent of women do not bleed during their first sexual intercourse ? Sam said he has had no complaints.

The procedure usually takes an hour, with a recommended one-month break from sexual intercourse for recovery.

As for Sahukhan?s clients, none of them actually went ahead with the hymenoplasty surgery after he counselled them against the procedure.

"You really cannot hide your sexual past with a quick-fix, Band-Aid solution like hymenoplasty," Sahukhan said.

He encourages his patients to tell the truth, and said none of them suffered any dire circumstances after following his advice.

"Better to find out the man?s reaction before you get married and have kids," he said.




?Microfinance (in Pakistan) has developed dramatically?


Shahzad Iqbal is Manager of Finance for the Kashf Foundation, a Pakistani organization offering microfinance products to women. Clients have received over $200 million in microloans over the last fourteen years. Kashf has been the recipient of a number of accolades, most recently the Global Leadership Award from Vital Voices. Their work was featured in New York Times bestseller Half the Sky. In this third interview I conducted during the 2010 Skoll World Forum, I spoke to Iqbal about Kashf's history, future, and how gender is an important consideration in his work.

Could you give us a bit of background on how the Kashf Foundation started?

It was founded by Roshaneh Zafar in 1996. She met with Muhammad Yunus of Grameen Bank, which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, and was inspired by the potential of microfinance. She spent a full two years conducting research in Pakistan on how microfinance could positively impact the lives of poor Pakistani women, who have been given less opportunity in the past to be involved in economic activity. Since our founding, we have worked with over 300,000 female clients.

Pakistan, like other developing countries, suffers from a high degree of financial exclusion which is positively correlated to poverty and gender. An Access to Finance Study conducted by DFID et al. in 2009 shows that 56% of the population in Pakistan is financially excluded. In terms of gendered financial exclusion the study revealed that 68% of women and 42% of men in Pakistan are financially excluded. Kashf Foundation lends money to low-income households through providing credit exclusively to women.

As one of Pakistan?s leading microfinance institutions, we have demonstrated the business case for investing in women. When we began operations in 1996, for every Rupee disbursed in the market as micro-loans only 25% was provided to women. Today, as a result of Kashf Foundation?s success almost 50% of the clientele in Pakistan's microfinance sector is female. Our economic empowerment program has grown from 913 female clients in June 1999 to over 300,000 female clients in March 2010 with an outstanding portfolio of Rs 3.36 billion and cumulative disbursement of Rs 17.3 billion to over one million female clients, making it the third largest institution involved in micro finance in the country.

How did you come to join the team at Kashf? Your involvement as a Pakistani man in this effort?what significance does this hold for you?

I have been working with Kashf for two years since 2008 after having worked in the private sector. I met with Mr. Khalid Kabeer, the ex-CFO of the foundation who was the real source of inspiration for me to join in this organization. After meeting with him, I started enquiring about microfinance. I realized that it is one of the best tools available in our country to alleviate poverty and helping those who are excluded from the main financial sector of the country. First, it's good business. And it was my personal feeling at that time that I should give back to the society which I have gained during my studies and experience with the private and corporate sector. At the time I joined there was high inflation in the economy, which was a big obstacle. Kabeer informed me that a position was opening up, and so I took the opportunity.

It was a challenge for me to fill the position of Mr. Kabeer, who worked here for almost six years and at the time of my hiring. He was assigned a new role to set up a microfinance bank under the brand of Kashf. Today, I can say that his guidance and continuous support helped me in filling his role at Kashf. I strongly feel that we cannot ignore the role of women in the economic development of our country and without their contribution, we cannot be sustainable as a country.

What is the direction of the foundation as it continues its work?

There are three major areas Kashf will be focusing on in the coming years with an extended focus on microfinance plus approach, which essentially means that being a specialized microfinance institute, we shall now work to improve the financial literacy of our community and their immediate families. The three initiatives which the company plans to implement in the coming years are The first is that we would like to expand our programming to engage and empower adolescent girls and try to educate them about the benefits of savings in their lives. The second is to increase our activities to promote financial literacy of our clients in understanding financial transactions, helping them in preparing budgets for their businesses. And the third is a strong focus on microfinance products to meet the business needs of our clients.

Part of our women's programming is a gender incubation lab. We aim to have a labs in all of our 151 branch network of our company, which is spread across two major provinces of Pakistan, out of which the foundation operates. By working on gender issues, we would like to increase the efficiency of how microfinance improves women's lives. We will develop modules for gender mainstreaming. Once we select trainers for the communities we work in, they will help to scale up our efforts.

What has the impact of receiving the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2007 been for the foundation's work?

Kashf Foundation has a strong history of receiving awards prior to receiving the Skoll Award, which further helped in creating more visibility in the Western world. This is fabulous for us. She [Roshaneh Zafar] and Kashf have achieved so much. As Managing Director and Founder of Kashf Foundation, she has a very clear vision which she successfully transferred to her team as well, and everyone at the organization has buy-in. I can say that this award further recognized her efforts and brought Kashf to higher levels of achievements and standards. In short, The connectivity and networking opportunities this award has given to the foundation has been fantastic.

In Pakistan, we were the first specialized microfinance institute. We were also the first microfinance institution which has successfully closed borrowings from commercial banks of USD 22 million in 2007. Kashf Foundation has a strong footprint throughout the country which also helped the development of the sector as well. Now microfinance in the country has developed dramatically.

In your work, what have been some of the most powerful stories about women's empowerment?

Shams-u-Nisa is a woman who has had to contend with various difficulties and traumas in her life. Her husband was a drug addict and instead of working and providing money for household expenses, he used to forcibly take the little money that she managed to earn by stitching clothes, to buy more drugs for himself. She barely managed to meet the household?s daily food requirements and was unable to provide her four sons and one daughter with proper education and health facilities. Her husband?s drug addiction made him extremely violent and abusive towards his family. She says, ?At times when my husband could find no money in the house to take for his drugs he used to turn violent against me and did not even spare the children. I used to hide the smaller ones under the bed and my two older boys used to run to the neighbors' house for safety.?

Seven years ago, Shams-u-Nisa heard about Kashf Foundation and took a loan of Rs. 6000, from which she purchased cloth and filling materials for making children?s toys. She remembers with joy how her children and her neighbors' children exclaimed with joy on seeing for the first time her colorful cloth dolls, bears, jokers, puppies and ponies. Initially she sold these toys to her neighbors, who in turn sold them to shopkeepers; this enabled her to earn Rs. 5000 ? 6000 monthly. With the second and third loan amounts of Rs. 10,000 and Rs. 12,000 respectively, she further expanded her business by purchasing more material. She is extremely happy with her business, as she now earns Rs. 10,000 ? 12,000 monthly. She has not only been able to provide for the education of her younger children, but has also provided her husband with medical assistance to help him overcome his drug addiction. She says, ?Thanks to Kashf, now I know the community I live in and others know me. My center members along with their husbands will come to my aid anytime, which is why my husband cannot dare lay a hand on us?.

There are other powerful stories as well. There is a woman who's husband was beating her. She started a small fabric art business with a loan from us. In the second year, she employed a few more ladies. Now she has ten employees. And six or seven years back, there was an older woman to used a loan to set up a small grocery shop. After four years, she wanted to buy land for her son, and she was able to with the profits she had made. We are seeing change in the lives of people.

Any final thoughts on the foundation and your involvement?

It is a great honor for me to work with such a team which is lead by an amazing lady, our Managing Director, Ms. Roshaneh Zafar. I would love to continue to work with Kashf and try to reach to as many people as we can. We as a team dream that one day, all women of Pakistan are economically empowered to make their decisions and to work for the betterment of the country?s economy.

Off-Topic /
« on: June 10, 2010, 01:47:06 PM »

The Campaign

The Inspired by Muhammad campaign is designed to improve the public understanding of Islam and Muslims. It showcases Britons demonstrating how Muhammad inspires them to contribute to society, with a focus on women?s rights, social justice and the environment. The campaign coincides with a national polls conducted by YouGov which shows that the 69% of people believe that Islam encourages the oppression of women, that just 6% of people associate Islam with justice and that just 6% believe that Islam promotes active measures to protect the environment. Overall, nearly half of all people in the UK believe that Islam does not have a positive impact on British society.

Info-ads profiling individuals who counter those perceptions are being displayed in central London locations at bus stops and tube stations. A fleet of the capital?s distinctive cabs will also carry adverts that challenge popular misconceptions.  Tube stations featured in the campaign include, amongst others, Bank, Oxford Circus, Leicester Square and Holborn. Bus stops around the capital will also feature adverts; they are at various location including Fulham, Camden, Shoreditch, Islington and Westminster. A full list of tube stations and bus stop locations is available from


A new website,, provides online support for the campaign by hosting straightforward information about Islam, Muhammad and British Muslims. The website is designed to meet the need the YouGov poll highlighted for accessible information: 60% percent of people say they don?t know very much about Islam; 31% say information about Islam is not very accessible; 33% would like to know more about Islam and just 3% say they get their information from Muslim organisations.

More information about the campaign is available at the website and at

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