Sunday 30 November 2014

A woman and a dream.

My trip to Makka this year so different to all the ones I did before. Maybe because I was totally on my own! Maybe because I did the processions at night and when I finished by three in the morning I was too tired to sleep so I got to thinking!  I should be stopped from thinking these days as I go so deep into the matter like the mind of the researchers or even deeper. 

I need to provide you with some details on what we do when we go for pilgrim. We start with the "neiah" which is the intention to go for pilgrim. Then we must do a special shower and read some sort of prayor. Thirdly when we reach we must do seven rounds of walks around Kaaba followed by a short prayor then seven rounds of long step walk between the two mountains Safa and Marwa then we go again for seven rounds around Kaaba and a prayor and that's it. No big deal. No fuss. After that one can either stay there or go to the hotel. 

Even before I went to pilgrim the first time which was many many years ago I was always wondering about the number seven. I didn't know why in Islam number seven is so unique. We have seven heavens and seven earths. Seven rounds for everything that we do in haj and seven of many things that it's not enough to talk about in this short blog. But for the keen researchers I am sure it will be a very interesting find. 

I went deep into finding out more about the pilgrim and not only in the processions themselves. And what I found is so romantic. 

Prophet Ibraham took his wife and son Ismail and left them in a valley with no plants and no water.   The wife was stunned when she saw him going on his camel and turning back to Palestine. Are you leaving us alone in this valley? There is nothing for us here?  He kept quite and prayed to God to keep them safe and bring to them lots of people. 

So Hajar (the wife) felt sad and worried about the little child who was screaming of hunger! So she heard a voice coming from one of the mountains. She ran to it then she heard the echo from the other mountain and she ran to it. She did that "seven" times and while she was running back and forth and again checking on her son who was kicking the ground with his little foot while crying and the ground burst with water. So she washed his face and drank from the water which made her be able to breastfeed him. She stayed there for a while till the tribes of that area who commute between Syria and Yemen for trade passed by and started to stop there and feed their animals and the valley was inhibited. 

Years later Prophet Ibraham was visiting the wife and the son who by that time had grown to a nice young man. They started to build Kaaba. One night came the dream. Prophet Ibraham saw that he gives his son as a sacrifice to God. And when he wanted to tell his son satan was stopping him so he took stones and hit him seven times to push him away. Then again satan came and so the seven stones continued the second time and the third time. When the prophet reached to where the son was and told him about the dream. The son said that Ibraham must concur to the dream. Then when he was going to sacrifice the son God stopped him and said that I know that you are a believer and here is a goat to sacrifice for me instead of the son. 

Basically millions of Muslims around the world go to Haj each year because of a woman and a dream. 

God almighty is telling us something here. We Should never underestimate women nor should we underestimate our dreams. 

But number seven is still a mystery to me


Monday 24 November 2014

Leadership and communication

Is leadership a trait that a person is born with or is acquired by time? Can leadership be taught? Can the organizations that provide leadership programs guarantee that every student who participates will become our future leaders?
Firstly, what is leadership?  According to the Oxford dictionary, leadership is the action of leading a group of individuals or the state or a position of being a leader.

Secondly, who are the gurus that are known for their leadership qualities by many individuals all over the world? I am not going to mention Porter, Stephen Covey, and other Gurus who are chosen annually in the “Best of lists” (this can be easily checked through various websites). I will only mention the few people that directly come to mind whenever we are asked about leaders: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, John Kennedy, Jamal Abdul Nasser, Shaikh Rashid and, Shaikh Zayed. These individuals have been called leaders because of the roles they played and all the accomplishments they have made.  They inspired individuals all over the globe by the work they have done for their country. This in turn helps individuals to do better, that is what a leader does, like Mahatma Gandhi once said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  On the corporate side we can quickly mention Henry ford, Lee Iaccoca, Bill Gates, Steve jobs, and Saatchi. 

I am sure you have noticed that so far leadership is used as a synonym with politic? Since we are in education then we may also notice that most political figures are great in communications, we may conclude that communication is a trait of leadership.  Hence, if you are going to study leadership (and you are not born with it) then you must develop a strong communication skill.

Thirdly, let us distinguish between positive leadership vs. negative leadership; negative leadership is when a powerful and dogmatic leader takes his country/organization/unit to destruction through actions and quotes that encourage the group to follow malicious routes.  Positive leadership on the other hand happens when the leader is highly educated and will only say or do the best to his country/organization/unit. 

Fourthly, is leadership linked to communication? Well, a leader must be able to lead by both words and actions, as the saying goes “walk the talk” and talking is an act of communication. Keeping the team informed is also a part of communication and the latter can happen upward, downward and across the organization/country/unit.  A leader must allow this to happen else, leadership will be incomplete.

Now let’s talk about our students, and why don’t they choose leadership as a major? Is it because they are not exposed to leaders who inspire? Or is it because we never encourage students to be leaders and to take on roles that are compatible with their personality traits?

Personally speaking, leadership is both a genetic trait as well as environmentally effected traits.  How the person lives, where the person lives, and why the person lives are all determinant factors to either induce leadership or evicts it from the brain all together. 

Many universities and institutes in the world teach leadership as a major and then it’s linked to education, politics, corporate world or sports. We are trying to explore the various majors that are available out there for our students to show them ways to explore every situation to be able to complete their studies and to find jobs.  These jobs can be in politics, education, corporate world or sport, but it doesn’t matter where the students will end up in. The important thing is to learn how to become effective leaders and to exert the maximum effort to have the skills necessary to run a great organization; these skills can be initiative, flexibility, persistence, resilience, communicative and most of all passionate.  Always remember that you have a generation to inspire, so work at it and be very communicative. 

 A reader today, a leader tomorrow (a quote from a school I visited today)

Sunday 23 November 2014

How life can be the same for some people but not similar

It is a surprise when you meet people and see that they had a similar life turbulance to youself, but it is more surprising that how dissimilar each individual had run his or her own life.  We all wake up in the morning, we all do our chores whether its at home or at work, we all face diffiulties in our bodies, we all try to reach a life balance in terms of work, play and rest, however not all of us reach what we want and our ambition in the same way. 

Some people can have it naturally, without any struggle, but with perseverance, others have to put more energy in their work to get a similar result.  Some can have hobbies and are active in their communities and some have to work really hard to make ends meet.  Some take up job that they don't like just to be able to live, and here I am talking about the laborers and the workers who come to foreign land to do menial jobs and are paid very little for them, and I am also talking about those that live in their own country and have to still do jobs that they don't like or do not match their expectations but are running their lives despite this. 

Even marriage is not a straight forward affair to all people, some get married, some stay married for life and are happy and some ask for  divorce for the many known reasons for divorce. Those that ask for divorce may or may not think of their kids and the effect of divorce on them, and talking about kids some may have kids and some may not. And when the kids come to us, life as we know it will not be the same, we deal with so much while raising them, are they good at school, do they have learning difficulties, are they doing well in high school, are they doing their activities and completing their assignments, which university will they go to? and who are they going to get married to? then we wait for their children and so on.

So life is not a very straight forward thing, the number of variables that we have to deal with in everyday life are so large that we need mathematical formula to deal with them. From the time of waking up in the morning we deal with the question of whether we should wake up or not? then comes to the breakfast time, what kind of cereal are we eating, should we have cheese and jam, how is our egg cooked, what type of bread should we buy? lunch is a similar dilemma and dinner is a different kettle of fish.

What brought this about? I met two women, who each married a guy who turned out to be non supportive, non working, not romantic, not helpful, not open for any suggestions, not talkative, not not and not. One of the women just had a great outlook in life and was full of positivity, so she worked and made life easy for her kids, her husband and herself while the other woman sulked and wating for omething to happen to make her life better.

Choices, many of them are there so please grab life by the balls, and be happy. 

Friday 21 November 2014

Are we doing lots of travels? or are we imaginng these?

These days I keep on dreaming that I am in England, Thailand, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and many other countries around the world.   I had gone to all of these countries, but not in the past month, but no matter what I do, I dream of them at night.  I can smell the food, I can walk on the greenery, I can swim in its beaches, see its people, talk to its animals, be in its spas and walk on its streets.  Why? now you ask me why!

Since the advent of social media everyone is sharing their trips on its pages, we can avoid going to social media, but one thing we cannot avoid is whatsapp, no matter what we do the picture and comment will come to us, so the number of times we see the countries that I or my family or friend had gone to, no wonder that we will imagine the country and be there with them at that moment.  I remeber before when we used to return from our trips and gather around out families to show them the pictures and reminese with them about the things that we did and the scenaries that we saw; and when everyone gathers we give out the gifts and the various souvenirs to show that we didn't just have fun we also remembered everyone and got them what we thought they would have liked had they been there.  Nowadays we are with whoever is travelling by the minute, they tell us about it, and we see the happiness in their eyes and their smiles. 

Travel makes us happy, its not because we are not happy as it is, its just that there is something about travel that gives a boost to the energy and acts as a type of vitamin to the body.  When we travel we are compelled to be out and about, to see the various cultures and tastes the food of that country, talk to the people and notice what they do and how they do it, check out their art and the items on sale at the souvenir shops.  in fact that is the first thing i would visit as from there you would know what is so popular and what is a must see, then we see the other stuff.  However when I went to Prague (now it seems a hundred years ago but it was in September only) the taxi  driver who took us to the airport asked us what we did, so my daughter told him about the touristic places likes Charles bridge and the clock, he laughed and said that this is where the tourists go? we don't go there? so we asked him what the Prague people do? he said we go to the mountains and enjoy the scenery of our country side.  I would do that too, but I guess when we travel we would want to rub our shoulders with the old things around that city, and we forget the nature and what it brings to our lives. 

This bring me to my subject, my brothers went on their annual brotherhood trip to Thailand, and my sisters went to the Pilgrim in Iraq with my mum.  on a minute by minute we know what they did, so those that used to suspect what a person would do while abroad, is nor assured that people had gone abroad just to have fun, talk more, enjoy the country, do their religious stuff, be with the family and have as much happiness as possible.  some of the pictures that I had received follows:

the first lot is the Pilgrim to Iraq
my sister and my cousins who live in iraq  

my mum
another picture of my mum

My mum returning to her roots, accompanied by Amal, my forever traveling sister.
my sister Fadhila, which i wish i had traveled with her and drank her coffee.

Nehad gets a sever pain in her back and neck when she travels, but still she loves it and her face just radiates when she is on a plane.

the selfie story continues even though one is on a pilgrim.
meeting with the cousins

another selfie

The whole family
Imam Ali Shrine in Najaf
This second lot is my brothers annual trip to Thailand
My brothers in Thailand enjoying? not the beautifully cut water melon of course.

wearing th sailors skirts all of them.  lovely

Now that is where i want to be if I was in Thailand.

First Catch, I can smell the barbeque from here.

well, How many did they catch? its only five of them!

I guess they must have stopped here.