Archive | July 2010

Your Age Matters to Them

Your Age Matters to Them

By Hwaa Irfan

It is not without surprise recently, that two-thirds of the British public rejected plans for extended pension age at which one retires. In fact for those aged 45 – 54 the rejection was at 73%! For how much longer did they expect to control the way in which people work to provide themselves with all the things that the system said we should have in order to make our lives worthwhile, when the global economic crisis has come at a time when they may question the point of it all! The 45 – 54 year olds will know what it is like to give up one’s life to be a wage-slave, relinquishing one’s dreams, and forsaking one’s life without really being happy, to goals that removed them far away from being who they really are in nature, and goals that removed them far away from having healthier family relationships, and even one’s God. They have almost become enslaved to false dreams, and would only have maybe 10 -15 years to enjoy the fruits of their labor (providing they are still in good health), and for others those false dreams are real dreams that they are frightened to let go of. Regardless, the British government is not alone in solving what is a problem for them, the shrinking working population!

From Him we come and to Him we return. This truth is all prevailing in our Book of Guidance, the Qur’an. From being a child to becoming a grandparent, insha-Allah, is part of the natural course of human life as we as humans have always known it to be, with never a thought that in our progressing years we would be considered to be redundant to those that came through us as children, and to society at large.

This negative perception of the elderly has unfortunately become all too prevalent in the materialistic youth-orientated West, and has been encroaching upon the Muslim man, woman, and child in both Western and non-Western societies. All aspects of lifestyle in the secular world are in reference to youth, expediency, productivity, and expendability. Globalization has been shaping and grooming us towards objectification of our bodies, our minds, and now our lives as part of the Gross National Product, to serve the State for the benefit of the State, as means of production, and pleasure. When we do not serve as these tools, our presence in society is increasingly questioned.

Here we explore the issue as a problem as presented by Western progress since the industrial revolution, its encroaching impact on developing countries, and the valuable members of society who have made many invaluable contributions, the elderly. We will also explore the solutions that are embedded within the Mercy to Mankind, Islam, and practices that help to realize that it does not have to be all bleak.

Current Statistical Projections

Population ageing is a term used by the United Nations, U.N, meaning when a majority of the population is ‘older’ or retired from employment. It became a political issue in Europe, which has been experiencing an ageing population due to a decrease in rates of fertility, and an increase in longevity. The life saving developments of modern medicine has done much to abate the fear of death from infectious diseases. Unlike previous centuries, one is more likely to survive childhood, and live beyond 40 years of age. More children survive to adulthood, and with adulthood they are more likely to experience parenthood, and survive to see their grandparents. However, the drastic reduction in fertility rates in the U.S., Europe, Australia, Japan, and Canada has raised much concern. In addition, developing countries such as Taiwan, China, Thailand, Malaysia and India are changing from being agricultural nations to industrialized societies, which has now made them members of the nations of population ageing.

From the 2002 Assembly on Ageing, this phenomenon is described as being ‘pervasive’ in a report by the Population Division of the U.N. The 2001 U.N. report entitled: “World Population Ageing: 1950 – 2050” was sponsored by the United States National Institute on Aging, and the U.S. Bureau of Census, a country that is renowned for statistical analysis of every man, woman and child according to, age, gender, race, habits, health, income, and political, and religious persuasion.

According to the above mentioned 2001 report, only three countries in 1950 had over 10 million older people out of a global aging population of 250 million. The 2001 report stated:

    “The number of older persons has tripled over the last 50 years; it will more than triple again over the next 50 years”

The sample comparative statistics breakdown as follows:

1950 = 3 countries
• America 20 million
• China 42 million
• India 20 million

2000 = 12 countries, including:
• America 46 million
• China 129 million
• India 77 million
• Japan 30 million
• Russian Federation 27 million.

According to the above mentioned 2001 report, in 1950 1 out of 12 persons was 60 years of age, in 2000 1 out of 10 persons were 60 years of age, and by the years 2050, 1 out of 5 persons will be 60 years of age. Demographically Europe represents the region with the highest aging population, which is contrasted by Africa being a region with one of the lowest aging population; however the aging process is catching up in developing countries within a shorter period of time than in the West in general. As developing countries make fast progress in modernization programs to catch up with the West, ageing populations has become one of the consequences. It is projected that over the next 50 years a 70% (395 million) increase in the aging population in the developed regions, and a quadrupling effect will occur in developing countries increasing from 374 million to 1.6 billion.

• “By 2050, nearly four-fifths of the world’s older population will be living in the less developed regions”
• In Arab countries 29% of the population will be aged under 15 by 2025, and the ageing population is estimated to be at 15.80% (41.60 million) by 2025.

However, with the above forecasts in mind, one should question on what basis these forecasts are made. Demographer, Ronald Lee from the Population Council in his report “Quantifying Our Ignorance: Stochastic Forecasts of Population and Public Budget” (2005) points out these type of forecasts involve extrapolation with little intellectual content, and as a demographer the results can only be probabilities rather than fact. As an example, Lee points out that:

    “If a fertility rate for a 27-year-old woman is 0.5 per year that means that there is 50 per cent probability that a particular woman will give birth within a year, and a 50 per cent chance that she will not, and similarly for probabilities of death, survival and migration. This intrinsic certainty on the individual level is diminished when we talk about larger groups of women, because it tends to average out, but it never disappears completely”.

It is all a matter of guesswork without knowledge of what the future will bring, and an ensuing fear arising from self interest. As such, it is with extreme caution that projections on population ageing should be considered. A prime example is the case of East Asia from 1965 – 1990 whereby the ageing population grew four times that of the dependent population. However the guesswork is taken as fact, and a factor upon which policies, and politics are made. Phillip Longman of the New American Foundation represents one such voice, who viewed the growth in the working population in East Asia as a bonus, and one that could be repeated in the Middle East by:

    “…freeing up a huge reserve of female labor and other social resources that would otherwise have been committed to raising children”

These projections are full of fear, and make assumptions about the future based on fear of loss of power. These fears are paid great attention to, and are employed in the formation of policies, and shape political agendas. The fears that arise from what is in fact the unknown include:

• Less people means fewer consumers, which is detrimental to the global economy

• Fewer new businesses, innovations, and technological developments

• Taxed workers will have to pay more towards pension schemes

• Voting patterns will change

However, Longman underpins all of these fears and more when he said:

    “…capitalism has never flourished except when accompanied by population growth”.

In none of the arguments is it considered that the system that has developed the global economy is no longer sustainable, or that there is something inherently wrong in viewing a percentage of the population as redundant to society.

Secularism/globalization has had its impact too, wherein marriage and the family are not considered with such importance as in religious communities. In GNP terms, it is beneficial because it ‘liberates’ those who can participate in the labor market. In the Population’s Council Demographic Faces of the Elderly (2005) it is noted:

    “The next 50 years may see sizeable increases in the proportion of older men and women who lack family members to help them. More will reach older ages without ever being married and more will spend the end of their lives having divorced and not remarried. Both of these changes are likely to be more common among men. Their effects will also have larger repercussions for men, because men are more likely than women to lose contact with their children following divorce. Also, baby boomers had relatively small families; giving them few children to call on for help later…”

Here, despite current trends, the importance of the family is brought back on the agenda, and is seen as the most stable means of producing future generations, albeit for the labor market!

Currently:
• 1 out 10 people are 60+ years of age, and it is believed that 1 out of 5 will be 60+ by the year 2150.
• A majority of older persons are women (55%)

• Currently, 1 out 5 Europeans are 60+, and 1 out of 20 Africans are 60+

• In Arab countries 42% of the population was aged under 15 in 1975, which had fallen to 38% by 2000

Perceptions of Old Age

Reinforcement of the negative perception of age as one grows older is instilled through teaching modules, one example of which uses terms like “The Graying of America”. Students of such courses in turn learn to look on their elders differently, and to even fear their own natural ageing process. This fear turns young people, and the middle-aged into products of that fear that have boosted sales in products that sell the concept of youth, and what one can do in order to retain a youthful look, and the kind of self interest that is all consuming mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. It has made members of society become blinded by the material, which promises much, and gives little in return.

In June 2009, a demographic survey entitled Growing Old in America: Expectations and Reality” by the fact-tank The Pew Research Center, was released. In this survey, participants (2,969) were asked what their benchmarks were for old age. The benchmarks were as follows:

• When one turns 85: 79%

• When one cannot live independently: 73%

• When one cannot drive a car: 66%

• When one turns 75: 62%

• Frequently forgets familiar names: 51%

• When one’s health is failing: 47%

• Has trouble walking upstairs: 45%

• Has difficulty controlling one’s bladder: 42%

• No longer sexually active: 33%

• When one turns 65: 32%

• When one retires from work: 23%

• When one has grandchildren: 15%

• When one has gray hair: 13%

These personal benchmarks differ from any governmental benchmark. A governmental benchmark aims to reduce any burden of cost, and is essentially about being a part of the labor force, one’s level of productivity to the state, and as a consumer of the manufactured products which sustains the present socio-economic system. We indirectly learn from a youthful perspective that self matters more, to the extent that when it comes to making the kind of tax contribution which provides for the elderly, we become quite reluctant, and when possible avoid making that valuable contribution. It is like not paying zakah, and then expecting the waqf to function when one is in need. This, and additional factors are at the core of the problem.

The Elderly

To be concerned with the global repercussions of an ageing population implies that there is a global eye on the situation as opposed to a national one. Exploring the composition of the world population, gathering data and whatever additional information is deemed required needs a lot of effort, coordination, and a global agenda. This is indicative by the fact that the main report on the Middle East was carried out by a U.N. body (ESCWA), and on Africa by Help the Aged International.

Human evolution is an ongoing process, however at what level given current management of society, and the world in general has yet to be defined. What is understood however, are the biological changes that have occurred as a result of environmentally induced changes. The result is a general increase in body size, a longer life span, and increased mental health disability. Man is not predisposed to know the measure of all things, and neither is he endowed with foresight when it comes to the repercussions, and as man tries to ‘manage’ what he has created, so too are the perceptions of the population ‘managed’. In this case we refer to the perception of the elderly.

In the demographic survey entitled Growing Old in America: Expectations and Reality” it became apparent that the benefits of old age fell short of what was expected by the younger generation on becoming old. Such benefits included:

• Spending more time with family

• Traveling more for pleasure

• Less stress

• More time for hobbies

• Starting a second career

• Doing volunteer work

In reality, the American elderly spend their time:

• Talking with family and friends: 90%

• Reading: 83%

• Taking prescription medication: 83%

• Watch T.V.: 77%

• Pray: 76%

• Drive a car: 65%

• Doing a hobby: 43%

• Take a nap: 40%

• Shopping: 39%

• Use the Internet: 28%

• Vigorous exercise: 22%

• Trouble sleeping: 22%

• Getting into an argument: 4%

The above was asked of people aged 65+. It is not necessarily the old age that the younger people look forward to, especially when it comes to the desire for traveling and a second career!

For the elderly like the young, the family is the only social means of continued support, care, compassion, and membership to society. Without that companionship, and that love, one feels at loss, especially the elderly, after years of dedication to the family that now cares for them. This practice still exists within developing, and underdeveloped nations, where family matters.

In countries like the U.K. and the U.S. an attempt to relieve the financial burden of sustaining pensions, came in the form of an invitation to those approaching retirement to delay retirement, which for those approaching retirement reluctantly, was a reprieve from being cast on the dump of uselessness.

Left alone, the elderly are subject to loneliness, which turns to depression; and long-term depression turns to physical and mental ill-health. It is not too uncommon to find an elderly person found alone and dead without the knowledge of neighbors until the smell of their rotting body, permeates the front door of their homes in the U.K. Unable to provide themselves with adequate heating, food or companionship; it is not unusual to die alone. Who would have thought whilst in one’s youth that one’s life would end in this manner!
Approximately 2.1 million American elderly are physically, psychologically and financially abused according to the American Psychological Association based on reported cases.

At the time of the UN report on ageing , a study was being done on mental health and ageing in the U.K. It found:

• 25% of the elderly are clinically depressed from long stay in hospitals

• 30-40% of the elderly in residential and nursing homes displayed forms of clinical depression

• 30% elderly who regularly go to see their GP are depressed

• 26-44% of the elderly are under government care schemes in the home.

• Two-thirds of those diagnosed with depression are likely to be found three years later dead or psychiatrically ill.

Along with depression, one can add dementia, senile dementia, a weaker immune system, frailty, cardio-vascular, and Alzheimer’s Disease. This is not reduced with the establishment of old people’s homes, where many old people feel cast on the dump of exclusion from society, especially their family and friends.

However in Australia, a process is taking place dubbed as the “feminization of ageing”. The violent changes underpinned by conflict in the Middle East have contributed to an increasing number of elderly widows leading to the “feminization of ageing”. However as in the U.S., there is adoption in the Middle East that those of healthy minds and bodies should be able to work, meaning that if one has not provided for one’s retirement, one should not expect society to! Not only this, today, an elderly person does not exact the same level of respect as of yester-year and is subject to all forms of abuse around the world, even from within their families. From abuse of property belonging to the elderly, to forms of physical abuse, the rise of elderly abuse is forever increasing in industrialized nations, more so in developed nations than in developing nations.

In the ‘African Union Policy Framework and Plan of Action for Ageing’ by Help the Aged International, the fact that the report was done by or on behalf of an outside agency is indicative in the summation of Africa, i.e. Africa = HIV-AIDS. However, it is noted that most of the older Africans live in rural area, and that they are less likely to be subject to HIV-AIDS. The report itself cannot quantify the ageing population of Africa, and as such makes a lot of recommendations based on suppositions in coordination with the African Union. However, the situation for older Africans is similar to the Middle East in terms of the external forces. i.e. globalization which has led to the disintegration of the traditional family through poverty, migration, political instability, erosion of cultural values, urbanization along with the legacy of colonialism. However the concept of “elderly” is yet to be defined in African terms that can be recognized by the U.N. Many older Africans are less likely to find employment or to have access to health care as defined by the West. However, the report does point out that:

• The positive role that African elderly play in traditional medicine and looking after the family, and the community

• That the elderly produce their own food, and provide food for their families to sell on the market
• Urbanization has led to many older Africans living alone in rural areas.

• The issue of land ownership which frequently falls into family disputes, especially older women who are widows.

The countries of the Mahgreb (North West Africa) lead in the Middle East, with an intended comprehensive policy that is aimed at supporting the elderly within the traditional family structure than the creation of external resources, which are more than likely not sustainable in the long term. This policy also extends to the Gulf States, and the Arab Mashreq (East). This is in tandem with care facilities for displaced peoples, both of which covers health, and psychological support. Aiming to join forces with the traditional family structure, NGO’s, and volunteers, maybe the social safety net that is disintegrating throughout the region, can be repaired. However, cooperation is also hoped for with the private sector, which is about profit, not people!

The Family

The family is the primary social support mechanism, and this fact remains unchanged for all members of the family. In developing countries it has been found by the Population Council that 40-80% of the elderly live with an adult child. Factors that determine living arrangements include whether a family lives in a rural environment or the city, which in general is not designed for an extended family arrangement, socio-economics rather than family size, and better educated elderly who are more likely to live on their own. Nine per cent of elderly women, and 11% of elderly men live on their own. Unwittingly the Population Council supports the importance of the family in the report In the Demographic Faces of the Elderly they note that:

• “Most older adults receive whatever care they need from relatives”

• Older married couples count on each other for support

• Most men fare better than women because they remain married until they die, while most women become widows

• Marriage provides older women with financial support where there are no pensions or retirement benefits

The report calls on preventative measures to be taken pertaining to the functioning of the elderly, to ensure the health and financial support of the elderly, but given that the current system is frankly unsustainable, and sources of income are questionable, surely the best preventative measure is to reverse the individualistic nature of society placing preference, and support on the family for the family, and consequentially society at large.

In the U.S. the Pew Research Centre 2009 telephone survey showed different living arrangements for the elderly whereby 9 in 10 respondents to the survey live in their own homes. Of these:

• 30% aged 65-74 live on their own

• 66% aged 85+ lived on their own

• 81% have relatives and/or friends nearby who they can turn to

In the Arab countries, the age of retire ranges from 50 to 68. A more comprehensive overview is given for the reasons behind the decreasing role of the family in the life of the elderly in the Arab Plan of Action on Ageing to the 2012 (2002) as it pertains to Arab countries. The reasons included:

• Urbanization

• Transfer of technology

• Upsurge in education

• Migration

• Globalization: Economic, technological, cultural

• Political instability

• Changing ideologies over the role of women

The impact of the above was stated in the report as follows:

    “Those factors have also exacerbated many of the psychological, health and social problems which have limited the capacity of older persons and prevented them from adapting to the latest developments. The various roles which older people were able to continue to perform within and outside the family have diminished. Those factors have also had an impact on the effectiveness of social policies and programs related to social and family care for older persons”.

And the above extract probably underlies the situation in most countries both developed and developing, an important piece of the puzzle that is sorely missing in order to seriously find a workable solution. The impact of the above as outlined by the report includes:

• Family care of the elderly is no longer as common as it used to be with the erosion of the traditional family

• The “extended family has given way to the nuclear family”

• “Family cohesion has suffered”

• There is increased psychological problems and social isolation of the elderly

• Diminished societal values

• The “mutual respect between generations has diminished”

• The “youth and the elderly no longer share the same values”

• Elderly women who have never had paid employment have little access to “social and health benefits”

• A general loss of status for the elderly bearing in mind that not all Arab countries provide pensions

Pension Schemes

With an increase in the ageing population, and the decrease in the working population, the financial resources to provide for the elderly have become compromised. The independent lifestyles that are so prolific in the countries with aging populations represents a factor when it comes to the extent these societies as a whole are willing to support members of their own communities. Each member of a family is expected to contribute to the income of a family once they have completed higher education. As such one starts to contribute towards one’s retirement on employment.

The pay-as-you-go pension scheme was considered the solution, but the pay-as-you-go social security schemes around the world have proven to be fine only in theory. It represents a transfer of funds from the younger to the elderly, and is dependent on being able to maintain employment, but represents a burden for the younger generations in societies where independent lifestyles is the norm. The retirees are living longer, and are therefore in need of benefits for a longer period than previously thought. In addition, people are leaving the work force at an earlier age, and not only for health reasons!

In Brazil, the pay-as-you-go social security scheme is applied to the rural communities. The impact has witnessed a change from the elderly feeling compelled to move in with their adult children, and instead their children move in with them! Scholar and demographer, Ronald Lee, perceives this as a problem which prevents individuals from providing for their own pensions. One might be reminded that some of the individuals who attempted to do just that lost their life savings due to the global economic crisis in 2008! With all the simulated theories over what could and does not work, the irony is that Lee comes to the following conclusion, which also reinforces the importance of the family:

Countries of the Third World mostly have family support systems, which are effectively unfunded pay-as-you-go social systems at the family level, not the national level

1. Some generations would have to support the elderly, whilst saving for their own retirement, thus freeing their own children of the obligation

2. That the cost of provision is spread amongst siblings

3. “They have more appealing options for dealing with population ageing than the industrial world”

However, on point 2, it might be worth adding the fact that each generation supports the older generation is more protective of society as a whole, regardless of one’s income bracket!

Private pension schemes developed as a way out to solve the burgeoning problem that public pension schemes alone could not cope with, and that is the rising aging population. Private pension schemes requires like any pension scheme, contributors, and subscribers, i.e. the pensioners themselves. Unlike public (government) pension schemes, private pensions schemes are profit orientated. Government pension schemes are raised from taxes, and no investments are made.

American employers were given a tax incentive by the 1942 Revenue Act. However, recent events have shown this to be a government get-out clause that affects only the elderly. The private pension schemes have investors who seek to make a profit. There is no guarantee that someone who pays their contributions to a private pensions scheme will benefit, especially as private pensions schemes are vulnerable to bankruptcy. The motor giant General Motors provides a prime example of what can happen.

Before the 2008 global economic global crisis, the huge motor industry magnate, General Motors, GM, was facing problems with its own pension scheme for its own employees. With 2.5 retirees claiming for every active employee, GM was managing an unfunded pension debt of $19.2 billion in 2004.

An American elderly is left with little choice, as pensions are provided mainly by the private sector in the U.S.
Early retirement has become another option by which governments short-sightedly sought to reduce the financial burden. A person who decides to take early retirement (aged 52+), which varied from country to country, has been found a catch 22 for those who take the decision to retire early or to stay in employment for another year. In reality, what happens is that an early retiree receives less in benefits than if they were to retire at the mandatory age. This has been found to be the case in most countries by the Population Council. The under-side of this is that effectively, governments are in fact reducing the labor force that they are in need of.

Health and Social Welfare

In the Population’s Council Demographic Faces of the Elderly, we are told that the number of old people in the future can tell us how many hospital beds, geriatricians, home health aides, food service workers, and how many working adults there will be to provide financial support. This is an assumption based on the way the elderly have been treated in the West, where the aged experience rapid debilitation because of their perceived little use to society. The achievements in healthcare have contributed markedly to longer lives, and yet there is talk of halting this development amongst the medical profession.

In the Arab countries it has been the Gulf States that have led in the provisions of a social welfare service for the older person, as well as educational studies. However, in general, most Arab countries provide free health services and medical insurance for the elderly, along with literacy, and self help. Volunteerism is encouraged, but once again it is the Gulf States that are leading in establishing partnerships with the private and NGO sectors. Overall, ageing as an issue rests on the shoulders of Arab governments, albeit against the backdrop of the traditional family structure still remaining in some areas, which provides for all its family members along with the development of old people’s homes (mostly provided for the wealthy).

Examples of Good Practice Around the World

The differences towards old age can be seen from city to countryside, and from country to country. In developed countries in general, one can expect to see the elderly considered as invaluable as they are no longer allowed to work. This can be devastating to the main breadwinner of a family if he is male. The well-being of the elderly is compromised by this attitude, and consequently their health. Yet, if you were to go to the country-side of a developing or underdeveloped nation one can expect to find an elderly person of the same age looking younger, more physically active, and quite possibly still working – in other words the elderly are treated as valuable, and contributors to the communities in which they live. Unemployment is generally much higher in developed countries than it is for developing countries amongst the elderly.

Sri Lanka

Rapid ageing population and modernization seems to go hand-in-hand. Modern education has changed the individual perception of the family and one’s role in relation to the family. Globalization has played a strong role in migration for work, no less so for the young who will seek higher education and employment away from their families. In Sri Lanka where social security benefits, and health care is not available to the entire population, employers take a less strict view towards employing the elderly than that of the developed nations. Sri Lankan employers are more likely to extend employment contracts beyond the mandatory law, allowing for greater flexibility of employment for older workers.

The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, reports that 43% of men, and 26% of women retire due to work stress, or/and travel stress. The burden of ill-health tends to be more of a determinant for the elderly who are poor than those who are better off. However in developed countries there is great difficulty in encouraging older workers to stay on in employment because studies show that social security benefits present a major obstacle.

In Sri Lanka, where there is a higher life expectancy than developed countries, i.e. 69 years for men, and 77 years for women, before 2004, there was no general concept of unemployment amongst older Sri Lankans, which was below 1%. This is largely due to the fact that when one loses a job, one completely withdraws from the labor market. With ageing, hours of work are reduced:

• Those 60 – 63 years of age work a 23 hour week (male)

• Those 72 – 75 years of age work a 10 hour week (male)

• Those 60 – 63 years of age work a 5 hour week (female)

• Those 72 – 75 years of age work a 2 hour week (female)

Of course they are paid less, however most of the older workers are self employed or are casual workers as skilled labor in the agricultural, manufacturing, wholesale or retail trade.

A 2009 report by the World Bank made the following recommendations in their report on Sri Lanka:

• Reinforce traditional family support to the elderly.

• To provide additional support mechanism which do not undermine the family

• To improve income support for the elderly

• To improve healthcare for the elderly

In 2009, the Sri Lankan government introduced new legislation making children responsible for the welfare of the elderly.

Australia

In Australia, the working age population (15 – 64) increased by 1.8% to 249,100 in June 2008. However, the ageing population increased from 66.8% to 67.5% within 30 years (30 June 1988 – 30 June 2008). From June 2007 – June 2008:

• Those aged 85+ increased by 20,700 (6%) totaling 364,900. This age group consists of twice as many females (241,000) to males (123,000).

• Those aged 100 increased by 540 (19%) totaling 3,400, with 3 times the number of females (2,600) to males (720).

The total ageing population for Australia has increased 165% against a growing population of 29%.
With the above realities in mind, much effort by the government and support agencies have sought to address the life quality of the elderly. As a part of the government’s community care strategy, they have developed a mechanism whereby the government provides 60% of the funding, with the states and territories making up the balance required for care in the community. With the states and territories in overall control, they are the government’s interface with consumers of the services provided and the service providers who provide the services.

The Home and Community Care (HACC) program under the Department of Human Services is able to provide care in the community across socio-cultural groups, and states. Along with the Department of Health and Ageing, service providers help provide clients access to mainstream services. Through one joint initiative with the University of Queensland, it has focused on increasing the physical activity of the elderly who are physically frail. By means of accredited physiologists, appropriate forms of exercise are given to strengthen the elderly physically, improve physical balance, increase mobility, and to reduce susceptibility to falls. This kind of initiative not only reduces long term medical costs on the elderly, and the government, but it also increases the quality of life for the elderly.

Many of the service providers under the HACC initiative provide hotlines, counseling and support groups for the elderly and the carer, overnight and weekend respite for both the elderly and the carer, mobile respite centers, training for the carers, hostels and nursing homes. Carers, whether they be relatives of the elderly or someone unrelated, get carers benefit under the social benefits provided by the government.

HACC also produces translated brochures for its multicultural communities like the Victorian Arab Social Services, VASS, who are able to provide specific care in their catchment area. VASS membership consists of Assyrians, and Iraqi refugees who are both clients and volunteers. Migration is a fact of life, and not only do migrants enrich the host communities, but provide needed labor/services without the cost of education and training already received in their home countries. However with migration comes broken families as a result of migration or war or both. In a 2004 –based survey by VASS, it was found that there was a need for:

• 70% of bilingual workers

• 74% face-to-face interpreters

• 68% telephone interpreters, English classes

• Awareness of mainstream services.

Such initiatives only help HACC to become more informed about the actual needs of its clientele and contribute to the publication of bilingual brochures which communicates the services that are available.

The U.S.

Albeit increasingly common for the elderly to be left to live on their own, their ability to do so is very much determined by their own income whether past or present. Whether old age is lived out in a home for the elderly, their own home, or a rent home, being left alone has a debilitating effect on their physical and mental health. One initiative that aims to cushion old age is the Chicago-based Little Brothers – Friends of the Elderly, LBFE.

Solutions: Islamic

When we use the word ‘democracy’ we automatically think of justice for all members of society. We do not consider that anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, financial status etc. is left out – everybody counts! As we can see, the world democracies are a far cry from that understanding, and when we take up the argument of democracy and Islam as two separate entities, we negate the heritage that Islam has left Muslims with.

Source of Wisdom

Islam as a way of life is entirely social. Every member of society has a place in that society, and a role to play. As the secular world turns to the family as the social mechanism to help provide for those who are increasingly made outcasts of the society which secularism has created through globalization, Islam as it was completed by Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) made the family the foundation, the centre, and the only institution for all members of society. Islam informs us of the role of the elderly in society in many ways.

In the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) we are informed of the actions of one of the early leaders of Islam after the death of the Prophet. ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab was about to depart for Sham (Greater Syria: Lebanon, Palestine, Jordon) when Abu ‘Ubaida ibn Al-Jarrah and company informed him of an epidemic that had taken place in Sham. ‘Umar said,

“Call for me the early emigrants.” ‘Umar consulted with them but they had differing opinions. Some of them said, “We have come out for a purpose and we do not think that it is proper to give it up,” while others said (to ‘Umar), “You have along with you other people and the companions of Allah’s Apostle so do not advise that we take them to this epidemic.” ‘Umar said to them, “Leave me now.” Then he said, “Call the Ansar for me.” ‘Umar consulted with them and they also differed in opinion. He then said to them, Leave me now,” and added, “Call for me the old people of Quraysh who emigrated in the year of the Conquest of Makkah.” ‘Umar consulted with them and they gave a unanimous opinion saying, “We advise that you should return with the people, and do not take them to that (place) of epidemic.” (Al Bukhari).

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab was a leader, and looked to get the best advice possible. It was the advice of the elderly which proved to be reliable because of their years of experience. After all, Prophet Muhammad did say:

(The son of Adam (i.e. man) grows old and so also two (desires) grow old with him, i.e., love for wealth and (a wish for) a long life.) (Bukhari)

In other words, the elderly do not have the weaknesses of youth to prevent them from giving the best advice. If those with wisdom are excluded or removed from society, then it is society that loses out both in the short term and in the long term. This is all the more evident today when both poverty and conflict prevails.

To Be Respected

Whether one’s contributions has been on a familial, social, national, or global level, when one reaches old age the last thing to be expected is to be made to feel worthless. Examples within Islam emphasize the respect that younger generations should show towards the elderly. The elderly should be given first consideration:

Prophet Muhammad was using a tooth-stick, when two men, one older than the other, were with him. A revelation came to him about the merit of using the tooth-stick. He was asked to show proper respect and give it to the elder of the two. (Abu Dawud)

When some Companions had stayed with Prophet Muhammad for 20 days, he had noticed they were missing their family, so he ordered them to:

(Go back and stay with your families and teach them the religion, and offer the prayer and one of you should pronounce the Adhan for the prayer when its time is due and the oldest one amongst you should lead the prayer.) (Al Bukhari)

In the above ahadith the elderly were not only given first consideration in terms of leading communal prayer, but also respect in terms of their experience. Disrespect was shown when a man informed Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) about the reason why he stayed away from morning prayers. ‘Ibn Mas’ud said:

(I never saw Allah’s Apostle more furious in giving advice than he was at that time. He then said, “Some of you make people dislike good deeds (the prayer). So whoever among you leads the people in prayer should shorten it because among them are the weak, the old and the needy.) (Al Bukhari)

They should be shown respect on greeting:

(The young should greet the old… ) (Al Bukhari)

Whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim:

“Narrated ‘Aishah: (Two elderly ladies from among the Jewish ladies entered upon me and said’ “The dead are punished in their graves,” but I thought they were telling a lie and did not believe them in the beginning. When they went away and the Prophet entered upon me, I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Two old ladies..” and told him the whole story. He said, “They told the truth…) (Al Bukhari)

And they should be shown patience:

A man went to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and said: Teach me to read the Qur’an, Apostle of Allah. He said: Read three surahs which begin with A.L.R. (Alif Lam Raa’) He said: My age is advanced, my mind has become dull (i.e. memory has grown weak), and my tongue has grown heavy). So he said: Then read three surahs which begin with H.M. (Ha Meem) He repeated the same words. So he said: Read three surahs which begin with the “Glorification of Allah” (Sabaha lil-Allah). But he repeated the same excuse. The man then said: Teach me a comprehensive surah, Apostle of Allah. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) taught him Surah Az-Zalzalah (Surah 99). “When the Earth is shaken with her earthquake”. When he finished it, the man said: By Him Who sent you with truth, I shall never add anything to it. The man then went away. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said twice: The man received salvation. (Abu Dawud)

{Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one of them or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small }(Al Israa’ 17:23-24)

To ensure respect, mercy, and honoring of the elderly, the system of charity in an Islamic society is based on those that have giving to those who do not have. In this way, a balance in society is maintained.

Social Responsibility

Social responsibility is an intrinsic part of the Islamic faith put into practice. A good example of honoring the elderly in Muslim society today, is in Brunei Darussalam, an island of Borneo. It is one of interest to ageing population demographers because Borneo is one of the top ten richest countries in the world. Due to its wealth from oil, there is no income tax or national insurance, and there is free healthcare and education. Also, this country has an Islamic social system whereby religion is not separate from the state as in the secular world.

Unlike many countries in the world, Brunei Darussalam does not have a significant ageing population, though it is predicted that it will do by 2011. The care of the elderly is primarily that of the family, with a structured support from the state. The state has a budget for pensions, and a hardship fund for those in difficulty. That funding is within the social context as exemplified by Prophet Muhammad where the culture of piety, and mutual respect is strong, and this helps the traditional family structure to remain buoyant despite the encroachment of modernity. The structure is as follows:

• The Village Head – Identifies and alleviates cases of hardship, and presents the case to the District Head

• The District Head – Approaches the pension fund, or the welfare fund (which coordinates with the Zakah Fund) depending on the nature of the case.

This mechanism and the fact that both the elderly, and the family have access to hospitals, Social Services, and the Zakah Fund (the latter being administered by the Ministry of Religious Affairs).

The fact that the family provides ongoing support is demonstrated by the repulsion towards old people’s homes. Care of the elderly is seen as a natural process as a part of the family, and strange if it is not. Attempts were made to establish old people’s homes in Brunei Darussalam, and in fact there is only one officially recognized home, and it only has 10 elderly residents. The medical facilities available are modern, and extend to primary healthcare in both urban and rural areas. Rural areas are facilitated via a mobile primary healthcare service which provides free consultation, and hospitalization, and as we know, hospital services in the early years of Islam were free. It is through the doctors that the elderly also have access to the welfare services, as well as counseling. The medical social work department can provide needed equipment and arrange to adapt the home to the needs of the elderly.

Brunei Darussalam is a good example of a synergic relationship between Islam and the state. A clear vision of Islam helps to structure and direct the resources of the state towards the common good. The elderly are not deemed or treated as worthless, and in general the elderly have a good state of health even without the welfare, social, and medical programs facilitated by the state. In turn the state with its wisdom, uses its wealth to benefit all members of society whether they live in the urban or rural areas. If one compares the world superpower with the island of Brunei Darussalam, it becomes clear that wealth alone is not enough to guarantee respect, and mercy from society, and a role in society. If rather than look from afar at what one country can do, countries facing an ageing population should take guidance from one country on how to live, plan, and project for the whole of society. Not every country has oil, but every country has natural resources no matter how small that can benefit all of its citizens considering the needs of all of its citizens in a sustainable manner.

“Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) observed: (By Him in whose hand is my life, no, bondsman (truly) believes till he likes for his neighbor, or he (the Holy Prophet) said: for his brother, whatever he likes for himself.) (Muslim)

Sources:

Age Works. “ Demographics of an Aging Population”

Australian Bureau of Statistics. 3201.0 – Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, Jun 2008

Anderson, D. A. “Treating Depression in Old Age: The Reason to Be Positive”

Age and Ageing 2001. 30: 13 -17 British Geriatric Society.

ESCWA (U.N.) The Arab Plan of Action on Ageing to the Year 2012. Beirut. Lebanon 2002

Fogel, R. W. “Changes in the Process of Aging During the 20th Century: Findings and Procedures of the Early Indicators Project” Population Council

HACC What’s New in the HACC Resource Centre?

Help the Aged International ‘African Union Policy Framework and Plan of Action for Ageing’

Lee, R. “Quantifying Our Ignorance: Stochastic Forecasts of Population and Public Budget” Population Council.

Lee, R. “Global Population Ageing and It’s Economic Consequences” American Enterprise Institute. 2007

Longman, P. “Population Implosion”. New American Foundation

Parker, K. et al “Getting Old in America”. Pew Research Centre.

Phillips D. R et al. “Ageing in the Asia-Pacific Region: Issues, Policies and Future Trends.” Routledge Advances in Asian Pacific Studies Series. Taylor & Francis Inc. 2000

Population Council “Project: Living Arrangements of Older Adults in the Developing World”

Population Council “Project Social Security and Population Ageing in the Developed World”

Population Division The Ageing of the World’s Population. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat

Two –Thirds Reject Extended Pension. http://www.homelearningcollege.co.uk

Queensland. Service Directories: State Focused Agencies

SSDAN. Module 4: “U.S. Population Structure: An Ageing America”. University of Michigan, and National Centre for Health Statistics.

VASS Victorian Arab Social Services

Vodopivec, M.; Arunatilake, N. “The Impact of Population Ageing in the Labour Market: The Case of Sri Lanka”

Waite, L. J.(ed.) Aging, Health, and Public Policy: Demographic and Economic Perspectives: The Demographic Faces of the Elderly” Supplement to Population and Development Review Vol: 30. 2004

Wise, D.A. Aging, Health, and Public Policy: Demographic and Economic Perspectives: Social Security Provisions and the Labour Force Participation of Older Workers” Supplement to Population and Development Review Vol: 30. 2004

World Bank “Sri Lanka: Addressing the Needs of an Ageing Population”

World Bank “Executive Summary”

Related Topics:
The Brain Says Men and Women are Different When It Comes to Stress
Living Beyond the Mundane
Prosperity and Abundance Now!
No Wonder British Women Are Bored!

How Not to Master a Skill!

Life lessons show us the way to improve ourselves if we read the signs, but more often than not, the same situation might repeat itself again, and again until we are open to reading the sign that will show us the way, or what we need to learn at that moment before we can move on. Talents are God’s spiritual gifts to us, to show us our purpose, but sometimes we are mistaken as to what those gifts are, sometimes we do not recognize them at all, but often we abuse what we think we have becuase we ignore the path that will lead us to its true meaning.

Concentration!

Author Unknown

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.

    “There,” he said to the old man,

    “see if you can match that!”

Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

Curious about the old fellow’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.

    “Now it is your turn,” he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

    “You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament,

    “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.”

Other Stories
When the Waters Were Changed
The Flowering Tree
The Emperor’s New Clothes
The House of Three Rooms
All Things Are Linked!
Love and Time
The Gift of Sharing
Climbing the Mountain
The Sieve
The Echo of Life

Stopping the Menstrual Flow During Ramadhan

Stopping the Menstrual Flow During Ramadhan

By Hwaa Irfan

It is an affectation of the mind, when a woman wants to take a pill to stop her menstrual flow during Ramadhan, even though the intention is to fast. Out of a past that deemed women’s menstrual flow as evil or dirty, women have learnt to take on this myth in varying ways, but all the ways leading to a dislike of her own body. Contemporary lifestyles have much to thank secularism for in this regard with a materialistic understanding of the body as something that can be “programmed” with replaceable parts. Doctors have helped in this regard by informing female patients that is alright to take the contraceptive pill to suppress the menstrual flow for important events without any regard for any harm caused in the long termed. We have learnt to subjugate nature, including the nature of our bodies because of the opinions of those. We all have our burdens to bear, just as we have that which have been blessed with.

    Narrated Al-Qasim: ‘Aisha said, “We set out with the sole intention of performing Hajj and when we reached Sarif, (a place six miles from Mecca) I got my menses. Allah’s Apostle came to me while I was weeping. He said ‘What is the matter with you? Have you got your menses?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is a thing which Allah has ordained for the daughters of Adam. So do what all the pilgrims do with the exception of the Taw-af (Circumambulation) round the Ka’ba.” ‘Aisha added, “Allah’s Apostle sacrificed cows on behalf of his wives” (Al Bukhari Volume 1, Book 6, Number 293)

And so it is written!

It is with narrow eyes that we get such interpretations of the Qur’an that lead women to believe the worst about themselves. We read of Surat Ul-Baqarah 2: 222:

YUSUF ‘ALI: They ask thee concerning women’s courses. Say: They are a hurt and a pollution: So keep away from women in their courses, and do not approach them until they are clean

PICKTHALL: They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed…

SHAKIR: And they ask you about menstruation. Say: It is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean…“…

hurt and a pollution” is not what is used in the Arabic, but “hurt” is i.e. adhaa (with the pronounciation a-dh(the)aa.

The use of language could be said to be influenced by the background of the author, in this case translation. It is argues by purists that the Qur’an can only be read in Arabic, or to be more precise classical Arabic. Note the first two translations are by Western converts to Islam from a Western culture, when women were regarded very much as 2nd class citizens and less. ‘Abdullah Yusuf ‘Ali was born in India under British colonial rule in 1872 for whom religion was a personal matter, whilst his allegiance was to the Crown (of England). He married in the Church of England to an English woman, but had bad luck when it came to women. For him Islam was a solace. Marmaduke Pickthall was of a more sensitive and humble character who nursed his dying mother. Pickthall never really warmed to the harshness of 19th England, was propelled towards finding more fertile soil and found:

    “When I read The Arabian Nights I see the daily life of Damascus, Jerusalem, Aleppo, Cairo, and the other cities as I found it in the early nineties of last century. What struck me, even in its decay and poverty, was the joyousness of that life compared with anything that I had seen in Europe. The people seemed quite independent of our cares of life, our anxious clutching after wealth, our fear of death.”

His use of the word “illness” might have some bearing on the world from which he came, and the “predicament” of women in the country in which he was born and raised in, England.

Religious Basis

However, there are other reasons why women should not take artificial means to suppress what has been given to them by their Creator, Allah (SWT).

It has been considered as quite normal for women to take the contraceptive pill to offset the menstrual flow. It is believed that these pills maintain the lining of the uterus when the woman’s hormones are subsiding, and are therefore no longer able to support the lining of the uterus which would otherwise do what it normally does, and i.e. to breakdown and discharge as blood i.e. menstrual flow. This has become common practice on the basis that there is no religious basis to do otherwise. However, there is a religious base, and that is the concept of harm in Islam.

“There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” An Nawawi #32

“…you should show courtesy and be cordial with each other, so that nobody should consider himself superior to another nor do him harm.” Riyadh-us-Saleheen. Hadith 602.

“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.” (Al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, #38)

– “…you should show courtesy and be cordial with each other, so that nobody should consider himself superior to another nor do him harm.” Riyadh-us-Saleheen. Hadith 602.

– “Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day (of Judgment) should not harm his neighbor. Anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should entertain his guest generously. And anyone who believes in God and the Last Day should say what is good or keep quiet.” (Al-Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, # 47).

All the above are based on the concept of harm whether personal, individual or collective. For Imam Abu Dawud, the Islamic concept of harm underlies all Hadiths. From the Islamic legal viewpoint according to the Association of Muslim Lawyers:

    “Maxims such as “Harm must be eliminated” (Ad-dararu yuzal) and “Acts are judged by the intention behind them” (Al-umuru bi-maqasidiha) belong to this category of maxims [i.e. “al-qawa‘id al-fiqhiyyah al-asliyyah”, or the normative legal maxims”.

• “harm may neither be inflicted nor reciprocated in Islam” (la darara wa la dirara fil-Islam).

• “Harm must be eliminated but not by means of another harm” (Ad-dararu yuzalu wa lakin la bi-darar)

• “Harm is not eliminated by another harm” (Ad-dararu la yuzalu bid-darar)

• “A specific harm is tolerated in order to prevent a more general one” (Yutahammal ad-darar al-khaas li-daf’al-darar al ‘aam)

• “Harm is eliminated to the extent that is possible”(Ad-dararu yudfa‘u bi-qadr al-imkaan)

• “A greater harm is eliminated by means of a lesser harm” (Yuzal ad-darar al-ashaddu bid-darar al-akhaff).

Physiological Basis

In the endocrine system, the hypothalamus in the brain generates a hormone which stimulates the pituitary body to release two hormones a) the follicle stimulating hormone, FSH and b) the luteinizing hormone, LH, which in turn stimulates the ovaries to stimulate estrogen (estradiol), and androgens (testosterone). The estrogen stimulates the endometrium, the lining of the uterus to produce new tissue.

Delayed menses or amenorrhea is used here to analogize the problem of artificially suppressed menses. The medical reason for primary amenorrhea in the case of young women who have not ovulated before is:

• Malfunction of the hypothalamus/pituitary body/ovarian/other (endocrine).

In the case of secondary amenorrhea, women who have ovulated the cause is due to:

• The taking of certain drugs: antihypertensives/2ndgeneration

• Antipsychotics/cocaine/estrogens/hallucinogens/morphine/codeine/tricyclic antidepressants

• Obesity

• Hypothyroidism/hyperthyroidism

• Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

• Excess/deficient levels of estrogen

• Stress (emotional, environmental, nutritional)

• Others

From the holistic angle, there is a malfunction of the regulatory system in the body. That regulatory system is the hypothalamus which is affected by emotional and psychological factors. These stressors include negative feelings about being female according to renowned obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Christine Northrup. The more these negative feelings accumulate, the more likely there will problems with ovulation.
What happens when we take the pill whether to delay the menstrual flow, or to prevent pregnancy is that the body is being prevented from releasing eggs, there is a thickening of the cervical mucus to stop the sperm from fertilizing eggs, and a thinning of the uterus so the egg cannot implant itself.

The short term effect has yet to be looked into in terms of suppression of menses for fasting, but in the case of long term use, i.e. as a contraceptive, it has already been recognized that the following becomes increased risk factors:

• Cancer

• Fatal blood clots

• Thinner bones

• Impaired muscle gains

• Long-term sexual dysfunction

• Heart disease

• Early menopause

• Reduced fertility in the male and female children of women who take the Pill long term.

On the effects of aging please look at the “Related Topics” below. However, with the demand by women (both Muslim and non-Muslim) for such a drug, Seasonale was put on the market. Dr. Ingrid Johnston-Robledo, State University of New York in Fredonia who organized a conference on menstrual suppression said:

    “I am concerned about the release of Seasonale because I do not believe we have the data to argue that it is entirely safe, at the same time, it may be safer than manipulating one’s own birth control pills without guidance or endorsement from one’s health-care provider.”

Researcher at the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Christie Hitchcock commented:

    “There is a serious flaw in all of these studies,” said Hitchcock, namely that they don’t include a control group of women who aren’t on birth control pills.

    “There is also a selection bias in the studies because the majority of women were current users of [the Pill], which automatically means that they are people who are able to tolerate oral contraceptives,”

    “That doesn’t say anything about the changes a woman not currently taking any oral contraceptives can expect.”

And this is the sad reality today, that we struggle to live between the world of the Creator, and the world where man maybe unconsciously seeks to dismantle the world that He created our archetype of which is Nature. In doing so we harm our own inner nature, not realizing the consequences.There is plenty of evidence for the long term harm of taking the pill, to the extent that fertility is reduced amongst male and female offspring from women who take the pill. Can taking the pill be an act of worship, when their is risk of harming the gift of nature from Him?

When estrogen is ingested in artificial any form, it eventually will be released into the sewerage system, back into the soil, the waterways, feeding the food we will eventually eat, which has a proven negative impact on male species physiologically. Not all contemporary scholars support the suppression of menses for Ramadhan. The guidance given to women is that they can still be a part of Ramadhan by:

1. Make du’aa (supplications)

2. Listen to a recitation of the Qur’an, or silently recite it to herself

3. Celebrate the praises of Allah T’ala

4. Study Islamic texts, including Hadith

And I add, by supporting others in their acts of worship, in this way women are not excluded accept by the ignorance of others, and Ramadhan is not free from tests. Be mindful of turning a blessing into a curse!

    Narrated Abdullah ibn Sa’d al-Ansari: Abdullah asked the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him): “What is lawful for me to do with my wife when she is menstruating? He replied: What is above the waist-wrapper is lawful for you. The narrator also mentioned (the lawfulness of) eating with a woman in menstruation, and he transmitted the tradition in full”. (Abu Dawud Book #1, Hadith #0212)

Sources:

A Biography of Abdullah Yusaf Ali http://www.renaissance.com.pk/jabore96.html

Amenorrhea http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec18/ch244/ch244b.html

Davis, J, Segars, J, Glob. libr. women’s med., Menstruation and Menstrual Disorders: Anovulation.
(ISSN: 1756-2228) 2008; DOI 10.3843/GLOWM.10296 http://www.glowm.com/index.html?p=glowm.cml/section_view&articleid=295

Kemali, M. H. Qawa‘id Al-Fiqh: The Legal Maxims of Islamic Law. http://www.sunnah.org/fiqh/usul/Kamali_Qawaid_al-Fiqh.pdf

Marmaduke Pickthall. http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/bmh/BMM-AHM-pickthall_bio.htm

Menstruation http://www.islamset.com/bioethics/obstet/menstru.html

The Hadiths http://fortyhadith.iiu.edu.my/hadith32.htm

Related Topics:
The Pill, Our Bodies, and Ourselves
Menorrhagia (Heavy Periods)
Premenstrual Syndrome: The Natural Approach
Fasting and Pregnancy
Society’s Obligation to Mothers
GM Foods and Fertility
Prince Charles on Islam and the Environment

Partial Victory Over Arizona Immigration Law

Partial Victory Over Arizona Immigration Law

Statement from the ANSWER Coalition

“Today’s decision by the U.S. District Court barring key provisions of the racist, anti-immigrant law SB 1070 is an important but partial victory.

“The court decision comes on the eve of the implementation of the Arizona law and as demonstrators are assembling in Phoenix and elsewhere throughout the country. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Bolton comes after weeks of intense mobilization, demonstrations and street rallies in states throughout the country. Following the decision by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer to sign SB 1070 into law, a Boycott Arizona movement has spread from coast to coast. The court’s decision will undoubtedly be challenged. This is all the more reason to intensify the mobilization of the people, in Arizona and everywhere.

“Ironically, the preliminary injunction was granted in response to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. The Obama administration, while opposing the Arizona law, has carried out a record number of deportations – far more than were carried out during the last two years of the Bush administration in 2007 and 2008.

“The U.S. District Court today granted a preliminary injunction against key provisions of the law. They include:

“The requirement that police officers in Arizona investigate the immigration status of anyone arrested in the state if the police officers “suspect” that the individuals are in the country illegally. This provision institutionalized racial profiling against Latinos and all people of color.

“The imposition of criminal penalties for any non-citizen in Arizona who failed to carry their immigration documents with them or for all immigrants failing to register with the Department of Homeland Security.
The mandatory arrest of anyone who had been detained for even the most minor offense that would usually result in a ticket or citation, if that individual could not verify that they are legally authorized to be in the United States.

“The allowance of police to arrest individuals, even without an arrest warrant, if they are deemed by police officers to be removable from the United States.

“The creation of a new category making it a crime for undocumented immigrants to be employed in the state of Arizona.

“SB 1070 will go into effect July 29 2010, but without the provisions of the law that are barred by the preliminary injunction.

“The ANSWER Coalition has been deeply involved in the organization of today’s [28th] and tomorrow’s [29th]demonstrations protesting SB 1070 in Phoenix, Arizona, and in all of the earlier demonstrations in Arizona and around the country.

“Without the mobilization of people in the streets throughout the country, the reactionary and racist forces that pushed this law through in Arizona would have succeeded. Moreover, state legislatures throughout the country are watching Arizona with an eye to the outcome of this battle. If this clearly unconstitutional law could take effect in Arizona, racist bigots will eagerly try to pass similar measures in states throughout the country.

“The Obama Administration’s decision to file a lawsuit against the Arizona law was the consequence of the pressure it felt from an outraged and mobilized population that is demanding the overturn of this racist law. Judge Bolton’s decision today is in response to a number of lawsuits, including one filed by the U.S. Justice Department.

“The Obama Administration, however, has greatly intensified the arrest and deportation of immigrant workers since it took office in January 2009. As the Washington Post of July 26 reported:

    “The Obama Administration is deporting record numbers of illegal immigrants and auditing hundreds of businesses that blithely hire undocumented workers. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency expects to deport about 400,000 people this fiscal year, nearly 10 percent above the Bush administration’s 2008 total and 25 percent more than were deported in 2007. The pace of company audits has roughly quadrupled since President George W. Bush’s final year in office.”

We will continue to organize in the streets and support efforts in the courts to overturn SB 1070 and all federal, state and local laws that criminalize undocumented workers and promote racial profiling against Latinos and other people of color. It is not enough to allow the Obama Administration to formally oppose SB 1070 in Arizona while engaging in mass deportations and arrests of immigrant workers.

Instead of mass deportations, the Obama Administration should support comprehensive immigration reform that gives millions of super-exploited immigrant workers full legal rights.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
http://www.answercoalition.org/

Related Topics:
The Hypocrisy of Anti-Immigration in Arizona
A Black Independence Day?
The Doctrine of Discovery

The Ramadhan Reminder: Taking Time Out With God

The Ramadhan Reminder: Taking Time Out With God

By Hwaa Irfan

Ramadhan is approaching and we may be fearing it in trepidation, because we know we have not been doing so well since last Ramadhan.

It used to be a lot easier, but somehow the weight of the daily grind has been eroding away our relationship with ourselves. With global crises in every corner, we may have lost sight of trusting in Him. It is funny how we give into the demands of work, of people, or a set way of seeing life, but it does – and it is only when Ramadhan comes around again that we are faintly aware, that we have strayed away from ourselves, what really matters, and our relationship with our Creator. Ramadhan tends to have that effect, al hamdu Lillah because taking time out with Him, our Creator is like taking time out with ourselves.

We do not want to remind ourselves of what we have not done. We do not want to recognize the lies we have told ourselves – besides our relationship with Allah (SWT) was not healthy anyway, because if it was we would not give up or give in. We have turned Islam into a series of “do’s” and “don’ts – we have stripped away the oft repeated saying in the Hadiths (traditions of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), that His Mercy prevails over His anger.

So here we are, approaching Ramadhan again, and probably feeling less like a Muslim than the same time last year. Because we have dehumanized the Islamic experience, we have made it pretty difficult to do what we have come here to do, which is jihad an nafs – raise our lives to a higher vibration of existence. We are supposed to struggle with the self, we are supposed to make mistakes, but equally we are supposed to learn from those mistakes. Yet, the little shayateen inside of us tells us “But if we are not allowed to make them in the first place, what is the big deal!” – “I’ve done it, and I’m still alive”. But are we, and if so in what way?

Anyone can pretend to be good, but the real trick is to rise to the higher self. Hmm! Secularism entrains us to believe that we have no higher self, and becuase it is so subliminal, we really do believe it, and then we go to the other extreme and make it impossible for ourselves and others to be. He gave us the freedom to choose, so that it is by our will that we move towards a higher level of being. With that gift of choice, a gift that no other creation in His kingdom possesses, we also have to choose to understand the right way to live, and the right way to be, and the right way to love, and be loved. In the process of learning, the lessons we learn become a fixed part of our reality, and we are one or more notch up away from the soul that is enslaved to the nafs, ego.

{So when harm afflicts a man he calls upon Us; then, when We give him a favor from Us, he says: I have been given it only by means of knowledge. Nay, it is a trial, but most of them do not know } ( Az Zumar 39: 49).

We were designed to be weak, so that we would learn to be strong in the real sense of the word, and not the dunya , worldly sense of the word, and for this the simple act of prayer was given to us as a duty, and a reminder.

If praying is something that one just tries to fit in with daily activities, then of course no benefit can be gained. Prayer then becomes just an activity that you might be feeling you can do without.

Prayer is the one thing that is done on a daily basis which does not involve everybody else – it is just you and your Creator. If those around you try to draw you into chatter, just focus on your preparation. After a while, they will soon accept that you mind is on getting ready to pray. It is a special time whereby beforehand, when you know it is soon time to pray, you slow down from what you are doing, stop the clock, and begin mental preparations, niyyat (intentions) which helps to prepare the mind as well as the body for taking time out for Allah (SWT). It is the only time whereby you do not feel compelled to prove yourself to the world, besides when you go to sleep. As you mentally prepare yourself, you move towards physically preparing yourself through w’udhu (ablutions). You are made of water (70%), and with water you refresh the parts of your body most exposed to the outside world. As the water touches your skin, as long as you do not dry your skin afterwards, your skin absorbs some of the moisture from which you are made by Him, and so we are reminded that from Him we have come, and to Him we will return. Now you are ready to present yourself in front of Him in a state of Islam, i.e. in submission.

As your body moves in prayer to Him, the movements of prayer in Islam is but a charity to us, because it offers subtle exercise by:

Takbir – the raising of our hands and shoulders increases the flow of blood to the upper part of our body

Sujud – when our heads touch the ground we stretch our spine, our neck, our hips, and our ankles, and by doing so increase the flow of blood to our brain

All in all, we increase the transmission of nutrients to the cartilage between our joints which can only be done through the kind of physical movement that increases movement in our joints. The whole body and mind is put into a state of relaxation, releasing the tensions picked throughout the course of the day. In this way, you bring your mind and body back into balance, and are more able to resume the rest of the day until next prayer time more refreshed than before, and more able to make better choices. Of course, if your mind does not let go of the external demands on your person, you will not feel the benefit, and prayer time will be just another activity which you as a whole person will not benefit from.

Done with the heart, prayer can genuinely be the time out that you need from the monkey chatter. Prayer time allows one to slow down, to breathe, if not remind one’s self how to breathe. To say “Stop” to the way in which the day seems to be gnawing away at you. I have attended congregational prayer in pain and great difficulty in walking (sciatica), and have left the mosque standing upright and free from pain – that is how powerful prayer can be in our lives.

That time out you take, can stop you from making a bad mistake, or from changing your perception of whatever happened to a more balanced one, so do not fear what Ramadhan has to offer spiritually to only end up depriving yourself. Know that your anger, and frustration is yours alone, not of Allah (SWT), so give yourself the chance to learn from your mistakes, and in that way you are more likely to keep your humanity intact! As for those who do not want you to kep your humanity in tact, leave them to learn the lessons they need to learn.

So if you live in an area where the adhan (call to prayer) is a part of daily life, give thanks that you are being helped in your dhikr (remembrance). However, if you live in an area where there is no adhan to remind you to pray, most newspapers record sunrise and sundown. Let this be your guide until you register nature’s clock. After a while, you will be able to tell when it is time to pray, and to adjust your life so that it is compatible with prayer insha-Allah, God-Willing! By learning to feel the rhythm of nature in this way, also helps you to get in touch with your own rhythm,

{And let not the ones endowed with the Grace (of Allah) and affluence swear off bringing (charity) to near of kin (Literally: endowed with kinship) and the indigent and to the ones emigrating in the way of Allah; and let them be clement and let them pardon. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Merciful.} (An Nur 24:22)

Related Topics:
From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives
A Season for Forgiveness
Developing the Muslim Self Through Martial Arts

Homeshooling as the Last Option

Homeshooling as the Last Option

By Hwaa Irfan

It was only a couple of years ago, when the trend reflected a growing amount of Muslims turning to homechooling. The increased Islamophobia being faced by Muslim pupils at school, and the cultural dimension brought in by Asian and S.E. Asian families not wanting their girls to experience or be influenced by American culture in puberty was another. When I heard about Fawzia Mai Tung, a Chinese-American Muslim who homeschools all her three children in Phoenix, there was some hope. Not worshipping American education, Tung, still worried about if her children would succeed until, she found out how low the local grades were. Now her oldest son is at medical college, which just goes to show how much parents over-rated the education that is provided for us. This is what homeschooling is, bringing out the untapped potential that gets crushed, neglected, or abused at school.

Now, the latest trend in U.S. homeschooling is as result of the global economic crisis. The kind of school budget cuts being made, are forcing more and more parents to think about what their children are actually getting. Nabila Hanson from Morocco, a convert to Islam sees the education system as it is after her 9-year old son, Omar demonstrated how bright he is. She said his brightness is due to not being stifled by public school, or dumb-downed.

    “The public school system,” asserted Hanson, who home-schools her two children in their spacious two-story house in this East Bay suburb, “is just a joke. It’s an embarrassment.”

The trouble with becoming a part of the system, is that one I not best placed to comment on it, and as such one is ready to destroy anything that seemingly threatens it. That has been the relationship between schooling and homeschooling in the U. S.

In California where Hansen’s home is, most homeschoolers are Hispanic or African-American, where once it was the domain of white evangelical Christians who considered rightly that schooling was not providing enough moral education. This, along with other issues mentioned is why homeschooling is moving away from the point of view as being seen as an educational alternative to being part of the mainstream according to a 2009 study done by the National Home Education Research Institute.

Famous Homeschoolers

Because the one thing that homeschooling is in a better position to provide that schooling, is an environment that nurtures the whole individual, rather than the socially acceptable part of the individual, which leaves the rest of the individual quite unhappy. It may be the very reason why in the period 2007 – 2008, why homeschoolers scored 34 – 39% higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests. It may also be why homeschoolers enter college as self-starters, and able to get on with what needs to be done. With such results, even the Ivy League universities have become interested in taking on homeschoolers and university entry level like Stanford.

Unfortunately, if it is only about results, then some parents are following suit, and are deciding to homeschool their children because of the proven results, however there are still parents who appreciate homeschooling for what it really has to offer. As more and more parents consider taking their children out of school the reasons range from:

• “They don’t like the one-size-fits-all approach,”

• “In a public school, everyone has to learn the same thing whether they are interested in that or not,”
• One parent’s children benefit from a nontraditional style of learning.

• “She was asked to do the ABC book when she was reading at second-grade level,”

• “No flexibility in the teaching”.

• “Safety,”

• “Peer pressure”

• “Racism”

• “Disadvantaged physically challenged children”

• “You hear of kids who’ve gone to school, but they never learned to read. And you wonder why.”

We all send our children off to school without really questioning why or looking at our expectations.
As a single mom who runs an educational academy, Hanson acknowledged it’s sometimes hard to juggle her time between her work and her children. But watching them blossom, and “moving to their own beat” makes it all worthwhile, she said.

Sources:
Home School: Why Ethnic Families Are Saying Yes
http://newamericamedia.org/2010/07/home-is-where-the-school-is.php

Macfarquhar, N. Many Muslims in U.S. Turn to Home Schooling http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/26/world/americas/26iht-26muslim.11426053.html?_r=1

Related Topics:
The Echo of Life
Learning vs. the Artificial World of the Internet!
Schooling, Violence and Your Child
Taking Control of Your Family Home
The Missing Link in the Education of Our Boys

Allah’s Medicine Chest: Dates (Phoenix dactylifera)

Allah’s Medicine Chest: Dates (Phoenix dactylifera)

Compiled By Hwaa Irfan

With the blessed month of Ramadhan upon there are those who will be thinking of dates break a fast more than others mainly because of where it is grown. For me it is the best way to break a fast following a tall glass of water because I know that Allah (SWT) has blessed the date with so many vitamins and minerals – I feel nourished, and I am able to pray Maghrib (dusk prayers) as Sunnah knowing that by the time I have completed my prayers, my digestive system is ready to take on a full meal.

With the exorbitant prices being placed on food today by thefood industry, what could be a cheap form of nutrition is slowly being made unaffordable for many unless they live where the trees grow. Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was far from wealthy in the last years of his life, but his practice of eating dates to break fast with has demonstrated to us how simple a wholesome meal can be. For those who prepare Ramadhan food parcels for the needy, it would be worth putting a kilo of dates for a family of 2 in those parcels, and multiples thereof according to the size of the family.

    Prophet Muhammed (SAW) said: When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then (he should break his fast) with water, for water is purifying. At Tirmidhi

Called ‘Nakhla’ in Arabic, and referred to as the ‘Tree of Life’ by Arabs the Date Palm fruit is an ancient food of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, has always been abundant throughout the Nile and the Euphrates. Evidence shows that the Date Palm has been cultivated in eastern Arabia as far back as 4,000 B.C. Grown in many countries around the world now, Iraq has always led in world production with 22 million date palms producing 600,000 tons of dates annually being renowned for its quality. There are so many varieties available now, with the varieties grown in California originating from Basra, Halawy, and Dayri in Iraq for example, with the Tunisian variety, Deglet Noor originating from Tunisia accounting for 75% of California production.

Dates ripen in four stages:

Kimri (unripe)

Khalal (full-size, crunchy)

Rutab (ripe, soft)

Tamr (ripe, sun-dried).

Constituents:

Carbohydrates

• Alkaloids

• Steroids: cholesterol, stigmasterol, campesterol and α-sitosterol

• Flavanoids

• Vitamins: A, C, B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), and niacin.

• Enzymes: phytase, invertase and peroxidase

• Tannins

• Phenols: Ferulic, sinapic, and coumaric acids

• Lutein

• A-Carotene (pigment) .

Date Seed Oil contains:

• Oleic, lauric, palmitic, Capric, myristic, myristoleic, palmitoleic, stearic, linoleic, and linolenic acids.

Dates have been scientifically proven to have the following action:

Anti-ulcer

• Anti-carcinogenic

• Anti-diarrheal

• Anti-oxidant – i.e. prevents cell death

• Anti-inflammatory

The Medicinal Properties

It has been found that juice from the dates and the seed reduces damage to the liver, and even reverse damage, as the juice strengthens and supports the function of the liver. The phenol content has been proven to slow down the progress of degenerative diseases, especially the varieties grown in Iran, Algeria, and Bahrain.

Date extract has been shown to increase sperm count and motility, the pollen can reverse chemotherapeutic-induced infertility in males and clinical trials seems positive in finding that the extract from the seed prevents replication of the HIV-1 virus.

One of the practices of Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was to have dates in milk. It has been found that the milk in which dates are soaked is very nourishing for children to drink, and for convalescing adults. The sweet pulp which confectioners and bakers like to use as filling is helpful in cases of dysentery.

On the level of vibrational healing, the flower essence is used to rejuvenate the body at a cellular level, especially the skin. This ability is only just being discovered in phytochemistry from the pollen of the flower.

Recipes:

Because of their low moisture and high sugar content they keep well for long periods. They are very nutritious and can be used in a variety of ways, including in soups, sauces, jams, curries and desserts.

• The Seeds roasted seeds ground into powder make a “date coffee”.

• A gum or juice obtained from the stem and named “laghi” (Khajurnidaru) is used as a demulscent, diuretic and referigerant in genitourinary affections

• The flower of the plant is used as a purgative

• The pollen grains of date palm have been used in Egyptian local practice to improve fertility in women

• As an infusion/decoction/syrup/ paste, dates may be administered for sore throat, colds, bronchial catarrh, and taken to relieve fever and number of other complaints.

• The dates can be pitted and filled with almonds, walnuts, candied orange and lemon peel, marzipan etc.

Sources:

Date Phoenix dactylifera http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/date.html

Date Palm Tree http://www.paralumun.com/treedate.htm

Gurudas. Flower Essences and Vibrational Healing. 1983. Cassandra Press, US.

Vyawahare, N. et al Phoenix dactylifera: An Update of Its Indegenous Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology http://www.ispub.com/journal/the_internet_journal_of_pharmacology/volume_7_number_1_27/article/phoenix-dactylifera-an-update-of-its-indegenous-uses-phytochemistry-and-pharmacology.html

Related Topics:
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Strawberries (Fragaria vesca)
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Shea Butter
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Almonds
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Oranges
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Garlic
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Lemons

Can You Just Change Your Mind Just Like That!

"Alot of horrible things have happened to me, some of which actually occurred" - Mark TwainCan You Just Change Your Mind Just Like That!

By Hwaa Irfan

Have you ever been in the situation whereby you have decided to do something, and then not do it, because…! We assume we are in complete control of all we do, we convince ourselves of that and yet sometimes we can want to do something and find we cannot, not because we are not able, but because at that moment we have responded to the greater call, whether that call is emotional, intellectual, physical, or social. The different parts of ourselves act against one another, proving that we are not in control as much as we would like to think!

Once an action is initiated it has to go through the process until one acknowledges that something is not in order, or until that mind loop comes full circle. Just as everything in creation exists according to the patterns/laws of nature, so does the way we think or not think. This is why niyyat, intentions in Islam, or so important because they formulate the beginning action. Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered that there is an underlying mathematical pattern to our preferences, so whatever preference is in motion, the pattern has to be completed to become a law, and the scientists have discovered proof of Relative Preference Theory, which requires further evidence.

Everything we do is based upon either a perceived memory or an actual memory, and through the lens of this experience, we color the world in which we live whether that experience actually happened or not! We have been raised on precepts of modern science, directly and/or indirectly to perceive our memory as being located in the brain, and therefore the brain the most important means of identifying who we are. Without memory, there is no relationship to build on, whether that relationship is with ourselves, others or the environment. But what if our choices, and who we are is not just our brain and our mind is not our brain? A victim of sexual abuse can obliterate memory of the experience in order to feel whole, and that memory can be triggered by a touch in some part of the body, which indicates the memory is not solely located in the brain, and that we do not simply forget because we choose to!

There has been much play on the idea in some films concerning memory and transplants i.e. that for instance if one receives a heart transplant, one inherits the memory of that donor. This storyline is not far from the truth! Memory is not peculiar to the human brain, but all living cells! The clearest example has proven indirectly through classical homeopathic remedies which simply put, consists of one drop of the mother tincture, added to 99 drops of pure alcohol. Then by repeatedly banging the container on a hard surface the remedy becomes completely absorbed/potentized and stronger. It has since then been proven that water molecules hold the memory of whatever has been added to it. Like water molecules, all cells hold memory.

Beginning with brain cells, nerve cells too hold memory. Permanent memory is maintained by the neurons, nerve cells, in the brain, and their ability to reorganize , and connect thus strengthening the memory. However, this is no split second process for it can take minutes or hours. Short term memory is held by the neurons themselves. In addition, memory is held at the synapses, where each neuron connects. This is quite logical when one thinks about it, otherwise how else do the forming cells that undergo continuous cell division in the fetus know how to form tissues, organs, lymphocytes, eyes, legs etc. There has to be a level of memory that other cells can recognize as being of like or unlike.

So, the brain is not the home of the experiential memory, but the memory of the body as a whole. This is affirmed by the fact that stem cells, despite “reprogramming” by man, retain characteristics of the cells from which they came from. So with all these processes going on in our body, how can we change our minds just like that!

In Islam, to initiate and complete a process of change takes 40 days/months/years.

• The Prophet Muhammed (SAW) was 40 years old when he became a prophet.

• Musa spent 40 days on Mount Sinai before receiving the 10 commandments

• Prophet Moses/Musa (AS), and the Jews traveled 40 years in the desert in order that they would forget their ways of the lower self, and be ready to take on the covenant with God.

• Prophet Jonah/Yunus (AS) was in a whales mouth for 40 days

• Forty was the number of days that Prophet Elias/Ilyas (AS) spent in the wilderness before God appeared to him in a cave on Mount Horeb

• Forty was the number of days that Prophet Isa/Jesus (AS) was tempted in the desert by Satan.

• Prophet Muhammed (SAW) prayed and fasted in the cave for 40 days.

• Muhammad Prophet Muhammed (SAW) then had 40 followers to spread the religion of Islam.

• The Great Flood took 40 years

• Prophet Jesus/Issa fasted in the wilderness for forty days

• Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib has narrated from Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) that one who memorizes and preserves forty hadith relating to their religious needs shall be raised by Allah as a learned scholar on the Day of Resurrection.

• Professor Joe Leigh Simpson of Obstetrics and Gynecology – North Western University in Chicago, has found that according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah that indeed in the first 40 days, an important process of embryogenesis does take place, i.e. all the bodily parts, and organs are formed.

• It takes 40 days to finalize an Islamic divorce in order to allow change of mind

• 40 days are allowed for bereavement in Islam, then one must return to the world.

A mind loop is a way of thinking, perceiving within a set framework. It has form, and energy, and to us it is real. When we get to the end of that loop, without any external influence, that loop is repeated, and keeps on repeating unless it is challenged. The intellect/the mind will go round and round a problem without finding a real solution, because the intellect along cannot help itself! On the level of vibrational healing, 40 days represents the end of a mind loop. To change the loop, one has to change the pattern, as the real change happens on the spiritual level, because it is able to get to the root of the problem as it is not confined by the boundaries of the mind. The seat of this change is to learn how to create, because in the process of creating, intuition, compassion, understanding, and harmony arises increasing connection with one’s self by letting go of the ego, or the nafs ammara the desiring self. We forget to live in the only place we have power, not in the past, not in the future, but in the present. We cannot change what has happened, if we recognize what really happened, but we can change how we relate to it, We cannot change what has not happened yet, with what we THINK will happen, because the future needs the present to exist. If we remain trapped in the same mind loop, this same mind loop will be our tomorrow – our future, so the answer is to change the mind loop, and to do that we have to know what is real from the affectation of the mind.

An immediate way to know what is real, and what is a part of the imagination is to remember that we came into this world on a breath. That breath is His spirit, which gave us the life we have chosen not to live. We have forgotten how to breathe from the diaphragm, and to our mind and body. When we hold onto to things not good for us, we forget to breathe. By doing some deep breathing exercises we release toxins in the body physical, and by-products of negative emotions, and remind the mind-body-spirit how to respond.

Breathe in on a count of 3, then hold, then breathe out on a count of three.

    Say what you actually see around you

Breathe in on a count of 4, then hold, then breathe out on a count of 4.

    Say what you actually see around you

Breathe in on a count of 5, then hold, then breathe out on a count of 5, the number of choice.

    Say what you actually see around you

Now you are in the present reality!

If one can smile from the heart, not from the mouth, as in the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed (SAW), as science as proved it does make a real difference, as the mind involves the heart!

Sources:
Kim, B. et al for the Phenotype Genotype Project in Addiction and Mood Disorders (PGP). Recurrent, Robust and Scalable Patterns Underlie Human Approach and Avoidance. PLoS ONE, 2010; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010613

Islam and Science: 40 Days in the Womb http://www.islamawareness.net/Science/science_40days.html

Live Science. Single Brain Cell Can Hold a Memory http://www.livescience.com/health/090125-memory-cell.html

Science Daily. How the Brain Encodes Memories at a Cellular Level http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091223125125.htm

Polo, J et al. Cell Type of Origin Influences the Molecular and Functional Properties of Mouse Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells. Nature Biotechnology, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.1667

Related Topics:
Happiness Doesn’t Grow on Trees!
Discovering Your Emotional Intelligence
The House of Three Rooms
Developing the Muslim Self Through Martial Arts
Prosperity and Abundance Now!
The Law of Three: Concealment and Attraction
Finding the Real You!