Archive | February 2011

Human Cost of Libya’s Uprising

Human Cost of Libya’s Uprising

IOM Press Release

EGYPT: Over 50,000 migrants transit at the Libyan-Egyptian border, up to 7,000 migrants stranded

As of January 26, over 50,000 migrants have crossed the border between Egypt and Libya, the vast majority Egyptian. Between 5,000 and 7,000 Asian and African migrants are now stranded at the border, a significant increase from the 2,800 migrants stranded at the border as of January 25 2011. Most are adult males, who were employed as migrant workers in Libya, and Bangladeshis now comprise the largest number. Not all are documented, though most undocumented migrants are now in contact with their respective consular officials, either in Cairo or at the border.

An IOM team is now operational at the border, having set up a large office in the existing compound to register third country nationals (TCNs), support consular officials and provide onward repatriation assistance. An initial caseload – 45 Filipinos– will depart Cairo tomorrow afternoon, and larger groups, including over 450 Bangladeshis, will depart over the coming days. Indeed, over the past week, various origin countries, including Egypt, Bangladesh, Moldova, Montenegro, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam have requested IOM’s assistance to evacuate and repatriate their nationals.

In coordination with the Egyptian authorities, IOM is also providing stranded migrants with humanitarian assistance; at the border, limited shelter is available, but essential items and services remain scarce. IOM is now distributing blankets, food and water and is seeking international development partners’ support to continue and expand such assistance to an estimated 5,000 beneficiaries.

“The situation is becoming critical, especially in light of uncertain developments in Libya” says Pasquale Lupoli, IOM Regional Representative for the Middle East “We continue to work in close cooperation with the Egyptian authorities and other humanitarian actors to ensure that migrants receive assistance and that return to origin countries can take place with limited delays.”

Based on IOM’s initial findings on the Egyptian and Tunisian borders and official requests, IOM has launched an appeal to raise USD 11 million to support its evacuation and repatriation efforts, and provide humanitarian assistance to an initial 10,000 migrants, although official requests could soon total over 50,000 people. In addition to the abovementioned operations in Egypt, IOM’s team in Tunisia (now also present and operational at the border) is preparing to provide evacuation and repatriation assistance to TCNs – including Egyptian migrants, complementary to the Government of Egypt’s own significant efforts.

While accurate statistics are not available, Libya is estimated to host over one million migrants. In addition to at least 335,000 Egyptians working in Libya according to Egypt’s Centre for Public Mobilization and Statistics, embassy sources in Cairo confirmed that Libya also hosts around 80,000 Pakistanis, 59,000 Sudanese, 50,000 Bangladeshis, 26,000 Filipinos, and 2,000 Nepalese, alongside other African and Asian migrant workers.

Meanwhile, in Egypt, IOM also continues to provide humanitarian aid to vulnerable migrant communities in Greater Cairo, including the Eritrean, the Sudanese, the Somali and the Egyptian communities. Six hundred food bags out of a total number of more than one thousand have already been distributed to vulnerable families thanks to support provided by USAID (through the Central Fund for Influenza Action) and the Government of Switzerland. A forthcoming IOM rapid assessment shows that 60 per cent of migrants in Egypt have experienced problems with their personal security during the past month and 40 per cent would be willing to leave if they had the means to do so.

For further information please contact Roberto Pitea at IOM Cairo. Mobile: +2 012 312 5886 or email:

Related Topics:

Egypt: Draft Proposal of the Constitutional Reform

Wisconsin Police Join the Mass Protest

Statements of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

Egypt and the Lotus Revolution

Egypt: Draft Proposal of the Constitutional Reform

Defiance Day.., the 18th day of protest, the day on which Mubarak resigns 11 Feb 2011

Egypt: Draft Proposal of the Constitutional Reform

Summary of the Proposed Amendments –  Drafted by the Constitutional Reform Committee

Courtesy of FPA

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had tasked an 11-member committee of constitutional law experts headed by Justice Tarek El-Bishri to draft amendments to the constitution with a view to ensuring a credible transition to an elected civilian authority. On Feb. 25th 2011 the Committee announced its proposed amendments, which will be open to a public debate and re-drafting prior to being voted on in popular referendum.

The following is a summary of the main changes proposed by the Committee and not a literal translation of the text of the suggested amendments.

Article 75 – Qualifications for the President

The committee proposed a number of qualifications for a person seeking to nominate themselves in presidential elections, including:

·       The nominee must be an Egyptian citizen

·       Both of the nominee’s parents must be Egyptian citizens

·       The nominee must not be under a suspension of political and civic rights

·       Neither the nominee nor the nominee’s parents may have held foreign citizenship

·       The nominee must not be married to a foreigner

·       The nominee must be at least 40 years of age

Article 76 –  Presidential Elections & the State of Emergency

Nomination for Presidential Elections

The committee proposed 3 tracks for nomination in presidential elections:

1.     Nominees must win the endorsement of 30 elected members of Parliament;


2.     Nominees must win the endorsement of 30,000 registered voters from 15 governorates with at least 1000 endorsements from each of those governorates;


3.     Parties with at least 1 elected seat in parliament may nominate one of their members in presidential elections.

Members of Parliament and voters may not endorse the nomination of more than 1 candidate for president.

Administration and Supervision of Presidential Elections

The committee proposed that presidential elections be administrated by a Presidential Elections Commission headed by the president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, and including as members the president of the Cairo Court of Appeals, and the most senior vice-president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, of the Court of Cassation, and of the State Council.

The committee proposed that the decisions of the Commission be final and not subject to appeal, and that the Commission be competent to rule on its mandate, which shall be defined by law.

Subsidiary committees of the Commission, which shall administer and supervise ballot casting and counting will be established according to the rules outlined in Article 88 of the constitution.

The Committee also proposed that the Law on Presidential elections must be declared constitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court before being adopted by Parliament.

Declaration of the State of Emergency

Article 77 – Term Limits

The committee proposed that the term of the President by reduced to 4 years, and that a limit of two terms be adopted.

Article 88 – Administration and Supervision of Legislative Elections and Referendums

The committee proposed that elections and referendums, from voter registration to the announcement of results, be administered and supervised by an all-judge High Elections Commission, whose composition and mandate will be defined by law.

Members of the judiciary nominated by the supreme councils of the judicial agencies and appointed by the High Elections Commission will supervise ballot casting and counting.

Article 93 – Determination of the Validity of Membership of Parliamentarians

The Committee proposed that competence to determine the validity of membership of parliamentarians be transferred from parliament to the Supreme Constitutional Court.  Challenges to the validity of the membership of a parliamentarian must be filed with the Court within 30 days of the election of the parliamentarian in question and decided upon by the Court within 90 days. The ruling the Court would be final.

Article 139 – Vice Presidents

The committee proposed that the president be required to appoint one or more vice-presidents within 60 days of taking office, and that the president shall determine them and of the vice-president. If the vice-president is dismissed from office, the president must appoint a replacement.

The same qualifications that apply to the presidency would also apply to the vice-president. (See Article 75)

Article 148 – The State of the Emergency

The Committee proposed that the consent of a majority of the members of the People’s Assembly be required to declare a state of emergency. In addition, the Committee proposed that the state of emergency could only be declared for a period of up to 6 months. Also, a renewal of the state of emergency would require a popular referendum.

The committee proposed that if the President declares a state of emergency then the People’s Assembly must review the decision within 7 days of the declaration. If the People’s Assembly is not in session at the time, the President must immediately call it to session. If the People’s Assembly is dissolved the declaration must be reviewed by it in its first session.

Article 179 – Counter-Terrorism

The committee proposed that the Article be stricken from the constitution.

Article 189 and 189 Repeated – Promulgation of a New Constitution

The committee proposed that the president or at least half the members of the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council may request the drafting of a new constitution.

The committee proposed that within 6 months of their election the elected members of the People’s Assembly and the Shura Council must appoint, by majority vote, a 100-member constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. The constituent assembly would have to complete the draft within 6 months of it creation, and within 15 days of the completion of the draft constitution the president must call for a referendum on it.

Article 189 Repeated A – Transitional Rules of the Shura Council

The committee proposed that that Shura Council function without it appointment members until such time as a president is elected to fill the appointment of 1/3 of its seats.

Referendum March 19th 2011 – View the final draft amendments on>>> in Arabic only!

Related Topics:

Statements of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces

Egypt and the Lotus Revolution

Cancer Forming Cola

Cancer Forming Cola

By Hwaa Irfan


As the world eases out of what has been a turbulent winter, and spring is trying to enter, for those who can afford it, it is all too easy to reach out for that thirst quenching drink, especially if one is physically active. Seizing the opportunity, companies that specialize in producing soft drinks will look out for that little thing extra to encourage the consumer to keep coming back for more. It has all become too much of a habit, when it is not that difficult to make one’s soda-free soft drinks at home, but all the same those companies know that we cannot resist just reaching out for a can, pulling back the ring, and hitting the spot at the back of the throat the benefit of which does not last long.

If one is familiar with a real cola drink, then one knows there is a big difference between that and that which we have become accustomed to. The Cola and Pepsi companies have been busy ensuring that we will come back for more, by adding that little extra something new each year. The little extra something in this case concerns the unnatural caramel coloring employed by the top brands. The coloring is produced by the reaction of sugars with ammonia and sulfites.  The reaction is the resulting 2-methylimidazole and 4- methylimidazole, which are recognized cancer causing agents, recognized by the U.S. government to cause cancer in mammals, of which humans are mammals.

The Washington-based, Center for Science in the Public Interest (lack of online access to their material which seems suspicious) provided the evidence which led to them filing a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the chemicals concerned. Previously, studies requested by the National Cancer Institute, and carried out by the National Toxicology Program identified that 2-methylimidazole and 4- methylimidazole have been used in foods, and has been detected in tobacco smoke. The National Toxicology Program also found the two chemicals to be carcinogenic in their 2003, and 2005 studies. Not surprisingly, the FDA have done nothing about it, but California responded by demanding foods being appropriately labeled where ingredients are known to cause cancer. This unfortunately, will not become effective until January 2012, and companies (California League of Food Processors, the American Beverage Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and the National Coffee Association), putting profit above the health of their customers have sued California.  California now has legal limits in place on the consumption of 4- methylimidazole, a limit set at a maximum of 16 micrograms daily, when cola drinks contain approximately 200 micrograms in a 20 ounce bottle, but the best thing to do in the meantime is to not drink cola or pepsi.

2-Methylimidazole is used by pharmaceutical companies in the processing of agrochemicals, dyes, and as a curing agent in the manufacturing of polyurethane. 2-Methylimidazole flakes are listed as hazardous by the chemical company BASF, Canada. They consider that the flakes are corrosive  to the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. BASF lists 2-Methylimidazole as a carcingogenic that is toxic to fish, and aquatic vertebrates, and that it should be neutralized before entering the sewerage system.




Adams, M. “Cancer Causing Chemicals Found in Color Coloring  Ingredient.”

“Safety Data Sheet: -Methylimidazole Flakes.”

Weise, E.  “Group Urges Caramel Coloring in Cola Be Banned.


Related Topics:

Watch What You Eat!

Meat By Any Means

The Milk You’re Supposed to Drink

GM Foods and Fertility

Diabetes from Unnatural Causes

Do You Use Antibiotics Frequently?

What They Didn’t Tell Us About Soya Beans

Drugs That Stop Your Brain from Working…

You Don’t Wanna Eat This Chicken!

Drugs That Make You Violent

The Flu Vaccine that Makes You More Ill

Ethiopia: Selling the Sacred

Gamo People and Sacred Forests of EthiopiaEthiopia: Selling the Sacred

By Hwaa Irfan


We are at a time in global governance, when pretty much each minister does as he pleases. This can be observed in the U.S. whereby ministers outside of the jurisdiction of  President Obama have been meeting lobbyists, undermining any overall step in favor of the greater good. One looks to Africa, and Africanize what has been learnt from the colonialists, the exact same practice of self interest in the name of the people.

In Ethiopia, President Girma Wolde-Giogis was not involved in this process, but it happened anyway, the sale of sacred forests as part of the landgrab pandemic that has been hitting the continent of Africa. Landgrab is the branch of neocolonialism that for a price over a leased period, land is acquired to increase food security for other countries, decreasing food security for Africa. The leaseholder is an Indian company, Verdanta Harvests, and the aim to turn the land into tea plantations – not exactly a food security issue! That will involve clearing the land of all that is sacred to the Mazenger in order to turn the land into profit.

Struggling to Maintain Traditions

The Mazenger of Gambella, an indigenous people of Ethiopia have been struggling to hold to what is a part of their traditions going back to the pre-Christian era. Like most indigenous peoples that tradition involves land, the very land they have been marginalized on. The land concerned covers the ancient forest of the tributaries of the White Nile. The Solidarity Movement of Ethiopia uncovered a series of documents that come out of the text book of globalizing colonialists, full of double-speak, manipulation, and intimidation in order to take control that land. It was not until last year, 2010, that it became known to the Mazenger that their sacred forests were up for lease. Ignored is the fact that like the uncontacted tribes of South America, the sacred forests of the Mazenger is their livelihood from which they are able to eat, to hunt, to gather, to nurture, and to heal with when sick. By depriving them of the sacred forests, the problems of the Mazenger will become the problem of the state, even when the state chooses to ignore the needs of the people.

The Mazenger did try to address the issue, and sent a team of representatives to the capital, Addis Ababa. They met with the President Girma Wolde-Giogis whose power is representative.  President Girma did pursue the issue, and sent a letter to the local Environmental Protection Agency demanding for the lease to be canceled. The letter was sent to the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development stating that the short term benefits do not outweigh the long term benefits.  However, the Governor of Gambella Region had other ideas. Governor Omot Obang Olum declared that the 5,000 hectares of sacred forests had been leased to Verdanta for 50 years of which U.S.$19,000 had already been paid, and the roads, employment and income from the plantations would be to their benefit. Why would they need something they already have, a means to provide for themselves without external influences under conditions that were suitable to them with honor – the honor that peoples around the world from the Middle East to Wisconsin, U.S. have been rising up to reclaim.

The Mazenger approached President Girma Wolde-Giogis again in December 2010, who wrote to both the Minister of Agriculture, and the much disliked Prime Minister Meles Zenawi ordering the Ministers to stop in virtue of the abundance of the rainforests, but the President was ignored! Instead, Prime Minister Zenawi who treats the people with disregard told them to change their leaders. The sacred forests are now under the control of Verdanta. If one’s body, mind and soul has been sold to the devil for a price, one might mistakenly believe that this is all in the name of progress, and Africans cannot manage their affairs anyway, but what does know of Africa, other than the racist perception inculcated by a system that seeks to perpetuate itself by any means – serving only the global elite, local capitalists who inflate prices impoverishing the rest of the world.

Why the Forests are Sacred

Before this question is explored, it must be noted that the biodiversity of the Ethiopian forests are as important as that of the Amazon, which has received much attention. This biodiversity remains within our life time, because of the indigenous peoples who protect and live by it.  A study by the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society has found that the level of biodiversity is greater in the sacred forests than in non-sacred forests providing a refuge for certain plant species which have disappeared elsewhere. The religious believes indigenous to the region have played a strong role in that protection, a protection that has been supported by religions introduced to the region, i.e. Christianity, and Islam.  However, given that Christianity has become the dominant religion of the highlands, the protection of the sacred forests has mainly fallen under Christian jurisdiction. However, this relationship has no always been an easy one.

For the Gamo who largely have held onto their traditional beliefs, they have often come into clashes with the fundamentalists of the Orthodox Christian church. Their highlands and sacred places, sits above the volatile East African Rift Valley. Many of their shrines have been destroyed, and churches have been built on their sacred grounds including the forests compromising the symbiotic relationship between the people and their forests – to them by looking after the sacred forests, the sacred forests will look after them understanding that it is the mutual respect between land and the people that sustains the people.

“When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”  – Cree Prophecy

What can replace the multi ecosystem of Afroalpine grasslands, the rare bamboo forests, evergreen Afromontane forests, the lands made fertile by monsoonal rains, and deep aquifers that feed into many lowland areas – the wetlands,, the highlands, the 792 plant species, and variety of birds, and animals. Can Zenawi in his love of power replace all of this? When they have all gone, and the country can feed itself no longer, shelter from the burning sun or find clean water to drink, what will the offspring of Zenawi do then?

Cultural Value

The plants of the forests, have played an important socio-economic role in the lives of the people. These sacred forests have provided a communal gathering place uniting different groups/tribes/clans. In acknowledgment of this God given gift, the Oromo for example have a prayer ceremony called Irreessa before the harvest. Irreessa is carried out under the big trees in the meadows of the river in the forest. Likewise, the Gurage, and the Amhara have similar practices. To the Oromo, the forests cannot be exploited, and exploitation includes the felling of trees. In a region that has suffered great deforestation, the importance of this exploitation is all important to the benefit of the common good, just as the British have experienced in recent times with the threat of a biomass economy i.e. plants to replace fossil fuels. However, in the sacred forests harvesting of trees does take place.

For the Omotic speaking Gamo, who are the main tribe of the highlands, they protect the forests, the burial grounds, and the communal meeting places across Ethiopia’s southwest plateau – 1,600 square miles. They live off small holdings, and live by communal grazing for their sheep and cattle. They cultivate cereals, fruit trees, applying organic practices, using a form of cultivation that is based on terracing like in some parts of the Philippines. This terracing has prevented soil erosion, and controlled water pollution. It has also allowed them to cultivate 91% of their land. They live in traditional huts pleasing to the eye in small family groups. They recognize the human dependence on the earth that sustains us, and practice rainmaking, rainstopping, and thanks giving ceremonies. The strict laws that govern their relationship to the sacred forests are called wagaa, the basis of which is that all things are connected and sits in a delicate balance. As Gamoan elder Abera Ogato describes:

“Here we know that sacred forests protect waters. The pastureland is for the livestock. The livestock make the manure to fertilize the crops. Without manure there is not enough fertilizer for the highland soil. So to maintain productivity from a plot of land you must have all these things in balance.”

Community gathering in the Dorbo sacred pasture land to get blessing from indigenous religious leaders (sitting in the front row) by  Desalegn DesissaMany of the sacred forests protected by the Gamo are burial grounds, and the grasslands that surround the burial grounds are off limits to grazing, but on limit for mourning. There are 12 types of sacred places, and they include:

  • Kashaa (forest)
  • Dubushaa ( outdoor communal meeting places)
  • Boncho zummaa (mountains)
  • Boncho shafaa (rivers)
  • Kalloo (pasture lands)
  • Bonchetida fultoo (springs)

Each sacred forest or grove, has an eqaa a spiritual leader/shaman who is responsible for leading the community ceremonies. The eqaa is considered as the custodian of all traditions that includes the well-being of the lands, and the waters, which is transmitted to members of the young generation. The eqaa is a part of a system of authority which constitutes the:

  • Kawo (King)
  • Halaqa (Chief)
  • Korafnae (Clan head)
  • Maaka (Ritual priest)
  • Adento (Family Head)

However, all of this has been undermined by the growth of the state and the population. Church members of the evangelical Protestant Church do not hold the same values, and tend to overgraze, and cut the trees. Also, in the throes of proselytizing, sacred forests have been targeted, demanding that new converts cut trees in order to prove their Christianity.  St. Francis of Assisi would surely have something to say about that paternalistic interpretation of his faith. This interpretation is the basis of capitalism, which presumes itself to be superior to nature, however it was this nature that has protected the Gamo from famine, when the rest of the country was prey to it!

The researchers of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society have done much to catalog all species, and sacred places, and develop, implement a public awareness campaign, bringing together governmental administrators and traditional custodians, and donating seeds to local farmers who in turn have established indigenous tree nurseries to reforest and expand the sacred forests. There are extremely important lessons to be learned from the Gamo not only for the whole of Africa, but for a world that is eating away at the earth.

“The people of the Gamo have developed the ability to conserve crop genetic resources while practising highly productive farming strategies. Globally, we are down to two or three viable strains of our most important food crops; whereas, in the Gamo, they have more than 65 varieties of barley, more than 12 varieties of wheat and more than 100 varieties of enset and dozens of varieties of cassava, taro and yam. The Gamo defies the common assumption that agricultural intensification decreases biodiversity.


“Furthermore, in UNEP’s analysis of 114 organic projects across 24 countries, researchers found that not only did financial stability and quality of life improve, but yields increased by up to 116%, out-performing conventional industrial agriculture.


“The Gamo people and culture are embedded in an ecosystem that is intensively managed and yet, unlike ours, includes an astounding amount of diversity, stability and resilience. Over thousands of years they have evolved a way of being in the world that has ensured their long-term survival. Their management of everything; from water tables, soil nutrient cycles to their social infrastructure stems from a view of the world as sacred, alive and entirely interconnected.” – Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee and Alan Zulch

The clearing of the 5,000 of hectares has begun. The sacred forest concerned is in Godere District, which is located at the headwaters of the five rivers which are important to downstream Sudan, and Egypt, as the five rivers are the major tributaries of the White Nile. This would increase the process of desertification sending less clean water, then less water downstream.


What You Can Do

To support the work of the Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society, write them at or visit their website.

Here is the link of the petition website….



“Ethiopia ‘Sacred Forests’ Sold to Indian Tea Producer.”

Desissa, D. And Binggeli, P. “Sacred Groves.”

Desissa, D et al. “Conservation of Ethiopian Sacred Groves.”

“Gamo Highlands.”

Vaughan-Lee, E. And Zulch, A. “A Thousand Suns: The View from Ethiopia’s Gamo Highlands.”

Related Topic:

All Things Are Linked!

300 Year Old Vietnamese Forest Food System

Reclaiming Nature’s Knowledge Base

Our Africa: Europe’s Debt Pt.1

Increasing Food Insecurity for Short Term Gain

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

Nature Helps Our Brain Connect!

A Food Revolution!

Finding a Global Balance

Can’t See the British Woods Without the Trees

After Cancun: Fair Trade for Africa!?

Restoring Nature: The Craft of the Town Planner

Eating Away at Our Earth Pt2.

When the Greed of the Few Starves the Many


Wisconsin Police Join the Mass Protest

Wisconsin Police Join the Mass Protest

A leaf out of the textbook of the Egyptian Lotus Revolution…

From the people>>>


Protesters Inside Wisconsin Capitol Need Your Support. The government will start punitive and restrictive measures.

The Wisconsin Finance Committee Announces Plans to Eject Protesters this Sunday at 4 P.M.
Tell Gov. Walker, the Wisconsin Legislature and the Obama administration:

For 12 straight days peaceful protesters: high school and college students, families with children, workers from all of the unions including teachers, state workers, nurses and firefighters have continued a 24 hour presence at the Capitol.

The presence of the people inside is the only way to insure that the politicians and the bought and paid for Governor Walker heed the democratic will of the people.

The Capitol belongs to the people! We built it: we paid for it.

On Friday night, police were ordered to lock doors at 9 P.M. and to restrict people from bringing in bedrolls, blankets and air mattresses to make it more difficult for people to maintain their 24 hour people’s lobby.

Prior to this, loudspeaker systems boomed all night long forcing people including the police to wear ear plugs.

None of this has daunted the spirit of those who are participating in the occupation.

But they need your support.

Many inside are prepared to go to jail if need be.


Related Topic:

Demonstrations in Wisconsin Over the Worker’s Rights

Egypt’s Lotus Revolution

The Japanese Pyramid: Crafted By Nature or Man?

The Japanese Pyramid: Crafted By Nature or Man?

The controversy over the 8-story high- 5 kilometre long underwater pyramid off the Japanese island of Yonaguni, falls between belief and the illusion of scientific fact. Of the very few ‘science experts’ that have visited the underwater anomaly, the immediate reaction on first sight is that it is crafted by nature, without any scientific investigation, as is the case with the underwater pyramid off the Bahamas. It has always been believed that the Great Pyramid of Egypt was built by man, and all subsequent investigations have held that thought in mind although until today, there is no real scientific explanation as to how the Great Pyramid of Egypt was built!

Discovered by local diver, Kihachiro Aratake in 1987, the underwater anomaly on sight begs for man to solve this conundrum, which if built, was built above water, which in that locality dates back to 8 – 10,000 years old. If it was built and not crafted by nature, the expert world of geologists, archaeologists,  anthropologists, and geophysicists upside down, indicating an ancient civilization that networked around the world, as many similarities in expression of architectural concepts point to a common belief system, and a higher form of technology than that highly regarded today. Added to this above ground is a local village the gravestones of which bear a striking resemblance to the same architectural concept pointing to a generational legacy.

Related Topics:

Pyramids in Europe!

Restoring Nature: The Craft of the Town Planner
Between the Builder and the Architect: Frederick II, and the Castel Del Monte
A Home Amidst a Never-Ending Cycle of Disasters
Hassan Fathy: The Barefoot Architect
A Sacred Place

Relationships and Stress

Relationships and Stress: Add Care and Compassion, and a Little Work

From Sara Childre

At the end of a long and difficult day at work or school, or perhaps following another frustrating day of job hunting, it’s nice to have someone to come home to that you feel safe with – a spouse, partner, significant other, caring parent, sibling or friend.

Relationships and Stress

Our relationships, we often hear, are what make it all worthwhile, but you don’t need to read it or hear it said to know it’s true. The proof is in the bonds we share with people and the warmth in our hearts when we are together or even when we’re far apart. That is, of course, when our relationships are working.

However, stress that builds unchecked can poison a healthy relationship – without our even knowing it. The negative emotions that heightened stress – key among them anger, anxiety and fear – often lead us to speak words or take actions that are harsh, illogical and uncharacteristic.

Though it is not always apparent at the start of our relationships that the work they require is in fact a labor of love, time typically shows that the strongest and purest relationships are born of the qualities that give our lives the greatest rewards and the most meaning.

Here are four key qualities of the heart that can improve your relationships:

* Care – What greater gift can one person give than sincere care for another, whether it is comforting the sick or grieving, giving hope to the hopeless or offering inspiration to one who is wavering.

* Compassion – Heartfelt compassion for the circumstance or plight of another person, not only lifts them up, it also triggers responses within our bodies known to enhance our decision-making abilities and personal resilience.

* Appreciation – When we express genuine appreciation to others for what they do and who they are, we bring them joy. And, each time you bring that joy to another, offer thanks for a blessing or express gratitude for a kind deed or word, we’ve also done ourselves a world of good. IHM has conducted a broad range of scientific studies demonstrating that positive emotions, especially appreciation, benefit the giver and receiver. Learn more about positive emotions at HeartMath research.


* Authentic Communication – Practiced regularly, this heart tool can help you build, improve or smooth out your relationships. This type of communication requires both learning how to speak your truth from a genuine heart-felt place and especially learning how to listen more deeply. Slowing down and making a sincere effort to listen can help keep the communication bond intact. It helps you to be aware of your friend, family or partner’s deeper feelings, bringing a more sensitive understanding.

HeartMath research has found that deep listening involves hearing on three levels.

* Words: what is actually being said.


* Feelings: the emotions behind the words.


* Essence: what the words and feelings combined really mean.

You can read the complete article at:

Related Topics:

True Wealth

What is Love?

Feeling Emotionally Drained?

A Tool to Refocus Your Emotions

Drugs That Make You Violent

The Seasons of Our Lives

Discovering Lost Values

Where Did Compassion Go?

De-Stress Kit for Changing Times

The Intelligent Heart

Reflection on Islamic Work Ethics III

Reflection on Islamic Work Ethics III

By Hwaa Irfan


Based on Islamic Work Ethics from Traditional Islam in the Modern World by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

“The first element of Islamic work ethics which must be considered in the Shari’ite injunction that the accomplishment of whatever  work is necessary to support oneself and one’s family is as worthy, in the eyes of God, as the performance of religious duties classified as obligatory (wajib). Every person must work to support himself and those who depend upon him for their livelihood, these persons usually including the members of his immediate family; sometimes also female members and old or incapacitated persons belonging to the extended family circle. This duty is usually incumbent upon the man of the family, but the women are also responsible when external necessity dictates their working outside the home, as can be seen very often in the agricultural sector of society. Whatever is necessary for the continuation of human life gains, according to Islamic teachings, a religious sanction as the very result of that necessity.

There is however, no emphasis in Islam upon the virtue of work for the sake of work, as one finds in certain forms of Protestantism. In the Islamic perspective, work is considered a virtue in the light of the needs of man and the necessity to establish equilibrium in one’s individual and social life. But this duty towards work, and provision for one’s needs and for those of one’s family, is always kept in check and prevented from becoming excessive by the emphasis that the Qur’an places upon the transience of life, the danger of greed and covetousness, and the importance of avoiding the excessive accumulation of wealth.

Work, like everything else in life, must be seen and performed within the framework of the equilibrium which Islam seeks to establish in the life of each individual as well as of Islamic society as a whole. While the earliest Islamic community was still in Makkah, this nucleus of the future society, which consisted of a spiritual elite, was advised to spend much of the night in prayer and vigil; but in Madinah, when a complete social order was established, the Prophet emphasized the importance of the members of the new religious community in general devoting a third of their day to work, a third to sleep and rest, and a third to prayer, leisure and family and social activities. This prophetic example has set an ideal for later Islamic society, according to which, while the performance of work to support one’s family is considered a religious duty, the exaggerated emphasis upon work for its own sake is opposed in as much as an attitude destroys the equilibrium that is the Islamic goal of life. If in many present-day Middle Easter cities a taxi diriver is seen to work much longer hours than is specified by the traditional tripartite division of the day, and that he performs his difficult work as a religious duty to support an often large family, it is usually economic necessity which dictates such a prolonged working schedule and not the desire for work as an end in itself. There is no innate religious value connected with work in itself simply as a means of amassing wealth and outside of the patterns established by the prophetic Sunnah and the Shari’ah.”

Arising from the Protestant work ethic is the notion of work for the sake of work in support of the state from the inception of the Industrial Revolution.  This remains with us today and has been adopted within Muslim secular societies. In the process, the other aspects of man’s needs have been sidelined. Before the global economic crisis, a growing trend was forming. That trend evolved around mainly the male population in certain Western countries like the U.S., and the U.K., no longer willing to take up managerial positions, because of the health risks (e.g. heart disease) that ensue with such occupations. Added to this trend was a growing realization that the overwhelming corporate world as ‘disposable’ when an employee had given up much of their life for that corporation.  What had been relinquished is the creative part of that person, the family in terms of well-being, and to a great degree the sacrificial lamb, the conscience as a result of unethical practices. Instead what ensued was failing health, divorce, dysfunctional families, and basically the social skills that helped one feel more human and less a cog in a wheel.

From the point of the onlooker not being familiar with the sacrifices that a corporate person makes, the envious onlooker only sees the position, the wealth, and the ‘things’ one can have and what one can do with that wealth for one’s own pleasure or the pleasure of the family. Instead members of the family have been bought with the ‘things’ that they could have, but the love that was unnourished as a result of that culture of work was missing. If one explored the initial trend of school fatalites in the U.S., the perpetrators were often middle-upper class lads who had all of the materialistic wealth, and none of the love and attention of family, for their families were often too busy accumulating wealth, and shoring up positions. As the school fatalities increased, the perpetrators were not always from the middle to upper class income bracket, but were a product of the same problem, that is a family concerned with position and wealth. This is just one example of work for the sake of work.

When we fall into the practice of working for the sake of work where there are no intrinsic ethics to that work, or process of self and/or spiritual development in the essence of that work, we begin to lose other skills that are important to our personal well-being, and the well being of those around us.  Islamic prayer in Islam is a form of work as in the adhan, the call to prayer we are called to perform “good” works. It punctuates our day, and if not done ritualistically but with purpose allows us time to reflect on ourselves and what we do, and why we do it. When we are prevented or delayed from performing that “good”  work, we are putting aside our relationship not only with God, but with everything else that is outside of work, yet the employer cannot deny that the work of a practicing Muslim is better if allowed to pray!

As we go through this global economic crisis, let us take time out to evaluate why we do what we do, and whom it benefits, and in what way is that benefit for when one’s lifestyle prevents one from becoming a better human being, one’s family, and one’s society loses out too. By doing more work than is reasonably possible for the sake of wealth, one is depriving another from work, but in the process one is depriving one’s self from one’s self! The currently socially accepted modes of work will only last for a time, because they are in fact humanely unsustainable, the obvious signs of which have been witnessed in certain European countries when the people reacted to the idea of increasing the age of retirement. That is how long many people put on hold the other aspects of their lives when we do not even know if we will live to see a tomorrow!


Related Topics:

Reflection on Islamic Work Ethics II

Reflection on Islamic Work Ethics

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The House of Three Rooms

Prosperity and Abundance Now!

The Echo of Life

Live to Work or Work to Live!

How Not to Master a Skill!

The Lesson That Cannot Be Taught!

Preparing for Life!

The Land of Truth