Tag Archive | summer

Nature’s Insecticides

Nature’s Insecticides

By Hwaa Irfan

As we go into spring at top gear, with summer seeming to knock on the door a bit too hurriedly, one of the habits we might be inclined to re-initiate is that of zapping every life form that crawls and has wings. As we do that we not only compromise our immune systems, but we also prevent our homes being the relaxing place that it can as we take time out from the hustle and bustle of the world outside, we are spending more than we need to. Some of nature’s insect repellents can serve a double purpose, like the herbs we use for cooking, and others are pleasant to the beholder. Growing them in your home in a pot, or on a balcony would just add to the ambience of your home. Here are some natural insect repellents worth considering:


Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) This is not only a natural insecticide disliked by flies and mosquitoes, but used fresh it has more flavour the dried stuff one buys in the supermarket. It goes well with any tomato-based dish, and it contains: calcium, iron, potassium and Vitamin C.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) – with bright yellow flowers, Calendula is of the marigold family and left to germinate, they make a great insecticide. The petals were once used in cooking and added to salads, soups, and they also make a great substitute for saffron. Medicinal wise you can’t go wrong, because they are good for upper respiratory tract infections, and is a good anti-inflammatory.

Catnip  (Nepata cataria) does not have beautiful blossoms like Calendula, but it is an effective insecticide, especially when it comes to cockroaches, , ants, aphids, and the flea beetle, and would you believe it rats don’t like it either! It makes a good tea if one has problems sleeping, and it also helps one to relax. Word of caution though, pregnant women, and those who suffer from epilepsy should not consume it!

Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium)with its attractive bloom, the Chrysanthemum repels spider mites, ticks, and cabbage worms. As a herb the blossoms can be used dried as a teas being rich in calcium, sodium, folates and Vitamin A.

Spearmint (Mentha viridis) – is popular in cooking, but growing a pot in the home, would allow the smell to life the spirits as it does. The only thing is mice do not like mint at all, even sprinkled on food, so there’s a thought! Equally mint is disliked by aphids and fleas.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – a woody herb that adds a distinct flavour to cooking and is much hated by all bugs! For those in the Southern Hemisphere, rosemary tea helps to take off the chill. It is also good for amenorrhea, exhaustion, poor digestion, poor memory and arthritic aches and pains.

Lemongrass (genus Cymbopogon) – This genus includes citronella which you might see on your supermarket shelves being sold as an insect repellent. It is obviously cheaper to grow a pot in the home.

If you are no so inclined, but would like a natural insect repellent check out the following essential oils that one burn in one’s home in the form of vapour therapy:

Anise Oil

Basil Oil

Bay Oil

Bergamot Oil

Cade Oil

Calendula Oil

Cedarwood Oil

Cinnamon Oil

Citronella Oil

Eucalyptus Oil

Fennel Oil


Slow Digesting Foods and Ramadhan

Slow Digesting Foods and Ramadhan

By Hwaa Irfan

One of the virtues of fasting during the summer months is that the body requires less food, however one might feel this is countered by the longer days spent fasting. For those with physically demanding jobs, there will be some concern how one is going to facilitate this obligatoty act of worship. If one is receptive to one’s eating habits during summer, one will not feel so overwhelmed at the idea of fasting in summer. However, if one has over a period of time accustomed one’s stomach to take more than it needs, then the initial week as opposed to 3 days will feel as if we just cannot do it, regardless of the simple fact that one will live to see another day.

If one is run down, or in a state of undefined state of ill health, summer usually makes one feel worse, yet we negate one of the world’s most ancient healing remedies, fasting. What does one naturally do when one is ill – eat less or not at all! This is how the body tries to fast stimulating the immune system. Also one’s level of growth hormone increases when fasting, thus mobilizing fat as an alternative source of energy. In an Iranian study published in the Annals of Saudi Medicine, Vol 22, Nos 5-6, 2002 Dr, Durdi Qujeq and team found amongst men (57) and women (26) volunteers aged 21 -55, and 20 – 58 respectively that there was a lower level of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, LDL, in mid – end of Ramadhan overall, but moreso for the female candidates. However, there was higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol for in mid – end of Ramadhan in comparison to before Ramadhan with the serum of the female candidates being only slightly higher than the male candidates with an overall decrease on weight. This is beneficial for people who have hyperlipidemia. LDL is deemed bad cholesterol because it takes cholesterol from the liver to the bodily tissues, circulating in the blood, and building up in the arterial walls thus narrowing the arteries. The lowering of LDL reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. High-density lipoprotein cholesterol protects against a heart attack, and low levels of HDL, increases the risk of heart disease.

One way of taking one’s mind off one’s bodily consumption, is to get used to eating slow digesting foods (complex carbohydrates) after iftar (break fast), and for suhur (morning meal before fasting) for the long Ramadhan summer days ahead, which last up to 8 hours. Complex carbohydrates include:

    • Whole grain cereals – brown rice (with husk) – whole wheat – barley – oats – millet – buckwheat – rye – corn – bulgur – popcorn – squash – whole wheat pasta.

What these have in common is that if one wants to maintain the spirit of Ramadhan, the all one has to do is go out and buy in bulk for the month. Looking out for good quality (no worms etc.), can ease the hassle of frequent shopping, and hopefully save some money at a time when food prices are getting ridiculously high.

Another form of complex carbohydrates are starchy tubers like yam, cassava, manioc, potatoes, dasheen, taro, which contain other nutrients like protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

Then we must add soluble fiber to the meal to aid the digestion process and keep the colon healthy. These foods include:

    • Rye – oats – barley – soy – carrots – bananas – beans

And soluble fiber which helps to eliminate waste from the body. This includes:

    • Nuts – skin of fruits – vegetables – seeds – whole grain

Once again, seeds, nuts, and grains can be bought in bulk.

Fat takes the longest for our bodies to digest at a rate of 10 grams of fat per hour varying from person to person depending on state of health.

Then there are legumes, which are difficult to digest by themselves because we do not produce enough of the enzyme amylase. As such, they are best eaten with other legumes, leafy green vegetables, and vegetables in general, and not combine with fatty and starchy foods. Legumes include:

    • All beans – peas – lentils – nuts.

These vegetables combine well with proteins, fats, oils, starches, grains, legumes, vegetables (all types), and fatty fruits:

    • Aubergine (eggplant) – fresh corn – kale – brussel sprouts – cabbage – courgettes (zucchini) – summer squash – okra – broccoli – sweet peppers – green peas – beets.

Easily digested foods include fruits, raw foods: salads, leafy green vegetables, but what about desserts?
Desserts are generally easy to eat, and easy to digest, but they provide a nice treat. However, if you want to ensure colon health, desserts high in fiber include apples (unpeeled), oranges, pears (unpeeled), grapes (unpeeled), which add valuable vitamins and minerals to one’s Ramadhan diet.

If one suffers from slow digestion and/or a low metabolic rate the intake of slow digesting foods should be reduced and balanced out by plenty of vegetables of all types, however at the end of the day we are made of water so drink lots of water!

Don’t let the food you eat rob you of the spiritual aspects of Ramadhan without which Ramadhan would be just another Xmas!


Corbin, A. Food and Healing. Ballatine. 1986.

Morley, J.E. Introduction: Principles of Endocrinology http://merck.com/mmpe/sec12/ch150/ch150a.html

Qujed, D. et al. Effects of Ramadan Fasting on Serum Low-Density and High Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol Concentrations. http://www.kfshrc.edu.sa/annals/Old/225_226/01-247.pdf

Related Topics:
Your Vitamins and Minerals
Ramadan and Healthy Eating
Stopping the Menstrual Flow During Ramadhan
The Ramadhan Reminder: Taking Time Out With God
Allah’s Medicine Chest: Dates (Phoenix dactylifera)
Fasting and Pregnancy
From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives
Night Prayer and the Human Body Clock
A Season for Forgiveness

Fasting and Pregnancy

Fasting and Pregnancy

By Hwaa Irfan

As the secular forces gather to weaken our resilience to the superficialities that it has reconstructed our lives with, yet unable to provide any sustainable means outside of our respective faiths, let us realize that which is worth living for, that which gives life meaning, and that which give our lives a purpose as we approach the blessed month of Ramadhan, Increasingly what secularism has done to Christianity, is becoming the same for Muslims, most noticeably during Ramadhan. The spiritual richness that was once felt collectively has been struggling against the appetites that secularism has been nurturing us on, making the lift beyond the mundane that we feel when we carry out our acts of worship together during a month that binds us, make no difference on our hearts and minds like the other months when we “forget”. At the same time, let us not pressure and bully each other into “behaving” in what may be considered an “Islamic” way, for surely that has become subject to interpretation, eliminating the spirit of Islam. Remember that when everything around us seems to not make sense, and offers little respite, prayer like Ramadhan offers us an opportunity to slow down, reflect, rebalance, and to reclaim who we are.

For pregnant women during the summer months, certain fears might set in. First of all, let it be said that there is no compulsion on pregnant Muslim women to fast for what is obligatory on those who are well in body and mind. However, the benefits are great.

Allowing the workings of the body to take its natural course has just become another item to place on the agenda and sometimes the requests of the body is not well received when it has a mind of its own. Fasting beyond three days not only reduces the blood protein, lowers blood fats, possible increase of uric acid and here is as lower red blood count and iron level, but the period attracts a lot of questions about one’s life and one develops a new sensitivity towards those around one . The whole process of pregnancy adds additional demands on the body. Californian physician Gabriel Cousens describes fasting as:

    “… a means to abstain from that which is toxic to the mind, body and soul. A way to understand this is that fasting is the elimination of physical, emotional and mental toxins from our organism, rather than simply cutting down on or stopping food intake. Fasting for spiritual purposes usually involves removing oneself from worldly responsibilities ….”

Pregnancy is an important period whereby the bonding between mother and child begins from conception bringing warmth, love, security and complete nutrition depending on the health and age of the mother. From a Western point of view it can be considered surprising how harsh some Muslim women can be on their own bodies during pregnancy, assuming that fasting is compulsory on all healthy Muslims of responsible age.

Every situation has been catered for if only we knew. We are reminded of this fact in Prophet Muhammed’s Last Sermon when he informed his follower that he had completed for us the religion that is Islam and that we must turn to the two weighty things that is the Qur`an and the Sunnah (the traditions of the Prophet). Muslim women around the world are living under differing circumstances some of which undermines the health of the pregnant woman, Islam would not be so merciless as to impose such a hardship on those who have poor health or poor nutrition. In Islam, those who do not have to fast are:

• Woman in advanced of pregnancy, or in a stage where fasting is harmful

• Those who are breast-feeding

• Those who are menstruating and

• Those women who are in nifas. (the blood that appears after childbirth)

If a pregnant woman or a breast-feeding woman fears for her health or the health of the unborn child, she can fast the same equivalent of days at another time or feed the poor to compensate. This is confirmed in the ahadith :

“”For those who can do it (with hard-ship) is a ransom, the feeding of one, that is indigent,” he said: This was a concession granted to the aged man and woman who were able to keep fast; they were allowed to leave the fast and instead feed an indigent person for each fast; (and a concession) to pregnant and suckling woman when they apprehended harm (to themselves)” (abu Da`wud 13 #115) in explanation of Al Baqarah 2: 184)

Islamic fasting makes our bodied go into an elimination cycle by the act of not eating. Where there is toxicity present in the system, there are withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability or fatigue. In contemporary Western medicine, it is generally considered as a form of starvation and has even been considered as a factor towards eating disorders – do any of these arguments have a weight of truth?

The Effects of Fasting for Healthy Pregnant Women

‘Eating for two’ is usually the expression declared given to encourage the likelihood of a healthy mother and child, but how much real knowledge is there in this expression? Islamic fasting helps to address dietary abuse problems that in pregnancy can also affect the unborn child. It also helps to release some of the toxic build up which is attracted to the extra body fat that women carry. So therefore fasting detoxifies the body. Toxin release occurs from the kidneys, bladder, lungs, sinuses and skin discharging mucus from the intestinal tract, respiratory tract, sinuses and urine. The reality is that the benefits of fasting in pregnancy vary from person-to-person depending on the condition of the body. Islam allows fasting for a healthy mother-to-be and allows an expectant mother who is not so predisposed the right not to fast surely belies that tale. This is possible because of the eating periods of iftar and suhur that allow for a balanced intake of nutrition. This was in fact ascertained by Dr. Soliman in Jordan at the University Hospital who tested 42 men and 26 women in 2984. Having tested all the features of the blood before testing he was able to compare differences. The only aspects of significance was the fact that men gained weight slightly higher than women and higher than their own weight before fasting and the same applied to their blood glucose levels. But all other elements i.e. cortisol, cholesterol, lipoprotein etc had remained the same. In Islam, the safe period of fasting for pregnant women has been determined to be during the 1st and 2nd trimester. Clinical professor Dr. Shahid Athar suggests the 2nd Trimester (at 4 – 6 months), and then depending only on the health of the expectant woman and that she has permission and supervision from her obstetrician.

First Trimester

• By the third week the head and the spine begins to form at opposite ends growing toward each other until they fuse to form the “neural tube.”

• In the fourth week tissue buds form that will later develop into the lungs, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. The ears, eyes and some facial structures begin to form. The cartilage, bone and muscles of the back emerge in paired bulges. The heart develops. It is during this period that the embryo is at the greatest risk of birth defects.

• During the fifth week, external ears become visible, the nose, the upper and lower jaws form, and the limbs. The walls of the chest and abdomen, and the umbilical cord develops.

• From six to eight weeks, the face becomes readily recognizable as a human. The neck forms, the torso and head become more erect, the tail disappears and the limbs become jointed, forming fingers and toes.

Second Trimester

• At eight weeks, the embryo is a full-formed, tiny baby, now called a fetus.

• By fifteen weeks, the fetus can kick, curl its fingers and toes, and squint its eyes. Genitals have developed and the kidneys work.

• Circulatory and urinary systems are operating, and the liver is producing bile. The reproductive organs of male or female have developed, but the gender of the fetus is difficult to distinguish externally.

Third Trimester

• Fat begins to accumulate, the placenta has stopped growing and cannot keep up with the growing need for nourishment. The fetus can survive outside the womb if placed in an intensive care unit. It can taste sweet and sour and respond to stimuli, including pain, light and sound.

• The brain develops very rapidly. In the last two months, a fatty substance called “myelin” develops speeding up transmission of nervous impulses.

In West Africa, it was observed that 90% of pregnant women fasted during Ramadhan. Twenty-two pregnant women, ten lactating women and ten non-pregnant women, were tested by medical researchers Prentice et al. It was found that the glucose level was significantly lower in women who were in their later stages of pregnancy than the control group. This is useful in incidences of Gestational pregnancy whereby the blood sugar level becomes higher than normal whilst pregnant but may return to normal after delivery. Body fat cannot form the glucose required by the body for energy and during the period of fasting, The process of ketosis takes place (which only occurs in fasting) preventing the loss of protein. Body glucose decreases and there is increased weight loss. One of the purposes of researching into pregnant fasting women is to assess whether the glucose level in blood during the fast can be used as a measure to screen for Gestational diabetes. In a medical trial of 520 pregnant fasting women in Zurich, Switzerland the women’s blood sugar was tested in the 24th and 28th week of pregnancy. The purpose of the trial was to see what risks and preventative measures could be taken in cases of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy due to increased intolerance of glucose) that is prevalent amongst Asian and African women. One method of treatment recommends dietary management under medical supervision in fasting women. Periodic blood testing is carried out to assess the glucose level whilst fasting and after taking iftar (break fast) in order to maintain necessary blood sugar levels and adequate nutrition for the unborn child. Gestational diabetes can lead to a larger than normal fetus, stillbirth or a caesarian section.

With the difficulty in making up the fast at a later time, most women prefer to seize the opportunity to fast during the month of Ramadhan itself. Depending on the stress factors of one’s domestic conditions which might lack psychological and domestic support to be on the safe side, it would be wiser to consider ones general health and to seek approval from ones doctor before making a decision. The intake of food should be balanced and the intake of fluids plenty. For instance it is often assumed that for nursing mothers fasting leads to dehydration therefore decreasing milk supply. Prentice and his team found in their study of nursing mothers in Nigeria who were fasting for Ramadhan that there was in fact no decrease in volume of milk due to the periods of iftar and suhur (morning meal before fast) when a higher volume of fluids were consumed to over-compensate for the day time fast. It just goes to show, between the Qur`an, the Sunnah and women’s knowledge of their own bodies, that more myths are too be broken in order to allow the natural laws passed down to us to put balance in our lives.

Fasting in the Summer

The first ever Ramadhan may have taken place in the summer, given that the Middle East observe long summer months. As the global temperature rises to a level that tests all of us, and as the days are longer that the nights in the west, we have a few challenges on our hands. Increasingly secular and Christian trends are pointing to the benefits of fasting in the summer from the point of view of cleansing the body, and losing weight. Always the first three days are the most difficult as the body adjusts, but as long as your mind is causing contention with negative emotions, then the rest of the fast will be easier.

One should aim to break one’s fast with something light. The Sunnah of praying Maghrib (dusk prayers) allows one’s digestion to work on the light break-fast by attempting something more filling. Kazan Dr, Ildar Tukhvatullin in Russia places emphasis on eating foods that are high in carbohydrates (dried fruits, dates, figs, poultry, fish, and dairy products), low in gaseous ingredients, and avoid overeating. This in includes food that contain yeast, fried foods, processed foods, fizzy drinks, high sugar content, One needs to bring up one fluid and sugar up take without overdoing it. One such way is to eat fruits and freshly squeezed fruit juices. Food should be chewed properly before swallowing, drink plenty of water for we are made mostly of water, and do some light exercise, which will help to improve one’s digestion, and metabolism. People tend to feel lethargic, because that is what their minds tell them, but by using energy one creates more energy.

This summer marks the beginning of a seven year period of fasting in the summer, and given that niyyah, our intentions are the most important aspect of anything we do, let us make the next 7 Ramadhans a mercy to us, our families, to the environment and the humanity as a whole insha-Allah

Listen to:
Healthy Eating Tips To Take From Ramadan

Athar, Shahid. “ Health Concerns for Believers Contemporary Issues”. http://islam-usa.com/h8.html

CrescentLife.com. “Studies on Islamic Fasting”. http://www.crescentlife.com/spirituality/studies_on_islamic_fasting.htm

Cebmh. “Pregnancy: Gestational Diabetes”. National Electronic Library for Health. http://cebmh.warne.ox.oc.uk/diabetes/professional/pregnancy/page8.html

Haas, Elson. M. “Nutritional Program for Fasting”. http://www.healthy.net/templates/article.asp?PageType=article7ID=1996

Healthlibary.com. “Diabetes and Pregnancy”. 4. http://www.healthlibrary.com/reading/yod/nov/diabtes.htm

Perucchini, Daniele et al. “Using Fasting Plasma Glucose Concentrations to Screen for Gestational Diabetes Mellitus: Prospective Population Based Study”. British Medical Journal. 25: 319 (1999) 812-815. 9. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlrender.fcgi?artid=28232

Prentice, A. M. et al. “Metabolic Consequences of Fasting During Ramadan in Pregnant and Lactating Women”. Human Nutrition 37:4(1983)283 – 94. July. 2.. PubMed. http://www.ncbi.nlm.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=

Related Topics:
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It’s Getting Hot! Hot! Hot!
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From the Symbolic Ascension to the Ascension of Our Lives

It’s Getting Hot! Hot! Hot!

It’s Getting Hot! Hot! Hot!

By Hwaa Irfan

For those of us who have not been willing to change, change is on the horizon whether we will like it or not in the form of the weather.

With over 50 natural disasters that have taken place by the end of the 1st half of 2010, March of 2010 began introduced Spring as the hottest on record and counting. Whatever the real reason(s) for the serious climatic changes we are going through, I am quite sure we haven’t seen nothing yet as Quebec gets a little shake (earthquake 5.0 on the Richter scale).

Europe in its colonialistic fashion, as started looking at the climatic changes from the point of view of diseases spreading from the south to the north. To reporter Andrea Swalec, Dr Volker ter Meulen, chair of the European Academies Science Advisory Council, EASAC, which is made up of 26 scientific European academies across Europe:

    “To me, it doesn’t make a difference how we call it, but that we have had a higher temperature over the last 20, 30 years, which is documented”

    “These higher temperatures provide for the vectors and the viruses to grow faster and produce more,” he added. “More vectors, more virus, and this will cause more disease.”

    “For example, rising temperatures in Europe would provide new habitats for a mosquito that transmits yellow fever, West Nile virus, dengue fever and encephalitis”, ter Meulen said.

However, before we get to the spreading of diseases, some people have been dying anyway from the heat. If the World Health Organization is to be believed, especially after their disaster with the pseudo-pandemic H1N1, global warming is responsible directly or indirectly to 150,000 fatalities. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)who have maintained records since the 1880s have found that the worst hotspots for 2010 have been in N. America, eastern Brazil, E. Europe, southern Asia, eastern Russia, Yunnan, China, Canada, equatorial Africa with a 12fth driest season in record in the U.K.

Keeping It Cool

It has been a couple of days since I heard the sad story of a graduate student who was so hot that he went to sleep under a powerful air conditioner to never wake up. He died of hypothermia – hypothermia in Egypt!

If you have already been using your air conditioner, you would have contributed towards upping the energy output of your country significantly. So what!

Well, besides contributing towards the maintenance of an unhealthy unsustainable system, if you are prepared to suffer a summer hotter than this one, it’s no problem. Just try reducing your usage of electrical appliances in the home, and see the difference for yourself. But it keeps me cool.

How cool can one be when one is contributing towards:

– The breakdown of the earth’s ozone layer

– Trapping heat in the atmosphere

– Increase the charge of spatial air

– There is a decrease in the concentration of negative charges not exchanging with positively charged ions in tightly sealed rooms/offices

– Positive ions are positive because they are remiss of negative ions. Positive ions are attracted to generators, and lead to an”irritation syndrome” and it involves sleeplessness, irritability, tension, migraine, nausea, heart palpitations, hot flashes with sweating or chills, tremor and dizziness. The elderly become depressed, apathetic and extremely fatigued. Tension and depression is more common, infection rate increases, and healing decreases. Before a storm, the air is pregnant with positive ions, and these ions are inhaled and pass through into our blood, releasing a hormone which affecting moods, and joints, and blood platelets. In sensitive people, the hormone serotonin is released. Negative ions present would speed up the oxidizing process, but when not present in sufficient amount, leading to respiratory and sleep problems.

Well, I’m one of those sensitve people. All the obvious ways of keeping cool involves wastage of natural resources. If you are like me, and your body’s thermostat goes AWOL when subjected to the demands of an air-conditioner.

• You can reduce your core temperature by placing ice in a towel on your pulse (wrists etc), the effect will last for an hour.

• Drink plenty of cold fluids, especially water to reduce the loss of electrolytes through sweating. Electrolytes are minerals within your body that carries an electric charge. Electrolytes balance the bodily fluids.

• Reduce physical activity – for me being physically active does me good

• Allow yourself to sweat – the purpose of sweat is to cool you down

• A wet towel on the back of the neck, and on top of the head

• Burn essential oil of mint/pine/eucalyptus – creates a cooling sensation on the skin

• Open windows just enough to let breeze through

• Place a basin of cold water in the middle of a room, which on evaporation, cools!

• Doing the laundry towards the end of the day is very cooling if one does not have an automatic washing machine that does the drying as well.

• If you are up for morning prayers, open all the windows and balcony doors to all the fresh cool air before closing all windows and doors

• Go swimming

• Fans circulate the air causing a cooling effect

• Blow gently over a glass filled with ice. The effect is to cool your breathe which has only one outlet, and that is towards you, thus cooling you.

• Generally, air is lighter and cooler on the lower ground than the upper ground.

• Try and get used to the heat – this allows your body to function the way it is supposed to.

• A hat prevents the skin from too much exposure to the sun by creating shade.

• Wear cottons and other natural fibers. They allow the body to breathe, and deflect the rays of the sun.
• Don’t go outside between 11- 3.00pm when the sun is at its strongest.

• In the evenings open windows, and use fans to create a cross breeze. First thing in the morning, close all windows, blinds and curtains (white window shades, drapes or blinds), that is if you live in a wooden/brick home. If you live in a home whereby the walls are covered with cement, the home will turn into an oven.

• Smaller meals reduces one’s metabolic rate, if the heat has not reduced your appetite anyway.

• If you have a patch of land around the home plant some vegetation (shrubs and trees etc), which can reduce the temperature by as much as 10° Farenheit. One cannot appreciate the difference in being on vegetated land except when walks from vegetated land to barren land.

Keep Cool Without an Air Conditioner
NOAA May 2010 “Global Temperature Is Warmest on Record; Spring and January-May Also Post Record Breaking Temps”. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100616134641.htm
Positive and Negative Ions. http://www.quantumenergywerks.com/documents/Ionization101.pdf
Stellman, M Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety. VoII. International Labour Office
Swale, A. Climate Already Helping Disease Spread North

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A Home Amidst a Never-Ending Cycle of Disasters

Schooling Your Child in Violence

Schooling Your Child in Violence
By Hwaa Irfan

How are the summer months after the school year been treating you? Have these summer months met you with relief from the tensions of the school year. That might be the feeling for both student and parents alike, and teachers might be feeling more than shaken by it all, but In the summer break leading up to the new school year, is the time to consider what kind of education you would really like for your child, and by this I don’t mean more money.

School violence is becoming a common occurrence these days; the problem is that it also might be becoming all too acceptable. It is only now that the study into U.S. school violence has been released for 2003-5 by the National Center for Education Statistics. A frightening 2,911.000 acts of theft were carried out, and 1,852,000 were violent. Of the violent acts 54% occurred within the school building and 82% of all incidents were not reported to the police. Of the violent acts:

– Guns were used in 14,100 incidents
– Knives were used in 68, 400 incidents
– A blunt object was used in 42,100 incidents

Before jumping to stereotypes:

– 714,600 of the offenders were white
– 324, 4000 of the offenders were black
– 96,300 of the offender were male
– 25,000 of the offenders were female

We can look at American society, and say unequivocally that America is a society founded in violence, and has always been violent. This is of course said here under the assumption that it goes without saying that the U.S. has a problem with school violence. It might have even come to attention a few news reports about school violence in European countries. This may not be on the same scale as the violence in American schools, but on a European scale, it is still considered a phenomenon. In the cosmic law of things, to know the essence of something one has to first know its opposite, like knowing what it is to be thirsty in order to know what it means to be without thirst, so if public reaction is an indicator, we have clearly allowed the unacceptable to become acceptable forgetting what is unacceptable.

U.S. – in the case of Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 where 32 people died, there was the normal national outcry, increased security measures, a national debate about firearms which always takes place a result of which nothing is done, and a tribute to the dead and their families.

Poland – A 14 year old girl was sexually attacked by three male classmates in front of the whole class in 2006. It was filmed on a mobile. This only came to light because she committed suicide. Even though there was a zero tolerance policy in place on school violence, the minister responsible for looking into the incident, whereby a teacher was not present in the classroom for 20 minutes by proposing a ban on the spread of pornography, improved methods for hunting drug dealers, to make it easier to dismiss unreliable teachers, a decent school dress code, a new hierarchy of reward and punishment for students, a curfew for students aftetr 10.00pm.

The fact that the children involved had reached a level of underdevelopment seems to have surpassed the national debate in both countries to the extent that they came from families, whom we know nothing of, who had raised children who could carry out such acts, is not a reflection on the families alone, but is a reflection on the societies to which they belong. An act is carried out whatever it may be because the environment has given some kind of consensus that there is some level of permission. The school is a microcosm of that environment, and so too is the individual, and the family unit.

Blame the children, Blame, the teachers, Blame the parents, blame everything else but what about the nature of schooling itself given that it is a tool of the state.

Schooling – is used to refer to the system of mass education or factory education which provides one method to a large number of students.

Violence – is the act of harm against one’s self or another. The intent to cause harm is forbidden in Islam.

The Growing Concern About Schooling

Educationalist Clive Harber has developed much concern of what he observed as a growing problem with schooling and violence. Initially his concern was not one of schooling and violence, but one of schooling and politics. Harber became convinced that schooling is responsible for the initial violence, and for “reproducing and perpetuating forms of violence” in society at large. This arose out of his observation as a teacher in Nigeria, where the inherited system of schooling was British, and corporal punishment was a standard practice. This notion was affirmed when looking at the colonial system of education and the resistance to them in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, South Africa, and Namibia.As an educationalist in the U.K. his reason for concern continued there.

    “When we respond to violence in schools, if we respond at all, it is to the children who are violent. When a child forces another to do his or her bidding, we call it extortion; when an adult does the same thing to a child, it is called correction. When a student hits another student it is assault; when a teacher hits a student it is for the child s own good . When a student embarrasses, ridicules or scorns another student it is harassment, bullying or teasing. When a teacher does it, it is sound pedagogical practice.”

Harber reminds us of the historical context of mass education, which is evident today was to maintain social and political control over the then growing working population which sprung up as a result of industrialization. Some Americans might be experiencing this reality as certain states endeavor to curtail the practice of homeschooling.

“Hard Times” written by Charles Dickens serves as a brutal reminder of education then, which was to enslave the imagination, and to appropriate the human being from his soul. A 2000 report to UNESCO by J. Esteve, The Transformation of the Teachers Role at the End of the Twentieth Century: New Challenges for the Future highlighted the intrinsic nature of mass education is one that increased teacher-pupil and pupil-pupil violence. He adds, the authoritative mechanisms employed to control pupils no longer work as effectively as they did as students are challenging the fact that they have no power in any form within a system which causes them harm.

This was demonstrated in the Harry Potter film “The Order of the Phoenix, whereby children who once had some level of control over their environmental, had this removed by the ministry which enforced the same method of learning from one book on the entire school, without reference to experience. Of course the students revolted. The happily married couple we were sitting next to were horrified.

– A systematic approach by asserting that all students of the same age can learn one thing in one particular way causes harm (a feeling of failure in one form or another).

– All children are unnaturally forced to sit behind desks to absorb not learn as the learning environment has been eliminated in the process.

– A child is forced to keep up in a class of up to 30 -50 other students is harmful (low self esteem, and likelihood of illiteracy).

– The teacher is forced to control the classroom in a military like fashion.

– The teacher is expected to get the entire class through on a single method.

– That single method is overly competitive setting up situations for intimidation, bullying, prejudice, humiliation, depravation.

– A child is being forced to see the world through one particular view, which excludes their own view/experience

– Everything a child does is monitored and directed.

Just like cities, the individual in a large school loses their identity to something bigger and more demanding. It is impersonal and does not care about your potential or your likes and dislikes. The lack of familiarity breeds a community of strangers, which lead to the feeling of alienation, and being invalidated. Without that sense of belonging, in real terms there is nothing to really be accountable to except a series of laws and by-laws which do not even care if you as the pupil exists.

“Pupils will do things when they are not known, to people whom they do not know far more readily than they would to those whom they do know” is the conclusion of the 2002 Department for International Development report “Towards Responsive Schools

Most of those who have questioned the virtue of mass education have been former teachers. One would think they these teachers should have remained in teaching to change the system, but if the system is intrinsically wrong, change is not possible, especially if the Administrators think that there is nothing wrong. One of those former teachers is John Taylor Gatto, who authored the Book “Against School”. How many times have you come across a child who is against school, without realizing that there is a justifiable reason to be against school. Gatto reflected:

    “I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers didn’t seem to know much about their subjects and clearly weren’t interested in learning more. And the kids were right: their teachers were every bit as bored as they were”.

Jealously, my daughter referred to the students who graduated to become lecturers at the same university they were students of. Why jealously, when she is not in her graduation year is something else. She commented on going to their study room for some advise, and noticed all the reminders they had pinned up on the wall about being a good teacher. My response questioned the purpose of those reminders when they themselves have only gone straight from university into teaching when in fact they were not taught. What do you mean was her shocked response. I replied:

    “They have not experienced life, let alone their subject in life, so how can they teach it”.

Gatto pointed out that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln were not products of a mass education schooling system, and they never graduated from high school. Inventors like Edison, industrial leaders like Rockefeller; writers, Mark Twain and scholars like Margaret Mead were never schooled. And to add to that list are the long list of Muslim scientists that have left a large legacy to the modern world.

Recently performing in Cairo, Benjamin Zephaniah peformed at the Alzhar Park. A rasta, who writes and performs poetry for the betterment of humanity, and makes a good living traveling the world, was a rebellious pupil in and out of trouble when he was at school. Deemed uneducated, he was told as a child that he was a oorn failure. He told Al Ahram Weekly reporter Ingy Al-Kashef:

    “My uncle sat me down once, after I’d been in trouble with the ploice and thrown out of school. I was 13 or 14. He said: ” Look, you’ve got to behave yourself; you’ve got to conform more” So I said: ” What do I do?” He said, “You get an apprenticeship after school, get a job, find a nice dark-skinned Jamaican girl, and then you get married, get a mortgage and a house, and you make some babies”. Then Zephaniah paused and asked “And then what?” and then he said: ” Then you die.” Then I remember coming back from the meeting saying if that is why I am here, if that is the meaning of life, if I can’t find anything etter, I’m going to kill myself.”

Benjamin Zephaniah received and rejected an OBE from Queen Elizabeth for his work.

Gatto became curious about the purpose of secondary education when he read the book The Child, the Parent and the State.” This book was written by James Bryant Conant who was president of Harvard University for 20 years, executive of the atomic bomb project, and WWI poison gas expert. Written in 1959, Conant referred to a book which was the basis of the American education system. Written by Alexander Inglis in 1918 (after whom an education lecture is named after at Harvard), which is to:

1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.

2) The “integrating function”. Like the “integration” debate on Muslims in European countries, it is not about pluralism but conformity. People who conform are predictable, and this is of great use to those who wish to harness and manipulate a large labor force.

3) The “diagnostic and directive “ function. School is meant to determine each student’s proper social role.

4) The “differentiating function”. Once their social role has been “diagnosed,” children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits – and not one step further.

5) The selective function. Schools are meant to tag the unfit – with poor grades, remedial placement, and other punishments – clearly enough that their peers will accept them as inferior and effectively bar them from the reproductive sweepstakes.

6) The “propaedeutic” function. An elite group of caretakers is required.

Hands up to anyone who can recognize any of the above! If you felt, but did not know that this is what was being done to you, how would you react? What if you knew that the understanding behind black psyops/psychological warfare, is the knowledge that people are more reactive, and more confused when they do not know what is happening to them? In the Israeli war on Lebanon, Hizbollah countered Israel’s black psyops, y making sure the people did know what was going on, and the Lebanese ended up more sane, and more unified (across faiths), than any other operation.

Now we have witnessed how violence is perpetuated from the emotional and psychological harm that transfers to physical harm. It is natural to a child, to learn, to evolve, to develop and explore. Education from the Latin means to draw out the latent powers of an individual. When a person is being prevented from doing so, the result is only natural. One might assume that well that’s rubbish, I did well; and maybe academically you have done well, but the harm is also emotional and psychological, so I ask you, are you leading the life you want to lead or is it being led for you?

• Massification vs. personalization

• Uniformity vs. variety

• Conformity vs. creativity

• Fragmented vs. holistic

• Theory vs. practice

• Time rigidity vs. time flexibility

Where are you and your child midst these opposites?

We live in opposites, it is from opposites we are to learn, to grow as humans, and become more harmonious, but if we are deprived of the opposite, if we are told in so many ways that the opposite does not exist, then harm is being done, because we are being prevented from establishing the natural patterns of our lives which exists between opposites.

Given the above then how can modern schooling/mass education/factory education provide the following for your child:

• Social cohesion

• Tolerance

• Mentors

Instead isn’t schooling:

• Removing your child from the family sphere of influence including values, ethics, and faith

• Making your child too competitive, thus argumentative, feelings of inferiority, internalized racism/sexism

• Turning your child into a stranger

Then look at the children that do, do well – what do they have in common! And in 5 years time, what do they have in common!

Ruddy, S. et al. A Profile of Criminal Incidents at School. U.S. Dept, of Education http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010318.pdf

Anabel, R. B. School Violence in Spain http://www.ijvs.org/files/Revue-10/04.-Rodriguez-Basanta-Ijvs-10-en.pdf

Ammermuller, A. Violence in European Schools

Gatto. J.T. “Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids, and Why.” http://www.spinninglobe.net/againstschool.htm

Kowzan, P. “Teachers and School Violence: A Comparative Study of Danish, American and Polish Phenomena”. Journal of Alternative Perspectives in the Social Sciences ( 2009) Vol 1, No 3, 736-747

Harber, C. Schooling as Violence: How Schools Harm Pupils and Societies 2004. Routledge and Kegan Paul, U.K.

Related Topics:
The Missing Link in the Education of Our Boys
When the Waters Were Changed
The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
The Patterns of Our Lives Pt. II