By Sir Cam
Ghazy Mujahid e-mails, "The
reference to Ramadan takes me back 36 years to 1970
(and 37 Ramadans back) - my first Ramadan in Cambridge.
I remember it was the whole month of November. Very
short fasts - it amounted to having a slightly early
breakfast and missing lunch!!! Iftar was around
5 pm. A few fasts I broke during a weekly South
Asia Centre seminar by slipping a chewing gum into
my mouth. Little did I know that I would be reminded
of the experience by a communication from Cambridge.
Thanks CAMDIARY and may the Almighty bless you,
all Muslims and the entire humanity with the blessings
of this Holy Month of Islam".
THE BEST REMEMBRANCE
Historian Dr M.A.J. Beg e-mails, "The calligraphy
on the gate of the Muslim building you have photographed
(e-mailed with last CAM DIARY; Wazir Khan Mosque,
Lahore) has a sober message: Afdal al-dhikri La
ilaha illa Allah Muhammadur Rasulullah, which means
‘the best dhikr (lit. remembrance ) is uttering
the credo of Islam: there is no divinity except
Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of God'. Rightly
so. It is the foundation of the Islamic faith. It
is also a definition of Islam. Let us remember this
always especially in the month of Ramadan for spiritual
Ilam-ud-Din Ansari, AKA Nawab Wazir Khan, the Governor
of Lahore until 1639, during the rule of Mughal
Emperor Shah Jahan, built the beautifully decorated
mosque that goes by his name. Two large Arabic words
attract you: Allah and Muhammad. What I like about
this calligraphic piece is the detail. Within the
large words are further words. In fact, a closer
look at the word "Allah" reveals the well-known
verse of the throne, ayat al-kursi. It goes, "Allahu
la illaha illa hu Wal Hayyul Qayyum..." (There
is no God but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting,
the Eternal..., Qur'an, 2:255). Beautiful tile work,
artwork of a deeply spiritual verse.
The Guardian paper reported on Oct 5, "Cambridge
and Oxford have edged closer to Harvard in the latest
world university rankings, securing second and third
places respectively in a list dominated by US institutions...
Ian Leslie, the pro-vice chancellor for research
at Cambridge said: "It is very reassuring that
the collegiate systems of Cambridge and Oxford continue
to be valued and respected by peers, and that the
excellence of teaching and of research at both institutions
is reflected in this ranking." Here's a list
of the top ten world university rankings 2006: 1.
Harvard, 2: Cambridge, 3: Oxford, 4: Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, 5: Yale, 6: Stanford, 7:
California Institute of Technology, 8: University
of California, Berkeley, 9: Imperial College London,
KK AZIZ REMEMBERED
Prof Mukhtar Chaudhry of Chicago writes, "I
am delighted to receive the CAMDIARY and to find
that you visited Prof KK Aziz. He is a superb gentleman
and I must thank you for sending me his address.
I met him and his lovely wife and told them that
you provided me their address. They were very much
delighted to know that and added that you are like
a son to them. What a great honor to be placed in
the family of a dedicated couple! By the way, Prof
KK Aziz and I went to the same school and share
the same teachers in Batala (M.B. High School Batala,
Pre-Partition Punjab). When we met in Lahore earlier
this year, we talked about the teachers and our
shared memories of the past.
Former Cambridge man Dr Allah Bakhsh Malik, now
the Managing Director of the Punjab Education Foundation
(www.pef.edu.pk), Lahore, e-mails to complain why
I didn't visit him during my recent visit to Pakistan.
Simple! Because of lack of time it was a choice
of socializing or visiting the Wazir Khan Mosque
and the National College of Arts. Business before
pleasure this time! Sorry!
How much more of Pervez Musharraf? How much more
of military rule in Pakistan. Musharraf ousted the
elected government on October 12, 1999... SEVEN
LONG YEARS AGO! Oh, how much more?
Prof Iftikhar H Malik has e-mailed this: "In
face of the serious imbalances entrenched by the
Pakistani tradition of khaki praetorianism that
Musharraf has upheld, his remaining supporters portray
him as the symbol of "enlightened moderation".
It is a hard case to make in a country where 35%
of people live below the poverty line, and where
very few analysts believe the premise that (to use
a favorite regime dictum) "only the military
can contain the mullah".
Indeed, the experience
of Musharraf's seven years in power has discredited
the military as an agent in the political arena.
More and more Pakistanis argue that the army's most
progressive role would be to return to the barracks
and make way for the only force that can truly prevent
the much-feared "Talibanisation" of the
country: unfettered democracy backed by
an assertive civil society. While the military projects
itself as the only guardian of the state, millions
of Pakistanis view it as an interest group whose
power serves only to reinforce the country's problems
of governance and nationhood..."
IT TO THEM
Mubarak Dawood of ISOC (www.isoc.co.uk), the University's
Islamic Society, reminds us about the virtues of
Ramadan: "The month of Ramadan in which was
revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind, and
clear proofs for the guidance, and the criterion.
So whoever of you sights the month, he must fast
(2:185)." So this is the first virtue: that
it is the month in which Allah sent down His Book.
And Allah reminds us that the Qur'an is a guidance
for us, and also contains proofs, and is a criterion
between right and wrong. The scholars state that
the verse indicates that the revelation of the Qur'an
during the month of Ramadan is the reason for Ramadan
being a month of fasting. This is shown by the word
FA (translated above as SO) which here conveys purpose.
The revelation is therefore central, in fact essential,
to the virtue of this blessed month.