New Year and New York

>> Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I have been out of blogosphere  for months and I  am back. Many apologies to any regular readers I may have. Keeping up with the blogosphere have become difficult for me lately and  I hope I will write more posts next year   2012, which is just around the corner, insyallah. Life is too short and here come New Year  2012 and good bye 2011.

For today post, I want to share some night photos of New York city. I remember it was  difficult  for me to take good night photos especially when trying to  figure out    the right setting of  the shutter speed and f no. for night mode, things that not in my lists during a trip. I still have many photos of Rome  to share   but it has to wait.  

New York brings  back memory of winter and New Year. I went to visit New York on a study trip about two weeks before Christmas day. Many of my fellow coursemates went  shopping for Christmas presents during the trip. The last day of the trip, my friends and I went to Macy Sore  to shop,  just few hours before we should be back at YMCA  hotel to  board  a bus to take us   to JFK Airport  for  our flight back to Glasgow that  night. We had almost missed our bus when  we were stuck in the train. The  train stopped for more than 15 minutes before resuming  back  to normal to the next station, one more stop before our destination.  We got off from the train, afraid it would stop  again, ran for some blocks like  mad people on   New York streets that  night,    amidst the wailing police sirens  to catch our bus. New York would not be New York without those sirens. For information, New York subway is one of the oldest and busiest  rapid rail systems  in the world.  Finally,  we reached the hotel just before the bus was about to leave.  Whenever I watch the Amazing Race, it brings back those memories   and I know how  the contestants must have felt, the adrenaline rush and thrill. 

I miss New York city  and maybe I vist it again one day, insyallah. To everybody and all readers out there Happy New Year  2012 in Advance  and may all you wishes come true.

 Night view of New York city taken from Empire State Building's viewing tower

World Trade Centre Building in the background 

 The Empire State Building model

Metropolitan Museum of Art

 Central Park, New York

Flatiron Building

Rockefellar Centre  Building


The Forum Romanum (Foro Romano), Rome

>> Monday, October 3, 2011

The Roman forum is a rectangular forum or plaza surronded by the  ruins of important buildings at the centre of the city of Rome. It  was a center  of political, economic and religious  and social activity   of the   Roman Empire in the 7th Century BC. The Forum was the marketplace of Rome and also the business district and civic center and it was expanded to include temples, a senate house and law courts. As you can see in the photos below, much of the forum has been destroyed,  columns and stone blocks are all that remains of some temples and  buildings.

I was lucky during my visit to the Forum , it was bright and sunny all day that enabled me to take good photos unlike any other days in Rome where they were  gloomy and raining most the time.  Well it was winter, nothing much you can expect of the weather. But it was not as cold as Scotland or London. I spent almost a day at the Forum, walking and taking photos. A few of my coursemates waited for the sunset to take photos of the Forum and the view was spectacular.  I felt creepy and eerie  on the bus ride  back to the hotel every night  whenever passing by old and ancient buildings. For  the information,  bus is the cheapest and easiest way  for sightseeing  in the city of ancient Rome. 

The Rome Metro has only two lines and has limited coverage of Rome unlike Paris or London.The 'must see' sights in Rome  are The Forum, Vatican, the French Step and Collesium and you can visit them either by taking metro or local bus with short walking distance.

I just read news today  that Amanda Knox, an American, a former exchange student in Italy who was convicted of the murder of her British roommate and sentenced  to 26 years was acquitted today by the Italian appeals court.  I have been following  up with her  story ever since watching it on real crime story on television  in the US when I visited my friends there few years ago. I guess this is not a good news for  the UK.  

The Layout Plan of the Forum

The impressive site of Roman Forum. It was   the meeting place for the
 Romans and  the center of the Ancient Rome Government. 
Temples, basilicas, civic buildings were erected here. 

The Arch of Septimius, the three archway
 from far. It is among the best preserved monuments in the Forum

What left now is a jumble of marble fragments, rocks and stones,
triumphal arches and temple ruins.

Temple of Antonious Pius and Faustina

The Arch of Septimius Severus

Close up view of  The arch of Septimius Severus

Close up view of a stump of Roman column against
 the backdrop of The Forum

Marbles slab


Rome, The Mithra Cult and Early Christianity

>> Thursday, August 18, 2011

I went to Rome during a study trip in winter 1994. We took a flight from Gatwick, London to Rome.  I took lots of photos of Rome including Vatican, the smallest country in the world.

Apart from traveling, I have other  interests and one of it  is comparative religion studies. My interest started when  I went to a lecture given by   Sheikh Ahmad Deedat  the famous Muslim scholar, preacher and debater   at Masjid Sultan Sallahuddin Shah Alam.  One of his most famous debates was “Was Christ Crucified?” when he debated Bishop Josh McDowell in Durban in 1981. He passed away in 2005 at 89 years old. I forgot when the lecture was held  and it probably  in early 90's and I was  in college It seems  senility is  catching up  with  me.  I still have all his softcover  giveaway books in my bookshelves . Since then I have always interested to read about differences and similarities in religions. Click here to listen to his debates. 

Today's post is about Mithra. I guess many people have never heard about it.  Mithra was one of most successful religions besides Christianity and other pagan religions  during the second century during the Roman Empire in Rome.Mithrism was far older and more venerable at the  time having been practised as early as 1500BC and preceded Christianity .  Mithra was derived from the ancient Persian (Iranian) God of light and wisdom. In the course of time, the religion developed and become very influential particularly on Rome’s army officer and legionaries. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries, Mithra religion was equal in strength to Christianity, and both sects competed with Rome’s many traditional divinities. To obtain influence  and protection from Roman emperors, both sects resorted to denunciation, accusing each other of blasphemy and of imitating sacred ceremonies. The conflict went on for decades until finally Emperor Constantine    converted to Christianity  (who was the sole ruler in the Western Roman Empire) and declared Christianity in favour of Mithra to be the state religion.

We often hear that many of the  essential elements and tradition  in Christainity are  similar with  Mithriasm. Mithriasm religion  had  sacraments  the same as the Catholic Church such as  baptism, and communion with bread and water. Some 19th-century historian scholars like Ernest Renan held the opinion that "had Christianity fallen victim to a deadly disease soon after its birth, the world would now worship Mithras"

He was called son of God
He was crucified.
He was born of a virgin on December 25th.
He was considered a great travelling teacher and master.
He had 12 companions or disciples.He performed miracles.
He was buried in a tomb.
He was atoned for the sins of mankind
After three days he rose from the dead .
Mithra was called "the Good Shepherd."
He was considered "the Way, the Truth and the Light, the Redeemer,the Savior, the Messiah."
He was identified with both the Lion and the Lamb.
His sacred day was Sunday

Learn about  trinity, salvation and resurrection in other pagan gods, e.g Osiris. Their attributes and culture.  Click Here 

Paul, is he the founder of Chrisianity? Paul was born and raised in the city of Tarsus,  a region in SE Asia-Minor where Mithras was well known. Paul, a Jew, bore Hebrew name Saul , the apostle to the Gentiles was an expert on Pagan religions.  Many believe that he was the real founder of Christianity and not Isa ( Jesus p.b.u.h). Paul never met Jesus in flesh. He only claimed some strange vision of Jesus.   The doctrines of Christianity come mostly from the teaching or influence of Paul.

The Christians view of Jesus is that Saul of Tarsus met  resurrected Messiah on the road to Damascus through  visions. The event is described as a bright-light that blinded Saul of Tarsus along with a voice giving spiritual instructions. Saul of Tarsus changed his name later and became widely known as the Apostle Paul.  He  had written about half  of the New Testament. 

Islam teaches that As-Salaf as-Saalih are superior in their understanding of the Revelation of Al-Qu'ran. Generally  speaking, the people present during  any event (such as the revelation of the Quran) will understand it better  than those who read about it later. These people of the past, namely the first generation of pious muslims during and after the revealation of the Quran, i.e tha Sahabah or companions of the prophet (saw)
the tabi'ee (followers) and Taabi Taabieen (folowers or the followers) They are the  best generation of Islam and they understood  Qur'an and Sunnah the best and those who personally knew Muhammad are accorded the highest category of Sahabah.

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: "The best people are those living in my generation, then those coming after them, and then those coming after (the second generation)"

Jews do not believe that Jesus was divine, the Son of God, or the Messiah prophesied in   Jewish scriptures.
He is seen as a "false messiah," who did not meet the requirements laid out in Jewish beliefs. The Romans executed him, as well as many other nationalistic and religious Jews,  for speaking out against Roman authority and abuses.

The Christians  would say the Muslims borowed from the Christians because the Quran is 600 years after New Testament  and the Jews would say the Christians borrowed from them. But as the  Muslims   we believe in Jesus(pbuh) and the Moses(pbuh)  and they are our prophets and Islam did not start  with Muhamad (saw).The chain of prophets began with Adam and included Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, David, Jesus and  the last  was Muhammad.What do muslims think of Jesus (pbuh).Click here.

"Say (O Muslims): "We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma'il (Ishmael), Isahq (Issac), Ya'qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat (the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya'qub (Jacob), and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and 'Isa (Jesus) and that which has been given to the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam)." (Quran 2:136)

The Quran explains the miraclious creation  of Adam(pbuh) and Jesus(pbuh).
The likeness of Isa (Jesus as ) is like Adam as. Allah creates what He wills"Verily, the likeness of Jesus in Allah's sight is like the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him, Be!, and he was."(Quran Al-Imran 3:59).
The Muslims believe Jesus  (p.b.u.h.) was sent by God exclusively to the Bani Israel or Children of Israel and he was not the last prophet and his mission was exclusively to the Jews people at the time and not to all human races. 

In the Gospel He Isa [Jesus (p.b.u.h)] replied, " I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24)" These twelve ( Isa' disciples) Isa [Jesus(p.b.u.h)] sent out with the charge: Do not go to the Gentiles nor enter a Samaritan city, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."( Matthew 10:5-6)
In the Qur'an"We granted Our favor to him [Isa (as)] , and We made him an example to the Children of Israel."( Qur'an 43:59) "And Allah will teach him [Isa(as)] the Book and Wisdom, The Taurat (Torah) and the Injil (Bible) , And appoint him a Messenger to the Children of Israel.

Where was Jesus(pbuh) crucified? Click here and here, Did Paul abolish the Law which was followed and preached by Jesus(pbuh)? Click here. Read Islam  points of view supported by the Bible. 

This is one beautiful verse from the Quran for everybody to ponder. 
Follow not what you have no knowledge And follow not ( O man, i.e. say not or do not or witness not) that of which you have no knowledge. Verily the hearing, and the sight, and the heart of each of those ones will be questioned.(Al-Qur'an Al-Isra' 17:36)

p/s My Christian friends  from US called  Allah  as "Moon God". Here,  Malaysian Christians   the non   Arabic speaking,  want to call Jesus (pbuh) as Allah. 

The many pagan Gods during Roman Empire including Neptune, God ot the seas.


Scotland the Land of the Brave and Ramadan Al Mubarak

>> Saturday, July 30, 2011

Towering in gallant fame
Scotland my mountain hame
High may your proud banners gloriously wave
Land of my high endeavour
Land of the shining river
Land of my heart forever
Scotland the brave

Friendly people and a beautiful country that  how I  described Scotland.  Many people would associate Scotland  with men in kilt, Scottish  Gaelic,  tartan, the  bag pipes  which are loved   and hated by  many people, William Wallace, Braveheart the movie, Loch Ness Monster , Highland Games, beutiful scenery and  medival castles. For me  Scotland is  always close to my heart where I spent 2 years finishing my post graduate studies and it is a must place to visit. I will write about my trip to Loch Ness and the beautiful and spectacular scenery of Isle of Skye, located in  Highlands, the northern part of Scotland.

I  bought a new printer last week and I would like to  recommend  everyone the  Canon printer. The best thing   about this printer  apart from its slick features and user friendly, it doest not need power adapter and this saves lots of troubles. I  got some boost to write more posts in the future. I have to say there is no story without a picture. Finally, I been able to scan the photos of Highland Games which  I went to in 1996. Read my previous post titled Highland Games.

I would like to wish to all Muslims out there, Selamat Berpuasa tomorrow and may Allah  granted us a blessed  Ramadan.

Weight Throw


Be Grateful and Thankful

>> Friday, July 8, 2011

I took these photos using my handphone many months ago.These are photos of a consruction site of a bugalow in Shah Alam taken from an apartment. There is  a story behind the picture, like the saying a picture  tells thousand words.What I am going to write is nothing to do with construction but about the people working at the construction site. The Indonesian workers. When I feel despair and at  loss, these people somehow give me inspiration and strength to move on and not giving up. It also  made me   feel how lucky I am to be in Malaysia. I hope many  of us would feel the same way too. How grateful I am to Allah for all the blessings to live in peaceful and posperous country,  Malaysia. 

These workers have the endurance, perseverance and patience to continue to live and support their family back home.You would hardly see local people working at construction site.  They live and work at the construction site to finish the job.They do not see their family for months and sometime years. Their place to stay is just a  timber shed   and they  sleep on the floor. When the construction of a walls  started and   room or enclosed space formed, the workers  would soon move in   and  it becomes their new shelter for them  to stay and sleep. Their old shed  have to  be removed to give ways for roads  or  mobilisation  of machinery as the project progressing and  reaching a completion. Lectures in Egypt, they are  making money just as  much as our school teachers whilst doctors in Algeria just earn a little. People in other parts of the   live in hunger and fear. Here in Malaysia,  people accusing the government of  being  'zalim', etc.  They are clueless what  'zalim' means. Some of these  people study  on government loans at overseas but they critised the goverment and support the opposition parties. That is really sad.  They do not know how lucky there are compared to other people in the world. I guess I  love to be a traveler and  wanderer, because it made me always to  thank Allah and to be grateful. Alhamdullilah. 

Pad foundations in progress
R.C beams and columns erected

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