Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Ramadhan reading and reflection

This ramadhan I am slowly and steadily working my way through 3 very different courses of reading. None of these were planned, but as fasting looks for all intensive purposes to be unattainable for me this year, I wish to at least attempt to make the educational and spiritual aspects of this month significant for my own development.

Perhaps fairly obviously, I chose to read an English translation (without tafseer) of the holly qur’an, but while this might be taken as a matter of course to be a staple piece of ramadhan reading, I chose it because, despite having been Muslim for 12 years now, I still have failed in my responsibility to read the qur’an from cover to cover. Naturally, any real comprehension of the sacred text and its meaning can take years to achieve, (if at all in this crazy world of fleeting fancy and flailing dedication), surely to read, reflect and try is better than gritting one’s teeth through a graveyard of unfulfilled promises made to the self.
My second reading option is a research based study on the life of Imam Reza (A.S). Since my ziyerat trip I’ve been determined to study the lives of the 12 Imams in their entirety, and to take my understanding of their lessons beyond what appears ordinarily, (i.e., those texts that dwell of physical characteristics and skirt around the surface of the analytical). The text its self is a heavy read, without many frills, and as it is a literal translation from the Arabic, without the passion one might search for in such a text. It does however, focus on fact, and draws out key incidences which, while routed in commonality, single out Imam Reza (A.S) as an exemplary leader, teacher and descendent of our holly Prophet (peace be on him and his family).

The third text I have chosen (and the first to be completed), is ‘2 lives, by Vikram Saith. To choose a fictional text, and that too, one written by a Hindu, might be viewed by many as a time waste, or even a heresy by many reading this, but Vikram Saith and his writings have always served as a critical beacon of guidance to me in my most darkest of moments. His words can often penetrate my heart where no human being can, and when I need to retreat, looking for a safe space in which to contemplate, recharge and re-evaluate my current position in this earthly struggle, I am drawn Magnetically to Saith’s words. I first discovered his writings while in school. I was gifted a copy of ‘a suitable boy as an Easter gift by my parents, and I loved it so much I completed its 900 or so pages during the long weekend vacation. I then made a point of reading it at least once each subsequent year, and was enchanted by how its twists and turns seemed to mirror the complexities in my own life, while my reaction to each character’s life choices seemed to alter too with the passage of time and maturity as they shaped my unformed personality.
2 lives is the soul novel Saith has written since ‘a suitable boy. I stumbled across it during a weekend trip to Inverness, with a man I had met on an Asian marriage site. Amish Thakkar was a wonderfully passionate and eccentric individual. We undertook a bazaar courtship via Email: exchanging letters which were riddled with double meanings, hopes and unexpressed expectation. We ultimately met in Edinburgh; Amish had been visiting the capital to attend an impromptu book reading given by Vikram Saith, (A shared passion which at that time we did not know we shared). I had heard about ‘2 lives, but had not read it, and on the long but highly pleasurable drive through a cold but sunlit day to Inverness, he drew out the essence of the novel for me, sharing most eloquently the poems and the passages he had memorised to heart. He almost idol worshipped the personality of Saith, and in some ways, struck me as the closest I might ever come to meeting the author himself. Amish too was a writer, but sadly did not party me to any of his utterances. We spent an indescribably beautiful weekend together, and then parted, never to speak, write or to meet again. Whenever I reread ‘2 lives, I am reminded of him, and of those other surreal connections which have left lasting scars and diamonds on the surface of my life. 2 lives charts the life journeys of an Indian man and a German woman, thrown together by the pain and uncertainty of the 2nd world war and the post war period. Their losses, their cultural differences and their colourful interactions with those around them, serve not only to inspire by their example, but also to take one in to a realm where one’s own losses, complexities and dilemmas are scrutinised under the microscope of self criticism/reflection, in an intensely painful, yet profoundly beautiful way.

The final leg of the novel concerns its self with the death of Shanti (Saith’s Uncle), and the complicated intricacies of bidding farewell to such a character, while managing the fallout of such a death; wills, family relations and unspoken words of love, reproach and question. The novel ends, with a reminder to us not to be as foolish as the generations that past before us, and to reflect how in all probability, we could well have been born as each other; to choose communal hatred over individual blinkeredness, which will, Insha Allah, one day, metamorphosis in to love. As I read these words, I always close the book and shower its back cover with unstoppable tears. The rain from my eyes is a statement of my own vulnerability, of how much I hold inside, and how much pain I am still unable to let go of. Most people believe that Muslims are people of forgiveness, forbearance and great tolerance, (that is, those who have not encountered terrorism, or wahabi thought). Perhaps, for the most part, these kind complements are true, yet when I meditate on my frail self I am ashamed of what stares and weeps back at me. I am a creature of unspoken anger, composed of pent up emotions and every day challenges which will remain for me permanent childhood complexities, so that I am perpetually dissatisfied and unknowing. The pain that eats me up shifts from vulnerability, to sorrow, to a fire that fuels my activism and pushes me forward. A few years ago, following my first reading of ‘2 lives, I underwent an intense period of counselling, discussing the till then unspoken. The counselling help, because the counsellor and myself shared a unique relationship and understanding of our own, (for another post I think), and for a time, I put to bed the skeletons and nightmares that tormented my solitude. Forgiveness however, was not to be; somehow for me, forgiveness meant acceptance, something I was adamant I could not, and would not ever grant to the perpetrator. That anger still rears its head from time to time, though more recently I’ve begun to wonder if the disassociation I exercise serves only to torture me, rather than to act as the curses just deserts which I try to avenge on my abuser.

It is the first time I have read this novel in ramadhan, and for the first time, the tears felt heeling, because they came from within me, they made me tired, yet strong and accepting of the reality that they came as a release from Allah (SWT) rather than from shaytan. Still, tears, no matter how soothing in the short term, reveal more questions than they pinpoint answers, thus leaving me with my emptiness, and my chronic inability to elevate me beyond the past to such a degree that I can find my own answers, or at least be content in their unanswered state. When I think of my family, my future husband and all those others close to me, I am terrified by how none of them actually know me, because of the torrents of pain that I have to hold back. At the same time, I am strangely impressed by how much I kept safe from my parents during my childhood, in order to spare them from a pain so consuming I know they still could not carry it, nor could I carry them were they to uncover it.
The above few paragraphs perhaps sound a little self indulgent; they are not meant to be; I am under no illusion that many live with these dichotomies on a daily basis! I just think that from those I have seen, the majority balance them out far better than I ever have, and doubtless ever will. As I progress through ramadhan however, the utterances of Saith are perhaps the truest statements of intent which occupy my soul on the struggle for perfection; i.e., not to become the same pathetic fools that came before us; and to recognise that elements of the abuser lurk in the survivor too; for no soul can interact with another without, even in the subconscious, gaining aspects of its rust, and sparkles from its silver.

“Oh Allah, most merciful, most kind, forgive this complex, wounded and vulnerable creature. Ease my suffering and change my wretchedness in to dignity. Take my disassociations and turn them in to worship, take my tears and make them intercede for me on a day where a sinner like me will wale only for intercession. Take my pure dreams and make them a reality, take my nightmares and cast them far away. Carry out justice in the matter of my abusers, and enable me to seek refuge and acceptance in your divine justice rather than hunting for the same within my weak, incapable self. Enable me to see truth and falsehood for what they really are, and do not make me a slave of the past, nor a victim of unmet wants, make me a dedicated student of your ahlulbayte, and an Executer of your divine will that you chose exclusively for me, and let me revel in its pain as well as its pleasure, using the pain as a tool to elevate my soul, rather than drag it down and backwards to humiliation and cycles of destruction. Do not permit me to live out the failures of my past generations, nor a deficient meek follower of those who fail around me; instead, grant me the strength that comes only from knowing you, your teachings, and your Ahlulbayte (A.S), so that one day, I shall see true love for what it is, and embody it in the person of being a shia; a real, unadulterated, and very beautiful, shia, doing nothing more, and nothing less than that which you write for her and expect from her, and maybe, in this reality, will come peace, and with the time you grant in this earthly pilgrimage, will too come certainty, so that fear has no space to breed, and the hereafter is attained with ease. Bestow upon me gentleness from near you oh Allah, the most merciful, and close of all, …, Ameen".

Saturday, 22 August 2009

ramadhan mubarak!

Salaam!

So; I’ve been without internet (again!), hence no posts from me during the past week! I was still recovering from the bug I inadvertently imported from Iraq, so it took me a little longer than would normally be tolerable to sort it out, and when I did finally call the internet provider on Wednesday I wished I hadn’t!!
Basically, I was requesting Tiscali (well, why not name and shame!), to send out an engineer to examine the equipment, as this was the 3rd time my internet had packed in during as many weeks! At first, I was told rather roodly by an inanimate Indian call centre worker that no engineer could be sent, and so I told him I wanted my contract with them terminated. On talking to the cancellation department I was told that an engineer could be sent (if I kept up the contract). I agreed for what I thought would be an easier time ride in the longer term, as I wouldn’t have to mess around with new providers etc. All did not run smooth however, and I spent a further hour with yet another rood call centre dood from Bangalore who made every attempt possible to prevent me from calling the engineer, and also didn’t seem to grasp why a blind person needed a computer!! (no kidding! He also asked me 3 times if I was really blind; presumably visually impaired people are so retarded they can’t hold a conversation either!). Any way, an engineer was eventually dispatched after the endurance test, and has rectified the problem (for now). I say that, because the excuse he gave for the break-down was pretty pathetic, and I’m sure 3 weeks down the line we’ll be back to square minus 1.

Other than that, today is the first day I’ve felt my regular energy level return to me post “bug”, Shukr Allah ca!
Particularly given that today is the first of ramadhan mashallah! Its actually scary how quickly ramadhan comes around each year, quicker than the year before, and emphasising my aging with it (grin).

Ramadhan is special; not just because of the immense blessings that come with it, but it is a time of great reflection for me; it was during ramadhan, almost 14 years ago, that I first discovered Islam. It was during those days that I kept my first fasts in secret (short and insignificant though they were at that time). It was radio ramadhan that first introduced me to Muslims and had me studying Islam, and it was during ramadhan that I met some of the most important Muslims in my life. Each ramadhan is a new chance to give thanks for yet another year spent within this blessed religion, and another chance to glorify the creator during this most pure and blessed of months.
These days however, Ramadhan does fill me with waves of indescribable gilt; for the past 3 years or so, I’ve not been able to fast properly; my headaches, medication and general physical weakness make the fasts virtually impossible for me. If I do decide to keep a fast, by the middle of the afternoon I am laying in bed, writhing in pain, unable to pray, move, work, do any thing! And either break the fast early, or else stick it out, with all my prayers being late and my day having been empty of useful deeds. By the time I’ve opened the fast, I am good for nothing, and just about get my night prayers done before stumbling in to bed for 2 days!! I hate myself for this and struggle to accept it; why am I like this? Is it my heedlessness? Lack of iman? Or just the fact that I’m not a strong enough individual, neither spiritually nor physically. Certainly, Islam does excuse those who are weak or unable to fast because of medical reasons, but I guess because the majority of my medical complaints remain undefined, I always feel as though I am cheating myself and my creator. If you ask me why I am not fasting, or why I don’t fast consistently, I’ll tell you it is because of my health, of my weakness, yet I see people weaker than me fasting, people with chronic diabetes fasting, and they maintain it far better than I do! My doctor has not told me I am not permitted to fast due to health reasons, and simply told me to do it if I can manage, leave it if I cannot!! What does this mean? Does that mean I have licence to decide? Or should speak to a scholar? I just don’t know!! As I see it; I have 2 choices; either I fast, become ill and weak, but manage to preserve the fast all the same, or, I leave fasting and fulfil the other rights of this month; prayer, study, reflection etc, what do you think? Is it normal to feel s confused? I’ll welcome feedback on this topic, but over the next few days I’ll submit a few posts discussing those very special reflections and gifts I’ve been granted during ramadhan over the past 14 years, so watch this space!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Azadi mubarak! (belated I'm afraid!)

Salaam! …, OK, so I am more than a little late with this, and reading it, you might be fooled in to thinking I was sending greetings to another nation!
But hey; better late than never! Put it down to the fact that I’m still ill, still on a funny time zone; I slept almost 18 hours today at once; can you believe that? Its worrying; I can’t decide whether its nazr (something I’m sadly very susceptible to), or if it’s a strange Middle Eastern parasite which bights you and condemns you to a life of perpetual exhaustion!! Allah kher!

Any way, I digress; here’s wishing every one a very healthy, happy and joyous independence day (well, in retrospect), azadi mubarak!!
The 14th August always brings real tinges of sadness to me now; on the 14th, I was here in Glasgow; feeling ill; I slept allot, went and had my hair cut after reading jumah, and watched the Azadi coverage on geo (and had a cry to myself). Its been around 5 years since I visited Pakistan, after my 3 years stint of living in Karachi I’ve not been back, yet my love for the country and the feelings that 14th August stir up for me are as fresh now as they were back in the good old days in the city of lights!

I dreamt of Pakistan long before I ever visited it. I don’t really know where my Asian fascination came from, but its always been with me, as much a part of me as my own skin! In fact it shaped my own skin (or at least the deep bangle grooves on both wrists!). I was gifted a shortwave radio for my 8th birthday, and used to spend nights Dxing (hence the insomnia!), and Pakistan was always there. I still have tape recordings from those days, mostly of music shows featuring Naheed Akhtar and Tahira Saeed, along with some arts features which, although I didn’t understand, got me attuned to the Urdu language, and doubtless assisted me subconsciously when I eventually got around to learning. In the eye of my mind, Pakistan was beautiful and exotic, a vibrant nation filled with colour, excitement, music and drama, the air thick with flowers and aromatic spices. The warmth of the people would surround me, and I always felt that when I did finally visit, I’d be engulfed with a feeling of coming home (which wasn’t too far from the truth). Those childhood dreams still haunt me, and reached their peak when I did finally have the honour of visiting radio Pakistan for myself! I sat drinking tea with the controller and weeping like a baby (I don’t think he really understood these emotions when I attempted to recount them, perhaps you have to be a woman, or just an oversensitive strange person like myself to get it!).

14th August is a beautiful day in Pakistan, (or at least I made it so). I’d always stitch myself a salwar suit in the colours of the Pakistani flag (no kidding! I even had my dupata especially dyed for the occasion!), matching bangles, shoes; the lot!
Then we would visit the mazar of Mohammed Ali Jinnah early that morning for the presidential address, and enjoy the celebrations of the people! Most people then just go home and crash in front of the TV, but I made a point of inviting every one over for lunch. Most of the shops were closed, so every one had to bring one dish, we’d eat, watch TV and then we’d launch in to a round of patriotic songs (being the anal creature that I am, I even had these printed out!). I don’t know exactly why 14th August became so important to me, perhaps it was about assimilation, or a subconscious need to fit in. Maybe it was just yet another throw back to my childhood days, or perhaps it was just about the spirit of independence. 14th August became allot more important to me, after I produced ‘may nay Pakistan bantay deca, a programme telling the real life stories of those who had fought for, and established Pakistan in the early days. We interviewed every one, from politicians, to soldiers, to women who had lost their husbands, sons, every thing, and to humble fruit sellers who left their properties to live in poverty in this new Muslim nation. The divisions of India and Pakistan were ugly, and will forever remain so; the scars of separation still bleed, and relations between the 2 are far from ideal. Younger generations too cling to hatred they don’t really understand, but holding on to it seems to give them a purpose, a reason to hate and a reason to fight. I don’t however, believe that independence does this, rather it is the reluctance to acknowledge, discuss and recognise the hurt and the injustices committed at that time which fuels the generations of cold separation that we witness today. Here in Scotland, we are no strangers to freedom struggles, we’ve been battling for independence ourselves for generations, and, as a nationalist myself, I certainly do not hate the English as a nation, but I hate the institution that raped my country of its pride, dignity and fortune. I am disgusted by the systematic attempts made to water down true Scottish history, and to conveniently obliterate any references to English war crimes, to the fact that thousands of farmers lost their wealth and livelihood thanks to the pillaging, and how the Scottish language was all but annihilated thanks to supremacists who would happily kill those who refused to speak nothing but English! To strip a people of their history is to leave them inferior, and psychologically dependent, in a place where they can neither move on nor go back, where they can neither rectify nor recognise the wrong that was done to them. Nationalism is a funny thing, no matter how much you pretend that its all politics, and has little consequence for the average man on the street, be assured it will come back and bight you with a vengeance! I believe this is in part why 14th August and celebrations like it are so important. They offer the nation 1 day to detach from the pain, to forget their current difficulties and the past they are still reeling from, and gives them a glimpse of what can and should be. It is a time to reflect on the successes (however small they may be), the achievements which are often lost in the business off living from day-to-day. No matter how much the country might be divided on the way forward, or on which politicians to support, or on which religious leaders ought to be taking centre stage in the battle for power, they will all come together unconditionally on the 14th to say ‘jeevay Pakistan, and this is a sentiment that I for one consider invaluable. Here in Scotland, we tried to stage similar celebrations for the 10 year anniversary of the Scottish parliament, but the nation did not really run with it, I guess generations of being indoctrinated in to thinking you have no rights to patriotism are a natural consequence of this reticence. For me though, Pakistan has got it spot on! The nation might be poor, it might be dealing with hugely complex power struggles and highly sensitive political juggling acts, but Pakistan is a nation built on incredible resilience and hope, a hope that remains burning in the hearts of many. A hope that keeps people living, breathing and fighting even when it seems the world is against them. Many say that Pakistan is unjust, and perhaps it is, but if one is to analyse Pakistan, you’ll doubtless find much more being done on the ground to implement practical justice, rather than the policy speak propagated by the west, which for the most part is there in order to justify doing nothing!
Only last week, my dearest friend and colleague, Zahid Abdullah (a disabled activist, lecturer and writer), was appointed to a senior post within the electoral commission of Pakistan, in recognition of his campaigning work within freedom of information. Zahid got this post on merit, because he is immensely talented and by far the best candidate for the job, an irony when you consider how much the UK has invested in so-called “equal opportunities”, yet we have no such figures within senior political and social positions. Moreover, we have an equalities commission which spends its time trying to score points off other equality strands!
Pakistan has its faults, (which nation doesn’t!), but so long as it holds on to its hope, and the rope of Islam on which it was founded, coupled with the strength and creativity of the activists that are immerging on today’s social stage, then the future holds many treasures for the land of the pure.
Azadi mubarak one and all,
PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

saving Africa's witch Children

Back in November 2008, I had the fortune, (or perhaps misfortune depending on how you wish to view it), to see a compelling TV programme which was to move me greatly and change my life forever. The hard-hitting documentary ‘saving Africa’s witch children, produced by channel 4, examined a harrowing phenomenon sweeping across poverty stricken communities in Western Africa, that of branding young children as witches and wizards. Christianity for the most part, dominates in Nigeria and its neighbours, however the styles and forms of Christianity practise are less than salubrious! They tend to be largely Pentecostal in nature, taking elements from traditional African voodoo and spiritualist practises, and adding even more hype and hysteria to draw in the masses!
The documentary focused mainly on the activities of Helen Ukpabio (discussed below), who, in many ways, has single-handedly fuelled this disgusting fire of abuse and ignorance. She has produced numerous books, horror movies and TV shows, all designed to further stigmatise young, innocent and vulnerable children struggling to survive in one of Nigeria’s poorest states.

Her activity and that of preachers like her is a little known reality here in the west and beyond, however channel 4(s) efforts to bring this abuse in to the main has to be applauded, moreover, it has sparked local media in Nigeria and across the world to speak out and take action.
The below article contains further links and more details; please, do what you can to spread awareness of this brutality; through your blogs, your local communities; your masjids. The children involved need love, security, education, financial support and individuals willing to fight for their human rights. At the same time, as brothers and sisters in humanity we have an ethical obligation to wage social warfare on vile practises such as this, and not to rest till the awful perpetrators have been brought to justice, and their evils have been stamped out.

The following article is taken from: www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/index.php/content/view/.../55 -


The Many faces of Helen Ukpabio.

Written by Olusegun Fakoya

Saturday, 08 August 2009

The world-wide reaction and publicity that followed the release of the award-winning documentary, ‘Saving Africa’s Witch Children’, has been a source of
consternation to those whose activities were exposed by the film. This film demonstrated the scale of the problem caused by the continued labelling of
children as witches in South Eastern Nigeria. This practice has brought untold hardship to thousands of children. The burgeoning role of some Pentecostal
churches was equally exposed, including their collusion and participation in the lies and untruths which lead children to be stigmatised as witches and
later tortured, and which generate huge commercial success.The international outcry following the documentary led to the endorsement of the Child Rights
Act by the Akwa Ibom State government. There were also spates of arrest following the release of the documentary including “Bishop” Sunday Ulup-Aya who
boasted of having killed 110 child witches single-handedly. However, it was Helen Ukpabio, the self-acclaimed expert witch-hunter within Nigerian Pentecostal
Christendom, who escaped the noose but who has led the crusade in child witch stigmatisation. Like Cleopatra, this notorious woman has many faces which
are key for understanding how she operates.

The first of Helen Ukpabio’s faces is that of the determined fighter whose major focus is that of combating witchcraft. She sees the branding of witches
and wizards as a fundamental part of her Christianity and shows no regret in the social turbulence caused by her religion. Helen once expressed a grudge
with fellow Pentecostals saying: “many of our preachers are giving the excuse that not much is said about witchcraft in the Bible.” It is perhaps in response
to this that both Apostle John Okoriko of Solid Rock Foundation Church in Nigeria and the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos recently denounced pastors who are
profiting from the witchcraft industry, condemning the falsehood, exploitation and inherent deception in modern-day Nigerian Pentecostalism which sees
the gospel used to deceive the gullible. The vulnerability of children holds a special allure for Ms Ukpabio which she has found easy to exploit. Helen
has produced numerous programmes, home movies and books, all warning parents about the participation of children in witchcraft and the importance of child
exorcism. In her book, Unveiling the Mysteries of Witchcraft, Helen and others, write that “a child under two years of age that cries at night and deteriorates
in health is an agent of Satan”. Helen remains indifferent to the social consequences of her actions, deceiving the masses and lining her pocket. Society
is left to bear the scars of her misguided actions.

Another face of Helen Ukpabio is that of an organised business woman who discovered a working formula amongst the multitude of Pentecostal preachers. She
is astute and ruthless in her determination to ensure her comfort that even when presented with the outrageous fallouts of her mission she remains nonplussed
and unrepentant. It is an indication of this that to date, Ms Ukpabio has not apologised for the agonies that she has caused to thousands of children in
Nigeria and elsewhere for stigmatising them as witches.

The third face of Helen Ukpabio is brutish and monstrous. In an attempt to clear her name following the film’s release, Helen employed the Lagos lawyer
Victor Ukutt. Ms Ukpabio identified Gary Foxcroft of Stepping Stones Nigeria and Sam Ikpe-Itauma of Child Rights and Rehabilitation Centre (CRARN) in Eket,
as the enemies that must be crushed. Mr Ukutt, on behalf of the Trustees of Liberty Foundation Gospel Ministry, wrote a threatening letter to both organisations
demanding a public and published apology and one billion US Dollars on behalf of his clients. When this failed to achieve the desired reaction, Helen employed
the Police to visit CRARN on 3rd July of this year where the aim was to arrest or kidnap Mr Ikpe-Itauma. Failing to achieve this, the policemen beat several
of the children including two who required hospitalisation. Helen has used every means to defend her name, never attempting to ameliorate the plight of
stigmatised children. Ms Ukpabio would perhaps achieve her goal of rehabilitating her name by re-distributing the wealth amassed through cruelty to children
and clearing the social mess caused by her actions.

The faces of Helen Ukpabio are many. She is the evangelist, the tormentor of children, the astute business woman, the formidable fighter and the conscienceless
brute. Helen Ukpabio is an egregious evangelist who readily boasts of her influence in Nigeria and sees any foreign interference as a threat. This is who
Nigeria must contend with. As concerned Nigerian citizens, we owe it to our children, our nation and generations unborn to speak out in the face of the
ignoble antics of this renegade evangelist. In a more civilised environ, her types are usually curtailed behind prison walls. Notwithstanding that this
may not be the case in Nigeria, our struggle for justice demands input from all.

The Child Rights Act asserts that children can only reach their full potential when there is an environment that helps to meet their basic needs and also
recognises and protects their rights. It is thus an offence against humanity for anyone, whether an organisation or individual, to destroy the rights of
children. It is irresponsible of any government to fold its arms while such tyranny is being perpetrated. Helen Ukpabio has shown total disregard to the
welfare of children by stigmatising them as witches. She is guilty of violating the Child Rights Act through the unfettered social, emotional and psychological
torture of children as well as profiteering from the misfortunes of innocent children which she induced by her proclamations and actions. She has caused
untold social hardship, marriage destruction and psychological disharmony in the nation. As a result it is necessary to:
List of 1 items
1. Demand a full and thorough investigation into the activities of Helen Ukpabio by the Federal Government or the government of Akwa Ibom state.
list end

2. Bring Helen Ukpabio to justice through the legal system.
List of 1 items
3. Seizure of the assets and illegal wealth of Helen Ukpabio.
list end
List of 1 items
4. Educate the public on the evil of labelling children as witches and the criminality inherent in such practices.
list end

The battle for the emancipation of the rights of children in Nigeria will not be made easier by the freedom of people like Helen Ukpabio, an enemy of child
rights. The time has come for Nigeria to say no to her satanic verses.

The battle to bring Helen Ukpabio to justice is still on. There have been tremendous international response but it is vital that Nigerians are seen to be
keen to tackle identified social menaces in their country. We implore you all to visit the petition site (link attached) to append your signature to the
online petition. The struggle to dethrone Helen Ukpabio from her self-imposed, illusory, deceptive, socially destructive and satanic empire continues.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/make-helen-ukpabio-face-justice

A luta continua!

Thank you.

Dr Olusegun Fakoya.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

The Bulb is Back!

Salaam!

I’M BACK!!!
How “happy” are you!!

Its been an eternity (or at least it feels like it!), since I blogged here! Hope that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my 1 and only reader! Grin
Before leaving for Iraq, I had all these plans about what I wanted to write, how I would log my experiences here, keep a diary and add it with pictures and all kinds of cool stuff so that you could all share the experience, but the trip caught up with me quicker than I could run with it; there was packing, visits from friends, my failing health and a mad work schedule, that before I knew it, the morning of the trip was upon me, and when I sat to write my ‘alvida entry, my friend was at the door to run me to the airport!
I returned from ziyerat on Saturday evening (almost in 1 piece!), with a bad stomach bug, travel sickness and serious jetlag!
I spent a night in London and flu home on Sunday, and have been half awake, half asleep ever since! The sickness has gone, but I am still unable to eat properly without severe stomach cramp! I can’t get past the jetlag (which makes no sense at all; its only been 3 hours!). Turkish airlines conveniently lost my luggage, (it was mashallah returned to me last night), and so I spent the night watching ‘adult season on BBBC 3 (do check it out on Iplayer if you’ve not been following), and doing the washing!
I return to work tomorrow; just days after returning from Karbala, yet part of me feels as though I never went for ziyerat! Its hard to put in to words, like I said earlier, time ran away with me, and to a larger degree my expectations did too. I wanted so much from this trip, from myself mainly, and I failed; I failed my group, my family, but above all myself and my beloved Imams who called me for such a blessed experience. Its hard to know where to start with this one; it began on the very first day! Our group was small; 1 Iraqi woman and her daughter who were leading the group, and 2 Dutch revert sisters along with myself. I hadn’t interacted with them much before the trip, but I had discussed my visual impairment etc with them and they assured me that nothing was an issue and they’d be glad to have me on board. On our first morning in Iraq, they informed me they wouldn’t be comfortable taking me to one ziyerat or another because of the crowds, and because my not seeing was a bit of a headache for them. I didn’t know what to say, my embarrassment took over first, I apologised and tried to play it cool, but when we reached the rosa of Hazrat Abbas (A.S) and I had to wait outside, I could no longer take it! I just fell on the ground in tears! My display of emotion was seen as “irritating” by them, and these spats continued in various forms for the duration of the trip!
There is allot more to this story, most of it way too draining to write, but I shall recount my ziyerat experiences slowly over the next few weeks as they begin to make sense and unfold for me in my mind. Its true that each experience is intricately designed and selected by Allah (SWT) for us in order to elevate and progress us spiritually, though its often hard to see it when you are in the midst of frustration, mingled with emotion and perceived helplessness. That’s precisely where I was during much of the trip, and is the reason why I feel so useless and overcome by the feeling that I did nothing, I achieved nothing. I was actually relieved to reach London, I recited constant shukr on the way to my apartment and while I showered in Scottish water and flopped down on my bed! Does that make me worldly? Materialistic? Or simply shows how much I value those treasures that Allah (SWT) has given me? I really don’t know. Whenever I try to rationalise, the jetlag gets in the way, (along with the headache and sore throat I currently have! Another ailment to add to the list!). That said, I feel it is important to try and capture these moments before they run through my fingers as sand, like the moments that slipped away before I left, had I been more careful, more calculated regarding the group and my overall planning this situation may not have unfolded in the way that it did. Or, alternatively, I may reflect on it all next week, next month or next year, and see it in an entirely different light! In any case, there is more to follow, so watch this space if its not too dry for you!

Back in the real world, there is no news on the saga of my grievance and Inclusion Scotland, there is no new work for me, and there is a very nasty court letter from my facters (those who maintain our apartment block), demanding a huge amount of money from me which, if I don’t pay, will land me up in court! My mum is crying daily over this, while I am merely desensitised to it; (what is the point of weeping over things you can’t change!). I only hope that some of you might at least visit me in prison! Maybe I can persuade them to give me access to this blog to write and communicate given that I can’t send print letters!! Grin
Right!! Now you can see how messed up my head is, so I’ll go! The tube light needs her beauty sleep, her fuse replaced and some jushanda (throat really is getting worse, and I’ve sore ears!!) …,

PS, do you think this is swine flu?